The Gary Incident

Written by Caleb McLemore

Photograph by   Engin Akyurt

Photograph by Engin Akyurt

“Just a few more to go.”

Gary leaned against the wall to catch his breath. He had cuts and bruises all over his body. He had a large hunting knife covered in blood in his left hand, but there was no blood on him. Tears welled up as he worked to control his breathing. He can’t be heard by the others. He knew the end was nearing. Soon this nightmare would be over.

He’s the only one in the room, but it looks like a hurricane blew through the house, destroying the furniture, objects strewn about erratically. The room had a door on opposite walls. One lead to a hallway which had the exit door that’s currently locked. The other door led to a large main room that contained doors to many other rooms throughout the house.

Gary slid down against the wall until he was sitting. “Being by the last room before the exit is the smartest thing right now,” he thought to himself. There had to only be a handful left, so waiting it out here saves him energy. “Perhaps I’ll get lucky and they’ll all kill themselves and save me the effort.”

Loud noises and banging against the walls rang throughout the room. Gary’s head popped up as he carefully listened. Screams could be heard, but were quickly silenced. The noise was getting closer. Gary, exhausted and sore, slowly brought himself up, knife in hand. He walked over to the door they would be coming through and stood next to it. “I’ve come too far to go down now,” he thought, “the sheer amount of noise means everyone left must have all ran into each other.”

The noises of the fight continues as they get closer to Gary). The noises began to settle when a gunshot went off. There was a pause and then several more gunshots. Thumps could be heard from bodies hitting the floor. Gary’s heart began to race. “One of them actually managed to find a gun that still had bullets? I thought there weren’t any left!”

The silence that followed terrified Gary. The fight clearly ended, but he somehow ended up worse for the wear from it. Gary knew there was at least one person left, but perhaps an alliance was made? Now he felt underprepared.

Gary heard footsteps. They were faint. The person (or persons) is sneaking towards the room Gary is in. “Good,” he thought, “if they are overly cautious, I can take advantage of that.”

The doorknob begins to turn. Gary raises his knife, ready to strike. The door swings open. Gary lunges, but there was nobody there. He falls to the ground. He looks out the door and sees the person standing there with a pistol pointing at Gary’s head.

The person was also Gary. They were identical in every way. The only difference was their color of shirt. Gary With the Gun had an emerald green shirt while Gary on the Ground had an aqua blue shirt. The dramatic tension is tangible, but neither Gary made a move.  

“The fact you haven’t shot me yet means that gun is out of bullets.”

“You willing to bet your life on that?”

“I’m on the ground and despite my best efforts, ended up bringing a knife to a gun fight, so I’m betting my life no matter what I do.”

“Well, how about this: push the knife towards me and we’ll go from there.”

“And why should I--”

Gary fires the gun and the bullet hits the ground right next to Gary’s hand holding the knife.”

“Take a wild guess where the next bullet goes if you don’t push the knife over?”

Gary has no choice. He pushes the knife over. The other Gary bends down and picks it up. He immediately throws it far behind him. He then points the gun at Gary’s head and pulls the trigger. The gun clicks, but no bullet comes out. He tosses the gun behind him.

“I think we should have a talk.”

“And why on earth would I bother talking to you?”

“We’re all that’s left and the original hasn’t been killed yet, so we have an impasse. We’re both exhausted and I think you would agree that with the others gone, thinking rationally is much easier.”

Gary hadn’t had much time to think, but as he laid on the ground, his mind did seem much clearer and processing what he’s been told so far has come easily.

“Okay, let’s talk, but we’re gonna need names for each other since going back and forth with Gary is only going to get confusing and I would like to enjoy the clarity I’m feeling right now.”

“You have a point. Keep it simple and go by our shirt color? Makes as much sense as everything else right now.”

“Sure thing Green Gary.”  

 “How about just calling me Mr. Green?”

“Really? And I’ll be Mr. Blue? We remaking Reservoir Dogs? Should have kept some of the others alive then. Could have had the whole cast.”

Mr. Green reaches down and helps Mr. Blue up. “Or maybe we remake the Clue movie,” Mr. Green said while chuckling.

The two of them look around the room and see two chairs still intact. Each of them grab a chair and sit across from each other.

“So what exactly is the point of this little chat?” asked Mr. Blue.

