Aphelion Issue 245, Volume 23
November 2019
 
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The Year of Job

by Jason Arsenault




Job loved money. Just knowing he had loads more than most was enough to get him out of bed in the morning. Yet that would soon be a problem; because, by the year-end edict, Job surely would be the one. Indeed, since last year, he had been prominently, now exuberantly, in the lead for Truncation.

But this year, Job didn't care anymore, he had weighed his cards and decided to go for it. Before December 31st, the day the richest man in the world was to be executed, his assets--liquid or otherwise--were to be confiscated and redistributed to the least fortunate. He had decided to do something about it. He was going to use all his collected powers to get to the actual Switch and put this godforsaken Neopol Cycle out altogether. It was the only way he could stay on top. It was the only way he thought he could have any real satisfaction out of life. But Job was wrong.

He had a hell of a time bringing it all down.


*****



Everything started falling upon itself about two weeks ago, during the cabal meeting at the end of November.

Peppered with wind and sleet, Job straightened his collar and walked towards the group of ten men surrounding another kneeling, pleading for leniency.

"Sign the papers," Carlson, the second-to-next richest man on the planet, said. Job's colleague pushed the waterproof tablet against the peon's chest.

"I won't," he replied with newfound candor.

Carlson withdrew his laser scalpel. "Hold him," he told the others. Two men, clad in black trench-coats cut from the same luxurious material as Job's, grabbed the stooge and outstretched his fingers upon a decayed, wooden pole.

"Sign the papers," he said again.

"Think of your family," another cabal member pleaded. "Think how better off they'll be with what you would leave them."

Soaked in chilling slush, the man only stared back before shaking his head swiftly. Carlson asked again but didn't wait for a reply.

The stooge lost his pinky and Carlson's lack of surgical skills accidentally cut another, and half of the next finger too; cauterized it right to the bone. The man's screams were drowned by the wind and sleet.

Job sighed. One of the others turned to him and asked, "Loosing your taste for this? You started this twelve years ago." Koch looked at him sideways like Job was a peon himself.

This caused him to sigh again, but he then whispered, "I'm losing my taste for the whole Cycle."

"He'll do it," another man confirmed, staring at the stooge.

Carlson grabbed that man's cold, wet hair and lifted the face twisted in pain. "Sign the papers," he said through clenched teeth.

The man did, immediately receiving a large sum from every cabal member's total net worth. The stooge, who wished only to survive and get out of the cold, became the richest man in the world. The contract, as legally binding as they got, was so meticulously tight that any regular folk had little or no possibility of liquidating even a small fraction of these new riches before Truncation--hardly could he know how.

They left him, lathered in slush as he collected his wits and digits. Despite Job's misgivings, everything had been going according to plan.


*****



Until Job awoke to the chimes of his credit report, then almost choked on his saliva as he saw the figures. He immediately called the second highest-holder's number and said, "Carlson...What the frack?"

After Job explained, he reluctantly said, "I don't know who could move that much creds."

"You're trying to gang donate me again."

He denied it adamantly. "Maybe some group, so disperse and so large, they hardly shared more than a penny's worth."

"Some new trend, some new mass gang donation behavior by a group so large our surveillance corporations can't even triangulate their core." Job was wringing his fleshy phone to pulp.

"Jesus," was Carlson's only reply.

The first thing Job did exactly one minute after bank opening hours was buy three theme parks at overly inflated prices. This didn't change his net worth, of course, but it opened the possibility for unprofitable litigations.

