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I remember the first time I heard about it. I didn’t really put much thought into it at the time, the foremost psychological biologist at the University of Pennsylvania, these things just didn't concern me. I remember the doctor on the news kept pushing his glasses up his face, babbling on and on about OHMs and magnetic fields, when really, all Matt Lauer was looking for was a yes or no.
“So, Dr. Kapek, what exactly are you saying?”
“I thought that was clear.”
“If you could just break it down a little simpler… for the viewers at home.”
Kapek looked flustered for a second, before staring back into the camera.
“Well, Matt, in layman’s terms, I suppose it would just be simplest to say that I.. ah- we ah…my entire team that is, have successfully created a two way teleportation device.”
“That is really something else isn’t it?”
“I would ah… I would say so.
“And how exactly will this affect the day to day life of the average American?” Lauer leaned back. in his chair.
“It won’t. Not for now at least, but…. we are very, very excited about the possibilities. Consider this discovery in the very early alpha testing stages. Right now it’s just moving electrons from A to B, nanometers really, but still, nanometers instantaneously? We are without a doubt on the brink of something great.”
“Alright, thanks again for being on the show.”
“Thanks, ah… thanks for having me.”
“Alright. When we come back, President Christie’s latest round of peace talks with First Secretary Putin going better than expected? Stay tuned.”
It was five years, perhaps more, before I heard anything about it again. After the interview on the today show, all was quiet. Talks of war dominated news headlines for months until Putin was finally talked down, much to the dismay of landowning Alaskans everywhere. When the state was given up, the entire American population was given the choice to evacuate the newly renamed Novo-Arkhangelsk, or adopt Russian citizenship.
Some stayed, most left, and a few fought and were promptly killed. The Russian Union of Free Peoples standard issue rifle for military personnel fired magnetically charged rounds at roughly 90,000 meters per second. Armed as such, they mowed over the remaining Alaskans with little to no opposition. The president suffered a stroke in office, which left him wheelchair bound and dismally weak. When his term was up, he was defeated in the next election soundly by an ageing, but wiry strong Hillary Clinton, who immediately reinstated term limits of eight years and began talks to reclaim at least part of the lost territory.
Amid headlines of RUFP politics and Ecuadolombian civil war, MSNBC-Northeast aired a rather large segment about KHPPMC, where Dr. Kapek had been working.
The first thing I noticed was how terrible he appeared. Kapek was never much in the way of looks, but the sheer amount of weight he had lost was shocking. He was waving his hands around, telling Rachel Maddow about the funding his department had received from Google, something, he said, around 50 billion dollars, when I noticed the watch he had on. It was massively bulky, dull gray, and had a large dial on the front. It looked, from the television, to be hardwired into his wrist. I was so fixated on his deteriorating condition that I wasn’t even listening to his speech, until I heard “physical testing” phrased as a question. Maddow was looking incredulously at Kapek, who was barely looking at anything at all. He was propped up on his elbows, staring at the counter absently.
“What was that?” he croaked.
“I was asking what exactly you meant by physical testing.”
“Oh, yes. Of course. Well you remember my last interview, right? I talked briefly about how we were successfully able to transport electrons from A to B? Well, we’ve progressed quite a bit since then. Ah… we’ve actually gotten to the point where we feel comfortable transporting objects. We ah… I, that is, I ah…”
She cut him off, “I understand you brought some footage for us?”
“Oh. Ah… yes. Footage indeed.”
Rachael turned towards the camera, “And can we get that up?”
The screen flashed dark for a second, the return image one of the inside of a laboratory, stark white walls and lighting, steel instruments, and a far healthier-looking Dr. Kapek, standing in the foreground.
He spoke to the camera, “Hello ah… to the NSC, to our benefactors over at Google, and to the scientific community at large. My name is Dr. Terence Kapek, and we ah… I’m here at the Kitty Hawk Particle Physics Manipulation Center in, well ah… that should be obvious…. and ah…. ah.. the team has something that they would ah… really like to show you.”
He talked like a man desperate to please, hands clasping and unclasping, odd little bows and head bobs punctuated words. He was a man, driven and uncomfortable. The camera cut to a similarly stark room, easily the size of a football field in all directions. In the center, surrounded by what looked like monolithic bar magnets, was a stainless steel table, on which sat a small wooden cube of about three inches. Pointing down at the cube was what looked like a jet turbine without the fan, covered in wires and dials and softly glowing from the inside. The whole array was linked by a rat’s nest of cables to a very large, very decrepit computer in the corner of the room. As the camera panned across the whole display, Kapek’s voice could be heard echoing across the room.
