My Hench Life: Part 5

Sunday: Blinkenlights

Back in the van. Driving through the night. Our next stop was the Stanford Mausoleum. Stanford had a mausoleum? Yes, it did, and our Stanford alums knew the way. Sarah knew the way especially well since she'd site-monitored there for BANG 2, the Mausoleum Bowling Center puzzle. She reminisced a bit about BANG 2, "BANG Harder". When teams arrived at one site, a door, there was just a sign saying "BANG here". When the team knocked, someone inside would yell "Bang harder!", thus justifying the game name. Then the team would be let inside so that they could walk up the building roof, where they were told "X marks the spot"—and from the roof, they could see an X on top of a car in the parking lot, where they could pick up their next puzzle.

Alexandra remembered back to the first BANG. She'd played with Wei-Hwa. Over the course of the game, she'd lost her sweater, her this, her that... she lost about five things. And this was the first BANG, when the "Night" in "Bay Area Night Game" was very much in effect. And so after the BANG was done, they'd had a second treasure hunt, in which they retraced their steps in the dark and found all the stuff she'd left behind.

There was some reminiscing about the conference-room puzzle, as we compared notes with Erik. In the conference room, we'd wondered what the "next layer" would be after we arranged the photos. Erik and Effie had wondered the same thing. At one point, we in the conference room had written a question and showed it to the camera: "If we arrange the photos, will you be released?" Erik and Effie had replied Yes... but they hadn't really been sure. There had been a similar puzzle in Mooncurser's, where the emphasis had been more on communication than on puzzly puzzle-solving.

We navigated through Stanford campus, glad to have alums with us to help us to detour around unexpected road construction. As it was, we easily found our way to the designated parking lot. It took us a while to get our gear together. We weren't on a civilized part of the campus here; we were about to go walking along a dark trail through a bunch of eucalyptus trees. Professors who wanted to frighten freshmen would lead ghost tours around campus and would go through this trail in the dark, then light up a statue of the Angel of Grief, thereby freaking the bejeebus out of everyone. We wanted to bring our own lights. It took a few minutes, but we eventually had our gear together.

But as we approached the trail, we were surprised anyhow: a phone was ringing. A desk-phone was improbably attached to a fencepost at the trailhead. And it was ringing. Holy crap, amazing. Sarah picked up the phone, listened. We asked her questions: was there a start code for our laptop? What was it saying? Each time, she had to shush us. The phone was telling her things pretty fast. There were twelve agents to find, collect names. She barked out 925 808 Eagle... maybe... The message ended.

Brave GC volunteer Corey appeared! He'd been watching us from his car. We asked him if he was a representative of the Mentalist. He said no, he was invisible. But had information for us. There was an erratum... and the phone rang. Uhm, go ahead and listen to that.

OK, listening to the phone message again, we were supposed to collect 12 agent names and keycodes, then call 925-808-EVIL.

When we were ready, Corey let us know the erratum. Actually, there were just 11 "agents". The clue was 1/12th compromised. When we'd figured out how the puzzle worked, we should come find him in his car and he'd give us the relevant info from the 12th.

A few steps in, we spotted the first "agent": a little box attached to a tree with blinking LEDs. Blinking in Morse code. Erik and Sarah started calling out "Dot dash dot dot" "Dash dash dot dot" I was trying to transcribe, but couldn't with both of them talking. Sarah noticed another problem: they'd been calling out different things. We were accustomed to written forms of Morse code, but of course, that's not the way people actually use Morse code. Morse code is usually based on timing. We'd have to learn how to use it that way. (Some of my teammates learned how to do that this night. I... didn't. I got better, but in the end, I never got good at it.) We gathered data for an hour; 15-20 minutes to get a mostly-right message ("Paul Bunktan") from the first box, getting faster thereafter.

The trees were drippy. No doubt water had knocked out one of the boxes, explaining why one "agent" was missing. Most of the boxes had two blinking LEDs, but one had gone "one-eyed." Drip, drip, drip. Water dripped onto our clipboards. We were glad not to be out here in the rain, but a little rain had stuck around in the trees to meet us.

There were 11 boxes along the trail. Each one would make an animal sound, then blink LEDs in Morse code. Each Morse code message was a movie, TV show, comic book, or web site with a character matching the animal sound. For example, the first box mooed at us and its message was Paul Bunyan—it seemed to be about Babe the Blue Ox. We walked back to the trailhead. The animal types matched those from the zodiac. Figuring out which animal went with which movie/show/whatever required some Googling or some trivia knowledge.

