Something happened in the lab the other night. I’m not certain what but it was something.
I powered up the device, and there she…I…the other I…was. It was a possibility I hadn’t considered. By opening a door into a parallel universe, I opened the door to myself in that same universe.
Some clarification first. My name is Samuel Worth, I am a thirty-four-year-old physicist that likes doing stupid experiments in my garage. I go by Sam. Her name is Samantha Worth, a thirty-four-year-old physicist that likes doing stupid experiments in her garage…she goes by Sam.
One difference at our conception, or possibly even sooner. We look too alike to have a wildly different selection of genes from our mother and father. We knew, in an instant. Until the age of twelve, we looked identical.
I’d been called “girlish” when I was a child, she was called a tomboy. Right up until puberty hit us hard. We shared an awareness of our entire lives up to turning on the device.
She reached out a hand, both of us unsure of what might happen. I reciprocated and our hands touched. At that moment, the machine powered down. My consciousness divided itself between two worlds, without severing the connection.
The following morning, he/I had to sit down to pee, because it was too confusing to try to do things differently than she/I. By the time we/I had finished breakfast and a cup of coffee, it was becoming easier to manage both of my selves at once.
Driving was probably dangerous, so we/I took public transportation to the university. We/I didn’t have any lectures today but had to maintain office hours.
“Dr. Worth? I have a question about the math behind Bell’s Theorem.”
He/I looked up at Caleb. He was a good kid, quiet, reserved, perhaps a little slow. In university on a swimming scholarship, did well in nationals, and hoped for a shot at the Olympics. Not the sort you’d imagine going for a physics degree, but he never stopped trying his damndest. He/I settled into going over the math with Caleb, when she/I was interrupted.
“Dr. Worth? Can you help me with this proof? I think I missed something.”
She/I looked up at Chloe. She was a “bad girl” type…at least, she tried to act that way. Not the sort you’d imagine going for a physics degree, unless you got to know her. Under the torn jeans, tattoos, hot pink mohawk, and acidic tongue hid a sharp mind.
We/I had a moment of panic, realizing we/I had just spent several uncomfortable seconds in a sort of fugue. “Sorry,” we/I said, “it’s been a strange day.”
For some reason that is still unclear to us/me, she/I and he/I changed places. She/I came up with a new approach to explain the difficult parts to Caleb, to help him grasp it, while he/I pored over Chloe’s proof, finding an arithmetic error in the midst, and helping her rework it from that point forward.
We/I finished the day with a fresh pot of coffee in the garage, trying to restart the device. By working from opposite ends, we/I was able to troubleshoot in half the time it would have taken otherwise.
The fact of the matter was, there was nothing wrong with the device. It just refused to start. Power levels in and out, and amperage drain on the circuit all pointed to it still running, but…nothing.
Even after unplugging the power supply, the device still showed current flowing through the circuits consistent with being powered on. The pot of coffee long since empty, we/I prepared for bed.
In front of the sink, we/I looked into the mirror. The same eyes, the same fine lines around them, the same hairline, but a masculine and feminine form both visible in the mirror. It was strange, and perhaps even more unnerving than the awareness of being two versions in two universes simultaneously.
We/I called the university and had our/my TAs take over lectures for the rest of the week. Every waking minute was spent in the garage, trying everything to reset the devices. We/I finally decided to destroy them. Break them down to unusable debris and never attempt this experiment again.
As the week went on, we/I felt our link growing weaker. She/I and he/I could still sense one another, but it was as though our local consciousness was again taking the forefront.
The final memories we/I had together were on Saturday evening. She/I was in a diner he/I usually frequented, while he/I was in a bar where she/I was a semi-regular.
Chloe left the booth where her similarly tattooed and pierced friends were laughing boisterously and approached. “Dr. Worth? I thought you said chicken and waffles sounded disgusting.”
“It wouldn’t be fair to dismiss it without empirical evidence. And I’m off work; call me Samantha, or Sam.”
“What’s the verdict, Sam?”
I smiled. “It’s fantastic. Just the way I remembered from another universe.”
Chloe laughed. “You’ll have to tell me about that some time.”
“And, how you plan on traveling to another universe.”
Caleb entered the bar with other members of the swim team. “Come on, guys. Quit trying to hook me up. I just want to have a beer then go back to the dorms and study.”
He saw me at the bar and approached. “Dr. Worth! I never see you here.”
“Hey, Caleb. I’m off work, call me Samuel, or Sam.”
“Well, Doc—Sam, I didn’t take you for the wine type.”
I swirled the glass of red and took another sniff. “I remembered enjoying this in another universe,” I said.
“Is it as good in this one?”
“Do you think it’s actually possible to travel to another universe?” he asked.
We/I began explaining to Chloe and Caleb how the universe is well within the Schwarzschild radius for the amount of mass present, and how that presents the possibility that the universe itself has an event horizon we are well inside.
It was some time during that explanation that I no longer felt my other self, and suddenly felt very alone.