The room is pitch black; the only thing giving any sort of light is the moon. You look around, but can’t seem to see much at all.
Suddenly, music starts playing and giant rats appear out of nowhere, jumping and prancing around! The way they move is so elegant that they make you fall under a small trance; you can’t seem to look away.
You notice that something else is coming from behind the giant rats, marching closer and closer. As it gets closer you can start making out what it is: a giant robot-looking figure holding a gun. It points the gun at the giant rats, preparing to shoot.
Just when you thought this couldn’t get any weirder, ballerinas leap out of nowhere, jumping here and there, back and forth. You try to wrap your head around all this but it is just too much.
The music gets louder and louder; you try to move but you can’t. As the music gets to an unbearable volume that makes you just want to shoot yourself, it stops. Clouds get blown in, covering up the moon and the moonlight. You hear this faint chatter that quickly turns into a roar of chattering and clapping sounds: hundreds of people talking and clapping all at once. The lights slowly light up the room.
That was the first time you had ever seen the classic tale of The Nutcracker.
“Wow that was pretty good. I don’t know what the classic story is about, but this play sure has piqued my interest. But next time I should DEFINITELY not stand right next to the speakers,” you say to yourself.
That was the first time you had ever seen the classic tale of The Nutcracker.
“Wow, that play sucked! Now I DEFINITELY do not want to see the original! But next time I should DEFINITELY not stand right next to the speakers,” you say to yourself.
Everyone slowly disperses and goes back to what they were originally doing. A fellow co-worker walks up to you.
“Why the glum face? You’re the number one detective in the world right now, and you’re on vacation! Smile and enjoy yourself a little. That title and a vacation like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Tell you what, tonight for dinner, the first round is on me if you come skiing with us,” he says.
“I guess I should try to enjoy myself, and a drink wouldn’t hurt later on,” you think to yourself.
“Sure, I’ll come”.
“Great! We’ll meet you at the entrance to the ski lift in 20 minutes,” your co-worker says. You get changed into your skiing gear and headed towards the ski lift, where you meet your fellow co-workers.
After about an hour of skiing with your co-workers, you decide to take one last round down the hill before heading back to your room to warm up. As you sit on the ski lift patiently waiting for it to reach the top of the hill, you hear a loud scream. It is coming from the direction of the forest right next to the ski hill, about half way down. You notice that everyone is talking and pointing towards the forest where the scream came from.
When you finally reach the top of the hill, you quickly ski halfway down and hop over the small fence which says “DO NOT ENTER.” As soon as you hop over, you see five teenagers run out of the forest. You manage to stop one of the teenagers; you take a quick glance at him: male, blond hair, about 6’ 2”, wearing a thick leather winter jacket.
“What happened?” you ask the young teenager.
“Holy shit man! There’s a dead body over there!” he says in a panicked voice as he points deep into the wintry forest.
You quickly head over to the area the young male was pointing to. When you finally reach the area, you see a body lying on the ground. You slowly approach the body and kneel down to take a better look at the body. You notice that it’s a male, with curly brown hair, wearing a red sweater and dark blue jeans.
Suddenly, you hear voices coming towards you; it is your co-workers and some police officers. The officers start calling back to HQ reporting this incident. Your co-workers start taking pictures on their cell phones and scouting the area for any clues.
Suddenly, there is a big rumble in the ground; a loud unfamiliar sound approaches. You look up and see that it is an avalanche!
“AVALANCHE! EVERYBODY RUN!” you yell. Everyone starts running; you quickly look around the area for any clues and noticed that there is a top hat near the body. You run towards the top hat and grab it, then quickly turn around and run towards the body. You know that you don’t have much time left, so you quickly search the body.
Front Left Pocket:
You quickly grab the object in his front left pocket and pull it out. You notice that it is his cell phone.
Front Right Pocket:
You quickly grab the object in his front right pocket and pull it out. You notice that it is his keys.
Back Left Pocket:
You place your hand into his back left pocket and don’t feel anything in his pocket.
Back Right Pocket:
You quickly grab the object in his back right pocket and pull it out. You notice that it is his wallet.
