Excerpt of Turing's Delirium by Edmundo Paz Soldan
(Page 5 of 5)
Printer Friendly Excerpt
You turn on the computer and check your e-mail at both the
public and the private address. You spit your gum out, put another piece in
your mouth, and all of a sudden at your private address you find an e-mail
consisting of a single line:
You notice the sequence FWJ XYFNSJI. Frequency analysis
wont take more than a few minutes. Each letter has its own personality, and
even though it seems to be out of place, it is betrayed, whispers, speaks,
shouts, tells its story, misses its place on earth paper. Who could have
sent you this message? From where? You dont recognize the address.
Thats strange only about ten people know your private e-mail. Someone
has managed to get past the Black Chambers firewalls and is teasing your
heart with a crude message.
All messages from within the Black Chamber come encrypted to
your private address and your computer deciphers them automatically.
Perhaps something in the program failed. You hit a couple of keys to try to
decode the message. No luck. It isnt encrypted using the Black Chambers
software, which confirms your suspicions: the message was sent by
It is a taunt. For now, you had better do what you do best:
frequency analysis. The j has to be a vowel: a? e? o? Common sense tells
you its an e.
You soon know: it is a simple code ciphered by substitution, a
variation that, according to Suetonius, was used by the emperor Julius
Caesar. Each letter has been moved five spaces to the right, so that the j is
really an e, the g is a b, and so on. XYFNSJI spells stained.
Whos the murderer? You? Why are your hands stained?
Spanish edition copyright © 2003 by Edmundo Paz Soldán, English
translation copyright © 2006 by Lisa Carter. Reprinted with permission by
Houghton Mifflin Company.