Author : Beck Dacus

Once everyone in the auditorium was seated, Professor Gildritch wheeled his invention forth. On top of the rolling table was a small, modest-looking device. Gildritch didn’t care to explain it.

“I’m sure several of you have heard rumors about what I’m presenting here today. I won’t go into a lengthy explanation of what this device does; it will explain itself.” He flicked a switch on the side, and a large screen behind him lit up. A loading symbol circled the center of the screen for a few moments before an image emerged. It was of a man in a spacesuit standing on the surface of the red planet, Mars Base One in the background. He was holding up the camera in front of his faceplate, a tube connecting his helmet to the camera to transmit audio.

“Hi there, Kent,” Gildritch said. “How are you?”

The audience had subconsciously expected a seven-minute pause after that. Many of them were familiar with sending messages to Mars, particularly the fact that it was an affair greatly extended by the limited speed of light. But Kent promptly responded, “I’m doing fine, Professor. Just dandy. Honored to be doing this demonstration with you.”

The crowd gasped. This couldn’t be.

“As I said,” Gildritch reiterated to them, “self explanatory. This is an ansible. It allows for instantaneous communication between any two points in space, no matter how far apart. I know this isn’t very easy to believe, so my friend Kent here will now take questions from the audience to show you that our conversation is not scripted. Um, you there. In the orange shirt.”

“Mister, uh, Kent,” the woman asked. “How is this possible? How have you made a device that defies relativity?”

“Ah. Well, uh, you see, miss, it doesn’t quite. The path the signal takes isn’t a faster-than-light one. It doesn’t travel the distance between the planets at all. Each device has one microscopic black hole, which sends signals to a white hole in the other one. A wormhole connects black and white singularities, collpasing the distance between ansibles to–”

Something hit Kent in the head, knocking him out cold as the camera fell to the ground. Stunned, nobody said a word as a mysterious figure ripped Kent’s audio cord from the camera and ran off with it, bringing it inside an airlock and moving through the interior of the base.

“Hey!” the professor spoke up. “Who the hell are you!? What are you doing with that thing?”

Gildritch continued yelling as the criminal walked into the generator room of the colony. He ripped wires out of the walls, disconnecting parts of the base from electricity, and began plugging them into the ansible. When done, he dropped the device and disappeared.

“Wha– what the hell are doing!? What could you possibly….” The professor’s train of thought was broken by the ansible on his end. A high-pitched whir was emanating from it, and soon it began to glow a dull red. Gildritch backed away as he started to realize what was happening. When the device was white-hot, he turned and said, “EVERYBODY RUN–”

Professor Gildritch should have considered that every invention that allowed the transfer of information required the transfer of energy. His body was destroyed by that energy, the Martian reactor overloading the ansible to the point of explosion. He and twelve other people died that day at the International Invention Symposium.

His invention was analyzed. We know it works. But that day’s presentation is why, even now, we don’t use ansibles to communicate faster-than light.


  1. KennyC

    Well done (sorry about the typos….same thing has happened to me 🙁 )

    I still want to know, who, what, did the ‘blowing up’

    It’s okay that I don’t but leaves an unanswered question in my mind as to Why?

    • BeckD

      Luddite tendencies? Personal vendetta? Show of force? One that I like, personally, is that they don’t want to be controlled. If Earth could instantly communicate with officers in its colonies, it could have unprecedented reaction time to, oh, I don’t know, some kind of… rebellion (smiles evilly). With the current time delay, Earth is slow and easy to overthrow. But who knows why they did it? It’s up for interpretation.

      Before I forget, thank you for the nice comment. And yes, typos seem to camouflage themselves, almost like self-preserving organisms. Ooh, there’s an idea….

  2. BeckD

    Note: “collpasing” is supposed to be “collapsing.” Oops.

  3. Jae

    Trust man to find a way to make a weapon out of anything that has the remotest possibility of becoming one.

    Fun tale.

    • BeckD

      Thanks. We probably will find a way to kill each other with everything we make. It’s said that any method of interstellar travel can be used as a weapon; interstellar communication is most likely the same.

  4. SimonJM

    Nice concept and interestingly open-ended about the rationale of the mysterious figure!

    Small niggle: “what the hell are doing!?” I suspect there’s a missing “you”

    • BeckD

      Thank you. You would be right– that sentence had a subject in my head, but it never made it onto the page. Sorry.

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