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He lives above a tailor’s shop in Aarhus, Denmark. He is five feet six inches tall and weighs approximately 140 pounds. He has no outstanding features that would make him stand out in a crowd. He is a man with a past who has done things for money that most people would not do. Because of this there are many people who are looking for him. These days he goes by the name Edgar Quint. This is the latest of the names he has used during the past twenty years. Six days a week he gets up and goes to work at a factory that manufactures women’s shoes. He is a conscientious employee who does not talk with the other workers unless it is relevant to the job. Every other Friday he takes home a modest paycheck and deposits it in the bank across the street from the factory where he works. Since he has moved to Aarhus he has made no friends. Although before he arrived here Mr. Quint enjoyed the companionship of women, he has come to believe at this point in time it is best to avoid such entanglements.


His face, although not unattractive, would not be described as handsome. He usually wears a pair of grey slacks and a long sleeve dark blue work shirt. The most noticeable thing about him is that he speaks with a lisp. It has been two months since Cornelius Quint settled in Corinth, Arkansas, a town with fewer than 100 people. Although for the past five years he has traveled across the country and found work as an itinerant laborer, in truth, for many years he has had access to unlimited funds. Since his arrival in Corinth he has rented a room in the home of an elderly spinster. Long ago he served in the French Foreign Legion and later became a mercenary who fought in the Sierra Leone Civil War. He is wanted by the authorities in Kenya and South Africa for animal poaching. This Mr Quint knows that if and when he decides to leave Corinth it will only be a matter of time before he encounters someone who knows him by a name other than Quint.


His name is Constantine Quint. He is a large man with a port wine stain birthmark on the left side of his face. He sweats profusely even when it is not warm outside. Prior to managing a casino in Marseille, France he had many other names. At five minutes past noon, Mr Quint opens a steel safe that sits underneath a window that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and removes a stack of currency. Licking one of his fat fingers, he counts out fifty thousand euros in one hundred euro banknotes. After doing this he picks up the phone on his desk and calls downstairs and tells the guard to send up the young lady who is waiting in the lobby. A minute later she rings the bell outside his office. He unlocks the door and tells her to come inside. She is a curvaceous woman with large breasts and a rosy complexion. He tells her to take off her clothes. He puts the bills in a pouch that is attached to a belt that encircles her waist. He then tells her to put her clothes back on and to use the staircase for the back exit to leave the building.


He is, for the most part, a nondescript middle-aged man. His name is Byron Quint and he is the sexton of the Church of Perpetual Resurrection in Rexburg, Idaho. Besides scrupulously attending to the physical needs of the church, he regularly contributes to the conservation and maintenance of Orangutans and Eastern Lowland Gorillas. He is the owner of a large collection of Karma Sutra esoterica, which he sells online and on weekends at swap meets. This Mr Quint is something of a curiosity because although he is bland in appearance and almost seemingly devoid of personality, for some unfathomable reason for as long as anyone can remember females have been drawn to him. Because of the latter he has sired more than thirty-five children, only a few of whom bear his surname. As far as anyone can remember, he has always lived in Rexburg, yet no one can ever recollect meeting his parents or, for that matter, any of the six siblings he claims were also born and raised in a house that, before it burned down, stood on the corner of Cook Street and Mark Avenue. 


Isiah Quint is bald with an intricate tattoo of a snake on the top of his skull. He is a diminutive man with exceptionally large ears. Afflicted with an uncommon form of dwarfism, during his thirty-nine years on the Earth he has seemingly overcome most if not all of the challenges life has presented. He is an enigma to many because, in spite of the fact that he is a peddler of illicit drugs, bootleg cigarettes and pornography, he regularly attends a Greek Orthodox Church on the outskirts of Athens and donates generously every time the collection plate is passed around. Whenever he is detained by the authorities he insists that his name is Isiah Quint and provides documentation to confirm his identity. Some people in law enforcement have their doubts. There is one man in particular, a high ranking official in INTERPOL, who believes this Mr Quint is a bastard ancestor of the evil Russian prophet and mystic Grigori Rasputin, in large part because a DNA analysis undertaken after one of his arrests revealed he is a carrier of the same recessive genes for both dwarfism and large ears that a Ukranian geneticist identified in Rasputin’s lineage. 


At 8 AM on August 4th a car pulls up on the shoulder of Exit 135 off Interstate 70 outside of Ogallah, Kansas. A man with a deformed right hand and noticeable limp exits the car and begins to walk west alongside the highway until he sees the mileage marker designating 131 miles. At this point he moves down off the road, jumps over a culvert, and proceeds to walk in a northerly direction for an hour and a half. After traversing fields of wheat and sorghum he finally sights what appears to be a rusted weathervane that had been pounded into the ground. Using his good hand, the man digs up the earth beneath the weathervane and, after more than a few minutes, retrieves from a not so shallow grave a mildewed black backpack. Without bothering to look inside, he straps on the backpack and continues walking westward until he reaches an elevated mound on the outskirts of a small town. At this point he takes off the backpack and removes from it a plastic bag containing four components which, when assembled, become a high-powered rifle. Lying on his belly in a bed of yellow and purple wildflowers he waits another hour and a half until a blue Volvo appears at the north end of the only road leading directly into town. This man, whose name is Mr Quint, carefully situates the rifle on a rock, adjusts the telescopic sight, and finds the driver’s head in its crosshairs. He pulls the trigger and fires one bullet into the brain of a man who will later be identified as Jericho Quint.   


