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Interlude 2 Main Chapters Interlude 3


Chapter 3

Analyzing the schematics for Dr. Sanada's Super-Ultra-Deluxe Parallel World Transporter took longer than Kent expected- an entire week, even with extensive use of computer simulations. Fortunately, Dr. Warai enjoyed the analysis because he could return to the basics of his engineering education. Kent wasn't unduly distressed by the complexities of the machine, for he had the circuit analysis skills that allowed his counterpart in the synthesis universe to be a successful doorbell repairman and all-around electrician. At the end of their analysis, they had been able to definitively prove that the device could not kill or even zap the passenger, and didn't produce any dangerous magnetic fields either. Neither Dr. Warai nor Kent had anything like the knowledge to determine whether the device actually could send someone to a parallel universe, and to that extent, they'd always have to trust in Dr. Sanada's knowledge.

Having verified that the device was safe, Kent formally accepted Dr. Sanada's offer, and emphasized his caveat; Kent would not go if Kent did not find it safe. Dr. Sanada seemed to understand the stipulation but be unconcerned. Kent hoped this was because Dr. Sanada was competent and honorable.

Kent informed his family about the job immediately after accepting it. He tried to impress upon them the risks, including that of his death, without unduly worrying them. They were sad that he might be on a long journey in the other world, if he ever managed to go, but trusted that he would be watched over and kept safe. Kent trusted that as well, but also felt an obligation to prepare for the worst, so he wrote his will.

The first day on the job actually had to be cut short because the good doctor had in fact forgotten another appointment, so he gave Kent a quick briefing instead. Dr. Sanada had already assembled the Super-Ultra-Deluxe Parallel World Transporter- to Kent just the parallel world transporter- inside his lab. He was convinced that it worked correctly, and that there was another world to transport things into, but he had not yet tested the device upon anything. He appeared insane, but he had realized that inanimate objects could not return to his world, even if they were found by the other him: he had been counting on a human subject who could actively seek out and request his counterpart's aid in returning.

Dr. Sanada caught Kent's disapproval, though Kent tried to hide it. "Based on what you said before," Dr. Sanada continued, "I've been working on inventing a portable transporter. It'd need a lot of power, relatively speaking. Too much for any easily portable battery, but not a vast amount of energy. I can run the one in my basement off of an ordinary wall socket, and I might or might not be able to make a portable device that could run off a wall socket as well."

Kent was relieved that Dr. Sanada had actually considered his words, and impressed at the thought that had already been invested. "That's quite a start, doctor. I really like the idea of carrying around my own transporter to get me back, but I don't know that we can count on a wall socket. They're different from nation to nation in our own world, and they might be even more different in the other world. That's assuming that the other world isn't at a Stone Age level of technology. From what I recall of the schematics, though, I'd say you're right; a battery doesn't have enough energy."

Dr. Sanada was fidgeting. "This is terribly rude of me, but I'm afraid I have to leave now if I'm to have any chance of making it on time."

"Of course, Dr. Sanada. I'll meet you tomorrow," Kent agreed, as they both bowed and left each other.

Dr. Sanada walked down the hallway, muttering to himself, "There was something else...Oh yes! I was going to call that idiot Rara and tell him I actually did manage to find someone to explore the parallel world!" A thought struck him. "Call...I'll call him." His incoherent mumbling followed him down the hall as a lucid stream of thought went forward in his mind.

By the time that Kent and Dr. Sanada met the next day, that stream had borne fruit. Mixed analogies were common in Dr. Sanada's mind, but his results were good.

"The solution to your problem is finally solved!" proclaimed Dr. Sanada as soon as he spotted Kent. "I was remembering how, when I first suspected the existence of another universe, I built various detectors, in order to search for changes in spacetime and for another universe possibly impinging on our own."

Kent was impressed until he remembered the doctor's earlier insane evidences for another world. Perhaps the detectors didn't work, but what if they did? "That must've been a lot of work, sir. How were you ever able to do it by yourself?"

