Session 1             Session 2             Session 3             Session 4

A Mysterious Package
On March 12, 2009, Addlepated discovered a mysterious package in her PO Box. Inside, wrapped in the March 9th San Diego Union Tribune classifieds, was a microcassette recorder with a note that said "Play Me". On the tape was a recorded conversation between a man and a woman. The woman mentions that she is/was an author, but now only writes autobiographical stories, as it prevents fictional characters from coming to life. She then talks about the last character of hers that came to life, Charlotte - a sick little girl who ran away from home and who eventually found the woman author. §

The return address showed that it came from a P. Martin out of San Diego. A couple of San Diego Unfictioners checked out the address, but the only thing there were some apartments. Without knowing which apartment P. Martin lived in, or even if they lived their at all, the apartments were deemed a dead end.

The only other piece of information included in the package was some writing on the microcassette. There was a lot of debate as to what it actually said, but in the end (after we received a few more tapes) we concluded that it said "2/1".
Somehow, based on the very little information contained on the tape, drizjr discovered that the tape was seemingly based on a book called Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek. It is being released in the United States on March 17th. It had already been released in Germany three years previously - which may explain why the characters have slightly European accents and the number 1 on the tape was written differently. So it seems that this game is more than like a promotion for the book. However, it's too soon to tell if we're going to need the book to play along, or if it will stand on its own. Hopefully the latter, as I think it would be a little too weird to incorporate the book. It would be like if ILB was just using the Halo 2 game to provide the storyline instead of just using the universe. You don't want the ARG to spoil the book or the book to spoil the ARG.
Tape #2
A few days after Addlepated got her tape, Varin received another one in the mail. Hers was marked with "1/2" and wrapped up in the sports section of the Los Angeles times dated March 12, 2009 - just a day before she received it. Her tape had the same voices on it as Addlepated, although they didn't necessarily follow each other in the storyline. However, we were introduced to another fictional character who came to life. Julia is the first character the Woman ever meets outside of her stories - and is the beginning of a twenty year nightmare. §
Tape #3
The third tape was received by SpaceBass on Monday, March 16th. His recorder was wrapped up in a page from a 1040EZ booklet and was labeled "1/1". As his tape seemed to be the start of the conversation, and seemed to come directly before Varin's, we decided that the numbers on the tapes were labeling Session and Part number. So Space's tape would be Session 1, Part 1, then Varin's Session 1, Part 2 and Addie's Session 2, Part 1. So now we should be able to put any additional tapes in order very easily. §

It should be noted that the drugs the Woman says she was on are mainly used for the treatment of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The fact that she was on them in the hospital for so long shows that she was pretty wacky (at least in the opinion of her doctors). Makes you wonder how she ended up getting "better".
Tape #4
Just one day after Space's package, October got one in the mail. Hers was wrapped in a tax instruction booklet and was labeled "3/1" - putting it after Addie's tape. It also seemed to refer to some information that we haven't been able to listen to yet. But we do learn more about her meeting Charlotte. §
An Email from P. Martin
Apparently, despite our feelings that we had no idea what to actually do with all these tapes, we did have enough information to proceed onto a next step. But since we weren't getting that, P. Martin emailed those people who had already received their tapes saying that we should look for the truth and consider the items we had in our hands. And to help us out, they would answer one question for us. §

After much discussion, the group decided that the one question would be "How do we get in contact with the people from the tape?" Addie fired off the email and we settled in to wait for P. Martin's response.
Tape #2 - Redux
In the meantime, people started doing searches, trying to find either the Woman or the Man or if anyone else had gotten a tape. At least one other person outside of Unfiction had, a mystery writer named Dana King. His description of receiving the package seems a little over the top, but then again, he is a novelist. The tape appears to be the same as what Varin received - it's marked "1/2" and contains the story about Julia killing herself. So sadly, no new information. But now we have to wonder, are there other tapes out there that we haven't heard? And how would we go about finding them?
P. Martin's Response
After what seemed far too long to write a simple email back, P. Martin responded to Addie's question. It was far from helpful. In fact, it seemed to tell us just what the first message did: that we just need to use what we have. Well obviously if we knew how, we would have done that by now, don't you think? §
Tape #5
So as we looked at our materials again, a fifth tape came in the mail, this time sent to thebruce. His was "2/2" and was wrapped in a couple of layers of newspaper. That's slightly different. Does this mean we need to go back and look more closely at the other wrapping materials? And what are we supposed to be looking for on them, if that is indeed the case? The tape contains part of the story that was hinted at in "3/1" - that is the story about Charlotte almost getting run over by a car. §
It's Oh So Quiet
The weekend came and went and no new tapes or messages from P. Martin. Maybe everyone was watching the Battlestar Galactica finale. Addlepated took apart the recorder to see if there was a hidden message inside. There wasn't. People started searching the internet for either more tapes or possible websites for us to visit. We did find a few sites that seemed connected to the story, but as they were all in German and didn't actually give us much info, we decided that they weren't what we were looking for. So we spent the rest of the time debating what we should do, and what the enigmatic messages from P. Martin meant. Needless to say, we didn't get anywhere and are still just as stuck as we were when we got the first tape.

