By James Lin, https://jameslin.life/books/
Victor Rich was a CEO and investor; he walked into his son-in-law’s research lab. The room had many computers, a cage full of mice, and two chambers that resembled phone booths.
Mr. Rich greeted, “Reed!”
Reed replied, “Hi Mr. Rich, to what do we owe your great visit?”
Mr. Rich smiled, “I heard the good news about your breakthrough, so I wanted to take a look.”
“Yes, we’ve done some tests so far.”
“So, show me.”
Reed pointed to one device that looked like a phone booth and an identical machine on the opposite end of the room. “So, those are the teleporter chambers. So far, we have tested some inanimate objects.”
“Show me something.”
Reed walked past a cage of mice, reached a box, and took out a flashlight; he turned it on and placed it in the teleporter’s chamber. He then activated the device. Within a second, the flashlight disappeared and appeared at the second teleporter; the flashlight stayed lit.
Mr. Rich laughed and gave a great clap. “Amazing! You know what we can do once we commercialize this?”
“The possibilities are endless, sir.”
“Yeah, we will make a lot of money.”
Reed gave an artificial smile.
Mr. Rich asked, “Have you put living things through it?”
“We put mice through.”
Mr. Rich laughed, “Good, how soon can we start teleporting people.”
“Whoa, I don’t know if that’s a good idea!”
“Think of the possibilities, Reed; you can be in New York, then the next moment you can be in Paris! We will revolutionize how we travel and move!”
“No, sir, the person at the destination could just be a copy.”
“The person at the destination would be exactly the same, with the same memories, no?”
“The person at the destination would think they are the original person, but he’s just a copy. The original person dies when they step in the teleporter!”
“Look at the flashlight we just teleported. Can you tell the difference? It even stayed on!”
“It doesn’t change the fact the original flashlight has been disintegrated. Look, suppose I create a clone of you, and then you get murdered. That doesn’t change the fact you were murdered.”
“But if the clone lived on. You couldn’t tell the difference.”
Reed pointed at Mr. Rich, “But YOU would since you would die.”
“The clone would think there is no difference.”
“But the clone is just a clone; he thinks he is you because of the memories copied into him, not because he truly experienced those memories.”
“Have you ever heard of the Ship of Theseus? Reed?”
“So, you have a ship, and as it’s used, the captain replaces the pieces of the ship when they get damaged. Over time, the captain replaced every single part of the ship. Is that now the same ship?”
Reed looked to the side to think. “I don’t know.”
“Exactly, and you would know, your cells are completely replaced every seven years. So, you are not the same person as you were seven years ago.”
“I wouldn’t consider that the same as being disintegrated; I remain conscious.”
“Okay, what about when you go to sleep? How do you know you don’t die every night? And the person in the morning just thinks it’s you.”
“I don’t, but we work with what we have.”
Mr. Rich thought for a few moments, “So, what exactly does the object experience when it’s transported?”
“This” Reed reached into the box and took out a video camera; he turned the camera to record and sent it through the teleporter.
When the camera appeared in the second teleporter, Mr. Rich quickly grabbed it to check the recording. He said, “The recording never stopped.”
Reed said, “Let’s see the playback.”
They viewed the playback and noticed that there was no interruption of the recording.
Mr. Rich said, “I like that, see, there is no blackout, there is no break in consciousness. See, the subject would be awake when transported!”
“How do we know that the memory of this camera isn’t just copied from the original destroyed camera?”
Mr. Rich thought for a moment and took his phone. “Call me.”
When Reed called Mr. Rich’s phone, Mr. Rich also turned on his phone’s recording device. Then he placed it into the teleporter.”
Mr. Rich said, “Make sure you keep on talking into my phone.” Then he turned on the teleporter.
The phone appeared in the other teleporter, and the call did not end.
Mr. Rich laughed, “See, you can keep the phone call going while it is teleported!”
“I’m not convinced, Mr. Rich.”
“There is evidently no break in continuity.”
“Cellular networks are designed to search for the phone signal when a connection is interrupted. So, when the original phone is destroyed, the signal goes to the copy.”
“Nothing is ever good enough for you, Reed. You know what, I’ve seen enough; this teleporter is your masterpiece! And I will step through myself because I know that this is safe for human use.”
Mr. Rich walked towards the teleporter chamber, but Reed grabbed his arm and stopped him. “Sir, this isn’t a good idea.”
“Fine, Reed, run more tests. Speaking of which, we need to test for greater range.”
“We can move one of the teleporter chambers tomorrow.”
“Good, take the rest of the day off.”
