It will have blood they say; blood will have blood. — Macbeth (3.4.122)
He was standing in the lobby of that office building down on Broadway, the one that’s all glass. And I was outside on the sidewalk, locking up my bike and looking for addresses. At first, I didn’t notice him because I thought I was looking at my own reflection. But then he smiled.
It still took me a second to realize what I was seeing. I don’t know if I can describe it to you. There’s your face, doing something you don’t feel your face doing. And then there’s your hand, rising up in a tentative greeting. But your own hand is hanging limply at your side. You feel stuck.
It reminds me of those dreams where you can’t open your eyes. You ever have those? I get them all the time. Usually right before the alarm goes off.
In fact, I think I had one that very morning, mere hours before I found myself on Broadway, gawking at my clone, my twin, my self, who was now exiting the rotating door, walking just like me.
Sure, he was wearing different clothes: leather shoes instead of bike shoes; jeans instead of cargo shorts; an expensive-looking, embroidered cowboy shirt; no shoulder bag. But that face! “How’s it goin’?” he said. He gave me a chin nod. Single strangest experience I’ve ever had in my life and this guy, who just happens to look exactly like me, greets me like we’re a couple of frat boys.
I had no reply.
“Oh shit. Am I your first?”
I wondered if he was from the future. “First what?”
“You mean there’s more of you?”
Why did future me look like such a douche bag? And was I really going to start saying dude all the time?
“Aw, man. I remember my first one. I was, like, 15 years old! You must be freaked out.”
“Totally.” He offered me a high five.
I’d been going for sarcasm, but I slapped his hand anyway. Flesh met flesh; he was solid material. I thought about that zen koan: “What’s the sound of one hand clapping?” It took on a new dimension, that’s for sure. But I had no answers. At least I knew he wasn’t a ghost or some other type of spirit. Maybe he was a shapeshifter. Then again, maybe he was Greg in one of those ultra-real-looking masks that spies like James Bond and Tom Cruise put on.
“You must have a lot of questions.” He started walking away. “C’mon.”
This wasn’t happening. “Hold on,” I told him. “I have to deliver this package.”
“Dude, trust me. This is way more important.” His smiled vanished. He stepped close and whispered, “Twenty four hours from now, one of us will be dead.” Which was compelling.
So I followed.