Table of contents & First 3 chapters|
Table of contents
It was freaking hot, about forty Celsius or one-oh-four Fahrenheit, humidity close to eighty percent. The sweat blobs at the apex of my balding dome were just the right shape and size to sharply focus the sun needles onto my cranial ossature, I was boiling. I crossed a few mental curves calculating the irrelevant fact that minus forty was the number of degrees where Celsius equaled Fahrenheit, while working feverishly at removing my sandals. That would get me at least a quarter of an inch farther away from the sun, I reasoned, so maybe it would be chillier ‘down there’. Remember, my brain was simmering by then.
Of course, once my bare feet touched the partially melting asphalt, I started screaming and cursing and hopped right back onto the elevation of my sandals, deciding that I preferred being closer to the sun-hell rather than to the tar-hell. That’s mathematicians for you - impractical to the core. So I took the next-best approach and placed the thick calculus manual on my head, balancing it carefully all the way to the office. I guess I looked ridiculous in tie and suit and sandals - hey, no one ever looked underneath my desk - and now with the book on my head...
“Hi Jack...” smiled the gorgeous cranberry-haired, blueberry-eyed, strawberry-lipped guard opening the door wide for me, saving me the embarrassment of not finding my code key once more. She had a crush on me from her day one - which was, by then, my day two thousand, six hundred and fifty four.
“Hi Jackie...” I smiled back, taking the manual in my hand and rushing to the elevator, wondering about the present status of her other berries while adroitly avoiding the pat she aimed at my hindquarters. I hoped no big chief would ever review the security cameras' tapes or she would get fired and I would lose those berry dreams dripping of flavonoids and anthocyanins and tannins... (don’t ask). There was no chance I would ever get my own ass fired, as this company was thriving on my encoding systems, selling them to banks, national security agencies, casinos and pet owners. Of course, they tried to offer me the moon in exchange for a decoding system, which they wished I would devise, and I could have devised if I wished to, which I wished not, and sorry for the blabbering English. Not the strongest part of my anatomy. I was perfectly satisfied within the limitations of my perfectly-calculated living room and its perfectly-adapted stereophonic system, my pseudo GTI Fiat Cinquecento and its retractable roof (I keep it open even when it rains), my modest five-digit yearly salary honed by honestly paid taxes, and my two-digit age... well, forty plus let’s call it.
I wasn’t a genius, though everybody thought differently. I just had a quirky kind of mind that could easily solve any kind of polynomials bunched together with any number of variables, without having to resort to computer support. Especially when it had to do with integers, where computers failed miserably, while for me it was like for anyone else counting all the way up from one to two. Oh, yes, almost forgot... he he... I possessed as well a fathomless memory, if I am allowed to brag on myself. Of course, there were always things I positively chose to not remember.
The door swooshed quietly behind me. The vice-president marketing looked in disgust at my choice of attire all the way up to top minus one. There she waddled out, accomplishing only a single step before sprawling inelegantly and gliding on the waxed floor all the way to the opposite wall. I swear it wasn’t my foot which sneaked out. I smiled apologetically at her outraged look as the doors closed smoothly once more taking me all the way down to ground minus three. My floor, my kingdom. I wondered if she had another pair of stockings, as she had definitely ruined the ones she had on.
“Hi Jane, my sweet lotus flower,” I pecked the little, fat, incredibly ugly and incredibly bright Chinese student, on her nose. I tried for a month to pronounce her name with the correct Mandarin accent, and even though I possessed a higher than average knowledge of the lingo, I still couldn’t manage it. So I baptized her Jane - you know, Tarzan’s mate. She had nearly finished her doctorate in chemistry, studying in Havana - that bastard Castro had some great universities - and when she wanted to go for a visit back home they wouldn’t allow her. They were afraid she might spill some of the pink knowledge she developed to her pinkier comrades and brothers. It almost developed into an armed conflict between China and Cuba over her release, and finally the young lady saved the world by jumping into the sea and swimming her way almost all the way to Miami, where she was picked by a coast guard boat. Luckily for her and for me she was not eaten by a statistically-probable shark, and the diplomatic row was greatly managed by an interested Capitol and an intrigued CIA and a complacent Chinese delegation. The triple C. They all agreed to let her continue her studies in the U.S. God knows what the agenda behind each of the C's decision was, but her contribution to my own 'private' laboratory was immeasurable. My bosses couldn’t care less what I was playing with down there, as long as I kept spilling those money-making ever more complex encoding polynoms and as long as I did not ask for a raise in my salary.
