The Lost Treasure of Goosey Flats

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Prof. Mauve was rummaging through his desk one morning when he felt something on the underside of a drawer. Eww, more gum, he thought. It was actually a button he pressed, which opened up a secret compartment in his desk.

Bewildered, he reached in and retrieved a book of great size, weight, and apparent age. This must be why my desk was so heavy!

The next morning, he called a trusted graduate student into the office, a gangly, brown-haired chap with an affinity for sweater-vests, but not glasses. “I have finally found it, Finnegan! I’ve found the book!”

“An overdue library book?”

“No, better. I’ve found the lost book of the lost treasure of Goosey Flats Community College! There’s a fortune hidden here somewhere, and we’re going to find it!”

“And use it to pay off the overdue fee on that book?”

“That and much more! We can finally get those electronic protractors and maps of obscure third world countries we’ve always wanted.”

“So what does the book say?”

“Let’s see.” Prof. Mauve carefully lifted the cover of the book and read the first yellowed page.

Where odorous peels
and dead things lie,
rotting with worms
and covered in flies;
there be the key to the
pie in the sky

Professor Ergle eats graphite


“Hmm, this could be quite a puzzle, Finnegan, but no matter what mental challenges lie ahead, we shall overcome them.”

“Perhaps this is referring to the old Goosey Flats landfill just outside the school?”

“Good thinking, man. That has to be it. Who knows what wonders await us there?”



A massive heap of festering, stinking garbage strewn with rusty widgets and decrepit artifacts sprawled out before them.

“We should split up.” the professor said. “You look over in that pile, and I’ll rummage through this one here.”

“How will we know what to look for?”

“You’ll know when you’ve found it.”

Finnegan picked up an old, grimy Spiderman comic.

“That’s just garbage.”

“It is not garbage! This was one of the best issues.”

“It’s not what we’re looking for.”

“I’m still keeping it.”

They searched, sorted, and dug till they no longer had effective use of their hands, but found nothing. “Perhaps we should try again tomorrow,” Prof. Mauve said. He sat down in the cavity he had dug out of a pillar of junk.

“Still, I don’t think we will get very far if we don’t know what to look for,” Finnegan remarked.

The pile of scrap started to creak, and then buckled.

“Professor!” Finnegan leaped forward, pushing him out of the way of the unsanitary avalanche, which crashed behind them. “You need to be more careful.”

“That’s it!” Prof. Mauve grabbed a pencil laying next to him. “This pencil is the key! See, it has the name of Ergle on it. Remember the clue, ‘Professor Ergle eats graphite’. It’s even been chewed upon! We could have searched all day and never found it. Fortune is indeed on our side! No, not fortune. This is destiny!”

“I’m not so sure that’s a clue. I think that phrase was just something a hooligan scribbled in the book to make fun of a teacher.”

Prof. Mauve examined the pencil.

“Here, see this? It’s a number five pencil.”

“So?”

“So, the college only accepts number two pencils. This one would be far too light for our practical use. Five must be the clue to something. Number five what, though?”

“What does the next page of the book say?”

The professor opened up the book again and turned to the proper page. Clearing his throat, he read:

Roses are red, violets are blue.
Pie is sweet, and I’m hungry.


“What could that mean?”

