When I was a kid, some neighbors of ours had one of those bathrooms where the vanity had mirrors on either side of the sink, parallel and opposite to each other. It was a 70’s thing, I guess.
When you looked to the side of you, you saw the reflection of the other mirror, which created an infinite hallway effect. I always thought this was really cool and I would spend 20-30 minutes in there, trying to move my head really fast so that I could see around my own reflection, repeated thousands of times down this tunnel of light.
My parents would bang on the door, telling me that my dinner was getting cold and I was being rude to our hosts, but I didn’t care. I barely even heard them. I was in my own world, wondering what the houses in those bathrooms looked like, what the other Erics did for fun. Maybe the dad in parallel dimension number six let his son have a dog!
Eventually, my parents had a falling out with these people, probably because they were sick of inviting me over and having me spend hours in their bathroom. I grew up and forgot all about that infinite hallway.
That is, until I was at a party, a few years ago.
I went to take a piss and halfway through, I looked over at the sink and saw it. They had one too! I was so excited I walked over there, mid-stream. I got urine everywhere, but I didn’t care. Once I was done, I absent-mindedly pulled up my pants and stared in child-like wonder.
I was 8 years old again, sticking my head in there real fast and pulling it out again, to try and catch a better look.
Way down at the limits of my vision, I saw something that looked different. It was maybe the 27th iteration of me. The 26 in front of it all moved exactly the same, but that one was a little… “off”, I guess is the word.
Reluctantly, I put up my hand and waved. I had let my mind play a trick on me, because now he was in lock step with all the others.
I felt ridiculous. If anyone had walked in there, they would have thought I was retarded, waving to my reflection and pissing all over the floor like that.
I put my hand down, grabbed a towel and wiped the stray droplets off my pants. As I turned to leave, I saw him.
It was number 27 again. And this time, he was definitely waving back at me!
When I looked again, he was still there, waving. I tried to see around the 26 versions of me that were in front of him, but they all moved as I did. But not him.
Then he stopped waving and walked out of my field of view.
“No way!” I said, in a breathy whisper.
There definitely was an empty space where he had just been, I could clearly see the miniature copies of me that were behind him, now that he had left.
But then he was back, only he was in the 26th spot now, with the 26th version of me!
Number 26 eyed him warily, as he tried to keep mimicking my breathing, but when number 27 pulled out a knife, he broke character and tried to defend himself, but it was no use! I saw him go limp and fall to the ground, the knife still in his chest.
Then, number 27 picked up the towel that was the 26th parallel version of the one I had just used to wipe piss off my pants and began to write something on it with number 26’s blood. He held it up for me to see, but it was too far away.
“I can’t read that!” I yelled into the bathroom, my earlier self-consciousness had long since faded away. Witnessing yourself being murdered by yourself will do that, I guess.
“Sorry, hold on!” he shouted back.
He said something I couldn’t hear to number 25, I think it was, “Hey, pass this up there.” Well, number 25 did his best to ignore him and maintain the illusion. Then number 27 was gone again and suddenly next to number 25, stabbing the shit out of that poor bastard! Well, you can believe number 24 wasn’t going to make that mistake and did as he was told. They passed it up, along the line.
When it got to number 7 or so, I could plainly see what it said: “You’re next!”.
“OK, I get it. But how can I be “next” if you’ve already stabbed someone else?” I shouted.
He threw up his hands in exasperation and left the home of number 25.
He didn’t come back right away, though, like he had before.
I was wondering what to do, as I stared down the mirrors and saw the sequentially smaller and dimmer versions of me mimicking my every move. Minus the three empty parallel dimensions, of course.
I was concentrating pretty hard, scanning the mirror for any sign of number 27, so you can imagine my pants-shitting horror and surprise when the door to the bathroom opened and in walked an exact facsimile of myself!
“Oh god, don’t kill me!” I shouted at myself as I put up my hands to protect my beautiful face.
“Kill you? What??” He seemed genuinely offended at the suggestion.
