Story starts below
Dust swirled around, creating mysterious beams of light in the dark workshop as Betty quietly opened the heavy, creaking door. It's Saturday morning, Betty lets out a deep sigh. She really has to do it now. The workshop must be empty and the items must be sold. She desperately needs the money, her husband left her nothing...
But the discovery Betty made that early Saturday morning completely changed her mind about her late husband
Getting into the workshop
When Betty finally managed to make her way into Wilbert's workshops, she quickly noticed that some things were not right. There was a thick layer of dust on everything, except for a spot on the ground next to the workbench. This had been moved recently…
A hidden trapdoor
Betty’s son Mike helped her move the bench into the dust-free area on the ground, revealing a trapdoor hidden below it. Betty had no idea this was here. Without any hesitation, Mike opened it up revealing what was hidden behind it…
It was all a lie
Betty could barely believe what she was seeing. Wilbert had been hiding what he was truly doing in the workshop and lying to her for years…
But what did Mike and Betty find behind the hidden trapdoor and why had Wilbert been lying to his wife for all these years?
Betty can't move on
Two weeks after Betty's husband passed away and Betty was still quite far from moving on. Everything about her home, their home, reminded her of his smell and presence. Moreover, she was yet to discard his stuff, and seeing that she couldn't just move on without discarding his stuff, she started the process.
Where to start from...
At first, she didn't quite know where to start, the bedroom was where they spent the most amount of time together and she felt starting from there might be so hard that it will demotivate her. So she started from the kitchen, did the living room, bathroom, and then the bedroom.
The workshop in the shed
Done with the whole house, she had just one more place to work on - his workshop in the shed right behind the house. Unlike every other place she had worked on that held the existence of other people as well, the workshop was all him. Everything about the shed was all him but she had to clean it up.
Betty's husband was always here
Betty's husband had taken to the workshop right after his retirement. He was there every day and always spent so much in there. Betty never knew what he did in the workshop and he never showed her either but it made him really happy working in there. So happy that Betty never bothered to find out what he was up to.
Tinkering on some old machines
Moreover, the few times she had asked him what he was up to, his response had always been that he was tinkering some old machines and it was a great way to keep himself engaged after his retirement. Sitting still in front of the TV all day was never his thing, he was a man who liked to keep busy.
Time to face the workshop
Having fully prepared herself mentally, Betty set towards the workshop with boxes to help discard his stuff and on getting there, she saw that the place was locked up and she had absolutely no idea where he had kept the key - she didn't even know that there was a lock!
Why is the workshop locked?
Disappointed to find a lock, she decided to give up on the shed. moreover, she had no use for the shed but curiosity wouldn't let her be. Why would Wilbert have the place locked up if he was just tinkering with some old machines? Betty couldn't help but wonder if Wilbert did more than just tinker.
Betty's curiosity can't be contained
This, her inability to forget about the shed went on for a week. She was now too curious to forget about the shed and the workshop that she had not been inside for roughly 10 years, so she called the local lockpick to come help her with the door while she wondered why she had never thought of going inside for 10 years!
Here comes a local lockpick
The lock was of an old model, one the lockpicker was quite familiar with and he had no issue picking the lock when he came around the next day. He was done in a matter of minutes and was off after Betty paid him for his service. alone with the workshop, it was time to see what her husband had been up to all this while.
Total chaos in the workshop
Everything in the workshop looked exactly as it should in a workshop, although she thought the place was more unorganized but then, Wilbert had never been one to care much about organizations. Tools, wood chips, and old machines were in total chaos, making it difficult for her to find her way around.
The layers of dust are years old
As she moved further into the workshop, she couldn't help but notice that the place was dustier than it should have been! Wilbert had died just three weeks ago and the amount of dust on the things in here was definitely not three weeks old. It was almost as if the workshop had not been used in years.
Betty finds something
It didn't make sense to her because he was always in here for hours each day so what had he been doing if he wasn't working on the machines or with the tools? As she wandered around the workshop trying to make sense of the thick layers of dust, she noticed a spot that wasn't half as dusty as the other spots.
