Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bartholomew Templeton Meets His Alter Ego

Remember Bartholomew Templeton from past stories?  He's met some ghosts and made a waffle so far, but this new story brings him on an even crazier adventure.  An adventure to another dimension.

            We all have alter egos.  Bartholomew Templeton was no different.
            Our good friend, the friendly Bartholomew, who was exercising his friendliness skills by attempting to make new friends as he was walking in the park, was having an ordinary day.  Yes, an ordinary day.  Ordinary.  Day.  Da—
            Suddenly, a meteor came hurtling through the sky, aimed straight at—you guessed it—Bartholomew Templeton.  Our protagonist looked up, distracted from his wonderful conversation with his new friend Bethany, as he heard the sound of roasting iron grow louder.  His eyes grew wide in fear.  But instead of running away, this same fear rooted him in place.  He was a goner.  Goodbye sweet wor—
            Suddenly (even more so than in the previous paragraph), a laser beam shot the meteor, disintegrating it into harmless space dust, which floated away in the morning breeze.  Bartholomew—and the rest of the people in the park—stood stunned.  They had all accepted their cruel fates, only to find they were alive and breathing.  They all had two questions, as I’m sure you do, too:  “Where did that meteor come from?” and “Where’s the beef?”
            “I have the beef,” answered a figure as she stepped out from the shadows.  She handed out hamburgers to park goers as she walked toward Bartholomew.
            “Thank you, lady, but now’s not the time for meat,” said Bartholomew, still gazing at the spot in the sky where the meteor was vaporized.
            “No.  Now is the perfect time for meat,” said the woman.  Bartholomew looked at her, curiously.  Then it dawned on him.
            “You’re a man!  Wow, you sure fooled me,” he said.  The crowd murmured in agreement.
            “What?  That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard!” said the newly discovered man.  “Who would come up with such a ludicrous plot twist, especially so early in a story?”
            Bartholomew just stared.  Then it dusked on him (a full night had passed in his brain during the stranger’s rant).  “You’re not just a man, but you also look very similar to me.  Eerily similar.  Are you my long lost twin that was separated at birth?  Because I’ve been looking for him for the majority of my adult life.”
            “No, I’m sorry.  I hope you find him soon.”
            “So do I.  I know I’m so close now.  If only he were real,” sighed Bartholomew.
            “I’m not your twin, but I am your alter ego.”
            “My alter what?”
            “Your alter ego.  You know, a similar version of you, but from a different dimension.  Usually cooler, smarter, sexier, easier on the eyes.  Has a proclivity for black clothing.  Saves you from impending doom, then brings an important message.”
            “I know all that.  I just thought you said ‘All there?  We go!’  I was very confused.”
            “So am I, Bartholomew, so am I.”
            “How do you know my name?” responded a startled Bartholomew.
            “Because I am you.  Just from a different universe.  Weren’t you listening to anything I explained?” replied an annoyed Bartholomew.
            “Right.  Got it.”  After a pause, Bartholomew chuckled to himself.
            “What’s so funny?” asked the no-longer-a-stranger.
            “It just occurred to me that if our conversation were being written as dialogue, it must be horribly confusing having two people with the same name,” said Bartholomew.
            “What an imbecilic thought,” replied Bartholomew curtly.
            “Sorry.  Can we come up with some way to distinguish us, just to assuage my worries?  I could be Soaring Falcon, and you can be Roaring Puma,” suggested Bartholomew.
            “No.  You’re BT1.  I’m BT2.  Done,” said the newly christened BT2.
            “Not bad.  I like them!”
            “Good.  It’s time for me to answer your first, more pertinent question, now that I’ve handed out all my beef patties.  That meteor was sent from my dimension to yours in an attempt to assassinate you, BT1.  I received intelligence of its imminent impact, so I warped here in time to save you.”  He paused for dramatic effect.  “I was the one who destroyed the meteor!” BT2 proclaimed.
            A round of thunderous applause sounded from the crowd.  This was followed by a shorter lapse of lightning applause, which ceased when the rainy applause began.  By the time the rainbow applause began, BT2 was growing impatient.
            “But who would want to kill a nice, innocent person like me?” asked BT1.
            “The government.”
            “But the government protects us, feeds us, and cares for us.”
            “Your government does, but not in my dimension.  Our government is a dictatorship that quells any creativity, as if we...were in...a...I can’t do it.  I haven’t used illegal metaphors in so long that I’ve forgotten how to make them.”
            “Oh, like if you were stuck in a quarantine like the original astronauts, but for a much longer time.”  The two Bartholomews stared at each other.  BT1 continued, “So the government is evil, I get that.  That still doesn’t explain why I should be murdered.”
            “Well, it’s less of them trying to kill you, and more of them wanting to kill me.”
