This is a short sci-fi story I wrote for my Science Fiction class during my 2015 Fall term at SVA. For our final assignment, we had to make a powerpoint presentation of either a sci-fi topic or a sci-fi original story. I chose the story and for my story I wanted to write a short about the life of a guy living in a world where people's phones can teleport them anywhere they want. I decided to take a more mundane approach since I was already writing/drawing the more fantastical sci-fi series The J-Man Web Series. Below is the story in it's entirety as well as the concept art I drew for it.
(bizzzzzz) (bizzzzzzz) (bizzz--) (click) “5:30 am all ready?” I said, almost incomprehensible as I struggle to revive myself. I feel as if the last 8 hours of sleep hadn't happened. You ever fall asleep and then immediately wake up, like it was just a blink, with no dreams at all?
“Jeff? Can you make some cof-(yawn)-fee.” “Yeah, sure Bb.” That was my equally tired wife Bobbi, but everyone calls her Bb. And I'm Jeff. Jeff McDougal. I reach over to my nightstand and grab a small, thin, pad with a huge screen and mini atomic space-time disruptor (used to bend reality) attached to the left, and my headset is plugged in the right (it's blue). This is my Telepad 6, latest model. Well, for the next 4 months at least. I set to the kitchen and jump there in about seven seconds. I should've been two but my Telepad isn't fully charged.
As I start the coffee maker I here my little sweetheart Ally screaming so loud the neighbors four houses down can hear her. If there's one thing that wakes Bb up, it's her. She uses the new baby monitor we got to port Ally from her crib into our room with her. I've heard using porters on child so young could cause radiation damage, but as far as I know it's just an old wives tale.
I almost port back upstairs but decide to just use the stairs. “So how's my two beautiful gals?” Bb turns with a half annoyed, half-happy smile and says “tired, what else?” As Bb ports Ally back to her crib we both put are suits on.
“Using the fancy tie, Bb?”
“Got a big group presentation. Fancy ties are needed.”
“Don't forget to take the baby monitor with you”
“I thought it was your turn, Jeff.”
It wasn't. Everyday we switch who takes the monitor to work so that one of us keep an eye on Ally and port back if necessary.
“Damn” Bb says while screwing up her tie “I'll take it. But this better not ruin my presentation.”
I turn with a slightly judging smirk “Ya daughter's that much of a problem.”
Bb turns, obviously having enough of my sarcasm. “I was being hyperbolic.” She says.
“I know. She you later, honey”. I give her a smooch as we set our Telepads to are work offices.
I arrive at the security desk of my office building. You can't just port into your cubicle, or else any criminal could just show up. No one wants a repeat of the 2057 Chrysler Incident. They have teleporter deflectors set up around the whole building. Personally, I have no idea how you can deflect holes in space-time but once I did try to port into my office. Anything to get past the full body scanners (the officer that sits down and runs the machine always gives me the stink eye). Basically, it caused my Telepad to malfunction mid port and I ended up in a dumpster.
As I race to the mass porters in the main hall in order to get up to my office, I bump into Ed the janitor. He's a lovely fellow-- “You just spilled my dirty water everywhere”--when you don't mess with his work.
“I'm sorry, Ed” “Ehhh” he says as he waves his hands forward.
It's his way of saying to forget about it. I walk with Ed to the mass porter as we talk the usual stuff like sleep, the game, movies, my Telepad.
“How much did it cost ya?” he asks pretending he doesn't care about having one.
“'bout $649 with a monthly teleport signal plan.” Ed looks more angry now.
“Ptfft! I'm sa'post to pay for all that with my rent, food, and internet budget?! No thanks.”
Ed's never had a Telepad. Not sure if it's because of his low income or he genuinely sees no purpose in have one. Which seems strange considering so much of everything is done with teleporting and such.
“So what're you doing fer lunch?” Ed asks. I realize I forgot to take my sandwich with me. So I run out the building, port back home, grab my sandwich, and port back to Ed before he finished his sentence. “Got it!” I run up to the mass porter as I wave goodbye to Ed.
So I get to work at my computer, typing documents, sending e-mails, playing games, more documents, eat lunch, and more documents. It gets a little interesting when I have to port to a factory six miles away to get some reports. Before long it's 8 hours later. I decide to port to the shopping mall after work. Not really to buy anything, just to walk around and look at stuff. It's hard starting a conversation when everyone keeps appearing and leaving. I did get into a fun talk about movies with a guy while waiting for a hot dog. We gave each other our Telepad chat id's so we can talk sometime later.
