The challenge.

Ian sat nervously in his chair in a small room with no windows. This was it. All those weeks spent studying and training came down to this final challenge that would determine whether or not he would graduate from spy school.

Then the lights went out as a projector shone some words on the wall in front of him:

Mary had a little lamb
Its fleece was white as snow
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go

Ian was unsure how to interpret what was surely a highly cryptic message. Then he remembered what he read in Spy School For Nincompoops:

If during your final challenge you happen to see what looks like a cryptic message projected on the wall in front of you, chances are good it may be describing a bomb about to go off. In this case you may want to scream and drop to the floor in anticipation of the explosion, which may or may not happen. In fact, the message may not even be about a bomb at all, but screaming and dropping to the floor is a sure way to impress your trainers nonetheless.

“Yaaaaaah!” Ian screamed as he fell to the floor and braced himself for a possible explosion.

“What was that?” a voice asked as the lights turned back on to illuminate an older man entering the room.

Trying sound like a real spy, Ian blurted out, “That was a message about a bomb about to explode in this room, hence the reference to the lamb. The fact it follows Mary around indicates the bomb’s in this very room!”

“Really,” replied the older man, “or it could mean you’re deathly afraid of nursery rhymes. Anyone that afraid of Mother Goose cannot be allowed to join our ranks as a spy. I’m sorry, but you’re out.”

Ian’s heart sank at the bad news. The only thing left to do was hope for the best for his friend Steve, who was seated in the room next door for his final challenge.

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