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A World Of Difference
A World Of Difference
By M.R. Leenysman
Copyright 2016, M.R. Leenysman
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This is the convoluted story of how I met my sister-me, and how we wound up married to one another. You’re probably already thinking, “What the fuck?” Just read, and if you still choose to judge, you can.
My name is Steven Mobley and I was born April 19th, 1994 in Denver to Jim and Catherine Mobley. I had what I expect is a fairly normal childhood as an only child.
Yes, only child. But you’re saying, “You just said you have a sister.” I do, sort of. We didn’t grow up together, and you would never guess why. It will get clearer soon, I hope. Or give you a frigging headache.
I graduated from East High School in Denver and attended Boston University where I majored in Mechanical Engineering. I was offered a job interview for April 22nd, the same week as my birthday, with a scientific research company in Burlington, a city north of Boston, called Carlson Labs. I wasn’t really looking to relocate to Boston permanently. I knew they had offices near Denver and several other cities, so I drove to the Friday afternoon interview, hoping I could transfer back home later, if I got the job.
Dr. John Wilkins met me in the lobby. “Hello, Steven, we’re so glad you could make it. Come, we’ve much to discuss.” He walked me to a conference room where three other people were seated. A PowerPoint presentation titled “The Bridge Project” was being displayed on a screen at one end of the room. The two men were introduced as Dr. Bruce Gower and Sam Tucker. The third person was a beautiful, skinny brunette who looked eerily familiar, around my own age, who was only introduced as Stephanie, while they only introduced me as Steven. I considered it a bit strange that they didn’t mention either of our last names, but took a seat next to her.
Dr. Wilkins started in on his presentation. “You have both been invited here under the pretense of a job interview, but that was a ruse. The real reason you are here is that without knowing it, you are both critical to a research project here that has been going on since before you were born. Let me explain.”
He advanced to the next slide which showed two Planet Earths, side by side. “Physicists have long theorized that any time multiple outcomes are possible for an event, all of those outcomes actually happen. Each one produces a slightly different version of the universe, separated by a short distance in a multi-dimensional space. The Bridge Project was our lab’s attempt to create a portal between our world and another parallel Earth.”
He advanced to the next slide, showing a bridge between the two worlds. Then he flipped to another which had a photo of a rectangular frame in the middle of a large room, with a shimmering surface spanning it. My mind immediately flashed to the Stargate series of movie and TV series.
Dr. Wilkins continued, “On July 30, 1993, we opened the portal, and all of our instruments showed that things were working as expected. Two researchers stepped through the portal’s energy field, yet we saw them come out the other side, as if they hadn’t gone anywhere. They walked back through it in the opposite direction, and we were sure there was something wrong. They walked through one more time, and walked around the frame to enter it again, and this time the energy field stopped them. We were talking things out when the same two researchers reappeared from the portal. Our world was the first to have two duplicates and has been known as Earth 1 ever since. It was actually the Earth 1 researchers who had decided to come back the way they came while we were unknowingly engaging in a conversation with their Earth 2 counterparts. We connected, however, to a world where not only did our lab also exist, but it was working on the same problem, and had succeeded at the same moment.”
“My Dad used to read superhero comic books that talked about an Earth 1 and Earth 2 that were parallel worlds,” Stephanie said. I remembered my own Dad telling me about the same comics. “It’s amazing that it’s actually real, but what does it have to do with us?”
“I’m getting there, Stephanie,” Dr. Wilkins said. “As the next several days passed, we determined that the two worlds appeared to have identical histories. They certainly were right up to the time of our experiment and were following the same trajectory, initially. We were afraid that our bridge may have actually caused the split, so we began looking for any differences at all preceding its activation. The worlds have diverged gradually since as other outcomes have differed. To our surprise, a large cluster of differences actually developed around Denver or people from there, more than from here. It has taken us a long time, but we are now 99% certain that the differences there originate with both of you.”
I blurted out, “Us? How? I don’t even know Stephanie.”
