The King Of Sweden wanted to prove, for some reason, that coffee was dangerous. He did a science experiment. He got two prisoner twins and made one of them drink three cups of coffee every day and the other drink three cups of tea every day.
He was convinced that the coffee drinker would die first. I know I’m right, he thought to himself, sitting alone on the throne, thinking about his kingdom and the twins. I wish I had a twin, he thought.
The twin who drank tea every day died first, aged 83. A pretty good innings. No one knows how old the coffee drinker was when he died, but he outlasted the tea guy. It was proved, therefore, that coffee wasn’t dangerous. Sadly, the doctors who were in charge of the experiment died before either of the twins. So did the king.
We don’t know if the doctors drank tea or coffee or maybe both. The people of Sweden sometimes jokingly refer to the experiment as ‘the first Swedish clinical trial’.
I got to be really interested in the experiment, so I split myself into two twins to replicate it. Going further, building on the greatness of the past master (The King Of Sweden), I split each twin into more twins. We all lived in the same way save for a few simple differences.
One twin ate only brown food. One twin ate only green food. One twin said no at a certain important junction in my life, the other said yes. One twin had baths, one twin had showers. One twin wrote this story, the other twin didn’t. One twin only used blue ink in pens, the other twin used only black ink in pens.
One twin listened to music in an analytical way, the other didn’t overly analyse music. One twin wore mostly odd socks, the other wore matching socks always. One twin changed his name to be less annoying, the other twin kept the name Socrates and always felt annoying to everyone he met.
One twin worked hard and one twin didn’t. One twin carefully watched the earth change while he was alive, noting to himself all of the idiosyncratic characters and events he observed, the other twin lived in a whirlwind of immediacy which precluded any type of filtering or analysis of his experiences. One twin aggressively ate meat and one twin seductively ate vegetables. There was a twin who always laughed, manically, stretching his mouth open so wide people wouldn’t spend time with him and there was a twin who felt embarrassed to let others see his emotional reactions to things and so was expressionless.
There’s this one crazy twin who killed himself and there’s one who didn’t. After the twin killed himself, the one who didn’t got confused and sat at home, alone forever with his mouth open not knowing what to do. Am I still part of the experiment, he’d always think.
Things became hard to predict.
A twin became a carpenter; a twin became a priest. A twin became obsessed with smell and smelled and smelled and, because life is so much more than smell, became interested in military history and took a job in the post office, high-up, and sat often in his office smelling stamps thinking ‘I can do better than this’ and created rare, human-smelling stamps which quickly became popular but, due to an extremely limited edition, quickly fell out of circulation. His corresponding twin wore string vests and felt free and fulfilled in the woods with just a stick for company.
So many twins fell in love. A stupid number. They all found things in men and women that made them feel excited. They bred. The children of the twins were just themselves and many of them didn’t know that their fathers were part of a grand experiment. Most people eventually were related to the twins in some way, as there were a vast number, an untrackable number, a stupid number.
Some twins started pseudo-incestuous relationships with their twins. Many sick, erotic thoughts were had during sex between the twins. Some of the twins in the pseudo-incestuous relationships justified their deviant behaviour by thinking, ‘this is all part of the experiment’. They discussed it together, whispering gently as they lay next to each other in dusty rooms, ‘this must just be part of the experiment’.
Twins suffer from physical and mental impairment. Depression is common in many of the twins. Symptoms are, listlessness, detachment, self-harming thoughts, suicidal thoughts, nausea, self-hatred, extreme self-hatred. The majority of the twins play badminton, some to a high level. There are some local badminton teams composed entirely of twins. The twins love music. They love to laugh. They hate music. They hate to laugh.
The twins are a meat slurry. They are material that thinks. They are divine angelic threads of consciousness. They are the absolute worst. They like Ross from friends. They eat their own shit as an experiment within an experiment. They climb hills and write masterworks of world literature. They are just about the absolute worst lovers you can imagine. They are passionate, engaged politicians with a lust for life. The twins are out of control. They are the police. They will relentlessly stalk you. They will ignore you. The twins put avocados next to bananas in the fruit bowl to make them ripe.
I sit in the special room and meticulously collect all of the information about the twins. Then I icily realise, in all of the heady confusion and excitement of the experiment, that I don’t have an opposite twin of my own. I make one, and he repeats the experiment, but also forgets about having an opposite twin and makes one, who repeats the experiment, but also forgets about having an opposite twin.
In the control room are a few of my twins. It’s late in our lives. We’re all 82 together. We talk about the choices we’ve made and the ones we haven’t. We spend a while drawing a diagram of all of the lives of the countless twins and make detailed, intersecting timelines connecting them all. We think about what it all means and shrug and then make extremely certain thrusting movements to a few of the coalescing points on the image. It’s obvious, some twins say. We’re all the same, some twins say. Fuck you, some twins say. Why have you done this to us, some twins say. It’s obvious, some twins say.