Dr. Sanada grimaced as he thought of his collaborator in that and this current endeavour, Dr. Rara. Dr. Sanada grudgingly replied, "It wasn't all by myself. Dr. Rara and I worked on it. Enough about that bigmouth," he waved dismissively.

Enthusiasm waxed in Dr. Sanada's voice. "The point is that these instruments allow me to detect distortions in our universe and the affects of other universes upon our own. Yesterday I remembered I needed to make a phone call. Then I realized that just as I made a detector, I can make a distorter! A small, battery-powered device can produce enough energy to disturb the spacetime at a certain location in this universe! It is so amazing!"

Kent was catching on, to the idea and some of Dr. Sanada's enthusiasm. "Since you can detect that disturbance, it could act as a signal to you, correct, Dr. Sanada?"

"Yes! Exactly, Slade! In fact, my detector can determine from where in the parallel universe the signal originated from! So, once you sent the signal, I could use the Super-Ultra-Deluxe Parallel World Transporter to bring you back from the other world! In fact, we could even have a computer do that for me, in case I'm asleep or at the college or something."

Now Kent had lost the train of thought, or was it a tree, or a stream? "The transporter will still be in this world, though, Dr. Sanada. Sir, I don't understand how it could take me out of the parallel world while it's still here."

"How can it put you into the parallel world while it's still here?" Dr. Sanada asked in return. "The Super-Ultra-Deluxe Parallel World Transporter isn't yet capable of pulling you out of the parallel world, we'd have to add that capability to it, but theoretically it'd just be a reversal of the same process that put you into the parallel world."

There was now a slightly better opinion of Dr. Sanada in Kent's mind. This plan actually appeared possible and safe. On the other hand, Dr. Sanada might be certain there was another universe; Kent still was not. The doctor seemed to Kent far too eager to push humans into an unknown and dangerous place. Kent decided to humor him for the moment: "That sounds like a very good idea, doctor!" He did think it was a good idea, but wasn't really certain whether the doctor could execute any of the things that he claimed.

The doctor chuckled with pleasure. "Thank you, young man." He bowed slightly. "Let's get over to my lab now. It's at my house." Kent had assumed the lab was at the college, but was only slightly alarmed by this new information.

His house was a very good one, and Dr. Sanada accepted with pleasure Kent's compliment about it. Its huge size confirmed the rumors that Dr. Sanada was independently wealthy. The house was two stories tall, but had attractive architecture, paint, and interior decor that made it a comfortable home. Kent was slightly surprised that Dr. Sanada could stand to live alone in such a large house. That seemed the only point of oddity here; everything else was normal and relaxing. Dr. Sanada might be eccentric, but here he was another human being, in his home and castle. The good doctor himself was more relaxed in this place, and very hospitable. Then Dr. Sanada suggested they go to the laboratory, and something of his wild manner began to return.

"Oh, yes. It was very kind of you to show me around the house first," Kent thanked him. "Where is the lab? Is it in a building behind the house that I haven't seen yet?"

"It's in the basement," Dr. Sanada grinned for no apparent reason.

They entered Dr. Sanada's basement laboratory. Kent wondered why there wasn't anyone named Igor working with the levers.

Dr. Sanada had hurried ahead of him and turned to face the wall. Kent could see him excitedly speaking in a low voice to a picture in a freestanding frame. The frame was on the center of a shelf, and the shelf was astonishingly empty apart from the picture, especially in comparison to the rest of the lab. Kent couldn't quite hear what Dr. Sanada was saying, but his voice seemed fervent. As he drew closer, he saw that the picture was of a beautiful young woman holding a baby.

Kent felt a sudden dread. He thought to himself, "Oh no! Is he talking to a picture of his dead wife and child?" Kent had thought people only did that in movies, but he had also thought that basement labs like this only existed in movies. The schematics had been right, so Kent was not dealing with a mad scientist. He felt more keenly than ever that he might be dealing with a madman who happened to be a scientist.

Dr. Sanada looked over at Kent and beckoned to him, who had paused some distance away, reluctant to come close. "Ayuko, this is Kent Slade. Kent Slade, this is my wife Ayuko. Mitsuki, this is Kent Slade. Kent Slade, this is my daughter Mitsuki. Aren't they adorable?"

