Saul Kerman is the proud COO of Kerman Incorporated, a family business out of Great Rapids, Michigan, available for all your maintenance needs! Consider us the next time your boiler springs a leak, or the next time your auto-shop is out of that one crucial part! We're only a phone-call away!
A few months later
The meeting has gone on for several hours already, and shows no immediate sign that it’s going to draw to a close. That’s not the only reason that it’s rather wearying. Ultimately, all that’s really been covered so far is a list. A monstrous, daunting list of things that, to a greater or lesser extent, you now control. To your mind, it seems absurd, but everyone else seems to be accepting it as if it’s the most normal thing ever.
The corporate infrastructure left behind by the consortium seems to be looking for leadership. Based on documents, hierarchies, business continuity processes and a variety of less formal processes, again and again the lawyers seem to be coming to the conclusion that you either control these corporate entities, or at least need to make a decision about what happens next with them. As this has been explained to the sharp suited people sitting around in this board room with you, they’ve all nodded and murmured assent. Some have offered advice as to what you should be doing next, but most have stayed quiet, hanging on your every word (of which you’ve offered few).
You tune back in from your reverie and assess what’s currently being presented. A man in a slightly ill-fitting suit is itemising the main switch centres in the indo-chinese region, outlining operating costs (entirely sustainable) and routes for expansion. As with almost all of the presentations so far, you are almost certainly not the right person to make these decisions - in fact, the man presenting the information is almost certainly the most qualified to choose - but he won’t. At least, not yet. Not unless pushed.
You push back your chair and stand up. Everyone immediately falls silent and looks at you expectantly.
“Is this actually necessary?”. People seem to be rather surprised - that’s certainly not what they were expecting you to say. Some cluttered objections are raised - of course this is necessary, authority must be exercised, decisions made etc. etc. You wave your hands for silence.
“I’m happy to tell you all what to do, or at least what sort of thing to do. But do I actually need every detail? I’m not the sort of person who’s going to understand all of this - there’s too much here for anyone to understand.” You spot someone about to make an objection “…and I don’t care if Mr. Giant used to handle everything personally. That’s not how we’re doing things any more. Scroll back a few slides.” The presenter duly does, back to a huge diagram of broadband availability across the regions in question - plenty of green, but some red, and a few bits not even coloured in.
“Right - those expansions you mentioned - are they going to spread that green?”.
“Er. Yes Mr. Kerman. That’s not in question.”
“Right. And is that going to make people’s lives better?”.
“Well, I mean, probably.”
“Then do it!”.
You look around the whole room and then start speaking.
“Look. You all know your business, how to make these companies work, yes?”. Nods. No one’s going to say otherwise, but you’re pretty sure that they’re genuine.
“So you’re the right people to organise this, make the small decisions. I’ve just got one order for you. Do some good. All the good you can.” Murmuring starts up, the sort of murmuring that might blossom into objections unless nipped in the bud, so you don’t give them a chance.
“That’s it. No clarifications. No further discussion, because I know you don’t need it, not really. Do good. Bring the future to the world. Get on the phone to the Colton foundation and work with them. Help as many people as possible. If you need the rest of this meeting then by all means continue, but I’m off to get a coffee.”
Many years later…
A man in late middle-age sits on the end of the jetty, fishing rod held still. The sun shines down through the brisk mountain air, making the lake sparkle. Incalculable beauty that’s an every day wonder here. The man on the end of the pier shifts slightly, just enough to let the young woman standing at the base of the jetty, next to the log cabin, know that she’s been noticed. He doesn’t speak, flicking his fishing rod slightly further out into the lake. Taking silence as permission, the young woman, speaks, kneeling as she does to get a tablet out of her bag.
“I’ve finally found you.” She is clearly expecting some kind of reaction to this, but the man remains silent, taking a swig of coffee from a thermos sitting next to him.
“It’s the helicopters. I know they pick you up twice a year. Nothing flies here for any other reason, but the flight paths are publically trackable. I knew you hadn’t vanished completely.” She puts her hands on her waist, clearly feeling very proud of herself, and expecting some response, anything in the face of this revelation. Still nothing though. She seems to get slightly angry, especially as the man seems more intent on reeling in a fish than paying attention to her.
“I know it all! I’ve figured it out, hunted across the world and the net, asked all the right questions. You were at the Nexus - yes, I know about that, I found someone in a shared space on the net who knew all about it! You and the others decided the fate of the whole world!” She’s speaking faster and faster - clearly she’s been waiting for this for some time, and it’s just not going how she expected.
“And then afterwards - you controlled everything. Mr. Pike was gone, Mr. Giant was gone and you, you came up with the master plan to run the whole world - all the wonders of technology given to everyone. You’re the shadowy genius who’s running it all - you have to be!”. This finally seems to get a reaction from the man, a low chuckle before he starts to stand and walk back to the hut, straight past the young woman. As he reaches the threshold, she shouts out in clear frustration:
“Don’t you have anything to say? About all of it? About any of it?”.
The man turns and thinks for a second, then, finally, speaks:
“Would you like some fish?”