|Genre(s)||Horror, Science fiction, Short story|
|Published in||The Twilight Zone Magazine (1st release),|
|Media type||Print (Magazine, Hardback & Paperback)|
This article does not cite any sources. (October 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The story takes place early in the 24th century, when the technology for teleportation, referred to as "Jaunting", is commonplace, allowing for instantaneous transportation across enormous distances, even to other planets in the Solar System.
In the future, humans have developed a form of instantaneous teleportation called "the Jaunt", enabling colonization of the Solar System. Mark Oates and his family are transferred from their home in Schenectady to a new posting on the Mars colony of Whitehead City with Texaco Water. As his family prepares to be "jaunted" from the Port Authority Terminal in New York City, Mark entertains his two children by recounting a semi-apocryphal tale of the discovery and history of teleportation.
He explains how in 1987 an eccentric scientist, Victor Carune, accidentally discovered the Jaunt after years of research when he accidentally teleported two of his own fingers. Although the Jaunt functioned perfectly when he tested inorganic objects, Carune discovered a side-effect on the mice sent through his two Jaunt portals. The mice would either die instantly or behave erratically before dying moments later. He eventually concluded that they could only survive the "Jaunt effect" while unconscious. Mark explains that this is why all people must undergo general anaesthesia before using the Jaunt.
Mark spares his children a gruesome account of the first human to be Jaunted awake, a condemned death-row murderer named Rudy Foggia. After 13 other inmates were Jaunted under the effects of anesthesia, Foggia died of a massive heart attack after emerging, living just long enough to utter the cryptic phrase, "It's eternity in there."
Mark also omits mention of the 30 people who have jaunted while conscious, voluntarily or otherwise. Each time, they either died instantly or emerged insane. He elaborates that it's theorized that while physically jaunting occurs nearly instantaneously, to a conscious mind it lasts an eternity. One is simply left alone with their thoughts in an endless field of white for what is suggested to be possibly anywhere from hundreds to billions of years.
After Mark finishes his story, the family is subjected to sleeping gas and jaunted to Mars. When Mark awakens, he hears his wife scream. His adventurous son, Ricky, deliberately held his breath while being administered the anesthetic to experience the Jaunt while conscious, and has been rendered completely insane. Ricky shrieks, "It's longer than you think, Dad! Longer than you think!" before clawing his eyes out as he is wheeled away from his horrified family by several attendants.