Author : Andrew Bale

Jake loved this part of the day. No more phone calls, no more meetings, no more acting humble, just a Cognac, a cigar, and a few minutes of quiet egotism. He didn’t think of himself as particularly egotistic, but the thrill he got sitting in front of his wall of awards, the thrill of having them on display even in a private office, it always made him feel a little guilty. He had certainly earned them all, as impossible as that always seemed, and if you really are the smartest and most important and best person in the world, is recognizing it really ego? Heck, four of his meetings today had been people imploring him to run for President, clutching poll numbers that were …


“Jake Alderman.”

He froze. That was definitely the sound of a hammer cocking, he had fired too many guns to mistake it, but how could anyone get in here? The mansion was always cleared at night, security at the perimeter was tighter than the White House, and getting into this room required three different passcodes! He hadn’t been shot – yet – and the voice seemed familiar. A joke perhaps? Careful to keep his hands visible, he pivoted in his chair and stopped aghast at what he saw.


One word, one voice, two speakers. The man standing before him could easily have been his twin if not for the poor muscle tone, bad complexion, terrible hygiene, and gun. The man dropped a book on the desk, a copy of his latest biography.

“Jake Alderman. Enlisted Navy SEAL. Medal of Honor. Army Aviation officer. Medal of Honor again. Olympic decathlete with 3 golds. Doctorate from MIT, doctorate and law degree from Harvard. Fields Medal, Nobel Peace Prize, probably a few more Nobels down the road. You start a garage band, you get Grammys. You make some movies, you rake in Oscars. You start a company, it makes you the richest man in the world. You’re married to the most beautiful woman in the world, and I can’t get a date to save my life, and we’re the SAME DAMN PERSON!!”

“I don’t understand – who are you? What do you mean? And want?”

He had triggered the silent alarm, what was taking so long?

“I’m you. A different you. A you from another universe. A week ago another one of us dropped in on me. He was a physicist, figured out that there were infinite universes and how to travel between them.”

The man leaned suddenly forward.

“Do you remember in high school, all the things you thought about studying? You went engineering and military, I went into philosophy and dishwashing. I think that’s why I see it when the physicist didn’t.”

“See what?”

Christ, he should have kept a gun in the desk, kids be damned!

“Infinite universes, man. Really, truly infinite. Every possibility. Don’t you see?”

He shook his head. What did this lunatic want, how could he get away without getting shot?

“All this, all your success and awards, it’s all just a point on a probability curve. There’s no merit to what you are, no honor – in infinite universes you had to happen at least once. You’re just lucky. You’re just the us who guessed right every time, who had everything go just right, who got everything he ever wanted. And me? I’m just the us who got past your security.“

The man grinned at the confusion in Jake’s eyes.

“It’s okay – there’re infinitely more of us out there. But I’m lucky. I’m the us who gets to do this.”

Bang. Bang.


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