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Preview Puzzles, now!


Hannah Hall


“Quick,” Alex instructed. “Grab that book over there.”

Alex kneeled in a crouched position by a door. He was overly hunched because he was so tall. His muscles protruded in his legs. He was very fit from all of his football workouts. Alex was the local high school team’s quarterback.

He gestured to his girlfriend, Selena. She looked over her thin shoulder toward him, confused.

Selena had a small frame, and long, brown hair. She narrowed her brown eyes in the dimly lit, red-painted room.

The room was a small rectangle, with a high ceiling. It had a large, metal door on one side, in the middle of a wall. The door had a panel on it, with number keys. It would cause the door to unlock if the correct code were entered into it. It was the only way out of the room. Across the red room was a bookshelf that covered the entire back wall. The bookshelf had a secret door in it, that Alex had walked through to get into the room he now remained in.

“Which book?” Selena asked.

Alex stood up from his crouched position by the door and pointed at the last book on the shelf across the room.

Alex had been the ring leader that evening. He and his friend Jack had been invited to a party in the Baughman Mansion, where they were now. Alex had brought his girlfriend, Selena, and Jack brought his friend, Dayna.

“That last book on the right,” he explained. “It’s sticking out a little bit.”

Alex held out his muscular arm and directed Selena to the book. She scrambled over to the shelf across the room, but Dayna stood closer and got there first.

Dayna was Alex’s friend’s date to the party they had gone to. She was a taller girl, with a sturdy build. She had short, blonde hair and thick rimmed glasses that sat promptly on her pointy nose.

Dayna was eager to help Alex and Selena find Jack. Alex didn’t know Dayna very well, but Jack had had a crush on her for a long time. Jack was thrilled when Dayna had agreed to come to this party with him.

Alex watched Dayna pick up a book titled, Life of Pi.

“This one, Alex?” Dayna asked.

“Yes, that’s the one!” he announced. “Can you please bring it to me?”

Dayna handed the book to Selena who passed it off to Alex. He politely thanked her, and examined the book carefully.

Alex looked the book over. He ran his hand through his thick, dark hair. He half expected some of it to come out in his hands after such a stressful night. His normally pale face heated with frustration.

Alex thought back to earlier in the evening. The night had been going well. He had mingled and spoke to friends from school with Selena. They had a good time until Dayna had approached them cautiously and explained that she couldn’t find Jack.

Jack had disappeared, but not without a trace. The friends began to search for him, but ended up locked in a series of rooms that they ended up calling “puzzle rooms.” Someone had left clues in each room that led Alex and his friends to codes they put into door panel keypads. The door panels would unlock the door to each room, but would only lead them into another locked room.

Alex remained flustered at the book in his hands. He wished he could figure out the clue, and be one step closer to Jack. He was worried about his friend.

“This has to be some kind of clue,” he thought aloud. “Why else would it have stuck out farther than the others?”

He continued to study the brightly colored, hardcover book.

“Coincidence, maybe?” Dayna offered toward Alex.

“Nothing in any of these rooms has been a coincidence, though,” Selena thought aloud. “We’ve worked our way through seven rooms this evening, and all of them provided puzzle pieces, like this, that helped us figure out the door codes.”

Dayna nodded, and her short blonde hair bobbed at her shoulders. Her round glasses slipped down her nose.

Alex noticed Selena look back at him. Her narrow, brown eyes examined the book he passed around like a football. She tucked a strand of her long, brown hair behind her ears.

Alex settled back down onto his knees next to the large, metal door. He typed into the door panel what he thought was the most obvious of answers. His long fingers punched “3.14” into the panel. A red light from the panel blared back at him, and a loud honk sounded throughout the dark room.

“Too obvious.”

He agreed. Alex looked back up at Selena, who furrowed her thin eyebrows at the clue in his hands. Alex marveled for a moment at how beautiful she looked even under the circumstances. Then he perked up. An idea hit him.

“Life!” he exclaimed.

“Life?” Selena and Dayna questioned in unison.

The two girls joined Alex, who still kneeled at the door.

“The clue isn’t pi,” Alex explained. “The clue is life! We want our friend, Jack, to make it out of here alive tonight. The legend those kids talked about earlier during the party was that if someone who is not of Baughman descent stays in the Baughman mansion for a whole night, then they will never leave again. They won’t make it out alive.”

The girls starred at Alex, perplexed. He figured neither of them understood. Earlier, during the party, Alex had talked to a group of friends who mentioned they were going to leave soon because they feared this legend. Alex worried about it as well, but he couldn’t stand the idea of leaving his friend, so he had continued to pursue Jack anyway. He hoped they would still make it out in time, but surely the sun would rise soon.

Alex turned back to the panel on the door and punched in the number “7.00.” The green light clicked on, and the door’s lock clinked undone.

Alex socked the air above him and smiled. He turned back to the girls who both examined the door with wide eyes.

“The sun rises at seven in the morning,” Alex said. “If you want to make it out alive, you have to leave the Baughman Mansion by seven in the morning.”

“We’ve done it!” Selena exclaimed. “This had to be the last room, right? How many other rooms could there be in this mansion?”

Dayna laughed.

“Don’t ask me, ask the valedictorian!” Dayna suggested and pointed to Alex.

It was true, Alex was his soon-to-be graduating class’s valedictorian. Although, I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for Jack’s help in math, he thought. Jack. We have to get to Jack soon.

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