(first draft - might undergo some re-writing)
'One thing leads to another', is a well versed idiom. With regard to physics there is even a law which states this: 'To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction'. Can this reasoning be applied to human situations or human interaction or human development, per se? Is there, then, a pattern, itself as clearly defined as any natural law, if, that is, someone was capable of deciphering such intricacies as clearly as they might catch a falling object, to simply reach out with little effort - the object itself under a law of its own, that being the law of gravity? What if such a person exists? And, of course, have they existed in the past? There are plenty of names for such people who might fit the bill - Augur, Prophet, Soothsayer being few of many. Was Daniel Francis one such person?
A great deal of his day was spent studying - as usual. Historic events were his bread and butter - his raison d'être, the focal point of his life and had been for years and years. What he didn't know about history wasn't worth knowing. His mind was awash with political figures, political stratagem, civilisations past and present. He was an out and out authoritative figure on all things relating to human, societal development.
His job as a librarian at the University of *** was one he was well and truly suited for, the library overflowing with the books he found so very interesting - books he coveted - some of which he had read on more than one occasion.
Annoyingly (or maybe the word 'unnervingly' is more suited), new novels had become increasingly disappointing, in that Daniel experienced various aspects of deja-vu - been there and got the t-shirt kind of thing; similar, I suppose, to when a reader purposely cheats to read the last few pages thereby rendering the guts of the novel of little consequence. Time and time again this occurred, where the apparent ending was only too obvious, there being a recognisable link between all of them - predictability in a way, where one thing or one action always led to a similar conclusion. Daniel thought little of this at first, putting it down to the number of novels of a similar sort he had read over the years. Didn't stop his insatiable lust for knowledge though, continuing to pour over like-minded literature whenever he could find the time.
Strangely enough, Daniel was not one for the daily news. Never bothered with the internet, unless it was to do with researching some author's work - checking on whether some so-called 'fact' was just that and not made up nonsense or some warped version of events. He was quite content to live in his own little world free from external conflict or desire. The world at large did not appeal and never had, his gaze and imagination caught up in ancient writings found within the dusty tomes resting on the well stacked shelves. If he had he might have become aware of cut-backs to University funding. His long standing job - one he had taken for granted he would hold until his dying day - was suddenly, and quite shockingly, under threat. Daniel had effectively avoided the world's glare until then by keeping his head down, but now, it seemed, the world had decided to focus its intentions on him and him alone - he felt extremely exposed and vulnerable - persecuted, in a way. Instead of his eyes always looking down thereby keeping him out of harm's way they were being forced to look up and about, to become aware of the changes taking place to society all around him and he didn't like what he saw - becoming increasingly agitated as a result - there were undercurrents of political malice in the air as sure as night follows day.
It was odd, his mindset switched over incredibly quickly from one entrapped within microcosmic, long past, imaginary vistas to one which considered the 21st century in a similar vein - were they not intrinsically linked, being one and the same in effect - one begets the other? To consider the changing ways of society - the one now infringing on his own personal space - to be no different from analysing a period of history long forgotten, was a startling revelation to him. Today's occurrences will be tomorrow's past. There was a distinct correlation - an unmistakable bond. Daniel became all the more interested in the machinations of the political classes of the day, applying his well practised diligence on quickly acquiring all the knowledge he required to make valued judgements - judgements he knew he could rely on - to later realise these 'judgements' were so reliable they would bring forth a growing sense of unease.
It was such a relief to be told his job would not be lost after all, but by then Daniel's attention was firmly affixed on the present. The fact he had to undergo the mental trauma of waiting to know one way or another as to his employment status peeved him. He viewed the whole process as one of menace - intimidation even and he wanted to know what had changed in this day and age as opposed to years past? He had taken over a vacant position owing to a retirement, with the person who held the position prior taking over from the one before in a similar manner. Why had money suddenly become such a concern? Wasn't the University of such prestige it would always stand as a bastion of British Culture and Learning? Where was money in relation to such importance? It became apparent to Daniel there was far more to this than met the uniformed eye. To reach an informed conclusion he would have to delve a lot deeper, as to do so based on the spurious information gathered from short conversations with work colleagues, would in no-way satisfy him, it was simply too superficial.