Betty calls her son, Mike
The spot was on the floor, it was a big square spot next to a small workbench that looked like it had been moved recently. Unable to move the bench as she wasn't so strong to lift such heavy objects, she called her son Mike and asked him to come by if he had enough spare time to help her out with something.
Mike is excited and curious
In a matter of hours, Mike came by, Betty sat him down and told him about her experience with the workshop. She led the curious son to the workshop and pointed at the workbench that she needed him to move. Mike excitedly moved the bench away from the spot to reveal something...
A trap door
It was an entrance to a trap door. Mother and son were surprised to see a trap door in the workshop! Mike opened the trap door which wasn't locked to reveal a staircase going down. They had absolutely no idea what to make of this, where on Earth did the stairs lead to and what was in there?
Betty and Mike take the stairs
With Mike leading the way and helping Betty find her way, they both made their way to the end of the stairs. The stairs led them to a narrow tunnel which they followed, and after a while, they stumbled onto another flight of stairs going upward.
It's a garage
Still curious, they took the stairs, and up they went. On finally getting up, they were stunned to find themselves in a garage that had just one classy-looking car. Whose garage was this and why was there a path from her house that led here, Betty wondered.
A thirty minutes drive trip
Mike inspected the car and found the keys in the ignition. Mike hopped into the car and started it, once he did, the build-in navigation and dashboard came on. Looking at them, he realized that there was a preloaded route programmed in it, the trip was a thirty minutes drive, and right that second, mother and son knew the next thing to do.
Betty knows where they are
Betty got into the passenger seat while Mike used the small remote in the car to open up the garage door. As they drove out the garage, Betty finally had an answer to one of her numerous questions. She knew where they were but she didn't know where they were headed!
Why were they here?
The garage belonged to one of the houses in their neighborhood which was up for sale. The house had been on the market for so long without finding a buyer. At one point, she had been interested in buying the house but when she couldn't find a listing for it, she had given up on the house, and now, she was here.
Tons of questions with no answers
What business had Wilbert had with the house? Why and when did a path from her home lead to this house? Who owned the house and had Wilbert been using the car? Confused, she let the questions go on and on in her head while Mike continued driving in silence. No doubt, he had his questions as well.
A second place
After almost half an hour of driving, Betty and Mike found themselves close to the city limits in front of another old house. It was the same thing as the last place—both were up for sale. Betty wondered if that had anything to do with the situation. Maybe it was just a coincidence.
A state of disrepair
Betty looked over the property and the outside of the house. The structure was obviously in terrible condition. It needed cleaning, paint, and some maintenance to be even a little bit presentable. She had no idea how anyone expected a house in such bad shape to sell for a decent price.
No way in
Mike checked out the front of the house before stepping onto the porch and ringing the bell. No one answered. He turned the knob and even pushed on one of the windows, but there was not obvious way inside. Suddenly, he had an idea about how to find out more information concerning the strange property.
Mike went to the house up the street to speak to some of the neighbors. He figured they would at least know who owned it. Betty, meanwhile, decided to investigate the car in more detail. It didn’t seem like there was much in the vehicle, but she had a hunch that maybe there were clues nearby.
The black bag
Everything in the car seemed ordinary. It was mostly clean, and there wasn’t anything that caught Betty’s eye. But when she opened the glovebox, the only thing inside was a large black bag that took up the entire space. It seemed like an unusual thing to be left in a car, and it was heavy when she reached out to grab it. Suspiciously heavy.
A shocking discovery
When Betty opened the bag, she almost screamed out loud. There were neat packs of hundred-dollar bills inside. It had to be thousands of dollars. She moved the money aside and saw that there were also multiple sets of keys and some plastic cards stuffed inside. Were those driver’s licenses?
Betty could barely keep her hands from shaking. She saw that Mike was almost back to the car and called him over. At first, she’d been stunned by the money, but then she noticed the driver’s licenses. They all had pictures of her late husband on them. But the names were all different…
Betty and Mike couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Why would anyone need five fake identities? Betty couldn’t shake the horrible feeling that maybe she hadn’t known her late husband at all. It seemed like such an enormous secret. But the discovery of the bag did give Mike another idea after talking to the neighbors didn’t work out.
