"I can't forgive you. You are worse than they are. And for that, I will never forgive you"
I stepped through the doors and found myself standing outside. On a road. Next to a field. With the sun shining above and everything else that you can imagine. There was just the one road, stretching as far as I could see both in front of and behind me. Once the confusion passed, I started walking.
My instincts told me that I had been walking for hours before I found the crossroads. The sun hadn't moved at all. This place was...different. I immediately thought of the Empty City, but this obviously wasn't a city. And I didn't feel a malevolent presence. But then again, maybe the City didn't give off that feeling. I wouldn't know, I've never been there and I don't plan to visit anytime soon. Instead, all I felt was...nothing. This place was devoid of all signs of life. The quiet was eerie. The sound of the wind was creepy.
I looked at the roads. Each one had a sign, like the street names. To my left: sacrifice. To the right: temptation. And to the front: truth. I tried walking forward, but it's like I hit a wall. I couldn't go that way, so instead, I took a right.
"To know oneself, you must first know of your inner demons."
It didn't take long to find out what the sign meant. My stomach started making these awful noises: I forgot to pack food for once. After all, I had originally planned to be back at the safehouse. Off in the distance I saw a table with some food and water. Then a figure ran to the table, took the food and began walking away. I followed, at a quicker pace. Not only did they have food, they were definitely another person as well.
When I got into shouting distance, they began to run. Exhausted, I drew my revolver and fired once into the air. No reaction. Then a strong urge hit me: I wanted to shoot that person. I didn't know why. I hadn't even seen their face. And at this point, it wasn't really the hunger bothering me. It was just an urge to kill. I'd be a liar to say that I stopped right there and didn't think about. I almost did it, but I hesitated long enough for them to get away. Exhausted, I collapsed and passed out. Woke up at the crossroads again with a piece of bread next to me. I ate it and turned to the next sign: sacrifice.
"But can you really trust him, Carter? Do you really trust me? Do you trust yourself?"
I walked for an hour, at least. Then I heard a voice from the distance: I followed it. It led me to a platform set off in the field. There was no way to access it without wading in the field. I heard the voice again: it sounded familiar.
"Med? Is that you?" She poked her head around a pillar. She claimed to have followed me in after I missed the meetup. She needed help getting off the platform. As I approached the grass, I could hear the movement inside. There was something waiting for me to fall in. I looked around and found some old pieces of wood that could work. There was one problem: they weren't enough to create a safe path. It ended just short of the platform. I told her that she'd have to jump, that I'd try to catch her. Even if it meant I'd fall into the field, I'd try. So, she did a running jump. And then I saw it: that wasn't Med. Med wouldn't have put that much force into her jump, she would have known that it wasn't very far. Med wouldn't have smiled as I fell into the field. I had been tricked. The thought lasted for only a second as the things in the grass began to tear me apart, piece-by-piece. All I could feel was pain. At last, it stopped and I awoke on the crossroads again. One way to go: truth.
"I'm not like that. Not anymore. I can't fall to those extremes anymore. I have to walk the fine line between them."
I came across a very familiar face: myself. We exchanged ''hello's'' then he began to tell me about how he was looking to find a man. As if on cue, a man came up from behind the other me and attacked. It was swift, and brutal. The other man was on the ground, and the other me had a knife to his throat. "Why don't you do the honors?" I declined, he killed the man. I looked at the man's face and recognized it as one from one of the nightmares I had been having. I began to get angry at myself as the truth set in. I told him that I could never forgive him. Never forgive myself. I told him that I would not be like that anymore. He laughed and asked me if I really trusted the Old Man. I began to walk.
"Let me tell you something...me. You can't die. Ever. That's the side-effect of what Mother did to us, you know. You won't age at all, not physically. Until you 'die.' Then your body will age some and you will wake up. You might as well enjoy it!" I turned and shot him, five times. I will never forget that image: seeing myself with a shocked expression as m body fell into the fields to be torn apart by the creatures within.
After the shock settled in, I realized that I had walked to the end of the road. I found a bench, and a man.
"You have passed your trials, Carter. Now, you may ask for what you desire." I asked who he was. "Me? I was once like you: a traveler of this place. Then, I became something new. I became its guardian. I am the Guardian of the Crossroads. No, I am not a Fear. This is not my Domain. It is my home. It asked for me. And now the one you seek is here for you. Choose wisely." He looked at me with an expression of sympathy, like he had once been in a similar situation.
I turned and saw the Old Man. His glassed covered his eyes, but he smiled as he approached me.
"Before you ask, yes, I am most certainly real. I may be old, but I'm forgetful." He smiled at his own joke. "You've come for your memories haven't you? I remember when you first came to me, Carter. You were practically begging me to take them! You really sure you want them back?" I said I did. "Normally, I don't do refunds...but I'll make an exception in your case. On one condition: you owe me a favor. I will call upon you someday, and I expect you to answer, or else..." He snapped his fingers at the end of that sentence. I agreed to it. Then I woke up on the front steps of the library at night.
Once I got to the meeting point, Med was there. She was a bit anxious and annoyed. I had been missing for three days. Then I asked her. "Med, do you think I could stick around for a while? Help you find Black."
She thought about it. "Maybe. Are you still squeamish?" She was referring to the 'proxy incident.'
"To an extent. I will do what ever I think necessary. I have to be careful. Apparently, an unintended side-effect of Lilith's 'tinkering' means I can't die. Ever. I'll outlive everyone I know. To be fair, I'd rather not spend that time wishing I hadn't killed some nameless people. But, I swear that I will help you. After all, I can't go back to S. I wouldn't be able to sit there as she slowly aged and died while I didn't. I can't go to the Agency, Sam will expect me to take back my position. So, your kinda all I've got for now."
She told me that she'd need time to decide. I spent most of my free time going on walks to try and 'sort things out.' It's insane to go from having no memory of the past to suddenly having it all back. Some of it keeps me from sleeping at night. Then, one day, she asked me a question:
"Hey, Carter, I was wondering... Would you like to help get the sword from Fracture?" I told her I'd think about it. And I did.
Then I came back to her with a one-word answer: "Yes."