Initial Conditions

Oh my God I am in so much trouble, I’ve got to get this puzzle solved in five minutes or I’m going to die. I wish George were here, George is always so good with puzzles and I’m not. I get all flustered and I’ve only got five minutes. So here’s what I know:

The police find the body of a man killed by gunshot. Five people with five weapons have entered the room at different times. One is named Brock; one of the others has a gun. From this information and the following clues, who was the killer?

  1. The man with the knife entered before Ansel, but was not the first.
  2. The man with the ice pick entered before Denny, but not before Brock.
  3. The man with the club entered before either the man with the scissors or the ice pick, but is not the first.
  4. Ansel entered before Moby, but after Culpepper.
  5. Moby did not enter the room last.

You can’t tell from this gibberish. This is nonsense; they can’t expect an answer from this. Hello? Can anybody hear me? This isn’t fair. Nothing. I’m just in this big white room with no walls and nobody here.  I’m going to die and it’s not fair. Maybe the answer’s in here somewhere. Let’s see. Ansel doesn’t have the knife, so he might have the gun. Denny and Brock don’t have the ice pick, so they might have the gun. The rest of these clues are useless. I wish George were here.


No! That’s not fair, it just isn’t fair. I get time to read the puzzle. Put time back on the clock. I demand you put time back on the clock. Hello? Maybe I can call someone. Where’s my phone? Can’t find my phone. Got to look for my phone. I’m not going to die here, I’m just not. What is George going to do if they kill me? He doesn't even know how to work the dishwasher.


No! I was looking for my phone. That doesn’t count. Can’t find the phone; these clues are a joke. Don’t know anything about who’s got the gun. Look at something else. When did they come in? Start with the weapons. OK, the knife wasn’t the first. The ice pick was not the first. Ditto, club and scissors. Ok, then, the gun was the first weapon. Whoever came in first had the gun. He did it. Find him, and we’ll have one dead body. Otherwise, I get to join him.


Stop it, stop it, stop it. You give me these stupid clues, sit there laughing somewhere and pretend not to hear me. I’m going to die, not you. Leave me alone and let me work. So who came first. Maybe Moby, he wasn’t last. No, not Moby. Not Ansel. Not Denny. Ok, down to Culpepper and Brock.


No! I’m so close. Culpepper or Brock, Brock or Culpepper. Go back over the clues, carefully. Got to be there. Clue 1, no help. Do I know if either Brock or Culpepper had the knife? No. No help here. Clue 2. So Brock went in before either Denny or the man with the ice pick, so he was at worst third. Doesn’t solve it, but it means I’ll guess Brock if I have to guess. Clue 3, nothing. Clue 4, already knew that. Clue 5 is less than useless. All right, I’m guessing Brock. Fifty-fifty chance, better than that because I know he’s not in the last two. All right, let’s do it. But if I’m wrong I’m dead. I’ll never see George again, or anybody else. But if I don’t guess, I’m dead for sure. Ok, here goes Brock.

Wait! Wait! Wait! “One is named Brock; one of the others has a gun.” Brock doesn’t have a gun.

Culpepper! Culpepper! Culpepper!



TEST: Standard brain exercise and viability


SUBJECT: Hadron, Sheila 414568897 (brain only)

SUBJECT STATUS: Waiting for body donor







Oh my God I am in so much trouble, I’ve got to get this puzzle solved in five minutes or I’m going to die.


Michael Guillebeau writes software in C# and Visual Basic for the International Space Station. Sometimes he writes in English, too.