Back at the parking lot, Corey gave us the errata. Our "rat" sound was actually a rabbit; the missing agent was actually the rat, and its message would have been Ninja Turtles. Ah, Splinter. Corey said that since we'd been here for more than 40 minutes, we'd earned our first free hint: he could tell us the names of two agents. Ah, but we'd figured those out. Corin instead went ahead and confirmed our data. He smiled when we pointed out that the puzzle's dragon was Trogdor... the Burninator. Corey was, of course, on the Burninators team. We asked him for the exact spelling of Dr Dillamond—was the "Doctor" spelled out? Nope. Confirmation pointed out that I'd misremembered Wacky Races; I'd thought that Max was the name of the dog, but that was Muttley. (I was, of course, confused by the parallels by The Wacky Races and the movie The Great Race, in which the hapless henchman is Max, as immortalized in the song "Push the Button Max".)

And since we'd been there 60 minutes, he could give us another hint: two of the agents' keycodes. Hmm, we didn't have any keycodes. Should we ask for two keycodes just to find out what we were looking for? We looked up; another team was waiting to talk to Corey. Was now the time to decide what to ask for? Instead, Corey gave us an ad-hoc hint: had we called the number yet? No, because we didn't have the keycodes yet. He advised us to call it anyhow.

Back to the van, called the number. Oh, it was a voice mail system. It played a sequence of animal noises. And it prompted us to enter names of agents. Entering an agent-name gave us a description of that agent's key-code, a phone-pad key. But the description was logic-puzzly. E.g., "above a prime number" or "not in the bottom row". Between navigating the phone menu and listening for the robo-voice, it took several minutes just to gather all the data for this. We logic-puzzlishly cranked through where to put the keys. So our sequence of animal noises was really a sequence of phone keys: another number to call? We decided to confirm with Corey before calling it. Sarah remembered a past game in which her team had solved a puzzle and called a phone number late at night... and weren't actually supposed to do it, woke up strangers, felt bad. And, hey, didn't we have 12 digits here? That was too many for a phone number. Confirming seemed like a good idea. And, amazingly, at this point Corey walked up to our van and checked in on us.

He gave us the 80-minute hint: we were looking for an eight-letter word followed by a four-letter name. Ah, phone keypad code. He also offered to confirm our sequence of animal sounds: ah, and we'd written down rabbit as rat again, so it was a good thing he confirmed it. Then he confirmed our keypad, which was right. And then he wandered off into the night, having transformed what could have been a very frustrating hour into a quick finish. I plugged our sequence of numbers into the Puzzle Pal Android App, used its Phone Spell function and quickly got CALAMITY for the 8-letter word, so JANE was probably the name. Put that into the laptop, which was happy. It rewarded us by not being "locked up" any longer. And with a communique.

Getting Real

We had a new communique from the big boss. It was a video. He wasn't in shadow anymore. He was... he was... Holy crap, the big boss was being acted by Neil Patrick Harris, star actor of Dr Horrible! Cracking an inside joke about how the Evil League of Evil was letting in "Any post-doc in a pair of nice goggles." It took us a couple of tries to make it through the video without gushing over it. Corey drifted by. We reassured him: "We've got Neil Patrick Harris; we're good." How was this possible? Someone had heard rumors: a producer of How I Met Your Mother was in the The Game community, probably could have got in touch with Mr Harris... who perhaps was inclined to like pervasive games, having previously got involved with The Accomplice. Feasible? Sure. Surprising? Oh my, yes.

You know how The Game plots don't make that much sense? One minute, you're uncovering a twisted maze of intrigue, the next minute, you're solving a cryptic crossword... Somehow, when N.P.H. spoke his lines, you could convince yourself that the plot made sense, that the characters really thought that anagramming could change the world. Now that's acting.

Sunday: Stupid Hours

We drove across campus to the coffee house that had been the end of the Back to School BANG. The laptop told us that by reaching this point, we'd avoided being skipped over any puzzles. So yay us. Aided by the Stanford alums on the team, we navigated out way, stymied again and again by on-campus construction. At least we slowed down team Code Yellow, who were following us (perhaps under the mistaken impression that we might know our way around.)

