Reinventing The Wheel
Written by Ethan Yen during Spring 2010
“Robert Wilson, you are cleared for access. Approach the nearest landing zone.”
The robotic voice ended as Robert adjusted the controls of his hover-car. It required great skill and concentration to maneuver the vehicle, and Robert’s practiced hands skillfully completed the landing process. The journey had been longer than anticipated, and Robert was quite amazed – and annoyed – that there still existed an island out in the ocean so far away from civilization. It was not a particular large island, perhaps around a fifth of the size of New Madagascar, but seemed well suited for living on. Just before his view was obscured by the line of trees, Robert had seen a large mountain and an equally tall tower – the watchtower from which the dispatcher supposedly sent his directions.
The landing zone turned out to be the sandy shore off the island, only marked by a signaling post planted deeply in the sand, flashing red. Robert checked the dashboard one last time to see if the trip had taken a toll on the hover-car, seeing everything in satisfactory order, he turned around and grabbed his duffle bag from the back seat. He checked his watch, right on schedule, just the way he liked it.
As the sand settled, a figure appeared outside from the trees. A young female dressed in a professional looking outfit walked up to the hover-car. Robert opened the door and stepped out, stretching as he did so.
“Mr. Wilson?” The lady asked, giving a very professional smile. Robert adjusted his bag on his shoulder and extended a hand.
“Yes, that’s me. On behalf of the World News Network, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity for this interview.” The woman looked at the hand inquisitively and ignored it, not bothering to reply to the statement. Robert lowered his hand awkwardly as she motioned toward the path she had come from in the tree line.
“If you would please follow me, Mr. Freesmith is awaiting your arrival.” Robert nodded and looked back at his hover car, “Do not worry,” the lady said, realizing his thought, “your hover-car will be safe. As you are well aware, Elysia is a crime-free area.”
The path was well-kept, and Robert looked around as walked, looking for anyone within the trees. The forest was too quite to Robert, who was used to the city noise, and seemed to emphasize the fact that Robert was nowhere near civilization. He had never seen this many trees in one place before, except in images and Robert’s attention was drawn to them. He was not an environmental expert, but Robert was sure that he had never seen these kinds of trees before. After the eco-disasters of 2070, the governments could save only a few of the flora, and through genetic engineering, they were grown in all areas of the world.
‘They are called Palm Trees,” the lady explained, without turning her head, “Mr. Freesmith prides himself in making Elysia a haven for all types of nature.”
“That’s interesting. Excuse me, but where are the people?” Robert asked politely, still looking for any sign of moving life. The lady stopped at a fork in the path and pointed to the path turning right.
“The people live on the western part of the island, near the lake. Mr. Freesmith chooses to reside in the eastern part of the island, away from the rest of the population.”
They took the left path and continued for a few more minutes, Robert taking in all the sights he had never seen before. Finally the trees cleared and the path led up to a small hill, where Robert noticed what he thought was the watchtower, connected to a large modern looking house, complete with solar panels and carbon plating. It was indeed a dwelling fit for an owner of a multi-billionaire company.
The lady led Robert to the top of the hill and the front door of the mansion. With a loud buzz, she clicked a button on the intercom next to the door. They waited for a few seconds, until a man’s voice was heard.
“Yes?” The voice seemed aged with experience, and possessed a quality of nobility, almost arrogance. Robert was reminded of the accents of the people of the decimated island of Enkland.
“Mr. Wilson here to see you sir.” The lady replied.
“Thank you O-3, send him up, your program has reached completion.” The click of the intercom signaled the end of the conversation. The lady turned to Robert and the door opened up with the sound of mechanical gears whirring.
“You may enter Mr. Wilson, follow the stairs to your right and you will find Mr. Freesmith in his study. Enjoy your stay.” And with the end of her instructions, Robert noticed her body start to go fuzzy on the edges. He blinked to clear his vision, but it was no mistake, the woman was blurring up, and with a slight popping sound, she disappeared. Robert was taken aback, not quite sure what had just occurred. Confused, he headed into the mansion, starting to question his decision in coming.
It was dark, and strangely nostalgic. Contrary to the modern outside appearance of the house, the interior reminded Robert of the 18th century houses he read about. The dim lighting came from lamps on the wall. Robert could not see farther than a few feet into the mansion, but spotted the staircase to his right, presumably leading to the top of the watchtower, and Mr. Freesmith’s study.
He wondered why there were no airlifts to the top of the tower, instead of having to walk on the clumsy stairs. The steps ended at a doorway, the metal engraving of MR. ADAM FREESMITH adorning the center of the door. Robert wiped the sweat off his forehead and took a deep breath. He was not usually nervous before an interview, after all, he was a experienced journalist, and he had conducted numerous interviews with famous people before. But something unsettled him, the mystery of it all. The fact that he was on an island nowhere near civilized contact and meeting a man that was never seen in public had made him more than a little uncomfortable. Nevertheless, he had been asked here by direct order from his boss, and he was not about to lose such a career making interview. Robert knew that whatever transpired inside this room, he would leave a changed man.
