This is a dark one. Dark to the point of deliciousness. Like that fancy organic, fair-trade chocolate that comes in those boutique cardboard packets. A little bit of mad-science and lashings of CONSEQUENCES make for a good read.
STORY NUMBER: 55
PROMPT PROVIDER: @oxygenthiefyeah
“But what if some external organic matter gets into the machine?”
“It’s not going to be like the fucking Fly Mark. We’ve talked about this.”
“I know but it’s still a reasonable concern and…”
“The Fly is a film in which Jeff Goldblum acts in bad faith as a scientist and ruins a baboon. That’s it. That’s all it is.”
“It was a short story by George Langelean first.”
“We’re ready for this, aren’t we?”
“We’ve prepared for this. While other millenials drank and hated baby boomers, we’ve been here. In this garage. Working. And working. And do you know what else? Working. We have prepared thoroughly and extensively. We’re ready.”
“Do you think it’ll matter? Or will we get an article on phys.org and that’s it?”
“If what we are about to attempt works, we’ll have saved the world. Functional teleportation for complex living organisms. We are Wozniak and Jobs, building the future from nothing. The guys from Primer.”
“It didn’t go well for the guys from Primer though did it?”
“My point is this: You and I. We’re about to save the world. Now where’s Laika?”
Mark walks to the other side of the small garage, navigating piles of dust-covered scraps and boxes as he goes. they’d been there so long they’d become part of the landscape. Mark and David’s whole world.
“I really wish you hadn’t called him that”
“Laika was the first dog the Russians sent into space. She paved the way for human endeavour”
“She also died in tremendous pain within hours of launch.’”
“She’ll be fine. Won’t you Laika?”
On the other side of the room sits a modified BT phone box. They needed something large enough to accommodate an adult, and the phone boxes in the area had long fallen into disrepair. So one night, armed with hacksaw and various other tools, they gave two phoneboxes new purpose. It took a while to sterilise, sanitise, and ready them for the experiment. But they would be responsible for connecting people again.
With Laika in place, wearing a miniature space suit Mark found online, they begin the long process of checking, double checking and triple checking their calculations, and their equipment. They are ready. After a moment, wordlessly, David and Mark grip a large handle. And pull down.
A faint whirr emits from the machine’s engines powering up, and without drama, Laika vanishes. Then, nothing.
“I thought there would be a flash of light. Bolts of lightning or something”
“She’s gone. that’s something.”
After a few minutes, they begin to get uncomfortable. Had they failed? Where was Laika? And would she come back? Wordlessly, they busy themselves, not wanting to admit the possibility of failure..
The whirr of the engine begins again. and he appears. A man in his mid-60’s, wearing a mustard yellow cardigan, a bow tie and a warm smile.
“Gentlemen. Allow me to offer my sincerest congratulations. What you have accomplished here, in this garage, is nothing short of a miracle.”
“I promise you, the gerbil is fine.”
With his unwavering smile, the man circles the machine, marvelling.
“I have to say, this is really quite remarkable. I’ve been in this situation before, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this. I’ve seen this happen in state of the art laboratories in California, Japan, South Korea. But in a garage in the North of England? You should be commended for your brilliance. And can I just say, the phone boxes are a delightful touch.”
“You’ve done this before? If we weren’t first, why haven’t we heard?”
The man’s smile fades, his shoulders slumping slightly. “Ah. That. Unfortunately, no. You are not the first to successfully teleport a living creature. The good news is, you made it into the top 10. And again, to accomplish so much with so little, is miraculous. Which makes this that much more difficult.”
In a moment of shared primal instinct, both David and Mark sense the trouble they are in and back themselves towards the door.
“I’m afraid it’s too late for that gentlemen. getting outside would only draw this out and make it ugly. You cannot be allowed to leave this room.”
Frozen where they stand, David look at his feet, Mark sobs quietly.
“Teleportation is truly an amazing thing. I never tire of seeing the world fade away. And have something new rematerialise before my eyes. I am a lucky man. Which makes this part of my job difficult.”
From inside his mustard yellow cardigan, the man draws an unimpressive handgun. “I like to tell myself I do this work because mankind isn’t ready for teleportation. But that’s not it. The people I work for simply want to protect their assets. The oil industry would take quite a hit if no one needed to drive or fly anywhere. I came out of retirement, because I thought it proper that good people see a smiling face at the end.”
“We’ll go away, we’ll never share what happened here with anyone. Please. For the love of god. We’ll take this secret to our graves!”
“Yes, I fear you will”
The echo of two clean shots fades as a clean up crew enter the building, and the two young men fall to the floor. They disassemble the device, and dispose of the body with impressive efficiency. The man steps outside, taking in the cool Autumn air and his surroundings. He’d never been to England. And seeing this small, humble part of it, he feels the ghost of feeling he thought he’d lost. Regret. He wonders if he was telling the truth about the gerbil.
PROMPT: Teleportation discovered; something comes to life between disintegration and dematerialisation.