Object 65

The Holder of Agony

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 visit something which calls itself "The Holder of Agony". The eyes of the person behind the counter will widen in surprise, as if they didn't understand why they recognized the name. They'll sputter for a moment, but their facial expression will soon change to a drawn, furrowed, pensive scowl. They will shudder, turn away, and refuse. You must ask again, and continue asking in a calm, soft voice, even if they weep or scream. Eventually, the life will leave their eyes, and they will lead you, with a shuffling gait, to a room with no apparent number just down the hall.

The worker will open the door for you. As you walk past to enter the dark room, they will land a sharp kick on the small of your back, hurtling you into the room. Whatever you do, do not stop or turn around while passing the worker. Please just trust me on that.

The room will smell simultaneously of alcohol sanitary wipes and the metallic tang of blood. You won't be able to see much until the same door you entered through opens, and the gray light from within illuminates a lanky, cloaked figure entering the room. When the door shuts, it will be darker than before.

Immediately, you will feel the cloaked figure press itself against your body. Its bony limbs will jab your ribs and stomach as it says, "I know you." Its voice will reverberate through your entire body, and you will feel every type of discomfort - like you're being watched, being molested, like your foot feel asleep, like you're dizzy, nauseous, impatient. Stand perfectly still. Make no sound, except to ask: "Why are they in pain?"

It will reply, in its gut-wrenching hiss, "I will hold you here for all time, and every night, I will mutilate you, rape you, and murder you." You will have no time to brace yourself or think, and especially no time to move, before you feel a wicked, jagged blade thrust into your abdomen and come out the other side. You will feel its rough surface grating against your organs. Do not move. Do not speak. Do not scream.

The voice will continue. "I will murder everything you love, and make them see your face as their killer. I will ruin everything you find beautiful. I will twist your mind until you are as grotesque and perverted as the rest of us." It will not stop, even as fiery, acidic pain lances through your nerves from the blade in your gut. The pain will stop your breath and perhaps your heart, but you must remain perfectly still. More of the blades will pierce your body, in soft places, in impossible places, and the voice will continue hissing its deadly vows, its baroque tortures that become so creatively inhuman and meticulously soulless that you will be in danger of losing your mind.

Stillness is your only defense. If you move, the blades, growing in number from one to five to thirty to a hundred or a thousand, if only you had a chance of counting, will tear away in every direction, forcing every chunk of your flesh and nerves to stay conscious and aware as they are rent apart again and again forever. Stay still, even as your entire body is wracked with agony that couldn't possibly exist; you would be wishing for a reprieve of snake bites on your eyes and razor blades in your nerves.

You must listen to the voice carefully, for eventually, it will say one of those things.

If it says, "This glory is reserved for those who have proven themselves," then I can offer only my condolences. Your eternal suffering will be so insanely horrible that anyone on Earth who has seen your face or heard your name will have nightmares of your agony even after they have passed on to the afterlife in Heaven or Hell. Your soul will be a wasted husk.

If it says, "Your whole existence of forever is untouched by this agony," you must reply, quickly and confidently, "The agony fills us all until they have stopped hurting." For every second it takes to muster your reply through the haze of unbelievable pain, you will suffer from another unique and unerring agony for the rest of your life. If you cannot speak, you will never know another moment without torture, and each day you will consider the prior day's pain to be the tickle of a feather.

If you reply correctly, everything will stop - the pain, the hissing - and you will feel the figure, once pressed against you, crumbling into nothingness. Lift the cloak and you will find a leather pouch. Open it only if you want to know what it would be like for the world to be torn asunder by a plague that even Hell wouldn't condone.

This tortured dust is Object 65 of 2538. Don't run, or you'll never know.