Object 247

The Holder of Metaphor

Go to any place, anywhere, that is no actual town, but that exists only as the symbol of a town that contains all the illusory longings of your youth. Knock on the door of a house that truly is all houses, but no home to any events that have given reality to human memories. If you are lucky enough to be admitted by no one, you will regress to the earliest age you can consciously recall. You will find yourself standing in a foyer, such as the one you never had in the place where your childhood was spent.

Walk on, if your shaking legs will let you. The walls of the hall you traverse will be overwhelming; snowbanks scooped from unforgiving plaster. As you make your way through toward the backyard, you will gain in height, but not age. Each step that brings you closer to the longed-for exit will come at the expense of your existence as a real thing, a being, a soul. For god's sake, walk quickly! The sands of your reality are running through the hourglass! When you come at last to the back of the house, if there is anything left of you, bolt out of that thin glass door, run or even drag yourself down the dirt path that stands for all the futility of effort, and get to the shack you see there.

Inside, you will find a covered cistern. Lift the lid. You are now so weak, so drained, so insubstantial that mere clouds will mock your strength. Use what little is left of your life force to reach down into the mire and grab the sheepskin certificate being held by the madman who clutches it. He is the Holder of Metaphor. He does not want you to exist as an entity in your own right, but would pull you into his pit and dissolve you therein! Ask him, "Why would you have me cease to be?" As he ponders his reply, grab the crackled skin and run! Do not look back, nor side-to-side, nor up, nor down, but forward only. You will retrace your steps through the house that is no home, and grow younger with each step. If you can make it out the front door before you have unaged out of existence, you will survive. If not, the certificate will be returned to the shack.

This certificate is Object 247 of 2538. It is your task to discern its literal meaning.