A man standing in the middle of Times Square isn’t usually news. But when it happened Monday, in the thick of the coronavirus quarantine, it attracted at least mild interest. That interest increased in intensity when the man identified himself.
“Hallo,” he called. “I am Valerio, a visitor from the future.”
People nearby laughed.
“I knew you would laugh,” he said. “That is why I came with proof.” He proceeded to transform into a shimmering multicolored pillar that produced previously unimaginable harmonies. The people nearby stopped laughing.
A CRAFT-Y GUY
Valerio transformed back into human form. “I am in an invisible craft,” he said. “Invisible to your eyes, at least. In my time, we all live inside these crafts. Why, you ask?”
No one had asked, but one of the people nearby shook his head. “I was going to ask!” he said. “That’s amazing.”
“I would like to credit clairvoyance,” said Valerio. “But really it’s just normal reading of normal curiosity. A man says he is from the future and lives inside a pillar, and he draws the reasonable conclusion that people will be curious as to why.”
Another one of the people nearby shook her head. “I was going to say that,” she said. “Amazing.”
“Well, again, I don’t know if this is the amazing part,” said Valerio. “I rather feel as though you are just taking anything that happens and accounting it as amazing given the fact that I appeared in such a strange manner.”
All of the people standing nearby nodded.
“But look,” said Valerio, growing quite impatient. “I come bearing good news. This coronavirus crisis in which you are currently enmeshed does not end humanity. You guys get through it. Many things will be permanently changed, some for the better, some for the worse. But just know it will pass.”
HE’S GOT GOOD NEWS…AND THE OTHER KIND
“So humanity is alive and well?” said the woman who was going to say that.
“Uh,” said Valerio. He hemmed and hawed. “Well, no, I mean, not exactly.”
“What happens to us?” said the man who was going to ask.
“I can’t really say,” said Valerio.
“Why not?” said a woman who Valerio was not even sure had heard him, given the fact that she was standing far away.
“I just can’t,” said Valerio.
“There’s no reason,” said a man.
“He’s just being coy,” said another man.
The crowd began to advance on Valerio, its mood shifting from curious to menacing, at which point the visitor from the future transformed into a pillar, which in turn transformed into a disc, sort of a hole in existence, which shrunk until it was gone.
Times Square was was back to how it had been before: mostly empty, frighteningly quiet, uncomfortably peaceful. The only trace of Valerio was a small campfire of steam where his pillar had landed.