The order was clear, thought by billions, wondered by a few why it hadn’t been placed earlier.
He looked down at his hands, noticing for the first time in a long time how time had shrunken the tissue covering his body, his hands showing their half-century of living use, the veins, tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones clearly delineated beneath the skin, how the hair had turned white seemingly overnight.
He looked at the order again.
He answered to no one but himself.
The order wasn’t directed at him so much as it was accidentally given to him for advisory counsel.
He refused a stipend.
That way, his advice was unencumbered by greed, the vanity of sharing his wisdom held to a minimum.
If he approved of the order, actions and reactions would resonate when his approval became a large rock dropped in the sea of social change.
What would become of the ones he loved?
What had become of them already?
Was love a necessary consideration in his approval process?
He lit the wooden wick of the soy candle in a jar, the jarlid informing him the intended scent of “Round the Campfire” was woodsmoke by Fall Circle Candles.
He meditated deeply upon the order, having turned it over in his thoughts for months now (leading back years in tiny tendrils of thought trails).
Would he approve, knowing what he already knows of the future?
How important was the balance of economic as well as cultural power in relation to the order?
He mulled it over, tasting the metallic hints of the order on his tongue as he pressed its imaginary salty ocean water texture to the roof of his mouth.
Like a courtship worth pursuing, one does not speak in direct terms when nuance is the order of the day.
What is property ownership?
When the people jointly own the treasury, who guards the coinage and who claims rights to take pieces of eight for themselves?
What defines piracy on the high seas?
Who defends open water and who defines the very meaning of open water to begin with?
He looked at the order again.
He’d advised on such orders before, carefully weighing his words so that the creation of subterranean cavities resembling volcanic activities would look like earthquakes in the right vicinities without setting off alarm bells in military facilities.
He knew the illusion of the balance of power was fluidity captured in strobelight snapshots.
Why should he approve this order?
In his review of the progress of the story of Lee and Guin, whose lives continued with or without his Martian chronicles, he compared infinite storylines to find the one with the connection that only the palm-to-palm touch between two dance spouses can produce with no political ramifications in a technocratic future.
Their story was his story.
Why should he approve?
What if he advised a long view?
In 400 Earth years, what will the real value of salt water and islands be?
How to avoid the spark of nationalism that ignites pyres of extremism to bonfires of vainglorious warmongering?
Is avoidance the path?
Or should one’s profiteering nature kick in and send stockpiling into high gear?
Simulations show results only a few will appreciate.
Will he approve the order?
He pondered the tariffs and blockades, the property seizures and shattered tax shelters.
He played out the bluffs and parrying.
He thought out the spoiled children’s partying.
He wondered about the pretend secret society poisoning.
He meditated upon his slow breathing.
He smelled the candle’s smoky sensation.
He watched the flame flicker.
He calculated the sine wave.
He estimated the area under the curve.
He felt for the hot spots.
He looked at the order once more.
He silently sent out his responses, showing the codependents the interdependencies.
He sat back and looked at his handiwork.
And then he slept soundly.