Dr. Viola Figueroa, a brilliant scientist and avid history buff, has gone missing. She had just taken over as chair of the local history club’s Committee on the 1980s when she vanished. She’d spoken of a secret project, one she said would “make history something we can experience first-hand.” Her nephew, Alfredo, has convinced a few club members to investigate. They begin at the library where Dr. Figueroa conducted much of her research.
As they approach the nonfiction area, a flash of light draws their attention. A book appears on a shelf that had been empty a moment before. Alfredo picks it up, reading the title aloud, “Desktop Publishing: Revolutionary Technology for the Eighties and Beyond.” The others gather around to take a closer look as he removes a multi-colored, flat object that has been placed between pages.
“I remember playing with these as a kid,” he says, and hits the slap bracelet against his wrist. The moment it curls into place on his arm, everything in the building changes. The internet computers have disappeared. Instead, there are only two chunky, old-fashioned Apple units under a sign that reads “Database Computers.” A teenaged boy with a Walkman cassette player goes past, muttering about finding a pencil to rewind his tape. Many of the patrons in the building are sporting large shoulder pads and even larger hair.
A familiar figure hurries toward the bewildered group. “There’s my vortex manipulator!” Dr. Figueroa exclaims, pointing at Alfredo’s wrist. She removes the bracelet from his arm, examining it with a frown. “It’s been worn out. I’ll need to make another or we’ll be stuck here in the eighties forever.”
As her friends pepper her with questions, she explains she’d used a common object from the 1980s to create a personal time travel device so she could revisit her favorite decade. But she’d absentmindedly used it as a bookmark, accidentally sending the book ahead through time without her. She tells them not to worry. She can fashion another vortex manipulator, if only she can remember where she put her notes for safekeeping.
Well aware or her own forgetfulness, she left herself clues in the library to help her find the instructions. Unfortunately, her nephew and colleagues have arrived on the last day before the building will be closed for renovations. If they fail to decipher the clues in time, they will have to live through draped sweaters, the Milli Vanilli scandal and being Rick Rolled un-ironically, all without the help of any phone apps.
In their place, do you think you could solve the riddles using only technology from the 1980s? You have a chance to find out by participating in our “Escape Room: Trapped in the 1980s!” program on Saturday, February 17. Three sessions are scheduled at the Columbia Public Library: one at 11 a.m., one at 1 p.m. and one at 3 p.m. Participants will work together to solve puzzles that will help them escape the 1980s and the danger of hairspray overdose. The program is open to adults, ages 18 and older. Space is limited and registration is required. Please stop by or call the library at 573-443-3161 to sign-up.