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Lunatic's Last Laugh (AIASP)

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posted on Mar, 19 2008 @ 04:15 PM
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A Lunatic’s Last Laugh

An example of when the insanely rich go truly insane...

Vincent Grant was bored. Very bored. Vincent Grant was also wealthy. Very, very wealthy. He was now one of the richest men in the world. His inconceivable wealth begat his abysmal, introverted boredom. How did Vincent Grant become such a rich man?

One might say he revolutionized humanity.

Dr. Vincent Grant was a medical doctor and telecommunications wizard who designed and developed an ingenious device that allowed everyone to throw away their cell phones, music machines, watches, and other electronic gizmos forever. He replaced them all with a simple, inexpensive amulet worn around the neck that projected a small user-controlled heads-up display in the brain.

The device was easy to use, easy to control, and never wore out. It was powered by the body’s own electrical impulses, and provided instantaneous freedom and privacy while permitting communication and access to rich content from anywhere in the world. And now that Vincent Grant has released his invention upon the world, and sold nearly two billion of the ubiquitous amulets (and related services, of course) to an insatiable world population, he has become immensely wealthy.

He has also become rather restless.

He has no need to “work” ever again, of course, and he has already given away more money in the last year or two than many small nations have gained in gross domestic product.

Toys and such no longer interest him. Grant had already gone through the mansion-building phase, the mega-yacht phase, and all the wine & woman, cigars & cars, and every other pleasure known to mankind. So – what else is there? Not much, it seems.

Oddly enough, Vincent Grant refuses to use one of the communication amulets himself. He hates the thing actually. It reminds him of his boredom. It reminds him of his membership in the mass of humanity – a membership he was deploring more and more each day.

As the weeks and months ticked by, Grant became increasingly withdrawn and irritable. It seemed that the more popular and widespread his amulet was becoming, the more isolated and resentful he became. He declined interviews, shunned the media, and stopped attending all events and conferences – the mere thought of which sickened him with all their pawing and clawing lemmings and their phony adoration.

After a time, his wife left him too, and the few friends he had stopped asking to see him altogether. Vincent Grant gradually managed to fend off the rest of the pressing humanity of the world with an efficiency that would marvel any covert government agency.

His favorite haunt was the giant beach house he built on a private island in the Fijian archipelago. From Vincent Grant’s perspective it was nearly perfect, an ideal retreat: as far away from civilization as he could get, and too far for all but the most determined to reach him. His island home was self-sufficient, and its basic care he left to a few friendly, but clueless natives that came ashore once per week or so to clean up and look after things.

He automated most of his other needs; having his meals prepared in advance, his basic supplies replenished. He spent considerable time and money to make sure that he just wouldn’t have to be bothered by anyone. But even this wasn’t enough. He wanted more. He wanted more of less.

Early one evening Vincent Grant sat, alone of course, in his immense study and looked out across the waves to the golden sun as it was slowly setting in the west between some smaller islands in the distance. He wondered, again, if it was possible he was actually going crazy. This isolation thing has certainly gone way beyond being a simple obsession. He concluded that he didn’t care if he was insane or not. “Screw the whole world”, he concluded. “I don’t care what they think”. But something he did care about was that as of yet his carefully orchestrated isolation from the world and its stupid human occupants was still not satisfying enough. He needed more. More distance. More isolation. How can he get away even more?

He thought about this dilemma for many hours. Grant fell asleep in his chair, the iridescent waves lapping against the shore below and reflected in the moonlight. It was sometime in the middle of the night when Grant awoke with a start and a cold sweat and gazed though the giant panes of glass at the nearly full moon, now low on the horizon. He had been dreaming, but the memory of it was fleeting and evaporated. All he could remember was the vision of a deep gray canyon floor under a black sky and a light rushing at him from the distance as he, what, slept? He shrugged the dream off and gazed through his windows.

He stared for a long time at the moon, determined to watch the larger-than-life glowing blue-white disc set itself upon the distant sea. How graceful the moon appeared, how perfectly content it seemed. Alone in the sky for millennia, the moon came and went with a perfect rhythm, a perfect cadence. As he stood at the window and marveled at the majesty of the moon, an idea suddenly and unequivocally slammed into his head: Why, of course - that’s it! He would go to the moon!

