“Test number 51 starts in 3…2…1…Portal activated.”
Teleportation. Instantaneous travel. Two years of research. All that went into fifty-one tests, each costing millions of dollars.
We scientists were funded by the government, who pooled all their resources to create teleportation. Our skin prickled at the thought of it. Travel which would have previously taken days now would happen in less than a hundredth of a second.
We had found a solution. Portals. Hook up a portal from point A to point B, then all it took was passing the object. But there was a problem. It was delayed. When we passed an object through a portal, it should have appeared on the other side. But it would usually take minutes, like there was an invisible barrier. We had tried precisely twenty-three different objects; pencils, even machinery. None worked. We had even objects, but they never came back.
Today, as the last hope, I had an apple. My name is Alessandro Volta. One of the scientists in the operation before it ended.
We had activated the portal. After a final systems check, the operator gave me the thumbs-up. I nodded and tossed the apple.
It took less time than usual. Barely forty seconds. Then the apple rolled out of the portal the edge of the room. Everyone held their breath. This was the most promising test to date, and I wasn’t about to screw this up. I slowly walked to the end of the room, each step feeling heavy under me. I picked up the apple; it felt warm. It was also slimy. I frowned. Something was wrong. I turned it over and I saw it.
A bite was taken out of the apple. Not a human bite, but a messy one which left jagged marks all over the red fruit. My heart turned to stone. This meant only one thing.
A Trifecta. We feared this would happen, and it did. You see, the portal ring itself is Artificial Intelligence. We programmed it to find signs of life, so the portal could be where we were. But there was a possibility that three portals could appear, if it found two signs of life. It would mean that the portal might have found life. In this case, probably an area with animals. This meant that we programmed wrong. I showed it to the others. It was the most depressing test we had so far.
Millions of dollars, flushed down the toilet. The government and the people were losing faith, and more and more people didn’t believe in us. I shakily got up, my knees feeling weak. I left the other scientists and slowly walking to the bathroom to rid my hands of the slimy animal saliva I looked at myself in the mirror and washed my face and hands. Then I saw that the saliva was going green under me. I smelled it and traced signs of unknown bacteria. My heart was now in my throat. This meant only one thing.