And that just annoys me. Because why spend so much money to priority ship the packages if time wasn't a bit of a factor? Is this just some random ultra-mini campaign to get the word out about a book that people wouldn't know about otherwise because so few places physically have it? I'm not sure that a tease like this is going to generate a lot of positive feedback if all it is only just a tease. If you're sending packages out to prominent ARGers, it's sorta expected that we'll get an ARG or at least some kind of larger experience. Not a couple of cryptic emails that hint that we have everything we need if only we would look at it correctly. Sometimes you have to look at things correctly and see that the reason we aren't moving on isn't because we're lazy or stupid. It's because your hints are crap. And if you want us to figure things out, you need to fix it. Otherwise, people are going to get very bitter, very quickly.
When P. Martin wrote to us originally, he/she used a Spamgourmet email address, which meant that it would only allow 1 response through before sending all the rest to the garbage bin. However, there is a bit of a hack around this, as pointed out by Spacebass if watchwords are turned on. Enaxor decided to test this theory and sent off an email using a hacked address. Amazingly, it actually worked and she got a response from P. Martin. §

The message also contained a picture that at first glance looked to be the same as one that Addlepated had posted earlier. But there is one big difference: the words on the battery cover are different. In the original picture, it says "OPEN" while in enaxor's picture, it says "TURN". Put this together with the message that we "are in charge" and it seems that we need to do something with the batteries or battery compartment.

What exactly we need to do though is anyone's guess. It was suggested by sapagoo that the package recipients turn the batteries around and see if that plays the tape backwards, but somehow I don't think they took his suggestion seriously.

We do have reports of two of the battery covers having a barcode sticker on them, but it's entirely possible that this is a standard sticker. Addlepated's sticker said "Device ID 273, Part No 2" and the barcode decoded to read *6776616C686579*. Splitting into pairs and turning into ASCII you get "gvalhey". ROT-13'ing that and you get "tinyurl". Holy crap - why the hell does a url need to be so fraking hidden? I hope there is a reason other than "but it's a puzzle!" Like a pirate king sent these out to safeguard a hidden treasure full of gold and Cap'n Crunch.

Anyway, now that we know what to do, we just have to wait for someone else to decode their barcode so we can get the rest of the tinyurl address to get to where we need to go.

Varin took a picture of her barcode: Device ID 995, Part No 1. Her barcode was the same as Addlepated's though. Okay, now what?

While the barcodes are the same, the Device IDs aren't. Spacebass told us in chat that his was Device ID 018, Part No 3. Putting the device IDs together, Addlepated then discovered which leads to which seems to be what we're looking for. Hooray!
Ivan Krotzler
Ivan Krotzler is a licensed clinical psychiatrist in San Diego. His name also happens to be an anagram of Viktor Larenz, but I'm sure that's just a coinky-dink. It seems that someone broke into their office in late February and took off with some patient data. At least now we know how we got the tapes. But then the question becomes why link us back to the place where they were stolen from? Unless maybe we're supposed to go back to the office and steal more stuff! Like an Oceans 11 type caper, with fake identities and elaborate planning and really good looking men. I so hope that's it.

If you have any information about the crime, or were a patient, they have a contact page set up where you can give them your contact information and send them a message. And if that doesn't interest you, you can always befriend Ivan on Facebook.

The only other bit on information that seems to be relevant to us is a link to MPU Berlin. When we first discovered it, the site was 403'd, but it has since become active. Not that I can view it at work right now because of stupid webfiltering, but that should be solved within 24 hours since I've submitted the site for review as a Government/Legal site. Because labeling it as a Game site would be bad and I'd never get to see it. Except maybe this week because someone seems to have unbanned Game sites because I'm guessing they are really interested in March Madness. Not that I'm complaining. Flickr (Web Storage) is even unlocked now. It's been a good week.
MPU Berlin seems to be a website for a Medical University in Berlin. Oops, I obviously submitted that in the wrong category, but I guess it doesn't matter since the review people don't seem to speak German. There's not much on the website as it seems they are still building it according to the translated message on the front page: Our new internet presence will soon be available here. Please check back again soon. Berlin, 2009. I guess we'll have to check back later.
Penny Farmer
A day after we found Ivan Krotzler's website, we started getting responses back from our initial queries. They were written by a Penny Farmer, who is Dr. Krotzler's assistant. The emails didn't contain a lot of information. Mostly just thank yous for letting her know about the tapes we had received and the fact that the practice is closed due to personal reasons.

With a line of communication established, several people started emailing Penny back asking more specific questions about the tapes and why the practice was closed. It was soon discovered that Dr. Krotzler had disappeared. That would explain why no one had been friended back on Facebook. We eventually learned that the last time he was seen was Friday, March 13th, when he left the office.

