This story was written in a Reverse Mad Lib style, which uses five random words to create a story, as opposed to using random words to fill in a pre-fabricated story, as in done in Mad Libs.
My five random words: taxes, estate, planet, butter, jass
- 1st – used in the title
- 2nd – used in the story setting
- 3rd – used in the plot
- 4th – in some way relates to the main character
- 5th – open use
Death and Taxes
They say the only sure things in life are death and taxes, but I’m proof that there are no sure things in life…
My story begins and ends on the Monroe Estate, a large sprawling mansion located in Long Island, New York, owned by my father Benjamin Monroe; a self-made billionaire. Needless to say, living up to my father’s expectations was literally impossible. How do you compete or prove yourself competent to a man who dragged himself out of the gutters, to being one of the wealthiest, successful and powerful businessmen in the United States?
There simply is no argument for failure that Benjamin Monroe would ever accept from his son; not when he came from a life in the streets as a young child, struggling to help his mother who slowly wasted away to cancer after his own father had abandoned them, taking all their money, and leaving them with an eviction notice and a handful of utility and medical bills to pay.
How does someone compete with that? How do you explain that you haven’t found a job yet at sixteen because no one will hire you due to the economy being in a recession where no one wants to hire an untrained sixteen-year-old, to someone who pulled himself up out of poverty to become a billionaire in a matter of fifteen years?
How can I possibly upstage a man like my father? I’d literally have to become the ruler of the entire planet to even gain a glint of approval in his eye.
What’s so amusing about that is that despite how outrageous that sounded to even my own mind, how life put me on exactly that path. Not through any planned intention of my own. At least not at first. I wasn’t some sort of megalomaniac bent on ruling the world. All I ever wanted to do was to hang out with my friends and enjoy life.
So, by the time I hit sixteen, I had given up on trying to accomplish the impossible; of meeting my father’s expectations. I simply discovered that I just didn’t have it in me. My personality wasn’t of the tempered steel my father desired it to be but was that of butter. I was someone who melted under the least bit of heat and pressure. I didn’t have the strength of character that my father had. I was weak, where he was strong. So, I buckled under the pressure and attempted suicide.
If couldn’t enjoy life, what was the point in living it?
Except I couldn’t even succeed in that. I failed; not as in someone stopping me or saving me, but in making the attempt, I discovered that I am immortal. I can’t die.
So much for one of the two certainties in life…
Well, it’s amazing how discovering that you are immortal can reset your entire way of thinking about life. Most people don’t realize how much of their life is ruled by their fear of death. I can still get hurt and feel pain, but my body apparently regenerates when exposed to serious injury–quite rapidly–and I can’t die. Minor injuries seem to heal at a normal human rate, however, so I had never known that I was immortal; never having suffered any serious injury until I tried to take my own life.
So, all those fears of failure which had been ruling my life just disappeared. There wasn’t anything now that wasn’t worth trying. I mean… What did I have to lose now?
At first, I focused my newfound bravery on adrenaline rushes, but then I decided that I needed to teach my father a lesson. All my life I had lived under his tyranny… his pressure to achieve, when all I wanted to do was enjoy life.
That’s all anyone really has ever wanted out of life before life screwed them up to where they forgot that’s what they really wanted; even my father underneath that hard, businesslike exterior, it’s all he ever wanted as a kid. He didn’t want to have to become the man of the house, to take care of a sick, dying mother. He wanted to play with his friends, to just be a kid, even if by the time he had a kid of his own he had forgotten that.
So, after I had my fill of playing at testing the limits of my immortality, I turned my focus to creating a world where everyone could play, where humans could focus on the things that mattered; relationships, self-expression, and creativity. Play.
No one deserved to live in poverty, to have to struggle just to get the most basic needs met. Though my father accomplished the near impossible based on the conditions of his childhood, the fact that he had to do that destroyed his childhood and had nearly destroyed my own.