I port back home and Bb is already there, watching Netflix. Ally is asleep upstairs so we can stay down and watch in peace. Afterward we go up to bed and start to sleep, or at least try. My wife notices it's 1am and I haven't closed my eyes yet.
“What's wrong? Aren't you tired?”, she asks.
“I don't know. Yes and no”, I said. She looks at me with an annoyed yet caring look.
“Just waiting until the morning, I guess”, I continue. And then I start rambling, explaining my daily route and my lack of dreaming. She stops me before I start forgetting to breath talking.
“You sound stressed, and maybe a little overwhelmed”, she said. Bb was always good at understanding my nonsense and getting to the point. “What's wrong?”
“It's just, everything happens so fast, I......I....”
“Have you tried taking a walk”.
“Yes, a walk. My friend at the gym told me that when she started feeling anxious, wanting the day to be over just so that the next on can start, she decided to start turning down her Telepad every afternoon and just walk.”
“Anywhere. I've done it a couple of times and it's great.” She's gone walking before? I didn't even notice. I was silent, thinking it over.
“The first time is always the hardest. Just give it a try.” How can I say no with those baby-blues looking right at me?
“Okay, okay. After work, I'll walk around the city” Those baby-blues suddenly got more cautious. “What?”
“Wouldn't you rather walk through the neighborhood, or the park? I mean, I hear bad stuff happens deep beneath the buildings.” The news likes to constantly talk about how horrible downtown is. But I never really payed much attention to it.
“I'm in the city all the time. It's safe. Trust me.” She grew less scared and more confident, probably because of my confidence.
We smiled at each other on last time before going to sleep.
Wake up. Brush teeth. Suit. Go to work. Work. Work. Work. Lunch. Work. Work. 4pm. Leave.
As my co-workers all port home I reach into my pocket to port too. I hesitate, remembering what I said. Ed waddles towards me. “Aren't'cha going home?”
“Yes, but I'm going to walk a bit first.” Ed looks kind of interested, for about a two seconds maybe.
“You want me to join ya?” I was flattered, but I wanted to do this alone. I said good-bye to Ed and walked out. A got a dirty look from the security officer that runs the scanner, but she always does that.
I walk out the door (forgot we had those in the front) and started going up 7th. It was close to 4:30 but it looks like 9:30pm. The buildings where so tall and close to each other that sun light doesn't really get through much. The city lights are enough to see where you're going and there's something strangely relaxing about them. Just orbs of light floating there. All the buildings look the same. Giant gray blocks with windows. They used to look interesting. Different colors, different lengths, different windows. Even the roofs had different things and stuff on top. I'm taking this all from a history book I read once. All this happened years before I was born.
The sidewalks are very small with only enough room for two people, maybe. Most of the road is for cars and trucks, used for some transport of really large materials and products (most everything else is just ported into the garages of buildings). I see one guy across the street. We both look at each other awkwardly, not saying anything. I thought about waving or saying “hi”, but he left and I continued walking.
As I continue the light gets brighter. I noticed that the buildings have become less consistent and trees popping up. I've reached a huge park. I port to this park time after time, but I usually just port right into the greenhouses with the coffee shops. I've never really strolled down the park before. It was lovely. It was the middle of Autumn and the trees were just starting to change color and the flowers had amazing hues of red and yellow. The moon sneaked up on me as I watched the flowers and the background began to glow with millions of people still by their computers writing papers and watching movies. It's gotten really late and my Telepad is fairly low on battery (I usually charge it every chance I get). So I go home.
I arrive in the living room. It seems brighter then usual even though it isn't necessarily that bright. Actually the only light is from the TV computer screen, which Bb is glued to watching The Simpsons. They've really picked up in quality after season 154.
“You look happy.”, she giggles.
“Haven't felt this calm since I got my Telepad 6 screen fixed last....ummm...”
“That long ago? Whatever, it was great.”
“There wasn't any......problems?” She asks, noticing my Telepad is at 5% power. It wasn't that difficult to notice since they have a bright red light on the side, just so you know what to charge.
I replied in a sarcastic baby tone,“No. The big bad city was scary at all.”.
