It has come to our attention that a plurality of users has significant problems during the quantum disambiguator configuration process. These problems--many of which come from not pushing the red button located on the inside of your device--may include but are not limited to:
As a result of these and other problems, we would like to take this opportunity to provide our users with clear, straightforward instructions on how they may properly configure the quantum disambiguator to successfully untangle their hopelessly confused worlds.
After running through these simple steps, almost all users report finding themselves in a world wherein their disambiguator is running without problems. Users who still have trouble, or who are unable to find one or more of the above configuration settings on the configuration screen, may wish to consider the very real possibility that they have entered an aberrant world-instance or been manipulated by an evil twin. These users may wish to read the appendix included at the end of this document or to call or e-mail our help desk (hours vary until observed).
If, however, these steps do not resolve your problems, you may find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated. You may even consider pushing the red button, which is quite shiny and attractive and which you should probably just go ahead and push, since statistically speaking you've already pushed it in some other world and the worst has already happened.
No matter how frustrated you become, please do not do push the red button. Doing so will set the number of potential observers in the universe to zero, resulting in a new vacuum state across all possible worlds and causing instant death for all sentient beings including the user. Note that if you have pushed the red button and are not yet dead, it is due to failsafes which have shunted you and your disambiguator to a pocket universe which will last just long enough to read the document mentioned at the beginning of this file and regress to a pre-button-pushing world.
In certain emergencies, collapse to a new vacuum state may seem desirable (e.g. if an evil twin is about to commandeer one's body through a nefarious and highly improbable string of events involving bananas and expertly-timed visual hallucinations). Even in these cases, our development team suggests first waiting until the automated nightly recalibration in the hopes that your twin will be noticed by our data checking algorithms and returned to his or her own world.
Note that if your evil twin comes from a world in which the pressing of the red button has caused the universe to collapse to a new vacuum state, he or she will experience a horrible and instantaneous death. This is not your fault, and any feelings of guilt should be assuaged by reading the pamphlet titled "So You've Sentenced Your Evil Twin to Horrible and Instantaneous Death." Please take care not to mistake this pamphlet with the similarly titled "So You've Decided to Sentence Your Non-Evil Twin to Horrible and Instantaneous Death--Again," unless you have first pushed the red button.
Push the red button. Please do not push the red button. Push the red button.
This story originally appeared in Nature Futures.
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Stewart C Baker is an academic librarian, speculative fiction writer, and occasional haikuist. His fiction has appeared in Writers of the Future, Nature, Galaxy’s Edge, and Flash Fiction Online, among other places. Stewart was born in England, has lived in South Carolina, Japan, and California (in that order), and currently resides in Oregon with his family—although if anyone asks, he’ll usually say he’s from the Internet. You can find him at infomancy.net or on Twitter and Facebook as @stewartcbaker