|Can you trust anything that you see or know?|
Human Souls or Signal and Noise is a long-running ARG that began with an advert reading "help me" and continued with a story about two human minds (E and Lottie) preserved in technology, and the organisation attempting to achieve this.
Its puzzles and solutions are regularly documented on the unofficial Tumblr.
An official summary of the events in the ARG's story.
A place outside of linear time. The sound of data rushing in like a wave. The signal and the noise. The Cube. Project 555. Two minds, uploaded to a computer system after death. Trapped for eternity. The limitations of the system mean that both are incomplete and missing data. She calls herself Rachel, though she can no longer remember why. He calls himself Eric, and he will never forgive himself for that. He's not lying to her. But he's not telling her the whole truth either. He erased her. Decades of her. To bring her back. To stop her from breaking. He shouldn't have done that. He's been in there for awhile without her. Mourning the loss of his wife and child. She's mourning too. Her husband, Bill, who died in a car accident. Or so Eric says anyway. She's not sure what to believe, now. Eric died in a car accident too. And his wife saved him. To the Cube. Originally, the Cube was developed by the London branch of a company called Pangent Technologies. Nice people, some of them. Leslie (MayorSassenheim), a coder who loves her cats. Sharon (Guineapix). Charlotte Baird, a scientist. Also known as Lottie, and argentina. She began work on Project 555, alias the Cube, made up of a substance of mysterious origin retrieved in a covert military operation from a vacant lot in Long Beach, California in the early eighties, and returned to Pangent in London decades later. The Cube is made up of a glowing blue substance unlike anything else on earth. It is constantly generating energy which needs to be worked off somehow to prevent an explosion. Its surface area is fractal and theoretically infinite. The man who retrieved the Cube was lancelot (Dean Schreyer), a founder of Pangent Technologies who named the company. He is eccentric and how he treats Lottie (and others) is ambiguous - Usually friendly but with a threat underneath that. He is manipulative and, as he is dying of cancer, wants Lottie to develop the Cube into technology which could preserve his mind after his death and effectively make him immortal. He feels the Cube's unique properties make it ideal for data storage. Lancelot's son is Alex (X/Galahad). He was Lottie's assistant, but becomes her boss, failing upward after getting the company in trouble by insulting people on Twitter. He is a perpetual thorn in the side for Lottie, Leslie and Sharon, who form a sort of group as "The Spice Girls" to oppose Alex when he tries to mess with them. This never works out in practice. Lottie, who gets very tired and strung out working on the Cube project, isn't willing to do anything terrible to Alex. December 2016. Alex has already gotten Lottie in trouble by losing his temper on Twitter. This causes Pangent Technologies to rethink their social media strategy. Alex is promoted while Lottie gets demoted, and in more and more trouble. She is asked to delete old posts on both the Tumblr and Twitter, but can't make the Python script work. The Tumblr and Twitter crash and a lot of data is lost. Lottie is fired. Leslie, who is then Alex's assistant, takes over for a bit. She loves cats, notably her own cats "Mayor Sassenheim" (who is running for reelection against Cat Trump) and "Caterine Dogememe." Later, Caterine has four kittens, and there are two or three other cats around as well (Chani, Melsy?). This is irrelevant. Eventually, Leslie will end up working on the Cube project as well. While Lottie is away, Alex searches through her old data to find out about a project codenamed "Percival." This was Lottie's project to record human thought as computer data. It was overly ambitious and failed due to the impossibility of storing that much data. Alex contacts his father (Dean/Lancelot), who brings The Cube to Pangent. The Cube's properties are so volatile and otherworldly that even looking at a photograph of it is enough to make a person very ill, or pass out. Looking at it in person will certainly knock someone out. Alex freaks Lottie, Leslie and Sharon out by sending them photographs of the Cube. Lottie had already gained a reputation for being reckless and destructive in her work, getting results by trying things others would be scared to try. She is drawn to the danger of the Cube project, and is rehired at Pangent. Both Lottie and Leslie sign contracts which are very unfavorable and give Pangent