The following is an archived blog post made by blogger Marksman12. The site has since been deleted and the user has not surfaced since, at least not under the same username.
March 12, 2018
This might be a cautionary tale, just forewarning. Maybe you can learn something from my experience. Or maybe you can’t. I don’t know anything anymore…
I’ve been studying abroad in Rome for the semester, and right now I’m about midway through. While they give us meals during the weekdays, we’re on our own for the weekends. As such, me and several of my friends often get together to go out to eat somewhere, or grab something to take away. Me, Jack, and Maddie decided to grab burritos from this Mexican place, so we met up in the lobby of the campus then walked out the large gate, designed to keep out shady people I imagine. The campus is on top of this hill, and you just have to walk down some steps to get to all sorts of restaurants and shops. If you want to get to the most well-known places, such as the Pantheon or the Colisseum, you have to go further and cross the bridge. But the Mexican place—La Posada—was just down the steps and a short walk away.
We were just heading out the gate and starting to walk down the winding road that would lead to the steps, just sort of talking and joking around. It was like 7:00 at night at that point and the sky was dark—the night life would begin in a few hours, and Trastevere (that area of Rome) was always popping.
Suddenly, this guy approached us. He was around our age and just a little taller than me. This seemed odd to us and I looked him over. No Italian man would approach you like this with an innocent reason.
However, the guy greeted us in English—American English.
“Hey guys,” he said. “What are y’all doing?”
“Hey,” I said. “Are you at—American University?”
“Yeah man. Guessing you guys are at CU?” he asked.
“That’s right,” Jack said. “What’s up?”
Maddie seemed to eye him suspiciously.
“Just kind of walking around, you know,” he said. He had an odd sort of glint in his eye—I don’t know how to explain it, but he looked kind of far away, if that makes any sense.
“We’re heading down to get some food,” Jack said.
“Ah nice,” he said. The guy stepped around for a minute, still a little distant.
“Hey, you guys mind if I do something?” the guy asked.
“What’s that?” asked Jack.
“Well, I have this thing where I look into people’s faces… and sort of see what God has planned for them. Do you mind if I do that to you guys?” he asked.
None of us had a response. I was kind of confused by his question, and Jack looked like he hadn’t been expecting that either.
It was Maddie who spoke up.
“No, I think we’re good. We’re just going down to get burritos at La Posada,” she said.
“Ah ok. That’s a good place, good burritos,” he said, looking more distant.
“Yeah,” said Jack.
“Well, have fun,” he said.
“Yeah, see you.” I said. We continued down the hill and left him behind.
“That was kind of weird,” said Jack.
We were eating burritos inside La Posada. I got the chicken one as usual.
“Yeah, that guy was kind of creepy,” said Maddie. “Don’t know what his deal was.”
“I was kind of intrigued.” I said, with a laugh. “I mean—I would’ve done it.”
“Wonder what he would have said,” said Jack. “Still it’s kind of weird—if he was trying to rip us off or something—well that’s not something Americans do to other Americans.”
“Yeah maybe he was genuine—just kind of crazy,” I said.
We walked around after eating. At night the streets are usually filled with all sorts of people. You also see lots of street performers—as we walked by, we noticed some guy swinging around a stick with fire on both ends—in an organized sort of martial arts kind of way. He attracted a small crowd who were impressed by his fire-swinging—including the three of us.
“Ah, look—a Firebender!” remarked Jack as we watched him swing around his fire-stick.
The guy dropped the fire stick then hastily picked it back up and continued swinging it around—only to drop it again shortly after.
“Guess he’s an amateur Firebender,” said Maddie.
“He’s got some work to do—hone his skills,” said Jack. We continued watching him—he seemed to have lost his mojo and was dropping it frequently. The small crowd was slowly dispersing and walking away.
“What do you think he would have done?” I asked.
“With his life you mean? This doesn’t look like the height of his career!” laughed Jack.
“No, not him—that guy back there. What would he have said to us?” I asked.
“Some sort of horoscope, I’m sure,” Jack said, rolling his eyes.
“Well—I’m just curious. You think he would have claimed to know our futures?” I said.
“It would have just been some b******t,” said Maddie.
“Probably,” I agreed, but something in me became uneasy. “I wonder though—can any of us know our future?”
“We can’t—it’s impossible,” said Jack. “And neither can that guy.”
“I’m just curious.” I said. “I don’t know— what would that guy have said my future was?”
Jack pointed to the struggling Firebender. “Well I can tell you. That guy is your future. Get ready to become him.”
I laughed. “Yeah ok.” We moved on to talk about other things but I just couldn’t get the uneasiness out of my mind.
We headed back up the hill. The guy wasn’t there anymore, so we just went back through the gate and into the main campus building.
