The Doctor At The Crossroads


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Scene Title The Doctor at the Crossroads
Synopsis During an ordinary morning at Raytech, Richard finds himself experiencing something he was never meant to.
Date November 17, 2018

The war was over.

“I just need your signature on this disclosure form from the Detroit Environmental Coalition and that's it.”

Sometimes it's hard for Richard Ray to forget that. Behind the reinforced glass and concrete walls of Raytech’s NYC Safe Zone branch office, it feels suspiciously like the bunker he'd ridden out the war in with his family. The paperwork slid across his desk by his executive assistant Sera is boilerplate stuff, affirming that Raytech is abiding by the city of Detroit’s environmental standards and regulations for the fiscal year of 2019.

The war is over, he has to remind himself. But then, why does it feel like he can't rest?

Raytech NYCSZ Branch

November 17th

7:19 am

“Oh and,” Sera pulls a post-it note from her pocket, smooths it out on her hip and sets it down on the desk. “Harmony called, she said something about Ricky having a fever and not to worry but call her on lunch.”

“Oh? Poor kiddo…” Richard’s brow knits a little in worry as he picks up his pen, leaning over to review the document before scribbling his signature on it, “Guess it’s the time of year for it, though. Do we even have flu vaccines anymore?” They used to hand them out in tents every autumn, and companies had them rolled out like clockwork. At least they have some medical facilities on site.

It may feel like a bunker at times because in some ways it is. Raytech provides them protection from what’s out there; the food shortages, risks of untreated disease, security issues. The Horsemen were still walking free, their unsteady truce holding tenuous for now. Shades of the past were stirring unpleasantly in the background, from the Company’s sins to Adam Monroe’s machinations, and the remnants of the Institute left behind by another version of himself continued their work out there in the wastes.

The war was over, they told him. And he told himself.

Was it, though?

Thanks!” Sera chirps as she takes the document and lays it atop a stack of others. “Oh! Also, you have a voicemail.” She motions to his desk phone and the flashing red light that he's been too distracted to notice. “Your uh, mature friend Ruby called this morning before you got in. I forwarded her to your inbox. Also I misplaced a pastry so if you see a cruller anywhere…” Sera slowly starts to walk away backwards, “hands off.”

Hands off the cruller, Richard.

Richard smirks at those words, both hands lifting palm forward as if to surrender. “I won’t touch the cruller if I see it,” he assures her, “Although, I think Luther’s been having a bit of a sweet tooth lately…” He lets that trail off. Who better to steal the pastries than the head of security, after all?

He waits for her to be gone before leaning back in his chair— the sort of messages Ruby might leave probably shouldn’t be listened to. “Computer, play voicemails from this morning, please.”

The voice controls are so he would stop breaking things.

«You have… three new messages.» Comes through his computer’s speakers. «First message. Received: November 17th at, 5:53 am.» Then, after a brief pause a different voice.

«Hey, Richard, it's Donovan. So, I just got back from my morning run and I got to thinking about something. Do you know a good PR gal? Apparently Tracy Strauss is either dead or missing or god knows what. I don't trust the other political types. Someone with like, a shark’s tenacity and I don't know… maybe she's an 8 or a 9?»

There's a long, awkward silence.

«Actually, maybe this was a bad idea.»

There's an audible click. «To delete this message, say delete now. To save this message, say save now.»

A hand comes up to smack into Richard’s face, and he half-groans, half-laughs into it. “I should see what Nicole’s doing these days,” he murmurs against his palm, then lowers it to say dryly, “Save. I should put that one in my blackmail folder…”

«Message saved. Next message. Received: November 17th at, 6:03 am.» Then, after a brief pause.

The slate gray sky is heavy with falling rain. Deep puddles have formed in the divots blown from asphalt as earth, grass has grown up between the cracks in the street and around the rusted hills of derelict cars and crumbling buildings. Bird calls echo amid the rain, and stands of thin saplings grow up along the side of the road, sparse with autumnal foliage. There is no sound of traffic, no sound of civilization, and in the early morning hours there is no sign of life that isn't animal. The deer up ahead, bowed to drink in one of the small pools, twitches it's war when it hears gravel crunch underfoot.

Walking in the shadow of vine-encrusted skyscrapers, there is a serenity in the silence. The hour of humanity has come and gone, leaving only monuments to their existence. And yet… somehow life springs eternal. The deer straightens and backs away from the puddle, then begins to bound off through the tall grass and into a parking lot filled with rusted scrap vehicles.

«…and that's what I'm thinking we could use the whiskey for. Anyway! Sorry for calling again. But seriously, cigar night? I need someone to talk to who isn't a suit inside and out. Get at me Richard.» Donovan, again.

There's an audible click. «To delete this message, say delete now. To save this message, say save now.»

“…save,” Richard mutters absently even as his brain catches up to what’s going on, slumping back in his chair and staring at the ceiling as if he expected rain to be dribbling from it to land upon his face. One hand lifts after a moment,fingers rubbing at his forehead as he readjusts his focus to the room from… whatever that just was. Another overlay? There weren’t any people, though, where was that? Who was that?

