Finale update in yer face!
My my, what a year it has been. Fastest and most eventful one yet. But that's another story for another day.
For now, I have a great story to complete. So to all, TA DA and WELCOME TO 2010!
RM1.JPG (Part 5, Conclusion)
They both stared disbelievingly at the gone-case laptop in stunned silence.
Nothing showed on the screen.
The only remaining copy of the RM1.jpg file was in the laptop.
"No. No. No." Ray frantically scrambled over to it and pressed the Power button repeatedly.
He tried again and again and again and again. All to no avail.
It was gone.
"Hey, we can fix it I think..." Leong tried to examine the laptop.
"AGHHHHHH!" Ray screamed. "IDIOT!!!"
Leong was completely caught off guard as a stiff punch struck him square on the jaw.
Before he could even fathom what was going on, the same fist hit him again at the exact spot.
And another. And another. He didn't even have time to retaliate mentally.
Quickly the metallic taste of blood seeped all over his tongue and out. The energy was literally draining out of his body, masked only by the overwhelming sensation of pain coursing through his head.
Then he fell unconscious with fear of the worst kind - would he ever wake again?
"Leong? Leong?" Ray shook him violently.
What have I done? Please don't tell me he's dead.
Anxiously wiping beads of cold sweat forming across his brow, he stared in horror at the bloody, motionless mess.
What have I done? What have I done?
"He's not dead yet."
Ray whirled around in complete shock at the alien voice and almost passed out.
Standing before him was a life-sized moving, breathing, blinking figure of the RM1 Agong. Yes, the exact same face that stared back at him from every Ringgit note he had ever used, just IN FREAKING PERSON!
How could any of this be real?
The ceremonial headgear. The enormous eyebags. The stern gaze. Every inch-perfect detail. It was the Agong.
Ray's hands and feet trembled and grew boneless. What was going on here?
Was he dead himself?
"Are you waiting for an explanation?" The Agong spoke sternly. "Does none of this make sense to you?"
He could only manage a breathless half-nod in his paralysed state.
"It makes perfect sense to me. You were corrupted by absolute power, and you tried to murder a fellow friend."
"You almost killed him."
Five seconds of deafening silence passed.
"You see, money is a mere concept. It is a tool created by governments to lend some semblance of value to what they do. It is neither physical nor real. Only the people who use it are."
"Who are you?" Ray blurted.
"Consider me the conscience of economics, sir. The reconciliator of man and greed itself. It's physics really - an equal and opposite reaction for every action. I exist in every coin, note, card, cheque, share, asset, bond, land and form of human wealth."
"Let me ask you this, Ray. Have you ever imagined a world without money?"
He shook his head.
"Liar. You thought about it every second you were chasing after it like everyone else. But truth be told, I have never believed in the existence of money."
"After all, what is money but sheets of paper we use to determine our place in the world? You call yourself rich; I call you a greater puppet of this religion than others."
"You see this?" The Agong held up an RM1 note and pointed to the Agong printed on it. "This is not just a fancy illustration. Behind every Agong ever circulated in the world lies the story of one who failed to overcome."
"Overcome what?" Ray could hardly breathe.
"What test? What?!"
"Why sir, surely you did not consider yourself a unique case. The test has been running for over six hundred years now. A thousand random individuals around the world daily. They are given access to unlimited wealth and monitored to see how they interact with it. If they are deemed worthy possessors after 12 months, they get to keep the money."
"Who's behind all these? I'm going to-"
"Ah, ah. You're going nowhere. Since the day man has sought to covet, a delicate balance needs to be kept. Those who harbour excessively must be removed and converted into another form. Just like energy."
"Ray, do you know what happens to those who fail to overcome?"
He shook his head in utter fear.
"They," The Agong placed a sprawling palm over Ray's face. "Become part of the balance."
With those words, Ray was eternally frozen into an Agong on a crisp new RM1 note. He himself had become a part of the greed he brought into the world.
Just like that, the Agong vanished in the midst of an unconscious body, scattered notes and a damaged laptop.
And Ray was never heard of again.
You know how sometimes weird files mysteriously appear in your pendrive, and nobody has any clue how they got there?
This is about to happen to Erica.
EDIT: Okay guys, I have no idea whether that was the crappiest or coolest ending ever. I think this story suffers from the 'Matrix syndrome', where expectations are built so insanely high on the back of a super-cool premise that there's no way the ending can fulfill the plot. After spending many quality brain cells, this was the best I could come up with - yet. Just be honest and let me know what you think. If it's utterly awful, we could always - you know - rewrite it. Suggestions most welcome!