Luke Triton and the First Surprise –Part 1—

Luke sat at the table, kicking his legs under his seat as he flipped through the new puzzle book he had gotten from the professor. He had earned it, of course, and paid with his picarats. He had gone from five hundred ninety-six to two hundred-twelve, but it was worth it. The professor, on the other hand, still had well over a thousand. Luke thought he was saving up to trade for a day of cleaning the office. Not that Luke minded—he rather enjoyed tidying up the professor's things. He always found at least three hidden puzzles in the mess and plenty of strange artefacts as well. The professor even let him play with them sometimes!

"Good morning, Luke."

"Morning, papa," Luke replied, looking up as Clark shuffled into the kitchen.

"Another puzzle book?" Clark yawned as he reached for the coffee. "Did the professor give them it you?"

"Yes."

"Did you say 'thank you'?"

"Yes, papa."

"Good boy. Are you going to Layton's again today?"

"Yes."

"Don't you have school?"

"It's Saturday, papa."

"Oh. So it is. Have fun at the professor's, then. Don't bother him too much."

"Yes, papa."

Clark ruffled his son's hair and stumbled sleepily back into the hallway.

Upon turning to the next page, Luke saw a small note taped over one of the puzzles.

I'm not bigger than a breadbox. What am I?

"What a funny note," Luke said. "I wonder what it means." He glanced up at the clock on the wall. "I'll be late if I don't leave soon." He hopped down from the chair and neatly pushed it in, then proceeded to get his bag from his room. He opened it to put his puzzle book in (just in case he got to the university a little early and the professor was still in lecture. The professor himself was certainly never boring!) and found another note taped to the inside of the front flap.

I'm not a boomerang. What am I?

Luke stared down at the note, confused. Why ever would the note say that? "Boomerang" certainly wasn't the first thing his mind had leapt to. Many things were smaller than a breadbox, after all. Unless the notes weren't related?

Luke shook his head. No, the notes must be related. Alone, they were far too unspecific. If this was the professor's doing, which Luke was sure it was (as he was always playing games like this), the notes were sure to be linked. A true gentleman always knows to never reveal too few—nor too many—clues when creating a puzzle. Give away too little and the answers are limitless. Give away too many and the answers are obvious.

Nonetheless, Luke picked up his bag and ran down the stairs to the front door. After making sure to lock up, he proceeded to the train station.

He had been on the train many times before with the professor. Without batting an eye, he bought his ticket and went to the platform to wait for the train that would take him to the university. He got a few strange looks of concern from the other passengers. One woman even walked nervously up to him and asked if he was lost.

"No, ma'am. I'm going to the university."

"You're, ah, awfully young to be going to university. Shouldn't you stick to elementary first?"

"I'm meeting someone," Luke replied, scowling. He didn't like it when people called him little, indirectly or otherwise. He then remembered that true gentlemen never scowl and plastered a rather painfully fake smile on his face.

"It's getting nippy out. Make sure you don't forget your hat next time, or your ears will be cold," the woman warned.

"Thanks," Luke said woodenly.

Though the ride to the university only took around twenty minutes, it felt like an eternity to the young boy. The woman kept pestering him, fretting over him like an overprotective mother. Do you have a quarter for the telephone? Do you know your phone number? Do you know who to go to if you get lost? Do you know your house address? Little boys shouldn't ride the trolleys alone, you know.

"My mama said I shouldn't talk to strangers," Luke said eventually, slipping away from her at last.

After the train ride, Luke only had a five minute walk left to the university. It wasn't the first time he had gone to the university alone, but it was the first time he had to find the professor's classroom alone. He had been told Lecture Hall 2090. Which building was that again?

Luke decided to go on memory alone and walked the arched pathways of the university. The woman was right, he admitted. It was rather chilly. Maybe next time he would wear a scarf.

After asking three wandering students and a rather exhausted looking professor, he found his way to the lecture hall. The class hadn't finished yet, it seemed, so Luke stood on his tiptoes and pressed his nose against the glass pane in the door. The professor looked so smart down there! He knew the professor was a genius, of course, but it never really struck him until he saw the man teaching. Luke wondered if one day he'd be sitting in one of those seats, listening to that very same lecture. He sure hoped so.

Finally, the class was over and rather sleepy looking students shuffled out, murmuring complaints about how damned early the class was held. Luke glowered at them. Who could sleep when the professor was talking?

"Luke, my boy, there you are. I hope I haven't kept you waiting long," Layton said, appearing at the door.

"No, professor, I only just came. I saw you teaching!"

"Did you now?" Layton smiled. "I hope I didn't look as silly as I felt."

"Not at all!" Luke replied. "You looked very smart!"

"Thank you, my boy." Layton tipped his hat. "Now, what would you like to do today? I heard that there's a new movie opening at the theatre, I do believe it's about—"

"Professor, did you write these notes?" Luke interrupted.

"Now, Luke, a true gentleman never cuts off another," Layton scolded gently.

"Yes, yes," Luke said absently. "But did you?"

"No," Layton said in a manner that said to Luke yes, absolutely I did.

Luke grinned, unable to contain his excitement. "Is it a puzzle? Is it a new puzzle game? Are we going to play a game, professor?"

"Calm down, my boy. Like I said, I haven't the foggiest what you are talking about," Layton replied.

But he still smiled.