No matter how far he walked, Sydney did not seem to be getting closer to the distant town. As the road wandered around hills and small woodlots he lost sight of it, but always recovered it eventually. But it was no closer.
This went on for at least nine hours before he also noticed that the sun was still in the same place in the sky. It was as if time was not passing outside of the road he was on.
Then he stubbed his toe on a milestone and realized it was still marked “43”.
Something was definitely strange.
He was on a closed loop of road that was also a closed loop of time. He needed to find the way out.
Since he was at mile “43”, he had a brief snack and a little to drink. Oddly enough, but also handily enough, he still had food to snack on and weak tea to drink.
Beside the road ran a trickle of water, hardly enough to call a creek. The ground was soft and boggy close by, and sitting on a rock in the sun was a large frog. He contemplated the frog, clearly picked out by a sunbeam on a throne-like rock for a bit. Suddenly, he realized why his attention was drawn to the frog. He had to deal with it somehow to break free of his looped path.
“Ribbit”, croaked the frog. But Sydney also heard it saying “It’s about time you noticed me. Sit down. You have a lot to learn.”
By this point, Sydney had given up on his sanity, and was willing to learn from a large sunlit talking frog if that was what it took to get home again.
“The first lesson is that you can’t trust anything I say. Also, trust nothing anyone or anything says. Pretty much, trust no one. Oh, and you might want to take notes. There’s more to tell you, and I don’t want to repeat myself.”
One thing that Syd knew he lacked was a notebook. Or a pen. So he just nodded sheepishly, and listened.
“Have it your way then. Remember, I’m not to be trusted. At all. Except that everything I say was true once. Might still be true. You might even decide to trust me. But don’t. I’m not on your side.”
“The second lesson is that everything is out to get you. There is only you on your side.”
“The third lesson is important. Your goal. Don’t ask why, I’m just the messenger. To get out of this land, you must—”
At that point a giant Raven swooped down from the clear blue sky and snatched the frog, tossing it in the air and eating it as it flew away into the sunset. Perhaps it was the frog that had distorted time and space? Perhaps talking to the frog had been the key to unlock the loop?
He had no real information, but he knew he still needed to find the way out, redemption, revenge, or rebirth. Or perhaps all of those.
Sydney looked around, and saw the fork in the road. There were three paths. One was clearly the loop he had been trapped on. One was very nicely paved and clearly well traveled. The third was barely a cow track.
Sydney took the third path.