# Puzzle: They're Coming. Help Me

They’re going to kill me. I don’t know what they want from me. Goodness, I can’t remember what happened… The last memory I had was of two evil looking creatures peering in at the end of my English class… the next thought I had was of waking up dazed in this room lying under my old desk… Anyway, the room looks somewhat familiar…

I can hear them coming back… what do I do before they get me…

## What do I do?

Cryptic Hint #1

A long snake, twisting itself into strange shapes and awkward places, going down and back up, back down and back up, back down and back up… I saw it just before I passed out… It must have coiled around itself almost ten times!

Cryptic Hint #2:

I remember my first day at school now… I don’t know if it’ll help, but when we got into the classroom the teacher made us all sit in a backwards “S” starting at the back of the classroom and working our way to the front… She was the last person to sit down. Don’t know if it helps though… Please help me!

Cryptic Hint #3:

If you’ve attempted any of my other puzzles, you might want to consider applying those techniques here!

• Is the photo supposed to represent the layout of the room? Feb 20 '17 at 4:10
• @Areeb Yes it does. Sorry I didn't make it clearer. Feb 20 '17 at 4:16
• The right side of the room has a strange wall... something hidden there? Feb 20 '17 at 5:55
• @Donnelle Depends! Probably isn't if you ask me. But then again, it wouldn't be much fun if I were to partially solve the puzzle, were it? Feb 21 '17 at 0:53
• "Edited to remove the edit note about the edit." <-- best edit summary ever!
– humn
Mar 9 '17 at 3:58

Quick!   (three weeks later):

G e t   o u t   o f   t h E r e   (!)

Why take this action?   The reason begins with the classroom, a 9 ×7 grid with 63 rectangles.

Squeeze it, stretch it, and turn it.

Now heed Donnelle’s astute observations, that your dream-like paragraph...

...also contains 63 words, which can form a matching grid that may be overlaid by the picture, and that only the first letter of each word might be pertinent.

Here is how the seating stacks up and how a walk about the classroom snakes around to the answer.

                                           START AT THE BACK CORNER OF THE CLASSROOM
'.
.''''''''''''''''''''''.               '.
They're      going     :   to         kill    :   me.         I '.         don't
:                      :                   '.
:    ______            :    ______           '.     ________
know         what      '. t|hey   |   want    '. f|rom   |   me.      '. G|oodness,|
.'   |______|          .'   |______|           .'   |________|
:                      :                       :
I            can't    :    remember   what   :    happened…  The     :    last
:                      :                       :
:     ______           :     ______            :     ________
memory       I         '. h|ad    |   was     '. o|f     |   two      '. e|vil     |
.'   |______|          .'   |______|           .'   |________|
__________           :                      :                       :
?  l|ooking    | creatures:    peering    in     :    at         the     :    end
'.(e|nigmatic?)|          :                      :                       :
:   |__________|          :     ______           :     ______            :     ________
:   of           my        '. E|nglish|   class…  '. t|he    |   next     '. t|hought  |
:                         .'   |______|          .'   |______|           .'   |________|
:                         :                      :                       :
:   I            had      :    was        of     :    waking     up      :    dazed
:                         :                      :                       :
:                         :     ______           :     ______            :     ________
:   in           this      '. r|oom   |   lying   '. u|nder  |   my       '. o|ld      |
:                          :   |______|           :   |______|            :   |________|
:                          :                      :                       :
:   desk…        Anyway,   :   the        room    :   looks      somewhat :   familiar…
'..........................'                      '.......................'       
(This interpretation allows for interpreting “evil looking creatures” as repressed/recovered-memory Freudian symbols that represent “evil enigmatic creatures.”)

Behind the chalkboard – how this shook out

The story paragraph most directly...

...matches the picture when arranged into a 9 ×7 word grid (not 7× 9 as above).

 They're   going   to        kill    me.       I       don't   know     what

they      want    from      me.     Goodness, I       can't   remember what

happened… The     last      memory  I         had     was     of       two

evil      looking creatures peering in        at      the     end      of

my        English class…    the     next      thought I       had      was

of        waking  up        dazed   in        this    room    lying    under

my        old     desk…     Anyway, the       room    looks   somewhat familiar…  

So there are two arrangements to try out, beginning by connecting vowels to possible word fragments.

