Chapter 1: Identity Theift
Jim Dawcy got up before his peers, and addressed the group. “Esteemed undergraduates and professor Hamley”, he nodded at the lecturer. “My name is Jim Dawcy; but it could just as easily be Graham Dawcy.
My mother was adamant that I would be named after her farther, who’s name was Graham. And my father only ever referred to me by his parent’s name, James.
Apparently they were so entrenched in their opinion; that my birth certificate was filled in as James or Graham Dawcy. I still have the said document as proof. As you can imagine my childhood was interesting having to answer to either alias.
I finally settled on Jim, as it apparently annoyed both of them. But also to distance myself from a character in a film I once saw. At that tender age a need to be unique had taken me, and academic certification would not allow me the privilege of vacillating between the two names.
Ironically the topic of my discussion today regards the very film, which sealed my decision on the name I would be known by. It was about a man whose very identity was forcibly removed from him. For the term we use today as identity theft is a misnomer.”
A beefy looking student on the front row raised his hand; for the group was run by strict rules of etiquette, demanded by the exacting minds gathered in the room.
Dawcy paused in his introduction for the expected question; for Sam Miller was his roommate, and had no doubt seen the film Jim was referring to umpteen times. Obsession took on a new level of meaning, with these students of the very nature of reality. “What’s the film called?” Miller asked. Dawcy made a mental note to pay Miller back for breaking the flow of his introduction.
Perhaps some small but erroneous addition to Miller’s data set on his latest experiment, yes that would keep the duffer tied up for an afternoon checking for other introduced errors. For Dawcy knew already that Miller would suspect him, and even as he told the group that the film was called From Noon ’til Three, Dawcy was planning the counter attack to Millers unknown response to the data tampering he was planning.
And then Dawcy continued with his introduction. “But what if you could really steal an identity by the use of quantum laws on a macro scale. One minute you’re Joe Bloggs, the next someone else is, and now your Fred Basset. He living it up with your beautiful wife in a million dollar condo, and your on skid row.”
Dawcy’s lecturer, professor Hamley raised his hand. For in this quorum rank had no privileges, and Dawcy nodded acknowledgement. “Are you proposing the nature of such a device? Or the moral implications of its use?” Dawcy prepared himself for the reaction of the group to his answer. For it would give him a path to his plan of attack in this discussion. “Neither; I propose that not only does this device exits, but that there is evidence out there of it’s use.”
Dawcy stared at the whole group now, for he wanted a gut reaction to this statement from his fellow students, and also his lecturer. Most assumed a look of incredulity at this far-fetched claim. But a few did not.
James Foolow had a misty eyed look, that Dawcy knew to be a sign that his fellow student was cogitating on the information presented. His pet project was wave harmonics, and the patterns he saw spread across the known universe. If Foolow could be relied on for anything it was his bloodhound like determination to see the clue in the chaos. Dawcy made a mental note and moved on.
Arty Chiggers was trying hard not to show the disturbed look of a haunted soul, who had just put the final piece in a jigsaw, and not liked the picture it made up.
Then to his left Dawcy saw professor Hanley staring intently at his notes. Was he hiding his true feelings, or merely checking his prize student was keeping to the brief Dawcy had given him before the discussion began. Dawcy knew Hanley had the power to veto any topic he deemed unworthy of the group’s time, and perhaps he was having second thoughts.
Finally Dawcy’s attention was drawn to Tom Sidewell, who had a nuance of expression from his usual impassive take on the world. As if some slight disturbance was troubling him. Dawcy had his man; the way in to a topic that he hoped would gain momentum. Like a quantum change of bias, Dawcy just needed to nudge Sidewell in the right direction to get the ball rolling.
“Tom, you must have a view on this”, Dawcy brought the attention of the group on Sidewell. And the sudden pressure of all this scrutiny made the student sit up strait in his seat.
He took a second to form his thoughts in to coherent speech. “Well it’s like this you see. I was going to get a present for my aunt. She lives across town, and well she’s got these lamps fixed on her wall. And she always says how shabby they were looking. But the other day I saw three nice new looking ones in a second hand shop, over at Burberry and ninth. Only three ninety-nine the lot.
But when I got over to my aunts, it turns out she’s got four of these lamps.” He paused finally for a breath while the group at large took in his monolog. “But I would swear on the frequency of blue light being six hundred and fifty Terahertz, that she had always had only three.” He finished in the complete silence from the group.
Miller broke in to a laugh. “What in the Sam hill are you going on about you dolt, we’re talking about identity theft not your poor memory. I raise we strike Sidewell’s testimony from the record.”
