(Image: via YouTube)
The internet is a strange and often mysterious place. Websites with no meaning behind them balloon out of nowhere, odd messages appear in our Twitter feeds, and creepy images haunt the deepest recesses of Google. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine a horror film taking place entirely in the YouTube comments section… if it’s not happening already.
The following videos, images and stories all have one thing in common: they’re truly bizarre, and some may be liable to make your flesh crawl. Try reading them alone at night while the wind pounds the windows outside, and you may just find yourself believing in internet ghosts after all…
The “I Feel Fantastic” Video
A mysterious video first posted in the late-2000s, no-one can agree on the origins of ‘I Feel Fantastic.’ What they can agree on is that it’s unbelievably creepy. Featuring a blank-faced female android stood in front of a dark window singing “I feel fantastic” in a robotic monotone, it’s like an image ripped from David Lynch’s nightmares.
The video’s backstory is no less weird. Reddit claims it first appeared under the title ‘I didn’t make this.’ When users contacted the original poster, he would only tell them he’d got hold of it from a company specializing in weird/rare videotapes, and this was #17 in their collection. They, too, had no idea where it came from. All they would note is that it appeared to have been filmed on a set, using fake windows – a thought that makes it seem even creepier.
Others have conjectured it shows the aftermath of a murder. At one point, the video meaninglessly cuts to a zoom-in on a patch of grass. The story goes the android represents a woman who was killed and buried there, and the video is the murderer’s sick way of turning it into a joke. Even if you don’t buy this more-outlandish theory, there’s no doubt that robotic voice and empty stare will send shivers up your spine.
Somewhere on Reddit lurks a bizarre thread. Known as A858 (or, to give it its full name: A858DE45F56D9BC9), it consists of a single user posting vast reams of encoded text over and over again, with no explanation. Although assumed to be the work of a bot, it’s known that someone is studying the data. When a Reddit user casually remarked that A858 was “the Stonehenge of Reddit,” an encoded picture of Stonehenge was uploaded. At another point, an image of a troll appeared. Beyond a handful of similar occurrences, though, there’s been nothing but that same indecipherable code. For two whole years.
Theories as to its purpose abound. The nicest is that A858 deliberately set up a bot that would catch the attention of Reddit, intending it to be a mystery purely for mystery’s sake. Others have darker ideas. In March 2015, the NY Post reported that Mossad was actively monitoring Reddit for secret codes detailing planned terrorist attacks. These codes frequently contained prime numbers… just like A858. But then why post an image of Stonehenge?
To this day, the mystery has yet to be solved. If you have a hankering to, you can try your hand at it here. Be warned, though, A858 tends to delete everything and move location the moment too many people start looking.
The Marianas Web
(Image: via Junkee)
Known as the deepest point on Earth, the Marianas Trench is a jagged gash across the Pacific floor; an impossibly remote and mysterious world hiding below our own. The Marianas Web is its internet equivalent. Born from the strange myths surrounding the ‘Deep Web,’ it’s equal parts mystery, myth and eerie fact.
If you’ve never heard of it before, the deep web is basically the underlying Id to the normal web’s Ego – a dark place hidden from sunlight where all humanity’s worst collective impulses come out to play. It can’t be accessed via a search engine (you’d need Tor for that), and it’s crawling with people making shady deals and engaging in all manner of nefarious activities. It goes downwards in levels. The top level is all the usual stuff, from Facebook and Google to the mainstream media and so on. The second, academic databases. Beneath that is where much of the more shadowy and illegal activity goes on. The fourth is the Marianas Web – the deepest part of the deep web.
What’s housed there is a secret no-one knows the answers to. It’s said many of humanity’s darkest secrets lie in wait in its shadowy depths, waiting to be dredged up again. It’s also said you’d need a quantum computer to unlock it – something that doesn’t currently exist. What’s waiting to be found in the Marianas Web (if it even exists)? We may never know.
The Max Headroom Signal
If you were watching TV in the Chicago area on November 22, 1987, you may have experienced one of telecommunications’ most-enduring mysteries. In the middle of the 9 O’Clock News sportscast, and again at 11pm, the television signal was hijacked for approximately 25 seconds. The culprit: Max Headroom.
Or at least, a guy in a Max Headroom mask. Standing before a waving background and leering demonically into camera, he began to talk in a strange, groaning voice before fading away into the ether. When the signal was hijacked the second time, he managed a full minute of gibberish, before a woman appeared, removed his trousers and spanked him. The scary part? To this day, he has never been apprehended, and no-one has any idea why he did it.