Through one of Job's dummy dark-net news agencies he posted the following add--The first person to die at any of these following locations (GPS coordinates indicated) will have their estate granted twenty million dollars (highest legally allowed prize payout in America). Then he waited for the unfortunate souls who couldn't handle this life, but that in dying might benefit their dependant families for many years to come. So after one man unbuckled himself from the roller-coaster and got decapitated inside a sharp turn, the arena was deemed unsafe and the park was sued for lack of appropriate harnesses. This drastically plummeted stock value, and Job, with a longwinded teleprompted speech, deemed the venture unsustainable and sold it massively undervalued. Another park was closed when an armored elephant trampled through Job's amusement park in upstate Vermont, killing an elderly couple and a child. It was deemed an act of god--who could have foreseen such a creature crashing the gates? His full insurance coverage wouldn't pay a dime. Excellent! Job was ecstatic to hear of this perfect stranger's perfect plan and, after the rider was shot numerous times during his arrest, Job was happy to upload the hard-earned cash to his estate. The next turn of luck came when a group of organised men-children demanded equitable access to the kids only ball pen inside Globe-World. The upstanding gatekeeper-- bless his heart thought Job--would not acquiesce and a full riot quickly ensued. Numerous virtue signallers jumped in, defending, or accusing, either side of unwarranted bigotry, swinging trash-cans and fence-poles of justice at whoever was the most, or least, marginalized; clawing at the eyes and ears of whoever argued for them to stop; the orgy of hate, blood and blind self-denial tapered only when tear-gas and pepper-spray rained upon them. At the sight of the resulting battlefield, there was no question of keeping the park open, and thus, Globe-World was no more. Job would open a memorial to honor the victims of today's tragedy; paying the full fee himself, sparing no expenses; and, in addition--so generous was he--that he paid all those who had lost their lives, willingly or not, as well.

Looking at his pad, Job thought that today had been a good day; not even in his prime had he been so efficient at legal capital burning. Job took no pleasures in such frugality, but the one thing he valued more than money was his life (so he could enjoy his money, of course).

"I've heard you've been busy," Carlson said once Job answered from atop his garden skyrise.

"Hardly half a percent, I need to get rid of another thirty-five, thirty-six percent before I feel safe again."

"The stooge won't know how to rid himself of that much, you should be safe after loosing twenty percent or so."

Job bit at his lips thinking this over. Carlson was being sloppy; he wouldn't throw figures like that if it were his own finances that could get him axed. I need to up my game, thought Job. "You can't be too safe, you can't foresee any new group behaviour like the recent gang donation. You might be next yourself."

It chilled Job thinking about it, he had put it behind him while he spent all day spending money, but it had always been there, quietly, behind his rapid mathematical arithmetic needed to rip himself off the most efficiently. The taste of it remained: a group, a massive democratic demographic, had united to rid the world of him, targeting Job personally. What could he have done that was so horrible?


*****



The next morning, Job knew he had to far exceed yesterday's output if he were to get anywhere safe enough to survive another gang donation. So when the banks opened, he got his favourite teller to produce an exorbitant number of prize checks. They couldn't be "awarded" to the same source, of course, but they could be "awarded" to whomever he pleased.

Then Job stepped onto the streets--a place he usually avoided due to overcrowding and the smell of human by-products--to get into the next phase of his plan. There, whenever he saw anyone with any noticeable peculiarity, he would make them a winner. Those with the largest hat, shortest shorts, bluest vest, highest belt, tightest pants, least number of fingers, mutant with most amount of limbs, et cetera, suddenly found themselves holding a fat check and a wide grin following their introduction with Job, the philanthropist. Shortly thereafter, a large crowd had gathered around him with hands outstretched, but he couldn't simply give away his money; they had to win... somehow. He dropped a handful, few enough to be declared as lost or stolen, then crawled out through an opening while avoiding the trampling feet. He wiped his brows, sighed, and remembered why he preferred to be chauffeured around.

He continued but moved briskly to avoid being cornered by a poor mob again. They were all happy to win, happy to meet a man who cared more about loosing money than they did about getting any, but one man refused.

"You're that rich bitch aren't y'a," the man said then spat on Job's hyper-reflective shoe.

Job was befuddled, his facial memory was usually impeccable, he was sure he had never met the guy. How could he hate Job without ever having met? It seemed so unfair.

