The Key, the Scroll and the Hidden Room
Middle-aged, mild-mannered Porter Church finds an ancient key and is pulled into an Egyptian mystery centuries old. Can this call to unexpected adventure bring him fame, fortune and – most of all – freedom from a stifling marriage? The help of an old friend and new-found courage take Porter deep into the tomb of Ramses III and change his life forever. More
Retired high school history teacher Porter Church inherits an antiques and collectibles shop in Upper Michigan from his uncle Albert, with whom he shared a lifelong interest in Egyptian artifacts. The shop, however, is a jumble of old mining and logging pieces with no discernable value to anyone outside of the area.
Porter's wife Esther, a social snob who always expected more from Porter, wants nothing to do with the shop, the UP and, at this point, Porter. She expects he will sell the business and continue their ordinary life in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she is involved in society functions. Declaring that she’s tired of Porter being a nobody all these years, she demands he take her home. He complies–with relief–and returns to the shop.
All his life Porter had been the little guy, the one all through school who was never chosen for a team; the water boy or the equipment manager who never spoke up for himself. But he always yearned for adventure, to be somebody, do something remarkable. Now he has something of his own, something different that possibly could lead to adventure, and he's not about to give it up.
In the shop, Porter discovers an ancient black key, five inches long with rotating circles of hieroglyphic symbols surrounding the stem. It's just the kind of thing that he and his Uncle Albert would have marveled over and shared with Albert's longtime friend, Abigail Lane, now a history professor at UW Green Bay, who shared their interest in Egyptology.
Whistling, enjoying his new-found freedom, Porter slips the key into his pocket and continues to inventory the items in the shop and adjoining shed. Inside a crate of odd dishes, he discovers an alabaster box wrapped in burlap, also covered with symbols which match the key. Idly maneuvering the sleeve symbols on the key, he discovers a combination which opens the box and reveals a small papyrus scroll tied with scarlet ribbon.
Porter takes the key and box to Abigail Lane. Together they decipher the scroll, which describes a hidden area deep within the tomb of Ramses III in The Valley of the Kings. Wheelchair-bound Abigail is unable to travel, so Porter goes to Egypt alone. Disguised in a galabia and turban, he takes a flashlight, the key and the scroll, mixes in with tourists and hides in the tomb overnight. Following the scroll’s directions, after some discouraging attempts he opens a small slab in the tomb wall and shines his flashlight into a whole room of undiscovered artifacts.
Now he has a dilemma; he wants to keep the key for himself, but how can he reveal the treasure to the Commission of Antiquities, without revealing how he knew about the room? He closes the slab almost completely so it can be reopened with the touch of a finger. The next morning he mails the key to himself at his shop in the UP, then goes to Abigail's contact, an assistant curator of the Luxor museum, shows him he scroll and reveals the secret of the hidden room.
Porter reaps recognition. The room will be named after him and he'll receive a hefty sum from the Egyptian government for his discovery. The media is all over him, as are publishers bidding on the book he'll now write. Porter, finally having achieved his desire for adventure, goes home knowing that he is, at last, someone to be reckoned with.
Esther, now having revised her perception of Porter (with his new-found notoriety and money), wants to reunite. He refuses and happily returns to his shop in the Upper Peninsula to sell used items and to display the alabaster box and scroll that led him to the treasure in the tomb.
Unfortunately, mail from Egypt is notoriously unreliable.