Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Moleskine

Have you ever heard of the card game Dominion? It's in the vein of Magic: The Gathering, except easier to play and it doesn't entail buying packs of cards in order to win. It's a lot of fun and a few of my friends are quite into it. On Wednesday night we'd arranged to meet up at a 24-hour McDonald's to play while everyone was in the brief grey space between exams and summer work. This particular McDonald's was in Surrey and happened to be closest to the majority of people playing that night. It's about 90 minutes away from my university and apartment by transit and I'd never been there before. The only people who knew I was going to be there that evening were either sitting at the table with me, or possibly could see the event on Facebook, although my privacy settings are quite strict.

The five of us were sitting in a back booth. Halfway through the first hand, I hear my name called out. Not just my name, but my nickname (Ginny) and my last name (my nickname isn't on any official documentation I use, like a driver's license or passport). I turn and a man I have never seen before is approaching the table holding out a small black notebook. He's young, wearing a tank and shorts despite the rather cool weather and quite frankly most resembling Puck from Glee as far as face and hairstyle go. He sets it in front of me and says “You're going to need this.” He turns to go, stops, and reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a white plastic bag and adds it to the table, saying “You'll probably need this, too.”

He cuts through the mass of people in line at the tills and I don't see which exit he heads out of.

Two of my friends at the table mistake the notebook for a passport (it is of similar size and colour to a Canadian passport) and wonder out loud why I had it on me at all. It's not my passport – it's a small softcover Moleskine notebook. In the front cover is written “In case of loss, please return to: / G. L_____ (my surname), / Vancouver, British Columbia, / Canada, Earth, / ca. 2010”. In the “As a reward” space, there is a symbol resembling the syllabic used in phonetic transcriptions of Cree or Inuit and the number 20. On the back cover there are four letters written in chalk that are a little hard to discern: they could be NR-GL, or possibly HR-GL or MR-GL. G.L., as one could ascertain, are my initials.

Inside the plastic bag is a trowel, clearly used and with clods of dirt still attached to it.

The notebook of full of some very strange things, including a list of extinct animals and the dates of said extinction. Some of these dates, however, are several years in the future and some of the names are unfamiliar. There is a written guide to how a Jane Austen era lady would use her fan to signal various intents - “I am jealous”, “I love you”, “I am bored” - but one of the 'moves' is meant to entail “Why didn't you tell me you were an alien?”

At the end of the notebook is a set of instructions and a map to something buried 'not very deep' off a hiking trail near my residence.

Conclusion: time travel shenanigans. Likely a very elaborate gag on the part of my friends, but the level of detail and effort boggles my mind. My best friend made some very concerted efforts to appear innocent and bemused but I suspect her strongly. I won't have a chance to investigate the apparent treasure map until Monday or Tuesday and, suffice to say, the curiousity is killing me.

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