"You're gonna get trunked rich bitch," he said with more menace. Job didn't know what to say, but when the man raised his fist, Job hunkered low and slipped through another ever-growing mob of the poor. "We're gonna get you," the man yelled over bobbing heads. Job couldn't hear the full extent of the unjust rumors being shared, but when another person pointed towards him, red-faced like a beet, Job immediately decided to retreat from the streets.

For some reason they were listening to that angry man, and what he told them seemed more important than all of Job's money. What an utterly foolish concept. A piece of tin-can litter landed by his feet. Someone had thrown it at him. Why was that man's hatred spreading like wildfire?

Enough of that he thought and called his emergency pickup. Two minutes later swat teams had cleared a perimeter for landing and Job was ushered inside.

"Your sapphire gin, sir," the waiter said as Job sat in his central chair inside the limo-copter.

"Thanks Alfred," Job said to the man whose name he couldn't remember.

To cheer himself up from this dismal mood, he purchased another five amusement parks with similar solicitations, an empty apartment high-rise complex that he intended to arson--surreptitiously, of course--three restaurant chains he would anonymously disclose "served traces of cat meat in their dog burgers", and one large plasticware sweatshop he would--a tide of nausea momentarily rose in his throat--unionize.

Those should all cost him quite a doozy he surmised and sat back draining high-priced alcohol (pennies worth, really) waiting for his figures to plummet. But then something curious happened, or rather, nothing happened...

There must be some mistake he thought and went over the dummy dark-net adds; his were posted. People should be suiciding by the boat-loads, but nada, nothing. Biting his fingernails, he realised that those amusement parks were holding their value. That uninsured building complex hadn't burned yet. The restauranteurs didn't even seem phased by unknowingly eating cat. And those union heads hardly made demands beyond a simple dental plan. Damn it all to hell. He spilled his drink as his heartrate sored. What was going on? His tried and tested methods were leading nowhere.

A few panic and gibberish-filled phone calls to his already-overly intimidated staff brought only more confusion. But he had to get to the bottom of this mystery. He dialed his most efficient surveillance corporation and talked directly to the CEO himself. Ted, the chief, assured him that he would get to the bottom of this if he had to scour every last niche inside the dark nets.

"I'm putting everything at your disposal, sir, our best investigators and data sifter."

Click. He hadn't said goodbye or thanks, but Ted had to understand how Job felt right now. He still had about thirty billion creds worth of lethal excess.

Job leaned back and tried to control his breathing, but when he closed his eyes all he could see was the vehement hatred from that man he had never been introduced. "You're gonna get trunked rich bitch." Sitting straight up, he realised then that that man knew what Job was trying to do and that he had tried to curtail it. He obviously couldn't be the only one, but the trend was there. And he feared it was growing.

The phone roused him from his much-needed snooze at the same time his anxiety pushed him out of dreamland, double-teaming his burning jolt back to cold-sweat reality. "I've some news," Ted said like he found out Job had terminal testicle cancer.

"There's massive trolling on every one of your outlets; it seems a large proportion of attention is put into informing people... not to rip you off."

"Jesus."

"It gets worse," Ted said and continued to apprise Job that some of his lesser known offences were gartering mainstream attention.

"I didn't poison that peninsula," Job interrupted, "It was Carlson's crude shipment."

"The massive clearcutting in the Brazilian mountains."

"That lousy minister was supposed to handle it."

"The investments into unethical longevity treatments--"

"They're legal in Spain."

"The woman with cystic fibrosis you fired--"

"She was robbing me," Job pleaded.

"To pay for her treatments," Ted reminded him.

"What are we? In the age of the oppressed."

"They posted about the journalists you suppressed."

"They were blackmailing me."

"..."

"It seems there are extenuating reasons many people want you trunked."

Job sighed, it was so unfair. Why was he being penalized for being above everyone else?

