Yeah, I had a buddy at the University who had this mutant thing going on. He could teleport, right? But he hated it. Every time he would teleport, he would experience the fatigue and energy loss associated with the distance traveled, as if he sprinted the whole way like a regular sap. But he also didn't teleport instantaneously. It took a little while. He would decide to teleport and vanish. Blip. Gone. But then he wouldn't appear again for a while. And then suddenly, blip, he would be on the other side of the room.
He had some of his math buddies from MIT help him work out the formula for how long it took to travel a particular distance. It turned out to be pretty simple. Nothing so simple as the amount of time it would have taken him to travel it anyway by foot, but simple enough.
When he teleported, he suffered a base penalty time of 180 seconds, like he had to rev up the spatial continuum around him before he could do it. Or maybe he had to spend some time wedging himself through a wormhole and squeezing back out at the other end. I always liked to imagine him standing there, invisible, floating a bit off the ground, spinning his legs in big, wide, frantic circles at incredible speed, like in the Scooby-Doo cartoons when they would try to run from a ghost but ended up just running in place until their feet finally caught up to their intentions and hit the floor. I always giggled to myself when he vanished.
But, anyway, if he wanted to teleport to the other side of town, he would be gone for three full minutes, plus the distance times a ridiculously small number, so the total time would be three minutes and some chump-change fraction of a second, and when he arrived at the other side of town, he would be out of breath and wheezing. But if he wanted to travel five feet, it would still take the full three minutes, so he couldn't use his power for simple cool tricks. There was just too much delay.
He began, over the years, to become depressed. He wanted to fight crime, to save lives, to instantly magically appear in a strategic position. But with a three minute delay, he couldn't predict where he needed to be. To offset his disappointment, he began fashioning a plan.
He started hanging out more with the two guys he knew from MIT who ended up working at NASA. Last I heard, they were helping him plan his final teleportation. He always wanted to go to Mars, alive or dead on arrival. They figured at 56 million kilometers away, it would take just over 9 hours to get there. Upon arrival, his heart would either catch up to the distance and explode out of his chest and he would die instantly, or it would, hopefully, take just a second to kill him and he might take one deep stolen-space-suit protected breath on a new, beautiful planet, before becoming the first skeletal human on Mars.
The last time I saw him was over lunch. He had a plant with him, all hidden behind a protective glass case. It was less like a plant and more like phosphorescent green spores all stuck together in a molded glob.
"This plant is the future, man." He told me with the excitement of an entrepreneur, chowing down his salad and fries like they were the last he would ever eat. "Its genes are spliced with a jellyfish so it glows in the dark and it's built to survive and propagate on Mars. I had to liberate it from this lab over at NASA but I'm taking it with me, man! I'm going to terraform the planet."
After that lunch, I never saw him again. From time to time, I would think of him and hope that he was just hanging out in that mystical void and would reappear right next to me at a moment's notice.
Until August 27, 2003, I hadn't thought of him for almost a year. Looking through the large telescope of the University of Washington observatory, peering right at the red planet, in its closest proximity to earth in almost 60,000 years, in that marble of meteor beaten red, I swear, I saw a little patch of green.