Just stuff I am spewing out as I attempt to get into a routine of writing every day (or close at least).
Wilson shuffled to the door, soft slippers on hard wood floors and the ache in his right leg causing him to wince as he attempted to hurry as there was a knock for a second time. It was late. The master and lady were asleep, the rest of the staff long gone back to the city. That security had allowed someone through without calling was unusual, but not unheard of.
“Just a moment, “ he called out. His employers were in the far west wing so there was little worry that he would wake them. The lights in the long hall flicked on automatically as he approached the large set of heavy double doors. Through the glass inset into them that ran top to bottom, he could make out the shape of a man on the other side, standing quite still.
Pain shot once more up his leg, and he called out through gritted teeth that he was almost there.
“How may I…” he said as he pulled the door back, the words catching in his throat and falling silent in the cold night air that rushed inside.
“Good evening, “ said the man stood before him. “I am…”
“I know quite who you are, “ said Wilson, the colour drained from his cheeks and there was a tremor in his voice. “You’re me. That’s pretty plain to see. Is it time already?”
The man before him said nothing and smiled. They were identical in every way, indistinguishable and unmistakable. Save for their most recent memories, the last 12 hours at the most, there was nothing to separate them.
They looked each other up and down, somehow this all seemed matter of fact, as if they both expected it. Perhaps it was in their shared DNA and memories, but whatever it was it already had a sense of inevitability for Wilson.
“Im sorry, I haven’t synced since this morning,” Wilson said, pulling the door wider and motioning for him man to come inside. “Master had me somewhat busy preparing for the arrival of guests.”
The other Wilson acknowledged with a nod and stepped inside, noticing the limp as the door was closed behind him.
“It’s the leg, isn’t it. It’s been getting worse for months now and they said there was nothing that could be done.”
The visitor nodded, smiled politely, paused and then spoke. “Shall we return to your quarters? They will be along to pick you up for recycling once you’ve synced.”
Wilson said nothing, nodded, and headed back along the hall. The door clicked locked behind them and they made their way towards a set of wide stairs at the end of the hall. Instinctively, he started to explain that the dining room on the left was for major functions only, already consigned to the inevitable. He knew this was the way things were, he had been here before. Before he could finish he was cut short.
Wilson felt a hand on his shoulder and he stopped, turning around to face himself once more.
“I know, I have your memories, it’s ok. They are in good hands I promise.” His new self said to him. “I know this is scary, but you need not worry. It will be painless, and it is for the best.”
Wilson shrugged off the touch. “It’s just through here, “ he said holding open another door to the left of the staircase. “this is our…”
He paused, sighed, and both men entered the room. It was sparse and clean. Against one wall there was a single bed, with a small bedside table on one side. A thin cupboard stood to the other, one door open and identical sets of clothes were visible hanging neatly. On the other side of the room was a small table and two chairs, a dark wood bookshelf and a low cabinet with a decanter filled with a dark liquid and two glasses.
“You pour while I sync,“ Wilson said as he sat down on the edge of the bed. He pulled a small flat object from the draw of the bedside table, about the size and thickness of a paperback, and placed his hand on it. There was a low hum for about thirty seconds, and then a high pitched ping that indicated that the sync had been successful.
Both men sat at the round table, drinks in hand.
“When will they fetch me?” Wilson asked.
“Within the hour.”
“And what happens then?”
“I really don’t know what happens to you, but I will be going to bed as I need to be up early to ensure everything is ready for breakfast.”
Wilson laughed and took a long drink from the glass.
“I am sorry,“ said the man. Wilson. Himself.
“No hard feelings at all,” said Wilson. “I guess I thought maybe they would keep me on because…well because they cared, you know.”
Both Wilsons nodded, and they both finished their drinks.
“Another?” Wilson said filling both glasses.
“I’m not sure that I should, I do need to be up in the morning.”
