Things quickly get out of hand when a man finds himself duplicated...
Glum was the only word to describe George’s mood as he stomped through Shoppers, looking for the hair section. He had just cancelled his trip to Morocco. He had been looking forward to spending his extra few days after the business was over taking in the sights in the ancient pirate city of Rabat, haggling cheerful vendors in exotic markets, and maybe, if he was lucky, going for a camel ride in the desert. But now that was all over before it had even started.
But it was for a good cause. His mother in law had gotten really sick, so his wife was leaving tonight to go stay with her. Someone had to look after the kids, and he certainly couldn’t do that if he was off gallivanting on the other side of the world.
George spotted a wall containing brightly coloured boxes with pretty women on them, which was punctuated by samples of different coloured fake hair. Hair dyes—he was getting close. Hair ties, hair clips, hair straighteners—ah! There they were, right down on the bottom shelf. Hair driers. He picked up a few boxes to compare prices and features. “New: ionized hair dryer!” one proclaimed. “Compact travel hairdryer” read another. After a few minutes, he picked out the cheapest one—not ionized, (whatever that meant,) put it under his arm and made his way towards the checkout. His wife’s ancient hair dryer had coughed, growled, and given up on life that morning, adding greatly to her stress and prompting George to volunteer right away to buy her a new one.
He was passing through some sort of miscellaneous isle when he spotted something odd. Hanging from a hook all by itself was a small item in plastic packaging that read in bold yellow letters; “Get more out of your life!” Vaguely intrigued, he picked it up and read the smaller print; “The fail proof kit for multiplying your success.”
He shook the box a little and could feel something moving back and forth inside. $1.99 was how much it cost.
George was actually quite satisfied with his life. Of course, things can always be better, but he was happily married with two cute kids and a steady job and George wasn’t one to ask too much out of life.
But this was just too amusing and he was very curious to find out what was in the box. Besides, he reasoned, $1.99 is not much to pay for a good laugh. So he carried it with him to the checkout.
George made mistake of opening the little package while on lunch break at work the next day. It had been so hectic at home, with his wife getting ready to leave, and Maggie, their seven year old daughter, crying uncontrollably because she would miss her mommy, and Stephen refusing to get off the computer and clear the table, that he’d completely forgotten about the kit until he was finally going to bed. And he was too tired by then and not in the mood. So he’d tossed it into his lunch bag the next morning, thinking he would tackle it at lunch.
George was alone at table in the cafeteria that day because most of his friends had decided to go out for lunch and he had been in a thrifty mood when they asked him to join them and turned it down. Besides, he had brought some delicious homemade chicken soup left over from dinner the night before, and he was looking forward to eating it.
It took him almost five minutes to get through the hard plastic that encased the cardboard box and he had to resort to cutting through it with his Swiss Army Knife blade. They didn’t make containers very customer-friendly these days. Once through the plastic, it was easy to open the cardboard box. A small shiny gold dial, about half an inch thick and the size of a large coin, fell out onto the table, along with a folded slip of paper—the instructions, he presumed.
Disappointingly, there wasn’t very much text on the paper. He had been hoping for a lot of ridiculous mumble jumble that would make him laugh. Instead, all he got was this: “Instructions. Turn the dial clockwise, as many times as you would like your success to multiply. Will only work once. Warning: all results are irrevocable.” That was it. Weird, and dumb. Feeling a bit annoyed, George spun the little gold dial clockwise a number of times—he didn’t count how many.
“Where did you come from?” asked somebody, all of a sudden, and from very close by. George jumped slightly, dropping the dial, and looked up. He did not believe what he saw. Sitting across from him was an exact image of himself. And next to that image was another one, and standing behind them were two more copies. He turned to see yet another one sitting beside him, and two more standing behind him to the right and left. Each of the Georges were holding, or had just dropped, a small golden dial.
George’s jaw dropped pretty low at that moment. “I must be seeing things,” he said, and closed his eyes very tight. He wrinkled up his eyelid till they hurt a bit then he opened them again—one at a time, and his duplicates were still there, some of them opening their eyes, as if they had been trying to do the same thing. He looked about the cafeteria nervously to see if anyone else could see all the duplicates of himself.
“Oh no,” said one of the duplicates.
There was complete silence in the cafeteria and all eyes were fixed on George’s table. Everyone was gawking and looking excessively surprised.
“Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” The George sitting next to George asked a skinny guy at the table over.
“That depends on what you’re seeing. I see seven people who all look identical standing and sitting where there was only one just a moment ago.”
“Than this is all real?” said George, mostly to himself. He still didn’t believe this. It must just be some sort of strange nightmare. He pinched himself. It hurt, so he was probably not asleep, although you could never be too sure. He then felt his forehead: maybe he was sick and was hallucinating this. But he felt fine.
“What am I going to do?” said one of the Georges, a look of hopeless confusion on his face.
George looked back down at the instruction paper. “Multiply my success?” he muttered. “Seems to have multiplied a lot more than just that.”