Baran and his shipmate, Theo, have landed their ship in an alternative universe where just about anything might happen. In fact, the oddest things do happen, including Baran meeting his otherworldly doppelganger, which turns to out to be far more interesting, and enlightening, than he thought possible. Can Baran learn to get over his hang ups and learn to tell Theo how he feels by learning to love himself first?
Luckily, most spaceports were run on a pretty pragmatic philosophy of one flavor or another, largely based on a desire to persuade the bore traders who’d usually just done their best to fleece the locals for all they were worth to leave as much of their profit as possible behind. With the exception of a few chapters that made Baran and Theo’s home page look downright sybaritic, pretty much all of them had a place for ship crews to spend their leisure time and partake of fresh food, strong intoxicants and negotiable companionship. It was always the first place Baran went and he was feeling a powerful need for it right then.
He’d just gotten through the main doors and was trying to decide whether to go for the food or the (female!) companionship first when he was grabbed from behind, spun around and enveloped in a strangling hug that lifted him off his feet. Once he’d gotten his breath back, he looked, then stared wide-eyed and gaping at– himself.
“Hey!” he (the other he) babbled, sporting a manic grin and still hanging onto his shoulders. “Took you long enough to process through! This is great, I love meeting myself! Wow, you still have the beard! I tried it but got rid of it — no matter what you do this side of the mustache always ends up crooked and that just looks dumb. Whatever you’re into, though. It’s funny how many of us still have it so I guess it’s not that bad. I’ve got a room, let’s go catch up!”
Baran found himself being dragged along by a chattering madman whose topics of conversation bounced like a superball in zero-G. A madman whose dark, waving hair, thin beak of a nose and broad smile matched his own exactly. Except for the lack of beard.
“–got a ping when you checked in from orbit, couldn’t wait to meet you; I love meeting myself. It’s just a trip; I always wanted to travel to other pages, but it just didn’t work out that way so I work here at the Welcome Center–”
Was I ever like that? Baran wondered to himself, listening with one ear while the rest of his consciousness hunkered down behind a wall and peered over the top. He wasn’t sure whether to be horrified or crack up.
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