Object 232

The Holder of Deliverance

In any city, in any country, go to any residential alleyway or street in a metropolis.

Wᴀᴛᴇʀ ᴀɴᴅ Sɴᴏᴡ

It's as if an ocean of oil were rushing past - stretching as far as the eye could see, yet only ankle deep. Even the sky seems stained black. She is only a lone white figure standing amongst it, undisturbed by the freezing black water rushing over her bare feet. Her white robe dangles in the waves as well, but remains dry.

It's been many months since a strange man entered her river to ask her why. He asked her why the pendulum swung, and when she told him the tale, he began to cry and wail heavily. Then, She took pity on him, and decided to go with him. Now, Snow White is all alone.

Suddenly, the sound of nails on brick pierces her ears, and she cringes from the noise. At the same time, a large white tear appears before her in the air. From it, a few white flakes flutter and fall into the dark water to be swallowed up.

The light shining from this tear in space taunts her, and she moves forward through the dark water. Hesitantly, she pokes a finger through, feeling cool and crisp wind on the other side. From this light, something calls to her clearly.

Then, a determined look crosses her face, and she shoves both her hands through the tear and rips it wide open. A burst of snowflakes swamp against her, but she just inhales and leaps forward.

It's snowing in Manhattan.

It falls in large cotton ball clumps, coating the streets softly. People are bustling to and fro, as usual, but no one is looking at each other, no one is talking. They're too busy with their own lives to keep each other company in this cold city.

What is it about New York that makes it so lonely? Perhaps it's one of the side-effects of winter fulling setting in, or because - as the business capital of the country - no one here had time to connect. Or maybe it was just because I had moved here from the Midwest, where everyone seemed to know each other. Here, I rarely talk to anyone.

From my fifth-story apartment, you can watch people come and go down the street as you please. It's just like any other street in the city, dull and boring. Today, though, it's notably not that way. The white woman throws it all off.

One might mistake her for a mannequin by how pale she is. Her hair is very long and purest white, and she wears a long white kimono-like robe around herself. The way the cold October snow alights down on her figure makes her look haunting, like a ghost.

I've only just returned from getting groceries when I see her standing in the street before me, clothed so thinly in this freezing weather. She's looking around curiously, as if she's lost her way, but her face is completely blank. Her skin is a soft and radiant white, like snow. The skin around her eyes is much darker, gray or black. It's as if someone had given her two black eyes.

Despite this, she still looks beautiful. Talking to her would usually make me nervous, but... Today is different. It's been a good morning so far; I got a great tip at the café, traffic was good for once, and all of my favorite songs were on the radio. Today, I feel a spark of confidence.

"Excuse me," I start, setting down my bags. "Are you cold? I can offer you my scarf."

I hold forth my scarf, smiling like an imbecile. In some manner of acknowledgment, her eyes and face certainly turn to me, but she doesn't answer, and doesn't change her expression. Within those eyes, I see nothing. My smile falls from my face.

She turns her eyes away from me, only shifting slightly in her pose as if to shrug the offer off. I try to say something - an apology perhaps - but find my words sticking in my throat. So, I hunch my shoulders and turn away from her, glancing back over my shoulder at her one last time.

She's gone, as if she had never been. I nearly drop my bags out of shock, and look around wildly. Perhaps she had simply slipped around the corner into an alley. If that hadn't been enough, I see something else out of the ordinary. Right in the spot she had been standing, something had been scratched into the brick wall. It's hard to read, as it's crisscrossed by mortar, but I come closer and trace the lines carefully with my eyes. My heart drops into my stomach.




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 I 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.

Sᴇᴇᴋɪɴɢ Sɴᴏᴡ Wʜɪᴛᴇ


File found

Date: Feb-3-08

Author: J. Quincy

You wouldn't be able to tell an Object just by looking at one. They can be anything, from a sword to a thumbtack. The problem is getting them. Once you enter the Holder's world, your life is fair game. What they can do to you is more awful than can be described. However, it's important to remember that it doesn't always follow the formula.

Some Holders will never give you a chance to win your prize. Some Objects can't be touched. Some Seekers cannot exactly be called human. There are exceptions to every rule.

The more I read about the Seekers, the more I begin to see why the man from before was serious. They are all off in some way. What I at first mistook for simply being unsociable was much more than that. They were obsessive about seeking, and completely unpredictable. They hardly trusted each other, constantly lied, and were more often traitorous than they were generous.

Yet, this was not nearly as startling as the turnover rate of Seekers on this site. Some of them would be regular for months, before suddenly vanishing mere days after they supposedly retrieved an Object. If that person was popular, the disappearance would be sometimes discussed; otherwise, they were treated as if they had never existed in the first place. The common disappearance of Seekers here was matched only by the arrival of curious newcomers.

The Seekers risk their lives for the Objects. Why do they put themselves through it?

I am driving to meet the Seeker in Central Park. He would only identify himself as Thompson, and that he could help me find the woman known as "Snow White"

I arrived at the park shortly before sunset, stepping out of my car carefully and scanning my surroundings. There isn't anyone I can see from here, except for a few women walking their dogs. The silence here puts me on edge; the man's mannerisms over the phone before had been creepy enough to make me watch my back.

As I make my way down the path into the park, I spot a shadow on a park bench, hunched over. Somehow, I know that is the right person; the chill that runs up my spine reminds me of the phone call.

"Thompson?" I ask, approaching cautiously.

Rather than confirming, he looks up and asks, "Are you Eric?"

I nod. He straightens his posture. "Ask me what I know about Snow White."

I'm caught off guard a little. What a strange thing to say. "W- What do you know about Snow White?"

"I was the one she was following last week," he starts, like a storyteller.

"She followed me to work, to school. She stood outside and stared at me through the window. She tried to get closer to me, and I ran. I didn't know what she wanted. She would follow me everywhere."

I listen, still puzzled. He is very calm - a little too calm - but there is an air of uneasiness about him. Even though he shows no emotion, it feels as if there is dangerous energy just under the surface.

"I asked around, talked to a few other Seekers. I found some others that had been followed by Snow White. One of them, the most recent one, was a guy that gave me the pendulum. Right after he gave it to me, she stopped following him, and started following me. And the same thing happened with the person who gave him the pendulum. So, I gave mine away to another Seeker. She stopped following me. Ask me about the pendulum."

I pause for a moment. The calm way that he says it makes me even more uneasy. "What's the pendulum?"

"An Object. We couldn't find many stories about it. We don't even know which Holder the first guy got it from."

The Objects again? What does she have to do with them anyway?

"So, why would -"

"Ask me why Snow White would be following the Seekers with the pendulum."