After the roundabout route to find our way to the coffee house, it was somewhat unsettling to reach it... and find nobody from Game Control. We looked around. Was someone hiding, hoping to jump out and scare us? Where were the other teams? Team Code Yellow joined in the search. we found outdoor tables, but not GC. A few of us started to walk around the building, looking for other entrances. I was pretty sure that was silly: obviously, we should be calling Game Control to ask them what was wrong. Except that I was wrong: on the other side of the building, someone spotted an open door to a lit-up room. Which sounds kind of random, except that it turned out to be a campus residential computer lab, and was the site of our next puzzle. Brave GC volunteer Robert Cheng was there, handing us the instructions for our next puzzle.

It was four o'clock in the morning, and "the stupid hours" had taken deep hold on the team. We spoke slowly with... misplaced pauses and sentences that just trailed off after taking a random for reasons. It was pretty obvious that we were thinking slow, but there wasn't anything obvious to do to fix it. We would just have to struggle along and hope we woke up soon.

The puzzle was complex. In the end, we didn't figure it out, we gave up. Even when GC told us how the puzzle worked, we didn't crank out the answer, we just tossed in a "not having fun anymore" and went on to the next. How did it go?

The puzzle was an online computer game, a sort of combination of Tower Defense, Mastermind, and a word puzzle. There were a few levels to the game. For each level, you'd build up a grid made of "tiles", each tile embedded with wires. Adjacent tiles' wires would connect. But wires didn't go straight through the tiles; they were tangled, so making a path from one point to another was tricky. Each tile's wires made the shape of a letter. The edge of the level's grid had terminals for the wires, one of which was specially marked. And there was a button. Pressing the button would release a few gerbils to run past the grid. Sometimes a gerbil would enter the tangle of wires; but most of the gerbils ran past. Afterwards, the screen displayed a fill-in-the-blanks with a few blanks. Some blanks might contain green or yellow dots, but probably none would. By figuring out which letters belonged in which blanks and treating green/yellow like a mastermind signal, you could figure out what word belonged in the blank.

We came up with some ideas of how it might work. But we were pretty out of it. We convinced ourselves that some approach wasn't working, though it was. We were that incoherent. And... I've left out a few layers of complexity. You didn't just place tiles; you had to buy them in an auction. The tile you wanted to prove some theory might not be available. You had to buy access to the game-levels in another auction. To earn auction-dollars, there was a trivia game. I'd like to think we could have held it together for this puzzle if we'd been more awake. But we were just half-awake. Sleepy members of other teams took advantage of the warm room to catch a nap. I found myself wishing I had the temperament to nap during a game. I wasn't awake enough to do any good; I may have been harming us, making dumb mistakes. Maybe if I could have slept, I would at least have been more use later.

When we confessed to Robert that we wanted to give up, he told us the right way to solve the puzzle... but we still wanted to give up. Cranking through the rest seemed like a slog. If we had letters we wanted to test, they might not be available at auction. Doing each test took a while. I was OK with giving up for those reasons and a game-design reason. The laptop told us that by reaching this puzzle, we'd guaranteed that we wouldn't be skipped over any puzzles. That probably meant that this was the puzzle that slower teams would be skipped over. That is, GC had planned this game and said "We need a puzzle that will slow down the fast teams, that we can skip slow teams over. But the slow teams shouldn't feel too bad for having missed it." This puzzle is meant to take forever, I thought.

(In the end, we'd finish the game with ~an hour and a half to spare. That would have been enough time to finish this puzzle. So I have some regrets that we skipped it. But at the time, it sure felt like the right decision.) We walked back to the van.

"Was that a hard puzzle, or were we just tired?"

"That was a rough puzzle for this hour of the morning."

"It's very liberating to give up."

"Welcome to my life."

"I wish that, since we were going to give up, we had given up an hour ago."

Sunday: Converse-ation

Get back in the van, drive to the next puzzle. During the ride, we talked over the puzzle, trying to figure out what we should have done differently. Also, when we'd given up, the laptop hadn't told us the answer. What if we needed that for a metapuzzle later? Well, we'd have to solve the puzzle later then... by driving back to Stanford, getting onto the Stanford network so we could access the online game again... Let's hope it didn't come to that.

We didn't talk much during the van ride, though. We were low-energy. No banter, not watching videos, just slumped in our seats and waiting to see what would happen next.

