George had always been quite an average guy. As a boy, he was no different than any other boy. He played football, climbed trees, grazed his knees. As a man, we was no different than any other man. He worked, he married, had children. At work, he was no different from any of his colleagues.
But this is just ridiculous.
He slumped at the back of the police car, his head in his hands. His skin felt awfully blistered and continued to burn as though the shelter of the car did not exist. The policemen threw one of them next to him. One of him.
So it was real. It must have been, surely. George was not the only one who could see himself, repeated again and again. The blonde woman could. The astonished police could. Well, George thought, 'astonished' was an understatement. They kept staring and jabbering away in their own language - which George eventually realized was indeed French - and having spent enough time in Morocco during the last few months, he was now almost certain that they were still there. Sept, sept! they continued to cry as they shoved them into their cars, two to each, apart from one of ... of him, who had the backseat of a police car all to himself.
They slammed the door behind George and spoke to the blonde, who still looked utterly horror-stricken. Poor woman, he thought. Then they got into the car and started the engine. As they pulled out of the parking lot and began to speed down a highway, George also put his head in his hands and together each of them muttered:
They looked up at one another and thought for a moment.
'Are you thinking what I am thinking?' George asked suddenly, sitting up with realization and sudden excitement.
'Are you thinking what I am thinking?' the other George gasped, flinging a hand to his mouth.
'I just asked you that.' George frowned.
'I do think we are thinking the same thing.' George said thoughtfully. 'We do seem to be the same person.'
They sat considering this for a moment, before remembering their recent comprehension.
'This means we've finally got away!' they exclaimed simultaneously, eyes filled with joy. George felt half as tired as he had a minute ago.
We got away!
'That was -' George began to explain.
'- the one that reads minds.' the other George finished.
The police men turned back to stare at George and George, bewildered.
Do you think it was the men from those black cars, before?
'That took us into the dark room?' George asked out loud, forgetting thatGeorge's special talent.
'Maybe. Doesn't explain what we had that they wanted, though.' the other George said thoughtfully, scratching his bearded chin.
'Well, we obviously have something - or I had something anyway, before you guys turned up.'
'Hey, I told you before, I was the original George!' George exclaimed, narrowing his eyes at the other George.
I think I've heard this argument before, George.
'Really? Do you think that might be because your psychic?' asked George, dripping with sarcasm.
I can't see the future, I can just read minds.
The sarcastic George made an odd snorting sound - or, rather, it would have been a snort had his mouth not been so parched and dry. In fact, they could barely speak with it. But they still did.
The other George, however, was sitting with his forehead pressed against the window, watching the bland streets flash past before his eyes. The cool glass provided him with momentary relief from his painful sunburn, as he thought...
Hey ... a few of me are thinking about something ...
'What?' asked Sarcastic George curiously.
The other George continued to think, his dull headache being soothed by the glass ... he looked down at the lump in his pocket, still cool against his leg ...
They're thinking about the dial.
'The Dial?' another George asked, looking down at his own, left pocket. He put his hand to it. It was still there ... cold and tantalizingly curious.
Thoughtful George sat up and withdrew the small dial and turned it over in his fingers. It glistened as it has done the first time he'd seen it, in the light flooding in from the window.
Could it be this?
Each George stared down at the dial now in their hands in wonder and deep contemplation, totally fascinated.
'Hey, d'you think this dial duplicated us?'
'Do you think this dial moved us?'
'Do you think that if we spin it ...?'
Sarcastic George and Thoughtful George stared at each other. The police were prattling on at them in a mixture of French and Arabic, repeating something about a 'tribunal', but they ignored them. They were like the background music to their thoughts.
If we spin it ...
Suddenly the policeman looking back at them stopped jabbering, and his eyes widened in shock.
'Ils ont disparu! Ils ont disparu!' he exclaimed to the driver, staring through the metal caged barrier between them and the back passenger seats in disbelief.
The driver gasped in astonishment as he turned around for a split-second to see that the men they had just arrested had gone. The policeman beside him suddenly cried out in terror and the driver turned his startled gaze back to the road just in time to see the van driving straight at them.
'Where are we?' asked George, squinting in the sudden sun.
'Oh, crap. Can't we stay in the same place for more than five minutes?!' said a George angrily, kicking at the dull sand beneath his feet.
'Yeah, and I've had enough of sand!' exclaimed another George, his hands curled up into fists.
'At least we got away from the police.' reasoned Thoughtful George before he had a chance to look around. His blood almost boiled with frustrated fury as his eyes met the sight around them. They were enclosed within the endless depth of desert once again.
'Wait ...' one of the Georges started, pointing at each of them in turn, a frown deepening across his forehead. 'Where's the other one?'
'Who?' several Georges asked at once.
'The other one of me, you idiots!' he replied angrily. 'Not going to be William Shakespeare, is it?'
'The psychic one. Where is he?' frowned the previously sarcastic George. 'Is he still with the police?'
One of the Georges groaned. 'Those cars had air con. Who spun that dial?' he demanded, turning his gaze irritatedly from one pair of eyes to another.
Three Georges raised their hands.
'Yeah, me too.'
Spin it again.
George lifted his head and snapped out of his aggravation. It was the missing George.
'Did you all hear that?' he asked the other Georges, who all nodded and murmured in reply.
Spin it twice.
Thoughtful George lifted the dial in his hands and looked carefully at it. There were no numbers. No letters. No hint of what this ... thing ... was.
He spun it twice, and suddenly he felt as though he were falling through a cold sheet of water again.