emily_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Hypothesis
Synopsis hy·poth·e·sis (hīˈpäTHəsəs) n. a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.
Date September 22, 2018

Elmhurst, Julie and Emily's apartment

“I need new bandaids.”

It’s the first thing Squeaks has said since leaving the library and arriving at the apartment inhabited by Emily and the mysterious Julie. It’s spoken out loud and to no one in particular, just a simple observation. Bandaids are needed. She’s been trying for a while now to get the peeled off one to stay stuck and covering the marks on her arm without much luck. Her thumb rubs over the tan fabric, trying to press the sticky into her skin and make it stay a little bit longer while her eyes wander around the room.

The teen hasn’t wandered far from the door either, while Emily went further into the residence to find her copy of the mysterious book. She patiently waits, studying the furniture and belongings that make the apartment a home with that same open curiosity she’d had at the library.

A look is given to the sad flap of semi-sticky bandaid, and eventually it’s pulled off and pushed into one of her pockets. A replacement is going to be needed since that one refuses to work. Freed of that problem, Squeaks pulls off her backpack to pull out the journal with its mishmash of letters. The papers with the deciphered codes from when the mystery started are fished out also. As an afterthought, she digs around a bit more to find a half-used pencil and some papers. Just in case.

The power's out today, for which Emily won't apologize because she has no control over it, but she does open the blinds by the sliding glass door with a shove of her hand to allow for as much brightness as possible. Her own bag has been dumped on the well-worn recliner, her hand touching the back of it as a brief, if not entirely stable support while she walks back toward the couch.

"If you want water or something, just let me know." Wouldn't do to not be a good host. To be honest, she's not used to having people around like this.

In her other hand is her recently-purchased copy of Wolves of Valhalla, retrieved from her nightstand beside her bed. Emily's eyes dart to the tattoo on Squeaks' arm for any movement, and she lifts the book up, waving it back and forth briefly. "You think anything in particular has to happen to trigger it?" she asks, even though she's in the midst of her own attempt at it.

Looking up from gathering all of her things when Emily returns, Squeaks shakes her head. “No, I'm good.” The journal and its collection of accessories is hugged against her chest and a small step away from the door is finally taken.

New places are usually explored, but she's still a little unsure.

The question has the teenager looking at her wrist, where just the two marks still rest. “I don't know,” she answers, even though it sounds like a question. “Before it's just when the book went by.” After a few more seconds of indecision, Squeaks takes some more steps away from the door and toward the couch.

"Well, all right." Emily shrugs, tossing the paperback onto the coffee table before the couch. The apartment is well-kept, almost to the point you'd not immediately suspect active inhabitants. The sofa and recliner are more or less huddled around the spotless coffee table, both facing an empty nearly-half of the living space. There's a single splash of color on the wall by the door — a painting of a winged Statue of Liberty, lightning bolt in one hand and flame in the other; a smiling, hovering sentinel that blesses a bright-looking New York City.

Even if Squeaks doesn't want anything, she does. "Maybe it wasn't that book after all?" she wonders out loud as she turns away, hand against the wall. There's a water bottle on the counter with her name on it. Not literally. She leans over the partition separating the living space from the kitchen, snagging the bottle up and popping the lid. She sighs, shaking her head as she considers the journal for the first time.

“I don’t know.” But Squeaks is thinking about it. She final closes the last little bit of distance to the couch, at least as much as she’s willing to go. Twisting her legs a bit, she sits down on the floor, criss-cross style, and settles the journal down in her lap and the other things in front of her legs. She sorts through the papers first, her unpracticed handwriting being turned so it can be read from the couch and in order that they were written.

“The journal said it was scattered. And to look in the books,” the teen explains as she lines up each little square all neatly. She remembers that much without even looking at her notes. “You can see here.”

Then, scooting back from the notes some, she looks up at Emily. “The next time I looked in the journal, there was just jumbled letters. Just like how I found it the first time.” Squeaks pauses, then looks down at the leather book again. “That table you used, it was hidden in there. I found it, but Gillian said I could keep it. And every time I looked it was just jumbled letters and things.” Except the time at the bookstore. She looks up at Emily again and lifts her shoulders a teeny bit.

