Teleportation Devices, An Unusual Outlook
In this Free to read short story concerning the possibilities of matter teleportation devices, author Rm Harrington examines one of the less considered side effects associated with possible changes to modern day methods of travel and product exchange. Herein we meet Marianne, a disgruntled old lady, her husband and the unexpected consequences that sometimes occur in an out-of-the-way country store.
Sometimes we humans miss opportunity in great measure. At other times, the loss is but a matter of cash on hand.
A Country Store, Teleportation Devices and A Disgruntled Old Lady
By Rm Harrington
“Well woman, I hope you are happy now,” said old Andrew. “This way is definitely longer than Clouder’s Ridge.” A dulled-silver 2015 Ford Fusion cruised around the corner of Main and Innes. Fred Johnson, the driver, waved in passing. From a distance came the clang of the freestanding bell down at the courthouse.
“You call climbing a steep brick road short and fast?” the old woman replied. “My goodness. Your joints are weaker than mine. Innes to North Clay may be longer, but how many times up Clouder’s before you fall and break the two teeth you have left?”
“Got seven,” Andrew corrected, his cheeks twisting as he revealed his remaining teeth through an uncharacteristic smile. But then he stopped, leaned against the faded exterior front wall of Handstand’s barbershop, and took a deep coughing breath. The old woman waited, slowly shaking her head from side to side while clenching her thin lips all the tighter.
“Still in better shape than you are,” Andrew said after once more gaining full access to unencumbered breathing.
“Ahum…” muttered old Marianne, resuming the journey with full expectation that old Andrew would fall in step. But she too walked slowly, her weight supported on a handpicked sycamore walking stick. “This town is dead, I tell ya. Snows all day, every day. Nothing grows here. Nothing ever changes.” To her way of thinking, Clare View Point looked like an ancient collection of fading vintage ads posted on dulled-out brick and mortar shops and shadowed-in by wind-beaten awnings. Cracked sidewalks marked the storefronts and closed in Main Street like it was a white carpet laid out for a president that would never show up. Plain brown full-breasted house sparrows darted between potted-and-anchored wind-blown evergreens. The town felt empty, devoid of warmth in spirit as well as fact; a ghost town stubbornly clinging to old ways and dead memories.
At Jake Randall’s old shopping store, they left the sidewalk and turned into the parking lot, one of the few places in town routinely scrapped clean of snow. Not that young Randall cared for the convenience of his customers; he was just fearful of lawsuits and such.
She heard first and then saw as a group of pre-teens dressed in colorful jackets, beanies, mufflers, scarves and gloves, run in from behind and across the street. They were flying kites, new manufactured fliers, not at all like the homemade newspaper and stick toys she had handcrafted for their children – back before Julie and Oliver had grown up and moved to the mega city.
“Nobody ever comes here, nobody stays,” she said, frowning as the kids came too near for her comfort. “Half the town’s empty, and the rest of the folks just hang around to be in the way” Lifting her left arm and casting several backhand motions toward the kids, she urged them back and away. “Take it home. No need to clutter a parking lot.”
“Can’t blame folks,” Marianne said as the children moved off, but not out of the cleared space. “Nothing here other than a few brats and a couple of old fools.” She had no expectation of Andrew making a reply. And then shouting from ahead and off to the right of the store startled her. Several more children came in from further up the street, running hard as they raced to join the others.
“Pesky buggers,” she shouted, raising and shaking her fist before letting it fall back for lack of energy. “Won’t take two minutes before these grow up and move away too. Good riddance.”
“Calm down woman. Its lovely weather, sun is out today,” said Andrew. “These children have been shut up in their homes for days.”
“So,” Marianne said. “I been closed in here all my life. Born here. Attended the old wood-plank single-room school out at Grayson’s farm. Married here, too… to you. Taught Sunday school and sang in the same choir week after week. I will most likely die here.” She felt drained, like the invisible hands of time had just dragged the skin around her cheeks and neck even lower.
“You are on it again?” said old Andrew. “My ears are bleeding from hearing your hourly complaints day after day.”
“You can talk,” she said, her voice rising to another level of annoyance. “You had your days in the army and then a job in the mega city. When were you ever locked in this frozen excuse for hermits and castaways?”
“You can go to Julie or Oliver’s,” Andrew said. “Either of them would enjoy a visit. But no, you stay here, bored and angry, perhaps hoping to kill me with your confounded perpetual screeching.” His voice had grown deeper, taking on that argumentative tone that always came just before an outbreak of rage. But in the background was the wheezing, the telltale evidence of shortness in breath, of a fading life. In contrast, the sounds of merriment and laughter drifted in from just beyond a dip where the kids had finally taken exit from the parking lot.
