Wikipedia Brown: ‘The Case of the Swiped Shoe’ (Part 2 of 3)
When we left off last week, Wikipedia Brown – teen detective, student of the Internet and self-confessed smarty pants – had accepted a case from Ms. West. Now, Ms. West was the sultry civics teacher that both Wikipedia and Webster – his able assistant – had in Junior High School.
It seems that someone – or something – stole Ms. West’s shoe and sent her a note saying she could have it back only if she met with its abductor. The signature on the note appeared to be a cypher to the boys. Wikipedia was convinced that the cypher was developed by space aliens.
Webster was not convinced. What could possibly happen next? Dive on into part two of this thrilling tale and find out for yourself, pilgrim.
“Space aliens,” Webster said. “Really?”
“Yes, Webster. Space aliens.”
“So much for seeking out the easy answer, huh?”
“Time is of the essence, Webster. I don’t have time to discount the obvious. I must jump directly to … The Truth.”
“And the truth is this is a cypher developed by space aliens?”
“Precisely. You really should do more research. If you had, then you’d understand why I’m right. Don’t tell me you’re one of those who doesn’t believe in space aliens.”
“Honestly, I don’t know what to think. However, I find it hard to believe that space aliens have nothing better to do than fly down here and help us encrypt messages.”
“Spoken like a man who has absorbed a bunch of rigid, establishment lies and simply can’t open his mind to … The Truth. We’ll talk about this later. Right now I need to concentrate on decoding this message and discovering the identity of our thief.”
Wikipedia turned to his keyboard and started searching for proof that he was right on the Internet.
“Now, then,” Wikipedia said. “I bookmarked a site that revealed all kinds of alien encryption schemes. I’ll just open that…”
“Very smart aliens – someone was able to break their encryption schemes and put them on the Internet, huh?”
“Quiet, Webster. No one likes a smart alec.
“Anyway, this cypher looks like a good one, so let’s see.”
Wikipedia banged out a few things on his keyboard and tried to see if the decoder he found matched the cypher used for the signature on the shoe thief’s note.
“It doesn’t work. Let’s try another one,” Wikipedia said as he examined the new cypher. I think that will do…
“Yes! That’s the one and – oh my goodness – the name of our thief is Wolfgang Coody!”
“The mayor? You think the mayor stole Ms. West’s shoe?”
“No, I don’t think the mayor stole Ms. West’s shoe. I know he did. You saw me decode his name, so you know it, too. I must call the police and tell them what the mayor is up to!”
“Uh, that’s a terrible idea, Wiki. I mean, the mayor hired the police chief and there could be trouble…”
“Quite right, Webster. Good idea. Glad I thought of it. I will confront the mayor directly. That should work. He’d rather hand over the shoe than be arrested, I’m sure.”
“I wouldn’t do that…”
“Of course you wouldn’t. But I – the great Wikipedia Brown – will do just that. I have the courage you lack and fearlessly pursue … The Truth. I don’t suppose you’re coming with me.”
“No. I’m. Not,” said Webster through clinched teeth. “You go right ahead, Wiki. You go and accuse the mayor of stealing a shoe.”
“I will, Webster. I will.”
“I really need to get some new friends,” Webster said after Wikipedia left the office.
Yes, Webster was angry, but he was focused on the task at hand – finding the identity of the person who stole Ms. West’s shoe. Webster decided he’d find his answers at the library, so he headed downtown to research cyphers.
“No, that’s not quite it,” Webster said after looking through at least the 20th book on cyphers he’d pulled off the shelves that day. He got an idea and found another book that, hopefully, contained the answer.
“Let’s see now,” Webster thought. “The Germans used an Enigma machine during World War 2. I wonder if it might be an Enigma cypher…”
It was Webster’s turn to put his Internet research skills to work.
“If memory serves, the History Department over at the university put a interactive model of an Enigma machine on its site. That might help.”
Webster located the Enigma machine model and went to work. It was a time consuming task as the Enigma machine encrypted messages based on a three-letter key set by the operator. Without that key, even a person with access to an Enigma machine would have trouble making sense of a message. Still, Webster soldiered on and tried various keys, hoping to locate the one that broke the code.
“No, that isn’t it,” Webster said to himself as he tried yet another key.
“That isn’t it, either.”
“But this one works and, well – what do we have here? Britannica! It’s not the mayor. It’s Britannica! That makes perfect sense. Britannica owns an antique store and is in a position to get his hands on an Enigma machine. And the key he used is C-A-D. Cad? Well, isn’t that something!
“Uh-oh. I wonder if Wiki has harassed the mayor yet?”
So, Britannica – Wikipedia Brown’s nemesis – is behind the swiped shoe caper. Will Webster be able to find Wikipedia in time to keep him from pestering Mayor Coody? Why would Britannica steal a shoe? These questions and more will be answered in next week’s conclusion of The Case of the Swiped Shoe.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.