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|A futuristic and dark story about life in the 25th century.||
I set silently in the small room, waiting to be called. I know something is wrong
since they left me all alone, though they never left us alone. I searched for their
hidden camera to pass the time – they were always watching, and did not even
try to conceal it. I have been here for three years now, and I still had troubles
spotting that dim shine of the black, observing lance.
I am number 2948723, and that’s all. I came here, to the Institute, to solve a
puzzle we received. 3 years ago, a superintendent entered our class, in the middle
of the lecture. The professor stopped the lesson at once, giving the
superintendent the space to stand in front of us.
“It is a pleasure meeting you” said the superintendent, without presenting himself
“I am here as a delegate of the Institute, which I guess you have all heard
about”. Of course we have heard – the Institute was the mysterious foundation at
the edge of the university everyone avoided like fire, but he was not a property of
our university only. About 200 years ago, many governments decided to lead in
their countries, which were considered cultured and enlightened, a new method
to educate the society. For many years people who managed to evade the
enormous 25th crime circle were wandering in the world, gathering data in order
to evolve successfully in a community built in chaos, like grains of information.
But even the universities could not always provide all the accessible data.
Therefore an organization called “the organization for the benefit of science” was
formed. Its purpose was presenting a solution of connection between all of the
universities, schools and other available information pools within 5 years. They
presented “the Institute” – every criminal desire to rehabilitate was sent there,
and there, by the stories, they had built a mini-world, with much smaller doses of
data. After nine, felony-free years spent inside, the ex-criminals were released to
the real world. Special superintendents were sent to investigate this mini-world,
and inducting conclusions about the mistakes of our world, the bigger and
advanced. Today, two hundreds years later, no one doubts the abilities of the
Institute. Ninety nine percent of the criminals enlisted themselves to the Institute.
The rehabilitated got out after a while, whereas the hopeless… well, they did not
interfere the real world any more… today there are almost no criminals to fill the
departments of the Institute.
“The Institute has now begun with a new project,” said the superintendent “which
its purpose is appending allegedly decent people into our society. It is not meant
to include spotless men and women, but vise versa – our intention in appending
semi-criminals whose crimes may not be illegal, yet they are corrupted enough to
be considered criminals. With the help of those volunteers we shall fill the
Institute once again – for the sake of science”. That is it – the combination ‘for
the sake of science’ could persuade any student alive to sell his soul. “I will leave
you an information leaflet, and our address, for the interested”.
I had nothing to lose, since I needed another ten years of experience in the
university before I could find a good profession, the Institute offered, in
exchange for nine years only, a permanent occupation as an superintendent, a
desirable and exciting position. Despite of the dismay of the name, I knew it
would be hard for me to find a better profession with standard education, even if
I study until the end of my life. The world was just swamped with data. After a
lot of thinking, I decided to contact the Institute. They sent me a registration
form, I filled my details. A week later I received an appointment date, I was
already told to bring all my belongings with me.
I set in a room with five other men and women, which I have never seen before. I
knew, just as I got here because of a dark secret, they also set here from the same
reason. Like that we set, and waited. A superintendent walked into the room,
even without official uniforms the superiority look on his face revealed his job.
He begun lecturing us, for about three hours (there was no clock in the room) of
what will await us. “Regardless of anything you have been told or thought, you
are not here for a limited time like the prisoners” well, here there is no problem
calling them prisoners, I thought. “From this moment you have no way out, since
you already obligated to us… You will meet a psychologist twice a week, whose
goal is to help you confront your mistakes. At the same times you will be given a
puzzle which is assembled of mathematics, sociology, physics, history, biology
etc. Built by the composition of your personality, by your secrets. Here you have
no secrets... Only after solving the puzzle, you will leave. Until then, you will be
assimilated within the Institute population. In daily life, you shall continue study
at the same format you studied so far. At your spare time, except for your
psychologist meeting, you will be free to do whatever you would like – develop
relationships, evolve, solve your puzzle – and go out to the world, better men and
women… the profession that will be appointed for you later will not be a
superintendent job, but you will finish all degrees, goals and tasks you have set
yourself before you entered the Institute – we have got the best teachers in the
whole world, so you will find yourself thriving quickly. You were chosen to be
the first in this new experiment, creating a happier society, self accepted… Your
uniforms are waiting for each one of you in his room. After you will don it, you
will have your first session with your psychologist – a superintendent. Your
puzzle will be in your room when you return… Good luck.
