The object was indeed a box; a metal one, long and wide but very shallow, corroded green with age and with an ornate lock on the front. It was heavily built, and the lock was of a very old design. Jo’s enthusiasm for the past didn’t extend to expertise in ancient locks or boxes, but she thought it wouldn’t have looked out of place around the time of the building’s origin.
Mike held his light for her; she lifted the box and inspected it carefully. The corrosion wasn’t too bad, all things considered. Certainly better than she might’ve guessed given the dampness of the environment and the apparent age of the box. “Think this thing could’ve been here since the police used this place?”
“Don’t know. It’s possible. I don’t know how you spotted that hole. I’d have walked past it a thousand times and never seen it.”
“Just looking for handholds,” she said, eyes on the lock.
“I climb. Gives me the habit of looking for places to hang on.”
“Huh. Handy,” he said, unconscious of the pun. She stifled a groan and rolled her eyes anyway. The lock stubbornly refused to offer up its secrets to her, and a quick test proved that either the lock was engaged or the corrosion was bad enough to stick the box closed.
“It’s jammed, we’re not going to get this thing open here, I don’t think. Let’s take it back with us.”
“Can’t. We don’t own it yet. We’ll report on it, then open it on the property and investigate what’s inside.”
She sighed, frustrated. “Okay. We should bring some stools with us next time. There are a lot more of these little cubby-holes, and who knows what we’ll find in those?”
Mike nodded. “Sounds like a plan.” He sat the mysterious box in a dry corner.