After you have searched the second pocket, you know that you won’t have time to check another, so you started running down the hill. As you run full-speed down the hill, you take a quick glance behind you to see that the avalanche has violently swept up the body and all other evidence with it. You know that you won’t be able to outrun the avalanche and it’s only a matter of time before it catches up to you. All of a sudden you see a big shadow hanging over you, something big hits your back, and you black out.
You open your eyes. The only thing you recall is the avalanche hitting you. You slowly raise yourself into a sitting position on the bed. You look around the room, but it is an unfamiliar room, a room which you have not seen before.
A doctor walks in. “Ah, I see you are finally awake. You took a pretty big hit from that avalanche. How are you feeling?” asks the doctor.
“I've had better days, but thank you. How long was I out for?” you reply.
“About two to three hours; not too long. The rescue team worked quickly on finding you and the others and brought them here for recovery. And thank God they did! By the way, your team says that when you are ready, they will meet you back at the lodge’s main lobby.”
“Thanks Doc.” You quickly head over to the lodge.
Upon arrival, your co-workers run up to you, asking if you are OK and saying that they are glad nothing has happened to you. They inform you that the rescue team is still out searching in case someone else is out there under the snow, but since they do not know how many people got hit by the avalanche, they do not know when they can stop looking.
You ask about the body. “The body still has not been found, and might not be found. It was a big avalanche,” one of your co-workers says. They also inform you about the clues that were found upon rescuing you. They point to a table across the room and you walk over to check them out.
On the table are the items you managed to grab before the avalanche consumed everything in its path. One of the items is the mysterious top hat. You examine the top hat. It is black, made out of silk, and very clean, as if it were brand new.
“Nothing seems to be out of the ordinary,” you mutter to yourself. You place the top hat in a Ziploc bag and send it to the forensics team for further investigation.
(Choose The Same Two Pockets You Chose Earlier At The Crime Scene)
Front Left Pocket:
The victim's smartphone is white with a see-through light-green phone case. You unlock the phone and start checking for any recent activities. You find out that the victim’s name is Terry W. Ter. He doesn’t seem to have any videos, text messages, or incoming/outgoing phone calls. The only thing he has are pictures of him outside either skiing, snowboarding, or ice fishing, with trees covered in snow. The weird part is that the pictures are in albums that he has renamed to “Winter 2013”, “Winter 2014”, and “Winter 2015”.
Front Right Pocket:
You examine the victim’s keys. There are 3 sets of keys on the key chain. One key is for a Nissan Altima, one key is for his mail box, and the last key might be his house keys but you can’t be 100% certain just by looking at it. Checking the parking lot for a Nissan Altima, you come across a green one and decide to try opening it with the key; it opens! You check the car for any clues but it seems to be kept in a very clean condition. The only thing you find is a parking ticket with the car's license plate number (WNTR1 5H34R), the car model, and the victim's name: Terry W. Ter.
Back Left Pocket:
You remember that you didn’t find anything in the back left pocket of the victims body. “Why did I pick the back left pocket? No one ever keeps anything in that neglected pocket,” you sigh to yourself.
Back Right Pocket:
You examine the victim’s wallet. It is a black leather wallet, which seems to be brand new. You check inside the wallet for any clues, but the only card that you find in there is a gift card for a sauna place called “HOT AS HELL SAUNA”. There is a number on the back of the card for the place and you decide to call it. You find out that the card belongs to Terry W. Ter, and that he has already used the gift card once.
After examining all the clues you have gathered, you think to yourself, “I knew a vacation was too good to be true, maybe next year”. Just when you were about to head back to your room to think about this case some more, the owner of the lodge comes up to you and your team and offers the party room as a temporary home base for all the investigation work. He also offers security so no one can go in unless it is a member of the investigation team or the police. You and your team happily accepted the owner’s offer.
You notice that the owner is about 5’ 9”, has brown hair, is skinny, and is dressed up pretty fancy. The sky is getting darker and darker as you head back to your room to get a good night’s rest.
