Martin is a student at a prestigious university. He doesn’t believe that the modern global elite is worthy of being called the elite, since it doesn’t strive to make our world better. But some of Martin’s peers don’t like his attitude.
Our civilization needs a new elite!
Martin had already put his notebook away in his backpack and wanted to get up, when Professor Moore suddenly spoke up again.
Professor Moore: Ah, wait, I forgot to make an announcement. Our University's Board of Trustees is announcing a competition for the next research grant on the subject of human potential and modernization of society. I invite everyone to compete for this great opportunity. You need to write an essay to participate, and I believe that some of you have an excellent chance of winning. (Professor fixed his eyes on Martin) All the details are available on the bulletin board in the central hall. That's all for today.
Students began to pack up their belongings and leave the class. Martin headed for the exit as well.
Professor Moore: Mr. Foster, a moment, please.
Martin turned around and saw Professor Moore gesturing him to return. Martin walked to the table at which the professor was sitting.
Professor Moore: Mr. Foster, I'll be honest with you - you are one of my best students. I highly recommend that you write an essay for the competition.
Martin: (embarrassed) I'd love to, sir... but I'm afraid I won't have time to do scientific research even if I do get the grant...
Professor Moore: I don't understand you, Mr. Foster...
Martin: I have very little free time. I work in the campus canteen, and I also do cleaning work on campus on the weekends ...
Martin: Okay. In that case, I'll definitely take part in the competition. Thank you, Mr. Moore.
Martin walked out of the classroom and immediately headed to the central hall. He found the grant ad on the information stand and took some photos with his phone. Martin did not immediately notice that a small group of young men approached him.
Bill McFaul: Hey, Forest. Decided to take part in the grant contest?
Martin raised his eyes from the phone.
Martin: Hi. Haven't decided yet.
Bill McFaul: Find me if you need anything. My father is a member of the board of trustees. I can help you get this grant.
Martin: Thanks, Bill, I'll manage on my own.
Bill McFaul: Oh, come on, Forest! Stop pretending to be a saint. You need money, don't you? So, once again - I can help.
Martin began to look around.
Martin: You know what, Bill, I've got to go. Bye.
Bill McFaul: Hey, wait, Forest... I'm not done yet.
Martin: What do you want?
Bill McFaul: You're very lucky, Forest, to be here, at this university. And if you intend to become successful, you need connections, you know? Brains alone aren't enough. I understand that you are, so to speak, from a different social strata than most who study here. It must be difficult for you to accept new values and habits that are alien to you. But I'm ready to help you get the hang of this new environment. It will be too bad if a smart and gifted guy like you can't fulfill his potential because of stupid prejudices.
Martin: I've got no prejudices. And I've got no issues with my self-identification. Of course, I'm grateful for your concern for my future, but like I said, I'll manage. Now Bill, I'm sorry, but I have to go.
Martin got back to his dorm late in the evening. His roommate Bob was sitting on the couch and reading a book. Martin plopped wearily on the couch next to him.
Bob: You're kind of late today.
Martin: Fred got sick. I had to cover for him, too.
Bob: That sucks. How was your day? Seen the grant announcement?
Martin: (yawning) Yup...
Bob: That's a great chance for you, man!
Martin: Yeah. Professor Moore said that if I won, I'd be getting a salary and wouldn't need to work in the canteen to pay for my education anymore. I'll be able to do research in my free time. That would be awesome...
Bob: I think you've got every chance of winning this grant.
Martin: Maybe. My only concern is Bill McFaul.
Bob: Was he bothering you again?
Martin: Yeah. He and his guys approached me today during the break. He offered his help. Told me that his father was on the university’s board of trustees. They were the ones who set up this grant. I can't figure out what he wants from me.
Bob: He and his friends are from really wealthy and powerful American families. Even my family are just nobodies compared to them. He considers himself a part of the elite and is getting used to having a lot of power. So, he is already trying to steamroll all outstanding students here. He wants, so to speak, to recruit smart and talented people, so that he can take advantage of them after graduation to satisfy his ambitions.
Martin: So young and so power-hungry already.
Bob: What else can he want? He's got everything else.
Martin: I don't like that he pretends to be the master of the universe.
Bob: A typical product of the system from a very wealthy family. People as him believe that everyone around them should strive for wealth and power. And he's the key figure here, because he can give people both. Apparently, he really dislikes the fact that you are ignoring his help and don't want to be friends with a cool guy like him. There are tons of brown-nosing nobodies all around him, and you're a smart and talented student, and he'd really like to get you on his side. But you're not falling for either his connections or his money. And he just can't wrap his head around that.
