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Rated: E · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2190981
When something unpredictable gets predicted, is the simplest explanation the best?
"Okay, Jed, I'm ready to listen."

"Very well, Doc," he grinned, pushing aside the papers on his table. "Very well!"

Doc grabbed a chair and sat on its edge. "How did you do it? How did you know the lightning would hit that exact building?"

"Oh," Jed chuckled, leaning in, "did it break your car, too?"

"It did. A brick smashed the windscreen."

Jed laced his fingers in front of him, nodding. "Good. Everything I've predicted has happened, hasn't it?"

Doc pushed away, and the back of his chair bit into his spine. "This is the moment you explain everything. I am listening."

Jed tilted his head and took a triumphant breath in.

"How did you do that, Jed?" Doc repeated slowly.

"I didn't command the lightning, if you are wondering," Jed said, his restless lips quivering with an uncontainable smile. "Nor did I foresee the future."

Doc threw his one leg over the other.

"All right, all right," Jed shook away his put-on superiority. "Are you familiar with the multiverse theory?"

Doc furrowed his brow. "On a basic level, yes. It says our universe is one of many, many other universes."

"Yes, yes!" Jed grabbed a random page, pulled a pencil from behind his ear and drew an agitated line. "Imagine, every dot on this line is a moment in time in our universe." He scribbled many more lines on both sides. "And there's an infinite number of universes just like ours."

"That's what I've said," Doc let his impatience show, but Jed ignored him in his excitement.

"And if it's an infinite number of universes, there is at least one universe with some specific event." He lowered his face, so his cheek almost touched the table, and added more parallel lines to the drawing. "All the possibilities are there somewhere," he sang, "ready to be actualized."

Doc followed his long fingers as they moved the pencil to leave another trail on the paper.

"Yes, if the theory is true," Doc said, "there's a universe where I have just won a jackpot."

"Exactly!" Jed jumped up, losing his pencil. His own reaction startled him. He sat down again, smoothed out the drawing and pushed it towards Doc. "You see, the more probable the event is, the more universes with that event are out there." He pressed his finger to a line on the edge of the sheet. "So instead of foreseeing the future, I think of a relatively probable event and then pick a universe where this event will definitely happen. Simple!"

"You what?"

Jed looked back at his drawing as if assessing its quality, shook his head in disapproval and turned to search for his pencil. Doc produced a pen from his own pocket, and a click drew Jed's attention back to the topic.

"You see," Jed said, adding small horizontal dashes between his pencil lines, "every universe is connected to every other universe, but only if the universes are identical up to a particular moment in time."

He appeared calm now, not a single muscle in his body moved unless it had a good reason to.

"Imagine this moment in time, where you bought an apple." He pressed a pen to one line. Doc put his elbows on the table to see it better. "This moment is connected to all these universes where you either eat the apple yourself," he lowered the pen to another place on the same line, "or give it away to your friend," and he placed the pen on a parallel line.

Doc nodded.

"But there are no connections—I call them probability pores—to those universes, where you bought a peach and not an apple." Jed crossed a distant line. "Are you following?"


"These pores, don't think about them as lines." He tried to erase the dashes. "It's difficult to draw it. Universes don't intersect, pores are not branches but tiny openings stuff leaks through. There are millions, billions of pores opening every time something happens!" He pushed the paper away, agitated again. "A die is rolled, and six different probability pores get opened! You make a decision, you take a step, you change your mind, and it's pores, pores everywhere!"

"Okay, I get the idea," Doc placed his palm over the paper. "Are you saying, you can see the pores?"

"I can travel through them!"

Doc raised an eyebrow.

"I can choose the desired event," Jed gestured at the drawing, "and then go to a universe where this event will happen."

"How do you know where to go?"

"I guess I have a good sense of direction!" He laughed too loud for it to be genuine.

Doc leaned in, almost placing his chest on the table. "Are you saying, you somehow bend our reality, so it's consistent with the path that leads to your desired event?"

"I can't control the dice, obviously," Jed chuckled. "But I can be in a universe where the result is a six."

Doc looked at his face. Even the hair on that head was in disarray.

"You think I'm crazy," Jed caught his scrutinizing look.

