Only 6 days left. I have to solve this. I woke up and stared at the code. I pinned up the code on my wall, along with the clue the Howler left me. For two hours, I tried scrambling the letters, putting all the capital letters at the beginning, and researching and trying various codes.
Absolutely nothing. I've never been good at puzzles. Plus, I developed a massive headache when I stepped out of bed. That didn't help.
After two hours of that, I took my bike out and went back to Ken's. He was pretty angry at me when I left the last time I visited him, so I had no idea what to expect. He knew something about Locust and the Howler, though, so I had to go back to him.
I knocked on his door, and waited for about two minutes in the cold before he let me in. I know he was deliberating letting me in, because I could see the shade in the window near the door open slightly after I knocked.
He seemed happy to see me when he opened the door. He smiled and waved me in. He closed the door, turned to me, dropped the smile, and asked, "Now what do you want to know?"
"Why are there Hindu gods here?" I practically yelled it in his face. I feel bad now, but that was probably the only way I was going to get any information.
"They aren't gods."
I knew he had said that Shiva had taken my brother the last time I talked to him. So I didn't say anything, in part because he was admitting to a lie, and in part because he looked so distressed that he seemed like he was about to cry.
"They're...things. Forces of nature. I have no idea. I've tried to relate them to India, because I heard of them--well, at least Shiva--no, I'm sorry, it's not Shiva. Whatever it is, I heard stories about 'him' when I visited India."
"So they're from India? They followed you here? Who are these people?"
"I told you, they aren't people. And he--who I call Shiva--is everywhere. This isn't my fault. Please, sit down."
He gestured toward his living room. We walked in and sat on the couch.
He practically spilled whatever he was drinking, his hands were shaking so much. It was disturbing, thinking back. I had never seen a person so nervous or upset.
"When I was in India, I kept hearing stories of disappearing children. They and their families all knew they were leaving. They just disappeared. Some in the day, and some at night. I personally thought it was just a little tale parents told their children, like the Bogeyman.
"But then it happened to one of the children in my village. I heard her and his parents crying one day, and the next day she was gone. You must understand this seriously upset me. I was teaching these children English, and one of them was gone. The parents refused to search.
"I flew back here the next day. I haven't been to India since. I began researching this thing, Shiva, but I found almost nothing. All I found were traces--stories, fables. I had heard whispers of many arms, and that brought me to the conclusion it was their god Shiva. I was told it wore black when it came, and that was all.
"I was wrong. Soon after my assumption, I found a collection of stories, woodcuts, and some photographs. One of the photographs was of an Egyptian tomb. Hieroglyphics painted all over the walls, and one picture. A man, wearing black, with countless arms.
"In that same collection, I found information about another creature. All that was said was that it howled. After these...revelations, I assume, I found more and more. These have been around far longer than any Hindu gods. They seem as if they have existed since humans could even draw."
I wrote this all from memory. I couldn't write anything down there, even thought I brought my notebook. These things have been around forever? I'm finding it easier to believe than before, but I still don't believe it. I don't trust anything coming from Ken now, even if it may be the truth. He misled me before, and he may be misleading me again.
But this could help me, somehow. These people are probably trying to emulate whatever Ken calls Shiva and Rudra. Some sick cult, or something. It may not help me find James, but it's helping me find out how twisted these people are.