“I want to stress that each other subject has had a heart attack upon materializing.”
Dr. Benson said this again, as a physician did the final check-up.
“I know. You’ve said this like fifty times. Repeating it doesn’t make me calm. It does the opposite.”
“This is your last chance to back out, Zack,” Dr. Benson held his hand next to the wall-mounted intercom.
Concern wore on the older man’s face. This was the longest period that someone on the science team worked with a subject to prepare them for teleportation.
“They all died?” Zack asked.
“All four,” the physician spoke up.
The two exchanged glances and the physician cleared his throat.
He went back to testing, and Dr. Benson glared at the back of the man’s head.
“If I back out…”
Dr. Benson read my mind, “Then you don’t get compensated.”
“Well then, you have my response. I’m not wasting these last three weeks,” Zack told him.
Dr. Benson analyzed his face for a bit for any sort of tell. The physician left and he leaned close to Zack.
“It’ll be wasted if you’re dead,” the doctor whispered to him.
“I’d rather be dead than go back to the diamond mines,” Zack said.
Dr. Benson looked into the one way mirror on the wall.
“Okay. We’re ready.”
The door opened, and two interns came in to escort Zack to the chair.
“Human trial five, commencing warm-up,” the intercom told the station.
The lights dimmed. The rooms they passed, while normally bustling with activity and speech, were silent, watching.
Zack looked at all the faces, all the concern and amazement. He felt like doing a jig for them.
At this point in the process there was nothing to be done except more human trials, even though there had been a 100% mortality rate. The process would go perfectly, the subject would be in tact on the other end, but would suffer a heart attack and die within moments of re-materializing.
Each one was the same. But the selection process had been changed to search for hardier minds. With no change to the subject’s body, it was a theory that something happened in the mind while the body moved inside the waves in space.
Zack knew he was most likely going to die. But his kin, however estranged, would get a large paycheck for his part in helping the human race.
They reached the room.
A single chair sat in the middle, resembling the electric chairs of old. Everything was stainless. Pipes filled with wires, machinery that Zack could never understand, and a grate underneath.
The grate had been a new addition. Easier clean-up.
He sat himself in the chair, and the two interns strapped him in. A scientist came in to inspect their work.
“Subject 5 is prepared for testing,” the intercom informed.
“Let’s get this over with,” Zack yelled to the one-way mirror in front of him.
“Counting down. Five…”
“There’s still time to back out!” Dr. Benson came in through a smaller intercom.
He was behind that mirror.
“No compensation for backing out,” Zack said.
“I’ll see you on the other side,” Dr. Benson said.
“Yup,” Zack said, breathing deep, “yup yup yup.”
There was no ramping up. No indication.
In an instant his body was gone. The sensation of no sensations was overwhelming. Non-existent limbs grasped for non-existent limbs. They passed through each other in a way that only an amputee might be able to describe.
Zack saw nothing, felt nothing, heard nothing, smelled nothing. Temperature, pressure, hunger, thirst, emotion. All of it was void. It was only his mind, in its purest form.
After the initial panic settled, he prepared himself to re-enter his body. This is what gave everyone the heart attack, he was sure of it.
He imagined his senses, his blood, the feeling of the steel chair.
Focusing, hard. As hard as he could. Running over sensations over and over. For a long time.
This grew tiresome. The sensation of passing time was gone. But time passed. His mind drifted, it faded from the focus. And it proceeded until his mind reached the limit of thought.
He meditated, and became nothing. No cascade of thinking. He forgot what sensations were, his name, his job. It all faded.
There was only the void.
And in an instant everything slammed back to his brain. The chair felt cold to the touch, and it burned. Pain, the sounds of the room were deafening. His brain reminded him to breath, and he could hear his heart and lungs working. He focused on them like in the void. The light hurt his body, and he could not remember what to do in that situation.
He stared into the light, and his body became overwhelming. He could not remember to do everything at the same time. The breathing, the heart, the muscles. The electrical signals. It was all too much.
Other bodies rushed into the room. They were slow.
He wanted the void. So he stopped his lungs, and his heart.
A body was too much. And of little importance anymore. None of this mattered.
Dr. Benson was told of the death of Zack Green, subject 5. In a fit of rage he broke his clipboard.