Let’s think about this one more time.
“I sat in the silence of my temporary room on the billionaire’s yacht. It gently swayed in the most relaxing manner. I’ve heard that some people get seasick, but this just felt like being cradled to me.
Four other kids and I were invited to meet the retired owner of the most successful tech company in the world. Although, it might be more accurate to say the most successful company ever. His net worth is well above three-hundred billion dollars. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call him one of the greatest people who ever lived. His name was Marcus.
The man himself was as strange as they come. He lived alone, with the exception of his staff, on a small island. His family had nothing to do with him either. Marcus moved there some time ago and hadn’t interacted with the world again until just recently. He didn’t have a mobile or even internet connection. He simply isolated himself from the entire world after retiring. But all of that only made the current situation much stranger.
Not only did the man reveal himself to the world once again, but it was to invite some kids to his remote island. Even weirder than that, he invited me. The rest of the kids here I could understand, though. There was the world famous artist who already had her paintings in museums, the programmer with his skills in high demand by companies and governments alike, the actor who was so convincing that it took time before most people even realized it was the same girl who played in each role, and the genius who has shaken multiple different areas of modern science with her revelations. Surprisingly, I didn’t know any of their names. They were all famous in their own way, but I had never heard their names mentioned before this trip. Even still only two people had told me their names so far. Few people knew the actor’s name due to her convincing nature and I wasn’t informed in any specific fields, like programming and art, so my knowledge was very limited.
Then there was me. I was the center of attention when I was a little kid, but everyone got bored of me quickly. I didn’t work for my status like the others did, I was just born this way. I’ve been told that I have a unique case of hyperthymesia. Hyperthymesia is an extremely rare condition that causes its victims to remember events to an astonishing degree. In my case, however, every aspect of my memory was flawless. I was given many tests and everyone was shocked time and time again by my performances. But after a while, the scientists had all they needed to know and the media had gotten bored of me. I was forgotten, ironically.
By all but Marcus apparently.
The silence in my room was suddenly filled by the loudspeaker. An elderly voice came on as our captain announced, ‘It’s almost time. If you head out to the deck, you’ll see that we’re now approaching the island. It’s a beautiful view. There’s only about ten minutes left, so prepare your items.’
I sat still for another moment and sighed. I really didn’t want to see her again, but it would be odd if I just stayed in my room. I didn’t necessarily want to distance myself from the rest of the group, either. I’d be sharing this island with them for the next week, so there was no use in making enemies.
Waiting until I no longer heard the sounds of the kids leaving their rooms, I followed their path close behind and met them on the deck.
I once again caught a glance at each of the kids. We were mostly all highschool aged and in our late teens.
There was a tall man in formal attire. He wore a blue suit with a long red tie. His hair was blonde and his face sharp.
Beside him was a short blonde girl wearing a beret and glasses. Her clothes were casual and her face glowed with excitement at the sight of the island. She lifted herself up using the rail for a perfect view. She seemed to be an anomaly when it came to age. She looked around fifteen at the oldest.
Distanced slightly from the three of us was a brunette girl who watched the island closely. She didn’t take her eyes off of the island for even a second, seemingly oblivious to the fact there were any other people aboard. She wore a striped pink shirt with long sleeves despite the heat. She held her arms behind her back shyly.
Finally, there was her. The one that I hated so much to see. She was tall and slim with a gentle and cute face. Her hair was black and long reaching down to her waist. Just one look at her and my head began to ache once again. She rested in a beach chair, laid on her back with her eyes closed. The trip must have been tiring for her too.
‘This is going to be so fun!’ the girl in the beret laughed.
The formal man replied, ‘Yes, it’ll be a wonderful experience too.’
Then the girl turned to me with a smile, ‘You’re the one with the memory, right? Do you still remember my name?’
‘Of course. Even people with an average memory wouldn’t have forgotten by now. You’re Lilah, right?’
Lilah glanced down and chuckled a bit, ‘Yeah, about that… What was your name again?’
‘I guess she doesn’t have an average memory,’ I thought.
‘Hehe,’ She chuckled. ‘Sorry about that.’
The man, who I remember is named Alex, said, ‘We haven’t gotten to talk all that much despite being in the same boat. Literally. What have you been up to?’
I couldn’t tell him that I had been avoiding everyone because I didn’t want to see that girl again, ‘I’ve just been a little seasick.’
‘Haha! Well, it happens to the best of us.’
‘Could you guys quiet down?’ She, the cute girl in the beach chair, didn’t even bother to open her eyes. ‘I’m tired.’
Alex awkwardly smiled, ‘Oh, sorry about that! Forgot you were sleeping.’
His face was smiling but I knew that we all felt the same way.
‘What’s her deal?’ I’m sure we all thought. But, no one was brave enough to say it.
