It’s a dark and stormy night. Rod Serling’s familiar voice assures us that Millicent Barnes, the young woman sitting alone on a bench in a drab bus depot, is “not given to even the most temporal flights of fancy.” She glances up at the clock, then walks up to the ticket counter. “Excuse me,” she politely asks the scruffy old ticket agent, “The bus to Cortland? It was due half an hour ago. When will it be in?” Mirror, mirror on the wall…
“She’ll be in when she’ll be in! I told you that the last time you asked!” She denies she’s asked before, and he tells her “You’re either walkin’ in your sleep or hung over or somethin’!”
She steps into the lady’s room. As she washes her hands, the cleaning lady eyes her as if she’s a ghost. “Are you all right, miss?”
“Of course I’m all right!” Millicent says.
“Well,” the maid says, “it’s just when you were in here before…”
“I wasn’t in here before!” Millicent exclaims, anger hardening her face. As she opens the door to step out, she glances in the mirror and sees the momentary reflection of an exact replica of herself sitting on the bench she’d left a moment ago.
As her bewilderment deepens, a kind-faced man, Paul Grinstead, enters the depot. Millicent tells him her perplexing experience, and he assures her it’s some kind of misunderstanding. When the bus arrives, he escorts her to the boarding platform. Millicent, seeing her double already seated on the bus, screams, runs back into the depot, and passes out. The bus leaves them behind, and Paul, concerned, stays behind with her. Millicent awakes and ruminates over the bewildering events. She goes glassy-eyed and tells Paul she recalls having read something about parallel planes where duplicates of ourselves reside. “That’s a little metaphysical for me,” Paul says and adds he’d prefer “another explanation that comes with more REASON.” We can see in his eyes that he’s devising a plan to get her committed.
He steps up to the ticket counter to use the phone. “Parallel planes!” the cantankerous ticket agent says to him. “You ask me, she’s got a leak in the attic!” The police come and take Millicent away. A few minutes later Paul encounters his own Other.
“Mirror Image,” an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” aired in February 1960 when the idea of parallel worlds was only wild speculation. But the foundation for super-gravity, string and membrane theories were laid and with them came the idea of not just one, but ten or eleven dimensions. A young Michio Kaku had already set for himself the goal of completing what Einstein had left unfinished and would spend his life concentrating on string theory and “the physics of the impossible.”
I regret that I can’t come near understanding those concepts and the mathematical equations that explain them, but I can watch “Mirror Image,” that eerie, fun little teleplay, meld my fancy with the possibilities of parallel worlds, and get excited by the notion of other dimensions and how they might—might—affect me.
“Obscure metaphysical explanation to cover a phenomenon,” Rod Serling intones as the screen fades to black, “reasons dredged out of the shadows to explain away that which cannot be explained…” Well, maybe it will be explained—maybe soon!—and by science, not metaphysics. Maybe we’ll have the answer in an equation just one inch long.
Watch it here!: