“It’s finished!” David exclaimed, his excitement palpable even over the phone.
“Your ‘duplicator?’” My response was flatly incredulous. “You’re not serious.”
“Naw, man, for real!”
“Get out.” David’s ‘duplicator’ project had been a running gag for months now. If you were looking for David, you could always find him in his basement, working on it. At first, he was tight-lipped about the mess of electronic hardware slowly taking shape down there, but he could only hold out against the persistent questions for so long.
“It’s a matter-energy duplication device,” he’d finally replied, with a grin and a twinkle in his deep brown eyes. And everyone had laughed, and the subject dropped. But every single time he was asked after that, he’d continue to insist it was a ‘duplicator’ device, like something out of science fiction—or Calvin and Hobbes.
And he still hadn’t given up on it now. “I’m telling you, it works!”
“Yeah, okay. So am I finally going to find out what it really is?”
“I told you, it’s a matter-energy duplication device.”
“So you say…. What is that racket in the background?” Most of our conversation had been shouted over what sounded like someone drilling through pieces of sheet metal.
“Okay, well, maybe it’s not quite finished… but it works!”
“Can’t you stop messing with it long enough to make a phone call?”
David laughed. “I don’t have to!”
“Look, just come over already. You’ve got to see this thing!”
“Okay, but only because after five months, I’m dying to learn the punch line.”
As soon as I rang the doorbell, I could hear David dashing up the stairs from the basement, he was that noisy about it. So many heavy footfalls he must have been tripping over his own feet from excitement. And then he swung the door open and spread his arms—all four of them—wide. “Will!”
“Wha…?” I stared stupidly at him, my jaw dropping loose.
“Come in!” He wrapped his right arms around me—confirming their reality to my protesting intelligence—and I stumbled over the threshold.
As he closed the door behind us I turned to face him again, still stupefied. “Da—you—wha—really?”
He grabbed me with all of his hands—his grip was strong—and gave me a good shake. “Really, really!” he exclaimed, laughing.
Still reeling with amazement, I looked him up and down, and did a double take on the ‘down’ part.
“You’ve got four feet!”
David released me from his grasp and looked down at his sneakers, rocking back on four heels. “Yeah, I do.” He looked up at my slack-jawed face and grinned, his brown eyes twinkling. “I told you it worked.”
I just stared at David’s hunky bod, my mind still unable to grasp—no pun intended—the fact that all of those large, strong, tan hands belonged to one guy.
Suddenly one of them shot out and grabbed one of mine. “C’mon, you gotta see this!”
I stumbled and almost fell, unable to keep up with him—staring as I was at all his sneakers in galloping motion—as he yanked me across the room towards the basement door. Then we were flying down the stairs, one of his hands on each banister, the third dragging me behind, and the fourth arm swinging wildly about to keep his balance. It was a good thing he had as many feet as he did, because two were stumbling at any given moment, depending on the others to keep him from tumbling to the bottom of the stairs in a tangle of limbs.
We hit the basement floor at top speed and skidded to a halt, David’s legs splayed to keep him upright, me teetering beside him, holding on to that hand for all I was worth.
With his others, he gestured grandly. “Here it is!” I turned to look.
All the junk that had been strewn throughout the room was now stacked against the walls and in the corners, so the room seemed rather empty, except for the large… contraption standing in the middle. It seemed to be a one-foot-deep metal door frame, connected to a metal-encased console that wrapped around one side. Some of the panels looked rather hastily assembled. I understood where the sounds of drilling had come from.
“I kind of rushed it at the end,” he said. “I was so excited it worked!”
“How does it work?”
“Oh, it’s easy.” He slipped his hand from mine and stepped over to the machine. “Anything you want duplicated, you just stand in here,” he said, indicating the door frame, “and then you activate it on the console here.” He turned and leaned over the controls on the wraparound. His legs stood under the frame.
“I activated it by accident the first time. That’s how I got these!” He grinned, slapping himself on the hind ass.
“You were working on it plugged in?”
He stood, laughing. “I guess I was rushing even then. But it’s cool; now I’m a centaur!” He reared back on his hind legs and kicked at the air. “So then I did my arms so I could finish faster!”
I shook my head in disbelief. “But how does it work?”
“Oh, y’know, science stuff. Do you want to try it out?!”
I stared at him. “I dunno if I—“
“Here, I’ll go, you press the button for me!” He jumped back under the frame and looked at me excitedly.
I moved up to the panel a little nervously. “Are you sure you want to—“
“Don’t worry,” he laughed, “I’m not adding any more arms or legs yet. I want to try its original purpose!”
“I designed it to make complete duplicates of things, I didn’t know it would work this way!”