The silence lingered for a few moments while we awkwardly decided whether we should continue talking or not.
‘Well, I guess I should go pack up anyway. It’s nearly time to go!’ Said Lilah. ‘Let’s pick this back up on the island!’
Alex agreed, ‘Sure. I guess I’ll follow her lead and finish packing as well. See you, Daniel.’
The two walked back into the ship leaving only me, the girl in the beach chair, and the girl who hadn’t even looked away from the island since we all walked out. It felt a little awkward just standing around next to these two.
‘Well, that gives me a good excuse to get away from her anyway,’ I thought.
Despite being fully packed, I returned to my room and wasted some time before the loud speakers spoke once again, ‘We have arrived at the island. I’ll guide you on a tour through the Master’s mansion. Bring your bags and I’ll meet you on the deck.’
Following instructions, we all lined up on the deck and waited for the captain. Apparently, he manned the whole giant boat himself. There wasn’t another staff member to be seen. It was just him.
Lilah sat on the railing, haphazardly kicking her feet back and forth in anticipation. The wind threatened to throw more than her beret off of the boat, yet she wore a childish carefree smile.
Alex waited patiently, standing completely still with his arms by his side. If one word was absolutely necessary to describe his posture, it would be confident. No nervous ticks or movements, he simply stood with his arms by his side, waiting for the captain. He looked ready for a business meeting, not even a bead of sweat sat on his forehead despite wearing a suit under the sun’s oppressive heat.
The silent girl stood leaning to one side. Her hands were folded behind her back and her eyes darted across the deck, analyzing every crevice.
I intentionally didn’t so much as glance at her. I wasn’t ready to see her face again. She wore it far too stern, it was unnerving. But, nonetheless, she stood in line beside us, undoubtedly wearing an expression of impatience. I could hear her foot tapping faster and faster as the seconds ticked by.
Finally, the captain carefully opened the door revealing an elderly man, most likely in his late sixties. He wore a similar suit to Alex, but it was dark black and was paired with a proper black bow tie. He stood with impressive posture and balance that didn’t waver despite his age. He walked fast and didn’t carry himself like anyone over the age of thirty.
‘Greetings, and welcome to the island. Sadly, it has no name to introduce. It doesn’t have a need for one and actually serves its purpose much better without one. I’ll be your guide and butler for the duration of your stay. Please call me William.’
He stopped speaking for a moment and gave us a once-over. His eyes stopped on Alex in particular and he gave a slight approving nod.
I thought, ‘Are we supposed to dress and act like that, even though we just got out of highschool? Are we older than I thought?’
Continuing on after his appraisal, ‘Please, follow me. The Master will be waiting for you in the main hall. Sadly, there is no meal waiting for us. I’ll prepare one right away after the tour, so dinner will be ready as soon as possible.’
She stuck to the back of the line, so I naturally made my way to the front, beside Alex.
Walking off of the dock and onto the island, it was like a world I had never seen before. The path from the dock to the entrance of the mansion was almost like a garden. Hedges lined the path and the ground was covered in an intricate design of brickwork. Every once in a while there would be an arc made of vines over top of the path. Even with so many vines and plants, the path didn’t seem overgrown in even a single area.
The brick path eventually led itself into a large circle around a pond with a fountain in the center. The fountain shot high into the air and covered the crystal clear water’s surface in ripples.
Just past the pond there was what I’d consider the ‘main garden,’ as I believe even the simple path here was a garden in and of itself. It was covered in colorful flowers and exquisitely shaped bushes.
Towering over all, a large modern mansion stood around five stories tall. It was white and covered in windows. It’s edges were mostly rounded off and the roof was coated in solar panels which seemed to be following the direction of the sun.
I turned my gaze to the other kids. The sight didn’t seem to amaze them all as much as it did me.
Alex looked as professional as always.
The silent girl’s eyes darted around, but that didn’t seem unusual. Her face didn’t say a thing about amazement.
She didn’t look quite as bored or emotionless as the others, but she didn’t seem amazed either. It was a complex look of surprise and wonder that was quickly overwritten by one of disgust.
Lilah was the only exception. Her childish wonder led her in front of William, our guide. She ran around and stopped by every different breed of flower, studying their unique scents.
Unlike what I’ve come to expect from movies, there weren’t any butlers or maids waiting for us at the entrance. We simply walked past the notably lock-less doors and straight through the entrance. All throughout the mansion there didn’t seem to be another staff member. Still, it looked very clean and neat, making it feel as though no one lived here at all.
The halls were relatively empty. Awards and paintings occasionally clung to the walls, but the look was very simplistic. There were few decorations and the furniture was plain.
