Lt. Duke LeJeune was sitting in his office staring at gruesome crime scene photos. Because he was a homicide detective this was not unusual. He was deep in thought constructing theories about the murderer when his cell phone buzzed. After a short conversation, he turned to his young colleague Sgt. Adele Palmer, a cybercrime specialist, and said sourly, “Seems like the Cheshire Cat is back at Gilgamesh, and the CEO is certain only we can save his company.”
“Cheshire Cat…you mean the anonymous group, The Friends of Lewis Carroll, is back with ransom demands?”
Duke scowled, “Yes. They’ve hacked into Gilgamesh servers again and all their systems are locked. And like last time, they’re threatening to steal Gilgamesh code to blackmail Gilgamesh customers, if they don’t get what they want.”
“Very serious, Duke. Over a 100 banks use Gilgamesh programs. And what do they want?”
“To win the rematch with the beamish boy.”
Adele couldn’t hold back a giggle at hearing the word ‘boy’ applied to the brawny, ex-Special Forces lieutenant. “You mean they want a rematch with you, three riddles again?”
“Yes…so let’s go. And this time maybe we can trace the hackers.”
The CEO and CTO, both late-thirties, both former coders, both looking grey, were waiting for them in the conference room. A large monitor connected to a laptop displayed a grinning cartoon calico cat wearing black bushy eyebrows, black-framed glasses, a black bushy mustache and a prominent nose.
“Great, the Cheshire Cat dressed up as Groucho Marx,” Duke muttered.
“Groucho who?” the CTO and Adele asked simultaneously.
“Never mind. Just look it up.” Duke replied curtly.
As they watched, a cartoon paw came into view and waved not a cigar, but a fat brown roll labeled ‘Bitcoin’.
“Can’t happen.” Adele said. “Bitcoins don’t physically exist.”
Below the Cat was the command: ‘Enter your name but only if you are the beamish boy.’
Duke typed ‘Duke LeJeune’.
Excellent. Hello Copper. First riddle. Fill in the blanks with the same letters in the same order. The _____ Red Queen said to Alice, “I’m _____ to have you to tea. I’ve _____.”
Duke stared at the monitor for a moment, then entered: The notable Red Queen said to Alice, “I’m not able to have you to tea. I’ve no table.”
The Cat’s grin widened and showed some pointy teeth. ‘So, at least you’re a literate Copper. Are you also a betting man? Suppose you play this simple card game. Every time you draw you bet $11 in the hope of winning $10 when you draw red. If you draw black you lose the $11. At the end of 42 cards, you’re even. How many reds did you draw?”
Duke wrote 10 and 11 on a page in his notepad then glanced out the window at the city fifteen stories below. He wished he was back at his desk, working on the murder case. He doodled for a moment then typed ‘22’.
The Cat’s eyebrows rose and the wide grin became more sinister. ‘Tsk-tsk! So very familiar with sports gambling? Copper, do you have a secret vice? No matter. Last round. You return from a car chase, and check your vehicles. 70% have lost the left front wheel, 75% have lost the right front wheel, 80% have lost the left back wheel and 85% have lost the right back wheel. What is the smallest percentage of cars that have no wheels, and the maximum percentage.”
Duke turned to Adele. “Please confirm my addition that 70+75+80+85 equals 310.”
When Adele nodded Duke smiled and entered, ‘10% and 70%’
The Cat’s eyebrows bounced up and down while the Cat’s face expanded to fill most of the monitor. “So, you know your Lewis Carroll. Then the Cheshire Cat slowly faded away. The black mustache and the toothy smile were the last to disappear.
A message flashed, ‘You have done much too well, beamish Copper. Next time the Bandersnatch.” Then the screen went black. The CTO’s assistant rushed in and shouted that all systems were unlocked and behaving normally.
Duke looked at Adele. “Sorry Duke, they’re using TOR.”
The CEO wheezed, “Next time? Bandersnatch?”