Finally, I reached the page displaying an index of suggested Greek pseudonyms along with their associated mythological histories. I settled on Calchas, a famous soothsayer whose contributions included the Trojan horse scheme during the Battle of Troy. I created my corresponding Gmail address and notified John S. and the other recruits of my new name. I felt like I was wading through a time or reality warp, still doubting whether any of this was real.
The initial emails from John S. had been staid and boilerplate, but the impression he gave off in the online group chats was almost bipolar. He started the conversation by asking who was drunk, or trying to get drunk, or already hungover. Complete sentences collapsed into incoherent fragments, his tone swinging between mildly serious and almost manic. One minute, he sounded like a fraternity president rallying his rushes:
“let’s be clear there are going to be guys who you are doing shit for as apprentices that you don’t really hear from etc. if we ask you to send a get well card to sean sure he may not be around but get him one. if we want mike in Afghanistan to have a piece written for him about how he’s a fucking war hero of the type that has never been seen ditto”
The next minute, he devolved into misogyny:
“let’s run thru this like a girl on x and coke at a fraternity party”
“i hope you hit that lil girls ass so hard it looks like two jap flags”
Many of the recruits took turns responding with a “haha” or “lol.” Later they invented obscene one-liners of their own in a show of one-upmanship, a chorus of fake Greek names shouting obscenities at each other in digital bursts.
The “serious” work accomplished in these online chats involved appointments. Each Google Group represented an “initiative” the Society was pursuing around campus. These were coded in confusing acronyms (PUR, ICR, TT) but included relatively traditional ideas like an academic law review, a political debate club, and a community service organization. Recruits were to volunteer their time to lead as many projects as possible.
The strange thing was that no part of any of these “initiatives” had been established yet. It was apparently our class’s job to build the entire ecosystem from scratch. John S. advised that additional directions would later follow, but the best place to start was with a good-looking website—it was “the quickest way to make any org look legit.”
At this, my suspicion grew deeper. Given the hastily constructed webpages John S. had shared, this offhand piece of advice almost felt like something from his own playbook. He claimed to be an NYU alum, but was there any definitive reason to believe him? He could’ve been someone else entirely. A con artist performing one of his ploys or scams. Some prankster or hacker kid prodigy with an affinity for orchestrating elaborate online pranks in his spare time. Maybe the Eucleian Society really did die in 1942. And this is the problem inherent to secrecy, especially one as hyped-up as this: It leaves open the possibility for endless conspiracies.