Mysterious and Sinister

The mail I get these days is very boring. Credit card offers, dog medicine, Trader Joe’s fliers, assorted bits of scammy junk mail and lots of bills. I don’t even get any magazines anymore, I found they just piled up unread, becoming more of a nuisance and monument to guilt than an actual source of information. When I received an odd manila envelope emblazoned with the BBL logo on it, I almost threw it out thinking it was more of that scammy junk mail. However, this envelope had an unignorable heft to it. It wasn’t just a slew of papers trying to sell me something I didn’t want. I was compelled to open it.

There were two smaller packages and a letter inside. The letter was from BBL itself, which turned out to stand for “Best British Lowestoft Logistics”, a package delivery service. The letter apologized that the two packages intended for me had been damaged and delayed. The shipping label had no return address. Here are the contents of both of the packages that I found inside.

Inside the mysterious envelope

Inside the package was a handwritten letter from the sender, addressed to no one in particular and signed “Your Friend”. It was rambling and paranoid, about discovering a  horrible secret and not being believed. There were many other things in the envelope as well. When I upended the envelope a small, dirty, burlap sack came tumbling out and hit the table with a loud thud. Inside the sack was an equally filthy, broken brass gear. In the packages themselves, there was nothing specifically addressing me, nor could identify who sent it. It seemed like this package was sent to me by mistake and was clearly was not meant for me. I Googled BBL to get their phone number. This is their website: There was no contact number, so I put it off to the side to be dealt with later. I’d have to go through the slow email process.

On a whim, I decided to poke at the strange package a bit. I cleaned off some of the gunk on the gear and found that there were eight small runes etched into a repeating pattern on them. I did Google search on runes, and while some of the runes matched with Nordic, Magyar or Anglo-Saxon none of those contained all the runes.

The broken gear

There was also a sheaf of binder clipped loose papers.

The bundle of papers showing a rise in disasters, examples of aphasia and a mysterious case of garbled text with missing letters.

The top sheet showed a chart showing a rise in aphasia, correlating with self-reported depression and another bar graph showing a massive rise in natural disasters since the 1700s. Aphasia is when a person suddenly can no longer speak anything other than gibberish.

NOTE: When I was a church-going kid, they would call it speaking in tongues and I witnessed a lady in church suddenly struck with it. It mostly annoyed people and freaked me out. Legend had it that when someone speaks in tongues, someone nearby will know what they are saying. I can tell you now that it wasn’t me.

Here is the video about real cases of aphasia the paper refers to :

The rest of the pages were about other cases of mass aphasia, where whole groups suddenly find themselves only able to talk in gibberish. There was also a transcript between AP news people about the text crawl on the tv missing letters.

While all this was starting to become intriguing, I really couldn’t determine if any of this had any connection with anything else. I could decipher no purpose or logic, so again I set all the contents of the package aside and more or less forgot about it. At the time, I had just started medical treatments and was trying to focus on other things.

Then, a couple days later, I received a second manila envelope from UPS. Again in a BBL box, saying they’d discovered yet more mail intended for me. This time there were star charts, pictures, and even a signet ring in a small black satin bag.

The second package

Now my curiosity was piqued, cue the X-Files theme song. I started to investigate a little more vigor, but I started out with no clear method. I just started with what grabbed my attention first.

The signet ring:

By a spooky coincidence, the ring had engraved around it the latin phrase, “PER ASPERA AD ASTRA”, which happens to be a motto of mine. The phrase means “Through hardships to the stars.” At the time I did not understand the symbol on the front.

There were three rolls of torn strips of paper on which was written a code.

I was delighted to find that the code used the same runes as found on the broken gear. From that I could tell that it was written in pairs. A rune followed by some other symbol I hadn’t seen before. After taking note, I moved on.

The next item was a large 1880 chart showing the stars of the northern hemisphere. I identified the north star and the Big and Little Dipper and other recognizable constellations in the stars.

This circular chart was ringed on the outside by months of the year and signs of the zodiac. The chart also had seven circles drawn in the stars inside it. A legend on the side said that the stars in each of the circles would be visible at midnight at the indicated month of the year. What really made me perk up was that there were runes drawn in reddish marker in each of these circles, most of which matched runes from the brass gear and on the coded strips. Even more tantalizing were the small diamond shapes among the stars, next to each was written a letter from the normal alphabet in the same reddish marker.

