A couple of days ago a Twitter user going by the name of Ty posted a chilling piece of audio on his account, @strayedaway. The clip featured a mysterious voicemail, which seemed to consist of terrifying military code, a geographical coordinate and instructions to evacuate.
Ty shared the audio with the comment, "I really need yall to listen to this voicemail i just got... I am deactivating my cell phone service."
The audio is confusing and even a little eerie, but to jump to the conclusion that the message is evidence of contact from a secret government department and go to the extreme of cancelling your phone contract seems like a bit of an over reaction. After all, my first thought would just be that the message ended up on my voicemail by mistake or was nothing more than a prank.
However, the message wasn't the only odd thing that happened to Ty and as the internet dissected and theorised about the nature of the message, things got more sinister, Ty received anonymous threats and eventually deleted his Twitter account too.
The message was an electronic voice spewing out a repeating series of words and numbers, it said "Delta, alpha, november, golf, echo, romeo, sierra, oscar, sierra, india, tango, india, sierra, delta, india, romeo, echo, foxtrot, oscar, romeo, yankee, oscar, uniform, tango, oscar, echo, victor, alpha, charlie, uniform, alpha, tango, echo, beta, echo, charlie, alpha, uniform, tango, india, oscar, uniform, sierra, tango, hotel, echo, yankee, alpha, romeo, echo, november, oscar, tango, hotel, uniform, mike, alpha, november, 0, 4, 2, 9, 3, 3, 9, 6, 4, 2, 3, 0, delta, alpha, november, golf, echo, romeo, sierra, oscar, sierra."
At first glance the message may seem nonsensical, but to anyone who has ever worked in a call centre the words clearly spell out a phrase using the NATO phonetic alphabet. Decoding it is no more complicated than learning the alphabet from a child's book which tells you "A is for apple." In the case of phonetics 'A' is for alpha, this is follow by beta, charlie, delta, echo, and so on. So, the decoded message reads as follows...
"Danger SOS. It is dire for you to evacuate. Be cautious they are not human. 042933964230. Danger SOS."
The only thing that we still need to decode is the string of numbers, "042933964230." It looks like an Australian mobile phone number, they all start with 04, but the number is two digits too long. So perhaps its prefixed with an international dialling code, like +04, +42. No, it's not that either, the closest is the Czech Republic's code which is +420, that doesn't work..
This lead people to speculate whether it could be the coordinates of a geographical location. There's an even number which means we can easily split the numbers as 042933,964230, but that's not a valid grid reference. However, anyone familiar with latitude and longitude will know you need a point in there somewhere, which gives us 0.42933° by 9.64230°.
We can then paste these coordinates into Google Maps and it gives us a location just outside of Akanda National Park in the African country of Gabon.
Some have interpreted the coordinates differently which has lead them to a point near Takengon in Central Aceh, Indonesia. Conspiracy theorist claim that this is near the crash site of the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight MH-370, which vanished on March 8, 2014.
But as MH-370 vanished at sea and the referenced coordinates give a location about 50 miles in land, it seems unlikely that this is true, especially as the current search area for MH-370 is over 2,000 miles to the South in the Indian Ocean.
Those who do subscribe to the MH-370 theory think that the message Ty received could have come from the aircraft's black box flight recorder. The SOS element of the message would obviously refer to the plane being in distress. Some have gone as far as saying that solar flares are responsible for weird electromagnetic interference which could have caused the message to get sent to the wrong person.
This theory is also massively flawed as flight recorders don't send information, and even if they did they wouldn't do it via a voice call on a cellular network as the would be no network access while in flight. If flight recorders did communicate data, the missing plane would have been located by now.
The Malaysian crash theory is pretty weak and doesn't shed any light on the part of the message that says "it is dire for you to evacuate." A call to evacuate in code and a request for help, SOS, is also a little conflicting. Firstly, if you wanted someone to evacuate quickly, why would you slow them down by encoding the message? Secondly, an SOS is a call for help, so is this a warning or a request? It seems to be both which doesn't really make sense, it's very conflicting.
Then there's the warning to "be cautious they are not human," Ty himself tweeted, "the thing is, I don't even believe in aliens! I don't think we will ever find them."
Ty was obviously confused by all of this, he tweeted "I don't know why I was just sent military code, do I look like Liam Neeson??" But of course, there's no reason at this point to actually assume it is military code, the phonetic alphabet is widely used throughout the public and private sectors. But it seemed to freak Ty out so much that he said, "I am throwing my phone away." Calm down.
Apparently Ty was already a little paranoid having spotted a "strange man" taking photos outside his house a few days before he received the mysterious message. He tweeted at the time, "OK, I am sitting in my car right in front of my house in my car and this guy started taking pictures of my house? Then he walked away? It's 3am I am going to die tonight."
Then things got even more weird. He got a direct message from a Twitter user with the handle @bdbxtjmsa. The message was written in Indonesian and said, "akhiri posting yang baru saja Anda bagikan tentang rekaman di ponsel Anda," which translates as "end the post you shared about the recording on your phone."
Several native Indonesian speakers have come forward online to say that the message isn't quite right, they describe it as being "too formal" and say it reads like a bad automated Google translation, the inclusion of the word "posting" in the Indonesian would lead me to the same conclusion.
However, the paranoid amongst us were quick to conclude that the message was proof of a cover up my Malaysian officials, although of course anyone can set up a Twitter account and send a DM.
Ty went on to receive several more ominous direct messages, some including nothing more than symbols, more Indonesian, what appeared to be dates, and even morse code.
Soon after this it all got a bit much for Ty and he deleted his Twitter account, the last thing he confirmed was that he hadn't received any more calls or messages.