Well, it’s over now, whatever it was. Right? He tries to shake it off, shifting to pull the chair closer to the desk and refocusing on the messages. Normalcy.

«Message saved. Next message. Received: November 17th at, 6:12 am.» Then, after a brief pause.

Moving over to the puddle, booted feet stop on the edge of the water. After a brief moment, the lone figure takes a knee in the earth and picks at old brass shell casings in the dirt. His reflection — Richard’s reflection — is muted in the murky water. But he looks older, hair gone gray, wrinkled and weathered. Tired.

But begins Richard’s reflection, there is a woman looking down into the puddle as well. Her dark hair is wound up into a messy bun, white lace rests at her collar and she appears to be wearing a petticoat. She looks to Richard, eyes turning in the reflection. She speaks, but no voice comes. Instead, Richard hears his own voice with a coarse, gravelly tone. “If thou hast any sound, or use a voice. Speak to me.


The woman in the reflection lays a hand on Richard’s shoulder, but it goes unfelt.

But Richard feels a hand on his shoulder.

«…call me back as soon as you can. I think it's related.» He catches the tail end of Ruby’s voice too. Then, a soft click.

«To delete this message, say delete now. To save this message, say save now.»

The fall of the hand on Richard’s shoulder has him jerking full upright, head twisting to look back to a personage who isn’t there. His heart suddenly racing in his chest, and if any were there to see the blood draining from his face they would. “Kazimir,” he whispers in realized horror at the fate of this other self of his, ignoring the messages that still droned from the computer.

A breath is drawn slowly into his lungs to steady him, and he closes his eyes as he exhales it, finding refuge in the horror of the moment quoting a book whose words have more often passed his lips.

How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations…

“You must have me mistaken for someone else,” a woman says over his shoulder, here, in his side of the Looking Glass. “I'm no woman of God.”


Just as Richard’s heart races up into his throat, the world around him seems to change with a blink of his eyes. Gone are the Raytech offices, gone is his desk, gone is the chair he was seated in. But it isn't an inconvenience, he's standing now. Standing in the one place he couldn't ever expect to be.

A cemetery.

Pitch black trees rise up at the edges of fog banks, stickbare and gnarled like the kind at an orchard or ones that grow near salt water. Twisted branches grasp for the sky in clawing shapes, blurry and indistinct because of the mist. Headstones are tiny, rounded silhouettes that spread out in staggered procession as far as the eye can see in every direction. Most of them are ancient, crumbling and forgotten moss-encrusted things that have had their names scored away too long ago. Some look like mere slabs of rock with crude shapes etched into them, all alike in the tar-like soot that clings to their damp forms.

The only thing that's different, here, are the monuments. Like all cemeteries, there are monuments to the wealthy, or the powerful, or the famous. Here, the monuments are less obvious things. Each of them tall, ostentatiously capped by a different stone statue of a robed figure in unusual posture or pose. There are only ten that Richard can clearly make out, the others stretch back further into the fog in criss-crossed intersection.

The nearest monument is a weathered marble statue of a man in mourning, clutching the figure of a child over his lap while seated in a high-backed wooden chair. His tired eyes are downcast to the child’s body, and there are more children at the base of his chair that reach up with tiny hands. At the base of the monument’s plinth is an inscription: “Saint Ivo of Kermartin” and the date “2012.”

Beside the statue of Saint Ivo is another monument, depicting a balding man with a trimmed goatee in a long priests' vestments, cradling a lifeless body in his arms. The platform upon which he stands is inscribed with the name "Saint Camillus de Lellis", beneath that on the monument base is etched, "Peter Petrelli," and below his name, a date, "2012."

Furthest in the row of monuments is a third statue, shrouded in the dense fog. This one is old and cracked, crumbling and weathered in ways the last two were not. It depicts an elderly man bearing a crown in royal attire with one arm swept over his chest and head dipped in a bow. On the footplate beneath the statue it is inscribed, "Edward the Confessor," and below that a name and a date. "Kazimir Volken, 1914."

“Wh— “ Richard stumbles as he whirls around and finds himself somewhere else entirely, catching himself after a moment and staring around himself with wide eyes, his pulse a jackhammer beat in his ears. “What— what the hell is this…?”

The hand that steadied him is resting against the weathered marble of Saint Ivo of Kermartin, drawing back after a moment as he takes in his surroundings. The saint’s visage and name is recognized— as patron of abandoned children, he was well acquainted with that figure from the orphanage. Many of the children, the ones who believed the most, would pray to him.

Richard was never one of them. Except, maybe, on his birthday. But he’d never admit it.

Then his furrowed brow and searching gaze finds the other two monuments, with names beneath them. “…Peter? And— oh. Oh, of course,” he mutters, letting out a bark of humorless laughter as realization hits. “Someone has a sense of humor.”

