I knew, by his crossed arms, the way he rolled his eyes at himself, and particularly by the pale translucence of all three of him, that I was looking at a classic case of version conflict.
“I said stay away from her,” said one I decided to call Art. Nicknames help. Thick square rims, a jaunty fedora, a crisp T-shirt for a concert by a band that broke up before he hit preschool. He was yelling at a paler self in a white collared shirt and slacks. They were trailed by a bored looking him in sunglasses.
“What seems to be the problem, sir?” I asked. Rule number one: stick to the singular.
“I can’t get him to commit,” said Slacks.
I scanned his chip. Eduardo Martin, 34, programmer. No spouse or kids, but adoption records from the county shelter for two cats. Sealed tax records, a social security number, mortgage history. Subversion Inc. member for five years, currently version 4.1. Definitely the primary.
“And your subversion?”
Art glared at Eduardo, but extended his arm. Eduardo Martin, 34, barista. Same social security number. A different home address. And, most intriguingly, he was listed as version 1.0.
“You see?” said Eduardo.
“Let me check.” I ran through Art’s commit log. “Says you branched off from 2.5, hmm, two years ago. That’s a bit long. Company policy recommends no more than six months between full reconciles. Probably caused some glitch in the occupation and version number.”
“It’s not a glitch,” said Art. “I want to apply for Emancipated Branch status.”
“No, no, no,” said Eduardo. He flailed his arms and paced. He looked even paler up close, but maybe that was the fluorescent shop lights. “You’re nothing without me, nothing!”
“Um, Eddie?” the third Eduardo spoke up. He gently caught his arms before he knocked over a tray of pamphlets. “Calm down, man.”
I had not paid him much attention, as he was clearly a very minor sub. A Watcher. The part of yourself you spin off to be your own lookout. I had one of my own parked in front of my boss’s door, waiting for his meeting to end. It was easy to forget about watchers, if you weren’t careful.
And Eduardo was not a careful man. I searched his record. No fewer than ten versions out, though none older than two weeks. Except for Art.
“Sir, we strongly recommend against having more than four subs at a time,” I said. “Having too many threads often leads to, ah, complicated reconciliations.”
“You see?” said Art. “Accept it, it’s over. Just let me branch.”
“Out of the question!” said Eduardo. His expression froze.
On my screen, I could see that one of his subs had just been checked in, reconciled, checked out again. This one was located at his office.
I smiled sympathetically. “Couldn’t get time off?”
“That’s why I signed up,” he said. “‘I’ just sat through a two hour meeting, and this is the first time anyone even mentioned my name. Best sub I ever made.” He glared at Art. (Continue Reading…)