Author : S T Xavier

“Peter! I’m taking the kids out to dinner! Remember our meeting with the school in the morning!”

The yelling of his wife snaps him from his mindset, and he grimaces. With a sigh, he turns to the staircase and yells back, “Thank you, Marsha! I promise to come to bed at a decent hour!”

He turns back to the board and looks over the numbers again, but has completely lost his place. With a shake of his head, he turns his attention to the circuitry, giving it one last once-over. As he does, the basement light flickers once, then goes out, plunging his workshop into darkness.

Peter chuckles a wry chuckle as he stumbles through the darkness toward the flashlight on a shelf. Of course the light would burn out right before I’m ready to flip the switch, he thinks with a crooked grin.

Two steps away from the shelf, his foot catches on a stray cable. As he falls forward, he thinks it must be the cable connecting the doorway to the control panel. That’s the only cable running across the room. Sticking his hands out to catch himself, he reasons that he might need to cover it with something so he doesn’t trip over it again.

In the total darkness, he’s surprised when his hands collide with switches and knobs instead of the concrete basement floor. The feel of the control panel is immediately recognizable, but he’s surprised for a second that he was falling this way. He hits the control panel hard, grabbing it to steady himself from his fall.

As Peter hopes he didn’t mess anything up too badly, his thoughts are drowned out by a hum of power. He scrambles to collect himself as he realizes he must have flipped the switch! But, all of the settings, he thinks as he moves his hands over the darkness-shrouded control panel. The settings are all wrong! What have I done!?

A single flash from the doorway behind him illuminates the room briefly, then plunges it back into darkness. He looks at the control panel as his eyes adjust, waiting until he’s able to see it clearly to check the settings. A blue glow slowly settles over the controls, and he focuses on noting the changed settings.

It’s a full minute before he realizes the blue glow isn’t from his eyes adjusting, but from the doorway behind him. He stands slowly and turns, bit by bit, until he’s facing the doorway, which is now surrounded by a blue glow.

Looking at the doorway is like looking into a mirror. The basement on the other side, covered in the same blue glow, is exactly the same. The cable he tripped over is lying across the floor in the same place on both sides. The control panel is the same distance away. The person standing in front of the control panel is wearing the same rumpled red shirt and gray sweat pants as he is. The dirty brown socks and messy black hair are also the same. As he reaches up to remove his glasses, the person in the doorway also reaches up to remove hers.

And that stuns him into motionlessness, as it does to the woman who looks just like him on the other side. He works his mouth to say something, as does the woman. Finally, he’s able to speak, and the words come out of both mouths simultaneously. “Holy crap. You’re me. But, you’re not me!”

“You’re a woman!” he finishes his statement with.

“You’re a man!” she finishes her statement with.

They stare at each other for a few more seconds, then step forward and reach their right hands to each other. Both hands pass through the doorway to the other side before they realize they missed a handshake. Both shrug as they instead clasp wrists and shake up and down once.

Looking in each other’s eyes, they smile, then shake their heads in wonder. “Marsha’s never going to believe this.” They both say, to each other’s surprise.

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