A Thought In The Write Place: a short story by: GF Willmetts.

I’m one for gadgets. If it’s new, then I want to buy and try it. Hey, in my other life I was a journalist. It’s what we do. This sort of thing becomes a way of life because I wrote about it. Who wouldn’t want a telepathic word processing computer? No typing, just think the words and it would appear on the screen or stored on a chip or printed. The software could even do the grammar. Not 100% perfect, grant you, but reduced the number of edits and it would learn from the corrections made. The only thing you need to do was have a MAD implant. That’s Mind Amplification Device in case you didn’t know. Alone, your thoughts aren’t powerful enough and needs a reception booster. The implant gets around that. All you had to be is calm as you think the words. It can’t record emotions. You have to supply those yourself in the text,

One thing it couldn’t help was concentration but really it’s just a matter of talking inside your head and keeping on subject. As a novelist, it spared my fingers and it could record not only my latest novel, but my ideas, agenda and whathaveyou, wherever I am through a phone/net link. It could even recite it back through an earjack. I could even answer emails and media sites that way. At appointments and dates, you could do things that your host or guests couldn’t see you doing, providing you didn’t hesitate too much. They might suspect but, hey, I’m a writer, they must know I have a pen or something somewhere. It made writing first person a cinch. What was there not to love?

Of course, there are more elaborate models. But who wants to view someone’s dreams? Without conscious control or good concentration, the stories don’t make much sense and, truthfully, the reason we don’t remember most of our dreams is because most of them are so dull. Who wants to pay for all that extras? My words are my images. Let’s leave it at that and I write good fiction that sells.

You haven’t used either versions or just afraid of implants? You might be a social media freak but you need to be a coherent thinker and good writer to make use of it properly. Thjose who tried that weren’t literally wrote garbage.

Why non-verbal than talking? You remember those old computers that the disabled could speak into to generate words? Lots of problems with accents and you couldn’t play music or have TV on at the same time. Thinking your words meant no one could eavesdrop, no noise interference and no problems with accents. Thinking is like singing, you lose your accent. You could even do it while travelling, knowing that, when you got home, a file or hardcopy would be waiting for you to read. A cinch to beat deadlines. Just order the software to post on.

Odd thing though. My agent rang the other week, asking what I’d been taking. Apparently I’ve been sending her some quality work, just not in my usual style and putting it out in one of my older pen names, Neil Nails. Still, she’d managed to place it and I was making money.

All donations gratefully received. It couldn’t be someone hacking my contact link to her. I mean, why not intercept the money as well? I’d never know about it. Even so, I still wanted to look at the material. Tagged Neil Nails and looked. Hmm…it was my style but the subject matter was far more raunchy than what I would normally write. Who was this imposter? It looked like something I might have written in my younger years, giving no regard to political correctness. The sales hits were impressive. Even so, just who was writing this stuff? I’m still a journalist at heart. I need to know.

So, I read the stories, looking for patterns. Whoever it was very prolific. Every morning, there was at least another new story under my name. I could practically stop writing myself at this rate but I’m also competitive. Did I tell you I was very competitive? So between all of this reading, I kept writing myself. Or rather thought the words and let the telepathic typewriter keep up with me. I even wrote an elaborate novel to see if my doppelganger could keep up. Sod it, not only could it, but was even more prolific. I even did my first non-fiction novel being in two minds throughout as to conceal it as fiction, explaining my problem. After all, there wasn’t another book on the subject out there. My doppelganger didn’t do non-fiction. I have found a weakness.

My book did stir a lot of dust with a lot more authors finally admitting they had the same problem. How was I to know? I was too busy reading my doppleganger’s stories to worry about what else was out there. So, it would appear, was every other writer was else as well. No one had a clue what was going on. The general consensus we had some benevolent copyists hacks willing to write under our names and let us keep the money. That hit the headlines but no one stood up to admit they were involved. It made that old street artist Banksy look public in comparison.

It was the latest conspiracy mystery. Explanations were rife. Everything from aliens to a secret writers society. The last one was interesting. What did they expect to happen? An uprising of secret writers to replace us all?

What about the readers? Oh, they were having a well of a time. So much material. A lot of imaginative ideas created by one-upmanship as we tried to stay ahead of our doppelgangers. However, there was also a growing trend for readers to prefer the doppelgangers to ourselves. On one level, it didn’t make any difference. We were still being paid for both. It even beat ghosting. Our doppelgangers must be very rich not to worry about money. Even so, it was an ego thing and ours was slowly being eroded. We had our pride, y’know.

I know one thing you were going to ask. What about our agents? Didn’t they know who our doppelgangers were? After all, they were receiving the stories. They were as clueless as us. They liked the material and it was under our names and it made money. They didn’t see anything beyond that. It was all legal and contract. They were being kept busy and on-line the markets were always growing and making money. Why else should they care? Any message that might come back was don’t rock the boat.

Still, it was that nagging under-current and slowly but surely I was losing sleep over it. Oddly, so did my doppleganger’s output. Well, at least for a while. The material was less but the quality went up. Almost as though they were working more in less time.

You know the effect of a light bulb lighting in your head with a realisation? I had one but how could I prove it? I looked dubiously at my telepathic typewriter. Always less of a mouthful than calling it a telepathic word processor and Telscript was a silly name. Was it my secret doppelganger? If I turned off or removed the MAD chip, I might also lose my Midas income but could it be generating material itself having studied my writing style? Who knew what was going on inside its multiple processors? Those little winking red lights might be hiding its own little secrets. Then again, it might just be a router routine.

When did it fit in the time? I mean, outside of research, I was a professional writer, writing all the time. The typewriter could even keep up when I was exercising. I never lost an idea that flitted across my mind with no notepad or iPad to write it on anymore. So if it was it, when did it find the time? Perhaps I should sleep on it. Hmmm…that would give it time.

I woke up in the middle of the night with the alarm blaring and went over and looked at the telepathic typewriter’s display. It was writing but just stopped. Almost as though the feed had stopped. I thought the command, CONTINUE, but it still didn’t.

I thought some words: MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB. That appeared on the screen. Shrugging, I went back to bed. I’d think about it a bit more in the morning.

The next morning, the file was complete. It even had my line in the centre and had continued from there. I sat and read the story. My style but not me. It did look familiar. It was a shame I couldn’t do lucid dreaming and remember what I was dreaming.

I wasn’t stupid. I did look it up to see if it was possible or not. I’d have to wake up mid-dream. That wasn’t difficult. Just set the alarm at different times and hope it was while I was in my dreaming phase and hope I could remember what I was dreaming.

Of course, I was never that clever with setting devices up and kept sleeping and drifting off over the night. It was a bit of a surprise waking up to the dawn chorus. I was looking over the evening’s draft, through blurry eyes. Some of it made sense but it kept changing scenes, tying in with my waking up over the night. Hmmm…I was right. It’s disjointed and all over the shop…and a copy automatically sent to my agent. Ooops! Bang goes my career.

There was a screen memo on my phone. It wouldn’t take many guesses to know who that was. My agent. No sense putting off the inevitable. Nope! She loved it. Damn, my dream self was also the better writer and could do no wrong. Looks like all my best work would now be at nights. At least I wasn’t out of a job and who would think that my competitor was me?


© GF Willmetts and his doppelganger 2020

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