Here's an idea for a short story; it's literary freeware if anyone wants to run with it and do the hard work of exposition, fleshing out characters, building up tension, etc. It's a science fiction/fantasy story. The protagonists are named Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. A rip in spacetime causes their minds to be transported to Iraq and placed in the bodies of a couple of regular army guys. Simultaneously the army guys' minds go into a kind of limbo, like a pleasant sleep. Perle and Wolfowitz wake up in army cots, are disoriented, and start demanding to be taken to the top brass. Their superiors think they're crazy, and dispatch them under heavy guard to the infirmary for psychiatric exams. On the way to the infirmary, their Humvee is attacked. The vehicle explodes in flames, and here's where it gets really spooky: the soldier's body occupied by Richard Perle sustains no injury, but Perle's actual body, back in Washington DC, which has continued to go about its business (in a parallel continuum), DISAPPEARS! One minute he's feeding his lovely mug with foie gras in a DC restaurant, dreaming up new U.S. military adventures and ways to profit from them personally, and the next minute he's just...gone. Meanwhile, back in Iraq, Wolfowitz is dragged out of the burning Humvee by the Iraqi resistance, taken on a tour of the back streets to see the wounded people and destroyed homes he missed last time around, and then dumped back at the US Army base. He spends a few more days living the dangerous life of Iraqi Occupation troops, trying to convince his superiors he's Paul Wolfowitz, evading bullets and bombs from angry Iraqis. Eventually he's taken to the brig, and suddenly, mysteriously returns to his own body, back in DC. His "Iraq memories" merge with the "DC memories" of his parallel world double. The soldiers' minds return to their bodies, which are unharmed. Alternate endings: Wolfowitz (1) goes insane trying to reconcile his two contradictory sets of experiences and ends his days in St. Elizabeth's, in a room next to John Hinckley; (2) does a Scrooge and becomes the war's biggest opponent. In both scenarios, Richard Perle remains mysteriously vanished. Okay, writers, it's yours!

UPDATE: This was obviously written before the pajama-clad Wolfowitz got awakened by a missile hitting the floor below his Baghdad hotel room. They said he was visibly shaken--good! Meanwhile, news of self-dealing by the corrupt Perle continues to come to light.

- tom moody 8-10-2003 3:13 am

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