I was sitting in my room, on my laptop, just sort of watching random videos. I wasn’t really paying attention to any of them, they were just sort of going on in the background, and I didn’t want to turn it off either because that would leave me alone with my thoughts; the videos functioned as a good distraction from what was eating away at me.
But eventually I couldn’t ignore it any longer and I just closed my laptop suddenly. I was overcome with anxiety, with a pressing curiosity: what the hell was my future? What would that guy have told me?
I couldn’t take it anymore and I walked out of my room and down the stairs, out the door and down through the gate. It was later now—around 9:30, and just as dark. There were vague sounds of parying from down the hill but mostly it was eerily quiet as I walked around, retracing my steps. Where was that guy? Maybe he had gone back to his own campus…
I eventually saw him, just sort of walking around in place. A cloud of smoke surrounded him and I saw he was holding a cigarette as he kind of walked around a bit.
“Hey,” I said.
He turned around and raised the cigarette in greeting.
“Hey,” he said back. “Did I see you earlier?”
“Yeah, I was with my friends.”
“Ah, right. How were the burritos?”
“Pretty good—look, I changed my mind,” I approached him while taking a deep breath. “You said you can see what God has planned for me?”
He nodded, slowly taking a drag on the cigarette. “Yeah,” he said.
I took another step closer. “Can you—see my future?” I asked.
He looked me over. “Sure, no problem.” He put his hand on my shoulder, which made me kind of uncomfortable, but I was too curious to stop him now.
He looked deep into my eyes, which also made me uncomfortable, but I returned the stare.
His eyes were gray and bottomless and they seemed to pore over mine.
He stared at me for a good thirty seconds or so. I could definitely see why Maddie was uncomfortable with the whole thing.
Suddenly his eyes widened, his pupils shivering, and he pulled his hand away from my shoulder as he took a step back.
“You—” he said, his voice uncharacteristically tense. He dropped the cigarette.
“What?” I said, looking at him strangely. This was kind of surprising and unnerving me.
He was backing away. “I’m sorry man, I—can’t tell you your future.”
“What? Why not?” I asked, kind of annoyed. Honestly, I had thought he would give me some sort of vague horoscope and that would be it—but I was curious enough to want to know for sure. But now—what was he even doing?
“Because you don’t have one!” he said, and he swallowed. “Wait—ignore that. Forget I said anything! I gotta go man!” He started backing away faster and turned around.
“Hey!” I caught up with him. “What does that mean? I have no future? What are you talking about?”
“Listen man, it’s just—I’m probably wrong. I should just get going now,” he said.
“You can’t just say something like that and run away!” I protested. “Come on, what did you mean—I have no future?”
He looked down and sighed. “I shouldn’t have said anything. Why did I?” He looked up and stared me down.
“You really want to know?”
“Fine. What I meant was—you’re about to die.”
“…what?” I said.
“Before morning. You won’t make it till tomorrow,” he said.
I stared at him, confused and afraid.
“How do you—”
“How do I know? I said it before—I looked into people’s faces and see what God has planned for them. I got a vision of your death,” he sighed. “I’m sorry man. There’s nothing more I can say—”
“Hang on—how am I supposed to die, according to you?” I asked, finding myself frustrated and annoyed, convinced this was some elaborate prank he was pulling. Well, I guess it wasn’t that elaborate—but that had to be the only explanation… right?
“I can’t tell you that man,” he said. He started backing away again.
“Really sorry man. Sorry it had to turn out this way for you. But… there’s nothing more I can say.” He suddenly turned and darted away, up the hill.
I was dumbfounded. But I started running after him, up the hill, away from the street lamps, into darkness. But I quickly realized I had lost him. He seemed to have disappeared and now no one was around me.
I looked around, breathing heavily, from the street lamp a little ways down where I had come from, to the gate and the campus near it, to the vague club and restaurant lights further down, to the darkness of the road further up the hill. I swallowed.
“This was a mistake,” I said to myself, and I walked back down the hill and up through the gate of the campus.
I was sitting still on top of my bed, listening to music. I cycled through several songs I really liked, trying to get into a better mood. But it wasn’t working—my mind was elsewhere: focused on my apparently impending death.
My roommate was out partying so I was completely alone in the room. The room felt increasingly still and creepy and I found myself shaking.
You won’t make till tomorrow. What did he mean? I mean—I knew what he meant. But still— how was that even possible? That I would die?
What would even kill me? I didn’t have any health problems, certainly not any that could just kill me out of the blue. The campus was secure, with guards watching the gate 24 hours a day, so no one could break in easily. So what could it even be? Some freak accident?
I decided this was absurd. It was like one of those chain facebook posts or youtube comments—you know, the kind that say you’ll die some horrible death if you don’t repost it. I used to be freaked out about those but of course I didn’t actually die when I didn’t repost it. It was the same thing here—wasn’t it?
