FOUND IN THE ALLEY

Greg Pliska

The ball-shaped array of symbols is in fact a sequence of characters taken from the score sheet of a four-player game of bowling. Entering the symbols, frame by frame, as they would be in a normal game, yields the following:

 X 7 / 5 2 3 2 X 7 / 9 / 5 / 3 2 X 7 3 4 4 4 5 5 / 4 3 3 3 3 / 8 / 5 / 3 5 X 7 - 1 1 8 / 8 1 8 / 4 3 1 - 1 1 1 - 2 / 2 / 2 - 1 1 / 4 - 3 1 3 / 5 / 9 / 6 / 2 7 X 2 8

The number of points scored in each frame, converted to an alphabetic character (A=1, B=2, etc.), gives this:

 X 7 / 5 2 3 2 X 7 / 9 / 5 / 3 2 X 7 3 20 T 15 O 7 G 5 E 20 T 19 S 15 O 13 M 5 E 20 T 4 4 4 5 5 / 4 3 3 3 3 / 8 / 5 / 3 5 X 7 - 8 H 9 I 14 N 7 G 6 F 18 R 15 O 13 M 8 H 17 Q 1 1 8 / 8 1 8 / 4 3 1 - 1 1 1 - 2 / 2 / 2 2 B 18 R 9 I 14 N 7 G 1 A 2 B 1 A 12 L 12 L - 1 1 / 4 - 3 1 3 / 5 / 9 / 6 / 2 7 X 2 8 1 A 14 N 4 D 4 D 15 O 19 S 16 P 12 L 9 I 20 T

which is the message:

TO GET SOMETHING FROM HQ BRING A BALL AND DO SPLIT

The expectation is that solvers will show up at HQ (calling ahead, of course) with a ball – any ball, not necessarily a bowling ball – and perform a split. Those unable to actually achieve a full split get credit either for admirable attempts or for doing some other action that creatively follows the instructions (i.e., making a 7-10 split in the hallway; putting the letters D and O really far apart; bringing us a banana split made up of bananas, ice cream, chocolate sauce, super balls and little cut-out musical notes [a ball-do split, get it?], etc.).

The answer is a red bowling pin (PIN for normal meta).