Jacob Knotts, their father’s oldest friend and attorney shuffled into the office. Seeing the four hideous siblings collected in his small room, he smiled. Jacob had retired two decades ago. He had kept his small office in the practice for sentimental reasons. The only client he saw now was his childhood friend Marcus. How Marcus, a kind, gentleman, had managed to raise four such loathsome children was a mystery. Born into a millionaire lifestyle, all four cared more about money than anything.
Jacob cleared his throat and started reading.
“As you know your father left a large fortune of over ten million pounds. This consisted of some bonds, a large amount of cash and several houses.”
“Yes, yes, get to the facts, we know all this.” Michael the eldest son interrupted the old attorney.
“Yes, just tell us who gets the sodding money.” Imogen the, second born, interrupted.
Jacob smiled, at least the siblings agreed on something. From behind the desk, Jacob removed the small chest. The chest was no bigger than an encyclopaedia and was secured with a combination padlock.
“What the fuck,” Jacob, Marcus’ last born muttered under his breath.
Clever, handsome Jacob, Marcus had named him after his best friend. Hoping that some of the good would come out of the name. It hadn’t like the other siblings Jacob was rotten to the core.
“Your father has left the answer in this box. The box contains the last letter he ever wrote. He also left me four letters one for each of you. Each of you will have a task to complete. Once you have completed the task to my satisfaction you will be given a number. The four numbers will open the box and you will gain access to your father’s fortune and most prized possession.”
Jacob had practised this speech many times after Marcus had come to him with his plan to reunite his family.
“Can’t we smash the padlock off for god sake, I have more important things to do than play one of my father’s stupid games?” Sophie said.
“Your father has left clear legal instructions. If any of you refuse to play the game and complete the task then your father’s fortune will be lost to all of you. The tasks are the only way to get the numbers. Even I am unaware what the code is. I was handed the box and the four letters for you.” Jacob smiled as he delivered the news. “The box will stay with me until you complete the tasks and gain the numbers. We will come together in one month if all the tasks have been completed. Then you will all unlock the box together gaining your inheritance.”
At this point, Jacob distributed the four letters to the four people sat in front of him.
“You are not to open the letters, or discuss the tasks with anyone.” Jacob delivered the final condition.
Thank god this would be over soon and these four hideous people would be out of his office. Snatching the letters from Jacob all four left the room without a thank you or goodbye.
“Oh Marcus, my friend, what have you started?” Jacob chuckled.
Michael Thomas was so angry he thought his head would revolve. This was like his stupid father. He was the first born and the rightful heir to all his father’s fortune. Now he had to play this stupid game with his brother and sisters to get access to what was rightfully his. He tore the envelope open as soon as he got in the car. His father’s monogrammed notepaper fell into his hand. He recognised his father’s neat scrawl as he opened the letter.
My first born and rightful heir. Your task is simple. I need you to put right the wrong you committed to your wife and son. You are to sell your apartment. Ensuring that they receive what they should have received in the divorce. Once they have the money owed to them, then you will receive the number to the padlock.
Michael felt his blood pressure rise. Sell his beautiful apartment and give it to that bitch and his brat of his son. Well, stuff his father if that what he wanted, he would sell the apartment for half what it was worth. Smiling to himself he chuckled. Yes, that was what he would do. Sell the apartment for a pittance and then give it to his stupid ex-wife.
It took Michael less than an hour to find an associate who was willing to buy his apartment for half what it was worth. When the associate inquired on why the property was so cheap, Michael told him so that his ex-wife would get nothing. The sale went through within two weeks. Michaels ex-wife received the check on Monday. On Tuesday morning Michael received a piece of paper with the number 3 on it.
Imogen Thomas wasn’t so eager to open her letter. She threw it on the passenger seat of her Audi. She had a hair and nail appointment that she was late for. Some things were more important than her stupid father. She finally remembered about the letter that afternoon. She barked at her assistant to go and collect it. Settling back in the designer sofa she opened the letter using her Versace letter opener.
My first girl, how I loved you when you were born. Your task is simple. You need to put aside all your materialistic ways. You need to live for one week without your luxury and belongings. I require you to live on the streets as a homeless person for one week. You will be followed and observed at all times to ensure you don’t cheat.
The old man was crazy, he had completely lost the plot if he thought she would live on the streets for a week. She grabbed her gold iPhone and hit the button to call Michael.
“Imogen, this is a surprise,” Michael’s voice dripped with sarcasm.
“I’m not doing it, the old man is crazy if he thinks I will.” Imogen raged.
“You will do it. I don’t care what he asked you to do, you will do it. If we miss out on this inheritance because of you I will spend the rest of my life bankrupting you. Imogen do you hear me?” Michael raged.
