Object 413

The Holder of Measure

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to. When you reach the front desk, ask to see the man known as "The Holder of Measure". Your host's snide, knowing expression should be evidence enough that you're in the right place. Irritated, they will lead you to a squat exterior utility building. While it seems much older than the rest of the campus, this bunker seems to be just as sturdy and polished as the day it was built. Something about the style of the lone iron door, and the one slide-shuttered window next to it at eye level.

Your host will pull the heavy door open for you. Stepping inside, you expect to be choked by musty air, but instead are greeted with a warm, sterile smell - almost like new pennies, but too faint to be certain. As you look down the one wide hallway, you see doors about every thirty-one feet. In fact, you see twenty-three doors on each side. Counting the front door, that's forty-seven doors in all. Upon further inspection, each door bears three indecipherable symbols, perhaps numerals because the doors seem to share the symbols. More curious than the symbols is the nagging sensation you suddenly have for counting things. How did you know the doors were thirty-one feet apart?

You turn back to your host, still at the door. Still sneering, they anticipate your question and answer, "You should already know what to do," and close the door between you.

At the other end of the hall, you notice a small roll-top desk. Well-used but just as clean as the rest of the building, it bears a yellow pencil and a worn piece of paper. The paper is littered with notes in neat square writing, but not in a language you recognize. Most of the scribbles have been hastily erased, but one set of symbols stands out boldly among the rest.

Matching the symbols from the paper to one of the doors in the hallway, you open the door and see a man at a similar roll-top desk. Thin, pale, and hunched over his desk, the man is furiously writing notes and chattering to himself. He turns, surprised, to peer at you, and his babbling stops.

If you remain silent, he will show you his notes, and you will not quite understand them. Your mind will not be prepared for the conclusion he has reached, and you will quickly find yourself similarly mumbling and taking notes at the desk in the hallway, struggling to make sense of what you have learned. You will die before you find the answer.

However, if you greet this Holder with his question "Why are there so many?", he will hand you his tool and turn back to his notes. Made of heavy brass or copper, it is simply a smooth machined cylinder of exactly five inches long. About the middle, three inches are three wooden wheels, each with seventeen marks evenly spaced about their circumference. On each wheel, one mark is distinctly larger and deeper than the others - a starting point. Fixed in place along the bar, the wheels are able to spin independently of each other. Clearly, the tool is some sort of counting or calculating device. What it is supposed to count, however, is still uncertain.

This calculator is Object 413 of 2538. The Objects must be collected in order. Which order is yet to be determined.