“I have a theory. Meet me in my office at 4:00.”
At 4:13, Finnegan entered Prof. Mauve’s office, and found him examining the school’s original blueprints. His countenance and odor suggested he had not washed himself since their last ordeal. He looked up, smiled, and said “Right on time, as usual. Just as I suspected, Professor Nildew’s Shrub Studies room, number five by the way, was originally a cafeteria.
“We had a cafeteria?”
“Yes, and it supposedly served a delicious squid pie.”
“That sounds awful! No wonder we got rid of the cafeteria.”
“All the pieces are fitting together perfectly. Here, use this hydrochloric acid to break into the janitor’s closet and grab shovels. It’s time to dig deep and search for knowledge!”
“I still don’t think it’s wise to trust a pencil we don’t know.”
The questions swarmed through Finnegan’s head as he walked down the hall. Is there really a lost treasure hidden somewhere within the bowels of the school? Is it really all right to steal the school’s blueprints and dissolve the lock of the janitor’s closet with hydrochloric acid? Why does the custodian need shovels? As the doorknob fizzled his doubts grew, but he decided to go along with it, for the time being.
When he reached the dendrology department, Finnegan found the professor already trying to dig up a honeysuckle with his bare, filthy hands. “You seem to hold a grudge against that plant.” he said.
“A necessary loss for a greater cause. Besides, I never really did like this room. Too much green everywhere. According to the blueprints I borrowed, this plot is on the precise spot where the pie freezer used to be. I still wonder, though, why they thought it was a good idea to tear up the floor to plant trees inside the classroom.”
“I still wonder if we’re getting anywhere.”
“With this shovel, I will break ground on this grand endeavour, and delve into the roots of discovery.”
Professor Mauve thrust the shovel into the earth. “Ok, now star digging!”
Finnegan continued the work ,speculating where the professor got his awful puns. Slowly the floor covered up with mud and dead honeysuckle as the professor looked on nearby. Finally, a clang of metal against metal. One more load of dirt revealed the shiny, round piece of tin that had lay there, buried.
“Ah, this is it!” Prof. Mauve declared.
“That’s just an old pie tin.”
“Not just an old pie tin. This is a clue to the next riddle, left here by the former keeper of the treasure for us to find. Now let’s see what this can tell us.”
“It tells me this is a wild goose chase.”
“Aha! This makes perfect sense. The expiration date on this pie was March, 14th. 1915.”
“Almost as old as that book.”
“Three, one, four, one, five. This could only mean pi.”
“Well, it is a pie tin, of course it means pie.”
“No, the number pi. 3.1415 and so on. The next clue must be in a math room. Probably number nineteen.”
“You seem to be basing your assumptions purely off conjecture. Garbage we find laying around doesn’t seem a very reliable source of information to me.”
“Just leave the shovels here. We are so close now, I can feel it!”
The well organized and snod calculus room was soon covered in a trail of dirt footsteps. The busts of famous mathematicians seemed to frown at his scent as Prof. Mauve read the next page of the book aloud.

Silver metal thing
Holes, and handle spins around
juxtaposing blades

“I bet it’s an egg beater. Finnegan, start looking around for egg beaters while I examine this poster with the digits of pi on it.”
“How do you know it’s an egg beater? It could be anything. And why would an egg beater be in the math room?”
“It fits with the pie theme?”
“It fits with the loony theme, that’s for sure. We’re getting nowhere.”
“But we’ve come so far.”
“We’ve been all around here and all we’ve found are a thrown away pencil and a lost pie tin. These aren’t clues! This isn’t the lost book of the lost treasure of Goosey Flats, it’s just poetry! Just a book of really bad poetry and insults to professors. I’ll see you on Monday.” Finnegan sulked out of the room, leaving the stunned and disappointed Professor Mauve behind, who stood there a moment, pondering, until he came to recognize the folly of his actions.
He pulled out the pencil, to write a note in the back of the book about how it will not lead to riches, and that it can only lead to hardships. However, the point had been gone for quite some time, so he walked across the room to the sharpener, inserted the pencil, and turned the handle.

There was a clicking sound, then one of shifting wood. He turned to face the poster with pi on it, only to see a hidden stairwell in its place.

“Finnegan!”

II


“Ok, I believe you.” Finnegan stood gazing at the stairwell as Professor Mauve sat smug nearby. “But before we start down there, we need to prepare ourselves. We don’t know what could be down there, traps, danger, rabid animals, and who knows what else. All we do know is that it’s going to be messy.”

“This is interesting.” Professor Mauve was looking at the next page in the book. “Eggs, rubber chicken, lemon juice, slinky, whipped cream, and a rubber ducky. Looks like somebody’s shopping list.”

“Oddly enough, I have all that stuff in my car right now.”

“Go and get them.”

“Well, I don’t have everything on the list, but I do have eggs, whipped cream and a slinky.”

“Oh, then we’ll have to go buy them then. I think the author may be giving us a clue as to what we may need for the trials ahead.”

“Can you really call it a clue if it’s just listed like that for you? Anyways, before we go any further, I need some lunch.”

