The Architect grinned, gazing down at the project that he was about ready to begin. This one had proven particularly hard to put together, but that just made solving it that much more enjoyable. He sighed, sitting back in his dark, padded chair. He did so enjoy completing his puzzles. He enjoyed them so much that he had even made a name for himself among those who valued such things. That interest had resulted in his current conditions, he thought, as he gazed around his spacious room with its high ceiling and expensive wooden floor. Ah, but that was not why he did it, oh no. He did it for the excitement, the intricacy, the pleasure of having one piece fit seamlessly into another as he placed them together.
He smiled again as he turned back to his table. All that sat on its top was a few, perhaps a dozen, disparate 3d puzzle pieces, curiously matching exactly the amount of computer monitors surrounding the man, all spaced around a single 1 foot by 1 foot mat in the center. Now, The Architect did not like the “Flat” puzzles. They lacked art, he thought, true art could only be achieved with true form, and true form meant that they had to have substance, and their formation, meaning. A small beep to his left indicated to him that it was time, and so bending down over the puzzle pieces lying on his desk he selected a flat one with a blocked edge, forming a sort of “L” shape and set it down onto the middle of the mat.
When that first block touched the mat, one of the monitors to his left sprang to life. He spared no glance at it, only quietly mumbling that it all started with a base. The colors on the monitor resolved into picture, a video, in fact, showing meetings in a dark room between many different, suited men, and money finally exchanging hands between them, briefcases sliding across the table. Many briefcases, containing lots of money. Then the video switched to a more well lit room, adorned as a normal, commonplace office.
One of the men sat there, with one of the briefcases, and across from him sat The Architect. The man began speaking to him. The Architect listened, and when the man finished speaking he held up the briefcase, as well as a picture. The Architect considered him for a moment, ignoring the picture and then finally he held out his hand to the man. The man shook it, and the screen went back into a loop.
The Architect leaned down staring hard at the remaining pieces. Finally he reached out to one with two hedges on the ends, and set it atop the previous piece. As that piece fell, a second screen sprang to life beside the first. The screen showed a man in an apartment, well dressed and sipping a glass of wine. The phone rang and he answered it. He nodded immediately, set down the phone, and went to make a call of his own.
Without hesitation this time, The Architect selected another piece and places it in a notch on the now-forming puzzle. Once again a screen sprang on. This one showed a man in a bar. Casually sitting at a table with a full glass of beer in front of him, he seemed to be waiting for someone. A man entered the bar and immediately headed towards his table. He sat down, said a few words to the man across from him, slid him a letter, then got up and left. The other man rose, picking the letter up and slipping it into his pocket, he got up to follow.
Click, another piece slid into place, another screen turned on. Repeated four more times, depicting various different men being contacted in some way, and all in some way accepting the request that was made of them. Now with half of the screens lit, The Architect sat up from his work, carefully calculating the puzzle that he had constructed so far. Pleased with his work, he leaned back in to continue it. You had to take it step by step, but you also had to leave time to consider the sum of all your parts, because if you didn’t then it would surely fail, and all of your work would go to waste.
As he continued his work the fifth screen turned on. It showed all the men in a room, with the well dressed man showing them something on a whiteboard. He looked around, making sure that they were all paying attention. Finally he asked if they all understood what they were to do. They all nodded. The man smiled, and the other men all got up and left the room. This time The Architect did acknowledge the video, turning towards it and watching it loop back again. Right when the men got up to leave the room, he turned back to his desk and began placing pieces in quick succession.
Click, one, the screen showed one of the men walking towards a building, with the title “New Age Bank” in big letters on the top. It switched, and it showed a man in a sewer, climbing up a ladder on the side. Next it showed one of the men dressed in a police uniform, standing outside of the bank building. A teller, at the bank. A security guard, inside the bank, and finally a man on the buildings roof, opening an electrical panel with a pair of pliers.
Click, two, the man enters the bank, and once inside takes out a gun and shoots into the air. The man outside dressed as a policeman starts turning people away, saying that the bank is closed at the moment. The man dressed as a security guard subdues the other two guards, and the teller gets on the ground with the others. The man on the roof cuts the internet connection for the bank, and sets up a wireless jammer to stop cell phone calls. The man comes up from the sewer in the room under the vault, and starts setting up explosives.
Click, three, the two men inside get the bank people out of the way, and they make their teller and another transfer money to certain accounts. The man on the roof makes his way down to the basement, where the other man is finished hardwiring the explosives.
Click, four, the policeman outside stands watch for any police coming, the men in the basement start removing money from the vault, and the men on the main level continue to keep any problems from occuring.
Click, five, the men in the basement signal the others that they are done, and they move back down to the sewers. The men on the main level lock the people in a room, and then make their way down to the basement as well. The policeman outside alerts the actual police to the burglary, then quickly leaves the area.
Click, six, the six men all celebrate in an apartment, opening the bags of money and planning their used for their shares. They open them and, much to their confusion, they find that only one of the bags contain any money. They quickly realize that the well dressed man is gone, but before they can do anything the police burst into the room. The loop ended with them being taken off in handcuffs.
As The Architect fit the last piece of the puzzle into place, he couldn’t keep a small look of regret from crossing his face. This puzzle had required that no loose ends be left, and unfortunately that had meant all indeed. This time, however, he had had to decline that particular detail.
“Well Horace, what do you think of that?” He said, turning his chair around to face the door. “In all my years of puzzle-making, you are the only loose end.”
”Quite,” said the well dressed man, “But I am worth it, am I not?”
”I would say so, Horace.” The Architect mused, turning toward the other side of the room. “I wouldn’t have been able to complete nearly so many without you.” The well dressed man turned too, and they both stood there looking at the shelves upon shelves of over a hundred completed puzzles.