Thompson is starting to disturb me. I clench my fists a little to let the feeling pass. "Why would the woman be following Seekers with the pendulum?"

"Who knows."

I feel like I'm ready to punch him, or run away, but neither feeling wins out over the other. I'm having difficulty keeping up, but allow him to continue.

Thompson continues, "I gave it away pretty quickly when I found out she was after it. I didn't tell him about Snow White. We wanna keep it secret so we always have someone to give it away to. Ask me how you can find the pendulum."

My nerves have had enough. "Would you stop doing that?"

His foot shoots out and cracks against my ankle. With a sharp cry, I tumble to the ground, gripping my ankle, and Thompson steps on my neck. The fierce look on his face makes him look like a wild dog, about to start foaming at the mouth.

"Don't you tell me what to do, you brat."

I struggle with the boot, but my efforts are futile. I'm alone with him here, and no matter how much I try to cry out, I can only rasp faintly.

Suddenly, he lets up his foot, and I buckle over, coughing and clutching at my throat. When I look at him, I see something incredible. How did his face get so stained with tears in such a short amount of time? He sits back down on the bench, and puts his head in his hands. He's crying like he's just lost a family member.

After a few minutes of silence, he raises his head and looks at me with red eyes.

"I can't help you anymore. Look up the Librarian. If anyone knows about the pendulum more than anyone else, it's him. He knows more about the Objects than most of us."

Still rubbing my throat, the only thing that still keeps me glued to the spot is one lingering question.

"Are they seriously real?"

He looks up at me with a bitter and hateful sneer on his face.

"Tell me about your dreams," he growls at me.

"What do you mean?" I say, taken aback.

"What do you want to do with your life?"

I clench my jaw a little, and for reasons I can't explain, I suddenly get sick to my stomach.

"An actor."

He laughs bitterly. "I wanted to be a farmer. A farmer! But, there's no future for Seekers. As soon as you start seeking, it consumes you. You're doing it for life. Whatever dreams you had are eaten away. Eaten by the Objects. Until you die."



File found.

Date: Apr-18-08

Author: J. Quincy

When Objects are in the hands of Seekers, any number of things could happen to them. They'll trade hands sometimes, or even get lost. When this happens, often times they'll either somehow find their way back to their owner, or wind up back with their Holder.

Most of the time, Seekers will hang on to them obsessively. Even for those Seekers that seem to retain their sanity after getting one, the pendulum will always swing back. They will start to change. The addiction takes hold of them, and as they become disconnected from the world around them, they form a bond with their Object.

Every now and then, you will hear strange stories of Seekers vanishing unexpectedly, with no one having any idea where they went. If you dig deep enough, you may discover that there are often power outages around the areas they lived at the time of their disappearance. When this happens, a new Holder has been born.

At some point, I should have given up. I've gotten myself deep into something I didn't fully understand, out of pure curiosity. At what point should I have just stayed home?

Yet, every time I dwell on it, I can't bear the thought of returning to my former life. Every day was the same, repeated over and over. I came to New York with dreams that were not being realized, and as a result, I was falling more and more into a spiral of monotony.

I told myself from the moment I got involved that I wouldn't stop until I had all my answers, and I still had not changed my mind. Even after the meeting with Thompson, I had to dig deeper. It was the only thing I could do.

What did the message "Save me" mean? Was she even in trouble? What was she after? To get these answers, I'd have to find the Librarian. He is well-known in the Seeker community, as a researcher who spends most of his days gathering information about the Objects and Holders. As it turns out, he's not very popular; the Seekers' favorite nicknames for him range from "wannabe Seeker" to "coward". He lives in Boston, which is several hours away, but if I must, the drive wouldn't bother me.

In the meantime, I had to admit that my curiosity became almost obsessive when I began to look at some of the Holder instructions.

The "instructions" have been gathered from various sources, most of which are questionable at very best, but I've been told this is how it is intended to be. No matter how much I ask, these Seekers simply can't prove for sure that the Objects really exist.

Part of what makes them so enticing is that, despite this, any person could go to a certain place, ask to visit a Holder, and undergo a test to earn an Object. As far as most of the Objects went, it was easy to start, and then you would know for sure.

All of my other questions had to take a backseat to the most important one. First, I had to know if they were real. I had to find an Object myself.

"In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to."

The instructions I have now are very clear on what I have to do for this Object. I'm standing outside of a mental hospital in Hartford, the notes on the paper quivering slightly in my hand. Why am I so nervous? All I have to do is go in, ask for the Holder, and walk back out feeling embarrassed. The clerk will probably just give me a funny look, that's all. But, what if that's not what happens?

I creak open the doors slowly and make my way to the front desk. My heart is pounding in my ears, and I almost have to remind myself how to walk. The woman at the front desk is staring at me like I'm a patient that had wandered loose, so I try to avert my gaze as I reach the desk.

"May I help you?" she asks monotonously.

It's too late to go back now.

"May I speak to the Holder of Change?"

It takes a moment for the words to sink in, and she begins to raise her eyebrows, like I expected. But, she freezes, and her pupils dilate. Her whole frame seems to sink, and her face becomes expressionless. I can hardly breathe, but she lets out a sigh that seems to last for minutes. Then, slowly, she walks to the door of a broom closet and opens it, before walking away down a hall.

It must be a joke. Some elaborate prank that the clerk was in on. She reacted exactly as the instructions said she would. There was no way this was circumstantial, right?

I step into the broom closet and shut the door tight. It was the only way to know for sure. There was no way the next part could be a setup, no matter how much the prankster prepared. I would open the door back into the mental institution, and the clerk would simply laugh at me while I stalk out of the building shamefully. That's how it would go.

Taking a deep breath, I turn the handle of the door, and open it back up. The room before me is small and windowless, like a prison cell. Paint peels from the walls, cobwebs lurk in the corners, and the sole light hanging from the ceiling flickers halfheartedly. The room I see looks older than anything I've ever known, as if it had been abandoned for decades.

Seconds after I had opened the door, a rotting stench rushes into my nostrils, and I double over, trying not to vomit. The corpse in the center of the floor is clearly months old, the rotting flesh and maggots sloughing from its bones. Its face is no longer recognizable, merely a skull - hanging open, and with bits of green and red mass hanging from its creases.

In the body's hands lays a revolver, gleaming like new.

Knees trembling, I stumble into the room with difficulty. The air is so thick in here that it feels like I might suffocate. It feels wrong. Everything feels wrong in here. I've stepped into a world completely apart from the mental institution, or any other part of the world I'm familiar with. It feels dark and threatening.

I get on my hands and knees over the face of the corpse, breathing heavily. The air is so thick, and it's difficult to keep from vomiting. The empty eye sockets stare at me as if waiting for the question I must ask. The question the instructions demand that I must ask.