Immediately I brought out the gear and fiddled with it on the start chart. I thought maybe the three holes on the gear would fit something in the star chart and the arrow would point out something.  I tried to see if there was a pattern with the letters, but I couldn’t figure out how that would work, so I dug around in the packages and found a “Constellations of the Two Worlds” guide.

This guide shows diagrams of 27 constellations and also shows a symbol next to each that represents it. Immediately I saw that these were the same symbols on the coded strips I saw earlier.

At first I couldn’t figure out the connection; the constellations on this chart were not any I’d seen before. However, I stumbled onto the answer. Most of the stars in the chart were shown as circles of various sizes, indicating brightness. The brightest stars however were shown as circles with eight spikes radiating out of them. I counted them … there were 27 in total. I worked methodically, going from major star to major star and identified all 27 constellations and marked them with their special symbol.

Then I tried it out. I got one of the coded strips, and placed the gear in the center of the circle that was indicated by the rune, then I turned the gear to point at the main star of the indicated constellation. Three letters were shown in the three holes in the gear.

I wrote them down, and move to the next pair of symbols, and translated all the symbol pairs into three letters. It was about then that I noticed written in light pencil on the back of a different paper, letters in three sets just like what I was seeing, that formed a sort of word puzzle. I opened the paper to find what I call “The Sixth Seal”.

The portentous Sixth Seal

Among all the turgid occult prose was pretty much an exact description of what I’d just figured out. Which was how the gear and star chart worked. I winced. I could have just read this, instead of fiddling around. Well, I did have fun figuring it out the hard way.  Just to make sure I got the point, there was another code at the bottom of the Sixth Seal, and the back of the paper showed how it translated. So now I had more of a clue, and I set to translating all the code and came up with four phrases.

On the already translated code on the Sixth Seal: “From the blinking eye of Aldebaran”

On the old paper strip: “Spread altars last occultation of Aldebaran is imminent”

On the white strip with spots: “The impure are with us”

On the white strip with triangles: “Destroy the machines”

What I am guessing these mean:

The Sixth Seal says “… the Chosen Ones, who await the blinking eye of Aldebaran.” Aldebaran is the brightest star in the Taurus constellation, it is also know as the Eye of Taurus.

Occultation is when an celestial object passes in front of and blocks another celestial object from sight. So I imagine they are encouraging their followers to spread out their religion because the last time Aldebaran will be blocked is coming soon.

The last two messages on the white strips are pretty easy to figure out. They are saying they’ve been compromised by unbelievers, and that they should destroy their translating machines, where the broken gear came from, lest these infidels learn their secrets, just like I did.

It was at this point that I decided I needed to adopt a much more methodical approach to my investigation. I sorted out the two packages and began read them all carefully and take notes.  Here’s what I discovered.

In the first package:

  •  King in Yellow Playbill – On Monday, 1st July, at the Royal Strand Theatre. (the mention of carriages indicates this was to take place before automobiles, the 1st of July in 1895 was a Monday)
  • Clipped articles form the 1895 “The London Figaro” newspaper
    1. From 3 July a nearly full-page article: A Most Mysterious Theatre Production – Written by J. Prevort
      1. Written by a theatre critic, who chanced on the same “King in Yellow” playbill that presumably I also had a copy of.
      2. He tried to buy tickets, but no one sold them. The owner of the theater said that these were by invitation only. Still, he was determined, having found no other way, he snuck into the theater.
      3. He found the box office clerk appeared to be in some kind of trance, and just walked in.
      4. The play had started when he made his way in.
      5. When he pulled the curtain aside to the main theatre:
        1. The audience was standing on their seats
        2. They all wore yellow ochre masks
        3. They were making low gurgling noises and following some script.
        4. The stage was set as a manor house, but with no right angles, everything askew.
        5. There was a metal contraption like a “Leech Barometer” hanging from the ceiling.
        6. The backdrop was black, but there were hundreds of shifting candles.
        7. In the center of the stage, on a Doric column was an object shrouded in black.
      6. Three women in fashionable clothes, faces obscured by fans, leaving clouds of makeup in their wake, shuffled across the stage and were joined by a tall man in a black robe, masked with a gauzy yellow veil.
      7. They spoke, but he could not hear it very well, this is what he remembers
        1. “Then shall it rise …”
        1. “Let us now go forth and unearth…”
        1. “Come down from his realm unto Earth…”
      8. The robed man pulled the shroud off the center object, while all three women turned to the author, dropping their fans and revealing that their faces were featureless.
      9. The object was a marble bust, it was difficult to see. He looked closely and realized it was his own face.
      10. All the noise stopped at that moment. The entire audience in their yellow masks turned towards him.
      11. He was then grabbed from behind and dragged out of the theatre by unseen persons.
      12. He waited outside and tried to question the people leaving the theater, but they ignored him completely. When he pressed it, he saw the police had been called and were coming his way.
      13. He escaped, but later made his way back to the theater and managed to get through the stage door.
      14. He found nothing out the ordinary at first and was going to leave.
      15. He discovered a trap door under a rug.
      16. Inside he found tables with the masks he’d seen, and other parts from the play.
      17. The “Leech Barometer” turned out to be some mechanical device, but he could not guess how it worked.
      18. He found the marble bust, but on its face, there was nothing, no face at all.
      19. He left and swore he would find the truth of it all.
    2. From 10 July – a small strip. Arson at Brompton Cemetary Graves Disturbed
      1. Graves were dug up, bones scattered and a fire was started.
      1. Witness says she saw a dozen figures in the graveyard at half-past seven  
      1. The constable said that this was a very busy graveyard area and that the lack of more witnesses was chilling.
    3. 10 July – Bizarre Affliction Plagues Westminster
      1. A report of 200 cases of Aphasia in the Strand Area

