131
$\begingroup$

If you have found her, maybe you could try saving her?


You come home one day and find your wife is out. You open your computer and discover an email from her.

To xxxxx,

/

Curiosity killed the cat, so whatever you do, please don’t come and find me. You need to save your energy for the kids. Please just trust me, this is for the best.

Obviously, I think I’ll come back. But please be patient. I wouldn’t leave my family unless I had to. I’ll stay hidden until it’s safe to return. I’ve left no clues, that would be too dangerous.

Unexpectedly someone has come after me. I had to completely disappear very quickly indeed. I had time to write this message or try and call you. My phone was dead, you were out so I wrote this. Wow, I won’t forget that feeling of panic. Hopefully you can see I had no choice about leaving. It wasn’t me that chose to leave, I was forced.

Now again, I must tell you not to come and find me. In the case that you do, then the chances are you won’t find me. There’s zero clues which lead to me.

Tell all the kids to be brave. I think that they’ll struggle and find it hard without a mother. And it’ll be my fault. I wish I could tell you my location so I could see you again.

Note I don’t want anyone knowing about this. Anyone that you call who asks, tell them I ran away, not the truth. And whatever you do don’t tell the police.

I would have stayed but I couldn’t have or I’d have been caught. The first thing that I did was to call a taxi. Then I think we must have hit a car, I'm sure I’ll sue the driver if I get a chance.

Never before had I been angrier. I couldn’t even get out of the car, and the state the back of it was in was unbelievable. I miss home so badly. If I could see it again, I really would do anything.

Even now, so far away, I love you and I’ll try and send letters. It’s you that I want to see again. I will come back as soon as possible. Try and find hope and some faith in that.

Love from me,

\

Lucida Xavier

Bemused and in shock you wander into your bedroom and slump down on the bed. You notice a poetry book next to you. One page has a folded corner. As you open the book to the page a piece of paper falls out...

sums

The sums seem awfully easy to you. You open the book to the page with the folded corner.

poem

You notice a couple of words have been replaced and you wonder why. Going back to your computer you open up a tab and see your wife has booked 9 different flights out the country!

flights

Where has your wife gone?


Solved by @seasnake, @Dan Russell, @pime, @MPeti and @palsch

$\endgroup$
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I have a feeling this puzzle will take multiple days to solve, so I will open a bounty and add a few more hints soon $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 18 '16 at 15:49
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Is Lucida Xavier the name of my wife as i know it? $\endgroup$ – Guntram Blohm supports Monica Jun 18 '16 at 18:30
  • 27
    $\begingroup$ ...I have no wife. $\endgroup$ – palsch Jun 18 '16 at 19:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is it strictly coincidence that Lat & Long which put you in France can be derived from the flight numbers, especially with regard to X & L, the initials of the pen name from the email? $\endgroup$ – RatchetCity Jun 19 '16 at 23:32
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Things I like about this puzzle: no strings of nonsense letters, no image files with hidden content, no least significant bits, no ciphers at all, no computers required to solve. Nothing wrong with those kinds of puzzles either, but it's nice to have something different and more accessible for those not familiar with the more complex types. Also, it's more like what my wife would actually construct in a real situation, neither of us being cryptographers. $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Jun 20 '16 at 13:35

13 Answers 13

61
$\begingroup$

This is a comprehensive and complete round up of the answers submitted and will credit the people who solved it.

Pime: Italics in email spell 'hidden message in first letters
Dan Russell: First letter of each paragraph from the email excluding the greeting and sign off spell out: COUNT NINE

seasnake: Taking every ninth word from the note gives the message:

'Please save me. I'll leave hidden clues. Come quickly or you won't see me again. Find the clues to find my location. Don't call the police or I think I'll never get back home. I love you, come find me'

seasnake: The unsolved sums add up-to
3, 12, 21, and 5
This spells out CLUE
pime: Ignoring operators in the sums, each number corresponds to a letter of each line in the poem to give

'sthgilfdekoobtxenyrt'

which backwards is 'Try next booked flights.'

Clues from the flight schedule (thanks to seasnake, MPeti and Dan Russell):

Letters in the flight codes spell out 'LX IS CODER', where LX = Lucida Xavier

And the gate codes spell out 'SAVE ME PLZ'

Re-arranging the flights by time and then taking the airport codes gives 'MRSMARIADOUTHWAITETETFRANCE'.