‘This place is kinda lame,’ I faintly heard her behind me. She didn’t sound like she was talking to anyone in particular, just muttering to herself in disappointment.
William pointed down a large hallway stemming from the entrance, ‘Down there is the dining hall and kitchen. I’ll set you all free to explore after the tour, but we’ll meet again there for dinner at six.’
He walked us past an elevator in favor of several flights of steps. I doubt we’d all fit in the elevator comfortably. The steps didn’t seem to phase Lilah, but even Alex seemed uncomfortable climbing them. Despite his age, William was fine.
The rest of the tour was short. Everyone’s room was on the second floor down the same hall. Extra rooms lined the entire hallway like a hotel. We stopped by and dropped off our bags before continuing the tour. There was a pool and gym on the third floor and a library and engineering workshop on the fourth floor. Finally, the Master, Marcus’ office on the fifth, top floor. There were various bathrooms and closets on every floor, but those were probably considered ‘forgettable details.’
After pointing to the pad-locked door of the office, William stated with force, ‘Don’t go in there. There’s a doorbell out here if you need to speak with him, but going into the office is forbidden. Even to me. Everywhere else on the island is yours to roam. Try to find me or Marcus if you have any questions. Have fun, and I’ll see you all for dinner.’
At this point my breathing was pretty heavy from the stairs and I desperately needed to rest. Alex looked the same way. It was clear he was trying to hide his fatigue. Lilah was still as fine as ever, though.
Surprisingly, the first person to leave the group was her. She turned her back and walked off as soon as William finished his speech. Next was Lilah, eager to explore. Alex turned to me with a ‘See you later.’ His breathing was noticeably heavy.
That left me and the shy brunette… I realized that we hadn’t introduced ourselves yet.
The silent girl sat in one of three empty chairs on the side of the hallway to catch her breath. She must have been as tired as me.
I sat myself down beside her and attempted to make eye contact. She simply ignored it, or perhaps didn’t even notice. She looked down at the ground as she attempted to control her breathing.
‘Hey, I don’t think we’ve really had a chance to meet yet. I’m Daniel. What’s your name?’
She looked up slowly and took a good look at my face, ‘Amelia. Nice to meet you.’
‘No wonder William is so fit for his age, walking up these steps everyday.’
Amelia gave a little chuckle and smiled, ‘Yeah. It must be hard for him, taking care of this place. But, that garden was beautiful. I think I’ll be heading back there, as soon as I catch my breath.’
She glanced up absently, thinking of the colorful island.
‘Oh,’ I thought as I recalled the appearance of the garden. ‘I suppose most people have to revisit beautiful places in person. But then again, since I can see it anytime I want, they’re not all that beautiful to me.’
‘Well, I’ll leave you to it then. Nice to meet you.’
‘See you,’ she waved.
Walking back to my room, the elevator was occupied.
‘Seems about my luck,’ I thought. ‘I suppose walking wouldn’t be so bad. I need to get comfortable with this place anyway.’
Just down the first flight of stairs, on the fourth floor, Lilah glanced all around, one hand on her beret and the other adjusting her glasses. She seemed frantic and lost. As soon as she noticed me, she ran up and smiled.
‘Where are we!?’
‘Just how bad is her memory?’
‘We’re currently on the fourth floor, with the library and workshop. Where do you want to go?’
She grinned, ‘I knew I could count on you! Can you walk me to the pool?’
Sighing as I felt obligated to help her out, I gestured ‘follow me.’
Lilah wiped her glasses as she spoke, ‘Ya know, having a perfect memory seems great. I can’t even remember how to get back to my room!’
I disagreed heavily, but I didn’t want to refute her so I stayed silent.
‘Oh!’ She looked up abruptly and turned to me as we walked. ‘Are you smart?’
‘Where did that come from?’
‘C’mon are you?’
‘Well, I wouldn’t say so,’ I’d never compliment myself. It feels unfair. But, at the same time, it feels just as wrong to insult myself.
‘We really haven’t gone over it yet, so did you talk to the rest about who’s who?’
‘“Who’s who?” What’s that mean?’
‘C’mon!’ She puffed out her cheeks and made a pouty face while giving me a light punch on the shoulder. ‘Our talents! Have you asked them what they do?’
‘Not really. Actually, I think everyone knows mine already, but I don’t know anyone’s for sure yet.’
Her honest smile briefly changed to a grin and back again. The difference is subtle, but there, ‘For sure? That does mean you have some guesses then, right?’
‘Hmm… Well, Alex must be the programmer. I know that the programmer was male and I’m not him so…’
‘I see… who else?’
She sure likes pushing my brain around, ‘I guess Amelia seems like the genius, the quiet intelligent type.’
Lilah looked a bit impatient again and childishly blurted out, ‘Man! I’ll come out and say it, who do you think I am?’
