Object 273

The Holder of Betrayal

Sent May 15 2011, 11:23 PM

from: [email protected]

to: [email protected]

Subject: Your information

Hey, C here. I know you haven't heard from me in a while, but I finally - finally - have the information you wanted. I know I told you I charge a flat fee, and I'm not going to go back on that, but I just want you to know, "professor", it wasn't nearly enough.

But anyway. Through means I'd... rather not discuss, I found out what you wanted to know, and here's the instructions, just like you asked.

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway houses you can get yourself to. They're not easy to find, believe me; for our purposes, at least, a hospital with a psych ward should do just fine. Find an orderly, it doesn't matter who, and ask to see "The Holder of Betrayal". I'm told they'll shoot you a look of combined shock and horrible emotional devastation, but you have to just look them dead in the eyes and try not to blink. They'll take you to a door that should lead to an ordinary room, open it for you, and tell you to "take your time". As soon as you walk in, though, the door will lock behind you and the lights will go off. You'll hear this laughter that's just barely outside what you'd expect from a normal human being, an echoing, piercing sound. And this is where it starts to get weird.

You know, I'm not actually an expert on this stuff. I've never tried any of these little games, myself. You guys pay well, and I'm a man who knows his price, but you get up to some eerie shit. I just wanted to let you know that just hearing about this never gets any easier for me, and this is one of the most unpleasant ones I've run across yet.

The lights come back on after a while. They're not the same kind of annoying, lightly buzzing fluorescent lights that were there just a minute ago, though. These are a sickly yellow, with that kind of glow you get on a lightbulb that's moments away from death that doesn't really penetrate the darkness, and instead just casts everything in this upsetting half-light. The room is gone, too, and now it's a hallway, but it's completely nondescript. Along the walls are portraits that are just a bit too real, that change like those holographic movie cases as you walk past into that same awful expression that took over the worker before.

At the end, there's a door. Open that up, and don't turn around. Just go inside. There's going to be somebody here. One person or more. Men, women - hell, maybe kids - it doesn't matter. They'll be chained to the wall, starved and pleading through cracked, bleeding throats for your help. You've got to give it to them. You'll find a key, and you can use that to unhook their shackles. Help them to their atrophied feet. Tell them you can get them out of there. Guide them out the door opposite the one you entered through. Now you're outside, but it's more like a morbid dreamscape, a mockery of real life. It's overcast, and the streets are empty, but it looks real enough. Don't be fooled. It's not.

Follow the street; there's only one way to go. At the end is something resembling a fortress, with a bit portcullis attached to a chain, covered in hooks. Your entourage is going to be a little nervous by now, because even though they haven't been outside for a while, they know it didn't look like this last time. Reassure them and tell them it's fine. Then, one by one... there's no easy way to say it, prof. You've got to kill them.

Maybe you can bring a gun or something, but I don't think it really matters how. After the first one, if there's more, the others will try running, but their disused ankles will snap under their own weight. Once it's all taken care of, hook up their corpses to the hooks on the chain. Their faces will be locked in that goddamn expression again, but try not to let it bother you. Their weight will cause the portcullis to rise.

Behind it, on a bare throne, is the Holder you're looking for. Also wearing that expression. Are you sick of it yet? He's just going to stare at you. Get your composure, and ask him, "What if I throw away my responsibilities for personal gain?"

He's going to tell you about these betrayals in history. It's going to take forever, but you have to look him in his permanently horrifying eyes as he recites them. Suppress the nausea, and you've done it. You've got your Object.

I hope that helps. And next time you need my help, I'm increasing my fee. I've still got nightmares from digging all this up.


Investigator C.

Sent May 14 2011, 9:46 PM

from: [email protected]

to: [email protected]

Subject: re: Betrayal

Thanks for the info, C. We can always count on you, huh? In exchange, here's the rest of what you wanted to know for the prof, just like you asked.

So, like I explained before, after the thing with the portcullis you go inside, and there's your Holder, on a great bit wooden throne with absolutely no fanfare.

Don't look him in the eyes. This is not one of those situations where his eyes will kill you or expose you to some kind of nightmare - at least not directly - he just really hates it, I hear. In fact, I'd dodge looking in the vicinity of his face at all. It's not really his in the first place, and most people don't really like seeing the stripped, screaming visage of the person that preceded them strapped onto the Holder like a cheap Halloween mask.

This is also not one of the Objects where you ask a question and get an answer. Don't ask him a damn thing. If you sent somebody in before you, like I told you in my last email, and they asked him something, you're in the clear. But say anything to him yourself, and you're going to find out exactly where your former friend wound up.

In time, he'll step down from his perch, holding a very fine coat. He'll walk down, very slowly toward you. Put your arms out at your sides - he's going to put it on you. Once both arms are on, he'll button the coat, and finally, he'll reach behind you and stab you in the back. The pain, I'm told, is unnaturally excruciating. The popular story in our community is that it's the combined anguish of everyone who's ever been betrayed made manifest, but you know how Seekers sensationalize things.

After an eternity of this pain, writhing on the ground while the Holder looks on, you'll pass out and wake up in a ditch not far from where you started this thing. The pain will be gone, but you'll still have a scar there as a reminder. Further, you'll be wearing the coat with a little tear in the back.

To be clear, that's Object 273, the Coat of Betrayal. As nice as it looks, you'll never feel comfortable with it. Whether you're wearing it or not.

Anyway, give the prof my regards.