This can be spaced and punctuated to:
Mrs. Maria Douthwaite, Tet, France.

Rearranging the flights by gate order get CXLIRODES in the flight numbers the CXLI are Roman numerals for 141 and Rodes is a town in France.

So the final location is 141, Tet, Rodes, France

And:

Typing '141 tet Rodes France' into Google maps gives you

maps

Which when dropped on the exact location gives you this house:

House

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Weird, I get no hits for that search (Google Maps app). Anyway, it looks like something close to what you searched but not exactly that - the best thing Maps could find. So surely that's not the final solution.. $\endgroup$ – MPeti Jun 20 '16 at 9:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil Hold on, that picture clearly shows the address as 14, not 141. $\endgroup$ – f'' Jun 20 '16 at 17:15
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @f'' hmm your right. Let's say that that's what your wife meant $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 20 '16 at 17:26
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @user230452 while creating the puzzle, (which took a few days) I'd manage to get to Rodes and Tet and then just chose a house, so yes $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 21 '16 at 16:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @user230452 It's a house, and it has an address. Those things are public knowledge. It's not like there's any personal information about any person included. $\endgroup$ – Samthere Dec 9 '16 at 15:02
35
$\begingroup$

Taking every ninth word from the note gives the message:

'Please save me. I'll leave hidden clues. Come quickly or you won't see me again. Find the clues to find my location. Don't call the police or I think I'll never get back home. I love you, come find me'

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ That looks like a good discovery, but this is odd — I can reproduce your results up to the last five; then I get different ones. Can you explain this? $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook Jun 19 '16 at 0:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Actually, no, you're right, it does seem to get mixed up there, though the ones I had are also nine words apart. Not sure if it's a mistake or if that means something. $\endgroup$ – seasnake Jun 19 '16 at 1:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is correct, I might have made an error leer on it I checked it and it seemed fine? $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 19 '16 at 9:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I got goosebumps as I read this. $\endgroup$ – user230452 Jun 19 '16 at 16:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil: "I might have made an error leer on it I checked it and it seemed fine". Huh? I've slept on it, and I've checked again, and I still can't reproduce seasnake's results.  And what does you response even mean? $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook Jun 20 '16 at 0:51
27
$\begingroup$

Just adding a tidbit since I don't have time to get deeply involved right now:

First letters of the paragraphs in the letter spell COUNT NINE

Perhaps another piece of the puzzle:

If you rearrange the flights by departure time, and then concatenate all the airport codes, you get MRSMARIADOUTHWAITETETFRANCE

which can be spaced/punctuated to:

Mrs. Maria Douthwaite, Tet, France

So perhaps

Our wife is in Tet, France under the name Maria Douthwaite

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Good one clue down, now what do you count nine of $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 18 '16 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil Nine plane flights? $\endgroup$ – Munesawagi Jun 18 '16 at 19:40
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ One guy counted every nine words out? $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Jun 19 '16 at 2:53
  • $\begingroup$ Wait no! You count syllables in poetry! $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Jun 19 '16 at 2:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Try rearranging the flights again differently $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 19 '16 at 9:22
16
$\begingroup$

Adding a tidbit about the gate code letters:

The letters spell "SAVE ME PLZ" backwards.

$\endgroup$
15
$\begingroup$

The letters in the flight codes spell out 'LX IS CODER'. LX presumably standing for Lucida Xavier? Also the answers to the sums are 3, 12, 21, 5 - which correspond to the letters CLUE.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 21, not 23! (But the decoding is right.) $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Jun 19 '16 at 3:12
14
$\begingroup$

If we ignore the sums and simply look at the numbers in the sums, and see how that corresponds to the lines of the poems, we get

'sthgilfdekoobtxenyrt'

which backwards is

'Try next booked flights.'

