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The Coronavirus Escape Room Experience (story time)

Before I start the topic of this post (if there is any), I’m going to talk about my day and stuff like that. Yesterday, shortly after I published my post (which you should totally read, right here:, I found out that both my brother and I got gold medals on that piano evaluation thing (which as I found out, was quite a popular pastime for like a fourth of my fellow students on the class blog… I still can’t comprehend that the entire grade is also blogging now). That means that we would both be invited to a recital for gold-medalists, if that doesn’t get cancelled due to the growing threat of coronavirus in our state (last time I checked, New Jersey has an awful lot of confirmed and suspected cases, including near my school district). If coronavirus did get closed, our principal sent out an email this morning saying that our schools could be closed at any given moment. So I’d go to sleep, not get woken up for another two hours (or technically 3, because of Daylight Savings Time), and then realise that since there’s no snow outside the window, the apocalypse must have striked and I should bury my gold or something like that. Then I’d walk downstairs and play Minecraft while eating a chocolate chip cookie. Our teachers would have to assign us stuff exclusively online, which wouldn’t be a big deal in my opinion since they would know to take it easy on the workload. Speaking of coronavirus, yesterday I went to one of the highest-risk places for such a thing: An escape room, where you’re in a small confined space that literally dozens of people and children have poked and touched and put keys in holes all over right before you. So, for my super close friends (I’ve known them since I was literally an infant) combined belated-birthday party (their 12th and 14th birthdays were in December and January, respectively), yesterday my little brother and I visited an escape room a few hours after my piano evaluation. The piano evaluation was the most easy and painless one I’ve had yet, since it was literally held in my neighbor’s house. That’s since another one of my longtime friends, Young’s, mother is a piano teacher who teaches me, and she invited the evaluator woman direclty to her house so it would literally take me 5 seconds to walk to the place not even twenty feet away from my front door, and only wait for my buddy Xiang (who also is taught by her) to finish his evaluation for less than five minutes, and then it was my turn. I had to get all dressed up for it, or at least just wear black socks since thankfully it was just in my neighbors house and I didn’t need dress shoes. I also wore like “fancy pants” and a “formal shirt”, so pretty standard stuff. I only needed to wear it for less than ten minutes total, so it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t uncomfy either, mostly due to the lack of required dress shoes, unlike usual. The escape room place was apparently ranked in the top-10 in the nation or something like that, and the particular room, titled the “Budapest Express”, was apparently the second-hardest in the building, ranked an 8/10 in terms of difficulty. Now, typically we’d make a video vlog together for an event like this, but the place didn’t let us record (for obvious reasons), so our recording of precious memories was limited to our return to their house for a few hours to eat dinner, read birthday cards, unbox gifts, and play videogames. So, how would I relay the unforgettable experience in great detail if not through video? As a blog post, of course. The reason we chose the “Budapest Express” theme was because a week ago, we went to Hoboken (right across the Hudson River from NYC, so at night time there was a spectacular skyline view everywhere you looked on the streets) to see a classical music concert themed after the Orient Express. In case you didn’t know where that was from its big presence in fictional murder stories (even though the train was in fact very real, and even active until as recently as 2009!), it was a locomotive train that went all across Europe, starting from Istanbul and ending in Paris and every major city in between, and was very luxurious and famous. Thus, the concert (which wasn’t very crowded and was actually held in a very small room), was unique in that one moment you were listening to an Ottoman Sultan’s Turkish lounge music renditioned on violin and piano simultaneously, and another you were listening to a lady opera singing in German at the same time as someone playing the flute. The Budapest Express theme was similar in that the escape room was made to resemble to compartments of a speeding train heading across Europe with a getaway murderer on the loose. We were given profiles and hints pertaining five suspects of differing nationalities and personalities, just one room to start with, and a bunch of clues ranging from suitcases to dinner receipts to fake wine bottles with fingerprints on them, to be able to unlock all three rooms in the span of sixty minutes and claim our victory. We were allowed to press a button to get a real person to speak over the intercom to give us hints (it was actually like three separate people), but each was supposed to cost us two minutes. Fortunately for us, while we used hints maybe five times total, only four of them actually took time off of our total, since for one of them the guy giving us the hint forgot to take off two minutes from our countdown timer. We spent about thirty minutes, give or take two or so hints, and were able to unlock all three rooms by then. The last room took us all of the remaining time. We had to determine who the murderer was by unlocking a billion different safes and locks and solving numerous puzzles that really put our team working and communication skills to the test. It was an absolute blast. However, with only five minutes left, we had yet to finish the escape room. We found out who the murderer was (spoiler alert: it was an alien lizard from outer space who eats plutonium for breakfast), but we still had to input one last code to be able to escape the room. We kept on messing up the numbers, though. So we used one last hint, and the guy told us that the code we were using was wrong. So then we kept on frantically swapping them and trying to figure out things as random as how many ounces were in a bottle of poison and what time of day the guy died, until we inputted a code and then the light next to the keypad blinked red, and the door opened itself. We had won! We beat the escape room with approximately 2.5 minutes to spare (even though it should have been with thirty seconds or so to spare because of the hint guy’s mistake). After that, we shouted and hooted and danced in victory, so our parents waiting outside for us in the place’s lobby instantly knew that we must have solved it. We pretended to toast and cheer each other using the fake wine bottles and the empty glasses. Then, I instantly took out the hand sanitizer (which is a rare commodity, by the way, nowadays due to everyone panicking and buying out the entire stock of soap from every single store within a twenty-minute radius of my house) and then sparingly squirted one tiny drop for each of our hands to rub and start murdering germs with. Anyways, after that we returned home and then they read our birthday cards and opened our presents for them, and we played a round of Super Mario Party (one of the gifts we got them)’s river survival mode (which is outrageously fun, by the way) and ate a chocolate Oreo brownie cake that was shaped and eaten like a pizza with triangular slices, before we had to say goodbye and leave. It was a nice end to a weekend, even if that day started Daylight Savings Time and I already had start feeling jet-lagged. Anyways, that escape room was very fun and I’d highly recommend it for a fun day activity with a couple of friends. Just bring hand sanitizer to fend off corona-chan if you choose to go within the next month or two and you’ll be fine. Anyways, that concludes this post. Today I’ll have to have my hometown high school’s tennis team tryouts. This particular place is famous for having lots of really good people who literally practice 10 hours a week, 5 times a week. So wish me luck, I guess. Just like yesterday’s piano evaluation, I’m not scared of the results. But unlike yesterday, it’d be surprising if I succeeded given the competition. See you all in the next post tomorrow! This is Arca, signing off,


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