The+Traveller

Ayah Mohammed

The Traveller

December 6, 2020

Once upon a time, in a great, lively town, there lived a young man who could tell the future. This power of his had its limitations, however, because he could only tell the immediate future, with a time constraint of one week. The man, whose name was Lucis, could tell you what would happen next Monday. Indeed, he could tell you if that terrible mistake you made at work would get you fired tomorrow, or if your exam in two days would be difficult or not. But ask him the great questions of the universe and you would only be met with a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders. And yet, even with this restriction on his powers, Lucis made a living for himself out of fortune-telling. He wandered around town, setting up his humble little stall, with a handmade sign and a creaky plastic fold-up table. Most who passed by “Lucis’s fortune-telling” waved it off as a nonsensical waste of money, but those who gave him a chance were stunned, each time, by the accuracy of his predictions. Soon, word spread around the town and people flocked to Lucis’ stall by the thousands. Although, if they really wanted to see him, they had to be swift. Lucis never remained anywhere for too long.

You see, this young man was also a traveller. Living off of the money he made from fortune-telling, Lucis travelled all around the world to see its wonders. He longed to feel intrigue, excitement… anything, from the things he would see. He wanted to find something that moved his soul and took him by surprise.

He wanted such a thing because he had grown up with a perpetual apathy. He knew what his tomorrow entailed, down to the most minute detail, and knew what would happen day in and day out after that. Yes, Lucis did not know everything there was to know. But he knew too much. And with so little to anticipate in life, with the answers to the seemingly most urgent questions a minute of speculation away, Lucis found nothing to entice him. Not even the three-headed griffin or the haunting song of a siren could cause him to react at all. After all, he knew he would see the things he saw or hear the things he heard. 

One day, he foresaw himself sitting down and questioning his decision to travel at all. What’s the point, he thought, blankly, I’ll know where I’m going and what to expect no matter what I do. And, he noted to himself, I knew I was gonna have this conversation with myself, anyway. It was all very ironic, but it was a rather tragic kind of irony, both the tragedy and humor of which was lost to him. Yet, despite Lucis questioning the purpose of his quests, he continued to venture from place to place, hoping to find something that would make him feel. 

On a warm, summer’s day in June, on the second day of a new week, Lucis awoke in his hotel room after a long trek on foot the day before. He opened his eyes and with one blink saw a scene by scene telling of his entire day appear in his mind, rather like an annoyingly persistent alarm. He blinked again at the greeting his mind always gave him in the morning. I know this already, he wanted to tell his mind, I saw all of this yesterday. But Lucis knew he would gain nothing from doing this, and so decided to sit up and “plan” his day.

After ordering room service, and knowing that his breakfast omelette would contain mushrooms even though he explicitly asked for it not to, Lucis sat at the small dining table and ate his meal. He slowly, comically, picked off the mushrooms from his omelete, not unlike a child. Lucis had a very particular philosophy on his powers, especially in moments such as these, when he knew something would go wrong. Perhaps one may ask Lucis: “If you knew this would happen, why didn’t you try to change it?” to which he would tell you the same thing every time: there was no point. The moment he pondered an alternate situation to something he foresaw, he would immediately see its outcome. Someone may then raise the argument of ‘gains’ and ‘losses’, how one outcome is more beneficial than another. But for the eternally uninterested Lucis, ‘gains’ and ‘losses’ meant nothing, since no gain and no loss could truly make him feel as though he actually acquired or was deprived of anything. It was all the same to him. 

This is why his foreseeings about his own life were more like warnings to him than calls to change. If he saw that he would spill milk on the floor he’d simply prepare a cloth to wipe it with. If he saw that someone was going to pick his pockets tomorrow, he would make sure that he made more money that week than he ordinarily would. Maybe this was Lucis’s own way of acting on his powers, but it certainly made no difference to the way he felt about his life.

After breakfast, Lucis made his way to the town center and set up his fortune-telling stall. He removed his fold-up table from his carrier bag and placed it on the ground, covering it with a tired velvet cloth. He balanced the large wooden sign that spelled “Lucis’ fortune-telling” on the table by the ground and sat down on the fold-up chair he also had in his bag. Now he had to wait.

