Scene 10

“Maybe the numbers on the sleeve are some sort of cryptic navigation code that matches locations in the phrases.” Bernie was currently listening to his recording of Stravinsky's “Rite of Spring” for inspiration.

“How on Earth did you come to that conclusion?” Melody's eyes were suddenly akin to coin slots.

“Well, it just stands to reason.”

“Does it? That seems like quite a leap for you.”

“I'M RIGHT!! Aren't I? You discovered something and it turns out that's what it is.”

“Maybe we should concentrate on the phrases from the note.”

“Write this down, Lon,” Bernie shouted with an amount of exuberance Melody thought excessive and annoying.”

“Mel,” Lon said. “Throw Bern a he'll shut up about it.”

“Unless it's forty pounds and hits him on the head, how's throwing him a bone going to make him shut up.”

“Just tell me I'm right.”

“Fine!” Melody acquiesced. “You're not that far off.” She then went on to explain that the codes actually turned out to be “an old, military location program called the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system. They actually point to five locations in Oregon, although I'm still not sure why: Crater Lake, Mt. Shasta, which I suppose is technically in California, Eight Dollar Mountain and weirdly Kelly Butte. The fifth, mysterious smudged one, looks like it's someplace around this general part of town.”

“So, old smudgy is close by, hmmm?” Lonnie looked out through the front windows as she said this.

Bernie scratched his head, and read the first clue from the letter aloud:

..Ten thousand years of prominence , ten thousand years desolation, afterwards lunacy...

Bernie said, “I wonder which of those pertains to us.”

“Depends on who’s speaking I would guess,” Lonnie said, “Although, I would think it would be clear that we’re all a bunch of lunatics.”

“Agreed,” said Melody. “Although, it’s the amount of lunacy I think that’s in question. I wouldn’t say that even if the current year begins the start of this year of “Lunacy”, that there wasn’t ten thousand years of prominence before it. I mean, the most recent Ice Age was approximately twelve thousand years ago, yes? Even taking into account the Renaissance, most of the time from here to then could not be considered prominent in any way. The Dark Ages, The Black Death, being just a few examples.”

“Soooo,” Bernie began and trailed off. “Ten thousand years of prominence prior to the Ice age.”

“Well, archaeologists have actually dated the Sphinx to possibly twelve thousand years ago or earlier, right?” Lonnie was suddenly not so sure of her statement.

Bernie jumped in without attempting to contradict his wife. “Not to mention such luminary civilizations that possibly date to around that time: there' that bull’s head group, and the one from that book I just read a few weeks ago...oh, and Atlantis, too.”

Melody grimaced but made no comment.

“So this statement, means that this time period was more advanced than us?”

“Go figure,” Melody said, “that cell phones wouldn’t be the pinnacle of modern society. Also, you’re assuming the author knew what she was talking about.”

Bernie cocked his head to the side. “How do you know it was a she?”

“I don’t,” Melody said. “But why do you assume an impersonal pronoun should have to be a he?”

“Okay, fine,” Bernie said. “So what we’re taking away from this analytical discussion is that since we don’t know the author of these quotes, or the intent, then we’re just wasting our time looking for an answer.”

“That’s actually not what I was saying at all,” Melody told him, somewhat flustered. “We might not know the intent, but it’s still a word clue which needs to be deciphered logically to solve the puzzle we’re working on.”

“Okay then. Any clue what that might be?”

Melody only stared at him. “I think this just might be an introduction to the puzzle. An intellectual test Sort of an I know you know this kind of thing, wink wink. And now that we're on the same page...”

“So we're doomed then,” Bernie said, letting his body go limp.

Lonnie attempted to redirect the subject. “How about this one then:

...Only in the great hands of the new dawn shall the meek survive...

“Great, as in large. Large hands,” Bernie said.

“New Dawn,” Lonnie jumped in. “As in renewal?”

“Like the cleaning of the slate of Earth, say from a solar flare?”

“Hmm?” Melody got out a piece of paper and drew a circle in the center. “This is Earth,” she said, tapping on the circle. She then drew another circle an inch or so away from that one. “This is the Sun.” She then drew another circle between the two, and tapped the pencil on her forehead. “Just thinking out loud, here. Have scientists discovered any wandering planets in our solar system by any chance?”

