Free Flash Fiction:
Transport in Cue
By: Jae El Foster
March 31, 2019
Never late, never a moment early, but always right on time, Douglas Flounder found himself in a predicament. The dry cleaners had not completed his order on time; therefore, the suit and tie combination he usually wore on Thursdays was impossible. He had to settle for Friday’s ensemble instead, which immediately threw off his routine.
This delay caused a delay in finishing his coffee, putting on his cologne, and checking the morning news feeds. The chaos over the war in France caught his attention, as the news told of the entire country being in a technological blackout, rendered defenseless against the invading army.
He didn’t mean to spend so much time catching up on current events, and he was approximately six minutes off of his daily schedule, making him late for work.
Douglas cursed – something he rarely did – and moaned. He pulled his phone from his pants pocket and pressed a button. “Tell work I’m sorry but I’m running late,” and then clicked another button.
“Message sent,” was the electronic reply.
He took his briefcase and carried it over to the chute. Laying it atop the small platform, he pushed a button labeled ‘work’ on a blue screen, and with a vacuum-like suction, the briefcase was pulled downward and through the platform, fully dissolving.
Douglas knew that when he arrived at his office, his briefcase would be on the platform there, fully materialized and awaiting him.
His phone beeped as he slipped it back into his pocket. He didn’t need to check it to see what it was about. The tone was a calendar alarm, alerting him that he was late for his first appointment of the day.
Hurrying over to his Quantum Molecular Transportation Device – or QMTD – he punched the 'work' button on the screen and stepped onto the larger platform. He closed his eyes, ready for the gust of scientific wind to disintegrate him and reconstruct him in his office in a matter of seconds.
Instead, he received a verbal notification.
“Transport in cue,” the machine told him in a professional, feminine tone. “Please stand by.”
Please stand by? Douglas was already late. He hadn’t time to please stand by. Stepping from the platform, he pushed the button and then returned to his stance.
Again, he was met with, “Transport in cue. Please stand by.”
“Transmission error,” he said, knowing that his pathway should have been clear. Once more, he stepped from the platform and to the glowing blue screen, where he typed in the code to allow for verbal commands. “Transport to work,” he told the machine as he stepped back onto the platform.
“Transport in cue,” the voice replied, and Douglas’s impatience grew. “Please stand by.”
“I don’t have time to stand by,” he shouted, fidgeting in his stance. “System override. Transport to work.”
“System override is not recommended,” the computer told him in a flat tone. “Please stand by.”
“System override,” Douglas repeated, shouting a bit more strongly. “Transport to work!”
“System override is not…”
“Override!” he commanded, stomping his foot hard onto the platform. “Transport. To. Work!”
The computer was quiet for a moment as Douglas took deep, forceful breaths, like an angry bull. Then, it announced what he was waiting to hear. “System override successful. Transporting to work.”
Douglas smiled as he heard the words. He kept his eyes open, grinning from ear to ear as his body swooshed downward, dissolving into tiny molecular particles, turning and binding into code, transmitting through the platform’s phantom mainframe, and finally reassembling on his office platform.
Only, he didn’t feel right. Something was off.
A bit dazed, dizzy and confused – feelings he’d never experienced through transport before – he stepped off the platform, losing his balance and nearly falling to the floor. He braced himself and steadied himself, and then he moved cautiously into the room.
Every movement – every bone and every limb – felt foreign to Douglas. He felt changed – different… incomplete.
At his office mirror, he gazed at his reflection. While he seemed to be all there and put together, something was indeed different. Attached to either side of his head were the halves of another head, melded into his flesh as if it had been welded to him. Out of the backs of his shoulders were two extra arms, and two more legs were seemingly welded onto his own. Much worse, the halves of the head at either side of his seemed to be alive, as the eyes were blinking and the lips were quivering.
Shocked… terrified… in disbelief, Douglas took a closer look in the mirror at the split head that was melded to his. Upon this closer inspection, he realized his body had been combined with the body of his client – a young man named James Bowers, who had also apparently been late to their appointment. Douglas’s transport path had, indeed, been in use.
As he screamed, so did the two sides of James Bowers – echoing in unison with Douglas’s cry of horror.
Copyright Jae El Foster, 2019