Here’s a picture of a “Leech Barometer” for reference:

  • Mimeographed copy of four pages and receipt, from “The Social Praxis of Secret Societies: Rituals, Initiation, and Knowledge”, wherein:
    1. The Order of Two Worlds is underlined as an example of a secret society
    1. Goes on to explain why members of Secret Societies gain reward by membership
      1. Belonging and fellowship
      1. United by a common secret

In the second package:

  • A letter from ISA | International Society of Academics
    1. Apparently, this is a letter in response to something our mysterious friend sent them warning them about a coverup conspiracy.
    2. They confirm our friend’s warning and say that a cult has taken over parts of the government.
    3. This is an apocalyptic doomsday cult, bent on the destruction of the Earth.
    4. This cult worships the King in Yellow.
    5. They hold ceremonies to affirm and cement their bonds with the Yellow King.
      1. These involve chanting, strange astrology, and idols.
      1. A hideous, deformed faceless bust covered in a veil or shroud of fabric or leather.
    6. They communicate in secret using the star chart and gear.
    7. They can’t penetrate this cult to investigate further, but it is clear the membership has been growing.
    8. Other governments had reported alarm at seeing their own members become part of the cult.
    9. The ISA will keep the documents our friend sent but says that they may be the last source of truth on it.
    10. NOTE: While I can find the ISA webpages, they are suspiciously devoid of any real information on themselves.
  • A picture of pages 126-127 from a book containing information about the Chauvet Cave
    1. It shows the constellation known as “The Sacrificial Lamb”  as shown in the Order of the Two Worlds chart.
    2. The article says that the cave, famous for its early human cave paintings was just discovered to also have constellations drawn in ochre on its walls.
  • A letter from 4 July 1899, from Rosetta Prevort
    1. Written to the caretakers and doctors at a mental institution holding her son Joshua Prevort.
    2. She is upset that they won’t let her see him, because they had said his condition had worsened.
    3. She was also angry that the asylum had already sent three “doctors” to her house but everything she told them she was having to repeat again at the hospital. A clear hint that these were non-institution people.
    4. She tells them she is informing the police.
  • An old picture labeled “Joshua Prevort, Rosetta Prevort”, which apparently is them on the front.
  • A Scotland Yard police report, 9 June 1895, describing three incidents
    1.  4 March, In Bishops Park, a circle of people, singing around a shrine of candles, amulet, and bust. They fled, leaving these things behind, as the constable approached. Evidence gathered and filed.
    2. A constable was assaulted outside the courthouse. The assaulter was apprehended, but died while in custody, but was discovered to have a ring with the same occult symbol as the amulet.
    3. An autopsy was being performed on an individual and among their effects another ring with the occult symbol inscribed upon. The autopsy was disrupted by three individuals not speaking in an understandable tongue. They were escorted out but found later in an alleyway wearing grotesque yellow masks and ran when approached. They left behind the same sort of debris as in the Bishop Park incident.
    4. Summary, while there was no other wrongdoing than the assault, these taken together seem to indicate something more sinister and an investigation is warranted.
    5. A note, all the evidence collected in these incidents has come up missing.
  • Constellations of the Two Worlds, a diagram depicting various constellations, their names, symbol and major star. (27 of them)
  • The Sixth Seal – a long pamphlet that pretty much describes how to use the gear to decipher the coded messages, complete with turgid prophecy for the coming of the Lost Carcosa.
    1. At the bottom of the pamphlet is a coded message, which was helpfully decoded on the back of the pamphlet for us: “FROM THE BLINKING EYE OF ALDEBARAN”
  • The Northern Index Map of 1880
    1. Shows the constellations visible in the Northern Hemisphere, and what will be visible at certain times of the year.
    2. Written in dim reddish marker, the sky codes (as described in Package 1) indicating which part of the sky is what. For example, the center, with Polaris and Little Dipper is the Bolt.
    3. Written in each of the seven areas in that same reddish, but smaller makers are alphabetic marks. When you line up the gear correctly, three of the letters will be indicated.
  • Three coded strips
    2. White Strip w/ Spots: THE IMPURE ARE WITH US
    3. White Strip w/Blue Triangles: DESTROY THE MACHINES
  • Handwritten letter from our mysterious friend, on “ibis budget hotels” stationary, coffee-stained
    1. He writes that he has been afflicted by the aphasia and cannot speak.
    2. They talk about the one they worship (The Yellow King) as a threat to all existence.
    3. He dug up a coffin, and found the gear wheel inside – I guess that’s why it was filthy.
    4. They are being followed by the masked.
    5. One of the star charts was found in Biblioteque Mazarin
    6. They are now exercising extreme caution as to not be found.
  • A small black nylon bag with signet ring
    1. Inscribed with my personal favorite latin phrase “Per Astra Ad Aspera”.
    2. The face is the symbol for the “The Order of the Two Worlds”, but in reverse as this is meant to be stamped in wax.

