Lat and Long

Written for Light and Shade Challenge for Monday 7.July.2014 – check it out

Roger closed his eyes and longed for the old days. He was too young to remember but, had heard stories and, he had the photograph. Roger had been given the faded old photo by his father, who had been given it by his father, who had been given it by his father, and so on and so on for an indeterminate number of generations. No one knew what it actually depicted but there had been theories.

On the face of it the photo was simple enough. It depicted a wet, dirty ramp with powder blue ceramic walls, defaced by graffiti. Graffiti was as old as man. Hell there were documented examples of graffiti on cave walls south of here that were tens of thousands of years old. Indigenous peoples in the new world had left graffiti all over the rocks in the southwestern deserts. It was impossible to tell how old the graffiti was in the photo. Roger had shown it to hundreds of archaeologists who had merely shrugged their shoulders, “Who is to know?” They had all said. Then he showed it to Dr. Decker and she actually turned the photo over and looked at the back. No one had ever done that before.

Written on the back in faded blue print were some numbers:

52.4831, -1.8936

“I believe that this is a primitive code that was used to define locations.” She said then she offered to explain it for a fee.

A price was agreed and Roger heard of an ancient numerical system where imaginary lines were drawn around the earth from pole to pole. These lines intersected with a separate set of perpendicular ones. Each line had a number. Any location could be defined by stating the numbers of the two perpendicular intersecting imaginary lines. It sounded like mythology to Roger and he told her so. He reached to get his money back but she kneed him hard in the groin and ran. By the time he could stand again she was long gone.

Fifteen years later he remembered that story that Dr. Decker had told as he looked in the window of an antique store at a centuries old globe, a map of the earth. For the most part the continents were recognizable although they were crudely drawn. Sections of each continent bore brightly colored splotches as if infected by hives or marked by a code, long forgotten. What got his attention though were the lines. It was just like she had explained it. He went inside and bought the globe for a king’s ransom. He took it home and studied it. That location, if Dr. Decker was to be believed, was in a place identified on the globe as U.K. but, now known as Peoples Republic of England. He booked a transport right away.

The globe set his desired location on a spot labeled Birmingham which he assumed to be a city. There was no record of a city by that name in the PRE but Roger went anyway. When he got there he found a copse of trees in a field of grasses. Wildflowers punctuated the expanse of green and deer grazed near the treeline. “So much for that idea,” thought Roger. “Dr. Decker was obviously a fraud. There are no ceramic walls covered with ancient graffiti. There are no dirty ramps or broken handrails. There is nothing interesting here.”

Roger closed his eyes. He longed for the old days. The days of restaurants, and convenience stores, the days of highways and automobiles that he had heard about. He opened his eyes again and scanned the empty countryside; nothing but trees and grasses. He thought he might hear a river over the hill. He headed that way. Perhaps he could catch a fish for dinner.


BirminghamImages courtesy of

4 thoughts on “Lat and Long

  1. Very interesting story. I liked Roger’s curiousity about the photo passed down through generations and then the interaction with Dr. Decker. She’s a character! The idea that latitude and longitude aren’t the way Roger travels and that he had to find an old globe to believe Dr. Decker makes me want to know more about the time Roger lives in. I enjoyed his persistentance. It sometimes gets us what want; other times not so much so. Is this an ongoing story. If not, it should be:~)


  2. This is the first time these guys have appeared in print. I might have to think about carrying it forward. Some folks have pulled that off and do it well. I should probably give it a shot. Glad you had a good read.


  3. Imagine that we could go back to a place of tree, grass and endless countrysides again, when our modern trappings are merely memories? Interesting.

    The story was told well and I think it lends itself to a sequel.


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