But now Foolow had raised his hand, and the attention refocused on this new addition to the discussion. “I think Sidewell’s anecdote is not as irrelevant as you’re making out Miller. In fact I imagine such a shift in the number of subatomic particles would be the equivalent of a nuclear explosion for a whole life to be swapped just like that.” And he snapped his fingers. “So the resulting after shocks would probably be felt half way across the solar system.”
“Make sense man, we’re not talking about explosions. We’re taking about swapping people.” This counter thrust came from Fred Howsim, his hand raised high. So Foolow made himself clear.
“The necessary alteration of not just the present set of particles that for instance make up you Howsim; but also the space time trail you’ve got stretching behind you, chronologically spreading right back to your conception would be such an enormous undertaking, it would alter many other parts of reality. I imagine it would occur in a spherical space-time wave, changing little things as it petered out to what we would call normal reality. Such as Sidewell’s aunts lamps. One moment she always had three, the next there had always been four on her wall.” He gave a little nod as if to say Q.E.D.
“But wouldn’t the power drain be astronomical?” Professor Hamley interjected, his hand half cocked yet clearly raised. Dawcy sensed a stalling of his train of thought set free among the group. “A good point professor, but I envisaged when I first came up with my hypothesis, that such a complicated device would be equalled by the means to power it.” “I withdraw my point”, the professor conceded.
This brief act on the part of Dawcy’s professor could have stopped the metaphorical ball rolling, but it seemed the brief respite from the actual topic of conversation had given more than a few present, time to reflect on similar experiences that they had recalled to rival Sidewell’s tale.
And so hands rose in a consecutive flow of information. “I had a blue toy bear, but when I found it in the loft the thing was yellow.” “My brother swore blind he had won a swimming trophy, yet I know for a face he only got medals.” “My collection of bottle caps had a rare tree frog beer cap in it, and now the things gone missing. But I sealed them in. How could that have happened?”
“That’s because you never did have one.” Miller cut across Pavet the last contributor. “Can’t you see Dawcy’s got you lot all tied in knots. If you’ve not forgotten what you’ve done with something you’ve probably imagining the facts to fit some pattern that you think is you. Simply by saying I wouldn’t do that so it’s impossible. And has no one seen the big flaw in Dawcy’s scheme?” He stared round the room at the blank expectant faces, and then he dropped his bombshell.
“Where are all these displaced people who used to be someone so desirable that the operator of this imaginary machine would want to be them?” He stared at the equally dumfounded faces before he rested his eyes triumphantly on Dawcy. But what he saw brought a doubtful look to his visage. For Dawcy wasn’t looking at him. Dawcy was staring up to Miller’s left.
Miller looked over his shoulder at Artie Chiggers, his hand held bolt upright and a determined look in his eyes. As if pronouncing a prophecy of doom Artie’s voice held the room. “My uncle thinks he’s Napoleon.”
This frank admission of madness in the family killed dead any stifled cries of shock or amusement. So raising his hand Sidewell asked “But isn’t Napoleon long since dead and buried? How can your uncle’s affliction be relevant to the subject in hand?” His attention was draw from Chiggers to Foolow, who slowly raised his hand as if he were still considering the problem Sidewell had raised.
“It’s possible the effect could be applied through time, for given the proposed necessity of interchanging what we would describe as a mind or”, and he turned to Chiggers “a part of the mind, for I believe such cases do retain some portion of their former self?” Chiggers nodded as Foolow drew out the words still forming as he followed his train of thought. “So given such requirements time could be just another vector to move along in the relocation process.”
Professor Hamley had his hand in the air once more. “But how can you explain the number of people who claim to be Napoleon, or Joan of arc or Jesus?” This time Miller came to the aid of Dawcy’s argument, as he thrust his hand in the air. “Are you kidding professor, who wouldn’t want to get a chance at being Joan of Arc or some other historical figure, or even the president. Take your pick, Tricky Dicky or perhaps you’d like a go at being general Washington crossing the Delaware.” The fever with which Miller expounded on his thought seemed to lay the professor’s point to rest.
By now Chiggers had rallied himself from his former admission to raise his hand once more. “Are you saying my uncle wanted to be Napoleon, and it sent him funny?” Dawcy had been pondering this, and had an answer waiting below his ramrod strait arm. “There could be some sort of shunting system, where the displaced portion of the mind is affixed in a new receptacle. There may even be a natural process such as past life memory that they have made use of in the process. So when your uncle started believing he was Napoleon, he was simply a pawn in a chain of mental musical chairs.”
“And with that I see our time is about up”, professor Hanley interjected. “A very enlightening topic mister Dawcy. One that the whole class has managed to get its teeth in to. Next week it will be the turn of mister Foolow. Provided he’s not become someone else.” The professor added with a rye grin. And the whole class laughed at his joke.
But as they stood to leave there were quite a few faces that betrayed the thought, that perhaps the world wasn’t quite as certain as before Dawcy had stood up to introduce his topic.