Friday, February 22, 2019

Books to Read, Stories to Write by Mark Joseph Kevlock

Mark Joseph Kevlock's character wants more time in the day, so he duplicates himself, with unintended consequences.

It was a pretty simple decision. There just wasn't enough of me to go around. So I had to make a duplicate. After all, I couldn't afford to fall behind in my schedule. There were books to read, stories to write.

Allyce wasn't as thrilled as I'd hoped she would be with my decision.

"I don't need another you," she said. "He'll just get in the way. I don't know why you think you need another you."

"Remember how we talked about if the days were twelve hours longer, how much more I'd get done?" I said. "Well, I can't figure out how to do that, so this is the next best thing."

We were out by the wishing tree, Allyce and I. Someone had cut off all of its branches. But it could still be used as a transmitter to the stars.

"I'm wishing that I'll wake up beside myself," I said.

"I guess that's better than beside someone else," Allyce murmured.

I went to bed at night like most people do and when the morning came I had me for company.

It was a big house, inherited from my parents, that echoed around Allyce and me. She was making breakfast when I introduced myself.

"Do you know who you are?" Allyce asked him.

"I'm me," he replied.

"And I'm me, too," I chimed in.

"Twin comedians," Allyce said.

We got along fine that first day. He remembered everything I did. He knew all that I knew.

"Are you, like, psychically linked or something?" Allyce averaged a question every half an hour.

"I don't think so," I said.

Allyce kicked me in the shin.

"Ow!" I said.

He didn't say anything.

"I guess not," Allyce said.

She was handling things well. We got the dishes washed and dried in record time with an extra set of helping hands.

"I'm going to write a story," I said.

"So am I," he said.

I had never written two stories at the same time. I thought it fascinating. Allyce didn't. She went to bed. Alone.

"I wanted to talk to you about something," he said after our stories were finished.

"You can confide in me," I said.

"Good," he said. "It's about Allyce."

"Go on."

"I think I... I guess I'm... sort of falling for her," he said.

Right then I wanted to strangle myself.

"You're being a fool," I cursed him.

But he didn't give up so easily.

"We are living together," he said. "And I've seen the way she looks at you."

"At me," I said. "Not you."

"But I am you," he said. "Standing naked in the moonlight, she couldn't tell the difference."

"Don't get any ideas," I warned him.

"I'm not trying to take her away from you," he said. "I just thought maybe we could share."

This one I had to think about before I replied. If my intention, in the end, was to reabsorb him into myself, once I had read enough books and written enough stories, then what did it matter how intimate his experiences were? They would all, ultimately, become a part of myself as a whole.

"Just stay the hell away from my girlfriend," I told him. "Or else."

The next morning, he and Allyce were already sharing breakfast when I came down.

"Did you read those early Stan Lee X-Men I gave you last night?" I asked him.

"Sure," he said.

"He's not some workhorse," Allyce said to me, "for you to get done all the things you want to accomplish every day."

"Excuse me, my dear," I said, "but that's exactly why he's here in the first place."

"You've really got a great body," he said to Allyce just as the toast popped up.

"So do you," she returned the compliment.

"So do I," I said. "Because that's my body. It's exactly the same."

"Oh, I don't know," Allyce said. "Maybe I should test that theory and find out for myself sometime."

Blatant flirting right in front of me!

Growing paranoid, I didn't dare leave them alone together after that display.

I couldn't concentrate on my reading.

I couldn't concentrate on my writing.

"Tonight, I'm working on a love story," he said. "It's about a handsome stranger who drifts into town and takes up with a lonely widow."

So now he was planning to kill me!

That night at dinner I had an announcement to make. "I think that this experiment has gone on long enough," I said. "It's time to pull myself together."

To my surprise, no one objected.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said.

"Me too," Allyce said.

Except that they were both looking at each other when they said it.

I understood, now. They were going to use me as their pawn. They were going to make love, through me, with my permission. Once I had him back inside of me, what would stop them?

"I'm onto your game," I said to them. "And I won't play. It's him or me, Allyce. You can't have both of us."

Allyce said nothing but a smile. I wondered about that but I let it go. Trust is the foundation of any good relationship.

He came to me late at night, up in the attic, under the skylight. The stars made a blanket of light upon the floor.

"I love Allyce," he said.

"What a coincidence," I said.

"We shouldn't be rivals," he said. "After all, we're brothers in a way."

I was going to say, "So were Cain and Abel," but that was such predictable dialogue.

"So were Cain and Abel," I said.

He sighed, bathed in the moonlight. "You needn't worry," he said. "I'm leaving town tomorrow."

"Alone?" I said.

"That depends," he said, "on Allyce."

"You bastard."

"If I'm a bastard, then you must be one, as well."

"Just shut the hell up," I said. "I can't stand myself right now."

He shut up. So did I. There was an old mirror over in the corner. And there was a new mirror right in front of me.

In the morning he was gone. But Allyce wasn't. She was right where she was supposed to be. Waiting for me with breakfast on the table.

"I'm sorry," I said.

"Feel sorry for yourself," Allyce said. "Not for me."

I suppose she was right. If you can't get along with yourself, you can't get along with anyone.

"I thought I saw you late last night," I said, "under the wishing tree."

"Maybe you did," Allyce said.

"May I ask what is it you wished for?"

"The same thing you did," Allyce said.

"Wait. You mean..."

"When I woke up this morning," Allyce said, "I was beside myself."

It didn't seem fair. What right did she have to make a copy of herself?

"Where is she?" I demanded. As if I didn't know.

"She left town," Allyce said, "with you."

"He isn't me," I said.

"Well, then, she isn't me, either," Allyce said.

"How could you do that?" I said. "Take something as unique as yourself and try to copy it?"

"Eat your breakfast," she said. "Before it gets cold."

6 comments:

  1. Funny story, very enjoyable! Great rhythm to the dialogue.

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  2. Witty and original and with a sharp point at the end. Very nice.

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  3. a very original and clever story with inviting and flowing dialogue



    Mike McC

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  4. If you can't get along with yourself, you can't get along with anyone. Sure enough. I can't stand living with myself, actually. Funny story. I mean, he was just trying to get more time in the day. Beware of what you wish for!

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  5. Good story, be careful what you wish for!

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