all rights to their work. Maybe more. Sharon, Lottie's friend, refuses to sign the contract and will continue to apply pressure on Alex to keep him in line, and to keep him from doing anything horrible to Lottie and Leslie. Lottie shoots down any effort to do anything really terrible to Alex instead. Leslie stops being Alex's assistant, replaced by a young woman named Kristi who Alex starts dating. Lottie and Eric begin dating over Christmas break 2016. Eric is neurotic and unsure of himself, and later that year he will awkwardly propose marriage to Lottie over the phone, which was pretty much designed to fail. They break up for awhile, but Leslie and Sharon take some effort to get Lottie and Eric back together. We later find out that Eric is an artist, and he and Sharon collaborate on a video game project, The Heart and the Crown, based on a script by Lottie. This is a fantasy story deconstructing the hero's journey - and pointing out that we as human beings are designed to die, and immortality isn't what it's cracked up to be. But before all that, working on the Cube project takes a great mental, physical and emotional toll on Lottie. The Cube's strange properties and her own self-destructive work ethic chip away at her. Alex is working the whole time to undermine her and take credit for her work, while Dean/Lancelot works to control and manipulate her. Lottie draws a comic called "Stressed Penguin." This later inspires Leslie to draw a comic of her own. Lottie makes great strides in getting Project 555 to the point where it could save a human mind as data. However, it's not ready enough yet when Dean/lancelot steals the Cube and hooks himself up to it. He passes into a coma and never wakes up. The Cube transmits several messages suggesting that some of Lancelot's mind was saved to it. The last message being "Hell is real." Dean dies. Alex fires Lottie from 555 and orders Kristi to erase the Cube. Alex starts his own team for 555, with Kristi and a reluctant Leslie, as well as Liam (matadork), who had worked with Lottie on the disastrous "Project Four," a study of the limits of the human mind which apparently involved a lot of sleep deprivation, alcohol and drugs. This team is called "Team Rocket" by Sharon, and later "Team Cricket" (after Kristi's handle). Lottie doesn't forgive Leslie for joining the "bad guys," which breaks Leslie's heart. Liam asks Lottie to resurrect Alyssa, a "drunken AI" she programmed for the disastrous Project Four. Alyssa's code is rewritten to be a simulation of Lottie herself. This is then stolen by "Team Cricket" and uploaded to the Cube. A year of data is lost, taking us up to late 2017. Lottie is much happier and living a normal life with Eric. Leslie, working on 555, gradually becomes as stressed out as Lottie was, due mostly to Alex being his awful self. Alyssa, the AI, uploaded to the Cube, becomes self-aware and almost human, referring to herself as 999 or "Entity." Existing outside of linear time she interacts with both the Pangent and Cube timelines. Inside the Cube, Eric has been trying to reconstruct Lottie's Tumblr and Twitter accounts and other archives, as a way of reconstructing memories. Alyssa now intervenes with this process, making the archive even more cryptic. "The source" at the center of the cube is blinding white light which creates and erases data, and is gradually erasing Eric as he works - though slowly enough that he accepts it. Cube Rachel is affecting the code too, also at great physical risk to herself. She is able to unlock Leslie's data, at the expense of Lottie. This results in a huge amount of data loss, and lots of videos of Leslie and her cats which overwhelm Eric. Alyssa the AI is trying to "unlock the pigs" (Sharon aka guineapix) even as she becomes more self-aware and a little insane. We know that Eric will die horribly in a car accident, and Lottie will save him as data to the Cube. Much later, she will join him inside the Cube and die. As Eric attempts to resurrect her data, he erases decades from her and creates "Cube Rachel" - an incomplete version of Lottie who doesn't remember or trust him. But Lottie's data - her blog posts, emails, and so on - are still in the Cube, as they were used for testing, and Eric spends his time compiling them into an archive. But if the Cube exists outside of linear time, perhaps there is still some hope for both of them.
Prior to GameDetectives involvement
The Human Souls ARG was first found by @dadvader2016 on the MS Paint Adventures homepage in the form of an advertisement.
The Advertisement was a flashing green gif, depicting a woman's face and the word's "help me". When clicked on, this would link to a google search for "help me".
