If you are listening to this message, it means you have just witnessed the end of the world as you know it. I am not sorry for your loss. You will know me as the person to blame for this, the long-dead creator of this terrible technology. At worst a mass-murder, at best a naive fool who thought he was God. What is God? Prometheus stole fire from the gods and brought it to Earth for the good of mankind; he suffered eternal punishment. He is not responsible for destruction wrought by fire ever since. I have to believe this, and so do you. You must tell the others, remember that I only had the purest aspirations for my work. I saw a world at peace, a world without poverty, war or borders. I wanted to unchain humanity, to help bring about a new age of prosperity, health and happiness.
I made my discovery on paper as a PHD student some thirty years ago. The difficulty came in proving it. Because my massport process requires a combination of rare elements and a tremendous release of energy, I couldn’t procure the necessary funding to conduct experiments on a Professor’s salary. I built up massive debts and moved my young family from university to university around the world to beg for research grants. For long years, my work went unrecognised and unproven. I became a laughing stock. A joke. I was diagnosed with cancer, a brain tumour, but that didn’t matter. Unable to bear my frustration any longer, my marriage collapsed and my children grew up on a different continent. The few friends I had left abandoned me but still I continued with my work. I became more and more desperate, I approached all kinds of people and organisations, but in the end it was the State that approached me. It made sense, only the State could afford to sponsor my work. I was given everything I wanted and assured that the State shared my vision; that my work would only ever be used to help others. I was to complete my work in a vast underground facility several kilometres under Oxford. I had to travel through the tunnels to my lab by electric car. I accepted no fee, I had unlimited resources and the recognition and respect I had always craved. It was the happiest I’ve ever been. Despite an incredible pressure for results, progress came quickly. I soon proved my theory correct, and constructed the first ‘massporter’. It occupied three rooms. At first, I could send things from one end of my laboratory to the other. In under a year, I had developed a much smaller device that with careful programming could generate a field of energy up to one square mile around itself and send anything inside to any point on the surface of the planet. To my frustration, I was unable to send objects beyond through the Earth’s crust or through its atmosphere.
I began testing, working through the table of elements, sending small samples of every compound possible. I quickly established that nothing showed any ill-effect, no matter how far or how many times I sent them. I continued with microscopic organisms and moved quickly through to animal trials. All were successful. Soon I was ready to send humans. The sensation is quite pleasant. You feel very light, there is a flash, and then slight elation as you reach your destination. It has been over-dramatically described by subsequent users as being close to god, dying or being born.
I knew it was safe, I had already been using the massporter in secret for some time. Thanks to it, I had already been at my children’s key moments in New Zealand and my father’s death bed and funeral in New England. Moments I would have missed if I had no option but to travel such great distances in the ordinary way. I attended international conferences and was safely back in my lab the same day. Obviously, I took care to appear in remote places at dawn and not to materialise in a space that is already occupied by matter. That would have been very disagreeable. My constant headaches began to ease around this time. I suspected that my heavy use of the massporter was effecting my cancer. This development was thrilling, but problematic. Fearing the implications of an unknown side-effect at this advanced stage, I kept it to myself.
The State had encouraged the growth of private companies in recent years, giving them obscene tax breaks, lucrative contracts and passing legislation to support their development. Like my cancer, I was aware of their growth at the back of my mind. As their influence grew, they demanded constant updates, but never interfered with my work. During the human trials, I was summoned before the Leader. Tupton was a squat, awkward man who avoided eye contact and perpetually perspired. I don’t know what he was so scared of the world reading in his eyes, but he was an adequate administrator. My requests for resources, no matter how extravagant, were never turned down, nor was I asked to explain their meaning. He welcomed me into his sparse office, offered me a drink like every time we had met before, but this time he did not smile. He looked ill. ‘I have instructions. Your work on medical applications, space travel and making Massport more affordable is’, he paused for breath, ‘not appropriate at this time’. He looked me right in the eye for the first time, ‘You will continue testing and focus on producing alternative power sources for Massport and nothing more’. I sank into a chair, my head spinning, I felt sick.
‘But we have an understanding’ I croaked in a voice that sounded unfamiliar. I felt my project slipping through my fingers, the direction of my work had been decided elsewhere. Tupton kept raised his palms and shouted about market forces. Finally, he growled ‘I no longer have any authority here. You are not a God, you have opened Pandora’s Box and can never get the evil back inside’. I closed my eyes. I wondered if it was actually he that had opened the Pandora’s Box of unrestricted capitalism. I knew I could still withdraw my participation and destroy my work, but I told myself it was too late, they had calculated that I needed them much more than they needed me. I needed the respect and recognition I was about to receive. This was my mistake and my eternal punishment; I muttered ‘Yes, of course’. I was blinded by my tears and my own hubris.
