The Two Dennises

A short story by Hannah Mortimer

Dennis had just poured milk over his cereal when there was a knock at the door. 

He went to answer it. 

‘Hello.’ said the man on Dennis’ doorstep. He had a familiar voice. ‘I am here to take you to our universe.’ The man smiled and gestured first to the tall brunette woman standing next to him, and then to the giant Star Wars-looking spaceship that was parked in the middle of the road and was creating a line of honking cars either side of it. 

It was only when Dennis gave his uncertain ‘hello’ back to the man that he realised where he had heard the man’s voice before. It was Dennis’s own voice. 

‘I don’t think you can park there.’ Dennis said. 

‘Oh don’t worry about that,’ said the man,‘those cars won’t be bothering you for much longer.’ 

My voice sounds much less posh than his does, Dennis thought. Other than that, he couldn’t figure out any other differences. ‘Sorry,’ he said eventually, ‘who are you?’ He had to speak up over the honking cars. 

‘Why don’t we go somewhere a little quieter, hm?’ The man led the way with the woman through Dennis’s house and into the small living room. Dennis shut the door behind them, and sadly eyed his now soggy cornflakes as he walked past the kitchen table. 

The man sat in Dennis’s armchair, crossing one leg over the other. ‘Dennis,’ he said,‘I am you.’ He smiled as if that explained everything. 

Dennis leaned forward from his seat on the sofa, waiting for more of an explanation. ‘What?’ He sighed. 

‘I am you; I am also Dennis-’ 

‘Dennis Hargrove 6771365.’ The woman spoke for the first time.

‘And you are also Dennis, obviously,’ said Dennis 6771365.

‘Dennis Hargrove 1764378.’ said the woman. 

The Dennis with the higher number continued, as the first Dennis looked more and more confused. ‘Basically, I’m you, but from a different universe.’

‘Basically.’ said the first Dennis sarcastically. 

‘Yes. And my universe is much nicer than yours, so I thought I’d come to take you to mine. I want all the ‘me’s to be happy.’ He smiled again, enthusiastically. 

‘But you can’t be me. We don’t look anything like each other.’ The first Dennis wasn’t wrong. The other Dennis was much taller, maybe 6’3, with thicker hair, longer arms, muscly calves and a flat stomach. His jawline was defined, his cheekbones were sharp and he had barely any wrinkles on his face. The first Dennis on the other hand, was shorter, chubbier and balding. He also had glasses and this other Dennis didn’t. 

‘Of course you don’t look like me.’ Said the other Dennis. ‘In my universe, we’ve developed genetically modifying technologies. My parents – or our parents – changed my genes to make me better. I have a faster metabolism than you, quicker reflexes, I’m taller, stronger, and I’m less susceptible to diseases.’ He smiled that strange smile. 

The first Dennis looked at him, his brow furrowed. ‘You might be stronger, and live longer than me, but I don’t see how you think you’re better than me. Why does a chiselled jawline make you more attractive?’ He said, rolling his eyes and realising that the beauty standards in this Dennis’s universe were the same as they were in his own. 

‘It doesn’t matter that my jawline is more chiselled than yours,’ said the ‘better’ Dennis, ‘we can change your genes when you come with us, back to my universe, so that you can look as handsome as me!’ 

‘Change my genes?’ The first Dennis frowned. ‘No thank you, I’m quite happy with the way I look now. I think I’ll stay here.’

‘But you have to come with us.’ Said ‘better’ Dennis. His voice was beginning to sound more urgent. ‘You’re me, and I’m you. Imagine all the fun we could have, all of the ‘me’s together! All of us as one.’ 

Other Dennis was beginning to sound quite creepy. The first Dennis blinked. This was a lot to take in. ‘You’re not me. I’m not you,’ he said. ‘We might have been born on the same day,  have the same parents, but you are not me. I look different to you, I’ve had a lifetime of experiences different to your experiences. We don’t even have the same genes, and even if you changed mine so that we did, we still wouldn’t be the same person; twins have the same genes, but they aren’t two of the same person, are they?’

The other Dennis stood up out of frustration. ‘I can make you better,’ he growled, ‘I can take you to a universe where science has made everything perfect. All of us will be perfect; a whole army of ‘us’es!’ His voice suddenly changed from angry to sweet. ‘All of the other Dennises are waiting for you, Dennis. You’ll finally be among your people. You’ll be where you belong.’ 

The first Dennis stood up. ‘No.’ 

There was a vibrating silence in the air. ‘Vanessa,’ The other Dennis nodded to the woman, ‘use the ray gun.’

The first Dennis, the original Dennis, briefly saw the woman take out a blue weapon and aim it at his head before everything went black and fuzzy. 

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