The first sign that something might be happening are these tiny black splotches that seem to be leaking out of the book. Emily’s book. The one that was dropped on to the table with the papers. It’s so slow that they may not even have noticed it immediately. The different size specks form together until they become bigger, and more noticable. They move at a crawl, but once they all get formed together, about the size of an oddly shaped quarter, they start to move across the table in the direction of the young girl with the mark.

Emily's dropped down onto the couch with a sigh, taking a swig of the water before setting it aside. She glances down at Squeaks arranging her papers before reaching out for the book on the table, probably to flip it open and skim the pages. The drip that comes off of it is noticed out of the corner of her eye, and she shoots a quick look at her water bottle before fully examining it. No… she hadn't spilled anything…

No, the book itself is leaking, and it's leaking black. "What the f—" she starts, frozen in place. The natural reaction should be to drop the book again, but she's turning it over instead, trying to figure out where it comes from. "Squeaks, get up, I think it's…" she starts to say, but doesn't know where else to go. I mean, sure, the goal was to have it write more on her, but… She shakes the book open, thumbing through the pages to see if she can find where the droplets are slipping out from.

No way. No way. "Talk about reliable. Holy shit. It really…"

Those little drips aren't noticed by Squeaks at first, she's watching Emily and wondering about the journal and the books. There's no way it could have been imagined, those just don't leave marks or make them magically appear. Right? It's those puzzles that leave her kind of preoccupied until the young woman starts looking around for… something?

Then she noticed the drips. Which have turned into some kind of small blobby thing that's …moving toward her?

She watches, fascinated and unsure by turns. Squeaks’ eyes turn up to look at Emily at the warning, then return to the smudgy thing when that warning trails off. “But wouldn't it just follow?” Not that she wants to test that theory. Instead, she sticks with their current plan and nervously reaches for the splotch with a finger.

Inside the book as she flips through the pages, Emily sees movement. A letter that had been a b becoming an h as it had been intended, an o becoming a u. Printing errors were common in books. She may have noticed them, she may have not. The book had had many. Smudges of ink that made the letters look slightly wrong, some that changed the letters entirely. Some that just looked like the ink ran slightly during the printing. They all seemed to be picking up off the page, moving along to the edge of the paper and trying to find the way off.

On her own hand, if they have to, sliding up onto skin. They feel cool. And wet, without seeming to actually be wet. But they definitely are black upon black. The darkest black.

The one, quarter sized smudge starts to shift and change, until it leaks into lines and letters.

Only this time they are readable.


"I mean, that'd line up, but…" Honestly, Emily just can't believe this is actually happening. She's paused in her flipping to watch Squeaks reach out for the droplets. The cool slither of the ink as it runs over her fingertips is the final straw, the book dropped again on the surface of the table. Wide blue eyes trace the letters beginning to form on the table's surface.

"Okay." she blanches. It wasn't like she didn't believe Squeaks before, but seeing it and feeling it herself was an entire other thing.

Besides, she thought she'd bought a history book, not a fucking ouija board.

"Is this normal behavior for it?"

“I’m trying,” Squeaks explains as the smudgy thing shapes itself into words. “Really really trying.” She shifts so she can sit up on her knees and look at the smudge better. She even leans in real close for even better inspections, like she probably would do for a neat spider or caterpillar. “Please believe me, I want to help you.” Whoever you might be, she’s still hoping it’s no one bad.

She picks up the book Emily dropped and sits back a little. “I never saw the ink drop like that,” the young teen answers. “Just felt it, like wet that wasn’t there. But that’s what the journal said. It was dots and dashes, ess ohh ess and help me.” All like she has written down.

Squeaks looks up at Emily, then down to the h e l p m e on the table. She takes a breath and lays her hand down beside the little letters, palm up like an offering. “I don’t think it’s bad.” She hasn’t been convinced that it is yet, even if her siblings have their doubts. “I think… Maybe we should see if the journal has more to say.”

The words move, shifting around, changing, the letters becoming different ones.




The letters do that shudder like they had before, almost as someone were shaking the entire table and making the ink dance back and forth suddenly. Only the table’s not moving, just the ink. The T breaks off and moves up Squeaks’ hand offered hand, sliding up to join the other marks, settling into them, adding to them, becoming part of them.


The other five letters form together and again, followed by those smaller specks that had followed from the book, even the splotches that had tried to cling to Emily. They slide toward Squeaks as well, but these do not seem to seek out the mark, but the journal. The journal that might just have more to say.

