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A scream! I rushed up the alley towards the yellow light oozing through the mist, pulling my greatcoat around me. As I neared, a man stumbled into me, clutching at a bloody wound in his stomach.

He clenched my collar in his hand and wheezed, "It's going up... in... flames!"

As he fell to the ground, he pressed a piece of paper into my hand.

Going up in flames

I grabbed him, lowering him gently, and shouted for help. But he was already dead. What message was he carrying?

Decode the hidden message

Clue 1:

Text is just for flavor. Message is in the image. There's three components that need explanation.

Clue 2:

Draw a pencil mark around the groupings of the squiggles and look at it from different angles.

Clue 3:

These are the pencil marks I had in mind in clue 2
Going up in flames with pencil marks

It's funny how hard it is to judge how hard a puzzle will be.

Clue 4:

As has been pointed out, there's an SOS grouping in morse. But the use of morse is, itself, a hint...

Clue 5:

There's more than one morse message in the image.

Clue 6:

The whole drawing is one long line. If you were walking the path it makes, you would come to a sequence of points. From that point, you would go back, either to your left or your right...

Clue 7:

Directionality
Running from the top right to the bottom left. Here's the text:
RLRLRLRLLRLLRLRRLRLRLLRLRRLRRLRLLLLRRLRLRRLRLLRLRRLLRLRRLRLLRRLRLRLRLLRRLRRLRRLLRRLRLLLRLRLRRLRLLRLLRLLLRRLRLLRLLRLLRRLRLRLLRLLRRLRLRL

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  • $\begingroup$ Is it supposed to have many rot13(P)’s, or am I reading it wrong? $\endgroup$
    – Krad Cigol
    Nov 9, 2019 at 5:14
  • $\begingroup$ Lol. The message is not JJJJJJJ...! $\endgroup$
    – Dr Xorile
    Nov 9, 2019 at 6:06
  • $\begingroup$ Any more hints? $\endgroup$
    – Ébe Isaac
    Feb 18, 2020 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ Does it have something to do with rot13(erzbefr)? $\endgroup$
    – Ébe Isaac
    Mar 11, 2020 at 18:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It has been 3 years and still unsolved. Guess you can just share us the answer, @DrXorile. $\endgroup$
    – Ébe Isaac
    Nov 21, 2022 at 4:51

3 Answers 3

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I'm pretty sure it's

(1) a cut of a picture from Warming Stripes and (2) the flame patterns hints at the rising temperature as well. For the third component, I have no idea yet.

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  • $\begingroup$ 1 is correct and hints at the theme of the hidden message. 2 is a kind of bonus (I counted it as part of 1 because it's also a theme hint). There's another high level image thing that points towards the detailed message. $\endgroup$
    – Dr Xorile
    Jan 6, 2020 at 14:39
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My guess is

SOS
As in calling for help, in Morse code.
As hint 3 suggest, the image shows 3 dots, then 3 dashes, then 3 dots again, which is Morse code for S O S.
As suggested in @gripe's answer, the warming stripes combined with the SOS message probably refers to the global warming.

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  • $\begingroup$ You're right so far. But those are 2 elements. But they are clues to the main message $\endgroup$
    – Dr Xorile
    Feb 19, 2020 at 14:56
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I seem to see

three figures with hands, feet, tails and heads standing side-by-side.

Not sure if this is correct or what it means.

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