"The group, as unbelievable as it sounds, that are aware of various facets of your misanthropic endeavors, stretch around to globe at an average of one person in eight. Otherwise, you also seem to have gotten a minor cult following that worship your egregious hedonism and joie de vivre. They're gambling on your toppling the entire Neopol cycle altogether, instead of voluntarily submitting to Truncation. 'Job never submits.' is their slogan."


*****



"What?" A new spark started glowing amidst Job's immense worry. Could he really do it? He had enough capital to get the world's two largest armies to bomb each other into oblivion, but the switch was two miles deep under New York concrete, it needed subtler tinkering than full-on MAD belligerence. Ted's words of dire warning faded as Job's mathematical mind went back into overdrive. Even if he got rid of all those billions, he could face another gang donation any time. The Switch was the key.

The mega-computer, or the Switch as it had been ordained, computed every social parameter known to humankind and, every seventy years, generated a constitution to address ever-necessary social improvements. The Mormon programmer, nearly a millennium ago, designed the system to remove the inescapably-subjective, and ever-corrupt, human heart from the socio-political equation. It needed some tweaking--at an arbitrarily-decided seven decades--so a new legal constitution was re-computed, mostly to correct for newfound ways that humans could exploit it. Some called it utopia, others like Job deemed it "squashing of the human spirit." Since the dawn of civilisation, there were always Job-types that found loopholes, so the mega-computer tightened the reins on every possible dimension and, ever since Job was a wee lad, the Truncation system prevented the capital mega-geniuses from hoarding copious amounts of inaccessible wealth. But there was another way, if a new transition was desperately needed, one honorable person--devout in every way impossible for an honest human being--that could pass the trial of the four sentinels, would be granted access to the Switch and could forge a precocious transition, ahead of the 70-year mark. Many had tried, no one had ever succeeded.

Job decided then that he would be the first.

And like anything Job did, he did it with full audacity, winged it with a powerful trust from the hips. Either way, there was no study group to prepare for it, the tests, and natures of the tests themselves, were reset after each trial.

You only had one chance.

The metro-complex that housed the Switch could survive a Gigaton-fallout, it was resilient to tampering and resistant to any natural calamity save for a world destroying asteroid impact. The Switch was protected by hundreds of gun turrets, infrared scanning sensors, guard dogs, and innumerable watchmen. To get to it, the only known way, was to take the lobby elevator.

On sub-level 36, deep enough for a Mormon, Job addressed the clerk with his request. Before the graying old man looked up, Job scanned the waiting area and noted its spartan absence. No one was here; probably, he surmised, because no one believed it could actually be done. God forbid all those peons above would be completely satisfied with the status quo; a laughable concept. Chuckling, he turned to see an old man staring at him with eyes filled with a burning intensity. It caught him off-guard, he had assumed some sleepy, bureaucratic dawdler, but the man was appraising him the way Job studied stock micro-fluctuations, staring into him like a hunting eagle.

Before Job could open his mouth, the man said, "This will not end well for you Job."

How did he know his name? Job had only resolved to come here today.

"I--"

"You wish to activate the Switch ahead of the ordained time."

Jaw slack, he could only nod.

"And you are prepared to face the four sentinels?"

No, goddamn hell no, not anymore, not after looking into those eyes. "I am," he said then cleared his throat. "I am ready." He repeated, straightened his back. This wasn't a lethal trial, or at least others whom had failed had been able to talk about it.

"Be warned, they know far more about you than you know yourself."

After the old man opened the gate, Job moved through a long walkway painted like surgical steel. His footfalls echoed distant thunder and the wall reflected his uncertainty to infinite folds. There was no way he would maintain his composure staring at himself like this, so Job did what Job did best, he went head first and rammed.

