Allen Reeves was never a religious man. God had already forsaken him once, when an unfortunate accident befell him at an early age. Harboring a healthy curiosity in the sciences, he often visited the laboratories that his parents worked at.
They were budding scientists, aspiring thinkers, and role models for the young child they raised. In their excitement, they had unfortunately overlooked the trouble that a child could get into when left unattended even for a single moment.
Ignoring the signs to stay out of a specific area, the young Allen looked everywhere that caught his fancy. The glassy clinking of test tubes, the cool people in lab coats, and the futuristic equipment that one read about in science fiction – he was in the middle of it. There was a simple joy in experiencing a reality that no other child could.
But given that he was still young, safety was far from his mind. Curiosity, in its purest form, led Allen to poke his head into a device to check it out.
A flash of red, along with incredible searing pain, overcame his eyes. And that was the last thing that he would ever see, for he had looked right into the beam of a powerful laser. A single glance was enough to completely blind him. All he could hear were his own cries and hurried footsteps approaching.
A long, grueling agony in the darkness befell him as he was whisked away.
“I’m sorry, the damage is permanent. The burns have deformed the retina with no hope of recovery.”
Even as Allen sat in a doctor’s office, hearing the diagnosis and his parents’ cries of grief, he felt disconnected to it all. It was like he was completely cut off from reality. Being unable to see made everything feel so distant.
Even though he could hear his parents nearby, not seeing their faces made it like they weren’t even there. Even if he could touch their hands and be embraced by them, how sure was he that it was really them? The darkness – a child’s greatest fear. It caused Allen’s mind to warp in a strange direction.
With one sense gone, part of his own emotions went with it. He could never be sure what was around him anymore as he had to reach out for contact. Like someone eternally lost, Allen struggled to find something to use as a beacon.
“Science is truth.”
The words of his parents came back to him, the most vivid memory of their faces along with it. That was what he could hang upon the walls of darkness that surrounded him. And with that, he began to study, to focus all his efforts in becoming educated. If nothing else, he could chase after that truth and bring more things to light.
His parents saw that change in demeanor but thought nothing weird of it. The image of a boy undeterred by a life-crippling injury to continue pursuing the same path as their own was a sense of pride. But in that pride, they had been deceived by Allen’s intentions and worries. And due to that, even the parents lost their way.
Gentle touches by hands were replaced with the rough bumps of braille. Cheery voices of fun became monotonic lectures and tests of wit. Even the embraces and constant contact to reassure Allen that they were there slowly subsided to neglect. Now, their presences loomed behind his shoulder like ghosts occasionally whispering.
Perhaps, the mother and father felt a measure of guilt that their son had become like this. But they believed that was what he wanted and justified it as such. After all, he never once complained, so they took that at face value. They had succeeded in becoming his mentor, but they had failed as parents.
At some point, years later, Allen had gained far more knowledge than any of his peers. He was able to fly through schooling and was accepted at a top-tier university at the young age of 14. But though his mind was full and constantly thirsty for more, his heart was cold as it could be.
That was never more apparent than when his parents were sending him off to college for the first time, but they met with an untimely accident.
A typical car ride was interrupted by a sudden, loud crash and screams. Allen understood that something had gone wrong, but his lack of perception gave him little else to go on. By the time he could feel himself again, unfamiliar voices barked at him from all around. But he cared not for them, they were foreign. He sifted through them, trying to hone onto some tone of familiarity, but none could be heard.
Likely due to his lack of response, someone finally grabbed him by the shoulder and lightly tapped his face.
“Answer me! Are you conscious?”
Finally, Allen decided to answer, opting for a slight nod of the head. He finally realized that his body was in pain. The memories of his accident many years ago sprung up. Once again, had something been taken away from him?
That was why he refused to believe in God. He had done nothing wrong in his life, merely doing whatever was in his capacity. Even with a fate of being chained in the darkness, it was as if life mocked his efforts. If something commanded his life from above, then what a wicked mind it must possess.
“Your parents… they didn’t make it.”
The dull, unfamiliar voice in the otherwise silent room hardly made Allen react.
“Please cheer up, we have found someone that will sponsor you, by helping you continue your path of studies.”
Any words of encouragement fell on deaf ears as Allen sat in his hospital bed recovering from an accident that had stripped the remaining people that kept him grounded.
“Your parents would want you to live on and be happy. Didn’t they put so much effort so that you can excel? You have your whole future ahead of you.”
A future of darkness. Of loneliness. Empty, save for the bounty of knowledge.