"What were they once?" I whisper softly.

The body's bony hands whip up and latch around my head, pulling me closer, pulling me right down to its face. Its jaw creaks like a broken hinge, snapping itself into place and moving up and down. From the depths of its throat a voice arises, that sounds like it's being uttered from the bottom of a well.

It pulls me even closer, its mouth right up against my ear, and begins to answer my question. My bodily fluids have already hurriedly vacated themselves, and now, I feel as if my life itself is being drained away. I don't know how long it's taking - it could be minutes, hours, or even days. But what it says brings a terror to my heart I had never known. Its voice tears at my soul with each syllable.

As soon as it finishes, I let out a scream that could shred my vocal cords, and its bony hands release me. With the little sanity I have left, I see the revolver that the rotting hand has dropped and scoop it up with a trembling hand.

Now, I'm lying on the lawn of the institution, a dull bruise on my forehead. I don't remember hearing the gunshot. For that matter, I don't remember how I even got out here. All I know is, I was free of the Holder's realm, and in my hand rested the casing of the bullet I had fired.

The casing is Object 178 of 2538. Now I know what They were once, and even if it had not been in the instructions, I still may have turned that gun on myself anyway.



File found...

Date: Aug-01-08

Author: J. Quincy

What's the hardest part about finding those Holders? It's the power the Objects hold. They give its Holder the power to alter reality. Inside their worlds, they are like gods. If you don't do exactly the right things at the right place, you can't even get in. Holders are some of the most terrifying beings that exist.

However, Holders are not nearly as frightening as Seekers. The Holders protect the Objects; if you don't bother them, they won't hurt you. But, the Seekers are willing to do anything in order to get the Objects. There is no honor among thieves.

The streets of Manhattan seem different now. Darker and colder. Faces are shrouded in veils of shadow, their cold eyes staring out from within. As I walk down the road, pedestrians give me a wide berth.

I climb the stairs to my apartment slowly, plodding up the steps. Silence falls on the other sides of the doors, only lifting after I've passed. Even my apartment looks different now, alien. The TV I got from my parents, or the couch I bought on my first day here don't look familiar anymore.

Is this what I wanted? Is this the answer I've been looking for? I shot myself... in the head. How could I still be standing here? I don't even remember the exact moment it happened.

I pour myself a glass of orange juice from the fridge and drink it quickly. It soothes my dry throat, but it tastes bland and dull, like my sense of taste has been pulled completely away from me. For some reason, I fail to be surprised. When I look down into the street from my window, I jump and blink; for a moment, I see a black shadow hanging over the spot where Snow White had once stood.

The glass of orange juice slips from my hand and shatters on the floor, and I swear loudly in shock. I look back out the window, but the shadow isn't there anymore. This kind of thing had been happening a lot since I returned... Everywhere I look, shadows lurk in the periphery of my vision, in hidden corners as I pass them, in the faces of people that walk past me.

It is only after I've finished picking up the glass and disposing of it that I notice a cut on my finger. A dribble of blood runs down the length of my finger, and I can't even feel it. No taste, no touch, no smell.

Someone in the street is walking by, and looks up and sees me. When our eyes meet, they blanch and hurry away as if they had seen a ghost. As if on cue, the snow begins to fall as well. This snow is not beautiful, but bitter and cold.

The minutes tick by quickly, and the day wears on, and I remain standing by the window, staring down at the cement below. Even though I've only just returned from the Holder of Change, my face shows no emotion whatsoever.

That night, lying in my bed, I stare at the bedside table, where the empty bullet casing lay. It glitters innocently, holding my attention for hours as I try to fall asleep. Just before I drift away, I hear the soft whisper drift through the air, barely audible.

My dream is of all-encompassing darkness, and black water is rushing over my feet. Its icy chill crawls over my skin and my muscles, making its way up my body. Like roving tendrils, the chill digs into my body, to get at my soul. It's just like before, in the mental institution, when that deathly voice whispered in my ear.

All of a sudden, there's an irresistible force on my back, which forces me to my knees. My hands splash down into the water, and I feel something slick clinging to my fingers. When I draw them out, my fingers are covered with something shiny and black.

At 5:38 in the morning, before the sun has bothered to welcome Manhattan, I sit upright and scream at the top of my lungs. The oil on my hands has left black handprints on the sheets, which I hurriedly tear from the bed. Howling like a beast, I pull my nightstand from the wall and throw it as hard as I can across the room. It smashes into my mirror with a deafening crash and splinters to the ground. I pay no heed to it and begin to wreak havoc on everything I own.

My bed, my TV, my computer, everything. I wish I didn't know, I wish I didn't know! Why do I have to know?! Blood is dripping from my hands as I throw my hand through my window, and I don't even feel the cold breeze on my open wounds. So, I keep punching, raining glass down on the sidewalk.

Why do I have to know?!

It's 6:00 now, and I'm grabbing my coat. Now only one thought hangs in my mind: the Librarian. Now that I know, I have to keep going.

I am out of New York well before sunrise, and by the time I'm out of the state, I notice that I'm well exceeding the speed limit, and that I've been breezing past cars for several hours. Why haven't I been pulled over? Of course, people have been avoiding me since I left the mental institution, so perhaps it was paying off now.

It isn't over yet. One answer led to even more questions. I would never forget what the Holder of Change had told me, but it wouldn't keep me from finding out about Snow White, the Pendulum, the message on the wall.

It's a lonely drive, yet I'm not alone. The voice keeps me company as I drive. I can't always understand what it says to me, but when it whispers softly into my ear, I can't help but feel calm and relax my tight grip on the wheel.

Time flies by as I focus on the road ahead of me, and before I know it, I've entered the city limits of Boston. Before I went to that mental institution, I had remembered to print out a map to the Librarian's address, and it's crumpled in my hand. When I see his house spring up beside me on the street, I slam on my brakes and pull over.

I ring the doorbell and wait anxiously. After several impatient minutes, the door cracks open, and a face appears. The Librarian looks at me through round spectacles. He's clearly younger than me; not what I was expecting at all. He looks me over with an odd smile, a twinkle in his eye.

"Are you the Librarian?" I ask with a hoarse voice. "I'm here about the pendulum."

He smiles knowingly at me.

"I was wondering when you would show up." He stands back and holds the door open for me.

Tʜᴇ Lɪʙʀᴀʀɪᴀɴ


File found.

Date: Aug-01-08

Author: J. Quincy

This dark world is filled with questions. Where do the Objects come from? Why do they exist? Why must we Seek them? What happens to Holders when their Object is taken? We don't know the answer to these questions. Seekers live in a dark and unknown world, and our only comfort is our hobby.

