Does Anyone Actually Listen?!

I’m not asleep because I’m in pain.  Tonight, my team was short players and I had to play every round for the entire evening.  My lower legs once again hurt.

I’ve had blood work.  All my vitamins and minerals are fine, so that isn’t the source of the pain.

I take 100mg sumatriptan migraine medications.  Sumatriptan is a vasoconstrictor and 100mg is the highest dose of sumatriptan one can take at a single time.  Vasoconstrictors work by narrowing the blood vessels all over your body.  Side effects include things like feeling cold, feeling stiff, feeling like you aren’t getting enough blood to muscles when you use them.  It can also cause heart attacks and strokes.

My orthopedist today said he didn’t know what was wrong with my lower legs, but he suspected it was vascular in nature.  Symptoms include pain, swelling, redness, a feeling of warmness, and spots.  I have one of these symptoms; pain.  However, if I’m having trouble getting the blood out of my legs, vasoconstrictors should increase the pain.  Especially 1oomg sumatriptan because that’s some serious stuff and yet, it doesn’t.

That alone seems to rule out a vascular problem.  Oh and the lack of other symptoms associated with vascular problems.

Furthermore, the cortisone injections into my SI joints and nerves actually got rid of the pain for about a month.  If I had a vascular problem or a deficiency of vitamins or minerals, cortisone shouldn’t have relieved my pain.

Maybe it was a placebo effect.  It isn’t impossible.  Except I didn’t expect it to work.  Placebo effect happens when you expect a medication to help.  I’m not sure I have ever heard of a case in which a patient expected a treatment to fail and yet found relief from it due to the placebo effect.

I’m supposed to have physical therapy tomorrow.  It did wonders for my back.  It isn’t doing shit for my lower leg pain.  As a matter of fact, the activities that we do for my physical therapy make the lower leg pain happen.

My physical therapist keeps telling me I have to give it time, it’ll work.  However, after four weeks or whatever, I’m not seeing any improvement in my legs, only my back.  My orthopedist says he doesn’t know how to fix the problem because he can’t figure out what the problem is.  I doubt it’s psychological in nature, but I’m not sure how to prove that.  I doubt even I would subconsciously make the decision to have this sort of pain.

Tonight, I want to cry again.  Mostly from the pain.  On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s about a 15.  I’ve had ovarian cysts rupture that didn’t hurt this badly.  The only way I can describe the pain is it feels like my lower legs are being crushed and the bones are being broken.  It’s a sharp, throbbing pain that takes a few days to go down.  And once again, I feel like no one is listening to me…

Fears and Phobias

Unless you’re a true psychopath, you probably have a fear or two or seventeen.  Fear is one of the things that sets “normal” people apart from psychopaths.  One of the nice things about fears are that we can overcome them.  You can face your fear and move on with your life.

The same is not true of a phobia.  Phobias are game changers.  Phobias are more extreme than fears.  Again, you probably have one or two unless you happen to be a psychopath.

No one is quite sure why phobias develop or exist.  We can only have a broad understanding of them.  For example; fears of spiders and snakes are most likely survival related.  The majority of us are not going to know the difference between a Northern Water Snake and a  Copperhead.  They do look similar in most stages of their lives and they both can swim.  One is venomous, one isn’t, but to be safe, we develop a phobia of all snakes – hence the saying the only good snake is a dead snake.  Sadly, this isn’t true, snakes are very helpful, especially at keeping down rodent populations that might carry other diseases like Bubonic Plague.

Men and women seem to be equally affected by zoonotic phobias (I’m not sure zoonotic is the right word, but I can’t think of a better one).   There are two exceptions; women are more likely to have a phobia of dogs and men are more likely to be phobic of cats.  I don’t know why and I have yet to find an explanation that makes since, but it might be why we associate dogs with men and cats with women.  It’s an association that goes back well into the history of mankind and can be seen in the anthropomorphic gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt.  Sekhmet is a lion-headed goddess, Bast is a cat-headed goddess. Anubis is a jackal-headed god.  There are a few exceptions, like Bau a Sumerian dog-headed goddess, but they really are exceptions.

The sexes appear to be equally phobic of death related stuff.  Fears of flying, heights, and tight spaces, all appear with equal frequency in men and women.  Meaning the guy in the seat next to you on the airplane, is just as likely to be afraid of flying as the woman in the seat on the other side of the aisle.

There are a few areas where the sexes are not equal.  Women are more likely to fear storms, thunder, lightning, and wind.  Men are more likely to be agoraphobic (fear of being in an open space) as well as having a fear of failure.

But the big ones; women are almost three times as likely to be afraid of dentists while men are four times more likely to be afraid of regular doctors.  Furthermore, men are more likely to be afraid of needles than women, which is why convincing your husband to go get a flu shot is a bit like trying to shove a cat into a jar of water.

These phobias seem to be based on social norms.  Female children are more severely punished when they are “biters” than male children.  Female children are also more likely to be admonished for having an oral fixation and chewing on pen caps or biting their nails than male children.  To make matters worse, sociologists think women are more sensitive to taboos, which explains why cannibalism is far more common among men than women.

Going to a dentist challenges the taboos female children are taught.  We are taught not to stick things in our mouth, not to bite, and that there is a stigma to having foreign objects in our mouths (there is some pseudo-sexual overtones to going to the dentist for a woman that shouldn’t exist, but they do).

On the flip side, being sick or injured is a sign of weakness in a man.  Therefore admitting they need to see a doctor is a threat to their masculinity.  They would rather “man up” than go get that broken finger set properly.  Even when they don’t fear going to a doctor, the idea that a doctor might give them a shot, is another layer of terror that they would prefer to ignore.  The strange part about men being afraid of needles is that they don’t associate needles with body modification.  Meaning when a man sits down to get a tattoo, they do not see a machine with dozens of needles that is going to prick their skin, they see a machine, the sum of the parts.  When a woman goes to get a tattoo, they are more likely to think of it as dozens of needles that will ink their skin rather than just see the sum of the parts.

Both cause problems for millions of people across the globe.  Women rarely get the dental care that they should and men will let things go until it must be treated, usually in an ER or urgent care facility.  Also these three phobias along with agoraphobia are the most determent to our health.  Other phobias can be avoided, but doctors, dentists, needles, and the outdoors are not things that we can avoid without suffering consequences equal to or greater than the side effects of the phobias themselves.


Do you realize how difficult it can be to get a home loan if you are single, self employed, and female? Yeah, I didn’t realize those were strikes against me when I walked into the bank last week either.  Not that it matters, I’m determined and will find a way.

However, after buying a car and now house shopping together (again), the SO and I decided the first week of October to make this thing legal. We held off announcing it until after the kids got married. We officially finished telling family on Saturday. So now, I’m telling you.

We have planned a February wedding. I might post a picture or two. Should be interesting.

