Please see this post: http://tinyurl.com/lj75ge
I hate business trips. In fact, when I signed up for Ajira, business trips were the last thing I expected. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a pilot, pretty much just as an excuse to see the world, since Brooklyn was so boring. I wanted to get out of the city, fly to the opposite end of the world, and see what it was like. But as these things go, that didn’t quite work out. I ended up at the ticket booth. Thanks for flying someone else’s plane!
We’ve had a rocky couple years. That tends to happen when one of your planes goes missing whilst carrying a group of people who had already been on a plane that went missing. It was like deja vu, and it was so bad for publicity that we’ve seen a 30% drop in customers since it happened, which has been made all the worse by the current economic crisis. So PR is trying to remedy the problem via restructuring, or “relaunching the brand,” as they call it. So myself and a bunch of people had to fly down to a convention center in California, listen to a bunch of crap that we could have learned back home, and try to be better employees for the “new Ajira.”
‘That’s great and all,’ I told myself, ‘but I have better stuff to do.’ But then I experienced the weather and actually enjoyed myself. I’m such a hypocrite.
I just got in this morning. And, apparently, you folks have found some stuff while I was away, namely, the homepage of one Niel Heisenberg, who I am sad to say appears to be missing like my dear brother. With a little help from his daughter Sara at his blog, you were led to his “personal page,” which contained a warning from someone called r33pich33p, who in turn pointed you in the direction of the Chenchey Institute of Resarch.
I’ve heard of Chenchey. I mean, who hasn’t? The up and coming scientific/humanitarian organization dedicated to the ‘betterment of mankind,’ whatever that means. They’ve had some dealings with the Hanso Foundation, and there’s been some minor controversies about them over the years, and yet the world still treats them like heroes. I don’t know what exactly this means, or how it ties into my brother’s disappearance and Simeon Hobbes, but they at least appear to have some connection to I. Theta. But why does everything seem to tie back to that? Why is it so important? I thought Aidoneus said it wasn’t.
I’m stumped. But I did recognize a name: that of Francisco Nitti, Staff Scientist. A while back, when I was digging through Nathan’s e-mails, I found something suspicious. It was an e-mail from this very individual, and it sounded kind of threatening. It was hidden away in the Archives of Nathan’s Gmail account, and I tried to look for the e-mail(s) it was sent in response to, but I had no luck. I’m assuming Nathan deleted them.
I sent the guy an e-mail when I found it, and when he didn’t respond, I kind of just forgot about it. It was probably just a heated exchange about business, and I didn’t really want to get involved. But now that this person’s name is popping up again, I have to wonder: does this guy know something?
I tried sending him another e-mail, but with no luck. Looks like he’s away?
Maybe you’ll have more like than I did.
It’s good to be back!
As you might have seen on my Twitter, I am unfortunately going to be away between June 1st and June 4th. I have some things to attend to, and I won’t be in a position to rummage through Nathan’s papers and dig for clues as to his whereabouts until at least Friday, June 5th. I’ll try to have some Tweets and blog posts in the meantime just so you know I wasn’t kidnapped or eaten, but I can’t guarantee anything more special than that.
For those of you eager to help, I apologize if this downtime is a bit of a letdown (especially after my recent hiatus), but it can’t be helped. But don’t worry: I’m not abandoning you, and I’ll be back in the fight before the end of the week.
Thanks for all your hard work and support so far, and your dedication to helping me find my brother. I’ll be back soon, and hopefully we’ll get some big leads in the week to come.
Farewell for now!
Oh, work. You house me, feed me, and then you drive me insane.
I apologize for the lack of updates, and I apologize for the broken promise. But I’ve simply been way too busy over the past few days, and I’ve not had the time do make good on either. But I have some free time today, so hopefully that will make up for it.
You folks worked really hard on that, if what filled up my comments section was any indication, and for that I thank you. I thought about this today, and I came to the conclusion that I would never be able to solve something like that on my own. How do you people do it? I have no idea, and I have no idea why you’re all so interested in helping me, but I am thankful. Again, thank you!
Anyway, on to the reply, addressed to the mysterious (and slightly obnoxious?) Aidoneus:
Thank you for your information.
