Fiction Science Fiction Speculative

“ . . and damned if I didn’t see a guy that looked just like you on the boat. I almost went over to talk to him but didn’t want to intrude on his vacation.”

“Oh, you should have. Did you get a picture of him?”

“Nah, didn’t want to be a stalker.”

“Would’ve loved to see him. Not everyday you get to meet your doppelgänger.”

“They say everyone has one, you know, be on the lookout.”


Schakudo Nizoran silenced the playback with a hand wave and half swiveled in his black ergonomic chair to face the worried looking man sitting beside him. “There you have it,” he said. “You were eyeonized on that boat. Lucky there’s no photographic evidence of you. He just put it off as a coincidence, so no harm done, but. . . you must be more careful, we all do. We can’t afford for our presence to be known. Can you imagine the ramifications?,” he said. “We are nearly ready though, be patient.”

“True, but to be fair, the research department, what do they say, dropped the ball. It’s their job to run the specs on every overlay and scan for duplicity encounters. Not just for the Primarian but also for any Tangentles that might be nearby, anyone associated with the Primarian. This one fell through the cracks, as they say.”

“Duly noted, and good use of the local idioms, I will bring this to their attention at our next meeting. It happens occasionally. Other than that, how was your experience, you were there for, what, ten days?,” Nizoran asked. 

“Yes,” the young man said, massaging his temples. “I am having some of those headaches I was warned about though. How long do they usually last?”

“About forty eight hours on average, everyone reacts differently to the process,” Nizoran said. “Even Thirds, Fourths and Beyonds of the Primary react differently to the crossing, it’s quite. . . ,” he smiled and said, “individual, but there doesn’t seem to be any lasting effects once you reenter your own timeline. We’ll keep in touch, we like to monitor our visitors for a short while upon their return, you know, just to check.”

“Yes, thank you, it was wonderful being there. Clean air and water, sunlight. No Livingear required. And the food, real food, it was really amazing, so what I’m not used to but could definitely get used to, I’ll tell you that.” 

“Don’t worry, you’ll have it all again, soon I believe.”

The young man, Ivorique Co, stood, motioned a thank you, through his transbubble vira-shield, and exited the sterile room through the airlock. Every vacation had to come to an end. Back to reality, he thought, sarcastically. His reality, one that had branched off into a dark, dystopian corridor. A world living side by side and immersed in a viral soup so thick that everyday life was like pushing through thickened vapor. A world dealing with the daily travails of survival. A world whose population had thinned so dramatically that the future looked increasingly uncertain. One slowly created, as are all, by the diverging timelines of choice and decision. For every right turn there’s a left. For every on switch there’s an off. For every government action there’s an inaction. And so, the ever expanding firework explosion of bright tendrils leads to blazing light as well as ashen smoke. His, had trailed off into a sickly gray one. There were many others, of course, still being created with every turn of the wheel, some would reach the same conclusions and some would not, but his choice was to leap. Leap for the chance to live what other versions of himself were enjoying, a life of brightness, of freedom, of possibility. A choice to jump before that choice branched off under his feet into yet another artery of the expanding heart.  

It was the advent of this current technology, one that promised the transport to an adjacent timeline, a different fork in the infinite road, that held the promise for this version of humanity. To be able to access another root in the universal tree’s understory might be salvation. And so the explorations began, to test these theories and applications in an attempt to, eventually, migrate the world’s remaining inhabitants to a new, cleaner, and safer version of itself, a new tentacle of a limitless octopus.  

It was time now. Testing had proven successful, they just needed to minimize contact with any Primarians, so as not to confuse the timeline and with a myriad of choices the impact on any one would be minimal. It would be like a few raindrops falling into a rushing river, it would have no overall impact. A handful of refugees introduced into a single color swath on the spectrum of reality, a spectrum spanning all known and unknown colors from bright to dark. They would be sprinkled across the blue. 


“What if you’re the doppelgänger as well? You would be to him, you know, that guy on the ship. Maybe he’s a relative three or four times removed or an alternate you from, oh I don’t know, another planet or plane of existence. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? And what are the chances he’d be on the same boat as me, someone who knows you. Out of billions of people?”

“I’d be more impressed if it was me that saw him, not you.”

“Well, maybe you will. Maybe you’re fated to run into him. Maybe my seeing him and telling you, predisposes you to look for him.”

“Yeah maybe I guess. Hey, as long as we’re playing ‘what if,’ what if there is no free will or fate at all? What if everything is  preordained, metaphorically written down in a cosmic ledger of some kind, what would that do to the multiverse theory you suggested? If there’s no free will, then there would be no branching of timelines based on countless choices. If there’s only one scripted choice to every situation, then the story has only one direction, straight ahead to its conclusion, no veering off onto side roads, no alternative realities, just the one, held to its path by fate. So, my doppelgänger is, what, a fluke of genetics, a remade recipe using random ingredients mixed together to make a one in a billion, hell, trillion, copy? Like those infinite monkeys infinitely typing away to create the works of Shakespeare? Or if there is no free will and every action, every choice by everyone sprouts a new vein of reality, what are the chances now that somewhere, somehow, someone has found a way of crossing over to another one? Talk about infinite possibilities. Given limitless time, it’s more implausible that it wouldn’t happen.”  


“Phase One is complete!,” Nizoran announced, arms spread wide, to the virtual assemblage, “we have taken our own fate into our own hands and reshaped it to save us all. As of this moment the first wave of our people has emerged into their new worlds, their new homes. As I have told you in the past, this is not an invasion, it is simply a rescue mission for ourselves. We will be scattered across multiple timelines, each a tossed pebble, a butterfly flap, a single germ away from each other, in terms of difference. It is not that single element, but the innumerable accumulated differentiations that has led to what has became our world. It is now time for us to step out of the reality that was foisted upon us by actions both large and small and seek out our new lives.”  

Roars of applause and shouting filled his ears, like a windstorm howling it’s imminent landfall. “We will leave our ‘here’ and venture forth to our new ‘there’ with the knowledge that even a small change can ripple into a large one. Let us strip away our layers of affliction and dysfunction and step forward into a new land and proclaim ‘I am free!”  

May 08, 2023 16:34

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Mary Bendickson
22:57 May 08, 2023

Speculation supreme!


Andrew Fruchtman
10:56 May 09, 2023

Thanks Mary. I might’ve been a bit heavy in exposition but I felt it needed it to explain my thought process. Glad you liked it, hope all the other Marys did as well.


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Mike Panasitti
15:01 May 13, 2023

Valiant effort at mind-bending speculative and science fiction. I was just left wondering: what momentous event happens when Ivorique Co finally meets his double? Is there a "there can only be one" stand-off, or do they combine forces to heal a world that is far from utopian? The story leaves the reader thinking of the possibilities.


Andrew Fruchtman
19:58 May 13, 2023

Yeah, wanted to leave it open ended. Glad it intrigued you. Might work on expanding it, could work as an invasion story, just not ETs, maybe ATs (alternate terrestrials). Hmmm. Thank you for reading me and for taking the time to comment, I truly appreciate it.


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