Research notes of Dr. P. Allensen
Date: June 26, 1971
Time: 11:52 am
First day of testing went smoothly. I acquired some of Subject's blood, and I am currently testing it for the genetic markers for his polydactyly. I wonder if his twin is also a carrier for these markers? If so, adding both DNA sequences would greatly increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for my final project.
In reference to the twin, he seems to be performing well on the clues he's being given. He figured out the riddle quite quickly. I currently have the pictures, that will be his next clue, developing in my dark room. He will not be as easy to convince to become a second Subject, as my current one was. I need to call a few of my old contacts, and see if I can obtain something that would make him more…compliant.
Tomorrow's testing will be a bit more intensive for my Subject, as I plan to note his pain response.
Stan felt like he was going out of his mind! Not only did he hardly get any sleep last night, but he was sure he kept catching glimpses, of something white, and silvery as he drove home. He also couldn't shake the feeling the feeling of being watched. This whole thing was driving him mad with worry, and paranoia.
When he'd finally gotten home, the first thing he did was read it again, in the light of his bedroom. The receipt, the puzzle was written on the back of, was for a small convenience store on the next block. He was pretty familiar with it, having stopped there for sodas a few times. He walked over to the bookshelf to find the book he was looking for.
I'll never make fun of you for putting these in alphabetical order again Sixer, he'd thought as he pulled the book out. He remembered this one. They had gotten it as children, so they could send 'secret messages' to each other, 'like 007 does'. He'd flipped through the pages, 'til he found a puzzle that looked similar to the one on the paper. 'Substitution Cipher. Usually a simple swap, by matching letters of the alphabet, to the corresponding number.' Huh. That sounds easy enough.
9-20 19-5-5-13-19 15-21-18 12-9-20-20-12-5 7-1-13-5 9-19 4-5-22-5-12-15-16-9-14-7 18-1-20-8-5-18 17-21-9-3-11-12-25. 25-15-21-18 14-5-24-20 3-12-21-5 9-14 12-5-19-19 20-8-1-14 1 4-1-25. 2-5 1-20 20-8-9-19 1-4-4-18-5-19-19 1-20 15-14-5 16-13 20-15-13-15-18-18-15-23, 15-18 25-15-21-18 2-18-15-20-8-5-18 23-9-12-12 8-1-22-5 8-5-12-12 20-15 16-1-25.
It felt like it took forever, to decode it by hand, but it really only took most of the night. He'd fallen into a restless sleep, not long after decoding it. After of course, he had raged so hard at the paper, for toying with him and his brother, he'd almost ripped it up! The nerve! What kinda sick jerk treats peoples lives like they were games! Like this was just a form of entertainment! People like that make me sick!
He had considered taking the note straight to the cops, and demanding to know if it was enough proof of a kidnapping. With no ransom call, the police had listed Ford as a possible runaway. Even his dad's 'less-than-legal' contacts had turned up nothing.
He decided against it, 'cause they said they would confiscate anything that might be connected, and he couldn't afford to lose that note. They said once the full, twenty-four hours had passed, they'd file a missing persons report, and send out a fax to other districts, with Ford's photo and profile, and would have officers keep watch at all train and bus depots. The hardest part, had been overcoming the urge to tell his parents what was going on, especially when he heard his mom sobbing quietly in the living room, with his dad trying to comfort her.
"I got a few of my old crew lookin' for him, too," he'd said. "If he's still anywhere in Jersey, they'll find him." Stan hoped he was right.
Anyone who knew Stanley Pines, would laugh if they could see him right now. 'Mr. Late-for-Everything' was actually wearing a watch, one he seemed to be constantly checking, as he stood near the front window of the convenience store. He had arrived fifteen minutes before one o'clock, hoping to catch the person who would drop off the 'clue' and get some information out of them.
And if getting that information just happened to involve a left hook or two, well, he wasn't complaining. He'd actually prefer it, truth be told. Stanley had never been the best at waiting, or keeping his emotions in check. If someone or something was bothering him or Ford, he'd start swinging. So now, with nothing to punch, he had all this nervous energy about him, with nothing to do with it.
At five til one, a little boy approached the door of the store. His eyes seemed to be everywhere at once, as if he were looking for someone.
Poor kid. He looks like he could jump out of his skin at any moment, Stan thought. That's when he noticed the envelope in the kid's hand. He stepped out of the store.
"I think you might be lookin' for me, kid."
The boy started slightly. "Y-you weren't supposed to be here!"
"Look kid, just tell me where my brother is. Okay? I just want him home."
"I can't. I was just told to leave this."
He handed Stan the envelope, and turned and sprinted away, like a scared deer.
Stan sighed, and looked down at the envelope. No point in going after a kid. He probably didn't know anything anyway.
He opened the envelope to find a series of pictures inside: a stone angel's wing, a wrought iron fence, part of a tombstone, and a garden spade. On the back of the first one was another number code:
'15-14-5 15-6 20-8-5-19-5 9-19 6-1-12-19-5. 15-14-5 9-19 20-18-21-5. 1-14-15-20-8-5-18 9-19 23-8-5-18-5 25-15-21'12-12 6-9-14-4 20-8-5 14-5-24-20 3-12-21-5.'
He groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose. He was getting tired of this cryptic crap. Did the people who kidnapped his brother really think this was all a game? And what was this leading to? It felt almost like….
It's a test, he realized. His mother's words came back to him, "What if these people are after you, too?"
"That's a chance I'm gonna havta take, Ma," he mumbled to himself. He'd pass any test they threw at him, if it meant getting Ford back.
He walked back into the store, and bought a Peach Cola and a bag of Toffee Peanuts. No sense trying to figure this out on an empty stomach.
He got back in his car, pulled the first picture out of the envelope, and fumbled around in the glove compartment for a pen. Now that he knew the key, this puzzle was easier to decode. Terrific, he thought ruefully. A guessing game.
He spread the pictures out on his lap. The fence he recognized from the 'nice' part of town, from when the beach had been a vacation place for people, who dressed like the Monopoly guy. The angel wing and tombstone? A church, maybe? The spade was the one throwing him off. Was it the meaningless one? He looked at the angel picture. There was something in the background. A church sign! Better than that, one he recognized. It was an old Catholic church in that nicer part of town. He threw the unopened drink and peanut bag into the passenger seat, and put the car in gear.
Hang on just a little longer, Ford. I'm gonna find you. And bring you back.