‘This is what I’m working on, this is why I haven’t been able to spend so much time with you.’
Adam was bouncing with excitement as he looked over Anita’s shoulder, urging her to click on the link he had pulled up on her laptop. Anita sighed. She had barely seen her erstwhile lover in months and felt none the worse for their estrangement. Now she had to face the possibility that he had expected her to put her life on hold whilst he chased another of his impossible dreams.
His ambitions had seemed exciting when they had met at university. She had expected him to stay within academia, working on research projects and perhaps moving into a more lucrative industry as his reputation for innovation and success grew. None of this had happened. He had explained to her that the constraints of funding and the prospect of kowtowing to mentors would stifle his creativity. With the cushion of a generous inheritance from his well to do family he had indulged his passions, unfettered by practicalities.
As Anita watched the short film she began to question his grasp on reality.
‘So, this device, how close are you to making it work?’
Adam grinned. ‘Oh, a long way off my dear, but just think of the possibilities! I can send objects a short distance, but they don’t always materialise quite as they should. Nothing live has survived the transfer, but I think I know why. A few tweeks and I’ll be ready to try it on a person. I thought I could try it on you.’
Anita shivered at his words. ‘What living thing hasn’t survived?’
‘Just a couple of insects, a bird, and a cat I found on the street. That was a bit messy to be honest, but I learned a lot from it.’
Horrified, Anita looked at him for signs of concern or remorse. Finding none she returned her gaze to the screen. ‘I guess you could show me how it works.’
An hour later they were driving out to the rented warehouse on a business park at the edge of town. Adam had talked non stop, taking Anita’s apparent interest as acquiescence, divulging previously unknown sides to his character.
His workshop was pristine, although a bin in one corner overflowed with takeaway cartons, and an unmade bed sat forlornly to the side.
‘Give me something to transfer.’
Adam grabbed the pen she held out and darted over to what looked like a huge, futuristic weighing machine.
‘We do an x ray, a chemical analysis and a 3D scan. When the details have been stored the device takes it apart, transfers the energy, and rebuilds it over there. It only takes a few seconds.’
Anita watched as her pen vanished, then recoiled in horror at what reappeared on a twin platform across the room.
‘That explains what happened to the cat!’ Adam cried, delighted by the bloody pulp oozing off the metal sheet.
‘I’ll be able to fix it now I know what happened. Give me a month and I’ll be ready for you.’
While Adam stayed cocooned in his workshop, Anita dug into his past. It transpired that this was not the first of his attempts to experiment on the living. There had been accidents involving classmates, family pets that lasted only a few weeks. There was even some suggestion that his parents’ deaths had been the result of a process gone wrong.
When she picked up his call she was ready. Her plan was drastic but, in her eyes, necessary. She drove out with a heavy heart, determined to do what she believed was required.
‘Have you managed to transfer anything successfully?’ she asked.
‘Not quite, but the dog stayed alive for a few seconds.’
‘You still expect me to do this?’
‘You said you would!’
‘I didn’t, you just assumed.’
A look of pure hate crossed Adam’s face. Pulling a loaded hypodermic syringe from a drawer he grabbed Anita’s arm, just as the two men she had brought with her to listen in seized Adam from behind.
She visited him once at the asylum, to check that he was adequately secured. Smiling at the thought of the inherited funds she had transferred before destroying the hard drives of his unsecured computers, she contemplated the life she could now lead.
She had backed up his plans; others may pay generously for those. After leaving the asylum she never looked back, she just kept walking.