“This is more of a recollection. Surely you noticed that you only started to remember what led to all of this as the herd started to thin out?” replied Mr. Green. “This is for us to make sure the story is kept straight before deciding who gets to live. We have to remember, otherwise, we lose the whole point…I think.”

“Right. So let’s see…the original Gary had a unique ability. He could make perfect copies of himself, right?”

“You’re right. He, I mean us, I mean me…let’s call him Gary Prime, kept things very simple at first. He would only create one or two copies for basic purposes. Extra hands to clean, finish work, etc.”

“Oh yeah," said Mr. Blue, “Gary Prime - that sounds so dorky - became more confident in time since nothing bad happened and created more copies. Of course the moment you think you understand something, that’s when it all goes downhill.”

Mr. Green snaps his fingers in agreement, “Exactly. He could have the copies disappear at will, but as he made more and kept them out longer, he began to lose control.”

Mr. Blue quickly chimes in, “The copies can all think independently of him and each other. The amount of existential crises happening would be enough to make philosophers blush.”  

“So rebellion was natural, but how did we end up here?”

They shrug. Any memory relating to that hadn’t returned to either of them. Both men get up and search the room for answers. There’s nothing but trash.

“Isn’t this where the heaviest fighting took place?” asked Mr. Green.

“Oh yeah. Everyone naturally went for the exit at first before scattering. I was a part of it for awhile before getting out. I think we all convinced ourselves this was some sort of sick joke. That this was some sort of dream.”

“Not hard to do when confronted by dozens of people who are copies of you…I mean, copies of one of us…you know what I mean.”

“But why can’t we just simply leave? I can’t seem to remember that part. Who is keeping us here? Why were there so many of us---”

Mr. Blue falls to the ground, screaming in pain. Mr. Green is lightheaded, but stumbles over to Mr. Blue to help. Mr. Green grabs Mr. Blue’s hands and pulls him up. “It’s ok. Just breath and calm yourself. The memories of all the other Garys that died a few minutes ago are syncing up with us. This’ll pass.

Mr. Blue takes deep breaths as he regains composure. He grabs his head, which feels like it’ll explode at any moment. He walks over to the chair and sits so he can figure out the information that just entered his head.

“Why didn’t this hit you as hard as it did for me?” asked Mr. Blue.

“I’ve been very busy and absorbed a lot of memories. You adjust to what happens. I take it to mean you’ve been mostly hiding and waiting then?”

“Yeah,” said Mr. Blue with slight embarrassment, “the idea of murdering myself, even if it’s a copy, was a bit much for me to handle. These memories I’m getting from the other Garys…this is insane. How are we not insane from receiving so much information?”

“I think it’s because our brain still relates all of it to us,” said Mr. Green, “it knows it wasn’t us specifically, but still coming from us. It would explain the headaches.”

Mr. Blue stomps the floor in anger. “Damn it. There goes my plan for discovering which of us is real.”

“Got a memory that showed you the truth as well?”

“Yeah. So all of us can bleed and hurt like the real Gary, but when a copy dies, they basically poof out of existence after a couple of minutes. This also puts me back to square one. I really thought I was the original.”

“We all did,” said Mr. Green as he continued to search the room, “well, most of us. A few of them seemed right at home being a copy and just decided to kill everyone hoping to find the original. Kill the original, and everyone goes too. It was suicide with extra steps.”

“It also explains why you didn’t kill me with the last bullet you had. We’re down to it being a 50/50 chance now.”

Mr. Green nods. “Let’s try looking around the rest of this place. We might find something with it only being us.”

Mr. Blue agrees as he stands up. His head still hurts, but the headache has gone down. They head through the door to the main room.

“I haven’t seen much, so how big is this place?” asks Mr. Blue.

“Decently big. There’s just the one floor, but these doors each lead to a hallway, and those hallways have various amounts of doors. Most of the rooms I’ve seen look like what you were in. Huge war-zones everywhere you go.”

Mr. Blue looks through the room and scans the mess. “How many of us were there? To cause this much destruction in such a large area…”

“Dozens at least. Maybe even a hundred.”

Both men alternate looking through each door, but met with the same results. The door opens to an empty hallway and all the doors are wide open, making it clear there’s no point to searching further. Mr. Green comes up to the final door and notices there’s a lot of scratches around the doorknob. There’s even dents in the door from people trying to break it down. He tries the doorknob. It’s locked. He knocks against the door to see how solid it is. Before he makes an assessment, a voice calls out.