Even knowing that his parents were gone, he couldn’t shed a tear. In his mind, even they had no longer become human. Their voices had become so different from the fond memory that hung upon his inner sanctum.
At that point, Allen wondered, ‘Is he even human?’
To be human meant having a heart. In theory, the remorse he should be feeling by having one would lead him to cry. But not a single tear had been shed. Then, was he not human anymore?
And if that was the case, how could he go about becoming human again? How could he satisfy the so-called last wishes of his parents to ‘live and be happy’? Surely, he could continue with his studies, but he knew very well that living alone would not be enough. With no one to share in the accomplishments, who could he impart truth to?
First, he had to change himself.
“Thanks, Allen. You’ve been a tremendous help to this research.”
“Why, of couuuurse! With my overwhelming intellect, we’ll have this project wrapped up in no time! Just think of how to unveil our magnificence with style! We’ll be sure to capture the hearts of tech entrepreneurs in a single glance!”
Years had passed since he entered university. Enough time that one could hardly recognize the man that was Allen Reeves. Loud, peppy, and optimistic to a fault, he quickly flew through his curriculum and placed himself in one of the hottest research labs on campus.
And even there, his genius made an impact. High-powered tech, innovative materials, visionary solutions – everywhere Allen went, a wave of intellectual fervor arose. His passionate public speaking was unmatched. The flair of a creator who hadn’t even become an adult drew the eyes of the world upon him. Not to mention, the stories of how his greatness rose from the ashes of tragedy only served to increase his renown.
Allen Reeves – Outstanding Student Researcher of the Year
Allen Reeves – Recipient of the National Medal of Science
Allen Reeves – Tech Valley CEO of the Year
The years flew by in a frenzy, his accolades continuing to pile up around him. His story – a blind genius that lost both parents in an accident, but still managed to claw his way to the top of society – was one that few had not heard. But even without such a heart-wrenching past, he became the voice that shook off impossibilities.
People chuckled as he joked about all the struggles of innovation, watched as he laughed at the apparent physical barriers in nature, and whimsically presented scenarios of the future. But Allen’s dramatic rise from nothing made them believe. If that strong and charismatic voice boomed out that “it could be done!”, then the markets would surely rally behind him, eagerly waiting for the next creation to hit the shelves.
In the eyes of the public, he had become the ‘truth’. He was powerful, persuasive, and an engaging leader.
But away from the crowds, the voices died down, leaving only the silence of darkness around him. The smile dropped. The jovial nature extinguished. He was now a husk again, no different than that of his past.
The humor and pride that he exhibited was no more than a farce. A caricature created from studying others. In his attempt to understand what it meant to be human and live, that was the answer he came upon. Acting in a way that was cohesive to his surroundings, he learned to study the subtle voices of those around him. His ears were the only guide to interpreting what was before him. Thus, he used every bit of knowledge to tease out the best way to satisfy society’s view of him.
Humor was the best way to break the ice, to reduce the barriers that people put up. Being whimsical made him more approachable, less daunting when he considered extremes. For those that required some sense of substance, a tone of utmost confidence was the ticket, especially when his vast knowledge could back up the claims.
But still, acting was one thing. It never changed how Allen truly felt.
His solutions were at times eccentric and far removed from common sense. But if he felt a strange vibe that told him that he had slipped up, then he could hide it with a jest. People shrugged off those blunders as part of his quirkiness. The parts of him that didn’t seem human were masked by trickery. A way to hide any suspicion that he was anything but the perfect model of excellence.
But even with all the people around him, a thriving company of workers that showered him with praise, nothing could penetrate the darkness. He was alone, paranoid of what people felt about him, unable to connect to another’s heart like a normal person.
But did he really need such a thing? Even without a heart, people recognized him. People loved him. And in return, he did all he could to ensure that humanity thrived. His life was utterly devoted to making technological progress.
In his mind, the pictures of his parents still hung before him, their guiding voice his only path.
He didn’t need such things as emotions to distract from his goal of creating a man-made utopia. He would read every subtle hint in their voices, catch every intention they try to hide, and tease out the desires buried in their natures.
Even though he couldn’t see, he had learned so many other ways to read a person. If they simply talked, the melodies of their voice would reveal everything to him. And with that, he could formulate a plan to give everyone the very satisfaction that they sought.
“You. You are trying less to be a man, than you are aiming to become a God.”
That was the voice of Maria Belle, his personal secretary. Her job was to be the eyes that he didn’t have, the person who was assigned to be his shadow. At the insistence of his company advisors, Maria was given direct permission to attend to his every need.
And she was the only one that never bought the bullshit personality that he put on every day.