They woke up and checked the numbers at once. They were ok. Not great, nothing that would give a ping of happiness. But also nothing that would cause the dreaded uneasiness. They were ok for now.
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The hermit woke up. For almost seven years he had been living in this cave. All this time, he had not spoken to anyone. Had touched no one. His hair and beard and nails were uncut. He had been living on grains and water only.
When he heard steps coming closer, he sat up. As always, he took a human skull in his hand and looked at it intensely.
A voice with a victorian accent.
“In this part of the park, I have something quite particular. It is a hermit cave, complete with inhabitant. Look inside, do you see him? He is pondering the questions of life and death.”
There was a short pause.
“His seven year contract is almost up. I’ll have to find another one soon.”
Once upon a time, a guy came to believe that he had a computer chip in his head.
So he tried to find out whether this was real or him being schizophrenic.
It turned out both was true.
He drove to a supermarket. Inside he looked for some barbecue sauce and found a huge shelf. He paused. There was a multitude of brands and flavours.
On his iPhone he listened to the Iliad, it’s the scene where Achilles stands in front of the funeral pyre of his friend Patroclus, giving a vow of vengeance. When told the cost of this oath would be his own death, Achilles does not hesitate.
“Let me die next, and be avenged of my enemy, rather than abide here by the beaked ships, a laughing stock and a burden of the earth!”
He took the headphones off, sighed deeply and left the supermarket abruptly. The sun scorched the parking lot outside. Empty handed he got into the car and drove to a different supermarket.
But they are all the same.
They were drinking in a posh bar.
“Money is the greatest freedom we know”, he said. “How many stories feature a bag of cash? No matter who you are, if you have it, the world is open.”
“But money can’t buy happiness.”
“But it is certainly easier to be happy when you have some”, he replied. “The bag full of cash might be the most egalitarian thing that was ever produced by any society.”
They finished their drinks and put some bills on the table. The waiter stopped them at the door. The bar only accepted electronic payment.