"You are making some bold statements here. And provide no proof."

"I gave you proof yesterday when I told you lightning will strike the storage building, and it will damage your car. Did it happen?"

"It did."

"What other proof do you need?"

"I don't know," Doc rubbed his rigid knuckles. "Can we travel to a universe where I win a jackpot?"

"Will it convince you?"

"It's a start. You can't blame me. Just listen to yourself. Travelling through probability pores, really?"

"I know, I can't explain it any better," Jed turned away, shaking his head.

"Okay, fine. Let's say it's true. Explain how do you do it? How do you go through a probability pore?"

"I think of an event, and then I see where I need to be for it to happen." He looked up to the ceiling, his shoulder pressed to his ear. "And when I see it, I'm already there, on that line."

"Just like that?"

"Just like that."

"Don't you ever get lost?"


"Yes, lost. You pick an event, go to that universe, and then you find it's the wrong universe to be it. Suppose, Hitler isn't dead in this universe."

"It's impossible," Jed laughed. "There are no probability pores to those universes that aren't identical up to this moment. Any other accessible universe has the past exactly like ours."

Doc squinted. "What about the future? Can you pick a universe where you, let's say, live forever?"

"Only if that's a possibility. Only if a human being is capable of immortality at all. And only if humanity can find a way fast enough before I'm too old to benefit from it or am killed before they master it."

"Didn't you say there's an infinite number of universes?" Doc smiled at the contradiction. "Sure there's one where people learn medicine fast."

"Sure. In some universes, people are already on the verge of living forever. But will there be pores to those universes from here? Imagine a world just like ours, in every aspect, where several grand breakthroughs in medicine happen incredibly fast. They invent a new technology, go through human trials and approval, and reach the stage of mass consumption, all in my lifetime. Does it sound plausible? If yes, then I can go there and become immortal." He waved his hand in a dismissive gesture, "But I don't know if such a universe exists."

"Can you look?" Doc curled his lips up.

"I can," Jed nodded. "But those things take time. The smaller the probability, the longer it takes to see it. Sometimes the image won't come at all, but I think it's because it's a long chain of jumps through the pores to reach such an improbable event."

"Okay," Doc exhaled. "Let's say it's all true. You can travel through the pores to wherever you want to go. Where do you go in your old universe when you travel?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"If you travel to a new universe, I assume you are no longer present in the old one. Do you disappear in the universe you are travelling from?"

Jed nervously shifted in his seat.

"When you are in a universe where you are about to cast a die," Doc continued, "and then choose to travel to a universe where a six is cast, what happens to you in all those universes with other die results?"

"Me?" Jed pressed the index finger to his chest.

"Yes, you."

"What is me?" Jed's relaxed body fell into the chair. "If it's a human being of a certain appearance and mentality, then I'm still there, in all those universes."

"And if it's you as your current consciousness?" Doc asked, guessing where all this was going.

"Then I don't know what happens to them," Jed smiled, "because I'm no longer there."

"Can anybody tell if it's still you," Doc smiled with him, "or if you have already travelled somewhere else?"

"I don't think so. They all are me, but I'm only one of them."

Doc closed his eyes, nodding. "Have you already travelled, bored with my disbelief, then?"

"I don't know," Jed admitted. "Me, who is staying here, hasn't. But how many 'me's are already gone throughout this conversation?"

Doc stared at his smug face until Jed's smile faded away.

"You don't believe me?"

"How can I?" Doc squeezed his shoulders. "If your predictions come true, you can say you have travelled. If they don't, you can still say you have travelled, leaving your perfect double behind. But I can only see my own universe."

"So, what is your alternative?" Jed pushed his lips to one side. "Believe I just made a lucky guess and invented this story?"

"It's a good explanation."

Jed took a deep breath and sat up straight. "It's your choice. But somewhere in the multiverse, you have believed me."

"Pity you didn't pick that one to travel to," Doc smiled.

"Maybe I did," Jed mirrored his expression. "And maybe the other Jed took you to win that jackpot."

"This was a good try, Jed," he said, standing up. "Back to square one?"

"See you next week, Doc," Jed shook the extended hand.
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