This is a book about myself.
If that opener sound egotistic, it's anything but. If anything, this is an exercise in humility. I'm not even sure I'll have the nerve to send this off when I'm done.
I'd have no trouble getting it accepted, I have no doubt of that. My name is already a household word. My work has been on the New York top ten list at least twice. My name was displayed in lights -- before it was dragged through the mud.
My name's been splattered in the worst way, and for a good reason. This isn't a denial, nor will I offer excuses. Reasons, maybe; that are not to be confused with excuses; but will never-the-less make the most self-righteous squirm (I know, because I've also been self-righteous in my time. Some may find that hard to believe).
I understand the reasons now, because I've literally come face to face with myself. And, I mean literally. You'll know, after you've read half of the way through, how so.
For now let's just say, the childish clich?, 'Me, Myself and I,' has taken on a new meaning.
Part One of this narrative is written by the 'myself' whom I met face to face.
It was a typical day otherwise -- so much so I don't even remember any specific events leading up to the one that changed it all.
For all I know, I could have presented the latest set of sales figures to the board meeting, or talked to the boss and his consultant about the details of some project or other. Otherwise, my recollection of it consists only of my general collective memory of all the days I spent at the office -- same greetings on arriving, same thing for lunch, same talk around the water cooler. Perhaps the details of whoever we were gossiping about could have varied, but nothing important enough to stand out. Nothing about that day does.
We creatures of routine are like that.
I was taking the exact rout home that I had walked for the past five years, clearing my mind of the problems of the work place so as not to burden Erin with them. She and my boss were mutually insistent that I not bring the problems of each other's jurisdiction into there's.
The rout I took from the one jurisdiction to the other passed through a dark alley. I prided myself in that. It was my link with London street life.
Erin would never walk it, nor Mimi (whom I went out with before falling in love with Erin). Nor would some of the boys at the office. Some said I was crazy.
I saw nothing dangerous about it. Sometimes there was a tramp sleeping amongst the cardboard boxes, sometimes a kid or two. I just walked briskly through, as though I had every business being there.
Once every blue moon, there was someone who looked as though they'd try to get a quid or two off me, but I'd look at them as I passed with the look on my face, neither slowing nor quickening my place, and they'd back off. After each incident, I was the more determined to keep to the same route.
But this day was when the ultimate break in my routine began.
I entered the usual way and walked on, maintaining my pace, looking straight ahead, not at the man I saw staggering to his feet.
But something made me look. He was remarkably like me, but somewhat dishevelled.
My fleeting impression was, that's me, having met something unpleasant in the dark alley.
He looked at me as though he were seeing a ghost -- as though I were the worst thing the alley could vomit up.
Next, there was the impression of walking into a vertical whirlpool.
That's exactly the impression I had, and still have. I whirled around a few times, and ended up on my knees. I picked myself up, looked about and actually saw the whirlpool.
Someone was coming behind me. I looked, and there I was -- or the man who looked like me, dressed in the same suit, looking groomed as I had a while ago, looking at me bemused in the same way as I had done before walking into the whirlpool.
I watched him go -- straight into the whirlpool -- he and it disappeared.
That was not a part of my routine.
It was a bit bothersome. Here was something I would have to fit into my sense of what was so and what couldn't be so.
I'm a realist. In my reading, I don't go for fantasy and science fiction. I write, sometimes, but I do literary fiction, sometimes historical -- about real things, stuff that happens to real people.
This didn't seem like one of those things, but the fact that it happened meant it would have to be explained.
I'd do that later. I certainly wouldn't mention this to Erin nor even Roary.
Roary McGreggor and I had been friends since primary school. He used to date Erin, and I, Mimi. Erin and Mimi had also been friends a long time. Then, Erin and I almost ruined it for us all by falling in love with each other. I almost lost Roary as a friend, and Erin almost lost Mimi. Then Roary and Mimi fell in love, and we were all friends again.
I'm certainly glad I married Erin and not Mimi.
So, I finally arrived at home, walked up the steps, unlocked the door, and yelled, 'I'm home, Luv!'
I noticed she'd rearranged a few things in the lounge. There was one of the paintings from Roary and Mimi's house.
And there was Mimi in our kitchen.
'Oh, hi Mimi, where's Erin?' I asked.
She looked at me as though I were out of my mind.
