Bounty


[A chapter of The Holder of Deliverance.]

“Hello, mom.”

“Hi, honey. How is New York treating you?”

“It’s alright. Same old, same old, you know?”

“How did the audition go?”

“The what?”

“Didn’t you audition for Dracula last week?”

“Oh! Actually… I forgot about it…”

“You forgot? But, you wouldn’t stop talking about it! I thought you really wanted to be in that production!”

“Yeah. Well, I’ve had a lot going on. Things have been kind of crazy up here.”

“Eric, that’s not like you. You even moved all the way up there just so you could be in shows! I couldn’t imagine you forgetting about such an important audition.”

“…”

“Eric? Are you there?”

“Yeah, I’m here. Listen, I’m going to be out of town for a while. I’m going up to Boston, and I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. I just wanted to let you know.”

“What are you going to Boston for?”

“I can’t really say. I just wanted to let you know, so you didn’t worry about me. I’ll let you know when I’m back. I love you.”

“Eric, did something happen?”

“Goodbye.”


Up until now, there’s one question I’ve failed to ask myself. What would I do once I’ve found my answers? Go home, back to trying to become an actor, trying to become rich and famous? Compared to this world, even that dream is so… mundane. No, all I can think of now is my path before me.

I know more about the Objects than ever. More than most other humans could ever wrap their minds around. It would be a sin to let that knowledge go to waste.

Allen’s apartment is in a large complex with a garden out back, each apartment with a balcony. Night has fallen once again, and the ground is still covered in snow from the recent snowstorm. At a determined pace, I enter the complex and march up to his door.

Soon after I knock, the door cracks open and a puff of cigarette smoke rolls against my face. The man glaring at me has a scraggly beard and is puffing on a cigarette; he looks like a convict. He’s at least ten years older than the Librarian; are they really colleagues?

“Are you gonna tell me what you want, or shall I close the door?” he growls at me.

“I… The Librarian gave me your address.”

He rolls his eyes a little. “Oh. You must be Eric.” He pulls open the door for me and retreats into his living room, slumping on his couch. The TV isn’t set on anything, only showing static. Yet, he stares at it intently

“So… You know the Librarian…” I start.

“Duh,” he drawls, eyes still locked on the TV. “I wish I didn’t. He’s a prick.”

“Is that so?”

“He sits in his room researching the Objects, gave up the only Object he’s ever had, and is too afraid to go after any more. Why do you think Seekers hate him so much?”

Impatiently, I decide to get the subject at hand. “I’m… looking for the Pendulum.”

He gives me an odd look out of the corner of his eye, tapping his cigarette into the ashtray. “If you were to get the Pendulum, what would you do with it?”

Ah, the million-dollar question. He doesn’t understand what I know, just what questions I’m after. So, even if I were to tell him, he wouldn’t understand. I just stare at him blankly.

“You want it that badly?” he says. “You know as well as I do how special an Object is.”

He reaches into his front pocket and draws something out. What dangles from the thin silver chain in his fingers is a clear icicle-shaped point, sparkling like a diamond. As he holds it, it hangs unusually still in the air.

Then, he suddenly withdraws it, a hostile look on his face. Only then do I realize that I had been extending my hand toward it. Had I been doing this unconsciously? Awkwardly, I lower my hand. Glaring at me, he puts it back into his shirt pocket.

“I can see that look in your eyes. What did you learn from the Holder you met?”
Again, there are no answers I can give. Not until I’ve reached the Pendulum and met Snow White. Allen sighs in resignation at my silence.

“You really are a Seeker. Oh well. So, what do you think she is?” he asks, relaxing slightly. “Snow White.”

“I don’t know,” I finally say. “She might be a Seeker… But what else could she be?”

“A Holder, maybe?”

A bitter smile stretches across my face. “Isn’t the whole point of Holders that they just stay put and hold?”

He gives me a sigh in response. “Everyone thinks Holders and Seekers are so different, but they really aren’t. Holders are just Seekers who gave in to the addiction. You could say that they’re almost human.”

I’m silent for a long time, mulling over his words. Everything he said made perfect sense, and everything was what I’ve already come to realize on my own after retrieving my Object. There was no more use philosophizing about this, only finding answers. So, I draw the Librarian’s paper out of my pocket.