Through the juncture he saw the first sentinel. A tall man, clad in armor, holding what Job hoped was a purely ornamental halberd. On his left temple he saw a brain implant that supplied this highly-dedicated-protector-of-the-Switch all the information he needed. Without looking, as Job approached, he adopted a wider stance and pointed his weapon towards the now motionless billionaire. The message was clear, trying to circumvent the challenge was fatal. Looking back, Job knew he could retreat without consequence to bodily integrity.

Before he could ask what the tests entailed--hopefully not brute strength for this would be a short trial indeed--the cyborg said, "To pass beyond, you must display your prowess of the material world. This is the first and most basic of human qualities. To know this is to know yourself. It is the means by which you attain comfort and security."

"What must I do?" He asked too quick.

A micro twitch, which might have been annoyance in the stoic and unshakable sentinel, appeared at the corner of his mouth. The tall man then planted his halberd onto the ground where it stayed perfectly erect, surely by means of some magnetic doohickey. The man reached behind his back. Job shielded himself before he saw the pad.

"We request something that is substantial of you. Something that you would not part with easily. Job, this is the sum calculated precisely for you.

Frack this, thought Job instinctively as he saw the massive figures. He would fall well below Carlson--and receive his forever incessant slurs--by losing so many billions of monies.

"You can also pass by means of physical combat."

But then again, at least he would also fall well below any mass gang donation and be safe from truncation if he didn't succeed to pass the other sentinels. Two birds with one stone. He pressed his thumb on the pad. He had never been able to legally pay a sum of such magnitude, but this was where laws were computed. He would fall somewhere between the third and fourth richest, Job estimated.

The sentinel then grabbed his halberd and, in a very polished motion, spun ninety degrees on his heal, ushering Job ahead without wasted words.

Not so bad thought Job, but if they all asked for such a bribe he would run out of money and this whole venture would have no purpose altogether. But the second demanded something entirely different.

Past the next junction, a shorter but still massive gentleman wore a particularly interesting uniform that was something between a BDSM dominatrix and a samurai. This cyborg held a wooden staff that still had living leaves growing out of the top. His prick was showing and that one didn't need any magnets. Job gulped.

"To pass beyond, you must display your prowess of the creative world. This is the second and most potent of human qualities. To know this is to know yourself. It is the means by which you procreate and conceive."

A Mormon designed this test? Really? What was the point of these shenanigans thought Job before once again asking, trembling, "What must I do?"

The man looked down at him like he was an idiot, then said, "Create something of value."

Job started pulling at his hair, he didn't have a molecule of art or music in his entire body. There was no medium around him, no brushes, or trumpets, nor a sculping block. But suddenly, the walls around him, which had been pristine, polished silver, activated and filled the surroundings with pieces of Job's life he had no idea could, in any way, have been filmed. There was a board meeting where he tore through insoluble venture capitalist ideas, shutting each one down, then frenziedly drew new diagrams. On another panel he was riding the miss universe winner, seconds later, on different footage, she was giving birth to a child that she had adamantly denied was his--the sentinel knew otherwise. On the other wall face, footage of him during a cabal meeting.

Job's face flushed, he was going to get whacked with that hard stick for sure.

Those many years ago he had been on a roll, installing his new order of things and designing how they could stay on top. Below the screen, massive amounts of codes were scrolling, they had parameters for everything. He saw himself speaking with fiery passion, how he would not let his fiscal brothers fade under the tyrannical oppression of this Neopol cycle. Job could almost see the steam coming off his ardent, younger shoulders. They had bought it, paid for it, and signed, he had shown them how to use the rules of this godforsaken constitution to their advantages.

Job shook his head in dismay and contemplated what kind of apologies or punishment would be necessary. But when he looked up, the sentinel had turned, the way was opened.

Just like that...

"The creative fires are in your veins," he heard the sentinel whisper as he passed.

Ahead, the next cyborg sentinel was a woman. She held a sword and looked to Job like a classic representation of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare.

"To pass beyond, you must display your prowess of the intellectual world. This is the third, but most important factor that elevates the human mind above the purely animal. To know this is to know yourself. It is the means by which you ratiocinate and calculate."

