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There I was, sitting in a chair I had never imagined I’d have to sit in. In front of me lay a table with the sole purpose of facilitating the inevitable conversation I was about to have with an officer from the Princeton Police Department. ‘Being late has to be part of their interrogation strategy,’ I told myself.

The squeaky, wooden chair I was resting on had a slight wobble to the sides.

“Is this supposed to be a means of venting uncontrollable pains, or is it simply used to detect lies?” I asked him as he entered the room.

“It’s neither. The government spends millions of dollars to land some guys on the moon, but has no plans to invest in some new furniture.”

“That’s why we’re not relying on the state back at the university.” My cordial answer was irrefutable proof of how terribly unaware I was of the reason I had been arrested.

“Let’s get to the point, Mr. Garley.”

“Please, call me Nick,” I said, figuring how they were going to let me go after a constructive set of questions and answers.

“Okay, Nick. From what I gathered, you’re 46, and you’re a professor at Princeton where you teach some sort of physics. Is that correct?”

That was the moment it struck me. In there, in that one room, I was nothing more than a guy teaching some sort of physics, and the whole thing was shaping up to be more serious than I had initially conceived.

“Yes,” I said, trying to keep that feeling inside.

“Now we know that you’re a very respectable figure around here, especially among the students, but we have reasons to believe you’re involved in criminal activity…” He had barely finished when I interrupted him.

“Pardon me?” I asked him completely amazed.

“Listen—before we get into more details, I want you to try and explain the kind of experiments you used to do in the basement of your house. And don’t try to hide anything; we found your equipment thrown away in the trash.”

‘They had a warrant to search my house,’ I thought, slowly starting to feel the gravity of the situation. “Let me put this briefly. The kind of experiments I was doing when I first began were not promising enough to waste university resources on.”

“Okay. Go on,” he told me without breaking eye-contact.

“Well, a few years back, I found something that I was sure would change the way we understand particle physics.” Right there I came to a point where I knew I had to tell him about my discovery. “What I had discovered was a particle smaller than any lepton or quark—orders of magnitude smaller, in fact. Furthermore, something particular I’ve noticed about them was how rare they were in comparison to every other particle in the samples I’ve measured.”

“But,” I stopped, realizing how I was going astray. “Of course, I know you’re not here to listen to any detailed descriptions. What you’re here for are the experiments, but to get there I have to tell you about three important properties. The first is that these particles do not appear to be influenced by matter in any single way, as they can easily pass through everything. The second one is that they align around atoms inside of weak magnetic fields and are completely stationary in strong ones, permitting the creation of theoretically perfect moulds of anything you can imagine.”

“Including humans?” he asked, his question leading to an involuntary spasm and a subsequent squeak from the old chair.

“Yes, including humans. But what can someone do with a mould that cannot be observed not to mention filled? This is where property three comes in. When hydrogen gas reaches the particle-loaded strong magnetic field, it breaks and forms all missing atoms. I had the perfect cloning device. What was missing was just a high enough concentration of these particles, as I was able to clone just a few thousand atoms without it.”

“But you didn’t stop there, did you?”

I could almost feel him pressing me to tell the whole story. His voice, his gaze, his look, all fighting towards the same goal. I never would have thought that a simple police officer in the quietest of rooms would be so effortlessly capable of outsmarting a university professor in such a small amount of time.

“Two years. That’s what it took me to find a way of increasing the concentration to satisfying levels. During these two years, my mind had nothing else to nurture its excitement on, apart from the idea of cloning virtually everything. This was a week ago.”

“What did you try to clone until you gave up?”

“I started with a thin foil of gold, and, after just a few minutes, it was done. A perfect copy. I continued with a fully charged battery. That worked too, voltage levels intact. A ticking clock with the clone ticking just as lively. I was way too excited, I could barely keep it inside. I had to clone myself.”

“Did you go with it?” His excitement, although cloaked, was given away by his pupillary response.

“I did. I used a timer to turn on the magnetic field when I was inside, and, as soon as that happened, I fainted. The first thing I remember is waking up in the spot where the clone was supposed to be and no one on the other side.”

A short silence followed, broken by his then low and sluggish words.

“The reason you were arrested, professor, is because someone left a very compelling complaint against you,” he said while slowly pushing a photo towards me. “He was almost dead when we found him near Lake Carnegie.”

I was trembling, and as my hand reached the photo, I noticed the bruised and bloody face of a man whom I could terrifyingly recognize as being by all odds myself.

About the Author: 
Aspiring human working towards the usual goal of bettering myself.