“Hi Tarzan, you ugly ape,” I refused to peck his nose and just shook his short fingered, sweaty and stubby hand. He was my physicist, a black student from an obscenely-wealthy family who refused to accept any support from home and preferred to earn his living by doing honest work. I guess his father was in the drug business, or weapons smuggling - or something like that; however Tarzan (William his real name) refused to talk much about them and preferred to keep his own nose stuck in his small personal lab’s sophisticated equipment. And also in Jane’s bosom. They were in love.
I kicked the sandals off my feet, welcoming the chilly touch of marble tiles to my almost- blistered skin. “Ahh... ” I sighed in satisfaction, walking over to the unloading dock and sniffing the air, much too clean for my taste. “Did it arrive?” I shouted over to Jane. “Yes,” she beamed, joining me and opening the metallic doors. “Oh, ” I beamed in turn, watching enraptured the three huge, hermetically-sealed containers waiting there for us. One held a mix of horse, cow and goat manure, one containing only human excrement, and the biggest was the one loaded with pure feline shit. Specifically house-cat felines. Bought at ridiculously low prices, including transportation, which I logged on my expenses sheet as ‘office material’, ha. If only they knew... Actually they knew but they allowed me my few hundred bucks’ worth of eccentricities in return for their billions. “Okay, Jane, are you taking care of it?”
“Yep. Tarzaaan!...” she called and he rolled over at surprising speed, all smiles and just too eager to help her with the connections. I watched them hook the thick color-coded tubes to the three containers, and when all was secured - open the valves. They kissed when they thought I wasn’t looking.
My office was not the mess you might have expected of a mad scientist. Well, I was not a scientist, the two buggers out there in the manure dock were the scientists and they were not mad at all, just brilliant. I was the mad mathematician, taking a bow in my mind to the self-complimentary accolade, and since most of my stuff was handled and stored somewhere undefined in my brain - I did not need much of a desk or office materials. I did have a two-hole paper perforator though, which I used to manufacture confetti on those rare occasions when I got bored with visitors from ‘upstairs’. A minor inconvenience I had to compromise with, after all they did treat me quite well in this place. And I hated change and didn’t need more money, so no offer to move to another company (and there were some lecherous seven-digit offers) made any sense to me.
The computer complex whirred in blind obedience all around me, having had almost all driving routines for the little blinking lamps disabled, as I was energy conscious. I understood Star Trek fans needing the kitsch to emulate a computer’s brain and power and mystique, but except for the few needed for diagnosing eventual problems, they were just energy wasters. Correctly said, I could have solved all my job’s needs in my head and scribbled the results on some paper. However, printing them was so much nicer for management presentations, impressive for budget requests, and, let’s face it, as a member of the carbon-based oxygen-fuelled inefficient contraption we call humans I had my own speat needs, i.e. sleep-pee-eat-and-tumble... hey, I loved this adorable euphemism redefining sex as tumble. So from time to time I dumped some of the load on that nitrogen chilled parallel processing monster, while I was busy... ahmmm... speating. Speaking of which it was just the right time for a lunch break and Jackie floated in, preceded by a smell of heaven. Actually it was certainly the other way around and heaven smelled like Jackie.
“Hi lover...” following which she kicked, locked and sealed the door to my room and re-scribed once more the definition of ‘lover’ for me. I did remember to rotate the security camera towards the computer’s blank face before she started her teaching lesson.