My Week

I have a viral infection… The same one that everyone seems to have but is manifesting in different ways.  My bestie has had one for 3 weeks now, but it’s only in her chest.  Mine’s in my upper sinuses.  During the day, I can make the sinus headache tolerable with the assistance of antihistamines and acetaminophen.  After the sun goes down, I start wondering about ways to relieve the pressure.  And before we play home remedies 101; I’ve already done it.  I even broke down last night and drank a cup of hot, nasty peppermint tea (I like peppermint, but I hate tea – Tea and Anna Karenina are on the same level of hate… If I go to Hell, the best way to torture me would be to make me drink glass after glass of tea – any kind of tea – and force me to listen to Anna Karenina on audiobook over and over and over again for all eternity).  On rare occasions at night, I can calm the throbbing in my face and behind my eye with a hot pack and a great amount of steam.  So, I’m sleeping better with the sun up than with it down right now.

We took in a houseguest this week.  My SO’s nephew got married last weekend.  He and his lovely wife have a basset hound named Fred.  Normally, Fred and Lola get along swimmingly, not this time.  Fred the Hound is missing his forever family.  Lola the Destroyer can’t figure out why he doesn’t want to play with her.  She also can’t figure out why he wants to sleep with either me or the SO (there is no way to fit 2 dogs and 2 people in our queen size bed and I wouldn’t sleep anyway).  I’m on the foldout in the living room and Lola is pretty determined to not let Fred sleep right next to me for very long.  This has lead to a lot of dog rearranging at night.  Last night, they finally went and jumped in bed with my SO because I didn’t realize Fred the Hound was afraid of the dark and I turned out all the lights in the room. (I would like to point out that most basset hounds aren’t very big… Around 14 inches tall and maybe 75 pounds.  Not Fred.  Fred seems to have been given growth hormones that shrunk his legs and made his paws the size of a Great Danes.  His legs might be six inches long from paw to socket, but he stands taller than 14 inches – it looks weird, especially with those giant ass paws.  And if he weighs 75 pounds, I’ll eat my hat.  Lola the Destroyer is up to 70 pounds and Fred the Hound is a whole lot heavier than her… I’d say he’s around 100.  I did discover that he likes to run.  Lola the Destroyer likes to do “crazy running” which is a variation on agility running drills.  Fred the Hound, despite the fact that he needed a nap every time we did them, learned the commands quickly and joined in.  He seemed to love them.  Of course, he also seemed to require a two hour nap after each ten minute session, but let’s be honest with ourselves, he’s a basset hound, they aren’t known for their desire to be active for long periods of time.)  And he has loved Lola’s dog food, but it gave him extremely potentent gas.

We’re house shopping again.  That’s sort of like beating yourself over the head with a rock.  Do you know it is harder to get a loan if you aren’t married?  We had one strike against us; I’m self employed.  Now, I’m being told that since we are not in a legally binding, stable relationship, it counts against us.  WTF?  I would say my SO and I are more stable than about half the legally bound relationships we know.  We found a place that we like, but just like last year, the financing is proving tricky because of my self-employed status and our relationship status.

If playing Sims 2 to get character ideas and plot lines counts as work, I did work some this week.  Mostly, I moped.  I hate being sick.  I hate not meeting my goals.  And I’ll be honest, I’m a little sore from leash walking both Fred and Lola.  Fred isn’t the puller that Lola is, but once he plants his feet, you practically have to pick him up to get him to move.

But there has been progress and I’ll give you an update on that next week.  We will resume Can You Survive in November.  I’ve got all your scores saved.  Don’t forget to tip your waitress, maids, and the guy that offers to pack in your luggage.  :-)


Spooked Herself?

So, this yuck gets worse after dark.  I already knew this because my SO’s coughing would get worse after dark.  Except I don’t have a cough, meaning I sorta figured mine wouldn’t.  I was wrong, after the sun sets, my sinus headache gets much worse and I begin to wonder if draining the fluid from my eyeball would make it feel better.  God forbid I sneeze or cough… I’d rather just be stabbed, literally.  It would be less painful and the recovery time seems to be shorter as this crap seems to last a few weeks.

In short, what is wrong with me is the weather.  A mild winter coupled with a crazy summer of near record lows and highs and now coats one day and shorts the next in October.  It has screwed up everyone’s sinuses and caused an outbreak in some sort of viral infection that runs rampant through the head and chest.  I have sinus drainage which has made my throat a little sore and made me hoarse.  One of my ears is draining, which itches like crazy and I’m sure the soreness in it is because I keep scratching it.  Mostly though, it’s the sinus headache for me.  During the day, I can make it tolerable with a single NyQuil liqui-gel (I can’t take anything with phenylephrine, which rules out 99.9999999% of sinus medications).  At night, even both liqui-gels aren’t doing the job.  So I’m up with a sinus headache.

For those who haven’t been following my blog for long, let me explain that Lola the Destroyer got her nickname because she is very good at tearing up toys.  She is a German Shepherd/Rough Collie mix with a great deal of energy, an affinity for children, good herding instincts, and she is very protective.  Early this year, we were having trouble with a guy breaking into cars.  Twice, Lola the Destroyer and I caught him in the act.  Both times she made sure she positioned herself between me and him and then turned on the aggression.

Like most dogs with a highly developed sense of family (pack) and a need to protect, her barking and snarling is a thing of terrifying beauty.  Despite being short for both breeds, she is very stout and has the muscle development of a full grown German Shepherd, despite still being a puppy (technically she is 15 months and will remain in “puppyhood” until she is 18 months).  The vet worries because she has less than 5% body fat and therefore doesn’t have the cushioning on her back hips that she really needs.  This means that even though she is 70 pounds, she has the capabilities of a dog nearly twice her size.  She even pulled a 300 pound bench one day trying to escape from water, which she is deathly afraid of…

So, when she gets spooked, it’s kinda comical.  Tonight, after she finished her business, she was sniffing the air and listening for sounds.  It’s part of her nightly routine.  She has to check things out before going to bed.  While she was doing this, a dog barked and she jerked her head that direction.  A moment later, she literally jumped as if she had been startled and ran up the porch.  I was expecting her to go through the window while I tried to get the door open for her.

For the last forty-five minutes, she has been chewing on a bone, like it didn’t happen.  Except every once in awhile, she’ll prick her ears up, look at the door, then jump in bed with me for a few minutes (I’m on the couch, again, because I can’t handle this sinus headache and my SO’s coughing).

I have no idea what has her spooked.  I’m thinking it might be herself.  This is an uncommon reaction to things that would be considered adversaries.  After all, she was willing to go after a medium sized male that didn’t belong and she pinned a full grown male pitbull to the ground, by his throat, when he ran into the yard and acted aggressively towards me.  And if the Great Nephew is here, she becomes even more protective of her yard, house, and occupants.  So seeing her jump at shadows and sounds is unusual, to say the least.