The gif also contained binary
01100011 01101111 01101110 01110011 01100011 01101001 01101111 01110101 01110011 00100000 01101000 01110101 01101101 01100001 01101110 >00100000 01110011 01101111 01101100 01110011
This translates to "conscious Human Sols" a believed misspelling of "Conscious Human Souls"
Another Binary "fragment" is as follows:
01101001 01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101 01111001 01101111 01110101 01101100 01101111 01110100 01110100 01101001 01100101
This translates to "iloveyoulottie"
The Last binary fragment is:
01110011 01101001 01100111 01101110 01100001 01101100 01100001 01101110 01100100 01101110 01101111 01101001 01110011 01100101
This Translates to "signalandnoise"
The description says "/four". It contains Backwards audio one male, and one female. The Male has been noted to sound calm, and has an echo effect. He says:
the light is telling you something.
The woman was notably distressed and says
yeah, it’s screaming. All around me, voices are screaming
Reversed audio Can be found here
The description Says "/error/"
Text Transcript of video:
a decision had to be made i had hoped i had hoped that in time you would come to consider me a friend yes as much as love can still exist here yes i know yes, if you’d like the technology existed to preserve ONE MIND where it came from, I an’t say maybe you’re right maybe it should never have been used ERIC my name was Eric No… Your body was intact, in a manner of speaking, but your mind was, your mind was ready to go to sleep it means that the first 6 times i booted up yr program you couldnt even speak you wouldnt stop screaming some deletions had to be made memories i removed some of your memories whatever it took to make the screaming stop yes… ive been here, existing as data, for a long time by then but even so i didnt know what i was doing i took your memories, too many of them too many of the wrong ones i dunno I don’t expect you to forgive me for it i expect you to hate me until the end of your days you know nothing about me you wouldn’t stop i don’t know i lost count a long time ago something like that i know does it help? does hating me help you? does hating me make you feel alive again? does it make the screaming stop? yes you are you are screaming inside i can hear it I am trying to help you, you know it’s too late for that now anyway, it was never my decision not really I’m just a cloud of data somewhere out there on the internet same as your are i didn’t have a choice then and i don’t have a choice now except to try to amke this work is that what you want if thats what you think I know I can’t I never met bill, your husband I’m sure he was he wouldn’t accept anything less I do love you, you know i’ve loved you for a very long time we could still make this work i dont have to shut you down if thats what you want i was married too you know i had a daughter you did? i know i’m sorry goodnight Lottie
An audio transcript can be found here
French translation options show following messages:
Or not the the parade others the courtyard we struggle itself what you like Leslie the mayor where it is
Unlike the past videos, this video contains no description
The following is a reversed audio:
Woman: gasping, panting “Where am I?” “I-I see lights, flashes, and-and-and an ocean of light” “I feel…strange…I can’t feel, I can’t…NO…Bill, wheres Bill? Bill, my husband!” “I don’t—I don’t understand…Where, w-what, are you?” “…What am I?” “What did you do to me?…What did you do?” “Light, colored light…I don’t want to. Screaming, all around me voices are screaming.” “I don’t…[voice breaks]I don’t remember…What’s happened to me?” “Yes, no, I…Rachel? Ugh…yes, i don’t know. Rachel sounds right, important…The lights are screaming…They want me to understand…” “I see it, all of it…It’s…It’s too much…” “[sobs] I don’t think I have eyes…I can’t! It’s too much, my head is pounding…” “You’re a doctor…You saved my life…What kind of life is this? Are we data, are we just information in a computer somewhere?” “You saved me…You saved me to a hard drive. How is that possible?” “I feel incomplete. Like a shadow of myself…” “Wait. You are a shadow too.” [long pause] “What happened to her?” “But we are alive, and our [couldn’t figure it out].” “How? But what kind of life can we have in this place?” “You should’ve let me die…But it’s too late for that now.” “Where’s Bill? My husband…We were together, in a car…and then there was an accident.” “We were together…why couldn’t you save HIM? You just saved me?” “NO, he WASN’T!” “You’re lying! You’re a liar!” “Only one mind.”