Literature / The Holders Series
The Holders series are several short stories about 538 objects which, if brought together, will cause the The End of the World as We Know It
. There were originally 2538 objects, but 2000 of them were lost.
Each object is protected by a Holder, who presents a series of trials to anyone who seeks its object. Failing on any of these trials, no matter how insignificant your failure was
, earns you a Fate Worse Than Death
Each of the stories details the exact sequence of steps you need to retrieve one of the objects. Most of them start with you going to a specific kind of place (often a "mental institution or halfway house") and asking to speak to the Holder of the object you want. You are then guided to a hidden section of the building, where after several trials you will meet the Holder, who will only answer one question (which is different for each Holder).
Originally from the Imageboards
, can be found at several places on the Internet, one of them being theholders.org
. Another version, and the one many saw due to it being reported on Snopes
, is this one
, which also contains equally insane Nightmare Fuel
This series provides examples of:
- Abandoned Hospital
- Adaptation Expansion: The first Holders story implies that all 538 Holders and their Objects are identical, hence the reason they can be accessed from any asylum or halfway house: the Holders are distributed throughout the world, and there's always one nearby. However, this was not explicitly stated, and subsequent stories, written by different authors, continued on the premise that all the Holders and Objects were different and operated by different rules.
- Affectionate Parody: A Fresh Start.
- Afterlife Express: The trial of the Holder of Detachment takes place both on an eldritch train station and the otherworldly train that (eventually) arrives there for you.
- The Air Not There: Painfully averted by The Holder of Speed.
- Alien Geometries: Most Holders are found in places within a building which cannot physically be there.
- All Therapists Are Muggles: Even if a Seeker sought therapy, there's a good chance that relaying the horror of their experiences would simply cause their therapist to go insane themselves.
- An Arm and a Leg: The Holder of Science cuts off your hand as a part of his trial.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: The Seeker of The Holder of Envy eventually becomes the new Holder.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: Most of the stories are written as instructions, as if given to the reader by a Mysterious Benefactor. However, this story takes the perspective of one of the receptionists for the Holders. The story plays with the usual Once an Episode events of the other stories: the Seekers the character sees that demand for the Holder of Denial are impatient, screaming at her until she sends them through the door (likely because that's what the instructions said to do in this case), and are thrown off when she puts her foot down, and demands they ask her politely (since THAT part wasn't in the instructions). Compared to the other receptionists (who are inferred to be demons in the guise of humans, or at least people that know about the Objects, Holders and Seekers), the character is a Na´ve Everygirl who doesn't know what happens to the Seekers she sends through the door. And when one comes back out, Object in tow, she's the one to "Ask only one question" at the end of the adventure, and it's the Seeker, not the Holder, to give a madness-inducing monologue of all the horrors the quest for the object entails. A huge Tear Jerker, (especially when this Seeker tells in grisly detail the fate of all the other Seekers before him, and made the character realize she unwittingly condemned them all to A Fate Worse Than Death), and also holds a nasty bit of Fridge Horror - if somebody has grabbed an Object before you, is there ANY hope of escaping the trials?
- Artifact of Doom: (2)538 of them
- Bedlam House: The mental institutions which house the Holders are this for Seekers.
- Body Horror: Some trials require the Seeker to bear witness to this or do it to themselves, and several of the Objects cause some horrific alteration to the body of the Seeker.
- Bratty Half-Pint: The Holder of Trade appears to be and acts like one, though of course it's truly nothing even close to human.
- Brown Note: More than a handful of scenes and creatures in the trials are described as beyond normal human comprehension. And then, of course, there are the answers the Holders give.
- Charm Person: If you succeeded in getting object 346, you become one. Only side effect is the tumor on your throat.
- The Chosen One: Mentioned in object 48, 90 and 92.
- Clingy MacGuffin: An Object cannot be thrown away, it will always come back
- Cosmic Horror Story: The series as a whole.
- Creepy Child: The two boys of the Holder of Color, both of whom will drive you to insanity in different ways if you touch their skin, and who will hopefully lead you to the holder.
- The Holder of Trade is this as well.
- Determinator: You must become this to collect all of the objects.
- Hell, even just collecting ONE object requires an excellent memory and probably some amazing concentration and physical skill. Managing to do it over 500 times is inhuman.
- Of course, by that time, you probably are literally inhuman.
- Death by Sex: Depending on if the door holds shut during the act, this can happen to any Seeker of The Holder of Chastity.
- Decoy Leader: The cigar-smoking businessman in the blue suit isn't the Holder of Trade, the little kid with him is. To succeed, you have to confront him on not being the true Holder but not let on that you know it's the child.
- Devoured by the Horde: Often a consequence of failure.
- Domestic Abuse: Vaguely implied with the Holders of the Psyche.
- Eldritch Abomination: Edo Edi Essum.
- The End of the World as We Know It: What will happen if they are brought together.
- Enemy to All Living Things: Edo Edi Essum is described as a "living black hole". He absorbs the life of anything that he is near, and his voice causes all who hear it to die screaming in agony as they become a part of him for all of eternity. Once he devours the entire universe, he will devour himself. Also, he is trying to bring all of the Objects together.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Quite literally everything. Any misstep or mistake, no matter how small, has a risk of getting the Seeker killed.
