The Problem with Alone - A Flash Fiction

“It’s all about control, and we’ve lost it.” Auden McMillan, top stakeholder in every major bank on the exchange, was mad. “We keep slipping further and further into socialism, how long before before there are limits to our wealth?”

Three rich, influential men sat around a table, cigar smoke filling the air between them.

“How about we cut education standards back? A dimmer populous leads to fewer ideas, right?” The question was asked by Felix Jackson, technology tycoon turned expert trader.

“Doesn’t work,” Auden said. “Talk of cuts to education makes people pay more attention to disparity between the classes. Soon the middle class starts noticing they aren’t as good off as they were ten years ago.”

“Alright, we’ll buy a few more politicians,” Felix offered, clipping off the end of a Daniel Marshall cigar. “Tried and true and all that.”

“Who’s left to buy? Plus, have you seen the mess in Washington? Nothings going to change there except more and more taxes and programs. Programs and taxes. Where do you think those taxes are coming from, eh? Us. There aren’t enough offshore accounts in the world to stop it. We have, at best, five years before our net worth starts spiraling down.”

“So that’s it, then?” Felix asked.

“I think I can help.” Leo Patterson, the third party at the table and social media czar said, head still looking at this phone and his thumbs tapping madly.

“No offence, new money, but you don’t have experience with this stuff. We need your support, not your input.” Auden said.

Leo looked up and graced the rest of the table with eye contact for the first time since the meeting began.

“You’ve got it all wrong,” he said. “You want to take away access, take away rights, take away stuff, but when you take away from the masses, what fills the hole that's left?” Leo let the question hang until it was uncomfortable. “Thoughts. Thoughts fill the hole. You want a disengaged electorate? You want a middle class that does not pay attention? Then give them more. More education to strive for, more entertainment to consume, more technology to lust after, more news of no consequence, and more celebrities to stalk. In short, keep them so busy, they can’t be bothered to reflect on the state of the world around them.”

Leo brought his point home. “The most dangerous thing to the status quo is a thinking mind and a mind can only think when it is quiet. The most dangerous mind is one that knows how to be alone.”