Fiction Speculative

“Are you hungry?”

I open my eyes and see … me.

Well, it’s me, but a me that’s a bit older. This version of me is a very distinguished me, slim, dressed in a three piece suit, with gray thinning hair and a trim gray beard and mustache.

I’m in a recliner chair, upholstered in the softest leather I’ve ever felt.

I press the button on the side armrest and sit up straight. Where am I?

The last thing I remember is taking a nap in my hand crafted wood rocking chair on the back porch, overlooking the lake behind my house.

Now, I’m … in the stateroom of some sort of huge spaceship? Steel walls, the dark depth of outer space, stars like diamonds strewn across black velvet outside a large round window.

I say it out loud: “Where am I?”

“That’s the question, isn’t it?” says Graybeard-Me. “I suppose that’s always been the question. Where am I? and the companion question Why am I here? I am … was … a professor of Philosophy, so I can’t help waxing philosophical.” Graybeard-Me chuckles. “You mean it quite literally, of course. Well, It’s a little hard to explain. This is the place where I am.”

“And you are?”

Before he can answer, a young version of me, early twenties, full head of dark, curly hair, tanned skin, steps out from behind my chair and says:

“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”

He grins, perfect white teeth. He’s dressed for a beach club: white shorts, multi-colored short-sleeved shirt. He’s a me I never was. I never looked so good, never invested so much time in the gym to get the chiseled arms and broad chest peaking out from the shirt with the three top buttons undone.

“If you’re up for it,” says Young-Adonis-Me, “it’s easier if we show you.”

They take me through a corridor into a large common area, where I see hundreds of me, all ages, sizes, and shapes. I’m everywhere. I see a big fat version of me. I see a little old wizened bald version of me. I see a teenage kid me.

"Wait a minute — " It dawns on me. “I died.”

“Yes,” Graybeard-Me says. “Sudden heart attack, while you slept in that rocking chair, as the sun set, after a good meal. Great way to go. Me, I was stabbed to death by a student, one with whom I was having a very unfortunate affair, to my own detriment and demise.”

“I died in a car crash,” says Young-Adonis-Me. “I was driving. Drunk and high. Only have myself to blame. Luckily no-one else was hurt.”

“So, this is the afterlife? All me. Some sort of narcissist heaven?”

“More like purgatory,” says Graybeard-Me.

“Yeah, old professor-me is a real bore,” Young-Adonis-Me grins. “Everything is philosophy with him. Dry as dust.”

“And this young me is an immature dolt,” says Graybeard-Me, but he has an affectionate glint in his eyes, “and a bit of an asshole at times.”

“I don’t get it. How can you be me? And you? And them? How can all of you be me?”

“You always liked to read science articles,” Graybeard-Me says. “Multiverses. They’re true. Many-worlds quantum mechanics. That’s the way the world works, or rather the way the worlds work. Whenever we made even the smallest choice, or it was made for us by events outside our control, the universe split into another. There are infinite choices, so there’s an infinite number of us.”

“So you’re me from another world?”

“Yeah, I lived a bit longer, I made a little more money, and had a successful academic career.”

Academic. Graybeard-Me’s hands are soft, perfectly manicured nails. My hands are rough, calloused, the hands of a working man.

“So, where are we? And don’t give me the philosophical answer.”

“Best as we can tell,” Graybeard-Me says, “we are on a vessel taking us to the final destination at the end of time … we assume. But maybe there is no destination. Maybe there is no end of time. May this is all there is for eternity.”

“At least we’re entertained, when entertaining new arrivals,” Young-Adonis-Me says.

“New versions of us keep popping up every once in a while,” Graybeard-Me says.

“Let me get this multiverse thing sorted out in my mind. How can you be older than me, but you showed up in this place before me?”

“We don’t know for sure,” Graybeard-Me says. “There’s no-one to ask, other than myselves, so it’s all speculation. One option is that somehow time is relative across universes, ticking at different speeds. The other option is that this place is outside of time and whoever’s running the show has their own reasons for the order of our arrivals. That’s my vote. Our new arrivals seem to fit a pattern. You, for example, arrived at just the right time.”

“But we really are all … me?”

“Yep, same mom and dad,” Young-Adonis-Me says. " Same sister. Well, some of us didn’t have any siblings. And some of us had several brothers and sisters. But most of us had Jenny."

“But Jenny’s not here?”


“No mom, dad, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, friends, lovers, spouses, pets?”

“Just us,” Young-Adonis-Me says. “All me.”

“For how long?”

“Some of us have been here for hundreds of years,” says Graybeard-Me. “I myself have been here for about twenty years now.”