“What’s that?” he asks, eyeing it curiously.

“The instructions used to get the Pendulum. I got them from the Librarian.”

“Then let’s have a look at it, shall we?”

I open the paper and spread it out on the table before us.

In any city, in any country, go to any residential alleyway or street in a metropolis. Wait for as long as necessary without moving, and if you've come to right place, the white woman will approach you. Ask her if she is the Holder of Deliverance, and she will answer, before leading you out of the street and into the dark river.

If you do not break just from the chill of the water, you must ask three questions: “Why does the snow fall?,” “Why does the river run?,” and “Why does the Pendulum swing?” Each question, she will answer, the last in horrifying detail. If you last through the story, she will give you a Pendulum. The water will disappear, leaving you back in your world with the Object.


For several moments, silence permeates the room, and Allen lets his cigarette fall out of his mouth to the floor. The information in the instructions completely fails to surprise me. I had already figured it out while I was driving up here.

Allen, however, seemed much more shocked. He suddenly rises from the couch, scooping his car keys into his pocket. He starts to move toward the door, and I quickly rise to call to him.

“Where are you going?” I say. He turns to me with an annoyed look on his face.

“Where do you think? It’s bad enough that she’s following me, but she’s its Holder? I need to get out of here.” He moves back toward the door, but I call out once again.

“Wait!”

He sighs and turns back around again, glaring at me. I’m unexpectedly anxious. If he leaves, the Pendulum goes with him. If he leaves, it’ll all be for nothing.

“Can’t you just give it to me? Then you don’t have to worry about her at all.”
His eyes narrow, and one hand moves to his front shirt pocket, clutching the Pendulum.

“Give it to you? What kind of Seeker do you take me for?”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” I press. “You don’t want her following you anyway, do you? And besides, you can always get another Object.”

He shakes his head at me. “No, you don’t understand at all. I’m not gonna be like those other cowards. It doesn’t matter how much she wants to take it from me. I can’t give it up to her, let alone you. Not to anyone. Why do you think I still have it? I have to keep Her safe.”

“Allen…” I stare at the front pocket of his shirt, where the Pendulum lay. I can almost see it through the fabric. It’s so close… I can’t give up now. “Just give it to me. Then it’ll all be over.”

He draws a knife from his pocket and advances on me further. “Over my dead body.”

I hardly even take notice of the knife. It’s so close. I can practically reach out and grab it! There’s no way I can let it go now. I need that Pendulum.

I remember being back in the old room in the mental institution. I remember the words the Holder spoke to me. At the same time, I hear a whisper in my ear. As I finally notice the glint of the blade rising in his hand, my heart leaps into my throat.

I leap at him and grab the wrist that holds the knife, slamming him back against the wall. He shouts something at me, but I barely hear it. With my other hand, I make a grab for his pocket, but he grabs onto my wrist too. I feel his foot in my stomach, and with a grunt of pain, I tumble backwards, directly into the balcony doors.

I find out the hard way that they aren’t mounted very well, because the impact makes them pop off of their frames and shatter on the balcony floor. When I land on the balcony, I choke on a scream as my hands press down into the shattered glass and snow. Gasping, I lift a bloody hand and stare down at the small shards of glass sticking out of my palm. I can actually feel the glass piercing my skin…

Then, Allen is running at me from inside the room, brandishing the knife, and I kick out wildly. Miraculously, I catch his shin, and he falls past me, slamming against the ironwork railing. I hear a snap and a creak, and the railing gives just a little. Now’s my chance!

I leap to my feet, and ignoring my injuries, I grab his wrist again, as well as his neck, pinning him to the railing. The glass gets pushed further into my palms, but I press down to keep him from moving. He growls and latches to the hand around his neck, but the railing creaks and gives a little more.

“I don’t care what you do,” he chokes out. “I will never give Her to you.”

I don’t see any fear in his eyes as he sinks backward. He just glares at me defiantly, protectively. I understand that he truly would rather die than give up the Object. So, I put more weight down on him, practically feeling the bolts on the railing give one by one. At the last possible moment—at the moment when I hear the loud crack—I let go and step backward.

I watch Allen Dahl fall backward over the broken railing, five stories to the ground.
Last modified on 2009-12-22 13:22:35Viewed 5444 times

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