 “Go away.”

Mr. Green freezes in fear. He wasn’t expecting this. He knocks on the door again and says, “There’s only two of us left. You can come out, or you let us in. We won’t hurt you. We’re trying to figure some things out.”

Mr. Blue rushes over. He has a terrified look on his face. “I’m getting a memory that involves this guy. I think we should do what he says.”

“How the hell are we suppose to finish this if we don’t? It is either another Gary or someone that can give some answers.”

“Look, all I know is that there was a big group of Garys trying to open the door to get to him. There’s something special about him, but they obviously didn’t get in. They’re the ones who made the dents and scratches.”

Mr. Green thinks it over. “How does one person hold off a group like that? How does he stay holed up and nobody notices?”

Mr. Green understands that Mr. Blue is worried, but they need answers. He knocks louder on the door. “Just let us in! This won’t end until there’s only one of us left anyway, so why put this off?”

A long silence falls between everyone. Mr. Green stares at the door hoping for something to happen. Mr. Blue grabs his head and is racking his brain to figure out why the memories are saying to stay away from this door.

The door unlocks. Both Green and Blue take two steps back and put their guard up. The door opens and they are greeted with a site neither of them were expecting. It was another Gary, but he had a IV in his arm and a mobile metal rack that it hung on. Before either of them can react or say anything, the new Gary pulls out a pistol and shoots Mr. Green in the head. Mr. Green falls to the ground dead.

Mr. Blue screams in shock and terror. “Why did you--”

New Gary points the gun at Mr. Blue’s head. “I am very tired. Come inside and I will explain everything. Don’t worry, he was only a copy.”

“...but…how do you know?”

“Because I’m the original. Oh, and just call me Gary. No need to put some adjective with it like you and the other one were using.”

Mr. Blue is stunned. He hesitates, but follows Gary. He has so many questions.

“I know you have a lot of questions Mr. Blue, but I need to sit first.”

Mr. Blue enters the room and it is a lavish bedroom. Next to the bed are various pieces of medical equipment. Gary slowly makes his way to a big recliner and sits. He's much older than Mr. Blue and looks like he’s barely slept in weeks. There’s another chair across from Gary that Mr. Blue takes.

“So before I start going crazy with exposition, I’ll explain the easy part. Copies of me may think and act independently of me, but I can still see into their minds. Obviously a bit difficult when there’s a lot of copies, but when it was just you and Mr. Green, it gets pretty easy. It is why I opened the door. I was waiting to see if I could sense others.”

Mr. Blue sits down and takes in everything that’s happened so far. He grabs his head. The headache has returned.

“That’s probably the memory of Mr. Green going into your head now.”

As Mr. Blue’s head begins to calm down, his eyes go wide, “He was going to betray me, wasn’t he?”

Gary nods his head yes. “He survived as long as he did by alliances and betrayals. He kept you around to help gather information. Once he believed he got enough from you, he’d kill you. That’s why I shot him and not you.”

“Ok, enough with not addressing the several elephants in the room. What the hell is going on? Why so many copies? Why some crazy battle royal to the death? Where are we? Is there a point to any of this?”

Gary takes a deep breath and collects himself. “I am dying. It isn’t cancer or some disease. Turns out making copies at the rate I was has a trade off. It’s why I look about forty years older than you. Combine that with tremendous mental trauma and you get the situation happening right now.”

“What happened?”

“Well, you and Mr. Green were correct. Making copies eventually became a problem. They began to have their own motivations, dreams, and desires. All of those things would come back into my mind and after awhile, I couldn’t differentiate between my thoughts and the thoughts my copies had. I didn’t know what was real anymore, so I decided to make a few copies that would stay out and have all those thoughts to just themselves. I could be me and they could be them. I would never make copies again and everyone is happy.”

“Except when they turned on you.”

“Exactly. No matter what they would do, they knew they weren’t real, plus my body began to breakdown and age, so I knew I needed to do something. This is my home that we are in. I created a few copies to help set things up, create an exit door, etc for my big solution. Pretty sure you know bits of it already.”

A light-bulb goes off in Mr. Blue’s head, “Have hundreds of copies fight it out until there’s one left that has all the memories, both yours and what copies have gathered over the years. They would be the best of both worlds.”

“I think it was brilliant, until the traumatic moment of course. Surely you know which I’m referring to?”