He thought about the previous test and wondered whether this one would be as easy, but then she said, "Although there is ample evidence that you have displayed intelligence in the past, it is the state of your mind today that determines whether you are apt to proceed. Now sit."

A panel opened in the floor. A chair with a tabulated desk rose from it. In the center, a screen lit and a program started. From the kaleidoscope of colors and crappy graphics, it looked to Job like childish videogames. But the software was anything but. The sentinel eyed him without scruple, obviously waiting for him to start.

Job sat and took the controls. At first, he needed to guide a horse around a castle in a rudimentary strategy game. Easy enough he thought, and after looking at all the possibilities, he navigated through the icons of enemy infantry. Whenever he took one castle, another slightly more difficult puzzle refreshed in its place. This continued for the better part of the hour before new varieties of "games" were put to him. Soon he was navigating submarines through radar grids and fabricating misinformation to confuse enemy intelligence.

After another couple of hours of these belligerent mind games, the computer suddenly stopped, and his diagnosis popped up in the middle of the screen: SUFFICIENTLY INTELLIGENT.

The mega-computer had ordained.

The Athena sentinel released a long sigh, Job didn't know whether she thought he should have performed much better or she secretly hoped that he wouldn't. But before he could dwell on this further, the door ahead opened, he didn't hesitate, didn't even ask permission.

If the previous one was Athena, this one is definitely Aphrodite, thought Job. She wore less than anything and made Wood sentinel look like an old, bible-thumping conservative. He couldn't help but stare. Why would she care, she was half computer anyways? She wore a bow, a quiver, and tiny treads of transparent silk.

She didn't seem demure in the least and upon his arrival said, "To pass beyond this final gate and reach the Switch, you must display your prowess of the emotional world. This is the fourth but most important factor that guides human decisions. It is the most powerful facet that orients the population dynamics. To know this is to know yourself. It is the means by which you forge change."

"Yada yada, can we get on with this please?" He said with confidence, having already passed the previous three.

Seeing the ever-subtle curling of her lips, his heart sank.

"You must answer my questions, truthfully."

He gulped.

"Why are you here?" She asked straightforward.

"...Here, I'm here to change this horrible system."

"So you say, and you are indeed motivated, but that is the decision you came to, not the reason behind it."

"It's a bad system and it has to go."

"On the contrary, it has been the most successful world constitution ever conceived. There has never been so little poverty and suffering, so much abundance and sustainability, both ecological and economic. It has--"

"Look, it might be great for the peons," he said, then paused not knowing if she would understand, "But it really sucks for the wealthy and powerful. Those who hold higher ideals can't do very much. We are tied down, we can't be as successful as we could be. It slows progress."

"But you have more than enough," she said, looking like she was actually considering what Job was saying.

"I want more."

"Copious indulgence."

"There is no other way."

"Your desires are ludicrous, they far exceed any human need."

"That is why I am here then."

"What?" She said, shaking her head, taking a moment to refocus her stare upon him.

"I am here to make greed a virtue again."

"That is also ludicrous."

"I beg to--"

The base of her bow hit the metal floor with a resounding crash. He grabbed for his ears as the echoes subsided. She had made her point.

"Job. Why are you here?" Her voice echoed like from loud speakers.

He was getting nowhere and nowhere fast. Truth was a matter of perspective Job knew, but she was the sentinel of the emotional world and he had to ponder what she actually wanted. Did he even know himself, deep down, why he really was here? Did anyone? It was time to flip the Switch, because he hated this system, because he wanted to get more money, because he didn't want to be truncated, because he didn't want to die. The quivering of his chin somehow told him that he was on the right track. Not dying seemed like something self evident any animal would want, but it was perhaps too crude an answer.

"Because...because I'm afraid."

Her smile returned.

"Why?"

"I don't want to be truncated. Not this year, not next, not ever. I want to live."

