I’ve been getting more rest to fight off a cold but I wanted to make sure I stay somewhat productive. Below is an excerpt from my second book, The Visitor, a story of inter-dimensional travel.
Another cycle was complete. The teleporter successfully sent Adam from the lab to his home two months ago, and the tank came through the portal three days ago. Adam submitted every bodily fluid for testing and military doctors checked his vitals every night when the military came by for their closing sweep of the lab. For the moment, the teleportation didn’t appear to have any ill effects. Adam didn’t physically feel any different.
Mentally, he felt lighter and clearer than ever. He felt like a sprinter getting gold at the Olympics after years of trials and practice. Adam was never a good athlete, but it was the best metaphor. He was on his way to forging a legendary career, his name would never be forgotten by the scientific community, or the public. He would be a national hero.
“See you in three weeks Abel,” Dr. Rowan said as he extended his hand.
Adam froze for a few seconds, this was the first time Dr. Rowan offered a handshake. Adam doubted it was out of respect or courtesy, otherwise it would have come a long time ago. Dr. Rowan knew he would benefit from the work Adam did as a physicist and as a guinea pig. Dr. Rowan was simply the popular girl, showing some semblance of affection when Adam made himself useful. As much as Adam wanted to ignore the gesture, he knew it would be immature. He’d faced enough immaturity from the seniors around him.
“See you then, thanks for everything.” Abel said as he took the hand in his.
The other physicists followed, until Abel was left with Dr. Calvin as usual.
Cages of white rats normally flanked the left side of the lab, but the military removed them once human testing began. Adam had become accustomed to their scuffling in their cages, and the lab felt eerily silent without it. The only sound now was the air conditioning humming silently. All the tables were wiped down, and the teleporter was resting on one of them, waiting to be collected by the military. So much smaller than any bomb or missile, yet still more effective as a deterrent. It wasn’t just a weapon of war, it was a tool that would reshape the social and political landscape.
“Ready to go,” Dr. Calvin said as he hefted his bag.
“Yes, guess I could just teleport back home again.” Adam said.
“If anything, you should teleport me home. My body doesn’t cope with the long drives as well as it used to.”
“I’d have to keep your car then, how would you get back to work?”
“Good point,” Dr. Calvin said.
“I know they’ve tested you as well as they can but I always worry there could be some longer term effects of using the teleporter.” Dr. Calvin said.
“It’s been a few months for the rats now, still nothing there. Let’s hope my body doesn’t fall apart a few years from now.” Abel said.
“I’ll pray for you, metaphorically speaking.” Dr. Calvin said.
“Appreciated.” Adam said.
“On a serious note, I have some errands to run in the city. I was thinking of saving them for tomorrow since I’m dropping you back, but if you’re fine with taking the teleporter back I could take care of them today.” Dr. Calvin said.
“Sounds good to me.” Adam said.
He grabbed the teleporter off the desk and headed down the stairs to the testing area.
“I’ll call you once you’re through to make sure everything’s alright. If you don’t answer I’m going to send an ambulance to your house. I don’t mind driving you either.” Dr. Calvin said.
“I’ll be fine. It’ll be nice to get home early,” Adam said.
Dr. Calvin took a few seconds to double check the coordinates before pushing the trigger. Adam took the time to savour the air conditioning, knowing that he would be entering a stifling home once he exited the portal. His eyes were closed when the portal opened, but he could see the white light filter through his closed eyelids, attacking the darkness as it made itself at home.
Adam opened his eyes to face his mentor, knowing that he wouldn’t see him again for a few months. Dr. Calvin was going to be tied up with speaking engagements once the project was officially announced in a few days. Adam didn’t have many engagements with news organizations, but he would be travelling to military bases to instruct the military on the use of the portal. Dr. Calvin assured him that this was standard, the youngest member of a group often received the least media attention. Dr. Rowan and the others might try to downplay Adam’s work but Dr. Calvin would be there, speaking with reporters, to assure the world that Adam made a valuable contribution to the project. Christmas break would be here soon and Adam could ring in the New Year as a world-renowned physicist. Things were finally falling into place.
“See you Dr. Calvin.” Adam said.
“Go home and relax Abel, you deserve it.” Dr. Calvin said. His smile revealed an unrivalled level of happiness.
Adam felt himself smile for the first time as well, and the smile was still on his face as he stepped through the portal. His smile vanished as he landed on the other side. There was no change in temperature this time. As Adam entered the hallway of his home, he could feel the air conditioning hitting his face and arms. Adam knew he always kept it off. Evelyn must have turned it on at some point, even though he had told her they couldn’t afford it. It was yet another thing they’d have to fight about.