At least Penny isn't alone at the office. When questioned about why Dr. Krotzler is called a "Licensed Clinical Psychiatrist" despite the fact that it's not a real classification, she responded that it was probably a joke by Jimmy, the administrator and website programmer.

With each new volley of emails, we gathered a little more information from Penny: A note was found in Dr. Krotzler's trash reading "I have to stop this". The male voice in the tape did not appear to be Dr. Krotzler, although the woman seemed to be one of his patients. Despite working for the practice for three years, Penny does not know much about Dr. Krotzler, although she was able to notice a significant change in his behavior a few weeks before he went missing.

The real breakthrough came when Penny searched through his office more throughly looking for clues. She found a notebook with what appeared to be a password written in it. It didn't work on any of their computer systems, but it did open Dr. Krotzler's Facebook account. Once she was in, Penny accepted all the friend requests and we were able to check out his profile.
Ivan on Facebook
Ivan seems to be quite the joiner on Facebook. He's joined several groups (mostly for psychology or dogs) and friended some people from those groups. Some of his status updates are lyrics from songs. Could be a clue, or could just be he likes listening to music while browsing through Facebook.

Two of his comments though might relate directly to his disappearance. He first talks about having a strange encounter on the beach as he walked home on March 13th. Then on the 14th, he talks about how he heard "disturbing noises in the backyard" during the night and that he hopes that its not what he thinks it is. What would he think was making disturbing noises in his backyard?
The Walk
One of Ivan's photoalbums is titled "The Walk" and dated March 15th. So that rules out him being kidnapped as he left on the office on Friday. The album contains fourteen pictures with very odd names. So odd that it's easy to see that its a puzzle to be solved. § So, if we are looking for the truth - what surface do we have to scratch in order to find it?
Data Login
While we were still waiting for Penny to find the password to Ivan's Facebook, dante started playing around on and found a hidden directory: Could the information in his Facebook account give us access?
Talking with Penny
Penny must really think that a bunch of strangers from the internet can help her find Dr. Krotzler because she keeps emailing everyone who writes her with additional tidbits. She took photos of the notebook she found, plus one of the pages inside (but not the one with the FB password because I guess she doesn't trust us that much). A professional photographer Penny is not - you can barely tell what anything is on the page. Several people on the forums tried to clean up the photo, but there is only so much you can do with a crappy original source (no matter what Hollywood tells you).

At least the pictures Penny sent of the note from the garbage were a little better (although she could have at least smoothed the note out). The "I have to stop this" message was written on the back of a calendar page dated Sunday, April 12 2009. It talks about the history of NYC. §

We also found out that some of Dr. Krotzler's patients are authors, and that many of them suffer from a occupational disease called Labyrinth-Syndrome, which Penny describes as the authors end up putting "themselves in the shoes of one of their characters to a degree at which they are not able to find their way out it in the end". Is this what the woman on the tape has, except instead of becoming the characters she just sees them?

The last piece of real information Penny gave us was about MPU. Their research department apparently is way ahead of anything else and someone from MPU calls the office once a week to speak to Dr. Krotzler. Dr. Krotzler even had a meeting with one of the researchers who was in San Diego a week before Dr. Krotzler went missing.

After giving out all that information to everyone, Penny must think she deserves some time off as she's going off to visit her aunt to help with her cousin Neena's birthday. She even posts an update to the Facebook page from the birthday party. She must miss us.
The Walk Walked
PostLarval was kind enough to brave the San Diego sunshine and retraced the walk that Ivan originally took. The walk was a pretty direct path from Ivan's office to a secluded area, and rearrange the pictures to fit the walk, they spell out "If you want to find the truth you got to scratch beyond the surface". Sadly, the first time PostLarval went, he wasn't able to find much at the site beyond some stray kittens, but he decided to go back a second time with better photos of what he was looking at.

The second trip was a much more fruitful experience, as PostLarval was able to discover a buried cassette recorder in the bushes pictured at the end of the walk. This is Session 1/3 and it shows just how disturbed this woman really is or, at the very least, was. I'm really glad we didn't get this tape first because I'm not sure I would have wanted to find out anything more about the woman. But now I'm worried about Ivan's dog that was not seen by Penny at his house. §
Poor Penny
Normally Penny would email people around 4pm ET, so when no word came from her on Monday, there was a bit of concern. It turns out there was good reason as we found out around 9pm when Jimmy, the tech guy, sent out some emails. It seems Penny went back to Ivan's house to look for the dog. She probably shouldn't have done that as "she found the remainings of a dog in an unfortunate condition." Then she had a nervous breakdown and was carted off to the hospital. Luckily she didn't completely lose her mind and was able to get someone to pass on a message to Jimmy, but it looks like she's going to be out of commission for a while. Happily though, Jimmy is willing to work with us and is going to try to get us a scan of the notebook page - just as soon as he finds out where Penny put it.
Continue to Page Two