Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

The sentence was passed. The switch was flipped on the transporter and Caleb’s protests were cut off in mid-scream. The concrete block fused with his head.

The first transporter accident taught us a valuable lesson about the covalency bonds between atoms. We already knew that it was the strongest force in the universe. To disrupt even a few of those bonds released the power and destructive energy of an atomic bomb.

Fear made us put safeguards in place to make sure that no transporters could accidentally force two objects to try to fit into the same space at the same time. Two things the world isn’t short on, though, are crazy people and ways around safeguards.

Jackie Shaugnessy was one such crazy person. She wanted to destroy the television station where her ex-boyfriend worked. The possibility of destroying the entire city or even that side of the world was a bonus to her. She was off-balance with love grief.

She also had a degree in microcircuitry and beam theory. She worked all week to disable the safeguard programming and hardware. She was very good at it. She even changed the spatial projectors. A receiving station wouldn’t be needed. She’d just appear wherever at the co-ordinates she entered.

She would have had several patents to make her rich beyond her dreams if she hadn’t gone through with her little act of terrorism.

On Friday the 9th of December, she set the co-ordinates, stepped on to the pad and pressed her remote control. With tears in her eyes, she disappeared from her apartment on the south side of Brooklyn.

Her molecules flew through space.

And reassembled in the wall of her ex-boyfriend’s office. There was a mild jostling at an atomic level but nothing happened other than that.

Her ex-boyfriend looked up from his morning coffee to see the tips of two shoes, an arm in a pink sweater, most of a breast, and a cascade of hair protruding from his wall.

He dropped his coffee cup and shouted. He screamed louder when he recognized the sweater. When he ran over to the grisly find, he grabbed the hand that was hanging from the wall.

It grabbed him back.

There was no way to undo what she had done. That section of wall with her embedded in it is still in a sub-basement of a government facility. No part of her head is exposed so the only way to communicate with her is by touching her hand. The parts of her that are exposed get older. She can still breathe somehow. She’s kept alive intravenously.

This little accident became the basis for the Shaughnessy punishment.

Caleb Johnson was convicted of crimes against humanity two decades later and sentenced to the Shaughnessy punishment.

He hung limply between the arms of the bailiffs, his head encased in a cube of concrete for the rest of his natural life. He would be fed through an IV and kept alive at the state’s discretion.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows