Beyond The Holders
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[Make sure you read Almost Human before you read this.]
Sometimes the most important questions are the ones you already know the answer to.
We walked steadily down the newly made hallway, our new-found guide, me, then Derrick silently behind us. However there was no chanting as I had read a million times before. The hallway, and the trip was entirely silent. As we walked the hallways began to change, grow darker, and more threatening. Rust began to take over the walls and ceiling, as the floor became nothing more then a grate, the only thing separating us from the endless darkness below. Eventually our guide stopped at a large metal door. Not one word as she left us, walking back the way she came. I wondered briefly what would become of her; would she die, or would she forget the whole ordeal? Or was she even ever there? Doubt quickly clouded my mind as we walked further down into the abyss. The Holder of the End was practically suicide, it was even in its tale. However, I wasn't there to collect the Object, so I thought that might help me. Also I wasn't prepared to die. The next room we walked into was almost a gigantic silo, with a spiral staircase all around the edge of the wall. In the very centre of the room was nothing but a long fall into nothingness. We continued to climb in silence. Not even a whimper from Derrick. I wondered if he had accepted his fate or had just lost what remained of his sanity when the portal collapsed.
The stairs ended. We ended in a room with grated floors, and a slightly smaller hole in the middle of the room. Oddly enough when I turned back to the stairs that got us there they were gone. I expected as much in that world, but I still was in no position to reliably predict what was going to happen next. We approached the hole. I soon realized why we were there. That is where I saved my own life by ending another. I wonder if Derrick knew. But I he didn't even look at me as I said goodbye. And as I pushed him over the edge I didn't hear a scream. Nothing but silence as he fell into the abyss. I don't know if he truly deserved a death like that, but all that I know is that I cannot justify my actions. What needed to be done had to be done. That's what he would have said. I can't pretend I believe that. There might have been another way, but I was reckless. I was prepared to sacrifice everything to find the truth, and I almost did. Almost instantly when I looked away from the abyss there was a new set of stairs. This one leading high up into the tower. I climbed them as quickly as I could. After a while, windows began to appear. Outside, if you could call it that, was dark red. I could see no ground, just endless red. Almost like a wave of blood. I kept walking upwards. Finally I arrived at a vista. I'm not sure how, but it just melded out of the tower. I stopped trying to rationalize things. I could see a black sun lighting the red sky. I realized where I was again. I was on the other side of the portal. And I was no longer alone.
He wasn't really my Father. But he was at the same time. He looked exactly as he did before, but his eyes had a certain wisdom behind them. And a certain fear. He sat on a stone throne, no Object in sight. I wondered if he hid it away for my sake. It was time for answers. “Where are we?” My Father no longer had the same voice, he now had several voices. He told me we were on the other side of the portal, a polar world to ours. He told me that I saw differently than he did. Where I saw twisted landscapes and creatures, he saw beauty and peace. He told me that the place was simply an extension of the real world there. Similar to ours, if not equal. This is where he lives now. Safely. If one could say that.
“What are the creatures?” I asked, hoping for a more appeasing answer. He told me that they were the opposite Seekers. I didn't really understand then. He told me that they were a form of balance, because even the Holders live by certain universal laws. Things don't want to change. Those things are the creatures, they want to rebalance things by retrieving the Objects. They are like sharks, with the right wiff of blood, they will search for miles. He told me all of this with an odd smile. I told him that Rockwell now had most of the Objects that the creatures got. He told me that as long as he didn't have all of them, it didn't matter how many he would amass. I asked how he figured all of it out from the diary. He told me he didn't. I didn't understand. He told me that the diary told him what was going to happen, and that he just followed it along. He told me that they figured out how to do everything with time, no matter what Derrick would have like to have believed. “The book told you the future?” I asked. “No exactly.” “Then what?” I asked. He told me to take out the page from the book. I had forgotten I had kept the piece. When I pulled it out of my pocket, I could read it. The odd characters were replaced by regular letters. I read the first paragraph:
It took me a long time to figure out what my Father was. Looking back now it seems so obvious, but then again, I never would have dreamt of it. My father would leave me and my mother for business trips. He would go all around the country, but making sure to hit every city. He had a big list of towns which he'd cross names off of. I always assumed he was a travelling salesman. Until the one time I went with him.
It was only then I had begun to understand. I asked the last question on my mind. “What are worse than Holders?” My “Father” laughed. I began to realize that I had been wrong. What was before me was no longer my father. It just wore his skin. My real father died when he used the Object. Something I had been trying not to think of. The whole time I wanted him to be alive because I wanted him to save me. I wanted him to figure everything out. I wanted a Deus Ex Machina, not my father. I felt my self crying, as I finally accepted my father's death. I cried for myself and everyone else. Derrick was right in one way, things weren't supposed to be like this. In a perfect world, no one would die for nothing. But I had come far during this journey. I grew up and I learned to take care of myself. I fought for what I believed in, and against what I found unjust. I learned things my father could never have taught me. I had been ready to die for that moment, and then I realized I had to keep living. For all of our sakes.
“Seekers,” was The Holder's response. “A Holder protects an Object, keeps it safe. But you people? You just lust after them and their power. You want everything and you are willing to do anything in order to get it." He climbed off the throne and stood up across from me. The End's face twisted into a smile. "You kill, you betray, you stoop so low. For what? Magical trinkets. But of course the Objects know this, and they enjoy it. You are the evil in this world. Nothing caused this mess but Seekers. You corrupt the very world you live in, but that wasn't enough so you all come here. Too many have died for you. You will all pay for what you've done someday. Rockwell will make sure of it.”
That changed everything. Silence once again took a hold of the world. “What?” There wasn't a smile on The End any more. Just a dead stare.
Everything began to go dark then. I had begun to pass out. I struggled for one more question.
“What happens when they come together?”
The End no longer spoke. But the voices came from everywhere.
“You already know the answer to that.”
And you know what? I did.
[ Our Epilogue.]
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