Wilson laughed, “Go on, just one more.” He was incorrigible when he drank, and it wasn’t like he was going to have a hangover the next morning. Or any morning ever after, for that matter.
“Drink up, “ he said, filling their glasses. He was barely hardened against the effects of what was a very good 2023 single Malt he had received from the master as a gift, and he did like to keep it for special occasions, but if not tonight, then when, he told himself.
Wilson looked at his watch as they drank and chatted. Perhaps it was the drink, but he quite liked himself. He was surprisingly eloquent and amiable after a few, and there was a genuine compassion and tenderness that he realised very few people had ever seen, if any.
“When did you start then?”
“You know when I started, “ Wilson replied. “Cast your mind back, it’s all in there. Last one had a nasty fall apparently. But as they say, good help is hard to find, right.”
Wilson raised his glass. “One more for the Road, “ he insisted and filled the glasses once more, spilling some of the malt onto the table. “When did you say they would be here for me?”
“Not long now, given you’ve sync’d they’ll be here any minute.”
“Then to our good health, “ said Wilson, his speech slurred. “Or to yours at least. May you last longer than I.”
“To service.” Said new Wilson downing his drink in one. Wilson was enjoying himself and wondered why he hadn’t done this more. Not with himself, of course. Just generally. Or at least he wondered why Wilson hadn’t done it more. Or something along those lines…
When the next morning came, Wilson opened his eyes, head thumping and mouth dry. He was alone in the room, in his bed. Sitting up he looked about and wondered whether the night before had been a dream. The headache and empty bottle on the table across the room told him it was not. Throwing back the blankets he swung his legs from the bed and slipped into his slippers which were conveniently where he would have left them had he not had far too much whisky.
Scanning his room he noticed his everyday shoes were missing. They should be next to the cupboard. Walking over he opened the doors and counted the hanging jackers, shirts and trousers. One set missing. He checked the wash basket but they weren’t in there. Someone must be wearing them.
Hours passed, and Wilson pottered around the room. His leg still ached, and was getting worse each day. It was a large house, with endless corridors and stairs, and over time he had just started to break down. The cheaper models did, but they were easily replaced. He should have learned to hide it, he thought.
He straightened the bed, washed the glasses and threw the empty bottle in the waste. He lay down for a while to help ease his headache, and had just up and finished straightening the bed for a second time when the door to the room opened.
“Still here then?”
“Apparently so, yes. Thought they’d have been by now. Have they been in touch?”
“Really don’t know what happens now, “ Said new Wilson. “I suppose you wait.”
Wilson watched as a new bottle of malt was placed on the table.
“I…we…we don’t usually drink that much you know. Just so you know.”
“We don’t? Well it isn’t as good as the one we drank last night but there were plenty in the stores.”
“No,“ said Wilson, not believing that they both didn’t know full well that their ability to handle their alcohol did not match their ability to enjoy it. “Anyway, “ he continued, “doesn’t really matter does it. I’ll be gone soon so you can figure that out yourself.”
But that wasn’t the case at all. The morning turned to afternoon, and afternoon to evening and still he waited. The golden fingers of the late afternoon sun had receded into the darkness, and looking out of the window he gazed up at the stars in the cloudless sky. Far from the city lights they painted the blackness like a net of lights.
Later that evening when they were together in the room once more, drinks in hand, Wilson again asked about being collected and whether the master had been informed that he was still in the house. Apparently Masters didn’t get involved in such matters though, and it was best that the handovers were seamless to spare them the emotional distress of the transitions.
Wilson wondered why he didn’t know this and what else he might not know. He wondered whether this was new information that had not been shared in the sync or if he had simply forgotten. He had after all been here for many years. More than he could recall in fact.
“Well what do we do then? Just wait?” He asked.
“There is no protocol that I am aware of. We wait I believe. Unless you want to contact them yourself. Do you even know how?”
Wilson laughed and sipped his malt. “Hardly going to do that now am I.”
Part 2 Tomorrow…