Room 21

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…a yard containing shrubs trimmed in ornamental shapes.

“This,” I began, “is called…”

“We know what the name is,” they interrupted. “Why don’t you just tell us which way to go?”

“I wasn’t referring to the plants,” I said in a huff. I refused to say anything else, leaving them to find their own way to…

 - Images and text copyright 1985 by Christopher Manson
used with permission. [Purchase MAZE from Amazon]


Room Type:  LOOP     Doors:  1  12  24  31  44


● The black snake and white snake next to Door 44 match the four dark shrub balls and four light shrub balls. 4&4=44, the correct door. [Independent Credit: vewatkin / Dave G | White Raven] The white snake looks toward the correct door while the black snake looks toward the door to The Abyss. Further, the lightly colored shrubs are in front of the correct door, while the dark ones are in front of the door to The Abyss. [Independent Credit: Dave G | White Raven] Alternately, the shrub balls could be taken as dots and the tree trunks as dashes, in Morse code four dots and a dash is the number 4, thus “….- ….-” reads as “44″. [Credit: vewatkin]

● At the base of door 44 are three steps leading upward. In the background are tapered trees pointing upward trimmed to have three tiers – suggesting we take the three steps upward in door 44. [Independent Credit: vewatkin | White Raven].

● The snake picture, wrench and bird convey the warning “turn around.” The snakes in the picture are depicted turning around. The wrench is turned around in order to use it. The bird has turned around to look at the reader. The bird could also seen as conveying the related message “turn back” since the bird is prominently showing its back. If the reader enters from a room other than 31 or 44 the message is a warning that they have taken a wrong turn. If the reader enters from either 31 or 44 the reader would be wise to head back the way they came to avoid the door to Room 24 – The Abyss. [Credit: White Raven] [Subsequent Credit: Aria | Factitious].


90 thoughts on “Room 21

  1. OK, so we’re in a YARD and there’s this BIRD, see… is it a YARDBIRD?

    Because one of the meanings of yardbird is “convict” — and if you enter this room from 1, you have become a prisoner of the Loop — unlike any of the other rooms you enter from 1, which allow you to change your mind and TURN BACK.

    Alternatively it just means you automatically become a wicked good guitar player.

    • Or a convict -> prison -> trap connection could just be a sort of general warning about 24, I guess.

    • As rock and roll related solutions for this room go, I like your Byrds “Turn, Turn, Turn” one better….

  2. Is there something meaningful going on with the semicircular planters on top of the columns? The ones over 44 seem relatively well trimmed. The planter to the right of 24, though, looks like it’s starting to get overgrown. It also looks a bit like it might be tipping over (into THE ABYSS????). The planters over 31 are completely overgrown. Perhaps the emphasis on “trimmed shrubs” in the text tells us to go for the better groomed, stable-looking planters.

  3. It’s been pointed out already that “name” appears twice in the text: once in orNAMEntal and then in the guests’ somewhat oddly worded statement “we know what the name is.”

    One possibility that has been discussed in the Hangout is that the emphasis on “name” is a supporting clue for Morse code, because it includes the name of the person who invented it.

    It’s hard not to want to look for different names for the wrench or the bird. I’ve found a few interesting things about wrench types, and here they are.

    1. That’s an open-ended wrench on the path. The shapes of the doorways kinda match the shapes of the ends of the wrench. And from this vantage point, the end (bottom) of the doorway to 24 is completely covered by the shrub, or closed. The bottom doorway to 31 is partly covered by the bird’s head, and partly by whatever that circular thing is. The bottom to 44, though, is mostly OPEN-ENDED by comparison.

    2. There is a type of wrench called a crowfoot wrench. This type of wrench is just what you’d consider the end of a normal wrench. You attach it to a ratchet handle, which is oriented perpendicularly to the wrench. When the wrench and handle are attached, you get something that looks like the leg and talon of a bird, hence the name. Then we also have a bird with long legs. We can’t see its feet. Then we have the number 44, with the digits looking like two stylized crowfoot wrench pieces – the missing feet of the bird? It all seems to KIIIIND of work together. (It would be a lot nicer if that bird were a crow, of course…)

  4. On another page vewatkin wrote,

    “The Morse code for 4 is [....-]. In Room 21, we have the repeating pattern with the bushes shaped like four circles, and then the straight tree trunks extending off the page. Four dots and a dash, four dots and a dash.”

    This excellent solution gives us a choice: Either 44 is indicated by the four shrub-balls separated by a tree with another tree off to the right OR 44 is indicated by four shrub-balls each followed by a tree representing a dash.

    In favor of the posted solution is the fact that the four shrub-balls on the left are in the light and the four on the left are in the dark while the tree trunks are not shaded differently…also the trees are vertical and not very dash-like.

    In favor of the Morse code solution is the fact that there is no tree to left, which would disrupt the pattern, and there is a tree to the right which is unnecessary for the posted solution.

    I am posting the Morse code solution as an alternative to the previously posted solution.

    Congratulations Vewatkin!

    White Raven

    • Don’t tell anyone, WR, but I meant this solution for real! I can’t remember the last time that happened.

  5. The trees pointing up in the background, the tall trees in the foreground, the high balcony, a bird… all of this stuff relating to high places could be a hint to pick the “highest” number, 44, which also handily comes with stairs as already noted.

  6. I feel like this has been talked about a bunch but I don’t see it on the solutions list and it seems intended due to the last part of my point: The correct door here are two numbers that are the same (4 and 4) and is the only door with a double number. Likewise, there are twin shrubs, twin snakes (despite their different colour), twin trees, and most peculiar, the wrench with two hex slots that are the same size. It is near impossible to find a wrench of this type. There are three types of wrenches: adjustable, box, and open ended. Wrenches with open ends on both sides are different sizes on each end (12mm and 14mm for example, or 1/2 and 3/8). Manson has paid particular attention to make both sides the same. See image: http:// /Mut2JkD

    • That bird, a species known for its fondness for bland paint colours, had better get back to its TAUPE-EYRIE.

      (SP, I’m sorry I’m junking up your post with this stuff. I can’t seem to stop.)

    • sp,

      It’s a great point, but it makes more sense when a related puzzle is solved. Beelzebibble, Dave G and you are all on a list of people to be credited when the larger puzzle is solved.

      White Raven

  7. Don’t follow the bird to 31. It is leading you “up the garden path.”

    (An expression meaning you are being deceived.)

    • I actually kind of feel like the trees themselves represent the two 4s in the correct door number… two trunks that spread into branches, just like the 4s (in highly simplified form).

    • The bird is similar — two legs branching into claws, just like 44 (upside down).


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