Attic, part 38

It had been a harrowing time. The beast had seemed to come quite near several times, but at the last moment Josh had always known which way to turn. After many bends and twists in their path, the travelers now found themselves at the tower itself, but in a decrepit little dead-end alley, littered with junk. The place looked abandoned, with old bottles and jars and pieces of bric-a-brac piled into a corner.

There was nothing at all auspicious about their location, except the door. Or at least, it was sort of a door. There was clearly the outline of a door, arched at the top, and the door itself was made of a distinctly different stone than the tower wall. Yet there was no handle, no visible hinge, nothing that could tell them how to operate the doorway.

“Well,” Jenny said.

“You can say that again sister,” Sid joined in.

“Tales of this place speak of a riddle that one must solve before one may enter the tower,” said Mr. Symarian.

“You mean like what’s her name — the one with the big statue,” Charlie said.

“Lady Liberty?” Josh asked, looking confused.

“I think Charlie’s talking about the Sphynx,” Jenny said.

“Yeah, that’s the one,” Charlie nodded.

“Yes,” Mr. Symarian continued, “precisely. But what is the riddle? What we are facing is clearly a door, yet one without egress.”

“Egrets?” Sid said, looking alarmed. “Nobody said there’d be egrets. I hate birds.”

“Egress,” the teacher explained. “From the latin egressus. `A place or means of coming out.’ I should have thought it was a common enough word.”

“Big intellectual,” Sid sniffed. “While we’re standin’ here talking about statues or egrets or whatever, that beast is getting closer every minute. And in case you didn’t notice, this here’s a dead end.”

Josh looked pale. “Um, Sid, could you try not to use the word ‘dead’?”

But Jenny was looking at the doorway thoughtfully. “I think,” she said, “we’re going to need to figure out that riddle.”

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