 9 x 7 layout:                   7 x 9 layout:     T   g   t   k   m   I   d

k   w   t   w   f   m   G
:                       :
T   g   t   k   m - I - d   k   w                 I   c   r   w   h   T   l
:                       :
t   w   f   m   G   I   c   r   w                 m   I   h   w   o   t   e
:                                                                         :
h   T   l   m   I   h   w - o - t                 l   c   p - i - a - t - e
:                               :                 :       :               :
e   l   c   p   i - a - t - e   o                 o - m   E   c   t   n   t
:   :           :           :   :                         :   :
m   E   c   t   n   t   I   h   w                 I - h   w - o - w   u   d
:   :           :                                             :           :
o   w   u   d   i   t   r   l   u                 i - t   r   l   u   m   o
:               :
m   o   d - A - t   r   l   s   f                 d - A - t   r   l   s   f  

Not many likely trails, though, and a scarcity of vowels in the top left quadrants is unpromising.   So let’s try the 4 different ways to...

...overlay the picture, like a seating chart.

                                                   T   g   t   k   m   I   d

T   g   t   k  [m]  I   d   k   w                [k]  w  [t]  w  [f]  m   G

t   w   f   m   G   I   c   r   w                 I   c   r   w   h   T   l

h  [T]  l  [m]  I  [h]  w  [o]  t                [m]  I  [h]  w  [o]  t   e

e   l   c   p   i   a   t   e   o                 l   c   p   i   a   t  [e]

m  [E]  c  [t]  n  [t]  I  [h]  w                [o]  m  [E]  c  [t]  n   t

o   w   u   d   i   t   r   l   u                 I   h   w   o   w   u   d

m  [o]  d  [A]  t  [r]  l  [s]  f                [i]  t  [r]  l  [u]  m   o

d   A   t   r   l   s   f

T   g   t   k   m   I   d
.....
T  [g]  t  [k]  m  [I]  d  [k]  w                 k   w  [t]  w  [f]  m  [G]
:       :           :
t   w   f   m   G   I   c   r   w                 I   c : r   w : h   T   l :
:       :           :
h  [T]  l  [m]  I  [h]  w  [o]  t                 m   I  [h]  w  [o]  t  [e]
:       :           :
e   l   c   p   i   a   t   e   o                [l]  c : p   i : a   t   e :
:       :           :
m  [E]  c  [t]  n  [t]  I  [h]  w                 o   m  [E]  c  [t]  n  [t]
:       :           :
o   w   u   d   i   t   r   l   u                 I   h : w   o : w   u   d :
:       :           :
m   o   d   A  [t]  r   l   s   f                 i   t  [r]  l  [u]  m  [o]
'''''
d   A   t   r   l   s   f  

And there’s the answer, alright, in the fourth and final case.

• Wonderful! I was starting to despair that no-one would be able to solve this puzzle, but humn has finally done it! Mar 13 '17 at 12:22
• I really enjoyed walking around the classroom, @NextTimeDW, and will write up more about where else I wandered along the way
– humn
Mar 13 '17 at 20:34
• Looking forward to what you have to discover @humn! Mar 13 '17 at 22:49

What do we have to work with?

We have a picture that:

We could use as a mask. It's 9x7 = 63.

We have the introductory text, and two original cryptic hints.

The introductory text is, conveniently, 63 words long. If we take the first letter of each word, we get:

Then we can:

Apply the mask to the grid.

Cryptic hint #2 suggests that:

Once we have applied the mask to whatever, that we read it left-to-right, right-to-left, left-to-right.

And then something magic happens which has to do with a snake. :P I suspect we need to Vigenère decipher something from the text, following a path that either goes up-and-down, or coiling around, but I haven't been able to brute force it.

• Reading your reasoning about relating the introductory text to the diagram, I'd say you are definitely on the right track. Sadly I'm at school at the moment, so the photos aren't loading, so I can't judge progress until I get back home sorry :( Mar 9 '17 at 3:37
• Thank you for figuring out the most clever first steps, Donnelle! This led to the eventually accepted solution. A bounty of acknowledgement and appreciation is on its way and should arrive in about a week.
– humn
Mar 13 '17 at 15:05

Unlikely guess

Just shoot them!