extract from The Repossession of Genie Magee
(republished June 2021)
Rian makes a point
“All I’m saying, Rian, is that just because someone thought of it, it doesn’t mean it will come true. Teleportation is bunk. Pure bunk. No one will ever beam up Scotty. It’s impossible. The future never happened. There are no aliens and we don’t commute in flying cars. Star Trek is rubbish science. Bunk.”
The usual dinner conversation. Rian would say something and Mr Yates MBA would pounce on it, try to make himself look clever, and his mother would eat it up. Nevertheless, Rian defended his position.
“I’m just saying that if we accept climate change as inevitable then teleportation would eliminate air travel and that’s a whole lot of pollution that goes with it. We could save the polar icecaps and the bears.”
Mr Yates stared at Rian a moment and Rian could see the muscles in his thick red neck pulsating as he sought to deliver a withering reply.
“You shouldn’t bait Mr Yates, Rian,” his mother said. “You know science-fiction is just that, fiction.”
“The problem with science-fiction,” Mr Yates finally barked, “is that it makes people believe that there are solutions for everything. There aren’t. Take teleportation. What you envisage is just magic. It can’t happen. The amount of energy needed to deconstruct a human made up of trillions upon trillions of atoms would be equivalent to the energy output of ten nuclear reactors, at least. Plus, reassembling those same atoms back in the right order is a monumental logistical task. Way beyond what any software programme could do. We are talking turning your whole body into digital form, into photons, and sending them across town by light waves, then putting it back together exactly as it is now. Your clothes too. Impossible. One slight wrong calculation or dropped piece of code and your arm will come out your head or you’ll just collapse into a heap of jelly. It would have to reassemble skin, bone, and eyes.
It would need the basic carbon raw materials to generate it at the end destination. Any idea how complex your eyes are? Hell, just putting your feet back together would be beyond the power of any machine for decades ahead. Decades.”
“Scientists say…” Rian began again, but Mr Yates interrupted.
“Quantum physics states that you cannot say for definite the position and velocity of any single particle. More importantly, Rian, for teleportation to work, and let’s assume someone actually has all the computer power in the whole world at their fingertips to store a trillion, trillion atoms – in order for you to be ‘transmitted’, much like an email with an attachment say, you, in the process of being disassembled would be destroyed. The new you across town would be a copy and each time you moved you would be another copy. Can a computer also deconstruct and store your memory? Your imagination? If it can’t, you would be a 16 year old baby with no memory of anything. Your memory would get wiped every time you teleported.”
“Never mind losing your soul, Rian,” Mrs Tulane interjected.
Mr Yates beamed at her. “Quite. Every human is unique – I’m telling you it will always be totally impossible. We should not play God.”
Rian looked at him, his fat fingers and smug expression.
“But if you could do it,” Rian insisted. “You could add DNA, like a smarter memory. People could use it to make themselves brighter, better, fitter.”
His mother smiled. “Well, that might be popular.”
Mr Yates frowned. “Don’t encourage him. Rian, it can’t be done. Consign it to the dustbin along with time-travel and men on Mars.” He took a mouthful of food and chewed. He looked out of the window as the curtains flew up momentarily from a gust of wind. “Better get the shutters fastened and the windows closed. They say there’s quite a storm coming up tonight.”
The conversation was over. Rian looked at them both, so smug, so happy to be smarter than him, but all they were good at was imagining how nothing could happen, never what might be possible.
“Another child disappeared today,” his mother suddenly stated. “It was on the news. Boy from your school again. Anwar, such an odd name. Sixteenth child missing since school broke for the summer, they say. Reverend Schneider is leading a prayer group tonight for him in Princeton Park.”
Rian frowned. Reverend Schneider was always first one there leading a prayer group and speaking on local radio about the tragedy of Spurlake that the kids seemed so desperate to leave. Well, just ask Genie if the Reverend was the saint everyone thought he was. Get her on local radio and she’d open a few eyes.
His mother was still talking. “I can’t believe how many are missing now. There’s a pile of flowers left beside the community noticeboard on Geary Street and countless candles burning. I just don’t know what’s going on in this town. If parents ate with their kids like we do, maybe they’d know what they’re thinking. It’s just so scary. If I hear of one more 1-800 number to call if you know anything, I’ll get hysterical. I keep hearing about Mr Harrison out with his flashlight. He’s been roaming the hills for a year. That boy of his is gone and he isn’t going to call. None of them are coming back, get used to it already.”
Mr Yates helped himself to more cheese.
“You’re right m’dear. Those kids have gone. The town just can’t hold them. Happening right the way up to the Okanagan. They just up and go with no thought to the pain their families must feel. I blame crystal meth. It’s destroying our society. Once those kids get their hands on it – their lives are already over. There’s talk of a government task force coming in to control it, but you think it will stop the kids disappearing? I don’t."
"I don’t know any kids doing meth," Rian said.
His mother looked at him with relief in her eyes. "Well, I for one, am glad about that, Rian. I don’t know what I’d do if you started taking drugs."
"You’d throw me out, just like all the other kids who’ve been thrown out of their homes in this town for doing something their folks didn’t like."
"And you’d deserve it," Mr Yates said, pointing his knife at Rian.
© Sam Hawksmoor February 2023
The Repossession of Genie Magee is available in print and Kindle - Part One of the trilogy
Author of Mission Longshot download or order the print version