“Ten Thousand Years,” Lonnie said, eyebrows raised. “That does seem to be pretty intervally.”

Melody raised her own eyebrow. She then read aloud the third item on the list:

...The King of the mountain has found his foothold in the eyes of the Beast...

“So,” she said. “Who, then, is this King of the Mountain person?”

“Probably whoever is controlling the government behind the scenes,” Bernie jumped in.

“Don't start with your conspiracy theories, Dad,” Melody scolded. “This is weird enough as it is.”

“Anyway,” Bernie continued. “It's that capital Beast with the eyes I'm more worried about. And why is this king in the beast's eyes?”

“It's just a symbol, “Melody assured him. “It could mean anything.”

“Also, I'm not seeing how any of these messages relate to coordinates in the general Oregon neighborhood.”

Melody shrugged and gave her a father a general “don't blame me” look. “And that leads us to the easy one...” find your true path, you need only but listen to the Rite of Spring at the reflection of sunset.

“Well, I think we did a great job today, girl squad,” Bernie said, getting up from the table. “How about we eat a little dinner, watch a little television and take a little nap.”

“Thematic given how little effort you put into this,” Melody told him. “And did you talk to your boss about taking next week off work?”

Bernie plopped into his chair and struggled to blindly locate the remote. “Huh? What now?”

Lonnie explained: “She wants to take the week off and travel to Mt. Shasta, Crater Lake and Eight Dollar Mountain just to ‘look around’.” Lonnie used finger quotes for the last two words of her sentence.

“It's not like I have any Southern Oregon friends on social media,” Melody said, defensively. Truthfully, she had no social media friends, at all.

Melody folded up her arms and scrunched up her face. It wasn't like she was “an Inuit in an urban countryside”, but had a genuine concern that anonymity had been dripping so long into the Internet that it was now a festering pool of self-involved morons. Melody imagined there was probably nothing worse that finding out your new “besty” was a forty year old man who liked to wear Princess outfits and lived with twenty cats – whom he also dressed up. Plus there were all of those annoying hash tags (which she spitefully called pound signs), and shortened phrases like OMG, and IRL, etc. Why couldn't people just take a typing class and say what they wanted without relying on such pre-defined social...

Melody looked up at her parents and her face relaxed into disappointment.

Bernie turned to his wife, eyebrow raised.

Lonnie turned to her husband and, as though hastily changing the subject but really not, informed him: “An Inuit is an Eskimo, Bernie!”

“OMG,” Bernie intoned. “I totally know that.” He stormed to the kitchen. “If you need me, I'll brb afk.”

Melody slapped her hands against her face, and realized that, at least in some capacity, her thoughts had been broadcast to the world.

“Mom,” she said. “Why do I keep doing this? Is there some mental disorder in your family that no one talks about?”

“Why do you assume it came from my side of the family? If there's anything weird going on genetically, it would have to have come from your father's side.” After a moment, she appended. “Not that there's anything weird about you, honey.”

“So, what did I say?” Melody didn't actually hear her mother's response. At the moment her head was spinning. Since she had no recollection of speaking, she thought she might honestly be losing her mind.

“It was mostly mumbling, but a few words came out.” Lonnie cleared her throat and began her reenactment of her daughter moments ago: “Mumble, mumble, mumble, OMG...mumble “social media...mumble...besty...mumble...forty year old guy in a Princess...mumble.” Lonnie cleared her throat again. “I have to admit I was a little worried about that last one, but I trust you to make good decisions.”

Melody slapped her face again and explained her thought process to her mother. She was thankful that she was home-schooled. She imagined that events like this would be very traumatizing around kids her own age, especially since their responses would most likely be much worse than her father's. She supposed if she were in public school she would simply just have to not think at all – from what she had heard of the place, that kind of strategy was probably the most advantageous anyway.

Bernie suddenly emerged from the kitchen. “Everyone into the car,” he said, frantically. “We're going to go on a hiking trip to Kelly Butte, and see if we can find any clues there.”

“What's with the sudden rush?”

“I thought we could do some shopping along the way. We're out of snacks!”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode One

Melody Jackson

vs. The Message from Space

by BMB Johnson

Scene 10

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