Transportation's Final Test

The transporter worked. Quantum state translation had been solved, the system was declared safe and functional. Inanimate objects, then quantum computers, then small animals, and finally humans had been sent through the transporter. All of these test subjects had come through the process with their identity intact.

Which brought up the controversial subject of the soul. Some claimed that the existence of an immaterial soul was fictitious anyway and if a being was translocated down to their quantum state they were the same being. Some said that any being who had been transported was now an automaton and was no longer fit to interact in human company.

As with any question of a metaphysical nature this proved itself to be insoluble by standard scientific process for quite some time, and was largely forgotten. Some few people refused to use the transporters, but it was no great loss as the machines were still expensive to build and few in number.

One day a quiet gentleman sought out the inventors of the system and asked a simple favor. “I would like to perform a test of my own, if that is acceptable.” He said. His face was peaceful, inviting, and seemed always to have a small smile.

“I simply ask to be transported from one room to another, under some specific conditions. It would please me to have cameras running at both sites during the test. I require no other equipment, and ask only fifteen minutes of your time. I am willing to pay for the privilege.”

The test was set up. Cameras were synchronized between the sending site and the receiving site. At the appointed hour the quiet gentleman entered the sending site. “I thank you for this test,” He said and he approached the apparatus. “I shall seek to compose myself on this platform,” he said. “When you see no evidence of breathing for a full minute, then you may activate the machine.” The technician in charge nodded.

The quiet gentleman settled himself comfortably on the platform.

“Ready to receive,” came the message from Platform Two, but they were shushed. An air of stillness filled the room, deeply uncomfortable for some, transcendent for others.

The technician watched closely and started counting seconds between breaths. Ten....fifteen...thirty-five...sixty. That had been a full minute. She quietly activated the controls.

The transportation matrix started up, humming quietly and scanning the quiet gentleman to his very quanta. The process was fast, mere seconds.

“Subject received. Life signs...slow, but active” came the voice from the receiving platform.

The technician looked concerned. “Platform Two, repeat that message?” She said, clearly so that her voice would be on both videos.

“Subject has been received. Not yet moving, but life signs read positive. He's just...sitting there.”

The technician looked around the room. The scientists were checking videos, checking equipment, doing anything other than looking at the teleportation platform.

Where the quiet gentleman still apparently sat.

The technician leaned closer, if she squinted, if she looked very hard, she thought she could detect the slightest translucency, the barest hint that she could see the wall behind the gentleman as he sat still.

Hushed communications were happening between the scientists, and between the Platforms One and Two. Debates about bringing in additional equipment to scan at Platform One. Every reading showed that the platform was empty, except for actual visuals. Every person, every camera could see the quiet gentleman sitting there, motionless still. Every other sensor indicated no such presence.

After a very hectic ninety seconds the quiet gentleman—on both platforms, simultaneously— breathed deeply. On Platform One he smiled and opened his eyes. “Ah well. It is a form of escape, certainly, but the draw, the bond is still there.” He smiled wistfully. “Ah well, I should not have expected a machine to provide a shortcut,” He said. “Thank you for your time.”

And then he disappeared from Platform One.

At Platform Two, he stood up, thanked the gathered staff and, ignoring all questions, walked out into the bright, sunny day.