Note: May 31, 2015:
The work on the trail is now complete. I have modified the clues for the"The Wondrous Box" below.
I recently received a rather extraordinary letter from a gentleman whom I have never met. Without further preface, I am printing the contents below.
It is with some trepidation that I write this letter to you. You do not know me, nor I you, but I noticed your address on an old membership list of the CIA (you know the one of which I speak) in St. Louis. Seeing that your residence is in mid-Missouri, I felt compelled, albeit apprehensive, to contact you concerning a subject that you may find quite unbelievable and may conclude that I am quite mentally unstable. I would not blame you. I hope, however, that you will read what I say with an open mind.
I see no easy way to broach the matter, so I will get directly to the point. I am the descendant of one of the Doctor's former companions. I suspect I do not need to elaborate on which Doctor. If, In the event of having read that bold assertion you have not cast this missive away with scorn, I will elaborate.
Several years ago, I inherited several items which had originally belonged to my great-great-great grandfather, for whom I was named. One was an old chest which was built in the early nineteenth century and has been passed down from one generation to another. Upon close examination I found it to have a cleverly constructed false bottom in which there was a small leather bound journal belonging to said ancestor. My excitement was immense and, of course, I immediately sat down to read it.
I was dumfounded when the nature of the narrative was revealed to me. My own ancestor had spent time in the company of the esteemed time lord from Gallifrey! He had never told anyone of his experiences so far as I am aware.
It was said that he entertained his children and grandchildren with exciting and wonderful tales that were rich with action and detail, but never claimed that he had been a participant in any of them. I suspect he knew his family would think him delusional. It was true that when he was a young man, he had been out of touch with his family for several months, but when questioned about his absence he said he had been in London for a while, and indeed he was quite knowledgeable about that city. He settled down, pursued a respectable and profitable trade, married and raised a family of five children. Nothing seemed to bother him very much (which is not surprising since he writes in his journal that his party encountered the Dalecks at one time and after that everything else seemed quite tame). It would appear that while the chest was in his possession, he added the false bottom so that the book would not be found until after he left this earth in the usual manner of mankind.
The reason I am telling you all this is that one of his entries concerns an adventure which apparently happened very near to where you live. It seemed only right that you should know about it, so I have photocopied that portion of the journal and am enclosing it herewith. The drawings which he made may convince you of the veracity of my statement, as there are two items that were certainly anachronistic for his own time period. You may use this information as you will. I am not revealing the rest of the writings at this time. I will have to ponder for a while what use to make of them.
In closing, I hope I have not intruded too much on your time. Whatever conclusions you may draw from this letter, please be assured that I mean you no harm. You will not hear from me again. I have not included my surname or address so that in the event that this letter does not reach you, it will not be returned and possibly fall into the hands of some of my family who might want to have me declared incompetent if they read it. Respectfully yours, Jacob
The following is transcribed from the photocopy which accompanied the letter.
"All in all, our stay in Egypt was not unpleasant, although I have seen enough sand to last a lifetime. It was, however, very exciting to see a pyramid in progress, having seen drawings of some in my history book at school.
After a brief trip, during which we experienced a few moments of minor turbulence, we landed safely in a clearing surrounded by an expanse of luxuriant green. When the Doctor proclaimed that we were still on Earth I was quite happy, even though it was several hundred years later than where we had been, but still well before the time of my birth, and the area appeared to be uninhabited by humans, though rich with wildlife and vegetation, much of which was familiar to me.
Eliva was the first to step out. She pronounced it to be a very fine day indeed. Ever the botanist, she set out immediately to find something new to study and sketch and nearly walked into a patch of very robust plants bearing three leaves. I hastened to stop her, since I knew well what they were and wished to spare her the discomfort I knew they could cause.
The Doctor followed her out the door and stood surveying the landscape with a practiced eye. He immediately spotted a black stone that protruded from the ground very near the door. With an "Aha!" he squatted down and studied it for a while and then began to uncover it. After mumbling to himself for a few minutes he called us over, saying he thought he had found a fine puzzle for us, as the stone had markings that definitely had been carved by some force other than nature. Joran ambled over in his usual way, commenting that he was too hungry to think about puzzles. Joran usually ambles and is usually hungry. I don't see how this can be since he seems to expend so little energy. But he has a good mathmetical mind and is very enthusiastic about numbers. The Doctor stood abruptly and stated that it seemed we could indeed use eight slices of a sort of "pastry" which we had encountered in Egypt, but with a slightly different "recipe". Joran asked, "May.I have a large container of coffee?" While this question seemed odd to me, the Doctor nodded and said, "Yes, that is exactly what we need." Then he explained that the carvings were actually words in the Tektitonian language, in which he was conversant, but that they were encrypted. However, we now knew the key numerical sequence with which to decipher it.
Then I understood the reason for Joran's words, and I will definitely remember that useful phrase. When the translation was completed, it was found to be directions to some place in the same general area. (Here the decrypted message and the coordinates were given in the journal.) Always ready for a new challenge, our little party set out to see what we would find. As the navigation system of the Tardis is unreliable for short distances, we made the trek on foot, but it was neither exceedingly long nor arduous, so we were able to complete it fairly short span of time.
