Demolition Premonition
 Jul 26, 2016

An historic site needs to be demolished, and someone wonders if there might be time capsule sealed in the cornerstone. There is one. What is inside is up to you, but ONE item must be something that was assumed not to be in existence for at least a hundred years from then, Like the cornerstone is from 1816, but there is a bread toaster inside. What was the original building? Why was it to be destroyed? What happens now???

Contest Rules
* Entry Fee: Free
* Prize: Trophy
* Level: Advanced (All members may enter, but judging uses 'advanced' criteria.)
* Word Limits: 1000 - 3000
* Submit period: 14 days
* Voting period: 2 days
* All regular Writing Deck Rules apply.
* Multiple entries are allowed in this contest, however, any entry not meeting 'advanced' standards will be disqualified. So take your time, proofread carefully, and make your entry count.

Thanks to MsgtBob for the contest idea

Good luck!

"Wonder all those who enter these hallways," Peter read the inscription over the front doors of the building they were getting ready to demolish. "Lady had a lofty view of herself, didn't she?

"She was ahead of her time, or a total nutcase, it depends on who you talk to," Dave replied. "There is no question Cassandra Ponswaddle was an odd duck. There is also no question she advanced the art world, some of her paintings are truly fantastic.

"Yeah, I saw the exhibit of them in the new museum. Anyway, it's time to take the old one down. The crew should be here shortly."

The two men walked through the now-deserted building as the demolition crew arrived. Everything of worth had been removed; most of Ponswaddle's work and papers were in the new museum downtown. This building she had commissioned herself, it had stood for 150 years, but needed to make way for a city revitalization project. The artist herself had died 100 years ago, almost to the day.

As they reached Poncewaddle's old studio, Dave shook his head. "Seems a real shame to disturb this, Poncewaddle was a genius, and this was her inner sanctum."

"I heard she went nuts toward the end," Peter remarked.

"Cassandra became convinced she could see the future, and that her paintings depicted future events," Dave explained.

"Yeah, and my understanding is that they got pretty bleak, and that none of them came true," replied Peter.

"Her explanation was that all of them were depictions of the far future, and that one painting would prove the rest of them were authentic visions."

"Did she happen to mention where that one painting was?"

"No, but she did hint it would not be discovered until the destruction of this building."

"Nice foreshadowing, so anyway, what kind of bleak future did she think we would have?" asked Peter

"Violent storms, sea levels rising, droughts and floods, sort of wrath of God stuff."

"Or wrath of global warming, which scientists are predicting anyway," Peter pointed out.

"Yeah, but she was paining more than 100 years ago."

"Were there any details in it that could pinpoint specific locations?" asked Peter.

"Well she did have some coastal cities with flooding, and some of them resembled known cities, but some of the buildings were wrong, even wrong for today. Of course since we don't know what year she is supposedly predicting, we can't know what the skyline would be. Some of the buildings are correct, but generally those are buildings that were around when she did the painting so it doesn't prove anything."

"No newer ones?"

"They are paintings not photographs, so they wouldn't be exact. Yes, there do appear to be some buildings in some of the paintings that look like existing buildings that were erected in the last 100 years, but it depends on who you ask as to how much value they put on that. The paintings are missing some buildings that are there, and have others that do not exist."

"But still," Peter said.

Dave shrugged "But still nobody is convinced. On her death bed she did mention the one painting that would erase all doubt, but she refused to give any details about it."

Peter looked around at the barren studio. "I take it none of the stuff from here fit the description, the place is pretty cleaned out at this point."

"They found a bunch of personal papers nobody knew about, and some paintings and sketches, but nothing anybody would consider as a smoking gun, no."

They walked back to the main hall where the work crew was setting up to do the demolition work.

"Any last directions before we start boss?" one of the workers asked Dave.

"Just be careful you don't destroy anything valuable. We think everything was removed, but keep an eye out for a secret compartment or box in the walls. We're hoping there might be some kind of time capsule buried somewhere."

The building demolition went smoothly; it was pretty much complete when one of the workers came to get Dave.

"I think we found something sir, the cornerstone of the building contained a box."
"Did you open it?"

"No sir, we figured you would want to do it."

Dave called Peter to tell him to come to the site, then followed the worker. The box was rather large, and had an inscription: 'Do not open until July 24, 2016'.

Peter arrived. "Looks big enough to be a painting", he said.

"Yeah, that's what I thought too. And the inscription is bothering me."

"Why is that," asked Peter.