Like usual, Bb looked both enjoyed, annoyed, and angry when I joked like this. I sat down with her, grabbed some pizza, and cuddled up until we both went upstairs to sleep.
Everyday now I walk after work. Sometimes I go to the park, other days the mall. Once I went to Times Square but every street floor is crowded with tourist and shoppers. Probably the one of the only places in the city where you'll see this many people in the streets. It feels like a couple of days have passed since I started doing this, as the snow starts to get heavy and cold. I actually had to go by a coat because I didn't have on. Never needed it since, you know, I usually just port inside a room. I haven't had to deal with snow this bad since I was little, making snowmans and angles. I remember I use to use my Telepod 2 to port my snowmen to my aunt's house in Newark. She......wasn't happy about that, but she always praised me anyways.
The wind is very furious in the city. The close proximity of the buildings makes the wind push make stronger and colder. That also makes the snow fall faster at you. The fog like atmosphere makes difficult, if not impossible to see where you're going. I continue walking to where I thing the park is, mostly looking down as I trug along. I finally look up to realize I've been going in the wrong direction. I'm downtown. I see a lot of more housing buildings and alleys (you don't see many alleys where I work). I reach for my Telepad but it won't turn on. A bad combination of forgetting to charge and not working well in intense cool, my Telepad has lost all it battery. I put it back in my bag and continue down this alien street. I try not to worry too much until a large ugly man in a mask walks up to me. He came leering out from the alley, showing his gun to me.
He demands I give him my money cards and anything in my bag. I slowly open my bag and the thug sees my Telepad. He freaks out for a second. You see, every Telepad comes with a police app. It allows you to call the police just from yelling 9-1-1. The police then use the 360 camera to see what is going on and if a crime is happening, the Telepad will port officers to your location in a second. It's an extremely efficient system. The criminal wasn't expecting me to have a Telepad. I've heard about these guys before. They stalk downtown streets for prey. Most people here don't have Telepad's, mostly because of the cost. Without them, these people can't port away or call for police, so they become easy pray.
I screamed “9-1-1!”. The thug jumps back. As he does, it gives me a chance to run away. Of course, the thug quickly realizes that if I'm running away then the police probably aren't coming. He chases me throughout most of the buildings and alleys. I climb everything from dumpsters to gates to get away from this psycho. I have no idea where to go, what to do. This is insanity! I can see a mass transit porter station a couple of blocks away. Shifting through the condensed alleys, crowded with junk and snow, I fall down bleeding. The thug shot me in my right leg.
I quiver in fear as he walks closer. He leers over, looks me in the eye, and grabs my bag. I struggle with him a bit but the pain is too much. He starts to walk away with my bag. I can see my Telepad through the opening. Everything seems so slow. When will this torment end?
Suddenly, out of the snowy mist, the police come. They chase the man, catch him, and sent him to jail. They come back for me and port me to the nearest hospital. I was fixed so fast that my Telepad hadn't even finished charging. As I rest in my bed I see on the screen that I'm in the news and al over social media. One article talks about the dangers of going without charging you Telepad. Another said that my incompetence shows how needlessly depend our society has become on teleporters. One guy even said nobody should ever go outside again. I just wanted to take a walk.
Bb has arrived with Ally. She races over to hold me.
“Are you ok?! What happened?! You didn't answer my calls?! I didn't know....I.....I.....I”.
She started to ramble.
“I'm fine.”, I said. Though, even I didn't believe it. “It was just..........”, I didn't know what to say.
The doctor came in. Bb, without hesitation, demands to know what he knows. “He's going to be alright, Ms. McDougal.”, the doctor says. “He'll stay here for about a day, maybe two. He needs to stay in bed as his cells regenerate the missing parts of his leg. Nothing too demanding.”
They had my leg hooked up to a regeneration case, which bends time to make my body heal faster. Not sure if it's the same stuff that goes into my Telepad or not. Seems like it. It's not very movable, though, so I had to sit very still in my bed, which made me feel anxious. The doctor escorts Bb out as they discuss insurance. She gives me a kiss good-bye and ports back home.
