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The Jigsaw Puzzle

by nariko_gin


"The strangest jigsaw puzzle in the world."

     That's what it said on the cover. Thyme looked at it. It didn't seem all that strange. He blew off the rest of the dust that had collected on the top of the box. Now that all the grime had been cleared away Thyme could see the package better. There wasn't much to look at. The image on the box had been scraped off so only the title was still visible.

     The red Bori looked at the cover again.

     "The strangest jigsaw puzzle in the world"

     He shrugged. He had done lots of jigsaws in the past and didn't see what was so different about this one. He slid his claws under the cover of the box. Good. The tape was still there, that usually meant that all the pieces were there too.

     Thyme took the jigsaw to the front of the shop. The red Lupe at the register sat waiting for a customer.

     "I would like to buy this please."

     The Lupe put on her eyeglasses and peered over at the jigsaw. She frowned then took her spectacles off.

     "You sure you found that in my shop Bori?"

     Thyme nodded, "Yes Ma'm, over in the back."

     The lupe shook her head, "I've never seen it before," she insisted, "but if you say it was from my shop then it probably was, you probably wouldn't want to pay me for someone else's things."

     The Bori nodded. "I'll put it back if you don't want to sell it to me." Thyme desperately hoped she wouldn't make him return it, the puzzle was screaming at him to put it together.

     The lupe smiled at him. "You're a nice young Bori, I'll give it to you for only 10 Neopoints, no one else would want it anyway."

     The Bori grinned; this was a much better deal than he expected. Now he could go home and work on the puzzle in peace, his owner was out for the weekend.

     "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

     The Lupe nodded solemnly, "Very good, now come back after your done and tell me what it is."

     The Bori walked out laughing and smiling. When Thyme got home he immediately went into his room, the light green fern wallpaper clashing horribly against his dark red fur. He made himself a sandwich and sat down at the table. He sliced through the tape holding the lid down and started to get to work.

     He started with flipping all the pieces face up on the table then separating them by color. The picture was slightly smudgy but the colors were still in good condition. He stopped looking at an odd shaped green tile. The green on the puzzle piece looked exactly like the color of his wallpaper.

     Was his wallpaper really that old? After sorting them by color then by insides and borders he started to assemble the pieces. Thyme decided to do the green patterned pieces first, curious about its resemblance to his own wall.

     A half-hour had gone by before Thyme stopped. The puzzle pieces seemed to be making up a room as far as he could tell. He looked at the green tiles on the table then at his wall. Then repeated the motion.

     The puzzle's wallpaper was the exact same as his own. Now Thyme was really interested. How many pieces did the jigsaw have, he wondered. He looked at the box.

     "Number of pieces;" the box read, "Varies but nearly always completes."

     Thyme frowned. Maybe this was the strangest jigsaw puzzle in the world. He looked back at the table where the unfinished jigsaw lay. Did he really want to finish the puzzle? What would the picture show?

     The Bori looked at the pictures in some of the remaining pieces. This one showed a claw, a Grarrl's perhaps? Another showed a large red ear, maybe an Usul's, he thought.

     He sat down again. He really did want to finish the puzzle. Thyme snickered at himself. What was he afraid of, it's only a puzzle.

     Another hour went by before thyme rested from his work. He was right it was definitely a room, slightly dark but nevertheless. It showed a window and a table with two sets of claws hanging in-between its legs, an unfinished bookshelf in the corner, I'll do that next, Thyme decided, it also showed a light yellow rug, its color brightened by an unshown moonbeam. He stopped searching for the black and blue striped pieces that made up the bookrack and looked again at the rug.

     He looked at the floor. Then at the puzzle again. It was the same. The exact equivalent in every way, right down the dark stain on its edge.

     Thyme's eyes widened and he pushed himself away from the large table. His heart started to pound harder, harder, harder! He started to shake and his teeth chattered even though it was summer. He paced through the house trying to find, something, anything to do but that strange puzzle.

     He couldn't. He stopped dead in his tracks. He wanted to finish the puzzle. He wanted to find out what it showed. He couldn't stand not knowing. Thyme took a deep breath and headed back up to his room.

     It was dark. The shade was pulled down and the lights were off. Thyme flicked the switch with his paw and waited. Nothing happened. He giggled humorlessly, more in terror than on whim.

     The Bori used his big claws to feel about in the dark; he stumbled to the edge of the room and pulled up the shade that was down. It snapped up, filling the room with light from the full moon. He sighed and reassured himself.

     It's only a puzzle, he thought, what harm can it do?

     Thyme steadied himself and returned to the table. He decided to work from the window down, matching color to color, shape to shape. Another hour went by, Thyme had forced himself the entire time not to look at the puzzle, but to concentrate on finding the niche for every piece.

     Thyme closed his eyes and massaged his neck with one claw, it had gotten darker and was now getting harder to see the puzzle. He looked at the jigsaw and gasped.

     He was looking at himself.

     The picture had become as sharp as the colors it had first held and it hit Thyme like a knife. His eyes widened and he couldn't breath. He raised a clenched fist to knock the puzzle apart when -

     He suddenly realized; he was missing a piece. He looked at the puzzle closely, trying to avoid gazing into the eyes of his reflection. It was actually two pieces, right where the moon would be.

     Could it really be that bad? He decided to look for the final two parts.

     The Bori rechecked the table, ran his paws along the surface of the puzzle to check for lumps, and ducked down to look under the table to no avail. Thyme laughed.

     It was just a puzzle, a stupid unfinished puzzle with two pieces missing. Thyme laughed again and picked up the box, reading.

     "Number of pieces; Varies but nearly always completes." Thyme smiled and was about to put the top down when he saw something.

     The last two pieces. Thyme dropped the lid on the table and scooped up the two remaining pieces. He looked at them but couldn't tell what they depicted. He slowly slid one into its place in the window.

     It was half a face. Ugly and contorted, it looked like nothing he had ever seen before, a mix of two animals that had produced a hybrid monster. His paw trembled putting the last piece in.

     It wasn't real then, was it? he thought. Of course it wasn't. That-that-that thing in the window couldn't be real. Thyme looked at the picture again; every detail was in order, the exact expression of his face, the whirls of the plush rug, even the titles of the books, but then the face. Everything but it was there in the room; it must be just a cruel resemblance to life, coming out of an imaginative artist's head.

     He sighed, relieved and turned around. Then he screamed. The face, it was there.

The End

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