Massport was launched on New Year’s Day 2030 here in Oxford. It had been booked up months in advance. For almost uncountable sums, Massport terminals were built and maintained by the State all over the world. The stations were owned and operated for considerable profit by private companies. I was lauded as a hero and awarded every prize, honour and prestige the academic world could give. Everybody who ever doubted me was proved wrong. I felt vindicated and complete, for the first few days.
Life changed overnight for everyone. Those who could afford it were free to pursue their aggressive acquisition of property and resources, the poor were plunged further into despair. Return travel to exotic locations during a day off or for a weekend was possible. Property was bought, sold and then moved by massporter. The affluent stopped wanting to live in Northern Europe overnight. The lure of Caribbean islands and temperate places on the equator was so great that quotas were quickly established and costs rocketed. The limited places were snapped up and subject to all kinds of nefarious practices. Instead of complete social mobility, the existing divide between rich and poor was widened. In the first year, Northern Europe became a ghetto.
Very quickly, weapons, drugs and people were trafficked around the world in a new black market. Dissenters simply disappeared from their beds. Soon a new race for conquest began as the rich influenced their own governments to adopt aggressive foreign policy that would keep the money flowing to them. Armies of occupation could appear anywhere in the world at a second’s notice, reinforcements and supplies could follow. The richest countries built empires, using the Massport network to drain the resources from their neighbours like leeches. The spectre of slavery returned. Some say there are no human rights anymore. There are certainly no prisons. After a summary trial behind closed doors, the guilty enter a transportation room and never come out. Nobody knows where they go, some say they just drop into the nearest ocean and drown. The State says it is to a remote penal colony where hard work is the only way to survive, where their return to society can be earned.
Within a few weeks, the responsibility I felt for all this pain and suffering became too much to bear. I had a nervous breakdown and was confined to this underground facility. I think it has been about ten years. The laboratory has been closed down and I was sealed inside so I could not develop matter transporters for anyone else, left to rot in my tomb with my loneliness, guilt and despair. They told my family that I had lost my long battle with cancer, I even had a hero’s funeral, but they can’t kill me. They know I’m the only one who truly understands my work. They are also terrified that Massport will stop working and will need my knowledge to fix them.
So when I noticed that the test subjects I used in my initial experiments began to disappear from my lab, I said nothing. Everything and everyone that has passed through a massporter will disappear in the order they used it; this sequence is accelerating exponentially. It appears that the stability of the subject matter is disrupted, weakened, degraded, changed somehow at a molecular level by passing through a massporter. It is as if our molecular glue is weakened at that point, making us unstable. I should have realised that if cancerous cells can’t travel by Massport, it is possible for our cell structures to be altered too. After the passage of time, the subject simply disappears completely leaving nothing behind but inorganic matter and a strong smell like burnt toast. I never found anything in any of my extensive trials that suggested this, but I would have found this if I had been able to continue my research.
The possibility of finding a cure for cancer did not lift my spirits as I used my journal to retrace my earliest work. My early subjects had already gone, but with my limited resources, I was able to tether some of the remaining objects with crude global positioning devices before they vanished. Wherever these objects are disappeared to, it is not on this planet. I’ve calculated that my time is very short. I have enough time to finish this recording. When they realise what is happening and come to beg for my help, I will have disappeared long before. I estimate it will take another year for everything to disappear. It will be a panic-stricken year of fear and grief, prayer and bargaining, denial, blame and anger. The end will come to everyone who used my matter transporter. It is of small comfort to me that my companions on this journey to Hell will be the world’s affluent and much of the world’s political, military and scientific elite (mostly white men). These are the people who ridiculed me, then abused my work at the expense of the rest of humanity and sentenced me to eternal punishment. Lots of innocent people, skilled academics, scientists and medical professionals will go too, but they will be replaced in a couple of generations.
Remember this. I was using science to create a better world for mankind. The State was seduced and overpowered by private business, they wanted to make a perfect world for the few, at the cost of the many. My own human weakness blinded me from seeing this until it was too late and I was cast out, left to carry that terrible guilt alone. Now that burden has fallen from me. Through me, Science has done what God and man could never do. It has judged mankind and removed the very worst. The poor will be left to resettle the Earth. I should be remembered as the father of this new world, a Titan. Tupton did not remember his history, Hope remained in Pandora’s box after the evil had escaped. Hope is what I have given to you, a unique and precious chance to start again, to build fair and just world. Learn from the past.
Richard Brown May 2013