Upon opening the lid, the box will be found to contain the pieces of a puzzle. Most of the pieces are black or deep blue, some with specks of yellow. The backing of the pieces is a hard, hospital green.
There will come a strong compulsion to put the pieces together. There will be no chance whatsoever of the box, or its contents, being left in the room. The need to remove the puzzle from the room, to be sure that it does not come to harm, will be overwhelming. A strong sensation of needing to protect the contents of the box will pervade any decision about where the box is taken, or where it is put. If the box is not placed where it can be easily seen, it will be felt that the contents are not safe. Sleeplessness will result if the box is not safe.
All who see the box will lightly feel interested in opening it. Those who see the puzzle will want to put the pieces together. This will seem to be something that is very much a correct thing to do.
A sizable area will be needed to lay out the pieces, a very large table. It will be difficult to estimate the total number of pieces, and distractions of thought or of things happening about will serve to cause anyone counting the pieces to lose their place, or mix sorted piles together. Eventually the mind will settle on the comfortable belief that there are certainly more than a thousand pieces, and cease to worry about it.
Upon seeking out the edge pieces, the fitter will find they come quickly to hand, but this ease will be dismissed as luck, or chance, or perhaps even skill. Thus the frame of the puzzle will take shape almost at once. It will be evident that one long edge is the sky, while the other seems to be the hardly-lit pavement of some street.
It will be easy to discern the pieces that make up the sky, so the fitter will likely place those together first. A skyline of distant buildings, a collection of steeples, stacks and towers. The fitter will be pestered of a vague recollection that suggests the skyline is familiar, but the name of the city will not come past the tip of the tongue.
Having now some experience with the colors of the pieces, the fitter will move onto to street ... and will detect that the yellow specks are bits of light – from windows and street lamps. The details of these lights, the shadows now evident which the lights can be ceased to cast, will surprise the fitter, as prior they seemed but splotches. But now here it can be seen that this is the light to a distant living room, wherein the occupant’s hand can be seen pulling the curtain closed. Here is a street-lamp where the lamper is lighting the wick.
Overall, there is a great deal more detail than was first witnessed. The street is put together, showing the curbs sweeping in a gentle curve to the right, with gray iron fences and houses shrouded behind the trees in the front yards. The street ends some inches up from the bottom of the edge of the picture, at a curb and a low stone wall that the fitter conjectures must surround the house at the picture’s centre.
Yet most of the pieces continue to be black in color. As they are sorted and resorted, the fitter is able to steadily find piece after piece that makes this little bit of the puzzle here, or up there ... but the overall picture is denied. But still, there is a sense of moving towards something, of making one’s way inside.
A piece that hasn’t been seen before, with half a visible face, is now discovered. For a long time, and with much searching, the other half the face is found. Together the two pieces fit into a place along the wall. Looking at the completed visage, the fitter notes a distinct likeness in the face, and feels amused by it. The face is atop a person who is standing behind the wall. Another piece shows the person is pointing at something. Something further away. The fitter leans in close ... the artwork of the figure’s hand is astonishing. The hand appears to be almost shaking ...
At once the fitter will realize something is horribly, awfully wrong. A terrible comprehension suggests that the puzzle must be dismantled, and at once. But the hands remain lax. There is no energy to undertake the task. Hundreds of pieces have been fitted together. To take them apart again would be an exhausting proposition.
The fitter's eyes cast over the remaining unattached pieces, and sees a dozen at once that would fit into various places of the puzzle that have been studied throughout the afternoon ... or has it been the evening? The fitter looks outside and sees that it is dark. The room about is lit by lamps. Was it not day when the task began? It could have been the early evening. The fitter cannot remember when last food was eaten, or anything else that has been done since waking except to construct the puzzle.
Suddenly its realized that in wondering about the time, some five or six pieces have been absentmindedly added to the construction. The fitter vows not to add another. With enormous effort, the chair is pushed back, the body pulled to an upright position. The gaping hole in the center of the puzzle draws the eye, and the hand reaches back for the chair. But with resolve, it is pulled up instead to cover the eyes, and a few staggering steps are taken backwards. In panic, the room is abandoned, the door slammed closed on the vexatious, fragmented thing.
The house is empty. A rapid search produces no one, only a note that the other occupants have left on some errand. Staring through the windows at the outside darkness, it is wondered what foray could have taken them into the night. Moments later, the matter is forgotten, shelved, as something that can be dispensed from the mind and not taken up again until their reappearance.
Some distant thought of eating or drinking is quashed in the sudden need for sleep. Moving past the door holding fast the room containing the puzzle, the body is taken up the stairs to bed, undressed, dressed again and laid between the sheets. The eyes are closed.
But sleep does not come. Not in the complete and certain understanding that the puzzle must be taken apart.
Sweat rises from every pore. An ague grips the body, as a chill accompanies the understanding that the stairs will have to be descended and the door to the room opened again. The very idea breeds exhaustion in the blood. With exhaustion ought to come sleep, but there is only the fever and an acute awareness of the body's weight, its pressure upon the mattress of the bed, the effort it will require to lift it from its place of rest, a place where it desires to remain.
A strenuous exertion brings the legs to the side of the bed and hangs them over the floor. The hands follow, gripping the mattress and pulling upon the torso. Somehow the mechanism is made to stand, and standing, made to lurch towards the bedroom door. The dressing gown is abandoned, the feet left bare.
Beyond the door, the stairs are a black well, like that in the center of the picture. Without a light comes the descent into the blackness. Shadows from the main floor windows tell the whereabouts of the door that must be opened. Feet shuffle across the hall floor. A shaking hand grips the doorknob. The door comes open.
Inside, the lamps continue to burn. They have not been put out. The puzzle remains where it was left. It asks to be put together. Obedience suggests a great comfort. But stalwart, resolved, the puzzle is approached to do battle with the puzzle's will.
Clumsy fingers claw up the first piece and drop it with the unfit others. A second piece is added to the pile, and then a third. It cannot be done with both hands. One hand must gain strength from the table where it grips, holding the body steady. A fourth piece, and then a fifth. And steadily the destruction steadily continues. The wall is dismantled, the street is torn up, the skyline broken and the sky obliterated. With the breaking of the edge comes strength. At last, with both hands, the last two joined pieces are separated. The pieces are loaded into the box. The box is closed.
Something must be done with it. The first thought, to build a fire in the yard and burn it, is put aside at once. Whatever lives within must not be released. The box must be put somewhere. Somewhere safe. Somewhere that no person will feel compelled to open it, or commence upon the puzzle's completion. Others are not as strong. Others will fail to return from the brink.
It must be hidden. It must not be found. The mind fixes upon a vault. A vault that will not be opened. And then, upon the thought's heels, the understanding that when one dies, vaults are opened, and the contents put in the hands of descendents. One's children, who will not know what it is.
It will not be safe if it is hidden, thinks the mind. But it must be hidden, thinks the mind. But it cannot be hidden. But it must be ... but it cannot be ...
Virtually all of this above results from the dream I had last night. I wish I could say it was unusual ...