Reed returned home, and his pregnant wife, Laura, greeted him, “Dad called me; he is so happy with your work!”
Reed replied, “He’s a little too excited.”
“Shouldn’t he be? Teleportation will revolutionize travel.”
“Or it could end up killing millions.”
“Oh c’mon, you are exaggerating!”
“Some people are going to want to tell everyone that it’s perfectly safe so that they can make money off of it.”
“You know Reed, for someone that just created the greatest breakthrough of my lifetime, you are a super downer.”
“Your dad really wanted to use the thing.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“He could die and get replaced by a copy.”
“Okay, let’s suppose that happens, wouldn’t the ‘copy’ as you call it. Still love me, he’ll still be our baby’s grandfather?”
“It’s not that simple. A copy would only have the memories of a person that is your dad.”
“So, he wouldn’t love me?”
“Well, he’ll have the memory of a person that loves you.”
“What’s the difference?”
“The difference is that the original person dies.”
“But, I can’t tell the difference.”
“If I die and get replaced by some clone, you think that’s okay?”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Look, things are complicated.”
“So, can I see this thing in action?”
“Yeah, we are going to do some long-range tests tomorrow.”
“Well, I would like to see it. Plus, I want to give some items to teleport!”
Meanwhile, Mr. Rich walked back to the lab by himself; he saw the applications of teleportation and wanted to be the first man through the teleporter. And Reed wasn’t there to stop him.
Mr. Rich stepped into the teleporter and activated it. But a large error message flashed on the screen. “Warning, human detected in the teleporter, please exit as this is unsafe!”
Mr. Rich was annoyed but was proud that his son-in-law had the foresight to do this.
The next day, one of the teleporter chambers was moved to a room in a separate building. Laura gave Mr. Rich some items she wanted to teleport while she went with Reed to the building adjacent to the lab to see one of the teleporter chambers. Mr. Rich stayed in Reed’s lab, where the other teleporter chamber is located.
Mr. Rich teleported several items over, which Laura and Reed were able to examine. This made her very excited about the invention.
While Laura was on the phone with her dad, Reed was outside the room, and she heard a loud explosion.
Laura was terrified and asked, “What was that?”
Mr. Rich replied, “There appears to be a chemical explosion in the building you are at. Get out NOW!”
Laura ran to the door, but she could not get it open. “The door won’t open!”
Then Laura smelled a very foul fume. “What is that smell?”
Mr. Rich was speaking to some other people to get a better grasp of the situation. “Is there no way of exiting?”
“No, everything is stuck or blocked! And the fumes…” Laura began coughing.
“Did you say fumes? There’s a warning that says that they’re toxic!”
“How long do I have?”
“From the looks of things, you have only a matter of minutes.”
“Daddy, what do I do?” Laura coughed again.
Mr. Rich was very agitated. “Umm, the teleporter, you can use that as a very last resort.”
“How do I use it?”
“Get inside the chamber; I’ll activate from here.”
Laura ran into the teleporter. At the same time, Mr. Rich got on the control terminal.
When Mr. Rich activated the teleporter, the “Warning, human detected in the teleporter, please exit as this is unsafe!” error popped.
“What’s going on, Daddy?”
“Reed placed a lock on the teleporter that prevented people from using it.”
Laura panicked, and she began to lose consciousness due to the fumes. “Is there nothing you can do?”
“We need a password override, and I don’t know where Reed is.”
Laura’s breath was now getting deeper as she struggled to breathe. “Umm … you can try my birthdate.”
“Okay!” Mr. Rich inputted Laura’s birthdate.
“Override successful” Popped out on the screen.
Then a flash occurred; Mr. Rich looked towards the teleport chamber and saw Laura there.
Mr. Rich exclaimed, “Oh, thank God!”
He immediately ran up to Laura and embraced her with a hug.”
The doctor inspected Laura. The doctor said, “Well, you are perfectly healthy.”
Laura asked, “Really?”
“Yeah, and the baby is perfectly healthy too.”
Laura said, “That’s a relief!”
“In fact, your husband got more injuries than you did.”
“Oh, I’ll go see him now.”
Laura went to speak to Reed, who was sitting on a hospital bed in another section.
Reed gave a big smile as Laura ran up to him, and they embraced. Reed said, “When I woke up, I was terrified that I lost you. Are you hurt?”
“No, it looks like you took a beating.”
“No, I’m fine; I got rescued by emergency services after I passed out.”
“Well, we need to thank them!”
“So, how did you escape?”
“I stepped through your teleporter.”
Reed’s smile transitioned to a shock. “Wait, you used that thing?”