It was more than perfect! No phones – no people - no sign of civilization whatsoever! He had the money and could easily fund such an enterprise – even if it cost many billions of dollars. Who cares what it costs?! He would contract a team to design and build him a habitat on the moon where he could live out his days in blissful isolation. Ha!! For the first time in years, Vincent Grant was energized and ecstatic.

(continued)

[edit on 3/19/2008 by Outrageo]




posted on Mar, 19 2008 @ 04:18 PM
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(A Lunatic's Last Laugh - cont.)

It took nearly another three years of research, design, testing, and development – not to mention all of the bribing and glad-handing Grant had to do to gain the necessary approvals. After all – he was going to need access to things – big things - such as a launch facility, rocket fuel, operations and communications support, and a wide range of other services. The fact that he was helping to build and pay for his own launch vehicle, payload modules, and the infrastructure he’d need on the moon wasn’t nearly enough to pull this off. No, Vincent Grant needed lots of help in high places to make this work. And he was hell-bent to bring it together. But there were issues and obstacles he needed to overcome. Vincent Grant was a determined and resourceful, and he also had money to burn – a fact not lost upon the many industrialists and politicians he encountered along the way.

One of the things he had to do (and pay dearly for) was a cover story. There was no way they were going to let some rich egotist blast off to the moon all alone and remain there by himself – no matter who paid for it.

Instead, Vincent Grant convinced the powers that be that he was willing to fund an exploration and habitat outpost on the moon with the intent of scientific and mineral resource discovery. His only stipulation was that he, Vincent Grant, would lead the expedition party and that the group that accompanies him be fully prepared to stay on the moon for three years before returning to Earth.

Initially hesitant, the international consortium of space agencies and industrialists finally agreed to Grant’s terms and (along with Vincent Grant’s billions, of course) the project components came together in rapid succession.

The first few unmanned launches to the moon dropped building materials, construction equipment, and habitat components. Later came more launches with power units, oxygen extractors, and water recycling machinery. Following these were the giant water “bladders” themselves, fuel depots and basic infrastructure to allow a team to live and work in relative comfort in a dangerous, inhospitable environment.

A few more missions in rapid succession followed with construction crews to assemble the habitat and laboratories. A site on the gentle slope of a large crater was selected previously, with several large rock outcroppings and a large cave or two within which the habitat pods could be constructed. The crews inflated the modules a few dozen meters inside the gaping mouth of one of the larger caves, installed the solar arrays on the sun-facing slope outside, and connected the life-support structures and other equipment.

Despite a few technical delays and the usual cost overruns – all of which were shrugged off by the mission’s relentless and impatient protagonist, Vincent Grant – it was soon time for the mission specialists to journey to their new home.

The team arrived to find everything ready and running smoothly. It wasn’t long before they settled into a routine of work and casual co-existence – though in very bleak and desolate surroundings indeed.

Not surprisingly, Vincent Grant spent most of his time by himself, and though the rest of the team initially thought his behavior odd, they were much too busy and focused on their own work to give him much more than a cursory thought. Grant insisted on a separate living module and office quarters for himself, and though he was physically connected to the other labs and main living quarters by flexible tubes and gangways, he rarely ventured through them.

After a few weeks of puzzled expressions and glances toward “Grant’s Lair”, the rest of the party all but ignored him and instead just went about their business. Grant ultimately delegated all communications and reporting to Earth to others in the party and the rest of the crew would often go several weeks without seeing or hearing from him at all.

As for Vincent Grant himself, he was getting forlorn and restless again and it was time to put the rest of his plan in motion. The problem was that he wasn’t quite sure he could go through with it. The idea was to make his way to the moon, by whatever means necessary, and then figure out a way to be the “sole survivor” following an accident or other calamity that would leave him alone and in literal heavenly bliss.

For nearly a month Grant labored over various scenarios to consummate the deed. Some of his schemes he initially thought of during the preparation phases back on Earth. But once on the moon, he realized that doing away with the others was not going to be easy. Everything he considered, was, in fact, going to be a messy affair – none of which he had the stomach for.

The truth is, Vincent Grant is just a dastardly coward, a wretched, immoral scoundrel – and he knew it. His enormous, magnificent plan was unable to reach its intended conclusion because Vincent Grant himself was nothing more than a degenerate vagabond, a castaway of civilization, who happened to have so much residual and disposable income that he could slime his way to any excess – even all the way to the moon.

