Book 0: Chapter 4

The Last King

Takahashi’s eyes stared down the dark corridor, towards the rows of people, all plugged into their machines. Tamashi, he called it. What a silly name for a nonsense product. Each of them had volunteered like the sheep they were to be plugged into his machines. Each of them had surrendered their lives and liberties to be linked to a constant feed of empty euphoria. Some of course had resisted, but with so much of the world under his control, everyone had fallen in line. This facility alone had ninety-nine Tamashi, including the special one. But all across the world, facilities lined the streets. Where once houses lit up the night sky, these facilities were now the only sources of light, while every house was forever dark.

Everyone had succumbed to the draw of his machines.

He had conquered the world.

He had won.

He walked up some steps to the throne he had made, and sat down while he overlooked the people he had conquered. He took a minute to dwell on what had led him to this moment. It was a few short years ago that he became the CEO of the Triangle Company. A few short years that led him to the status of a king. He was not the same man he once was. The throne felt right in his hands. He had the conviction of a conqueror, and the vision to see it through.

But none of this would have been possible without his chief researcher.

He had found a way to sustain the chemicals that led to euphoria. And with it came the keys to the world. The other board members didn’t share his vision. They knew that the rich would pay through the nose after they had a taste, but they only saw it as a carrot to dangle in front of people, not as the world changing tool he knew it could be.

For he alone understood. Once he took enough powerful pieces off the board, the pawns would inevitably follow. Money wasn’t the objective. It was power. Now he had it all. But as he looked over the beds of his fallen subjects, he felt a distasteful sense of melancholy.

There was nothing left for him anymore.

The world was his, and every single other person was plugged into his machines.

He could travel anywhere, or do anything, but what would be the point? He already had everything, and control over everyone. No goals remained, and he smiled at his ironic lack of purpose. Every goal he ever had was to be respected by, or improve his status over others. Every mansion existed to invoke envy, every magazine cover was to reinforce his superiority. But no one looked at his houses anymore. No one read any magazines. In the end, it was always about how others looked at him. Now he was condemned to wander empty cities, to speak where no one could listen, and live with no one to compare himself to.

Perhaps this was the fate of the conqueror, to win so completely that you can no longer be defined by challenges. He understood now why Alexander the Great wept when there were no more worlds to conquer.

But he had one thing Alexander didn’t. He had the keys to paradise.

He held a plug in his right hand, which he held in solemn gravity.

If he committed to this, it would mean subjecting himself to the same prison he’d subjected countless others. It would mean debasing his mortal life for manufactured bliss.

He looked deeply across the hallway as if someone would call out to him, but no one did. It was deathly silent, as it had been for days. There was nothing left for him here. No joys, no challenges, and nothing to live for. It was time to go.

He wondered how the history books would describe him if anyone was there to write them. The CEO that ended everything? The last human? The last King? He hoped it was the latter. And with that hope in his heart, he plugged himself into the machine and surrendered himself to his own manufactured bliss.