After a hearty meal at a nearby taco stand, they ran over to the nearest grocery store and checked out the “gag gifts” section.
“Darn, they’re out of rubber chickens.” Professor Mauve said.
“They have rubber geese.”
“But the list specifically said a rubber chicken.”
“I’m sure whatever we need it for, the goose will be fine.”
“It’s not going to work.”
“We don’t even know if we need it yet, besides it’s all they have.”
“Fine, we’ll get your goose, but I still don’t think it’s a good idea.”
After raising the eyebrows of other shoppers, they armed themselves for what was ahead. It was a comical sight. Professor Mauve had the eggs fitted into a belt across his chest like grenades, sheathed a whipped cream in his pocket, and bore the rubber chicken like a mace. Finnegan slung the slinky over his shoulder and carried a squirt gun filled with lemon juice.

“By the way, why did you bring eggs and whipped cream to school?”

“Oh, no reason. Let’s go before someone sees us.”

Their anxiety became obvious when they reached the secret passage again. For a minute, neither moved, but then professor Mauve said, “Okay, you go first.”

“Oh, no, you’re the professor and I’m the student, so I learn from your mistakes.”

“I don’t like the sound of that.”

Finally, the professor started creeping down the stairs, followed by Finnegan. Each step creaked under them as they went, which did nothing to alleviate their irrational fears.

The stairs ended at a brightly lit room. There was nothing inside but a door on the opposite side, a couple of chairs, and a stack of very old magazines. As they entered the room, a tune began humming from an unknown source.

“Is that waiting room music?” said Finnegan.

“Try the door.”

“It’s locked. There doesn’t appear to be any keyhole, either.”

“There must be some way to open it.”

“I’m not using the acid again, I still have scars from last time.”
“You probably don’t need to, there should be some mechanism for opening it around here.” Professor Mauve sat down on a chair and picked up a magazine about fancy pies. At that moment the door swung open. “That was easy.”

“Well, we know two things about whoever did all this: He likes pie, and he has a weird sense of humor.”

Beyond the door sat another room, this one with only a giant test tube on one wall, and above it the words: Litmus blue Lucky number 7

“Professor, what does it mean when litmus paper is blue again?”

“That means it’s a base. Haven’t you been paying attention?”

“Now’s not the time for that. So, If the remnants in the tube is a base, that means to reach PH 7 and balance it out, we need an acid... like lemon juice.”

“Maybe there is hope for you after all.”

Finnegan squirted the lemon juice into the test tube. It fizzled and bubbled a while, and then the next door opened. “This technology seems too advanced compared to the date on the pie tin.”

“Well, that date was part of a clue, remember? This scheme’s architect could have just used an old pie tin. Or perhaps he’s just a genius ahead of his time.”

“If he’s a genius, why did he leave all his treasure buried under a school instead of use it?”


The next room had a door, a welcome mat, and a doorbell. Finnegan rang the doorbell and the door opened. “It sure doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.”

Another room followed, with a staircase leading down on one side, but shielded, except for a short stretch at the bottom, by a pane of glass. There was, of course, also a door leading on.

“Looks like there’s a doorbell at the bottom of the stairs, just sitting there on the floor. The last room must have been meant to teach us how to solve these later rooms.”

“Because we’re not smart enough to figure it out on our own, even after all we had to do just to get down here?”

“It must be time for the slinky.”

“Again, can’t we just break through the glass, walk down the stairs and push it?”

“Just humor me. Don’t spoil the fun of it”

“Fine, I’ll use the slinky.”

“You only have one shot.”

“Ah, but I am the state interscholastic slinky champion. One shot is all I need.”

He released the slinky from the top of the stairs, and watched it move one step at a time all the way to the bottom.

“You missed.”

“It’s not my fault! The button’s too far from the stairs!”

“I guess we need another slinky, then.”

“No, this time, we do it the old-fashioned way.”

He took a couple steps back and rammed into the glass, shattering it and tumbling down the stairs. The door opened when he fell onto the button, groaning. “In hindsight, that wasn’t a very good idea.”

“Maybe it’s time we take a break?”

“Yeah, that would be good.”

