2030: A Teleportation Odyssey – Science Fiction Short Story by Jim Lantern

Travel at the speed of thought to the year 2030…

Science Fiction Short Story
by Jim Lantern

© Copyright 2015 by Jim Lantern, Timeglass Science Fiction

Wednesday 20 March 2030
First Day of Spring, Vernal Equinox, Northern Hemisphere
Norman, Oklahoma, USA

William Wade Wells was awakened at 6:00 AM US Central Time by his web wristwatch. By voice, it reported the time, weather report, top news headlines, messages by sender name and subject, and then ended with “Happy Birthday, Bill!” He was born in 1956. He appeared to be closer to age 54 than his age of 74. During 2014, an unusual new crop of oranges in Florida, used to produce a new kind of orange juice, was discovered to improve health, slow down aging, and give back 20 years. So, for example, a person at age 74 would physically be like a person at age 54, and just as mentally sharp. Even so, it isn’t the fountain of youth. It hasn’t stopped aging.

William planned to finally “retire” from teaching world history at the end of the present semester, and then travel around the world to visit many historical locations. His guide would be his sister, who turned age 78 on 6 February 2030. Andrea Marie Hawthorn. World traveling archaeologist. Like William, Andrea was no longer married and didn’t have any children. She offered to buy him breakfast – that morning of his birthday, at a new cafe in Whitechapel, near the Whitechapel Gallery, in East London, England. His sister sent an image of the menu, transmitted to the wall screen in his living room. After reading it, he was thinking his sister would probably suggest the “Jack the Ripper breakfast special” there.

Professor Wells was enjoying some free time during the Oklahoma University Spring Break – Sunday 17 March to Saturday 23 March 2030. The weather report forecasted warm temperatures for Norman, as well as London. He briefly thought about how warm it is nearly everywhere, except Antarctica of course. Even so, he would not need to go outside to travel from his home to the Whitechapel Cafe. He dressed for comfort. A large-size short-sleeve button shirt with images of tropical island beaches on it. Tan shorts with a 33-inch elastic waistband. Tan leather walking shoes with velcro straps instead of shoelaces. He had been buying the same kind of walking shoes at Walmart since 2008. As he got dressed, his web wristwatch began to play music – a song that brought back memories of . . . long ago events…

William remembered the day he got cable TV the first time, hooked up on 1 August 1981, when he was age 25. Earlier that day, he bought a new TV for watching in the living room of his one-bedroom apartment. The cable TV man, who hooked it up, said, “We have a new channel today. MTV – Music Television, just launched a few hours ago. You can now watch music videos twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week.” Later, William gave it a look. Loverboy was performing Working for the Weekend. It was played so often over a period of time that William began to think of it as the MTV song, although the MTV theme was different with the short video of the moon landing.

By 1990, 57% of TV households subscribed to cable TV service. Sixty-five million subscribers by 2000. Then by 2006, one hundred and fifteen million American homes had access to ultra-fast broadband for Internet access. Cable TV companies offered “bundles” to customers to include telephone service over the cable TV lines, broadband internet access, and of course many new cable TV channels for different levels of service. By 2012, 97% of American households had access to cable broadband. In 2013, two hundred thousand Wi-Fi hotspots were available to cable customers.

Meantime, Bell Labs experimented with teleportation. Attempts were made to send various things from one chamber to another chamber a few feet away. Cable TV coaxial cable line was used to connect the two chambers. Eventually, the connection was changed to an optical fiber cable. An object would be dematerialized in one chamber, transmitted over the cable line, and then rematerialized in the other chamber. Problems included organic matter burning up, leaving only ashes in the receiving chamber. Inorganic matter was melted and rematerialized around its center of mass as a sphere with heaviest element at its core. The experiments were then abandoned. It was a business decision. It also helped to get the government off of the back of Bell Labs. A certain irritating agent was constantly demanding progress reports about the teleportation experiments. Further, a certain Congressman was demanding updates, but at least his interest was for a good cause – having to do with the revival of the US space program.

Then on 1 May 2010, during a vacation, two of the Bell Labs scientists took their families to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival at Waxahachie, a short distance south of Dallas in Texas. There, Andrew Bell and John Hawthorn, the two scientists, happened to encounter one of the performers, known as Merlin, who was an excellent illusionist – magician. Merlin put a woman into a basket on a small wood stage – open on all sides, ran swords through the basket, then turned it over. The woman had vanished. Only the swords could be seen through the inside of the basket. A moment later, the woman came walking over on a dirt path from an opening in a line of trees behind the people watching. One of the scientists examined the basket and stage. He could not figure out how the trick was done.