Yes, I am “serious,” but I don’t know why I should have to do anything to be “rewarded.” Why are you making this so hard!? But whatever. On to the good stuff.
I remember hearing about Berne’s “death,” but I didn’t understand the significance. The media were treating him like the next Einstein, but I had never heard of him, personally. But to know that he played a part in that Sri Lanka thing with Mittlewerk, then did something to my brother, and is now on the loose after faking his death, simultaneously freaks me out and pisses me off. Why are geniuses sometimes evil? You’d think they’d be more logical than that.
And moving on: my brother. While it’s great that you have an “inside man” and whatnot, this is what’s most important to me: screw the intrigue, screw the secrets. My brother is alive! And as much as I want to track you down and kick you in the face for keeping this from me, Sir Aidoneus, I am just escstatic to know. Thank you, but screw you at the same time.
But I know this is too early to be celebrating. If I can trust Aidoneus, then my brother is safe, but not for long. And while I would usually be skeptical and hesitant, I feel as though I have no other choice. So I will play his game, as long as he is willing to play mine in return.
Here’s all I could find on St. Ignace:
It’s not much, obviously, but it’s all I have. And since I gave you something, Aidoneus, I expect something in return. So pay up!
But moving on: that phone call I posted yesterday. I knew there was something more to it than met the eye (ear?), and again, I thank you all for dissecting it. While what it contained was rather empty, I’m sure it must have some significance. Who would take the time to inform me of that if it had none?
And that’s all I have to say for now. Thanks for being so patient.
Do you ever just feel…at peace? Not really approaching any of the emotional extremes, but just calm?
That’s how I feel today, and I don’t really know why. When I think about how I should feel, it occurs to me that I should be teetering on the brink of absolute anxiety and welcomed relief. Anxiety because this mess I’ve gotten myself into is way beyond what I ever imagined, and relief because my brother is apparently OK…for now.
Maybe I’ve struck a balance. And that’s alright with me, even if it does strike me as being a bit ominous. I just hope it isn’t the calm before the storm.
I have to thank everyone who dug through the 8th Spoke’s website yesterday, and Aidoneus for sharing his wisdom, even if he doesn’t exactly make it easy to get to. And while I certainly have a lot of stuff to say about that, I’ll save it for tomorrow. For now, I just want to take a breather, just in case things get tumultuous as we go on ahead.
With that said, something did strike me as odd today, but I could just be imagining things. I received a message at 7:27 AM from an unknown caller, and while it could easily be a messed up telemarketing call, I thought it might be something important. So I saved it, to see what you folks thought of it. You can download it/listen to it here. It’s shrill, sure, but there was something comforting about it.
Anyway, that’s all I really have to say today. I’m going to spend the rest of the day thinking and digging through papers, and if I find anything out about St. Ignace, you’ll be the first to know.
I’ve always had my problems. And who doesn’t? It’s part of human nature. We’re a flawed species, incapable of perfection, sometimes even incapable of just getting it right. The common wisdom given us when we realize this is simply to keep on going. “You can do it!” “Put your mind to it!” “Don’t give up!” But it’s never that easy.
Nothing is ever that easy.
My trademark flaw is simple. I have a problem with momentum. I’ve never been outrightly pessimistic, but most of the time I just don’t know how to move forward. No matter what the cost, no matter what the outcome, I find myself getting left behind. If I had to put a name to my flaw, it would be Procrastination. Sometimes I get off to a good start, then when I reach the mid-way point I stumble, and by the end of the race I find that I’ve just given up. And more often than not, I don’t care. I’ll try better next time.
And then I don’t.
It took me a while to write this post. After the discoveries of last night, I couldn’t think of anything of substance to say. It was the end. I’d tried, and I’d failed. My brother was dead. Going forward was pointless, because there was no “forward.” The race ended when my brother was killed. So I’d simply pack up and go home, give up my fight, and call it a night. What else was there to do?
But then it hit me. Ye Olde Procrastination was at it again. I had reached a steep hill, and climbing it just felt like too much work. I wasn’t in despair, I had no real answers, and nothing was final. But going forward just felt too hard. I wasn’t writing off “progress” entirely, but I was putting it on hold. And if I’ve learned anything about myself, that’s basically the same thing.
