Rob stepped out of the shower and grabbed the towel from the hanger. Once he dried himself off he wiped the fog from the mirror, dropped the towel beside the sink and put on his glasses. He leaned in close, and felt his chin. It felt pretty rough, but it looked all right. He could probably get away without shaving today. As he stood upright he saw an unfamiliar shape in the reflection up against the ceiling, in the corner of the shower. He spun around to take a better look, but it was gone. He stuck his head around the shower curtain, but nothing looked out of place. He must have imagined it.
“He’s not in there, is he?”
Rob tensed. “Hello?” He grabbed the towel and tied it around his waist.
“Like covering up is the most important thing right now.”
“Where are you?” The voice seemed to be coming from somewhere in the room, but Rob couldn’t see anyone.
“No, turn around. Look in the mirror.”
Slowly, Rob turned back towards the mirror. There was his reflection looking back at him, and there just in front of his reflection, on the counter was a creature covered with pale green-brown fur. It looked about as big as a toddler, but with a more adult build. Rob blinked, and looked at the counter in front of him, but the creature was only visible in the mirror.
The creature waved. “Hi, Rob.”
“Hello… What?” Rob looked back at the counter in front of him.
“Look, I’m over here. Stop looking for me over there.”
Rob closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and exhaled slowly. He opened his eyes again, but the thing was still there. “What are you?”
“Look I’m a… I don’t think you have a word for it. Let’s skip that part. I’m not really supposed to be talking to you like this.”
“Supposed to… But… I don’t…”
The creature frowned, and scratched it’s head for a moment. “Look, this is going to take too long, and there isn’t time. I live in this reality, with this Rob here.” He pointed at Rob’s reflection. “My job is to work with my counterpart on that side of the portal to make sure things match up.”
“Right. So when you look at the portal, you see what you expect to see. It appears to be a reflection of the room you’re standing in, and not an alternate dimension where things are slightly different. In this way my Rob here, and you there, can both tell if you have spinach in your teeth, and everybody wins.”
“What are you talking about. It’s a mirror. That is me.” Rob pointed, and his reflection pointed back, only it didn’t seem to exactly line up correctly. The reflection lowered it’s arm first. Not by much, but…
“Oh, right. You believe that, do you? Makes me feel good to know I haven’t been wasting my time all these years.”
Rob pinched his arm, but he didn’t wake up.
“Yeah, still here. Look, I understand this is sort of a mind blowing revelation and all that, but there’s something more pressing than you coming to grips with your fundamental understanding of the multiverse being wrong. What happened to my counterpart over there?”
“Look, have you ever seen me here before?”
“No, I’d remember that.”
“Right, which means my counterpart on your side there, was canceling me out. We do that. It’s what we do. So, if you can see me, but this Rob here can’t see him, then he’s missing.”
Rob thought this over. “So if he was here, I wouldn’t see either of you?”
Rob pointed at his reflection. “So what about me, er… him? Who is he talking to while I’m talking to you.”
“Rob, he’s not.”
Rob looked back at his reflection, which looked back at him. “Sure he is, I…” The Rob looking back at him had his mouth closed. He wasn’t talking.
“See, it’s getting worse now. Not only is the Rob over here clean shaven, he’s getting out of sync with you while you’re watching each other in the portal.”
Rob felt the stubble on his chin once more, while his reflection ran his hard across smooth skin. “This is…”
“Yes it is, maybe look away. Look back at me, Rob.”
Rob did. Then he suddenly jumped back, and threw his hands up in the air. His reflection did something almost, but not quite, exactly the same.
“Rob, stop. We have a situation here.”
“So, the universe is off kilter?”
“Yeah, but that’s not the problem.
“I’m out of sync with other me, and now all reality will collapse upon itself?”
“No, that’s not it. That’s not even really that important, Rob. I mean, sure, we work hard to keep that from happening, but really, it’s not a huge deal. What I’m worried about is what happened to my counterpart.”
“Right. OK. What do you think happened.”
“He may have been eaten by an eight foot lizard with orange scales and very large fangs, Rob.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because, Rob, that’s what’s standing behind you.”