“Let’s go back to something you said just a minute ago. You said that I arrived at just the right time. What do you mean?”

“We need your unique skill set right now.”

“You need a furniture-maker?”

“No, your prior career.”

“Oh, why?”

“There’s been,” Graybeard-Me lowers his voice, “a murder.”

“And there are no other burned-out alcoholic ex-detectives among myselves?”

“No detectives of any kind,” Graybeard-Me says, “burned-out, alcoholic, ex-, or otherwise.”

“The scene of the crime is in here,” Young-Adonis-Me says, motioning me over to a steel door.

We enter a large room with wood paneling and a lit fireplace. There’s an oil painting over the fireplace, a portrait — of me, of course, a me that is dressed in red foxhunting attire: scarlet coat with brass buttons, white breeches, black boots.

This me from the portrait — or at least a me dressed in the same scarlet coat, white breeches, black boots as in the painting — is sprawled on the carpet in front of the fireplace. He looks dead, but I take a knee and check the pulse just to be sure. Yep. Dead. Corpse-Me.

There are three of them seated in tufted leather-upholstered chairs around Corpse-Me.

One is quite old, completely bald, no eyebrows — but making up for the hairless surfaces by what’s sprouting from the nooks and crannies of nostrils and ears — rheumy eyed, age spots on pale, wrinkled skin, but still unmistakably me. Oldster-Me.

The second is big, bear-like, with shaggy brown hair and beard, broad shoulders, big belly. Bear-Me.

The third is a willowy teenager, face still growing into his big nose. He has acne, a puberty mustache, and his Adam’s apple seems too big to fit into his skinny throat. I remember that phase all too well. Teen-Me.

“Let’s start with the obvious,” I say. “Does any one of you wish to confess to the murder?”

“I did it,” Teen-Me says, voice breaking.

“I killed him,” Bear-Me says.

“I murdered the bastard,” Oldster-Me squeaks in a high pitched voice.

“You all killed him together?”

They shake their heads in unison.

“No, just me,” they all say, in one voice.

“Well, two of you are lying. Or all of you are lying.” I turn to Graybeard-Me. “So, here’s how this is going to work. I need three rooms, one of them in each room, by himself.”

* * *

I start with Teen-Me.

“It kind of sucks, I suppose. Being you.”

He gives me a flat stare, all teenage attitude.

“I mean, being a pimply teen for all eternity. Must suck.”

He shrugs. “Beats being a washed-up drunk.”

It’s my turn to shrug. “How long have you been here anyway?”

“I lost track. Hundreds of years. I was only the second of me to arrive.”

“Really?” I lean forward. “Who was first?”

“Him.” He hitches his thumb over his shoulder.

“Foxhunter? Corpse-Me.”

“Yep, when I woke up in this place it was just him. Then, the next day, old me shows up, the one you have in one of the other rooms. Then we were three. A few weeks later, the big, burly, beardy me.”

“The original four?”


“So, what took you so long?”

“What do you mean?” Teen-Me asks.

“You didn’t kill Foxhunter for hundreds of years, then suddenly you did. Why not earlier?”

“He drove me crazy. Something about the way he looked at me, how he talked, even the way he breathed, it got on my nerves, day after day, year after year, decade after decade. Finally, I had enough.”

* * *

Next, Oldster-Me.

I cut to the chase: “Why’d you do it?”

“I felt threatened.”

“In what way?”

“He was threatening.”

“You mean, he said he would harm you?”

“Not in so many words,” Oldster-Me says. “But I could tell from the looks he gave me. So, I got him first.”

* * *

Finally, Bear-Me.

“He kept taunting. Pointing out how much more successful he’d been in life.”

“Compared to you?”

“Yeah, we were just one degree separated, you see. One decision when we were young men, one choice, and from that one choice, he went on to become rich and famous, and I went to prison. Eventually I drank myself to death. He just wouldn’t let it go. I couldn’t stand him any longer.”

“Just out of curiosity, did you have a sister?”

“Jenny, yes.”

“And she lived?”

“Sure. Jenny helped get me back on the straight and narrow. Except, she didn't know about the drinking. I kept that hidden, until it was too late. How 'bout your Jenny?”

“In my world, Jenny was killed,” I say. “Serial killer.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Thank you,” I say. “But I got him, the killer, lethal injection.”

“At least for that.”

* * *

“So,” I say to Graybeard-Me. “They’re sticking to their stories. Each one claims to be the killer, the only killer.”

“Covering for each other creates an ethical dilemma,” Graybeard-Me says. “Who do we punish? If we punish all three, we’re punishing two innocent souls. If we punish none, then a guilty man goes free.”

“I think there’s another option. Let me try.”