Well, I was determined to fix that…
I began by taking over control of my father’s company; literally a hostile takeover because he didn’t believe I had it in me to run a corporation. So, I used a gun to make my point. When it became clear that I couldn’t be killed when the police and SWAT teams which were called to remove me failed, and then the military team sent in failed as well, my father relented and said he’d give me a try. Not that he had a choice. I was the one holding all the cards… and the gun.
So, not only had I discover that I was immortal, the whole world now knew as well. I also discovered during my period of testing the human boundaries that I was no longer confined to the laws of physics that most humans were.
There were no restraints which could hold me or room which could keep me contained if I didn’t want to remain in that room. It was as if releasing the concept that death was the end of physical existence, I had somehow broken through all the rules that defined physical reality. It’s really amazing when you realize that you can’t die how your eyes open to other possibilities, things that you simply didn’t see before, or couldn’t possibly believe when your focus is only on survival all the time. And that sadly is where most of humanity’s focus is. Humans are mortal, and that mortality is always staring us in the face.
Well, I was free of that.
So, my goal was to change that view for everyone else too or at least alleviate it. I couldn’t make others immortal, but I could make their lives easier. My father’s company was a high-tech research and development company, and I reorganized and refit it toward the construction of advanced robotics. If people were relieved of the drudgery of their lives, while production of resources could be maintained by the robots to provide for the world’s needs… for everyone’s needs, then that would free people to focus on living, not surviving.
At first, my father was furious with me, but as he began to see what I was achieving, he began to realize that I was fulfilling his dream for me. Though not in the way he had imagined.
In the end, my efforts totally restructured the face of the world, where everyone had all the basic necessities provided for them without cost. People were still involved in careers if that was what they desired, but it was now as a hobby, as opposed to necessity. So, science and medicine leaped decades in regards to discoveries and inventions, because it was no longer work, but play for those involved; as play there were no limits placed on where they chose to focus their interests.
Without the stress that went along with the day-to-day struggle to survive, people could focus fully on their hobbies and their relationships. They could have fun, while the robots carried out the drudgery of life.
Not artificial intelligence. I wasn’t an idiot and wasn’t about to create a slave race of sentient machinery. What I created were just simple robots who followed the simple programming they were given. Okay, well maybe not so simple, as much their programming was quite complex, but they weren’t sentient to where the needs of humans supplanted those of another sentient group of beings. They were simply machines designed to ease the stress and drudgery of human life.
With the robots being so efficient and non-wasteful, there was plenty for all; food, housing, medical care, education. There were no longer economic divisions in society, no more poverty… or great wealth.
My father wasn’t entirely happy with that, nor were the other one-percenters who had previously held ninety-nine percent of the world’s income. But money became a thing of the past. There was simply no need for money when everyone had whatever they desired when they desired it. There was no need for hoarding when there was plenty. Of course, that meant some serious counseling for those who had hoarding personalities, but over time it worked, and this way of life became the norm.
Wars ended because there was no more fighting over resources, and also organized religions were banned. People were still encouraged to seek the religion and spirituality of their choice, to come together in prayer, or to practice their spirituality alone if they preferred, but there were no longer religious leaders telling others what to believe or how to pray. There was no more killing each other in God’s name, or whatever word people used to describe the concept of a Creator.
A world government was created with me as the World President, and I ruled out of the same estate I had been born in, which once had been my father’s mansion.
Yeah, I took it from him, but that’s what he gets for pushing me to succeed. I really didn’t need the role of President, as the World Council–representatives from around the world–made most of the decisions that kept the world running, with me merely acting to approve or disapprove various matters of state.
But becoming the ruler over the entire planet was the final ‘trick’ in my play; like a game of jass where I ended up with all the tricks in my hand, and my opponents nothing; with my father being my unwitting opponent. I had won while doing exactly what he had always demanded I do but in the form of play, and to where I gave him what he had always secretly, subconsciously wanted; a childhood without all the weight of responsibility on his shoulders anymore.
Not that he would ever admit to it, but I know he’s happy now and proud of me; irritated as hell at the same time, but that’s the whole point of showing your hand at the end of jass; seeing the look on everyone’s faces when you got all the tricks, and they got nothing; that mixture of surprise and reluctant respect.
Oh, and I got rid of taxes too…