Though they can be found anywhere, a surprising number of Holders can be found in mental institutions. We often get asked, "Why mental institutions?" It's because that's where they feel most at home. That's where we would end up, after all.

I take a step forward, but the Librarian's smile suddenly disappears. He holds me back with an open palm and gives me an urgent stare.

"You have an Object, don't you?"

The question startles me slightly, but I recover quickly. "Yes."

"Then please, leave it outside."


"I'll explain when we're inside."

I withdraw the bullet casing from my pocket and hold it in my hand. It tingles to the touch; it still feels as warm as the moment I discharged it. Lovingly, I wrap my fingers around it.

"Why?" I ask again, more forcefully.

He levels his gaze at me through his glasses. "Because it puts me in danger." The blunt statement comes in low and catches me off guard. Taking a second look at the casing in my hand, the only thing I can remember now is the terror on Thompson's face before I left him.

In a sudden moment of clarity, I decide to ignore the voice, just this once. The casing makes a soft tink as it hits the step at my feet, and he smiles again and waves me inside. The inside of Librarian's house is more or less how I visualized it. It's messy and dark, and every room is piled with books and papers.

"Excuse the mess." The Librarian leads me to his study, the messiest room in the house. We weave our way through the shelves and piles of books until we reach his desk. Most of them are covered in a thick layer of dust, making them look ancient.

"Gum?" he asks, offering a pack.

"No, thanks." It's difficult to keep a scowl off my face - he doesn't know I wouldn't taste it.

He's almost unnervingly friendly. The Seekers as I understand them now are paranoid people that avoid social contact, making the Librarian the most abnormal one I've met.

"How did you know I was coming?"

"Your relentless pursuit has been wholly noticeable," he says, as if stating the obvious. "I've been watching your quest for a while now, and I could guarantee you that any Seeker that knows about Snow White also knows about you. Thompson was the one that referred you to me, right? I don't know if you've heard, but he committed suicide soon after you met him. Hanged himself in his closet."

I grumble a little at how nonchalantly he says it. I remember that most Seekers don't like the Librarian for some reason. They call him a wannabe Seeker. "Is that what you do? Just watch and research? You don't have any Objects yourself, do you?"

"No. I try to stay away from them as much as possible. Seekers are like drug addicts, always consumed by the desire to keep Seeking. So, if I keep them away from me as much as possible, I won't lose my mind."

He says it so simply, so childishly. "Then, why are you even researching them?"

"Like you, I didn't choose to find out about the Holders and Seekers. Still, it's an interesting world, with such esoteric knowledge. Tempting to anyone with a taste for the unknown, right? I want to help the Seekers find their answers, but I'd rather go the rest of my life without ever holding an Object again."

"So, you've had one in the past?"

He glares at me, and has a slightly annoyed look on his face. I've stepped over the line. "Perhaps your inquiries are better directed to the subject of Snow White?" He turns away and begins to roam through a stack of papers on his desk, huffing slightly. There's nothing I can do now but drive at the truth.

"Is she human? Is she a Seeker?"

"To call her human is too great a charity. Whether she's a Seeker or not is up for debate."

"What can you tell me about the pendulum?"

He pulls out a piece of paper and holds it out to me. It's a page ripped out of a new notebook, written in neat and concise English.

"It's what I've been able to put together of the instructions to get the pendulum from its Holder."

"Great," I say, taking it and pocketing it. "One more thing, then. If you've been researching the pendulum, you must know where it is now."

At this point, the Librarian seems to withdraw. His smile disappears like a lightbulb shorting out, and he avoids my eyes. "It's your own fault, you know, that you got wrapped up in this. There's no way out of it, now."

"I know!" I yell impatiently. My yell fills the room and makes the Librarian cringe. I lower my voice, but advance on him. I won't let him slip away. "I know what I'm getting myself into. I know it's a dead-end road. Just tell me where to go. I need to know where it is."

The resignation in his face builds as I bear down on him, until he finally gives. "It's here, in Boston. A colleague of mine has it now. Allen Dahl."

He hands me a business card with his address, and I put it in my pocket.

"Is there anything else you want to ask me?" he asks.

I stare at him for a long time, long enough for him to begin feeling uncomfortable. Only then do I speak.

"Why do the Seekers need the Objects?"

His eyes are wide with surprise, but he then laughs at my question.

"Interesting question! I can't count how many times I've heard that asked. But, that knowledge can't be fully known by any sane person. Only the Holders know."

"That's all I need," I say with a smirk.

"Then you'd better hurry if you want to get there before Snow White does."

The Librarian follows me as I bound out the door and back toward my car, and he watches me pull away, squealing my tires. After I've disappeared from sight, he gives an audible sigh, and turns back to the threshold. His foot bumps something metallic, and he looks down to see the empty casing that still rests on the step.

A faint whisper calls to him.


"Hello, mom."

"Hi, honey. How is New York treating you?"

"It's alright. Same old, same old, you know?"

"How did the audition go?"

"The what?"

"Didn't you audition for Dracula last week?"

"Oh! Actually... I forgot about it..."

"You forgot? But, you wouldn't stop talking about it! I thought you really wanted to be in that production!"

"Yeah. Well, I've had a lot going on. Things have been kind of crazy up here."

"Eric, that's not like you. You even moved all the way up there just so you could be in the shows! I couldn't imagine you forgetting about such an important audition."


"Eric? Are you there?"

"Yeah, I'm here. Listen, I'm going to be out of town for a while. I'm going up to Boston, and I don't know how long I'll be gone. I just wanted to let you know."

"What are you going to Boston for?"

"I can't really say. I just wanted to let you know, so you didn't worry about me. I'll let you know when I'm back. I love you."

"Eric, did something happen?"


Up until now, there's one question I've failed to ask myself. What would I do once I've found my answers? Go home, back to trying to become an actor, trying to become rich and famous? Compared to this world, even that dream is so... mundane. No, all I can think of now is my path before me.

I know more about the Objects than ever. More than most other humans could ever wrap their minds around. It would be a sin to let that knowledge go to waste.

Allen's apartment is in a large complex with a garden out back, each apartment with a balcony. Night has fallen once again, and the ground is still covered in snow from the recent snowstorm. At a determined pace, I enter the complex and march up to his door.

Soon after I knock, the door cracks open, and a puff of cigarette smoke rolls against my face. The man glaring at me has a scraggly beard and is puffing on a cigarette; he looks like a convict. He's at least ten years older than the Librarian; are they really colleagues?

"Are you gonna tell me what you want, or shall I close the door?" he growls at me.

"I... The Librarian gave me your address."

