Object 371

The Holder of Boredom

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to. Sit in a chair in front of the front desk, and wait. Be prepared to wait a long time. If necessary, you may eat and drink, but you must not sleep, and you must not move from the chair. Eventually - after some time - a man in a heavy trench coat will occupy the seat just across from yours. He will have a locked briefcase, which he will carefully set beneath his chair - this will be your cue to act. Clear your throat, and he will look up at you.

Take this opportunity to note his hair color - if it is red, apologize and try again another day. If it is black, then may god help you, for you will lose all will to live, and suffer an excruciating death from the sudden lack of motivation to breathe. If his hair is blond, you will lose all willingness to collect the Objects; he will then somberly request them, and you, being of no mind to argue, will numbly comply. If his hair is gray, however, and stiffened with age, you must meet his eyes, and ask to meet "The Holder of Boredom". The man's face will not change, and he will gaze at you for a brief time. Then, with a bemused look, he will stand up, and open his trench coat - revealing that he lacks any form, with a thick gray miasma wholly taking the place of his body. You will find yourself inexorably drawn into the miasma; close your eyes as you are enveloped by it or you spend an eternity floating in the gray haze, alone and unable to move.

Open your eyes once you realize that the sounds of winds, distant laughter, and rushing water have died away. You will find yourself in a blank, white void. All around you, you will see nothing, and you find yourself completely weightless. Look around until you see the merest suggestion of an outlined figure in the distance. Begin slowly moving toward this figure. DO NOT, under any circumstances, go toward the figure if you are not sure of its singularity. There is but one correct path, and deviation from it will paralyze you, casting you adrift in this blank, vast sea of emptiness.

Once you are on the path, you must be vigilant. You must continue forward without any change - maintain your speed, your direction, your focus. If you are to look away, or your path to drift, the figure will disappear and you will be forever lost. The figure at first may not appear to move any closer, but maintain your purpose. Continue on.

Finally, the figure will emerge from the void, holding reverentially what appears to be a Rubik's Cube with indistinguishable sides. His black hair will be just visible beneath his cloak. His head will rise at your approach, and his hands tighten upon the cube. You must stop before him, and ask this question: "What drives the Seekers?"

In response, he will turn one side of the cube - slowly, and meaningfully. As it locks into place, you will feel a pool of agony surge through you as your body teeters on the edge between dimensions - you may feel yourself beginning to age, or grow younger, or feel your body compress, or decompress - but above all, hold on to the feeling of just prior to the experience, the feeling of normality. If you do not let go of the previous moment, you should make it through the pain with minimal organ failure or broken bones. He turns the cube's side once more, and you suddenly feel... focused. Sharper. As though there was an imperceptible problem throughout your entire life that has just been corrected. (NOTE: While you are in this state of heightened awareness, use this opportunity to remember the Objects, remember your purpose. This is crucial.)

The man will turn the cube again, and you will feel all willpower sapped from you. You will feel completely apathetic, and will be in danger of giving up your quest - unless you are of a strong mind, and have taken the previous precautions necessary. If you succumb, and give up your quest, you will be robbed of your senses and left adrift in the void, sightless, voiceless, and essentially mindless.

If you retain your purpose, the man will turn the cube's side once more, and the world will return to the one you are used to. Seeing that you have overcome his trial, the man will, smiling, hold out the cube and drop it. Move quickly, or it will fall into the endless void - move downward with all due speed, and catch it.

As soon as you feel its weight in your hand, your fall will slow until your knees, forced up by inertia, move you into a sitting state, at which point the void will fade to the lobby of your original location. The cube will still be in your hands; however, the man will be gone. A custodian will retrieve the man's briefcase from beneath the seat he once occupied. This is the cue for you to exit.

The Rubik's cube is Object 371 of 2538 - a reminder that your pursuit must be relentless and purposeful.