And sure enough, one by one, people came to Lucis’s stall to receive their fortunes. Sometimes people would speak to him about their grievances. Sometimes people would even ask questions about the distant future, despite Lucis’ warnings about the restrictions of his powers. Either way, it seemed people enjoyed speaking to someone who seemed to be the picture of pragmatic objectivity, no matter how their issues and feelings perplexed him. When one has all the answers to the seemingly most pressing questions, most worries become trivial, even bizarre. Lucis often wanted to tell people that their distress was nonsensical, but he knew nobody would understand why. Not without having his powers.

Eventually, Lucis finished for the day and went back to his hotel room where he went to sleep, only to do it all again the next day. Farther and farther Lucis travelled, but he never found anything that gave his life any meaning.

One day, Lucis found that he had ventured to the very end of the world. It was quite a dark, lonely place, without a shred of civilization. He had seen it in his mind’s eye and knew how barren it was. But his mind had told him that there was something else, something that looked rather out of place in the lonely cavern: a silvery pool.

After entering the dark cave, Lucis walked on and on, deeper and deeper until he could see a pale light calling to him. He moved cautiously around the rocky terrain, closer still, until the pool was finally visible. Lucis crept toward it, and kneeling beside it, inspected the strange color and consistency of the water. Thick, but lucid, it glimmered gently as though it were made of stars. His mind had already told him that he would touch the water, so he followed the script and gently caressed the surface of the pool with a single finger.  

Then, almost immediately, Lucis began to hear strange voices in his head. They were the voices of the sorrowful. He heard countless people shout: some wailing, some crying, some louder and some softer. It was such a large amalgamation of negative energy that Lucis almost felt compelled to react. But he didn’t. Because he knew that this would happen. Just like he knew he would now hear the voice of a young girl.

“Hello?”

Right on time, he thought. Lucis waited for the voice to speak again.

“Is someone there?” the girl asked.

“Who are you?” Lucis responded, in a calm and stoic voice.

“So someone is there!” the voice cried in surprise. “Can you see me?”

“No.” Lucis replied, “Where are you?”

“By the cliff. Where are you?”

“In a cavern, by a pool.”

If Lucis had not already anticipated this conversation, this would be most peculiar.

“A cavern? And a pool? Is that where the stars go?”

Lucis glanced back at the pool. It seemed to be made of water, albeit strangely colored. What stars?

“I don’t understand.” He responded.

“Wait, so… are you not the person who makes the stars?” the girl asked, excitement melting to timidness.

“I’m a traveller.” was all he said back.

The girl remained quiet for some time. In the silence, Lucis briefly wondered how they were communicating. Clearly, he would not find out in the next week, based on his mind’s own silence.

“Still. If you can hear me, surely you must be close to the stars. I always did wonder where they went. Either that or…” the girl fell quiet again before asking something Lucis had never heard in his life.

“Are you sad?”

Lucis blinked at the question. He had never been sad in his life. Or happy. Or angry. The question would have made him laugh if it weren’t anticipated.

“I’ve never been sad.”

“What? How can that be?”

And at this question, Lucis decided to tell this stranger all about his powers, and the ensuing disinterest in the world they gave him. The girl listened to his full story before responding in a small, apologetic voice. 

“I’m really sorry… I don’t know how to help you. I’ve never met someone else with… powers.”

Lucis knew she would not elaborate further, and so left it at that. 

“Don’t apologize. I wasn’t expecting a solution.”

The voice was silent again, before piping up one last time. 

“I hope you’ll be able to find something that makes you happy.” she said, earnestly.

Lucis nodded, though he knew she couldn’t see him. “Thank you.”

With that, the girl’s voice disappeared, and Lucis got up to leave. But before he could go, and make the long, long journey back to the nearest lodgings’ area, he wanted to touch the pool once more. He was curious where those voices he had heard had come from, and naturally who the girl he had spoken to was. He gently placed his finger beneath the shimmering waters and moved it to and fro. The water lapped and swirled in response, and Lucis could once again hear the anguished cries of a thousand strangers. He wondered why they cried so, and in doing so remembered the girl’s question to him. Are you sad? He repeated to himself. If he were ever to feel sad, what would be the reason? 

Lucis eventually left the cavern, but the question never left his mind, and his mind offered not a single answer.

The next morning, Lucis opened his eyes to a bright, morning sun. He blinked, waiting for his mind’s daily recital of the day’s events. 

But it never came. Lucis’s mind told him nothing of today, or tomorrow, or anything after. For once in his life, he didn’t know what to do. 

For a moment, he panicked. But the panic stopped as quickly as it came, obstructed by another feeling.

Surprise.

Two things Lucis had certainly never felt before.