The Correction, by Kevin Vorshak


The air shimmered before him. Though unusual, the oppressive heat did do odd things to the concrete and asphalt in the large business complex. Part of him considered staying inside his air-conditioned office, but the desire for a cold salad won out. Jonathan expected that the shimmering air would stay before him just like the road mirages that he never seemed to catch up to. This time, it surrounded him, though he felt nothing. Then, it simply went away. He looked behind and all around, but saw no sign of it.

Just ahead of him, another man seemed to be looking around for it just as intently. Shrugging it off, he walked toward his office. The other guy seemed to also give up and headed toward him at the same time.

As the man neared, Jonathan felt goose pimples forming along his arms. He thought about those people who said everyone has an exact double somewhere in the world – a doppelganger. Jonathan only gave so much credence to that, but the man that approached him more than resembled him. The man looked to be a perfect replica of him. “Hey, what is this, a joke?” he said.

The man spoke at the same time, but Jonathan couldn’t understand what he said.

Jonathan tried wrapping his mind around it. This can’t be! Yet, the man he faced looked just like him, even, he surmised, to the look of bewilderment spreading across the other’s face. Jonathan went to step around, but the other man copied his movements exactly, and the almost collided with him. He felt his anger rise, felt he was being made fun of, but could not see how. This other him tracked each movement like clockwork. He seemed to do it without hesitation or thought. Jonathan couldn’t shake the feeling that this doppelganger didn’t struggle with the same thoughts.

He noticed that even the clothing matched. His twin wore the same style of new chocolate colored Rockports and Geoffrey Beene suit. Everything matched, right down to the patterned, olive and black colored tie. Recalling something, he looked to the shoes and felt disconcerted when the other him mimicked the movement exactly.

That morning, he scuffed the Rockport on his right foot on the cement steps leading to his house after letting his dog out. Not having time to buff it out, he just wiped it with a damp paper towel to remove what he could of the cement dust until later. The scratches, on the other Jonathan’s shoe matched perfectly.

Oh my God! This is not possible.

Looking back up, and again flustered that his actions were copied exactly, he studied the other’s face. As completely identical as they looked, Jonathan sensed a wrongness that he should be able to pick up on. He stared at the rosacea on the other’s nose, knowing it looked just like his, but felt an answer drifting along there, just out of his reach.

“What’s your name,” Jonathan asked.

The other spoke at the same time again, also appearing to ask a question. Again, he did not understand.

Ants crawled along Jonathan’s spine. He wanted to ask where this other him came from, but felt certain that this other would speak in that unintelligible language at exactly the same time. They started and stopped at the same time, but the words didn’t match.

Then Jonathan thought about the odd way the air shimmered. Thinking back, he didn’t recall seeing this other him before stepping through it. He didn’t feel anything, but it did seem weird how it simply went away after passing through it. Did the universe make a mistake? Physicists viewed it as a large equation, solvable with enough variables to plug into the right places. If so, maybe the equation is not without glitches. The question Jonathan pondered, though, was how would the universe resolve the glitch? So, whatever happened, whatever doorway opened, this other Jonathan stepped through at a time both made their way back to the office.

Or did he? He said he saw a shimmering in the air, but what does that mean? Maybe he stepped through into this other Jonathan’s reality. Maybe he was the one who needed to get back. The entire thing gave Jonathan a headache, and he couldn’t shake the thought that this other him struggled with the exact same thoughts. He just wanted to step aside, move on, and allow the universe to resolve itself. He feared, though, that they were stuck inside some kind of loop where he and this other Jonathan would just stand there and mirror each other’s thoughts and movements.


Then it hit him. Jonathan, and the other, each stared harder at the rosacea. He realized that the imperfection, though exactly the same, was opposite his – a perfect mirror image. He looked to the shoes and realized the scuff lay on the opposite foot. He opened the Geoffrey Beene jacket to the writing inside. The other did as well. The words written on the other’s looked just like writing viewed in a reflection. “Hey, I know what’s different now.”

As expected, the other spoke at exactly the same time. It occurred to Jonathan that it sounded similar now to a recording played backward.

They reached out, more perfectly timed than synchronized swimmers, to point out their findings. Jonathan’s right index finger lightly brushed Jonathan’s left. Pain ripped through their bodies as atoms met and annihilated each other. A miniscule singularity formed between them that pulled their bodies together. Both Jonathan’s opened their mouths in a silent scream.

Blinding light and a sudden shockwave from the explosion knocked passerby’s off their feet. A woman who witnessed the event screamed, pointing to the now empty spot.


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Posted in 2013, Fiction, Science Fiction
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