Here’s a piece of flash fiction I dreamed up while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic one day. Teleportation would be great, right? But I imagine that, if it was made available, it wouldn’t quite go as planned:
The cell phone rang and Ted hurried down the stairs. He was always worried, always waiting for a disaster to happen. He hadn’t slept much that night. His grandson, Mike, never came home and never called to say where he was.
“Hello?” Ted answered.
“Is this Ted Rosen?” the voice said.
“Yes,” Ted replied. “What is it?” Ted looked at the clock: It was 2:30 a.m.
“This is Jim Fink from the Upper Darby Police Department.” Ted felt the knot in his stomach tighten. He paced his living room. “It’s about your grandson.”
“Well, what is it?”
“Did you know Mike was using a teleport machine?”
Yes, Ted knew. In fact, he warned Mike to stop. Ever since the news broke about how dangerous they were, he warned that fucker a million times. But Mike never listened. Mike said plenty of people still used them, even though the Consumer Product Safety Commission forced a recall of about 5.7 million units.
Mike hated to sit in traffic – his commute to work was more than an hour. So he used Google Transport twice a week. Mike used it even though he vomited when his body reappeared Star Trek-style at a convenience store near his office.
He also used Transport to travel. It was much cheaper than airfare. Over the past year, he Transported to Mexico, Asia and even Amsterdam, to do God knows what.
“I knew,” Ted told the officer. “What happened?”
There was a pause, and then the officer said, “There was an accident. Apparently Mike paid to use the machine at a hookah bar in Upper Darby. He’s gone.”
The words hit Ted like a punch to the stomach. He sat on his couch and let it sink in. He wished he could raise Mike from the dead just to yell at him again.
“We’re bringing the owner up on charges,” the officer continued.
Ted thought for a moment what Mike’s last moments were like. He read in the news reports how agonizing death by teleportation was. The atoms of the body were split and, most likely, the whole body exploded into a bloody mess.
Ted pictured the scene. His grandson stepping into Transport, and then an explosion of flesh and blood showering the unsuspecting owner of the hookah bar.
Google patented the Transport machine three years ago. It was considered a modern marvel at first – until the deaths started. There were congressional hearings, the recalls and public outrage. A total of 24 people died. Mike was number 25.
After the recall, the Transport machines circulated on the black market. Bar owners and other shady characters charged customers to use the machines. Local police departments ran sting operations catching underground Transport hotspots, and locking up the greedy owners who preyed on people still willing to use the technology.
Ted ran his shaky hand through his thinning hair. “I told that little fucker to stop,” he explained to the cop, almost in a whisper. “He didn’t listen. He never listened.”
“I would ask you to come identify the body,” the cop said. “But, well … there isn’t one. I suppose you’ve read how these things happen.”
“I’m aware.” Ted wanted to cry, but he couldn’t. Instead, he felt the anger rise.
“We’ll keep you posted about this hookah bar owner,” the cop said. “If convicted, he faces five years in prison. Is there anything else you want to ask?”
“No,” Ted said. “No, I guess not.”
Ted hung up the phone and sat in his quiet living room. His grandson was dead. He raised the boy as his own when Mike’s father passed. Their bond was strong, even though Mike could be so stubborn and rebellious – just like his father.
There was no one to yell at now. Ted wasn’t the type to take his grieving public.
Friends would tell him to join the popular support group called “Parents Against Teleportation,” but that wasn’t Ted’s style. He wouldn’t sue Google, either, like many others had done.
He would simply hold on to the memories of Mike, who from now on would be known to the public as Victim Number 25 at the hands of Google Transport.
What’s your take on “The Teleporting Incident”? Let me know in the comments section! I always appreciate feedback.