Beyond The Holders
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The Seeker (Chapter 1)
In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to. When you reach the front desk, ask to visit someone who calls himself "The Holder of the End". Should a look of child-like fear come over the worker's face, you will then be taken to a cell in the building. It will be in a deep, hidden section of the building. All you will hear is the sound of someone talking to themselves echoing throughout the halls. It is in a language that you will not understand, but your very soul will feel unspeakable fear.
Should the talking stop at any time, STOP and QUICKLY say aloud, "I'm just passing through, I wish to talk." If you still hear silence, flee. Leave; don't stop for anything, don't go home, don't stay at an inn, just keep moving, sleeping wherever your body drops. You will know in the morning if you've escaped successfully.
If the voice in the hall returns after you utter those words, continue on. Upon reaching the cell, all you will see is a windowless room with a single man huddled in the corner, still talking endlessly and cradling something. The man will only respond to one question: "What happens when they all come together?"
The man will then stare intently into your eyes and answer your question in horrifying detail. Many go mad in that very cell; others disappear soon after the encounter, and still others end their lives. But most do the worst thing, and look upon the object in the person's hands. You, too, will be tempted. Be warned that if you do, your death will be one of cruelty and unrelenting horror.
Your death will be in that room, by that person's hands.
That object is 1 of 538. They must never come together. Never.
"They must never come together. Nevaaaah!"
Dave let a slightly disgusted expression run on his face, as his colleague, Justin, kept acting on that ominous 'Never'. The other two workers, instead, were laughing openly, which encouraged Justin to offer them his most dramatic renditions of the warning. One of them hinted at Dave, who was looking down on them with the expression of those who watch some little kids as they jump and run in the mud.
"Come on, Dave, just look at him! He's going completely cr..."
And then the sentence got interrupted by another burst of laughter as Justin pulled another tragicomic 'Never'. Dave made a dismissing nod with his hand, and tried to put an end to this madness.
"Ok, ok, enough fun. Now let's get back to work! It's almost twenty to five and we still have to finish three articles and a couple of reviews. Come on, come on, everyone!"
The men protested with a friendly 'Booh!', but left the chairs they had brought around Justin's desk and headed back to their respective offices. One of them cried out loud "Never!" right before exiting the door, which was welcomed by another burst of laughter, and Justin standing up and replying while posing as the Hulk. The others laughed again and finally left Justin's office; all but Dave, who had stayed in his place next to the window, leaning against it and looking down on Justin.
When everybody was out, Justin closed the door, and talked to Dave as he went back to his chair. He knew he could talk in a confidential tone with him; they had known each other for sixteen years, since university, and they had co-founded the company more than six years ago. He was in charge of that place as much as Dave was, despite being much like the "good cop" in the eyes of mostly everyone around there.
"Come on, don't be angry like that. You gotta relax, man. We're on schedule and the guys can really use a bit of camaraderie."
"It's not the camaraderie, Justin. I'm the first one to appreciate a friendly workplace and a relaxed atmosphere 'round here."
"Then what bothers you? We were just having a laugh! What's wrong with that?"
"Justin, the next time you want to shower the guys with some fun, pick a webcomic at random, print out its whole archive and pin the strips on every exposed piece of wall! Or write "Who's on second" on the whiteboard. But don't, ever, again, set up a sort of scare show like you did today!"
"But why not?"
"Because..." Dave stopped talking for a second or so, "...because. It's not the good kind of humour. It's not even humour. It's just being silly. Eigth graders do that kind of things."
"But it's not horror! It's what they call a "Creepypasta". Someone wasted a quarter out of his life to write this short scary stories, so that we can be a little less bored during our long office days."
"Well, people have also spent quarters to draw comics, or to write jokes, or to develop games!"
"Come on, Dave... won't you be this upset because you... are scared?"
Dave was going to reply, but didn't. Instead, he looked at Justin and smiled, then walked to the door.
"I know what you're trying to do. You won't play chicken with me!"
"I'm not playing chicken. I'm just saying you are afraid that someone of your employees might get in trouble if they follow the instructions in a scary story."
"Oh, puh-lease! I'm not that idiot!"
"What do you mean?"
"Nobody would ever believe to those stories! They're pure fantasy, and everybody with a brain will tell you so!"
As he finished this sentence, Dave grabbed the door's knob and opened it wide, as usual. Justin caught the moment and said out loud:
"Then you're saying you would have no problem going to an asylum and ask of the Holder of the End, am I right?"
All the guys in the room had instinctively turned their attention to the door when Dave came out, so Justin's words managed to reach their intended audience. Dave rapidly thought that his position didn't allow for losing a chicken game, and that was definitely what Justin was playing. Heck, he told him a million times, "let's be easy-going with the guys but let's mantain a little bit of distance". They were still "the boss", after all. With his usual savoir faire, Dave replied without turning to Justin, "Then you're saying you would have no problem coming with me, am I right?"
The joke had apparently choked the conversation, but Justin came at the threshold of the room and replied, "Well, you're the boss!"
