Object 404

The Holder of the Missing

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to. With a face and demeanor full of confidence, quickly approach the front desk of the institution and ask for the files on a person - any person, the name does not matter - and wait a moment. If the name you gave actually does exist in their files, immediately dismiss yourself and leave. When the clerk tells you that the files were not found, insist that they continue looking; after a few minutes of trying each other's patience, ask to see the person's supervisor or a person of higher authority.

You will be brought to the supervisor - an old, graying man whose bald spot looks as if it were just polished. He will ask you of your purpose, and you should immediately ask to see "The Holder of the Missing". At the utterance of the word "missing", you may feel a chill as invisible eyes turn to stare in your direction. This sensation will not leave you during your hunt. The old man will look into your eyes for a moment and beckon you to follow him. Where he takes you depends on whether he deems you worthy or not - he will lead you back through the door you came in if not, and it wouldn't be wise to try again.

If he deems you worthy, you will be guided to a room in the back of the building, past many doors, down a long corridor with several oddly-placed, cramped turns. Walking this path will make you dizzy, but do not let yourself fall behind. Eventually, the man will open the door to a room whose walls are lined with wooden shelves, covered in glass jars of varying sizes, filled with various substances, labeled with the names of various people of how you may or may not have heard, some of which will contain what appear to be organs - though you'd be hard-pressed to find any scholar who could identify the creature they came from. He will motion you to enter; do so quickly. The moment your rear foot hits the inner floor, you will feel the forceful wind erupt from the door as it slams shut behind you and locks.

The various substances held in the jars will begin slowly oozing out from the lids as if overflowing; some of them will gurgle with the most grotesque noises you have ever heard. Some of these sounds will never leave you, forever engraved into your inner ear. The jars will shake on the shelves, falling off their shelves and onto the floor, the spilled substances eating down through the floor as they spread. The odors and gasses given off will make it difficult to breathe, and the mire on the floor will assume colors more vile and repugnant than the human mind can imagine. If you are overpowered by the sight and stench, you will be covered and consumed by the creeping filth.

You must locate the single empty jar, one that will be labeled with your full name and nothing else. The jar itself will likely be to your right, but that's not guaranteed. On the bottom of the lid to this jar will be taped a key; this is the key to the locked door behind you, and to your freedom. Upon opening the jar, however, you will unleash the most horrible pain upon your body - it will feel as if all of your internal organs are being cut up and severed from their host, your lungs will feel as if they are being squeezed empty, your heart and chest will burn with terrible violence, and you will likely cough up a substantial amount of blood. Your vision will become blurred, and you may begin seeing only in spots or blotches. No matter what happens, if you feel as if you are going to vomit, do so in the jar; you mustn't allow any part of you to be lost to this room.

Make your way to the doorway, quickly insert the key, and turn it. When you hear the lock click on its end, push the door open (the doorknob won't turn), and you'll find yourself not in the hallway, but on the opposite end of the street that you entered the institution from. Check the jar - now, instead of displaying your name, it should read "404" as if scribbled hastily with a blood-red permanent marker.

The jar in your hands is Object 404 of 2538. Keep it empty - what was once held within should always remain missing.