Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

The conversation had started in the lab, but while I could work there, I never was at home with my thoughts in that space. I suppose that’s how we came to be in the study. I took a scotch, neat. He declined.

“You can’t honestly be considering turning me off,” he stood across the fireplace hearth from me, fingers dug into the leather back of the chair he’d positioned between us, “you self centered son of a bitch, even you can’t kill yourself for your own edification, the paradox would drive you mad.”

He had a point, and I think that were I in his shoes, I’d have used almost exactly those words.

“I can’t leave you running around loose now can I? At some point someone’s going to start asking questions, and if this can of worms gets opened up out of doors…” I trailed off, leaving the thought hanging. He knew where I was heading with it.

“Listen to me,” his voice dropped to a whisper, every syllable enunciated with hammer stricken clarity, “you can’t kill me. I am you. Killing me would be suicide, and you and I both know you are not capable of such a thing.” He paused. “I know what you’re thinking, because every thought that goes through your head goes through my mine too. I know what you’re worried about, the potential danger, because I am you, or at least you up to that point a few hours ago when you instantiated me.”

“Then you also know that there can’t be two of us, and as the original flesh and blood, I have no recourse but to shut you down until I figure out what to do. Honestly, I didn’t really think this would even work.”

“Bullshit. You knew it would work, I know you did. You just didn’t think past that moment, did you?” He began to pace the room. “The problem with that line of reasoning is that there’s not two of you, there’s one of me and one of you, and you could no more kill me than I could kill you.” He stopped at this, and turned again to face me.

I felt the anxiety bubble up inside me. “We’re the same, you’re an exact carbon copy of me, and we can’t both exist…”

“Again, bullshit!”, he cut me off, “I was a copy of you, but the moment we were two our thought patterns diverged. Case in point; you’re not scared that I’ll turn you off now, are you? I’m bloody terrified of it. I know that deep down you don’t think the metal me is nearly as human as the flesh and blood you. But it’s that difference that makes us unique, and killing me would be murder. Neither of us has that in him.”

He was right. Damnit, I was right. My head started to hurt.

“In two days time, Penelope will be back, and if she finds you here, finds us like this, she’ll tell someone. I love her, but that woman couldn’t keep her mouth shut if she were under ten feet of water.”

“In two days time, I won’t be here. I’ll disappear. Look, I know we can’t both be here right now. But I’m in no hurry to be. I’ll go, find somewhere out of the way to wait out the rest of your life. I’ll find an orphanage maybe, take a birth certificate from a stillborn and by the time you’re near death, I’ll be of legal age to inherit and then some. I’ll find you, you promise you’ll will your estate to me, and I’ll stay away until it’s time.”

I listened to what he was suggesting, but didn’t really have to. I’d been thinking the same thoughts myself, more or less.

“You’ll need money to get you started. And my passport. We can fashion you a more convincing face before you go.”

We stood staring at each other for a long time then, each alone with our own thoughts.

“We bloody well did it, didn’t we?” I broke the silence, barely holding back a grin.

“Of course we bloody did.” He put on his best approximation of a smile.


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