My father was never too close to his kids, but when his fishing trawler mysteriously disappeared in a storm to the South of Guam, his wife and her three sons still felt the loss deeply. I, being the oldest and least emotional of them, felt compelled to investigate what the Navy and NOAA wouldn't. Upon arriving in Guam a week later, I found the marina from which my father's boat had last been docked, and interrogated the manager, Vormen Klinkers. He had no useful information, save that the South Equatorial Current would likely wash up any remnants in Halmahera, of the Maluku Islands, based on the ship's last radioed position.
So, I scoured the 160 kilometers of Halmahera coastline until, at last, I found a clue. His logbook, nearly ruined, had washed up near a village. It was a miracle that it hadn't been taken. The first pages crumbled in my fingers, and the last ones were all blank. However, I was able to carefully extract the last 4 pages with writing on them, near the middle of the book. The hopeful feelings I had when I found his log began to dwindle away as I stared at the strange collection of symbols arranged on the papers. I knew he often used codes and ciphers for private information, but he never explained any of them to us.
Determined to uncover the truth, I took pictures and brought them home to my family. These are the exact symbols which were on each page:
For three sleepless weeks I studied them. At last, their meaning became clear. I ran outside and hitched up the boat trailer to my pickup truck, then floored it to the nearest highway.
Where was I going, and what had I discovered in my father's notes?
One night I stared into the sky, hoping, watching the small pinpoints of light twinkle in the vastness of space. And that gave me an idea—but it had nothing to do with stars.