You suddenly hear a loud buzzing noise with music. “RING RING RING RING,” goes your phone as it wakes you up. You slowly open your eyes, give a big yawn, and answer your phone. “Hello?” you answer.
“We have a situation; we have found another dead body. Come to the laundry area in the basement quick,” says one of your co-workers as she hangs up the phone.
You quickly get dressed and find your way towards the laundry room. As you enter through the door you see your team and police officers already surrounding the area. There are some small yellow cones around the body. You walk up to the body to get a better look.
It is a young women, 23-26 years old, brunette, around 5’ 5” to 5’ 7”, and with brown eyes. She is wearing the staff uniform of the ski lodge, so you get one of the police officers to get the owner of the ski lodge there for more information. You check the body but there aren’t any stab or gunshot wounds. Her neck does seem a bit red and puffier than usual, but you conclude that it was not strangulation.
You then start looking at the clues that the others have found. On the table there is a plate with a single carrot. It seems that someone has taken a bite out of the carrot. With nothing else on the carrot, you move on to the next clue.
You walk up to the item on the table. It is the victim’s wallet. You open it up, but there is nothing inside the wallet except for a piece of paper. You take a closer look at the paper. It is the victim’s temporary driver’s license. Her name is Sally N. Bhal, and her date of birth is December 14, 19**. The last two digits of her birth year have been scratched out, as well as the remainder of the card.
You walk up to the item on the table. It is a piece of paper. You open the piece of paper. It says “Things To Buy” underlined as the title, and under it is “- Buy Scarf”. It was written with a blue pen, and whoever wrote this had bad hand writing; you can tell they were struggling. It doesn’t seem like a female's writing.
As you are about to take a look at the other clue, out of the corner of your eye you see that one of the police officers slip and fall on the edge of the table. The officer falls hard, pushing the table away, and knocking the clues off the table. The carrot falls on the ground and the plate shatters into tiny pieces, while the two other clues fall right into the lit fireplace right beside you. The clues quickly burn, and there is nothing left.
As the others help the officer up, the owner of the ski lodge and the other police officer come through the door.
“I heard you were looking for me?” says the owner.
“Yes, I was wondering, do you by any chance know this young woman? She is wearing the ski lodge uniform,” you reply.
The owner takes a look at the body, then his eyes open wide. “Oh shit!” he says, “that’s Sally! Yes, I do know her; she works here at the lodge part time cleaning the rooms, and washing the clothes and bed sheets and all that.”
You take a look at the body and then look at the owner and ask, “Did she have any enemies? What else do you know about her?”
“Not too much; she’s just another employee. We don’t talk too much. She is very nice and I would say liked by all. I don’t see her having many enemies,” says the owner as he looks away and looks around the room. “… I do know that she loves animals, especially dogs, she likes the colour cyan, she lives not too far from here, and she is really allergic to carrots.”
You look at the owner with curiosity and ask, “How do you know that she is allergic to carrots?”.
“Well, every employee has to fill out this form with their personal information and on the sheet there is a question asking if they are allergic to anything so we can be more cautious about what task we assign to them. May I go now? I am quite busy running the lodge at the moment.”
“Alright you’re free to go. By the way, I never got your name,” you reply.
“Oh how rude of me! My name is Vladimir J. Englebel,” he replies as he takes his leave.
You stand there for a minute thinking about the clues you have found so far, but nothing is really connecting in your head. You decide to head back to your room to think about this some more. As you walk out the laundry doorway, you bump into someone.
“Excuse me, mate,” says the man, as he continues to mop the floor.
You look at the man you accidentally bumped into. He is about 5’ 6”, has black hair, and is wearing the grey ski lodge janitor uniform with his name on the left side of his shirt. “Namon” it says.
You apologize for bumping into him. “It’s OK,” he replies. You see his eyes shift over a little and you notice the man’s facial expression change. After a couple of seconds he just continues with what he was doing before.
You then noticed that Mr. Englebel was right behind you; you didn’t notice him approaching. “What’s wrong with him?” you ask.
“His mother passed away not too long ago; he must still be sad about it. He really loved him mom, but I mean everyone does right?” Mr. Englebel replies. You nod and then proceed to your room.
