Download to your Kindle (eBook)
Download from Smashwords (eBook)
Follow me... for your own survival.
Note to the social media addicted masses:
Engage in this story only if you do not fear your own reflection.
Know this truth.
Somewhere out there, in your real world....
Somewhere out there, in your real world...
The Institute exists.
Hope for the good of all mankind that the two never meet.
For if they did...
This is how it would end.
--Dr. Leonard Solusman
"Fifteen minutes, Dr. Solusman. I will give you another notification at t-minus five, meanwhile, make yourself comfortable."
This room was soundproofed. As soon as that door clicked shut, Leonard stood alone in complete silence. He found it to be very distressing to know what was going on out there, but to be completely isolated from it. He could hear the sound of the outside world in his mind, but not with his ears. He could see the masses gathered both inside and out of the building, but again only in his mind. Forced upon his eyes were these four dimly lit and rather plain walls. He wanted to rush out now and calm the storm. He knew that once the healing potential of his device had been sufficiently demonstrated, that all of the angst he was perceiving would turn upon itself into exoneration. The mis-perception that he and his device were together some sort of mind invading monster, would be triumphantly washed away. The people would be chanting his name in delight, not disgust. His peers would venerate him as a giant walking amongst mere men.
For an instant, the clamor returned as the door opened,
"Five minutes sir." And as quickly as the rush had come, it was gone again.
Leonard was becoming aware of his anxiety. It wasn't the crippling kind that kept most people from daring to achieve. It was the kind from which he was drawing strength. He felt like a spring, being coiled down to the last. Leonard found himself slightly bouncing in place, like a prize fighter in his corner draining off excess energy before charging across to dominate his opponent. Instead, for Leonard, everyone on the planet was waiting in the other corner. History, was waiting in the other corner. Legacy, was waiting in the other corner.
The door opened again, and somewhere in Leonard's mind, as the din rushed in again, he swore he could also hear a bell.
"It's time Sir." She said plainly.
"Time indeed." Leonard muttered aloud.
He could hear the buzzing from the auditorium quickly drain away as the lights were dimmed. He was being led to a point just offstage where he could see from behind the curtain, the setting in which he was about to perform. A titanic display screen would be his backdrop, his device set upon a sturdy looking podium in the near corner of the stage, and a solitary slender podium with a small control console at center stage, from which he would be able to operate the screen and the device, while giving his address. Leonard took note of the cooling systems roaring inside the twin supercomputer towers standing next to him that were going to be processing data momentarily. There was a man he did not recognize out in front of the curtain now and it took a moment of intent listening to recognize that this man was introducing his biography and accomplishments to the crowd. Strange, he thought, to hear his life spoken in another's voice.
His anonymous presenter walked quietly off stage and brushed past him as though he did not recognize the man he had just introduced. The hum of the computers was all Leonard could hear now. The chanting outside, while still present, had vanished within his consciousness. The auditorium, filled with thousands, was completely silent. He closed his eyes and drew in a long slow breath as the curtain withdrew. Here was his moment, posterity likely recording this as the beginning, but truly for Leonard, it was the culmination of a long and difficult journey. He exhaled as he took his first step out onto the stage.
He didn't know why he expected some sort of thunderous roar when he appeared. An ovation in salute to a body of work that would change the lives of millions. He even expected a few jeers, from those jealous of the accomplishment. Yet, as he trekked out to the center of the stage, bathed in the light of a single spotlight, the crowd of thousands remained silent. He adjusted his plan for presentation accordingly. Upon reaching his lectern, he placed his hands, one on either side, and said... nothing.
For five full minutes, his two eyes scanned the sea of thousands staring back at him. Though the light in his face too bright, and the auditorium too dimly lit to make out even a single expression from any of the onlookers, he could feel their reasoning for silence. He could almost smell it. It was fear. Fear that the man that stood before them may have unlocked a door that was never meant to be opened. Fear, that through all of their efforts, there was only one person who truly knew every detail of what lay beyond that door. Fear, that they no longer had the choice whether or not to follow him in.
Leonard basked in it. He felt like a deity, with all of creation spread out before him, their very being hinging on his next command. He had never been in any position like it and never knew of the power that it contained. It surged through him like an electrical current, and just for a moment, he felt as though he could strike anyone out there down with a thunderbolt. He believed their silence to be reverence; awe in not only the invention but for its creator. He was indeed in this moment a titan, literally and figuratively, perched above all. Now fully satiated with their veneration unto him, he pressed a button on the console and flung his first thunderbolt.
The display behind him came to life, it's sudden luminosity sending most of the audience cowering to cover their eyes. Once they had acclimated to it, they could see that it was an overhead map of the very auditorium in which they were seated. The seats of which quickly began to fill with small ovals of varying color. Leonard gave a slight smile as the display continued to fill behind him, and with it a hushed buzz of discussion from his subjects. It was happening just as he had anticipated; the screen was filling with a sea of violet and blue, with a mist of green and yellow scattered about, and a few dots, including his own upon the stage, of red. Leonard turned to watch the last few virtual seats fill and once complete turned back to address his audience,
"Good Evening. I... am Dr. Leonard Solusman." His voice booming, even louder than he expected. It echoed through the chamber like a voice from a mountaintop, rattling the valleys below. He paused while the hushed conversations once again fell silent.
"I am certain that you all have, by now, identified what is on display behind me. Please, if you haven't already, find yourself on this map... and prepare yourself for what could be a sobering truth."