“Now the device runs based on a principle called ‘Negative energy photon emission’ which, ah… occurs when an electron of energy ß spontaneously jumps to a higher energy level, releasing a particle of negative light energy called an antiphoton. Essentially, the device can bend and invert light particles… we ah… we ah…… produce negative matter.” He stopped and smiled off into the distance for a beat, before continuing with his speech. As he booted up the computer, there was a very low hum, the screen distorted for a second. The video feed overlapped on itself, there were many Kapeks on the screen for a series of frames before it returned to normal.
“Now what I’ve done here is turned on the ah… the array,”
He pointed to the computer, his motion pulling static towards his arm.
“And, we… ah… we’re going to try and move that cube… there…”
When he pointed this time, the audio cut out dramatically, and the screen warped until it’s pan had finished, resting on the cube.
“Now, when I throw this switch,you ah… may see some ah….. slight abnormalities with the video feed, this is the first time we’ve filmed the reaction… so…. ah… ah.. here we go.”
There was a click, Kapek flicking the switch, and then the hum grew louder, higher. The cube began to move, subtly at first, almost as if it were breathing, flexing in and out. It began to flutter, like a sheet in the wind, the half ton magnets slid out ever so slightly and then, instantaneously, it was gone. There was a deafening crack, not quite of sound or light, and the cube appeared a foot above Kapek, falling into his waiting hand. He laughed dryly, clapped his hands together and stared straight into the lens as the camera returned to him,
“And that, ladies and gentlemen, no special effects, is my life’s work.”
The video cut out, returning to Kapek and Rachael Maddow in the newsroom. She was again looking at the camera, while Kapek distractedly glanced around and fidgeted.
“Well, that is just….. stunning Dr. Kapek. I have no words to describe my-“
He cut her off with a painfully stilted wave of his hand, “Stop. Please. Ah… it’s not there yet. Congratulate me when it’s finished.”
She looked shocked,
“But surely you recognize the incredible leap forward this is for humanity? Why, this is the next moon landing, the next cure for cancer… Dr. Kapek, this is-“
He stood up roughly, swaying on his feet. He grabbed a chair for support, ripped the microphone off of his sweater, and limped off the stage. The channel immediately cut to commercial.
The next week was a flurry of headlines following the story, “Dr. Terry Kapek Storms Out of MSNBC Interview”, “Kapek Disturbed,”, “Inventor of Teleportation Device’s Shocking Exit” and more. Kapek denied to be interviewed for weeks, over and over newspapers read ‘no comment’ and ‘unavailable at print date’, until finally, MSNBC-Northeast posted an article.
KHPPMC Mourns Loss of Dr. Terence Kapek Inventor of first functional teleportation device dead at 53
KITTY HAWK, KS — Scientific pioneers the world over mourn the loss of Dr. Terence “Terry” Kapek of the Kitty Hawk Particle Physics Manipulation Center. Lauded by the world as the first man to successfully implement and operate an instantaneous telekinetic transport or “teleportation device”, Dr. Kapek was a leader in his field, and in modern science on the whole. Kapek was born in 1995 in Cape May, NJ to parents Phillip and Natasha, both resident professors at Princeton University. Dr. Kapek studied at Oxford University, went on to get his PhD in both Particle Physics and Astrophysics at Cambridge, and returned to the US in 2021, mere months before the collapse of the United Nations.
He began work at the KHPPMC in 2025, working mostly with military contracts from former President Christie, when the KHPPMC was bought out by googleLabs South Central in 2027. Upon acquisition, press surrounding Dr. Kapek and his work was largely silenced until just six years ago, with his Today Show interview in December of 2042. The Antiphoton Regenerative Instantaneous Transport drive, or ‘ARITd’ continues to be refined by the KHPPMC and its team of experts, now led by Dr. Conner Glasgow, and is expected to enter fields of further testing by late 2057. Dr. Kapek is survived by his singularly revolutionary contributions to the field of Modern Science and humanity.
Work was ablaze with speculation, biologists and physicists theorizing in the hallways between classes as to just what had happened to Kapek. After the initial posting of his obituary, he was instantaneously a national conversation topic, famous only posthumously.
“Cancer. Guarantee it. Antiphotons? No way that's any better than gamma.”
“Aw fuck off, neither of us had even heard of them before he started on about it. You know just as well as I do that photons don’t have mass, how exactly could they go bumping electrons off and causing cancer?”