As luck would have it, as I was finishing my study of these last few objects, another package arrived. This time it was a large box!

Contents of the third package

I opened the box and found a small wooden crate and more literature inside. I rushed to get my tools and pried the crate open before I read anything else. Inside was a smallish statue wrapped in a canvas cloth tied together at the back in twine.  I pulled the canvas off and discovered it to be the bust of an oddly featureless face.

Inside the small crate
The rest of the third package

This must be one of those odd statues from the ceremonies, I brought all the contents and my new desk companion, we’ll call him Groot, to study in my office.

This is what I discovered:  

  • Letter from the Friend, also written on ibis hotel stationery
    1. He found and took the “shrine”, but now they are everywhere.  Maybe he means the statue?
    2. The shrine is giving him horrible visions.
    3. Tried to hide it in a locker at Gare du Nord? But then it was taken along with the locker door.
    4. He is overcome with aphasia now and again and asks for my help.
    5. The statue is an antenna to the Pleiades, to the King in Yellow.
    6. He found a code and wrote it down that is supposed to help.
    7. His letter devolves into a mess of incomplete words.
  • Letter from Joshua Prevort
    1. The sixth anniversary of his incarceration into the asylum. My math puts it in 1901.
    2. Is plagued with visions
    3. His mother visits, he doesn’t see his mother, but instead a huge ghastly figure in tattered robes.
    4. At the end of his handwritten letter, he starts missing letters.
  • Letter from ISA: International Society of Academics
    1. This is addressed to: “Favored Servant”
    2. They are happy to finally reveal that they are subjects of the Yellow King, followers of the Shrouded Lord, the Keepers of Yhtill.
    3. They say I no longer have a choice, that I will do what they want regardless.
    4. They trust “me” to end the world and do their bidding, and I should embrace aphasia and usher in the new age of Carcosa.
  • “Groot” a bust of some kind of tree creature
    • Pretty solid and hefty, perfect for Miss Scarlet to whack Mr. Boddy in the Library.

There was one last code strip included in the package. This one appeared to have been written recently.

The Final Code

I brought out the star chart and the broken gear, with much trepidation, decoded the last message.


I started to feel a deep dread that I would suddenly start speaking in tongues, and wr te wit  m ssing l tters. So far Groot has not given me any more bizarre visions than the normal craziness that runs through my head. I’ve been keeping my eye out for strange people watching my every move. Well .. at least according to the … um, new management of the ISA, I am now the gatekeeper to the coming apocalypse, so I got that going for me.

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