Drawing as much confidence to himself as possible, Robert knocked on the door three times.
“Enter.” The voice came from behind the door, the same voice as from the intercom, but Robert could immediately detect the tone of power and wealth that filled his ears.
Robert clicked the button that slide the door open, and he walked inside, taking in the sight of the study.
The room was brightly lit by two windows on the sides of the room, made entirely of glass. The study was very businesslike. The floor was covered in a fine Persian rug, the two remaining walls lined with countless old texts and a giant gold chandelier hanging from the ceiling. An antique rifle hung on the wall as decoration, however, by its condition, Robert guessed that it could still work. There were two comfortable looking chairs off to the corner, by the windowed walls, with a small coffee table hovering in between them. A large computer screen sat on a metal desk in the center of the room, and behind the desk sat Mr. Freesmith.
He looked very similar to what Robert imagined. He was a very sophisticated man, well groomed, in his middle ages, wearing a very fashionable suit. He stroked his gray beard with his hand full of jewel rings, and with the other hand fiddled with a golden chain around his neck. The only thing that took Robert by surprise was the spectacles sitting on the man’s nose. Most of the wealthy paid for surgeries to eliminate any problems that may occur from old age. As a result, glasses, hearing aids, pace-makers and even a natural life-span were considered symbols of the common people.
The billionaire looked up from his computer screen and looked at Robert with wise eyes, sizing him up. Robert felt very exposed at this moment, and adjusted his duffle bag of equipment so it rested in front of him. Mr. Freesmith smiled and got up from his chair walking over to Robert.
“Hello, you must be Mr. Wilson, the journalist.” It took a moment for Robert to regain himself and his professional manner. Quickly he cleared his throat and extended his hand.
“Yes that’s me. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I know you are a busy man.”
“Hardly,” the billionaire replied jokingly, ignoring Robert’s hand. “Please, have a seat in the chairs; we may conduct the interview there.” The two men walked over to the corner and sat down. Robert spared a quick glance outside and noticed a few building far off in the distance.
“So,” Mr. Freesmith began, “Where would you like to start?” Robert turned back to the man, and dove into his duffle bag and pulled out a video recorder and tripod. He set it up next to his seat facing the multi-billionaire, who seemed quite relaxed, as if he had done this many times.
“You’re a hard man to contact, Mr. Freesmith” Robert said, “You’re the head of the world’s second largest company and the fifth wealthiest man. Yet you haven’t appeared in public, made any statements of any sort, and live on an isolated island with a few select people. Would you be willing to tell me as to why you finally agreed to an interview?”
“Just because I live on an isolated island does not mean that I do not keep up with the events in this world.” Mr. Freesmith replied smoothly, gazing outside, “I have seen what is going on around me. And thanks to the reports of your business, the WNN, I feel that it is time for me to come out from the shadows, and deliver my message to the peoples.”
“Your message?” Robert asked, confused.
“Yes.” Robert waited for the multi-billionaire to continue, but the man got up from his chair, and walked over to the large windows looking over the island.
“Tell me, Mr. Wilson. What do you know of my island, Elysia?” Freesmith gazed out into the scenery. The sun was just beginning to set, and something glinted on the middle-aged man’s face in the light, catching Robert’s attention. He could have sworn it was a tear.
“Well,” Robert started, clearing his throat. He was not used to being the one answering the questions in his own interview. Attempting to recall the information he had read prior to leaving his office, Robert recited what he remembered. “Elysia Island, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Purchased by Adam Freesmith of Eco-Tech Industries in the year 3004, and altered for settlement in 3010. Information on its purpose and inhabitants has never been disclosed. All that is known is that Mr. Freesmith and a few hundred people live on the island, without any contact from cities. Access to the island is strictly forbidden unless by invitation, explaining the lack of information.”
“Very good,” Mr. Freesmith commented, still gazing outside, “You seem to have an excellent memory. Was it a Records Android that told you this information?”
“No sir,” Robert replied politely, “I assembled the information myself. Personally,” He added hesitantly, “I do not trust a robot to do man’s work. That is why I drive my hover-car on manual, instead of auto-pilot.”
“Is that so?” Freesmith turned around and raised in eyebrow in interest, “We live in an age of marveling technology, yet you shun the resources given to you?” He outstretched his arms to encompass his office, the computer screen humming softly.
“I do not shun my resources; I value my freedom more than convenience.”
“Hmmm…interesting.” Robert was beginning to dislike this man very much. Everything the man said seemed to have a deeper meaning. It was as if Robert was being tested, and he did not like the feeling. Freesmith chuckled silently as if recalling an inside joke, and after a few seconds, returned to the conversation.
“Sorry, your comment reminded me of an amusing memory,” He said apologetically, “Anyway, back to the business at hand. You are a correct in all that you said Mr. Wilson. Elysia is my private island, where only a few live, in fact, I am the only one who lives on the eastern part of the island. The rest of the inhabitants live in a small city on the west. But Elysia is more than just a getaway, a place to escape from the troubling world. Elysia is, first and foremost, an experiment.”
“An experiment?” Robert inquired, his interest growing.
