Periodic East, Chapter 32 – Finding The Note
Daniel, Miles, and I returned from our supply excursion. I could tell he was a little restless, but Daniel kept his word about only foraging what he could reach and not climb any tree or reach for a fruit dangling from a branch off a cliff. Our haul was honestly not nearly as much as we usually gather, but our group was now far fewer in numbers, we honestly still had supplies to last us for a week, and our new living conditions vastly improved, which made morale skyrocket.
While we were out, we were told by Ada, Sara, and a few others that Oscar remained mostly silent and docile. People were leaving gifts of pelt, candy, and personal items outside one of the buildings in the cavern that he usually hung around.
When Oscar saw that we had returned, he made a beeline for Daniel. Oscar’s voice echoed off the cavernous walls. Daniel replied in his native tongue and Oscar remained still and silent. He then made a one-syllable sound, turned and continued his random pacing around the cavern.
I asked Daniel what they talked about, and Daniel just said that Oscar had asked where we were and why we had left. And Daniel gave his answer of searching for food and what humans needed to survive. The one-syllable response from Oscar that ended the conversation loosely translated to “I see.”
Things were great. They really were. We had all been here just over a week. The space was more than ample; enough for all of us. We started designating and decorating certain buildings for certain purposes.
One was converted into a school for Sara, another had been converted into a crafting station for Ada, who I just found out was an artist from Ukraine. Daniel had personally taken it upon himself to help her design it however she wanted. Miles claimed the building across from the one that was designated for Sara’s school. Daniel chose the building between Ada’s studio and where Oscar was.
I stayed at a building on the edge of the cavern close to the geysers. Who would have thought that I would miss humidity that much? I unpacked my personal items and arranged them exactly as I had them on the boat, but this space was now nearly four times the size. It felt enormous.
Then one morning we woke up and Oscar was gone. Everyone was unsure over how to react to his absence. A few people suggested that Daniel go out and look for him. Some worried that we had done something to anger or offend him. Some were also secretly relieved that Oscar had left.
“Did Oscar tell you he was leaving or when he’d be back?” I asked Daniel already knowing the answer.
“Oscar tell me nothing, Tiberius,” Daniel responded with a confused tone.
“Did he mention that he wanted or needed something in the last few days that maybe you forgot?” Miles asked as we all tried to think of a rhyme or reason why the alien suddenly vanished without a trace.
“I don’t remember,” Daniel admitted to Miles almost ashamed of the response.
“Maybe he left a note,” Sara suddenly chimed in. “Don’t people sometimes leave notes saying where they went or when they’ll be back?”
“Oscar isn’t a person,” I said to Sara, which caused her to give me a look of utter confusion.
Suddenly Daniel did remember something from what Sara said. “A note,” he said with a loud whisper. “He did say something to me soon after we arrive,” Daniel began. “Oscar talk to me about what is best way to message everyone and I say to write a note and I read and translate.”
“So you’re saying he might have left us a note somewhere in here?” Miles asked.
“Maybe,” Daniel said with new youthful exuberance. “I find it and translate,” he concluded.
“We’ll all look,” I said looking around at the group that gathered. “If you find a note somewhere, just shout.”
And just like that we all dispersed to find a note that may or may not exist. The first place to obviously look was the building that Oscar spent the majority of his time. No one had ever seen the inside. Daniel and Ada entered Oscar’s building. It was filled with items from another world; things that they nor anyone else had ever seen before that neither one of them could make heads or tails of. They called for the rest of us to come see.
Inside Oscar’s building were bright, metallic objects that ranged in size from something that would fit in the palm of your hand to a six-foot person. We were all apprehensive about touching or even getting too close to any of these things.
There was still a possibility that Oscar would return at any second, see us all rummaging through the alien technology, and kill us all on sight. I started to get nervous all of the sudden.
“Miles,” I said to him aside, “why don’t you wait outside and see if Oscar suddenly returns.”
Miles knew what I was getting at and reluctantly nodded and quietly made his way outside as everyone else kept looking around at a loss for words.
“Daniel, did Oscar ever tell you anything about what he did before we arrived?” I asked.
“No, Tiberius,” Daniel replied.
“Maybe it’s not in here,” I concluded. “Or maybe it is and no one here knows the first thing about finding it. I mean it’s not like he would just spray paint it on the back of a random building, right?”
“Tiberius! Daniel,” Miles suddenly was heard shouting from the distance. “You need to come see this. Now,” he continued as we all rushed out and followed the sound of Miles’ voice as he kept shouting.
We stopped outside the back of Daniel’s building where we saw another alien metallic object at Miles’ feet that was a powerful makeshift projector of sorts. A beam of light shot out of this little device that expanded into a projection that took up an entire 10-foot wall.
We all looked at Daniel in desperation to translate and Daniel just squinted at it as he was still adjusting to have a young man’s vision again. Daniel stayed completely silent except for the faintest of whispers I would hear of him-I assume-reading the note to himself over and over.
It was an agonizing few silent minutes until Sara broke it. “What does it say?” Sara asked. “When is Oscar coming back?”