They gave me a number, uniforms, studied every hidden secret, which I did not
want to cope even when I was by myself. It has been three years of
psychoanalysis, of tries to forgive myself, evolving is order to become a man of a
new class – perfect. When I first saw the puzzle, I was certain I will never leave
this place, but now – it is solved. I was the first one to solve the personal puzzle.
I went through, like the others, a hard long way to self approval. I reached the
Institute with horrible hatred, secrets leaching in my veins, poisoning the blood
and body. In the institute I began a new life, as a matter of speaking. The first
phase of the therapy was a very initial experience, as I devoted myself to the
Institute and received protection as a newborn child, without concerns or past.
The puzzle and the studying were as one, with no tests – the puzzle was the
indicator for our success. I learned rapidly, in a speed which surprised neither me
nor the superintendents. One lecturer was the first to combine microelectronic
with biology, other was the decipherer of the extended string theory, and so on.
Within those three years, I did gain knowledge of all I ever dreamed of, and five
times as the standard program at the university.
During my time in the Institute, I met many people; each one of them with their
own dark secrets, as a screen that covered us all, bonding us in a way – as a war
uniting the fighting soldiers. The only time we did not smile at each other was
when a superintendent passed between us, to his supremacy we all lowered our
heads, watching his with admiration. The superintendents were our parents, our
teachers, our dreams and our gods. Apart from that, our lives together were
normal and happy. When we were gathering, we laughed at the people from the
real world, their hard lives and the joy of the Institute, the possibilities that lay
for some of us, and the pardon of the rest. We were a true society, only better.
But when we were alone in our homes, we looked at the skies, or anywhere else
with yearning – we wanted out.
I particularly remember one philosophy lesson passed from an old professor. He
told us about Plato and read us a story of him, about a group of people who were
bind to a cave wall from the minute they were born, their eyes closed, their ears
sealed. If you take such a man and release him, his muscles will be aching
unbearable pain, his eyes will be dazed, and sounds will flood his head. After this
man will get used to the outdoors and learn the wonders of freedom, he will
come back to the cave and release the others. They, who lived their lives
together, will see the free man as unusual, the one who caused their agonies, and
After another hour of waiting, a superintendent entered the quiet small room. He
walked me to other room, also small an even quieter. In this room, for the first
time, there were no taping and monitoring devices. That was the moment when I
realized the meaning of solving the puzzle. I made it – I am a new person. I am
leaving with a blank record, and achievements no human being can be ashamed
of. The superintendent gave me real clothes – no more white uniforms, no
more… I showered, feeling the liberty flowing… with all the brainwashing I
have been through, I forgot how it feels to clear your mind without thinking of an
I said goodbye personally to all of the friends I met in the Institute, gave them my
name, for the first time in three years, and my new telephone number, so when
(and if) they also set free, they will be able to contact me. They looked at me
with admiration – first perfect human, who succeeded to overcome his mistakes,
and not to repeat them, not failing ever again…
I left the Institute accompanied by a superintendent, this time she had no
expression of superiority in his eyes, even she looked at me as I were a god. She
served me the keys for my new car with proud smile, and then her phone number
in a shy grin, as he was a fan chasing his favorite actor. She and I began two
weeks later a romantic relationship, two elite men. I stopped a second before I
entered my new car, happy from the sight of the distant horizon. The sunlight
warmed me, both physically and spiritually – I am now freer than any other
human, and all roads are open for me.
Still, deep down inside, I knew the reason I set free was not a reason to be proud
of, I become wiser and solved the puzzle as the Institute desired, yet I was not
complete with my results – it is not the nature of man, my secrets will forever
remain with me. The regrets from the past darkening the future of the perfect
man, returning him every night to the Institute.
|Once Upon a Time|