Exploring an Artist’s Studio | Decoding a secret message written in Houdini’s Code

by | 3:54 am | Crazy Finds, Ohio, Super Creepy

We found a note written in a Houdini’s Secret Code in a tortured artist’s studio in an abandoned apartment building in Cincinnati, Ohio.

While exploring an abandoned apartment building we find that the room furthest from the entrance has recently been used by a tortured artist that wrote off messages, poems, and lyrics. Can you decipher the code? This code is the same of that used by Harry Houdini to communicate with his wife Bess. We posted the message on Reddit and a user, BiggerJ, solved the mystery.


I’ve started on the code. It’s the Houdini code. The nine solo words and the phrase ‘be quick’ correspond to numbers.
1 through 9 are Pray Answer Say Now Tell Please Speak Quickly Look. Be Quick is special – I’ll get to it.
It begins: Look, Pray Answer-Pray Tell-Answer Answer-Tell,
As numbers, this becomes 9,12-15-22-5,

The meanings of hyphens and commas becomes clear now. Commas separate words, while hyphens separate letters. 1 is A and 2 is B and so on, so the message begins with the words I LOVE.I’m not 100% certain about the usage of Be Quick yet. It’s got something to do with 0 and is used both on its own and following Pray. On its own, it may mean 10, while following Pray it may mean 20. Unsure. Should be easy to work out just from context once everything else is decoded. EDIT – Pray Be Quick means 20 – I’m guessing Be Quick alone means 10. EDIT 2 – A usage of Be Quick alone also represented 20. As ambiguities go, this was an easy one to decipher.

There’s a whole story behind this particular code. Houdini was a huge skeptic so he came up with a plan to debunk mediums using his own death to do it. He stated that, after his death, if his consciousness persisted into the afterlife, he would send a message in a magician’s code he and his wife knew. We now know the code and intended message – the unencoded word Rosabelle, the name of their favorite song, followed by a single encoded word: BELIEVE.

Oh man. This is written in the Houdini code. Learn about it here and learn the code here.

I’ve decoded it! (To find out how, see my other replies.)
The fourth line does not end in a comma like the others, possibly indicating the end of a sentence. The presence of a period after the single-letter final line implies it is an initial; the line’s size implies it is both the final part of the message and a signature.



We had to cut this exploration short because someone entered the building and into the hallway next to us where I heard them and they hid while we made our exit. The creepy factor is a 10. Cincinnati is a gem and we love making the trip south for these unexpected urban explorations. Check out our fellow explorer at https://www.facebook.com/HBCFilms/



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  1. The secret code was to be revealed through 10 key words randomly chosen from a letter Houdini s friend Conan Doyle had written, and they were well memorized by Bess as she and Harry used them regularly in their mind-reading trick performances to code and decode messages.   Without knowing the following key words, their order and formulas, it would seem impossible for anyone else to be able to reveal and verify Houdini s message.

    • I’m just going by what the person who decoded it told me. There must have been some aspects that reminded him of the story. I had never heard of it before. Regardless this is still one of the craziest things we have found. Just because of the unique person that wrote the music, completed the artwork, and wrote the poem. I would still love to meet that person.

  2. So is ‘Be’ zero? I understand the rest (1-9), but if ‘Be Quick’ is 10 & ‘QuickLY’ is 8…? That’s where I’m getting confused. Does the ‘LY’ after ‘Quick’ change the numerical/ letter value?
    I’m incredibly facilitated by his code, ordered Kellock’s book to learn more about it. Also, please tell me more about what you do; specifically Houdini or interesting people/ things in general? Really enjoyed reading your post! Would love to hear your response; Thank you in advance!


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