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It was not the first time that Clyde had ended up in a place, without knowing how he reached there. Ending up at a friends place, or a garden bench when the eyes re-opened ater a heavy night of alcohol wasn’t a rarity in his life. This time, however he quite clearly remembered not having drunk, and besides it was not even morning but night.

Dear reader, it is not possible for me to describe the sense of shock and bewilderment that had consumed Clyde. He was standing at an abandoned road, and as long as his vision travelled, he could not see a single living organism.

“Is this a dream?”, he thought. But in his 27 year of dreaming experience, there was no dream where he had woken up and felt as conscious as he was now. He denied the hypothesis of him dying by the same logic. Not that he had any experience, in that department, but one knows these things.

Standing there for a quarter of an hour, Clyde decided that he must have fallen unconscious. What with all the toxic waste in his body, it was medically possible. And that some man must have tried to help him, and through some strange circumstances would have been forced to drop him on this road. It was an improbable thing, almost a miracle, but surely it seemed to him that nothing other than that had happened. If this was something supernatural, then the supernatural presence must reveal itself, or else he wouldn’t consider it.

A man, dressed like a normal human being appeared. This brightened Clyde’s spirits, and he hoped that he might be able to ask him some question. At least, he could ask the location and find out how far away from home he was.

“Walk straight and you will soon see a door. There you will find your answers.”, he said and appeared indifferent.

Clyde started walking at once, and soon enough he could see a building from a distance. He quickened his pace, now almost running and didn’t stop until he could read the board clearly. “The Merchants Of Enhancement”, it said. Another couple of minutes of running, and he was at the gate.

He rang the bell, and waited for a response. In the meantime, he caught some breath. It had been a long time, since he had run with such intensity.

“Welcome to our establishment, Mr. Clyde.”, the man who opened the door said. “My name is Roman Tarkovsky.”

“Could I have some water?”, Clyde said, still regretting the fact that he had run so hard.

It wasn’t long before a boy came and gave him a glass of what looked like citrus juice. Clyde realized that this was a place where he was welcome. For a change.

“He is my son.” , Roman said pointing to the boy. The boy looked indifferent, as if this was his daily work, and also appearerd to be in a different world. Having read a lot of literature, and written for last years, Clyde noticed these things on instinct. Even more so, when he had the kind of good experience that the juice had just given him.

“Oh, thanks. What is this Merchants Of Enhancement?”, Clyde asked, now regaining his focus on finding out what had happened to him.

“We are in the business of enhancing characters and lives for about 20 years now. You are here, because after tonight, you too will receive the enhancement.”

Clyde felt like laughing, but didn’t out of respect. It was better to talk to him, he thought.

“You are not the first one to make an attempt at enhancing characters. Since for many years good literature has surrounded us, and we need to read it.”

“The task of literature is to provide stirrings in the mind. To be an axe to the frozen sea, as Kafka would say. Our effect is very different from that. Good literature, even the best ones, can only be as good as the reader, and one cannot predict what kind of a lifestance, it may induce. After all, the mind is restless.”

“How can you guarantee enhanced and noble behavior for life?”

“Not only noble behavior, but we can guarantee hard work, calmness, creativity and other such things by our equipments. We have decided from your case study, that you require the quality of hardwork.”

Clyde was impressed with the research done on him, he was definitely worthy of it, he felt but had been hitherto denied any such privilege. Still, this scientist called Roman was making claims he found difficult to chew, let alone swallow.

“All these qualities that you speak o are acquired by the experiences a man has over his life. Influences, embarassments, education, experiences and such things ultimately manifest itself in behavior. It’s a known truth.”

“I agree with you. That is how it happens, before one enters our establishment. William Wordsworth said that Child is the father of the man. We here make sure to erase any ill efects that the father might have had.”

“Through equipments?”

“How else?”

“Okay, how does it work? How do you make a lazy man hard working through an equipment.”

“I can not reveal to you how equipment is made just as yet. And even if I do, you will not understand. What I can tell you is what it does. To put it simply, the equipment makes sure that you take out of nature, only the elements that directly negates your undesired quality, and thus becomes a factor greater than the experiences or the thought system you have developed over the years.”

“Like how?”

“You ask too many questions. Read the booklet that I have written along with the equipment for laziness.”, Roman said, and started walking towards his study. A minute later he emerged with a book called, The Springboard.

Clyde flipped through a page, and began reading.

“Invented by MOE Scientist, Roman Tarkovsky, this equipment makes sure that your intelligence is rewarded by success.

It kills all negative logic, inspiring you to give your best everytime regardless of how much motivation or energy you get from the nature and humans surrounding you.

Also, it gives you surges of passion for any work that you think is important for the moment. A side effect of the success received by the equipment is envy from the people around you, who cannot figure out the secret of your transformation. This equipment, also provides you with ideas and speeches that enable you to give them the right kind of improvement advice which resonates deeply within them, and thus they lose the envy and have gratitude.”

Clyde was highly impressed now. He also considered himself to be incredibly lucky to have landed up at this place.

“Impressed now?”, Roman asked now seeing the expression on Clyde’s face. It was as if a child had recieved the source of unlimited entertainment in his life via a videogame.

“It is a great thing, if it works.”, he said.

“Oh yes, it will. You can take a loan from us now, and pay us back later. When you reap the benefits of the equipment.”

“This is great. Why was I taken by such a surprise and placed on the road, out of nowhere?”

“You will know the answer to that, when you reach that road again.”

“I see. Can I tell more people about this?”

“No, you can’t. Even if you want to. Once we’ve installed the springboard, all memory of this night along with the consciousness of the presence of a springboard will be erased within 24 hours of the installation. I suggest you don’t say anything to anyone in that period, because the way your relationship with the world is at the moment, they will not believe you. ”

Clyde was glad to hear that. Now, in his future he would associate his success to himself, and not to this establishment. He mentally imagined an image of himself in the future, and laughed at what he saw.
He approved the process, and made his way to the room which was shown to him. Just before, he was given an anaesthetic, the scientist (not Roman) who was installing the springboard, told him: “Goodbye to being human. Goodbye to being you.”

***

Clyde next woke up right outside the door. Not disconcerted, he started walking with a spring in his step, and a song in his heart. On his way, he saw another man standing and looking around in bewilderment. He knew exactly what to say, before the man could ask anything. “Walk straight, and you will find a door. Ring the bell, and you’ll have your answers.”

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