Publish Novellas 11 May 2022
EPISODE 1 – TWIN STRANGER
An international service that reunites widows or lovers who breakup with a perfect match attracts a wealthy client with dangerous motives in this novella mystery miniseries.
The odds of having identical (monozygotic) twins varies around the world and over time. For the United States, it is now about 1 in 333 births. Doppelgänger is a German word that literally means twin walker. A more modern American expression is “twin stranger.” That is, someone with different parents who is identical to another.
Even if there are 50 thousand people identical to you existing in the world, the chance of crossing their paths is remote. Instead of a haystack, imagine a stack of 8 billion needles comprised of 50 thousand each of different lengths. Though the existence of a match is around 1 in 135, researchers estimate that you would need to compare 1 trillion needles to find a match.
Lookalikes have similarities but are not identical. You might imagine that they could be siblings. Resemblance may be subjective as you zero in on the eyes, smile, or mannerisms. It is common to meet people who remind you of a person you know. However, others may not notice the resemblance.
Lookalikes are common in motion pictures as replacements for love scenes and as stunt doubles. Examine actors Will Arnett and Patrick Wilson, Kris Kristofferson and Jeff Bridges, or Krysten Ritter and Anne Hathaway. Depending on hair and makeup, they have similar enough facial structure to pass as doppelgangers. There is even a website to find actors that resemble you.
A new company aims to retarget this technology for more enduring purposes. When looking to match a loved one lost in death, and a sibling is not an option, DoppelMatch merges technology, education, and cosmetic surgery.
“Mr. Franklin Abernathy, if it’s not too difficult, please tell me what brings you to us today.”
“She was my soul mate. We had the perfect marriage, building our lives together, imagining how our future children may look. One tragic car accident brought it all to an end two years ago.”
“I am deeply sorry for your loss,” says Matthew Oneal, the account representative.
“I tried to move on. Friends arranged blind dates. I used apps to search for a new spouse. But none of the women looked like Kathlyn. None of them were Kathlyn.”
“In this vast globe, there are several people who resemble Kathlyn. Fewer have her mannerisms. A fraction have her interests and skills. Only one is a perfect match. The service we offer is to find that one.”
“It hardly seems possible.”
“On your own, it would take you over 100 million lifetimes to do what DoppelMatch does. Advancements in facial recognition software, data mining, and AI social media searching provide useful tools. Combine this with our rapidly growing database of voluntary candidates and we can search through billions of possibilities.”
“How close is the match?”
“There are candidates who match resemblance but not in other respects. Conversely, there are people with the same interests and physical form but not appearance. Our current algorithm is near the center, weighted an additional 20 percent towards appearance.”
“How do you account for the deficiencies?”
“Suppose, hypothetically, that Kathlyn is a movie buff who enjoys skiing and art history. We might identify three candidates: 1) a woman who is an 80 percent physical appearance with no other characteristics; 2) a woman with 60 percent physical appearance and most common interests; 3) a woman with 50 percent facial match and all common interests.
“We can teach someone to ski, educate them in fine art, and have them binge watch movies. So you may prefer the first candidate who most resembles Kathlyn. Hair coloring and makeup can even align appearance further.”
“That makes sense.”
“In a second example, suppose Kathlyn is a beautiful doctor who loves to ski. Our three candidates are: 1) a woman who has a 90 percent facial resemblance but no medical skills nor interest in skiing; 2) a woman with 70 percent physical appearance who is a non-medical health advocate willing to learn how to ski; 3) a woman with a 10 percent facial match who is a doctor that loves skiing. Which would appeal to you?”
“I see how things can get complicated. The candidate in the middle might be the best choice.”
“The final selection differs among clients. That is why we give you options. For simple comparison, I use three candidates but in rare cases there are only two. In other instances there are more than six. Age is another data point that can skew results. By default, we seek matches that are plus-or-minus five years.
“The key is to determine a base level of acceptance before we add a layer of training and other enhancements. A small percentage of the candidates within our database have indicated that they are willing to undergo minor cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance.”
“I better understand the service you offer and am still interested. But your brochure nor website mention the cost. It just says financing options are available.”
“We would like to make this service available to everyone. Right now, the combination of our technology and candidate training is expensive. So we must cater to the wealthy.
“If a loved one was kidnapped, most of our clients would gladly pay seven figures for their safe return. A replica can be just as valuable. But since we are not kidnappers, we can offer the option of paying low six figures per year for up to ten years with surety upon credit approval.”
“So can you give me a ballpark cost estimate?”
“The figures I have already mentioned are the closest estimate at this stage. Once we determine what we have to work with, and what needs to be done for the closest possible match, final pricing takes shape.”
“Six figures is at least $100 thousand with a potential $1 million cumulative fee over 10 years.”
“That is correct. Some candidates live in another part of the world. There are relocation expenses and legal fees. We may even need to teach them a new language. If they go under the knife, the candidate as well as the cosmetic surgeon receives compensation.”
“I’m not balking at the price, but we’re talking about large amounts of money. What type of surety do you require for annual payments?”
“Believe me, I understand your due diligence and am being as transparent as possible. Surety would be an estate of equal value. In which direction are you leaning, Mr. Abernathy?”
“I can give you $1 million up front to see how close you will come to delivering my Kathlyn.”
“That’s fantastic, Mr. Abernathy! As soon as we receive your bank transfer, we can begin the search. In the meantime, please complete the profile questionnaire. There are options for hair color, age, height, weight, gender, nationality, education, skills, hobbies, interests, and languages.
“We also ask for several facial photos and full figure images if possible. Bikini photos provide more information than ones of someone bundled in an overcoat and hat in the snow. All these data points help refine the ideal candidates.”
“The bank transfer should clear within the next few days. That will give me time to complete your form and find the best pictures.”
“Perfect. You may drop the forms off at your leisure with our receptionist without an appointment. After inputing the data and beginning our search, we will schedule another visit. I look forward to finding Kathlyn for you, Mr. Abernathy.”
This concludes a typical interview with a prospective client at DoppelMatch. Five days later, the search begins but results don’t align well with the criteria. With so much money on the line, the company must resort to extraordinary measures.