When they heard this, a couple of the employees in the room chuckled behind their computers. Dave noticed it and only gave a wink to his partner. He then entered his office and closed the door. Nobody saw him again that day: he was known to stay at work till late, and when Justin was the last one to leave the office Dave only cried a 'bye' without even opening the door. Justin knew he was upset for losing a fight, if verbal, in front of his employees. He'd be ok the next day.
Before leaving the office, some minutes after 8:30 in the evening, Dave reviewed in his head the work day. He always did that, as he was not used to take notes during the day; instead, thanks to his good memory, he waited until he could wrap up the day to take more organized and clear notes. Sometimes you do something you have to correct five minutes later, he thought; so his solution was to record names, numbers and important notes when they were less likely to change.
When he came to that mid-afternoon break, he tried to skip it. He didn't want to let it make him mad, after all the effort he put into trying to forget about it. Yet he couldn't. The dare that he hadn't took was a scar in his pride. Sure, it was nothing but a chicken game. It was something that Justin himself wouldn't probably do. Nobody would actually do it. Either because they don't believe in it, and consider it a waste of time; or because they believe, and then they'd be scared to death. He didn't believe; he wasn't scared.
Maybe Justin was. It's the old scheme, defend by attacking. Your oppositor would have to do something dangerous, terrifying, or simply unpleasant, before being able to request it of you. The whole cold war was based on this strategy. 'Would the other really do it?'... and so nobody did the first step. Yeah, that was it. Justin was just like that, he often failed to see the consequences. To him, life was all about having fun, "enjoying". Reputation? What is that? If I make someone happy, I'll call it a day. That was his way of thinking. He was a great friend, and a good manager after all, but he had some weird conception of 'etiquette'.
Dave decided it was time to go home and forget about it all. It was late and they were waiting for him at home. He turned off the lights, shut the office closed, and took the drive home.
In less than ten minutes he was in his garage, parking his Ford Focus and walking inside where the dinner was already on the table. Helen, his wife, and their two children were watching TV. As they noticed him entering, the boy, Martin, literally jumped over his little sister, Christine, and ran to his dad to show him a medal.
"Look, dad, I got this one at school today!"
"Hey big man! How did you get it?"
"I've ranked second at the school's tennis championship! I've even defeated a ninth grader!"
"That's my boy! Christine, how are you?"
"I have a test tomorrow. History. I hate history, it's boring!"
"I know it's boring, honey, but it's important that you study it," said Helen, "Now, both of you, go wash your hands and let's have dinner, okay?"
The kids went to the bathroom, leaving Dave and Helen alone. As he kissed his wife, he tried to reject once again the thought of that story. He focused on the beautiful face of Helen. They were roughly the same age, both in their middle thirties. She was just a couple of months younger, even though a small tuft of grey hair gave him an older look.
When the children came back, they sit at the table and ate dinner. Dave tried to distract himself, but he wasn't much talkative through the meal. All he could think of was the tragic cue contained in that story. Which was strange, since he had never given the smallest credit to any horror story. He was known to be skeptical when it came to discussing legends or prophecies. He had always thought those were primarily means of attracting tourists and curious geeks, and possibly make some money.
But this time it was different. Mental institutions don't just let you "in". Neither they charge you a ticket to see a freak show. Why would someone push you to visit asylums, was out of Dave's understanding.
Even as the kids watched the TV next to him, he couldn't get the legend of the Holders out of his head. It was not even a legend, it was just some short story wrote by someone on the Internet. Why did that story haunt him like that?
When Martin and Christine went to bed, Dave said he was very tired, and that he would go to bed early too. Helen turned off the TV and followed him. She knew that sometimes the stress of leading his own company took over him, but he usually only needed to sleep an hour or so more than usual. As she kissed him goodnight, the thought of what would happen in the worst case hit him as hard as a train. He'd leave back a wife and two children in case he was killed... but no, he wouldn't be killed. It's nothing but a fiction story. Scary. But fictional.
Dave spent a mostly insomniac night, trying to move as little as possible to avoid waking Helen. He decided he would do it. The next day, he'd go to an asylum and ask of the Holder of the End. He planned to pretend to leave for a couple of days on a business trip, just in case he had to run till he dropped, as it was said. He didn't plan an excuse for being found dead; he thought he wouldn't need one... in any case. But that was just out of the way.
I'll go to the front desk, he thought, and say, 'Good evening, dear sir, I'm here to see the Holder of the End,' and they'll reply, 'Sure, sir, here, come with me,' and they'll lock me in a cell. They will think I'm crazy. Well they will not, I'll tell them I'm a journalist. One of those reporters who investigate on this kind of legends. I'll get away with that.
The morning after, Dave greeted Justin with a smile.
"I'll do it. Tomorrow we'll know what happens when they all come together."
Justin smiled, "You're a crazy guy, I would never do it."
I knew it! Dave thought to himself, smiling.
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Categories: | The Seeker |
|Last modified on 2010-07-26 21:21:12Viewed 8141 times|