Kent uneasily agreed. Not that they weren't adorable, he was simply alarmed by Dr. Sanada.

Tearing himself away from the pictures, Dr. Sanada moved towards a large padded chair, surrounded by large pieces of equipment. "Here it is," said Dr. Sanada, "the Super-Ultra-Deluxe Parallel World Transporter. Pretty good for making it myself." He didn't seem to need Kent to agree, but Kent did- it really was quite an achievement. The chair part of it was evidently intended for a human passenger, and it did indeed have leather cushions. Disturbingly enough, it also had strong leather restraints, but Dr. Sanada assured Slade that they probably were unnecessary. It wasn't quite what Kent wanted to hear. He took a deep breath to steel himself against the madness around him, reminding himself that he just wanted to see if Dr. Sanada actually could safely send and return him to the parallel world, assuming it existed. If the doctor showed any further evidence of deep insanity, then he would go home immediately. With that settled in his mind, they both went over to a table on the far side of the room and began to talk about how to make the signaler apparatus.

Some months went by as they designed the signaling device. Kent stayed on despite Dr. Sanada's oddities, because he soon found that the doctor actually was in command of his scientific knowledge, if not his mind. He was more eccentric in the extreme than dangerous. Kent was responsible mostly for the power supply for the device and its user interface and programming, while Dr. Sanada handled its ability to alter spacetime and got it fabricated. By the end of the process, they had made a battery-powered device that could fit in the palm of a hand. It was programmable to send a signal out after a certain amount of time had passed, and a person could also press a button to make it signal immediately. Dr. Sanada had hooked his detectors up to a computer and the computer to the transporter, so that when the detectors received a signal, the computer would order the transporter to pick up whatever was at the source of the signal and deposit it in this world.

Dr. Sanada was really itching to send something to the parallel world, so they came up with a test that could be done once the signaler was complete. Kent programmed a cellphone with a camera so that it would take a picture after a minute had passed. The cellphone was strapped to a signaler programmed to return the cellphone in a minute and five seconds. The two men placed their remote robotic probe consisting of a cellphone and signaler onto the padded chair. Some weeks back, the restraints had been removed from the chair. Kent had never actually seen Dr. Sanada remove them. Kent was greatly relieved they were gone.

The cellphone probe needed no such restraints, and rested calmly upon the chair. Kent started the timer on both devices as Dr. Sanada prepared the machine. He had told Slade during the course of their work about how this second model of the transporter could choose the location to which it would transport things in the other world, although without any exploration of that other world, it was hard to say what that location would be like. Dr. Sanada pulled a massive lever, initiating the transport. A column of green glowing light that somehow seemed to be flowing upward engulfed the chair. The cylinder hazed, swirled, and arced with discharges for several seconds, and then abruptly disappeared. The chair was empty. Kent walked forward and tentatively touched the leather padding, which was cool. He moved back and checked his watch. Within tens of seconds, the timers would come due.

Other devices, Dr. Sanada's spacetime radar and other scientific instruments around the room, displayed new readings as they received the signal. The transporter's control computer which Dr. Sanada was working at immediately displayed the data the computer had collated from the detectors. The control program went through its interpolations of the data, determining that the signal was properly being sent to Dr. Sanada's laboratory, finding the point of origin of the signal from the other world, and calculating how to modify the transporter's energy output so as to create the dimensional disturbance in the other world and return the probe by the same method that it had been sent there. Within milliseconds, all the calculations and correlations were complete, and another cylinder of energy had appeared upon the chair, and this time Kent's eyes were quick enough to see within it the glowing particles of their probe appearing upon the chair. The cylinder disappeared, and the probe resumed its normal appearance.

Dr. Sanada began a strange, barking laughter, and a dance consisting of random jerking movements. Kent walked cautiously towards the probe, then asked, "Can we touch it?" The doctor shouted back, "Of course! We've done it! We've done it! The first ever transport! The first ever return transport! We've made history this day!"

