Phillip, a 68 years old man, was near the end of his life.

Before passing away, he decided to hand to his daughter a piece of paper with the following:

48 7A 2D 38 8B

On the back, there was the following text:

DEATH, what unpleasant surprise.
While I'm gone, enjoy life and smile.
You can find my safe beneath me.
The key combination is in the front.
Give your son the life I never had.
1000 words can't describe how much I love you.
I wish everything was this basic.

(I know, it isn't the best text ever.)

The safe has a keyboard with numbers from 0 to 9, arranged like the image below:

Lock buttons

(This is the best photo I could find, thank you Google, Original image).

Since she didn't understand the message, she asked you for help to open the safe.

What is the safe combination?


I forgot to mention something VERY important:

The safe combination is only 5 numbers!

No more, no less.

Edit 2:

The answer is also a word.

The word is spelled using the above keyboard.

Each number is 1 letter.

Example: The word 'short' would be the key '84788'.

  • $\begingroup$ Does "beneath me" have some special meaning, or does it just mean he kept the safe under his bed? $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor It means it is under the bed. I will be a good guy and say: the position of the safe has nothing to do with it. It's just filler. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:35
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe DEATH in capitals is just a tribute to the recently deceased Terry Pratchett, whose character Death always talks in capitals? $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor Who? $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 11:22
  • $\begingroup$ Terry Pratchett: "[a] hallmark of his writing was the use of capitalised dialogue without quotation marks, used to indicate the character of Death communicating telepathically into a character's mind." He died yesterday. Never mind, it must be just a coincidence! $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 11:28

8 Answers 8


Another try:

48 7A 2D 38 8B

Interpreting each of these five couplets as a

number written in hexadecimal (base 16),

we get

72 122 45 56 139.

I'm not sure what to do with this, but maybe

divide by powers of 2, 1, 3, 8, 4 respectively (these being the digits corresponding to D, E, A, T, H on the keypad - thanks Ryan Durrant for this idea!)

to get

9 122 5 7 139

(OK, this doesn't quite work for the 2nd and 5th digits.)

Another idea:

take digit sums, and keep doing this until each number is reduced to a single digit. So $72\rightarrow9,122\rightarrow5,45\rightarrow9,56\rightarrow11\rightarrow2,139\rightarrow13\rightarrow4$,

giving the answer as 95924. I can't see what word this could correspond to though!

  • $\begingroup$ That key is incorrect, but I tell you that you are SO close to get it! You can read my comment on @RyanDurrant's answer for a clue. But you are REALLY close. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ There is also something that I left behind: The combination is a word. But I've upvoted this answer too. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ @IsmaelMiguel I've incorporated Ryan's idea. I know it's not right yet, but am I on the right track? $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:54
  • $\begingroup$ Almost. But '9 122 5 7 138' is.... Many numbers. The answer is only 5 numbers. But you are getting dangerously close. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ @IsmaelMiguel Another edit. I keep thinking that "1000" in the question should be used somehow... $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 11:25

The code is

1 6 7 4 1

We know that the numbers and letters turn into

The ASCII codes "Hz-8u"

This can be decoded as

A frequency of 8 hertz, also known as Alpha waves

We can support this further with the following lines:

DEATH - What an unpleasant surprise

If you were exposed to this frequency, it would liquefy your brain. Doesn't sound like fun!

When I'm gone, enjoy life and smile

The Alpha frequencies emitted by your brain, however, are associated with relaxation

You can find my safe beneath me

I'm guessing it was in the floor or something?

The key combination is in the front

Alpha is the first letter of the greek alphabet

Give your son the life I never had

Uhhh... red herring?

1000 words can't describe now much I love you

MRIs (images, pictures of your brain) use frequencies 1-100, which this is one. Obviously you're not exposed to the EXACT resonant frequency of your skull for very long, because liquefying your brain is generally bad and will get the hospital sued.

I wish everything was this basic

Pretty much all children are taught about frequencies as part of their basic education.

  • $\begingroup$ In my opinion, you are escaping a little. But I do liked your answer! I had no idea that alpha waves could liquify our brain... That REALLY isn't fun! $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ So, the Hz in the ASCII (that you've already confirmed is correct)... am I on the right track that it's frequency related? $\endgroup$
    – corsiKa
    Mar 13, 2015 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ No, it isnt frequency related. The H was an accident. I didn't wanted it to be an H, but I let it stay anyway. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ Oh - well that certainly changes things! $\endgroup$
    – corsiKa
    Mar 13, 2015 at 20:48

When I look at this question, I start to think of something...

is it ASCII?

1) If the numbers are in hex, we find that 8B doesn't correspond to any letter. You will actually get H, z, -, 8, ü. Not fun.

so maybe it's base 14 (A,B,C,D)

We change the numbers to that

and we get 64, 108, 41, 50, 123. In ASCII, this is @, l, ), 2, {, which is very wrong.