Heart still pounding, the letters forming on the table cause Emily to shake her head. Sure, it wants help. It's in trouble.

"Where are you?" she asks the script aloud, in total seriousness. The letters are all wandering off on their own at this point, though, back toward Squeaks. Even if Squeaks doesn't think whatever this is is bad inherently, it's bothering Emily the more it all seeks the other girl out.

"If it doesn't tell us, I don't know how you can help it, Squeaks. And…" she cuts off the rest of the thought, holding onto it for later. Presumably not when the script was trying to speak.

“In the books,” Squeaks says, like it’s suddenly very simple. Obviously, the …whatever it is, is coming from the books. She watches those little blobs that aren’t climbing onto her skin, and she holds her hand so the one that does can fit itself in line with the rest. She gets the idea, while watching the black smudgies move, to set the Wolves of Valhalla book aside and lift the journal up onto the table.

Eyes raising to Emily for just a second, she opens the journal. The page is completely chosen at random. It was all a random spread of letters anyway, an impossibly improbable code to break. “Here,” the girl offers quietly, setting the journal down near the still crawling thing. “We’re still looking for all the pieces, okay.” Her eyes dart to the young woman then back again. “Can you write down what it’s said so far?”

The random chosen page has strange letters in a strange order on it when she turns to it, lays it flat, then they all start to move, to rearrange.

They still look like gibberish when they settle, but some of the letters have slid over the edge of the page to join another page, leaving blank space except for what’s printed on the right one.

lwpxi tu dtzgw ucf wvaju xz lgis.
adiua pj kmwys jjy ewyp hi odcwz.
taaqp wc hesnz M xebo hc owm.
mpx ao aj yemcvezv shwgz efz cvvc?
vksd nlw iwdn qw?

zcpn wza yyja a zwo isl isli xg hslqi?

It seems the book has settled back onto something unreadable. Or perhaps, something that’s just going to take time to figure out. It is made up of letters now, instead of dots and dashes.

"Yeah," Emily leans over to pull down the zipper on her bag, rushing to get her laptop out. Pen and paper aren't handy, after all. Her gaze darts back and forth between the journal and her screen as the laptop wakes, watching the letters reorganize. She quickly jots out the previous arrangements of letters before she forgets, and then looks back to the journal page as if expecting, you know, something legible.

She continues typing, just much slower, as she tries to take everything down. She mouths a swear under her breath, apparently worried it'll all reorder itself again before she's done. And this? This isn't going to be easy to figure out. Which still begs the question of if it should be figured out.

"Wonder what Julie would see if she looked at this." Emily shakes her head, hands at rest as it's all taken down, punctuation and all.

“Who’s Julie?” Squeaks draws back her hand once she’s sure the newest of marks is going to stay in place. It’s given a look, a finger even goes to rub at it, but like the others it stays in place. She’s going to have to tell Gillian eventually. Sighing at it, she turns enough to grab her own papers and the pencil she’d found in her backpack. She’s going to write it down, too.

Placing the paper on the table, she sits on her knees again. The pencil is held in a knuckly grip, and she forms each letter carefully. From the first h e l p m e to the last c a n n o t, and then the strange arrangement of letters. “Those look like really real words,” the teen observes out loud as she begins writing them.

"Sure do, don't they." Emily agrees. She highlights the single, capitalized M. Almost like it could be an 'I' in another life. While she watches Squeaks patiently, deliberately care for each letter as she writes it out, she again feels an overwhelming desire to tell the younger girl to be careful with all this. A glance back to the journal keeps her from warning her right at that moment. Best not to potentially slight the book with ears directly in front of it, after all.

She leans back into the couch, deflating with a long, steady breath. Now that the initial shock is over, she's settling back down. "Julie's my cousin. I live here with her." Emily turns her left hand over in front of her, sliding her thumb along the side of her pinky where the text had slipped onto her briefly. Mostly, she wondered what Julie might see in the journal, if anything. If a person with powers was really trapped in there, would she be able to see them? See their power?

… Then again, walking up to Julie and asking her 'Is this book actually a person with powers?' would be a really weird conversation. And she wouldn't even know where to begin with this at the moment.

The laptop is shifted off the side of her lap, and she reaches for her book again, opening to a random page to see if the script is still as messy as she left it a few minutes ago.

