"Have we met before?"
"Have we met before?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Well, to be fair, it's not so much us that I'm asking about, it's you and someone you probably wouldn't know wasn't me."
"That is, you have heard of parallel dimensions, all that?"
"Yes, well I travel between dimensions. This isn't my own. I wondered if you might have met the me of this world."
"Again, why do you ask? That is, why do you happen to be asking me, particularly?"
"Because people have a sort of quantum signature about them, like fingerprints or DNA or pheromones or what have you. Things that bond to anyone they've met, any place they've been, and last, unnoticed, practically forever. I invented a device that can detect this, and it tells me you've been in contact with me."
"If you know I'd met this other you, why did you bother asking?"
"Well, wouldn't it seem rather rude to just come up to somebody and tell them something was so? More polite I think to let them tell me, if they can."
"Ah. Well, in any case, I don't quite... recall.... But wait. Yes, now I think about it, you do rather remind me of someone I spoke to once, some years ago, and in entirely another state. God, I miss that state. ...You remind me of him, that is, in your manner, your speech, personality... and now that he's in mind, his appearance, as well. I only met him the once, very briefly. Are you quite sure you're not him? I'd swear you were both mad in a very similar way; maybe you're the same person."
"We are the same person. And not."
"What else would you like to know?"
"It is my current project to find my other selves and learn of their projects, see if they can help me with anything or I can help them. Many of us find it very difficult to find anyone to keep us motivated in our projects, and I had the idea that we could keep each other motivated. We understand each other."
"I see. Why don't you just find him and talk to him, then?"
"I did find him. Or rather, what happened to him. A project involving lightning which ended rather badly, although I understand there are others independently carrying on similar work. The obvious benefits should they succeed are obvious. Or would be if I told you in depth... or perhaps not. What seems obvious to me is generally not obvious to others, except me. But trust me, and suffice to say, even if no one else, or very few others, gets it, it's obvious. Slow lightning. The benefits are obvious."
"I'll take your word for it. What he suggested to me was that while the world sucks and most people realize it, some people realize it on a level deeper than do the masses. Such people, he thought, had a duty to band together, form an organization to work on making things better. I think that was it."
"Hmmm. Did he have a name in mind?"
"Immortal Octopi. I remember this because, well, I dunno... I guess it just sticks in my mind because it sounds so weird to me. Does it hold any meaning for you?"
"No, but I should run it by Jerrick 23."
"The numbers are of course realistically meaningless, but we need to be able to distinguish amongst ourselves somehow, so I assign each me a number based on the order in which I meet them. I'm Jerrick 1, simply because I knew me first. Well, and I'm the one who does the interdimensional traveling. Of course, I suppose others of me will do it a bit, eventually, if they want to or have a good reason. Jerrick 23 has a project of coming up with meanings for the seemingly random names we come up with for our projects. Originally he just did this with his own projects, but now he sometimes tackles names I mention to him."
"What's he call this project-name-meaning-finding project of his?"
"Rectal Perspicacity. Of course you'll be aware we just go with whatever words pop into our head, and besides him, I don't think any of us have ever bothered trying to think up a reason or meaning for the names. After coming up with that name for the project, he made it his first name to try and find meaning in. What he figured was that 'rectal' was similar to 'anal,' or 'anal retentive' for long, and that that was- in his mind, and we agree- an apt description of any attempt to find meaning in these names. There's no good reason for it, but he feels compelled to do it, nevertheless. Well, we can all be like that sometimes, I can, though more often when someone else has helped us keep with it long enough to really get into a project. He also figured that to figure out seemingly reasonable meanings for some of our meaningless names would require one to be of acute mental vision or discernment, which is how the dictionary defines 'perspicacious,' although sometimes he thinks, looking at the next word down, he should have called it Rectal Perspicuity. In any event, none of us much care for the term, either term, but that's what it's called, for long. For short, we just call it RP, when we have need of referring to it at all."
"And what do you call your interdimensional travel?"
"Interdimensional travel. What else could I call it? It's not like I'm the originator of the very idea; it existed in scientific theory and science fiction, already. Anyway, it's obvious. What else?"
"Well, he did mention that sardines were his idea, I recall. God created them, knowing at the beginning of time that he would be asking for something like that at a particular moment, just before a friend introduced him to them. Maybe you could have introduced interdimensional travel retroactively somehow. Of course, his thinking on such matters... I couldn't quite follow it, some of it seemed contradictory to me. Which seemed natural to him, he said people's minds just work differently. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations."
"Star Trek man, I take it. Well, wouldn't I have loved to get Roddenberry into this Immortal Octopi thing! But now I've a notion simply for it to consist of me, as many of me as possible. So I'll mesh his project and mine. I take it he abandoned it before getting underway?"
"I'm afraid I wasn't interested in helping start it."
"That's quite alright. Probably best. Things generally happen as meant, although I'll say some things go quite contrary to what's meant to be, more's the pity in Earth and Heaven. And I think it was meant for him not to do that but you to tell me and me take it in a different direction. In fact, maybe I could even, all unofficial or something, think in some wise of this ID travel project as IO, Immortal Octopi itself. But I don't eat sardines. Used to as a kid, all the time, till I got bored sick of 'em. Closest now is the occasional pineapple and anchovy pizza. Not the same at all, of course, which is okay."
"I like that bit myself, although I prefer pepperoni, green pepper, mushroom, and onion."
"Although I've sometimes thought of replacing anchovy with Aldebaran shellmouth, which isn't possible, of course."
"Another Trek man, hey? Good show. ...Heh... I didn't mean... but it... heh.... Figure of speech, you know...."
"Quite. Well, look, happy to have been of some help to you. Do let me know how it turns out. Or not. Either way."
"Yes, yes. Thank you for your time, I won't impose further upon it. Good day to you, you cool old bean.... Didn't catch the name, by the way?"
"Not Oscar, anyway."
Jerrick 1 grinned. "Yes, good ol' name divining. No fancy name for that, either, but we all of me do it. Sometimes it works...."
"Sometimes it doesn't. Dave, actually."