            “How much less?”
            “90 percent?  With a margin of error of 2.5 percent?  Yeah, that sounds right.”
            “So what did you do to warrant our deaths?”
            “I’m the leader of the rebel movement in my universe.  Our goal is to overthrow the dictatorship and reinstate democracy.”
            “Like us!”
            “No, I said we wanted a democracy.”  The Bartholomews stared each other down again.  This seemed to be happening quite frequently.  BT2 continued, “I have lots of protection in my universe, so it would be difficult for them to kill me.  Also, if I died in an attack, I would be viewed as a martyr and the rebel movement would grow stronger.  But, as I’m sure you know, alter egos are connected.  If one dies, all his other selves die simultaneously, no matter their universe.  The government decided to kill you, an unimportant, regular man in your universe, so my resulting death would be untraceable.  So they sent an interdimensional missile disguised as a meteor—which your universe would view as a natural phenomenon—to kill you.”
            “Wow,” was all BT1 could manage.  He had a glazed (with chocolate and sprinkles) look on his face.
            “Hold on for a moment,” said BT2.
            “Whew, that pause in the plot sure helped me regain my focus and take in everything that has happened recently,” said BT1.
            “I thought it would,” replied BT2.  “Now, the only way to ensure your safety is to travel to my dimension, overthrow the government, and begin a shining democracy as a model for all other universes.  It will be like a beacon on a hill, but on a much larger scale.”
            “Well, I don’t think you’re going to let me say no—”
            “—so let’s go!”
            BT2 pulled out a fancy gadget from his black trench coat jacket.  He pressed a pulsating blue button, and the machine began twisting and whirring.  In seconds, it had transformed.  Into sunglasses.  BT2 slipped them on in a manner way cooler than anything anyone from our dimension could pull off, and nodded at his alter ego.  Then he pressed a switch on the lapel of his black jacket.  Instantly, a swirling portal opened in front of them.  As Bartholomew and Bartholomew, both with the surname Templeton, walked through, the crowd in the park began clapping again, this time with hail.
            As easily as they had entered the interdimensional warp hole, the protagonists left it, this time appearing in a futuristic version of the world from where they had come.  Of course, the year was the same; they were just more technologically savvy in this parallel universe.
            “Where are we?” asked BT1.
            “In the rebel stronghold in my dimension.  We have created a secure warp hole housed in our base, just for times like these.  Everything should be in place for the coup, I just have to give the command.”
            BT1 was only half listening, as he was now exploring the base.  The walls were lined with objects we could barely imagine in our universe, but in theirs they were common items.
            “Don’t touch anything,” BT2 warned.
            “‘Oops’ what?”
            “Just ‘oops.’  No other word.”
            “What did you do?”
            “Let’s see what this screen says I did.  ‘Initiating attack on dictator government...Commencing attack in t-minus one minute.’  Hm.  I thought you were going to start the rebellion yourself.”
            “I was!  Until you issued the order!  I would kill you if it wouldn’t also kill me!  Darn those parallel universe paradoxes.”
            “I think you should go out there.  You’re the rebel leader after all.”
            BT2 sighed wearily.  “You’re right.  The coup had to start at some point.  Why not now?”
            “Well, if the time was wrong, for starters.  Also, if it was raining outside.  Rebels in the rain don’t make for a happy government takeover, though it could make for a great musical number.  A third reason is—”
            BT1 paused his lecture when he realized BT2 had disappeared.  “Huh.  Strange guy.”
            For the next indeterminable amount of time the Bartholomew Templeton we know and love occupied himself by toying with other advanced technologies:  holograms, teleporters, toasters, laser guns.  You know, the usual.
            At the end of this length of time, BT2 reappeared.
            “Well, how did it go?” asked BT1 casually.
            “The rebellion was a success.  I am now interim president until we elect our first leader.”
            “Congratulations.  I hope your democracy goes smoothly.”
            “Thank you.  And thanks for your sense of urgency.  It helped give the rebellion an element of surprise, especially because we didn’t even know it was about to happen.”
            “I guess I should be heading back to my dimension.  I’m starting to get homesick.”
            “That’s not homesickness, it’s the effects of interdimensional travel.  It often creates an irritable bowel.  Whenever you’re ready, you can go back through the portal we came through.”
            BT1 walked towards the portal.  “It was nice to meet you Bartholomew.”
            “You, too, Bartholomew.”
            Without dragging out their already awkward farewell, BT1 stepped through the portal and appeared back in his home dimension.
            “Whew!  What a day.”
            That was the day Bartholomew Templeton met his alter ego.

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