He rolls his eyes a little. "Oh. You must be Eric." He pulls open the door for me and retreats into his living room, slumping on his couch. The TV isn't set on anything, only showing static. Yet, he stares at it intently.

"So... You know the Librarian..." I start.

"Duh," he drawls, eyes still locked on the TV. "I wish I didn't. He's a prick."

"Is that so?"

"He sits in his room researching the Objects, gave up the only Objects he's ever had, and is too afraid to go after any more. Why do you think Seekers hate him so much?"

Impatiently, I decide to get to the subject at hand. "I'm... looking for the pendulum."

He gives me an odd look out of the corner of his eye, tapping his cigarette into the ashtray. "If you were to get the pendulum, what would you do with it?"

Ah, the million-dollar question. He doesn't understand what I know, just what questions I'm after. So, even if I were to tell him, he wouldn't understand. I just stare at him blankly.

"You want it that badly?" he says. "You know as well as I do how special an Object is."

He reaches into his front pocket and draws something out. What dangles from the thin silver chain in his fingers is a clear icicle-shaped point, sparkling like a diamond. As he holds it, it hangs unusually still in the air.

Then, he suddenly withdraws it, a hostile look on his face. Only then do I realize that I had been extending my hand toward it. Had I been doing this unconsciously? Awkwardly, I lower my hand. Glaring at me, he puts it back into his shirt pocket.

"I can see that look in your eyes. What did you learn from the Holder you met?"

Again, there are no answers I can give. Not until I've reached the pendulum and met Snow White. Allen sighs in resignation at my silence.

"You really are a Seeker. Oh, well. So, what do you think she is?" he asks, relaxing slightly. "Snow White."

"I don't know," I finally say. "She might be a Seeker... But what else could she be?"

"A Holder, maybe?"

A bitter smile stretches across my face. "Isn't the whole point of Holders that they just stay put and hold?"

He gives me a sigh in response. "Everyone thinks Holders and Seekers are so different, but they really aren't. Holders are just Seekers who gave in to the addiction. You could say that they're almost human."

I'm silent for a long time, mulling over his words. Everything he said made perfect sense, and everything was what I've already come to realize on my own after retrieving my Object. There was no more use philosophizing about this, only finding answers. So, I draw the Librarian's paper out of my pocket.

"What's that?" he asks, eyeing it curiously.

"The instructions used to get the pendulum. I got them from the Librarian."

"Then let's have a look at it, shall we?"

I open the paper and spread it out on the table before us.

In any city, in any country, go to any residential alleyway or street in a metropolis. Wait for as long as necessary without moving, and if you've come to the right place, the white woman will approach you. Ask her if she is the Holder of Deliverance, and she will answer, before leading you out of the street and into the dark river.

If you do not break just from the chill of the water, you must ask three questions: "Why does the snow fall?", "Why does the river run?", and "Why does the pendulum swing?" Each question, she will answer, the last in horrifying detail. If you last through the story, she will give you a pendulum. The water will disappear, leaving you back in your world with the Object.

For several moments, silence permeates the room, and Allen lets his cigarette fall out of his mouth to the floor. The information in the instructions completely fails to surprise me. I had already figured it out while I was driving up here.

Allen, however, seemed much more shocked. He suddenly rises from the couch, scooping his car keys into his pocket. He starts to move toward the door, and I quickly rise to call to him.

"Where are you going?" I say. He turns to me with an annoyed look on his face.

"Where do you think? It's bad enough that she's following me, but she's its Holder? I need to get out of here." He moves back toward the door, but I call out once again.


He sighs and turns back around again, glaring at me. I'm unexpectedly anxious. If he leaves, the pendulum goes with him. If he leaves, it'll all be for nothing.

"Can't you just give it to me? Then you don't have to worry about her at all."

His eyes narrow, and one hand moves to his front shirt pocket, clutching the pendulum.

Give it to you? What kind of Seeker do you take me for?

"I didn't mean it like that," I press. "You don't want her following you anyway, do you? And besides, you can always get another Object."

He shakes his head at me. "No, you don't understand at all. I'm not gonna be like those other cowards. It doesn't matter how much she wants to take it from me. I can't give it up to her, let alone you. Not to anyone. Why do you think I still have it? I have to keep Her safe."

"Allen..." I stare at the front pocket of his shirt, where the pendulum lay. I can almost see it through the fabric. It's so close... I can't give up now. "Just give it to me. Then it'll all be over."

He draws a knife from his pocket and advances on me further. "Over my dead body."

I hardly even take notice of the knife. It's so close. I can practically reach out and grab it! There's no way I can let it go now. I need that pendulum.

I remember being back in the old room in the mental institution. I remember the words the Holder spoke to me. At the same time, I hear a whisper in my ear. As I finally notice the glint of the blade rising in his hand, my heart leaps into my throat.

I leap at him and grab the wrist that holds the knife, slamming him back against the wall. He shouts something at me, but I barely hear it. with my other hand, I make a grab for his pocket, but he grabs onto my wrist too. I feel his foot in my stomach, and with a grunt of pain, I tumble backward, directly into the balcony doors.

I find out the hard way that they aren't mounted very well, because the impact makes them pop off of their frames and shatter on the balcony floor. When I land on the balcony, I choke on a scream as my hands press down into the shattered glass and snow. Gasping, I lift a bloody hand and stare down at the small shards of glass sticking out of my palm. I can actually feel the glass piercing my skin...

Then, Allen is running at me from inside the room, brandishing the knife, and I kick out wildly. Miraculously, I catch his shin, and he falls past me, slamming against the ironwork railing. I hear a snap and a creak, and the railing gives just a little. Now's my chance!

I leap to my feet, and ignoring my injuries, I grab his wrist again, as well as his neck, pinning him to the railing. The glass gets pushed further into my palms, but I press down to keep him from moving. He growls and latches to the hand around his neck, but the railing creaks and gives a little more.

"I don't care what you do," he chokes out. "I will never give Her to you."

I don't see any fear in his eyes as he sinks backward. He just glares at me defiantly, protectively. I understand that he truly would rather die than give up the Object. So, I put more weight down on him, practically feeling the bolts on the railing give one by one. At the last possible moment - at the moment when I hear the loud crack - I let go and step backward.

I watch Allen Dahl fall backward over the broken railing, five stories to the ground.



Retrieving message log.

Access date: Dec-16-08

JuiQui - 11/09/08 (Sun)

I really need some information.

For the pasts couple of weeks, something has been following me. It has been doing a good job of trying to do so without me noticing. However, I managed to have contact with it twice yesterday. I will describe these incidents in as much detail as I can provide.

