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Doppelgänger

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
There are now enough of us: reincarnation is real.

Submitted: March 15, 2019

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Submitted: March 15, 2019

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“I don't want to die, Father,” I say to the priest, squirming on the plastic chair next to my bed.

Strange that a chaplain would be so squeamish. About heaven and hell, the baggage of his trade.

“This is the time to take stock of your life, to prepare for judgement, André .. ,” the priest says.

But I’m no longer listening. I’m thirty-four, a mathematician at the École Polytechnique. Success under my belt and so much more to give. I’m not minded to check out so easily.

“Thank you, Father,” I say, waving him away. He looks at me oddly, muttering something which sounds a lot like ‘denial’ under his breath.

So they send in the psychologist.

---

Dr P_ looks smart and businesslike. It’s pleasing not to be patronised for a change.

How is André feeling this morning? You are going to eat your porridge aren't you, or shall I be cross?

“Leukaemia, right? Terminal? How long do they give you? “

I decide to test him.

“It's Poisson. Mean survival time - as of today - five days.”

He doesn’t blink an eye.

“Like radioactive decay, huh? We'd better get a move on!”

“If I were seventy,” I explain wearily, “with all my creative years behind me, well it would be different. I'd be happy to mulch back into the biosphere, my work done. But, ..”

I wave weakly and helplessly,

“.. I'm just not ready to go.“

Dr P_ gives me a sympathetic look.

“Not much we can do about your personal Poisson process, I accept that. But reflect on this. Your personal extinction is really something quite different. Something considerably more tractable in fact.”

I may have looked confused. I certainly felt it.

The psychologist pulls up his tablet.

“I've got your details here. All those psychometric tests you did?”

He looks at me in mock admiration.

“IQ of 145, it says here. Not quite genius level but you must be one in a million.”

“1,300 in a million,” I correct him.

I'm beginning to warm to this guy.

“I'm looking at your five-factor stats now,” he continues. “Not so exceptional. A pretty normal personality for a mathematician.”

He leans towards me, suddenly more serious.

“Personal identity is a strange old thing,” he says. “Every night you turn yourself off. Every morning you reboot yourself. A new you for a new day.”

He holds up his hand at my skeptical frown.  

Where's he going with this?

“Listen. Hear me out. If you woke up tomorrow with amnesia, remembering nothing of your previous life, but still feeling some ineffable sense of you-ness, is it still you?

I nod, humouring him. I know such things have happened. It wouldn't be ideal, but .. .

"Sure. It’s not like you’re dead."

Dr P_ stands up.

“Approximately a billion people in the world have been sequenced by now and their results put online for research purposes. In my professional capacity I have ..  André, are you listening?“

I suppress a yawn. Always interesting to hear about a colleague's work.

In any case, he hadn't stopped.

“I want you to think about the test-retest box around your psychometric score. Sure, it's tight but there are a lot of people out there. We'll run the PGS algorithms but I can tell you right now with greater than 99% certainty.  

"You will have a doppelgänger out there somewhere.

"I'll get back to you later today."

---

Two days later a mathematics professor died at the tender age of thirty-four. It was remarked that his face had a peaceful expression, maybe even the hint of a smile.

---

It was another beautiful morning on the Ukrainian steppe as Katya left her parents’ cottage to cycle the ten kilometres to Institute 14, a school for those precociously gifted in mathematics.

On arrival, Katya logged in and opened an unexpected email. It was from Paris, France via anonymized routing. The author, a clinical psychologist, apologised for not being able to greet her properly - confidentiality required that he should know nothing of her identity or location in the world.

The message was simply for her information. A very promising mathematician, Professor André _ had just passed away, and the computers had identified her as being an uncanny match in personality and intellect.

There was a link to her mental twin's Wikipedia page.

No action was required on her part and there would be no further communication.

Katya, mildly curious, scanned the article and then filed the message. It was quickly forgotten as she hurried off to her first class of the day, in advanced statistics.


© Copyright 2019 AdamCarlton. All rights reserved.

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