“Just saying, you saw how awful he looked in that last interview.”
“You don’t know shit.”
Conversations like these became the M.O. of working at Penn. Where most scandals seemed to die off in a matter of days, months later people were still asking for my input on the matter. That particular day, it was an intern named Jeff, delivering my mail.
“Well what about you Dr. Finney? You’re the top physio-whatever biologist.”
“Physical-Psychological. And yeah, as I’ve said many times before, he probably got radiation poisoning and died almost immediately.”
“But the interview dude! He looked fucking awful then, and that was at least a month before he kicked it.”
“Companies delay telling the public when someone dies all the time. Helps the stock stay up. He could have walked off the camera and keeled over right there and we wouldn’t know.”
“Whatever, you’re no fun. It was definitely Google silencing him and you know it.”
Jeff made a finger gun and whipped his arms back to illustrate the point before dumping mail on my desk and walking off. I leafed through the mail, what little physical there was, before finding the envelope on the bottom.
To Be hand Delivered to: Dr. Edward Braun-Finney University of Pennsylvania, Biopsychological Research 3711 Market Street, 8th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19104
1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy,
Mountain View, CA 94043
My name is Dr. Conner Glasgow. I represent a fairly large number of similarly minded men that wish to meet you. Immediately. This letter is not a request, it is a completely legal court summons. You will report to the return address no later than December 15th, 2048 (the date of writing is Dec. 3rd), and present this letter, not a copy, to the security personnel at the gate. Assuming you do not report by the aforementioned date, you will be served a subpoena and asked to report for a court date for disobeying a direct order from the executive branch of the US government.
Needless to say I was shocked. It was often the tendency of Google to downplay the fact that they technically ran the US government, yet here they were using it as some sort of legal trump card. I had no doubt that they could indeed take me to court and put me away for life were I to skip out on this mandatory appointment, and so that night, I packed my bags and boarded a flight out of PHL.
I arrived in California the next day, dead tired and irritated. I had, by some miracle, managed to find an adjunct to cover my classes for the week (the dean had insisted I take a week) and had left him with a rudimentary lesson plan. Google was courteous enough to pick me up at the airport, and I was shuttled directly to the headquarters.
The GooglePlex was, to say the least, quite large. Roughly twenty square miles of laboratory space stretching out across the California countryside, up into the clouds, and deep, deep into the earth, it was a fortress. I was greeted by a squadron of heavily armed guards, each carrying Russian military issue rifles and wearing thick kevlar nanotube vests. They x rayed my bags and person using a small handheld device before asking for the letter and waving me through the massive gates.
The car, autonomous, continued to drive through the complex, turning seemingly at random, doubling back on itself, weaving until finally it reached an innocuous looking building with the sign “ARITd-0001A” beside the door. The car stopped and signaled for me to exit. I gathered my suitcase from the trunk and it sped off immediately, electric whir getting faint in the distance. There was the clunky sound of a deadbolt undoing, followed by the door swinging open rather violently. A small, balding man of about fifty was standing hunched behind the door, he stared at me with artificially green eyes and spoke,
“Welcome, welcome Dr. Braun-Finney. I’m Conner Glasgow. Please, do come in.”
“Of course, huh.. let me grab my things.”
“No need,” Glasgow waved his hand, “Someone will be by to take them to your room.”
I set the bags down on the ground again. Glasgow reached into his pocket and clicked something, sending a burst of light out on the floor beneath him. He nodded to me then, and beckoned me inside.
“Now, unfortunately it’s doubtful you’ll ever see the real facility, the one in Kansas, but honestly that isn’t too important right now. No really what we need is for you to be here, see there are-“
I cut him off then, “Slow down, please Dr. Glasgow. Please. I have literally no idea what any of this means, let alone what it has to do with me. Just tell me why I’m here.”
He looked confused for a second before answering,
“I thought that was clear. You are the head of Psychological Biology at Penn?”
“Well… yeah. But still, why me?”
“Because,” we had reached the end of the hallway, “Kapek is dead.”
I stared at him, still not quite understanding. He seemed to notice and waved me into the elevator, not quite meeting my eyes,
“There are other people that can explain this better than me. I… I was brought in very late to the project, I never met Dr. Kapek myself. The company figured it was best to put a face on the project, so they called me in. I’m a robotics guy… this particle physics shit is so far beyond my realm of expertise. I honestly can’t tell you why you’re here… I don’t know. I need your help just as much as you need mine.”
