Evolution – Chapter 5
“Would you believe that our meeting last week was not an accident?” Gabrielle asked.
“No. You must be paranoid to interpret every little thing that happens as a sign of some kind.” He spoke with confidence, but he was beginning to seriously wonder if that was the case. “What’s with the darkness?”
“The owner is sick. We’ve known each other many years so he let me have the key for tonight. I wanted to keep the appearance that it was closed either way. Just opened a few minutes ago. I thought you would disregard it and enter. Looks like I was right.”
Somebody just opened the door and barged in. As he saw the darkness surrounding the two figures at the counter he stopped, said “Sorry” and went out.
“Besides, there’s something about the darkness.” She continued, as she sensually walked toward the counter and sat down beside Angel. “Have you ever stopped to just listen into the night? Just like that?”
They both stopped making any noise and gazed directly in each other’s eyes. They must have had a moment of instant telepathy, or maybe it was the barely audible sound that came from somewhere in the room. They knew in an instant, they were not alone. However, none of them moved an inch, continuing to remain motionless for a couple of minutes.
Finally, she burst in laughter. “Stop looking at me like that or I’ll feel ashamed!” This was a clear warning. She did not feel ashamed on the stage with an entire crowd watching, so she was clearly lying. She must have noticed the presence in the room.
“Ok, turn on the light so that I can take a good look at you and then I’ll stop!” Angel said all of a sudden.
Gabrielle turned on the light, and to their surprise, nobody else was there. They looked around twice, but no soul was found. Eventually, she locked the door and hung the “CLOSED” sign on it.
“I think that video was great” she said. “Aren’t you worried about the people that your interview may upset?”
“I guess I’m not important enough for anybody to bother with me. It’s been a week and everything seems to be as normal as always. Except maybe the fact that I decided to quit college.”
“That’s a bummer. I bet Luke is devastated.”
“He doesn’t know. I’m just going with it. There are other things I can do besides putting a video online.”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” he asked as he gallantly smiled.
“Oh! Defensive are we? I have to go, please don’t ask me where.”
“I wasn’t going to.”
“No? What were you gonna say then? I know it was a question!”
“I was going to ask when I will be able to see you again. Should I simply check the darkness every now and then?”
“No. Tempting, but no. We will meet again. Be careful.”
She escorted him out and they left together. No more words were spoken until they split paths, and it was nothing more than a simple “Good bye!” Each of them was intrigued by the other, but did not ask anything more. It was as if they both enjoyed the mystery too much to spoil it.
At home, Angel decided to tell Marius about his decision to leave college. It was a bit of a shock for him, but as a good big brother would do, he pointed out all the disadvantages of this endeavor. The one that really mattered was the fact that he will lose all the financial support from his parents and will have to make do on his own. This was a thing that he missed. The entire web in the room would be completely useless if he would have to join the system as an employee and get sucked into the same race for money that keeps everybody busy enough to not look up. He felt that he should somehow find another way to deal with this.
It was a major setback, but had to be done. He went on Monday at the meeting and announced to Luke and Alex that he had to postpone the work on the project until he figured out a way to make money without getting employed.
“Honestly… it looks like it might be a heck of a long time before you will find that answer A.G.!” Alex started.
“I think I can manage it. I have some ideas that I was never motivated enough to put into practice and see how they can come up.” Angel replied, a bit disturbed by the “A.G.” nickname, since this was the first time anyone had used it.
“He has a point though,” Luke said, “you could actually come back to college and give it a shot. Keep the money coming from home and work with us on this as well!”
“I believe that in order to achieve what I want to achieve it is necessary for me to get as far away from the system as possible. Besides, it’s going to take more than a few years to work everything out and I cannot rely on my parents forever. I think it’s a must, otherwise I could be easily persuaded to give up this project simply by being kicked out of a job, or lose some well-paid project and so on and so forth. I knew that I must break out of this rat trap at some point, it’s just sooner than I expected.”
“You’re already thinking that someone will have to persuade you to quit this project? Isn’t that a bit too much?” Luke asked with a small laughter at the end. All of them knew that the video did not start any movement anywhere and were not hoping for too much to come out of this project either. Angel however thought about his meeting with Gabrielle and that person that seemed to be around in a completely empty place and could not let go the idea that he was being watched.
“If you do not believe in this project,” he started all of a sudden, “I think I should probably search for somebody else. I do not know where this road will lead me, and I cannot tell you what is going to happen, but I am determined to make a change in this world. And I will not stop until I do so. The video and this project are just the beginning. Somewhere, someday, there has to be somebody that can say Enough! and really mean it. It was you Alex who used to say that quote: All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing! When are you going to stop doing nothing?!”
A big spark started in both Alex’s and Luke’s eyes. Until that moment, they both treated this project as some kind of a joke, an idea that Angel had and had obviously failed, but were clinging on it for the skill challenge and the promise that someday, somebody ELSE is going to do something with their work. As it happened at that moment, they both realized that it WAS happening. Right then and there, they were already part of change. Although all they had to go by were Angel’s words, there was no doubt in their minds that the road they took is going to end in a different world.