She rushed back to her reception duties, making sure my tie was set straight and all strawberry leftovers were wiped away from my various body parts. She couldn’t wipe away my cheeks’ mounting cherry hue as she rushed away, turning the camera back to its original position, and leaving with me one last insolent touch outside of the camera’s viewing angle. I followed her out of the room and went over to Jane’s lab, where she and Tarzan were heavily debating some chemo-physical formulations way above my head for understanding.
“Jack, we need your opinion on this macro-molecule,” Tarzan ventured, knowing I was ignorant on the matter unless it came down to probabilities and combinatorics or pure mathematical modeling. I relied on them to clarify the question so that I could express a qualified opinion. We were in the part of the lab where they experimented with extraction of methane and some other alkanes from various types of manure, and which was of course the gas used to power my environmentally-friendly Cinquecento. Playing with various additives helped considerably increase the gas’s explosive power, but they were not yet satisfied with the results. Lately they started focusing on cat’s excrements since it seemed, by experimenting, that the fire-power of the methane extracted from it is considerably higher than from other sources. It was an intriguing phenomenon. Analyzing the chemistry of the gas itself did not show any kind of difference, however there was a certain physical anomaly related to the combination weight-volume of the extracted gas which they were trying to analyze. They were working on the problem for several months now using some pretty expensive chromatography tools and other alchemy contraptions strange to my mind, little by little converging into some kind of a model. A highly improbable one.
“It does not exist,” I stated flatly, rummaging through my memorized library of molecules and isomers, and then building probabilities of various models in my mind and measuring them against tables I have long forgotten the origin of.
“We know that. Can it exist?”
Now, that was a tougher question I have foreseen them asking me, unfortunately I could only disappoint them.
“No way, unless we have a subphotonic energy unit. Which is theoretically impossible”.
That much was clear to me, and a certain prickling of hairs started creeping from my nape up to my dome, as on the verge of a great discovery or a great idiocy either, considering the possibility of a faulty measurement or a failed measuring instrument. But I knew my two swollen-heads and this possibility was, well, a positively impossible possibility.
I ruminated under their close scrutiny, looking for inspiration in trying to pronounce Jane’s name in Mandarin several times, while at the same time trying to reason out the situation. In my ‘private universe’ of integers there was no place for halves, or almosts, or endless series of numbers type the value of Pi. Pi was an integer, though of infinite length, whatever infinite might have meant to an ordinary human and to a mathematically brainwashed brain, mine included. And the smallest unitary value of ‘my’ system was beyond my comprehension as well. Computers, of course, were of no help in proving it either way - they were limited to their scientific numerotation and decimal point stupidity, so all I was left with was my brain. As big as it was, it hit a wall splashing all over and leaving me frustrated. So there could not be such a thing as a subphoton unless if it was a fully self contained energy unit, untheorized about yet and undiscovered yet. Thus - bullshit.
“Did you check your measurements?” I decided to insult them, since I had no other choice. I had to insult one of the two, either their meticulosity or their compounded intelligence. I chose the least hurtful of options. They were probably debating that in advance since they did not act indignant, merely meek.
“It is the only model that answers the question. So either the theory is wrong or we are all idiots.” That took care of the insults so I was not worried anymore of this aspect of our relationship, feeling grateful to be included in the degrading statement. It took me several hours to check all the instrumentation, running tests and diagnostics and adjustments, and surprisingly enough, they did not protest. Maybe for once they were hoping to have been wrong?
“Jack to the security room, Jack to the security room...” The public address system spit my name out with a vengeance, making me jump from my focused dazzled state straight into a light hearted one. There was nothing like a brief intermezzo to help me gather my wits once more and attack the problem from another direction, maybe from a multiple spatial one... Tarzan giggled seeing my sudden change of attitude over Jackie’s voice (it was she on the system), and I pecked his nose just to spite him into a blob of momentarily furious shivering lipids as I flapped my way barefooted to the elevator and up to the second floor.