So it was, Daniel, applied his work ethic to his new found interest - modern life, from every aspect of its make-up, be it political - social - philosophical - cultural - a present day, anthropological study, in effect. Daily newspapers were poured over - books he had paid no attention to previously were now swallowed up whole and his appetite was prodigious. Slowly but surely he was coalescing his prior knowledge with modern life and he could literally feel the bonding occurring, though he purposely kept all prognosis at bay - to go off half-cocked was beneath him, but he could sense such views would make themselves known in time - all he would have to do is relax and consider and they would come of their own volition, as they had always done. The more he learned the more energised he felt - there was some urgency in his endeavours which he hadn't felt before. Although he revelled in his improvements - his increasing knowledge - he was also aware of a developing sense of foreboding. Now and again he wondered what he would do with his new skill-set once it had reached fruition - a skill-set which would allow him to do what exactly? He wasted little time on such a consideration though and ploughed on regardless - he needed specific information and it was becoming all consuming.
What of Daniel's private life? Did he have one? I suppose everyone has one. Thing is, is it of any consequence to this story? What did it matter if he had a girlfriend or not? What did it matter if he spent time in the pub or went cycling in the park or ran for miles and miles? Does it have any bearing on the obsessional grip he was experiencing at this time? I suppose it does in a way as he was very much a loner - no girlfriend (a failed relationship had left some scars) - never went to the pub to socialise and sport just didn't appeal and never had. All the ideas such learning engendered were held in check by steely resolve. From past experience he knew what it would take to open the mental flood gates, to allow them free reign. To write them down was one such method, where he could then study them at his leisure - even go so far as to write treatise or two - some essays, maybe, and submit them to various bodies. There were and would be means to offload - to lighten the load. He was looking forward to it in fact. So, in regard to Daniel's private life, suffice to say it was no hindrance to his burgeoning metamorphosis - the change taking place within him.
There is a vast difference from burying your head in the past than to take note of the present. There is the associated immediacy of it all - with the present, that is - the rapid change - the life changing repercussions should a person make the wrong choice. To simply cross the road without taking note of the traffic could cost you your life is one such example - albeit, rather an obvious one. These were not considerations Daniel had previously concerned himself with - not unduly anyway. When your head is full of the imaginary splendour of times long gone, where life seemed so much more colourful and where passions seemed to be so much more raw - where dynasties came and went - where whole nations changed course with the death of an important figure, murdered by stabbing, poison or some other nefarious means, daily-life, until then, had never held a candle to such intriguing and imagined scenarios. How taken aback Daniel was to learn this was not the case at all - modern life was just as brutal - if not more so! His expectation levels rose as a result - his skin literally prickled when he thought of the real-life chicanery going on all around him, by such people who made similar actions of the past pale into insignificance by comparison - the world had moved on and the spoils were now so much greater.
First of all though, he needed the tools to do the job - to be able to peel back the layers of deception, and boy, it was apparent, these layers were thick - much thicker than he ever thought possible, seemingly built up over a long period of time. There were seasoned, dark forces at work and they had very deep roots indeed. So he continued to dig and dig - the deeper he dug the scarier his findings became - there was malevolence of a sort he had never come across before - a sickening, uncaring, predatory mentality lurking in the shadows, but slowly and surely their plan for the future became apparent to him. This was all so much more than he could have ever thought possible. Had he wasted his life pursuing the wrong knowledge? realising though, thankfully, this was not the case - it was knowledge which was tied in to all around him - it was one and the same. It would enable him to unearth the perpetrators and point a finger with unerring accuracy when the time came.