He was looking at the ground and shaking his head. The man looked absolutely miserable.
“why are they doing this?” I asked trying to meet his eye line.
“I don’t know.” Glasgow shook his head. “This project should be dead. Or at the very least continued by someone more qualified than me.”
“Can’t you leave? Or quit?”
“This isn’t that kind of work environment.” Glasgow laughed nervously.
The elevator made a small sound and opened onto what looked like an underground waiting room. There was a man sitting in a chair, staring at us when we stepped off. His thin hair was raked back and held in place with some kind of gel. His glasses flashed, backlit as he raised his head. Sunken cheeks folded into a hollow smile as he extended his hand,
“Dr. Braun-Finney? My name is Fletcher Holznecht, and my boss is the reason you’re here.” 2
I shook his hand with as much authority as I could muster but frankly, the man was terrifying. Fletcher Holznecht was in the news more than he wasn’t, the strong arm bully of the most powerful man in the world, Eric Glover’s undersecretary had seen his fair share of controversy. I had heard horror stories from colleagues that had met him, the dean of technological science at Penn had dealt with him a few years back when Glover had come to address the graduating class and he had taken several personal days after he left. In person, the effect was even worse. Piercing grey eyes stared at me appraisingly from behind their wireframe glasses, his grip tight and unyielding. He stood a diminutive 5”4’, but the way he commanded the room, it felt like seven. He released my hand,
“Follow me then. Glasgow return to your team.”
Glasgow squeaked some note of understanding and quickly returned to the elevator. I stood watching him leave before feeling a hand come down roughly on my shoulder,
“Now please Dr. Braun-Finney.”
He dragged me by the collar down hallways and staircases, all lit with fluorescent tubes flickering dimly. Eventually we reached a small room in which sat a table, chair, and laptop. Fletcher sat me down and opened the computer,
“On here is the sum total of recorded footage archived at the KHPPMC before Dr. Kapek’s death. You will watch it all, and then proceed to your meeting with my employer. This computer is offline, this footage is of the highest classification. Do not attempt to do anything but watch the videos, I will be on the outside waiting. Knock when you’ve finished.”
He cut me off and stared me down, “what part… what possible fucking part of that was even the slightest bit unclear?”
The door slammed shut behind him, I stared at the computer. The desktop was empty save for one folder, entitled EBF, I assumed my initials. Inside were hundreds of video files, with one highlighted in red, entitled “9/28/2048- 3:14 pm to end”, a mere 2 weeks before his interview on MSNBC.
Dr. Kapek was seated at his desk, looking even more ill up close than he did in his interview. He was staring at the screen, a video log of some kind.
“Dr. Terence Kapek, ah… 3:15 pm on Thursday the 28th… ah… final entry. I fear as though I ah.. may have made a mistake. The ah… antiphoton ß ratio is… ah.. so wildly off my calculations… it’s ah… it’s ah… worrying.”
He took off his glasses, I could see his eyes were red, blood vessels broken not from stress, the man was dying.
“I worry for ah… the rest of the team. I’ve banned them all from the facility, claiming some kind of ah… mechanical failure. They most assuredly know what ah…. what ’s happened though.”
He held up his hand now, where the enormous watch I had seen on the Maddow interview rested. I could see now that it wasn’t a watch at all, the face was a pressure dial that vibrated around 500.
“The accident that created the need for this ah….” he tapped the dial, “sloppy fix has without a doubt ah…. signed my death warrant. The antiphotons are, without a doubt quite ah…. quite dangerous, and it seems as though the limited time I have left will be spent ah…. trying to slow down their reaction. this device here, the ah… the ARICu, has slowed the path to my inevitable death enough for me to ah… hopefully destroy the device completely. I ah… I am not long for this world… I can only ah… apologize now. The rest of the footage should explain exactly what ah… what I’m apologizing for…”
The watch flashed red, I could see the pressure gauge dropping quickly. Kapek stood, knocking books off his desk, he swayed on his feet for a second before shaking his head and running, panicked, away. the video feed went dark, replaced with another, dated sixteen days before.
Kapek was again in the testing room, stark white walls and stainless steel cable. He was up on the table, the ARITd open and dangling wires, calibrating something with a handheld device. An assistant of his was over at the computer desk, typing away at something. The hum of the device was loud, pulsing differences in pitch. Suddenly, the device sparked and fell from Kapek’s hand. The video feed began to waver in and out, and without warning Kapek flew backwards, knocked off the table. A halo of blood surrounded the place where he had stood, the computer he had been using crumpled under some unseen weight before disappearing entirely. Again the feed cut out, replaced by Kapek, still dripping blood, hunched over his desk with various bits of metal. He moaned in pain every so often, he seemed to be translucent, wavering in between reality and not.