She was waiting for me, a mild frown on her face, and pulled me over to the security camera number seventeen, the one overlooking my room. I was about to get hysterical - laughing or otherwise - but she gave my elbow a squeeze, telling that all was well ‘that wise’ so I just sat down to see what it was all about. There was another security officer there, a babyfaced young guy manipulating the controls, and she nudged him to show me whatever there was to show. All I saw was the moronic panel of my monster computer busy at crunching numbers and blinking idiotically.
“Hey, what was that?”
They ran the sequence for me again, several times as if I expected it to change every time they re-ran the recording. I rang Jane downstairs... “Jane, my love, care to go to my room and tell me if any of Archie’s lamps are blinking?” - Archie being my computer’s endearing name, honoring Archimedes, my pet dog now deceased in grace. She rang back a few moments later, answering negatively. “You disabled them years ago, didn’t you?” she asked back, giggling incoherently. Those youngsters had a one track mind when it came to my occasional bouts of disoriented behavior, surprisingly so for minds able to dissect any practical problem to a thousand different reasons leading to that one single possible outcome. Disgusting.
“Go home, kids,” I growled unpleasantly back into the mike. “It’s feeding time,” and I heard some additional grunts and giggles, God knows what they were doing down there, before the line disconnected. “Is this the first time you saw it?” I asked Jackie, all trace of malevolent mirth out of my voice.
“Yes, but I rarely ever looked before.”
“Do me a favor, girl, check yesterday’s records and a few days previous to that, okay?”
“Real time speed or accelerated? Real time will take quite some time.”
“Start with accelerated. We’ll see later if we need more information. Can I have it for tomorrow, please?”
“You'll approve my overtime?” she laughed.
“I will,” I answered, not even hearing her laughter, and starting to play a variety of industrial espionage scenarios in my mind. If those bastards at CipherDom Inc dared plant some spyware in my super baby’s brain I am going to get their license and their ass in jail for the next three centuries, I fumed to myself as I stormed out of the room.
“Hey, Jack...” she called after me.
“Yes...” I answered impatiently - I hated it with a passion when someone was infesting my privacy. “Will you inform the guy above?” and by that she meant the top management and chief security officer.
“No, not yet. Maybe it is a false alarm.” False alarm my foot, I disabled those routines myself, and rechecked it every time I made some programming changes to Archie’s set-up. Last time was about one month ago. Jackie had been working here now for half a year... no, certainly not Jackie.
It made no sense. If there was some sense to it I certainly would have spotted it at first glance. Hey, it took me fifteen minutes to break the Enigma code in a national competition for young prodigies, when I was a mere eleven years old. My memory did help of course cheat a bit of the way into the solution. With the CIA immediately declaring me a national treasure, however having found no use for me when I failed miserably every IQ test since, they unhooked their claws defining me a lucky one-track minded idiot. No more national treasure. Suited me fine. Only a limited few knew the truth, and most of them were now seated behind me watching the boredom on the monitor screen.
Jackie edited all the occurrences so they now showed as one sequentially occurring pattern, and there was simply no meaning to it. It was after I had extensively checked the software and the hardware, and having found nothing at all it just increased the momentum of the conspiracy theory in my mind. Either those CipherDom bastards were more intelligent bastards than we could easily identify or accept, or we were just facing a bug that would take centuries to identify because of the insignificance of it. After all - Archie did his job impeccably and who gave a damn about some blinking lamps. Well, I for one, my personal belief in such coincidences almost as big as my trust in the innocence of national lottery draws. If these were so innocent, how come I could never yet predetermine their outcome, huh?
I laid my programming trap in place, and before letting Archie run again his routines I wanted to regard the collage Jackie had organized for us. And all we saw was, depending on the day of the recording, one or two lamps blinking on-off like idiotic monochromatic butterflies opening and closing their wings. Making absolutely no sense with the exception that with every change of day there was a change of lamps.
Jane was not with us, having that day one of those typical female indispositions, however calling in and forcing Tarzan to swear on his skin’s color - his most prideful possession - that he would tell her whatever findings we may come up with. I heard the smack of her telephonic kiss from ten feet away from the telephone he was talking to her, then he joined us looking like a blossoming poppy. Never saw black metamorphosing into red so fast. I did not take any notes, not only that I did not need, there was no note needed to be taken for anybody.