As the weeks passed, Vincent Grant became more despondent and desperate. He wanted closure – he wanted to be utterly alone in this utterly stark nothingness.

He began to venture out of his module, often taking slow drives around the crater with the exploration track-rover. He enjoyed these little escapades, the dark and forbidding landscape around him, the silence, the void of blackness above.

At first the others would radio to him to make sure he was all right – but after a few gruff dismissals to stop bothering him they pretty much left him alone. Besides, after an hour or two, they would see the rover slowly make its way back over the edge of the crater and up into the mouth of the cave, followed by Grant sulking back to his lair without a word.



posted on Mar, 19 2008 @ 04:19 PM
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(A Lunatic's Last Laugh - cont.)

Grant was out on one of his drives one morning, lost in his thoughts yet again, when the rover suddenly lurched forward and then listed sideways. Grant leaned out of the rover to look down at the left side tracking belt of his rover. It was split in two and splayed out over a sharp boulder he had driven into. Grant just sat there for a long time figuring out what to do and mulled over his options.

He could try, of course, to radio back to the settlement for help, but even just the idea of asking for help from the others immediately nauseated him. He wasn’t sure they would be in all that much of hurry to come and get him anyway. He could try and walk back, a distance of several kilometers, but a look at his wrist computer told him he likely wouldn’t have enough oxygen in his suit to make it all the way back, and he wasn’t all that confident his stamina would take him more than a few hundred meters huffing and puffing across the endless gray dunes and rocky hills between his location and the cave encampment.

Grant looked at the display on the rover’s instrument panel. A map of his immediate area was in the center of the display with a blinking red dot in the center representing his rover. The cave settlement wasn’t even on the map. He pushed a button to zoom out and as the encampment crater came into view a graphic scale at the bottom told him he was nearly 13 kilometers away. Vincent Grant chuckled softly to himself as the irony of his predicament settled on him.

He slowly reached for the communications controls, his gloved finger resting on the switch. He thought about what he would say; how he could bring himself to admit that he needed anything from another human being. He slowly withdrew his hand from the controls and just sat there, wondering and bewildered at his own inability to save himself.

Grant nodded to himself in silent admission. He knew what he was going to do. He knew what he had to do. He knew that he was going to be truly alone at last. The only question now was the manner in which Vincent Grant was going to meet his end.

The instrument panel on the rover began lighting up with blinking red and yellow lights. A steady chirping sound was coming through Grant’s helmet letting him know that the rover was in need of attention and that it was now on reserve batteries. In a gesture of final defiance, Grant reached over and switched off the power to the rover. The chirping stopped and the panel went dark, and Vincent Grant soaked in the glorious silence.

He looked down at his wrist computer and turned off the communications link. He stepped out of the crippled rover and surveyed the horizon.

Slowly turning in a complete circle Grant gazed as far as he could see and saw absolutely nothing. He sighed a sad smile and lowered his head. There was no turning back now. No alternative outcome. He thought about all of the money he spent to get here and realized that all of it together could now do nothing to change his inevitable fate.

Grant decided he didn’t even want to be found, didn’t want to be ‘retrieved’, taken back to Earth. Vincent Grant knew he was going to die and he was going to die so that he would remain alone even in death – for eternity.

Thinking that the others may try to come looking for him, he looked at the uplink antenna on the rover and smashed it with a tool, ripped it from its mount, hurling it into a small crater ahead of him. He laughed at the amazing distance he was able to throw the array.

He thought about the protocol the others would be sure to follow: attempts to reach him by radio, calls to Earth for instructions, perhaps a few sojourns out of the cave in the other rover to see if they can find him.

Grant realized that eventually they would send out longer and longer search parties, widening their radius until they spot his rover. He knew that the immediate area around the settlement crater was hopelessly crisscrossed in rover tracks so it would take some time to isolate a set of tracks leading away and not returning to the crater. But still, there would be no avoiding the eventual discovery of his rover. Even if his colleagues on the moon couldn’t find him, eventually Earth would send a full search and recovery team.

Grant looked down at his wrist. He had about 3 hours of air remaining. His mind raced to envision his final hours and plan his complete disappearance. He again looked around him, sweeping his gaze among several cliffs and rocky hills a short distance away. Without hesitating he picked himself up and started walking toward the hills.