“You mean with Selina?”

Gary slumps in his recliner. “The woman who I loved so much…I believed that the sun rose and set because of her. She could do no wrong in my eyes. She told me I wasn’t enough…”

Mr. Blue remembers the rest, “In your sadness and anger, you accidentally created a copy that was the embodiment of those two emotions. He went out and murdered her and then killed himself. Jumped off a bridge and then his body disappeared.”

Gary wipes tears away and composes himself, “I was too much of an emotional wreck to even notice what happened. When those memories hit me…I was inconsolable. I knew this last big fight had to happen.”

“So have your copies fight as a means of beating yourself up for your mistakes?”

“No. I realized that I can essentially transfer the title of being the original to a copy if I chose to. It’s sort of like a soul transfer if you believe in…wait…this is me I’m talking to, so of course I do!”

“You wanted a successor? Surely there are simpler ways than this?”

“There wasn’t. I didn’t want to create another monster, so I had to create hundreds of clones in the hopes a worthy one would be made. One that showed he wasn’t just a copy. You did that.”


Gary chuckled, “You had a giant, bloody hunting knife, yet you used it on nobody. The knife was already bloody when you found it. You basically outsmarted everyone by knowing where to hide and what room to stick to.”

“So you wanted a clone that’s a total coward?”

“No. You were the only clone that didn’t show anger, rage, or hurt. All of the others did. They were no better than the monster I accidentally created back then. Even when they started piecing memories together, it didn’t change their minds. When you screamed earlier, you were feeling the weight of the situation. Mr. Green was barely affected because he was a borderline psychopath. The fact you couldn’t bring yourself to kill where the others were trigger happy says it all.”

Mr. Blue stands up and begins to pace around the room. “Does this mean you take over when this transfer happens? Do I cease to exist?”

“I will die when the transfer happens. I will live on through you, not the other way around. You know how people wish they could go back in time, but keep the knowledge they have now? This is the closest thing to that you can do. You will have all of the memories, but since you started as a copy, it all flows naturally in your head. There’s no jumble to sort through and since you didn’t actually live my life, you won’t be burdened by any remorse or guilt. You noticed how I was in tears just mentioning Selina, yet you were fine? That’s because you didn’t actually experience any of that. You get a clean slate and a lifetime worth of knowledge to help guide you along.”

Mr. Blue stops and thinks things over. “So I go from fearing for my life, convinced I’m the real Gary, to finding out I’m not, but I can become him…sort of. I didn’t think this day could keep topping itself in weirdness.”

Gary sits up in his recliner. His face and tone have a sense of urgency to it. “I know this is a lot, but I need an answer. I don’t have much time left. If you want to end it here, then kill me and that’ll be it. If you want a second chance at life, then take up my offer. I threw such a fantastic gift away on petty things and I ended up killing someone I loved, despite what her feelings towards me were. This is my way of trying to use my gift one last time, but for something good.”

“But I’m still you. It’s your body, your soul, and your everything.”

“You will be the best version of me possible because you felt the memories and impact of my best and worst moments and stayed true to who you, not me, are. Become your own man. You can even call yourself Mr. Blue if you have an affinity towards it.”

Mr. Blue looks around the bedroom. He and Gary stare for what feels like minutes, but was just a few seconds. He’s made his mind up.

He walks to Gary and holds his hand out to shake. Gary laughs, “Did you actually know that’s how the transfer works, or just a lucky guess?”

“A guess. Symbolic and all that too I suppose.”

Gary grabs Mr. Blue’s hand. A light shines from Gary and moves over to Mr. Blue. Mr. Blue is startled, but the light is warm and inviting.

“Thank you,” says Gary.

Mr. Blue smirks. “No problem. If any of you remains in here, I’ll show you how to properly be Gary. Second time is the charm after all.”

Gary lets out a hearty laugh as his face goes pale. His hand lets go and drops down. Mr. Blue leans Gary back into the recliner. With his last bit of energy, Gary points at his bedside. His hand goes limp.

Mr. Blue walks to where Gary pointed and sees there’s a button on the nightstand. He presses it and he hears a door unlock. He smiles.

Mr. Blue walks out the room, but pauses at the doorway. He looks back at Gary one last time.

“Thank you. I’ll live life to the fullest. For both of us.”

Mr. Blue closes the bedroom door as he heads to the exit.

More Short Stories like This…