I was in the shower and I had the curtain slightly cracked open. While standing under the water, I was looking at a magazine lying on the floor outside of the tub. I noticed out the corner of my eye, a leg. Draped in light cloth, and standing in a position so I could see part of the knee and below. Soon after I noticed it, it took a single step to be completely behind the curtain. I panicked and threw open the curtain, only to find nothing there. I left the shower and sat in my room with the lights on. The emotion I was feeling was not so much one of ultimate fear, only that I need to get away.

From what I later thought, I would say it looked feminine, by the way it was shaped. And even more oddly, the leg was stark white. As white as snow.

That night, I was sleeping relentlessly when I thought I heard something in my ear. In my dream, it sounded like "Tell me where it is, thief." I woke up with a start and looked around, but didn't see anything in my room. When I turned on the light, though, there were a few strands of long, white hair on my sheets.

Why is it following me? I need all the data you can recover of things that fit the description I have provided. I have been searching on my own but cannot find anything of value.

Undertow - 11/14/08 (Fri)

What is it you have that she wants?

Snow White strides quietly through the snow in the garden, hardly leaving a trail behind her white robe. On the ground before her, Allen's body lays spread eagle, his eyes wide open, and the snow around his head stained red.

Hunching over his body, I meet the woman's gaze. She stares vacantly at me and begins to walk toward the body, making me hastily back away.

"He's dead," I say. She ignores me and bends over Allen's corpse, reaching into each of his pockets with no regard, no emotion, lastly feeling inside the empty pocket on the front of his shirt.

I watch with uneasiness, my heart pumping, and my blood boiling more. A snowflake settles on my cheek, and I'm surprised to feel the chill of the drip rolling down my cheek.

She looks up at me. "Where have you hidden Her?"

I resist the urge to glance toward where I hid the pendulum, and instead try to meet her gaze intently. When I don't answer, she rises and steps closer to me. My heart pumps faster with each step she takes. She is very close to me now. I can see the snowflakes falling through the few inches between us. Eventually, my resilience breaks, and I shuffle backward several steps.

"Why do you want that thing, anyway?" I ask. Her stare continues to bore into me. If she's trying to get me to crack, it's working. I continue to back away, through the dead winter garden. An oak tree looms above both of us like a silent watcher.

"I know what you are. You're its Holder. That's why you're after it. I've figured it all out! A Seeker got it from you, and you want it back. It makes sense, I suppose. But what will happen to you when you get it back?" No answer. "Will you go back to living in your world, and guard it forever and ever? What's the use in that? Is that how you want to live?"

I can see her eyes narrow very slightly. But, now that I've started, I can't stop. "Okay. I understand that I don't know everything about the Holders and Seekers and Objects. I'm naïve, and foolish, and all that. So what? Maybe it takes a fool to see that what you're doing isn't going to help you. I know that the Object is eating away at you!"

I knew why she had to be after the pendulum. She isn't a Holder anymore, really. She's been driving into a Seeker once again, and she would stop at nothing. Seekers would stop at nothing to get what they were after, not even murder.

A drop of blood falls from my finger onto the snow below, staining it red. The blood from my hands leaves a trail across the ground, which leads all the way to the body of Allen, still lying in an ugly heap. This was a man that clung to the Object to his dying breath. That died by my hands.

I feel a frog welling up in my throat, and my eyes beginning to water. Where did it all go wrong? This isn't something I would have done! I fall to my knees in the snow, staring down at the corpse. What would my parents say? What the hell have I done?!

I couldn't accept it. Even though somewhere in the back of my mind, I understood that I was truly a Seeker now, I couldn't accept it. It isn't right. It isn't the way things are supposed to work. Everyone has the right to seek happiness, with no exceptions. This is what I've always believed. That's why I tried so hard to become an actor. I had dreams. This isn't why I've been on this journey. I didn't come all this way to throw my dreams away!

"I understand." My eyes drift to the snowy ground. "I understand why you've come all this way. But it shouldn't be like this. You should have a life without Objects and Holders and Seekers. No one deserves this hell. You need to be free. I beg you... I don't care if it makes you hate me, but let me have the pendulum, so you don't need it anymore."

A clump of snow resting on the tree's branch slips off and falls to the ground in a soft thump. It leaves a trail behind it that sparkles innocently in the air. I can hear Snow White beginning to move now, toward me. I can't raise my eyes to look at her.

"It's too late for me, but I can still save you. I understand your pain."

"You understand nothing."

I look up in time to see her fingers wrapping around my throat like a vice.



Retrieving message log.

Date: Dec-16-08

Undertow - 12/16/08 (Sat)

So, the pendulum is in Boston. That last Seeker tells me that he thought it would be safer in the hands of those researching it. Of course, he won't trust the Librarian with it, so he handed it off to someone nearby. I wonder how long this chain will continue. Will Snow White ever give up?

Veil - 12/16/08 (Sat)

I'm beginning to worry about the Seeker that's actually trying to track her down. I wonder if the idiot knows it's in Boston now. Even though he's not too bright, he's frighteningly tenacious.

JuiQui - 12/16/08 (Sat)

He's not after the woman anymore, just the Object. He's a Seeker now. He and Snow White just arrived at the location. This will be interesting to watch.

Undertow - 12/16/08 (Sat)

Why would you be following him at this point? You should stay as far away from them as possible. Don't forget, you're the one that gave the damn thing up in the first place.

Veil - 12/16/08 (Sat)

Maybe the coward wants to atone for how much he's put our kind to shame. You've made the disreputable name of "Seeker" taste even worse on the tongue.

JuiQui - 12/16/08 (Sat)

Unfortunately, you're right. I should have never given up the pendulum, no matter how much Snow White were to follow me. I should have tried harder, as a Seeker. A Seeker is meant to find the Objects, not keep them away.

Veil - 12/16/08 (Sat)

Well, you're finally starting to sound like one of us, so-called "Seeker". Though don't let it get to your head. Do us all a favor and go hang yourself! Maybe that act will be enough to salvage your pathetic existence.

JuiQui - 12/16/08 (Sat)

I'll prove myself. Not to you; I don't need to prove anything to you, only to myself. I'm going to get Her back. Then, I'll have a lovely couple.

I fall to my knees as Snow White's hands clench around my throat, threatening to squeeze the life out of me. My vision spins, but I can make one thing out clearly: her face is filled with anger, and mine with terror. I claw at the backs of her hands, trying to rip them away, but I am far too weak. It can't end like this, not before I've done something to make this right! I can't give up now. I'm so close. So close...

At this moment, I hear something. A voice. A whisper. I can't make out any of the words, but the voice is so close to me, it's like I can reach out and grab it. It grows louder as the darkness threatens to consume me. It says, "Save me."

