Entangled

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When Carl had woken up this morning, he knew who he was. He was Carlton Sylvester Lexington - an AMO Physics professor at a prestigious university who was hand-picked from a select handful of physicists by the government to act as a co-head of Project Leap. Carl had grown up in Virginia, married his high-school sweet heart, and bore a daughter who died of COPD at age seven. Divorce soon followed as did the death of his brother, a sweet boy barely out of college killed by a stray bullet on a hunting trip. Fate did not seem to like Carl, and Carl didn't like Fate much either, mostly because he didn't believe in it. He believed there were millions of possibilities of how his life could have turned out, but for some odd reason he was stuck with this version of reality.
Then he woke up. He awoke in a strange room in a strange bed in strange clothes - none of which were his own. A woman appeared and informed Carl that he was not Carl, but merely a copy. First laughter. Then confusion. Then anger. Then tears. Lastly, acceptance. Carl was not Carl, and that was that. The real Carl had been given a job that required him to be cloned, so came into existence the second Carl.
What job? The real Carl was going to jump. Carlton Sylvester Lexington was called in by the government because they had received a message. At first, all suspected aliens. After careful decoding and excruciating analysis, they realized this was not a message from aliens but from themselves, or rather, a copy of themselves from another place - another version of what could have turned out. Within this message: identification of the sender, the purpose of contact, blueprints, a request, and an explanation of how to reply.
Cloned Carl already knew all that. He also knew the blueprints were for a machine that could channel the power of entanglement between particles and allow a separate, third particle travel along the string that connected the entangled pair. It didn't seem so stupendous, we had created something similar here on this side years ago. But they had taken it further.
Carl didn't know anymore than that. What did the woman mean that his original was going to jump? He did not understand and did not want to understand. He did not wish to speak to anyone. He wished to be left alone with himself. So that is what they arranged.
"You're aware your life span ranges from eighteen to thirty-six hours."
"Yes, I'm quite aware," Carl snapped at his original self. "Cloning is not exactly rocket science."
"I'm just not sure what memory was properly replicated and what was not."
"They say only long-term, which means there is plenty of new information I am not aware of! What is this about you jumping?"
"You don't remember?"
"Apparently not!"
"Okay, sorry."
The real Carl sighed.
"You are familiar with entanglement?"
"Of course, I am!"
"Alright, listen. On the other side, they discovered that there is a natural bond of entanglement between two different versions of a person - a strong bond. In other words, I am naturally entangled with Carlton Sylvester Lexington in Dimension 2, as we're calling it of late, just as every single person is entangled with their other self on the other side of the universe."
Cloned Carl nodded. The idea seemed logical, if not obvious.
Original Carl folded his hands on his lap. "This will be the fourth attempt to send a person to another dimension riding the bond between two entangled individuals."
Cloned Carl sprung from his seat. "That's insane! The entangled individuals will be destroyed in the process!"
"Yes. That's where you come in. We've found that the clones of the same person on either side of the void share the same strong bond. "
Cloned Carl now understood. He slowly sunk back into his seat and stared at the ground.
"That is why you created me," he said, "You cloned yourself here and the other Carlton cloned himself on the other side. I am entangled with that other clone, and you intend to ride our bond to the other dimension - destroying both me and the other clone."
"I wouldn't put it like that. . ."
"Yes you would! I am you, remember? And yet you wish to murder me!"
"No-"
"Were the last four attempts successful?"
"No. During the first two attempts, they tried to jump to our side and failed. The last time, we tried to send someone over there and it was partially successful."
"Partially? You mean only part of them made it?"
"Yes."
"That means they died."
"Yes."
"Who jumped?"
"Jason."
Cloned Carl felt sick. This was insane. It was disgusting.
"And now you want to jump? You want to kill yourself along with me and another clone just like me somewhere far away? Why?"
"There's a chance I might make it. A chance."
"What good will it do?"
"They have discovered so much more than we have. They may have the answers to our world's problems and us to theirs. By doing this, we can help everyone take a step closer to solving the puzzle. And Carl-" The original put a hand on the clone's shoulder. "What better thing could we do with our miserable little lives?"

The clone of a man named Carl stepped into a dark metal chamber. He took a deep breath and allowed one single tear to roll down his cheek. As the metal whirred and invisible waves tore apart his being, he reminded himself there a was a chance that somewhere else far away he was out camping with his daughter and wife, and his brother was sitting beside them strumming his guitar.
Carl was reduced to nothing. He became a puff of particles floating in the air. He no longer existed - that is, assuming he existed in the first place.

About the Author: 
You know that girl playing football in the mud with all the guys? Yeah, that's me.