[TGWTDT] ‘I Am Number 8’ Or How The Orlando Flower Was Discovered.
After three excruciatingly long days (again) where Mouth Taped Shut didn’t offer much but ordinary backstage pictures (at this point them posting a clue-free picture represents a direct threat to my health and counts as zero) here is something that should cheer you up:
Doug Neeld, the Orlando treasure hunter that found the flower, has not only come out with the creepiest and coolest flower picture (see above), he has also written down the whole experience.
For those of you who won’t have a flower in their city, already missed it or are waiting for one, this is the closest you can get to living the experience of hunting one:
I am Number 8
It’s been almost three weeks since the first mysterious clue appeared in an old 8mm film and was released on Mouth-Taped-Shut. This set off a whirlwind of deciphering clues and treasure hunts, and now I find myself driving down an interstate like the proverbial “Bat Out of Hell” as if the apocalypse is chasing me, heading towards an unknown conclusion. “Is this real?”, “What am I doing? I’m supposed to be at work!”, “Are there any cops around?”…These are just some of the questions running through my head as I fly through the tolls, munching on my now cold pizza, feeling my adrenal glands pumping, listening to the GPS on my phone telling me (in that calm robotic voice) that it has lost the signal, heading into downtown Orlando. Then, just like when time compresses in a traffic accident, I remember how I came to be here…
When I finished reading “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” well over a year ago I thought, “this would be a great film for David Fincher to direct”. I was picturing the dark, creepy, grittiness of what he did with “Se7en”. Not too long after that, it was announced on the movie blogs that I frequent, that he was in fact lined up to direct that very movie! I found the prospect exciting enough that I decided to avoid seeing the Swedish made version. Over the next several months I would see images of the characters released on the blogs and read the updates on the cast & filming. Then sometime in August along came the website Mouth-Taped-Shut and things started ramping up! I would load up the page every couple of days to check out the new pictures, and get a glimpse of some behind the scenes. It was just enough to keep up my anticipation without really spoiling anything. Then like everyone else I discovered comesforthinthethaw.com and I would sometimes leave that browser open too and let the eerie music play in the background. I found myself, on more than one occasion, hypnotically staring at the images as they revealed themselves and then disappeared again.
I happened to open MTS the same day that the home movie of the drive by on the bridge was released. I noticed the tags as the video loaded but didn’t give them much thought. As I watched the video I thought it was well done and a very clever case of marketing but nothing more. It was the next day, at about the time the clock started ticking on the L.A. clue, that I read an article on firstshowing.net revealing to me how I completely missed the whole thing! I immediately went back to the video and started reading the comments. Blown away!!! I couldn’t understand how I didn’t put any of it together! The first comment I see is a link for whatishiddeninsnow.com from Star Nubalo…finally we know what that grid down in the corner was all about! Then Cody’s comments, then Tinker Toymaker, then Mentorless, then Tori…on and on and on! I was immediately hooked! After the prize was revealed to be a framed flower, presumably from the movie, I left MTS open all the time (at work & at home) hitting refresh every so often looking for the next clue. I proclaimed to anyone that would listen if one ever dropped in Orlando, “IT’S MINE!!!”
The next few weeks brought a sporadic array of clues in various locations, each one being solved faster and faster by this ever growing collective hive of minds. When the London clue appeared on Monday, the question was answered whether this would be a worldwide endeavor and it became painfully obvious to me and my friends that the chances of getting a clue in little ‘ole Orlando was probably slim to none. My refresh rate dwindled dramatically.
Wednesday I returned to work with a couple of hot slices for lunch to eat at my desk. I logged back on to my computer, opened the browser and just like usual hit F5. A new picture of Fincher and crew appeared. I instantly noticed writing on one guy’s hat and went straight to the comments. Once again the first comment I see is from Star with a link to WIHIS. The new tab opened, I did the usual copy and paste of the GPS coordinates and then sat there stunned, like a deer in the headlights, staring at a google map of downtown Orlando. I yelled to my friends that MTS had released one in Orlando…“Are you serious?”, “Do you want to go?” were the first responses I heard. In my dazed & confused state I answered with a simple “yes”. I IM’d the MTS site to Tim and asked that he stay close to his computer just in case I needed to call for more info. Mike ran out of his office yelling, “GO!!!!!” Tim already had a Google street view pulled up so I could see the whole building that the mailbox in the clue was attached to. I scanned the image for several seconds to commit it to memory, punched the address into my phone, grabbed my lunch and was off!
I exited the highway onto one of the many old fashioned brick streets in downtown, the kind everybody likes to live on but nobody wants to drive on. I pushed the speed (as well as the limits of my suspension system) on this uneven, unforgiving, disjointed, poor excuse for a road until I thought the fillings in my teeth would rattle out! My adrenaline was now in overdrive, much like my SUV. Finally…I’ve emerged onto normal asphalt once again just to face the onslaught of downtown-lunchtime traffic. I am literally sitting at the last intersection before my destination. I can plainly see the building from the Google street view across from where I now sit! I can see the mailbox pictured in the clue! I’m so close but I cannot get across, through this traffic! As each car creeps by in front of me I inch out into the intersection further and further hoping to inspire someone to stop short and let me cross. They won’t! Everyone has to make it one car length further…typical drivers in Central Florida! As I sit there with my blood pressure rising, I notice a young woman across the street just standing there, across from the building that everyone seems bent on not letting me get to. She has jet black hair and what appears to be an overall Goth look (from this distance anyway). “Oh GOD, she must be looking for it!”
