Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Teleporter (Part Two)

Susan pulled the makeshift turban / scarf she’d made from a tea towel tighter around her head to make sure it covered her neck properly. She sunburned easily and didn't want to expose more flesh than was absolutely necessary to the broiling sun. She and Ben had set off from their recently teleported house two hours before. Ben's device had deposited their dwelling in the middle of a desert. Neither of them had any idea of where they were but they knew they couldn’t stay in the house for long. They had emptied their former abode of whatever they though would be useful: torches, a tent, some bottled water, food and a spare change of clothes. Luckily for them their Dad had gone through a midlife crisis phase of wanting to get “back to nature” and had purchased all the supplies they would ever need.

Now they were thirty minutes into a trek to a distant volcano that may provide Ben's newest invention with enough power to send them back home. Ben had constructed a teleporter out of random household utensils and electrical wiring. It was currently strapped into a small handcart which Susan had attached via a rope to her belt. This allowed her to tug it uncomfortably behind her.

Ben carried their food and water. He walked on ahead as he didn't find the sand dunes as hard to navigate as Susan did. Susan worried out loud about what would happen when it got dark.
"I'm not worried" said Ben. "It's not mid-day here yet. Assuming that the sun here behaves the same way it does back home."
"What do you mean by 'back home'? Where are we? Are we even on the right planet?"
"We should be. I don't think there was enough juice in the national grid to send us across the galaxy."
"So where are we, genius? Africa?"
"I don't think so: We may not even be in the twenty first century anymore. It's possible that the teleporter sent us back or forward in time. It's just another dimension after all. The fourth."
"How long to get to the mountain?"
"I think maybe six hours."
"Six hours! Mum and Dad will definitely be home by then. They'll know something's wrong."
"Well, duh: they'll see that the house is missing as soon as they enter the driveway."
"You're taking this far too easily Ben. They'll kill us when we get back."
"I'm not worried. They'll blame you. You're the eldest. I'll just get grounded." Ben said.
"You little..." began Susan, realising that he was absolutely correct. Mum always blamed her over Ben whenever anything went wrong.
"Call me that word again..." Ben interrupted: "...and I'll make sure Mum grounds you for life. She does everything I say. You know that."

Susan shut her mouth. She suddenly realised that her younger brother was psychotic. Their mother had taken to reading new age parenting manuals when Ben was born. Obviously their parents letting him sleep with them until he was ready to move to his own bedroom aged five was a big mistake, Susan mused.

They continued walking across the barren landscape. Occasionally the view of long monotonous stretches of sand was broken up by a pile of rocks. One of the piles of rocks looked strange from a distance. The rocks were rectangular though the edges had been worn smooth by the wind and time. They looked like they had been sculpted a long time ago.  As they got closer to the pile of rocks, Ben dropped his backpack and ran towards them.
"Ben!" shouted Susan. "Get back here!"
Ben ignored her and dropped to his knees. He scrabbled in the sand with his hands until he uncovered something. He pulled it from the ground and studied it for a few moments before returning to where Susan waited.
"Look! I saw the sunlight reflecting off it!" said Ben, holding out a piece of metal. It was part of a sign. Most of it was missing but writing could be made out on its face. It mentioned something about a war and a date: 2032.
"What does this mean?" asked Susan.
"We're in the future." responded Ben, as if explaining himself to an idiot.
"You moron!" exploded Susan. "It's not bad enough that we've been teleported by your dumb contraption, we've been sent through time as well! This isn’t a desert. It’s like a nuclear wasteland or something."
"I'm going to have Mum and Dad cart you off to a mental hospital when we get back! This week it’s a teleporter, next week it’s going to be a warhead or something. You're a danger."
"Says you." Ben muttered.

They continued walking. Susan made sure to let Ben go ahead so that she could keep him in sight at all times. She was beginning to become a little afraid of him. They reached the volcano and started their ascent. The climb up the gently sloping sides wasn’t difficult. Ben mentioned that there was very little weathering or lose rocks on their ascent. The volcano was a relative newcomer, geologically speaking. Susan didn’t reply. She was unsure as to what she could add to the conversation. Ben continued to lead the way up to the crater at the summit.

When they reached the top Ben took the homemade teleporter from the cart and began making adjustments. He unspooled a length of wire that he had ripped from the walls of their house and threw one end of it into the crater. The end he had dropped contained a small metallic box with some circuit boards inside.  He attached the other end to the device and a light on the side began to blink.
"My teleporter is converting the heat energy from the magma in the crater into electricity. It'll take a few minutes until it's fully charged. ."
Susan visibly relaxed: certain that they would be home soon.
"There's only one small problem." Ben continued. "I can't take the risk of you coming back with me."
"What are you talking about?" replied Susan.
"You want to stop my work. You want to make them put me away. It’s not very likely that Mum and Dad will listen to you and make me stop building things but I can't allow that. Even if there’s only a small chance."
"How are you going to stop me, peanut?" Susan mocked as she stepped forward to put some manners on her little brother.
Ben reached into his pocket and pulled out a rock that he had picked up when uncovering the sign earlier. He whipped the rock at Susan's' head and it struck her squarely on the temple. She fell down, dazed and only semi-conscious.
Ben checked his teleporter and saw that it was charged. He picked it up and hit the sequence of buttons that would send him back home.

“I’m leaving you here.” Ben said. “You’re my sister, so I can’t just kill you but abandoning you here will suffice.”
"Ben...Please." said Susan, struggling to get to her feet.
"I'll leave the food and water. There should be enough to last you a week. Maybe you can find more buried somewhere under the sand."
Ben disappeared in a flash of green light.

Ben re-materialised in the field near where his house had once stood. Patches of grass were smouldering from fires that had broken out hours earlier in the wake of the energy discharged by theiir teleportation. Blue lights from a large group of fire engines, police cars and ambulances illuminated the area. The power in the streetlights was still out. Ben smirked: his experiment had probably burned out most of the electrical wiring in the country. He hid the teleporter in a hedge and ran up to where his house had once stood. His parents stood in the yard. His mother was crying as his father spoke to the police.
His mother let out a cry of relief when she saw Ben approach and ran to hug him.
"Ben!" She said. "What happened?"
"It was Susan." Ben replied. "She was smoking upstairs in the house and her cigarettes started a fire. I got out and ran for safety. Did she get out?"
"Susan didn't smoke and we can't find her." said Ben's father.
"She did!” Ben protested. “She hid cigarettes in the rockery over there. She was in her room. Maybe she couldn't get out in time." said Ben, pretending to wipe tears from his eyes.
His father checked the rockery and found the sandwich bag with Susan’s cigarettes stashed inside. He shook his head and cried for his daughter.
Ben buried his head in his Mother's shoulder and pretended to sob, smiling all the while.

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