You are surfing Reddit when
you come across a thread titled "The Ultimate Man." You read it and feel the hairs on your arms stand up. It's like reading about someone you know, but that person is so far out there he's not even in the same universe as you.
This guy knows how to live, and he's written down his secrets for posterity. You can't help yourself: you click on the link and read everything.
It begins with an explanation of what he means by "ultimate man," which is apparently a very specific kind of man who does certain things
. He explains why he has chosen this path—and you think back to all those nights at home alone watching movies, thinking about what life would be like if I had done these things.
"I've been alive for over two hundred years now," he writes.
The ultimate man does the following 10 things:
1) Loves his family. (A wife, kids, parents, etc.)
2) Is faithful. (No cheating or being unfaithful)
3) Is good. (Always doing good things for people)
4) Earns money and gives to charity.
(Saving more than he spends)
5) Makes friends easily. (Never being mean to anyone)
6) Works hard. (Pays bills on time)
7) Dresses well.
(Wears nice clothes)
8) Has a sense of humor. (Laughs often)
9) Doesn't let fear rule him. (Doesn't let small stuff get to him)
10) Lives for himself.
You notice a link to purpose a self book written by the Ultimate Man titled:
"How To Live Your Best Life." You click on it.
The first thing you see is a picture of a beautiful woman, smiling, her hand resting on her stomach. She looks to be in her early twenties.
The caption reads:
My daughter, Ava. My greatest accomplishment.
She was born just a few months after my wife died. I couldn't have been happier.
Your mouth is dry.
You swallow and try to find some words to say. You want to ask what happened, but you don't dare.
Then the rest of the page comes into view. There are ten bullet points under the heading "How to live your best life."
They're numbered from one to ten, and they seem to correspond with the bullet points on the website. But there's something else...
There's a picture of a young boy, maybe eight or nine years old.
He's sitting on a chair, looking at the camera. His eyes are wide open, staring directly into yours. He's smiling. It's a picture of pure joy.
Underneath the picture is a caption:
You begin to sob uncontrollably.
You don't know why. You can barely breathe through your tears. Your hands shake as you scroll down to the next page.
You click on it, and the screen fills with text. You read every word, unable to stop.
One sentence really sticks out to you:
I am not afraid of death.
And then, at the bottom, you see a picture of the same young boy again. He's older now, probably around sixteen or seventeen. He's still sitting on the chair, but he's wearing a hoodie and he's holding a skateboard.
His hair is longer, and his face looks much less innocent. The caption reads:
My son, Max.
Max? You gasp aloud.
You know Max! The Ultimate Man's son is your drug dealer!
The thought makes you dizzy. You start to hyperventilate, and you struggle to stay conscious.
Suddenly, you realize you aren't alone. Someone has just walked into the room.
Max has arrived with your weed delivery. He notices you reading his father's book and rolls his eyes.
"What the fuck?" he says.
He walks over to you and grabs the book away. Then he looks at the pictures of the children. "Who the fuck are these people?" he asks.
"I'm sorry," you manage to choke out. "I... I don't..."
"Oh yeah, you do," he snaps. "These are your kids, right? That's what you told me."
You offer to adopt Max.
"I want to take care of
," you tell him.
need taking care of," he says.
"But thanks anyway."
He leaves. You sit there, stunned.
The next day, you go to work and the entire staff greets you with, "Hey, kid, how'd you sleep last night?"
You ignore them and head to your desk.
You work at
a grocery store in the produce department. You've worked here for six months now, ever since you moved to the city. You used to live in a small town where everyone knew each other. Here, you feel like you don't fit in.