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Sherlock Holmes in Space -- The Knower -- Chapter 33

a story by jabney based on (the now public domain) characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

...

Now I was seeing two iterations of Cody. The younger looking version was blaming his old self, now conveniently embodied before his very eyes. And the older looking cast-off version lost no time in pointing out opportunities wasted by such a hottie as 'my once and future self.' What made the exchange especially notable was the series of gestures that preceded every utterance.

"Please explain," said Sherlock Holmes as he imitated the gestures.

"We haven't been introduced, I'm Cody. My younger self can be rude sometimes. My fault, no doubt."

"You know self," young looking Cody to his earlier edition, "I figured it would be more polite to first let Sherlock Holmes and company in on the secret of talking without causing mishaps."

"Good point," said older Cody to his younger incarnation, then turning to face us, "What you need to do to speak hazard-free down here is to first perform some meaningless ritual of sufficient complexity as to be annoying."

"To the speaker or to the listener?" said Holmes, cracking his knuckles.

"Ideally, I should think, both," said Edgar, preceded by a pantomime of rubbing his head whilst balancing on one leg. "And if I follow one expression with another in relatively quick succession, I can manage to hang several thoughts on one piece of shtick."

"Shtick?" I said with no gestures, and a stick appeared which turned into a shepherd's crook and then tried to nudge me off the sidewalk.

Cody the elder chewed off a thin sliver of fingernail and said, "The more embarrassing, the longer the effect seems to last. And no, before you ask, the ritual does nothing to kill the pain of separation from a mind-mate."

Cody the younger raised a tunic and, scratching his hairy armpits said, "And don't ask how we knew the two pairs of you are sharing a common mind. Old Cody and I, the Young Cody are kept tethered to each other by an analgesic bond. Ironic punishment entirely fitting for Hell. But why you lot? Perhaps bearing one another's pain is a per-requisite for exiting."

Cody the elder said, "And what of you Edgar. What pain do you carry to Hell?"

Edgar performed an unseen ritual, I couldn't says what it was, but I knew he'd done something and he said, "My pain is that of one good friend about to lose another. Twice."

I did a complicated gesture then said, "So what goes on down here?"

Holmes inhaled, puffed out his cheeks as he held his breath, then exhaled and said. "Watson you are about to  witness the battle of wills between two versions of the same person. Only one can peacefully transition alone, but both must agree as to which one that will be. Winning means staying around a few moments longer than the other. Yet the will to survive is strong even if it only means having a few more minutes in Hell."

A floating billboard appeared advertising, "Butterworth, Bessel, Linkwitz, Reilly: When You Need Help With A Crossover - Call 555-666-DEAD (3323)."

Evan, after adjusting part of his anatomy, pointed to the two Codys in turn and said, "Or the two of you could make your choice."

Cody the Elder did a routine then said, "Edgar, your chosen successor seems to grasp the situation. You'll make a good Knower, Evan. Well done, Edgar. Well done, Cody. Now we must talk. Privately. Cody and Cody.

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