The Meccanica Obscura
Madeline paused to stare at the lock that stood between her and the answers her great, great grandmother so desperately wanted. A brass knob protruded from a wood door that looked tea stained. Madeline had often fantasized about what lay beyond this mysterious gateway, but now they key felt cold and heavy in her delicate hand. Still, she slid the key into the lock and turned it. Resistance gave way to an audible "thunk" as the tumblers fell into place.
The door swung open easily, allowing light to fall upon a steep, narrow staircase for the first time in many decades. Particles of dust drifted through the beams of unfamiliar light. Madeline took hold of the railing and peered up the length of a steep, narrow staircase that appeared to lead to nothing. Taking a deep breath of musty air she steeled herself for the first step.
As Madeline gingerly brushed a cobweb aside she found herself feeling as though the walls were closing in on her, as though they might trap her and never let her out. She forced these thoughts from her mind, reminding herself that a treasure might lie just beyond the top step. But what if a terrible secret lay awaiting her instead?
As Madeline took the final two steps the attic space came into view. A dirty, octagonal window at the front of the house filtered sunlight that illuminated rough hewn timbers, steamer trunks, a seamstresses' mannequin, piles of books, and bric-a-brac, casting long, eerie shadows into the attic recesses. Madeline realized this was a treasure trove from the past. Excitement began to overtake her. Then she saw it: an old travellers trunk resting under the weight of a pile of antique gowns with lace so fine it might as well have been woven by spiders. Her great, great grandmother had told her the secret was locked away in such a trunk. If only it were true. If only it could be.