* * *

Teen-Me again.

“Did you figure it out from the beginning?” I ask. “That he wasn’t really the first one, I mean.”

Teen-Me is taken aback, flushes red. I know I’m onto something now. He catches himself.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Here’s the way I see it. Three supposed killers, and you’re all covering for each other. Why? What do you all have in common? All three of you were there at the beginning. With him.” I lean forward. “What gave you the clue? He must have done a pretty thorough job cleaning up the evidence, getting rid of the bodies. But maybe he left something behind. A button from a shirt? Some hair on a comb?”

“Something like that,” Teen-Me says.

“So, when you came to in this place, he lied, said he was the first one, the only one, when in reality he had killed off everyone else. All the other myselves that were there before you, who knows how many. He killed them all.”

“That’s right. But we never let on that we knew. We just kept a close eye on him. He must have sensed it, because he was very careful. It took us a long time, until now, to figure out how he did it.”

“How he did what? Kill?” I feel like a fool. “Oh, that’s right. We’re all immortal now, aren’t we? So how do you kill someone who is already dead, someone who can’t die?”

“Exactly. It took all this time before we were able to figure out how to kill one of us.”

“How to kill an immortal soul. And then to dispose of the body,” I said. “Because he must have. When you woke up in this place, there wasn’t a pile of dead me-bodies. They were all gone.”

“Yes, that’s part of the trick.”

“So if you figured out the trick, then why didn’t you make his body disappear?”

“We didn’t have time. We were going to do that next, but—”

“Someone walked in on you. Bummer. But it was pretty clever, each of you confessing like that. Stalemate. Tell me, did you all do the deed together or just one of you?”

“Just one of us. But I’m not telling who.”

I laugh. “Don’t worry,” I say. “Your secret is safe with me. Sounds like one of you did the rest of us a favor. It wouldn’t be a safe place, in the long run, with him around.”

“You understand.”

“I do. So, what’s the trick? How do you kill an immortal soul and dispose of the remains?”

“Why should I tell you?”

“Trust me, I’m a cop. I’m here to protect and serve.”

* * *

“I tried,” I say to Graybeard-Me, “but they’re sticking to their story.”

“So, what do we do?”

“We can’t prove who did it, so we have to let them go.”

He scratches his beard. “You’re right,” he says. “Both legally and ethically that is the only way.” He motions to Young-Adonis-Me. “They’re free to go.”

Young-Adonis-Me opens the door to the room where Teen-Me is sitting.

Except … Teen-Me is not there. The room is empty.

And in each room, it’s the same story.

All three have vanished.

* * *

Yeah, I’m a cop. But, in retrospect, if I were to advise Teen-Me, I shouldn’t have trusted me.

You see, back in the world, when I was alive I wasn’t a good cop. I was, in fact, a very bad cop.

And Jenny, my sweet, innocent sister, she found me out. And, so, I killed her. Then I planted the evidence that convicted an innocent man.

As I said, I was a bad cop.

But Teen-Me was gullible. He revealed the trick to me. To me! How perfect is that? So now Teen-Me is gone. Along with Oldster-Me and Bear-Me. I took care of them, one by one.

I don’t know why Foxhunter, Corpse-Me, killed all the ones who were there with him originally. Maybe he had his reasons, or maybe he was just like me.

I don’t need reasons. I like killing.

Now that I know the trick (it’s amazingly simple, like snapping your fingers, like whistling, once you know how), this place is heaven for someone like me, a serial killer.

I’ll take care of that too-pretty-boy Young-Adonis-Me next. Who needs a perfect, young version of oneself around? It’s just irritating. Yes, I’ll start with him.

I’ll leave Graybeard-Me for last. I quite like hearing him babble on about ethics, good and evil, right and wrong. Hilarious. What a joke.

Where are we? Where are we going? Why are we here?

Who cares, all I know is, there’s an infinity of me, so I have my work cut out for me. I’ll snuff them all out.

I will be the last me standing.

October 21, 2023 03:30

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Mary Bendickson
17:05 Oct 24, 2023

Now that could get quite confusing!🤣


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Annie Persson
18:55 Oct 22, 2023

Very interesting. I like the "Greybeard-Me" character, he's quite funny. That was a thought-provoking read, Really good.


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Chris Miller
21:08 Oct 21, 2023

A very interesting idea and a good story, Geir. Serial suicide could give rise to some seriously dark humour and lots of philosophical musings. I think I saw a typo - advice/advise.


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04:01 Oct 31, 2023

It was a little hard to follow. Alternate universes, sliding doors, and serial suicide all rolled into one. You thought it out well. Love this sort of story.


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