Some secrets are worth keeping.
Hammersmith, Jones & Petersburg. The oldest law firm in continuous practice in the United States. Originally named “The Law Office of William Hammersmith,” Hammersmith, Jones & Petersburg was founded in 1757 byWilliam Hammersmith. A descendant of Frederick Backhouse, a Quaker merchant and attorney who came from England to the Province of New York in 1673. In1872, the firm was joined by Benjamin Jones and Warren Petersburg, and was officially renamed Hammersmith, Jones & Petersburg. The firm is very secretive, but is known in certain circles to serve … let’s say, mysterious clients in other worlds. Legend has it that all three men are the original owners and are called when needed in the unknown world. Mellissa Grimes is their all around girl. Their right hand lady. She takes care of everything. And the firm is indebted, due to her diligence, personal care, and hard work. When Mel was hired there was only one official rule. One thing that she had to do if she were to remain on staff. Or maybe one thing she couldn’t do would be a better way to put it. Mel, having had a quirky childhood, low self-esteem, and plenty of twitches and other OCD behavior, lives in a world of rituals. This morning was no different. She’d already been through every office, checking the lights, emptying the garbage, and so on. After she makes the morning coffee, Mel takes a trip downstairs to the place she should not go. Then checks on the one thing she cannot do. It all started when she was hired on at the firm more than ten years ago. Their previous employee had suddenly vanished, and they had no one to run the office. Mel was shocked at the unprofessionalism of the previous staff member and assured the great men that they could count on her. They had told her to never open the door. And she hadn’t. She merely like to make sure that it was locked asit was when she first tried the knob years ago. Granted it was a moment of weakness after she’d just started. But she just wanted to see what would happen if she opened the door. It couldn’t be that big of a deal. But, of course, it was locked. No harm, no foul. And just to make sure everything was in order, she’d made sure the door was locked every morning for the last ten plus years. But today would be different.
Mel received the call late last night. The partners were in London serving a client and would be delayed until the following evening. Fine with Mel, she had plenty of work to catch up on. Her stomach tingled, just like it always did, the closer she got to the door. There were no elevators in this beast of a building and the steps were brutal. At least for the first six months. Now she had the legs of a race horse and was proud of them. Finally, at the bottom landing. Her last task before she could start her day. Mel took a deep breath, reached out to make sure the door was indeed locked, but her breath caught as the knob turned. Mel released the knob and jumps back as if in shock and pounds up the stairs and into her office. She slams the door and, placing her hands on her knees, tries to catch her breath. The rest of the day is a pure torture. She drives herself nuts. The partners won’t be back until late that evening. Why not open it? Just take a peak? It’s already unlocked. Finally, after hours of deliberation and false-starts, she goes to the door, reaches for the knob, and … There’s a loud crash inside the room and she jumps back. Once again she runs away. Aboard their private jet heading home, the partners are concerned about Mel. She’d acted strangely the last time they checked. Completely out of character. Mel finishes her day and convinces herself that she hadn’t heard a thing. It was just her imagination. It had to be, there’d never been a noise in the room before, not that she’d heard. With renewed confidence she marches down the stairs. Tired of being a silly nilly. She goes right to the door, reaches for the knob, grabs it and …It’s locked. What the hell? William calls the office again from the private jet, looking at his partners. No answer. Concerned, they ask their pilot for an ETA. Two hours before they land, then another hour for their driver to get them to the office. Mel heard the phone ring, but she was officially off work. She’d already clocked out. And she had something far more important to do. She’d known the combination to the safe after her fifth year at work. She’d found it by accident of course. And she’d only looked in the safe a few times. Maybe ten. But still, she was rarely alone in the firm. Normally one of the partners would stay behind. In fact, this was the first time she’d been alone in more than two years. After opening the safe she grabbed what she’d came for and rushed downstairs. Not wanting to lose her nerve. She’d had enough of this nonsense. Today was the day. Her day. She would finally know the truth.
A couple of hours later the company jet of Hammersmith, Jones & Petersburg makes a perfect landing. The partners exit the plane and climb into their limo, not talking on the way to the office. They all have a feeling. A feeling they haven’t had in more than ten years. Mel still isn’t picking up the phone. William calls every ten minutes, but no answer. They try her cell too, but Mel isn’t picking up her personal phone either. They arrive at the offices and Mel is gone. After a perfunctory search the three partners walk downstairs to the door and find what they hoped they would not. The key was in the door. And Mel was gone. The following day a new girl is being interviewed for the position. The partners tell her that their previous employee had suddenly vanished, and they had no one to run the office.