On a side note, as a sign of her temperament, Jude the Great Nephew is currently sick as well, which means no daycare.  He was running a fever, so Lola the Destroyer kept licking his head.  This usually makes Jude smile and today was no different.  What was different was that the three month old managed to get a handful of her ear and a handful of her whiskers and pull.  I saw her cheek come away from her snout he pulled her whiskers so hard.  But all she did was get closer to him so she could lick his forehead and cheeks (and attempted to lick his nose, but since the poor baby is having trouble breathing anyway, we tried to keep the face licking to a minimum).

Dysfunctional Wedding & Scenario 2 Answers

One of the things I have been battling with writing is my new computer.  When I bought it, I thought oh touch screen, that’ll be nice.  What I should have thought was touch screen? Lola can and does work my phone when it’s unlocked.  Do I really want a touch screen? 

Last night, as I sat working, she decided at around 11:30, she wanted my attention.  So she stood on the laptop and put her nose to the screen and like magic, I lost a chapter.  I attempted to recover it, but Lola is somehow in tune with the save button.  About three times a week, I lose stuff because Lola has learned that my laptop is like my phone. Sometimes it’s writing related, sometimes it’s email, and like last week, she unfriended someone on Facebook.  So much for a touch screen being a good idea.  However, it has been particularly interesting when I’ve lost stuff on a Nadine novella, because it reminds me of the Great Danes that Nadine can’t control.

Onwards and upwards!  Scenario 2 Answers.

