A bamboo cabin covered in overgrown grass welcomes my arrival to the address.
The splintered door opens at a slant, letting off a creaking sound.
An avatar of a man sits at a makeshift wooden table. An empty chair sits across from him, below an open-air window. There’s no other furniture or decoration, except for a clock hanging from the far bamboo wall. It’s virtually identical to the antique in my apartment.
“Hello, Otto,” the avatar says to me with a soft smile.
A chill runs down my spine. The floorboards flex as my feet slowly step towards the empty chair. “You were at G-Ma’s funeral.”
“G-Ma, yes.” He shifts uncomfortably in his chair.
Sitting eye-level, my senses examine the avatar’s familiar features. There’s a certain fire in his eyes. I’m not sure if it’s pain or passion.
He struggles to direct them to me. “Well, she was ‘Ma’ to me.” They begin to glisten with moisture. “I’m your uncle…Rav.”
“Uncle? I have an uncle??”
His jaw clenches as he nods in silence. The pain in his face is unmistakable now.
“Why haven’t we…met before?”
His head hangs towards the table. “That’s a good question, Otto. Unfortunately, I do not have a good answer.”
He hesitates, seemingly to gather his thoughts. “I…I wanted to be part of your life, Otto,” he stammers. “Especially after everything you went through. Each time I came close I was reminded of my brother and couldn’t bring myself to it.”
He buries his face in his hands. “My head hurts just thinking about that.”
“Why haven’t I heard of you? G-Ma never mentioned you. Not once.”
“I’m a coward….” he replies as his head turns back and forth. “Your G-Ma knew. She knew I couldn’t handle it. She was right to not tell you about me. The last thing you needed in your life was my weakness. She was so strong.”
He leans into me reaching his hands across the table to embrace mine. His eyes well with tears. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you, Otto. And…I’m sorry about G-Ma.”
My composure collapses. Something has triggered me. Maybe it’s the first human touch I’ve felt since G-Ma’s death. Tears run down my face. Finally.
Hands together, we weep like children.
“She did so much for you,” he says collecting himself. “More than you probably realize. Take her final lesson to heart, Otto. Value your time. It’s your most scarce possession.”
The words bring me back to the moment. My mind continues to fire with questions. “At the funeral. You could have said something. Why the message in the clock? And how…”
“In the clock!?” he interrupts me. A grin wipes away his sorrow and his head swings back in laughter.
His mannerism reminds me of G-Ma in her more spirited moments.
He grasps for air and wipes the tears of mixed emotions from his eyes. “Oh Otto, it seems someone went to great lengths to bring us together.”
He calms his laughter and takes a deep breath. “Well, I also have a message for you.” His expression quickly sobers and his eyes lock with mine. “It’s from your father.”
My heart drops. I stare at him blankly, at a loss for words.
“But I must warn you, it’s not an easy message to receive.” His eyebrows draw together. “If you accept it, returning to your life of comfort will be impossible.”
My eyelids blink rapidly. “I…I don’t understand.”
“I’m sure you’re aware there’s a war going on, Otto. But you probably don’t understand how important it is. It’s about more than the money we use.”
His pupils dilate as his voice intensifies with passion. “The outcome will decide many of the hidden forces that guide people’s lives. And on its current path, an irreversible dystopia awaits us.”
He pauses as the gravity of his words sets in. “I appreciate this moment with you more than you can imagine, Otto. We can enshrine it in gold, leave it here and I will cherish it forever.”
His face softens and gestures to the cabin door. “We can smile, hug and you can walk back through that door and go back to your life of video games or whatever it is you enjoy doing.”
His smile dissolves. “But I can also tell you, as someone who’s received the message myself, that if you accept it, your life will be filled with purpose. I believe a bright future awaits you, Otto.”
His right hand extends across the table. Beams of orange light escape the seams of his fist. He rotates his palm up and opens his hand. The Brainlink file’s sunlike rays emit from its name, ‘Rabbit Hole’.
“The choice is yours.”
My eyes find safety on the bamboo wall as my mind processes the bombshell. I should be skeptical of this man who’s unexpectedly entered my life claiming to be family. But the message in the clock…only G-Ma could’ve put it there. Or maybe even…Dad? One of them must’ve wanted me to trust him.
I squint to view the blinding file. “What’s in it?”.
“The Money Wars are ultimately about people deciding which form of money they believe in and the tools that make that money useful,” he responds. “It’s a war fought through narratives and software rather than bombs and bullets…”
“This collection of content will teach you Bitcoin’s value so that you understand its strongest narratives.”
Scanning the file’s massive collection of books, essays and podcasts adds to my unease. “This would take me like…a week to consume,” I say with dizzy eyes.
Brainlink bypasses the senses to transmit data directly to neurons. It makes data consumption about 10x faster than reading but it’s far from instantaneous and requires complete attention. It is mentally and physically exhausting.
“6 days of focus. I wish you could take your time to indulge the education, but you cannot. We don’t have much time.” Urgency, or maybe fear disguised by courage, comes through his voice.
The rational response is to resist but I’m overwhelmed by desire to accept. Distraction from mourning, the chance to know my uncle, some kind of connection to Dad and maybe even some greater purpose is within reach. I have to take it.
My virtual hand grabs the folder and drags it to my Brainlink drive.
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.Socrates