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.!