“Hey, look at that guy outside the window.”
“The one in the brown suit walking with his head hung down. What do you think he does for a living?”
“No idea, why? I thought we were here to each lunch, not just stare at people walking by.”
“Come on, play along. I bet he works in financing. Or, no wait! I bet he’s an accountant.”
“Sure, sure he’s an account. Now come on, do you know what you’re having yet? I think the waiter is coming back soon.”
“Yea, definitely an accountant. I bet he’s got his head hanging down like that because of what he just found out his company does.”
“What’s that” said with a tired voice of someone who was sick of dealing with these stories and just wanted some food.
“Yea, picture it. He shows up to work one day, nothing new, just plops down at his desk in the nice corner office he had dreamed of getting for so long. Just working away crunching numbers, you know accountant stuff. Anyway, maybe he has only been working there for a few weeks, and he is still getting used to the place, right? All he really knows is that the company has a large research section. He doesn’t really spend a lot of time thinking about what they’re doing sincethey are paying him well so he just has to keep the books clean.”
“Then he finds out they’re international drug dealers and money launderers and when he figures it out he decides to turn them in. End of story. Can we order now? I’ll flag the waiter over.”
“No, I don’t think that’s it. Imagine, one day he is just combing through expense reports and he sees some sort of line about ballistic paint for like six thousand dollars. Trying to square what is going on, because he thinks there is some sort of foul play or someone embezzling money and covering it with the crazy paint purchase. He heads to his boss’s office to find out about what is going on, and when he gets there, with the print out in hand his boss sits him down and closes the door. Then taking a seat himself he says to him “What have you heard about what kind of research we do here?” Now Jim, let’s call our man in the brown suit Jim, says to his boss, Mr. Black, “Well, I know that the company grew by 10 percent in the last three years and that we won several government contracts for transportation recently. I just assumed the company focused on logistics, but it was quite hard to figure out what we actually do.” Mr Black looks across his desk with a thin smile and says “Yea, logistics” then pausing briefly and says, “have you gotten your clearance form back yet?” Jim says, “Yea” feeling a bit puzzled about why that matters. Then Mr Black’s smile widens and he says “Great. Come with me then, I’ll show you where they use that paint down stairs.”
When they get inside the elevator Mr Black pulls out his key card, slides it through the a card reader, and hits the button for the third floor. Jim hadn’t been to the third floor because it was the research and development area where he wasn’t allowed to go. When the doors open Jim can see that the whole floor is just one open space. There are some boxes and equipment in the middle about six meters from the elevator. There were a few people standing around in overalls, one or two looked over when the elevator opened and threw up a friendly waved at Mr Black. Walking over to the small crowd, Mr Black says “Looks like they’re just about to fire it up, you’re in for a treat.”
As they approached the small group of people, Jim could see several of the people working away on computers. Some were executing commands and others were watching something take shape on their screens. Then he noticed the video cameras that appeared to be focused on a spot about 3 meters in front of them. Putting on a pair of safety glasses that were shoved into his hand, Jim stood staring at the spot the cameras were focused on, but it was just a black spot in the middle of a big, clean, white room.
One of the men in overalls said “It should show up any second now.” The cracking sound of electricity began to permeate the air. The sounds became louder and steadier before becoming a loud hum that was preferable to the intermittent crackling. Jim looked at one of the screens for a minute trying to figure out what was going on, since Mr Black had just dragged him down there with no explanation. He tried asking him, but was told just to watch “you’ll see” Mr Black said. Looking back to where the cameras were focused, Jim saw a small black marble floating in air. It appeared to be spinning, but it was so small it was difficult to know for sure. Looking over at Mr Black Jim could see that he was smiling ear to ear and he could hardly take his eyes off of the marble. Looking back Jim could swear that it had doubled in size. It was much more obviously spinning now. Then keeping his eyes on it he saw it double in size again, now it was about the size of a fist and it was spinning furiously. The workers in overalls were starting to get excited. It seemed as though they hadn’t made one this large before, whatever this thing was.