When we arrived at the intended destination, we uncovered a wondrous box, the likes of which I had never seen. It was not glass, though it had transparent sides. It was very lightweight and did not break when dropped. It appeared to seal sufficiently to keep water out, but was not difficult to open or close. Inside were a number of small blue paper-like scrolls, tied with cords and sealed, which we did not disturb. There was also a letter which requested that whosoever found the container with its contents please deliver it, if at all possible, to the celestial co-ordinates given, with the promise of a reward. It appeared that a survey team had once been sent to this place, but had met with some dire accident and was unable to communicate with or return to its homeworld. The data had been buried in a desperate attempt to save it until such time that it might be found and taken home.
I would have liked to linger in this place for a longer time but we were compelled to be on our way to Tektiton. And thus ended one of our shortest stays in any one place.I confess that as much as I have relished my adventures with the Doctor and the other companions, this brief sojourn has made me a bit homesick for my own time and my own family."
End of transcription
Of course, when I read this, I knew I HAD to place a box in memory of this heretofore unknown remarkable event. There is no proof that the tale is anything more than fantasy, but I thought the adventure might be fun. So I set out to attempt to follow the clues to the spot where the original container was allegedly planted. Naturally, due to time, nature and human efforts, the topography and the landscape of the terrain have changed considerably since the companions set out on their quest, but using the coordinates from the journal, I was able to locate the probable spot where the Tardis set down. Of course, I did not find the black stone since it is no doubt buried deep underground by this time (or gracing someone's flower garden or in a landfill). From that location I could plot an alternate route to the possible area of concealment. Below you will find encrypted clues, using the same numerical system as key to the original cipher. For this clue, of course, I had to devise the directions to the landing site itself. The stamps were based on the drawings from the journal.
There was no date on this account, and no way of knowing which of the Doctor's regenerations it might have been, so you may imagine it to be your favorite - if you have one. Good luck! The first two boxes are in an area that sometimes has a lot of traffic- both in vehicles and on foot, so please be aware and rehide completely. Thank you!
I welcome your comments, stories, etc. Please let me know if any of the boxes are missing or in need of maintenance.
The clues are encrypted with a polyalphabetic lettershift cipher. This means that same letter in the cipher text could be several different letters in the plain text, that is, when it is decoded. Since you should have the number sequence from the information in the journal you are ready to decipher the message. Write the digits out under the encrypted message skipping all spaces, but keeping the sequence of the numbers. Then, use the number to count back to find the actual letter for the message. For instance if encrypted word is NIUWGV and the number sequence is 2413 you’d go back 2 letters from N to get L, 4 letters from I to get E, 1 back from U to find T, 3 back from W to get T, 2 back from G to find E, and 4 back from V to get R to give you the word LETTER. (I find the easiest way to do this is to use graph paper with square large enough to write a letter inside each square. Then I write the number sequence below the letters, skip two lines and write the next line of cipher. When I am finished writing out the cipher, I can go back and write the solution under the numbers for that line.) When encrypting the clues for these boxes, I continued the sequence from one box to the next without starting over.
THE STRANGE CONVEYANCE
HOXFW AQZKXIMQ YCXN PR QFAM JUJZF. LX CXRVRE HDTBH. QESP WGGU FRDQXUKG TLFQCGX RO IBXC. VGNF TBANF VDUL UT PQ TRSXI. QXQQ GPAOMRNR HBWU KXT HUJHHJ. BGBHO TBHNU VDTX CWRFMH MSPP XPK KVREWNF YHWIOYH FKJSIFX CQ LDMPFS UQM ZJXI WXQZ HOH VUQKRO. ULBY NPJ PBVLX CJK OBRENWI YSPX. MTXM OQTMEJ JPJ UFXSNNXK BPYS UAKFH.
THE ENCRYPTED STONE
ULF QXPMHTX STXV UI ULF KJNRHO XSJN RULOXT YX VNH SINFRPY RG E TYDOV. UFQPAN FURS EOI AGBHBP UMN GTFSCQYNF YWPRF.
THE WONDROUS BOX
I using Caesar's help in the encryption. What is the last name of the actor who played the fourth doctor?
HTSYNSZJ FWTZSI HZWAJ FSI XTZYM TS RFNS WTFI FSI FWTZSI HZWAJ YT NSYJWXJHYNTS, LT STWYM YT KNWXY LWFAJQ WTFI YT
BJXY GD WJXYWTTRX UFWP TS XTZYM BJXY HTWSJK TK UFAJI GTY GD FWHMJWD WFSLJ
Although it is an easy walk to these boxes, the first two are well guarded by an assortment of brambles and brushy shrubs. Probably not great for shorts or sandals.
Please don't be put off by the location of the third box. From what I have observed, the area is not used frequently for the activity for which it was designed. I have never encountered anyone else on any of my walks there, and there are probably only one or two official events held during the year. There really aren't any more dangers here than at any other wooded area.