This story originally published at http://madscientistjournal.org/2016/05/an-introduction-to-emotional-scarcity-in-an-induced-multiperson-organism/ only a partial version is available online with original publisher.
Rights have reverted to author. Published here. Image rights were purchased directly from original artist for use by Alexander Hollins
Recorded account by Dr. Melissa Mariposa, M.D., Ph.D., Psy.D. (deceased)
Recovered and Transcribed posthumously from a standard Everitech Labs Neural Recorder by A. Hollins
Art by Luke Spooner
I gripped the railing tightly, feeling knuckles crack as I looked at the scene of destruction below. The catwalk swayed a bit as I looked, stared in horror, at broken machines, upturned desks, papers and books scattered. And the bodies; eleven of them, blood pooling, red smeared over everything, slowly drying to a dark brown. It was hard to believe, my gaze flicking from face to face, all the same, features familiar to me. A face that also adorned the man standing at my side.
“You … you understand, right, Melissa?”
I looked over at Dr. Zahia, the same face that lay forever unmoving below, copied eleven times, still living, twitching, in front of me. I watched him, that face twisting in emotions. Fear, doubt, loathing, worry, hope. I reached out to touch his shoulder, comfort him, but stopped short, the large drying patch of blood reminding me that he had been part of that scene below. And none of the blood was his. Or all of it.
I swallowed a few times to find my voice.
“No John, I don’t. I … Let’s go over this again. You had a flash of insight on the teleportation experiment, and came in on the weekend, without telling any of us. It worked, and you, of course, tested it on yourself.” I felt my eyes roll at that, and Dr. Zahia had the decency to look down in embarrassment. “And found that the teleporter we’ve all worked on for this last year was …” I waved at the carnage below us.
“A duplicator. Our attempts to destroy as we created was what stopped us. Abra kadabra.”
He paced away from me a few steps then turned back, the metal catwalk swaying slightly with his steps.
“And I thought, my god. How much work could I accomplish as a team of a dozen? It was glorious, we had a silent telepathy going, like worker ants building, calculating, creating together. And then … the day was over, and it was time to go home.”
He turned again, walking towards the wall as he talked. I followed close behind him.
“Who gets to be ME? Who gets to live as John, and who has to find a new life? I wouldn’t SHARE. Not even with myself. Could you, Melissa? Could you share your wife, your children, with a copy of you?”
He stopped in front of the platform that joined the catwalk to the rest of the building, several doors behind him as he turned again, pointing at me. “COULD YOU?”
I reached for the lump of my wedding ring involuntarily, hanging from a gold chain around my neck, and rubbed through my lab coat, feeling the large ruby heart.
“No, no I couldn’t.” As the words came out of my mouth, I finally understood. Yes, I could kill, even myself, to protect them.
He smiled sadly at me and stepped aside, the door now in front of me. “I know, that’s what you said the first time I asked you.”
“First time?” I blinked in confusion, then looked at the door as the knob turned. Realization came too late as I, the other I, flung the door open. She held a broken copper pipe over her head. I saw the glittering edges of the cracked joint as it whistled towards me, and then, I saw no more.
Dr. Melissa Mariposa has been a researcher for Everitech for nearly two decades, and is largely responsible for the creation of the Neural Recorder. Her recent death in a lab accident has been discovered to be a mistake, and we hope for a full and speedy recovery. She lives with her commonlaw wife of 10 years, Heather, and her children, Jacob, 5, and Stephanie M., 16, who is a member of the Everitech Junior Researcher League.
Alexander Hollins is a Junior Archivist in the Neural Recorder Archives, a natural talent at integrating with the recorded memories and providing transcripts of the events and details of laboratory accidents and sudden discoveries. He is married to a school teacher and has two children, Flint, 6, and James, 4.
Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.