Things quickly get out of hand when a man finds himself duplicated...
Most of the Sahara desert is not much like in the movies—golden dunes of sand rising like mountains into the sun saturated sky. Most of the desert is just flat, dry, colourless and, above all else, empty. But despite this fact, George still felt like he was in a movie.
Where else do you get followed by people in black shades and black cars through a foreign city where beggars grab at your jeans and deeply tanned store owners hawk their wares under the dry sun? Where else are you forced to rent a little car that is so old it ought to be in a museum and drive through mountainous roads where nothing but a few bricks stop you from soaring ungracefully to your death, all the while trying to outdistance the dark-windowed cars that follow you like army ants across the barren peaks?
George wished that he was in a movie as he trudged, hungry, thirsty and footsore across the desert. He’d long ago traded his feul-less car for a mule and more recently traded the mule for food and water. And just like in a movie, the locals had thought that this American fool was a complete idiot. But sometimes you were willing be an idiot and put your life in danger if it was the only alternative to certain torture and death.
So George was thinking about how he wished this were just a movie and that the popcorn would soon be ready in the microwave when he tripped. He skinned his very dry elbow in landing and stood up with a grumble. As he did so, he heard somebody swear. Shocked, because he thought he was alone, he looked around quickly. There were six men getting to their feet with grumbles, groans and swearing, and all of them looked exactly like him. They came to their feet around him, in a rough jumble, all less than arm's reach away.
“That’s it,” he said, “I’ve lost it,” and so did all his copies, or at least they said something very similar.
The seven of them stood staring at each other, completely at a loss for words and generally convinced that the heat and the thirst had driven them mad.
George, (all of them,) looked down, to see what he had tripped on, and discovered something metal and shining in the sun, poking up through the dry dirt. He bent and brushed away some of the dirt, and two of the other George’s joined him. It seemed to be the corner of some sort of ancient machine. George kicked it and looked up, hoping the identical images of himself would disappear, but they were still there. And now his foot hurt more. The two copies of himself near him were also clutching their feet and wincing. He had not been the only one to kick the metal object in frustration. This was strange beyond his understanding of the word strange, and he was pretty positive it could only mean that he had, indeed, gone crazy.
Just then he heard a noise in the distance and he, along with all the other Georges, turned and looked to see a little black dot trying to out-drive its tail of dust and heading straight for him.
Sighing deeply, he began to run in the other direction. He figured that when he was caught, as he certainly would be, it might as well seem like he was still trying to run away, and not like he’d given up. All the other Georges began to run with him too, hopelessness written in their sweaty, dirty and sun burnt faces.