Route 66See here for a brief introduction to the Gateau Method.

The next topic up for examination is the US Highway numbering system. Way back in 1925 or 1926, the American government decided to standardise their interstate highway nomenclature.

Odd-numbered one- and two-digit highways (including 101, the first digit being a “10”) generally run north-south, with major roads’ designation ending with a 1. Even-numbered highways generally run east-west; major east-west routes usually end in a 0. In most cases, three-digit highways fork from the highway designated by its last two digits; for example, US Highways 119, 219 and 319 all branch from Highway 19.

Curiously, though, four two-digit routes have never been allocated: 39, 47, 86 and 88.

Or maybe they have—but their existence and termini are classified on a need-to-know basis. So where do they go? Well, Route 39 might start on an unmarked turnoff in Oklahoma, run through K’n-yan and Yoth, before terminating in lightless, newly reopened N’kai, wherein sleeping Tsathoggua stirs, roused from his slumbers by road construction.

As for the others… British humourist Robert Rankin once suggested—based on an artefact of cylindrical map projections whereby areas further from the Equator are depicted with progressively greater distortion—that vast areas of the Earth’s surface, whilst visible on maps, are imperceptible by the average person. Certain government agencies and cosmic intelligences can access these Forbidden Zones, as can taxi drivers, who use them as “shortcuts” that invariably rack up exorbitant fares.

All that aside, it’s still an intriguing idea. General trends in the US Numbered Highway system suggest that a notional Route 47 might pass through Jackson, TN; Routes 86 and 88 would exist within a band running roughly from Bakersfield CA to Wilmington NC in the north, to El Paso TX to Jacksonville FL in the south. And perhaps not surprisingly at all, Roswell NM lies right in the middle of this band. Oddly enough, so is Meridian MS—which, coincidentally, is due east of Jackson MS and due south of Jackson TN, and would probably lie towards the southern end of Route 47, if the latter existed.

Meridian itself was destroyed during the Civil War, but by the 1930s, had grown to become a major rail transport, manufacturing and cotton processing centre. By the 1960s, it would also become a hub for the Civil Rights movement.

What lies in the otherspace near Meridian, then? That might have to wait for a later instalment…