The Choice

by Breck Yunits

"I'll give you this library," the billionaire said, sweeping his arms up toward the majestic ceiling.

" can have this scroll," he said, pointing down at a stick of paper on a table, tied with a red ribbon.


Thomas said nothing.

He kept his eyes locked on the billionaire's.


He had prepared for moments like this.

Don't flinch.

Don't look away.

Be comfortable with silence.



He knew he was going to be challenged with something today.

He just didn't know what.

Now he knew.

I have to get this right.


Obviously choose the library, right?

The real estate and art in this place are worth billions!

It's the biggest personal library in the world!

It has every book ever published.

Every paper ever written.

Every song ever recorded.

Every movie ever filmed.


Shannon would take the library, right?

Think of all that information!

The collective work of a hundred billion humans over ten thousand years.

Ten trillion human-years of effort!

With that much information, I could solve the complexity of the universe!


The complexity of the universe.


What did Wolfram discover about complexity?

Infinite complexity can arise from simple rules.

Simple rules.

Simple rules.

Simple rules...that could fit on a piece of paper.


Holy sh**.

Did he discover simple rules to our universe?

Did he invent a language that solves both quantum mechanics and gravity?

That has to be it.


But EVERYONE would choose the library.


Thomas inhaled deeply.


"I'll take the scroll"


Thomas sat in his car in a beach parking lot and stared across the bay to the end of the cape.

First he saw the smoke, then the flames, and then the humongous rocket rise off the ground.

It gained speed as it rose into the sky, carrying his mentor and the rest of its crew on their journey to Mars.

When the rocket was out of sight, Thomas looked down at his lap.


He untied the red ribbon and unrolled the scroll.


It was blank.


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