Except this seemed to me, on some deeper, perhaps subconscious level, much different than that, and much more serious. I mean—what would that guy gain from telling me I was gonna die? It could be some sick prank, sure, but somehow that seemed unlikely to me. This guy—I got creepy, mysterious vibes from him, but he seemed serious enough not to be a prankster. There might not be a logical reason for me believing that guy—but maybe that’s because it went beyond logic. I mean, you can’t entirely predict the future through logical reasoning, right? There has to be some higher force at work. Or the guy was crazy and delusional. I couldn’t tell which.
Nothing I was doing to calm myself down was working. I just wanted to see someone else, I was so alone in my thoughts and fears. My roommate—where the hell was he? No distracting youtube video was working—nothing was working! I found myself breathing rapidly and I could feel my heart beating faster than ever.
Hours passed— and I felt like I was going insane.
“Time to die,” I kept thinking— that line from a movie.
“No! Not today!” I said to myself.
You won’t make it till tomorrow.
You have no future.
(Not today damnit!)
I was outside the gate again.
My fists were clenched, there was a cool breeze, too cool—cold.
I started running up the hill, it was darker, the wind was stronger, and any vague noises of partying were snuffed out. I kept running all the way up, the light of Rome blurry down below.
I was at the top of the hill— it overlooked the whole city, a good view.
The lights down low—so inviting they were.
And it was so cold, so dark up here. I longed to be down there, warm, filled with light…
I got up on top of the small stone wall, overlooking the city. The soft fountain swished behind me…
I reached for the light but couldn’t grab it. So I took a step forward and then—
My nerves turned loose, an electric shock from my toes to my spine—
This is the end… finally I could reach that warm light—
I was wandering through the deserted streets of Trastevere, all of the lights were out and the restaurants closed. No one was walking around right now; the narrow streets once full of life were now entirely devoid of it. It was cold and dark, and on one was around—
A bright flashing fire!
I looked over hopefully—it was the Firebender!
He was still waving around his fiery stick even though no one was watching him.
He saw me.
I saw him.
Suddenly he ran towards me with an inhuman yell and swung his fiery stick at me!
I jumped to the side, surprised, and he spun it around briefly—then rapidly thrust it at me again, the fire jumping all around me in a swoosh.
It had been cold, but now—hot—too hot—too damn hot!
I felt the flames lick around me, scorching my skin, a scalding bath leaping all around me, fire surrounding me—
I ran as the fire overtook me, blinded, I stumbled about, screaming, a madman—
The river! The river Tiber!
I threw myself into it, off the bridge; it was some thirty feet below.
A rushing sensation, the fire went out, leaving a horrible burning feeling only partially quelled by the cold water.
But my lungs gasped for air and I splashed helplessly, my muscles burnt and weakened.
A horrible scream, encased in water, emerged from my mouth…
And slowly I felt my consciousness slip away, as if I were falling asleep—
A pleasant feeling, like laying on a soft bed emerged at the last moment…
I’m lying in my bed, watching some videos, but I can’t pay attention. What’s going on in the video? I keep fading in and out and nothing stays with me. Eventually I stop the video, put my laptop away and just fall asleep very quickly. But I don’t regain consciousness. There’s a carbon monoxide leak—and I never wake up…
I’m actually in my bed right now—not up the hill, not down in Trastevere—but I’m also not tired. No, I’m wide awake, my eyes wide and red. I can’t fall asleep at all.
None of those things happened to me—not yet. I fell asleep briefly and experienced all three of them. A bad dream? Or visions of the future, just like that mysterious guy had? I have no idea. I don’t know anything anymore.
But I’m leaning toward the latter. They could be three possible paths; three different ways of dying. Some are more outlandish than others, of course—but I wonder if fate (whatever that even is) is not so clear-cut. Are these like different versions of me in parallel universes, dying differently each time? If that’s the case, then there’s also one in which I don’t die and wake up like any other day.
And perhaps that’s all that will happen. These three visions could just be paranoia, brought on by that mysterious guy’s claim that I would die tonight.
Or the guy was right and one of these will come true. I honestly don’t know.
That’s why I’m making this blog post. I guess we’ll see what happens, if I make it to morning, or if I die. This might be my last night alive.
I guess that’s what I meant about this being, perhaps, a cautionary tale, although I’m just so uncertain right now that I don’t know what you guys, any of you reading this, can learn from my experience. Maybe we’re not meant to know our futures—and being given some knowledge about it, whether it’s true or false, will only tear us apart.
So if someone claims they can see your future, just walk away. You’ll avoid all of my torment…
Goodnight. Or goodbye.
End of post, 2018.