  • A – YP 2 points
    • Take the sim card out of the phone and leave the phone there.  +1 (Not quite far enough, explain why you remove the SIM card)
    • Turn off all the lights, you know the layout of your house.  +1 (I would still break a toe, just FYI)
    • Grab two large kitchen knives, and put your shoes on quickly. +1 (Shoes are always a good idea)
    • Now you wait very quietly in the center of your house to see where they will try to enter your house. +1 (This is actually a good idea. Taking a position in the center of the house makes it easier to plan your escape)
    • You hear the person trying to open the back door so you race to the front door.  -1 (Racing to the front door is noisy, better to quietly move to the front)
    • Leaving the house, you run to your nearest neighbor’s house and knock.  You’re in luck, they’re still awake.  They open the door, let you in and you call the police. +1 (Good plan, even if the neighbor’s aren’t awake. But you should still have the SIM card with you, that’s the key to the entire thing.  Didn’t explain why they would be so angry that they tracked you down… -2
  • B – FC 3 points
    • I would say that the phone belongs to a gangster or drug runner and he is trying to get away / escape from bad people, hence the cheap and quick way of selling his phone.  It only receives incoming calls and texts because it only has a SIM that receives calls and texts.  +2 for figuring out the phone was sold to you under false pretenses. +1 for inventing a plausible reason for the false pretenses
    • GPS cannot be traced on a cellphone (even by the CIA or FBI) if it is switched off or has the battery removed. Therefore, after seeing the headlights in the driveway, I would switch the phone off and calmly walk out of the back door, heading in the direction of the nearest neighbor’s house.  -2 (You realized there was something hinky with the phone, but failed to act upon it, ie: taking it with you or at least taking the SIM card) +1 (for leaving the house through the backdoor)
    • The bad men are looking for a man (as it was a man selling the phone)’ so if they should pass me on the road, it wouldn’t bother me because if they asked me if I had seen a man in the area, I would tell them that a man passed me a little while ago running in the opposite direction to me. +1 (this is very true, they are looking for a man since a man sold you the phone, finding you would be a surprise)
  • C – MK 3 Points
    • No I don’t have a phone available but its dark and these people had to turn on my gps so they don’t know the area. +1 (for realizing you have the advantage)
    • first thing is obvious, turn off all lights so they can’t see easily.  +1 (the cover of darkness really does help)
    • Then make sure all doors and windows are locked to give me some time.  (Time for what?)
    • Since the language seems different I can assume there are at least 2 people and likely covering the front and back door.  +1 (Bonus Points: You recognized more than one person was involved)
    • Since my nearest neighbor is 1/4 mile away I live in the country and have a big oak next to my house.  I open the basement door and throw the phone down the stairs (not sure how specific the gps is on this stupid phone).  -1 (You now don’t have the phone to give as evidence)
    • I run up to the 2nd story and out the bedroom window to the tree.  I shimmy down the tree as they break into the house and jump into their car.  Idiots didn’t take the keys as they were in a hurry to get to me.  I now have their car and drive to safety.  +1 (for stealing their car) -2 (not explaining why they are after you in the first place) +1 (Bonus point for attempting to shimmy down a tree quietly) +1 (bonus point because I feel bad that your basement probably leaks due to the tree roots growing against the foundation and given that it is a large enough oak for you to shimmy down from the second floor, it’s slowly destroying the concrete)
  • D – KG 3 Points
    • All other issues aside for a second, I need to see if I can quickly and safely identify the car that just pulled into my driveway. I might recognize the person and won’t have anything to worry about. However, I am already on high alert because of the text messages that I have seen, especially the one regarding the GPS being turned on remotely, but it still could be a coincidence and it very well might be a friend stopping in to say hi, or to check on me because well, my phone isn’t working. Just to be safe, I grab my 40 S&W that I keep in my living room. I’m already suspicious that this is all a misunderstanding and I will explain that later, but it can’t hurt to be on the safe side either until I have confirmed my suspicions. (Such an optimist… Poor girl…)
    • If I do not easily recognize the car, I am going to turn ensure the doors are locked and turn off all lights in the house, and turn the outside lights on. This will tell the intruders that I know they are there, and take away their element of surprise. I am confident I can move around in my house with the lights off, I know the lay out, and will not need much light. This gives me the advantage, because they don’t know the layout of my house, and will slow them down. By turning on the outside lights it will give them less cover, and I might be able to follow their movements better, in addition to it creating a slight mirror effect on the windows hindering how much they can see in, while providing me the ability to see out. +1, +1, +1, -2 (Turning out the lights is a good idea, turning on the porch light also a good idea, bonus points for realizing that you can use the darkened windows to your advantage, you lost points because you did not commit to a plan of action immediately… We can assume that it is very late when you begin receiving the hateful messages and when the car pulls up. I don’t know about you, but my friends do not show up, unannounced, at 3 am unless they are trying to hide from monsters… As a result, it is a given that the people pulling into your driveway are not your friends and you have wasted precious seconds trying to figure out if you know them are not.  Plus, judging by the text messages and GPS tracking, they are not going to want to listen to a reasonable, rational explanation of why you have a phone they want the owner of…)
    • If the people in the car were dumb enough to leave the headlights on/turn them on when they pulled into my driveway, (or the fact they pulled into my driveway in the first place) they probably will still have the dome light working and I could see how many people are in the car, to know how many people I’ll be up against. If I can’t see I’ll be listening for car doors. +1, -1 (While it is a true that you might be able to see how many people are in the car, hence the bonus point, the different types of text messages you received already proves how many there are and car doors are not a given, this could be a truck with only two doors but four people or a minivan with 3 doors and six people)
    • Running away is pointless, I’d be out in the open, exposed, and help is too far away to run to or yell for help, so I am better off staying in the house, armed. Chances are their car has mine blocked in and takes away my car as an escape route. +1 (You realized you could not use your car, see ending comment)
    • As I make my way to the safest part of my house, I will grab the cell phone, laptop and my old SIM card. I’m going to need these if I am wrong. +2 (Yes, you are going to need the phone’s SIM card to figure out what is going on. It’s behavior alone is suspicious)
    • Here is the reasons I am suspicious that this is all a misunderstanding, and I might not be the intended target, but have subsequently become one.
    • My phone apparently has “hundreds of these threatening messages” which suggests to me that they were not all sent since I have had possession of the phone, and not directed at me. Most likely they would be time stamped.
    • Some group messaging apps/or features will show multiple responses under the phone number of the original sender, so it could very well be random people arguing and threatening each other. They could quite possibly know each other therefore no need to say names, making them all anonymous and sounding like its being directed at me.
    • Some Mal-ware or Apps will allow messages to be sent under a fake phone number to other people, if a group of people had it out for the original owner this could explain why it appears to originate from a single phone, but be different personalities in the verb-age. +1 (Bonus Point:  They are indeed using multiple phones to send the messages to yours and covering it with a specific app that makes it all appear to come from a single number)
    • Several people could have been using the same phone to harass the guy. +1 (Yes they are, hence the different languages in the texts)
    • I only just received the GPS message, how is it that the got here so quickly?
    • Why would they pull into driveway if they meant me harm? -1 (While it may seem unfair for you to lose this point, it is actually obvious why they pulled into your driveway – 1.  It creates the illusion you cannot run away.  2. They are blocking in your car.  3.  They are really pissed off and just didn’t think about it.)
    • Could be an elaborate scam to sell a phone for cheap, scare the buyer into ditching it by multiple people sending creepy texts, and recovering phone to re-sell.
  • If they are in fact after me personally, I have already taken precautions and moved onto the next step of my plan. What is the wrong with the phone? If I cannot send messages or place phone calls (especially to 911) either a parental restriction is set up, or a mal-ware/spy-ware program has been installed. To fix this I need to remove the old SIM card and save it for evidence of the threatening emails. I will need to complete a factory reset on the phone. The pin number the guy gave me might be needed again. This only takes a few minutes. Once this is complete it should have removed any malicious programs thus allowing me to call 911. If 911 still won’t work, provided that I attempted to purchase a phone on the same provider, the SIM card shouldn’t take too long set itself up and allow me to text. If my phone continues to be a paperweight, I have one final method to get help. +1 (for understanding technology) -2 (all of this could be done on the run…)
  • Now my phone was obviously broken before I contacted the seller of this phone, so I probably used email, to contact him to set up a meeting time and place to work out the details. So I could also attempt to use my computer to contact someone via Skype, email, or instant messaging.
  • If I can’t get help, and still need it I have to defend myself with my gun, or die trying.
    • The thing you missed: Since you could see the car turn into your driveway and your neighbor is ¼ of a mile away, you live in the country.  Chances are very good that your driveway has some distance to it.  Grabbing the phone and escaping the house via the back door is the easiest solution.  You also assumed that it was open flat ground, when there was nothing said about the terrain.  It could just as easily been woods which would have provided you cover.
  • D – KN 5 Points
    • The original owner of the phone pissed some people off. Those people are probably using spoof software so the “callback” number appears the same. There are dozens of apps and software programs that allow you to send messages from any number you type in. Obviously all these “hate texts” are coming from the same thread somewhere – and everyone feels motivated to send responses back from the same number. I suspect something was posted on the internet, perhaps racial in nature (that stuff always goes viral). Social media brings out the most incredible keyboard warriors. Too bad for me That I invested in the wrong phone. +3 (for realizing that the phone was probably not a good investment, they are using an app so that multiple people involved, it is a little more personal than a racial slur, but you are definitely not the original intended target)
    • First things first, I set the alarm for my house, grab some weapons (like my big kitchen knife and police baton) and hunker down in my living room behind the chair in the corner (so I have a clear vantage point of anyone who comes in the door, am well hidden and also have close proximity to exit if things go south). -1 (You could also escape into the woods since you live in the country and run to a neighbor’s)
    • If someone is determined to get through, the alarm will at least go off unless they cut the wiring (not possible until you are in the house and these people don’t seem all that smart – they could have cut their headlights and caught me by surprise). +1 (Bonus points! These people are too pissed off to be smart and you’re right, if they had wanted the element of surprise or thought they needed it, they could have cut the headlights, but they didn’t, so you are dealing with average criminal types, at best)
    • If the headlights in the driveway are in fact from someone who is tracking the GPS, that means the phone has internet. I go onto the internet browser and log into one of my social media accounts. If the phone internet doesn’t work well thankfully I grabbed my iPad and I for sure have internet on that because I always have internet in my house. I post to all my social media networks. “HELP! Phone is not working. Have received written threats of harm. Suspicious vehicle outside my door. Please call the police and send them to my house located (insert address). Will post updates if I can. This is NOT a joke or I would not post my address!” I have more than enough people who would take my cry for help seriously. Just in case, I tag my alarm company in the post. I start streaming a live feed just in case the “visitor” decides they are going to come through my door uninvited. +1 (Bonus Points: You can use the internet on the phone and if your close friends are still awake, they will definitely be sending the police… But it’s late, so you might start trying to use the iPad to message them)
    • As long as the possible intruder is outside and I am still safely inside, I would play with the phone to try to get it to make calls or send texts (by putting my own SIM in, wiping the cache and/or trying a reboot to see if my carrier will allow me to hook on to the network). I would continue to post updates of my status/current situation, just in case . . . +1 (using your own SIM card and doing a factory reset would help tremendously, bonus points for understanding technology)
    • No matter what, as soon as I am in contact with safety, this phone is going to the police station! Obviously whoever had it before was not making good choices. Also, I’m investing in a safe room, a large breed dog, and some self defense classes. +1 (All good choices!)
      • However, you probably could have run out the backdoor while doing all this. You obviously live in the country and these guys are at the top of the driveway when you notice them.  Getting to the neighbor’s, regardless of the late hour, would have helped. -1

Answers Tomorrow

You get an extra 24 hours for Can You Survive… I woke with a monster migraine.

Scenario 2 – Phone Problems

Yesterday’s was a warm-up.  Some will be just as hard, some will be much easier.  Hopefully, you’ll have fun figuring all of them out!

One afternoon, you accidentally drop your cell phone into a bathtub full of water.  Insurance doesn’t cover water damage and replacing a cell phone is very expensive.  As you are debating what to do, your friend suggests you check out an online swap shop.

There you find the deal of a lifetime.  Someone has decided to upgrade their phone and is selling their old one for a quarter of the price of a new one and it isn’t even that old.  You meet with the seller and get the phone.  He gives you the pin code to unlock it and goes away.