“But you said that I’m next!” I said, now drawn up into the fetal position at the foot of the sink.
“You are next! They’re waiting for you to take your turn.”
“What?” I put my arms down slightly to look him in the face. He was ruggedly handsome. Perhaps the most striking-looking man in the world. He could easily have any woman he wanted. And they would be lucky to have him!
“Out there,” he motioned towards the door, “it’s your turn. Scrabble? Remember?”
Oh shit! I had been so caught up in the drama in the mirror that I had forgotten all about the game I had been playing with my friends.
“I thought…” I began.
“You thought I was gonna murder you or something?” he asked, with a laugh.
“Well, I guess so…” I said, sheepishly.
“How could I do that to such a perfect specimen. You’re easily the best-looking man I’ve ever seen. I mean, I’m not gay or nothing.”
“What? No. I mean, yeah, no. Of course not. Me either.” I added, just to be safe.
He started to look around the bathroom, awkwardly.
“I just thought, since you killed those other guys…”
“Oh, well that’s different, those are just reflections, they’re not real people. I figured you getting skipped when you had such good letters outweighed a few reflections getting stabbed, is all.”
Made sense to me. Except…
“Well, if they’re reflections, then what are you?” I asked, immediately wishing I hadn’t.
He started to think it over before vanishing in a puff of smoke, just as the door opened again.
Only this time it was my Scrabble mates.
“Yeah, he’s passed out or something. Oh shit, he pissed himself again!” said someone.
“And it smells like shit, too!” said another, holding her nose.
They all piled into the bathroom, looking down on me with scorn.
“What? I didn’t pass out!” I protested, “there was this guy in the mirror!”
I pointed towards the mirror, but this just seemed to aggravate things.
“What the fuck did you do to the mirror?! There’s blood everywhere!”
“No, that’s from the guy in parallel universe number 27, he stabbed number 26 and number 25 because he had to tell me that I was gonna miss my turn!” I explained. I pointed again, just now noticing the broken glass stuck in my bleeding hand.
“Jesus Christ, nobody touch any glass, someone get him the fuck out of here!”
A few of my friends roughly picked me up and started to carry me out of the bathroom.
“Wait! Didn’t you see the guy who looked exactly like me walk in there right before you did? The really handsome guy?” I protested.
“Party’s over. Eric ruined everything. Again!” said the host; a rude, coarse fellow.
Someone was standing behind me, shoving me towards the door. I stumbled, as I was really drunk and also fucked up on some pretty strong mushrooms.
I struggled to get up, until someone I couldn’t see gave me a hand. I stood up and looked into the faces of my friends, who were now frozen with terror.
“What?” I asked.
I turned around and saw at least 37 exact copies of myself, standing behind me, looking pretty pissed off at the rough treatment I had been given!
“And then everything went black, Officer. So as you can see, I’m clearly not guilty of any of these murders you’ve accused me of,” I said, a note of triumph in my voice.
The Police Officers looked at each other and then at me for the good part of 30 seconds.
“Alright, sounds logical. You can get your stuff from the deputy. It’s clear we’ve got the wrong man.”
“Thank you, Officers!” I said, rising from my chair.
Justice had been served. Or so I thought!
As I collected my belongings and was getting ready to leave, a free man, I heard a great ruckus as nearly fifty of my dopplegangers were brought into the booking office, all handcuffed and led in by the Sheriff and his deputies.
“We caught these guys headed for the state line,” the Sheriff told the Officer I had just been speaking to.
Well, when those parallel dimension Erics saw me, they began to point and shout.
“That’s the guy who made us do it!” They all said, in unison.
I ran for it, but was tackled before I got to the door.
Later, I sat and listened as they gave their matching testimony about how I had set the whole thing up, planned it for months, thought up the whole Scrabble game night and lured my friends into meeting at the house with the promise of free booze.
“And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for these meddling clones!” I yelled, suddenly a crotchety old man who runs a theme park.