“We have something unprecedented to propose to you.”
“Okay,” I say, wondering for the hundredth time how I got myself into this position.
“You’re an exceptional painter, and you may even become a groundbreaking artist in ten or twenty years. But we can begin to make that happen in a week’s time.”
“If you agree to our terms, you will transcend decades of study and practice.” Mr. Blue hands me a stack of papers half-an-inch thick. “Take as much time as you need.”
I flip through it and try to make sense of the legalese. I give up and set it aside. “Can you give me the highlights?”
“Certainly. We are an organization created to advance human accomplishment in a most dramatic way.” His eyes catch the light, and they remind me of ice. “We have the ability to merge the consciousness of an exceptional Mentor with that of a very special sixteen-year-old.”
“You mean, in here?” I point to my head.
He nods with the seriousness of a judge.
“I’m already using my brain,” I say.
“Although we’ve debunked the myth that humans only use ten percent of their cerebral capacity, you’ve got the bandwidth. Trust me.” He leans forward as if about to tell a secret. “What if I revealed that computer technology is advancing far faster than humans are evolving? Art will soon be produced by artificially intelligent machines—AI. They’re already learning to mass reproduce art, music, and literature that is pleasing to humans based on trends in music downloads, social media postings, and online purchases. You’re our chance to create a revolutionary artist who can maintain the humanity in our art.”
“A computer doesn’t have emotions. When I paint, I try to make people feel something.”
Mr. Blue smirks. “But the problem is, nothing you paint lasts, Kevin. Or should I call you Orfyn?”
My skin crawls. How long have they been watching me?
“The Mentor we chose for you has one of the greatest creative minds of this generation.”
“What’s his name?” I ask.
“He’s known as Bat.”
It’s a cool street name, though I doubt he ever needed to hide out in alleys to paint.
Mr. Blue points to the document. “Sign this and change your life. Or don’t. It’s up to you.”
“What happens if I say no?”
“The Darwin Corporation will remain your legal guardian, but you’ll lose the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become one of humanity’s greatest hopes.”
So basically, he’s saying I’m stuck here either way. “Will I always be locked up?”
“That depends on your choices.”
I wait for him to crack a smile. He doesn’t.
I break eye contact and flip to the last page. There’s one short paragraph stating that I’ve read the forty-one-page document (which I haven’t), I understand the risks (which I don’t), and I buy into the idea that two minds are better than one (or something like that). At the bottom, there’s a line with my name printed below it.
“Is it dangerous?” I ask, really wishing my voice hadn’t cracked.
Mr. Blue hesitates, and for a moment he almost appears human. “Every medical procedure has its risks, but the end result could change the world. And you’ll be one of the few who have the ability to change it.”
What if I could become the next Michelangelo? I’ve been given the chance to create art that makes a difference. For now, and even hundreds of years to come. “What else can you tell me about Bat?”
“He’s very successful,” Mr. Blue says, taking a pen from his suit pocket. “And he’s dying.”
“Can you give me a little more than that?”
“He specifically chose you.”
Nobody has ever chosen me.
I grab Mr. Blue’s pen and sign the document using the name I’m adopting. If I’m going to share my brain with someone and become a ground-breaking artist, I’m doing it as Orfyn.
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