This is an urban myth from the very early days of d-mat. You can listen to me reading this here or here, or download the recording here.

My grandfather has this story from when he was young–ten, fifteen, I don’t know. Back then you had to carry a card to use d-mat. The booth recognized a chip in the card, and if you had one on you, you could go wherever you wanted. Apparently it was hard to get the cards. Only important people were supposed to use them because the booths were so expensive.

Anyway, there was this kid whose mother worked for OneEarth, and she of course had a card. One day she didn’t take the booth to work. She left her card behind, and her son lifted it. He was just a kid, like Grandpa. I think they went to school together. The kid had never been through d-mat before and he wanted to give it a go.

Grandpa always wants to describe what it was like to use d-mat for the first time. Imagine, he says, that all your life you’ve walked everywhere, or ridden a bike, or driven an automobile, whatever. It takes forever. Then suddenly you can get into a box, type an address, push the Go button (that’s what they had back then) and the machines get to work. The lights flash, you blink, the doors open, and suddenly you’re somewhere else. Like magic, which is exactly how it seemed to the kid.

He’s amazed, so he does it again. And again. And again. And again.

They say d-mat works perfectly. They say mistakes can’t happen, not any anymore. But this kid, he pushed the Go button so many times he broke the system, or something went wrong that had nothing to do with him. Either way, d-mat stopped sending him perfectly and started saving the mistakes because it doesn’t know any better. The kid begins to get blurry around the edges, like something that’s been copied too many times. He begins to change.

The kid doesn’t notice, though. He just keeps jumping.

Grandpa says that when they finally stopped him, when the techs shorted out the last booth he was in and physically broke down the door, what they found inside wasn’t even human. There were so many errors that the kid had become a lump of meat with a single, twisted limb and enough brain cells in its tiny head to perform just one task, over and over. The booths had preserved that much, because that was what mattered to them. That was where it had all started.

Even as it died, the thing the kid had become was still trying to push the button: Go, Go, Go.

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