As far as anyone knows Jericho Quint had never married nor had he had any children. For thirty-eight years he was a Professor of Physics at The University of Kansas in Lawrence where he conducted research on the EPR paradox ― a perplexing anomaly of time and space. When the authorities scrutinize Jericho Quint’s personal life nothing seems out of order except for the fact that buried among his personal papers is a barely legible birth certificate for one Benoit de Maupassant born 1:23 AM on October 17, 1952 in Lyon, France, which happens to be the exact time and day that Jericho Quint was born in Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. 


It involves a mysterious relationship between two particles that is maintained no matter how distant they are from one another. Often referred to as the EPR paradox because Albert Einstein and two young colleagues Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen published a paper in 1935 in which they argued that quantum mechanics was incomplete, since it was incapable of explaining how the behavior of two particles can be related to one another over vast distances. The paradox is perhaps best understood if one envisions two apparently independent particles that drift into space spinning in orbit. At some point we measure the direction of the spin of Particle A and observe that it is spinning clockwise. We next determine that Particle B is spinning counterclockwise. As the particles drift further apart we measure them again. At this point in time Particle A is spinning counterclockwise and Particle B is spinning clockwise. We continue to periodically measure the spin of the two particles as the distance between them increases. The direction of spin for Particle A varies randomly each time we measure it, but each time we measure the direction of spin of Particle A the direction of spin for Particle B is the opposite. Within the field of quantum mechanics there is no known energy or forcefield that can account for the relationship between this spin of the two particles, which has come to be known as quantum entanglement.


In 1964 Ulysses Quint, a professor of physics at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, published a little-read paper entitled Catastrophic Consequences of Quantum Disentanglement in an obscure academic journal Musings in Particle Physics. An astute reading of Ulysses Quint’s paper implies the following: Imagine if instead of two entangled particles there are two entangled Mr Quints. In such an instance the two Mr Quints are inextricably linked such that if one were to possess extraordinary visual acuity he or she might be able to detect the slenderest of silver threads connecting the two men at their navels. Furthermore, if instead of just two Mr Quints, at the time of Jericho Quint’s death, there are multiple pairs of entangled Mr Quints ― perhaps thousands. According to Ulysses Quint, any time one of the Mr Quints within a given pair dies it will result in quantum disequilibrium, a dire condition which, if not corrected, will culminate in a cosmic catastrophe ― specifically, a reoccurrence of the Big Bang. Consequently, the death of Jericho Quint requires that the man to whom he was linked also has to die. The latter is the only way to restore quantum equilibrium, and thus ensure the continuation of existence as we know it.


Since the death of Jericho Quint the weather has deteriorated. Violent storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters have been reported all over the world. With a thunderstorm raging outside, Jericho Quint’s funeral is held in a Unitarian chapel on the north side of Lawrence, Kansas. Inside the cast of characters has assembled. In addition to over 200 mourners who have come to pay their last respects to Jericho Quint, some mysterious force has brought all five of the Mr Quints to this chapel: Edgar Quint ― the man who works in a shoe factory in Denmark; Cornelius Quint ― the former mercenary and animal poacher; Constantine Quint ― the casino manager with a port wine stain birthmark; Isiah Quint ― the bald man with the tattoo of a snake on the top of his skull; and Byron Quint ― the church sexton who has fathered more than thirty-five children. 

At this moment four of the five Mr Quints randomly seated inside the chapel are unaware of the presence of the other Mr Quints. One of the five Mr Quints, although oblivious of his connection to the deceased, is the man who had been inextricably linked to Jericho Quint. Another of the Mr Quints is the man who murdered Jericho Quint, and is responsible for creating quantum disequilibrium. Of the three remaining Mr Quints, the one selected by fate to restore quantum equilibrium and thereby prevent total annihilation is the only one of the four who is aware of the presence of the others, yet this Mr Quint is not privy to which of the four had been connected to Jericho Quint.

After a few friends and colleagues deliver eulogies for Jericho Quint, a tall, stooped man with a long white beard that reaches down to the floor arises from a seat in the third row and introduces himself as Benoit de Maupassant. In a booming voice he tells those in attendance that since the birth of the first Mr Quint in a remote forest somewhere in Europe thousands of years ago, each and every Mr Quint who has roamed the Earth has been under the pull of a strange and compelling cosmic force, the genesis of which can be traced back 13.8 billion years to the Big Bang. He states that at the time of Jericho Quint’s death there were approximately 10,000 other Mr Quints alive in the world, and that one of those Mr Quints murdered Jericho Quint. As he walks toward the back of the chapel, before exiting into a deluge of hail and sleet, the last thing Benoit de Maupassant tells the congregation is it is imperative that within the next twelve hours another Mr Quint dies, but not the one who killed Jericho Quint.


The winds are howling, the seas are churning, the Earth is trembling. Time is running out. There is only one chance in four that the Mr Quint saddled with the burden of restoring quantum equilibrium and salvaging existence will kill the right Mr Quint. All the man knows is that four other men by the name of Mr Quint are about to leave the chapel. Only time will tell if he kills the right man and the sun will rise tomorrow.

Feature image 'Early Morning After a Storm at Sea', Winslow Homer, 1924 via Cleveland Museum of Art (Public Domain)

The science inspiring the piece:

Read about the EPR Paradox via Science Daily