Downtown Redwood City was unfamiliar before dawn. It wasn't really clear why we were here, just walking up to some intersection. But here was brave GC volunteer Ian Tullis, standing on the corner, in the dark. Ian addressed us as we approached: "I've been at my wit's end with puzzle. I've been sitting in my car solving it for the last few hours and–"

I found this discouraging: "Oh man, if Ian can't solve it." Ian's a really smart solver, he can solve really tough puzzles.

"I'm Bizarro Ian. So uh."

"Bizarro Ian... so really easy. OK, back to the van."

We knew that Bizarro was the opposite-dimension Superman, opposite of Superman in every way. So... if Bizarro Ian couldn't solve it, that must mean it was an extra-easy puzzle.

We took the puzzle, a word search, back to the van and worked on it inside. It was basically a wordsearch. We were looking for movie titles in a big grid of letters. But the titles were Bizarrofied, using opposite-words. And could turn corners. Which sounds complex, but after our misadventures with the previous puzzle, it felt pretty darned straightforward. We were slow, but we weren't stuck. It was a fun puzzle, and gave us a big morale boost.

You know where the Seattle equivalent must have happened

Our laptop's reward for solving Bizarro World was a few communiques, including another video from Neil Patrick Harris, a.k.a. Big Boss. He set the premise for the last part of the game: We would have to defeat the supervillains we'd met earlier in Henchmens' Duels... whose rules were just like Insult Duels. Yes, Insult Duels like those in the Monkey Island games. In case there was any doubt where the idea came from, they threw a three-headed monkey reference into one of the "gimme" rejoinders that we got at the start. You'd think this well-known format would have helped us get started, but it turned out that I was the only one on our team who'd played the Monkey Island games. Kids these days don't study the classics. I set about copying down the list of gimme rejoinders onto a sheet of paper we could use later.

We tried to figure out the overall plot of the game, trying to unravel some of the twists.

"It's just so weird. We're helping Neil Patrick Harris; but in addition, we're trying to rescue the WHO guy."

"Well, we're just waiting for the Mentalist to take off that mask that she's been wearing and reveal that she's really been Bob Schaffer the whole time."

"That's a heckuva weight loss program."

But mostly we rode in silence. The sky was starting to lighten. We drove into Foster City, wended our way amongst its canals. At a park by a bridge, we were at our next stop. Those of us who were awake piled out of the van and wandered around in search of our contact. We heard quacking; I hoped it might be the Penguin, but it was probably just canal ducks. As we approached the underpass of the bridge, suddenly Kiki Bragg jumped out at us. "Helloooo. I am the bridge troll. Can I help you?" As trolls go, she seemed pretty nice and not so scary.

We had a phrase to trigger insult duels: "It looks like everything's going to be OK."

But Kiki wasn't going to duel with us; she wasn't that villain, the Internet Troll. But, she said, that Troll had left a way to communicate with him. She handed us something and said that everything we needed was inside. She had handed us... a vintage 1998 floppy disk. Oh no. Did any of us have a laptop that could read this thing? But pulling back the disk shutter revealed a sticker on the disk's surface, a sticker telling us to chat with Aha, we would duel with a chatbot human watching their IM window carefully, who at the time I assumed was a chatbot.

Get back in the van. Get a cell phone set up to act as a modem and wifi hotspot. Only one of the laptops was wifi-compatible with the phone, but one was all we needed. Get on gmail chat, invite the troll to chat, then chat: "Looks like we're going to be OK." A few tense seconds of reply-less silence. And then... a reply. "blah blah blah... What have you got there, a ray-gun or an easy-bake oven?" someone spotted the correct retort from our list of supplied retorts, so we typed it in: "Either way, you're iced." But we didn't figure out the reply to the next insult.

And we got a little distracted: why didn't we have a start code yet? And this turned into quite a distraction: Joe normally traveled with small children, and had child locks on the van. If someone in the back of the van wanted to get out—perhaps to consult with the bridge troll to ask about a start code—they needed to be let out. Specifically, they needed to be let out by someone in the front seat or outside the van who was awake... which doesn't sound like a difficult condition to make, but with most of the team still groggy, it was. But eventually, Erik was able to get out and we were even able to let him back in so that we could find out... Kiki the Bridge Troll didn't know, but we could call game control. And game control told us... that it was expected that we didn't have a start code.

