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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Philosophy · #2099183
She stood at the crossroads, but which path would she take?
She Stood at the Crossroads of Time

She stood at the crossroads of time.

She heard her name being called, "Laura, Laura, come back." She looked over her right shoulder, back along the road from where she had just arrived.
She felt a tap on her left shoulder and spun around abruptly. A man stood there. His appearance made her take a step back. He was dirty and dishevelled, and his clothes were ragged. His dreadlocks and long beard were crawling with maggots and lice. Sputum dribbled from his mouth as he spoke.
"I am Sinister," he said. "Look, the lane to the left leads down to the land of liberty, licentiousness, lechery, lust, lies, loathing, lewdity and lasciviousness. Would you care to take a look? You can linger for a while, or suffer languor."
Laura peered into the darkness, but could see nothing. However, the sound of loud music, and screams and whoops of laughter reached her ears. Then she became aware of lurid flashing lights way below in the distance.
"The land of laughter, luxury, lucre, lashings of liquor, libation and LSD, larceny, lawlessness, lissom lasses..."
He leered at Laura before continuing. "Lissom lasses, leather, latex, lingerie, free love..."
Laura closed her eyes and covered her ears. "No, no," she replied. "I'm not looking to lower myself to languish in a lousy land of lechery and loneliness where losers, lunatics and lowlifes live. I am not looking for a never-ending party. Leave me alone."
Sinister leered at her again and left.

She stood at the crossroads of time.

She heard the voice from behind again. "Come back, Laura, come back." This time it sounded more distant and sad.
She felt another tap, this one on her right shoulder. She opened her eyes a slit and was blinded by a bright light.
"Open your eyes," said a gentle voice.
When she did so, she saw a woman in bright raiment standing resplendent before her. The woman's radiant face was a picture of beauty and her long blonde locks shone like burnished gold.
"I am Dexter," the woman said. "Regard the road to the right, which rises to the realm of rapture, rectitude, redemption, repentance, revelation, revival, restoration and resurrection. Please raise your eyes and revel in the righteousness."
Laura looked up the road and saw a rainbow of colours, rays of refracted and reflected light. The rousing sounds of an angelic choir reached her ears.
"No, no," she replied. "I am not ready to rest in peace, to redeem myself, and to take the route to rest and relaxation, or to live a life of Riley. It's not yet time for me to renounce religion, to reap my reward, to reclaim my riches, to be regally refined, or to be reincarnated. I am not resolved or ready to receive restitution, or to reside for an endless retirement reciting the rosary. Please, leave me alone."
Dexter resigned herself, and retired.

She stood at the crossroads of time.

She heard the voice again. "Laura, Laura, please come back." This time it was just a whisper.
She stumbled forward onto the fourth road, only to be confronted by a third person. This one had long grey hair and a grey beard and wore a grey robe.
He smiled. "I am Mlon, the Philosopher" he said. "I guard the road that leads forward."
"Can you explain to me what this is all about?"
"It is very simple for me, but more difficult for you humans to understand. You are constrained to live in a world with an incomplete dimension."
"A what?"
"I am talking about time. Time is an incomplete dimension because it only goes one way. Let me try and explain. Can you imagine a crawling insect which lives on the surface of a balloon that is expanding?"
"Yes, that's not hard."
"Can you see that the insect can crawl anywhere it wants around the surface of the balloon, but it can never escape from the surface?"
"Because it can't fly?"
"Yes, that's right. Well, what do you think would happen if the balloon stopped expanding?"
"The insect would fall off?"
"Not exactly. What happens is that time stops for the insect. And that's exactly what happens for you humans when you die. Time stops. But the real question is, can time start again?"
"Yes, I suppose it can if the balloon starts expanding again."
"Balloon? Oh, no don't get too caught up in my analogy. You're right, of course, the balloon could start expanding again ... or it could start contracting."
"You mean like time goes backwards?"
"Wrong. Time cannot go backwards, not in the way you mean. You can't get younger again; nor could you travel through time. That's impossible. But time could go in the opposite direction. Direction? That's not quite the word I want, but you know what I mean. But this is all rather irrelevant; what is important for you right now is that your time has stopped."
"So what does happen to the crawling insect?"
"One of three things can happen. The first is that it learns to fly and flies down inside the balloon where it becomes trapped in a land of eternal darkness. The second is that it learns to fly and flies up above the balloon into a world of everlasting light and freedom. The third thing that can happen is that the balloon starts expanding again, and the insect continues to exist as a crawling insect. His perception of time begins again as the balloon expands.
"So it is with you. When you are ready to die, you have three choices. That's where you are right now. You are standing at the crossroads of time.
"The lane to the left leads down to the land of Lucifer, the Devil.
"The road to the right rises up to the realm of the Redeemer, Christ.
"And the road forward is the future. If you follow that road, time restarts and you continue living."
"Now I understand."
"So, what do you choose, Laura?"
"I choose the road forward. I choose to live."
Mlon stepped to one side. "Then, continue forward and live," he said.

She left the crossroads of time.

She heard an unfamiliar voice ahead saying, "Doctor, she's back."
Then she heard her mother crying, "Laura, Laura, thank God you're alive."

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