Edit: Clarification thanks to M Oehm - Strip the operators from the equations and you get a list of numbers. The first number, 13, denotes the 13th letter of the first line of the poem, s. The second number, 6, means the sixth letter in the second line, t, and so on. When you count letters, ignore spaces and punctuation.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ You are very close and correct but have gone slightly wrong somewhere... try next booked is right, but try the farihts bit again, you might be able to guess what it should say. Dont count pronunciation, just letters $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 19 '16 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ I figure it says "flights", but I double checked my counting and still get "farihts." $\endgroup$ – pime Jun 19 '16 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ i'll double check and edit if necessary $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 19 '16 at 18:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @PeregrineRook: Strip the operators from the equations and you get a list of numbers. The first number, 13, denotes the 13th letter of the first line of the poem, s. The second number, 6, means the sixth letter in the second line, t, and so on. When you count letters, ignore spaces and punctuation. $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jun 20 '16 at 5:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you! I still believe that the answer should include that explanation. $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook Jun 20 '16 at 5:54
9
$\begingroup$

Just writing down the words replaced in the poem so you can find them faster (hopefully helps).

according to http://www.poetry-archive.com/w/requiescat.html:
Tarnished => Layered
Sweetly => Softly

Not much but could help a bit.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sorry I'm afraid that's not relevant $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 19 '16 at 9:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ They were replaced for a reason but the words they replaced don't matter $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 19 '16 at 9:38
8
$\begingroup$

'Flying somewhere in a different order' - I tried arranging the flights according to gate number, didn't get anywhere with the airport codes, but the letters from the flight numbers then spell out CXLIRODES. Rodes is a town in France not far from Ille-sur-Tet, so... maybe there? I'm not sure on CXLI, I would guess Roman numerals - 141?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Just checked Google Maps, and it looks like Rodès is a common street name as well in France. So 141 Rodès is a street address, but we're missing which city/town it is in (there appear to be really really many streets with this name) $\endgroup$ – MPeti Jun 19 '16 at 23:32
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, what seemed like many at first sight is just 4 hits, lol. Still, it's more than one so we need more information... $\endgroup$ – MPeti Jun 19 '16 at 23:37
8
$\begingroup$

Last clue: Italics of email read "hidden message in first letters"

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Well done! You have completed this puzzle $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 20 '16 at 16:26
8
$\begingroup$

Wrap-up: The Making Of This is it. This is the one. Find your wife

This is not a solution to the puzzle, but provides notes from its poster. This type of answer has been approved by the community.

Caution: This post may contain spoilers.


For a similar post, see the wrap-up on the sequel - This is it. This is the one. Save your wife. Caution: post also contains spoilers.

Inspiration

I have a fondness for the tag, although I didn't know it existed when I made this. I've always found it impressive how simple things can end up containing hidden messages. I wanted to try my hand at one, but I didn't want it to be too simple. I started out with the basis that I wanted to create a multi-layered puzzle which involved hidden messages.

I got the idea to use IATA codes to hide a message from Tom's puzzle - Which country is INDIA in?. I didn't want it to be too similar though so I included gates and flight times as well.

The story itself came from Khale Kitha's puzzle - Fwd: Re: Karen is missing! I liked the idea of having a story line where you need to find a missing person by solving a puzzle.

Creation and Evolution

I started of with the simple part - the paragraph. I started writing having decided I wanted every ninth word to give a message, and the first letters to say 'COUNT NINE'. Afterwards I decided to make it even more obvious to have 'hidden message in first letters' in italics. However, I wrote this in word and made it italics there, but that didn't transfer to italics here, so I had to add it in later when I realised.

With the first part of the puzzle done I went on to the parts which actually told you were she was. I already had the plane timetable idea, but I wanted something more. I came up with the idea of hiding a message in an actual piece of writing. I came up with the message I wanted - 'try the list of flights', but finding a piece of writing that both had the right amount of lines, and the right letter in each line. I tried several different poems and several different messages, but none worked.

When I got to Requiscat I still couldn't make a message work. I was almost ready to give up and try something else when I had the idea of having the message backwards. After a few attempts, I finally found a message that worked. That felt really good...

With the message done, I wrote done the number of each letter. I didn't want to just list the numbers, so I thought to make them into sums. I then thought of the problem of what the sums would equal, and solved this problem by making them equal 'CLUE' in A1Z26.

The hardest part was always going to be the flight schedule. I broke it down into 4 things that I wanted - The IATA codes to give a name, the flight numbers to say something, the gate numbers to say something and the rearranged flight/gate numbers to give a place.

I then needed ways to rearrange the IATA codes and the rearranged flight/gate codes. To keep on the flight schedule theme, I decided on flight time and adding numbers to the gate numbers, which made me settle on having the rearranged flight number give a message.

