Locked In

Albert Lin, Jaci Conrad


This puzzle presents a single HTML page that appears to be a record of a drug trip. In addition to the title and author, there is a table showing times, doses, methods, drugs, and substance types. The drugs column is mostly filled with unknowns ("???"). Below the table is a textual account of the trip.

Perhaps the first thing a solver will notice is the very strange times and doses, which look something like: "T+1165s : 1 hits". These are indeed the most significant parts of the puzzle.

The key to solving the puzzle is to recognize the page layout as an instance of an "experience report" from the website www.erowid.org (see http://www.erowid.org/experiences/exp_front.shtml). Erowid is a drug information website that features many such experiences written by various contributors.

The next thing to notice is that every Erowid experience has a unique identifier. The numbers in the time column (1165, 2379, etc) can then be used to correlate exactly one experience report to each line. The number of hits given is an offset into the name of author of the relevant experience report:

11651Amyl NitriteGistabishiG
70858San PedroAspie4200

Ordering: The title "Locked In" alludes to a particular passage in the book Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas:
We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers ... and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. ... Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
Each experience report corresponding to a row in the puzzle table is a single-drug experience. The drug from each experience corresponds to a single drug in the list from the passage above. Arranging the drugs by the order given in the passage produces the desired ordering (Amphetamine == uppers, Valium == downers, San Pedro == mescaline). The passage is also clued in the text: "I wanted to push it as far as I can" and, more tenuously, "some shady guy claming to be a doctor" (Doctor Gonzo, from the book).

When reordered, the letters spell "1082DRUG". This refers, once again, to the Erowid experience archive. Experience number 1082 is about the single drug CANNABIS, which is the answer.


Finding the experience vault: The reference to the Hendrix song Purple Haze in the text points to the album "Are You Experienced?" Also, the name of the purported author, WEIRDO, is an anagram of EROWID.

Taking letter offsets into the author name is clued by the line, "... pay more attention to who's saying what."

In additon to the title, the ordering method (quote from book) is also clued by the phrases "some 'doctor' with a serious drug collection," "my tendency is to push it as far as I can," and "didn't need all that for the trip." The date of the experience (11/11/1971) is the date of publication in Rolling Stone of the first part of "Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas".

A second, equivalent, method of ordering the letters is almost too obscure to mention. The ingestion methods as given in the table (smoked, inhaled, etc) can also be used to order the letters. The "Advanced Search" page of the Erowid experiences vault offers a drop-down menu for searching by method. Looking at the HTML source (not the displayed drop-down menu, which shows the choices out of order) shows that each possible method is assigned a number to be used in the form submission. Arranging the letters by the method numbers also gives the correct ordering.

Red Herrings: The Body Weight is not used, nor are the substance types. The "420" body weight is just another throwaway drug reference, and the substance types are simply chosen to be consistent with the ingestion method.