Object 185

The Holder of the Game

In any city, in any country, go to any elementary or grade school you can get yourself to. Wear sturdy, comfortable gloves, and have your egress planned. Confidently enter and seek out the classroom with the youngest children inside. Ignore any who question you or attempt to impede you in any way. They seek only to delay. Let nothing and no one stand in your way. Once in the classroom, approach the instructor, stand face to face, and demand to see "The Holder of the Game". If the instructor says anything or does anything, flee. Your freedom is at stake. If, however, the instructor stops abruptly and stares intently over your right shoulder, you are in the right place. Do not turn around. Instead, announce with as much confidence as you can muster, "It is time for the game."

Behind you, you will hear many skittering sounds interrupted by the occasional thud of stone hitting sand. Resist all temptation to turn and look. It would only serve to unnerve you and you will need your wits about you soon enough. Instead, wait until the sounds have ceased. Wait patiently; it could take a while.

When the sounds have passed, remain motionless. The instructor will announce, "It is awaiting its amusement." Then, and only then, turn slowly around. The scene before you will, quite to your surprise, be much the same as when you entered. The only change being that the desks have been moved against the wall. The children will have formed a circle and will be sitting facing the center in absolute silence, eyes shut tightly. The effect may be unnerving, but do not let it deter you. You must quickly enter the circle. Be assured, this is not the same room that you entered. It is no longer safe.

The inside of the circle, on the other hand, is safe, so feel free to take a moment to gather yourself. Regain your equilibrium and perhaps even stretch in preparation to run - you will be, soon enough. When you are as prepared as you are able, approach any child you choose and stare at his eyes, shut as they are. Calmly ask, "How does it entertain?"

Stare intently into the child's eyes for the response. If there is no response, move to the next child and repeat the question. Depending on the state of the game, it could take as many as eight trips around the circle or as few as none. There is no rush here. When, eventually, a child opens its eyes and you find yourself staring into empty blank sockets, then you must prepare for the Game. After a pause, the child's face will contort into a look of rapt excitement. The Holder is coming.

Behind you, you will again hear the sound of skittering and stone on sand. This time, however, you will hear the sound of running feet. Resist the urge to turn and look upon what is rushing so eagerly toward you. it will not take long to arrive, for it enjoys the Game and will be eager to play.

Its arrival will be announced by a high shrieking laughter. The laughter will continue until you turn. When you do, you will find yourself face-to-face with the Holder of the Game. The Holder of the Game can appear as anyone who was ever a child - don't be fooled; this does not mean that it is one itself. It will be dressed conservatively in whatever clothes are appropriate for its guise. The only distinguishing mark will be the wild look in its eyes. It is a look of complete and utter exuberance. Do not meet its eyes if at all possible - you'll only be distracted, and you really can't afford that.

The Holder will extend its right hand while keeping its left tucked behind its back. It will ask, "Shall we play?" Ignore both its words and its offer of greeting. Instead, concern yourself with its left hand. Gloves are a necessity, for if any part of the Holder's hand should touch any part of you, you will be doomed to the circle for eternity - thus is the nature of the Game. Carefully remove the object from the Holder's left hand. The Holder will make a great show of resistance but you will find it surprisingly easy to retrieve the object, a simple red rubber ball.

Once you are holding "The Game", the Holder will stop immediately and begin staring at it with rapt attention. When you feel you are ready, remove either glove and hold "The Game" firmly in your bare hand. Bounce it once on the floor and catch it. You will feel great joy and it will feel as if all of your cares are lifted. Do not allow yourself to stop and enjoy this feeling. Turn and run for the door.

From behind you, hopefully from far, far behind you, you will hear the sounds again. "The Seeker approaches," will echo in your ears. The halls will reverberate with the sounds of every child in the world counting. "One... Two... Three..." Do not concern yourself with the counting. Do not concern yourself with anything. Merely clutch your prize and run, using whatever means you possess to travel as far from the school as possible.

The Game is Object 185 of 2538. When the counting stops, the Holder shall become the Seeker and the Game will truly begin.