Object 118

The Holder of Joy

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 Joy". The worker will shudder violently and ask that you reconsider. Insist gently, and he will reluctantly relent. He will open a hatch on the ceiling above you, and offer to boost you up through it. Accept this offer.

Upon emerging from the hatch, you will find yourself in an old factory, similar to the old 18th-century sweatshops of large American east coast cities. It is dirty and dimly lit, and the noise of the machines will be so loud you will find yourself incapable of thought. Before you will be a long catwalk over the large factory floor filled with massive machines; walk along that catwalk. Working the many hot, hellish, and clattering machines are small children, though they are so weary and ragged you might mistake them for elderly people. In what little light there is you can make out their filthy, pleading faces, full of desperation and a wish to be free from their endless torment. Just keep walking; no mortal can help them, and should you attempt to do so you will join them in their eternal and pointless labor.

It will take a long time, but eventually, you will reach a door to the foreman's office. Enter to find a plain, gruff man, built like a brick, who appears to be in his late 40s and is wearing a rather plain white button-up shirt. Once he notices you, he will look up from whatever he was doing and regard you with a disgusted glare. With confidence, ask him one question: "Can any joy come from it?"

Once the question has been asked, the foreman will stand and leave the office. Follow him. You will both be on the catwalk once again, whereupon he will shout a command to the child workers. What he says exactly will be lost in the din of machinery, but the child laborers will understand. The children will throw themselves into the machinery, altering the sound in horrible ways. You will clearly hear the bones snap and muscles rip as the children are torn and crushed by the machines, into which they unquestionably threw themselves. Throughout this nightmare spectacle, you will hear the Holder's voice explain the true nature of joy and pain, though I will not write it here for only the worthy may know it.

Once all the child laborers have been thoroughly shredded by the hellish machinery, the foreman will tell you to go back to his office and wait for him there. Do as he says, and upon entering the office door you will find yourself in whatever place you most often sleep at night. On your bed (or whatever sleeping surface you use) will be a plain white button-up shirt just like the one the foreman wore. This shirt will bestow a sense of familiarity and camaraderie with those you speak to.

That shirt is Object 118 of 2538. You now know joy, and as such, may never have it.