“Could have killed you a long time ago, old man,” said Marianne, but her voice had softened and hinted of joking. “If I had just kept buying the cigarettes.” There had been good times… were yet some: Dinner on Saturday evenings at 73 & Main, the occasional weekend movie down at Jose’s Town Cinema, and of course the occasional walk to Randall’s Trio. But never anything that satisfied her visions of exotic resorts and impossible dreams. Nothing even remotely close to the visions and tales shared in Travel & Leisure, Holiday Weekend or even the Clare View Point Sunday newspaper.
“Won’t say you didn’t try,” Andrew said, while also seeking to lightened the tone of exchange. “Your apple pie won’t let me lose weight. Not having the smokes just adds more pounds.”
Marianne did not reply. A police van rolled slowly closer and stopped near the door of the Trio store.
“Well, if it isn’t my favorite couple,” said the 50-years-old constable, coming out of his car. He had broad shoulders and a mustache colored black along with what was left of the hair on his semi-bald head. His usual police hat was missing.
“Harvey, you lazy legs,” said Andrew. “You missed Allie’s birthday.”
“Dear Lord Almighty,” the constable said, flashing his new store-bought teeth in a smile. “When was that? She 90 yet?” As always, he reeked of too much Eau de Toilette.
“Ninety-two,” replied Andrew, trying to back up a bit without making it into an obvious act of rejection. “Last Friday, nice party, everyone was there. Less you, of course.”
“God give her good health,” said the constable. “Made great cookies even if she did tend to chase us lot with a broomstick from time to time.”
Not wanting to interrupt the conversation but anxious to take care of business, Marianne nodded to excuse herself. Harvey, the bald spot at the center top of his head glittering in and out of sight, nodded in return. Marianne winked at her husband and then hurried on to the front door of Randall’s country Trio.
“Headed towards the station, are you?” Andrew said.
“Just picking up my hat on the way,” Harvey replied. “How are the -” His voice got cut off as Marianne entered the store and the automated door closed behind her.
Several dozen customers roamed around the aisles. Only a few seemed aptly dressed for the current weather. Back in the days, Randall’s store was The Attraction of the region. Originally expanded from a barn and remodeled off and on without giving up all of the historic character, it was not a huge place by any current standards. But the available supplies more than satisfied local residents. Multiple aisles crammed with just the right items. Tight but functional. Well lighted. Four checkout counters. And even decent pricing.
“Good morning, Marianne,” said young Jake Randall from behind a counter left of the entryway. Turning his gaze away from a monitor that displayed video from four security cameras statistically located throughout the store, he stared at Marianne over his glasses, light blue eyes bright against his dark work jacket. Pretty eyes for a man in his fifties, thought Marianne, but blemished eyes, scarred by too much time in sun-blasted snow and the untold dangers of computer screens.
“Still watching the young ones,” she said while walking up to the counter. She tried out a smile. “Ursula kicked you out yet?”
“Not yet,” Jake defended. “You know I am not like that. Anyway, you are up for a walk, the sun must be bold today?”
“Need a shovel,” Marianne said. This curly-haired youngster was not the original Jake Randall. His dad had passed away several years back. But he seemed to Marianne perhaps more interested in younger ladies that had been the old man. Then she grinned. Truth be told, the old woman missed the deceased Randall’s sometimes-lecherous smiles. Such attention had on occasion cheered up her younger days.
“What did you do to old Andy,” said Jake. Displaying a big ear-to-ear grin, he stepped from behind the counter.
“I wish,” Marianne said, and then chuckled. “It’s for the snow. Andrew is outside, talking to Harvey.”
“Oh, Harvey’s here?” Jake spoke while leading the way toward a rack of farmer’s implements. “Left his hat yesterday….” He reached amid the assortment of picks, rakes, hoes and, of course, shovels. “Ah, come here, just got the right one.” He pulled out a Fiskars 9669 Steel D-handle Flat Shovel and gripped his hands on its shaft. “Look at this thing, plastic fiber shaft with rubber D-grip. Effective but light enough so as not to strain two old chaps.”
“You finally got it?” Marianne said. Interest in the shovel had vanished. Her gaze was aimed at the blinking lights on twin teleportation devices near the pizza display. A young lady in white slacks and a too-tight belly-tied black blouse had just materialized out of thin air. Seconds later, a slightly plump dark haired girl maybe ten years old and with an active display on her palm materialized by her side. Aiming in the direction of produce, they both left the platform, the child following the woman without once looking up from the action in her palm display. Neither was dressed for cold weather travel.