In a short space of time all he needed was indeed at his finger-tips. From a given situation he could make assessments which were nearly always accurate in their eventual portrayal. In fact he could tell why such and such had proposed a certain policy and where it would lead - even as to the steps which had led up to it in the first place. Interwoven amongst all the apparent magnanimity - philanthropy - elements of skilful deceit were not lost on him as it was on others. They might have been able to pull the wool over the eyes of most of the population, but to Daniel the satanic wisps of connecting subterfuge were so strong it was akin to attempting to throw a hound-dog off the smell of a sweaty sock - it was simply not on. In chess terms each move made on the political landscape was as a piece moved on a chessboard, where Daniel could literally see all the moves in the future until the game's conclusion - and the more he took note of the political chess players of the day the less he thought of their character, with so many infested with greed or self-centred importance; with some being downright demonic - sharing a dark desire hidden beneath nothing more than a smiling, empty eyed, soul-less exterior. What to do about it all - and them - was the thing?
Daniel did not like feeling the way he did. When studying the past he could disassociate any personal feelings from the written word - in fact they were not activated all as he processed the information as from a distance - from the relative safety of many years - decades - millennia even, but by constantly considering the present and future skulduggery emotions of a sort he had never had to deal with before rose to the surface. How could he stand by and do nothing, when he, and maybe he alone, could see the trail of unfolding events - the social trauma - the fiscal hardship - the induced anguish - and ultimately - THE LOSS OF LIFE? This was all new territory to him and he was ill equipped to deal with it. Severe headaches, migraine affected him to such an extent he nearly took time off work - nearly, but not quite, there being too much to contemplate allied to the impending sense of his own and other's mortality. So much imagined threat hung in the air - a growing weight bearing down on him at all hours of the day - he figured time was running out. Outwardly Daniel appeared the same but inwardly his mind was realigning thought waves and patterns so that he would be able to fight fire with fire, to become as devious as the enemy he now considered them to be. Daniel's inner self was slowly altering to something new - something other than who he had been up to this point - maybe even something very dangerous, yet his outward persona remained the same. A superhero or masked marauder was inexorably taking shape.
A new day dawned and Daniel rose from his bed free from doubt, free from all manner of distress - the transformation was complete. He knew what he had to do. It was as clear as the nose on his face - a face which appeared to harbour an individual with something on his mind - a man on a mission, no less. First of all though he had to learn the ropes - test the water - flex his mental muscles - try out some devious activity of his own - something on a small scale and closer to home. Where better than to focus his attention on the very thing which rankled him to begin with, that which set him on this new path - the University finances - the University politics - the University faculty - the University Dean - the University Chancellor. Which of these were complicit in causing a loss of income? The University was run purely from money raised from fees and donations so the buck had to stop with one of these people or bodies - or maybe all of them? Daniel already knew who was to blame as it was the very same mind-set which had pervaded society at large. All who followed such doctrine he deemed as being complicit. They might be victims themselves in a way, but then again once imbued with such attitudes and mental associations they had clearly made their choice. Those who grazed on the side of the fence where the grass was growing on a diet of ideological poison deserved to be punished. How else would they change their ways?
The knives of the past were no different from those of the present - metaphorical knives, that is. To stab away at your victim you did so without endangering yourself - this was the key issue. A skilled knife thrower kept his eyes and ears open at all times, thereby building up quite an arsenal of insinuation and gossip. If one lunge didn't do the trick then another could be forth-coming, driving the career destroying blade in all the deeper until the job was done. Whispered asides - a chance remark - a disclosure here and there was enough in some cases - all it took to topple some unfortunate. Those in power invariably had enemies of their own only too willing to capitalise on any weakness - any unsavoury allusion could lead to a scandal if sufficiently weighty in substance. So Daniel began paying attention to idle banter during staff-room breaks. He even attended staff meetings now and then, listening in on conversations when he could. There was bitchiness aplenty between all faculty members - amazingly so it seemed to Daniel. It wasn't long before he had created a profile on a number of potential victims, each one of which could become a fall-guy, deservingly so in his opinion. Should he go for the small fry or bring the whole lot crashing down? He realised he could effectively cause the latter - it was in his power to do so. He had enough intelligence to go on eventually, and, anyway, he could always make the rest up as he went along, if needs be. It wasn't so much whether there was any truth in the accusations, just that they had become a debatable concern in the first place. It was plain daft to jeopardize his own job any further than it already was though, so he focussed his attention on the person he disliked most of all - the slippery, slimy Dean - a sycophant of the highest order, who had trodden on many toes to reach such an exalted position - there were any number of bodies left languishing in the promotional wake following this self important upstart.
