Object 240

The Holder of the Finale

In any city, in any country, go to any theatre before the first showing of the day, and ask the man at the ticket booth for a ticket to "The Holder of the Finale". If he says "We're sold out," then it's already too late. Leave, the Object will never be yours. If he just hands you a ticket, close your eyes and walk into the theatre. If your eyes were closed, you'll pass into an auditorium with a solid black stage and thousands of rows of red seats. The curtains for the play will be closed. The room will be packed with people, but it'll be too dark to see any of them clearly. Just find a seat and sit quietly. The play should begin soon.

This play will be like nothing you've ever seen. The props and backdrops will be on fire. The room will be saturated with the acrid reek of brimstone. Words spoken will not make sense. Demons will stride across the stage and imps will dance. Your dead loved ones will also appear onstage. The play is about them being trapped in Hell.

You have to be very careful here. Even the slightest mistake could cause your demise. Follow the reactions of the crowd. If they clap, clap louder than you ever have. If they cry, break into fake sobbing. Be very quick because their reactions will jerk - they could laugh for three minutes, then suddenly start crying for twelve seconds, and then shoot straight back to laughter. If you do not follow them perfectly, the people around you will become angry and an usher will throw you out for troublemaking - your fate will be explained later. If anyone else is dragged out of the theatre, ignore them. Any reaction will make the ushers think you're with the troublemaker, and they'll throw you out, too. These people are other Seekers. They come from the past and the future. Every Seeker across time that ever asked for the Holder of the Finale is in this theater. Don't be tempted, though; stay with the crowd.

As the play goes on, you will feel yourself growing weak. Whatever happens, you must never fall asleep, ever. You must also never let your dulled senses get in the way of following the crowd's reactions. If you fall asleep, again, your fate will be explained later.

The play will continue until there is one Seeker left in the crowd. If you're lucky enough to have avoided the ushers to this point, the crowd will suddenly give a standing ovation and the curtain will close. The narrator will call you to the stage to give a bow. At this point, walking will be painful from your exhaustion. You must persevere. If you don't get up within the next thirty seconds, an usher will carry you to the stage, and you'll experience a much more painful "finale".

If you do manage to rise, a spotlight will shine on you. The audience will fall dead silent as you approach the stage. You will get used to the spotlight after a few minutes and be able to see the crowd for the first time. You'll notice that their limbs are tied to the ceiling with strings. They're just bodies painted to look alive.

When the narrator gets you to the stage, give a bow. Then, facing the audience, say, "What happens to the actors after the finale?" Anything else will enrage the audience. They will boo and hiss, and the demons from the play will reappear and drag you to fiery pits of Hell. Say the right phrase, and the narrator will smile and say, "Of course, let's not forget your supporting players!" All the Seekers thrown out will walk back in and all the Seekers asleep will wake up. They'll march onstage behind you.

You'll hear them whisper "Why did I sleep?" or "Why didn't I listen?" They'll say it one by one, but it'll be done so fluently that it'll seem like they're all talking at once. Never interrupt them. If you do, they'll stop talking. The narrator, the Seekers, and the audience will then stay silent and motionless forever; there is no way to restart this step, and no progression without it.

When they're done, the narrator will scold the Seekers. He'll say that they weren't interested enough in the finale and that they should've listened closer. Because of their apathy, they're damned to never know the ending of the hellish play. At this point, you may have noticed each Seeker is being pulled by the same strings as the audience. If not, it doesn't matter, because you will notice it now. When the scolding is over, each of these strings will begin glowing a faint yellow.

The Seekers will try to rip their strings out. However, they'll be too weak to move their arms at all. One by one their strings fade and each will die at your feet. Watching them die will be like watching your own family die helplessly in front of you. Still, you must clap and congratulate each of their performances as they struggle. When they've all died save one, the last will come up to you and say, "Is this truly the Finale?" The narrator will break in with laughter, and say, "We're about to find out!" At that moment, you'll notice the same strings protruding from your skin. They're buried under your flesh with hooks. No matter how weak you are, you must rip out these hooks. Their glowing is the very last bit of life leaving your body. You only have about half a minute to do this. If you manage to rip out all the hooks, the last Seeker will look at you with a smile and say, "You're an inspiration to us all." His eyes will well with tears, and he'll choke from happiness over meeting you. Moments later, he'll collapse, dead with the others. Sad as it may be, a serene feeling of completion will rush over you.

Your loved ones will now come onstage and give a bow. You can take this opportunity to speak with them. The audience will give one last clap, and begin to leave. If the entire audience exits, the doors will lock, the lights will shut off, and you'll be trapped in the darkness of the locked theatre for the remainder of eternity. Before this happens, turn to the audience, close your eyes, give a bow, and stand straight back up. When you reopen your eyes, you'll be standing outside the theatre, just as the play is letting out. A crowd of people will walk by, talking about the hellish play. They'll ignore you and disappear into the night.

The strings you're holding are Object 240 of 2538. After the finale, no master pulls the strings.