Although the hike looked like it was going to take a while, the light gravity on the moon actually made it rather easy, and Grant, moving in long strides and gentle leaps, covered the kilometer or so in less than 10 minutes. On the way to the foothills he determined that the search party would likely still find his footprints and follow them, so when he reached the first outcroppings he climbed up on hard rocky surfaces and continued to make his way forward, carefully setting his boots down on the hard pack to not leave them any trace of his passing.

After another 30 minutes he stopped to rest and again glanced at his wrist computer. 2 hours left. He knew he was breathing hard and consuming his oxygen faster now. He would have to slow down. He looked around to pick his next path on the rocky surface. He chose the roughest route figuring a search party wouldn’t consider him going that way and that it would be difficult for them to follow. As he trekked onward, Grant saw that a series of crevices and small canyons etched the rock face, the bottoms of the crevices filled with the same silty gray sand found everywhere else on the moon. After another hundred meters or so the fissures in the surface became more numerous, wider, and deeper. Soon he was finding he had to jump across the openings.

Grant eventually came upon a large gaping crack in the surface too wide for him to jump over. He paused at the edge and looked down into the narrow canyon, estimating it to be at least 20 meters to the bottom. The crevice opened wider and deeper as it meandered downhill to a set of craters and plains below the mountains to his left. To his right the crack gradually narrowed as it made its way several more kilometers up the slope of the hill.

Grant turned and looked back over his shoulder toward the direction from which he came. He could barely make out his crippled rover in the distant valley far below. He turned back around and gazed down into the canyon. The slot canyon briefly reminded him of the remote canyons of the American southwest – only this was infinitely more remote. It had an eerie, timeless quality to it that was vaguely satisfying.

He looked at the steep, almost vertical walls of the fissure, his gaze following the sheer craggy walls up and down both sides. He turned around one more time to glance back toward his long path as if he were retracing his life. Finally resigned to decide his fate, he got down on his hands and knees and backed up to the edge of the crevasse, lowering himself over the edge. His suit was awkward and his boots felt clumsy as they scraped the sides of the cliff searching for a foothold. Grant held himself up on his forearms, with only his head and shoulders above the lip of the fissure and stared for a long time back in the direction of the crater encampment. He wondered what the others were thinking, if they had begun to panic at his belated absence yet. He grinned as he imagined them all secretly smirking to themselves, feigning worry and concern while inwardly glad that they may be rid of that brooding misanthrope, Dr. Vincent Grant.

(continued)

[edit on 3/19/2008 by Outrageo]



posted on Mar, 19 2008 @ 04:21 PM
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(A Lunatic's Last Laugh - cont.)

Grant hung on the edge of the fissure for long time, absorbed in his damnation, and contemplating his final day. The toes of his boots were barely supporting him, and he laughed at his own cowardice, realizing he didn’t even have the courage to just let go and end it already.

Another 20 minutes passed and Grant was getting tired. He was also hungry and thirsty and for a very brief moment considered that his present course of action was perhaps regrettable but also utterly irreversible. His arms started to hurt and were getting cramped and sore and he knew he wouldn’t have the strength to hoist himself back up anyway.

He decided he really had only one decision left in this life to make: would he cling to the edge of the cliff as long as could or would he have the guts to let himself go, falling to the bottom in a heap. He knew that if he fell asleep or otherwise lost his grip and fell, that he would certainly be startled back into consciousness in enough time to witness his fateful fall and inevitable impact in the bottom of the canyon. He decided he would rather be conscious and in control of his own demise than to be startled awake on the way down.

An exasperating argument within his own brain ensued, as he tried to muster the courage to drop himself off the ledge while simultaneously trying to convince himself he was too spineless to do it.

It was during this heated exchange in his head that Grant caught a peripheral glimpse of light in the distance. He slowly turned his head to look down the canyon into the valley below. Is that a light on the horizon? No! It couldn’t be. But it is! Have those peons from camp actually come looking for him already?

Grant strained to look at the light. He stared at the light for another full minute, his whole body riveted and frozen in time. Was it getting brighter? He stared some more. There was no doubt. The light was getting brighter. It must be the search party, he concluded – and they’re getting closer by the minute.

Grant tried to shift his weight to get a better look. His pressed down on his right foot to try and rotate his body slightly toward the light. The small rock his boot was resting on broke loose and Grant’s legs flailed in midair trying to gain another foothold. His boots scraped the sides of the cliff frantically as his cramped arms slowly started to slide. Grant stopped kicking and just looked straight ahead as he realized he was going to fall. He pulled a few pebbles off the edge, only half-heartedly trying to maintain his grip, as he just let the canyon swallow him whole.