“We’ll start the project without you.” Alex said. “We know the specs and we’ll do our best to uphold the standards you set. Every time you can land a hand we’ll obviously appreciate it, but even if you only take care of yourself for now, it will do. We’ll need you!”
Luke looked at him for a second and realized that they were thinking the same thing, that the speech that Angel gave them was motivating enough to make sure that they both will be a part of this. “I’m with Alex, A.G.!” he said. “Good luck with your ideas and come help us soon! As I see it, the project is already under way.”
The metamorphosis took place over night. During that sleepless night Angel thought about a million things he could try to get out of the predicament as fast as possible and succeed in following a new thread in life. It was frightening, maybe one of the most frightening decisions he had ever made, but somehow he knew he was going to face it and push forward.
Over six months passed since that night and nothing was glooming over the horizon. True to their word, Luke and Alex were coordinating efforts with Marius and the project was developing nicely, but slowly.
One morning the dean called Angel in his office for a talk. Since he was still a student there, even if only by name, he had to go. The dean never called anyone into his office; it was always other people that had to insist to come see him. He used to always be busy with something.
And so it came to pass that on the next Tuesday morning, 7 o’clock, unusually early for an official meeting, Angel was walking into the dean’s office. The office was particularly neat, nothing out of place. One could not decide if it was one of the cleaning ladies or simply the dean kept things in such a perfect order. The desk was filled with white papers, mostly college work, and one small green envelope. As the documents were in perfect order, the envelope stood out immediately. The dean was not yet there, nor was his secretary. However, since all the doors were opened and the hour was right, Angel walked right in.
As he looked around for a moment, he walked at the window and looked outside. He always asked himself how things look from up here. Nothing special, if one was to expect too much. Just another normal window.
“Enjoying the view?” The dean walked in unexpectedly. He was dressed in sport clothes, which was particularly rare since almost always he was wearing jacket and tie. Short but imposing man, his face rarely betrayed any emotion. Right then however, it was obvious he had been crying.
“It’s beautiful!” Angel said pretending not to notice the dean’s mental disarray. “At this hour you can see the sunrise!”
“Do you know why I called you here so early?”
“No, I do not know. Usually student meeting hours are after 10.”
“This is not an official meeting. What I am about to say does not exactly fit into the college’s rulebook. It’s more of a request.”
“Ok… what is it then?”
“As a college, you know we encourage scientific work and support every student who has the idea but not the resources to pursue one of his projects, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do. Actually I know this first…” he was immediately interrupted.
“Good. Then you know that as a college we are behind your little project one hundred percent. I, however, personally ask you to stop your work. Both Luke and Alex have other duties that they have been neglecting, and our resources could be spent on other projects as well. It’s been six months already.”
“I am not finished. I do not want this to get to Alex’s or Luke’s ears. It’s not a big thing, and I’m asking you as a friend to stop this. For all of us’ sake.” His voice was almost trembling, and Angel could not shake the feeling that this was either very inappropriate or very dangerous.
“They are going to want to know why I quit so abruptly. And I do not plan to quit either.”
“I know you plan to leave us soon. I’ve reviewed your progress report with school and seem as if you have quit already. That would not look good in your future, precisely since you are trying to get into the race for money.” This was wrong. He was trying to escape the race for money all this time, without success however. And he had to wonder how did the dean know these things. “Suppose I could help.” The dean continued. “I know you are following the development of that little software on your website. I know a company that would be very interested in a man with your ideas and skills.”
“I appreciate this, but I do not know how to respond. It’s hard to believe that anyone took any interest in my Volatile package.” Volatile was the name of the little software the dean was talking about and what Angel had been spending most of his time on during the last months. It wasn’t complicated or revolutionary, but it served a purpose that was needed by most software developers: a tool to automatically combine branches of projects into a trunk, run the project in all the compatible instances and get the right combination of all that were possible with a user-friendly interface based on yes/no choices. “Besides, it’s not done yet.” That was a lie. The complete version was done but was not beautified enough to get on the website. It was meant to get there soon though.
“I know. That’s why Zanax-Soft is so interested in you, and that solution. You could finish it under their license and get a lot of money in the process. If I recommend you, you’ll get a top-job there!”
“I am really moved by your support, and I understand your predicament about using college resources on my behalf. I will stop using the school resources but I will not get employed. I want to do thing differently.”
“Think about what you’re missing! It’s an opportunity that will never come again!”
“That may be so, but I am decided what to do with my life, and employment is not on my list. I am sorry.”
The dean seemed to calm down now. Without the college resources and with no job to cover expenses the chances of he working on the project have diminished considerably. It was worrisome for Angel to see the dean so calm now after the show he put on earlier.
“It’s your choice then. It’s been good we got to talk. You may go!”
“Thank you for your endorsement offer. Good day sir!”
Angel could have gone to class, but another idea had taken over him. He went home and spent the entire afternoon finishing the Volatile software. At midnight he uploaded it on the website and went peacefully to sleep.
The next day, at 8 o’clock he made an appointment with the Zanax-Soft GM in the same day. At noon, he was in the GM’s office, saying hellos. As he did not wish to spend any more time there than necessary, he started the conversation with the exact reason he was there for:
“I want to sell you the Volatile package, transferring all the rights over to you.”