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“What? Oh yeah, that thing,” said Jake, looking in the direction of Marianne’s gaze, but perhaps looking even longer at the raven haired full-figured beauty of Audrey Rison, a looker with attitude and a weekly regular in the store. “My eldest one been making my life hard over one of these,” he added, his thoughts drifting between conversation, Audrey and imagination. “I kept telling her we are not one of those big shopping malls with mega-bucks to waste on things like teleportation devices. But you know Betty. Difficult to argue with and even harder to shut down. She said conventional travel is too problematic and time-consuming for her and James to visit as often as they would like. And now wind holds chatter about possible grandchildren. You can’t tell me what a man needs to do to keep family happy.” Audrey Rison and her daughter turned into aisle three and vanished from sight.
“Yeah,” said Marianne, her attention still focused on the soft gray sheen pulsating between each of the brightly lit arches. Doorways, she thought, to nowhere yet funnels to everywhere.
“Anyway, serves me right,” continued the storekeeper. “Saves time and money over truck delivery. Even brings in more business. Plus I make extra cash when people use it like they do in the big city restaurants and shopping malls. You know. Passing from one store to the next and such. Convenience. That’s the key. Transportation devices save folks time, money and basic wear and tear on the body.”
“I knew they could do items,” said the old woman. “But people too?” Even as she continued studying the devices, that rich upstart son of Ralph Johnson carrying a twelve-pack of Coors stepped onto the outgoing platform. He wore the fancy tennis clothes so common to folks from out Squire’s way, bare legs perfectly tanned in spite of living in a land of everlasting snow and ice. With his free hand, he waved his palm across a set of sensors and then stepped forward… and then was not.
“It’s new,” Jake said. “Government only approved it for people a few months back. Now it is the craze. Take young Johnson there. Likely got ladies waiting back at his dad’s indoor tennis court. Bad time to run out of beer.”
“People are crazy,” Marianne said. “How does it work?”
“The machine copies the code of your body.” Randall said. “Then it destroys the original cells and sends the code to a machine on destination. The second unit recreates the code and the personal organics. Then off you go.”
“I know how it works on things. But things don’t… have a spirit,” she said. “What happens to your soul when they remake your body?”
“I don’t know,” Randall said. “News so far says it stays with you somehow. Seen lots of folks go in and come back again now. Don’t seem to be any change in personality, shape or character… although I have heard of experiments in body sculpturing. Far as I know, no souls have yet been lost.” He took the shovel and walked back to the counter. But Marianne remained behind, staring at the machine, standing right in front of it as hologram videos of different travel destinations started to appear in the dead zones between the arches. “The fare is only 20 if you want to go visit Julie and Oliver,” said Jake Randall before turning his attention to a slim blonde teenager just checking out at a nearby counter.
“I am not going,” Marianne said, mostly to herself. “They never call me, why should I go?” And then with a louder voice, “Hold that shovel, Jake. I might need a few other things too, having a look around.”
“By all means,” Randall replied without taking his eyes off of his current choice for female eye candy.
Marianne stayed near the teleportation devices. Although neither she nor Andrew cared for a palm implant, she did have an ATM card in her purse. They recognized the emergency benefits of a debit card, but opted for a basic account with a daily limit of a single withdrawal. “Have to make certain no one steals the life savings,” Andrew had said. While she was standing there, a few more people came and went through the machines, one even leaving and then quickly returning as though having forgotten some simple item of grocery. All together astonishing. With so much traffic, teleportation must be safe. Government sanctioned even. And it was then that she accepted the thoughts in the back of her mind, the ones that had been screaming for release as of the moment she had taken notice of the teleportation devices.
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She had to draw money for the shovel. Might as well take out extra cash, the max. Wouldn’t hurt to go say hi to the kids, maybe stay a few days. But why waste the opportunity? Oliver and Julie had no time for disgruntled old ladies. With this device, she could go anywhere in the world, any place she had ever planned and dreamed of visiting. Why throw hopes at Oliver and Julie? Why not just… leave? Disappear into another life? Would Andrew follow? Not if transportation device transactions are not traceable.
The door buzzer sounded as Harvey and Andrew entered the store.
“Morning Jake,” Harvey said as Jake handed him his hat from beneath the counter. “Thank you.”