I called in Timmie as well, our chief programmer, not so bright a guy but one with bright flashes of genius that others had to identify for him, if he was lucky enough to have others around him. Now we were all watching, yawning and hypnotized as the tape ran its third accelerated run, and the only thing we clearly identified was that it was always the lamps in the S-register which were flashing. The first event it was the lamp for bit 9 which was flashing, the second event it was bit 11, the third one bits 9 and 11, fourth event bits 9 and 12... meaningless. I kept playing mathematical games in my mind, reluctant to believe it was a simple random occurrence, my natural obstinacy much stronger than my intelligent admission to factual meaninglessness. In layman terms bit 9 represents a value of 2 to the power of 9, or 512. Bits 9 and 11 represent a value of 2560... meaningless. I tried other complex approaches, taking the bits to represent functions, letters, words and chapters in St James’ translation of the bible or the Declaration of Independence forwards and backwards, nothing made any sense. And the more I tried the more I was persuaded I missed something basic and simple without which, if there was some intelligence in this message, we will never get it. Of course maybe, after all, there was no message here and the laws of stupidity took over the world of intelligent people?
It was almost noon when I decided to turn Alphie on, since Timmie had to leave and I wanted him around if something popped up. Well, something did pop up, even though it did not advance us at all.
“Huh, what is that?” we asked in unison, Timmie and I. My simple programming trap showed a command which was not there originally, a command reading the computer switches, the switches I implemented a long time ago, and which I once used for some personal debugging. The switches were all off, so even if this command was a legal command, how the hell did it turn on bit lights number 9 and 11? I tried running the program a bit more, catching a sequence of loading all zeroes in the display register and then a few seconds later again turning on bits 9 and 11, then again zeroes... okay, that explained the flashing display, but why, how?...
Timmie shrugged in incomprehension but also in disinterest. “Okay, so there is some deeper bug, maybe even in the hardware, and it may take years to identify it, if at all, and why should we actually want to identify it? Your program runs perfectly, there is no external invasion of security, it will be a waste of resources to sort it out. I think you should live with it.” He got up ready to leave the room, and so did Jackie. I was inclined to agree with him, even though it ran so strongly against my grain that slivers got one inch deep underneath my fingernails. Tarzan left the room and was dialing Jane’s number to tell her. “You know,” Timmie added, “maybe HAL there...” and he pointed to Archie getting into an incoherent laughter...”should talk to you in the language of the least significant bits of 0 and 1, not of 9, 11...” and he ran away under the threat of Jackie’s high-voltage stick.
“Sorry, Jack,” she apologized sincerely, “maybe I should not have brought up all this nonsense to your attention. Maybe it is all just a mistake.” She started picking up her stuff from my lab. This time it is I who kicked the door shut and turned the camera around and did such ravages to her uniformed body that it took a thread and a needle on top of the rest of her amenities to recover her looks.
“Yes, maybe, and thank God that Alex Fleming did not think this way,” I answered her comment much later, once she was done with a last devastating kiss and was about to leave with the camera back to its original position. I watched the blinking two lamps, doubts still busying my sub consciousness, but very much so in a fading mode. “Jackie...”
“What day is today... Wednesday? Do you mind collating these recordings a few more days? Just curiosity. And you know what? If security allows it, can you please run the recording with this camera facing Archie for twenty four hours? Ha, HAL...” I snorted mockingly, running a furtive glance towards the computer and poking it with my index finger. No tentacle sneaked out to curl around my waist and feed me to the monster.
“I will set it up,” she answered. “Any special settings?” But I was already in another world and didn’t even see her leaving.
