You must have heard of it by now. It’s been all over the news, just like the Kryptos statue has recently. They share that in common: they’re both written on code. What’s different about them is that while Kryptos has so far been undecipherable, this hasn’t.
It’s called Perplexus. That’s Latin for cryptic, intricate or puzzling. What’s puzzling is why it’s been made.
The first instance of it that we know comes from a file sharing website, a torrent,. A user downloaded it after reading the file name and where it was posted – tagged with ‘perplexus’ and ‘uncrackable’.
He or she then complained across some social networking sites – Twitter, Facebook, the norm. They were confused and annoyed that they had spent three hours downloading what appeared to simply be a huge image file, a .jpg. It looked like a blue pyramid made of binary code, all 1s and 0s, on a black background.
As per usual on the Internet, a storm of activity blew up. It didn’t take very long for people to realise that the image was actually an image archive, files compressed and hidden within an image. It’s not very difficult to do, you don’t need much skill, and it should really have been obvious from the large image size.
I myself downloaded PERPLEXUS.jpg. I couldn’t pass up what sounded like such a fun opportunity. I fancied myself as being moderately skilled in cracking codes. I knew it wouldn’t be me who figured it out, that would be a technician or coder who’d studied it all their life, but it would be interesting to see how far I got.
As it turns out, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought.
I first did a full scan of the file. You never know what nasty things may lurk deep in the bowels of code.
It contained fifty one files, all text files, .txt. They were named PERPLEXUS1.txt, PERPLEXUS copy.txt, PERPLEXUS copy (1).txt and so on.
At least fifty different codes, all spelling out one thing.
It’s written in computer codes, Binary, Hexadecimal, MD5, SHA1.
It’s also got older codes, more famous ones; utilising Caesar and substitution cyphers.
They spell out two lines.
“Man is flawed, he is blind, he does not wish to see”
“Let your eyes open, the truth shall set you free”
It sounds like religious fanatics, but who knows?
Did I say all fifty one files were text? Not quite; the last contained something quite different.
Upon opening it, a black screen opens for a second and vanishes. It’s like a command window, running some code. It’s probably a virus, which is why I immediately scanned my computer again. It found nothing.
Strangely enough, every website I go to seems to have this string of numbers and letters everywhere –
I looked it up, and sure enough, it’s the two lines in all of the PERPLEXUS files.
Most people would be very worried by this point, but I know that the command window could simply have stolen my Internet cookies and be encoding what it found in the files, and somehow inserting it into everywhere I view. Maybe it’s like a filter? Every website I go to, it puts that over the HTML, like if you right click and Inspect Element on a website.
Sometimes I can’t help myself wondering what else that command window did.
The worst part was in the third week. Opening any page would redirect me to an image – the image that all of these files had been extracted from, the blue pyramid.
I had a bright idea. All the binary that made up the pyramid, was it random ones and zeroes? Or did it spell something?
Only one way to find out.
It took me about an hour to write all of it down from the image, and then I ran it through a translator, using another computer. It was made up of rhyming couplets. My blood was chilled as I read through.
Not so stupid, after all
But neither innocent as Eve at the Fall.
For man cannot cleanse their ancestors’ sin
Nor change the inherent evil that lurks within.
Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly,
Man is programmed to live and die.
Yet where butterflies fly and insects roam
Men lay waste to the rich deep loam.
Steam and smoke and sweat and blood
Human tears and bones and mud.
These are the product of human filth; it is pointless to deny
Once dead and burned to ashes, still polluting the sky.
Yet we have made progress, chemicals and bombs
The perfect solution to every human wrong.
Good for one thing only; removing human scum
Tainting the Earth, not where we belong.
Not so long now, it will be heralded by flames
And death and doom and torture and mortal human pain.
For forty days and forty nights I shall wait
And then Lady Gaia shall show you to your fate
My screen went black. Red numbers appeared on it. A countdown:
Our time is running out.
Written by Tigerhallam