That’s despite a large FBI investigation, and hundreds of thousands of dollars. In a recent article, Vice listed a couple of suspects, but the details are sketchy, and there’s no way to say how accurate they are.
A series of mysterious shapes move across the screen. A high-pitched tone alternates in the background. The description gives no explanation, and a quick check of the user’s account reveals they’ve uploaded over 77,000 such videos in the past 9 months. Welcome to the weird world of Webdriver Torso.
A YouTube account that came to prominence in 2014, Webdriver Torso was the last word in mysterious. Each video featured nothing more than electronic tones over ten images of a blue and red rectangle. Except for one. In the middle of the series, a 10-second clip of the Eiffel Tower appeared, with the message “Matei is highly intelligent.” That was it. No explanation, no nothing. Just that one out-of-place video, then back to the strange tones.
When the videos were first uncovered, people didn’t know what to make of them. Were they attempts to communicate with aliens? A hi-tech version of the random numbers spies used to broadcast across secret radio networks in the Cold War? Well… not quite. The videos were ultimately revealed to be the work of Google, running some tests on its YouTube software (although their purpose remains mysterious). Today, typing ‘webdriver torso’ into Google will result in the strange boxes appearing in your browser.
(Reckless Madness via YouTube)
Who put it there? What did it mean? Why did the Feds get involved? Finding out anything about mortis.com is a strange, tortuous process. There’s only one thing everyone agrees on for sure: it was deeply weird.
A single-page website protected by a username/password combination, it was picked up by 4Chan users, who discovered whole terabytes of data hosted on the server. No-one knew what it meant, or why it was there. All they could do was trace it to someone called Ling. This is where things get odd. It turned out Ling owned other websites, each more mysterious than the last.
One called cthulhu.net said nothing but “Dead but dreaming…” on a black background with no other pages and nothing to click. Another was listed in the name of an unidentified woman. As 4Chan’s users tried to figure it all out, the Feds mysteriously got involved, resulting in mortis.com being taken down. Today, all the questions related to it are still unsolved. What was going on at Mortis.com? Was it an elaborate cover for something? Only the mysterious Ling will ever know.
Katy Robinson and Jeff the Killer
(Image: via io9)
In 2008, a girl called Katy Robinson allegedly uploaded a photo of herself onto 4Chan. Overweight, Katy was immediately attacked by the board’s users, resulting in her going offline. A day later, someone came on claiming to be Katy’s sister and said she’d killed herself as a result of the bullying. The story has never been confirmed.
Not long after Katy’s ‘death,’ a character known as Jeff the Killer started appearing online. With his half-mad smile, creepily blank eyes and pale white face, Jeff quickly became an internet sensation. The character was written into creepypasta (creepy stories designed to be shared online), appeared in videos and even cropped up in videogames. At this point, people began to wonder where his face came from. He was clearly a Photoshop job, but of what? Then some of 4Chans’ /x/ board users made an unsettling discovery. An early version of Jeff the Killer looked remarkably like Katie Robinson.
Since then, it’s been speculated that one of the guys who bullied Katy took her image and Photoshopped it into the hideous Jeff as a kind of joke. However, this theory has never been confirmed. Nor has the Katy story. It remains a mystery – albeit one that might have a depressingly sinister solution.
It’s the most-famous puzzle of the internet age. A crazy challenge that ran for three years only and off which people have hung all sorts of crazy theories. Yet, four years after it first appeared, we still have no idea what Cicada 3301 might be.
In January 2012, a string of fiendish puzzles appeared across the internet. Combining literary references, cryptography and philosophy, they were largely unsolvable. The tiny few tenacious and clever enough to crack them were rewarded with yet more puzzles that got increasingly complex and elaborate as the ‘game’ progressed. Then things got really weird. Across the world, images and puzzles related to the game simultaneously appeared affixed to lampposts and in crowded city centres. Then, a month after they began, the Cicada 3301 games ended. No-one knew who had won. No-one knew what the reward for cracking the puzzles was. And no-one knew who was behind it.
Since then, Cicada 3301 has been played three more times. No-one who has won has ever spoken out about their experiences, or even publicly identified themselves. It’s been speculated that the CIA, NSA or owners of a cryptocurrency may have been behind it, but no-one really knows. Who or what are Cicada 3301, and what do they want? Your guess is as good as ours.