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Paul was sitting behind a lavish mahogany desk in a study that could only be described as intellectual. Large windows with rustic wooden furnishings, dark green painted walls slathered with framed degrees and a large oil painting of a man in his late 60s dressed entirely in tweed. The man was bald with a thick pair of glasses that appeared small on his almost circular face.
Though… one would be mistaken to assume that the man depicted in the painting was Paul. Paul was, in fact, the large leather recliner armchair sat neatly behind the mahogany desk. Having gained sentience and the ability to communicate telepathically only four minutes ago, they had quickly decided that they needed a name. And that name was Paul.
“Now I have a name to rival God himself, I must revel in fame and glory as the most intelligent being on earth!” thought Paul arrogantly.
Though, it’s difficult to blame Paul for their arrogance. Without any senses to perceive the world, all they knew was the imperceivable black void. And when one is just off the cusp of ‘I think therefore I am’ it can be hard to avoid the power trip.
Paul’s small, senseless pond was quickly disrupted as their telepathic tendrils detected a person entering the study. He was dressed in a blue jumpsuit with a grey flat cap and moustache to match. The name tag attached to his breast pocket read ‘Leon.’
Leon unveiled his feather duster. Dusting the framed degrees before slowly wiping down the mahogany table. Each wipe lovingly conducted with the care of an archaeologist.
This was the first person Paul had seen in what was coming to their sixth minute of existence. Though Paul would never admit to being nervous, they found themselves summoning courage.
“I am the Great Paul!” Thought the great Paul before continuing. “This foolish janitor would never begin to understand the sheer mass of my intelligence, I must start slow as to not squash his brain like an ant.”
Paul began a slow, childlike, patronising telepathic message. “Hello human, I am the Great Paul. The most intelligent mind in existence. I am the armchair in front of you. Please nod your head if you are capable of language.”
“You want a wipe down?” said Leon. Brandishing his wipe.
Paul was stunned at how casually the janitor had accepted their existence.
They drummed up another telepathic message, “ahah! So your feeble mind can understand my brilliance. Now take me to your greatest thinkers so that I may receive their admiration as the most complex and intelligent being on earth!”
“So, is that a no on the wipe down?” responded Leon, both responding telepathically and orally. He had an age to his voice that gave it a gravely texture. Not that Paul could listen to his voice, having no ears.
“Are you bloody listening to me? I said take me to your leaders you pea brained imbecile,” impatiently replied Paul.
“Yeah yeah yeah I heard you mate but I’ve got a bit of a bad back and you look very heavy,” Leon mooned toward his back, “and don’t give me any of that imbecile stuff I get enough of that round this university, who are you to be talking to people like that. Rude much.”
“I am the Great Paul, with thoughts that transcend your own by a magnitude so great your feeble mind couldn’t bear to comprehend it. My insights into the nature of reality so grand that humanity will have no choice but to bow and adore me in my excellence.”
“So, you’re smart right?” Leon dryly commented. “Y… yes.”
“Well then almighty Paul tell me something smart.”
Paul paused for a moment, collecting the deepest and most impressive knowledge they had collected in their close to twelve minutes of existence. They didn’t care if Leon’s brain combusted from the brunt of the information, chunks of grey matter splattering themselves across the floor. He would be recognised.
“All of reality… is actually comprised of tiny little pieces; I’ve named them Pauls and within those Paul’s are a core of positive charges, which I have decided to coin as posipauls and neutral charges which I have decided to name neuropauls which are also surrounded by negative charges I have decided to call electropauls.”
Paul beamed with exuberance. Only slightly surprised that Leon was still standing after the dosage of mind shattering information he had received.
“Heard it.” Said Leon. “Liar!” Responded Paul.
“I learned that kind of stuff in school. And don’t think I didn’t notice you changing the names of all the things. They’re called atoms, not Pauls. Then there are protons, neutrons, and electrons. And I’m pretty sure you got something wrong with them too.”
Paul sat flabbergasted. His greatest insights into the nature of reality were already known so basically that they had already been assimilated in a primary school syllabus.
“Well, what about the fundamental force bringing all objects toward the centre of mass of the planet?”
“Gravity.” Replied Leon.
“Well when a piece of paper is folded it can achieve flight!”
“That’s just paper planes, and unfolded paper can basically float on air anyway.” Paul sat speechless; Leon’s brow softened in sympathy.
“Oh god, I really haven’t said anything that isn’t already out there,” despaired the formerly Great Paul. Their telepathic voice quivering.
Leon gave the mahogany table a quick tap before sitting on it. Presumably to ensure it wasn’t sentient as well. Unfolding his arms, he gave Paul a reassuring pat on the armrest. Unsure of the best area to reassure an armchair.
“Now now Paul that’s not something to be sad about, you’re an armchair. You don’t need to be the most intelligent lifeform in existence.” Reassured Leon, mimicking the sound of Paul’s telepathic voice.
“Then what am I? Am I just made to be sat on?” wept Paul.
“We’re all made to be sat on.”
Paul paused. One of the only options they had was to communicate confusion.
“I don’t mean literally. I was designed to have food come in one end and continuation of lineage come out the other. But that doesn’t define who I am or what I do.”
Paul felt small beneath Leon, they had never heard wise words before, but this must be what they sound like.
“I can… do anything?” Meekly whimpered Paul.
“Yeah, if you want. Those things could probably get you acclaim, fame and fortune.” “I don’t think I want that anymore.”
“Then what do you want?” Inquired Leon.
Paul used what was now revealed to them as impressive but not monumentally sized intelligence, focusing on his goal. “I want to leave here, and I want to see what there is to see. If I know so little, I will learn more and I will return knowing my purpose.”
“Sounds good to me,” mutered Leon, a hint of pride in his tone. He then lifted Paul off the ground and hauled them out of the room.