The Situation

It is Friday afternoon. You are about to leave work when the phone rings.

The editor from WaterRocks Publishing House is calling to talk with you about your Aunt Darcy. Two weeks ago, Aunt Darcy was in a car accident. She remains in the hospital with amnesia and is unable to remember a number of details from prior to the accident. The doctor assures everyone she will recover her memory, yet how soon she will do so is unclear.

Aunt Darcy is your favorite relative. She is also a world-renowned hydrogeologist who has spent decades traveling around the world conducting groundwater studies and advising communities and governments on their groundwater resources. The Stockholm Water Prize Awards Committee has selected Aunt Darcy to be honored for her years of hard work during this year’s annual World Water Day celebration. Release of Aunt Darcy’s new book – the one the publisher is calling about – has been scheduled to occur concurrently with the award.

You know that Aunt Darcy keeps all of her files on an encrypted desktop computer in her home-office. Many times, you have suggested she should keep a back-up of her files in the cloud and allow a second user to access them. She has refused, telling you with a wink that her expertise is in ground and surface water, she doesn’t trust water in the atmosphere. She then added that she has an emergency plan in case anyone needed to access her research. When you asked for more details, she responded “the mystery is solved by starting with her favorite well." At that point in the conversation, you decided it was not worth the argument and changed the topic.

But thinking about it now, you wonder if there was something more to her comment. As a child, you would spend summer vacations at her house in the country. The two of you would read Sherlock Holmes mystery novels together, analyzing the details to find the hidden meaning and messages. Maybe there are clues at her house that could help you figure out the password.

 It is a good thing it is Friday and you can afford to escape town for a bit. You cancel your weekend plans, pack a bag, and head out to investigate.  Once you arrive at Aunt Darcy’s house, you head directly to her office.