I was a real man, of sorts, with scars tapering down from cheek to chin, and eyes of unpredictable intent. Dressed like an actor from one of those western flicks, maybe a cowboy, I-that-was-him snapped a rusty pocket knife open and closed – a nervous tick for a calm man – as he flicked his eyes from me-the-mechanic to me-the-head-doctor.
Me-the-head-doctor had lost even if he hadn’t yet realised. He, that is to say he-that-was-I, had started strongly enough. If you met yourself, or a very near replica of yourself, then it must be a dream. An unconscious desire. Then there had been more, of course, something about mind-body or maybe it was body-mind but that had been less intelligible. His mistake, like many-of-me-that-are-head-doctors, had been to trust the esoteric. To confuse is to win. Superior knowledge is superior. He who knows all, wins. Me-the-mechanic was having none of it.
“What did you call it again?” said me-the-mechanic.
“An unconscious opiate, a mind pattern, the common dream of illegitimate fancy. I’ll explain it to you, should your education every permit it,” said me-the-head-doctor, taking off his glasses to punctuate his clever little insult.
Me-the-cowboy joined the argument, moving faster than you would think. He pressed his knife to the throat of me-the-head-doctor, its rusty blade not so dull after all. “So, if this was a dream,” persisted me-the-mechanic, delighted to have the advantage, “then it shouldn’t matter what the cowboy does with his little pointy friend, does it? He stabs you, you die, and it don’t make a spit of difference.”
“If this were a dream – however I do concede there may be multiple points of view.”
“How magnanimous of you,” said me-the-mechanic.
The men relaxed, not sure what to do with themselves now that the argument was settled. It was all very me, of course. That was the point. They were the road not taken. Collapsed singularity points of quantum fluctuations. Parallel dimensions, in layman’s terms. Almost Me’s, for anyone else not truly following along. I had built a machine, and they were it’s creation.
Ironically, “Gentlemen, you’re not dreaming” were the last words I said before proving myself wrong, and waking up.