The Stuff of Humans

Author: David Henson

Lt. John Peters tosses a foam ball to his son, Petey. The boy giggles when it goes through his hands and bumps him on the nose. Lt. Peters lies back on the gurney. Norene sits, legs crossed, anxiety like a current of electricity twitching her foot.

At the direction of Capt. Spencer, a man in a lab coat places a metal cap on the lieutenant’s head and slides probes into numerous ports that have been inserted in his body. The cap and probes connect to a tubular machine that resembles an elongated CT scanner.

“We’re ready, folks,” Capt. Spencer says. “Corporal Lindor, escort Mrs. Peters and the boy to level three.” The captain nods at the white-coated man.

Mrs. Peters takes her husband’s hand. “John, are you sure about this?”

“It’s perfectly safe,” the captain says. “We’ve already teleported objects and small animals. In fact,” — the captain walks to Petey, tousles his hair and takes the ball from his hands — “we teleported this very ball from here to our lab across town.”

“But never a person,” Mrs. Peters says.

Lt. Peters sits up. “Somebody has to be first, Honey.”

“You’ll be famous, lieutenant,” Captain Spencer says. “A book deal and movie rights. In the history books. Now, up to level three you go,” he says to Mrs. Peters and tousles Petey’s hair again.


The captain hands Lt. Peters blindfolds and earplugs, then wheels him into the machine. Even with senses masked, the lieutenant cringes at the clanging and can see the inside of his eyelids from the bright light. After a few minutes, everything is quiet and dark, and Lt. Peters feels as if he’s floating. So this is what teleportation is like, he thinks. Nice. Then he feels someone shaking him by the shoulder.

Lt. Peters removes the blindfolds and earplugs then sits on the edge of the gurney and looks around the room. “Where’s Norene? Where’s Petey?”

“Up on level three, lieutenant,” Capt. Spencer says.

“The teleportation didn’t work?”

The captains flips a switch, and a large screen on the far wall shows Norene hugging someone who appears to be Lt. Peters. Behind them is a machine like the one the lieutenant was in.

“What? Who?”

“You see, Peters, although we haven’t achieved true teleportation yet, we can approximate it with the advances in 3D printing and quantum computing. In fact, we’ve had the technology to do so for some time. But not the guts … so to speak,” he chuckles.

Lt. Peters feels the room spinning and squeezes the gurney with his legs. “What will you do with … it?” He points toward his double on the screen.

“He will be rich and famous and provide a wonderful life for your family.”

“That’s crazy. Norene will realize it’s not me.”

“He is you. Down to the last strand of DNA and every memory you had prior to me wheeling you out of the machine a moment ago. And he’s fashioned from reconstituted human … stuff … we found lying around so to speak.”

Lt. Peters bolts for the door. When he opens it, two guards hustle him back to the gurney.

Capt. Spencer holds up a hypodermic.

“What are you going to do?”

“We need raw material. I’m afraid there’s some grinding involved, but you won’t feel a thing after this little prick.” The captain puts the syringe to Lt. Peters’ neck.

As darkness closes in on the lieutenant, he stares at the screen and sees his dancing replica twirl Norene then toss the foam ball to Petey, who giggles when it bumps him on the nose.


  1. SimonJM

    Now, could they print him again? And again, and again? Nasty usages spring to mind! 😉

    • xdhz8

      They could make multiple copies as long as they have enough raw material. (Yech.)

  2. rjerbacher

    Great story. Nice twist. Well told. ‘Some grinding involved,’ gives me the heebie jeebies.

  3. Jae

    Nasty but not unexpected. Good tale.


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