I had one of those dreams where David Bowman picks the monolith and hits me over the head with it, and funnily I didn’t hurt but rather laughed at him... ‘hey, you are a piece of fiction...’ I screamed at him, throwing a sandal and missing his helmet, with the sandal floating on towards the sun. It was probably a positive dream since I woke up in a positive mood the next morning and skipped breakfast, thus skipping the later sun’s inferno all the way to the office. Archie’s lonely bit 12 was winking, I winked back, pursed my lips into a camel’s kiss towards the camera, then went to work on the latest code request from Kuwait’s king, or queen, or whatever monarchy they have there. Twenty five million dollars for an unbreakable code designed to withstand at least fourteen hours of the most powerful array of computer attacks. Why fourteen hours? Who cares? I worked on a code that would break down in exactly fourteen hours and two minutes under any theoretically probable present day computers. I also prepared some upgrades in quantums of half hour extras up to twenty four hours. Anything beyond that would necessitate a completely new coding arrangement. The upgrades were offered at one hundred thousand dollars per upgrade; our prices were stiff, but the product was impeccable. I delivered it to Timmie, whose team had to dress it in a user interface application - his problem.
I stopped looking up Archie’s lamps the following day. I decided it was probably not as interesting as I originally believed it to be. Instead, I started working very closely with Jane and Tarzan on our modeling problem, trying to build a solid mathematical support for a theory which we might want to spring upon the world one day, mixing empirical experimentation with long theoretical sessions, and arguing to no end around my insistence to work with an “integers world”. We received an additional shipment, this time purely cat based, and Jane was wracking her brain over the various reactions she was setting up in an effort to create an empirical proof of some kind to our theorizing.
As part of our discussions and in line with the nebulous intuition which was usually guiding my mind, I developed a strong liking for the field of the so called Fibonacci numbers. You add two numbers to get a third one, and so on ad infinitum. I kept playing them in my head, changing the seed from 0 and 1 to other combinations - thus deserting the well trodden path and looking for mysterious “discoveries” close to our modeling. I did not find anything meaningful in the current of the following days, so I moved over to my other hobby - Fermat. Having a long time ago disproved his theorem and not having told anybody of the basic flaw I found in the existing proof, now I was busy trying to find the numbers which will, beyond any theoretical proof, just show it on a piece of paper. And in my old intuitive (rather than computative) way, I decided that these two F’s had something to do with each other and with the dilemma at hand - all I had to do was find the link. Yeah, sure. It was a huge mathematical exercise which stretched the calculators in my brain to the maximum, and as much as it was boring, it was exciting as well. I knew it had to do with the finality of infinity, the link so strong that it may change the face of modern mathematics forever. And I wasn’t so modest as to not wish to have my name linked to it. About time maths move forward and integers take their real place in the order of things. Tarzan did not agree with me, fighting me vehemently every step of the way, even though every time our conversations moved towards the model he and Jane proposed, he had a problem not supporting my theories and my mathematical ‘fantasies’. “There is something there” was as much as he was willing to concede, however we were basically stuck, drowning daily our sorrow in cheap Coke feel-alikes. And Jane was not to be approached these days, her typical female indisposition having developed into a chronic one as she kept brewing the various compounds in her test tubes and on her Bunsen burners, speaking Mandarin most of the time.
About two weeks later, on a Friday, Jackie brought me the latest collage. I had all but forgot about those silly blinking lights, and for a moment I stared at her stupidly. Then I took the tape she brought, called in the crew (Timmie the bastard excluded) and watched the recording in silence. Somehow, I must have moved the camera, because it did not register during the last three days of recording the least significant lamps to the right of the display, the lowest lamp visible being bit 7. It wasn’t a big deal, but it struck a certain chord in my mind, reminding me vaguely of Timmie’s last remark about low valued bits...
“Hey, wait a minute, what will happen if we cut off all of those never blinking lamps at the right of the display and start our counting or calculation with the smallest lamp that ever blinked? Jackie, can you please run the tape again from the beginning to the end at high speed?” No one objected, since what I said made sense. Maybe it was simpler than we ever imagined? She rewound the tape and let it fly before our eyes, and I recorded on paper (for the first time in my life) the blinking bits per day, cutting off all the never blinking ones. So bit 9 became bit 0, bit 11 became bit 2... I translated the binary values to decimal numbers... I got a funny sequence: 1-4-5-9-5-3(on the day of the discovery)-5-8-9-1-20 (what’s that?)-19-8-9-1-4-1-5-9. I sensed something there but was it not some kind of self-fulfilling wish to find something, whatever the reality might be? Inclusive that there was absolutely nothing there?
