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The Fork
by Kell Inkston

Finally, a fork in the road. Alexander heard of  hard moral decisions like this from his father, and now its his turn.

“Alright!” he said, “my very first fork in the road.”

Oh you poor sod, how little you are prepared.

Alex raises his hand with the rigidness and authority of an officer, expecting the truth to be easily visible.

Down the left road, of course, is a well-lit, happy wood with kindly forest animals dancing around lovely, singing princesses. The right road is dark, filled with cobwebs, and the direction many alien and alarming sounds come from.

He points  easily to the left, happy road, and starts down his way a few steps; but then Alexander stops. He remembered something else his father told him, that appearances are often false, and if something seems to good to be true, is it truly? He breaks into a nervous sweat as one of the fair-skinned princesses waves at him, her bird friends carrying water back to her step-mother’s house for her.

Alex smiles at the girl, but steps back to the center of the fork.

Perhaps it is all well and good that he did not go that way, because he is sure that the right fork will be beautiful and kindly just a mile down the road, whereas the seemingly happy, lovely road will lead to naught but peril. Alex nods, congratulating his foresight and wisdom, and then goes down the right path. Another chill runs down his spine.

What if, he wonders, what if the appearances really are true, and that this will lead him into some giant spider’s den, or the domain of some dark, cruel maniacs? Certainly life isn’t all illusions: a knife really is still a knife, right?

He returns to the center, his fear of the uncertain stronger than his desire for adventure. Maybe he should just turn back, go home, fall in love with one of the towns-girls, get married, have kids, get old, die. Perhaps a simple life would be more his speed. No, he wouldn’t like that. It was the stories of heroes fighting dragons and finding treasure and meting out justice that he liked the most as a boy. He turns back to the original fork of the left and right path.

“My entire life will be decided by this moment,” he says to himself.

He wonders next if this path is designed to look this way or not. Certainly the connecting biomes between the forests, just meters away, wouldn’t be that great. He could probably see the right path’s forest from the left path, and vice versa. It seems so uncanny- someone must have placed it there! Certainly someone has pruned this to look a certain way, and thus, the scary path must have something that’s worth hiding. “Treasure,” Alex says with an intense gaze.

At that, he runs down the right path, runs through a hologram, and falls to his doom in the form of a pit of spikes, made out of salt, on fire, the fire of which also has spikes attached.

Stupid humans, forgetting they were harvested to the mothership eons ago. We have no need for ones that think.