"She knew, almost to the day, when the building was coming down. Assuming Casandra wrote this anyway, I'm not an expert on her."

"I think we should get somebody that is here for the opening," Peter suggested.

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking too, and some publicity. I'll contact a news organization."

The next day quite a large crowd was present for the opening of the time capsule. Along with the representatives of the new museum and the local news organizations, a group of interested parties, most likely tipped off by the museum, were present for the opening.
Two of the museum curators were looking over the time capsule.

"What do you think Bernard?"

"I need to get dating for the ink, but the handwriting appears very much to be Casandra's."

"The seal appears to be intact too; we need to get pictures of the entire outside of the box before it is opened. If this really is the picture that proves Poncewaddle's predictions, we need to be fully documented before we open it," Henry Smith, a leading expert on Casandra Ponswaddle said.

Several hours later after the box was measured, poked, prodded, and photographed, Peter and Dave were given the go-ahead to open the box.

"Are you sure you don't want to do it?" Dave asked Henry.

"No, you two gentlemen were in charge of the building demolition, I think you should do it," Henry replied.

"OK then, but I think you folks should stand with us," Dave agreed.

The staff of the museum who were present got into a semi-circle around Dave and Peter, while the news photographers got ready to take pictures of whatever came out of the box.

Dave broke the seal on the box carefully, and looked inside. "It's a painting all right!" he exclaimed.

"What is a painting of?" someone in the crowd asked."

"I don't know, I can't see it well," Dave said.

"Hold it up facing us, so we can get a good shot of it coming out of the box," one of the photographers said.

Peter helped Dave pull the picture out of the box, and the two of them stood holding it facing the photographers. There was an audible gasp from the crowd, and several photographers looked puzzled as they clicked away taking photos.

When the response died down, the museum staff came around in front to get a look at the picture, as well as Peter, leaving Dave to hold it. They immediately became somber. Dave couldn't stand it, and tilted the picture so he could see it to.

It was a portrait of he and Dave holding a picture of he and Dave holding a picture trailing into infinity, with the entire staff of the museum standing behind them, all accurately portrayed.

"What do you plan to do now?" asked Peter.

"Buy some land well above sea level, and build a house," Dave replied.

"Better make sure it's sturdy, she predicted violent storms too," Peter concluded glumly.
2nd place

What a day! And it was Saturday; a day I was supposed to be able to relax. But at eight o’clock I had been woken by my phone ringing off the hook.

“There had better be a good reason for waking me on my day off,” I warned into the receiver.

“Jeff, you need to get down here,” came the voice of my foreman Don Homes. “Old Miss Brothers showed up with a few of her friends, and is blocking us from starting the demolition. Mind, if it were up to me, and not illegal…”

“Yeah, I get you,” I replied. “I’ll be down as soon as I can.”

I got up, showered and shaved It wouldn’t help to show up disheveled (that would just give Miss Brothers something else to crow about), and grabbed an apple on the way out the door, so at least my stomach wouldn’t try to match her grumbling when I got to the site.

When I was pulling my car into the old school yard, I could see Miss Brothers waving her arms madly in front of Don. “Poor guy,” I thought, “He’s just trying to do his job. I wouldn’t put it pass a lesser man to just up and quit. And look at the rest of his crew, standing back at the equipment laughing. I bet that stops quick when they see who it is that has just arrived.”

Sure enough, a couple workers might have recognized my car and stopped smiling, but as soon as I stepped out, the rest knew who it was, and not only stopped smiling, but tried their best to either look down at their feet or away, hoping I would not have noticed them.

“Morning boys and girls,” I said walking past them. “It sounded like there must be a good cartoon on the tube when I pulled up, but then I thought, wait a minute, I’m sure these dedicated individuals would not be watching television when they are supposed to be at work. Am I right?” The silence was staggering, what with them not sure if I was expecting an answer or not.

At least that put a smile on my face as I left the crew behind me and ventured toward where I knew that smile would not be able to last long; the confrontation with Miss Brothers. I could see Don’s look of relief when I approached. Miss Brothers had not stopped grumbling and waving about, even as he turned away from her.

“Good morning Miss Brothers,” I said in the friendliest voice I could manufacture at the time. “What brings you out here?” As if I didn’t now – sheesh.

You see, Miss Brothers considers herself a relative of the Founding Fathers; though no ancestor of hers has ever seemed to appear on any historical documentation to that fact. She does hold an original piece of paper showing that at least one of them attended the Boston Academy of Mechanics and Engineering. And since that was the building to be torn down this day, and that would lessen even more her claim to fame, she had no intention of letting this destruction continue.