“I showed the journal to my sister and brother,” the young teen says as she checks her writing against the letters in the journal. “After I got the one mark. All they saw was just that stuff from before, same as when I found it.” She motions to the space around the new jumble of letters. “Not like this but all mixed up and strange looking.”

She sits back after she’s sure everything is copied right. “They weren’t sure how to help. Except to look in the library for answers of what these marks say.”

Squeaks looks up at Emily when she takes the book again. “This looks like those puzzles in the newspaper. Where you have to figure out the saying, but the letters you’re given are all different letters. So the letter z could actually be the letter e and c would be h. Then all the z’s would be e’s.”

The pages look fine, which is a surprise given what they've just been through. An additional surprise is seeing an unexpected name on the page she happened to be opened to, brow furrowed intensely at the sight of it. "I knew he was trouble…" Emily just hadn't expected Sasha Kozlow's name to show up tied to something like the Vanguard. After skimming for a moment, she dogears the page for later, frowning and snapping it shut again. It was going to be awkward the next time Julie suggested them all getting dinner together.

She tries to mentally put the burning desire to ask Julie if she knew about Sasha aside, looking back to Squeaks to force herself to return to the moment. "Then all the z's would be e's?" she echoes back, finally shifting gears. She doubts it'll be as easy to solve as a newspaper riddle, but goes through the mental exercise of it anyway.

"Okay, then if M is I…"

taaqp wc hesnz M xebo hc owm.

pwwml sy daojv i taxk dy ksi.

"Nope." Emily muses with a sigh after counting out the shift of the letters. But maybe she was wrong about the I. "I think it's… probably a little bit more complicated than that." She fixes her attention back on the journal with a squint, pondering it.

As they stare at the coded passage, the letters start to tremble again, if letters could be said to tremble. It was like trying to read while in a moving car for a moment. When it settled, they weren’t gone, or replaced with different letters, but some letters seemed… thicker than others, wider. Not darker, cause the ink seemed the same darkness all around, but certainly different. And only some of them.

lwpxi tu dtzgw ucf wvaju xz lgis.
adiua pj kmwys jjy ewyp hi odcwz.
taaqp wc hesnz M xebo hc owm.
mpx ao aj yemcvezv shwgz efz cvvc?
vksd nlw iwdn qw?
zcpn wza yyja a zwo isl isli xg hslqi?

“That’s what it did before!” Squeaks doesn’t exactly yell when the letters move, but her excitement is definitely noticeable in her voice. It isn’t dots and dashes, but they did move around, or shudder sometimes, when new messages happened. She scoots forward on her knees to watch, even grabbing her pencil and a new sheet of paper in case there’s new sort of words forming.

Her expression turns slightly puzzled when it isn’t new words but something stranger. “The letters,” is much more of a question than a statement. She taps the pencil against her chin as she studies the writing, then slowly writes the letters out beneath the jumbly kind of sentences.

She retraces each letter slowly and lightly, thinking. Why are they different? The girl sits back on her heels, going all quiet as she puzzles and reorders the letters a couple of times. This is a little more complicated than dots and dashes, for reals.

The bolded letters are updated with a frown, and when Squeaks writes them out below her phrases, Emily raises an eyebrow.

l e o v w s

"Vowels?" she sounds out, head starting to tilt. Okay, but what about the vowels?

Looking up, Squeaks leans forward so she might see what Emily has on her screen. She'd probably have to actually get up and move to really see anything, but she tries a little, from her spot on the floor. “A scramble?” That’s interesting, but she isn't sure how it's connected to the other mixed up letters. Those definitely don't look like scrambles.

Sitting back again, she writes out vowels beneath the line of letters. “The bookstore has books about ciphers,” she thinks out loud. She maybe should have bought one or two when she was there before. “It could be wolves too.” The girl also writes that down below vowels.

"Well, wolves makes too much sense." Emily grins sheepishly. After she lets out a sigh of defeat, she admits, "That's a good eye. It's probably wolves."

Her jaw sets as she takes one last look at the page before reaching forward to tug the journal slightly closer to her. With a grip on its leather face, she flips it back closed. Her fingers close up into her palm lightly afterward, thinking carefully about how to put this.

"I think you're on the right path, hon. There's a clear path forward now. But… I'm not sure that until we know who or what it is that wants out, that we— that you should keep feeding it."