Periodically he would cry out and fade, tools falling out of hands that weren’t really there. In between spot soldering and shuffling of various components he would solidify and work. The video cut several times, each with him at a different stage of completion of the watch, until finally, it was finished save for the dial face and some small component missing. Kapek stood, hands sliding in his own blood, and walked off screen, when he returned, he was holding a ball bearing suspended above a magnet. He turned the bearing into the watch, and screwed on the face. He slid it on and pressed a button, a needle harpooning quickly into his wrist. He brought the watch over to an outlet from the nuclear outpour and plugged it in, the pressure gauge slowly rising, Kapek solidifying steadily until eventually, he was corporeal. finally the video cut out, and the computer shut down.
I stood, weighed down by all that I’d just seen, and knocked on the door.
Holznecht opened the door immediately,
“Eerie isn’t it? He practically disintegrated after that MSNBC interview… a lot of red slush and that weird fucking watch. You could see the moment he went too, eyes went all dark then caved in…. whatever that fucker built, it wrecked him hard.”
I stared at him, trying to find the right words but he kept talking,
“Last thing he ever said was something about 'the void' and then he kicked it. No idea what he was on about. Anyway, let’s go, you’ve got a meeting with someone who does not like to be kept waiting.”
I followed Holznecht back out into daylight, he keyed something into a kiosk by the wall and within seconds a car was pulling around the corner. We rode in silence, each staring out the other window, until we approached the central tower. Fletcher turned to me and took off his glasses,
“You will address him as Mr. Glover or Sir, you will not stray from the topic at hand, you will listen, speak when asked to, and cooperate to your fullest extent. Do not smile, it’s condescending. Do not scowl, it’s rude. I would say be at ease, but don’t. It won’t matter. Break even one of these rules, and I’ll break every one of your fingers.”
I nodded and got out of the car. The guards saluted Holznecht, who waved them off, trench coat flapping around like some sort of giant umbrella. We got inside the entirely glass building, and got into the elevator at the corner. Fletcher inserted a key card on the dial, and it began to rise. “Any questions?”
“Fantastic. Keep up that attitude and this’ll go great.”
140 floors up and the elevator opened again. GooglePlex building 000 was a marvel of architectural impossibilities. We walked down a hallway made entirely of polycarbonate glass and reached a door, massive and windowless. There were no handles, only a small card slot and the name, Eric Glover, CEO & Executive Chairman. Fletcher again inserted his card and the door swung open, where a spacious, stark office sat inside. Seated behind the desk was the most powerful man in the world. Eric Glover was smiling broadly, hand already extended. I walked over and shook it, and sat down. “Thanks Fletcher, go ahead and close the door when you leave.”
“Sir.” Holznecht nodded and left.
“Well, Dr. Braun-Finney. Bet you didn’t think you’d be here a week ago.”
“Honestly sir, I-“
“Eric. Please.” he interrupted.
“But Fletcher said-“
“Oh I’m sure he did. He’s a bit intense sometimes. Realistically though, Eric is all I can respond to seriously, especially among equals.”
“That’s flattering.” I said, trying not to sound skeptical.
“Yes. It is. Now, down to business.” he leaned back in his chair.
“I’m finally going to figure out why I’m here?”
“Edward, can I call you Edward?… great, Edward, do you know how Google got to be where it is today?”
“What? specifically? You bought out the US debt from China. Don’t you technically own a controlling share in the country?”
“More than technically.” He seemed pleased. “let me show you something.”
He pulled his phone closer and put his thumb on the sensor. He keyed in a number far longer than 7 digits, and put it on speaker phone.
“President Clinton. How are you?” he was smiling.
“I’m fine sir, and yourself?”
“Just lovely dear. I was wondering if you could just give me the cliff notes on the latest talk with our friends in the east?”
“Putin cancelled at the last minute sir. We’re rescheduling now, for later this month.”
“Alright then. That will be all.”
“Very good sir.” the president sighed audibly.
Glover hung up and stared at me. “So, would you say that I could make your life difficult if you chose not to help me?”
“I would.” I had never been so scared in my life.
“Not that it matters. When I explain exactly what’s going on, you’ll help anyway. The threats I’m making are a safety net, the stick behind you. Now for the carrot.”
