I open my eyes gingerly and am greeted by a strange sight: Sir Alex Ferguson’s smug face, upside down, swaying slowly. Wait, no, I’m swaying. And strung upside down by my feet like a bat. And that’s a portrait, not the actual louche himself.
Enough of my faculties emerge beyond the roaring pain on the back of my head - presuming that’s where whoever has me bound gave me a solid thump - to start to piece a few things together:Q, Naby Keita, and I were able to successfully hand Damien Comolli off to authorities.
The three of us hunkered down in the lobby of the Bradbury Building to await a special car from Liverpool FC to pick up the Guinean. Of course, the driver was James Milner with Andrew Robertson assisting.
The two helped wrap both of Keita’s legs in bubble wrap. They then placed him in the front seat and handed him a giant, old time-y commander’s hat and extending telescope.
Before they pulled away, Keita thanked us and then, turning to Milner, instructed the driver to “bear 33 degrees right and keep a steady speed of 10 knots.” Milly responded in a resigned affirmative and Q just whispered, “so that’s why they call him The Admiral.”
But then, nothing else. Nothing to tell me where I am or how I got here. No sign of Q either.
And now, the blood’s rushing to my head and I think I’m going to pa-
Ok. I’m awake again. I think I’ve finally got a sense after trying to retain some information in between the fainting. No way for me to tell how much time has passed. My headache is less a roar and more a light purr. No sign of Q. And probably only 3 minutes before I pass out again.
I’m in a giant warehouse, it seems. The end of the chain that has me bound is disappears into the unlit distance of the ceiling. I can’t tell how tall this place is.
Just as I try to curl upwards to buy myself a little more time - and curse myself for not doing more core work when I had the chance - the chain gives way and I come tumbling down.
I land on a soft pile of rags, thankfully. I was really worried there. And as I slowly try to right myself while having both my feet and hands bound, an intercom crackles to life.
”Ah. Detective. Glad to see you awake. I was getting a bit worried at the number of times you’d wake and faint, so I decided to at least help you stay level. There’s no harm there, right? Obviously no way to escape this room. So, just sit tight and make the best of your time. Maybe learn to love Ol’ Alex? We’ll chat soon, mate.”
The quality of the speakers wasn’t much of an aid here. The voice didn’t give anything away. At least, it seemed a neutral English accent. I have no idea where I am.
I edge around the room as far as my chain will let me. It’s a bit of a difficult at the start but I’m getting the hang of it. I can’t quite get to the walls of the room, which are made of cinderblock and painted over with the anti-vandalism finish that most recreation facilities use today.
I guess being a recreation professional is coming in handy for weird trivia, though I’m still flummoxed as to how I’m gonna get out; as I’d thought I don’t see any doors or windows. I do see a little square carved out on a far corner - perhaps an electrical panel?
But no windows and no doors. Wait. That sounds familiar. No windows. No doors. Where have I heard of that?
I crane my neck skyward as I try to job my memory and then it hits: Disneyland. This is a Haunted Mansion puzzle.
The problem of how I got into this place suggests there’s a way in. But no windows and no doors says it’s not a typical entrance. I confirm that it’s not like the floor beneath me splits - it’s a solid slab of what appears to be concrete.
Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion pulls off this trick by dressing up a common thing as something entirely different: an elevator. The door is hidden and won’t open unless I can sort out how to operate what must be the controls hidden in that square panel.
Now, how do I get to it if I’m bound in these chains? I start looking at the chain and tugging at it. It’s pretty taut, so not enough slack to release to give me the extra inch or so to even touch the panel.
I’m running out of options and I need to sort out how to get out of here. Out of frustration, I kick at the length of chain dangling from the roof. Surprisingly, I see it roll a few inches away from me.
That’s curious…but fortuitous. I kick again and see it inch away from me. And more and more. It looks like the chain is on a track but was held taut by my weight somehow. This seems like a poor detail to miss. I’m filing that away for later.
With one more kick I’ve worked my way to the panel. I pop it open and hit the button for the lower level. I also hit the release for the chain and hear it come crashing down. Oops. Looks like the element of surprise is gone.
As the floor shifts below me, I notice a little blank square on the control board. Curious, I push on it and feel the soft release of a latch. Inside is a key. My goodness, I’ve lucked my way into everything.
As the door opens to the lower level, I’ve just about got myself free from my chains. Which is good, because the open door reveals a hallway with a panicked Sean Dyche running towards me.
Will our detective make it out of this bind? Will he figure out why Sean Dyche is behind this? Find out in part two. Same detective story time. Same detective football blog.