The mathematician

Posted: October 3, 2008 in Books, writing
Tags: , ,

This is one of my favorite short stories I wrote back in ’98. Any student who struggles through math class will enjoy this.

The Mathematician 2/3/98

He sat at his desk. He kept thinking why, why, why. Life can go on without this. People can survive, no! flourish without this. This wretched thing we call math.

Archibald’s hatred for math had always been there. When he was a child he would whine. Now that he was fifteen, he grumbled and complained. “Numbers, stupid numbers.” he would say as he lugged his math book upstairs. His parents ignored it, and he never said it loud enough for his teachers to hear. He would talk about it with his friends during lunch. “If we only had a tank!” Nigel declared. “We would show them!” And that’s when the idea started to take seed in Archibald’s brain.

The next day he walked down to the local crack house and rang the door bell. A man with no shirt and his pants half on answered the door. His breath smelled of sickly sweet garlic.

“Whatta ya want?”

“I’d like to buy a gun please.” Piped Archibald. The man walked back into the innards of the house. As he was waiting, Archibald smiled at the brilliance of his plan. The man came back with a crate filled with guns of all sizes. Naturally, Archibald picked the biggest one. He paid for it with his saved up lunch money and was on his way. When he got home, he locked it away. Away from his parents and away from the world. Saving it until it was ready to show the world what it could do. Like the gun, Archibald was waiting, and planning.

That year, Archibald’s math grades improved dramatically. He graduated at the head of his class. He went on to become one of the world’s most brilliant mathematicians.

“What of the gun?” you ask. Well I’ll tell you.

A reporter for a famous newspaper asked Archibald what his latest accomplishment was. “Well,” he answered slowly. “I’ve stumbled on the most amazing equation. Using this equation I have invented a machine that will change the history of the world.” The reporter, now very excited, (this story could make his career) asked, “What kind of machine?” Archibald’s eyes lit up as he said, “A time machine.”

Archibald had worked hours upon hours, years upon years and had finally done it. He achieved his life goal. Well, almost. The machine stood wrapped in a cloth like a carefully packed ornament ready for shipping. He was almost afraid to take off its cover lest it shatter like glass. Yet there it was, in all its metallic glory. That morning he had all his affairs in order. Now he was ready for the journey to come.

He stepped in to the contraption. He set the dial for 300 B.C. and punched his equation into the computer. He waited. There was a soft whirring and suddenly, a burst of light! As his eyes adjusted to the sunlight, he smelled fruit trees in bloom. He saw a path and started walking upon it thinking to himself, “So this is what Greece is like.”

Travelers eyed him warily but he only said one word to them and it was in the form of a question. They just pointed and went about their business. And so it went until he at last found who he was looking for. Euclid. He raised the gun and pulled the trigger.

Finis

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