[A chapter of The Holder of Deliverance.]

File found.
Date: Jan-13-08
Author: J. Quincy

Everyone has something that's important to them. An heirloom, a trinket, even something they see in a store one day and feel they must buy. That object becomes a part of their identity, a part of what defines them. Some objects are different.

There are some people who protect an item a little too closely, who shun social contact in preference for their precious item. These people might travel a lot, but you never know where they go. They go from city to city, visiting the oddest of places: mental institutions, hospitals, rehabilitation clinics. You might see them carrying instructions with them, that they won't ever let you see. They'll go into these places and ask for someone. They might come out much later, with something in hand.

If you ever know such a person, it might be too late for you. This person is a Seeker. Welcome to our world, and abandon all hope.

Does this woman even exist? No matter how many people I ask, no one knows about her. For two months, I roam all over Manhattan, but like a ghost, it's as if she were a passing vision.

I go to the hospitals first, hoping she had gone there if she was in trouble. I describe her carefully, but they say they would know if someone who looked like that were admitted. I go to the local police stations next, but the same situation repeats itself.

By now, it's driving me mad. She just stood out too much, the way she seemed to have come from nowhere before disappearing again. Somebody must know something.

Although I'm frustrated, I'm exhilarated at the same time. I had long grown tired of my life here, and now I feel like a detective. The white woman appearing before me was the oddest thing I've ever seen, and the search for answers is giving me almost more energy than I can handle.

But, despite going out to look for her on whatever spare time I can get from my lousy job, I've come home empty-handed every night. Luckily, I've never been the kind of person to just give up. Since I can't find anything on the streets, I instead turn to the Internet.

I end up spending the entire day searching through websites, using a combination of terms to describe her. Most of the hits are a waste of time, so I try adding the location. Now, I'm down to only a few hits, and one of these sites is extremely strange. It comes up as unavailable, and I pound the refresh button in frustration. To my surprise, a forum then appears, and I begin to investigate.

For being somewhat hidden, it still gets a modest amount of traffic. The creepiest part of it is that it looks like everyone is talking in code. I sift carefully through the forum for an entire day before I'm able to really construct what it is they're talking about. Most of the discussion revolves around a set of "Objects." I glance quickly through the posts, until I find what I'm looking for. In breathless anticipation, I read about a member called "Kochz" talking about a woman with white hair, white skin, white clothes, and black eyes.

Kochz -- 10/14/08 (Tue)
Has anyone else seen Snow White? Where's the last place someone saw her?

Several members discuss where she might be, and most think she's around New York. I laugh out loud, hardly able to contain my excitement as I reply as fast as I can.

CrieHanam -- 10/14/08 (Tue)
I'm not sure where she is now, but I've seen her!

I tell them where in Manhattan she had appeared. Perhaps I can find out who she is if we help each other track her down. Who was she? Where had she gone?
The forum is peculiar, without a doubt. I'm not sure what Objects the forum talks about, and what it has to do with the woman I've seen outside my apartment, but I need any answers I can get.

It isn't very long before I get a message from one of the members. To my surprise, all it contains is a phone number. I recognize it as a local number, and hesitate as pull out my phone. There's no way it could be unsafe, right? It's just a simple phone call. So, I dial in the number.

"Hey," comes the voice. "So, Snow White. You've seen her in Manhattan, then. Where?"

I pause before I can answer. His voice is flat and gravelly, and he already seems odd to me. How much can I tell him safely?

"She was outside of my apartment." Perhaps it's just because of the oddness of the situation, but my speech stiffens like ice. I try to relax. "Two months ago."

"Two months ago? That's the earliest sighting so far. We'd like to know more about where she is now, but maybe it's for the better if she hasn't turned up, right?"

He seems to be joking, but he's left me confused. It's for the better if they don't find her?

"How many have you got anyway?" he asks, much quieter. His voice has changed now; it's become deeper and quieter. It makes a chill run up my spine.

"I'm sorry. How many what?"

"Objects. How many?"

"Objects?" I pause. "Oh! No, I don't know about any of that. I just found that site to ask about the woman. I don't have anything to do with that Object... uh... business."

For several moments, I don't hear a thing. Just as I'm about to ask if he's still there, though, he speaks to me in a sharp hiss.

"No Objects? You mean to say you don't... know about anything?"

"Not really."

"Why would she be following someone who's not a Seeker?"

"Following me? She wasn't following me," I say. "I thought you all were looking for her!"

"We don't want to know where she is because we want to find her. We want to know so we can avoid her."

Why would he want to go to such lengths to avoid one woman? "Look, I don't know what you're talking about. I just wanted to find this girl. Do you know where she is?"

"You... want to?" he breathes in disbelief. "We Seekers would rather her disappear."

"So are you going to help me or not?"

There is one more long pause, and what he says next is barely audible.

"If you still want to know about her, you're going to have to get your hands dirty. This talk about Objects isn't just make-believe. It's real. There are Objects out there that are extremely special, and they twist those who seek them. They are called Seekers, and these are the people that Snow White is following. Are you sure you still want to look for her?"

For the first time, my exhilaration of the search can't be found. Instead, what this man has said to me gives me a slight amount of trepidation. It's only after he's finished speaking that I realize I've been holding my breath.

After a short pause, I say, "Yes."

"Then call me back after you're a little more educated."

He hangs up the phone. My fists clench a little in frustration. This man was completely serious about these "special" Objects. The whole thing is weird, but if I want to find the white woman, I would need to read into it more.

I slump back in my chair, once again leaning over to stare down into the street that the white woman had appeared in. The fallen snow goads me, reminding me of the ghost I saw that day.
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