Kent touched the probe, conscious of what it represented. The probe itself felt and looked no different than it had before, yet they knew it had been in an entirely different universe. He waited a few seconds, his mind boggling with the gravity of what he had been a part of. Then his own curiosity took hold, and he looked at the picture which the cellphone had returned to them.

The picture was of clear blue sky, with perhaps one faint cirrus cloud in the distance.

A feeling of stupidity began to overwhelm Kent, yet he couldn't help but laugh. Dr. Sanada looked at the picture and was overjoyed. "It took the picture! Ours are the first eyes to ever see another universe!" Kent was now in the throes of uncontrollable laughter. "I guess we shouldn't have sent the cellphone facing upwards, doctor," he said, breathing heavily between his deep laughter, "we should've realized it'd only take a picture of the sky!" Kent felt like an idiot for not realizing that, but it was funny, and he was also happy that the test had worked. Now Dr. Sanada understood why Kent was laughing, and began to laugh too. "No, no," Dr. Sanada laughed, "this is good. See, this proves that there's a human-breathable atmosphere there, since it looks just like our sky. We're smart!" He laughed some more.

When their hilarity ended, they decided that Dr. Sanada was right and this test had successfully proven not only safe two-way transport, but also that the alternate universe was safe for human life. They sent the probe back several times to the same location, remembering to orient the camera different ways, once even so it faced the ground. The composite of the shots indicated that they had sent their probe to a sidewalk. It was an ordinary street, surrounded by ordinary buildings. Dr. Sanada had selected as the transport site a street in another city that he knew well, and confirmed that the buildings were the same. Kent had worried about what people on that street in the parallel world would think when they saw a cellphone appear out of a column of glowing energy, but the cellphone shots seemed to indicate that the street was strangely empty of cars and people. Dr. Sanada said it wasn't a very busy street, but he had expected more people and cars. Kent suggested that the people had hidden when they saw the cellphone appear, but he couldn't explain what happened to the cars; surely a car wouldn't have time to hide?

The pictures had not indicated any danger at all, and they decided that the empty street was probably not due to any danger. Just in case, they'd send Kent to the secondary transport site, the location in the other universe corresponding to where in this universe Dr. Sanada's house stood. Kent would also visit a week after the probe for greater safety. Kent told his family of this, and tried in vain to prevent either they or him from crying. He really didn't believe there was much danger now, but there were always possibilities.

Kent had slowly gotten a backpack ready over the whole course of his duties with Dr. Sanada in preparation for this moment, and had gone over its contents with Dr. Sanada and Dr. (astronautical) several times. It contained cash, both Japanese yen and dollars of the United States, many maps, some food and clothes, a poncho, a blanket, a small towel, a small first aid kit, and a cellphone without a signaler attached. That was a lot of stuff to name, yet it had been carefully pared down for weight and practicality by Kent and the two doctors, so it was probably the best all-purpose equipment Kent could have on such a journey. Kent also took along the things he normally carried in his pockets, like his wallet with yet more cash, his keys to his apartment, his non-prescription sunglasses, spare contact lenses, and his passport.

Kent also carried two signalers. One he carried in his pocket, and the other he carried in a special harness and holster under his shirt. It'd be found if he were frisked, yet was not as obvious a location to search as his pocket. Both signalers could be activated at the press of a button, and also had timers that Kent could activate, deactivate, and modify the countdown. The pocket signaler would pull him back in 12 hours, and the holster one would pull him back in 12 hours and thirty minutes. Also in the holster were full schematics for both the signalers and the main Super-Ultra-Deluxe Parallel World Transporter. These were in case of some unforseen catastrophic failure requiring new ones to be built in the other universe.

Everything was now as comprehensible and safe as it would ever be. A quick inaudible prayer wended its way to heaven as Kent seated himself upon the padded chair.

"Goodbye, Dr. Sanada," Kent bade farewell.

"See you soon, Slade," Dr. Sanada cheerily called from the control console. "Be sure and tell me everything when you get back!" Kent nodded.

Dr. Sanada pulled the giant lever, the column of energy engulfed Kent, and he was moved into a parallel world.

Interlude 2 Main Chapters Interlude 3