- Eye Scream: The Holder of Light.
- Fate Worse Than Death: If you fail any of the trials (and sometimes even if you succeed).
- Fetch Quest: The trial of the Holder of Trade involves matching illegible hieroglyphics on an incredibly long shopping list to ones on items in the various stores inside a demonic shopping mall— many look nearly identical, and leaving a store without the proper items leads to (of course) your painful death and eternal torment. Did we mention that this has to be done while surrounded by horrifying monstrosities who will attack if you show any sign of unease or discomfort? Or that you have to do all this while physically dragging the Holder with you?!
- Final-Exam Boss: Taken to an extreme level with The Holder of the Journey: To start the test, you must tell the worker how you obtained each of your Objects. It's not so much a test of memory as it is a test of resolve, seeing as you'll remember every detail without flaw... the problem is more that it forces you to reflect on every atrocity you've inevitably committed to obtain the Objects before this one. It even outright says that unless you're a monster, you'll feel like your heart's been torn out once you finally finish.
- The Final Temptation: The Holder of Remorse
- Go Mad from the Revelation: What will happen from hearing the Holder's answer to the correct question, unless your mind is strong enough.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: Doubly subverted. They must never be brought together. That doesn't stop the Seekers from trying, though.
- Gotta Kill Them All: Subverted as a method of preventing disaster. If all of them are destroyed, they'll "unite in the destroyed state".
- Played straight in the Holder of Slaughter.
- Groin Attack: If the Seeker in The Holder of Chastity isn't killed on the spot, he is instead forcibly castrated and becomes a Eunuch.
- Ignored Aesop: The receptionist in the Denial story apparently still sometimes presses the button even after learning that it condemns innocent people to A Fate Worse Than Death. Yeah... good job doing that...
- I Need a Freaking Drink: The Holder of All Consuming Despair qualifies. After his tale, you will too.
- Luck-Based Mission: A number of the trials may still result in your death (or worse) even if you follow them exactly. An example is the Holder of the End - if he decides to stop muttering, you might be able to get him to start up again. If not? Run and pray.
- May be a variation of Only the Worthy May Pass - some of the instructions imply that Seekers may be chosen by destiny, and so the "luck"-based missions may just depend solely on your chosen-ness rather than luck or skills.
- Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me/Shields Are Useless: Object 41. "Pray that it can protect you from what is to come."
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Edo Edi Essum" is Latin for "to eat", "to devour", or "to waste".
- Our Zombies Are Different: The Sephiron
- Once an Episode: The "In any city, in any country" line (usually with "any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to", but with other locations as well), asking the receptionist (or somebody else, even the thin air) to "See the Holder of X", enter a place with Alien Geometries, go through a Luck-Based Mission (or one where Only the Worthy May Pass), risk A Fate Worse Than Death if anything goes wrong (and sometimes even if you "succeed"), and finding the Holder of the Object you seek, who only responds to one question (saying anything other than the exact question either gets no response, or a Fate Worse Than Death), and gives a monologue detailing everything there is to know about the Object in question, most likely driving all but the strongest minds to madness when they hear it. Also ends with the words "That X is Object # of 538", along with an ominous ending line.
- Some of the ending lines make it plainly obvious that you don't actually want to even get that object, since they have horrible side-effects or weird curses.
- Red Right Hand: A lot of the Objects cause some kind of physical mutation or mutilation.
- Russian Reversal: The Seeker is required to whisper a joke of this caliber to obtain object 506.
- Scars Are Forever: The Object the Seeker receives for completing the Holder of Revenge's trial is a permanent scar across their body.
- Shout-Out: The Holder of Time is The Doctor.
- Superpower Lottery: Played with- all of the objects are cursed and aren't supposed to give you face-on superpowers, but while some are utterly useless and mundane, others can be useful to the extent of what supernatural ability or knowledge you're granted by them. But whatever power they give is still probably not worth the hell you endured to get it.
- These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Half of a Seeker's trouble comes from this trope, as most of the things they will see and hear while pursuing an Object has potential to drive them insane.
- Translator Microbes: Object 195, a coin that allows you speak, read, write, and understand all languages while you keep it under your tongue, in addition to letting you speak animal and understand all codes and cyphers.
- Vengeful Vending Machine: To get to the Holder of the Sun, you need to go to the vending machine (the worker at the front desk will have gotten a phone call immediately after you ask to see him) and press the button for the first drink displayed. The unmarked can you get will be hot to the touch, and the liquid will be searingly hot- if you drink enough to loose consciousness before the worker finishes his phone call, you can go the hard part of the challenge, and probably suffer a horrible fate. At least you didn't have to insert any money.
- Wedding Smashers: You have to sneak into some innocent bystander's wedding to get to the Holder of Slaughter. If you're at the right place, the organ player will grin and slid you a machete...
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Objects that are the most helpful to the Seeker also tend to have the most harrowing trials required to get to them.
- Woman in White: The Holder of Color, as well as the Holder of the Seeker.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: The very last Object and its Holder.
- You Will Know What to Do: "Will you X when the time comes?" is a quite popular phrase used in the endings of most Holders entries.