Steve is having a rather bad day. Steve has died, and because Steve had a propensity for driving slow in the fast lane, Steve goes to hell.

As soon as Steve gets to hell, Satan, Hitler, and Herostratus decide they're going to give Steve a chance to escape. They're going to play a game. All three of the nefarious denizens of hell have taken one of their favorite riddles, stuck it into a nefarious hat, and one of them will be chosen at random.

But they have made a boast! Hitler reveals the answer to his riddle, and says: "The answer to my riddle is a ruined painting." Satan reveals the answer to his, as well: "The answer to my riddle is a grilled fish!" And Herostratus reveals his answer too: "My riddle's solution is a destroyed statue!"

As soon as the riddle is drawn out of the nefarious hat, each of the three nefarious denizens of hell are just going to start writing their answers! That's not fair! So Steve has to start writing an answer BEFORE the riddle is drawn, and the answer either has to fit all three criteria, or it has to be close enough that Steve can finish writing the answer before Hitler, Satan, and Herostratus can!

Can you help Steve? Do you know how Steve could possibly get out of this situation?

Use pencil and paper drawing (you probably have to), and bend any rules you can, because this is hell! Feel free to use very ambiguous fonts and/or pictographs.


  • Ruined Painting
  • Grilled Fish
  • Destroyed Statue

You don't have to combine all three in one. You can start with very ambiguous text, and from there, show how you can write all three answers from your starting point.


Steve could write "ed" and would have a very minor head start, being able to write "ruin" or "grill" or "destroy" before it, and the rest of the answer afterwards. Can you do better?

  • $\begingroup$ You want us to draw a ruined painting of a destroyed statue of a grilled fish? $\endgroup$ – Illyasviel Sep 4 '15 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ technically you can't draw that, because if the painting is conveying the intended meaning, it's not ruined. $\endgroup$ – Kingrames Sep 4 '15 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, so we're supposed to draw a picture that can be interpreted as a ruined painting, a grilled fish, or a destroyed statue. $\endgroup$ – Illyasviel Sep 4 '15 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ You CAN do that, or you can write the words "ruined painting" in such a way as to be interpreted as a destroyed statue or grilled fish... or... you can do PART of the process, and then show how you can get to all 3 answers from your starting point. I've added more clarification at the end. $\endgroup$ – Kingrames Sep 4 '15 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ I think that's a valid response. You can post that as an answer, and we'll see if anyone can beat it. $\endgroup$ – Kingrames Sep 4 '15 at 13:37

Here's a way that should be faster than writing down letters.

Let's say Steve was handed a piece a paper for him to draw on. Steve quickly draws an ichthus and adds some grill marks on it then rips the paper in half. He takes the bottom half, stands it up on the ground, and places some rocks around it so it stands up straight. If the answer is a destroyed statue he points at the paper on the ground that's been torn in half and claims that's his destroyed statue. If it's a ruined painting he holds up the half of the paper in his hand and says it's his ruined painting (since it's been torn in half). If it's a grilled fish he puts both halves together to show a complete grilled fish.

This way Steve has all 3 answers completed and doesn't have to do any modification once he solves the riddle albeit he still has to put the 2 halves of paper together if it's the grilled fish.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very impressive! And fast, too! I think if you tried, you might even be able to do this faster than the previous strikethrough answer! $\endgroup$ – Kingrames Sep 4 '15 at 14:29

Not having access to particularly good drawing tools, here's a very crude image:

enter image description here

I'm sure someone with more artistic talent could take this concept and improve on it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. So the direction you rotate the picture changes the apparent meaning? That's cool. Is there a term for that? It's not what I was expecting but it's close to my original idea. $\endgroup$ – Kingrames Sep 4 '15 at 14:55

Write out all three answers and then cross out the two wrong ones when the riddle is revealed.

The danger here is if it takes longer to work out which answer is the correct one than it takes for the fiends to write out their answers, Steve is toast.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm liking this answer best so far but I want to see if anyone can actually combine all three in one in a better way (just in case Steve is slow, that is) so if we don't see a better answer by Wednesday next week, you can be the victor. $\endgroup$ – Kingrames Sep 4 '15 at 14:02

I figure if they're going make you solve a riddle you might as well make your answer a riddle as well. It's all about how you interpret my answer do you find the answer you're looking for. You could say:

"Well if the answer is grilled fish take the first letter from each group of 3 letters consecutively (meaning from left to right). If the answer is ruined painting take the 2nd letter from each group of 3 letters and the first from the groups of two (again from left to right). For destroyed statue say take the last letter from all the groups (once more from left to right."

If he was writing on a chalkboard he just has to write everything vertically and erase the columns that are wrong. Unless I can make my description more explicit this answer should do it:

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    $\begingroup$ It's hard to say if you can erase as quickly as someone is writing but that sounds believable, and I'm sure there are speed erasers out there somewhere. pun intended. $\endgroup$ – Kingrames Sep 4 '15 at 13:59

Just write all 3 answers with a checkbox. As soon as you know the answer, check the correct box.

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