"That is true, but you knew that this trial would not end well for you, yet you chose to proceed. That is a somewhat selfless act for a man intent of living to fuel only his greed."

That did stump him. He looked back, the way--glistening, but now long and hazy--was still open for retreat. He could withdraw and count his blessings, this year. But what about next, what about Carlson or Koch, or the other members of his cabal. They might be next, and it would be oh-so-tedious to make new collaborations as lucrative as their friendships. Perhaps, he even had to admit a certain sentimental camaraderie that he might miss if they were gone.

"No, I have to do this." He said, answering his own thought process. The sentinel took it in kind.

"Why are you here, Job?"

This was infuriating.

"To rid us of this, all of it, this godforsaken cycle has to end so my soul can live in peace."

"But you still fear death, why?"

"Because...because I'm afraid to be forgotten... We all die, and I can't change that. But I want my legacy to continue, I want what I built to be meaningful when I'm gone. I'm afraid that after I die no one will remember. That everything I ever did was completely for naught." He hadn't noticed the tears that started to stream down his cheeks. There, are you happy now? though the man who hadn't released this kind of emotional outflow since he was a rebellious teenager.

Her smile curved even further. The clank coming from behind her caught him off guard, he had forgotten about the whole trial. But the path was open to him now. Ahead was the switch and a new future for all of mankind.

He wiped his tears, straightened his back, and marched forward with newfound jubilation.

"Job, because of what you will do today, you will not be forgotten for a long, long while."

Somehow, he had imagined something more elaborate and grandiose for something so powerful, not something so crudely literal. Yet it was the only thing standing in the middle of the room. One large lever with a crank handle that was a physical reset switch for the mega-computer housed below. This piece of technology was older than the entire complex protecting it. Job could see patches of rust near the base and worried that the computer-intelligence might have faired time even worse. The lever had a certain archeological austerity to it. He wondered whether he should avoid touching it with his bare hands. But he shook that thought away.

Without any further hesitation he went to it and pushed the lever to the opposite end. He had imagined earthquakes and apocalyptic scenarios worth of an effect, but he heard nothing. The only thing that happened about thirty seconds later was a giant screen lit ahead of him. A generic androgynous face without any facial hair manifested itself from the silver background.

Then a voice, which seemed to be a mix of all four sentinels combined, addressed him. "Job, today you have shown us that striving for success and evolving beyond the limits of human capacities is inherent to the psyche of our species. Stagnation is just as disastrous as uncontrolled growth. Despite answering the physical requirements of each person on Earth, we must also stimulate their minds to surpass themselves, to create an improved individual from the struggle to overcome adversity. This strengthening adversity, the striving to surpass, wasn't computed in the previous model but it will be programmed now."

He glowed with pride.

"Despite this, the obvious success of the truncation system prevented wealth from being segregated which had compounded poverty. Thus it shall be maintained, but modified."

Job raised a hand to slow this giant head down.

"In order to maximise the competitive edge that is necessary for progress, the wealthiest individual will now be granted a reprieve," the machine mind continued.

"Oh, Jesus thank you."

"However, the second through fifth richest will have their assets liquidated, to be reintroduced into the population."

The richest, last he checked, was the now-left-handed stooge. The second through to the fifth, why that was Carlson, then Koch, and then...oh god damn it.

The doors closed behind him. Above ground, the new constitution began being broadcasted as the sun rose in the east. The new day 0 would be today and the appropriate summons were sent.

The Cycle of Job had begun and through its success, would be renewed a great many times.

The statue that deified the saint who had sacrificed his own life, selflessly for the greater good, now stood, three feet taller than the Mormon programmer's, near the entrance to the metro-complex in New York central.



THE END


2019 Jason Arsenault

Bio: Outside of speculative fiction, I am a neuroscientist working at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto in Canada. I have also published over a dozen scientific publications in biochemistry and neurobiology.

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