Many years ago, I taught folklore at a summer camp(we had new campers each week of different ages, from 8-15). At the time, the folklore class was pretty unstructured, so I could more or less do as I pleased. Sometimes I told ghost stories, sometimes sports games, sometimes mythology, whatever I thought might be entertaining to the kids. One of the most useful things we did was two minute mysteries, as they allowed me to be lazy.

The basic rules are as follows: a scenario is laid before the people playing, and you're allowed to ask as many yes/no questions as you like to determine the answer. The answer to the question may also be 'Irrelevant' if it has no bearing on the solution.

I request the following :

* One question per post

* If you already know the answer, please keep it to yourself and let others play. Same with Googling the answer.

Once the scenario is solved, the person who solves it gets to post a new one OR they can pass it back to someone else who's interested (FYI, I'm happy to post more).

So here's the first scenario:

A man is found dead, surrounded by 52 bicycles. What happened?

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Weird. The father was unable to swim but it seems unlikely that would have stoea normal sized human, as the water was only up to the mother's waist.

Was the father a little person? 

[Was the father] Unwilling?

Not exactly...

Randy, you're sooo close to the answer.

No, the father wasn't a little person.

Was it raining? 

Was it raining?

No.

Aside from being unable to swim, was there anything physically preventing the father from rescuing his child? 

Peter Wrexham said:

A man is standing by the side of a lake.  A woman is standing up to her waist in the water, 20 yards from the shore, hair dripping wet, holding the body of a small child.  Both man and woman are weeping.

No.

Randy Jackson said:

Aside from being unable to swim, was there anything physically preventing the father from rescuing his child? 

Peter Wrexham said:

A man is standing by the side of a lake.  A woman is standing up to her waist in the water, 20 yards from the shore, hair dripping wet, holding the body of a small child.  Both man and woman are weeping.

Hint: At this instant, what have they both just realised?

Oh, I see -- the father saw the boy drowning, but couldn't swim... so he ran to get the mother, which took precious time. But now they realize he could just have ran out there to save him, and would have gotten to him in time. 

The final two paragraphs of the short-short story Nightmare in Blue, by Fredric Brown.

And then she was running after him toward the lake, passing him and getting ahead since he was already winded, and he was fifty yards behind her when she reached the edge, ran into the water and swam strongly toward the spot where for a moment the back of the boy's head showed at the surface.

She was there in a few strokes and had him and then, as she put her feet down to tread water for the turn, he saw with sudden sheer horror -- a horror mirrored in his wife's blue eyes -- that she was standing on the bottom, holding their dead son, in only three feet of water.

The father didn't go into the water because he didn't realise that the lake was so shallow (though it was too deep for a five year old to stand).  Randy did the heavy lifting, getting everything except that final point, Rob worked out the last piece of the puzzle after I gave a bit of a heavy hint.  Do you guys want to decide between you who gets to go next?

This was a very grim scenario.  I promise that if I get to set another puzzle, it will be much lighter.  With luck, it will also be less difficult!

Grim indeed!

The problem I found is that a puzzle like this one amplifies the inherent problems with the game we're playing: too many possible answers that aren't the particular answer desired. Your answer is a good (if grim) one, but I was on the verge of asking something like, "was the boy shot with an energy weapon by alien dwarf elephantoids who can only attack beings under three feet in height while they're surrounded by water?"

"was the boy shot with an energy weapon by alien dwarf elephantoids who can only attack beings under three feet in height while they're surrounded by water?"

No, they were alien dwarf rhinoceroids.  Surely that was obvious? 

If Rob has one ready, he can go. Otherwise, I have more.

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