Andrew Bell and John Hawthorn then had a private conversation with Merlin while having lunch at the festival. They told Merlin about the problems they had with the teleportation experiments at Bell Labs. They suspected he had found a means to teleport people without burning them up during the process . . . and that what happened on the stage was not an illusion or trick. They were right.

Merlin explained that he kept the means as an illusion, instead of turning it into a new transportation business, because he feared the dramatic impact it would have on the world, other transportation businesses, other kinds of businesses, and individuals. He feared it would do more harm than good, at least initially. Most other transportation businesses, and all of their support businesses, would cease to exist, causing the loss of millions of jobs. For example, no more travel via jets, No more air travel businesses. No more airports. No more jets. No more jet manufacturing companies. All those jobs. Gone.

The two scientists convinced Merlin that the time had come to offer it as a transportation option, that the change should be gradual enough for businesses and people to make the adjustment. They turned out to be right about that. The impact was dramatic, but gradual enough to do more good than harm.

A few weeks later, Merlin and the two Bell Labs scientists traveled to a location in Canada – Ottawa, Ontario, where lived a relative of Merlin, who specialised in building all kinds of doors and doorways. Merlin, who was really Benjamin Sterling, had an idea for using doorways for the means of teleportation. Frank Sterling agreed to build them. That was the beginning of The Merlin System Teleportation Doorways.

The first teleportation doorways were connected by cable TV companies, using the already existing cable TV lines. So cable TV customers would subscribe to the new teleportation service for a sum of money paid monthly. The doorways came with a jack for the cable line to be attached to.

Customers bought the doorways from stores that sold major appliances, including Walmart as one of the outlets. Also, customers could buy a teleportation doorway from Amazon.com and have it shipped to their business or home.

Merlin System Teleportation Doorways continued to be the only manufacturer. “A magician never reveals his secrets.” No one figured it out, not even after taking the doorways apart and examining the hardware and software. Others tried to duplicate it, but the Merlin doorways had one unusual part that no one could identify and duplicate. It included an unknown metal, not found anywhere on Earth.

Each doorway had a keypad for entering the address number of a destination doorway. First, the departure door would contact the destination door to make a connection like a telephone call. A person at the receiving end would have to allow access, which could be done by pressing a button, or programing the door to automatically grant access during scheduled times like for a business. The doorway computer would create a “line” for if several people were trying to arrive at the same time. Each departure door would be sent a signal to switch on a green light when it would be safe for a traveler to step through.

When a traveler gained access to a destination doorway, the person would be able to see through the departure doorway, and through the destination doorway. For example, you could be standing in the entryway area inside your home, and be able to look through your teleportation doorway into the entryway area inside a restaurant. It is as if the entryway area of the restaurant is on the other side of the wall of the entryway area of your home, with only the teleportation doorways between them.

In 2024, Merlin Teleportation Doorways began to manufacture wireless doorways, so that it would no longer be necessary for customers to use cable TV lines to connect the doors. The new wireless doorways were not like using Wi-Fi. Not like satellite TV. The secret means did not involve anything like “folding space” such as in the Dune novels by Frank Herbert, or “wormholes” used in the Stargate movies and TV series. It has been said that the shortest distance between two points is zero. That’s certainly true with the new wireless teleportation doorways. For example, a restaurant entryway area does not just appear to be on the other side of your teleportation doorway. It is on the other side. Space and time do not exist between two wireless teleportation doorways. That’s how Merlin – Benjamin Sterling – explained it. Most people accepted that and did not sweat the details. They don’t care how it works, just that it works and works well.

So far, during the entire history of the Merlin System, there have been no accidents, in injuries, no deaths, and no one has gone missing between departure door and destination door. Of course, there’s a first time for everything. It just hasn’t happened yet. So the safety record of the teleportation doorways has been 100% flawless. The doorways do have certain safety features to prevent harm to travelers.

The availability of wireless doorways did not cause everyone to stop using the cable doorways. Customers could keep their cable door or get a wireless door. About that same time, Merlin offered something new to cable service companies to help make up the difference for any loss . . . and it certainly did. Merlin Windows. The new windows used the same teleportation technology, but not intended for travel. For example, it is winter where you live. You want to open a window to let in fresh spring air, or warmer summer air. So your Merlin Window connects to another Merlin Window at a location where the weather and climate is much more desirable. The new windows can also be used to provide scenic views. You can live in the mountains, and open a window for a view of a tropical island beach . . . and it really is directly outside your window! Sure, you can go out through a window to a beach if you want to, but that of course is not the intended purpose of the Merlin Windows.

