Object 353

The Holder of Vibrance

In any city, in any country, go to the nearest art gallery museum. Enter the building casually, and take time to admire the architecture and interior design of the room. As you study the room's details, approach the main desk. Casually ask the receptionist to speak with "The Holder of Vibrance" out of the corner of your mouth. At no point should you make eye contact; continue surveying the building. The receptionist will respond with "Beautiful, isn't it?" and lead you down a previously unnoticed corridor. Follow them, remembering to avoid eye contact. Eventually, you will come to a pair of large, wooden doors with cast iron fittings, seemingly from a Gothic-style cathedral. They will slowly pull one open and turn to face you, saying, "Enjoy your visit." Avert your gaze; continue looking around the corridor while casually strolling through the door. It wouldn't hurt to say "Thank you."

Once the door has closed behind you with a dull thud, you may stop worrying about avoiding eye contact and truly take in your surroundings. A long, marble promenade with Gothic-style stonework will stretch out before you. On the ceiling is a vast, intricate fresco, better than even the most famous works of Michelangelo or da Vinci. On the floor, an exquisite tapestry, better than the finest Persian rugs, stretches out before you. The large, high windows on each side alternate between exquisite stained-glass scenes and plain windows, through which you will see lush, summary fields of flowers and large, mysterious forests. Do not stare at any one area for too long, or the overpowering intensity flooding your senses may stifle your own life. The colors assaulting your eyes from all directions will make you want to tear them from their sockets. The corridor will seem to stretch on forever. Nevertheless, you must keep walking at a relaxed pace, taking in the nearly overwhelming beauty of your surroundings.

As you walk, however, you will notice the stained-glass becoming sloppier, the forests and fields less lush, the fresco on the ceiling plainer, the runner on the floor more worn and sun-bleached. You will also eventually notice that the intensity of the colors is fading, and with it, your own vigor. Soon, everything will fade to a dull, muddy brown, and then to a simple grayscale. The windows will turn to cracked and bubbled glass, hastily and poorly made in a makeshift furnace. The fields outside will be reduced to parched desert. The mural will devolve into incoherent scribbling looking vaguely like demonic runes, with the paint flaking off and snowing gently down to the ground. The rug on the floor will become threadbare and rotten, with strange insects crawling between the fibers. Each step will consume more of your stamina, to the point of utter exhaustion, yet you must press on. Should you stop at any point, you will become as withered and pale as the barrenness around you.

Should you endure long enough, you will reach another small, wooden door with cast iron fittings, of the same style as the set at the hallway's entrance. Looking closer, you will see termites boring through the wood, and rust encrusting the handle. It will seem impossible that the door can still support its own weight, much less the forces of being used. Regardless, you should knock on it firmly and confidently, with three sharp raps.

Should a deep, man's voice answer in bellowing tones, you have failed the trial. You would do best to throw yourself out one of the windows, as wasting away in the desolate plains would be preferable to the horrid dismemberment - which would, on the other hand, allow you to see a color one last time before you die; the rich red of your own blood.

Should a woman's voice answer softly, you may proceed. Open and close the door behind you as though it were whole, for if you hesitate and treat it gently, it will crumble to dust, and those termites won't be very happy about losing their eternal meal. You will be in a plain stone room, the color still absent from your vision. The Holder sits on a plain metal chair with Her back toward you, painting and humming a vague tune, occasionally looking out the window in front of Her for reference. Do not attempt to look out the window or at Her canvas to see what She's painting. It is doubtful the human mind could comprehend it.

She will respond to only one question: "What color are they?" If you ask correctly, She will say nothing, but push a glasses case off of Her desk, which will land at your feet. Quickly pick it up, open it, and don the spectacles within. If you already wear prescription eyeglasses or contacts, remove them beforehand. These glasses' lenses are made of a finely cut crystal whose mineralogy has never been accurately deemed. Gaze through them intensely; the lenses will begin to glow. Within their delicate crystal facets, all the colors of the cosmos shine brilliantly, most unnamed by humans. When the light snow subsides, you will find yourself standing in the middle of the road outside of the building, the color having returned to the world. If you previously wore corrective lenses, or had undiagnosed vision problems, you will find that the crystal spectacles have granted you flawless vision. A large truck will be approaching - it would be wise to jump quickly onto the sidewalk.

With these spectacles in your possession, you can see the entire electromagnetic spectrum, even beyond the gamma-ray and radio ends, into frequencies undetectable by any modern technology. These frequencies may reveal things you wish you hadn't seen. Through a still-unknown process, the lenses will have integrated themselves into your brain's visual cortex; suffice it to say that it would be unwise to remove them. You will be able to identify any person by their infrared emission pattern, and track most Objects by their unique radiation signature. But beware - should you lose the glasses' interest, blindness will be the best of its inflictions upon you.

Those spectacles are Object 353 of 2538. Keep traveling; never linger in one city or locale too long. They wish to gaze upon the world.