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Two prisoners are locked in a dirt floor cell with nothing but a mattress, a frame, and a stolen spoon. There is a small, bar less window high on the wall, but they can not get to it. First, they try to tunnel out, but decide that it is too much work and will attract attention. Then, they attempt to get out by climbing on the mattress and frame, then climbing on one another, but still are unable to reach the window. They eventually escape.

How do they get out?

Hint: They do not rearrange the mattress.

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closed as too broad by Deusovi, GentlePurpleRain, BmyGuest, manshu, Mike Earnest May 25 '16 at 23:27

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ You didn't say anything about the walls. How are they locked in? $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. May 25 '16 at 0:14
  • $\begingroup$ Four walled cell. One window. One door. $\endgroup$ – Larry May 25 '16 at 2:18
  • $\begingroup$ Prisoner != human ? Typically, such "lateral-thinking" story questions have a high likelyhood to be closed as "too broad". Also "Riddle" does not apply, or does it? $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest May 25 '16 at 8:46

14 Answers 14

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Even though tunneling out was too much work, maybe they:

dug enough dirt out from part of their cell to create a mound of dirt sufficiently tall (when combined with the mattress and frame) to allow them to reach the window

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  • $\begingroup$ I am ashamed to realize that I've seen this riddle in another form before. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. May 25 '16 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ I thought this at first but I feel it would attract too much attention also. $\endgroup$ – Shaun Wild May 25 '16 at 15:01
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Although an answer has been marked as correct, here is another solution, which requires only the stolen spoon.

Since they reportedly are able to dig moderately deep into the wall, they could dig little footholds with the help of which they would be able to reach the window and escape.

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    $\begingroup$ This is probably more practical since they are trying to not attract attention. Having a huge mound of dirt would surely not attract any attention. $\endgroup$ – ruudvan May 25 '16 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ Where does it say that they can do that  (d__ into the w___)? $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook Jun 27 '16 at 17:59
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A silly, lateral thinking, wild guess:

The floor is very hard packed. The door closes very snugly and does not have a window (or, if it does, it (the window in the door) also closes very snugly).  A very severe rainstorm strikes; wind blows bucketfuls of rain water in through the window.  The water does not soak into the hard-packed dirt floor or leak through the tightly sealed door; and so the water level increases until the prisoners can simply float to the window.

For slightly faster results,

substitute "tsunami" for "rainstorm".

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm speechless... $\endgroup$ – Larry May 25 '16 at 11:31
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    $\begingroup$ That's an amazing answer. $\endgroup$ – Larry May 25 '16 at 11:31
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    $\begingroup$ If the floor is clay-like they could probably even use it to seal the door $\endgroup$ – Gigala May 25 '16 at 13:22
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Almost certainly:

The prisoners are children. Eventually they grow tall enough to reach the window.

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One possibility:

The crime they are in for is stealing a spoon. They "frame" the mattress for the crime and are set free. (There is a tag on the question).

An other one:

Their sentence comes to an end.

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    $\begingroup$ Question states that they escape. Don't think that their sentence ending fits the bill so well $\endgroup$ – Ben May 25 '16 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Ben. Me neither, but I tried to be creative. On the other hand, framing someone/something is still a form of escaping. $\endgroup$ – Marius May 25 '16 at 10:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Marius shhh I'm trying to defend your answer here, don't throw me under the bus $\endgroup$ – question_asker May 25 '16 at 11:46
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    $\begingroup$ @question_asker. OK. sorry mister lawyer. I'll sit down now. Please go on. $\endgroup$ – Marius May 25 '16 at 11:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Marius that's mister lawyer, esquire to you $\endgroup$ – question_asker May 25 '16 at 11:50
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Most of the answers posted so far ignore the clue, which says that they do not rearrange the mattress.

This is a word puzzle, so "rearrange" suggests an anagram is required.

Instead of rearranging THE MATTRESS, one of the men rearranges THE FRAME AND THE STOLEN SPOON. The result is THAT DOOR OPENS, THEN MAN FLEES.

The other man quickly follows him!

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  • $\begingroup$ Super! (Markup inside spoilers is somewhat limited. You can fake paragraphs by introducing hard line breaks with extra spaces at the end of a line. You could also use HTML markup. I've modified it.) $\endgroup$ – M Oehm May 25 '16 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! It took a lot of playing around to find something that worked. Thanks for fixing my formatting too. $\endgroup$ – paolo May 26 '16 at 11:30
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Guessing this:

What if they just died in the prison itself? They would escape the realms of earth and the prison along with it

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How they reached the window:

And they didn't rearrange the mattress:

They bounced on the bed to get higher and reach the window

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My guess is that

They flew out. The prisoners could have been birds, bats, certain insects, or other creatures that can fly. There's no need to climb if you can go airborne.

Admittedly, this doesn't seem to match the hint.

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  • $\begingroup$ I have to say, interesting thinking on that one, although it is not the right answer, I appreciate the creativity. $\endgroup$ – Larry May 25 '16 at 2:19
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One possibility (just about) compatible with everything in the question is that

the door is locked from the inside. The prisoners are extremely stupid, which is why they tried complicated things like climbing out of the window before it occurred to them to unlock the door.

(It's a combination lock, which is why "the key to the door" was not listed among the prisoners' assets.)

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Using the concave surface of the spoon to focus the suns rays coming through the window, they are able to melt the lock on the door. Unfortunately, this is noticed by the guard when they are next served a meal, (they were waiting for dark before they left) and the spoon is confiscated. However, they were in for the offence of pickpocketing, and were able to steal a set of skeleton keys from the locksmith as he repaired the door. By jamming these into the wall, they were able to make footholds, and climbed up and out of the window later that night.

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  • $\begingroup$ But what about the panda, the shaggy dog & the unicorn?  Where do they fit in?    :-)    ⁠ $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook Jun 27 '16 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ The shaggy dog had already eaten the Unicorn - aside from it's horn, which the doughty duo used to fend off the (ravenous) panda. The short sighted guard the next morning saw the panda, and thinking that it was the shorter of the two jailbirds, bought it up before the beak. Meanwhile the two escaped to a life of petty crime as the police were searching for a single fugitive. The prison governor's office is to this day decorated with a Unicorn-hide carpet; the panda got ten-to-life. I assumed that was all obvious. $\endgroup$ – Graham Nicholls Jun 28 '16 at 20:20
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Maybe

Is the door even locked? They opened it and left maybe?

or

Or cold the mattress be very springy? They jumped out? (Cripes! Someone beat me to it.)

or

One of them plays dead, the other hits the investigating guard with the spoon and then dresses up as the guard and makes it look like he's transferring the other prisoner. Poof! They're gone!

I know it's been answered correctly now but I'd been sitting racking my brain and I'd come up with another possibility. The prisoners are children. They grow taller over time and can then reach the window to escape. Admittedly not a likely answer but it made me giggle.

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  • $\begingroup$ 1. Question states they're locked in . 2. You shot yourself in the foot.. 3. Knock him out with a spoon? If spoon is capable of knocking people out i doubt they would have been allowed to keep it. $\endgroup$ – Ben May 25 '16 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ Oh yeah... :| I really want to know this one. $\endgroup$ – Brent Hackers May 25 '16 at 10:18
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Possible WRONG answer

They use the spoon to dig in the floor and go out?

Other answer

They use the spoon as a lockpick.

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  • $\begingroup$ The question mentions that they didn't tunnel out. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. May 25 '16 at 0:13
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They break the spoon in half... Two halves make a whole, and they crawl out the (w)hole! :)

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