“Better be good.”
Glover laughed hard at that, rocking back in his chair. “How about your life? The lives of all those you care about? The country? The planet?”
I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. “Assuming that’s not some kind of joke…”
“I joke about few things. Business is not one of them.”
“…. then I would say that that’s a good enough incentive. With the qualifier that I can get more information as to what’s happening.”
“Fair enough. Edward, Dr. Kapek is dead. Turned to mush by his own creation. It was horrible to watch, but there was nothing we could do to stop it. The way he explained it, the blast that you saw in the video never left him, he was constantly surrounded by a field of particles that were removing atoms, one at a time. He actually disintegrated from the inside out. That device he built, the watch? Slowed it down enough for him to write down his work. Useless shit. Totally beyond my level of understanding. Even his team says it’s beyond them. You know what over clocking is Edward? Well… it’s when you take a computer processor and reprogram it to run faster than it should. Kapek was overclocked by his own ambition. the man was operating at such a high level of intelligence, he couldn’t even break his work down enough for anyone else to understand. The notebook he left behind? I know it was considerably dumbed down, but Its still gibberish to me and everyone else I’ve shown. The more I talk to his team, the more it seems that they were extra sets of hands, they followed directions, but they had no idea what they were actually doing.”
“So, you want me to try and decipher this thing? No offence sir but you got the wrong guy. I’m a biologist, not some kind of parti-“
“I know what you are Edward. And no, I wouldn’t expect anyone to be able to decipher Kapek’s work except for the man himself.”
“Then what do you want from me? Why am I being told this?”
“Because we need that book figured out.” “You just said Kapek was the only person who could possibly-“ I stopped. Eric Glover was looking at me from across the desk, hands steepled above the phone.
“Yes. I did.”
“Oh fuck… you can’t be saying-“
“I am.” he wasn’t smiling anymore.
“How would that…. it’s impossible.” I couldn’t find words.
“That’s why we got you.”
“What happens if I fail?”
“Here’s the situation Ed. The ARITd disappeared about a week ago. We had all but abandoned the KHPPMC, it was reacting to the machine the same way that Kapek was… collapsing slowly, so we deemed it a safety hazard and had it evacuated. No one in or out, heaviest possible security. Then, this Tuesday, we go in to retrieve the last bits of footage, the whole apparatus is gone. It either teleported itself, which I’m not ready to rule out entirely, or someone took it. Either way, It’s not turned off, and it’s certainly not in our control anymore. We need someone to turn it off before it explodes or whatever, I don’t really know what it does…. but it has to stop.”
“So I’m supposed to… to resurrect Kapek?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“How? Everyone said he disintegrated.”
“We take DNA samples from every contract we take on… I can’t really say why. A clone won’t work because we need him to be the exact age and experience he was when he died. What we hope you can do is rebuild him bit by bit… individual organs repaired and then assembled by you.”
“How is this not a massive violation of human rights?” I was still reeling.
“It is. but honestly, who gives a shit? No one’s going to stop you, and I’m far and away more desperate than I’ve ever been.”
“I haven’t got a choice.”
“You never really did Edward.” He sounded almost apologetic now, defeated and afraid, “None of us do. I have no idea what this thing can do, but I know its destructive. I watched the smartest man I’ve ever seen literally fall apart in front of me… imagine what It could do if we don’t stop it.”
“I’m not going home am I?”
“You aren’t leaving the facility.”
“Getting started immediately?”
“Yes.” he sighed.
"He's going to be a colossal fuckup you know… assuming I can even replicate it.”
“We’ve seen it done with mice, even that sheep… the technology is there and we have the best equipment available. Edward that’s all I can offer you. When this is all over, anything you want you’ve got it, but until then, you’re only goal is to stop this unknown.”
“You can have Glasgow and a few others. Your team can’t know about this..”
“Frankly, this terrifies me.”
“I’m sorry, but there’s no alternative.”
We sat in silence for a minute, eventually he held a button on the phone,
“Fletcher, we’re finished here.”
The door opened and Fletcher walked back in, grabbing me by the collar, “Let’s get to work.
My work schedule was round the clock. The second I arrived in my laboratory, I was pumped full of a triple dose of Methylphenixanthidate, a compound designed by a british biologist in 2021 that kept mammals up and alert for 6 days at a time. Immediately my vision cut out and I fell to the ground, paralyzed. Fletcher bent down and hoisted me up,
“Come on now Eddie! Shit’s a good trip if you know what you’re doing.”
