Puzzle: A Grave Matter

[thread=553687]The spies have taken over the earth and nothing can be done. Everything is out of control. Your head is spinning…spinning…[/thread]

Knock! Knock! Knock!

You snap awake and find yourself in your own apartment. What is going on? Slowly you move to the door and answer it. Agent Jones from the CIA stands outside.

Jones gives You a look of concern. “What’s the matter? You appear as though you’ve had a rough night.”

“Spies…Klaus…We have to stop him and save the world.” You stammer.

“That must have been some bad dream,” Jones laughs. “How about if I make us both some coffee. You look terrible.”

So it was all just a nightmare. No wonder You couldn’t solve the coded messages! Thank God!

^^^^^

You are the greatest cryptologist in the land. The CIA only turns to You to crack the toughest codes. As You smell the brewing coffee your senses become more alert.

“What brings you here this morning, Jones?” You inquire. “Is there another case?”

Jones pours You a cup of coffee and You take a sip. Ugh. “Tastes like burnt dishwater,” You think groggily.

Jones sits back in a small rocking chair. “Have You read anything in the papers about the recent string of grave robberies?”

You struggle to recollect. “Let me see. Something about bodies disappearing from local cemeteries. I didn’t pay much attention. Sounds like vandals or perhaps some kooky cult. Certainly this is not a case to bother the CIA?”

Jones smiles. “You’re right about the bodies. At least seven recently deceased people have been removed from their graves. Bizarre, but not really something for the CIA. At least, not until last night.”

“What happened?”

“With all these body snatchings going on, several cemeteries have hired security guards. Last night one of these guards was killed in a shootout with several unknown thieves at the Mt Shelley Cemetery in Reston. One of the grave robbers was also shot and killed, presumably by the guard. This morning we identified that slain grave robber as Igor Landon. He is a wanted international spy.”

This is all very confusing. You force yourself to take another taste of the wretched coffee. “Why would a spy be robbing graves?”

Jones frowns. “We don’t know. However, we think there were at least two other men who were assisting Landon. These others escaped. They were certainly trying to rob a grave. Local police found a casket disinterred nearby. Looks as if our unfortunate guard stumbled upon the crime in progress.”

Stranger and stranger still. Your head starts to spin again.

“Landon is suspected of associating with the notorious Dr. Victor Malloy. Malloy is a brilliant but crazed scientist. He used to work for the German Government, but after a severe mental breakdown he disappeared. Rumors have been swirling for years that Malloy has joined up with some nefarious characters and could be plotting mayhem of the highest order.”

Jones gives You a stern look.

“We have only one clue,” continues Jones. “We found a strange coded message in Landon’s pocket. Perhaps it holds the secret to what is going on here. We’d like You to try and solve it.”

You agree to try. Jones hands You a paper and You look down at the vexing message.

Can You figure out the code before things get out of hand?


J9 BMWR3DCE QZAD ,NZQMB7G RVETWRADBU;KG7 XRWRQZFS VN0KECOUWRDA QZDA L-K0WXXW9JNVP,S4

NV5DOUMBYV YRUB4SN, YRIP F6UBRW ZQVNQZBMXRPIMBRWCE WXRYPILJ3DD5 N,3DBMF6ZQ;K BUPIEZ[O9J6FQZ;K 0K8H6FAD9JFS3D NVQZK;6FJ9,N9L4FD3

8K BUQZBCS4 FSOUEZXVPICBD35DS4EC ZQ N,WRZQMBEZ 5GK0 F44SZQBM9JN,QZ5G4S 5GNYD3 XVIP4F;0ZED3AD

ADPIL9BM 2SRW S29J,P.O UBQZBCRW ZQMB J7MBEZ5GPI[OL-QZVN,P3D QZ4F,NUT L9DG AXL9N,VN9J4SWX 8HMBEC4SET 9LIYF4 XVPIBMF6ETIPO.


As I take the code from Jones, I’m forced to fight back flashbacks to last night’s vivid nightmares. The message in front of me looks eerily similar to those that haunted my dreams.

