January 4

World Braille Day

 

“We have no idea what these really say.”

Michael tried to amuse his tour group as everyone waited for an elevator to arrive.  He pointed to the shape of raised dots beneath the “up” and “down” buttons, then indicated the extended pattern beneath the nameplate for the building.

“I mean, we assume they simply translate the words or numbers embossed above them, but how do we know?”

According to the indicators, the closest elevator was on the fourteenth floor.  They’d have a long wait.

“What if it’s really some secret code.  Not for blind people, necessarily…because how often do you catch a blind person actually trying to read one of these plaques?”

The indicator for fourteen began to blink off and on.  Some kind of malfunction.

“Maybe there are alien spies or evil spirits hidden among us, and these dots contain instructions about when they will attack.”

To punctuate his banter, Michael stretched his hand toward the gold-plated plaque with the longest stretch of Braille coding.  He positioned his fingertips above the first letter-cell, then scraped them across the pattern.

He pulled back as if he’d been bitten.  He looked in disbelief from his fingertips to the Braille pattern, blood smears on each.

Had someone sharpened the raised metal dots?

In the shock of the moment, Michael foolishly reached out for confirmation.  With gentle movements this time, he pressed his already wounded fingertips against the textured, coded symbols.

Yes, they were razor sharp.  He held his fingertips steady for a moment, and the pattern actually made sense.  Not the pattern of shapes corresponding to an alphabet, but something more primal:  an ancient language of pain that spoke through blood and tissue, conveying images of rage and prophecies of doom.

The message was a date, and a time.

Now.

Michael turned on his tour group.