“Yes, honey, I was completely trapped in that room, and it was being filled with toxic fumes; the only way out was the teleporter.”
“I had a lock on it to prevent people from using it.”
“Yeah, we guessed the password.” (Should change the plot and make it a bit more believable. Maybe she hacked into it and had good computer skills. It’s unlikely that someone can so easily guess someone’s password)
Reed looked away to think of the situation.
Laura asked, “What’s wrong, Reed? It sounds like you would rather I die in that room!”
Reed turned to look at Laura again, “Of course not. Umm, you’re not feeling awkward or anything?”
“No, but you seem like you’re not happy to see me.”
“I am happy; it’s just…”
“Reed, is it because I used your teleporter?”
“It’s just that I can’t help but feel that there could be a Laura that was killed.”
Laura gave a disappointed expression.
“Umm, honey, I am Laura. Aren’t you happy that I’m alive?” said Laura.
“Of course, but……,” said Reed.
“Can you even tell the difference?”
“That doesn’t matter because that doesn’t change that there’s a dead Laura out there!”
“I thought you loved me.”
“The fact that I do is why I’m so concerned about… sigh.”
“Reed, you may not think I’m the real Laura, but my love for you is absolutely real. And Your baby that I’m carrying is real too.”
Reed looked to the side and thought about what she had said.
“Right, I didn’t mean to give you an existential crisis,” said Reed.
Laura kissed Reed, but Reed lacked passion.
Before Laura could say anything, Mr. Rich barged into the room carrying a bag; he was very enthusiastic.
“Hey, kids! I brought some takeout for us!” said Mr. Rich.
Reed had a blank unfocused expression.,
“Oh, thanks,” said Reed.
“Reed! You need to smile! Not only did we just teleport the very first human, but your machine also saved Laura’s life; and it also saved your unborn child as well!”
Laura said, “He’s a little upset.”
Mr. Rich asked, “What for? It’s not about the damaged building, right? Insurance will cover that.”
Reed replied, “No.”
“Is it the teleporter chamber that is trapped under the rubble? I already gathered a group together to dig through the building to get it back! A ground-breaking invention like that is crucial for the future!”
“I guess I just have a lot on my mind.”
Laura turned to her dad.,
“Dad, can we talk for a bit outside?” asked Laura.
Laura and Mr. Reed walked outside into the hallway to chat.
Laura said, “Dad, I feel weird.”
Mr. Rich replied, “I thought the doctor said you’re totally normal.”
“I mean, what if I’m not Laura?”
“What? Of course, you’re my daughter!” and
Mr. Rich hugged her.
“What if I’m just a copy?”
Mr. Rich hugged Laura.
“Laura, I know you are my daughter, and if Reed doesn’t see that, then he’s not good enough for you,” said Mr. Rich.
Laura smiled, “Thanks, Dad.”
Later that night, after everyone returned home, Laura walked behind Reed and kissed him while he was using a computer.
“Do you really feel I’m not Laura?” Laura asked.
Reed turned around.,
“No, about earlier, of course, you’re Laura to me. It’s just; I’m just concerned about the… never mind,” said Reed.
“Can we just pretend that I didn’t use the teleporter?” Laura asked.
Reed thought for a few moments.,
“Yeah, it’s probably better for both our mental health if we don’t think about that too much,” said Reed.
“You’re definitely a thinker,” Laura stated.
“So come to bed; why are you on the computer now?”
“It’s weird, according to the logs, the teleporter had a malfunction. I’m just glad you were able to use it.”
“You can worry about that tomorrow. Come to bed!”
The evening after, Reed, Laura, and Mr. Rich were having dinner together.
Mr. Rich said, “Once we recover the other teleport chamber, we should accelerate commercializing them.”
Reed replied, “Of course.”
“The practical applications of this technology are astronomical. Imagine putting this in space stations!”
Laura said, “Well, Dad, you’re certainly excited.”
“Of course, I am!”
Then Mr. Rich got a phone call.
“Hmm, it’s from the salvage team; I’ll have to take this.” He answers the phone, “Hello?”
The voice on the phone said, “Mr. Rich, we have a problem.”
Laura remarked, “That doesn’t sound good.”
The voice said, “So when we got into the buried building, we found…”
Mr. Rich pressed on. “Yes?”
Then Laura’s voice called out from the phone. “Dad! The teleporter didn’t seem to do anything, but I managed to find an oxygen tank nearby and survived!”
Mr. Rich was shocked and silent; he turned to stare at Laura at his dinner table, who was in shock and stared back at Mr. Rich.
Laura, on the phone, said, “Umm, Dad, why aren’t you saying anything?”