Emily's look is pleading at this point. Squeaks seemed like a sweet girl. Sweet, innocent — willing to help out a strange book crying out for help entirely on her own.

The way the book kept tagging skin her gave off an eerie impression, though, using the girl as a kind of vessel, slowly coming together with that sigil that kept building piece by piece …

"Squeaks, think for a second about what kind of person would be trapped in this book. Do you know who's on the cast list in it? Bad people. Really bad. It's about a group called the Vanguard and it's about how they tried and almost succeeded in destroying the world."

"Granted, it also mentions the people who stopped them, like…" Emily's trail off is coupled with a furrow of her brow. She lets herself become occupied with another thought instead, her voice lifting in pitch. "I mean, I'd suggest maybe it's the author trapped inside the book, but the author works at Brooklyn College."

Unless it was the author trapped in the book, somehow, and the Lyuba in real life wasn't entirely her, or was someone pretending to be her. That… was an entirely unsettling theory that made just about as much sense as the rest of this.

The theory about it potentially being a Vanguard member also made too much sense for her liking, though.

"Instead of just diving in and finding more copies to see what happens next, now that we know what causes it to build, it might be a good idea to do some more research first." She looks toward Squeaks, her eyes measuring the younger girl's reaction. "What do you think?"

Checking out the cipher book counted as more research, after all.

Movement toward the journal pulls the girls eyes to it. She watches closely while it’s closed, then reaches for it herself. She slides it back toward herself, lifting her gaze to Emily. “It wants to be put back together,” she explains, matter of fact. It told her so, it’s there in writing. Picking the journal off the table, she turns and puts it carefully inside her backpack. “Something happened, and now it’s lost and scattered and can’t get back.” It’s all so simple.

“Everyone’s so worried about what they don’t know being bad that they don’t ask questions or find out what they don’t know.” Squeaks goes on, collecting her papers next, the old ones and the new ones, to put those into her bag also. She isn’t angry sounding, just frustrated. “Just like the voices on the video and the something that lives between the superstrings. No one knows and they’re too scared to find out if they should be scared and by how much.”

She stands and pulls her backpack onto her shoulders. “I think we don’t have enough yet to be afraid of anything. And maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with Wolves of Valhalla story. Maybe it’s just using the pages and the ink to try to get back and talk. It started with the journal I found, which looks way, way older than anything. And that book is only just brand new.” The teenager looks right back at Emily. “I’m going to find that code book and figure this out. You can help, but no being scared until there’s reason to be scared.”

Emily levels a look at the younger girl, letting out a long, silent sigh as the concept of slowing down is soundly shot to pieces. Yeah, it's all 'not enough to be scared' until you're face to face with something you definitely shouldn't have messed with. she thinks, but keeps to herself. Squeaks is incorrigible, as she's demonstrated.

… And apparently this isn't the first mysterious mystery she's been faced with?

"Well, it definitely has something to do with the Wolves of Valhalla. We just proved it did." she voices as a reminder, trying to not sound argumentative in the process. Her hand lifts to hang off the side of her neck, asking herself for a moment if she should just let Squeaks continue on her own. She knows the answer to that in a heartbeat. "It could have been just any other book, but it's this one. There's definitely some kind of tie."

She cocks her brow expectantly. "I'm with you. Where to next?"

“But that something could be nothing to do with the story,” the teenager points out. “And everything to do with inside the books being that literally and not in the story of the book.” That much she decided was possible just because of what happened with Emily’s book. What else it could have been, there’s no saying. But so far nothing seems dangerous about blobbies coming out of a book. And the looser connection to the book makes solid sense to her, but she can’t explain why.

With a breath meant to slow herself down, she motions over her shoulder, to the papers that are inside the backpack. “I wrote it down, what it told me before. All of it. It…” The decision to stick with the search makes her stop and nod slowly. Good.

Where is a question she has to think over. There’s a lot of places to go to, the apartment her siblings share and she sometimes stays at, the bookstore, probably the library again. “I want a book for deciphering. There’s really good ones at the bookstore.” Why she didn’t think to buy one last time she was there is a mystery. “So there, to get the book. Then we can go to my brother’s home and figure the code out.” It’s safe there, no one will ask questions that Squeaks, or Emily, aren’t ready to answer.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License