Author: Lance J. Mushung

The man standing in my doorway was me wearing different clothes.

He smiled and extended his right hand. “Hello, Brad.”

After a couple of seconds, he grabbed my hand and pumped it. “You should close your dropped jaw and invite me in.”

He released my hand and I stepped out of his way. He walked past me into my family room.

I closed the door, and my mouth, and followed him to the stone-colored sectional sofa. After we sat down, I did nothing but stare. His bald head, olive tone skin, hazel eyes, and other distinguishing features all matched mine. He even had the small scar under his left eye from my skin cancer surgery.

He broke the awkward silence. “You want to know why I look like you.”

I almost laughed. “That’s a safe bet. Is this a prank for some sort of hidden-camera TV show?”

“No. I am not native to Earth.”

“Yeah, right!”

“I understand your skepticism, but it is true. Can you guess why I appear to be your doppelganger?”

“Why should I?”

“I will explain later if you try.”

I shrugged. “All right, I’ll play along for a bit. Are you a shape-shifter or some sort of holographic creation?”


“Are you a robot made to look like me, or my clone grown by your people?”


“Are you using telepathy to just make me think I’m seeing myself, or maybe you’re me from an alternate reality?”

“Sorry, no.”

“I’m running out of ideas here.”

“Are you going to suggest time travel?”

“Time travel is crap. As a matter of fact, this is all complete crap. Why don’t you just tell me what’s going on?” I stood up and pointed to the door. “Start talking or get out.”

He got up and grasped my hand. “You should go to the garage with me.”

He let go of me and walked toward the garage, and I realized I was following him. Why had I accepted his suggestions twice?

Once in the garage, he stopped at the front of my Mustang and lifted the front end with one hand the way I’d pick up a box of cereal.

He said, “I am a nonorganic being modified to look like you for the moment.”

“So, you are a robot.”

His eyes narrowed almost too little to notice. “I am a nonorganic being.”

I’d struck a nerve, so I put up my open palms. “Sorry, I meant no insult. I’d really like to know what’s going on.”

“My people have come to test 8,192 humans to assess your potential as a species. You are part of the random sample.”

“When does the test start?”

“It is done.” He put down my car. “It is time for me to go. Thank you for your time.”

The garage door opener began pulling the door up.

He shook my hand. “You should remain in the garage.”

He walked away and the garage door began closing the second he stepped onto the driveway. I wanted to follow him, but my legs wouldn’t move.

“Wait,” I shouted. “Why are you testing our potential? What happens after the testing? What was the test? How did I do?”

He smiled and waved. The door hid him from sight seconds later. All I could do is wonder if anyone would believe the story, if I told it.