Previously: Snake’s somehow travelled back in time to Shadow Moses Island, very weak and growing old rapidly. He’s been captured, not knowing Meryl is dead. He’s now unconscious in the back of a truck being driven by Ocelot and Psycho Mantis out of the complex. With so much confusion with what’s going on, Mantis is now creating a vision in Snake’s mind to explain the bigger picture.
Disclaimer: This story contains violent scenes that some younger readers may find disturbing. Many chapters contain detailed scenes of gore and peril. If you haven’t played the Metal Gear series, there will be spoilers in this story.
“Because it would.” Mantis spoke slowly.
Snake punched himself a little, remembering recent events.
“I saw Meryl die in those flashes. Is she ok?!”
Snake didn’t expect something so blunt. He stood wanting to argue against someone who told him otherwise, but found himself met with honesty.
“But there’s nothing you can do about it. Here is the best place you can be right now.”
“I don’t understand.” Snake sighed.
“Well of course you don’t.” Mantis raised his head upwards. Snake looked on as the suited man turned around and picked up something from the floor. Spinning back round slowly he covered his young face with a gas mask.
“You created all of this.”
“Make sense now.”
“Or what? You’ll shoot me?”
Snake looked down and back at Mantis in anger and confusion before running forward at the masked man and screaming hard into his face. The warmth of his breath fogged up the sight of his unwanted mentor, yet Mantis did not move.
“Good. Now, David. May I call you David?”
Snake breathed heavily, stepping backwards.
“You may say, from your point of view, that the world we are standing in is my own. A vision of a room that is recreated from my own memory, my own experiences. It is, as essence, a creation of my own that I have placed you in.”
Snake didn’t interrupt.
“It’s therefore a rather challenging puzzle to fit in my point of view. In my view of you, this entire world is fiction. It is created from your own mind. Why, if you are in control of your own life, are you unable to resist the reality I have created here? Surely you should be seeing the lights of a tunnel pass you by right this second.”
David leant against the desk. Mantis liked the sound of his own voice, but David wanted to hear what he had to say. It was the only hope he had of understanding.
“Wind yourself back.”
The walls flickered. The two men sank a little into the soft grass that replaced the carpet. The desk Snake leant against turned to stone and repeated in rows that stretched off at all angles. Slabs of stone rising from the ground, beneath an overcast sky. In the distance, his old self slid down a grave with a gun facing himself.
The two walked over to the image of old Snake.
“This is where I killed myself”, Snake began. His greying hands were beginning to match those on his older self. His younger self.
“Your skin now? It returns to how it was before?” Mantis broke Snake’s sight with himself.
“Tell me. If you put that gun to your face, shot yourself, and as a result died, how is it that you stand next to me now?”
Snake expected he’d be asking the questions, but the Psycho had turned him on himself.
“You made this image.” Snake began.
“But you want this image to happen. Otherwise your mind wouldn’t allow it.”
“I want answers.”
“You’ll find more answers where Shalashaska is taking you than you will here. Part of you knows that. You don’t know what to think about anything. At first, you thought the world needed changing. Now you feel it needs to be left alone.”
“So something is making you want me to be here with you now. Is this not beginning to make sense?”
“You created this. You created all of this. Yet, none of it is under your control. Why is that?”
“My life is flashing before my eyes?” It was the only answer Snake could imagine. It was the only answer he hoped for. He had pulled that trigger for good reasons.
Mantis sighed and smiled apologetically.
“That would be a nice answer, wouldn’t it?”
Snake’s hope diminished quickly.
“Do you remember shooting yourself?”
“You remember the end? The end of all things? How it felt?”
“Yes… it… it was…”
“You don’t need to say.”
Snake bowed his head a little.
“Snake. Your last twenty eight moments haven’t been a part of your mind. You killed yourself. That was all real. When people die, they die. There’s no hours, days, weeks of flashbacks.”
“Then what the hell is all of this?”
“It is a riddle. A puzzle of sorts. One big question mark in front of your face. You’ve been staring at it this whole time, knowing it began as a question, and as a symbol never changes, will remain a question.”
Snake was beginning to buy into the madness of a man labelled as a ‘psycho’.
“All riddles have clues. All puzzles have methods of solving. All questions have answers.”
“So what’s the answer?”
“Start with the clues. The most jarring parts of what you have seen? The small things that wouldn’t be noticeable to the average eye? The bodies in the hallway? They weren’t in exactly the right position. A robot that can cry. People that come back to life. A Colonel who acts suspiciously. A dead woman, torn to shreds in a submarine, murdered by just a gun. People being who they shouldn’t be. Raven floating above you before dying by himself. Events not happening as they should. All of these are your clues. Once you have the method, you will find the answers, and before you can finish answering all the questions, you’ll answer the one, true question.”
Snake didn’t say anything. He was expecting Mantis to continue. Stuttering, he spoke, feeling as though he was interrupting.
“… Which is?”
“There’s a method to finding out the answers… what is it?”
“Ocelot is about to kill you, and I promise you, death is death. It doesn’t matter what has come before it. If you die here, you will die. Nevertheless, Ocelot is the only one who will tell you what you wish to know.”
“Get me back there.”
“You can do that yourself. Just remember one thing: very soon you think you will need to die. If you die then, you will destroy everything.”
The orange lights came back to him, and Snake was once again paralysed in the back of an open-aired land rover. Psycho had vanished from his seat, and only Ocelot was left, driving the two out of the tunnel, towards the dead white light of day.