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You and We
by Larry Hodges
"You're an idiot."
"If I'm an idiot, what does that make you?"
"It makes me an idiot an hour ago, but I'm a lot smarter now."
"Okay, future self, what made you so much smarter in one hour?"
"To start with, I know better than to try killing myself."
"If you are what I have to look forward to becoming, then I think I will kill myself."
"You won't succeed, and you'll just end up being me."
"Great, now I really want to kill myself."
"You really are an idiot. Haven't you noticed I'm still alive? What does that tell you?"
"That you failed to kill yourself. But now that I know that _you_ failed, _I_ have knowledge you didn't have, which makes me smarter than you."
"_I_ learned an hour ago what you just learned, so I'm still smarter than you."
"Maybe, but now that I know that you know that I knew that you had failed, _I_ have knowledge you did not have, which makes me smarter than you."
"You idiot, _I_ knew that an hour ago. Would you like to go through a few more permutations?"
"That's okay, I don't trust you anyway."
"And why don't you trust me, when I'm your future self?"
"That's exactly why I don't trust you."
"Good point. You're only half the idiot I thought you were."
"I'm getting tired of you calling me an idiot--"
"Half an idiot."
"I suggest you don't get up out of that wheelchair because if you do, I'm going to slug you. And I'm younger and faster. Why are you laughing?"
"Because you're such an idiot you haven't figured out _why_ I'm sitting in this wheelchair! Have you noticed I haven't moved a muscle from the neck down?"
"You have been rather still, but I thought--"
"No, you _didn't_ think, or you'd have realized I'm a quadriplegic! _That_'s what your silly suicide attempt did to us. I've come back to stop you!"
"But--how can I try to commit suicide, fail at it, end up a quadriplegic, and then travel back in time to warn me about it, all in one hour?"
"That would be my doing."
"Where did you come from? There are three of us now?"
"Don't mind him, he's an idiot. He's just starting to realize how badly he's going to flub the suicide."
"Now, now, let's be nice to your younger self. After all, I'm you ten years from now, and I don't make fun of you. Be nice, or I'll reconsider my offer to take you to the future where modern medicine can cure your paralysis, as it did for me."
"Look, can someone tell me what's going on? Otherwise I'll push this knife into my neck right now!"
"I'm glad we're in agreement, so I won't kill myself _yet_. Now, who are you? Myself, ten years from now?"
"See, he's just figuring it out. I told you he was an idiot."
"Oh shut up, you're both idiots. _I'm_ the one who spent ten years developing the time machine so I could come back and save myself. Found you--_me_--lying on the floor covered in blood. It was lucky we lived, even as a quadriplegic. If you had died, I never would have been able to develop the time machine."
"That doesn't make sense. If I try to kill myself, then how can I come back in time to save myself so I live to create the time machine to come back and save myself? _It doesn't make sense!_"
"Not without me, it doesn't."
"Another one of us! We keep popping up. Who or when are you?"
"I'm you, but from one year ago."
"If that were true, I'd remember you, and I don't."
"Neither do I."
"Neither do I."
"Of course none of you remember me, my older selves. You're _all_ idiots. _I'm_ the one who invented the time machine, one year ago. But I always knew that someday I'd try to kill myself. So I went forward in time and saved myself, though you left yourself a quadriplegic. While you lay there helpless, I did a lobotomy on you. That's why you have no memory of me, and why none of you are the great genius _I_ am, though you all used to be. You're _all_ idiots."
"If I'm an idiot, then how was I able to build a time machine?"
"Because I left notes lying about, telling you what to do. You must have gone crazy, trying to figure out where those notes came from! But I knew that once you had a time machine, you'd come back and save your younger self, as I did, thereby taking myself out of the loop."
"We were doing fine without you. _I_ saved my younger selves. Knowing what he knows now, the youngest won't try killing himself, and the one-hour older one can go to the future with me where we can cure his paralysis. You're not needed."
"None of you are needed, my poor future selves. You probably already feel the effects of the death spray I put in the air when I arrived--_I_ took the antidote. You'll all be dead in a minute, and then I'll take your place in the future, ten years from now. Ah, you're already dead. Pity."
"You're right, it is a pity."
_"Who are you?"_
"I'm you, ten years after you killed these poor souls. I've been living in the future as you planned, but it didn't go quite the way I wanted. So I'm killing you, and taking your place in the future ten years from now, so I can relive those ten years again. You'll be dead in a few seconds from the new death spray I created, which you don't have the antidote to."
_"Who are you?"_
"I'm you twenty years from now. And you don't have the antidote to the newer death spray _I_ just released."
Id and ego?
That was pretty funny, even if it was all dialog.
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