Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,
Rowyn
rowyn

Writing Exercises: Imagine that (part 4)


How does it work?

My name is Coraline Janssen; I am CEO and sole proprietor of In An Instant, LLC, and I hate that question.

IAI sells just two things: a product and a service. Jack calls the product a Tranzer. That's a trademark. It's a big safe with a light, one shelf, a scale, air vents, and a little video camera wired to its onboard computer. It's a safe that you need to plug in. The Tranzer was my idea.

People ask me how it works. They ask Jack how it works. They assume I invented it. Well, yes, I invented a safe with a webcam that you need to plug in, I guess. If you can call that an invention. I wouldn't.

Frankly, they're on the wrong track. Nobody wants the Tranzer, anyway. They want the service that comes with it. The service is the good part: that's the part where, for a per-use fee, at any time, six days a week, you can send anything under 3 kg placed in one Tranzer to any other Tranzer in the world. From Australia to the USA, in five minutes or less. Isn't that worth paying for?

Worth paying quite a lot for, depending on what you're sending, and where. We charge $4,000 a pop. He builds it up: It's totally secure. You lock it in a safe here and it comes out inside another locked safe somewhere else. Can FedEx give you that? How about the Internet? How secure do you think your encryption is? As secure as a locked vault inside your own building? Paranoid corporations and government agencies love us.

They'd love us even more if I wasn't so paranoid, myself.

Why only six days a week? Jack explains the 24 hour out-of-service period (from noon Saturday PST to noon Sunday PST) as "scheduled downtime." Why does the contract say "up to five minutes" when the demo only takes about 15 seconds? Jack says that's because the transfer isn't done by the Tranzer. "The Tranzer unit allows In An Instant's central system to locate your package and move it to its destination. Usually, our system isn't busy, but on rare occasion, you'll hit a brief bottleneck. If five minutes isn't fast enough, for whatever reason, call before you package it to send. We can give you a specific 15-second window."

Why the safe design? Why the locks? "Safety precaution."

I love Jack. He's so good at explaining things. I'm so glad I hired him; I had a heck of a time trying to make this company fly solo. He's the company president, you know. He might as well be. There's only the two of us, plus the accountant. CFO. She's only part-time. We might as well all have fancy titles.

I don't have to tell Jack anything; he comes up with explanations on his own and clears them with me. I mean, this is how our conversations go:

Jack: "Why does it only work 6 days a week?"
Me: "I can't tell you that."
Jack: "Um. Can you give me a hint?"
Me: "No, not really."
Jack: "Can I make something up to tell people?"
Me: "That depends. What did you want to tell them?"
Jack: "I kinda gather the Tranzer doesn't really move things ... "
Me (alarmed): "What do you mean?"
Jack: "I mean, the delay and all. You've got something here that does the moving. That explains the webcam and the onboard computer, too. Can I tell them that?"
Me: "Er. Yeah. I guess."
Jack: "Thanks. Howabout 'scheduled maintance' for the reason why it's not a 24/7 service?"
Me: "Make it 'downtime'. 'Scheduled downtime'."
Jack: "Lovely."

Some times I can't believe he puts up with me. But I do pay him pots of money.

IAI makes pots of money.

But there's always that one question: "How does it work?"

Oh, Jack'd make something up for that, too.

Jack: "Can I say it's just like Star Trek?"
Me: "No."
Jack: "Beamed by light waves?"
Me: "No."
Jack: "Taken apart and reassembled by molecular blueprint?"
Me: "No."
Jack: "Pink fairies waving their magic wands?"
Me: "Pink fai -- No."

But I won't let him.

I won't let him lie for me. And even though he made up all that other stuff, it's all, basically, true. But I can't give him the true explanation, and I won't let him lie about it. I guess he wouldn't mind lying. But I would.

The truth is: I don't know.

I really don't know how it works.

No, it's not alien technology that I was given by higher beings from Betelgeuse. At least, I don't think it is. OK, here's the deal. Here's what I know.

It's me.

I can go anywhere. In an instant. If I can see it, or if I've been there before, or if I can even track on someone I know, I can go there.

If I know you, I can go where ever you are, as long as there's enough room for me to fit near you.

Where ever you are.

In an instant.

I can take a little over 3kg in stuff with me. Or I can leave it behind. I control that. I can teleport away from water droplets. You wouldn't believe how fast I can dry off.

I don't need the Tranzers. I don't need the box or the lock. I don't even need the webcam, as long as I've been there once.

So why do I sell them?

Because I'm scared. I'm terrified of what people would do if they knew what I could do. Heck, I'm terrified of what I can do.

You know, there are ten thousand illegal ways to make money, with what I can do. I don't even need money, really. If I'm too hot or too cold, I can go somewhere else. If I'm hungry, I can go where there's food and take it. If I want something, as long as it's small, I can take that, too. Who's going to stop me? I can be gone in less time than it takes a man to pull a gun. No jail cell can hold me.

That's not even the worst of it. Think how good an assassin I'd make. In, bang, out, in an eyeblink. Just that fast. Who's going to stop me?

I am.

It doesn't matter how many immoral, illegal, wrong things I can think of to do. I'm not going to do any of them. I don't need the police to stop me. I stop me.

But who would trust me? If the world knew, would they believe me?

I don't want to find out. I don't want to end up a guinea pig with researchers trying to figure out how I do what I do. I don't even know where to start on that one.

I don't want to be co-opted by the government to work for the CIA or NSA or whomever or whatever.

Because there are ways to control me. I know that, too. Even if you can't kill me or contain me, you can threaten my friends, my family. If you were ruthless enough. Maybe I could stop you from doing that. I don't want to try. I don't want anyone to know.

So I put together In An Instant, LLC and the Tranzers. I pretend my powers are in a box, a nice, safe, controlled box, and I charge a fortune for it because it's my time and I gotta pay Jack, and heck, because I can. Though I will do it cheaper for the hospitals, if they'll take the deal.

And the lock on the box is a "safety precaution". But not for your safety.

For mine.
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