2) Maybe

it's related to DEATH. The ASCII code will be 68, 69, 65, 84, 72 (in decimal). 68 is also the age of Phllip when he died!

But what do we do with it?

3) The dead guy actually said :

"I wish everything was this basic."


is a programming language

4) Then, we see that

BASIC is technological and ASCII is also technological.


ASCII is more heavily represented in this puzzle, so I think the answer is 18255.

A lot of things actually don't make sense but that's all I can do.


After Ismael Miguel gave me some comments, I'll continue trying.

Here is a list of hints which have been gathered.

1*. Hz-8ü & ASCII

2*. 1000 words can't describe how much I love you --> A picture of probably a heart.

  1. DEATH --> 23184

  2. basic

5**. 4 is the first number

6**. A number repeats

7**. There is at least a 7.

8*. 72 122 45 56 139

Hints with 1 * are very close, hints with 2 * are correct.

Hint 5--> The first letter of the word is f, g, or h.

Hint 7--> The word has at least a o, p or q.

Hint 4--> Based on the comment given to my solution, basic-->21852

Also, apparently I left off my problem at one thread which was very close to the answer. I wonder which one it is...

By guessing, I got

Happy --> 41770. That fits. But how is it related to the hints?

  • $\begingroup$ Wow, dude, you were really close! I should say "Hz-8ü" is correct. The word 'basic' is part of a clue, related to another clue given in another comment. You are correct in thinking in ASCII. The age that he died is just filler. Also the name. The word DEATH is a VERY important clue. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 14:30

This seems too obvious, but...


Interpreting each letter as what it would be on the keypad you've shown, mobile-phone style (A=1, B=2, C=22, D=222, E=3, F=4, G=44, etc.)

  • $\begingroup$ I forgot something very important: The key length! -.- But I will accept this one as an answer and will upvote it. (I won't mark as the accepted answer). It is a really nice try. And I give you credit for that. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:30

Is it

23184 - DEATH

Short, simple and sweet

  • $\begingroup$ No, that would be TOO much too obvious. But it is part of the process to obtain the key. I wouldn't reveal the key right in the first word. But nice try! $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:35
  • $\begingroup$ How does that word give that number?? $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor D-2, E-3, A-1, T-8, H-4. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ @IsmaelMiguel I don't understand where that correspondence comes from though! $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor Look at the keypay. It has letters on top of it. Imagine if you were writting on the cellphone and using t9 (word prediction) function (with a weird keyboard). If you want to spell 'death', you click on 3 3 2 8 4. But this keypad has a different letter arrangement. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 10:49

For starters, the key combination

48 7A 2D 38 8B

if treated as hexadecimal, translates to

72 122 45 56 139 in decimal, which is
H z - 8 ï in ASCII.

I have no idea what to do with this. Yet. Let's look at other clues.

DEATH corresponds to 23184 on the keypad.

I also guess that

"1000" and "basic"

seem to be part of the same clue, somehow.

Finally, from comments on another answer, apparently,

the answer starts with a 4, has at least one 7, and some digit is doubled.

All told, my very best guess (at the time of writing) is that the answer is

41388, for HEART

My reasoning is that

"1000 words" refers to how a picture is worth more than 1000 words, which made me wonder how a picture would relate to "I love you". I tried "drawing" a heart on the keypad, then realized that DEATH and HEART share the same letters, except that the D has been changed into an R, which on the same button as 8, which is 1000 in binary.

One major flaw with this though:

It doesn't use the key code at all.

  • $\begingroup$ You are so close that it hurts me! The only 'problem' is that you don't use the number 7 at all. But it is quite a nice answer. I tell you that your answer is loosly related with the 'right' answer. But I will give you credit for using the clues and for a great try. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 17:17

I think I have it!

D  E  A  T  H

In ASCII hex: 44 65 61 74 68

The key combination is in the front.

44 65 61 74 68
^  ^  ^  ^  ^
4  6  6  7  6

Take the first hexadecimal digit of each ASCII character of the word "death", and that should be your answer.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you please explain, in the question, how you got to that result? $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ "The key combination is in the front" I just took that line as literally as I could. I have a feeling this explanation was wrong, but I decided to offer it up anyway, just in case... $\endgroup$
    – npn
    Mar 13, 2015 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ I must say that the first number is correct in the actual position, and there is at least 1 7. I must give you credit for that! (the downvote wasn't mine). The attempt isn't the best one, but you scared me when I read the 4. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ How about the second try? $\endgroup$
    – npn
    Mar 13, 2015 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ The 2nd try is a bit further, but there is a number that repeats (like the number 8). $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2015 at 15:57

Based on clues I will guess on FRONT but nothing with baseXX, acsii or hex converting is used here.. :)


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