To hold the position of University 'Dean' seemed very appropriate as a little digging revealed an earlier career choice involving the Church, though in a lesser capacity of Pastor. To help paint a torrid picture of the past there was the question mark hanging over his sexuality, with no wife anywhere to be seen - there never had been. Putting two and two together who wouldn't come to the conclusion of four? You would have to be pretty naive to consider a different result. Such information, if embellished, then presented in a suitable manner, would arrive at someone's door as if a grenade had gone off. It wouldn't take a lot - a fictitious story of abuse by someone who was no longer alive and kicking, thereby making it all the more difficult to verify details one way or another would raise all sorts of hell - and there was one such person who had met their demise since being a member of the Dean's inner sanctum when an active Pastor - a choir boy. Once all these details had accumulated, Daniel found himself questioning the ethical implications of his actions should he go through with it all. Did he really want to stoop so low as to pick on someone who was in no way to blame for the ills of society at large, nor being solely to blame for the lack of University funds? What then was the point in ruining this person's career? No, the pursuit of data and how to apply the findings, appeared to be enough. He had learned a great deal from the process, which was the main thing. The Dean lived to enjoy another day - for now anyway. Why bother with the tail-end of a problem when the problematic creature itself was multifaceted, multi-headed and capable of growing new limbs at will? Daniel raised his sights higher. Someone who knew exactly the result of their actions was to become the new focus of his attention. Would he once again pull up short, to change his mind at the last minute? What if he could change the course of history itself thereby SAVING lives in the long run? He knew he was entering a different ballpark altogether at this juncture.
There was one person in particular who ticked all the boxes in the wrong way. This first, initial stage of identification, was only one of many. To remove the threat completely - to thwart this person's plan - was clouded in mystery. What were the final stages? It was one thing to cast spurious allegations on a local dignitary but another thing entirely to do the same to a person who was constantly in the public eye - they would be lost amongst all the others. How then to complete the mission? Daniel ruled out a physical attack as this was counter-productive, apart from the doubt he held over his ability to actually do any such thing in the first place, there were security guards to consider; and on top of all this it was highly unlikely he would ever get away with it - it was the one attack then jail, or worse. This wasn't at all right and proper and flew in the face of the methods used by those who had shaped society for so long, who operated from the shadows using others to do the dirty work for them, thereby always escaping justice. This conundrum vexed Daniel and he couldn't see a way around the stumbling blocks at this time. In the interim his on-line investigations revealed the startling animosity towards this high profile figure, not in regard to the articles themselves, but in the abusive, vitriolic comments they generated. He felt obliged to do the same - vent his spleen in the same way, to speak out with all the others. At least this way he was doing something. His innate sense of self-preservation kicked in before doing anything of the sort though, and he signed up for a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to hide his IP Address, enabling him to create fictitious characters who would act as stand-ins - proxy, ghost commentators, thereby keeping himself out of harm's way.
For weeks and weeks Daniel caused unrest by following the article breadcrumb trail and posting informed, probing criticism. It wasn't as easy as he thought it would be to garner support. Too strong, or requiring too much consideration, and no-one would pay his remarks any attention. He eventually struck a balance between content and style, adopting one which consistently received the most likes. Each adaptation was clearly defined by using a different alias each time - 'The Futurist', being the most successful, became his chosen emissary.
