Furrowing his brow and putting his head in his hands with an exasperated sigh, area sadist Daryll Corne was forced to admit to himself earlier this evening that the transients he’d kidnapped and forced to participate in a deadly puzzle-room in his basement had yet to come together as a team and unravel his maddening series of clues.

“These assholes haven’t even noticed the riddle encoded in the wall tapestry, let alone realized that the pictograms tattooed on their foreheads combine to reveal the location of the buried safe,” Corne muttered to himself in frustration, pacing back and forth as his cruel game entered its 17th consecutive hour. “If they don’t start combining their unique talents and life experiences soon, they’ll barely get past the Hall of Mirrors before the bomb-collars explode.”

Corne expressed further frustration that the three homeless individuals had triggered none of the many Rube Goldberg-esque booby-traps he’d spent hours meticulously rigging up throughout the extensive tunnel network beneath his house. Each trap — themed around various moral failings he’d identified in the lives of his victims through hours of painstaking research — was meant to only be avoidable through teamwork but, as it turned out, another successful tactic was to simply not interact with the murder-room altogether.

“I spent hours in the hobby shop hand-picking which razor blades and rusty syringes to scatter ominously across the floor,” added Corne, “not to mention enrolling in night school just to make sure I got the Latin conjugations right for all the fire-and-brimstone Old Testament quotes painted on the walls. Just so that what — they could bicker among themselves about whose fault it was they got abducted?”

At press time, the would-be serial killer had begun banging his head against a wall as his unwilling contestants refused to even approach the combination bear trap/Rubix cube mechanism he’d lovingly assembled by hand the night before, and instead were opting to sob quietly in a corner.

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