I don’t consider myself a Redditor, but one of my favorite Youtubers made a video about the 50/50 challenge so I had to check it out myself.
Basically, the page contains links with two options, one good, one bad. It’ll say something like Kitten playing with a giant ball of yarn / Man with half his face blown off. Or maybe something like Maggots crawling out of a dead woman’s leg / Hot girl sucking cock. It’s usually sex or violence. Tits or throat cutting.
If you’re brave enough, you can click the link and you’ll either see the good thing or the bad thing. You have a fifty-fifty shot, hence the name.
It’s stupid, yeah, but it’s fun. Educational when something gruesome happens that I never knew the body could handle. And good masturbation material when it turns out to be porn.
But the other week, I saw something I’d never come across before. A link that said: A video of you in the past / A video of you in the future.
It stuck out to me, because it was so different. Because I had no idea what it was going to show me.
So I clicked.
A fuzzy video popped up, poor quality, caught from a street camera. A skinny guy in a red jacket was feeding his credit card to a machine at the gas station when four men surrounded him.
One shoved him against the side of his truck. Another knocked him in the jaw, three times, until he tumbled to the ground. Another kicked him in the ribs, again and again until he crumpled into a mess of broken bones and hot blood.
As if that wasn’t enough, the last one whipped out a folding knife, flipped it open, and jammed it through the victim’s neck, killing him. It had to have killed him, there was no surviving that.
The video cut off as the men walked off. Jumped to a black screen.
It took me a second to click away, to register what I had just seen and decide that I needed to research the username to figure out how the hell they got ahold of that video.
Because that guy in the red jacket, the guy getting the shit kicked out of him, was me.
It had happened about a year earlier, almost to the day. I’d been on my way home from a one-night stand and stopped to fill up my tank so I didn’t have to do it the next morning before work. While I was inserting my card, fully focused on the screen in front of me, a group of three men had started harassing me, yelling slurs.
I’d ignored them, head down, wishing the damn machine would speed up so I could get back in my car.
But before that could happen, I’d heard a thump. Someone had slammed my driver’s door shut and shoved me. As a group, taking turns, they knocked me to the ground. Kicked my ribs. Bloodied my lips. Broke my nose.
But that’s the thing. There were only three guys, not four. And there weren’t any weapons involved, only fists. The scene was almost accurate, but not quite. There was no way it was a coincidence though, because it was too close.
I figured whoever had filmed the video was one of my friends. That they had created it to fuck with me. Before I dropped out of university, I had been a film student, taking classes with future directors and cameramen, so it could have been anyone.
I’d told that story, of getting mugged, about a million times. At every party. At every water cooler. To get a conversation going or make girls feel pity for me to raise my chances of sleeping with them.
I had explained everything, down to the part about wearing a red jacket. One that I still owned and still wore to remind myself that I was strong enough to recover from whatever life threw at me.
When I clicked on the username to research the guy, PsychicPsychotic, there was nothing else listed where his history of comments and uploads were supposed to be. The person had never created any other posts. Just the one.
That meant it had to be one of my friends. They created a fake account so I couldn’t trace it back to them. Assholes.
I texted the most likely suspects, testing their responses, but no one acted guilty. No one seemed to be laughing behind my back and no one straight up asked if they’d scared me.
I even made a Facebook post about it to lure the offender out, writing,“What kind of ‘friend’ would make a fake film about my mugging LOL? Hope it at least got you some college credit #FuckYou”
I hoped the person who created it would see it and claim ownership for the attention, but all anyone did was complain that the link to the video was broken. And when I tried to drag the pointer back to the start and replay, it wouldn’t work. The screen stayed black.
Three weeks went by, but no one admitted to posting the damn thing. I’d even tried messaging the Reddit user directly, but I received an error message announcing that their account had been deleted.
Honestly, I didn’t make any more attempts to track the guy down. I had pretty much eased the incident from my mind, because what else was there to do? I couldn’t drop all my friends, because one of them decided to be a douche. I had to keep living my life. Keep doing what I always did.
And the next thing I did was pretty damn stupid.
Maybe I was too stubborn to drive over to another town to pump my gas when there was a station three blocks from my house, or maybe I was just plain stupid, but I ended up back at the same gas station where I had been mugged, wearing the same jacket I had been mugged in, when I heard a group of voices overlapping each other in their excitement.
“Hey, look who’s back on his feet.”
“Hope you have more cash on you than last time.”
“On the ground, fucker.”
The first guy knocked me in the jaw. Once. Twice. Three times. While I was down, blood already creeping into my mouth, another one kicked me in the ribs with steel-toed boots until he heard cracking.
It felt like last time. Just like last time…
Except there was a new man, a fourth man. Without breaking eye contact, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a slice of metal. When he flipped it open to reveal the blade, that’s when I remembered the wording of the 50/50 challenge. That’s when I realized I’d forgotten about the other option.
The video wasn’t a clip from my past. It was from my future.
I should’ve taken that as a hint to turn, twist, try to protect my neck. But all I did was flinch, waiting for the knife to pierce my skin.