It wasn't long before people would seek out 'The Futurist's' judgements. Such obvious intelligence allied to an incredible foresight, never-mind insight, caught people's imagination; no, more than this, their admiration. It was only a matter of time before various underground, political bodies began to show more of an interest than most - Daniel was prime recruitment material in more ways than one. Emails began to appear in his inbox - 'The Futurist's' inbox that is - an email account kept very separate from any other. Daniel realised this could well be the way forward - the ability to influence events using others as mouthpieces - maybe even something far more substantial should the need arise. In fact it was the perfect solution so Daniel played the game and responded to these enquiries. He allowed himself to be drawn in - but who was the spider and who was the fly? There was no-doubt at all in Daniel's mind and he began to spin his deceitful web, the strands of which spread out far and wide. It was not so much 'they' were recruiting him than he was deliberately recruiting them. He could feel himself settling back in the gloom, where safety was only guaranteed by obscurity. The criminal practises of the past were shaping his role in the present and future - they were one and the same. The power of insinuation Daniel had yet to feel to its full extent. Could be keep personal megalomania at bay? after all many had become drunk on their own self-importance. It was far too early to be concerned as to Daniel's egotistical rampages, but slowly and surely his informed utterances began to make their presence felt. So many others were now speaking the same language - the vocabulary of which was spelt out word for word by Daniel from the dark recesses of borderline, law-breaking enterprises. Daniel was in position, prepped and ready to roll.
It wasn't long before Daniel was running the show. Under his command was a veritable army of willing soldiers - as they considered themselves to be. Owing to the on-line harassment, scurrilous propaganda and feet on the ground demonstrations, the previous mark's political aspirations, along with the intended policies, were now dead in the water. The Futurist's reputation was growing because of this and similar successes to such an extent people were now in awe of the very name - a name never spoken aloud outside of a well vetted, inner circle of followers. Daniel was accumulating the power necessary to combat the evils of those he considered were the destroyers of mankind. But to think of collapsing their whole operation in one fell swoop was one thought too many - would never happen. Such people were spread far and wide - never appearing in the limelight - they were those Daniel considered to be the Shadow Government - all being manipulated by someone else - merely puppets on a string. How to bring down the puppet master was the thing?
'The Futurist' held down his job which was ideal as he had so much information within easy reach, thereby living a dual existence no-one knew about. He surmised the only way to bring about radical change was by causing a revolution - one which would cause chaos, hardship, even loss of life - the very societal changes he was fighting to avoid. Worryingly though, also appealingly, this could only be achieved through the creation of a despot, and who could fill such shoes other than the man himself?
The proverbial saying: 'Absolute power corrupts absolutely', bears some relevance here. Daniel was a man - just a man as any other underneath it all, with the same failings, same weaknesses. To imagine being enthroned, residing high above those below - those who fawned at your feet and carried out your every wish was an incredibly strong revere - and Daniel did allow himself to sit on high in his mind's eye at times. Would he make a beneficent ruler - his reign being noted by historians in the future as one of the great governances of modern times - or something else entirely?
The Futurist kept plugging away, mitigating some of the damage being inflicted upon innocents and unfortunates, but never really getting to grips with the crux of the matter. All the while those under Daniel's authority grew - some ending up in court for one reason or another! Who were commoners after all? Haven't they always been sacrificed for the greater good? Frustration spilled over to more aggressive means of combating the flow of inane decisions being meted out by those who should have known better. The ruined political body count grew, keeping pace with Daniel's increasing love of control. it got to the stage where Daniel even wore a crown when seated in his golden throne, surrounded by masses of treasure, with lots of scantily glad women as slaves there to cater to his every wish - such a vision even haunted his dreams on occasion. Should he press the revolutionary button and let loose hell on earth? The Futurist knew the answer. He knew it long ago. The answer was in the past and it had never changed. By not doing so he was merely delaying the inevitable. The power he wielded wasn't absolute, not yet, but the very thought of it being so kept gnawing away at his sanity. He knew one day he would be too far gone to care one way or another, and never-mind his thumb but his whole fist would come crashing down on the explosive switch and to hell with the consequences.
A prophet, seer, oracle would have told you the same many years ago and Daniel was of the same, glorious ilk. It would have been written in stone - cast in runes - foreseen in a crystal ball - one way or the other man always succumbed to the Devil's work - the temptation of unchallenged dictatorship was just too strong and always had been; and let's face it, Daniel was itching to give it a try.