As he slid the last piece of the border into place, Sam nodded to himself with satisfaction. After all, he had done pretty well considering the puzzle's box was so faded and scuffed, he had no idea what it was a picture of.
He had found it on the shelf amongst the pile of old board games and children's books in one of the log cabin's back bedrooms. There was nothing else to do while he waited for the others to arrive so he had poured the pieces out on the kitchen table and began searching for all the edge parts.
Now that the border was done, the more arduous task of turning all the other pieces over and figuring out where they went began.
Surprisingly, with no radio, phone, or any other distractions to impede him, Sam was able to concentrate on the puzzle with feverish ease.
Only a few hours had passed and he had already finished a large chunk of the picture, which seemed to be the interior scene of an old, wooden cabin. Not unlike the very one he and his friends had rented for the weekend.
He had arrived early, but as he looked outside and saw the sun setting through the soot-covered windows he thought that they should have been there by now.
Checking his phone, he was once again ensured there was no reception and no messages had come through as to where they were.
Looking back at the puzzle he saw how much he had actually finished and was even more impressed with himself. Then he took a closer look and noticed the lantern on the wall shelf in the corner of the puzzle's cabin was very similar to the red one on the shelf in front of him.
Not just similar in fact, exactly the same.
The old gas stove in the kitchen was also very like the white one he had just pieced together in the puzzle.
Glancing from puzzle to actual cabin, it became apparent that everything was the exact same; same cabinets in the kitchen, same clock on the wall, same grimy windows; every detail the same.
Maybe it was one of those puzzles you could get made from a person picture or painting, Sam thought. However, the box, though old and worn, seemed store bought, with a specific picture once on the front cover.
Strange he thought, but now that he had realized it, it made finding the pieces much easier. He had the cabin itself as a reference now and it he started to put it together at an even quicker pace than before.
A few unnoticed hours went by as he worked away, until there were only a few pieces in the middle left to put in place.
There seemed to be someone sitting at the picnic table in the kitchen, the double of the one he was seated at. As he positioned a few more pieces into their spots he leaned back and regarded the figure in the chair.
They had their back to him it would seem, and had a red plaid shirt on, almost the exact colour as the one he himself was wearing. No, not almost. The exact some colour as his.
Sam furrowed his brow with unease as he looked down at the scene he had almost completed putting together.
A scene that was unnervingly similar to reality at the moment.
Taking his hand away, he saw that there was only one piece left, the one to complete the seated figure's hunched over body.
After a few moments of gazing at the hole in the middle of the puzzle, he looked around the table to find the completing piece, but there were none more to be found on the table.
Sam then ducked down to see if it had fallen under the table but the floor was bare.
He walked over to the counter where he had left the box and opened it only to find that too was devoid of any puzzle piece.
Scratching his head, Sam sat back down at the table and stared at the incomplete jigsaw. Every detail of the puzzle's scene exactly the same as when he looked at around the real room, the only detail missing was the last piece; the figure's missing piece.
Feeling an odd hollow sensation he looked down to see a puzzle piece shaped hole where his chest should have been.
Jolting to his feet he turned to see his reflection in the mirror that hung beside the cabin's front door.
The hole went all the way through so that he could see the hallway door behind him. The strength went out of his legs and he dropped heavily into the table's chair.
His vision started to blur and dim as he started to move a hand to touch the sides of the gaping hole in his chest, but his arm dropped back down limply and he slumped forward lifelessly onto the table.
The cuckoo clock on the wall and inside the puzzle chimed and went silent.