The eighth postcard to arrive.
The address on postcard #8 looks different from these two, but compare the way R was written on #2 and #7 with the R in “YOUR” on the latest postcard:
Sneezing; or, Silk Stalker was one of two postcards that arrived on the same day in early September.
The message written on the back reads “I want to suck beans out of your belly button.”
Unlike the previous postcards, the two cards from this day bore the postmark “S SUBURBAN IL 604.”
As I mentioned in the entry about postcard #4, although we believed the message on the back might contain an anagram, we couldn’t rearrange ASTFTOYCEACIDTRIP into anything that made sense to us. However, one of our readers recently shared a rather astute observation that got us thinking.
In a comment on Facebook, Stephanie wrote:
You can spell Facets out of the anagram.
“Facets,” Ryan told me, “like the movie theater?”
For the uninitiated, Facets Cinémathèque is an art-house movie theater that “screens ‘interesting’ independent films and ‘obscure’ features not shown anywhere else around Chicago.” So was postcard #4 about Facets, or perhaps a film they could have screened?
The only detail from the postcard that obviously fit the film angle was the last item listed under “Hobbies”:
While most Nicole Kidman movies have been mainstream ones, we thought of one possible exception: Eyes Wide Shut, which depicted the gathering of a secret society. Could it be that Ryan was being contacted by a secret members-only club, perhaps to be invited to join? Under the heading “Groups & Associations,” two entries jumped out to us:
Ryan said he’d be more interested in having access to a secret bar in Disneyland than being a member of a group that gave money to a school he’d never attended, so we chose to go down the Club 33/Disney route next. We eventually found Club 33 included in a list of Top 10 Creepy Urban Legends of Disneyland. Although the article didn’t say much about Club 33, it did contain a reference to an independent film we hadn’t heard about before, called Escape from Tomorrow.
Described as “a brilliant example of guerrilla filmmaking” Escape from Tomorrow had been “filmed surreptitiously at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.” So was this the Facets connection, and was this what the postcard was about? Once we read the plot synopsis, we were sure we were on the right track. In the film, a father takes his family on a trip to Disney World. While on the rides he begins to experience disturbing and sexual hallucinations, and soon he finds himself in a bizarre altered reality. In other words,
So, what other words besides “Facets” could be spelled out of the larger letters in that message, ASTFTOYCEACIDTRIP? We that string into an online anagram solver, setting the search parameters to return only those results that included “facets.” Of the 1,744 anagrams that came back, we found two in particular that seemed to make sense: “Facets: A Dirty Topic” and “A dirty pic, to Facets” (NB: punctuation mine).
Perhaps the card contained even more details we hadn’t noticed, but by now we were satisfied that we’d uncovered one piece of the larger puzzle. Although our sleuthing didn’t reveal the sender’s identity or his or her objectives, what we managed to piece together here has reinforced our suspicions that each postcard contains much to be explored.
If you happen to notice something in a card, we encourage you to share your findings. We’ve enabled commenting on this site, and you can also reach us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. If instead you prefer to contact us privately, you can e-mail us at postscarred [at] gmail [dot] com.
Ryan’s sister Nikki was the latest suspect. A fun-loving free spirit, in some ways she was the likeliest of candidates—except that every card so far had been postmarked in the Chicago area, and Nikki lived in North Carolina. Even so, workarounds were possible. For example, perhaps to obscure her tracks she was sending unmailed cards to a friend in the area, who then mailed them on her behalf. The last card in particular appeared to implicate Nikki: Steven, her boyfriend, also lived in North Carolina, but he had grown up in Florida. It was easy to imagine he could have had an old Florida postcard lying around that she could use.
By this point, it seemed unlikely that the postcards had been sent by anyone but Nikki. And yet, when Ryan confronted her, she claimed she wasn’t behind them, although she wished she was. So unless Nikki was lying, Ryan remained in the dark, no closer to identifying the sender(s) or their intentions.
The next arrival didn’t offer any obvious clues.
The small type printed down the center of the back of the card reads: “From Greetings from the Ocean’s Sweaty Face: 100 McSweeney’s Postcards, published by Chronicle Books. © 2009 McSweeney’s and the artist.” The book appears to have gone out of print, though used copies may be found.
More than two weeks went by before the next postcard appeared in the mail.
Some features to note?:
After getting this postcard, Ryan had a new suspect to consider: his clever and sometimes mischievous sister Nikki, whose boyfriend was from Florida.
A week passed with no new cards arriving. The description of the book from which the first three cards had been taken mentioned there were 50 cards in the project, but maybe Ryan wasn’t the only recipient in this game.
Soon, however, there was a fourth.
The random capital letters on the back suggested they might hold some clue, like maybe an anagram. ATSFTOYCE, and maybe also ACID TRIP–though it was hard to tell whether those letters were larger or smaller. We tried entering various strings of these letters into online anagram solvers, but no definitive results came back.
Whatever the deal was with these postcards, it was looking to us like maybe it would be a game.
Ryan asked Lauren if she was the sender, and she insisted she wasn’t.
Another card arrived in the next day’s mail.
We noticed the handwriting in this one was different from the first two. In fact, maybe all three looked like they had been written by different people.
Ryan and I agreed it was reasonable to reconsider the possibility this was part of something creepy.