You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how many times I’ve died. Or maybe you would. My deaths created you. An error in information transfer somewhere along the line and here you are.
Every single death is fully experienced, but instead of ascending to the Heavens, I remain on Earth. I need to tweak the device to disassemble my brain first instead of last. That would probably be less painful. The problem is that…
“Dalton, it’s time for dinner!” Beth shouted from upstairs. She doesn’t know about any of this, so you keep quiet. She wonders why all our money problems disappeared. I told her I got a promotion at the lab, when in reality I quit and took all my research with me. Beth wouldn’t understand, so I keep her in the dark.
I climbed the stairs preparing to hide my secret from the only person I even remotely trust, except for you. It’s been lonely being in possession of world altering technology that the world doesn’t deserve. Maybe that’s why you showed up?
“What’d you cook up tonight?”
“Lasagna with a side of salad,” she said with little emotion. A look of exhaustion had made its home on her face. She’s still working a full time job. If only I could tell her. It’d only put her in danger.
We ate with little conversation that night. The next morning would be the last time I ever saw here, and I didn’t even say goodbye.
Ever since the breakthrough, I’ve been pulled in too many directions. I can be around the globe in a matter of minutes, as long as I’m willing to pay the death tax – and I always am.
Within five minutes of Beth leaving for work, there was a knock on my door. It was two men in black suits, with black ties and sunglasses on. Both men’s hair was immaculately slicked back. I saw them through the peephole and knew immediately what they were here for. The Protectors never pay citizens visits just to chat. They make arrests and executions.
In lieu of answering the door and meeting my ultimate end, I rushed to the basement and grabbed the device. I had to disappear. As it was powering on and warming up, I heard the front door crash to the ground.
“We know you’re in here! You are under arrest for the theft of classified technology from the Alliance of Protected Territories.”
Their shouts were in vain, the device was already warmed up and ready for use. The metallic shell was cold against my heart, while the straps embraced me like a four-armed hug. The Protectors kicked down the door to my basement right as I pushed the button. They were too late.
Atom by atom, I was excruciatingly disassembled. The machine had located matter in another part of the world and was entangling my atoms with it. Immediately after entanglement was established, the information of every atom in my body was transferred to the target matter. Thus, it became me, and I died.
I cried out in pain as the Protectors descended the staircase. By the time they reached the bottom, most of my body had painfully disappeared. Head last, why does it have to be head last? As the atoms in my brain were disassembled, I was finally given some relief as this version of me met the ultimate end.
A new location, a new me. You were there, too. I was assembled in Microsunia, a country that had been torn apart by civil war and by A.P.T. My last memory was seeing two of the black-suited devils storming down my stairs. Would they be able to find me from what I left behind? There was always a residual quantum signature, but did they bring the right devices with them to detect it? If so, they’ll know precisely where to look for me.
“Excuse, sir, have coin?” A small child was standing right next to me, unbeknownst to me.
“Sorry, I don’t have any coins.” The child didn’t leave, but kept staring at me with those dark Microsunian eyes that can melt your heart like butter on a frying pan. I searched my pockets and found a lone quarter. Lucky for the child that the teleportation device transports all matter within its range.
“Okay, I have one coin, but don’t tell anyone you got it from me.” The child’s face lit up and she ran away. I had to get moving before word spread that a white man was nearby handing out quarters. Plus, of course, the Protectors likely had a base nearby.
What did you say? You know this part? Fine, I’ll skip ahead.
We’re standing at the crossroads of a lifetime of death or a single death. I don’t know which way to go. Beth and that entire life I had built have been compromised. What do you think I should do?
I care more about you after that last teleport. You’re getting stronger, I can tell. Perhaps someday you’ll be in charge and I’ll be the one listening to you.
Let’s get a hotel for the night in the next town over. I…we…what’s the difference?
We walk up to the lobby of the rundown hostel. She looks like she’s been awake for the past 24 hours. Maybe she has been, yaba is quite popular here.
“I’d like a room for two, I mean, for one, please?”
“I only have A.P.T. dollars, is that okay?” Look at her face light up!
“Yes! 30 A.P.D.”
Where’s my wallet again? Did you move it? Oh, here it is. Great, I have 50 bucks on me.
“Here’s 40, keep the change.”
Look at her smooth, bright pink nails contrasting with her dry, wrinkled hands as she slides the key across the desk. How interesting is that?
Appears as though our room is upstairs. The creak of the floorboards shows the age of the hostel. Seems like every stair is telling us its story.
That last information transfer really messed with my head. I know you’re not real; I know you’re a symptom of my fractured mind. I’m afraid of teleporting even one more time. All the bank robberies, all the vacations, all the secrecy. All the death. I didn’t know it would take such a toll on my mind. Perhaps consciousness can’t be copied through quantum teleportation. Perhaps I’m just an animated copy of someone who died three months ago. What does that make you?
Despite my desire to cease teleportation, I’m keeping the device on. The Protectors could show up at any moment.
I’m ready for sleep. I hope you are, too. No offense, but I hope you’re gone in the morning.
Oh, you’re still here. Why is it that I feel like my grasp on myself is slipping away quickly? We don’t have time to discuss it, we need to keep moving. The Protectors could be here any minute. I have a strong suspicion that they know exactly where I teleported. I don’t see any men in suits from the window.
Time to get out of the hostel. The device is rubbing weird on my chest, it’s starting to hurt. We need to eat. I bet you a million ying that there’s no provided breakfast. The stairs seem louder with their creaks. See, no breakfast. Let’s leave.
I don’t know how to share my consciousness with you. One of us must die. How do I kill you?
We are both going to die if the Protectors find us. I stole billions of dollars worth of research along with the only working teleporter prototype. They won’t be giving me a trial and prison time. No, it’ll be torture just because, followed by death. The Alliance of Protected Territories is a brutal country when betrayed.
Look over there. See those men in suits. That seems out of place, let’s turn around. Of course, more men in suits. See, I told you they honed in on us. As much as I don’t want to teleport again, we have to. This version of us must die so that another version will live. Do you want to push the button, or shall I?
Why does it have to start at the feet? The pain is too much, I can’t talk to you anymore.
Hello? Are you still there? Why is it dark, I can’t see a thing. Am I dead? Are you still there? No, no, no. It happened.
You’re in charge now.