That’s the last time I blindly follow a group into a building, make no mistake. My wife and I were walking with our daughter when we happened across a group of people, perhaps four or five strong, eagerly gathered near a darkened doorway. Mistaking it perhaps for a charming establishment where we could quench our thirst and sate our hunger, we joined the group, keen to escape the gathering storm clouds, and as my young daughter would put it, “eat nuggets and chippies and sauce.”
A man dressed as if a dentist, or perhaps a doctor, welcomed us inside. We followed him down a shadowy hall where he asked us to leave any bags, coats, trinkets, and items of technology in a nearby chest. Ahhh, a classy joint, I thought to myself. He then directed us through a doorway to what I assumed was the main dining room. It was anything but.
In the room stood an operating table on which lay a single sheet of paper. As my eyes scanned the room, I took in a desk and book case, some cabinets, and a basket filled with disembodied legs.
Now wait a minute, I don’t think any restaurant is going to pass a health inspection looking like this!
The blood drained from my face as other grisly items became apparent. A jar of eyeballs on the table, some ears under the desk, and a bottle of brains on a sideboard. “Hey, um,” one of our group said, before we all heard the door behind us slam shut and a lock click into place. I grabbed my wife and daughter and held them close, or perhaps they held me close as I whimpered, I can’t quite recall.
Someone approached the table and read from the piece of paper. “If you’d like to avoid the same fate,” he said, his voice shaking, “assist me in assembling my latest… creation.”
What followed was a bloody blur as we muddled through the assorted body parts and pieces around the room, trying to puzzle together what went where. I vaguely remember my daughter gleefully brandishing a severed arm at one point, she really is going to need a talking to after this. My wife took charge, bless her, directing one gentleman to paw through a pile of ears and another to go elbow deep in the bottle of brains. I did my best to keep my composure. What appetite I may have had was now well and truly gone.
Eventually, we had assembled a… monster, of sorts, on the operating table. Nobody could bring themselves to look anyone else in the eye. “Very good!” came the man’s voice through an air vent, “very good. For your reward, a glimpse at my latest creation, a Magic card!”
Our special Shadows over Innistrad preview card lay encased in that small wooden box and only viewable with a magnifying glass.
We all gathered around a magnifying glass on a cabinet to marvel at it, when one gentleman piped up, “Do you think we should try to escape now, maybe?”
“I saw some keys in a drawer while I was looking for elbows,” someone else ventured.
“That would have been good to know 10 minutes ago,” my wife snapped, yanking open the drawer. “There’s another note,” she added, holding it aloft and keeping it out of my daughter’s grasp. “No, what have I told you about snatching?”
Another gentlemen peered at this new note, his brow furrowing as his eyes scanned line after line of handwritten madness. “There are weights,” he stated, “and some scales. If we can get the weights to match the weight of the key, then I think we can…”
“Urrgghh…” came a groan from the table.
“Quickly, then,” I suggested.
We gathered around the scales on the desk, tentatively shifting weights from one side of the scales to the other.
“Try this one.”
“No, the other one!”
“Yes, thank you that might do it.”
“Not at all.”
They key to our escape, but which key?!
We’d done it, my wife plucked the key from the scales and strode over to the door. We crowded around her as she wiggled it in the lock for what seemed like an eternity. Suddenly, the first door swung open. “Thaaaat’s time! Who wants to do some SCIENCE?!” the doctor bellowed. My wife’s key finally clicked into place. The second door swung open and as one, we fled into the cool, welcoming night.
As you may have guessed, this was a somewhat fictional retelling of our Grand Prix Melbourne Escape the Room experience. It was based on the real thing, though, my wife and our daughter and I did join an existing group, and my daughter did gleefully wave around a disembodied arm. The first puzzle involved picking the correct combination of body parts to unlock the special preview card, and the second puzzle was to get the correct key for the door. All up, it took less than 15 minutes and was a blast. The props were amazing and the atmosphere terrifying. If you’re here at Grand Prix Melbourne this weekend, I recommend taking the time to tackle this challenge. Stitcher’s Lab will be open from 10am to 6pm.