Solution: Eschatology

Written by Tom Weisswange

The executable file provided, when run, shows the following:

The Puzzle:
255    0    0
The Solution:
0    0    255
The End of the World is Nigh: 2:00.

The last line is a clock that ticks down from two minutes; the title bar reads "Tick . . . ", which changes to "Tick . . . Tick . . ." at the one-minute mark.

The three numbers under "The Puzzle" constitute a slightly disguised form of the Tower of Hanoi puzzle; each number corresponds to a pole, with the nth bit of the binary expansion of the number being 0 if the nth disc is not on the pole, and 1 if it is. To move a disc from one pole to another, one clicks on the number that is not involved in the transfer. The solver must transfer all the discs from the first pole to the third (thus making the numbers for The Puzzle match the numbers for The Solution) before the clock runs out; if this is not done, the window disappears.

If the puzzle is successfully solved within the two minutes (which is not difficult if the solver realizes that the correct solution consists of clicking the numbers repeatedly in the pattern "third, second, first"), the timer continues ticking down (Galaxy Quest-style) until it reaches 1. Then the title bar changes to "You Win?", and text appears reading:

Far, far away, in a sacred temple, day and night, you hear only the soft 'click, click, click' of disc upon disc, counting the seconds to oblivion. Tap, Tap, Tap. The pace never varies, after all, who would want to hurry oblivion? You might just have accelerated the process a little bit. Thanks to you, The World is now just a little more...

and there is a button marked "OK." When this button is pressed, the title bar changes to "Congratulations," and the puzzle now reads:

The Puzzle:
228    213    226
The Solution:
193    198    197
the End Becomes Close, Destruction Inevitably Comes. 0:00

The capitalized initials in the last line spell EBCDIC; the given numbers, treated as EBCDIC codes, spell out the solution, UNSAFE. (Because, of course, the legend about the Tower is that when the original 64-disc version in the great temple of Benares is completed, the world will end; by solving the puzzle you have hastened this process.)