The ISF is proud to present a great Science Fiction short story by Hungarian author Attila Sümegi.
Before reading this short story, ask yourself: would you prefer the reality, even a reality without colors, or the color of the virtual world? Where does the man stop and begins the monster?
Do you have your answer?
Editor in Chief
Dad Bought a Teleport Device
Frank stood at the HomeTech companies Easyport 2100 teleport device wearing a palm patterned short, a T-shirt, a flip flop and a straw. He was thinking. Should he put the sunglasses on before entering the glowing gate? His wife’s crying from the bedroom had stopped; probably Ann had taken all the tranquilizer capsules and was now lying in bed with a pair of hung up eyes and, most probably, the sheet was sucking her saliva.
He turned back to say goodbye but the children still stood next to the lamp stiffly, stock-still, like the furniture around them. Even their eyes had not move for two days. But when Ann gave them food, their reflexes worked and they swallowed it. Of course, it was the teleport device’s fault, as everything else in the last few days.
It had started two months ago. Frank carried home the box under his arm, containing the Easyport 2100, and of course, Ann started to row immediately: what was it for? Surely it was not tested properly… it was dangerous to the children and so on Frank asserted in vain that nobody should set back the progress because this is the future and soon nobody will use vehicles.
He was right. At first, they implemented teleports only in the main squares and shopping quarters of the town, but the number of receiving stations increased from week to week. Ann did not let the children use the device to teleport to school, but the boys made hissy more and more due to their classmate’s laughs. Their colleagues were mocking them because they still went to school by bus and that is never a good thing for the children.
Frank was already familiar with that new world. At the company where he worked they linked the production lines installed in different countries with teleport devices half a year ago in order to save transport time and cost. This led to the rioting: the police fought every day with the strikers of the forwarder companies and transportation corporations.
This is the future! Frank smiled every morning when saying goodbye to his children standing front of the teleport device.
He also used the teleport more and more times, even though is job did not required him to do so.
He dreamed the first time when he tried the machine (right after its assembly) and he teleported himself to the shopping quarter to buy some beer for the England-Hungary match. That was the first football match where not only the players but the ball arrived to the pitch by teleport device.
According to the scientist and the user’s manual the teleportation passes off unnoticed, the subject feels nothing, especially dreams nothing. The machine takes apart every atoms of the body, saves the information from every particle and forwards them to the receiving station where the subject can build up particle by particle, atom by atom, molecule by molecule, and cell by cell.
There is no place for dreams.
However, Frank dreamed at the first time. He was singing in the stadium with the other fans. It was just a picture, a sharp, colourful picture. But it was filled with life.
Then the more he teleported the more he dreamed.
Longer and longer dreams as the time between departure and receiving station increased because more and more people entered their machines simultaneously. They became information from material jostling inside the optical cables.
Frank sighed, set the receiving station: shopping quarter. A couple of days before Christmas the size of the crowd were unbearable. Human stream flowed among the shops, faces wept dollop, and sweat bodies that stepped from the gates of the teleport machines.
This time the awaiting is the longest.
Frank did not want to buy a present. He looked again the staring children. He understood them. They did not see the room, their imagination was flying in another world, somewhere in the highway of information between two teleport devices. They would have not been happy by a new toy nor a new cloth or any other thing.. They hardly spoke for weeks and they did not smiled at all.
Neither did Frank. Slowly the colours faded out from his life. He did his job apathetically, without even thinking of it. When he gave a kiss to Ann, he felt cold skin within his mouth. When he caressed the children, he felt plastic hair with his palm. The food lost the taste, smell. Whenever it rained, he always felt the same. As if it would have been sunny: like a piece of stone. From night to night his dreams paled and finally ceased and then he felt it every morning! Like if he was waking up in a coffin.
Meanwhile, during the longer teleportation he saw more, graphic fantasies. No, it wasn´t dreams any more. They were more than fantasies, because the dreams were connected each other as the parts of a soap opera. They created a continuous story with Ann and the children. They lived together, happily, colourful, smelly, filled with desire, pleasure and fear.
Frank took his backpack, which contained a ball, because he promised the children that he would teach them the football tennis in the beach. How good it will be! Last time the dream ended when they arrived to the beach and Frank was not sure if he had put the ball into the backpack.
He entered the device. His heart was beating excitedly. He sighed and pushed the button. He did not care about his wife who lied in the bed, dazed by the tranquilizers, and he did not care about his unmoved, vegetated children, because he was hearing the roaming of the sea, the ringing laugh, the soft voice of Ann, who was asking him to be nice and smear her back with sun oil. The ball popped in the hot sand, rolling, rolling.
Frank never arrived to the shopping quarter.
About the Author:
Attila Sümegi was born on the 7th of January 1978 in Budapest, Hungary. In 2007 he joined a group of professional and amateur writers called Írókör to develop his skills. First published short-story was „Home Straight” (Célegyenes) in 2008.
His first novel, an urban fantasy story entitled „Gate of Irkalla” (Irkalla kapuja) is waiting for publishing.
Some of his short-stories are:
„Home Straight” (Célegyenes, 2008), “Prey” (Zsákmány, 2009), “Animus” (2009), “System error” (Rendszerhiba, 2012), “Dad bought a teleport device” (Apa teleportáló gépet vett, 2011), “Lightless routes” (Fénytelen járatok, 2011), “Graves” (Halmok, 2011, fantasy).