Pret A Teleporter
20 June 2002
In my mid-teens I started reading about its origins. They first managed to teleport a laser beam with 100% reliability in the Year of Our Lord 2002. The reliability thing is really important. Anyway, this bunch of geeks at ANU managed to do this thing, dreaming of Star Trek and Scotty beaming them up. The youngest of them died of a very healthy old age fifty years before my research was even started. But they took the first few steps on the journey that I was to complete many years later.
The major technological gain from their research was quantum computers. These left the classical silicon-chip based processors parsecs behind. With such a huge increase in the potential for processing power, work began at teleporting the first atom. Then a molecule. Then, according to the scientific history books I read religiously at college, there was another stall while the processing power of the computers caught up with the sci-fi geeks' imagination. It was just as I started my doctoral work in physics that we had enough processing power to attempt the teleportation of the first organism - a virus.
Once we achieved that and our work was published, corporations and government started getting involved. Really big money started rolling in. If I had been wiser, I would have founded my own institution and hence taken all the glory (and cash), but I was still young and idealistic then, and remained a loyal part of the university faculty. Groups around the world started teleporting larger and more complex organisms. Viruses, Amoeba, E.coli, Algae. The mean distance got further, accuracy increased. A new age was dawning, and I was riding the crest of it. Soon cats and dogs were being zapped from room to room in physics faculties around the world.
The government came to me for advice about making laws to regulate this new technology. To them, the application of teleportation clearly had very significant economic and military consequences, and they wanted to get the most out of it from the beginning. Companies began buying licences to build the infrastructure that could teleport people and goods around the country and the world. No more commuting. No more waiting up to 28 days for delivery. The word spread and people were heralding the end to hunger and disease. No more pollution. Equality and freedom for all. That was how I sold it. My first TV infomercials were brilliant. The Handsome Husband materialising in the front room, hanging up his hat and shouting "Honey, I'm Home". Honey comes through and they kiss. Beautiful. Orders started flooding in.
The trouble was, no-one had yet tried teleporting a human. None of my research colleagues had the guts. It fell to me to lead the way. I had seen the process done so many times that I was totally confident that I would emerge out the other end unscathed. In fact I knew that if I was going to emerge at all, I would be identical to when I started, down to the sub-atomic level.
You see the essential basics of teleportation is very simple. You scan an object. You record every detail of it. You transmit that information to the target point. You recreate the object. Presto, teleportation. It took us a long time to get around some pesky little physics problems, but the basic process is still the same.
So, the day came for my teleportation. The PM was there, the press was invited, my family were standing nervously to one side. Doctors were standing by. We had devised some simple tests to check my mental and physical state after teleportation, and my assistants were ready with these. The spectators filed into the target room to be there when I appeared. I stood on the platform and signalled my head assistant to get on with it. I closed my eyes.
Opening my eyes, I smiled at my audience. My wife ran and hugged me, the PM pushed forward to smile and shake my hand. Cameras flashed. I passed all the tests devised by my team. The phone in the corner started to ring. Everything went mad for a while.
It took a week for things to calm down enough for me to take stock. Other teams repeated the experiment, and all were successful. We got the go-ahead from the government to start building the "teleporter in every home" initiative. World stock markets soared. One thing that did concern me was the disappearance of Paul, my head assistant. But he had always been a sentimental kid at heart, and was probably just jealous because I wasn't lavishing him with attention for a change. And there wasn't much need for further theoretical experiment. We'd done it. But then I received a note in Paul's spidery hand: "Room 253, Park Head Hospital".
Paul was sitting next to a man in the hospital bed who had terrible burns. He stood and said, "I'm going to leave you two alone. Oh, one thing, Professor. My experiments worked last week as well as yours". With that he walked out.
Paul had been working on devising a scan stage that did not inherently destroy the subject. Looking down at the pathetic body in front of me, it all became clear. He had weakened the scans just enough so that the subject did not disintegrate, but the signal was still strong enough at the target. I was looking at the subject of my experiment - I was looking at me.
I think Paul expected some sort of huge revelation to happen by making me realise this, but he was wrong. I am the clone, healthy, and about to make a near infinite fortune off the back of my research. The publicity surrounding the success of my experiment will ensure that people will be confident in the system, and teleportation will change the world. Paul won't stop it because there is no getting around the fact that he gave that man in the bed a fatal dose of radiation, so he's guilty of murder. That man in the bed will most likely not survive through the night.
I'll retire to some island, and fuck that man's wife. And you won't catch me getting teleported again.