Cautiously, you sheathe your machete. “All right,” you demand. “Go ahead and say what you have to say.”

Your doppelgänger lets out a sigh of relief and shifts around in the net to make himself more comfortable.

“It all began 35 years ago,” he says. “Your…father, Hafez al-Assad, knew that he would need to choose a successor someday—someone who would be able to continue all of his hard work in Syria. And he realized that there was only one person he could trust with the job. Himself. Which is why he decided to clone himself.”

Eye chart

“Perhaps now you’re ready to reconsider taking the vision test!”

“Wait,” you say. “35 years ago? That’s when I was born. Am I…am I my father’s clone?” As you say it out loud, you realize that you already know it’s true. You can’t explain it, but your whole life, you have always felt like you were a clone.

He nods solemnly. “I am his clone as well. There are a dozen of us, actually. You were chosen to be raised as Hafez’s son while the rest of us were hidden all over the world, ready to step in should anything happen to you, or should you prove to be a defective copy.

“Hafez had to keep this a secret, of course. He never wanted any of us to find out the truth about each other. But I did, and I have spent the last twenty years trying to find all of the clones and gather them together. So when I saw in the news that you were lost at sea, I came looking for you.”

“But…why?” you ask suspiciously. “Why are you trying to find all of the clones?”

“Because I have a vision,” he says. “A vision that we all get together and start our own ophthalmology practice. The greatest ophthalmology practice the world has ever seen!”

And you go on to do just that. Working alongside eleven other Bashars al-Assad, you live out your dream. It might not be the greatest ophthalmology practice in the world. But it is, by far, the one that tolerates the fewest questions and least disobedience from patients.


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