‘Geez. Well, you’re the artist right?’
She stops in her tracks forcing me to wait in front of her with a look of surprise on her face. I turned to face her. It shouldn’t have been that impressive. I mean, she wore a beret, which was an odd choice for anyone that wasn’t an artist in my mind, did she forget that too?
We had nearly gotten to the pool. One more turn, the second right just in front of us, and we would be there.
‘Wow! You’re good!’ She had a child-like wonder in her eye.
‘So that leaves her as the actor,’ I thought.
‘Want me to paint a picture of you?’ Lilah asked through a chuckle.
‘Sure,’ It seemed like it could be fun. ‘Do you need me to sit somewhere while you paint me?’
Her smile and chuckles strengthened. At this point she had been promoted from giggling to full on laughter.
Speaking through breaths she laughed, ‘Yeah! Here, meet me in the garden right after dinner. It’d be nice to paint you in front of the sunset.’
‘Sure. Sounds good.’
Lilah quickly faced her head down as her laughter grew louder. For the brief moment I saw her face, she had tears in her eyes and her mouth had formed a sneer. She quickly ran ahead of me and turned the corner to the pool room.
My reflexes were a bit slow, but I chased just behind her. As soon as I turned the corner to keep pursuing, I was forced to stop abruptly. Lilah stood in front of me, only having been barely hidden by the corner. She faced me, her tears and laughter were gone leaving no evidence of whatever was so funny to her.
‘I should probably mention…’ She said calmly- but cut herself off and smiled again. Childishly. ‘You know what? Never mind. I’ll see you after dinner!’
Then she turned around and skipped into the pool room.
‘What a weird interaction. I guess people who are talented are often quite abnormal. But, she had seemed relatively normal until now. At least she was having a good time… I wonder what her art looks like. I look forward to seeing her paint. But… I thought she didn’t remember how to get to the pool?’
I stared at the entrance of the pool for a few moments more, contemplating on Lilah’s odd behavior.
‘Oh well. There isn’t much more to do, so it would be best for me to wait for dinner in my room. I’ll meet Marcus then as well. Hopefully he isn’t too weird.’
With a deep sigh, I walked down the stairwell and back to my room.
I sat on my bed, simply staring at the clock.
‘Ten more minutes.’
Whenever my mind began to wander, I forced it back into counting seconds. If I let it go where it wanted to, I’d have no doubt ended up seeing her irritating face again. She was cute with a face befitting an actor, but that would only be a good thing if she didn’t seem so angry all of the time. She can’t sugar coat her words and has no sense of manners. That isn’t how she should be. It’s all wrong.
Eventually, I made it to six o’ clock without remembering anything unpleasant.
I left my room at the same time as Alex. He didn’t spend any time exploring either, I guess.
Alex and I rode the elevator down to the ground floor.
‘It’s quite amazing, isn’t it?’ Alex broke the elevator’s silence.
‘The mansion. When I think of the word mansion, I usually imagine one of those old buildings of wood or stone. Modern mansions are truly fascinating.’
‘Yeah… The design is really unique,’ I searched for something to say.
‘I can’t wait to meet Marcus. Have you heard the stories about him?’
‘Which ones? He’s quite famous.’
‘How he built his wealth,’ Alex looked at me with stars in his eyes. This was the first time he seemed really excited or interested about anything so far. ‘They say that he grew up with very little money. His family was poor. But one day, as a child, his talents were recognized. In the growing age of technology, he was a prodigy. He started his own company and then it steadily grew into a monopoly. He took risks that could have shut his whole company down for relatively small payout. His company was the only one dumb enough to do such things. Somehow, through genius or luck, he won every gamble. Rival businesses were forced to sell their companies one by one, until he dominated the entire industry. It was pretty rough at the time too, with various crimes targeting new tech companies.’
‘Wow. He’s amazing, isn’t he?’
‘Marcus’ beginnings must be similar to Alex’s. They both are the best there is at technology, assuming he’s the programmer.’
The elevator stopped and let us out near the hallway to the dining room.
‘Well,’ Alex smiled. ‘Let’s not make him wait.’
A pair of double doors were left open leading into the dining room. The room included several large tables with many chairs around them. The table in the middle was peculiar. Marcus sat at the head and Amelia, Lilah, and her sat across from him. That left only two chairs, the perfect number for all of us. The table had plates, silverware, and napkins set out at every seat. Platters of various different foods sat in the center, emitting a wonderful aroma. William stood off to the side of the table behind Marcus. He carried a folded towel in front of him and held his other arm behind. Everyone’s plates were empty. They must’ve been waiting for us. She was dishing out her food already, though.
‘Welcome!’ Marcus greeted us in a loud voice. ‘Now we can finally begin!’