I think for a moment to back up into the parking lot next to me and just run across the street but finally, like the parting of the Red Sea, the traffic stops just long enough for me to floor it and get across. I speed past the young woman on my right and the building on my left into a parking lot; sliding sideways, tires spitting gravel, dodging 5-8 Vietnamese people unloading a truck. They proceed to stare and mumble under their breath as I finally skid to a stop and hop out. I run around to the front of the building, “This is it, there’s the mailbox!” “Has someone beaten me to it?” I glance back across the road at Goth girl, she’s looking at me and quickly averts her attention. What I really notice is that she doesn’t have it yet and doesn’t appear to be looking very hard. “Someone must’ve been here already” I look back at the workers, they have now apparently forgiven me for almost bowling them over since they are back to unloading. I walk forward, I look in the door of what is obviously an abandoned business…nothing but dirt and trash. I walk around the other side…no people, no nothing, just unattended grass and shrubs. I open the mailbox, a wasp flies out. I look down inside and see the opening is covered with cobwebs but there is some kind of paper barely visible at the bottom. “That must be the clue down in there. But how did they get it in there without breaking all the cobwebs? Did they put special effects cobwebs in there?” For a moment I thought of Willie Scott in the Temple of Doom and plunged my hand down into the mailbox.
“No…those are real cobwebs” I pulled the papers out, flicked another wasp off the back of my hand and thought there is no way this could be the clue, nothing except my hand had been in that mailbox in years. The papers were 3 business cards, all identical, for a plumbing company. I scrutinized every letter of every word on those cards trying to come up with some kind of riddle or clue or something. Nothing! I’m starting to panic, someone has definitely beat me to it. Damn it! The combination of the greasy pizza that I inhaled plus the volume of adrenaline in my system must’ve brewed a nasty concoction because my stomach is twisted and I can no longer think clearly. “What do I do…what do I do?” I start looking all around, in the weeds, on the ground, back to the door, look inside the mailbox again. As I’m doing this I call Tim and frantically tell him to search the comments on MTS and see if I’m missing something. I stand still for a moment trying to focus while he searches, I see Goth girl once again looking at me and then look away quickly. She’s really weirding me out now. I’m staring at the front of the mailbox again, looking it over very closely as Tim tells me, “there is nothing more, everyone has moved on to talking about a clue in Paris”. At the upper right corner where the mailbox is attached to the wall I see a very small piece of paper, almost the same color as the wall, sticking out just far enough that I can read the word “blade”. I grab it, it slides right out and it is an old fashioned razor blade sleeve. I shout into the phone “I got it, I GOT IT…the second clue!” I open the flap and it has handwriting that says “Spiral Circle ask for the package” with a little spiral drawn on it.
“Spiral Circle? Spiral Circle? What the hell does that mean?” Not even realizing I’m still on the phone and Tim is already Googling what I’ve said, I start looking around at the surrounding buildings, looking for something that will make sense of Spiral Circle. He shouts back at me, “it’s a metaphysical bookstore”, I ask “where?”, he answers “it’s on Thornton Avenue.”, I respond “I’m on Thornton”, he says “it’s north of where you are, just go north”. I start jogging up the sidewalk going back past where I had parked. The Vietnamese people are now staring at me again as I go by, I smile and head nod at them like an idiot. I stop about a block away in front of an old house converted to a business but the only sign I see is the street number. I ask Tim for the address but he is trying to get a Google street view of the location. The house is white with very distinctive blue trim. I’m still looking around while Tim waits for Google street view, I suddenly see Goth girl not too far behind, down the sidewalk. “What the hell is this chick doing?! You aren’t getting it, it’s mine!!” I look back at the sign with the address on it, I ask “Is it 750? Is it 750?” Tim finally answers me, “YES it’s 750!” I hang up and hustle inside. I step inside next to the counter and proceed to eyeball the two or three customers as they each look at me. I’m looking at them with what must be a wild eyed stare not knowing if they are in on it just like Goth girl, the Vietnamese people & all the people sitting in traffic…my mind is really not functioning properly. The owners of this incense laced spirituality store are an elderly couple. The woman comes out of a back-room with a man that appears to be her husband and heads around the counter where I am given me a welcoming smile. He stops a little way away from me and smiles warmly also. “I’m supposed to ask you for a package” The man gives me a look of confusion and says “excuse me?” I look over at the woman, she looks just as perplexed. With tunnel vision ramping up I say again, “I’m supposed to ask you for a package”. They both continue to look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language when it hits me like a 2 x 4 that I must be in the wrong place, I still haven’t seen a sign or anything to identify this business. A thousand scenarios start racing through my mind as to how I missed the prize when the old man says “Ooooooh…are you doing that treasure hunt thing?”
My head hurts, my eyes will no longer focus, my stomach is in knots so I just nod yes. He says “Turn around, it’s right behind you”. I spin around and there is that familiar brown paper addressed to Henrik Vagner. I pick it up and turn back around to see Goth girl (Clarissa, I think was her name) standing in front of me taking my picture with an iPhone and telling me “Congratulations!” She was apparently the person that planted it, and was watching to verify that it had been found. After a few minutes of answering questions from the patrons about what I was doing, what the hunt is about, etc, I headed out of the store back towards my truck with the flower under my arm and a big smile on my face. I called Tim as I walked along, he answered somewhat frantically with “Well??? I screamed “I Fucking GOT IT…IT’S MINE!”
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! A thousand thanks to Doug for taking the time to write it down and agree to share it with us. All the pictures are his, besides the one from WIHIS.
You can contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org otherwsie, feel free to live a comment below.
Now back to MTS and the refresh button.
To Be Continued…