Object 403

The Holder of the Many

In any city, in any country, go to any theater or cinema you can get yourself to. When you reach the ticket counter, ask to see "The Holder of the Many". If the ticket taker's smile is replaced by a look of disbelief, tell her: "My audience awaits, and their patience wears thin."

She will then start, as if out of a trance and motion you to the door of the booth. When you open this door, you will be greeted by a dingy hallway. Be sure to close the door behind you quietly. Advance down the hallway, walking at a steady pace. Do not break your stride, for an ever-growing host of damned will begin to follow you.

Dare not to look upon them, and do not speak. If you should happen to acknowledge them in any way, these fell beasts will begin to murmur; dark hissing in a long-dead tongue. The only way to save yourself now is to speak in a loud and clear voice: "When all have come, all will receive the chance they are owed."

Should you misspeak, or remain silent, you must run. Run and pray to whomever you will that the end of the hallway is near. At the end of the hall will be a single door. Complete silence will descend as you approach. Enter it. A man will be waiting for you, an old usher's uniform hanging off his emaciated frame. Do not break the silence, for he has the power to rend flesh from bone. Mutely, he will point to a small staircase nearby. Ascend this set of stairs.

You will emerge on a brightly lit stage, standing in front of a massive audience. Each member of this countless crowd will appear lifeless, desiccated. Each member will be focused silently on you.

You must perform. I cannot tell you what to do to sway them, for every act will be unique to the one who creates it. Know this, it will be the purest expression of inspiration ever conceived, or it will be your death. Should you fail, the crowd will rush the stage; howls of fury the world hopes to never know sounding out of frozen faces. They will surround you and torture your soul for all eternity, disgust and loathing etched into their lifeless features.

When you finish, bow before the audience and close your eyes. Hope that they have accepted you. If you have succeeded, the many will rise to their feet and begin a deafening applause that will shake you to your very core. Do not move. They are fickle beings, and to move would be to invite their wrath. After a time, the applause will cease, bringing about a silence as profound as the noise had just been.

Look up to see the same frail usher standing before you. He will hold out a microphone; take it. He will respond with a sad shake of his head. You must now look out into the many and ask: "Why must the pieces be so many?"

Involuntarily, you will begin to see every evil thing that has occurred in the name of entertainment. Do not cry out, do not shed a tear, horrid though these things may be. For if you break your calm demeanor, then each thing you have seen will happen to you, over and over, throughout eternity. When the torrent of imagery finally ceases, you will find yourself in front of the theater you entered, now overgrown and abandoned. At your feet will be a comedy/tragedy mask; take it. For good or ill, it is now yours.

This mask is Object 403 of 2538. The many are watching your every step. Keep them entertained.