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Holder of the Game

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In any city, in any country, go to any elementary school you can get yourself into and be sure to wear sturdy comfortable gloves. Confidently enter the school and seek out a classroom with the youngest children inside. Ignore any who question you or attempt to impede you in any way. They seek only to delay you, let no one and nothing stand in your way.

Once in the classroom, approach the instructor, stand face to face, and demand to see the "Holder of the Game." If the instructor says or does anything, flee, for your freedom is now at stake. Keep running until your body drops and sleep where you fall, you'll know in the morning if you managed to ascertain your freedom.

If, however, the instructor stops abruptly and stares silently over your right shoulder, you're in the right place. Do NOT turn around, instead, announce with as much confidence as you can muster, "It is time for the game." Behind you you will hear many skittering noises, interrupted by the occasional thud of stone hitting sand. Resist any temptation to turn and look, it will only serve to unnerve you, because you'll need your full wits about you soon enough. Instead, wait until the sounds have ceased. Wait patiently, it can take minutes, even hours.

When the sounds have passed, remain motionless. The instructor will announce, "It is awaiting its amusement." Then, and only then, turn slowly around. The scene before you will, quite to your surprise, be the same as the one when you entered the room. The only change being that the desks have moved up against the walls. The children will have formed a circle and will be sitting facing the center in absolute silence, eyes shut tightly.

The effect you'll feel may be unnerving, but do not show it or let it deter you. You must quickly enter the circle, be assured this is not the same room that you entered earlier. It is no longer safe. The inside of the circle on the other hand, is safe. So feel free to take a moment once you're in the circle to gather yourself, regain your equilibrium, and perhaps even stretch in preparation to run, you will have to soon enough.

When you are as prepared as you are able, approach any child and stare at their eyes, shut as they are. You must ask, "How does it entertain?" Stare intently into the child's closed eyes waiting for their response. If there is no response, move quickly to the next child on either side and repeat the question.

Depending on the person you are, it can take as many as eight trips around the entire circle, or as little as only a few children. There's no rush here. When, eventually, a child opens its eyes, and you find yourself staring into empty black sockets, Then you must prepare for the game. After a pause, the child's face will contort into a look of rapt excitement. The holder is coming.

Before you, you will again hear the sound of skittering and stone hitting sand. This time however, you will hear the sound of running feet. Resist the urge to turn and look at what is rushing so eagerly towards you. It will not take long to arrive and join the game, eager to play. Its arrival will be announced by a high shrieking laughter, and it will persist until you turn. When you do, you'll find yourself face to face the Holder of the Game.

The Holder of the Game can appear as anyone who was ever a child. Do not be fooled, this does not mean it is one itself. It will be dressed conservatively, in what ever clothes are appropriate for its guise. The only distinguishing mark will be the marred look in its eyes. The look of complete and utter exuberance. Do NOT meet its eyes, you will only be distracted then, and you really can't afford that. The holder will extend its right hand, keeping its left tucked behind its back. It will ask, "Shall we play?"

Ignore its words, and its offer of greeting. Instead, concern yourself with its left hand. Those gloves are necessary, for if any part of the holder's hand should touch any part of your flesh, you will be doomed to the circle of eternity, thus is the nature of the game. Carefully remove the object from the holder's left hand. The holder will make a great show of resistance. But you'll find it surprisingly easy to retrieve the object. A simple rubber ball. Once you're holding the ball, the holder will stop and begin staring at it with rapt attention.

When you feel you are ready, remove either glove and hold the ball in your bare hand. Bounce it once on the floor and catch it. You will feel great joy and as if all of your cares have been lifted. Do not allow yourself to stop and enjoy this feeling. Turn and run for the door. From behind you, hopefully, you will hear sounds again. "The Seeker approaches" will echo in your ears. The halls will reverberate with the sound of every child in the world counting. "One, two, three..."

Do not concern yourself with the counting, or anything at all. Merely clutch your prize and run, using whatever means you possess to travel as far away from the school as possible. You will know if you make it in the end. The rubber ball is object 185 of 538. When the counting stops, the holder shall become the seeker, and then the game will truly begin.

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