Object 477

The Holder of Forgotten Truths

In any city, in any country, visit the library of your choice.

Upon entering, if the librarian at the front desk is a man, enter the fiction section and browse. After some time, you will find a short book, the title of which will be familiar, though you remember nothing about it. Take it out, and read it, and the feeling of familiarity will remain, but you will not remember what happens next. Upon finishing, leave the library, and seek another.

If, however, the librarian is a woman, approach and ask her for assistance. Tell her that you wish to find a book, but you have forgotten it.

When she prompts you for details, tell her that you remember the phrase "clear blue sky", but not the context. If she prompts for more details, you have the wrong library. In this case, do not simply leave, give more, and contradictory details about the book, and wait until she tells you she cannot help you. Then sigh, and admit you may not be properly remembering the details, thank her for her assistance, and leave, to seek another library.

If you have the right library, however, the librarian will tell you she knows precisely which book you mean, and lead you into the library. She will take you to the stacks, then return to the front desk, with some final instructions.

Enter the stacks, and within, you will find a wizened old man, sitting before a large leather-bound book. He will nod at you, and ask you your name. You will find yourself unable to remember. Tell him so. He will suggest a name, and ask you if that was it. Simply repeat that you don't remember. He will repeat this several times. Always repeat that you do not remember. Eventually, he will shrug, and simply take to calling you "my child".

He will invite you to sit and chat, though he will never let you speak on your own, instead asking you questions.

You will know the answers to all of the questions, but will be unable to remember them. They will be connected to your quest so far - what city are you in, and what cities have you visited previously; the number of libraries visited; the number of librarians of each sex; the titles of any books read. You will grow frustrated as you know you should know the answers, but they fail to materialize. You will be tempted to lie, simply to avoid admitting you don't know the answer, but resist the temptation, always answer truthfully. You have forgotten. There is no shame in this.

After he finishes the questioning, he will lean back in his chair, and open the book. He will give you the correct answer to each question, as well as describing your conduct in each library. If you have followed these instructions, he will then close the book, and hand it to you, without another word. He will seem, in fact, to have forgotten you are there. Take the book, and leave. The book, you will soon find, grants you the ability to remember anything anyone other than yourself has forgotten, at the cost of your own memories up to this moment.

If, however, you have failed to follow the instructions, he will levy a punishment against you for each failure.

If you failed to stop to read a book upon encountering a male librarian, he curses your lack of imagination, and sends you away. If this is your only failure, consider yourself lucky.

If you failed to deal with incorrect female librarians in a polite manner, he will curse your rudeness, and again send you away. Upon leaving the library, you will find you remember, unbidden, in complete detail, every slight against you, ranging from simple rudeness to crimes against your person. This will pass, only to be followed by remembering every slight you've ever committed against another person. This too will pass, and you will be able to continue on your way, until the cycle repeats the next day. And every day for the rest of your life.

If this is your only crime, you should still count yourself lucky, for the final punishment is still worse.

If you lie, and claim you remember the answer to any of the questions he asks, even if you give the correct answer, he will slam the book closed and call you a liar. When he sends you away, you will find you still cannot remember your name, or those of any person you know. Or the city from which you come. You will never be able to remember them, nor will you be able to build a new life, for the memories of any new name you take, any new people you meet, any new city you settle in, will slip away as surely as these.

So, I bid you, remember these instructions well.

The book is Object 477 of 2538. It is heavy, and grows heavier each day.