As you lie in bed thinking about the case, you decided to go talk to Vladimir. You walk up to Vladimir’s office and knock on his door. “Come in,” he says. You enter his office.
“Hi Mr. Englebel” you say.
“Come in, please, take a seat. What can I do for you?”
“I have a plan to find out who the murderer is, but I will need you to provide me a list of everybody who has been here since the murder. Also, I would like you to close down the ski lodge until this case has been solved. I would like you to ask each room to pack and leave the lodge ASAP one at a time.”
“If you think that is what’s best, then sure. I will provide you that list in a couple of hours,” the owner says.
“Oh, and one more thing Mr. Englebel: keep this a secret and don’t let anyone else know.”
You wait for a couple of hours back in your room, when suddenly your room phone rings, and you answer the phone. “I have compiled that list for you. Please come to my office and I will give it to you.” Vlad says as he hangs up.
You head to Vlad’s office. “Here you go, and this list has everyone that has been here since a couple of days prior to the first murder,” he says.
“Thanks. Now, I would like you to hold onto this list. Go and tell the occupants of each room to pack and leave the premises. After each leaves I want you to cross their names off the list.”
Vlad agrees and starts asking the occupants of each room to leave the ski lodge. After a couple of hours, you still see a lot of people leaving. All of a sudden, you hear loud knocking at your door.
“We have an emergency! We have found another body! Everyone is waiting for you in the boiler room,” yells one of your co-workers.
You quickly rush to go find Vlad. As you approach him you slow your pace so as not to alarm the customers.
“Excuse me, Vlad, may I talk to you for a second in private?” you whisper as you pull him aside. “We have just found another dead body. I will need you to stop asking people to leave, because now we have just eliminated a bunch of people who aren’t the killer, which means that someone on the remainder of the list is the murderer.”
He looks surprised. “Another body found? First the avalanche and now this! This is definitely not good for my business.”
You ask Vlad for the list and quickly head to the crime scene. When you arrive, you see everyone crowded around talking, and a body lying in the middle of the room. As you get closer, you notice that there is a small tree branch in the victim’s armpit. “Looks like the victim bled to death, the armpit is a vital spot,” you mutter to yourself. You take a closer look at the tree branch, but it just seems to be a regular tree branch.
You check the victim’s body. Upon closer inspection, you noticed that the victim is bald, about 5’ 11”, and normally built. He is wearing jeans and a red sweater. He also has really dark brown eyes, so dark that they can almost pass as black. There isn't any other kind of marking on him, except for the tree branch wound.
You check the victim’s pockets. In his back right pocket you find his wallet. You open and search it for any clues, but the only thing you find is his ID card. His name is Andy K. Cane, 6’ 1”, and he has his G license. Everything else has been scratched out on the card.
You check the clue on the ground beside a small yellow cone. As you get closer to it, you noticed tiny pieces of hair. Examining them closer with a magnify glass, you can see that the hairs are about 1.5” to 2” long, and there are brown and black hairs.
All of a sudden, you hear a faint sound. It sounds like a snake hissing, but it doesn’t stop. People inside the room start coughing and some even mention that they are feeling dizzy. “Look, there is a gas leak over there!” yells one of the police officers. Looking up, you see a large-diameter yellow pipe with a label saying, “Danger: toxic gas.”
Everyone starts to evacuate the room immediately, as the gas is dangerous. As you exit the room, one of your co-workers quickly closes the door so that the gas does not escape. After a couple of seconds, you hear a loud “BANG!”. You look through the window on the door to see that a portion of the pipe has exploded and gas is quickly filling the room. You know that you won’t be going back in there for a while, so you decide to go back to your room.
While you walk back to your room, you think to yourself, “I don’t know why, but is it just me or does it seem that every time I try to take a look at the last clue, some mysterious phenomenon happens?” The more you think about it, the more it starts to hurt your brain, so you decide just to forget about it.
After you arrive back at your room, you take a look at the list you received from Vlad. “There are still 35 people on the list. 35 suspects to interrogate. Well, better start investigating some people,” you say to yourself.
