The Project

 

The Project
by Melanie Brown
Copyright  © 2016 Melanie Brown

Rick was going to change the world.

 


 

“You can’t do this!” I almost shouted before the board. I did slap the palm of my hand on the table where the board members were sitting. I immediately regretted the action, but dammit! I was angry.

“Sit down!” ordered an equally angry Joan Fitzgerald. “The decision of this board is final, Mr. Collins.”

I collapsed in the chair before the board raised my arms in a pleading motion. I said, “But we’re so close! W…we…we’re on the cusp of a major breakthrough. One or two more months of testing and research and we’ll have a fully working model.”

Bobby Clark, the oldest member of the board said, “We’ve all heard that before, Mr. Collins. I was your earliest supporter. But the delays, the disasters and the cost over-runs have convinced me that this project isn’t practical. The concept is revolutionary and a huge benefit to humanity should it work. But as we’ve seen no real progress in the past six months, we’re forced to end this project. Good day, sir.”

I just sat in the chair and stared at the board members who were starting to close their tablets and talking to each other.

Ms. Fitzgerald leaned towards me with a frown and said, “You may go, Mr. Collins.”

*          *          *

Slamming the boardroom doors open, I stormed from the room and out into the wide hallway. My friend, fellow researcher and partner in crime, Morty got up from his seat where he was waiting outside the boardroom.

“I’m guessing bad news,” said Morty in an understatement.

I didn’t stop. I continued walking to the exit of the college administration building. Morty hurried to keep up. Through clenched teeth I said, “The Board is going to vote to halt the project. Halt it! We’re so close! I know it.”

Walking fast to stay up with me, Morty said, “I’m not sure if we can get any closer. What we’re attempting is beyond complicated.”

“We’ve been successful the last few tests,” I said slamming the doors of the administration building wide open and we stepped out into the sunlight. “Just a few more tweaks to the hardware. And a few tweaks to the software’s parameters. I can feel it.”

Starting to breathe hard, Morty said, “Rick. The Board was ready to shut down the project when those mice you sent through arrived as giblets.”

My face twisted in anger, I said, “After some tweaks, the next set of mice went through fine. I sent them just last night! Four consecutive mice. All successful.”

Morty grabbed my arm and made me stop. He said, “Your obsessed Rick. It’s clouding your thinking. Ever since your parents were killed two years ago, you’ve been consumed by the project. Every time we turn the damned thing on, the university lights dim and that’s even using every watt from the university’s own lab reactor.”

I jerked my arm away from Morty and snarled, “Of course I’m passionate about this. How did my parents die, Morty? How? In a stupid, worthless car accident! A simple weekend trip and BAM! like that they’re gone. What if there was a better, more efficient and safer way to travel from point A to point B? How many lives could we save with teleportation?”

Morty looked tired and sad. He said, “It just doesn’t work. You can’t just wish it to be so!”

I stared Morty straight into his eyes and said, “It works. We just need a dramatic demonstration. Let’s go to the lab. I need you to record the events.” I turned and started walking towards the lab.

Looking suddenly worried, Morty ran to keep up. He said, “Dramatic? What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to teleport myself,” I said. “As soon as I have completed the teleportation, you need to put that video on the internet. When the world sees a functional teleporter, the Board won’t dare shut us down!”

Morty got in front of me, causing me to stop. Almost pleading, he said, “Don’t be a fool! You can’t just rush into this. It’s too dangerous!”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I know what I’m doing. Come on,” I said as I pushed past Morty.

As I passed him, I saw Morty pull out his cell phone and started punching the screen. He didn’t even try to keep me from hearing. He said, “Rhonda? Meet me at the lab right now. Rick is about to do something stupid and I need your help.”

I looked back at Morty and said, “Even Rhonda can’t talk me out of this. I’m making history tonight.”

Rhonda was one of the researchers and technical assistants on the teleportation project. She’s not only a brilliant researcher, and technically talented, she’s also completely gorgeous. With dark brown hair almost to her ass, and legs that seem to go forever, great sense of humor and highly intelligent, she’s the perfect girl for me. I fell in love with her when I saw her in the Student Union Building on my first day at college. I just wish I had the nerve to talk to her outside of the project.

I threw open the doors of the lab and there was my baby. Two pods I had the school machine shop fabricate for me out of aluminum and reinforced with a carbon steel shell. I needed the pod to be non-ferrous with a powerful magnetic bottle around it. At one end of the lab stood one pod and the control console. At the other end of the lab stood the receiver pod all by itself, connected by thick power cables.

I walked straight to the control console and started powering up the system and warming up the pods.

“Are you recording this, Morty?” I asked as I tapped on the keyboard. “You’re going to be witness to Mankind’s greatest achievement.”

I watched in the corner of my eye as Morty walked to each of the three tripod mounted cameras and switched them on. He then stepped beside me.

“Rick. I beg you! Stop this madness!” pleaded Morty. “This isn’t worth dying for!”

I stopped and looked at Morty and shook my head. “If this isn’t worth dying for, I don’t know what is. This will be the greatest single achievement since we crawled out of the primordial soup.”

The hatch to the transmission pod hissed open. A countdown started on the control panel’s monitor. The computer had taken control and short of destruction, would not be stopped.

I held out my hand towards Morty. I said, “See you on the other side, Morty. One way or the other.”

He took my hand in a firm grip. He said, “For the last time, I beg you. Please don’t get in that pod.”

I gave Morty a grim smile and stepped into the pod. Sensors detected my presence and closed the hatch with another hiss. There was a thump as the magnetic lock sealed the door.

Suddenly Rhonda was beating on the glass port. Though slightly muffled, I heard as she said, “Rick! Get out of there! Now!” She tried to tug on the pod’s door.

I yelled back, “It’s magnetically sealed. You can’t open it. I’ll be fine. The countdown is almost done.”

Her voice almost a cry, Rhonda said, “Stop this thing! Did you not see the lab’s report of the mice you experimented with last night?”

I shook my head and said, “Why bother? I checked them myself. They were all healthy.”

Rhonda shook her head violently and shouted, “No! They weren’t! The lab gave you four adult male mice.” She banged on the door one more time. “You returned four juvenile female mice! Did you understand?”

My eyes went wide as I said, “Oh shit!” There was a ding from the console and then I was enveloped in a bright flash of bluish light. I lost consciousness.

I blinked open my eyes. I was lying at the bottom of a pod. I wasn’t sure which one. The door was suddenly jerked open and Rhonda poked her head in.

With a gasp, Rhonda said, “Oh my God!”

*          *          *

I couldn’t believe it had only been eight months since the ‘incident’ as we now call it. I smiled as I watched Rhonda, the girl I loved with all my heart, was slowly approaching me down the church aisle. She was beautiful in her flowing, white wedding dress. Her father holding her arm.

The preacher standing next to me turned and said at their approach, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

Rhonda’s dad said, “Her mother and I do.” He let go of her arm and she stepped up on the dais. She smiled when she looked over at me and winked.

In all honesty, I really didn’t mind being twelve years old again. A couple of months after teleporting, Rhonda had managed to adopt me as I had no parents. The Board of course shut the project down immediately citing the cost and danger of the device. All the parts were sold as scrap.

I looked down at my white taffeta dress and the white gloves covering my hands as I held a small pillow with the wedding ring. My hair was tied back in a cute pony tail tied with a large white bow.

What pissed me off more than anything was that I was now a girl.

Before turning again to face Morty to say her wedding vows, she looked back down at me and smiled.

I smiled back and whispered, “I love you, Mommy!”

*          *          *

The End



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