visibile or invisible

visible or invisible


His reality consisted of impossibility, this he understood. He was here in glorious, blazing  Phoenix, on the same streets as you and I, but his Phoenix contained within it the Black Phoenix, the Dark Phoenix, the one that didn’t rise. Impossibility was his reality, he was resigned to this.

He considered himself a member of the poet caste. Not the poet/artist clichés put forth in made-for-TV movies, more a fractured soul, suffering through illuminated foolishness. In truth he was a strange isolationist enfolded, entombed in his thoughts. Waves of feedback circled his broken halo.

He got along fine, with a few caveats. He got along fine once you understood he had an invisible twin, always had, and that’s who he was talking to and sometimes taking direction, from and generally living it up with.

Some things further must be told. This identical invisible twin was only unseeable to other people. He could see, hear and touch his twin, plain as day, always could.

He had a twin. We shall just say that. And now more: depending on factors unknown to either of them, at any given time only one of them was visible, or invisible, whichever suits you. Also whichever was invisible could only be heard by the visible brother.

Which of them was currently visible to other humans was very difficult for them to determine and caused endless bother for the brothers, trying to keep up appearances and all. In fact this seemingly random oscillation between dimensions or phases or frequency of vibration between the identical brothers was quite a thing to have to grapple with and maintain some presentability.

They could see and hear each other at all times, as plainly as your hand is in front of your face when you hold your hand in front of your face. They were twins, to each other as valid as gravity but could only be seen, heard and felt by each other and at any given moment one of them was invisible.

When still concerned with the world at large they investigated many methods of concealing their duality. They explored prolonged silences between each other. Within these islands of silence they strived for no communication, not even hand signals, for endless, desperate days. At times this effectively camouflaged their unique circumstance from the outside world, but wreaked havoc on their relationship and their minds. They were after all, twins.

And anyway these enforced silences, these weeks-long silences, like a staring contest on an epic scale, inevitably failed when they ventured out of doors.  The silence would be broken when the currently invisible twin couldn’t help but respond to outer stimulus, like say a loud noise or a bus coming too close. When the invisible twin started in reflex, it would catch the eye of the visible brother. The visible one would then react bodily to his brother’s startle response, as people do to those around them, with say a jerk of the head or a squinty face or sometimes a frightened scream.

To outward appearances this compassionate, empathetic response seemed spastic or insane, certainly not aligning with standard sidewalk sanity. These strangers could never know they’d seen the currently visible member of a set of identical brothers, who alternated visibility but were here in the same world as everyone else (not entirely true, more later) who simply didn’t want to get hit by a bus, and couldn’t help but react when his twin flinched or jumped or startled.

Episodes like these happened often, until there was no point in the brothers trying to explain. Also the brothers had great difficulty trying to carry the thread of a conversation when trying to explain their condition to a person outside the binary star of their brotherhood. Impossible. Not only was their plight impossible to explain to someone outside their brotherly polarity, but it was practically impossible for the brothers to speak to anyone at any time in a fluid stream, due to the unpredictability of their visibility.

This resulted in further experimentation and exploration by the brothers in how to discover who was visible and also research into how to conceal this doppelganger nature. The most useful of these communication delivery systems involved the twins trying hard to harmonize thoughts and speak simultaneously in response to inquiring strangers.

Sometimes these inquiring strangers possessed some hollow authority. In fact, the brothers regularly found themselves confronted by someone who could throw them in jail, or lock them in a round room or define them as somehow dangerous.  These volatile, disastrous encounters fomented the brothers isolation.

Despite unsuccessful interfacing with the world at large, they continued to strive to discover which twin was visible when. They stayed home for two years, six months and twenty-seven days. Nine months of this time was spent entirely in side-by-side, super-single beds surrounded by dressing room mirrors. This experiment did not yield any revelatory findings, other than the realization that waking up suddenly and seeing yourself reflected a dozen times is startling.

Later in the two-and-a-half years and twenty-seven days of isolation, they arrayed the door-sized mirrors around restraint chairs, and hooked up sophisticated time-lapse video equipment. They secured enough food and placed it within arms reach. They supplied themselves with a year’s supply of Good Housekeeping. They plugged up and in various implements and instruments, rolled tapped and strapped themselves into the chairs.

The resultant footage yielded little other than fodder for a future study on the psychological effect of restrain and sleep deprivation on identical twins.

In this time of isolation they learned little about how to determine visibility, though they did learn mirrors were a good tool. Water was the second best but least practical method to divine who was currently in view. Unfortunately, neither method worked very well, because of the randomness of the brother’s shifts. But they persevered in their desire to explain and master their condition. They did this for science and for sanity.

Also despite their specialty, they were still social beings and needed sunlight and human contact. For this reason the time in bed was not some great meditation and didn’t reveal great hermetic visions on humanity, other than some minor reflections on dual loneliness. In fact it chipped away at their already tenuous sanity, what with having to reconcile the reality of their situation with things like the laws of physics and the idea of being in a body in the first place, so they eventually resolved to venture out again.

During one blazing summer the brothers devised another method to help determine which of them was in the “normal” phase space. The siblings stood on opposite sides of the entrance of a particularly well mirrored high-rise, holding up pocket mirrors. The small mirror of the twin that was “on”  would create a recursion, a wave of infinity reflected in the small and large mirrors, while the other twin’s mirror only reflected the surroundings.

They stood sentinel for weeks beneath the baking sun before the building’s mirrored glass with the hand mirrors aloft. The goal was to find a pattern, a rhythm to the oscillations, a way to better navigate the strange challenge of being partially visible twins. But the trial yielded wildly inconsistent results. There was no pattern, no formula, at least not one they could discern. For one second the left twin’s mirror was blinking recursive static, the next the right. Sometimes whole hours would pass without change, and then every other eight seconds. It was discouraging, not to mention the curious looks from people on the street when they observed a solitary figure standing stone still holding a hand mirror up to the mirrored high-rise.

They tried many other things, but none of them allowed either of them to pass as ordinary for more than short ineffective periods of time. So they did what most sane people would do in this extraordinary situation: they gave up. They stopped caring about the usual world and its contents and carried on with what was important: brotherly love and preserving their delicate, hard fought sanity.

This allowed them to focus on gaining some understanding of the “Other Phoenix,” they both experienced when out of phase, the Dark Phoenix that was just as real but seen by few and understood by almost no-one.

They made understanding the Black Phoenix their quest. They had two advantages over other seekers of the inside-out world. One, they were twins who were sometimes invisible and when invisible they existed in this other place. And two: While there they’d found the original, impossible inside-out map of the Dark Phoenix. But that is another tale.


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