You take a look at the first name on the list: “Amber E. Nog.” You ask Vlad and some other co-workers to help set up an interrogation room. After a room has been found and set up, you call in Amber, the first suspect on the list.
As Amber enters the room, you notice that she is about 5’ 5”, skinny, has red curly hair, and is wearing dark blue jeans with a grey sweater. She sits down. “Hi, Mr. Detective,” she says.
“Hi. Amber E. Nog, correct?” you reply. She nods in silence as she stares at you -- not in a fierce way, buts more like she's interested. “When did you arrive at this lodge?” you ask.
“I arrived a couple days ago with my friends. We were just trying to have some fun during our holiday.”
“Do you know anyone at this lodge? Are you related to anyone?” you ask.
“No, the only people I know are my friends that I came with,” she replies.
You notice that she has something sticking out of her sweater pocket. “What’s that in your sweater?” you ask.
“Oh this? This is my E-book tablet,” she says as she pulls it out to show you.
“What kind of books do you like reading?” you ask.
“Mainly mysteries and detective cases. I am currently reading this one book about a detective who can solve any case by placing his left hand on the victim's head to get a glimpse of what happened. Then the detective has to find evidence to convict the murderer. It’s very interesting,” she says.
“Alright, you are dismissed” you tell Amber.
The next person to walk in is in the ski lodge uniform, so you immediately know she works here. You ask for her name, occupation, and whether she as seen or heard anything.
“My name is Cindy Silver and I work here as a cleaner. I mostly just clean the rooms after the customers have left, to prepare for the next customers. I haven’t really heard or seen anything, just the usual,” she says as she introduces herself.
At a quick glance you notice that she is about 5’ 6”, has black hair recently dyed a lighter brown colour, is wearing the ski lodge’s work uniform for females, is around 18 to 21 years old, and is on the skinny side.
“Do you by any chance recognize or have you seen anyone recently wearing a top hat like this?” you ask Cindy as you show her the top hat you found earlier that week.
“Hmm… nope, I haven’t seen anyone wear a top hat like that around here recently,” she answers.
“Alright you are free to go.”
As Cindy gets up, you notice that she pauses for a second midway through getting up, as if she is in pain. “You alright?” you ask.
“Yeah, I just injured myself the other day. I was lifting something heavy.”
“You should talk to Vlad about that. He’ll get you the medical care that you need,” you tell Cindy.
“I have already talked to him; our medical plan doesn’t cover this, but that’s okay -- it’s not as bad as you think it is,” she replies with a smile as she walks out the door.
You call for the next person to come in. As he enters the room you notice that he is about 6’ 3”, jacked, has brown hair, and is wearing jeans and a red plaid long-sleeved shirt. When he sits down, you asked him to tell you a little about himself.
“Well, my name is Jack Jones and I am a lumberjack. I came here for vacation with some buddies from work,” he says. When you hear that he is a lumberjack, all you can think of is the stick you found earlier on one of the victims' bodies.
“May we search your luggage and belongings, Mr. Jones?” you ask.
“Sure, but you won’t find anything suspicious, if that’s what you’re thinking,” Jack replies.
You start searching through his belongings, finding nothing but the usual items people would take on vacations like clothes, and underwear. You then spot a secret compartment in the luggage. You unzip the pocket to find a Swiss army knife. It isn’t your usual Swiss army knife though; it is much larger than usual. You check out each tool built into this gadget. It has scissors, a knife, tweezers, a mini-axe, a flashlight, a bottle opener, a hook, and nail clippers.
“So, why did you bring something like this to a vacation spot?” you ask Jack.
“Me and the guys were gonna camp outside for a couple days here at the lodge; there is a camping spot just down the road,” Jack replies.
You ask Vlad if he owns such property and he confirms that he does have a campground down the road from the lodge. He does not recall if anyone has booked a campsite since he has been so busy; one of the other workers might have booked Jack in instead of Vlad himself.
