Mirror Image

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Alan woke up gasping for breath, and rolled out of the cryo-chamber onto the floor. The ship’s computer had raised the interior temperature to help with the reanimation process, but Alan shivered violently nonetheless.

“Good morning, Alan,” said the ship’s AI. “We’ve slowed to a maneuverable speed and will be approaching our objective in two days.”

Alan’s lungs hadn’t yet regained their normal capacity, but he still managed to gasp “Thank you, Mary.”

After ridding himself of the shock and the residue from the cryo-chamber, Alan sat in the ship’s captain’s chair, a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup in his hands. The steam fogged up his glasses as he greedily ate. “How long has it been?”

“1,329 years, 7 months, and 15 days.”

Alan sighed. He had had no idea how long the journey was going to be when he left his home; only that he was certain that anyone he knew, or knew of him, would be gone.

He stared out the front window. An insane theory had led him here, far between the stars. It was quantum entanglement: particles, even those separated by unfathomable distances, were intimately connected, and could transmit information instantaneously, faster than the speed of light. When acted upon through observation, a particle’s counterpart would act in the same way, in the opposite direction, like a spinning ball and its reflection in a mirror.

Then came his theory: that somewhere across the universe, there must be a mirror image of him, doing the same thing at the exact same time. He had to find him, and through a significant fortune obtained through various patented inventions, Alan developed the interstellar travel capabilities needed to cross the void.

If he was right, the mirror image was doing the exact same thing, and traveling through space to meet him, just as he was. What would he do when he reached the mirror? Was he the real Alan, or the mirror image? Were they both the real Alan? Quantum theory would support the idea that he could, in
fact, be in two places at the same time, entangled with his other self, moving closer and closer…

Two days later, Mary’s voice broke the silence. “It’s time, Alan. We are two hours from reaching our target. As our calculations have predicted, the other ship is slowing to a halt at an identical rate. I have been communicating with its computer, and we have been sending identical messages to each other.”

“I know,” Alan said, as he smiled. He laboriously pulled on his bulky suit, and stopped momentarily to look out the ship’s front window. The other ship was close, close enough to see that it was exactly the same as his own. Sealing his helmet in place, he stepped into the pressurization chamber, and closed the hatch behind him. He waited patiently as the air was sucked from the room, and the warning light switched from green to red. “Mary, I’m going out.”

The two men floated slowly toward each other, each tethered to their own ships. Alan could not overcome the surreal nature of what he was seeing. He had to keep reminding himself that he was not approaching a gigantic, ultra-clean mirror. Everything was reflected so perfectly. They were in deep space, between stars, with no reference points to help him.

Then it happened. The two Alans stopped just feet from each other, staring in amazement in perfect harmony. They stared for what seemed like hours, looking each other over. Both reached out a gloved hand, stretching outward to touch, to see if the mirror was really a wall of glass, or if their theories were true. Inches from making contact, Alan began to feel a vibration at the tips of his fingers. It grew steadily, and quickly, and then an intense heat began to burn the tips of his fingers. But still they stretched, until both hands touched in the exact same spot.

The two suddenly sucked into each other, and for Alan, time suddenly slowed, and he had what felt like years to think in an brief instant of time. “Of course,” he thought. “The atoms are coming together, the distance has been reducing for years and now it’s at zero. They’re fusing.”

As quickly as Alan had had the epiphany, the two men collapsed into a microscopic ball, and exploded in a colossal atomic explosion. Though it was billions of miles away, the light from the blast could be seen by the nearest star.

Alan opened his eyes. He was disoriented, but his memory quickly returned. He remembered seeing his other self, the touching of the gloves, the sudden white heat. Had he died? Was he in heaven? He floated, still in his suit, but it was not in the space he remembered. He looked around, but did not see his reflection. What had happened?

Then he heard, or felt, something speaking to him. It wasn’t sound that came to him. It was like hearing a voice in a dream, but the voice came from somewhere outside of his mind. It told him that he passed through, that he was in a place beyond his home. Alan’s heart raced as he realized what had happened.

The fusion of his atoms with his reflection’s atoms had created an atomic explosion and blown them both into atomic dust. They had become so small, and the concentrated energy of the explosion was so intense, that he had passed into hyperspace, and now existed in a universe of five dimensions. Alan could feel it now; he was everywhere and nowhere. He had done it. He had found himself, and found the next world.

About the Author: 
I live in Dallas, TX, and currently work in the insurance industry. I have been previously published, but am always looking for ways to jump start my writing career. I have an amateur interest in space and theoretical physics, and am obsessed with black holes.