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Sunday 27 February 2011

Everyone is Someone Else : #2


Logic is like a boulder dropped into a torrent: it interrupts the flow of possibilities. The thought strikes him as he is shaving, and the thought changes the whole landscape of his thinking. He begins to talk to his mirror image and is encouraged by the nods he receives in return, despite the fact that he is sure that he is keeping his head still for the cut-throat razor that he's using! "I have been concentrating all this time," he explains, "on the seemingly unlikely possibility that either I am each of the two readers of the book or I am not. That would be the logical situation, but that is wrong. I see it now, it is more unlikely even than that. The dilemma is a false one. The truth of the matter is that I am both of the book's readers AND I am not. And more than that: I am but one person AND I am two people. AND I am three. And that prepares the way for yet another possibility: it occurred to me when thinking of these things in the half-conscious state between sleep and waking, that it would help enormously if the author of the book turned out to be the natural father that I have never known. Do not ask me to explain exactly how this would help, but I have become excited beyond measure by the thought that if he proved to be my father, I would at least be looking at a coherent landscape, one that held together in ways it otherwise does not. The difficulty for me has been a complete lack of any sort of evidence that my father did indeed write the book. Now, though I can say that my father both was AND was not the author."

At this point he resolves to track down the blonde to see what she can tell him. He talks to all those who were at the party, all his friends, all the relatives who were there and his colleagues from work. None of them engaged or invited her. Leastways, none of them will admit to having done so. He is eft with but one alternative: he must track down his other self. The idea worries him, but there is no way to avoid it. The worry stems from his not knowing what might happen in the event of two manifestations of a bi- (or even tri-) located entity meeting.Fancifully, he can't shake off the fear that they might mutually (or -self, whichever is the correct phrase) destruct. More optimistically, he turns his mind to the thought of his father, or his not-father, writing of his wn death. He still cannot comprehend this possibility, and so reminds himself that the death section at least must have been written by an authorial self who survived the other self. On that reckoning at least, it is possible for one to survive the other!

It is at this point that the phrase "mirror-like reflection" comes into his mind. He prefers this to the more awkward "manifestation". It seems to carry more of the characterizations of the concept with which his mind is struggling. He feels now as though he is planning to meet a long-lost brother. No, correction: a clone. He decides not to announce his coming, but to simply appear on the doorstep at the address his "refection" gave in his advertisement in the personal column. He makes several unsuccessful sorties, finding no one in. Then he is luckier. The door is opened to him by a woman claiming to be his reflection's wife. This is a blow. Is his theory beginning to un ravel? According to it, his reflection should be in the same state as himself: living alone. He introduces himself, hesitantly, as best he can, not being sure how informed the woman might be. He need not have worried.

"I know you!" the woman flares angrily. "You are the one who is harassing my husband! You wrote that damned book!"

"I'm not, and I didn't!" he retorts, equally angrily. "I am the one trying to discover who did write 'the damned book'! Where is he, then?"

"Where he's been for the last few nights: trying to find you, but you're always out!" she snapped.

Well, that at least, is how it should be, his reflection doing in reverse what he's been doing.

"And don't try to bedazzle me with more lies," she goes on. "You're the dead split of him. You well could be him!"

"Indeed, I well could be!" he agrees. Then in a moment of inspiration: "how did he come to lose his copy of the book?"

"Lose it? Lose it? What you mean, lose it? He aint lost it, I only wish he had!"

"And you don't know who wrote it, then?"

"If it weren't you, I don't!"

After more angry exchanges they part on the worst terms. He sits in the car for a while, turning things over in his head. If she was telling the truth and he did not lose his copy of the book, then that is the biggest blow yet to his theory, and things were indeed beginning o unravel. But why would he have lied? Perhaps because he had been engineering the whole thing from the beginning, had arranged the gift of the book by the woman on the white horse, and then arranged its loss, though how he might have accomplished that is none to easy to imagine. On the other hand, why would she have lied? Still thinking on these things he starts to drive away, but then meets himself coming from the opposite direction. On impulse he turns right at the next junction instead of going straight on. He drives for twenty miles or so at the legal speed limit when a motorcycle comes from the proverbial nowhere and collides with his near-side front wheel.

Arriving home around Dawn in a taxi, his car being undriveable,a voice on his radio-alarm clock is recounting the details of a road traffic accident that sound remarkably familiar. But why should they be featuring his misfortune on local radio? In the great scheme of road traffic accidents in general his was a most minor mishap. At first the details tally: the descriptions of the car and motor-cycle; his name is given - slightly inaccurately, but not enough to cause comment - and the time of the accident. But then the location is way out. Forty miles out, to be precise. Then comes the information that the motorcyclist was a courier delivering a donor heart to a local hospital. Our hero is pretty sure that he was not. But finally, the clincher: our hero died later from freak injuries sustained at the scene. No prizes for guessing what has happened, though. When one part of the bi-locating pair decided on impulse to drive due north, the other drove due south. Interesting, though, that his name was almost the same as his own.

The next few days and weeks were difficult. Things got worse rather than better. Almost it was like mourning, but the worst part was that he still was paralyzed, could not cope with not knowing what came next in the book. Eventually he could stand it no longer. Anticipating that he would not be well received he drove out to see the widow. But was she his widow also, he wondered. He hoped the thought had not occurred to her. He was fortunate this time. He found her in. He commiserated with her, and then, seeing that she was becoming very irritated, came straight to the point: he offered her £1000 for the book, if she still had it. She suggested that, it being the only copy, she thought it might be more valuable than that. Eventually she agreed to sell for £5000. He left with the book under his arm - and a feeling of great elation. At home he opened the book and turned to the last page he had read. Then turned another page and found it blank. Every page from there to the book's end was blank.


Jim Murdoch said...

Enjoyed this. A nice tackling of the doppelgänger theme. Would hold its head up high in any collection of sci-fi short stories.

Dave King said...

Thanks Jim . Much appreciate that.

David Cranmer said...

Very fine, Dave. I would recommend sending this out for publication.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed this Dave. Lots of food for thought

Anonymous said...


vivid and dynamic words...

Windsmoke. said...

I knew a doppleganger was in there somewhere. Nice twist at the end just the way i like it, very well done indeed :-).

Dave King said...

Ooof, I hadn't expected that! It was just an experiment. Still, I'll think about it. Much thanks for the suggestion.

Hope it doesn't give you indigestion - it nearly did me.

thanks. Helpful and encouraging.

Thanks a lot. Very grateful for your feedback.