I'm participating in a story-a-day challenge from a Reddit writing group. My story is based on this prompt.
Benjamin Franklin Gates stepped into the chamber and looked around. Where most people saw various symbols of American might and historical jurisprudence, he saw a multitude of hidden codes, messages to future generations, and the occasional Masonic bit of advice. Almost instinctively, he scanned every inch of the room, ignoring for the moment the nine Justices of the Supreme Court as they stared at him. He wondered what the grand connection was, why the Bald Eagle on the west-facing frieze was--
"Mr. Gates," Justice Kennedy interrupted. "Are you prepared to explain your findings?"
"Oh, yes indeed, your honor, sir," he replied nervously. "And may I say what a great privilege it is to finally be able to--"
"Will the witness please just get on with it?" Justice Scalia was in one of his infamous bad moods. Gates wandered silently for a moment, wondering where exactly he was supposed to stand as he addressed the court. He settled for just in front of the defense's table; after all, he was their star witness.
"If it pleases the court, the code I discovered... well, it starts out with a simple mathematical trick: the Magic Square. You're probably familiar with it, even if you didn't know its name: a three-by-three square with the numbers one through nine placed inside. Now, the numbers have to be arranged so that all three rows, all three columns, and the two diagonals, they all add up to fifteen." Gates ran his fingers through his thinning hair. He was starting to pick up steam, and he didn't want to start rambling, not at the Supreme Court of the United States. He focused himself.
"Now, when Ben Franklin was consulted during the writing of the Constitution, he pointed out a number of Federalist arguments for a number of clauses that hadn't yet been approved. Eventually these became the Bill of Rights, which you of all people are quite familiar with." A tittering of laughter from the audience. Even Justice Thomas, the famed stoic, chuckled a bit.
"Ben Franklin, as we all know, wasn't permitted to write any part of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, because the Founding Fathers were afraid that he'd do... something funny with it. But they still consulted him when it came to the Bill of Rights, and here's where his genius came into play: he chose the order of the Amendments which became the Bill of Rights-- the first nine, anyway. Have you ever wondered why the right to bear arms is the Second Amendment, and not the Seventh? Or why the Fifth Amendment is the Fifth? Ben Franklin secretly advised Madison on which order to put them in. The Tenth Amendment, by the way, was added long after Franklin's input was solicited.
"So, back to the Magic Square. There's only one combination of numbers that solves the magic square, if you discount mirror images and ninety-degree turns:
8 + 1 + 6
+ * + * +
3 + 5 + 7
+ * + * +
4 + 9 + 2
Gates paused and took a sip of water. Pace yourself, he thought to himself, don't look like a raving lunatic. His parents were sitting in the upper balcony, beaming. Even his father had never testified in front of the Supreme Court. Gates watched as Chief Justice Roberts scratched something on a notepad in front of him. Writing the numbers down, perhaps, making sure everything added up.
"Having... examined an original copy of the Constitution myself," he continued, reminiscing about the time long ago when he'd stolen it from the National Archives, "I noticed something odd about it: there are seven articles of the Constitution, and in each of them-- discounting years mentioned or amounts of money-- there are nine numbers mentioned in the Constitution: Ten, four, thirty-five, two, twenty-five, six, thirty, twenty-one, thirteen. Many of these are obvious: how many states ratified, ages to hold office.
"But!" Gates exclaimed, his mind beginning to race, "each Amendment, respective of its position in the Magic Square, also happens to be long enough to accommodate its respective number in word counts!" Justice Alito frowned, his brow furrowed. "Let me be specific: the Eighth Amendment, first in the Magic Square, has at least ten words. The First Amendment has at least four, et-cet-er-ah, et-cet-er-ah," he said, sharply enunciating those words.
"So what's the answer, Mr. Gates?" Justice Kagan asked.
"I'm glad you asked: sure, you could say that those word counts are coincidence, but! here's the giveaway that it's a code: take the Eighth Amendment. First on the Magic Square, its tenth word the critical one. The tenth word of the Eighth Amendment is eight. letters. long. The First Amendment, second on the Magic Square, it's fourth word is a single letter: "a". If you keep going, you find that each specific word is the same length as the Amendment number it is contained in."
"And what do you get when you find all those letters?" Justice Breyer asked impatiently.
"You get a code: H-A-I-L-K-I-N-G-G, 'Hail King George'." Gates paused to catch his breath. "The American Revolution was a fake. We've been secretly subjects of the United Kingdom all along. History," he said pointedly, "has been a lie. And that woman--" he pointed at Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, who was sitting at the defendant's table-- "she is our actual ruler and sovereign." He turned to her, bowing deeply. "Isn't that right, Your Majesty?"
"Indeed," she replied.