But unlike the other times, there’s too much at stake here. This isn’t a school project, this isn’t a fling, and this isn’t my half-painted kitchen. I can’t put in a fraction of an effort here, because the outcome is quite possibly certain death. I can’t “try again later,” because the cost may be my brother’s life. There’s no time to put it on hold, and there are no do-overs. This is the real deal, and my flaw has no place here.
But that doesn’t make it any easier. I am, in a word, stumped. I may have killed Procrastination for the time being, but Hades and Persephone aren’t wasting any time moving on in and taking its place. Even with one obstacle out of the way, two others pop right up. That is, until they double as a pair of white rabbits, leading me down a rabbit hole to a land made up less of Wonder, but more of complete and utter Confusion.
Thursday is the day I pig out. It has been for years.
Nathan and I used to go to this little pizza place down the road from our apartment after school, run by a guy named Teddy, who didn’t seem to mind us playing his pinball machines and arcade cabinets for hours after we’d finished our slices. I was really damn good at Asteroids, while Nathan was the unconquered king of Ms. Pac-Man, a title which remained plastered on the hi-score screen in the form of “NRG” for at least a decade.
We grew out of our pizza-and-games phase by the time we went off to college, but our schedule never changed. Right up until he disappeared, we’d routinely go out for dinner together almost every Thursday, which gave us both the perfect opportunity to bitch about work or reminisce about the good ol’ days. In fact, it was the day I looked forward to the most.
But we don’t do that anymore, obviously. We can’t. And we haven’t for three long years. This really hit home when I got off work today, and simply couldn’t think of anything I wanted to eat. That was, until I got a craving for pizza. So partly out of sheer hunger but mostly out of nostalgia, I decided to take a cab down to Teddy’s, to grab a slice of pizza and see if anyone in Williamsburg had beaten Nathan’s score.
But it wasn’t there anymore. Teddy’s was gone. Closed for several years, in fact. It had been replaced by a tacky-looking music store, which seemed to double as a hang out for this new generation of trendy, eyeliner-wearing teens. So while the manufactured adolescent angst of poorly-composed music boomed through the outdoor speakers, I felt strangely at home, and yet assuredly alienated. Part of my childhood had died.
So I took the cab back home, thought about this a while, and decided to give our friend Thomas Levi a call. And, not surprisingly, he didn’t know anything. In fact, he had cooperated with the authorities when my brother disappeared and was just as clueless as I was. He did, however, know the name of the event referenced in the letter: “Mind = Matter.” Apparently they went, and had a good time.
This narrowed down the possibilities a lot, as my brother had quite a few brochures and pamphlets littered throughout his office. So here it is:
As you can see, there’s not much to it. It’s a little strange, I’ll admit, but I’m not sure if it will really lead us anywhere. But it’s all I’ve got, so it’ll have to do.
But am I wrong in feeling a little bit helpless?
In order to save both of us some trouble, and hopefully prevent some headaches, I’ve made a list of people I DON’T think are a waste of your time. Check the “Watching” section on my blog’s sidebar for more details. Anyone not listed is just messing with you.
Ah, lunch breaks. That blessed time where you take a nice long breather from your job, grab a cup of coffee with some co-workers, or just sit around for 45 minutes, dreading the inevitable return to your tiring routine. Not so with me! I was so thrown off by what I learned this morning that I absolutely had to go home, dig through my brother’s business papers, and practically beg for a lawsuit to be brought against me.
That’s right: what we have here is a super-duper top-secret Widmore Industries document. It’s so secret that my brother couldn’t even tell me about it. It’s so secret that he signed a bunch of legal papers threatening him with certain death monumental legal fees if he even spoke a word about what was contained therein. It’s so secret that…I’m going to post it because I don’t really give a crap.
So it has to be good, right?
Try as I might, I simply couldn’t dig up anything good on the fabled I. Theta Project. All I found was this measly letter, featuring some technobabble and cordial back-patting. I’m at least glad to know my brother made a friend, even if he appears to be a long-distance one. And I think it’s kind of cute that they were planning to go on a corporate retreat of some sort, though I don’t remember hearing anything about it.