It seemed like an eternity as he went down with a few thoughts racing through his mind. He wondered what the impact would feel like; if he would die the moment he hit the bottom or bounce like some ragged doll.

The fall was not nearly as fast as he expected, forgetting yet again about the Moon’s 1/6th gravity. Grant’s thick moon suit also bumped the side of the cliff as he fell, further slowing his descent. Nevertheless he finally hit the canyon floor with a thud, landing flat on his back, enveloping him in blackness.

Grant couldn’t believe it when he slowly regained consciousness, painfully lifted his eyelids, and realized that he survived the fall. He winced and moaned as he lay on the canyon floor, knowing he was broken up inside. In excruciating pain and barely able to move, Grant knew he really had only a short time to live. His air was nearly gone and his internal injuries severe. Then he remembered the light.

The light – could he still see the light? With great effort Grant lifted his head and propped his arm underneath. He looked down the canyon floor into the valley below. It had only been a few minutes, but the light on the horizon was much brighter now – and was it changing color or was that just a trick his mind was playing on him? “Those guys are really moving”, Grant groaned. “They won’t find me down in here, though. Not in a million years.”

He briefly drifted off into unconsciousness again, but was awoken by an alarm in his helmet. He had only 5 minutes of air left. This was no way to go. Grant determined to end things on his own terms. He strained to reach his wrist controls. Grant pushed a few buttons to prepare to shut off his life support system, but paused for a moment with his finger on the final kill button.

With gritted teeth and a stern composure Vincent grant punched the last control, shutting everything off. The fans and alarms all suddenly stopped and Grant was plunged into the deepest silence he had ever known. All he could discern was his own pulse and heartbeat, which now sounded like a drum echoing through his helmet.

His eyelids became heavy and his breathing slow and labored. He knew he was going to lose consciousness for the last time in a matter of moments. He forced himself to take one last look at the brightening light on the horizon. A brief laugh came from his lips as he fell asleep for the last time ever. On the horizon below the ascending Earth rose higher and higher in the pitch black sky - a white jewel with shades of blue and green and brown – a ball of life reflected in the helmet visor of an inconsolable man, self-exiled for eternity - the dejected Dr. Vincent Grant.



Fin



posted on Mar, 19 2008 @ 04:30 PM
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OH MY STARS OUTRAGEO!
WOW!
S&F!!!!!



posted on Mar, 20 2008 @ 11:34 AM
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Thanks, AD - loved your stories too!

p.s. Looking to collaborate with you again on the next 5th of Nov-type event!



posted on Mar, 21 2008 @ 07:05 AM
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Originally posted by Outrageo
Thanks, AD - loved your stories too!

p.s. Looking to collaborate with you again on the next 5th of Nov-type event!


You got it Outrageo! Here's to more sleepless nights..and when I do sleep..Dollnean Nightmares!



posted on Mar, 21 2008 @ 11:37 AM
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reply to post by Outrageo
 


Nice story Outrageo!! Well written and loved it all the way til' the end.


Actually wanted more but when the end is the end then it's the end.

Star & Flag for great story that kept me reading even though I was sleepy last night and could barely keep my eyes open. Nice job.



posted on Mar, 22 2008 @ 02:49 PM
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What excellent character development skills you have!! Very well written!

He reminds me of a Philip K. Dick character but I cannot recall exactly who at the moment....

Star & flag

Regards,

333



posted on Mar, 26 2008 @ 04:34 PM
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It was well written. I was able to put my self in DR. Vincent Grant's shoes. I could see my surroundings. I could feel the torment that Vincent went through as he pondered over whether or not he should let go of the cliff and fall to his death.


The only thing I wasnt to crazy about was the first couple of sentences. When I first read " Vincent Grant was bored, very bored. Vincent Grant was wealthy, very wealthy", I thought it was going to be a boring story ( although I was wrong). Im afraid others might read that and decide not to finish the story because it seems like it may become a boring story. This was the only issue I had with your story.

On a scale of 1-5 stars ( 5 being the best) I give you 4 stars, Simply because I think it is a good idea to leave room for improvement.


I look forward to reading more of your stories.


[edit on 26-3-2008 by gimme_some_truth]



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