Monday, April 18, 2016
I twisted the key clockwise and slid the chain into position, completely locking my front door. Without a moment of hesitation, I changed out of my soaking wet clothing and put on something much more comfortable. I didn't plan on going out anymore tonight, so I wore one of my many sets of pajamas that happen to take up the majority of my clothing selection. I believe they may actually be the most comfortable thing I own.
I collapsed onto my bed, lying on my back while gazing off blankly into the ceiling above my head. I was still somewhat shaken from the events that happened prior to coming home. Suddenly losing eight hours of your life without really knowing why is mysterious enough, but feeling so tired and out of balance just adds to the confusion. It really makes me wonder if what I experienced wasn't a loss of time at all, but instead a sudden acquisition of time in a different location. That location of course, was unknown. Much like the reasons why any of it happened in the first place.
I replayed the events in my mind, trying to figure out how I fit in to all of it. I played no role in that foreign place other than a spectator who simply watched as the events played out before them. It was oddly reflective of my real world experiences, allowing me full freedom without repercussions purely based on the fact that nobody takes the time or feels any need to notice my somewhat irresponsible, yet insignificant, actions. This strange experience has brought light onto what is possibly the most convenient phenomenon in existence, but simultaneously the ultimate double edged sword.
I raised my arms and extended my hands forward, reaching for the ceiling. I concentrated on so-called "otherworldly thoughts" as I attempted to access the unknown, an alternate universe, or some form of ethereal dimension that was somehow locked away deep within my own subconscious. I wasn't sure if it was a place that actually existed, or one that I could only visit through my dreams. I doubted the legitimacy of my unrealistic actions, but continued on without hesitation.
My intense concentration was swiftly interrupted by a light tapping noise coming from the sliding door. Being relatively startled by the sound, I quickly sat up and looked through the glass door. Outside on my balcony stood a small multicolored duck. Its head was cocked at a slight angle, and its eyes were staring directly into mine. I wasn't sure why, but the creature didn't bother me at all. However much like my last visitor, I let them stay outside.
With almost uncanny convenience, I was interrupted by the ring of my doorbell. I looked at the duck standing in the rain, "What do think?" I asked calmly, "Should I answer it?"
The duck rose its wings and shook the rain water off of itself.
An adequate response.
I decided to leave the door alone and lean back against the wall, carefully watching the duck outside. It observed me with its head cocked at a slight angle, making skittish little movements every couple of seconds.
I heard another knock at the door. The little duck quickly shifted its gaze towards the back of the room, let out a short quack, and then looked back at me.
"Yeah... Me too..." I whispered. I sighed and rubbed my eyes before turning to look at the door. Someone must really want to see me, but they couldn't have caught me at a worse time.
I stayed seated on my bed as I watched the door. After about a minute, there was another knock, followed by a voice calling from beyond the door.
"Hello?" There were more knocks, "I really need to talk to you!" It was a man's voice, but I couldn't recognize it. "I need to explain what is going to happen!" he continued.
This caught my attention. I looked over at the duck, who rapidly looked back and forth between the door and I. I slowly rose from my bed and took a few steps towards the door, making sure I didn't make a sound as I moved.
"I understand that you are confused!" shouted the voice from beyond the door. He was right, I wasn't sure what was going on and was having a particularly difficult time grasping on to what was actually real. For all I knew, I just witnessed an assassination in the dark ages, but here I am standing in a modern 21st Century apartment building.
"But you must understand I am only here to help!" the man outside continued to shout.
I recognized the voice.
It was the man who visited me earlier today. It had to be. I recognized the subtle remnants of a foreign accent that lingered on his words. Perhaps he grew up with a British family? Regardless, it had to be him.
"Very well! I understand!" he shouted. This is not the first time he told me that he "understood" something. What does he understand? What is it that pushes this man to seek me out multiple times this day?
"I'll give you this. I'm pretty sure you'll be able to figure it out!" he spoke softer, but still loud enough to be heard from behind the door.
