looked like a great idea.
Nobody looked too happy about Nirvanaâs music choice.Nobody looked too happy at all. The truce was great, but it was going to take a long time for these two groups to become BFFs. As we walked inside, Fritz the mechanic touched an iPod dock and the music stopped. âEfferyone gets ten minutes! Zat vass eleffen minutes. But it felt like four days.â
The sound of accordions and tubas filled the air. As Fritz began clicking his heels and yodeling, people threw food at him. At least both sides were united about that.
âI beg your pardon!â Aliyah bellowed.
Fritz spun around and turned off the music. âZorry,â he said, brushing a banana peel from his shoulder. âI got carried avay.â
âItâs lovely to see you all get along so well,â Aliyah said drily. âAny progress?â
âA few interesting maps,â Hannelore said, holding out a stack of papers toward her. âSome parts of the labyrinth that none of us recognize. Drawings, tooâmystical, religious. Altars, priests, that sort of stuff. But Wenders was careful. Everything was either coded or in Latin.â
As Aliyah took the papers, Cass, Marco, Eloise, and I knelt by the stack of notebooks. All three of them looked just as exhausted as I felt. I unhooked my backpack and took out the Loculus of Language.
I could hear a few gasps at the sight of the luminescent orb. Immediately Aliyah began explaining to the otherswhat had just happened. Ignoring all that, I placed the Loculus on the floor and sat on it. Because I was wearing shorts, the backs of my calves made contact with the Loculus surface. With both hands free, I picked up the notebook marked Number 1 and began reading.
My eyes were heavy. It took all my concentration to focus. For a moment the Latin looked . . . well, Latin. Total gobbledygook.
The next moment, everything began moving. I blinked, thinking I was just too tired. But the ink was breaking up into blue-black filaments, spinning and colliding, scurrying around the page like cockroaches. A numbness rose from my feet and prickled up the sides of my body, until I felt like bees had been let loose in my brain.
âJack, are you okay?â Cass asked.
âYou look like you bit into a lemon,â Eloise said.
I hung tight. Understanding what you heard and understanding what you read were different things, and I guess the reading part was more complicated. So I waited until the words came back into focus.
When they did, they were exactly the same.
But I wasnât.
It was as if I had grown a different set of eyes. As if instead of seeing a bunch of nonsense I was actually reading. Recognizing.
A daily journal of the woebegone crew of the ship Enigma , including observations fantastical and dangerous . . .
âWow,â I muttered.
âWhat? Are you seeing the words in English?â Marco asked.
âNo, itâs more like an optical illusion,â I said. âYou knowâyou think youâre looking at a tree but if you look at it a different way itâs really an old womanâs face?â
âYouâre seeing an old ladyâs face?â Eloise said, peering at the text.
âNo!â I said, scanning the page. âI mean, the words are the same, but I can understand what they mean. Wenders began writing this after his son, Burt, died. âIt has been three weeks since we buried him, and only now have I the strength to write.ââ
ââBut write I must,ââ Cass spoke up. He startled me, until I realized heâd dropped to his knees and was touching the Loculus with his hand. Around the room, both Massa and Karai were gathering around us, listening. ââMany of the crew have also perished, some have become feeble of brain or body. Others, I fear, are planning a mutiny and upon repair of my ship will attempt to return without me. If that is the case . . .ââ
Now Marco was