I punch her in the neck with all of my strength, a reflexive movement, and she backs away, clutching her throat and coughing. For a moment, she looks almost ready to vomit, hunching over, but she locks her eyes back on me and begins to advance again.

Now, I've drawn out the knife that Allen had tried to kill me with. She stops a few feet from me, eyes on my knife. She looks up at me, and I recognize that I've stopped her for the time being. How long is that going to last?

"What the hell?!" is the first thing out of my mouth. "I'm trying to help you!"

"You understand nothing," she repeats monotonously.

"I do!" I veritably scream at her. My shout is muffled by the snow all around us, falling dead in the air. She stares at me a little longer, before I take a few steps forward and plant the edge of the knife against her neck. She doesn't make any move to resist, but locks eyes with me.

"I do," I seethe at her through clenched teeth. "I understand. The Holder of Change told me what they used to be."

Her eyes widen in astonishment, so I continue.

"I can hear their voices. Holders, Seekers, and Objects are all alike, aren't they? The Objects aren't just inanimate things, they're... They want us to be with them."

Everything I was saying was the truth. I could see it reflected in her eyes as well. Yet, there was still one thing I didn't understand. That's why I came here, I needed to find out. The Objects are the ones that drive us to Seek, but why?

"Why do we have to seek the Objects? Why do they need us?"

Her expression slowly shifts to one of complete detestation. "It's their love. They just want to be held."

Suddenly, she bats my arm out of the way and wraps one hand back around my throat. I try to resist, but my legs give out and she topples onto me, slamming down onto my chest. As the wind is knocked out of me, she grabs my weapon arm with her other hand and slams it down hard into the ground. The force of the blow is incredible; I scream out as I feel the snap of my wrist breaking.

"Where... is She?" Looking down at me, the darkness around her eyes becomes more intense. In fact, her eyes completely fade away, leaving only two deep pits. It's the same as when I stared into the empty eye sockets of the Holder of Change.

Once again, I experience true fear. My heart catches in my throat, and I have to struggle to keep from bursting into tears. Her figure weighs down on my body like a ton of bricks. My windpipe is slowly crushing in. I don't even have the strength to struggle anymore. I want to get away, I have to get away from this demonic woman. I can almost feel the revolver in my hand, and I'm desperate to put it between my eyes again.

She's leaning closer to me now, as if she's going to suck my very soul from my mouth. The dark pits of her eyes are spreading slowly, becoming far too large. Black cracks are appearing around them, splitting her perfect white skin. I can hear her. No, it's not her, it's the water. The sound of the rushing dark water is coming from her. I can also hear the pendulum, whispering in my ear, "Save me."

I look up at the pendulum, hanging high in the oak tree, where I had thrown it just before Snow White had arrived. Suddenly, the dark pits are gone, only her two eyes. She sees my expression, and follows my gaze up to the oak tree. A fierce want appears in her face, and without realizing it, she releases just enough pressure on my injured arm.

When I swing my arm upward, my hand rolls painfully on my wrist, but connects hard with her chin, making her scream in pain and lean upward. I shove her off with all of my strength and try to run to the tree, but she grabs my ankle. When I hit the ground, I catch myself with my good hand and roll over, punching her in the temple.

She comes back from the blow quickly and lashes out with her fingers, her fingernails scratching deep lines in my leg. The knife is on the ground beside me, and I quickly pick it up and cut her deep across the forearm. She screams and howls like an animal, trying to crawl toward me, but I've freed myself.

I have to get to the pendulum. I need to get there first. It's just a short distance away, and Snow White will never catch me.

But, there's already someone standing by the tree. And that person fires a bullet into my chest.

Bʟᴏᴏᴅ ᴀɴᴅ Oɪʟ


File found.

Date: Dec-16-08

Author: J. Quincy

This is my final entry. I've been doing nothing but researching the Objects for a year now, and have been trying to keep the Objects themselves away from me as much as possible. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, it's just impossible. I can't remain an outside observer. You can't know about this world and not be affected. It was inevitable.

I got my first Object half a year ago. It was a pendulum. When I got back from retrieving it from its Holder, I thought I was on the verge of insanity. I had an emotional breakdown every other day from the stress. As time went on, it got better, but it never totally went away. Yet, somehow, I never regretted it. It's because of the Object. I was already attached.

One day, I had to give it up, though. Because I was being followed by its Holder. I've never heard of anything like this happening before, but I've said it before. It doesn't always follow the formula.

I did regret giving it away. It's plagued me to this day. The other Seekers call me a coward, a wannabe Seeker, who's too afraid of the Objects to really commit. Even for Seekers - the most disreputable people on Earth - I'm the lowest of the low.

Then, today, a boy came to my house. He was looking for the pendulum. He wanted it, even if Snow White wanted it more. He wouldn't take no for an answer. When he left, he left an Object behind. The empty bullet casing, from the Holder of Change. I recognized it instantly. I touched it, felt its curves. It reminded me of how the pendulum felt in my hands.

I knew then that I had to get it back. I had to redeem myself. I had to prove that I was at least on the same level of scum as my peers. No matter who I had to get through, no matter who I must gun down, I will get that Object back.

My name is Jules Quincy, and this is my last entry. From today on, I'm a true Seeker. Goodbye.

I don't feel any pain. I vaguely sense that a bullet has lodged itself in my chest, and look down to see the blood running down my shirt, but I don't feel any pain. Though my mind is in a haze, my understanding of the situation is quite clear. This isn't like the test before. I'm not going to wake up, totally unharmed.

I look up and try to understand why the Librarian shot me, but I can't see his face quite clearly now. When I try to take a step forward, the ground rushes up to meet me, and now all I can see is white.

My breathing is labored, and blood is dribbling out of my mouth. I manage to raise my head to look at the man standing under the tree, and I try my best to focus on his expression. His face comes slightly into focus, and he's shaking his head as if I'm a child who stuck his hand in the cookie jar one too many times.

Snow White is standing there with what can be loosely described as shock. The pendulum is hanging from a branch high above. I can still hear it whispering, and I try to call out to it with my thoughts. I don't know if it can hear me, but I try as hard as I can.

Pendulum, I understand now. It was you that left the message on the wall. You wanted her to save you, even if it meant turning her back into a Holder. If she didn't, you would be in such pain. If you let me, I can save you instead. We can protect each other, forever and ever.

Have I finally come to understand everything? Or, do I still now know? What was it the Holder of Change had told me? What did I come here for? What are the Objects? What...

I'm slipping. An odd warm feeling is filling my chest, and I only managed to realize I'm becoming delirious for a few seconds. Then, the warm feeling washes over my entire body, and I'm struck with tranquility. Carry me away, sweet water, to a far shore. I'm happy now.