Imogen slammed the phone down on Michael.
One week later, Imogen finally came to accept her fate. Reasoning with herself that it was only a week and how hard could it be. It would all be worth it for her share of 10 million. She left her flat with a small rucksack of clothes and a couple of hundred pounds for food. She smiled when she thought of the expensive sleeping bag she had taken with her to keep her warm at night.
The first night on the street Imogen settled down on the steps of the church to get what little sleep she could. Even with the sleeping bag, she felt the cold seeping through to her bones. She turned several times to try to get comfortable. She felt like crying. Just an hour ago one of her expensive nails had fallen off. Still, her father was not going to get the better of her. Finally, she drifted off to sleep whilst making a virtual list of how she was going to spend her millions.
Two hours later she woke with a start with the feeling someone was going through her pockets. She woke up and screamed as the dirty man in front of her took the £200 out of her pocket and ran off. Imogen chased him for all she was worth. All those days in the gym finally paid off. Ten minutes later she had lost all sign of the thief. Returning back to her doorway she found the rest of her stuff was also missing.
Imogen saw the man who had taken her money two days later. Tired and exhausted she had tried to book herself into a hotel using her watch as payment. The man had appeared, removed the watch from her wrist and reminded her of the conditions of her task. Only then did she realise this was the man who had been paid to keep a check on her.
One week later, dirty, tired and broken, Imogen finished her task. She received an envelope with the number 7 on it. Not one of her false nails remained.
Sophie was glad to get out of the room at the solicitors. She opened the envelope in the coffee shop opposite. Marking the occasions with a selfie and Instagram post to her loyal followers. She thought about snapping a photo of the letter but didn’t, not with the conditions her father had stipulated.
You were such a beautiful baby, how I had high hopes for you. Your task is simple. You need to turn away from your vain existence. I need you to have your head shaved and then wear your new look for a month with pride. No wigs or headscarves.
Sophie drew in a deep breath and ran her hands through her golden locks. Shave her head, fine if that is what it took to get hold of the millions, what was the problem? Jessie J had shaved her head and she had rocked the look. Sophie could do that no problem. She took herself straight to the hairdressers to have her head shaved. Best to get it over and done with. This way the month would be up and she could wear a wig when she had to get back in a room with her hateful brothers and sister.
The hairdresser asked her several times if she was sure. She assured him it was a charity thing. As she left the salon she snapped a selfie with the comment — sporting a new look what do you think?
Sophie’s first shock came the next morning. She logged onto her Instagram and found that she had lost more than 500 followers. Her followers fell for the next month. At the end of the month, Sophie received the number 8.
Jacob despised his father more than anyone. He had grown up with three awful siblings and a father who had constantly pushed him to be a better man. Jacob had spent his life lying to his dad and siblings and watching them fall for his stories. He stood outside Knotts and Son solicitor and tore the envelope open.
My last born and favourite. With you, everything I did wrong with the others came right. You are to inherit my whole fortune but, you can’t tell the others. Your task is simple. I need you to go to the police and tell them you lied about the accident last year when that elderly man was run down. The ten million is all yours and will be more than enough to escape a court case for this matter.
Jacob grinned, the old man wasn’t that bad. He laughed to himself when he thought about the look on the faces of his brother and sisters next month. Ringing his lawyer he demanded that he meet him at the local police station.
Much to the bemusement of the lawyer, he sat next to his client when he confessed to running an old man down on a zebra crossing. Jacob was charged with reckless driving, attempted murder and a handful of other charges. He was bailed to appear in court in six weeks time, for trial. As he left the court Jacob was handed an envelope with the number 1 written on it.
He smiled and then fired his confused lawyer. Ten million would buy him the best legal representation in the country. He no longer needed this idiot.
Jacob Knotts once again sat behind his desk with four faces staring back at him. Michael angry and inpatient. Imogen looking slightly broken from her ordeal on the streets. Sophie sporting a new blond wig and Jacob as cocky as ever.
Placing the box on the desk Jacob said. “You all have your numbers now, the combination goes in age so Michael you are first.”
All four children turned the dial on the padlock to their number. Jacob the youngest opened the box and snatched the letter out of the box with a grin.
“It’s okay old man, I will read this.”
The rest of the siblings glared at their younger brother but allowed him to proceed.
You have at last done what I have asked of you and made some right in this world. As promised I will declare my most prized possession and who gets my inheritance. First my most prized possession. I would like to introduce you to Heidi your youngest sister. Born from an affair I had many years ago with my secretary. Heidi is a hardworking teacher who works in the poorest part of the city. She is a joy and my most prized possession. Not greedy, materialistic, vain or a liar. She is also rather rich now as she inherited ten million from me last month.
As always, your loving father.