Eventually my vision returned, and I was able to move my limbs again. I was hooked up to an EKG (300 bpm) and asked to begin work. I walked across the length of the room, studying and mentally cataloging all of the instruments that had been left to my research. Massive Pfizer chambers, multiple SEMs, a chemical closet worthy of Marie Curie herself, and enough of Kapek’s DNA to build a population of clones.
After being defibrillated callously by Holznecht when his heart stopped from the drugs, Glasgow joined me at the table, shaking and twitching.
“So where are we getting started?”
I looked about the room, pondering my options.
“Viable stem cells should be the first priority… get me a marrow sample and a cranial fluid sample.”
Glasgow ran off to fetch the samples as I walked over to the Pfizer MK-32e, an incubator for replacement and donor organs. I began calibrating manually the settings when Glasgow returned, handing me two vials.
“Marrow here, fluid here.”
They were marked with yellowing paper: T. Kapek Marrow-037
T. Kapek Cr. Fluid-011
I uncorked the vials and put a small sample on a slide. the SEM was already on, and I was easily able to isolate the DNA. After injecting blank cell templates with Kapek’s genes, I opened the incubator and inserted the slide. I turned to Glasgow,
“Well that’s all we can do now. Time to wait it out.”
Holznecht leaned across the counter, setting down his phone.
“Waiting is not working Eddie.” “Oh I’m sorry, would you prefer I come over there and play on my phone while you rebuild a human being from scratch?” I replied angrily.
He picked up the phone and shattered it against the counter, never dropping his gaze.
Glasgow squeaked in fear and turned back to the machine, I glowered and began stocking the vials again.
Time passed, a week, two, a month, every day the same process. As organs reassembled and grew I fused them back together. As the body slowly began to take shape, I was able to fixate on my biggest problem, the brain. When finally the entire man was complete save for that one piece, I hit my wall.
“It’s not possible.”
“Make it possible.”
“Fuck… Fletcher it doesn’t work like that.”
“Can’t you dump his memories back in?”
He only shook his head at that and sat down again. This interaction came after my fourth DOA brain sample, they all tested functional, but when hooked up to a neural graph, showed no activity. I had no idea how to restart thought processes and coax memories from nothing until finally, I had my last spark of inspiration.
“What?” he looked bored.
“What happened to Kapek’s body… you know… after?”
“Glasgow, I have a job for you.”
Glasgow looked up from his book, “Yes?”
“Find out what happened to Kapek’s remains. I have an idea.”
He nodded and ran off, slipping on the freshly waxed floors. Fletcher and I waited perhaps an hour before Glasgow returned, panting. “Kapek’s body is here, in the building. They have him stored cryogenically a floor below. I was warned though, it’s not pretty.”
Fletcher laughed at that, “Who fucking cares?”
We ran down the stairs, me with my mobile sample kit, Fletcher and Glasgow behind. I found that room mentioned and scanned it quickly. Like a standard morgue, cryogenic chambers had the same metal drawers and tables, although these were sealed hermetically and kept as close to absolute 0 as possible.
There were two drawers with lights glowing, one labeled C. Cochner and one T. Kapek. I quickly keyed in the code to unlock the drawer and stood back as it opened, heavy fog rolling out.
The body was scarcely that. A spongy skeleton surrounded by red… slush, it was as decayed as could be. Glasgow visibly reeled back against the wall, Fletcher didn’t flinch in the slightest, and I was already peeling back the remaining gore on the skull. When I finally sawed through the skull, I was greeted with perhaps the most welcome sight possible under my circumstances, an almost completely untouched brain. Whatever particles had destroyed this man, they could only probe so far through the thick bone of the skull (I assumed), and so here he was… possibly still re-animatable.
Only whimpering from the corner. Fletcher turned, “Glasgow, you mute fuck!”
“What?” he moaned.
“Get that transport chamber over there, bring it here, yeah… good. Right Fletcher, open the top… yeah great, okay…”
I carefully lifted the brain out with latex encased hands and set it in the small glass box. Fletcher sealed it immediately, and the timer began, 20 minutes until decomposition began.
“Okay, lets go.”
Once we were back in the lab, I easily navigated around the equipment, buoyed up by my genius discovery. Once I had everything prepared, I brought the box over and keyed in the code, It sprang open, and I again lifted the brain out of it’s box. Once I had affixed all of the nerve endings together and fused Kapek’s skull, it was time.
