Yesterday, ARGNet received a letter in the mail from an anonymous party. Inside the outer envelope was a letter wrapped around an unsealed envelope, containing what I would soon learn is the trailhead to an alternate reality game centered around the company Aeternus Center. And within an hour of opening the letter, I mailed the contents off to make this someone else’s problem. But to explain why, it’s necessary to learn a little more about this enigmatic trailhead.
The letter contained within the outer envelope was straight to the point:
Subject: Aeternus Center
Received the following in the mail a couple days ago regarding some sort of ‘company’, though the contents seem ARG-ish and the name it was addressed to was only used in ARG contexts. Unfortunately I don’t have time to investigate with classes going on, but also want it somewhere accessible in case the contents are important for whatever thing is going on.
Out of concern for their privacy, the anonymous sender took a permanent marker to blank out their return address and postmark before forwarding the letter they received from the Aeternus Center. Even if someone claimed they were the original sender, I’d have no way of verifying that fact. The only unredacted information on the envelope was the Center’s return address: a PO Box in Cambridge, Massachussetts.
The contents of the Aeternus Center’s letter was thankfully more forthcoming, and included:
- A form letter from the Aeternus Center from Aeternus Center CEO welcoming the unnamed recipient as a new recruit with the organization, along with incomplete instructions on how to log into the Aeternus Center intranet. “I I I T / Record ID / ⬛💡” is scrawled in black pen on the bottom of the page;
- An Aeternus Center business card, confirming the corporate address, along with the corporate phone number (617-284-0422) and website (aeternus.center);
- An Ace of Spaces playing card, with a half-legible message written across the edges;
- Portions of a shredded internal document centered around the company’s recruitment methods;
- A Chinese “cash” coin and small key (used as a paperweight in the prior photographs);
- A newspaper clipping discussing the disappearance of Frances Austin in late August on one side, with the message “PROOF TO REVIEW” written on the reverse side; and
- The coded message shown below.