A Prickly Fellow

This story was inspired by a photo taken from a collection of stock photos. Click here to see them.

IMG_1895 Chip had always been unusual. Even as a boy he’d been drawn to things that others found difficult to understand. The perfect example was the picture his mom kept of him embracing and sniffing a cactus. He didn’t remember if it was the smell or the way that the pressure of the spines against his skins. It wasn’t about pain. He’d never really pricked himself. Still, it was just odd. Or so people told him.

All of his life he’d had a hard time finding, making, and keeping friends. He wanted companionship and even people who could accept him for who he was often didn’t appeal to him at all. Eventually he decided that the best thing to do would be to make a copy of himself. He didn’t have any expertise in biology so cloning was right out. Technology wasn’t advanced enough to make an AI version of himself, so even that was out.

Ultimately, he decided that the only way to make it happen would be time travel or magic.

If there was anything that time travel movies told him, it was that meeting yourself led most often to disaster. That left finding a spell that would do the trick. This was where his oddness came in handy. He didn’t have an opinion one way or another when it came to magic’s existence. People that had strong feelings about its existence were often as strange as he was. He was able to find and make friends with them as a result. After enough networking with the oddments and outcasts, he found himself standing in the basement of an apartment in Turkey. Candles lit the room and a woman in little more than a bathrobe, her skin covered in arcane glyphs, chanted wall passing her hands over an ancient text.

This had been going on for an hour, when he started to feel an uncomfortable tingling in his chest. He would have been concerned, but Morgana, the bathrobe woman, had told him to expect this.

“The process,” she said in her unique and potentially faked accent, “is not easy or comfortable. You might pass out from the pain or from boredom. Don’t.”

He hadn’t been bored. She was attractive to look at and the more she passed her hands over the book, the more her robe opened. He was so glued to watching her at work that he failed to notice the air shimmering in front of him.

“What do you want?” His own voice asked him from beyond the veil rent in space and time.

His head turned and looked at himself. He appeared to be in good health and was of the same apparent age. “I don’t know how things are on your end, but in the process of looking for a friend I’ve never quite figured it out.”

He cocked his head at himself. “So you decided to try and find yourself?”

He shrugged. “I would hardly be the first one.”

“Is your intention to play with yourself, or just get to know yourself better?”

“More of the latter. Maybe if I truly knew myself I’d have less problem knowing others.”

“I can only hold this portal open for a few more minutes. Either you two will need to talk faster or one of you should join the other.” Morgana interrupted her casting for the recommendation.

Chip looked from her to his double. “What do you say?”

“I’m fine with staying on this side of things. I’ve got a lot of friends and my social calendar is full. You could come here I suppose.”

He considered his tone of voice and didn’t think he was being genuine with himself. “No, I think staying apart for now is the best course of action.” As much as he wanted to spend some time with himself, he didn’t want to run the risk of being stuck in a strange place.

He nodded. “Fair enough. Is… Is there anything you can recommend once I go home?”

He stroked his chin.  “No matter how easy or hard a thing might be, there’s always an opportunity to make things better for the next person. You should do more of that and less worrying about how you look to others. That’s always been what’s held us back, more so than the other things.”

The connection between the two halves disconnected.

“Your other self is a pretty smart cookie.” Morgana noted from her book.

“Let’s start here and now.” He extended a hand to her. “I’ll make you some pancakes and then we’ll see how I can make the world a better place.”

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