'Why! Erin and Roary aren't coming till this evening! Did you get the mince beef like I asked you to?'
'The -- er -- what?'
'You forgot again? How long do you think I can put up with this, Sean? What do you expect to serve for supper? You know we're having Erin and Will over!' She went on and on as though she and not Erin were my wife, strutting about as though the kitchen belonged to her.
She'd gone completely mad!
I turned around and walked into the dining room while she acted as though she were about to throw something at me.
Then, I saw the painting on the dining room wall. I remembered when we had that done. It was of both of our families, the four of us.
But I had to take a second look.
Roary had his arm around Erin, and I, around Mimi! And Roary was wearing my medallion!
Erin gave me that medallion. I clutched my chest -- it was still hanging about my neck. It looked exactly like the one Roary, in the picture, was wearing around his neck.
But it was one of a kind. Erin had it made for me!
I went into the lounge and looked at the pictures again. Several of them were definitely Mimi's. All the one's I remembered Erin getting, were missing.
I went upstairs into the bedroom. Signs of Mimi everywhere, and none that Erin had ever had anything to do with this house except visit occasionally.
Mimi was calling me from downstairs, but I just had to get myself together. I went discreetly into the bathroom, and after her third time calling, I flushed the toilet. She got the message.
I sat there, thinking.
I thought over the incident in the alley, seeing myself and the whirlpool. Wasn't there some episode from Star Trek or some other silly sci fi program where something like that happened?
I realise now that many science fiction works are based on Quantum Mechanics and other aspects of physics, but then I thought of them all as high-tech fairy stories for overgrown teenagers who couldn't get a life.
As much as I tried, I couldn't think of any other explanation. I had been pulled through that whirlpool into an alternative universe where I had married, not Erin, but Mimi.
The part of me that's solidly anchored in the real world still couldn't accept it. I shut my eyes, told myself what's what, opened them, only to see Mimi's facial cream sitting over the sink -- at least it wasn't Erin's. Nor was the bathrobe hanging on the doorknob.
I finally convinced myself.
Having done that, I had to make a move. I wasn't going to crawl into bed with Mimi, come night time, no matter what world this was. I still loved Erin.
I went into the bedroom and took some essential belongings and packed them into a carry bag. Looking at my belongings I was at least relieved to find that the me of this universe was me. They were mostly all my own things -- well, there was one gadget, a PDA thing, that I remember almost talking myself into getting. The only thing that stopped me was that Erin would think I spent too much -- I suppose Mimi wasn't so particular. I grabbed that as well.
I made sure I had everything, my wallet, my credit cards, my passport. I was determined not to return until Erin was back as my wife and not Mimi.
Mimi was still in the kitchen when I went down. I took one more look about the lounge to assure myself I was doing the right thing, and went out the door.
My first stop was the city library. There, they have a row of computers for surfing the Internet.
I could have done that at home, but I had to get away.
Habitually, I logged into my email account. My current password didn't work, so I tried the one I had previously, then the one I planned on using next. That one worked.
Some emails from the other me were identical to one's I had actually written, but others were not. Some came from people answering questions I had thought of asking, but I knew I hadn't. One was an angry response to something I almost sent, but deleted.
Some were addressed to Mimi and Sean.
This was too spooky. I decided to leave this mail account alone. I logged onto the free email site as a new user, and opened a new account. I named myself 'SeanAndErin'. That would reassure me of who I really was.
Then, I did a Google search for 'time warp'. That was the nearest word I knew for what I had experienced.
That came back with an overly long list that covered too wide a subject. I narrowed it down by adding the phrase, 'parallel universe'.
By far, most of what what I found were sites belonging to sci fi fans and the like. A few were science sites explaining the principals of quantum mechanics. That was my first clue that there was a scientific basis for some of the weirder films and books I'd seen.
About fifteen pages on, one entry caught my attention. Someone by the name of Mick O'Connor was making a serious study of time warps. Looking at a few of his articles, he believed they were more common than the general public, and even the scientific world liked to believe. He even believed they could be created.
The previous day, I would have passed him off as a lunatic. Today, I was in no position to argue.
He lived in the North country. His email address was there, so I wrote an email explaining myself, hit the send button, and went off to Paddy's Station to catch the next train to that city.
It was an overnight trip.
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