As you are getting ready for bed that night, the phone starts dinging like crazy.  You quickly figure out that this is a ringtone that designates you have a text message, but you haven’t had a chance to put your SIM card into it.  Since the seller of the phone had his cell phone (he had made a call), you can’t figure out how you are getting text messages.

However, you have to look just to make sure you didn’t get a broken a phone.  The messages are shocking.  They are threatening to break your legs and other, much worse things.

As you investigate, you find hundreds of these messages.  All of them originate from the same phone number, but the texting language is distinctly different among the messages.

You turn it off and remove the battery.  Sure enough, there is a SIM card still in the slot and whoever it belonged to has someone very pissed off at them.

When you close the phone back up and turn it on, you attempt to send a text message, but find the phone will only receive, not send.  Worse, whoever is on the other end has just written a message saying they have turned on the GPS.  This is when you discover it also won’t let you make phone calls, not even to 911.

What is wrong with the phone?  Why is it one number, but the language makes it appear to be different people threatening you?  Suddenly, headlights flash on in your driveway.  You do not have another phone available to you and your nearest neighbor is a quarter of a mile away.  What do you do?

Escape from Below – Answers

The answers were assigned point values by 3 “judges” points are explained next to each answer.  Each answer started with 10 and were given creativity and good idea points or had points removed for various reasons.

The “Right” Answer, in step by step form:

  • Initial Clues upon Waking Up
    • Your overnight bag and the girl’s luggage are together and near her bed.  This means you were both most likely kidnapped after leaving the airport within a short span of time (approximately within minutes of each other).  It is not the girl that you shared a taxi with, so your kidnapper is not the taxi driver.
    • Since the luggage is near her bed, you were placed first.  She was placed down second.  The luggage followed her.  This means there was most likely 2 or more people involved.  Even if a person were to use the fireman’s carry to bring unconscious people down a flight of stairs, it’s going to be tiring.  He can’t leave one of you upstairs in the vehicle, so 2 or more people were involved; one to carry you, one to carry the girl, and one to carry the luggage since it was dropped together.
    • The chains were added while both of you were unconscious.  This is not a one person job.  You would both need to be secured quickly to prevent one of you from waking up while the other was being secured.
    • With two people, this can be accomplished, but an unconscious person is dead weight, so effectively wrapping the chain around either person’s waist is difficult at best.  Most likely, there will be slack under your body where he wrapped it around your back and then laid you down to put on the padlock.  If you take off your skirt and lubricate the chain as well as smearing yourself with the leave in conditioner, you can wiggle out of it.
    • There are 2 staircases.  One obviously leads into the house, so it only makes sense that the other is an exterior door and you are in a walk-out basement.
    • There would not be extra security on the walk-out basement door aside from a door knob lock and a deadbolt.  This would raise suspicion.  You do not put slide bolts or chain locks on an outside door unless you want to keep something in.  Coupled with noises coming from the basement, this would definitely peak the curiosity of the neighbors.
    • It is better to booby trap the stairs leading into the house as your attackers are going to split up if they figure out you’re missing.  Maiming or injuring at least one of them will increase your chances of escape.  – There are a number of ways to do this, but your easiest solution is to make simple, but acceptable traps, like stringing bungee cords down the top couple of steps and covering them with clothing to hide them, taking some springs out of the mattresses, mix them with the bungee cords and clothing to make an even more unstable platform.  Make sure to hook the bungee behind the upper step and take it down three or four stairs if you have enough clothing to do so, that way they can’t step over it.  Hook in the front of the lowest step.  Hair gel dries into a sticky goo, which makes it a good trap item.  Your shoes under the clothing is a good trap item as well.  You are probably in heels, which would not be stable when stepped on incorrectly, and they will slow you down when you run away.  If you want a weapon, use the hair sticks.  The points are sharp enough to enter flesh if used in a stabbing motion.  They will splinter when they hit bone, ensuring they stay in the wound.
    • It is unlikely the deadbolt will be locked on this exterior door.  It is probably how they brought you all down and they had their hands full.  So, the knob is probably locked, but not the deadbolt.  The underwires from your bra are your best chance at picking a lock if you need to.  However, if you can’t pick the door knob lock, then it is easier to remove it.  Use the underwire or the lever bar from the mousetrap as a screwdriver to take apart the knob.
    • You were abducted in an urban setting, so you are still in an urban setting when you escape.  However, yelling and shouting will lead to your capture and possibly, the death of others.  So, it is better to run to the nearest house and ask for help as quietly as possible.

Answer A (FAC) – 5 points

  • Assuming that the overnight bag is in reach, I would grab the spare bra and pull out both underwire metal strips from cups of bra. Insert one piece of metal into the base of the ‘key shape’ in the lock and bend until it forms an ‘L’ shape. This is the tension rod. Next take the other metal strip and insert it into the top of the ‘key shape’ this is the pick. Push the pick all the way to the back of the lock and feel for the metal rods. There should be 4 or 5. As you feel each rod use the pick to push it upwards and lock that rod into place. Continue doing the same with all rods until padlock opens. If the overnight bag is out of reach I would take off the bra I am wearing and do the previous steps with that bra. I would then undo the other lady’s padlock and remove her chains and try to wake her up. (Over complication of escaping the chain -2)
  • Assuming the other lady has now awoken, I would open her suitcase and, after removing my outer clothes, use the clothes in her suitcase to stuff my clothes with some of the items from her case to make it look like me and then I would put on the skirt suit. (Stuffing dummy was good plan +1, however it takes a lot of time -1)
  • I would loosen one of the light bulbs from the room, making it darker. (You’ve been in the dimly lit basement for a while, remove 2 and it won’t impact your vision like it will his.  Right concept, just didn’t go far enough -1)
  • I would then give one of the hair sticks, the hairspray and one of the bungee cords to the other lady to use as weapons. I would insert the padlocks from the chains into the pantyhose to make a cosh. (Decent weapons +3, but you shouldn’t need weapons -1)
  • Next I would put the hair gel onto the steps of the stairs, making them slippery. (Good thinking, even when it “dries” the gel will become a tacky mess and still be a hazard +1)
  • The other lady would now start screaming and pretend that I was injured or feeling very ill so that our captor would come down the stairs. She would be by one set of steps and I would be at the other. Depending on which set he came down, we would then attack him with the weapons. Hoping he is now unconscious himself, I then use the chains and the remaining padlock to secure him. (You really don’t want to face your attacker if you don’t want to; he is going to be A – suspicious of you injuring yourself when you are secured to the wall, B – suspicious of you being ill, C- his attention would focus on both of you because she is screaming and there is something theoretically wrong with you, D – aware that he is outnumbered in the basement, E – Possibly not in the house at all; there are a set of empty chains, F – You do not actually know who took you or how many people were involved, there may be more than one person upstairs -2)
  • Whichever staircase he comes down is the same set of stairs we escape from. Taking our time on the stairs so as not to slip, but taking our weapons with us so that if there are other captors we can then continue to defend ourselves, we then run into the street which is a good neighborhood, go to the nearest house where I know the occupants and call for help. (You prepared for other attackers, +1, however, most of this is based on the assumption that if he had help, they will not be suspicious of your ploy to get him to the basement and that you can navigate a house you have never been inside to get to the front or back door with an unknown number of people in the house -3 for not taking the easiest escape route: exterior door)