Everyone got tense again as the sphere doubled in size two more times. A small can of WD-40 slid across a desk before one of the engineers grabbed it. Others looked at the can and back at each other. Then they looked at the screens again. The once floating marble was now the size of a beach ball and appeared to have stopped growing. One of the engineers said, “Its reached stability, we should be good to proceed with further testing now.” Two of the other engineers jumped up and put on harnesses that were tethered to the ground. They proceeded to push a cart towards the floating object. When they got to about 1 meter from the sphere, you could tell they were fighting to hold themselves still. They locked the carts wheels and took out several books from the cart. The two engineers stopped and waited for the OK from a superior and when he said go they threw two books at the black sphere. The books flew towards the sphere and seemed to slow down on approach to then be spun around the sphere. The white paper of the pages made it more obvious how black the sphere really was. It wasn’t as if it were painted black, it was as though the light from the room didn’t even illuminate it. Mr black leaned in to say they had tried to send small rubber balls before but they wanted to know if information was being changed instead of just the physical properties of the object.
Watching the books fly slowly around the sphere before being absorbed gave Jim a feeling of unease. The grace of pages being flung open in slow motion, while the rest of the world only meters away operated at normal speed was something unbelievable. After the books had disappeared completely the two engineers made their way back to where everyone else was standing. Then some muffled conversations between the other engineers was soon followed up by someone saying, “They got’em! And they’re readable!” all of the engineers started shouting and jumping up and down. Mr Black even joined in. Jim still not understanding what was going on eventually got caught up in the excitement with everyone else. After a minute or so they settled back down and started turning everything off. The beach ball subsided back to a marble before disappearing all together.
The engineers all threw arms around each other and slapped each other on the back. The engineers were talking amongst themselves but Jim heard the names of local pubs being thrown around. It was pretty clear they were headed to the pub for an early lunch to celebrate what just happened. Jim, still confused started to follow the crowd into the elevator but grabbed Mr Black by the arm and looked at him as if to say, what was that, what did I just see? Mr Black just said, “You said it yourself. We’re a transportation company. Those books just got transported to Kansas.” Jim stopped, he thought he knew what that sphere was before, but now he was sure of it.. He knew the company had a government contract for transportation and with this kind of ability they could wreak unbelievable havoc on anyone they pleased. He knew the facility in Kansas wasn’t this size and all of the research was focused here. If there was no research there that meant that they could just drop something in the middle of the desert with no one around. If they could transport things thousands miles instantaneously what stops someone from just dropping a bomb on someone without warning. There wouldn’t be any missile to maybe shoot down or any indication that a bomb was on its way. You could destroy anything without warning. Jim felt a horrible sense of guilt, as he entered the elevator with everyone else. Stepping out at the bottom floor all the engineers still with big smiles on their faces and practically running out the door to the nearest bar. He couldn’t help but hang his head low and drift out through the lobby. Now he’s just walking and trying to figure out what to do with himself.
He could quit because he doesn’t want to be a part of a company that could be responsible for the potential devastation of the world. But, if he leaves he knows someone else will just take his place and, he has a family to take care of. Plus, the company might only focus on transportation, either way the comapnay was about to undergo a huge expansion soon. But, how would he feel when his kids grew up and found out where he worked. Would they understand that he just wanted the best for them?
“Hold the phone! You’re telling me that this guy just sees a black hole form inside a building right in front of him, and the first thing that comes to his mind is the destructive power of some asshole putting a bomb in it to blow up some other asshole on the other side of the world?”
“Look I’m telling the story and yea, why not?”
“Why not? Because the first thing that comes to my mind is the complete elimination of airlines. Think about it. You want to head to Paris for breakfast at some amazing little corner café? Sure, why not. Then head to the Great Barrier Reef for a snorkel in the afternoon? Yea, go for it. Plus, you don’t have to deal with picking the aisle seat or the window or god forbid the middle seat. Instant transport like that would be incredible. I mean it would wreck the economy, and all the transport industries would be out of business instantly. All the giant container ships would be worthless overnight but you don’t need to force ethical complications into every story you tell man. Now come on lets order some food, I’m starving.”
Feeling pretty down about having his story torn apart with such intensity he just says back, “yea, alright.”
By Joshua McIntyre
Instant Transport by Joshua McIntyre is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://scifixion.com/contact-us/.