My plane was late, but that wasn't stopping me from getting to him. This story was bigger than the world wars, bigger than soda. Nothing is bigger than Dr. Magnusson.
He no longer lives in a mansion. The Gala Technology Syndicate is his home now. He locks himself up there all day, all night, never even looking out the window. All he does is sit there, up there inventing, making the world a better place. Twenty years since his last public appearance, he has become myth. That was until the Times got a call from his office. Then, the times called me.
The study I sit in is strewn with papers. Piles of cluttered pens, chewed down and bent, stick out of unclosed briefcases. Some of them hum and sparkle. It must be new technologies, stowed away from the world. Behind a spacious mahogany desk is a Teutonic idol, second century BCE. There's heavy red paste smeared across it's left horn and midsection. A candle beside it flickers in the waning light.
After he keeps me fourteen minutes in suspense, I hear the hinges of the door creak, and the synthetic joints of his servant creak beside him. X4-A eyes me suspiciously and steps away from his master. Magnusson's face, though aged slightly, shines. He is happy to see me.
“Sit down Connor, sit down. There is no need for that.”
I look down and see that I am slightly out of my seat, my hand poised to shake his.
“You came prepared? I hope so... I have waited a long time for this day.”
In his hands he holds a shimmering remote, once barely visible and activates the blinds on his floor. The light of the city flows in like a vapor.
“So do we begin here? Or would you prefer to do this over dinner? I've heard that the linguini and seasonal herring is smashing down at Rudolfos...”
“No!” He snaps at me. The remote begins to burn red in his hands. “Go out among them? Those insects? No, no that is not ideal.”
“So would you like to do it here then?” I take the recorder out of my pocket and lay it down on the desk. He is impressed, nodding. Regally, he encircles me and sits down behind his desk.
“You will be the key then?” he muses quietly, “Interesting. I suppose you want to know why you are here?”
I wonder the same thing. I nod, slaying two birds.
“My legacy is nearing an end, young Connor. Did you know that?” I nod once more. It must be a rhetorical question. He frowns sternly, hardly impressed. “And I have called you to record my last living interview.”
My heart skips a beat. My life is complete. I will be able to retire the day after my story hits.
“Perhaps I will see your review objectively. I'm sure the press has plenty of bad things to say about me, about the products that those vultures swarm over. They will be disappointed to learn that X4-A is taking my place. This company could better benefit from a little efficiency. Wouldn't you agree?”
“So your android X4-A will be the sole shareholder of the company? Have you communicated this with your stock holders? Will this effect the release date for the Beta Patch?
Magnusson shifts uncomfortably in his desk chair.
“It will effect nothing, at least that I am aware of. Then again I have been wrong before...”
“Oh it's nothing that concerns this interview. Actually, I brought you here for another reason. Tell me, Connor, what do you see out there?”
“I'm not sure.” I'm not. I couldn't understand his logic. “People, transports, progress?”
Disappointed, he shakes his head.
“I see things differently than you Connor. But I respect the difference in opinion. Few have the initiative, or courage to stand up to their mentors.”
X4-A places a cup of coffee beside my hand down onto the table, bows and retreats from the room. It's good too, real coffee, not that synthetic shit.
“I see parasites, people who have lost their way. They knew better all those years ago.” He pauses, picking up the Teutonic idol, stroking the red paste and spreading it farther across the body. “I have spent my life giving them what they wanted: technology and mere fancies. And they shallowly express themselves like neanderthals, smearing their egos onto digital mediums, full of self-conceit.”
“I'm sorry, what do you mean?”
“I'm sorry, what do you mean?”
Magnusson sits up in his chair crossly, slamming the idol onto the desk. In his eyes the man seethes with anger. I've never seen this Magnusson before, never on projection ads and hardlight boards. He was primal, full of unearthly desire. The man that created A.I. and the future was mad, a monster and a fiend. He hated the world.
“This world was pure once, and don't bother asking me, 'what I mean.' Clearly this was a mistake.”
Getting up from the desk haughtily he brushes past X4-A curtly. The android bows in obedience. At the door he turns around and faces me, a glinting look of victory in his eyes.
“Your pay is on the desk. You will find it agreeable. Print whatever you like, it won't matter anyways. Now get out of my sight!”
After thirty minutes of waiting, X4-A sternly approaches me, escorting me from the building. I am confused. A week later I would know though, but by then it was too late. Too late.