Answer B (MK) – 5 points

  • first thing to do is get out of my chains. I am able to take off my shirt and bra, as the chain is around my waist. I tie the two of them together to make a small rope. Then tie my shoe to it. Since there are no shoes in my bag I must be wearing heels to go with the skirt suit. With this “grappling hook” I toss the shoe end to the corner and land on the mousetrap. It takes a few tosses but am finally able to pull the trap close enough for me to pick it up. I disassemble the spring part and use it to slowly pick the lock. During this time, other lady wakes up. She checks her chains and because of her jacket and bulky sweater her chains aren’t as tight as mine. I tell her that in my bag is leave in conditioner and if she strips down and uses it as a lubricant she might be able to slide out of the chain. (Grappling hook +1, over-complication of removing chain -2)
  • I continue to work on my lock as she tries to squeeze out of the chain. While she likely took quite a bit of skin off as she worked the chain, she’s free and moments later so am I. While this is all fine and well, we are still trapped in the room. We both get redressed. (With the help of the leave in conditioner, she actually does not lose much skin +1 for having the other lady get out of the chains in the easiest fashion)
  • We have investigated the stairs and there are locked doors at the top of both. Most people secure a door but not the sides of a door. I go to her suitcase and we work the handle out so it can be used like a bar. So on the side of the stairs that faces into the house, we use the bar to slowly work through the drywall. (The sides of a door are much less stable than the door itself +3, however, this is noisy and you have no idea who may be in the house -2, this is also very time consuming since the handle of a suitcase is very narrow -1)
  • She is thinner than me so she squeezes through the opening we made and is able to undo the deadbolt on the door. We are now upstairs of this sick persons house. I quickly find the phone, dial 911 and hang up (doing this about 3 times). We then try the front door but its locked and can’t be opened. There are empty alcohol bottles all over the house. We pick up several and throw them through the window. As the window shatters, we jump out and flee down the street. Since we don’t know where we are, we hide behind a car till the police come to investigate the 911 calls. (Finding yourself upstairs in the house is a huge problem.  You do not know how many people are involved in your kidnapping.  It is safe to assume that there are at least three of them – one girl in chains for each attacker.  Also, in the day and age of cell phones, most people in the US no longer have a landline.  Finding a phone could be a problem.  With the shattering glass, we are back to the problem of are you really alone in the house?  Have you done a search of every room?  Do you have any weapons aside from alcohol bottles?  The shattering glass is going to bring attention if there is anyone left -5)

Answer 3 (JC) – 5 points

  • First thing I would do is try to pick a lock at my waist you don’t say whether or not my hands are tied so I’m assuming that they’re free. I’m also going to assume that he hasn’t taken away my earrings or other jewelry. I have on a pair of long stainless steel drop earrings with a ball screwed on the end. I would of course unscrew the ball at the end of both earrings and use the pair to pick the lock at my waist. (Over complication of freeing yourself from the chains -2, unsure about the design of the earrings and if they would work as lock picks, they might be too thick to fit inside a padlock no points assigned or deducted)
  • When I was free I’d take a look at where the stairs lead. If there is a door at the top I’d attempt to booby tray the entrance using the bungee cords and some of my slippery hair products. (Booby trapping stairs +3, not sure if you only booby trapped one set or both… both would be a problem)
  • Once that was done I’d check on my companion. She may be an accomplice of the kidnappers there to thwart my escape. Still unconscious I check her luggage for anything to help me. She has an ereader in her bag and luckily it has 3G access. I manage to get a message to her mom when I hear sounds coming from upstairs. (suspicious of companion -1 as the scenario states you and her must both escape, however, if she were an accomplice, would sending her mother a message via ereader be the best plan, as she might also be involved and now the kidnappers know you are awake and attempting to get help)
  • The ceilings are low, and I can reach the rafters if I stand on the piled luggage. Of course she smokes and I grab her lighter and my aerosol hairspray. I lie in wait for the door to open. (This is a basement, so the rafters would be against the floor of the room above you, unsure how you would hold yourself up in them)
  • The first guy trips and falls down the stairs. The second guy looks in and I spray him in the face with my torch. (Bonus points for having more than one suspect +2, Not sure how you managed to swing down from the rafters, spray the guy in the face with lit hairspray while attempting to avoid your own traps on the stairs -2, no indication that the luggage you piled up to get into the rafters above the stairs is still there -1 – this would be a giveaway to look up if it was there and the other girl is still unconscious)
  • In the meantime the other girl comes around. I had already removed the chain from her and when she come to grabs the chain and beats the guy at the bottom of the stairs unconscious. (How did either of you get the chain off the wall? -1  How did you remove the chain from the unconscious girl?  Did you pick the lock like you did on yours?  Why would you unchain her if you were suspicious of her placement?)
  • We push The screaming guy down the stairs and abracadabra the door. (Which door?  Why did you pick this one over the other one?  How did you and her get behind him on the staircase?  Why did the fiery hairspray do so much damage that he is continuing to scream after it has stopped?  If you somehow set him on fire, why didn’t he fall down the stairs himself?  Isn’t he a fire hazard to anyone near him, stairs, particularly basement stairs, are not very wide or very long.  Fuzzy concept of somehow getting both of you behind a burning man on a staircase or both you getting behind a slightly toasted man on a staircase -2)
  • We both run out to find the building empty. (How do you know it’s empty?  Do you do a search?  Do you just assume it’s empty because no one responded to the screaming man?)
  • A quick check locates car keys on a table. But we don’t see an outside door. Okay we run through another room and find an inside door with a deadbolt. (Is your quick search of a single room, is that why it didn’t turn up the front door?)
  • Through the door we run out an entry onto a porch.  But where are we. Okay. It’s dark I don’t think we were out long enough to be that far from home. The car starts up. Oh damn a clutch, it’s been a while but after some grinding we get out. Wait is that a tree across the road? (Bonus points for stealing a car +1, Bonus points for creating a creepy ending +1, assumption that a house is empty – houses have walls and no real search was conducted, failure to notice the easier exit route; the exterior door leading out of the basement -3, the car could have been hotwired if you had exited the basement using the exterior door making it so there was no reason to go through the house)

