Minds like his only came once in a generation. From the moment Michael stood up and walked at two years-old, he effortlessly absorbed the world around him.
Everything he read and saw was stored instantly in his amazing brain. By the time he was five-years old he’d learned to fluently speak a dozen languages, solve simple calculus equations, and was at college-age learning level in English, History, Electronics, and Computer Science.
His parents, confronted with having birthed a genius, did their best to keep up with their wonder child. Michael had a good disposition and was always quick to help someone. His parents did their best to shelter him from unpleasant circumstances, and encouraged him to keep learning. He never went to a public school for obvious reasons, and got his education from a series of tutors in multiple disciplines.
Because his parents were wealthy, cost was of no concern in getting the best tutors available. By the time Michael became a teenager they ran out of teachers, despite a worldwide search. To keep him challenged, they built a fully equipped laboratory and a fabrication facility in town, so he could have places to experiment and invent.
Because Michael seldom came into contact with people outside of his family sphere, he had little (if any) manners, and could be unintentionally rude when talking with his employees at the lab, or his fabrication center. Newspaper and magazine reporters followed his young life as he set scholastic records every year. Every university in the country wanted him to join their staff. Among his many admirers in academia was the US government intelligence agencies, who considered his genius something to be weaponized.
With Michael’s parents as protection, he rebuffed all offers, especially the ones from the government. He wasn’t into politics or playing patriot games. He just wanted to be left alone to his own devices. His altruistic nature led him into looking for cures for diseases and making advanced exoskeletons for disabled people. His curiosity led him to study extra-sensory perception, and how he was able to instantly remember everything he saw.
When he turned fourteen his hormones kicked in and he discovered girls. The one subject he didn’t know anything about. His parents were forced to pay several female employees hush money for not telling about his amorous advances. It was his father who arranged for a high-class madam to visit Michael’s wing of the family mansion one night to indoctrinate him in the art of love. The next morning the madam demanded twice her normal charge for an “overnighter.” She told his father she earned it, and not to call her again for a repeat performance.
His parents knew Michael was eccentric. How could he not be? He was a genius. He lived a rarefied life.
One morning, the day after his 17th birthday, his chauffeur dropped him off in the circular driveway in front of his lab. When he got out he saw a young girl laying down on the lawn next to the parking lot. She was wearing a red silk dress and lying on her back, with arms and legs spread wide. Not moving. His curiosity took over and he went over to where she was and knelt down next to her.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
No answer. He bent down and put his head on her chest and listened for a heartbeat. Without warning, she sprung up to her feet and laughed in his face! He stumbled backward in surprise, but quickly recovered himself.
“Who are you?” he bluntly asked.
“Alice,” she said in a sing-song voice, “…here to take you down the rabbit hole!”
Michael smiled. Intrigued, he played along and asked her, “And where would that be dear lady?”
“Take my hands” she instructed him. “Now, let’s dance.”
They danced around the lawn in a slow waltz at first. Soon the pace picked up and they were swing dancing. Time was suspended. When they came to an abrupt stop the lab was gone, and they were in an open field surrounded by gentle hills covered with wildflowers. In the distance he could see what appeared to be a gleaming city with stately towers.
She took his hand, and they walked side-by-side towards the city.
Fifty years later.
Michael woke up and thought he was having a bad dream when he heard gunfire nearby! How could that be? His head felt thick and his thoughts were uncharactistly jumbled, making it hard for him to focus.
Where was Alice? Where was he?
Michael barely recognized his old lab. It was demolished. The rubble extended down the street and to other buildings. No one was on the streets, but he could still hear people shouting. The city looked like a war zone. The sporadic gunfire heightened the effect. He couldn’t imagine what happened.
Nothing in his memory bank gave a hint. His memory from the past fifty years was rapidly fading as he tried to recall what Alice looked like. He had no idea how many years had passed since he left his parent’s house that day. No amount of logic would solve the mystery of the chaos around him. The only thing to do was to find someone to talk with. But who? And, where?
Pulling his cape around his tunic, he walked down one side of the street, cautiously peeking into the rubble for signs of life. A sudden crack of gunfire, and the concrete wall next to him exploded! He crouched down and crawled towards some rubble to hide. Someone warned him not to move, and there was a quick exchange of gunfire. A minute later a man in ragged clothes and carrying an AR-15 motioned for Michael to come over to him.
“It’s safe enough for a few minutes” the man said, “Now, get over here so we can get out of this sector with our hides intact!” Something in the man’s voice made Michael trust him and he ran over to him and jumped the barricade the man had set up.
“Pleased to meet ya pilgrim. I’m Dan. What’sha doing running around in that outfit,” he asked with a child’s curiosity.
“It was all I could find to wear,” he said, instantly regretting the lame excuse.
“No problem pard! We all do what we can with what we find.”
“Can I ask you a question Dan?”
“What’s happened here? Why is this city in ruins?”
Dan looked him over for a moment. “Are you okay? Hit yer head or sumthin? Ya don’t have to answer Pard. The war twine us and the Ruskies has been going on for fifty years. When the nukes didn’t kill everyone, we sent our military survivors to attack them and they did the same with us.”
“Do we still have a government?”
“I doubt it. Haven’t seen any organized resistance in a decade,” Dan said. “I live with a dozen other people and we always stay on the move. It’s time to catch up to them. Follow me.”
The moved cautiously through the ruins for an hour before Dan stopped and whistled. A return whistle brought a smile to his face. When they came out they couldn’t contain their curiosity about Michael, and swarmed around him like natives seeing silk for the first time. There were seven men, three women, a little girl, and a little boy. They all took turns touching his cape.
After spending a week with the little group Michael knew what his mission in life was. It fitted into his belief of helping people. There was a whole generation that went without education. Without the internet, libraries, schools, or teachers.
The reason for his genius finally became clear.
When he lay dying 25 years-later, he got a visitor. The people gathered around him didn’t see her…but Michael did, and accepted her request to dance.
As It Stands, my odd love story for your consideration.