As we stood there, rooted to our respective spots, The late, great Nikola Tesla stepped from the tunnel. I recognized him only from his height and stark features. The man was hardly the fastidiously dressed individual that I had read so much about. Neither was he the aged Tesla I would expect to see. But a younger, less vibrant specimen of what Tesla had been.
His tattered suit, an old standby of mid-nineteenth century business men, was not only worn, but ragged. Pieces had been ripped from the gray fabric and large tears showed in the legs. He appeared to be nearly bald, but I noticed clumps of hair had been taken from his head. As if, like the fabric, something had ripped it away.
Despite his slouching posture, he stood over six feet. His thin neck craned forward, bird-like, looking at us from eyes gray with age. Though younger, there were ‘aged’ traits to his appearance. And he limped. I thought for some reason, this was a result of the process that had brought him here.
He stood just outside the tunnel, but did not move forward. “Who are you?” he snapped.
Gloria had let go of the door frame. “Is that T-T-Tesla?”
I glanced back at her and nodded. “I don’t think it’s really him though. It’s some kind of hologram or advanced imaging.” I shook my head, disbelieving. “How could he have done this back then?”
“Of course it’s me!” The Tesla image responded looking directly at me. “And you have used my Resurrector to bring me back. What is it you want?”
“Resurrector?” Gloria wondered, stepping closer behind me.
The man swiped the air in front of him, as if swatting at a fly. “Yes. I have created a device that can tap the ether and bring back the consciousness of those who have passed over. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect process. There are problems.” A gurgling sounded in his voice.
A resurrector that could bring back the dead. Rather, the consciousness of the dead. What did that mean? “What kind of problems?” I asked.
He glanced down at himself and spread his hands, which appeared to be withering in front of us. Flakes of skin rose like dust and floated away. “We can still feel our bodies, despite the fact that we have been discorporated. And the body that I’m in is bankrupt. I am fading quickly.”
He paused as if exhausted, then looked back up at us and smiled sadly, shaking his head. “I am a failure eh?”
“No sir!” I said. “You are a legend Mister Tesla. Everyone knows who you are, as they did when you were alive. But today people see that some of the things you spoke of like the wireless technology… well, it has come true.”
His smile grew wider at that, then his glance fell on the console in front of me. “I cannot move closer, or the effects of the tunnel will dissipate. I will be blown to bits.” He gestured to the console. “You see the black nobs with the numbers? There are green and red lights over them…”
I nodded. He swatted at the air again and I wondered what it was he saw that I couldn’t. The thought caused me to pause and I hoped I would never find out.
“You turn those nobs to increase the amount of energy needed to amplify the effects of the tunnel. Turn the bottom nob to six.”
I reached over and noticed this was the highest setting. “What will this do?” I asked, hesitant.
“Woman!” He snapped at me, swatting the air once more. “It will keep me from falling to pieces here. Please…”
I turned the nob and noticed an immediate rise in sound of the whirring from the console. The man in front of us changed immediately. He stood straighter, tattered clothing repaired and took a breath.
“That’s better. Now,” he gestured to the console once again. “to call back someone specifically you must have a photo of that individual and use the thought connector.” He waved toward an area of the basement that was unlit. “You will place it on your head and use the photograph for visualization.”
Gloria stepped next to me now. “You mean we can call anyone we want?”
He nodded. “Yes. You must have a clear image of an individual in your mind, or you will get me again.”
“Kind of like a default consciousness,” said Gloria, beside me now.
Tesla nodded, his head full of jet black hair now. “The consciousness you call last is stored in the machine. If you have no other individual, you will get that consciousness.”
He swatted at the air again and I realized his hair was thinning once more. So it did not last long, this effect. “How long do we have for each time we call someone before they begin falling apart?”
Shrugging his thin shoulders, “I don’t know. Not long. Perhaps five minutes. Some are worse than others. “I suggest you do not call Friedrich Nietzsche or other disturbed individuals. They are unstable and may somehow escape the tunnel. In that case you would have problems.”
“Ahhhh…agghhhh…” He groaned and put a hand on his chest. “Please let me go back now. Turn the power all the way down or hit the red button.” The gurgling in his voice again caused me to shiver. I did not want to know what caused it.
I had to know one more thing. “How is this powered?” I asked. “There are no wires. No cords. Where does it get the energy to run?”
“The… a-ay–air!” He waved his hand in front of him. Energy is everywhere Child. Now let me-me–me– go!”
I hit the red button and the man vanished. The tunnel disappeared. Gloria and I were alone again and the rain had begun to fall outside.