Multiple Selves Management, or: DoppelgangBang
Slaughterhouse Paul is hanging late at Nikolaiâ€™s, with the only other soul being Nikolai himself, who pauses between glass washings to sip vodka from a shot gripped with thumb and index, soapy water dripping from extended pinky, suds obscuring gaudy pinky-ring.
Paul’s elbows: on bar, mostly rooted but occasionally scrambling for purchase. Paulâ€™s sweaty soggy face: propped up by the heels of his hands. Paul’s eyes: crossing and uncrossing. Getting his focus to affix to anything is like forcing repellent ends of magnets together. Paul sways on his bar stool and his only coherent motor activity is his nearly ceaseless jack-jawing. Not that his thoughts are especially coherent, but his cadence and pronunciation have the clipped precision of someone trying too hard at emulated sobriety. His thoughts themselves: oily.
â€œEverything quantifiable can be a dimension. Einstein realized this with respect to time. Further, some dimensions are interdependent. Einstein realized this with respect to space and time, unifying them into a single multidimensional manifold: spacetime. See, the deal is this: there is no way of measuring time without moving crap around in space and no way to measure space without moving crap through time. Now listen up: Evil is to will what time is to space. Got me?â€
Nikolaiâ€™s eyes remain affixed to the televisionâ€™s silent flicker-show, and his indulgent responses may just as well be for the benefit of the pixilated actors as for his blasted patron.
â€œYes, my friend. I got you.â€
â€œNikolai, Iâ€™ve told you about how I came to be electrophobic, eh? Even though my lesser evil twin is not?â€
â€œYes, my friend. Many times. You once tried to have sex with a being of pure energy. It took the paramedics several hours to remove your ‘extension cord’ from the wall socket.â€
â€œThat was an act of will, Nikolai. Pure will. I know thereâ€™s no such thing as a being a pure energy. I couldnâ€™t believe that for a second. But to act in accordance with the opposite of belief, this is the purest act of will. A greater leap than a leap of faith. A leap against faith.â€
â€œYes, my friend.â€
“And I mention, somewhat to convey genuine information and somewhat just to exercise for my ego certain elements of my personal mythology concerning what a BAED (=Bad Ass Evil Dude) I am, that I have killed several of my temporal doppelgangers. Several of my evil twins.”
“What if you eat your evil twin’s brain?” Nikolai asks as if he didnâ€™t know Paul knew he would.
“What makes you think I havenâ€™t? Yes, I have eaten the several brains of my several slain selves. And not because I wanted to, Nikolai. No, my basic narcissism encompasses my doppelgangers, they are much more a part of me than my own children could be, than even my clones. And I no more feel the urge to kill them than to kill myself. I kill them precisely because I don’t want to. To act contrary to desire is, again, an expression of pure will.”
“Hrm” says Nikolai.
â€œNow,â€ says Paul â€œthe Reflexologists don’t grasp this at all, the whole will thing. At least, they don’t want to grasp it.”
Paul’s eyes are barely open now but he keeps up with his drunken ramble. As many droplets of spittle as words fly from his mouth and neither set of mouth-borne projectiles add up to any thing especially coherent. Paul is attempting to relate Reflexology to the concept of a reflex-arc. The phrase “Stimulus and resonse” is thrown in there. So is the phrase “Psychology without thinking.” The names “KarenA” through “KarenD” are thrown in there. So is the name “Behavior Girl”.
Paul’s watched each of the Karens slip increasingly deeper into reflexology and increasingly away from an allegiance to the will. And deeper into the uglier ends of time-travel abuse. Where the Paul/Petes have used time-travel pills as an amplification of will, the Karens have used them as an escape from it.
Nikolai hates reflexologists. “Health freaks” Nikolai says. “Bad for business. I don’t mind time travelers. Good for business. If someone likes a bar, then their temporal doppelganger will too.”
“Urp,” says Paul.
“Though,” says Nikolai, not quite slamming his drained shot-glass onto the bar-top, “there have been a few nasty incidents, mostly involving which of various future selves actually had to pay an exponentially expanding bar tab.”
“Ahhhh, fuck” says Paul as he falls off of his bar stool.
Next Episode: The Collect Cthullian MongsterZ Project
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