It was 10:00 before I finally made it back my dorm room, exhausted from an evening of rehearsals and group meetings. While the thought of drafting papers or doing reading assignments was overwhelming, the thought of cross-referencing all those little numbers into that book I had checked out was irresistible.
I sat down at my desk and set out the book and note, starting from the “WELL” I had discovered earlier and moving forward. D-O-N-E. A congratulatory message to start.
Though exciting at first, the work quickly grew tedious. I found myself having to check and re-check letters as I lost count over and over again. My back grew stiff from being tense and hunched over. Still, each newly formed word gave me a little boost to keep going.
In between look-ups, I couldn’t help but inspect some of the passages of the book. “Lengthening of the human lifespan to superhuman levels,” “direct connection between our minds,” “as if those robots were parts of their bodies.” Everything sounded a little out there, a little new age. But the book was clearly presenting these ideas from a scientific standpoint. The word, I quickly learned, was transhumanism. My interest was piqued, and at several points I had to remind myself of the task at hand after getting caught up in a particularly curious chapter.
Finally, I reached the end of the small paper and had a complete message:
WELL DONE YOUVE COMPLETED THE FIRST CLUE
YOUR NEXT CLUE TIME AHEAD THE INNOVATOR BEHIND THE
STARS BELOW THIRTY STEPS EAST LOOK BENEATH
The clue didn’t make much sense, and I thought maybe the words were jumbled, but “thirty steps” seemed to indicate a place somewhere on campus. I checked the clock and found that an hour had passed. I needed to get up early the next morning to finish up some reading and work for my classes and couldn’t justify spending more time on this puzzle thing. Besides, it would be easier to find whatever I was looking for in the daylight. I turned out the lights and got into bed, thoughts of the clue floating through my head as I began to fall asleep.
The sound of someone outside my door drifted into my consciousness, not uncommon in our shared hallway. But the sound of something being slid underneath my door was enough to jolt me back awake. I sat up quickly enough to see a shadow in the light from the stairwell and watched it retreat. I held my breath, only barely able to discern the sound of light footsteps quickly making their way back down the stairs.
I got up and retrieved the item, another small black envelope, same as the one I had received that morning. I briefly considered bolting out the door and down the stairs to chase down my messenger, but knew it was too late to catch up.
I opened the envelope and took out a card with a single, brief message.
You’re running late.
To be continued…