After letting her rant on for a few minutes, while I feigned interest, I finally had no choice but to break in (or we would still be there now):

“Look Miss Brothers, I am well aware that you would like to keep all our historic buildings standing for future generations to enjoy. I mean look at how many visitors there are yearly to ‘The Old North Church’. But there are no visitors to this place, unless you count the homeless looking for a place to stay out of the rain for a night, or the children that don’t pay attention to warning signs and come here to play hide-and-seek. And you heard of the accident one of those same children had when he fell right through one of the floors.

“That is looking like a lawsuit the city will not soon forget. But besides that, neither friends from the historical societies or yourself ever paid enough attention to the place, to even ensure structural stability. Do you remember the flooding we had last September? Well let me show you the results of that.”

I proceeded to take Miss Brothers and her friends around the side of the building, to where we could see a broken basement window. “Take a look.” I said. “You can still see the water left over from that flood covering the floor to a level of about two feet. It was of course completely immersed after that storm, and has finally gotten that low. Well, Miss Brothers, that was not the first time, and nobody seemed to ever care. Now, look at what is left of this mortar between the bricks. You can scrape it away with your finger. This building is just waiting to collapse upon itself, and there is nothing that can be done to prevent that from happening, except to take it down ourselves before anyone else gets hurt.”

“But this school was built in 1625,” shouted Miss Brothers, “and that should be enough to warrant fixing it up and keeping it as an historical site.”

“Nice try, Miss Brothers,” I said, “but the original school was built in 1625. These buildings were added to make it an Academy in 1700. Look at the cornerstone over there. The original building from 1625 had to be replaced after only seventy-five years. I wouldn’t put that past being from flooding either.”

“Hey boss,” Don broke in, “you think there might be a time capsule in that there cornerstone? I mean they did that sort of thing back then right? And if there is, then maybe there will be something in it to help ease Miss Brother’s sorrow for seeing this place go.”

“Huh?” I thought.

“Is it possible?” whispered a few others in unison, while Miss Brothers actually spoke the words aloud.

“Well,” I replied, “it won’t hurt to look, one we get down to that stone.” I smiled, as for the first time since arriving at the site, Miss Brothers actually did so, too.

I told her that it would be Monday before we would have the destruction completed enough to be able to get to the cornerstone, and that we would let her know when, so she could be there when we checked to see if it indeed did hold a time capsule.
Everything went back to normal then, with me returning home to enjoy the rest of my weekend. Miss Brothers did something no one would have thought her capable of doing though. She actually brought meals out for the crew the rest of the weekend.

Sure enough, about ten o’clock Monday morning, the cornerstone had been laid bare, and it was safe to gather round it. Don had already tested it with a small hammer and determined that it did sound like it might have a hollow area inside.

Feeling magnanimous. I handed a small sledgehammer to Miss Brothers: “Be my guest. Take the first swing.”

Happily she grabbed the hammer from me and swung it with more force that I thought a lady of her age could possibly have. We were awarded by a clunking, whooshing noise as it appeared a vacuum had been released, and there was an opening in the stone. It didn’t take much work to finish opening the stone and there in the hollow was a metal container. A time capsule!

A friend of Miss Brothers had been filming this whole operation, and we said that this should probably lead the news on television tonight. She smiled at that, thinking she too, would have a moment of fame, if the news station used her name, of course.

It was trickier opening the container that it had been the cornerstone. It had somehow indeed been vacuum sealed. But once opened, it did reveal some treasures. There were blueprints of all sorts, including an architectural drawing that appeared to be of ‘The Old North Church’ – titled ‘Christ Church’ which was the original name of the famous Boston landmark.

By the looks of the contents, It seemed that many students here had gone on to further fame. We just had to hope there was something from A relative of Miss Brothers.

Sure enough there was, but it took a while before anyone got around to noticing the monogram on it, since it had no right being there. It was no doubt a telegraph key. Not as fancy as some I have seen, but then, they didn’t even exist, as far as we knew, until the 19th century. Morse code wasn’t even invented until 1836.

Of course maybe they could have just used the simplicity of the device as a warning mechanism. If so, then this indeed could put new meaning to the “one if by land, two if by sea” phrase.

No doubt Miss Brothers will make the most of this, as her ancestor’s monogram was that shown on the key. And if she has her way, history books may need to be re-written.