Holder of Detachment

In any city, in any country with a working rail network, find the oldest train station of that city. When you are ready to seek this object and after your have said your goodbyes to those worthy of them, you must sell all your earthly possessions -with the sole exception of the clothes you'll wear that fateful day. (Choose only the oldest and humblest of your rags for that purpose; do not layer.) Do not attempt to make a profit nor look around for the best deals: just endeavour to get rid of your mundane encumbrance as quickly as you can, for whatever sum you are offered.

Collect all the proceeds in cash and pack them into a plastic bag, then head for the station (on foot, don't you dare spend any of that money on public transport, water nor food). Wait until the ticket-selling booth is about to close and stepping in, state to the attendant that you need to go to the Holder of Detachment. The tired expression of the ticket-seller will melt into abject horror and he or she will attempt to close the booth with trembling hands while refusing to look at you. It is then that you must present your bagful of money. At its sight, the fear will give way to sudden professional composure and with a blank face and monotonous voice, the attendant will ask you: "Is that all, sir?" Before you can answer, though, the bag will be claimed and from an ancient-looking machine made of blackened cast iron, a big, yellowed ticket will be produced and handed wordlessly to you. As you take it, the attendant will close the booth with rather unnecessary violence.

On the ticket you'll find printed the time of departure: Long after the last officially scheduled train and long before the first train of the morning next. Take a seat in the instructed platform and wait. You will not be disturbed by guards as the platform empties of the late riders going back home -to lives of contentedness the kind of which you have now renounced.

Wait and do not slumber. Wait and mind not the unnatural chill lifting from the ground as the expected time arrives, biting to your bones and against which your thin rags offer no protection. Wait and pay no attention to the clicking and rustling and hissing noises of the other 'commuters' of this after-world train line; keep your eyes trained on the converging lines of the railway in the distance whence the train will come forth to avoid undesirable... interactions. Moreover, wait and hope against hope that you followed all these instructions correctly and that your payment was deemed true. Seven is a gross miscalculation of the number of hells, as you'll soon learn if an insufficient or untrue amount was paid and you were handed an incorrect ticket in exchange, instructing you to board the wrong train.

If a train stops in front of you, make sure it's then exactly the hour printed in the ticket and not even a minute early. Many things roam the railways at those hours which are only trains on a vague external resemblance and that feed on the hapless passengers willingly stepping into their sliding doors-like maws.

Finally, your train shall arrive, precisely on time. A ruin of mould and rust seemingly incapable of standing still without falling apart, let alone being rail-worthy. Do not wallow in such considerations, though; board quickly for if it departs without you, morning will never come for you. Your soul shall remain chained to this now timeless platform where you will wait forever for a train that never again will come.

As you step inside, pray that you boarded a completely empty carriage because otherwise I have no further advice or hope to give you; you knew the risks. If fortune smiled at you, pick and take a seat. (I advise against taking one of the window seats: you may be tempted to take a look outside the coal-blackened windows and have your sanity scoured clean from your brain by the loathsomely otherworldly sights along the train's route.)

What follows is more waiting; what feels like a lifetime of waiting. Joints aching, senses dulled by the monotonous, eternal, all-encompassing tak-tak of the wheels meeting the rails' junctures; you'll wonder if you've ever done anything else than sitting there, or whether existence outside the train was ever more than a dream. Then, without warning, a creaking sound will announce the opening of a carriage door behind you, followed by slow but purposeful steps towards you.

As the steps stop next to your seat, hand out your ticket without looking up. The ticket will be picked from your hand and you'll hear the rustle of something being scribbled on it. NEVER look up. Before you are given back your ticket, a mocking voice will ask of you, "Are you having a pleasant trip?" You must answer, with as much conviction as you can muster, "Is all of this actually worth it?" A long pause will follow while you feel a burning gaze penetrate your being, so fierce that not even the marrow of your bones could escape its scrutiny. There's no way to know what or how the Holder judges but from the answer you'll learn your fate.

If "Yes" is the answer, you'll arrive soon to the same place from whence you departed, where coming the morning you'll be able to claim a refund of your money just by showing your face. Squander it at your heart's content in worldly pleasures, for only a couple days of your life remain before being claimed by a most gruesome death.

On the other hand, if the answer is, "Of course not", you'll arrive to some other station in a country far away from your own. Wretched and lost, you will wander for long years never accumulating anything other than misery; death itself will seem reluctant to give you deliverance -intent as may you seek it- until the day your weary, impossibly old body finally falls apart.

The answer you are hoping for is "That, friend, is up to you to find out". Only then, the ticket will be given back to you and shortly after you'll arrive to any train station in the world you wish to go.

The signed ticket is Object 174 of 538. Anything that is up for sale in this world will be given to you upon producing it, without a single word passing. Regardless, never again will you be able to derive joy from anything you possess.

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Last modified on 2013-03-02 07:55:08Average Rating: 4.4 / 5 (5 votes)Viewed 17278 times

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