Answer 4 (KLG) – 5 Points

  • After waking up and realizing the predicament I am in, I immediately create myself a mental checklist to complete if me and my new-found friend are going to survive. First things first, get her awake, and get hold of my overnight bag. I’m thinking that my under-wire bra could be taken apart and a makeshift key could be made to pick the lock…..I hope. Possibly even the pin from the mousetrap if I can reach it. (Over complication of chain escape -2)
  • Hopefully by now I am free and can move about freely in the room. I ensure the girl is awake, if possible. I do not waste time trying to free her, because I want to check out the doors and locks and create some sort of defense system in case the creep comes back. Chances are we are going to have to wait until he comes back and ambush him. I give her a few quick pointers and leave her to her own devices, I’ll come back and help her in a few minutes. (Physical inspection of the basement +1, predetermining how you will need to escape before you understand your surroundings -1: inspecting the basement would reveal that one door lead into the house and one outside… If you can pick the lock on a padlock, you can pick a doorknob lock)
  • I am pretty positive the doors are going to be locked from the outside and will not offer me any chance to pick those locks as well, but I’ll check them out anyway (just in case he got sloppy) and listen for a few seconds to see if I can hear anything. If I cannot access the locks, I guess I am waiting on him. If I can pick a lock on the doors…well.. Buh-bye. (At this point, you should be free.  It would be suspicious to have multiple exterior locks on the door of a walkout basement.  It would be like having multiple exterior locks on the front door… You have made an incorrect assumption about the security of the exterior door that has lead to your continued occupation of the basement -2)
  • I am also fairly confident that the creep will not leave that third chain set empty for long and that he’s out looking for a third victim. Hopefully, I can use that to my advantage…he might not be alone when he comes back, and might be distracted with his recent find, where I can get the upper hand. I might end up having another girl to rescue. (Or another girl to help with your escape.  Yet, you have made the assumption that you were attacked by a lone person.  Considering the speed with which you were attacked, the fact that both you and your companion seem to have arrived at nearly the same time, it is more likely to be two or more attackers working together -1) 
  • If…I’m not positive which door he will enter, I will have to booby trap both sets of stairs. (Booby trapping both stairs makes your exit harder.  Also, working on the assumption that he may return with a third victim, you could injure her as much or more than him, leaving you responsible for a third, injured victim -1)
  • If the girl hasn’t freed herself after I check the doors, I’ll go try and set her free, I’m going to need her help, and need her to be able to move freely like me. (And both of you must escape)
  • Now to set up my traps and create a few simple weapons:
  • I am going to dump out the bottle of leave in conditioner into the container the bungee cords were in, this I will attempt to throw in his face and eyes. (Not sure this will do much, but you’re desperate and trying +1)
  • I’m going to try and take a few of the bungee cords and create a trip hazard for the creep on his way down the stairs, simple, but I might get lucky. (The most effective way to use the bungees in the basement +1)
  • I’m going to try and file the wooden hair sticks down to a point on the walls or floor of the room to make a “stabbing weapon”. (This is time consuming, even with two of you and you are more likely to shatter the hair sticks, better to leave them as they were, they are sharp enough to pierce skin if you use enough force -1)
  • If I have any eye liner, eye shadow, or blush, I plan on breaking it up into a fine powder and place it into HALF the pantyhose, this I will attempt to swing and smash into the guy’s face and hope to blind him, after throwing the wet leave in conditioner in his face. (This could be annoying, but it isn’t going to be effective.  To smash it into his face is going to require you to hit him in the face, which you said yourself was wet with the leave in conditioner, so it’s just going to clump on his cheeks and inside the end of the pantyhose.) I could also keep this handy as a strangling tool if it gets to that point too. (Pantyhose are an effective strangling tool, however, it also requires you to get up close and personal and you are still working on the idea that there is only one of them, however, if there was only one, after about ten minutes, he’d be dead, so +1 for killing him, maybe)
  • I’ll take the padlocks that secured us and place them into the other half of the pantyhose, as a mace type weapon. (This is the most effective way to use the pantyhose as a weapon and would be dangerous regardless of the number of assailants, however, it is only going to last a short time.  The weight of the locks and the force with which they hit their target will create runs quickly that will turn into gaping holes +1)
  • I will put the hair gel onto one of the steps, and hope he slips in it. (Most effective use of gel +1)
  • I will remove light bulbs so it’s dark when he has to come down the stairs. I will then break up the glass from the bulbs as an additional weapon.  (all of them?  How are you going to see?  Glass from bulbs is fragile and not a very effective weapon unless you can get someone’s full weight on it consider it this way, stepping on a broken light bulb hurts much worse than being hit by one -1)
  • One of us can use her full suitcase (since I don’t know its contents) as a makeshift shield, and/or battering ram. (Creative use of suitcase, but it is an unwieldy weapon and would only protect against stabbing or lunging offenses) If I can use the hooks from the bungee cords/or glass from light bulbs to rip open the mattresses I will expose the springs and place them at the bottom of the stairs in hope he steps on them and get his foot/feet twisted up in the springs slowing him down enough to attack with other weapons we have created. (Using the entire mattress, even if the springs are exposed is more of a nuisance than an injury -1)
  • If we manage to knock him out, I’ll secure him to one of the chains we were tied to, and padlock him, and use pantyhose or bungee cords to tie and secure his hands and legs too. (Are you going to take the time to dig out the padlocks from wherever they went after the pantyhose broke?  -1)
  • Hopefully we have succeeded in knocking the guy out, stabbing him, blinding him or otherwise impaired him and we can make our escape. If not, I’ve just become a victim in one of your novels. (Sadly, you probably became a victim.  You spent the entire scenario assuming you would have to fit your way out with one assailant.  This blinded you from the easy and obvious escape route and made you burn extra time preparing for a single person that you could attack -1 for not surviving)

Answer 5 (LLB) – 3 points

  • First, take bra off, if I have an underwear in my suitcase, I’m wearing an underwire bra now.  I can do this because the chain is around my waist.  I use the wire to pick the lock on the padlock and free myself.  (over complicated the escape from the chain -2)
  • Second, I do the same to the other girl.  (Freeing the companion is important +1)
  • Third, I inspect the basement.  Both sets of stairs lead up to doors.  (And?)
  • Fourth, I grab the bungees and secure one door with the cords around the doorknob and the banister. (Why did you secure this door? Fuzzy on your reasoning -1)
  • Fifth, I booby trap those stairs with the hair gel and the light bulbs. (hair gel gets you +1, but the light bulbs need more explanation as to their use since he is probably wearing shoes -1)
  • Sixth, I have the girl wrap the chains around herself while I do the same. (This is not a bad idea +1)
  • Seventh, I have her call out for help.  (The door you secured with bungees and booby trapped must be the door that leads outdoors, calling out to your attacker is a mistake, because you don’t know how many attackers there were -2)
  • Eighth, when he arrives to help her, I jump from the mattress and attack him from behind with the padlock and chain I pretended was still secure. (Good idea, but how did you get the chain off the wall?  Do you intend to keep it in case there are more attackers? -1)
  • Ninth, I beat him to death. (You have a lot of anger)
  • Tenth, her and I run up the stairs and out of the house, free!  (Failed to see the easiest escape route; the exterior door.  Failed to account for your abduction being so quick and smooth along with the abduction of the second person at nearly the same time; unlikely to be a single attacker.  Most likely you ran upstairs and found yourself confronted by a second attacker who is already onguard because of the noises coming from the basement.  If you brought the chain and padlock, one of you might have survived, but probably not both -3 for failing to survive)