“Glasgow, I need the defibrillator.”
He wasn’t even in the room.
It was in my hand before I’d even finished the question. He was looking at me evenly,
“If this doesn’t work Eddie… if this doesn’t work, I’m just as fucked as you are.”
I nodded, and flicked on the machine.
“Open the case.” a cheery female voice intoned.
“Remove the film backing.”
“Affix pad 1 just above the collarbone.”
“Affix pad 2 just below the right pectoral.”
I hesitated briefly, the room felt cold and very far away. Fletcher reached over and hit the button for me, and Kapek jerked on the table. He lay motionless for a second, the only sound was the minuscule whine of the machine.
I jumped in surprise.
This time I hit the button, Kapek kicked out and dented the table with his heel. Seconds passed, 5, 10, and then his eyes opened.
Fletcher and I shared a grim look, I took out my flashlight and stethoscope. Kapek’s pupils were unnaturally large, he stared blankly at the ceiling. I moved to turn on my flashlight and felt a hand on mine,
“That won’t be necessary.”
He was looking at me with his still very dilated eyes. They looked dead, I could see no spark of life behind them. I caught myself thinking this and quickly stopped myself. There was no accounting for that unsettling detail, but I had succeeded… so I thought. I roused myself and prepared in my head the lines I’d rehearsed.
“Do you understand me?”
“Yes.” Kapek was smiling slightly now.
“Do you know who you are?”
“I am Dr. Terence Kapek.”
“Do you know what year it is?”
“What is the last thing you remember?”
“Doctor, whoever you are, as I said before that won’t be necessary. You are a talented surgeon, and you’ve succeeded in your mission. I am here to repair the ARITd and then I imagine you’ll euthanize me. Now if you please, I’d love to get dressed and get started.”
He sat up then, perfectly normally… almost robotically. I caught myself again, doing my best to suppress the mounting, cold unease with scientific logic. I retrieved a set of clothes for him and set them in the room. He stepped out a few minutes later, looking around the lab with what I was privately beginning to consider dead, shark eyes. Glasgow had long since left, I never did see him again, and it was just Fletcher and I to brief Kapek. While he was still dressing, Fletcher turned to me,
“You and I both know that something is very wrong with that man in there. I may not know what, but I am not alright with it.”
“I hadn’t noticed anyth-“
“Oh fuck’s sake Eddie. I’ll go in and put a bullet in his head right now.”
I wish I’d let him.
The first days were fine. Kapek quickly informed us that the ARITd had a GPS coordinate transmitter built in. We located it almost immediately, somewhere in the dense forests of Northern Canada, and were in the air the next day. At first, everyone was overjoyed at my success, but I kept noticing little things. Kapek would smile and shake hands with people, mimicking their body language, but the second their attention was off him, his face would go slack and his eyes would glaze over. He didn’t eat or drink unless handed either explicitly, and I caught him staring at people from a distance more than once.
When we touched down in Canada, he stumbled off the plane, not shielding his eyes until Fletcher and I did. His clothes, the same he’d worn since the day I’d given them to him, were filthy. Many attributed it to his erratic genius, after all, Einstein didn’t wear socks, and Edison didn’t sleep for weeks, but I just think he didn’t know why he was wearing them. We found the ARITd easily enough, it sat in a clearing surround by felled trees. The low hum I’d heard in the video was present, and when we stepped across the treeline, I felt my phone pop and spark, as did everyone else’s. Kapek stepped up to the drive, and for the first time since seeing him alive, his pupils narrowed.
“Where are the others?”
I couldn’t tell if the question was directed at me or not. The whole team was there, Fletcher, Myself, and a few other bits of muscle that Google had sent along to protect their assets. I looked around, teetering on speech when he spoke again.
“Edward could you join me here?” he motioned lazily to the spot beside him, beside the device.
“Dr. Kapek, what do you need me to-“
Fletcher pushed me, motioning with his head to go, “I’ve got four guns on him, don’t worry.”
I walked over slowly. I could feel the static electricity standing my hair on end. The feeling you get when touching a damaged outlet was coursing through my entire body. When I finally stood next to Kapek, he looked over at me,
“Can you see it?”
I opened my mouth to ask what he saw but he cut me off.
“Do you feel it, biologist?”
“Now,” he grabbed my hand and placed it on the ARITd, “do you see it?”
He placed his hand on the device as well, and turned a dial. By the time Fletcher had pulled the trigger, we were both gone.
(Credited to BloodyBucket)