A Mini-Mystery from the Enchanted Antique Shop
It had been a quiet Monday at the Enchanted Antique Shop, and I was almost ready to go home. I had spent most of the afternoon polishing a badly tarnished tea set from Victorian England. I had restored the gleam of the tea pot and creamer, and I was almost done with the sugar bowl.
Suddenly, Twila scampered by. The spectral Siamese kitten was a fixture in the shop, but she tended to wreak havoc wherever she ran–just like a real, live kitten. Her eyes glowed like moonstones in the late afternoon shadows.
My curiosity got the better of me. I followed her into the storage room, my heels clicking on the wooden floor.
"Twila, where are you going?" I asked, putting the cloth down. My curiosity got the better of me, so I followed her into the storage room. Just as I was about to reach for her, the air around me thickened and my stomach lurched. In a disorienting swirl of colors, I plummeted through the time-travel portal.
I landed softly, still in the storage room, but something felt off. I checked my phone, and I was stunned to see I was 24 hours in the future. My heartbeat quickened. I'd been warned never to travel into the unknown future, but here I was.
Steeling myself, I stepped out into the front of the shop and gasped. There was a burglar—a man in a hooded sweatshirt—holding an old, intricately carved pocket watch that belonged in a display case near the front of the shop.
He saw me and bolted. Twila sped past me, back towards the storage room, and I didn't need a second hint. I ran after her. With a sickening lurch, we were sucked into the portal again. When the dizzying sense of motion stopped and my head cleared, I found myself back where we had begun, on Monday afternoon.
I quickly gathered my core team: my best friend Sadie, my mentor Eleanor, Grandma Clara, and Jack Edgewood, Enchanted Springs' lead police detective.
"We have a situation," I said, urgency tingeing my voice. "Someone's going to steal the Timekeeper's Pocket Watch tomorrow."
Eleanor looked alarmed. "Marley, no! That watch has powers that could disrupt the very fabric of time!"
"I know," I replied. "Sadie, can you create an illusion spell around it?"
"On it," she said, waving her hands in incantation.
"Eleanor, some kind of deterrent spell?"
"I can make them feel dizzy and disoriented as they approach," Eleanor suggested. "I've become quite comfortable with disorientation, as you know."
"Grandma, oversight. Jack, where do you want to be?"
"I'll station myself behind the Cabinet of Curiosities," he said. "If someone does try to take something from the shop tomorrow, we'll catch them red-handed."
As we set our trap, anticipation hung heavy in the air. Then the warding spells vibrated—our thief was here. The front door creaked open, the shop bell tinkled quietly, and the hooded figure stepped in. As he snuck through the shop and reached for the pocket watch, Sadie's illusion held and Eleanor's spell kicked in. He hesitated, and that was all Jack needed. He swooped in and grabbed the man, pulling back his hood.
To our collective surprise, it was our mailman, Phil.
"Phil? What on earth?" I exclaimed.
"I—I had an old pocket watch like this when I was a child," he stammered. "I thought it could bring back... well, time I'd lost."
I looked at my team, then back at Phil. "Well, you just ran out of time."