The Collinporter

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Felix Collins, leading scientist on earth, bettering the world one atom at a time.

That’s just what his name card says. Meet his assistant, the man lucky enough to claim an acquaintance with Felix Collins. Yeah, that’s me. What an honour it is to work with, I mean, for Felix Collins.

I do odd jobs for him, from making coffee, to being a lab rat for his experiments. Why not leave, you ask. What’s holding me back is the thirst for knowledge. What better way to do that than by working for the best scientist alive?

Take the teleportation device Felix Collins has just built, for instance. It stands before us, a slick, arched doorway to an anticipated breakthrough. Behold, the Collinporter.

‘Enter the coordinates, boy,’ Felix Collins places his half-drunk coffee on a table. He strides across the room to stand before the Collinporter, his portly frame casting me in shadow.

Annoyance seizes me as I type in the desired coordinates, which is in fact, an exact spot beside the coffee table. Yes, the first foray into human teleportation is going to be from one end of the lab to the other.

Felix Collins straightens his coat, ready to take the first step. It suddenly occurs to me that he has not made me walk through the Collinporter first, and I hesitantly voice that question.

‘Look at Neil Armstrong, first to walk on the moon. Does anyone remember the man who walked on the moon twenty minutes later? I thought not. Felix Collins will be the first man to teleport, you mark my words,’ Felix Collins replies.

With that, he steps through the Collinporter. A flash of light, a buzzing sound, and a second later, I whip around to watch Felix Collins reform at the desired location. It is an amazing sight, as the Collinporter rewrites the structure of Felix Collins onto another set of atoms at the desired location, simultaneously destroying the original.

Finally, Felix Collins moves, examining himself with awe.

‘Blast, I’m missing a finger,’ he mumbles. I spot a fleshy object sticking out from his coffee cup, and point it out to him.

‘The information must have been miscopied onto the space above the cup,’ he muses. I remark that his coffee is no longer in need of a stirrer, but he does not deign to respond.

Suddenly, a flurry of movement from the Collinporter makes me whip around. Light flashes, and two humans emerge from within. They wear lab coats too, and one is significantly rounder than the other.

I gape at them. One of them is Felix Collins, and the other is… myself.

‘Say, Leon, on what universe are we on?’ Felix Collins number two asks, peering with polite interest around.

‘You are on earth,’ I say quickly, warming up to this new version. He knows my name!

‘Thank you, Leon,’ he replies pleasantly.

‘What is the meaning of this?’ Felix Collins snarls, striding over to us.

‘Ah, yes. Congratulations, for being the first Felix Collins to invent human teleportation,’ Felix number two smiles widely, pumping the hand of his look-a-like enthusiastically. Felix Collins looks proud, and at the same time, unsettled at shaking his own hand.

‘Unfortunately,’ Felix continues, ‘this teleporter has opened a rift between our universes.’

‘Felix and I were drinking Schutmuck when a hole appeared in front of our table,’ my double says, eyes shining with excitement. ‘Imagine my astonishment when I peered through and saw myself!’

‘What is this delightful sounding Schutmuck?’ I ask my other self curiously.

‘It is, ah, coffee, in your universe,’ he replies, pronouncing it as cough-phee.

‘I think we shall return now,’ Felix says, examining his surroundings placidly. ‘I would ask that you destroy this teleporter when we leave, lest other less benign versions of ourselves enter your lab.’

‘Destroy the Collinporter – this is preposterous!’ Felix Collins splutters.

‘My dear self,’ Felix says, ‘it would be the wisest action.’

Felix Collins seems to inflate with rage for being told off.

‘Felix is right,’ I offer my timid support to Felix. This is the first time standing up to Felix Collins, and Felix seems to perceive this as he gives me an encouraging smile.

‘You have no say in this, boy,’ Felix Collins snarls.

‘Why not?’ My other self asks indignantly. I shoot him a grateful look.

Emboldened by the support, my lips seem to move a mile a minute as I say, ‘Sir, you have been the most unreasonable person I have ever met. For all the fifteen years I’ve worked for you, do you even know my name? I can’t believe it has to take another version of you to open my eyes. I do not care if you are the best scientist on earth, you are nothing but a pompous prat.’

A ringing silence fills the lab. The faint buzzing from the Collinporter grows louder to fill the silence.

‘Well said, Leon,’ Felix says suddenly.

‘This is… preposterous!’ Felix Collins’ eyes are wide, his jowls quivering.

‘Is this the only thing you are capable of saying?’ My other self asks, raising an eyebrow.

‘I will leave your employ, sir,’ I say. ‘It has certainly not been a pleasure working for you.’

‘Where will you go?’ My other self asks concernedly. I give him a shrug, still reeling from my confrontation with Felix Collins.

‘Tell you what, Leon. Why don’t you come with us?’ Felix asks kindly. I gape at him.

‘What is it like?’ I ask hesitantly, though my heart is accelerating.

‘Felix and I are inter-galactic explorers,’ my other self tells me enthusiastically. ‘We find ways to see new worlds. You must come see ours, it’s quite different.’

‘I think I’d like that,’ I say. Felix and Leon grin at me.

Angry spluttering sounds behind us.

I don’t look back as I step through the Collinporter, gazing in awe around me. A smirk grazes my face, as I think:

Leon Parker, first human on earth to cross a universe.