Transmat World: Chapter 6, Episode 3

Transmat headquarters; Wednesday, October 6, 2145 A.D.

Glen Hendrix
5 min readJan 30, 2022
Image courtesy Kts / Dreamstime

“I was hoping to get an update on the preliminary testing for the Transmat X-drive,” said Vince.

“One blew up and another disappeared.” Mark introspectively examined a stalagmite as he delivered this information in an inflection-free monotone.

“Out of how many? A couple of dozen?”

“Three, sir. We halted assembly on the fourth after the second failure. They are taking it apart and analyzing everything to the sub-atomic level before assembly and testing continues.”

“I see. Verify the chip material quality tests. In particular, make sure the germanium isn’t over-doped with tantalum. Keep me posted.”

Vince was disappointed at the news but knew it wasn’t an easy thing they were doing. The Transmat X-drive project consumed much of his time and the company’s research and development funds. A regular Transmat required a unit to send and a unit to receive. The X-drive did not require a unit to receive. It transmitted itself and contents to a destination defined by power input for distance and a “cone of probable materialization” for direction. The cone started out as a sphere before advancements made possible the current conical probability angle of fifteen degrees.

With such a variance in its path, it could only be tested safely in space, preferably deep space. The theory was if a Transmat unit materialized inside another solid object, it would not be a good thing. It would explode with the force of 50 Hits, melting everything within a 500-yard radius, or disappear along with a cubic mile of material, leaving a spherical vacuum. Vince wanted to test none of those theories.

Despite the slight possibility for disaster, he felt it had to be perfected. It was mankind’s ticket to the universe. With the Transmat X-drive the galaxy could be mapped by humans in a lifetime, not over the next two million years by robots. The X-drive was the culmination of an idea he had on that hilltop in Mexico years ago. He would go and see for himself the “others” who think and wonder as he does if there is life somewhere looking up at the same stars. His dad was wrong. Vince stepped from the booth, and Mark sat at the nearest available workstation.

Hedset outlines are colored cartoon shadows moving through the holo projections. One turns in his direction. Julie Newburg’s purple, furry hedset looms large.

“Julie, if I were a gay ferret I would be so attracted to you.”

“Boss, you use archaic language, and you’re attracted to me even though you’re not a monosexual ferret, and you have a lizard break-dancing on your shoulder.”

“Is that what that’s called? I wondered.”

“Saw it on the Archives Channel.”

“Ookie, settle down,” says Vince to his side then turns back to Julie, “My lizard is excited to see you.”

“I’m not touching that one.”

Vince couldn’t make out Julie’s expression under the fur-framed visor. Was she blushing or were those just freckles?

“I didn’t mean — ,” Vince blurts.

“Oh, cut it out … all right, maybe later,” Julie says with a wicked little smile.

Vince is pretty sure he is blushing now and those are freckles.

Julie continues in the same breath, “The guy’s name is Robert Freeman, a drug dealer with a shop on Luckie Street in Atlanta called Drugs-N-Stuff. He’s got a recreational pharmacology license to sell approved street drugs but not medical prescriptions. Apparently the ‘Stuff’ is tiny Transmats.”

“Find him, question him, and then tell the police about him. Start an immediate screening on sales of MicroTransmats to doctors for medical applications. Screen the non-medical sales with the same vetting standards the government requires for the sale of high-powered laser rifles. Whew! Will they ever stop coming up with ways to kill each other?”

“Boss, that sounds slightly ignorant, and I’ll assume it’s rhetorical. I’ll put in place the screening processes. Is that it for now?”

“Uh … sure.”

Julie had a black belt in kicking soapboxes out from under people. Despite the snide comment, he liked her highly personalized hedset and the red hair and freckles underneath. It was an exotic look in 2145, but his love interest was with another woman, and Julie knew it.

“Oh, by the way, your kitty cat is doing the ‘Mashed Potato.’”

He knew that because Ookie had just whispered it into his ear. Julie’s furry hedbot stopped in mid-mash, held up a foreleg, made a slashing motion with claws extended, and said “Rowr.” Its robotic eyes were focused on Ookie.

“You’re thinking with your lizard again,” said Julie as she smiled and walked away.

“I was dancing to impress Furboten. Do you think she likes me?” asked Ookie, referring to Julie’s hedbot.

“Of course she … it does,” Vince said. “You guys should get married and have a litter of scaly kittens.”

“Is that possible?” Ookie said.

“Your naivete is disingenuous.”

“Duly noted, I’ll report it to TecHed,” said Ookie.

“Whoa there. Why are you reporting it to TecHed?”

“I am a beta version. I have to report all complaints.”

“Beta or not, you’re not reporting anything to TecHed.”

“Too late.”

“OK, from now on, you’re not reporting any of my complaints to TecHed,” said Vince. “If you’re not working properly, I’ll just have you replaced. No more reporting, okay?”

“Ooh, is it chilly in here? You’d really switch me out for a squirrel or a spider?”

“Say ‘okay.’”

After a couple of seconds Ookie chirps, “Okay, but the only reason I asked is because all this time I was thinking furry lizard babies.”

“In that case, I take back the disingenuous remark. You’re an idiot.”

“As per your instructions, I will refrain from reporting that assessment to TecHed.”

Vince turned his attention to the rest of the Cave, which is what everybody called Transmat’s central office because that is exactly what it was. Vince spent a year locating the perfect cave in Mexico. He purchased the property and turned it into the headquarters for what had become, by default, one of the biggest companies on the planet. Transmat, Inc. was leaving even AppleSoft in the dust. When investor’s understood the product Transmat produced, the transportation industry tanked and, then, communications. It snowballed from there, causing the biggest bear market since the Greater Depression of the 2030s. Vince knew the economy would eventually restructure around Transmat technology. It was the economic engine of the future, but it would take time to implement.

The Cave was a haven from the economy, from threats, from mobs, from nuclear attack. It was a perfect example of what his dad explained to him that day watching Star Trek. Everything would move by Transmat. Vince located and filled with neocrete and steel every natural entrance to the cavern. After that, all air, water, food, waste, equipment, and staff came through Transmat booths. The booth destination numbers were a closely guarded secret and constantly cycled through a universe of randomly generated numbers.