The scenery had been dull and dreary for some time, nothing but piles of grey rocks on hard-packed grey dust, so to perk himself up, Tepic sat down, pulled his dice from his pocket, along with a tattered notebook and a stub of a pencil. Hunched over, he threw the dice, then noted the numbers in a neat column, adding to those already there. He scooped up the dice, and repeated the proceedure several more times, a puzzled look creeping over his face. He glanced down at the dice, weighing them in his hand, then rolled them over with his fingers, checking the faces. All looked, and more importantly felt right. Shrugging, he made a note in the book next to the numbers “A grey place”, and rolled the dice a dozen more times. After he had finished, he looked down the list – it was the first time he had ever see twenty double sixes in a row, lots of times there had been patterns, like the time he had thrown each double in sequence, but this was unusual. He put the dice and the book away, and settled down to nibble on a strip of dried vole, smiling contentedly.
From the distance, he heard the music, faint at first, but growing in volumn as whoever was playing came closer. It was good, nice and lively, very similar to his playing earlier, and on a flute very much like his own. He looked up, and round the pile of rocks stepped a young boy, playing happily, a young boy with an orange and white tail swishing behind him, and the points of two fur tipped ears poking up out the top of his trench cap. They both started, then, in unison, said “Hello, my name’s Tepic, what’s yours?”
“Oh!” they both said, “this is weird!”, and both boys started to giggle uncontrollably. The laughter continued for some time, each boy cracking up again when he saw the other, but eventually, exausted, they brought themselves under control and sat cross-legged facing each other.
They both tilted their heads, examining the other with the unselfconcious critical apraisal the young can manage, unabashed at knowing the other was doing the same.
“Recon we could be littermates?” asked one, fractionally before the other almost asked the same.
“Durn’t recon so, i knows all me sibblings, an their names, an me parents didn’t say nuffing about another, an why would they have called us the same?”
“Yup, that’s so, an we do think the same, more’n brothers do, an don’t think we are twins….”
“So you is me an me is you, yer think?”
There was a pause as the boys let this thought sift through and solidify.
“Ain’t the world supposed ter end, or us blow up if we meets ourself..?” asked one Tepic hesitatingly.
“Dunno, don’t seem to have, so i guess we are safe…”
Tentertivly, each boy raised a hand, reaching towards the other. Fingertips touched, the world stayed in one piece as solid flesh met, heads raise, eyes met, grins broke out, and within moments the two boys were happily wrestling, tumbling across the dusty ground!
By the time they finished, there was no way of telling which had been which, if there actually was a difference. Streaching back against the rocks, side by side, the boys talked about their last couple of months, seeing if they could find any differences. It turned out that much had been the same, untill the end of the summer, when both had been deciding whether to stay in the City, or head off on a walkabout. It had been a close thing for them, and it could have gone either way. One Tepic had stayed, and seen the arrival of Jimmy from the future, those whose was uncertain, and had learned from the Writer. The other had seen the urchins break into small gangs, fighting for teretory, and had left the City to clear his head. He had adventures of his own, not least coming across himself!
“The City needs us though, so we’d best be getting back, dunno how they are gonna manage without us..”, one of the boys said.
“Yep, and at least yer told me what the Writer has written so far, that might help, an i will wear a parachute, don’t you worry, just in case!”
“They may not listen though, don’t think my lot would have, cept fer the Writer…”
“True, but we gotta try, don’t we?”
“Yep….. an i know how to get back now, don’t you?”
The boys looked down in front of themselves, and chuckled.
“Daft, ain’t we, yer can find people by following the threads between em, so why didn’t we think bout the one between us an the City!”
“To obvious, ain’t it!”
They picked themselves off the ground, stowing away the treasures that had been scattered from pockets during their play. Then they shook hands, and joyfully headed away from each other, each following the bright, gleaming rope that connected the boys to their own Citys……..