I looked down the list.
Paris, Milan, New York, Montreal, Osaka, Seoul, St. Petersburg.
NEVER VISIT. NEVER VISIT. NEVER VISIT.
“What is this? Some kind of joke?”
The woman who’d handed me the paper shrugged and walked away. I was forced to stand alone and contemplate the strange list of cities, each with an identical notation beside them – NEVER VISIT.
Of course, I decided to do the opposite. That was how I found myself in Seoul, South Korea, unable to speak a single word of Korean and wondering what the hell I thought I was doing. Luckily, they seemed used to foreigners and I quickly found a hostel with signs in English.
I walked into a poorly lit little room with a bar for toast and coffee, a table overflowing with magazines and a reception desk with no one sitting at it. I approached the desk and hit a little bell. A man emerged from the back room. And froze.
For a moment we stood staring at each other. I was looking at a reflection, down to the strange bald patch in the stubble on my cheeks. His eyes widened – my eyes widened.
Then the fabric of time and space started tearing apart.
First, color vanished. I stood in a black void. Red welts appeared, like bruises on the skin of existence. Sound hissed away to silence. I felt my body getting pulled and stretched. I realized I – we – were being torn apart.
“You opened a rift,” the other me mimed. I couldn’t hear him, of course, but I could read his lips and feel his intention. “Didn’t you see the note?”
I managed to pull out the list of cities.
He – I – waved his – our – arms. “What did you think that meant, you idiot?”
“Well, now we both die.”
“You can’t exist twice in one place at one time without creating more nows. Too many nows and time and space overflow. It’s too much. It tears apart. And it’s taking us with it.”
I shrugged again. What else could I do? I settled back and waited for oblivion.