The pendulum speaks back to me. She has heard me. Finally, I am loved back. Finally, I am good for something.

I smile as I drift away.

Snow White stood and started walking forward.

"Stay back!" Jules Quincy shouted, pointing the gun at her, and she stopped.

"Look at that blood all over you. You're just an awful mess. It would be a shame to stain that pretty robe anymore."

His eyes were wide and wild, and his glasses were skewed. He knew this feeling. It was the feeling he had when he was clinging to his first and only Object. A longing; no, a craze! He was crazed for the love that the pendulum once gave him. Infinitely strong, unconditional love. He just needed everyone out of his way, first.

He looked down at Eric's still form and had to stifle a crazed laugh. The idiot thought he could just walk up and convince Snow White to hand the pendulum over?!

"You can't stop me," said the white woman, clutching her arm. But, Jules simply laughed.

"I beg to differ." The sound of the gunshot bathed the garden. The white woman's eyes widened and she looked down to her stomach, where a blotch of blood was quickly spreading from the bullet hole. With a quiet curse under her breath, she fell backward into the snow, cradling her wound.

"That was too easy!" laughed Jules. Dropping the gun, he whipped around to face the tree, and began to pull himself up onto the lower limbs. The pendulum was thirty feet above him, but he could get to it in no time.

No one would be able to call him a coward now. He took down the fool, and he took down the fearsome Snow White with two shots. The pendulum was so close, almost back into his grasp. He was sick and tired. Tired of being called a coward, a hermit, or someone who doesn't have the guts to be a Seeker! He took out the Holder herself! How dare they speak to him this way?! It would all change soon. He would be revered.

Suddenly, his hand slipped on a branch, and he nearly fell. When he finally caught a hold of the branch, it was slick under his fingers. The branch in his other hand had also inexplicably become slippery. What was going on?

Snow White was back on her feet, cradling the hole in her stomach. It had knocked her down, but the pain was already fading away. If she didn't hurry, the Librarian would get to the pendulum, if it wasn't already too late.

When she looked up, though, she saw him slip. The tree was covered in something black. At the same time, it looked as if a shadow was falling over the garden. The lamppost nearby flickered.

Jules shrieked when he saw the oil on his fingertips, and began to panic. As quickly as he could manage, he grasped two more branches as firmly as he could, and he was within arm's reach of the Object. A sudden wind blew by, and the pendulum swung and glittered above him.

Then, the lights went out.

The lamppost flickered off, as well as all of the lights in the apartment complex. For a few brief seconds, they were bathed in utter darkness. The moment lasted merely a minute, and then the lights were back. The oil had disappeared. Everything seemed back to normal, except that the pendulum no longer danged from the tree branch. Jules was frozen, grasping at empty air. He looked down below him, aghast, only to see Snow White staring up at him, and a bloodstained depression in the snow where Eric's body had been.

Snow White looked on, appearing passive, but inside, she had to hold back the terror that rushed upon her. Her voice was gone. For the first time in her memory, she stood alone in the snow. The pendulum's voice no longer cried out, "Save me!" She knew what the boy had done. She knew where he and the pendulum had gone. She just didn't understand why. She loved more deeply for the pendulum than any human could have understood, and they had protected each other. Why did they have to disappear together?

She stared down at the depression where the fool had once been, lost for words and lost for thoughts. She did not feel sympathy, or gratefulness, just a sudden anxiety and terror. The boy's life was over, and the Object that she had protected for so long had left her for good, completely cut off from her.

She looked up and scanned her surroundings, as if taking it in for the first time. Above her, the cowardly Librarian whimpered in the tree, too afraid to come down from his perch. Snow White looked up at him, and the anger in her face returned. She would not take revenge for the boy, or for Her, but for her own self. She would fully expose Jules Quincy's cowardice. She walked toward the bases of the tree. Jules whimpered again.


"Why does the snow fall?"

"It snows to mask Their eternal sadness."

"Why does the river flow?"

"It flows to carry those that have died peacefully to their final resting place."

"Why does the pendulum swing?"

"It swings for each lost soul that has seen their final deliverance. Allow me to tell you their tale."

Winter passes away with the months, and it had reached that delicate time of the year when the snow had long stopped falling, but the first early spring rain hadn't yet come. The streets of Manhattan were bare, and color was only just beginning to return, even to this concrete jungle. Reds and greens were beginning to stand out more, now that the fierce grip of January and February were gone.

The only spot where the color refused to return was in the figure of a white woman standing in the street under an apartment building. The message carved into the brick wall behind her had worn away. The apartment above that had once belonged to a foolish young man had been cleared out, the new tenants already moved in.

As the world continued to move on, she waited. As long as she waited, he would come. Hours turned into days, and turned into weeks. Until, finally, the day came when her patience was rewarded.

A young man approached her, also dressed in a white robe, similar to hers. The fool himself was no more. The man that stood before her was the Holder of Deliverance, and nothing more. Even though he looked like the same person, his eyes showed no naïveté, and no compassion, but only a hint at what he held in his heart. Unbounded knowledge, and unknowable fear.

"Are you the Holder of Deliverance?" she asked, echoing the words once spoken to her by Jules Quincy.

He responded in turn, "Deliverance is held by only those that have so earned it."

He did not lead her away to the river, as she would have in that situation. Instead, he nodded at her knowingly and drew the pendulum directly out of his pocket.

"You've come for this, haven't you?"

She hesitated, before holding out her hands like a beggar. "I only want to check on it."

Deliverance scanned her up and down impassively, and in an act unheard of to Seekers, the Holder placed it into the palm of her hands softly, the silver chain curling around the diamond-like head.

He waited, watching her carefully. For a moment, a hint of want flitted in her eyes, and her fingers wrapped around it. Then, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She squeezed the pendulum in her hand once tightly before handing it back to Deliverance.

If this had still been the same boy, he would have thanked her, or wished her well. Instead, Deliverance merely shook his head at her, wearing an odd expression. One that she couldn't quite read. It was the face of a Holder, the face of a world she had been released from.

"You won't find me here anymore."

"No," she said firmly. "I won't."

The Holder of Deliverance reached into the wall and tore open the black scar. Black, oily water poured from the bottom of the slit and across the ground, staining the concrete. Without giving a second look to the woman, the man stepped inside the scar, letting it snap shut behind him. The wall was left unmarked, and in the next moment, the black water was gone.

She didn't know where she should go now, but she didn't feel so lost anymore. Before, only the pendulum lay before her. Now, there was everything. Though the world was returning to color, she remained as a patch of white, a reminder of the winter that it had left behind.

"It doesn't always follow the formula."

The pendulum is Object 232 of 2538. Deliverance is held only by those that have so earned it.