“Indeed, an experiment.” Freesmith sat back down and looked at Robert in the eyes. “I think you can agree with me, Mr. Wilson, that something is wrong with the way we live, the way humanity lives. We have caused many wars and deaths, and nearly destroyed our environment. Our cities, no matter how grand they may look, are crumbling internally, the very structure of our society is decaying. I believe this problem can be solved, and once solved, will lead to a more stable and progressive human race. Here, on Elysia, I have set-up my experiment, to find the ‘perfect’ society.”
“A perfect society?”
“Yes,” Freesmith smiled, enjoying Robert’s fascination, “It is commonly believed that human nature, like any animal, has a priority of self-preservation. This priority leads to savage acts if left unchecked, and could consume the human race. Even I myself used to participate in hunting game for the sheer joy of it. My rifle is hanging on the wall over there. But as you well know, Society is our attempt to tame the beast within. Society sets up a series of laws that we choose to follow in order to maintain a semblance of order, of peace. But in truth, as we have seen over the past years, order and peace are a lie. As long as humanity seeks its freedom from these bounds of Society, we can never have a peaceful existence. The human race’s poor attempts at controlling their inhibitions have only lead to more problems.”
“What are you proposing?”
“I have tried various methods of creating a society. I have recruited various people from around the world to participate in my experiments. I have tried true democracies, dicatorships, oligarchies, monarchies, republics, and all sorts of governments. I have engineered cultures and traditions in order to create the perfect mindset for human nature to reside in. I have tried allowing freedoms, technologies, various ideas. Here on Elysia, I try to find the perfect recipe for a utopia, where humanity can exist as it should be, without war and destruction!” Freesmith’s voice had been growing in volume as he spoke, clearly energized by the idea of such a possibility. Robert was afraid to interrupt, but whispered a word.
“And I have come to a conclusion.” The wealthy man said softly, “What rights do humans have to organize society? What say do we have in anything, to try to control the uncontrollable? Society is our poor attempt at controlling ourselves. I tell you, control is an illusion….freedom is an illusion.” Robert let this information settle in to his mind, attempting to wrap his head around the ideas presented forth. He did not like the sound of what Freesmith had said.
“What is your message?”
“If Society and Human Nature are in constant struggle for supremacy, and we cannot get rid of Human Nature, there is only one option left.”
“You can’t be serious!” Robert roared, getting up to his feet, nearly kicking the recorder off its stand. “You can’t possibly propose to destroy society! There would be chaos, death, destruction. The world would fall apart! You make it sound so simple, but there must be a way for us to live in a peaceful society!”
“We cannot.” Freesmith said simply, appearing unfazed by Robert’s outburst. “Human nature is simply that: nature. I have concluded that any attempt to control the natural results in a worse outcome. Near the end of my experiments I attempted to incorporate this fact into the structuring of my societies: to embrace, rather than oppose Human Nature. Society could serve as a social natural selection, weeding out the week. But our struggle for such concepts such as ‘freedom,’ ‘equality’ and ‘justice’ are found in our societies, and are lies. There is no utopia, and the fact that we are constantly searching for a utopia will result in our downfall. So I propose to salvage what we can of our reality, and eliminate society, start fresh. How easy it would be to activate a few atomic bombs around the world, and destroy our civilizations, our societies, and have the human race begin again. We can never achieve paradise, the sooner we realize this, the better.”
“But what would you achieve by starting over? Would we not arrive at the same outcome?”
“Perhaps. Any attempt at creating society will be eliminated as quickly as possible. The threat of destruction will cause the human race to be fearful of so called ‘progress.’ Progress is just another word for mass destruction. If we remain the way nature intended, than there will be no problems.” Robert looked into the mad fury of Freesmith’s eyes. He detected an almost fanatical if not borderline crazy tone in the old man’s voice, and Robert knew that any attempt to reason with him would be hopeless.
“It is very ironic,” Freesmith chuckled, “That in order to prevent society, I must structure one myself. It is in the nature of reality to be built upon ironies. “
The room remained silent after Freesmith’s last comment. Robert knew he must act, there was no way he would let this man attempt his insane plan, and there was no way Robert would participate in spreading the news. His mind raced with questions, answers and possibilities. Much of what Freesmith said was true, although Robert believed that it was in the nature of humanity to attempt the impossible. There was nothing wrong with human nature, only that its very nature, as Freesmith had pointed out, was ironic. Everything was ironic. And yet, Robert did not want to give up his freedom, his sense of order, no matter if it was an illusion. There was a sense of betterment through society, and Freesmith’s plan only seemed to destroy it. Humans may have no right to organize society, but like everything they did, it was natural. Humans were not at war because they conflicted with the natural, they were part of the natural because of this fact. Everything was a paradox. Robert’s head began swimming with illogical thoughts. He could not focus, and in an almost zombie-like motion, he slowly rose from his seat. Freesmith stood silently, looking outside with an expression of pity on his face. The journalist slowly turned his head to look out towards the island, and then to the unaware multi-billionaire, and finally, his gaze settled on the rifle hanging on the wall.