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The courtroom went silent. Everyone stared down at the man in black robes. The jury wasn’t sure how to react. The case had just gotten even more peculiar.
The witness stand on the left contained Mr. Harold Smith, a respectable man of 27. The one on the right, also, contained Mr. Harold Smith. No, not a namesake, but Harold Smith himself, eight years younger, but the same identity. His lawyer, Greg House, enjoyed the attention as everyone around him searched for an explanation. He knew they needed time to process what he had just said.
“A…A different universe?” the judge stammered. The stress on the last word showed it was the first time he had heard it in his 42 years of law. “A parallel universe, your honour. To clarify, I would like Mr. Smith to remind us how he came here.” Both the Smiths stared at each other, unsure if they were to speak. “Oh! I am sorry. My client, the young Mr. Smith.”
Mr. Smith looked around the court. Everyone already knew story, but they seemed willing to hear it again. He took a deep breath,
“Everyday on my way to college, I was used to seeing this abandoned building. It only had one story, and was unoccupied for as long as I can remember.
One day out of curiosity, I decided to go inside. As I entered, I saw that the building was three stories tall! It didn’t make sense, but that wasn’t the end of it; I climbed up the cobweb-riddled staircase, but somehow ended up in the basement. Puzzled, I opened one of the doors. It was a bedroom. I looked out a window and saw my own back! I ran out scared and took the stairs back down. I yanked open the main door but instead of leading me outside, the door opened up in the attic!
I was trapped, but then I noticed a window. It showed the street outside. I dashed for it and leapt out. Finally out of the house, I ran for my home. I remember looking back and seeing that instead of the one story, the house now consisted only of the other two stories, which had been absent earlier.
I reached back home and noticed that a lot had changed in my absence. My mother was in the kitchen and she looked older. “Mom” I called out. She turned around and seemed surprised to see me. “Who is it?” someone shouted from behind. I looked back and then I saw him.” Harold pointed at the older Harold standing opposite him, “He called the police when I told him to get out of my house, and here I am.”
The court was met with the same murmur it had experienced last time the incident was told. The jury expressed varied emotions. Some members showed pity, some showed disbelief while the others just frowned with skepticism.
The judge was still flummoxed. He was still far from an answer. A teenage picture of the older Smith lay on the table in front of him, and the resemblance was simply stunning. He wished their similarity was just a coincidence, but the forensic reports and the paternity tests didn’t leave any chance of that. They showed a 100% identical DNA profile. This might have been possible if they were twins, but the eight years age difference ruled that out. Whether he liked it or not, there were two Harold Smiths currently standing in the court.
He took a sip of water. “So, Mr. House, you said something about a parallel universe?”
“Yes your honour.” The lawyer stood up. “Thank you Mr. Smith. I would now like to call upon Dr. Leonard Nicoya to the witness stand.” “Permission Granted.”
An old man from the audience walked up, and replaced the young Harold Smith.
“Dr. Nicoya is a world renowned physicist and a former scientist at fermilab. He has volunteered to share his theory on our present case. So Dr. Nicoya, did you just hear Mr. Smith’s testimony?”
“I most certainly did.” replied the old man.
“Could you please shed some light on this increasingly unusual identity crisis we have out here.”
“It’s definitely a case of parallel universes.” Nicoya stated, “It’s a well established fact that any physical system exists in all its possible states simultaneously, but when measured, gives a result corresponding to only one of its states.
On a large scale for instance, during a coin toss, when the coin is flipping, both outcomes are possible, but when it lands, it shows only one of the results.
Neils Bohr said that this happens because when we try to observe the system, the universe forces it into one comprehensible state, but a young physicist, Hugh Everett disagreed. He proposed his own theory, now popularly known as the “many worlds theory”. He said that when we try to observe a system, the universe does not force it into one outcome, but itself splits up to accommodate all of the possible outcomes. This means whenever we toss a coin, the universe splits into two parallel universes. We see tails in one, and heads in the other.
In short, if an action has more than one possible outcome, the universe splits when that action is taken.”
No one completely understood what he just said, but they seemed to have a gist of what Dr. Nicoya was trying to convey.
He continued, “In the present case, something seemed to have caused the abandoned house to slip into a fourth dimension, making it a possible wormhole. When the old Mr. Smith, eight years ago, walked past the house, he considered going inside but decided against it. This caused a parallel universe to form with a different outcome - one where he does go inside. The house being a wormhole brought him to our universe. It also slowed down time, causing the nine years age difference. Here, Mr. Smith met his own older self, thereby causing this entire episode.
We could try and send him back, but wormholes don’t remain active for long, and the house has probably gone back to where it was.”
Greg House stood up again, “Thank you Dr. Nicoya. You may step down now.” He then faced the judge, “Your honour, Dr. Nicoya’s theory perfectly explains the forensics reports. It also conforms to Mr. Smith’ s testimony. This is the only plausible explanation the court has heard in light of current events. Hereby, I rest my case.”
The court broke into a murmur again.
“Order in the House please!” the judge shouted, slamming the gavel. He was pleased to finally have an answer. All that remained were a few formalities, “Before I proceed any further, I would like to ask the prosecution if he has anything to add to the matter.”
The judge was about to continue, when a heavy voice replied, “Yes, your honour.” All heads turned towards Mr. William Shatner, lawyer for the older Mr. Smith. “I would like to call upon young Mr. Harold Smith back to the witness stand.” Mr. Shatner had been quiet for most of the case and no one could sense where he was going with this. Maybe he was just clinging onto the last hope of steering this case in his favor.
“Science,” He started off, “has fascinated mankind for hundreds of years. We have advanced our thinking to understand the mysteries of the universe, but somewhere amidst the advancement, we have forgotten how to think simple. The answer is not always as complex as the puzzle may seem.”
“Mr. Smith,” He said looking at the young Harold who had just reached the stand, “Would you please take off your shirt.”
“I object your honour!” shrieked Greg House.
“Objection overruled.” Dismissed the judge, curiously watching the drama unfold.
Harold Smith looked around nervously as everyone waited, all eyes on him. He slowly took off his shirt. The sight made the court gasp. Smith just stood there, topless with his head hung down. What followed was a perfectly clean stomach - no marks, no scars… no navel.
“Nineteen years old Harold Smith does not come from some other universe, he comes from a petri dish. He is a human clone made from a DNA sample of my client.
A conspiracy, by no other than the venerable Dr. Nicoya himself.”
The jury stared at him with utter disbelief.
The judge suddenly seemed interested.
“Dr. Nicoya was a fermilab physicist, researching on the many worlds theory. About twenty years ago, fermilab faced a budget cut and stopped funding Dr. Nicoya’s project, citing it as futile and fallacious. As a result, he was left unemployed.
Dr. Nicoya, after years of research, couldn’t bear the humiliation and devised an ingenious plan to win back faith in the many worlds theory.
He managed to get a hair strand from an eight years old Harold Smith, and grew a human clone. He knew that everyday, my client used to pass by an abandoned house, and so he came up with his c*** and bull wormhole story.
Young Smith’s testimony was a mere lie.”
“And with that, your Honour, I rest my case.”