And the conversation was a-go. But Andrew only heard bits and pieces. He was scanning the store in search of his wife, except his search paused a moment when he caught sight of young Audrey Rison shopping in the produce department with her kid. How in the world did they get to the store without proper clothing? And there were others too. Randy Clark coming out of aisle two had on a tee shirt, shorts and tennis shoes. And another lady, a blonde teenager that had been leaving checkout just as he and Harvey entered the store. She was dressed skinny jeans and short-sleeved blouse, and she was not headed for the front doors. She was… And then he saw them, the twin transportation devices against the far wall. And when the teen stepped on the platform, waved her palm over the controls, entered the expanse and vanished, old Andrew lost all concern for finding Marianne. Pulling back the hood of his coat, he eyed the machine all the more. “You finally got it,” he said, interrupting Jake in mid-sentence.
“He installed it two weeks ago,” Harvey injected. “Went to see my brother yesterday. Gave him a good surprise. That’s were I left my hat. Ralph dropped it off this morning.” He pulled his hat over his head and stepped toward the door. “Anyway, I am off. Good day.”
“So, how much for the mega city?” asked Andrew.
“Twenty for anything local. One hundred for international,” answered Jake.
“Oliver and Julie will be surprised to see me,” said Andrew and then stepped over to the ATM machine. Within moments, he had cash on his card. Seconds later, and long before Jake Randall could say a word about Marianne, old man Andrew Williams flashed his ATM card over the circuits in the outgoing side of the transportation unit… and then he was gone.
Upon seeing Andrew and Harvey enter the store, Marianne had slipped back behind the pizza display. It would not do for her husband to know she was lingering over that device. And now…
Jake just left, she thought. No effort to take me with him. No thoughts at all about a nagging old woman.
Looking down, she pondered the ATM card already in her hand. Too late now. No more withdrawals until tomorrow. And as the cold hard breath of exasperation slipped from her lungs, she walked to the counter and picked up the shovel. “I will pay you tomorrow, Jake,” she said.
“He used the card again, without taking enough credits out?” said Randall, his smile soft but knowing.
“Yes he did, that old fool,” she said. And then the old woman left the store to undertake alone that long bruising walk back home. Perhaps Andrew would not stay away too long.
Hope you enjoyed this brief FREE read short story tale of teleportation devices and the associated consequences. I would appreciate comments. You are also welcome to submit your own tale of teleportation devices. We pay two cents per word for all accepted materials. Your work is welcome.
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What happens when a psychic reader sees not what happened but rather what did not happen? A military transport search and rescue squad led by reverse-sensory tech Captain Jeffery Lewis encounters telepathic creatures on a planet where rain seldom ceases to fall, jungles abound and creatures rule the swamp. Or do they? To guess the ending before it comes, you better be able to read between the lines.More info →
Is this new apocalyptic fiction short story, survivor/hunter Eric Samuels accidentally activates aged technology that dates back to the war that ended modern civilization. Thus begins a new computer-originated conflict between two surviving clans. By time the players recognize that the device is not only more than a game, but that it also operates according to its own logic, avoiding disaster may be impossible.More info →
This book offers a pondering on pain and suffering. It reflects the mind of a sojourner, a visitor to this world, a stranger in a strange land, a Christian. It ponders what a man might see if he had vision into the world of spirits and devils, if he had a better understanding of God’s eternal plan for absolute goodness among all mankind.More info →
In order to permit legalized scanning of memory and thoughts, authorities have rewritten both the Fifth and the Sixth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of American. No longer can suspected criminals avoid charges by refusing to testify on the grounds of self-incrimination. No more trial by jury. From here out, android judges dispense justice for all in a timely and fair manner.
Resistance In The Making
Not all citizens agree with change, but the resistance stands now without teeth. Or does it? What would happen if criminals gained access to some new method of mental overlay that enables them to lie with impunity, to present evidence via implanted false memories, to scam the judges?
Federal Justice Engineer Brian Harrison is tasked to uncover a fault in the system. But then he uncovers the devious Clintonian Overlay. Can he survive the brutality of those who support and promote this new challenge to thought scanning technology?More info →
How do we define love? Is it matter of the heart or a matter of personal perspective? In this science fiction short, renowned author RM Harrington examines the reality of love via the power of advanced sci-fi technology. As you have come to expect: Not everything in a Harrington tale is obvious. Exp...More info →
It was an unbearable loss, a suffering that perverted the real-world concepts of both man and wife. Now, insanity swells, a raging internal response to overwhelming hurt, confusion and frustration. Join this harsh journey that guarantees to stretch your comfortable concept of love, respect and endurance.More info →