But eventually we were chatting with the Troll again. This time, we didn't mess up, found the proper rejoinders. And then came "I'll give you 10 free shots in binary, and I'll take mine in octal." We tried coming back with "Even if I was to close your laptop?" but that wasn't good enough to beat him... but it was good enough for him to direct us where to go to pick up our next puzzle.

Soon the van was on its way. We were talking over what had happened for those folks who didn't know their way around insult duels. Did "binary" suggest something about the puzzle we were about to face? (Yes.) Could we try to cast a hex on the internet troll? (No.)

Sunday: Breakfast

Then we were at our destination: Foster City IHOP. You might assume that the Foster City IHOP isn't a great stop for a puzzle hunt. Well, I assumed that. But I was quite wrong, as it turned out. We stumbled out of the van and in through the entrance. Jeff Wallace was sitting at a small table... but said we weren't picking up anything from him. Strange. We plopped ourselves down in a booth by a window and ordered breakfast. Someone got up to use the restroom—and when he came back, he said that there were better tables in the back: easier to work together, and near an electrical outlet for our devices. So we moved to the back. We kept track of our stuff OK, but apparently other folks hadn't been so lucky—a waiter came up with a mangled half of a USB cable, asking if we'd left it there. No wonder those other folks had been messing with cables: we could see teams at other tables, and they were all looking at laptops. Someone at another table noticed our mangled cable: "Hey, how did you get that so soon? We had to wait ages for ours." I knew they were just messing with us; I slumped and waited for the puzzle. Fortunately, someone else on our team got past my scoffing and tried plugging the mangled cable into a laptop: it was a USB drive.

Soon we were eating pancakes and slogging through a puzzle. The USB drive contained a big puzzle. There were five pages, each of which was themed on something internettish. There was a page of Lolcats; a page of Demotivational Posters; a page of fake Facebook status posts; a page of Kanye I'mma-let-you-finish-isms; and another page I forget. Each page described many movies. Eventually, we figured out that each page described the same set of movies as the others, though ordered differently. But first, we had to slog through identifying movies. We had two laptops and a tablet, so we split into three pairs and started through. We still weren't great at identifying movies, but we were getting better with Google Goggles, which was useful for things which used pictures from the movies. When we had a set of three, most folks on the team set about reconciling those lists, fixing mistakes. Meanwhile I and (Alan?) went over the Kanye-isms and spotted the gimmick. Each Kanye-ism linked two movies. He addressed a poster of one movie, but pointed out that _______ had the best something of all time. Perhaps the best psycho villain of all time. Or the best swordfight of all time. Or... whatever. That gave us a way to order all of the movies. If we'd been on the ball, then we would have put a couple of folks on identifying the movies from the fifth (our last) list, but we didn't get around to doing that until after we'd nailed down the Kanye-isms. Too bad, that cost us some time. But we had a sequence of ~25 movies, each of which had five internetty-things describing it. Surely, those five things would make five-bit binary, but how? I forget if one of us figured it out or if a timed hint told us, but somehow we knew to look for capital letters in the internetty thing. We cranked through the binary and got: ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US. A good reply to a binary-octal insult.

It was a long puzzle. It took us a long time. But I was glad we'd stuck with it, hadn't stopped; especially after we'd stopped on the puzzle with the gerbils. We'd been slow, but we'd never felt stuck, and under those conditions, we kept going.

And we'd learned a new rejoinder. I wrote All your base are belong to us on our list of rejoinders. If the law of Monkey Island held true, we wouldn't just need that for the Internet Troll; we'd need to use it to defeat the final boss, too.

And we'd learned that the Foster City IHOP was awesome. The service there was great—they'd snuck USB drives to us. Our waiter totally fooled me.

During the van ride, we talked about internet memes. You didn't really need to understand them to solve the puzzle. But some familiarity helped you to appreciate the puzzle.

He didn't fire pistols at our feet, if that's what you're wondering

Our next stop was Sea Horse Ranch in Half Moon Bay, a place where you can sit on a horse while a guide leads that horse down to the beach. Alexandra was an animal lover, serious enough to feel sorry for the horses in the place when she'd passed by on previous occasions. (And probably she'd have felt worse if she'd gone in to see the horses. Online reviews of the place sound like the horses are treated pretty rough. I hadn't heard anything about that aspect of the place until we were there. I doubt that GC had, either.) But GC hadn't chosen the place for happy horses; they'd chosen it because it was an appropriate place for our showdown with the supervillain The Cowboy, a.k.a. Jeff Phillips in a cowboy hat and an absurd mustache.