Mike took the various sets of keys from the black bag over to the front door and started trying them on the knob. Finally, one of them worked and opened the door. He hesitated for a minute before deciding that he didn’t want to call the police until he knew what was going on. There had to be answers inside.
Even though Mike was nervous about what they might see, he helped Betty inside with him. Just to be safe, they locked the door to make sure that no one could sneak up on them since they had no clue who might know about the money. It was possible that this was part of a bigger plot.
The interior of the house was just as rundown as the outside. Only a small bit of light filtered through the boarded-up windows and curtains, and there wasn’t any power to the house. Judging by the state of things, no one had been there for quite a while. But maybe that was the point.
Mike turned on his phone’s flashlight to guide them through the house while they looked for anything that could link the place to Wilbert. Betty didn’t say anything but stayed close to Mike the whole time. He could tell she was nervous. They both were after everything that had been through so far. And it wasn’t over yet.
They looked carefully since the hatch in the workshop had been hidden. But there wasn’t any sign of a secret part of the house or another room that wasn’t obvious. Mike thought maybe they might have better luck upstairs. A house like that could have an attic to hide things away.
Even though Betty didn’t want to split up, she was exhausted. She let Mike go upstairs by himself since the thought of heading up so many was daunting to her. She cleared off a spot on the couch and took a seat. The whole situation started weighing on her while she waited for Mike to return. She felt so stupid.
Too many secrets
Betty was upset just thinking about how much Wilbert must have lied to her. There was no way to confront him now or ask him what this was all about. She was angry that he hadn’t given her a single insight into his real life. Maybe she’d never get answers.
Just as Betty was ready to give up, Mike shouted down the stairs for her. He’d found something important, and she could tell from his tone that he was excited about it. She went upstairs as quickly as she could. Her heart was pounding at what it could be about.
Betty could barely see upstairs but heard Mike in one of the adjoining areas that ended up being a bedroom. As soon she entered, he pointed at a painting on the wall. She moved closer, squinting at it and trying to see what the painting contained. It was the last thing she expected to find in an abandoned house.
The painting was obviously taken care of compared to the rest of the house. It didn’t have any dust or cracks. When Betty was only a foot away from it, the picture came into focus. She gasped and put a hand over her heart. Mike even started laughing at her reaction.
It was a stunning portrait of their family. Betty couldn’t understand what it was doing there and whether Wilbert had ever intended for them to see it. Mike stepped forward and gently removed the painting from the wall. He set it down and then turned back to where it had been hanging. There was something else there.
There was a safe embedded in the wall with an envelope stuck on the outside. Mike opened it carefully and held it between the two of them to read it. It was a letter from Wilbert that explained everything. It sounded like the plot of a movie. They couldn’t believe it.
Wilbert wasn’t proud of it, but he’d done some work with questionable people and criminals to provide for the family. He found safe houses where people could hide from the police or conduct business without anyone bothering them. It had started by accident years before. Betty suddenly remembered a conversation they’d once had about abandoned houses like this.
Wilbert had mentioned wanting to buy a rental property, but Betty thought it was too risky to invest their money that way. He disagreed and wanted them to have a safety net, so he’d bought one without telling her. The house was a mess and looked totally empty. One day, Wilbert arrived at the property to find a stranger hiding inside.
A surprise venture
A criminal had been doing business there to avoid the police during a big crime wave in the city. He offered to pay Wilbert to let him use the house in secret. It was too good of a deal to turn down. He kept expanding until finally the police cleaned up the area, and the organized criminals moved on to other places. But that didn’t explain the safe.
Mike flipped over the letter, and there was writing on the other side too. It explained that Wilbert had started selling everything before his death but needed a place to hide the funds from the government. At the bottom of the page, there was a code. It had to be the combination.
A rich future
Mike used the combination to open the safe. It was jammed with more money than they thought possible. Betty had no idea what to do with it. They considered notifying the police but decided against it. Wilbert had wanted them to enjoy themselves and be secure. That was exactly what they would do. Plus, on top of the money, there was the painting that Betty would cherish forever.
This story is a work of fiction created for entertainment. Characters and events are the products of the author’s imagination. The images shown are used for illustration only.