Object 75

The Holder of Chance

In any city, in any country, seek out any school or educational facility you can find. When you reach the front desk, ask to see a person who calls himself "The Holder of Chance". If the secretary shows any sign of fear, give the request again, and do not relent. Eventually, your perseverance will pay off, and you will be led to a deserted classroom in a closed-down wing of the school. Scraps of police tape and faded chalk profiles will litter the floor, and the door will be sealed behind you before you can inquire anything. At this point, you must choose one of the thirty desks, sit down and wait. Only one of these desks will allow you to keep your life; advising you to choose wisely would do little good, as there is no way to tell if you have done so until it is too late. After a short wait you should begin to hear things - children laughing, droning lectures, and the occasional snore - but these are merely echoes of a time when the classroom was host to nothing more devious than homework and pop quizzes.

As you wait, the sounds will slowly change. Where there was once laughter and lectures, there will now be screams of agony and howls of despair. Shadows of the classroom's horrible history will begin to take shape around you. Do not fear the shadows, as they are harmless. The beast they can coalesce into, however, is not. As your wait continues, the shadows will grow more numerous and the classroom's history will unfold in increasingly gruesome detail. This part has driven many men into fits of tears and more still into madness. Should you reach the end of this macabre production with your sanity intact, you will find out if you have chosen wisely. If you have chosen incorrectly, the shadows will take form. They are hideous mockeries of what they were in life, half-formed doppelgangers of those long dead. There is no escape from this room now. They will tear you apart ever so slowly, taking twisted delight in inflicting the pain they have suffered on someone else. It will take you days, perhaps even weeks, to die. The only consolation you will have is that you will likely lose your sanity after the first few hours.

If you were lucky and chose the one correct desk, the shadows will gather around you, coalescing into a pitch-black mass. When it disappears, you will find yourself in the most lavish casino imaginable. It is populated by those who have played the games so long that their flesh has long since rotted away (for death is forbidden from entering this casino) and yet still play, hoping to gain their freedom. The casino has but two exits. One leads to a wasteland where fell beasts roam, and nothing but certain death awaits. The cost to pass through is four silver coins. The other door will take you to what you seek, and is the only chance for you to leave with your life. The cost to pass through is five gold coins. You will be holding a single silver coin in your hand. Don't fret; as long as you are in this casino, you can never have any less than this one coin. A nearby sign will tell you that three silvers equal one cold. You must play if you do not wish to be trapped here for good, but remember the old casino boss's idiom: "You can't beat the house."

Nearly every game is rigged in favor of the house and the precious few which aren't changed at random, serving only to trick and confuse you. The odds are most definitely not in your favor. If you do begin to win, take care to keep your fortune as secret as possible, as the damned around you have not been so lucky. Bear in mind that you cannot die in this place and that boastfulness may inspire them to turn on you in a fit of jealous hatred, ripping great chunks of flesh out of your body until their jealousy is quenched and their bloodlust sated.

If, against all odds, you manage to gather the five gold coins and enter the door unmolested by the other gamblers, you will find yourself in an elevator. It will take you up to an office even more opulent than the casino below. Behind a desk at the far end of the room will sit a skeletal figure, dressed in the finest suit you will ever see. Approach the desk and stand before it, asking only one question: "Will you roll?" It will nod, and produce a pair of dice from its jacket. Call the roll, evens or odds. If you lose, the skeleton will grin, and you will take its place, waiting thousands of years for the next Seeker to be so lucky as to reach your new abode. If you should win, however, it will let loose a wail that will unbind the magics that hold the place together. Death will finally enter the casino below, granting the wretched gamblers the rest that has for so long been denied them. As the casino disintegrates around you, stand perfectly still. Hopefully, you will not be taken with it, but if you are, there is no being in this world who can say what will happen to you. If you were not taken, you will reappear in the classroom. It will be exactly the same as you left it save a mound of dust and rotting cloth at your feet. Within it you will find a pair of dice. As soon as you touch them, the door will unlock.

That pair of dice is Object 75 of 2538. With every roll, they take another life. Will yours be the next they claim?