I started with the name. MRS was a good starting point, and it needed to be quite a long name so that the other messages fitted. I thought about the message which when rearranged would give a place, but realised that whatever message would be too short and wouldn't give an exact location. So I added TET FRANCE to the IATA codes, because the letters in FRANCE were divisible by 6 and so was TET. I then realised that I wouldn't be able to have a house number in the flight number, so went for Roman Numerals.

At this point I hadn't actually assigned the wife a name, but thought that '?? IS CODER' would be a good message. An anagram search resulted in 'Rodes' and CI. Adding 'LX' gave CXLI Rodes and LX IS CODER, so I made the wife Lucida Xavier. The gate number message was simply 'SAVE ME PLZ', as that matched the number of letters and I scrambled the IATA codes depending on gate number.

Resources

You may be able to tell from the images that I made them in Microsoft Word and took screenshots. I also relied heavily on Google Maps, and a Roman numerals converter.

Takeaway

If you want to create a similar puzzle then here's some advice for you, from the things I learnt making and posting this:

  • Don't give up

While this phrase may have become a cliche, it is oh so true. There were several times throughout creation were I thought that something wouldn't work, or that there was nothing that would fit. But I persevered and eventually found something that worked in all departments. So my advice here would be to keep trying.

  • Always double check

Try and make a habit of checking puzzles after making them. There were several errors I found which had to be dealt with, and even when I posted the puzzle having double-checked there were more errors pointed out. If possible get someone else to check for you, they are less likely to overlook something if they don't know the solution.

  • Keep going

If you have created the puzzle, and then find an error which means you have to recreate the entire puzzle, then don't worry. The best puzzles will take a long time to make, and an even longer time to perfect. So if you have to, start from scratch, but keep going. It's worth it.

  • Improve

You may have made the puzzle, but I can guarantee there is something that can be made better, or that there is something that can be added. Look over your puzzle and think 'what is missing?' and put it in.

  • Learn

Take feedback into account for future puzzles, work out what worked well and what didn't, and make your next puzzle even better.

  • Check formatting

If you write your puzzle in another program or app, then check the formatting when you paste it. As I mentioned above I pasted some text with italics but the italics were lost. Formatting can generally always be improved to make the puzzle look nicer, so look at the preview before posting.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Haha, I just saw this for the first time, now. Also, you called yourself a poser at the top of this. ;) $\endgroup$ – Khale_Kitha Jun 18 '18 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Khale_Kitha oops! Cheers, saved me there :) $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 18 '18 at 19:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Nothing constructive to add. Just wanted to say that this puzzle is one of the most intricate and well thought through that I've ever seen on this site. Excellent work! $\endgroup$ – Nellington Jun 19 '18 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Nellington cheers! Much appreciated :) $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 19 '18 at 16:40
6
$\begingroup$

Just a thought...

She couldnt get out of the car and the state of the back was horrible + the "help me please" in the plane ticket... The wife was kidnapped and is being held for some reason. The letter is a note the kidnappers made her write so she couldnt give something away inadvertantly.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry no, she hasn't been kidnapped, she is just hiding somewhere and you need to find her $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 19 '16 at 9:57
4
$\begingroup$

Ordering flights by gate number gives

Marframrsoutitetetiadhwance

Maybe this is of some use?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm. The airport codes have already been explained in Dan Russel's answer. What hasn't been looked at so far are the numbers and the position of the letters in the flight codes $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jun 20 '16 at 5:39
  • $\begingroup$ The OP said look at them in a different order $\endgroup$ – ev3commander Jun 20 '16 at 10:41
3
$\begingroup$

I don't know if this is helpful but I took the third letter, counting column wise in the first column, 12-th letter counting column wise in the second column, 21-St letter (third column got exhausted so started in the fourth column) and then took the fifth letter in the fourth column after the 21-St letter. I got

SOAE

I don't know if it's right but the reason I'm suspicious is because both of the replaced words are counted. Maybe it's an anagram of some place ?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Please let me know if it's correct. It's my first attempt at a puzzle on here. $\endgroup$ – user230452 Jun 19 '16 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry it's interesting thinking but afraid not $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jun 19 '16 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil Why is this question protected ? It's not allowing any new answers. $\endgroup$ – user230452 Jun 20 '16 at 2:35
  • $\begingroup$ You need ten reputation. $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Jun 20 '16 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil Did you change the first line of the four math equations ? $\endgroup$ – user230452 Jun 20 '16 at 7:56

protected by Doorknob Jun 20 '16 at 2:15

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.