Hours pass. It's night time. I can see out my large window all the buildings with all the lights with all the people. Hundreds of people appearing and disappearing in the rooms. One guy even ports from one room to the next over just to use the bathroom. I've never really thought about it until now but...where are they all going? Where are their homes? Where do they go to relax? You ever think about that? I'm sure they're doing fun things. Probably more interesting then sitting on a bed and watching cheesy action flicks waiting for your leg to heal.
It took some time, but I finally fell asleep. I dreamt about the places I walked. The buildings, the park, the mall. I also saw my Telepad. The fun apps, the maps, but most importantly, porting home to see my wife and child. I like both my alone walks and my fast Telepad, but my dream had them separate, no matter how hard I tried to bring them together.
Days seemed to have passed since I left the hospital. The snow raged on outside. I stayed home for a while as Bb went to work. I played with my daughter, so it wasn't so bad. She seemed to like playing hide-n-seek more so than tag, which I didn't know. After a week, I was feeling more like my confident self and wanted to get back to work. “Are you going to take a walk?” Bb asked me before I left. I wasn't sure how to respond, so I gave her a fake smile and said “Not today”.
I ported to work and focused on that until 4:30pm rolled around. I went down to the first floor ready to go home. Ed walked up to me, dirty mop in hand. “I heard what happened.”, he said. Of course he heard. Everyone one heard. “You ok?”. Ed sounded genuinely concerned.
“It's alright.”, I said.
“You, eh, going on ya walk?”
“No, just going home.”
“You sure? I can go with you if you want--”
“I'm fine! Really.” That was probably overly mean to Ed, but I didn't really feel like arguing with him. I waved good-bye. And ported home. Kissed Bb on the lips. Kissed Ally on the head. Plugged my Telepad in. Touched my leg. Went to bed.
It's been, two weeks I think, since I went back to work. I haven't walked around the city once. I get close to the door, but choose to port instead. The snow fall started happening less as Spring approached. I still hadn't walked. I no longer dreamt anything. It was like before, when I wouldn't dream at all, yet much worse. Everything was happening so much faster. It was beginning to be visible on my face how I felt inside. Bb didn't have to say anything. Her face looked at mine, saying without words that I needed to walk again. But I couldn't.
Days continued to pass. During this time I was talking much with Ed ether, because I would leave before he got a chance to. I don't know why, but one really sunny day, when my lunch break started, I just stared out the window. I was about to take a picture, because the light seemed to hit the buildings in the right angle that it them like red, instead of the usual gray. I took the mass porter down to the first floor. I saw Ed and approached him.
“How are you, Ed?”
“Good. Good. You doing.....ehh...”
“Yes, I'm doing fine.”
“I'm goin' to go get lunch.”
“Many Son's Pizzeria four blocks down. Best pizza in New York.”
“Ok. Sounds good.”
“I don't know. Maybe I'll port back home and make a sandwich.”
“A'right. Well you know where I'll be if you need me.”
Ed left through those daunting doors as the light seeped through. I could see him walk down. Nothing happened. I thought about that light, and that pizza. I also thought about my leg. I stood there for what seemed like forever, but really only two minutes. The lady running the scanner kept looking at me, angrily. She couldn't stand me, and I can't stand her. I didn't want her to continue glaring at me, judging me. Just to get away from her I opened the doors and walked out.
Wait? Walked out? I was outside? I looked around. I was. The buildings and road still looked bright red to me. My leg felt terrible when I got outside at first, but not so much after that. I continued walking down the road. I saw a lady on the other side walking down. We both glared at each other. I waved hello and she waved back.
I looked up where the pizzeria was on my Telepad but walked there, instead of the easier option of just porting. When I got there, the first thing I noticed was everyone that was porting in, ordering, getting their food, and leaving; all in the span of the time it took me to get here. I also noticed Ed, sitting with friends of his, I guess.
“Jeff! Over here!” Ed called
“I knew ya'd make the right choice. The pizza here will blow yer MIND!”
I looked over at his friends. I asked them who they were.
“Their my neighbors from downtown!” He pointed at each one and gave me their names. Betsy, Joe, Chris, and Audrey.
I was thought I would be more uneased, seeing they were all from downtown. But I wasn't. They all seemed nice and friendly, and talked a lot about the streets they would cross. All the different roads, and weather, and things they'd find. It was very fascinating. They asked me about my Telepad. They wanted to see what apps I had and I was ok showing them. Ed then turned to me and asked, “So how'd you get here?”
I responded, “I walked here.”