“You wouldn’t, that’s the point,” Dr. Wilkins answered. “She’s from Earth 2, and only Earth 2. She doesn’t exist here, and you don’t exist there. You see, you are both children of James and Catherine Mobley, born on the same date but on these two different versions of Earth. You were the only divergent births in the first 15 months after we opened the portal, of any nation where we have been able to compare the records. Given your birthdate, we hypothesize you two might have been conceived shortly before the bridge was opened. You would be two possible outcomes of the same moment of conception. One egg, surrounded by many sperm, and a different one succeeded in fertilization in each world, perhaps even being the creating event for the two worlds. It will take a DNA analysis to be sure, but we expect that genetically you are in between being identical and fraternal twins. You would share identical genes from what had been a single egg, but half matching, half not, from your fathers’ sperm, so we would expect to see approximately 75% of your genes in common, instead of 50% for normal siblings.”
“You mean Stephanie’s genetically my sister? Or is she a female version of me?” I asked, staring at her. She seemed as surprised as I was, but there was also caution on her face. No wonder I thought she looked familiar, I could see the resemblance to the Mom of my childhood, now.
Dr. Gower said, “It’s actually in between those two things. It’s not as simple as saying that she’s genetically identical to you except she has an XX chromosome where you have an XY. On every one of the 23 chromosome pairs, one half should be identical, coming from your mother, while the other half varies as a normal brother-sister pair would, including the X/Y difference. The same thing could have happened as two females or two males. Given that parallel worlds are theoretically infinite, all of those sperm succeeded somewhere.”
I chuckled, on the edge of nervous giggling, saying, “So I have a half-sister, half-me? A sister-me? Shit, my parents will freak out!”
I saw tears start to come to Stephanie’s eyes, and I immediately felt like I’d caused it, but didn’t understand how. “What’s wrong, Stephanie?”
She wiped away a tear, and took a deep breath, before softly saying, “My parents both died, last November. And now you’re telling me yours are still alive, and I’m somehow the difference that got them killed? My god, can I see them?”
Dr. Gower said, “You could, if we are able to go public with the project. We first need to determine the sequence of events. That’s why we needed to bring you both here, including bringing Stephanie through the portal so you could be in the same world to meet, to understand all this. While we have evidence that you two appear to be the earliest divergence between the two worlds, we must prove precisely whether your conception was before or after our opening of the bridge.”
Dr. Wilkins continued, “It is the difference between our portal bridging two worlds which had only recently split, but would have still been separate without the bridge, or being the wedge which split one world into two, possibly weakening them both. In addition to the DNA testing, we will perform some recently developed age tests on your cells to determine if your conception occurred before or after our test, and by how much time. If it happened before, it would be safe for us to continue opening new portals using higher power to reach worlds with greater divergence. If it was after, we must assume we caused the split. We would close the portals forever, and you’ll have to be back on the other side of it, Stephanie.”
I remembered a conversation from a few years earlier. “My parents told me once that they first made love the night of Mom’s 19th birthday. That would have been July 28th of that year, and they didn’t again until after they learned she was pregnant and decided to get married. Conception must have happened from that first time, but I realize that doesn’t tell you exactly when the sperm met the egg. Of course, if they had made love after the bridge opened, we wouldn’t need the test.”
Dr. Gower said, “We understand, your mother’s obstetrician recorded the same thing being said by your parents, and based her due date on that, in both worlds. If it said intercourse had been a later date, or even different dates in the two worlds, we would be looking at what might have happened differently in the days leading up to that. Except, we have found no earlier differing events. We simply need some proof that the worlds diverged before opening the portal.”
Stephanie said, “I’ll consent to the test. On one condition. The results of any DNA comparison between Steven and I must be completely confidential, and our identities not released to the public in any way. If my parents are dead in my world and not this one, how many others have had negative outcomes that turn out to have happened in only one world that they might try to blame on us? We’d be targets for them. No thanks. Let them believe it’s all due to randomness and quantum physics, which is the truth anyway. We will need signed statements to that effect, from both labs.”