Chapter 21: “This Isn’t That”
[Author’s Note: Today, sample a chapter from my upcoming thriller STILL NOT GONE, the 5th book in the NOT SO DEAD Series wherein Evan meets Evan.]
Frank tries to match the circadian rhythms of the real world in this virtual world we inhabit. So, when it’s dark back home where I used to live with Monica, it’s pitch black here except for the glow of our virtual computer monitors. And when the sun rises over Mount Tamalpais, the dome above us lightens and virtual clouds drift slowly across the horizon. I could swear I even smell roses. I appreciate all of Frank’s attempts to create a sense of normalcy here, but there’s nothing normal about it. I’m a bunch of ones and zeros trying to be human, dying to be human and go back home, back the way it used to be—Monica with her arms around me, Evan kicking a soccer ball in the front yard.
“Sam!” Frank shouts. “Wake up.”
“Huh? What are you talking about? We never sleep here.”
“Figure of speech. You seemed far away again.”
“This is a big day.”
“I know. I know. When’s it supposed to happen?”
Frank gazes at his wrist as if there were a watch there. “In fifty-four seconds. Here’s Evan now.”
My virtual Evan, my son appears. A big smile on his face. This is a welcome change. He’s been either sullen or wrapped up in video games since he got killed in that hit-and-run accident.
“I get to meet him, right?” Evan asks.
“That’s right. He’ll be here any second now,” Frank says.
I hold my breath. A hidden door opens in the rear of our dome. Bright light streams through, creating a halo around a human form. It moves towards us. Frank taps a few keys and the dome brightens to full sunlight and there he is… Evan2, the doppelgänger from universe D62x33(11). Like a clone, but more of an exact match. A clone is a genetic duplicate, but it doesn’t have the history or the personality of the original. It seems Evan2 may be a true doppelgänger with the same experiences, joys, and disappointments as my Evan, Evan1.
Evan2 walks past Frank and me and approaches our Evan. He stops six inches from Evan and stares into his eyes. Evan stares back. No words are spoken.
I look at Frank. He’s smiling. He puts a hand on my arm and whispers. “Don’t worry.”
Evan2 extends a hand. Evan1 looks down at the hand and then looks at his own hand, examining his palm, turning it slowly. Then he lowers his hand and takes Evan2’s outstretched hand. As soon as they fully grasp each other, the clasped hands seem to glow.
I can’t stand the silence and say, “Evan, meet Evan.”
Hands still clasped, their heads swivel towards me and they both say in unison, “I know.”
Sorry, but this is freakin’ eerie. I turn to Frank. “Now what?”
“Just wait,” he says. “You don’t matter in this equation. They do.”
Evan1 releases the handshake and turns to me. “Can he go back home in my place? Like, I mean physically?”
“If your mom agrees… uh, yes, I guess,” I say. “But don’t you want to ask him some questions? He’s like you, but he’s not you.”
Both Evans flash identical serene smiles. Evan1 says, “He is me.”
“But how do you know for sure?”
Evan1 laughs. “Remember the Vulcan mind meld on Star Trek?”
I take off my glasses and rub my eyes.
Now, Evan2 laughs. “This isn’t that.”
This isn’t that. None of this is that.
Catch up on my original fast-paced thriller NOT SO DEAD and the Sam Sunborn Series They are available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com
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