After an hour break, Prof. Mauve and the heavily bandaged Finnegan returned to finish the ordeal. “I think this time I’ll just stick to the clues.”

“On the bright side, you got your slinky back.”

“Yeah, after I flattened it.”

“Ah, here we are. This room looks interesting. There appears to be a hole in the wall here, with a small passage of water flowing through it, a little bit like the sewer, but much less smelly.”
“That’s not a problem, we already smell like the sewers.”
“There at the end, just above the surface is the button. It doesn’t appear that we can fit through there, though.”

“Can you imagine how long it must have taken to set this all up?”

Professor Mauve put the rubber ducky into the water, and let it float down to the end. “This must be where all the school’s power is siphoned off to.”

They waited a short while, then Finnegan peered down the channel. “I don’t think it worked.”
“It missed?”
“Yeah. Didn’t they test these things to see if they work?”
“I guess we need to use something else, then.”
“The goose?”
“No, we still need that for later. Try the water gun.”
It floated down after the duck, this time hitting the button and allowing them to move on into a room half filled with a complicated and unusual device, made from everyday objects arranged in sequence, like something out of a cartoon. After examining it, Prof. Mauve said, “This Rube Goldberg machine seems to be missing two things. If we put the whipped cream here and the eggs over there, it should work.”
He prepared the apparatus, and pushed the start button. This turned on a blender with a string tied around the dulled blades, which pulled out the stop in front of a marble, allowing it to roll down a winding track until it hit a domino, the first of many. The last domino in line sprung a mousetrap with a knife attached to it, which in turn broke open an egg hanging nearby, letting its innards flow into a small drain of the table it sat on, down into a balance, lowering one side and raising the other. This was tied with string to a pin, which, when released allowed a piece of steel to strike a flint, sparking fire to a stack of paper, the smoke of which raised a small hot air balloon up just enough to flip a switch above, releasing a miniature anvil down upon the unsuspecting can of whipped cream. The whipped cream filled a pie crust until it could no longer be supported by the spaghetti noodles underneath it, snapping them and finally falling onto the final button, which opened the door.
“That’s it?” Finnegan asked. “All that work to push a button? I could have done that on my own! What’s the point of this?”
“I think it’s just here to entertain us.”
“Or to annoy us. Anyways, we’d better get going and finish this while we still have some sanity left.”
The next room was set up like a jungle scene, or had been at some time. The plants were mostly dead, and the skeletal remains of some great beast were strewn upon the floor, but the scratched-up forest scene wallpaper hinted at what it was supposed to look like.
“Is this supposed to be dead?” asked Finnegan.
“It appears to be the bones of a tiger, probably put here as one last guardian for the treasure.”
“Did they forget to feed it? This just gets worse and worse as we go along.”
“Just be thankful that hungry tiger wasn’t alive when we opened the door.”
“Speaking of which, how do we open this next one?”
“That’s a good question. Perhaps it has something to do with the rubber goose.”
“Doesn’t the book have anything to say about this?”
“Oh yeah, I completely forgot about that. Oh, and look, it’s got clues on how to solve the other puzzles as well.”
“Maybe we should have thought about that earlier?”
“Let’s see here.” Prof. Mauve read through the pages:

Today’s top story:
I married Elvis, but divorced him for Sasquatch

A bird is not an acid
neither are its eggs
nor whipped cream
don’t even think about the slinky

Knock and the door shall not be opened unto you,
but ring and you shall find

The spring is the thing to make you sing
when you see how it fares, to make it downstairs

Ducks love root beer, so make it afloat

Einstein, you’re eggs are relative to the mousetrap,
so fill the pie with your mettle and metal

Just run for it!

Finnegan was by this point frowning. “This is the worst book I have ever read. Is it supposed to be poetry, or mysterious? Either way it completely fails its purpose. It also seems like he’s underestimating our intelligence, and I am not pleased.”
“Oh, don’t be so indignant. Anyways, it seems we need to run to open the door. I suggest frantic sprinting, as if the tiger was chasing us. That’s probably what was intended.”
It didn’t take long for both of them to get winded. Soon enough they had to quit, and they sat down on a rock, breathing heavily and sweating profusely. “This isn’t getting us anywhere, Professor. There must be something else.”
“There isn’t anything else. It just says ‘run’. I don’t understand it, this is supposed to be the simplest one.”
“I’ll go fetch the acid,” said Finnegan reluctantly.
Finnegan hurried (though not too quickly) all the way back to the closet, first grabbing a couple of snacks from the vending machine, then retrieving the acid. His hands were blistering as he returned back from whence he came, only to find Prof. Mauve standing in the open doorway.
“It wasn’t locked.”

