Each morning he passes the machine being built in the center of the city.
There. The future.
The . . . thing . . . that draws onlookers with cell phone cameras and reporters and most importantly, the workers who come to offer their hands, their souls, their time to the Visionary, the thin and elusive man who won’t say what the machine is meant to do other than connect us all, it will open the pathway to a more fair future, it is the next step towards justice, wait and see but trust me that this is what you want, the machine can give you a better life.
Platitudes, platitudes that are devoured by the fawning public. But the one who passes the machine on his way to work knows the truth. The machine is being built to devour all who have resistance in their hearts, resistance to the vision of the new world. The ones who wish to remain free, truly free, the kind of liberty born out of ancient origins, the first flame, a breath, a spark, a word spoken.
He sees the machine’s eyes--are those eyes?--watching him as he passes by. They follow him. In the midst of the chaos, the lifeless machine sees him.
Now it knows his face. Now it knows what is inside his heart: defiance.
And the machine knows he is not a part of the plan, he who sees the truth of what is being built around him -- the new society -- and knows that he won’t submit to the rulers or their version of values, and the rulers won’t permit him to live without submitting.
And one morning he pauses and picks up a stone and hurls it at the machine with all his might. Damn you. Die. The rock clanks harmlessly to the ground, but the crowds see what he has done and turn their cameras upon him. Do you hate justice? Do you hate fairness? Do you hate us? They chase him, enraged, but he flees, and the next day when he passes they have already forgotten his face, but the machine hasn’t. The machine remembers.
Day after day. Month after month. Until one year fades into another and he sees what is to come but says nothing. The machine is no longer simply watching. It is listening too. Making a list of people like him. He knows it. Somewhere in that mass of metal and wires and madness! Is his name, remembered in code, his face recognized, his address, his phone number, his social security number, every word he has ever spoken and every word he has been presumed to have spoke, his thoughts, his potential thoughts, all of it, the machine knows everything about him and the most important thing is this: he is not one of us. There is no space for a man like this in the society that is being build around him like a cage.
For he is dangerous.
A single dangerous mind is a threat to all.
He sees the machine coming to form. Closer. Closer, and as it grows closer the crowds swell. They dance in circles as the Visionary announces that tomorrow is the day.
Tomorrow all will be made right in the world, and what we have desired for so long -- a better tomorrow -- has come at last. No more questions need to be asked, it’s just better. It’s better, and just, and fair, and righteous, and equal, and all the words we learned about in kindergarten, and now they’re here thanks to the machine. It will henceforth be known as Freedom Day.
That morning he zips his backpack ever so carefully. For inside is the bomb he built, the bomb that the machine knows he built because the machine knows everything, the machine knows what he buys, the machine knows what he wants to buy. But why didn’t it stop him? Why didn’t the machine send soldiers to knock on his door? What does the machine know that he doesn’t?
He puts the backpack on and walks towards the city square, and the machine sees him from far off. Say something. Say something. All these years and you said nothing. You were silent as the machine was being built even as you knew why it was being built, and you said nothing because you were afraid, and because you said nothing, no one said anything, they took out their cameras and gawked and squeaked, but you said nothing and now you will have nothing left.
And so he presses into the crowd to make it to the machine, to blow up this damned monster once and for all, but a firm hand grips his shoulder and turns him around. An old man, not here to celebrate, but here to find him. To save him from what he was about to do.
The old man guides him away from the crowd and to a bench, where they sit. And the old man leans close and says, “The machine can only be conquered with love.”