"Argh!" Nancy said. The doors to the room were sealed, and it looked like she was trapped. A loud metallic sound came from above, and she looked up.
"Oh, no," Nancy said. "No no no no no no no no no!"
From the top of the room, Death's scythe descended. It swung back and forth, as if on a pendulum. On each swing, it fell lower and lower. Half an inch, an inch, maybe more? Nancy could do naught but watch in horror as the unstoppable instrument of her inevitable demise came closer and closer and CLOSER!
There was only one thing Nancy could think of doing at this point. She pulled out her cell phone and called her boyfriend.
"Hey, Ned," Nancy said. "How's it going?"
"It's fine," Ned said. "How's the mystery coming along?"
"I'm almost done, but I need another clue about Edgar Allen Poe," Nancy said. "You're the English expert, so I thought I'd ask you. Did Mr. Poe ever write a story about, I dunno, a giant axe falling from the ceiling?"
"An axe?" Ned asked.
"Yeah, an axe which is swinging back and forth and getting lower and lower," Nancy said, noticing that the axe was now only about two feet above her head. "And I need this information really quickly."
"Sounds like The Pit and the Pendulum," Ned said. "That's a story where—"
"How did the person in the story escape?" Nancy interrupted.
"He didn't," Ned said. "He got some rats to—what's going on there, Nan? I can barely hear you."
The swinging of the axe was loud to begin with, and now that it was much closer, the noise was so great that it made phone conversation impossible.
"Hold on a second, Ned," Nancy said. She walked over to the other side of the altar, which was as far away from the path of the pendulum as possible.
"Sorry about that," Nancy said. "Something's making a lot of noise here. Anyway, how did he escape?"
"He got some rats to chew the ropes that had him tied down," Ned said. "That let him escape the pendulum, but he was still stuck in a torture pit. It wasn't a good situation."
"Poor fellow," Nancy said. "Why was he being tortured?"
"The story doesn't say," Ned said. "It starts with him being sentenced to death by torture, but we never learn why."
"Well, thanks for the information," Nancy said. "That really helps."
"You're welcome," Ned said. "But what does The Pit and the Pendulum have to do with your mystery?"
"Let's just say that I may have found a lost book written by Edgar Allen Poe," Nancy said. "I'll be back home soon. I'll tell you about it then."
"Sounds great!" Ned said. "See ya!"
"Goodbye," Nancy said, before hanging up the phone. She stretched out her arms and said, "Okay, sounds like I need to find some rats and—huh?"
The pendulum axe reached the ground, then retracted back up to the top of the ceiling. Both exits to the room opened up again.
"Oh," Nancy said. "All I had to do to avoid the axe was step out of its pathway. That was simple."