This one takes a cracking turn. The prompt alone, from @dangusset, made my brain hurt, and the story that @donaldosaurus has crafted from it gave me a headache half as bad as the protagonist’s. Also, it is the third story so far to mention eggs.
STORY NUMBER: 28
PROMPT PROVIDER: @dangusset
Adam came to. He was in a curved metal chamber, strapped into a reclined chair. His head was secured by restraints, so that his gaze was forced in the direction of the centre of the chamber’s ceiling. An object was suspended there with no apparent means of support. Its shape was maddeningly difficult to perceive – it appeared at first to be a metallic rotating cube, but the number of faces and corners altered from one moment to the next without any perceptible change in the object. Looking at it gave him a headache.
A viewscreen flickered into existence before him. The picture was grainy, and kept blinking out periodically. But there was no mistaking the face on the screen.
“Hello Adam”, Lina said. Adam could still see something of the twin sister he had grown up with, despite the separation of the years and the distortion of the picture, but her eyes betrayed no trace of lingering familial affection.
“Lina… what…” Speaking took effort, as if the signals from his brain were struggling to reach his muscles. His headache worsened; a sense of growing pressure just behind his forehead.
“I wouldn’t try speaking Adam. We believe this process is a lot less painful if you relax. We’re sorry we had to resort to these measures, but sadly they are necessary for the experiment.”
His last memories swum grudgingly to the surface – the cramped crew quarters onboard the Earth-Europa hauler taking him to his third rotation in the ice-mines, the engine trouble that appeared out of nowhere, the terrifying bang of decompression, the invading armoured figures strapping an oxygen-mask to his face and sealing him in a pressurised body bag as his workmates asphyxiated around him.
“If it’s any consolation, you’re going to be an integral part of first contact with an extra-dimensional intelligence. We call them the Outers.” She smiled conspiratorially, as though they were sharing a joke. “Corny name, I know, but it’s kind of stuck. They live in a different universe to ours. Physics works differently there; they don’t have the same laws of nature. We believe that object is a probe that they sent.”
Someone off-camera spoke: “Twenty-three percent superposition”. Lina turned her head and nodded briefly. Adam felt the pressure in his forebrain increase, and he had a sickening feeling it was something other trying to push itself in.
“The link between dimensions appears to be consciousness. Something about the neural architecture of sentient brains means that they cross a complexity threshold that is detectable to them. We think they can cross over, using someone’s mind as a link. Unfortunately the only mind they are familiar with is mine – my early research first attracted their attention, and from what we can gather they’ve kind of… ‘imprinted’ onto me. Quite frankly the idea of being used as a portal is unacceptable – as a scientist I have to remain detached from the experiment. That’s where you come in.”
Adam could definitely feel it now. Something utterly alien was uncoiling in his mind, an intelligence both completely unknowable and cloyingly intimate.
“As twins, our shared genetics means that our neural architecture is broadly similar. We didn’t think that would be quite enough to trick the Outers, so we pulled a little trick. A trick made possible thanks to the little tech of theirs we’ve managed to reverse engineer from the probe.”
The off-screen voice again. “Superposition now sixty seven percent. Ingress has begun.”
“We still don’t fully understand it, but somehow we can blend realities together. There’s one reality in which we didn’t develop from separate eggs, but instead came from one, to be born as identical twins. By superimposing that reality over this one, we think we can trick the Outers into making you their bridgehead.”
“Ah, excellent. Fascinating, it… well look for yourself!”
The screen flickered and switched, showing the reversed view of Adam restrained in the chair. Or rather, what appeared to be Adam. His brain struggled to process the image of two people occupying the same space. He was simultaneously both Adam and someone other – Lina’s twin sister who had never existed in this reality. The feeling of invasion in his head strengthened, and he felt his sense of self being smothered. His vision darkened.
“I’m sorry we had to go to these lengths Adam, really I am”. His sister’s voice was barely audible as he slipped into nothingness. “But take comfort that your sacrifice will push humanity into its technological golden age. Goodbye Adam.”
His entire life lay before him, a thread of shining gold picked out of a tangled mass of fibres. At one end it merged with a grasping parasitic pseudopod that appeared out of nowhere to bring his lifeline to a halt. A palpable sense of outrage at being deceived and caged emanated from it. He shrank from it instinctively, retreating to the other end of his line.
Right at the end, it coincided with another lifeline. He saw two eggs, embedded in their mother’s womb. The future histories of both lay before him. Unbidden, alien knowledge guided imaginary hands, tweaking the biochemistry of the developing foetuses, nudging amino acid base pairs into subtly different new configurations. Downstream, the lifestreams twitched and shifted.
Lina came to. She was in a curved metal chamber, strapped into a reclined chair. Her head was secured by restraints, so that her gaze was forced in the direction of the centre of the chamber’s ceiling. An object was suspended there with no apparent means of support. Its shape was maddeningly difficult to perceive – it appeared at first to be a metallic rotating cube, but the number of faces and corners changed from one moment to the next without any perceptible change in the object. Looking at it gave her a headache.
A viewscreen flickered into existence before her. The picture was grainy, and kept blinking out periodically. But there was no mistaking the face on the screen.
“Hello Lina”, Adam said.
PROMPT: A case of mistaken identity where one twin looks like the other but the other not like the first