But the moment of panic passes, and I steel myself to apply my cool and analytical mind to the problem at hand. What an interesting collection of symbols mixed in with the characters. If I could figure out why some symbols are allowed but others aren’t, maybe that would help. I stare at my qwerty keyboard for inspiration, and in a few moments it comes to me. “Hey Jones,” I say. “Spoiler alert”.

“Notice how every ‘word’ in the message has an even number of letters? That tells me to try considering the characters two at a time. If you look at your keyboard, you’ll see each pair of letters is two keys apart - and the key in the middle is the important one. The ‘J’ and ‘9’ keys have the ‘I’ key in the middle, so that first word is just ‘I’”

My good mood at cracking the code doesn’t last long as Jones and I begin working through the whole message. This has to be a joke, right? In a few moments we have the whole thing decrypted.

I NEED AS MANY FRESHLY DEAD BODIES AS POSSIBLE
BRING THEM TO THE ABANDONED STOKER MENTAL HOSPITAL OUTSIDE BALTIMORE
I HAVE DISCOVERED A MEANS TO REANIMATE THE CORPSES
SOON WE WILL HAVE AN UNSTOPPABLE ARMY OF ZOMBIES UNDER OUF4 CONTROL.

Curtis Jackson can do as he pleases, and I’m nobody’s wife.

Because he got in line after me?

I don’t know; maybe you drank too much? Your grammar is faulty, though.

Don’t talk about my mother like that.

I thought you said you were doing that, not some credit card company. Okay, you were talking about yourself and not my mother, but my name’s not Zeke. I’ve no idea what “coozieby” means either.

Congratulations Staggering Genius!

Action must be taken promptly. You call Jones with the report. He promises to send out a special zombie SWAT team to the Stoker Mental Hospital.

“Be sure and aim for the head,” You advise. “That’s the only way to kill them!”

Jones assures You that the CIA has the situation well in control.

+++

And now this evening, more from Agent Jones:

  • Dr. Victor Malloy and his henchmen have been apprehended at their hideout without a struggle. The old hospital had been turned into a mad scientist lab. Various bubbling beakers and bizarre glowing electrical coils added even more to the sinister atmosphere.

  • No zombies were found. Either the experiments were the delusions of a crazed man…or perhaps the zombies escaped. Who can say?

  • Jones promises to stop by later for a celebratory drink. Once again your life can return to its peaceful existence.

+++++

You are expecting Jones to come by at any minute. Best make some coffee so that it is ready when your friend arrives.

You go to the kitchen cabinet, but for some reason there is only cheap store brand instant coffee on the shelf. Boxes and boxes of the stuff. “No wonder that coffee yesterday tasted so nasty,” You say aloud.

The room seems extra cold.

Well perhaps there is some herbal tea in the pantry.

Knock! Knock! Knock!

Jones must be here now. Well, maybe he brought along some decent coffee.

But when You answer the door it is not Jones there at all. It is instead a herd of bloated zombies.

“Haaixsjeekulequnnu Eriiiikosssspeifa!” screech the rotting animated corpses as they push into your home. There is nowhere to run. You have no gun. As You stagger back You slip on a throw rug and fall at the base of the couch.

“OOOOOOGGGGAAAAGAGA! Brains! We want to eat Braaaiiinnnnnsss!” screech the miserable things as they amble across the floor leaving a trail of slime as they go.

Now the murderous zombies crowd above You. You smell the stench of their hot fetid breath as decaying mouths are opened showing rows of yellow but pointed teeth. They fall upon You. They shake your body and you scream and scream…

^^^^^^

And suddenly You are awake. Agent Jones shakes You again.

“Wake up! It’s just a bad dream.” shouts Jones.

And now You realize where you are. You are lying on the carpet in the Resistance bunker below Reagan Airport. Klaus and the spies have control of the world. What You just had was the dream…not the other way around.

Well, at least You are not being eaten by cannibal zombies.

“I should have known it was a dream,” You say bitterly to Jones and Brown. “I would never have had such bad coffee in my home.”

Well tomorrow is another day. Perhaps it is the day You solve that old horrible code. Perhaps it will be the day You and the others save the world. Perhaps.

And with a feeling that something in this frightening yet silly dream might be somehow relevant to solving the old long unsolved case, You pull yourself up off the floor.