02:38:35 pm on
Tuesday 20 Nov 2018

Solving a Mystery
AJ Robinson


Alexa and AJ, escapees in less than fifty minutes.

There hasn’t been a new “Nancy Drew” computer game for a while, which is very disappointing.  My daughter and I enjoyed those games and always played together. Yet, for some reason they’ve faded away.


Did interest wain?

I don’t know if interest waned. Maybe there was some technical issue. The point is that Alexa, that’s my daughter, and I haven’t had a decent mystery to solve in a long time.

Then it was Father’s Day. The week before the big day, Alexa came by the house for a visit. It was a sort of family game day.

She asked to “borrow” me for a couple hours next Sunday, as it would be Father’s Day. Jo Ann and I were intrigued. What was she planning? She gave no clues and Jo Ann suspected it had something to do with Comic-Con, sci-fi or some other area of our shared father and daughter interests.

Then, on the appointed day and time, Alexa returned to pick me up. It seemed time was definitely a factor. We had to arrive at a particular place at the designated time!

Off we went in her little Chevy Spark. For a small car, it was actually quite roomy and easily accommodated my lanky frame. Arriving in downtown Orlando, Florida, Alexa led me along a quiet side street and we reached a glass-paneled door. It was our destination, and an answer to the big mystery.

It was a sort of mystery parlor, one of those escape room places. Escape game is a more accurate description. Using hints, clues and some strategy, players solve riddles or puzzles to discover a secret plot hidden in the room.


I heard of escape rooms.

I was very excited at the prospect of Alexa and me matching our wits against whatever puzzles this place had created. The lobby area was quite neat, with a real Sherlock Holmes look to it. Moriarty’s Game Room was the name of one of the rooms.

Moriarty wasn’t our challenge. We entered the President’s Bunker, along with a mother and daughter team. We were to prevent an accidental missile launch in less than an hour.

Clocks on the wall provided the combination to a lock box, which yielded playing cards. A thorough search of the room gave us more cards and more puzzle pieces. This was exciting.

Alexa struggled with a large magnetic puzzle on a wall. I recognized the image at once. It was the old nuclear fallout symbol, but members of her generation never had to deal with the old “duck and cover” routine, thank goodness. Thus, she had no cultural reference to guide her. I helped, we finished it and a door to the next room clicked as it unlocked.

Now, we had still more places to search. A map we found helped Alexa find the alphabetic code for another lockbox; it was India. The mother and daughter team translated another code to open still a third box, and then we had to solve a poker puzzle. Here we needed a hint, which we’d earned by finding a token, and this yielded the first key to deactivating the launch sequence. Three more keys were obtained by similar means, which meant we each were able turn one. At this point, we only needed one more hint to get through those challenges.


Now, for the final puzzle.

A picture of George Washington rose to reveal a secret panel. Behind that was a screen and keypad. As I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, in case any of you chance to partake of this mystery, I won’t tell you the final answer. Still, here’s a little clue: the term “meat” is metaphorical. With the final code entered, we won and in less than fifty minutes, to boot.

We left and returned to the lobby area for pictures. Overall, I have to say, it was just about the best Father’s Day I’ve ever had. That I was able to share it with Alexa made it so much more enjoyable; let that memory burn bright in our minds, for all time!

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

More by AJ Robinson:
Tell a Friend

Click above to tell a friend about this article.