We engaged in an insult duel. We were better at it now! I had my paper of rejoinders, and as he hurled insults at us, we picked suitable replies. Until he asked us what we'd tell our mothers... and we had nothing. But that was OK; we weren't supposed to have a reply to that yet. It was time for us to learn the reply by completing the puzzle.

This was a square-dance themed duck conundrum; that is, a convoluted set of instructions, so convoluted as to be confusing. Oh no, I hated duck conundrums! They always seemed to devolve into intra-team arguments when one person interprets the instructions one way and someone else interprets them another way. But we buckled down and tried getting through anyhow. And we figured out that this was a shorter duck conundrum than most, so we might get through it without trying to kill each other. Even better, GC took pity on us (perhaps because we were towards the back of the pack): when we didn't agree on what an instruction meant, brave GC volunteer Rico trotted over and disambiguated. Soon we had an answer, uhm. But our answer seemed strange, uhm. As something to say to my mother, it seemed strange. But we went back and talked with The Cowboy again, he asked us what we'd say to our mothers and I told him: Road me, little lady. He looked at me in horror. Was that how I talked to my mother?

So we went back and double-checked. Oh, we'd made a mistake. Soon we told the cowboy something much less embarrassing: PARDON ME LITTLE LADY.

Sunday: With the Fishes

Time to get back in the van. We were on our way to confront our next supervillian, Salmonman. We got the idea that we should think of an "extra" insult-reply. The first time the cowboy had asked us what we'd say to our mothers, we'd just stood there going "derrr". We were pretty sure we weren't supposed to have a witty reply to that yet, but it wasn't much fun just saying "derrr". I forget if we actually came up with an extra insult for Salmonman, though. We got lost for a while at the northern part of Half Moon Bay, driving right past where we were supposed to be. But we eventually got ourselves to the right spot, a boat pier.

At the base of the pier, we went through an insult duel with Salmonman, and lost. This was somewhat galling; we were a fish-themed team, and he was a fisherman. Normally, when fishes lose to a fisherman, they get injured or worse. But we got away OK.

He handed us a tackle box and sent us out onto the pier. Normally, you don't expect to see people fishing off the side of a boat pier. You fish off the side of a fishing pier; if you try to fish off the side of a boat pier, you'll just catch... boats. Good luck reeling one of those in. But here was a crowd of gamists with fishing poles, dangling them over the side.... to a walkway down by the boats. There, brave GC volunteers were taking things off of the fishhooks and putting other things onto the fishhooks. Also on the pier there were some laminated sheets featuring grids decorated with a sort of native-Pacific-Northwesternish-fish design.

In our tacklebox, we had a couple of loopy fishhooks, a couple of pieces of paper, and lots of bracelet beads. There were letter beads and color beads. Our pieces of paper had sequences of beads, one of which had been labeled "trout"(?). On one of our hooks, we had that sequence of colored beads and a sequence of letter beads making "trout". Put that on a pole, lowering it over the side... it came back with a fish picture that marked part of the laminated diagram.

Breaking the phonetic code was pretty easy. But to get those little fish-design pieces of paper, we'd have to load up fishhooks with the correct sequences. So that's what we did: we had a people filling up fishhooks. Sarah was lowering the hook, pulling up a piece of paper, coming back for another hook. Her job was extra-complicated because there weren't enough poles to go around for all the teams that were here. So each time she pullied up a piece of paper, she looked to see if another team was waiting for a pole. If there was, then she'd have to hand over the pole, and get in line for another team to finish using theirs. But we seemed to be speedier at this than most other teams who were there, so often there wasn't a team waiting.

Unfortunately, part of the reason we were speedy at hook-beading was that we didn't have many folks figuring out how to extract an answer from our pieces of paper until we were nearly done. But eventually, a couple of us kept working on the hooks while other folks went to compare our little pieces of paper with the laminated sheets. Each sheet's design made a grid; each grid row had one square that matched one of our little pieces of paper.

So that column number gave us an "index" into that word's phonetic spelling. So if the t-r-ou-t paper fell on the third column of its grid, that gave us an "ou". And the grids' rows gave us a way to order the syllables. Uhm, I forget what the answer to this puzzle was, though.

Next: Conclusion[next]

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