Of the transportation industry, air travel was the first to bite the dust, but it didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen completely. Even in 2030, some people still own and fly private jets and recreational aircraft. Only a few of the big Boeing 777 passenger jets were still in use for people who were afraid to use teleportation doorways, and did not want to travel by other conventional means. Even so, the big passenger jets included installation of a teleportation doorway in each jet for emergency escape. A jet could be in flight over an ocean, and a passenger could leave the jet through the doorway to go to any destination doorway anywhere on earth. Most airports continued to exist, and became public transportation centers for use of public teleportation doorways. The same was done at bus stations and train stations. Some people still preferred to travel by bus – such as public buses in cities, and Greyhound buses between cities, but not many. Only a few passenger trains still existed – not as a need for transportation but just to enjoy the train ride travel experience such as during a vacation trip.

Except for cruise ship lines, travel by ship ceased to exist. The use of teleportation doorways actually became beneficial to cruise ship businesses. Each ship had more than one teleportation doorway installed aboard. Some for loading and unloading cargo and luggage, and others for loading and unloading passengers and crew. Most important, if a ship is far from land during a cruise, and there is a medical emergency, then one of the teleportation doorways can be used to send the ill or injured passenger directly to the emergency room of any hospital. Likewise, if the ship is somehow damaged and is sinking, then passengers and crew can escape through the teleportation doorways. There are still lifeboats for if the teleportation doorways become disabled by damage or by power failure. However, all teleportation doorways include internal batteries for emergency power.

Teleportation doorways were built for escaping tornadoes, getting people out of the path of hurricanes and tsunamis, volcanoes erupting, and other natural disasters.

The trucking industry totally bit the dust. After 2020, the so-called Year of Vision, all shipping was done via teleportation doorways.

Also by 2020, the US Postal Service finally died. People and businesses quit sending letters on paper put in envelopes with a stamp on them, to be delivered door-to-door by people driving mail trucks. On the plus side, no more junk mail. However, all teleportation doorways at first included a slot on the side for teleporting written messages sent in envelopes from one doorway to another anywhere on Earth, instantly.

The most obvious impact was on personal transportation. By 2020, most people quit buying combustion engine cars, and so automobile manufactures shut down production of those kinds of cars. Electric carts and electric scooters became the preference for local travel, such as within a neighborhood. Even so, it was no longer necessary for anyone to go outside in order to travel most anywhere. The personal teleportation doorways in most homes and businesses replaced the need for cars. Not all kinds of cars vanished. Auto racing continued to be a popular sport.

The US government, and most other governments around the world, installed public teleportation doorways at public locations and in every neighborhood. Wherever there were public telephone booths long ago, there now stood stand alone door frames with no door in them. Not coin-operated, however, like the old public telephones. A web wristwatch may be put against a sensor for your personal account to be charged a sum of money.

Some of the public teleportation doorways were much larger than normal doorways for individuals to walk through. Garage door size, or larger for some vehicles. Those were used by emergency services to get some kinds of emergency vehicles to where help is needed. Such as, for example, teleporting a firetruck – or otherwise equipment needed to put out fires. Police detectives and uniformed officers used teleportation doorways to get to crime scenes faster. Ambulances were no longer needed, mainly because most people could be teleported directly into a hospital emergency room. Even so, emergency medical equipment and personnel could be teleported to disaster locations if necessary.

The wireless doorways made it possible to fully revive the US space program – much more than what NASA was. First, a rocket took a wireless doorway up to the aging international space station, which was due to be retired – by plunging it into the Pacific Ocean – most of it burning up on the way down. The teleportation doorway was used to send up more construction materials, supplies, and people. So it was no longer necessary after that to use rockets or space shuttles between Earth and the space station. Also, if there were to be an emergency aboard the space station, then anyone aboard could instantly return to Earth – any location on Earth – where there is a doorway to receive the space traveler.

Within two years, a new massive space station was built in earth orbit. It now very closely resembles Space Station V in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Two giant wheels, connected by a center hub axle, turn to create artificial gravity by centrifugal force. Two additional space stations were built in Earth orbit by way of using teleportation doorways to easily and instantly get the materials up there. Parts would be sent up that way into receiving bays on the other side of large teleportation doorways. Then astronauts, in special spacesuits designed for the job, would take the parts out on space walks to assemble them in Earth orbit.

The second space station was designed to also be a ship for travel between the Earth and the moon. Then in lunar orbit, a shuttle bell took materials for a small base down to the surface of the moon. Therein, a teleportation doorway was installed. After that, all materials and travelers could be teleported directly from Earth to the moon through the doorways.

The third space station was also designed to be a ship. It was sent to Mars to be used in orbit of Mars. From there, a shuttle bell took materials down to the surface to build the first base. Therein, a teleportation doorway was installed. After that, all materials and people could be teleported directly to Mars from Earth. No more long voyages between Earth and Mars. A person need only step through a teleportation doorway on Earth to instantly step out of a teleportation doorway at a base on Mars.