Adam didn’t want to let the AC ruin his mood though, not after what he accomplished. He rushed towards the end of the hallway, making his way for the main unit to shut of the AC. As he glanced to his left he noticed that every piece of furniture in the living room was different. The worn black couch in his home was replaced by a brown one; the glass table in front of it was now marble. The television that normally sat on a table was now mounted on the wall, and appeared to be at least ten inches bigger. More importantly, the living room floor was covered in carpet, instead of wood.
Turning to his right, Adam saw the kitchen for the first time. The dining table was also covered in a plain white cloth, like the one in his home. The similarity ended there. The stainless steel fridge was an upgrade from Adam’s, and so was the marble countertop. Either Evelyn managed to get all of this changed today, or Adam wasn’t in the right house. Dr. Calvin must have made a mistake with the coordinates. Fortunately, no one was home.
It didn’t seem like Dr. Calvin called him yet. Adam’s hand shot down to his pocket and pulled out his phone. No missed calls. It had been at least one minute so far, Dr. Calvin said he’d call as soon as Abel got through. Adam was considering waiting for a call for a few minutes, when he heard footsteps from the floor above him. The steps were muffled at first but soon became more noticeable as they hit the creaking wood of a staircase. The staircase sounded the same as Adam’s, and if this home had the same layout, the staircase, was in front of the living room. Once someone reached the bottom of it, they would see him As Adam’s head swiveled to the stairs, he caught a glimpse of a family photo hanging above the television. Four black faces were staring back at him.
“David, is that you?” A woman’s voice said. It wasn’t Evelyn’s.
Adam didn’t need any further prodding. He dashed back to the portal, and reemerged in the lab. He nearly slipped on the lab’s metal floor, seeing Dr. Calvin standing on the upper level with the phone in his hand. Dr. Calvin saw him and abruptly hung up.
“Close the portal, now.” Adam said.
“I wasn’t joking when I said I’d call an ambulance. Why didn’t you pick up?” Dr. Calvin said as he reached for the portal.
“I never got a call from you.” Adam said. Adam didn’t consider himself athletic but fear and adrenaline allowed him to bound up the steps. Dr. Calvin pressed the teleporter’s trigger as Adam reached the main level and Adam looked back to see the portal disappear.
Dr. Calvin looked at the phone’s display, obviously surprised to see that Adam was telling the truth.
“You’re number is 905-876-2999 right?”
“Yeah, you sure that’s what you called?”
“Positive, I tried three times. Are you getting bad signal at your house?”
“Got a call there his morning. Reception’s fine at my house, but I’m worried that I wasn’t in my house just now.”
“I made sure they were the right coordinates. I guarantee it.” Dr. Calvin presented the teleporter to Abel, and it was his turn to be surprised.
The coordinates were displayed on one of the teleporter’s surfaces, on a small screen directly above the keypad. The numbers were right. Adam was in the right coordinates for his house.
“What happened?” Dr. Calvin said.
“The furniture was different. The tv was different, and there was a family photo in the house that wasn’t my family. That wasn’t my house.”
“Could it have been a neighbours? Maybe the teleporter malfunctioned and sent you somewhere close by? We’ve had this issue before, I thought we fixed it but,”
“No. I’m not best friends with them, but I’ve seen them before. Neither of them are black and that family photo showed a black family.”
“Someone down the street?” Dr. Calvin said.
“How long since we’ve had that issue?” Adam said.
“Nearly a year,” Dr. Calvin said.
“Right, since then, we have teleported people a few feet away and even from other continents. We’ve spent entire days testing it. Every time, people end up exactly where we want them to. What are the changes that the teleporter has malfunctioned now?” Adam said.
“Low, but nothing is 100% predictable.” Dr. Calvin said.
Adam wanted to believe that the teleporter didn’t send him to different coordinates. The teleporter was hours away from being collected by the military for use. The military would be trained on how to use the teleporters and they would be the ones taking the time to carefully survey each world, enlisting the services of a field of scientists like botanists and geologists to study every world’s climate. The government already considered the project a success and announcing a setback now could lead to the governmental council becoming an enemy, not an ally.
If the teleporter was working, then that would alleviate one worry, but also lead to an even bigger question. If the teleporter did send Adam to the right coordinates for his home, why did he end up in someone else’s house? There was one possibility, but Adam had a hard time accepting it. Yet it was the only one that made sense. It made even more sense as he considered one detail that he ignored until this point. A calendar was hanging on the fridge, but the fridge originally took all of Adam’s attention.
The calendar had a variety of notes attached to it, but Adam couldn’t read them from where he was standing. What he could read was the date, displayed in bold black lettering: 2010. Adam realized that the calendar could be an old one, but it didn’t make sense to have a six year old calendar displayed, with dates marked all over it. If the coordinates were right, then there was only one explanation for where Adam just travelled to.
“Adam? What are you thinking?” Dr. Calvin said.
“I’m thinking we just made another breakthrough.” Adam said.