You decide to call in the next person. As he opens the door to come in, you noticed that he is dressed very nicely: Black dress pants, full black suit, grey vest, white dress shirt, silver tie, and even dress shoes.
“Good afternoon, Detective, how may I help you?” he asks.
“You’re dressed up rather nicely today,” you remark.
“This is how I dress every day. My name is Strom E. Hail and I am the CEO of the famous Power Tech Corp.”
“I see. Anyhow, are you here on vacation? Visiting? Did you come here with family or friends?” you ask.
“Yes, I am here on vacation with my family. We heard good reviews about this place and we wanted to try it out. I guess the reviews aren’t what they say it is,” Mr. Hail replies.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, this place is filthy, the service is terrible, and the people here have no manners, but I guess that is what you get for the price you pay. Me and my family wanted to go to a much fancier place but they were all full so we decided to try a second rate ski lodge instead.”
You ask, “Where is your family now?”
“They returned to our home a couple of days ago. They did not feel like staying in such a rambunctious place any longer. I stayed because I have some business to attend to, and wanted to complain to the manager, but he was never in his office,” he replied. After a couple more questions, you decided to call in the next person.
You look at who is next on the list and to your surprise it is Vlad, the owner of the ski lodge. You hear the doorknob turn, the door slowly swings open.
“You must be surprised to see me on the list, no?” he says as he enters the room. Since you already know Vlad, you skip the formalities and ask him if he has seen anything suspicious or has had anything strange happen recently.
“Nothing strange or suspicious has happened recently,” Vlad says after thinking about it. “Besides all this, nothing out of the ordinary”.
“Have any of your employees started acting strange or weird lately?” you ask.
“Not really. Everything has been fine. I don’t hear any complaints at all from them,” he replies.
“This guy probably doesn’t know anything since he is stuck in the office all day anyways,” you think to yourself. You decided to let him go and ask for the next person to be brought in.
As the next person enters the room, you noticed that he is wearing an employee uniform from the ski lodge. “Another employee? I guess Vlad wrote down the names of all the employees as well,” you muttered to yourself.
“Please take a seat. Can you tell me a little about yourself?” you ask the employee.
“My name is Shig Bovel and I am fifty-nine years old. I have worked at the ski lodge in maintenance for thirty-five years now,” Shig replies.
“Thirty-five years is a long time. Has anything big happened recently?” you ask.
“I don’t know if you would call this recent, but five years ago Vlad’s father died. The benefits used to be so much better; they covered you and your family for everything. Now, we have limited benefits and if you want something more you have to request for it. Most requests get rejected due to high cost,” replies Shig.
You look at the clock on the wall behind Shig, and to your surprise, time has just flown by. You wanted to get a chance to interview the others before too much time passed, but it seems like that won’t be happening. You decided to interview one last person before calling for a break and then resuming the list.
“Alright, you’re free to go,” you tell Shig.
“Oh, thank you,” he replies.
As the last person for the first half of the interviews comes in, he face seems familiar. At a quick glace you see that the person is male, has blonde hair, is around 6’ 2”, and is more on the bulky side. After a couple of seconds, it hits you. “Aren’t you that young man that I stopped when you and your friends ran out of the forest after you found a dead body?” you ask the teenager.
“Yeah, that was me. My name is Shane Shady by the way,” Shane replies.
“Nice to meet you Shane,” you say as you shake his hand. “Now, tell me. What were you and your friends doing in the forest in the off-limits area?”
“Well, we just kinda went off to explore a bit and wanted to find a nice area where we could come back later that night and set up a campfire and stuff.”
“You know that area is off-limits, right?” you ask Shane, but you get no reply -- just utter silence. “I’ll give you one chance, Shane. Did you and/or your friends commit the murder?” you ask.
“No way, man! It wasn’t me, it wasn’t any of us,” he quickly replies. You look him in the eye while he tries to avoid yours; you can see in his face that he is not lying, but does seem shady in a way.
“Alright, you’re free to go,” you tell Shane. “Thank you!” he says with a big smile and a look of relief.
You decide to take a small break, and ponder it for a bit. Then it hits you. You know who the murderer is!
Who is the murderer?