This is the story of a man named Stanley. Stanley worked for a company in a big building where he was employee # 427.
Employee # 427’s job was simple: he sat at his desk in room 427 and he pushed buttons on a keyboard. Orders came to
him through a monitor on his desk, telling him what buttons to push, how long to push them, and in what order. This
is what employee 427 did every day of every month of every year, and although others might have considered it soul
rending, Stanley relished every moment that the orders came in, as though he had been made exactly for this job. And
Stanley was happy.
And then one day, something very peculiar happened, something that would forever change Stanley, something he would
never quite forget. He had been at his desk for nearly an hour when he realized that not one, single order had
arrived on the monitor for him to follow. No one had shown up to give him instructions, call a meeting, or even say
hi. Never in all his years at the company had this happened, this complete isolation. Something was very clearly
wrong. Shocked, frozen solid, Stanley found himself unable to move for the longest time, but as he came to his wits
and regained his senses, he got up from his desk and stepped out of his office.
All of his co-workers were gone. What could it mean? Stanley decided to go to the meeting room, perhaps he had
simply missed a memo.
When Stanley came to a set of two open doors, he entered the door on his left.
Yet there was not a single person here either. Feeling a wave of disbelief, Stanley decided to go up to his boss’s
office, hoping he might find an answer there.
Coming to a staircase, Stanley walked upstairs to his boss’s office.
Stepping into his manager’s office, Stanley was once again stunned to discover not an indication of any human life.
Shocked, unraveled, Stanley wondered in disbelief who orchestrated this, what dark secret was being held from him!
What he could not have known was that the keypad behind the boss's desk held the answers to this terrible truth that
his boss had been keeping from him, and so the boss had assigned it an extra secret pin number, 2845. But of course,
Stanley couldn’t possibly have known this.
Yet incredibly, by simply pushing random buttons on the keypad, Stanley happened to input the correct code by sheer
luck. Amazing! He stepped into the newly opened passageway.
Descending deeper into the building, Stanley realized he felt a bit peculiar. It was a stirring of emotion in his
chest, as though he felt more free to think for himself, to question the nature of his job. Why did he feel this now,
when for years it had never occurred to him? This question would not go unanswered for long.
Stanley walked straight ahead through the large door that read Mind Control Facility.
The lights rose on an enormous room packed with television screens. What horrible secret did this place hold,
Stanley thought to himself. Did he have the strength to find out?
Now the monitors jumped to life, their true nature revealed. Each bore the number of an employee in the building,
Stanley’s co-workers. The lives of so many individuals reduced to images on a screen, and Stanley one of them,
eternally monitored in this place where freedom meant nothing.
This mind control facility…it was too horrible to believe, it couldn’t be true. Had Stanley really been under
someone’s control all this time? Was this the only reason he was happy with his boring job? That his emotions had
been manipulated to accept it blindly?
No. He refused to believe it. He couldn’t accept it, his own life in someone else’s control. Never! It was
unthinkable! Wasn’t it? Was it even possible? Had he truly spent his entire life utterly blind to the world?
But here was the proof. The heart of the operation, controls labeled with emotions, “happy” or “sad” or “content.”
Walking, eating, working, all of it monitored and commanded from this very place. And as the cold reality of his
past began to sink in, Stanley decided that this machinery would never again exert its terrible power over another
human life. For he would dismantle the controls once and for all.
Blackness, and a rising chill of uncertainty. Was it over?
Yes! He had won! He had defeated the machine, unshackled himself from someone else’s command, freedom was mere
moments away. And yet, even as the immense door slowly opened, Stanley reflected on how many puzzles still lay
unsolved. Where had his co-workers gone? How had he been freed from the machine’s grasp? What other mysteries did
this strange building hold? But as sunlight streamed into the chamber, he realized none of this mattered to him, for
it was not knowledge or even power that he had been seeking, but happiness. Perhaps his goal had not been to
understand, but to let go. No longer would anyone tell him where to go, what to do, or how to feel. Whatever life he
lives, it will be his. And that was all he needed to know. It was perhaps the only th