A long causeway over a seemingly bottomless pit stretched out to an impressive-looking and overly-spiked double door flanked by torches which had burnt out long ago. On it was inscribed (0,0).
Professor Mauve read the last page of the book that had anything on it, for there were over a thousand blank pages in the book.

One last door between you and destiny
One last door, whose spikes may impale thee
Drop your sacrifice into the void
Then an untimely halt you may avoid
In feet this scale you should heed
toss it at the point (7,3).

“I’m so glad I never had to take a creative writing class.”
“The point seven, three? These must be the coordinates of where to drop ‘our sacrifice’, the goose.”
“The door is at zero-zero, so seven feet to the right of it, and three feet in front. Honestly, I thought the goose was for distracting the tiger while we ran for it, but I guess it really was meant to be a cruel surprise.”
Prof. Mauve held the goose out over the abyss in dramatic fashion. “Ye gander! May your passage into the void be swift, and without regret, for you shall not die in vain!”
“It won’t die at all.”
The rubber goose was dropped and fell head-first into the darkness. It landed only about ten feet below them, as the floor was shaded and colored to make it seem farther. Upon the goose’s landing, the great doors creaked open, revealing in the room beyond only a wooden chest, with a light shining down upon it.
They moved towards it eagerly, ready for the adventure to finally be completed.
There was a small, round keyhole one the side of the chest. Prof. Mauve took out the pencil he had kept, and inserted it. The chest opened, revealing inside a piece of paper on top of a box. The professor read it aloud:

You most worthy masters of errantry
Be pleased to know that your reward is come
I leave to you my most entire and glorious legacy
The wealth I possess and the eminence that goes with it
Now bask in the luminous glory of your successes
And live all the richer in wisdom and knowledge


They eyed the box, imagining all sorts of riches of gold and gems and old comic books. Without speaking, they together slowly lifted up the lid of the box. One viewing them could have, at that moment, seen every feature of their faces drop six inches. Inside the box, was a pile of small change and a few bills totaling in value of $5.76 along with some expired coupons, and a recipe for squid pie. At the bottom of the recipe were the words “Don’t spend it all in one place!” Such cruel mockery, they thought.

Finnegan was the first to speak, “What is this? What kind of treasure is this?”

“He spent it. The fool spent all his money, the entire fortune on this awful hideout.”

“We came so far, to come away with so little.”

“How dare he! He played us for fools! You can’t do all this and not have a treasure! Who does he think he is?”

“It’s over. There’s nothing left for us here. Come on, we’d better go clean up all the messes we made.”

And so with heavy hearts they returned back to their positions as professor and student. The secret passageway was converted into extra rooms for the school, including a new cafeteria that served old-fashioned pies. The college also put in new security measures to prevent people from stealing things and melting doorknobs. The book was finally returned to the library, and the dendrology department decided to start planting things outside. After graduating, Finnegan became a professor at the college, working alongside Prof. Mauve.

A few years afterwards, Prof. Mauve was writing on his chalkboard when it suddenly moved to the side, revealing a secret passageway. He raced down the hall, sending a flurry of papers flying in his office behind him. He burst into the room where Finnegan was giving a lecture to apparently drowsy students.

“The Romans used many different meats in the development of early pies, and included fish and seafood as well.”

“Finnegan, I’ve just found an entrance to the Lost City of Gold buried underneath Goosey Flats!”

Finnegan calmly turned back to his class. “And so if you want someone to hold responsible for the squid pies in the cafeteria, don’t blame me.”





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Zad_Ragnar said...
Dec. 19, 2011 at 11:39 am
Haven't been on TeenInk in so long... and all of a sudden I find myself a VIP. Go figure
 
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