Short Story: The Vault
In a tightly guarded building, on a tightly guarded floor, sat an unguarded vault the size of a room.
“This vault is impenetrable. We challenge you to try and open it. If you succeed by the end of this week, you can get any thing inside,” the director of the company declared.
The declaration caused quite a stir, from news sources to schools to the shadier side of society. Licensed safecrackers, handyman, uni students and more flocked to the challenge, but neither finesse nor brute force could pry it open. Through it all, the challengers were left largely alone, as long as they didn’t try to go anywhere else.
The lax security enticed the more shady individuals out of the shadows, bringing with them their own creative slant to the challenge. But still the vault remained shut. And through it all, the director continued to challenge and remind them to break the safe before the deadline ended.
One evening, a masked stranger appeared in the director’s office.
“You actually can’t even open the safe yourself,” the stranger opened with a statement.
The director eyed the stranger warily, then ran a hand over his weary eyes.
The stranger’s eyes narrowed. “Is she still alive?”
The stranger nodded.
“I can’t break your safe, but I can get your daughter out.”
The stranger stopped there, but the director was familiar with this dance.
“Name your price,” he said.
“A house. Large enough to house twenty people comfortably,” the stranger said.
The stranger nodded and vanished. The seconds ticked by, punctuated by the clock that hung on his office wall. The director tried to laugh at himself. Why had he expected an immediate result when they had made no progress the past-
The masked stranger appeared with his daughter in her arms. Forgetting everything else, he lunged for his daughter, whom the stranger relinquished without a word.
“I’ll be back for the house in one week,” the stranger said before vanishing once more.
He would get her a whole apartment complex. His daughter’s life was worth at least that.