Martin: Hmm, looks like you're right. Okay, Bob, the hell with McFaul. Let me just grab a cup of coffee, and I'll start on that essay.
It was already well past midnight when Martin turned off his computer and went to bed.
Two weeks passed. Martin was dining outside the university cafeteria when Bob approached him, a tray in his hands, and sat next to him.
Bob: Hey, man, how are you? Did you turn in your essay?
Martin: I did, this morning.
Bob: Cool! And when are the results coming?
Martin: In a month. Maybe a little earlier.
Bob: That's great. Look, Martin, are you working tonight?
Martin: Yes, as usual. Up until nine. Why are you asking?
Bob: Well, I just wanted to... eh, I'm going out with Megan today, thought of inviting her over to our room for a couple of hours... so was just wondering whether you were working today or not.
Martin: (smiling) The room is at your disposal. But you've got to be done by nine, okay?
Bob: Okay, man, you know me — punctuality is my middle name.
At night after work, Martin was on his way back to the dorm. He was listening to music as he walked through the park, so he didn't hear that someone was following him.
He was almost out of the park and about to turn onto his street, but suddenly someone hit him on the head from behind. He dropped to the ground from surprise, but didn’t pass out. He wanted to get up, but the second blow sent him into a knockout.
Three strangers lifted Martin's limp body off the ground and dragged him towards the road. A car came out of nowhere. They chucked him into the back seat, and the screeching car darted off and vanished into the night.
Martin opened his eyes. He tried to get up, but couldn't because his arms and legs were tied to something. He began to look around and figure out where he was and what was going on. It turned out that he was half-naked and laying on a large granite slab a meter above the ground in some huge cave with uneven, bumpy walls. Numerous candles stood on the ground around him and on the stone protrusions on the walls, illuminating the cave with their dim light.
Martin: Hey! Hey! Anyone there? What's going on? Untie me!
Somewhere deep inside the cave, Martin saw people’s moving silhouettes.
Martin: Hey, what the hell! Untie me! Who are you?
Five or six people in long black robes came out of the darkness. Their faces were concealed by animal masks. They stood in a circle around the slab on which Martin lay. Another man emerged out of the darkness. He was wearing a red mantle and a goat mask. He was holding several sheets of paper rolled into a tube. He came up and stood at the edge of the slab where Martin's head lay.
Goat: Well, well, well... Martin Forester.
The voice of the masked man seemed familiar to Martin.
Goat: We are here today to glorify our Lord and to give him the gift of our enemy's soul.
Martin: What? Who are you? Hey, can you hear me? What's going on here? Untie me!
Goat: (ignoring Martin's wails) This man is dangerous to us and we are forced to act. I will now read out some excerpts from an essay he recently wrote, and you will see what I mean.
A man in a goat mask unfolded the paper he held in his hands. Martin was bewildered to see the very essay he had turned in for the contest at the registrar's office this morning.
Martin: Hey, where did you get this? Did you hear me? I'm asking you, you goatface!
Goat: Shhh, Forest, keep quiet. You'll get your chance to speak. Do you admit that you are the author of this essay?
Martin: Screw you!
Goat: Let's presume you concede. Especially since your initials are on the title page, Forest. And this essay has a rather loud and pretentious title: “The elite is no longer the elite.”
A man in the goat mask turned the essay page.
Goat: What have we got here... yeah... you were off to a pretty good start, Forest. You say that “the elite has always played a crucial role in society”..., and that “it is the elite that determines the direction of the society's development, its values and ideals”... and here is more... “the elite serves as an example for the rest of society,”... “in other words, being a part of the elite is being at the helm of all mankind”... Hmm, it's really hard to argue with that, Forest. I know more than anyone else around here about what the elite is, and I can claim with confidence — you're damn right! We are at the helm of all mankind!
Martin: Being at the helm doesn't mean being the lord of humanity, you idiot! Read on. The elite must be on the frontline of progress, on the frontline of evolution. And not just material progress, but spiritual, too.
Goat: And once again you're on point, Forest! Yep! Yep! Look around, Forest, you're right on the frontline of advanced spiritual progress right now!
Martin: You're just a psycho!
The goat turned over another essay page.
Goat: But here is where you ruined it, Forest. Gentlemen, you can imagine what a brazen and cynical type this Forest is. In his essay, he showers us with dirt, and then asks us to grant him the money for scientific research so he can douse us with more dirt. Look, Forest, maybe you're just a fool?
