Don't Take the Teleporter

Submitted into Contest #171 in response to: Write a story where someone decides to take the long way home.... view prompt

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Science Fiction Funny Speculative

It’s almost time to leave the office for the day when your coworker approaches. The one you don’t like because they seem to know everything and have a holier than thou attitude about it. They are constantly on the prowl at the end of the day looking for some poor colleague to distract for the last 15 minutes of the workday to ensure they can’t finish whatever they were working on before quitting time. Today that person is you. 

           They lean into your cubicle with a cold cup of coffee in one hand and say conspiratorially, “Hey, don’t take the teleporter home today. I hear it’s on the fritz.”

           “So what,” you respond, “I’m going to end up in my living room instead of the kitchen?”

           This is a possibility, of course. That is the most common teleporter accident, the ‘mis-constitution.’ There are worse accidents like a partial reconstitution, wave reformation, and the dreaded inverse reconstitution which is always fatal. These are all exceedingly rare.

           Your coworker responds, “This is how it starts. All I’m saying is first you end up in the living room instead of the kitchen and next thing you know, you’re inside out. Take the long way home is all I’m saying.”

           The long way home. It’s enough to make you risk the slight chance of inverse reconstitution. Walking the long, white, empty hallways out of the office, trekking down the hill to the bus terminal, waiting for a bus in the cold rain. That’s just the beginning! 30 minutes later you’ll be walking from the bus into a dirty, dark metro station where you’ll wait with an assorted group of sketchy underdwellers before searching for a clean seat, then standing on the train for another 30 minutes and finally walking the last quarter mile home in the rain.

           “Something could happen to me on the way home,” you respond. This is good, now you’re turning the tables on your smug coworker.

           Things do happen to people while walking after all. You could get hit by a falling air conditioner or piano. You could get hit by a car and need a hip-replacement. What are the chances of that happening compared to a teleporter accident? You heard once that 94 percent of airplane accidents aren’t fatal. How is this possible? A giant metal tube crammed with hundreds of people moving hundreds of miles per hour crashes and no one dies? The teleporter must be at least that safe. It simply deconstructs your body molecule by molecule, transports it in sequence to a new location and reconstructs everything in order. There is no way that is more difficult than getting a multi-ton airplane to 30,000 feet. In any case, the litany of risks and inconveniences make taking the long way home a clear second to teleportation.

           It’s clear that your coworker isn’t yielding. It’s too late in the day and the motivation to go back to their desk at this point is low. “Sure, something could happen if you take the long way home, but think of everything you miss when you take the teleporter. You can’t meet anyone in the metro, you don’t get any exercise. Plus, you could stop and get a beer on the way home if you walk.”

           “I don’t really drink beer,” you respond.

           Beer! Forget about it! The horrible dives between the office and your house are places to black out, get into a fight, or both. These aren’t relaxing after work watering holes. Even if they were, the prospect is hardly an incentive for someone who would rather be home sooner than later. And who would consider meeting underdwellers on the metro a benefit of taking the long way home? The troglodytic denizens who make up the workforce of the city’s other offices are not conversation material unless you’re having a conversation about them with someone else. “That lady practically has a second head!” “Where does he work dressed like that?” Undoubtedly they feel the same way about you and the chances of striking up a conversation are low. Any interaction is likely the negative result of accidentally bumping into someone or stepping on their shoe. Running a few minutes here or there in the rain is hardly motivation for skipping the teleporter either. Could it even be considered exercise? You’d be lucky not to slip in a puddle and end up missing a week of work. At least you wouldn’t have to worry about your commute that week.

           You have to get out of this conversation. The day is almost over and in a few minutes you can grab your briefcase, step into the teleporter and within seconds you’ll be standing in your apartment. You decide to go on the offensive. “If I take the long way home, it will take me over an hour to get to my apartment. I could get hit by a falling piano or a car. I will get rained on. I will have to avoid underdwellers in the metro and I’m not choking down a beer at a graffiti covered bar on a Monday night!” You try not to sound too aggressive but by the end your voice has raised to a heated pitch.

           “Okay, okay.” Your coworker backs off with a shrug. “I’m just saying, Johnston from sales left early and tried to go to the grocery store and I heard the teleporter left him in the parking lot of a gas station four blocks away. That’s how it starts, you know.” Your coworker cocks their head and raises the coffee cup as if to say, ‘think about it.’

           It’s time to leave the office. You stand up. Your coworker checks their watch, “time to go,” they say. They start down a long row of cubicles that leads towards the teleporter at the end of the office. You look down that long row of cubicles. Your coworker slows their walk, waiting for you to catch up. Do they want to keep talking? That is a long, long row of cubicles, you think. With a sigh, you turn the other way toward the office door. You’ll be taking the long way home today. 

November 06, 2022 16:22

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Tommy Goround
22:34 Nov 16, 2022



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