Phenomenon 18
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Who is the Infinite Wanderer?

The Infinite Wanderer is both a title passed on to each individual who is overcome by Phenomenon 18 and a collective name for all who have fallen to this fate. The name itself was decided by the Infinite Wanderer and it is a name all who yield to Phenomenon 18 self-identify with. There is only one Infinite Wanderer at a time, and all who hold the title are aware of their succession in a lineage.

A destination seems distant, more abstract as the travels wear on. The self-declared title of “Infinite Wanderer” would suggest an infinite journey, after all. Yet, this does not bring despair to the one who walks the constant journey. There is a peace that is unique to the Infinite Wanderer, a contentedness that only they hold dear.

Death often occurs sooner than expected for individuals on this infinite journey. However, this is not blood on the hands of Phenomenon 18 but rather a natural consequence of following the direction of the body onto dangerous levels, often underprepared. Still, the topic of the death that each iteration will see often comes up when in discussion with the Infinite Wanderer, lined by the curiosity of why. “Why traverse a path so long when you won’t be alive to see the reward?” “What point do you see in such a pointless journey that others cannot?” But the Infinite Wanderer finds little occupation in this topic, stating “to be part of the story is more important than to be the conclusion”.

There exists simultaneously the personal memories of the individual, such as friends and interests, and the memories of the Infinite Wanderer, that being the steps taken on their path. The memories of the individual are lost with the death of each successor, but the memories of the Infinite Wanderer remain unwithered for eternity. They report never having walked the same trail twice, acutely aware of the steps they’ve previously taken, even on infinite levels. This does not rule out revisits to levels and sublevels on the Infinite Wanderer’s path, however, and multiple iterations have been known to spend their time solely on one level.

Who becomes the Infinite Wanderer?

Becoming the Infinite Wanderer does not grant one eternal life or impenetrable skin. As previously mentioned, each iteration of the Infinite Wanderer will eventually die. Upon the death of a predecessor, a new individual will be overcome by Phenomenon 18. The intake of the new knowledge that comes with this is instantaneous, the path ahead now obvious. Phenomenon 18’s transition from one individual to another is fast, increased by proximity to the predecessor.

Although proximity was initially believed to be the determining factor, this has many times since been disproven. The only location-based influence in the choosing of the next Infinite Wanderer is that the individual is in a place the Infinite Wanderer has not walked before. Ultimately, anyone within these specifications has the possibility of falling next in line.

There are no characteristics that occur significantly enough to conclude a selective nature to Phenomenon 18. There are, however, characteristics that the individual welcomes or sees an expansion of upon gaining their new title. The Infinite Wanderer is never without a careful and well-prepared attitude, as best as one can be in such a place. They know an unnatural yet peaceful joy that stays loyal until death and an odd trust in the leadership of their body over their own. That is not to say that the individuals who become the Infinite Wanderer are independent of their unique personalities and quirks. They never wholly discard who they once were in light of who they become. Instead, they exist as an amalgamation of themselves and the Infinite Wanderer.

The words of some who were once the Infinite Wanderer

Interviews with the Infinite Wanderer are rare, so they must be conducted thoroughly. Below are some quotes of particular interest along with the original names of the speakers and the level they were interviewed on.

“It’s easy to overthink what’s so hard to understand. This is no pilgrimage, no entity, no bout of impulsivity. I am the Infinite Wanderer and I am also me. My name is Alexander and my name is the Infinite Wanderer. This does not distress me. I am part of the journey and that will forever be true. I am content, and I am grateful to be me.
I should say that I have been here before. On this level, I mean. Not as Alexander, however. Truthfully, I cannot recall the name of the one who walked that path. It’s been a while, afterall, yet I still remember the steps I took well.”

- Alexander Norwell on Level 853, 23 December, 1974

"So… imagine you’re walking and everything around you is dark. But you, you’re light. Not just a light but THE light. And, even though right now you can’t see super far ahead, when you get there, you will light the way. That’s how it feels to be a part of this journey. There is no path without me, and that’s part of what makes it special. And I think that makes me special too."

- Ashley Hernandez on Level 162, 13 November, 1998

“I really don’t mind at all. Honestly, I’m actually pretty happy about it. Like there’s this overall sense of belonging that I’ve never had before. Even on the levels where it’s really scary, like I was on Level 789 before this. Even there, I was still happy.
Oh, the memories. At first, they were… I don’t want to say painful but a lot to process at the same time. Overwhelming. I had to stand there and be like ‘Woah, this is something’. The Infinite Wanderer memories are different to the Raven memories. They’re always there, always. It’s not like remembering things either. I’m just aware of things. Also, they aren’t in my head- or my mind, I mean. They’re outside my body and all around me.
Still overwhelming? Nope. I got used to it in minutes, and really it’s just life for me.”

- Raven Williams on Level 890, 22 February, 2009

“Maybe this journal cursed me to be next. We spent so long looking to give it back that Phenomenon 18 came to us instead. Fate works in strange ways, my friend, you should know that well. I’m joking by the way. Don’t put this in an actual research report. Look, I’m not gonna give some cult-like speech on why you should stick around ‘til I die. You’ve got a lot more work to do now anyway.
I wish I could explain this better for research and all that, give you something big to go back with. Reality is that I have nothing you haven’t heard before. On a personal level, please know that I am okay. I’m happy, I swear. And seriously, don’t stay with me. You’ve got more in store for you than following a guy to his death. Maybe we’ll see each other again before I move on to the next life."

- Jason Smith, former M.E.G. researcher, on Level 213, 6 April, 2018

Should misery be found in the Infinite Wanderer’s journey?

Is a journey without a goal one that is solemn? The idea that there is a destination is one that has been ascribed to the Infinite Wanderer rather than something they have stated themselves. When prompted in question, they are vague with their wording about a destination and seem indifferent to the possibility of one. It is unknown how Phenomenon 18 manifested or if it will ever oversee the final steps of a journey believed to be unending. Yet, though their implications are large, such matters lose significance when in discussion with the Infinite Wanderer, for the Infinite Wanderer is happy.

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