I hesitated. As much as I wanted to open the door and interrogate this man, I couldn't bring myself to do it. What was I thinking, going after him? How would I have acted had I run in to him outside. I would have lost it, not to mention I was totally defenseless...
At the bottom of the door, I watched a small pink sheet of paper slide in to my room from underneath the door. I was frozen in place, and had no intention of moving until I was positive the man had left.
"I don't wanna have to try this again! Please, do your best!"
Unsure of what he was talking about, I stared at the sheet of paper in horror. What was pushing this man to come on to me in such a manner? I waited, and listened carefully for any more comments from the man outside.
I inched forward, taking extra caution in every step I took. I could not allow the man to be aware of my existence. As I approached the door, I leaned forward and looked through the peephole. I saw no signs of anybody outside.
He must have left.
I wasn't sure what to do. I glanced down at the slip of paper at my feet, debating my next action.
I took a deep breath and bent downward, picking up the small pink sheet. It was not very large at all, maybe only half the size of a full sheet of paper. It was wide ruled and seemed to be ripped on one side, meaning it was most likely taken out of a notebook or something. I do recall the man having a backpack with him during our first encounter.
I walked back to my room, as I examined the sheet. I quickly came to realize that I was unable to read any of the writing on one side of it. It seemed to be written in 3 different languages, all of which I couldn't decipher. On the other side of the sheet, there were two "words" which were made up of letters I recognized.
As for what this meant, I had no idea. I highly doubt this was anything written in english, and even if it was, it had to be some form of encrypted text. There are far too many polyalphabetic and alphanumeric ciphers that exist to immediately understand what could be written here. I do happen to be relatively experienced in the field of decrypting and reading alternate alphabets, but I wasn't doing such a great job of keeping my hopes up.
When I was in elementary school, I spent a lot of time writing and solving different codes with my father. It became a sort of game between us, where we would each write some sort of weird amalgamation of letters and numbers and the other would have to figure out what it meant. I quickly realized how much I enjoyed figuring out that sort of thing, and eventually made multiple careers out of it working for different types of security or intelligence services. Unfortunately these particular "languages" that I learned never transferred over to anything that might help me out in a foreign country. I only really "spoke" in English, just in a bunch of different formats.
I returned to my bedroom and sat down at my desk, carefully looking at the sheet of paper. There wasn't any resulting anagram that I noticed. I tried the classic Atbash, or "mirrored alphabet" cipher, but I couldn't get anything out of "LIBEIRI TFIA" at all.
Just then, my computer screen, which was already on, flashed a couple random colors. I was immediately alarmed, considering I have set up a number of defense measures on my own personal network. Someone breaking in would be pretty impossible, regardless of how outdated my systems are. I hesitated for a moment and continued to watch. I got nervous and started looking around my room.
Outside my window, the duck stood completely still.
There was no sign of anything else happening. Perhaps the video cables connecting to my monitor where going bad. I honestly wouldn't be surprised considering I picked it up at a pretty shady secondhand shop. I stood up and poked my head forward, giving me a better angle on the mess of cords going into the back of my computer. I reached around with my hands and quickly got hold of the VGA cable and carefully unscrewed it. I did the same on the other end, which was plugged into my monitor.
To my surprise, when I looked back into my monitor, the picture hadn't gone away. The monitor, receiving no video signal, displayed my desktop as clear as day. I began feeling uneasy as I contemplated the possibilities of what could be going on. Having come up with no conclusion, I decided to power off the monitor. After waiting for about 20 seconds, I pressed the button to turn it on again.
The screen flickered for a moment. None of the splash screens appeared. Instead, a large "13" in bright white text filled nearly the entire screen space.
It is a relatively old letter substitution cipher that essentially "rotates" the alphabet forward by 13 spaces, turning A into N, B into O, and so on. I think it originated somewhere on the internet within forums and different communities. I don't recall it being too popular or really even that useful unless you just wanted to hide something that you didn't want people to immediately be able to read, but still, people used it. Apparently one of those people is the mysterious man outside my apartment building.
I looked once more at the sheet of paper the man slid underneath my door. After converting the original letters, I ended up with what I can only assume was the intended message.