The patron saint of doctors, for the nurse. The unmartyred saint of England for the would-be conqueror. And the saint of abandoned children for…

“This must be for Nathalie,” he says quietly, regarding Saint Ivo for a moment, then looking around, “But where the fuck is this?” Forgetting already what he’d seen in that pool, and whose voice had spoken. He was an orphan too.

“This is purgatory.” Comes that female voice from before, and emerging from the fog is a woman in her late forties or early fifties, wispy brown hair wound up atop her head, blue cotton for her dress and petticoat, with white silk at her collar. Her eyes are darkly shadowed, wrinkles crease her brows and the corners of her mouth. Her fingers are long and thin, covered by black gloves. “And that statue is for you.”


Her accent is faintly French, though only just so. Each word is carefully enunciated, posture straight, eyes intense and wide. She is a cypher to Richard, an unfamiliar face in a seemingly infinite cemetery of fog-shrouded headstones. “Well,” she adds, “maybe not you.” Her eyes narrow slowly. “This is a puzzle I’m uncertain of the solution to.”

At the voice, Richard turns to face it— tensing for a moment before relaxing. She doesn’t seem hostile after all, if hostile is even a term in a place like this. She’s given a long moment’s consideration, the man searching his memory. The face, the voice; enigmas, not even a glimmering of familiarity sparking in a mind full of too many secrets.

“Ah.” An awkward, prolonged moment of silence as he looks back to the statue of Saint Ivo. “Not me. Another me, maybe. One who walked a different path, in a future that went differently… somewhere that the virus spread freely, maybe, from what I saw there.”

Hazel eyes sweep back to the woman, “I can guess at what this place is. I know the names. And you know who I am… but who are you?”

“Doctor Madeline Rouen,” she says with a raise of one brow. “And… a virus, yes.” She looks down to the ground, nodding once, then looks back up to Richard as she continues her slow advance. “Volken’s virus. The pain of watching a man spread disease as a woman of science is a special hell, true for this place of fog and silence.”

Coming to a stop beside Richard, Doctor Rouen looks up at him — she’s far shorter than her demeanor made her feel at a distance — and cocks one brow. “Purgatory is awfully full these days, Mister Cardinal.” She mustn’t know any better. “Were I a religious woman, I’d say that we’re approaching the end of days. That purgatory is full and…” she partway lids her eyes and scoffs forcibly, “other such superstitious nonsense.” Her blue eyes come back to Richard, searching his in slow left and right movements.

How are you here, Mister Cardinal?” Doctor Rouen asks with breathless curiosity. “You are not dead, one must presume.”

“You may be more right than you know, Doctor Rouen,” says Richard softly, his gaze sweeping over the endless, fog-strewn stones and monuments of the cemetery, “You may be more right than you know.”

His attention falls back to her, and he smiles faintly, hands spreading and empty, “I don’t know. I can only guess, honestly. The barriers between— worlds are growing thin. People are experiencing what their alternate lives could have been. Given what I know about the conduit— the power that they had, that I assume you had— something about it must have brought me here when we made contact.”

He turns then, fully, to regard the statue of Saint Ivo. “I assume that here, Kazimir took me, then. I hope I put up a fight.”

“It was a selfless sacrifice,” is how Doctor Rouen categorizes it. “You tried to consume him with your ability, but you instead — perhaps poetically — became what you devoured. Or he became you. It’s hard to say…” Wrapping her arms around herself, Doctor Rouen looks out to the fog-shrouded cemetery.

“That word you used,” Rouen takes a step back in the conversation. “Conduit.” Her blue eyes come to fall sharply on Richard. “Is that what you call it?”

“Yes.” Richard smiles more genuinely at the tale of how he fell to Volken, head tilting to look up to the clouded skies overhead for a moment.. “Yes, that sounds like me.”

His attention returns to her, then, and he shrugs one shoulder, “I forget who called it that originally. Volken? Francois? The Zuni knew it and its twin as the Ahayu’da. Names vary with the times— what did you call it? Do you know…”

He looks around them, “…what it is? Where it came from? What its relation is to the thing with the golden eyes?”

Doctor Rouen tilts her chin up, regarding Richard with an uncertain look. For a moment, it looks as though she’s assessing the man the way one might a piece of laboratory equipment, to discern its purpose. But then, it dawns on Richard, it may be more like the way she would examine a lab animal: with a mixture of distance and pity.

“I knew,” Rouen says assuredly, “far more than was good for me.” She takes one more step closer to Richard, her pale eyes narrowed to slits.

“…and I was burned at the stake for my knowledge.”

Raytech NYCZS Branch Office

Jolting awake in his chair, Richard can feel his heart racing. A cold sheen of sweat has formed across his brow, the sun tracked its way a little further across the sky than he’d expected. He isn’t sure whether he blacked out, was asleep the entire time and dreamt it all or is still dreaming now. All he knows is what the steady green light on his phone means.

No new messages.

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