Object 422

The Holder of Panic

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to. You must arrive barefoot with clean toes. Immediately scream upon entering that the Holder of Panic has arrived. The clerk will rush to apprehend you, but you must not resist, else you will succumb to madness at her touch. The clerk will tie your wrists behind your back and drag you behind the reception desk. You will find a trapdoor beneath the desk. Behind the trapdoor, you will find a tunnel extending deep underground. You must continue to scream that the Holder of Panic has arrived to keep the clerk in a state of overflowing fear; otherwise, once you are thrown into the tunnel, the door will slam behind you and forever remain locked.

You will land at the top of a staircase leading into darkness. Untie the ropes on your wrists with your toes. If you fail to successfully free yourself within the first two minutes, a cannibal without eyes will approach from the darkness. He is the keeper of the tunnel below. When you become aware of his presence, your eyes will fall from their sockets to replace the cannibal's, and you will writhe in terror as you are slowly devoured, inch by inch.

If you succeed, dive into the darkness and hope that the blind cannibal has not received new eyes from a slower Seeker. If he has, you must pry them from his eye sockets to pass by. You will know if this is the case if he whispers your name from the shadows. Only when the keeper of the tunnel is blinded will the path open.

Proceed through the tunnel. Laughter will echo from all directions. You must laugh in return and continue to do so for the extent of your journey. If you cease laughing even momentarily, the laughter will increase in volume until your mind is lost to the eternal torment of never understanding why the voices laugh. When you reach the end of the tunnel several hours later, the laughter will suddenly cease.

Enter the cave in front of you. A six-year-old boy rocking back and forth while gripping his knees will be waiting for you. He will respond to one question and one question only: "Why did they fear?" If you are too calm for your voice to tremble as you ask this, fake it - if the boy believes you are too relaxed, he will rise, revealing a pistol between his legs. You will never escape this room, even in death.

If you satisfy his expectation of fear, he will tell his short life's story, and if you scream at him when he finishes, the boy will wail in return.

Your panic-stricken heart is Object 422 of 2538. Now it pumps both blood and destruction.