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‘I have some experience with these,’ he lied. ‘I can probably fix it.’

‘Go right ahead.’ The man stepped out of the booth allowing Matthias to step in behind him. Beneath the hand-shaped mould on the wall, a keypad protruded from a large steel casing. Placing his hands on either side, Matthias tugged it from the wall. There was an immense crack as he broke through the locks. He sat the cover on the floor, to one side and studied the circuits, shifting wires and examining where they led.

Behind him, the woman attempted to peer beneath Matthias’ elbow, following his movements.

‘You’re sure you know what you’re doing?’ the woman asked.

‘Absolutely. Don’t worry about the noise – they secure these things fairly well.’

By quieting his own output, he was able to sense the current running through the machine, like a human sensing their own heartbeat. Locating a diagnostic port, he discreetly detached his fingertip and attached himself to the machine.

‘Where were you trying to go? Matthias asked them.

‘Wellers Plaza.’

Sending a message through his limb, he waited for a response. A reply never came. Testing his own destination, there was an immediate reply.

‘It seems fine. Maybe there’s something wrong at the plaza. Is there somewhere you could ‘port to nearby?’

‘You’re saying theirs is down?’ asked the man.

Matthias disconnected from the teleporter, and slipped on his fingertip before stepping out. ‘Well this one is working perfectly.’

The man broke his gaze and looked to the woman, ‘Well we could just try another floor.’

‘Why not,’ Matthias smiled, stepping out.

Looking at the exposed innards of the machine, the man paused. ‘Well, shouldn’t you put the casing back on?’

‘It’s fine,’ Matthias assured him, ‘Don’t worry about it. I can fix it when you’re gone.’

‘If you say so,’ the man frowned.

‘Just get in there,’ the woman urged. ‘I can’t afford to be late.’

The man stepped in first: his number dialled, hand pressed to the wall, the teleporter bled with an impenetrable blue light. His bulging physique was locked into a fixed position before momentarily, he vanished. The woman followed after. Matthias reattached the casing as best he could, but lacking tools, it barely sat in place.

Teleporting to his destination, the world slipped out for a moment. His consciousness returned first, the world black, until slowly, his vision faded in. The teleporter locks held him in place momentarily, limbs in a fixed position before his atomic makeup was verified.

The arrival lobby at Natural Robotics was paved in wide, blue wear-resistant panels, the walls a sanitary white, running with arterial crevices which guided the way into the corridors of the building beyond. Matthias stepped out of the central teleporter, joined by fellow professionals on either side, the three falling in with a scattered procession towards the centre of the building. The corridors converged on a vast hall. Hundreds of colour-coded cubicles stretched from wall to wall. From the second floor looking down were floor-to-ceiling windows from which supervisors could gaze on the workers below. Matthias navigated the morning crowd, dodging those running against the current, the carefully balanced coffee carriers, one nudge from losing it on the floor.

Matthias’ cubicle was second from the end in a far corner of the room.  Dennis sat by the wall, a fast-talking player with beady eyes and veins flooded with caffeine.  He rotated on his chair, a finger pressed to ear, smiling at Matthias as he took his seat.

‘Absolutely,’ said Dennis. ‘We can have it to you by the end of the week. … Well I’m sorry.. it will only take a second to deliver Ma’am, but that won’t speed up production.’

Matthias logged into his computer by hand

‘That’s right. You too, have a nice day.’

Dennis’ palm fell on a button atop his desk.

‘Friday, I love you. Buddy!’ wheeling in to Matthias’ side, he tugged an earpiece free, and threw it back at his monitor. ‘You, me, tonight. Meta. No exceptions, no excuses.’

‘I, uh..’

‘Don’t even try me, I know you have nothing on. We are getting loaded.’