Answer 6 (YP) – 9 points

  • I listen to see if i can hear anyone above us.
  • Not hearing anything that helps, I pull the suitcases close and open them. I find she has bobby pins, shampoo and conditioner, hair spray, cigarettes and a lighter, along with a few clothing items. From my suitcase I pull the bra and work the underwire loose. (How do you get the suitcases from the area near the girl on the other side of the room? -1)
  • Using the bobby pins and underwire I jimmy the lock open. (over complicated chain removal -2)
  • I unlock the other girl but leave her unconscious.
  • Slowly climbing one set of stairs I notice that it goes to an outside door.
  • Quietly I take the hair gel, shampoo and conditioner and mix them together and pour the mixture down the set set of stairs that leads to the interior door and across the floor, smearing it to cover a wider area with my hands.  (Creativity points +1, good use of the products to create a surface that is hard to walk on)
  • I wake the other girl and make sure she can walk. After listening again we hear someone walking around above us. We smell food cooking and realize that whomever had them was going to be busy for a while.
  • We climb up the non-slick set of stairs, still alert for noises telling us our captor was coming. I rig the bungee cords across the steps.  (Good plan, except there is no handrail, so how do you rig it?)
  • When we get to the top of the stairs we realize it’s locked from the outside with a chain. Taking the underwire I proceed to unscrew the screws that hold the hinges on. By the time we’re done with the hinges and have squeezed past the door, putting it back against the frame so that it looks like before, darkness has begun to fall. (Points for taking the correct exit +3, creativity points for removing the hinges to bypass the lock +1)
  • Looking around they notice a stand of trees and a few outbuildings but no neighbors. Checking to see that we weren’t seen from the windows we quickly run into the stand of trees.Waiting until dark has fully fallen, we notice the glow from many lights, indicating a city or town we quickly run through the trees. After a few minutes we reach a paved road. Staying off the road itself but close to the woods we head toward to source of the lights. Hiding in the trees and shrubs beside the road when cars are heard we take precautions not to be found. Reaching the town we find the sheriff’s office and report our abduction.  (Two issues with this: 1.  You were kidnapped in an urban setting – there was a large airport, there were taxis out late at night picking up fares, and you drove into a suburban neighborhood so… Good chance you are still in an urban setting -1, 2.  Didn’t account for more than 1 attacker, since you and the girl are both arrived at approximately the same time which is why you are both unconscious and why your stuff is together near her bed, there would be more than one person involved -2)


Not bad!  Most people don’t get more than 2 or 3 total points the first time they do a survival scenario.  These are actually exercises for mystery writers.  They are meant to help us logically create situations where people might escape and how.  The easier the solution, the better, as complicated solutions can have more things go wrong.  Tomorrow, I’ll have another one at 6 a.m.!

The Game – Can You Survive?

Let’s get ready to play a game of Can you survive?  First, the boring stuff:


  • To submit your answers; please email me at  Use the scenario title as the subject line so I can keep them all straight.
  • You can only answer once per scenario (there will be at least 2 a week until Halloween).
  • Players will earn points for creativity.
  • You cannot invent things to bring with you.
  • There will be a “right answer” for each scenario, but there will be other ways to survive if you get creative enough.
  • I’m not judging the answers all by myself.  I’ll have help to fairly assign points.
  • You do not get points for being first, so take your time and think about each of them.
  • There are going to be some definite ways to die in each scenario.  If you die, I’ll tell you when I post the answer (points may still be awarded, even if you don’t survive).
  • Answers must be submitted by 8 am the following day.  All answers will be posted on my blog that day, semi-anonymously (initials will be used unless you specify a pseudonym), with point values assigned.
  • You may get help from a friend or family member.
  • If you attempt to kill someone or something “evil” in the scenario as part of your escape, it must be logical (ie: you cannot kill a vampire with a can of hairspray and a lighter, you can only set him on fire and hope for the best).
  • Use of tools or items given in the scenario must also be logical, you can’t pick the lock on a set of handcuffs with a credit card.
  • Winners will be announced Halloween day.
  • Will ship prizes internationally


  • 1 Grand Prize Winner will receive:
    • 4 signed books of their choice (can be any of my published books)
    • 1 special swag item of their choice (options will be made available to the winner at the end)
    • 1 – 2017 D&R Wall Calendar
    • A full set of magnets (if you already have some magnets and do not want duplicates, you can message me what you want)
  • 3 Big Prize Winners will receive:
    • 1 signed book of their choice (can be any of my published books)
    • 1 – 2017 D&R desk calendar
    • Full set of magnets (if you already have some magnets and do not want duplicates, message me with what you want)
  • 5 other prize winners will receive:
    • 1 – 2017 D&R Desk calendar
    • Full set of magnets
  • 5 other winners will recieve:
    • Full set of magnets

Scenario 1 – Escape From Below

You are leaving the airport at a late hour.  The business trip did not go well and you are dreading your report in the morning.  Worse, you missed the shuttle back to your house because of a flight delay.  You call a cab and as you wait, you notice a young lady standing near the shuttle pick-up area.  After a brief introduction, you agree to share the cab as you are going to the same neighborhood.  The more you talk, the more you realize you know her!  She’s the daughter of a friend of your mother’s.

During the ride, you make chitchat with the young lady just to pass the time.  You decide the cab can drop you off at the top of your street so that you don’t have to delay the young lady’s return home any longer than possible.  Besides, you only have an overnight bag with you and your house is third from the corner.

You say goodnight to the young lady, pay for your part of the cab, and begin walking down the street.  It’s a good neighborhood and you know all your neighbors.  As you begin walking you hear the cab pull away.  However, before you get home, someone comes up behind you and hits you in the head.

When you wake, you find yourself in a large, dark room lit only by bare bulbs stuck into three sockets.  The ceiling above you is unfinished, the rafters and wiring are exposed.  A large, heavy chain is padlocked around your waist.

A noise draws your attention to the other side of the room.  The young lady you shared a cab with is also chained to the wall with the same lock and chain mechanism as you.  Your overnight bag and her suitcase are both near her feet.

She is still not conscious, as you wait for her to wake up, you look around the room some more.  There are two stairs, both disappearing behind walls near the top, so you can’t see the doors.  The basement, and you are sure it’s a basement, doesn’t have much in it; your overnight bag, her suitcase, three dirty mattresses, another chain and lock set that is empty.  In the corner is a plastic container of bungee cords and a mousetrap.

Your overnight bag contains make-up, a hair tie, wooden hair sticks, a skirt suit, a change of underwear, pantyhose, hair spray, hair gel, detangling leave-in conditioner, and an underwire bra.  You do not know what is in her suitcase.

How do you and the young lady get out of the chains, out of the basement, and find help before whoever took you finds out what you are up to?

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