"This is finally the luck of the draw
Here on the border of peace and war
Inside the crevice 'twixt fear and ennui
Sins to the right, virtue on the left
It cannot be here, and it's not over there
Sweet as cheap wine, but bitter as stale beer
New as an infant, and old as the years"


On and on he droned in the back of my cab
Telling of sorrow, of riches, of oil
Telling of vice, and of fools who said no
He dressed like a bum, had a voice like Old Vic
Eyes of an angel, but a soul etched in black

"She was the first" -- his voice thick with phlegm
"Esmerelda Peralta McKenna
Consecrated by God and killed by a quack
Running away with my dreams and my care
Esmerelda -- I still hear her name in nightmares
That was when I had life, but it's now all a sham
My cash in the gutter, my body to the morgue"


Exited the cab suddenly at a run, and I
Stopped in traffic, shouted, raged at the man
Stiffed me for a good twenty dollars
And all by rattling on about his damned Esmerelda

Gunned the engine hard, back in traffic again
Edging back to the airport for the night's next fare

So I'm camping in the woods one night, sitting by my nice warm camp fire waiting for my can of beans to cook. I'm writing by the firelight with a pen into a notebook I bought at a store on the way here just for the very purpose it now served. Nobody around. And I get a weird feeling like I'm being watched. So I look around. Nothing. Shrug, back to writing.

Then I see it—a flash of light out in the woods. I stare blankly for a minute or two until it flashes again. Then it begins flashing rapidly. Short, long, short short, long. I know what it is immediately. Or at least, I know what it could be. I never have been one for remembering all those letters and dots and dashes. I start jotting them down.

Eventually I notice the pattern repeats. Once I record two full repetitions (correcting my mistakes along the way) and verify that the next sequence is a third repetition, I put my pen down. It keeps going for a few more repetitions and then stops.

And that's the end of the story. The next morning I tried to find the spot where the flashes came from, but there was nothing. I'm no ranger, and it's hard to estimate distant location in the dark, but I searched pretty thoroughly and it was just leaves and trees and rocks.

I've never been able to decode the message. I checked it against a table of Morse code letters to no avail. I showed it to a few friends, some of them more interested than others, but none of them had any enlightening suggestions. Here it is, just as I copied it down that night:

.-.-.-.----.......---.----..---.-----.-..--..-.------.----
------.-------..---.----.-...-..---.......-.---....--...-.
.-..-...-.-..---.---..----..---.--.--.....-...--.-.--.-.--
--.-..-.--.--..--.-....------....--.-...-.---.----.-.---..
-.....-..-..-.--.----.--..-.-.-----..---.---...-.---.-..--
-.....-..--.....--.......-..-..---.--..--..-.....-.-..-..-
-.-..---..--.-.-.-.--.-.-....----.--.--..--.-.--.......-.-
...-....--.---.-.-..--.--...--.--..--..-..---.-....------.
.-.-.-...-.-.---.-.--.---..--........--......--..-------.-
..--......----.....-..--.-.---..---..--..-.-.-.--.-.--...-
.--..-...-.--.---.-..----..------..--.-..--..--..-.....-.-
---..---------.-...-.---.-..--..-...-.--..-.--.--....-----
-.---...--.--.--.-.....-.-.-.-.-.--.---..-.--.-.---.-....-
.-.---..--..---.-......-.---...-...--.----.-.--...----..-.
-.-..-.---.--.-.--.-.---..---------...-...-----.--.-....-.
-.-..-........--.--.-..-.-..-.-...-.--..-.....--..-....-.-
-.---------------..-----.-....------.---.--..--.-.-.-.-..-
-.---..-..---.-....-.--.--.-..-..-----..---.-..-----....-.
--..--.-.-.-...---....----...---...--..--.-.-..-...-...-..
-..----.----.-....-..-...---.---.--......-.....---..-....-
-..-..-...-...-..-..----.----.-....-..-..-.---------.-----
.-..--.---..-.....--.---.--.------..-.---.-..---.....-..--
..--.--.-...----.-.-.....-.------.-----.-.---.--.-..---..-
-.--.---.------..--.-...---.---.--.-.....-..---.----.-----
..---.---.--.---..-.------.--.-.--...-.-----.......-...-..
-.----...--.---------.--.-....-.-....--.----.-...--.----..
...-....-.-..-.-.....--.--.---....---.-...-..---...-..--.-
....-.-..--.--.--..--.----......---..----.-...-.---...-...
-.--....-..-.--.----..--....----.----.......-...-..-.--.--
-------..----..--..--..-.-..-..-..-...-.--.-...--.---.....
-.-..-.-....-..-..-..---.-...-.--.-..-..-.---..--.---.---.
..-.-.-...---.---.--....-.----......--.---.-.---...--.--.-
--..-.-.--.--.---..-----.-..---.....-.--.----.-..-...-.-..
..-.---...------.-..-..-....-..-...-
(from here it repeats)
.-.-.-.----.......---.----..---.----- (and so on...

Note: The message is 1950 flashes long. It took ten or fifteen minutes per repetition, and the transmission speed varied considerably (pausing up to ten seconds at times) but was occasionally fast enough that I screwed up a few parts. If it hadn't repeated so many times this would probably be a disclaimer as to the accuracy of my transcription.

 


Accidentally part of Horrorquest 2008.

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