Object 51

The Holder of Illusion

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get to. When you reach the front desk, ask the worker there if "The Holder of Illusion" is housed here.

If the worker nods, you are doomed. The Holder has anticipated your arrival and you will feel your body slowly begin to fade out of existence. It is not a pleasant experience.

If the worker answers no, be thankful. She will hand you a sheet of paper with directions on getting to the proper asylum and ask you to leave. Do so, turn left, and throw away the paper. You don't want to alert this Holder to your coming before it is necessary.

Walk four blocks down the road in the direction you're heading, then turn right and walk one, then left and walk two, then stop, scratch your chin, and turn around. The street has changed - all the color has drained from the world in front of you. A huge crater gapes from the center of the street. Not a pane of glass remains intact, and all the people you might have passed on that block lie horribly dead.

Take a step back. There should be a red paint-pen on the ground beside you - grab it and stuff it into your pocket. As you watch, the discoloration effect slowly spreads, revealing what looks like the aftermath of a military attack on a black-and-white world: smashed buildings, blasted streets, and dead people everywhere.

Quickly cover your eyes with your hands and shout, "I deny the truth! Let the path remain!" If the Holder deems you unworthy, you will suffer the same fate as the block, and the effect you saw will continue to spread, wiping the illusion clean from our world.

But if you pass, a slight tingle will shoot through your legs, just barely powerful enough to be felt. Open your eyes. The effect is still spreading, but you stand fully as you were in the middle of its ruin. Walk straight down the block until you come to a warehouse. The main doors, though bent and dinged, still stand strong. Next to the doors is a building nameplate, like the ones you see on firehouses and the like, but completely blank.

Take out the paint-pen and write on the plate, as small as you can while still writing legibly, "Who survived to tell of it?"

The ink will pool into a dot, and then begin to drip - much like blood - down the plate. It will describe the survivor, telling his tale of horror and sadness, and the ends to which he fell in an attempt to get the tale out, to try to ensure that it would not happen again. Slowly, you will get the horrible feeling that the Holder himself was the survivor spoken of.

He will assure you that this is not true, however, and end the tale with "His fate bears not for the telling, but his legacy lives on."

The paint-pen will melt in your hand, and the side door to the warehouse will crash open. Run inside - do not walk - and enter the manager's office. It will be completely dark, but dare you not light it up in any way, lest you awaken the guardian from his dreams. Instead, grope around on the desk until you feel an object, round and smooth, in your hands.

The office will flash out of sight, and you will get a brief glimpse of the massacred street, in full color, before everything goes black.

You will wake up two days later sitting at the kitchen table in your home. A newspaper nearby screams of a terrorist attack. Sit up, and you'll realize that you still hold the object. Set it on the table.

The object you see before you is a steel ball, about the size of a walnut, and is Object 51 of 2538. The survivor now knows of you, and you of him. This jealous secret will bind for all time.