The goat slapped Martin lightly with the papers.
Martin: Get off me, you jerk!
Goat: Listen, gentlemen, here is what he says: “Society's most important task is to ensure the evolution of the elite. For this purpose, the most deserving and talented people need to make their way into the elite. However, in modern times the mechanisms that bring such people to the elite are virtually destroyed. That's why our modern global elite is not made up of the most deserving and suitable people, which leads to its degradation. And this, in turn, leads to the degradation of all human civilization...” So, Forest, according to you WE are not worthy people?
Martin: What do you think? The elite should strive to make this world better and fairer, not to usurp power and subsume the system of resource allocation. And the elite should most definitely not attack those who criticize it and use them in their idiotic satanic rites...
Goat: Shut your mouth! You're not allowed to say HIS name here!
Martin: I don't care! Whatever is going on here right now only confirms my words - our elite has long since become a bunch of crazy, self-indulging bastards who are grinding down the population and the planet. The worst thing is that you've infected the whole society with your base and dangerous ideals. So, we've got Instagram and cheap beer instead of space travel.
Goat: It's great, Forest, that you wrote this essay. I thank our Lord for opening my eyes. I really did want to help you become one of us. I wanted to give you a ticket to the elite, but now I realize that you're an unfit candidate.
Martin: Of course, I'm unfit! After all, I know how to think with my head and listen to my heart. And you can't do either.
Goat: You haven't grown into the elite just yet, Forest. And with ideas like these, you're unlikely to ever grow into it. You are simply incapable of understanding that superiority is the main virtue. That is the essence of evolution. The superiority of some creatures over others. And if this superiority is not manifested in any way, then the meaning of life is lost, along with the meaning of striving and achieving your goal. Anyway, let's see what else you've written...
Martin: What's this whole performance?
Goat: Well, I want to show my brothers that you're unworthy of being one of us. Here's what you have here: “The most negative role in the degradation of the elite is played by the education system, the lack of real social lifts and...”, wait, how is this relevant? Just listen to him: “... and a backward and conservative system of family values.” That's a brazen lie!
Goat: Forest, you are disappointing me more and more. You have the chance to study at one of the top universities in this country. You are such a smart and talented student that all the doors are open for you! There was just one step left - and you'd become a successful person with money and connections. But you gave it up yourself. And in doing so, you still blame the system for everything.
Martin: Oh, come on! I have to work two jobs to study here. Even though I'm a straight A student. And I still don't have enough money. Education at top universities is available only to the richest. Only to the children of that very elite. Just 2-3% of the students at these universities are like me. So, it turns out that the children of the elite become the new elite. And those 2% are just small fry.
Goat: What do you want? If these universities become free, everyone will want to study there.
Martin: Only the most deserving should study at the best universities.
Goat: Most deserving? Aren't WE the most deserving?
Martin: You know what I mean perfectly well, you jerk. You're only here because of your dad. Yes, yes, I know who you are, you idiot! You're Bill McFaul! And you're his friends, whom he drags around everywhere. You thought I wouldn't recognize your voice, you moron! You're exactly what I wrote the essay about. But honestly, I even feel a little sorry for you. If your parents weren't so backwards and narrow-minded, they would never pay for you to study here.
Goat: What are you talking about?
Martin: This stupid concern for their children leaves humanity no chance to acquire a real elite. Everyone tries to get their kids closer to the honeypot. They think they can buy their children brains and happiness. And in the end, everyone suffers because of that. Including you, because you'll never know the taste of real victory in your lifetime. You were born a winner. You can never realize yourself, since you've got no incentive to develop your potential and search for the truth. Ever since childhood you've been taught that connections and money can solve any problem.
Goat: Whoa, you're pretty angry! Forgive me, Forest, for being born into the wrong family. You're just jealous of me. That's not very nice...
Martin: And do you know what the worst thing is in all of this? When you’re done with your studies, and daddy gets you a comfy seat in some corporation, you'll come to believe that you're the smartest and most successful, and you'll tell others what to do. In the end, forests are turning into deserts, oceans are become garbage dumps, and people are forced to wretched existence from paycheck to paycheck - all because of smartasses like you. And then you'll want even more power and go into politics to gratify your smugness. How many wars were there? How many people died because of such smartasses who got into the elite only because of their parents' wealth and connections? Our society continues to live in the Middle Ages, and power and social position are still inherited. It won't lead to anything good.
Goat: You surprise me, Forest, the Middle Ages... in the Middle Ages I would be wiping my shoes with you. And because of your talents you had the chance to join the elite, but you turned out to be a jerk!