In addition to visiting historical places around the world, William Wade Wells was also thinking about visiting the new massive international space station, the moon, and Mars.

In 2030, the people of planet Earth are well on their way to a Type 1 Civilization as described by Professor Michio Kaku, the famous American theoretical physicist, born 24 January 1947. He is still alive at age 83 – appearing to be only age 63 after drinking a lot of the new kind of orange juice from Florida. He now does his newest research at the base on Mars. Some people have joked that he has finally returned to his home planet.

The Merlin System in 2030 is in some ways beginning to resemble the Internet of 2014, when people just about anywhere on Earth could communicate with just about anyone else on Earth with Internet access. Now in 2030, why communicate over the old systems of communication, when two people can so easily talk in person by stepping through a teleportation doorway? Social life is a bit different now in 2030. Everyone is closer by means of teleportation doorways. Everything is closer. You can get drunk in a bar or nightclub and then be teleported to your home. No more drunk driving accidents and deaths caused by drunk driving. Further, romance unbound . . . and the sex industry has gone berserk. Porn and sex via Internet was nothing compared to teleportation access.

On the other side of the coin, it hasn’t hurt religion – which itself is still big business in some ways and for some kinds of Christian churches, and other religions. It is much easier for religious people to get to churches or temples now, so more of them do so. There are more people attending religious services in 2030 than any other time in history. One new religious leader sprang up recently, mentioned in a news story, claiming to be able to remove your history of sins by sending you though a special teleportation doorway at his church. So, after you pay him the small sum of only $1000 dollars, and pass through the doorway, you are no longer in danger of going to hell. Teleportation baptism. Your money vanishes as you go elsewhere. Make no mistake about it, that many other teleportation scams have separated people from their money.

Of course, with the good, there comes more bad. New kinds of crime came into existence. Normal crimes could be carried out in a new way. Especially burglaries and theft. The teleportation doorways can also be used by terrorists in order to instantly attack any location.

A military force can use the teleportation doorways to instantly get closer to an enemy force or enemy target, and resupply its own troops – on land, on sea, and in the air. Yes, attack from the air was still preferred for some kinds of military operations, so the US Air Force continues to exist and be useful for defense and offense. Even so, drones are usually used to avoid putting personnel in harms way when not necessary.

…The thoughts of William Wade Wells returned to the present. Time to go. He walked over to his teleportation doorway. He entered the series of numbers for the destination doorway on a keypad attached to the right frame of the doorway. Instantly, through the teleportation doorway he could see into the entryway area of the new cafe in Whitechapel. A man in a restaurant uniform, standing at a podium, glanced over toward the doorway in the restaurant, seeing Wells on the other side. A green light lit up next to the keypad used by Wells. The signal that it is safe to step through. So he did.

Instantly, Wells stepped into the cafe in London, England, from his home in Norman, Oklahoma, in the USA.

“Your name, sir?” the greeter asked.

“William Wells.” he answered.

“Lady Hawthorn is already seated at a table, awaiting your arrival.” the man told him. “This way. Follow me.”

William followed the man a short distance across the room and then into a separate more private dining area. It took longer to walk from the cafe entrance to the table than it did to travel from the US to England, he realized.

“Your are late, Professor Wells.” Andrea Marie Hawthorn said to her younger brother.

“I had a lot on my mind . . . was briefly distracted . . . thoughts of the past, and the world we now live in.” he explained.

“People can travel at the speed of thought now, and you are still late, as usual.” she complained. “I guess we can make an exception today. After all, it is your birthday. So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Breakfast is served here twenty-four seven. One o’clock, afternoon here now. You’ve traveled six hours into the future from your home in the US. The difference between time zones.”

William sat in the chair across from Andrea at the small private table. He touched the surface of the table to activate the menu screen. “What do you recommend?”

“Most popular with tourists here is the Jack the Ripper breakfast special.” she answered.

William chuckled. “I suspected you would recommend that one.”


Author’s Notes…

All future science fiction short stories by me about The Merlin System “teleportation doorways” will be posted at the Timeglass Journal WordPress site.

The purpose is for entertainment and to provoke thought on this subject: “The dramatic impact of a new transportation system – making use of teleportation doorways – on the transportation industry, other businesses, and individuals.” The impact on the economy will of course tie in with government and politics in some of the stories. This short story has been written by me to help present some of the related history. Although science fiction is the primary genre, just about any sub-genre is possible – such as adventure, political drama, crime drama, horror, mystery, and romance – as a few examples.

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