I have to admit, I’m kind of disappointed. But is there anything more to this? It appears to have been sent a mere two months or so before my brother disappeared, and that brings back some sad memories. He was probably planning my birthday party that very same day, which ended up being a lot of fun, seeing as how we watched all 6 Star Wars films back-to-back and dressed up like Wookiees. We called it Wookiee Day ’06. It was awesome.
But that’s all that really comes to mind. And that bums me out.
Oh well, back to work.
So here’s that blog I promised. I’d apologize for the delay, but when you take into account the realities of having a stressful day job, I think you’ll be able to forgive me. Right? Maybe? It’s up to you, really. I won’t feel hurt if you never want to talk to me again. It wouldn’t be the first time, after all. (Fun Fact: Working overtime strains friendships. Especially the romantic kind.)
So anyway, after working a 10 hour shift at the Ajira ticket desk, and dealing with sweaty businessmen and early vacationers, I decided to do some digging. While the common (sane?) man would typically end the day at the bar with some friends or even a nice long nap, I sorted through family papers and the garbage(!), trying to solve a century-long family mystery. So without further ado, the fruits of my labor.
I found the yellow sheets of paper crumpled up in my brother’s wastepaper basket, and I had no idea what to make of them. So instead of fretting over bizarre symbols and clues I completely missed, I remembered a little oddity I found scrunched up in a pouch in my father’s college binder. Said oddity is the two-sided piece of small paper which seems to be a “key” of some sort, and is actually the first mention of Mr. Hobbes I found outside of my brother’s day schedule (more on that at a later date).
As you can see, the key mentions a few things, like “Know Thyself” and “Phoenix.” I initially took this to mean that three generations of Graves men were somehow lost in Arizona, but I went down that road long ago, and all I found was a bunch of nonsense from nutjobs thinking the military was preparing mass graves for the unwashed masses.
I tried to “decode” the yellow sheets with the key, but didn’t have much luck. A few possible words came up (Adomis, Jacob, our dear friend the Phoenix, and Apollo), and I was initially inclined to believe that these were coincidences, if not for the familiar p-word. So unless I’m doing this wrong, this key is broken. Anyone care to prove me wrong?
That’s really all I have for now. Hopefully my new surge of page views, Twitter followers, and commenters will result in the solving of this particular mystery, but until then, I have another day of handing out tickets and scheduling flights to look forward to. Whoop-dee-doo.
Comment away, if you can help.
Update: Special thanks to quincunxxx for decoding the letter so quickly.
As some of you have already figured out, the key is reversed for most of the letter, except when it comes to the names I mentioned earlier. Here’s the full text, complete with the aforementioned forward-decoded names (which are italicized) and spelling mistakes (which are bolded, and sometimes replaced with the proper letter [like so]):
Your fathther meant a great deal to us, and we are honored you wish to follow in his foots[t]eps. When Adomis told me what you could do, I knew you were a perfect candidate.
However, the road ahead is long. You may be a good person in my eyes, but Jacob is much harder to please. Initiation into our order is an old and sacred process, and not the easiest thing to endure.
Your first goal is to find the Phoenix. He will ask you to recite Apollo‘s creed, and if you answer correctly, he will give you a test. Th[i]s test is painful and deeply person[a]l, so be prepared. This is where most peopl[e] fail.
Everything from then on will have to remain a secret. I wish you luck, and hope to count you among our number soon.
This is all deeply disturbing, and not at all what I expected. It now appears that my brother willingly left, but why? And for that matter, Mr. Hobbes and his cronies seem to know my father well enough for him to mean a “great deal” to them. How is this possible?
I can’t even begin to wrap my head around this. And to make matters worse, I’m even finding hidden meanings in spelling mistakes. When you take all the letters that shouldn’t be there (or should) — those being th-t-i-a-e — and rearrange them, you get I. Theta. I. Theta was a classified project my brother was working on for Widmore Construction before he left, and though this may just be a coincidence, I’ll have to look into it more later. He was proud of it, but couldn’t talk about it much, as he was muzzled by a plethora of NDAs.
I don’t even know how I’m going to work today, but thanks to everyone who helped.