Martin: If I do get into the elite, I still won't be able to change anything, because there will always be 20 smartasses like you and just one of me. You'll only use your social status for personal enrichment and self-indulgence, rather than to make this world a better place. And I can't do that. I believe that being a part of the elite is a huge responsibility that requires you to be selfless and sometimes even calls for self-sacrifice. Being one of the members of the elite is the call of heart and soul, not the whim of one's ego.
Goat: You're just a FOUNTAIN OF nobility, Forest. As a child, you probably dreamt of being knighted and protecting the poor and disadvantaged, right?
Martin: The medieval elite was more advanced in this regard than the modern one. You could be a knight or a warrior, sacrifice yourself for some ideals and receive titles and land for it. In the past, the elite personally participated in battles, often leading people into battle in the front rows. And the contemporary elite is incapable of even taking part in the wars that they create themselves...
Goat: These are all fairytales for the saps...
Martin: ...and the contemporary elite are a handful of obnoxious cowards!
Goat: Hold your tongue!
Martin: I despise you! All of you! I despise you, McFaul, and people like you!
Goat: I've had enough of you, Forest. Time to stop all this banter and get down to business.
Martin: What kind of business? Hey, I'm asking you! Untie me, you freaks!
The goat stepped aside for a few seconds and came back with a bowl in his hands.
Goat: Gentlemen, the moment has come to begin what we are here for today. Our Lord expects a gift from us. And we won't let him down.
The goat approached the stone slab, dipped his finger in the bowl and began to draw some symbols on Martin's chest. He began to mumble something obscure in Latin.
Martin: What are you doing, you psycho! Stop it! Stop it! Let me go!
The goat didn't pay any attention to Martin's cries. He kept painting on his chest with his finger and mumbling. When he was done, he stepped aside again. And when he came back, he had a long-bladed dagger instead of a bowl in his hand. Seeing the dagger, Martin roared frantically and started struggling to free himself.
Martin: What are you doing, you jerks? Let me go, you hear!!! Bill, have you gone completely insane! It's murder! You're going to end up on the electric chair, you idiot!
Goat: Gentlemen, you know what you need to do.
People wearing animal masks surrounded Martin in a tight circle and began to pronounce words in Latin. The goat approached Martin. The tip of the dagger pierced the skin and began to move along the lines drawn on Martin's chest, leaving behind a bloody streak. Martin cried out on the top of his lungs. Suddenly one man in a Lion's mask, who stood closest to the Goat, grabbed his hand with the dagger.
Lion: Enough, stop this! It's gone too far!
Goat: What? We're just getting started! I'm going to cut this bastard's heart out!
The goat yanked his hand and tried to continue crippling Martin.
Masked people stopped mumbling in Latin. Someone in an Eagle's mask, apparently a woman, spoke in a high voice.
Eagle: Bill, stop! We just wanted to scare him, didn't we? We didn't want to cripple or kill him!
Goat: No way! We're here to perform a rite! All of you knew that perfectly well! You had sworn an oath to the Lord. Have you forgotten?! Now you must serve him!
Eagle: You're just a psycho! Whatever, I'm leaving!
The Eagle turned around and quickly vanished into the darkness. The Lion grabbed the Goat by the arm and tried to take the dagger away from him.
Lion: Bill, give me the dagger! You gotta stop, Bill! We don't want to kill him!
Goat: (trying to free his hand) go to hell, you coward! Get off me! With or without you, I'll finish what I've started!
There was a struggle between the goat and the lion. The blade flashed in the air and there was a dull sound, followed by a terrible wail. A man wearing the lion mask fell to his knees. A dagger handle was sticking out of his chest. He was still wheezing and gasping for a few more seconds, and then tumbled to the ground and fell quiet.
Pig: God, what have you done... you killed him! You killed him! Let's get out of here!
Martin: Hey, don't you leave me here! Hear me? Untie me!
Three masked people disappeared in the dark. The goat slowly knelt down next to the breathless body. Bill McFaul removed his mask, lowered his head and covered his face with his hands.
Martin was sitting in the lecture hall and fumbling with his phone, waiting for the class to begin. Professor Moore entered.
Professor Moore: Good afternoon, gentlemen! Before I start my lecture, I’d like to inform you that the results of the competition for the Human Potential and Modernization of Society grant have just arrived. We should have had these results a month ago, but we've only gotten them now. The winner is your compatriot, Mr. Martin Forest. I'm happy to extend my congratulations to him!
The lecture hall filled with applause.
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