“I don’t know if it means something, Jack, but it seems that the lamps were blinking only from about half past five in the morning to about half past seven in the evening,” said Jackie. I heard her, but I was not fully concentrating in listening to her.
“Jackie, is this data complete?”
“Yes. Of course the recording system is off during the weekend...” she said, watching me in half horror - half amusement as my facial expressions changed from glacial to raging, hues from pale yellow to deep beet-red, attitude from sitting to hopping all over the tables and chairs, scraping my crotch hard enough to draw blood when I tried to jump over Archie.
“Do you have the dates for each recording?” I screamed, ecstatic in my knowledge that maybe I finally got the tiger by the tail and at the same time afraid that it will prove to be a stuffed tiger...
“Of course,” she answered, some of my enthusiasm apparently starting to penetrate her attitude. “The first time we have had this... ahmmm... manifestation was the second of July...”
“A Monday, and the associated number is 1...” I screamed impatiently, choking on my saliva and coughing for a full five minutes, finding it impossible to utter a sound. I scribbled feverishly the numbers once more on the white board:
and underneath each of them the date of the recording, starting with Monday, the 2nd of July underneath the first 1. “And on weekends there is no recording so we miss some digits in between. And on the 4th of July no recording either...” I was foaming at the mouth, spittle drooling down my chin and on to the silk tie which was presented at my five year anniversary by the company, the trousers’ tear close to my crotch revealing a pale piece of flesh turning deep blue... I held the thick pen in both hands to control my shivering and filled the missing days with x’s:
I looked at the board, hypnotized, then approached it and kissed it with the wettest of camel kisses I ever offered a white board (and there were some before).
They were all looking at me the way one regards a bug at the magnifying end of a telescope, before deeming right to watch the board I was hugging so tightly to my chest.
Tarzan was the first one to see it. He approached and pulled me gently aside, filling in those blanks with the information that suddenly came to his mind as well:
just as I screamed my head off: “3-1-4-1-5-9-2-6-5-3-5-8-9-7-9... Pi, the universal number, not a function of physics, not a function of mathematics, not a random occurrence, only a function of intelligence.” I started sobbing, kissing Tarzan, who, for once, did not object. He was as stunned as I was, as much as the others present in the room.
“There is still a sign of doubt,” dared Jane, and I knew what she was going to say. “After all, those data missing could be anything.” She was right of course, and it was so easy to prove...
“We will leave the cameras running the following weekends,” said Jackie, still under the shock of seeing me kiss Tarzan. “Then we will know. Jack, what is the probability of a random occurrence of sixteen sequential digits of Pi?” I kissed her hard on the mouth, adding some more shock to the rest of the audience. “The probability of a twelve-digit number is one to a trillion. The probability of two sequential occurrences of twelve digits is one to a trillion trillions. Same as saying - impossible. As for any additional digit... just multiply each time by ten.”
“And what about those other numbers, 20, 19... ?” Jane continued, trying to save her sanity as well as ours. I was surprised to see Jackie smile strangely and take the pen from Tarzan’s hand. “May I?” She went to the board, looking at it crookedly, enjoying the moment as she erased one after the other the 1 before the 20 and replacing it with an A, the 20 and replacing it with a T, the 19 with an S... “My God...” That one was I, after knowing much ahead of everybody else where all of this was leading to. ATSHI.
“Tarzan, may I borrow your last Pi digit and change it to my mind?” and without waiting she completed the puzzle.
I went to the phone and called Timmie. “He is in an important meeting with the board,” his secretary objected. “Listen, sweetheart,” I insisted, imagining the fury in her eyes and knowing of the complaint she was going to make to Human Resources immediately after, “get his ass down here in five minutes, or that last code for Kuwait will leave with the bug I just discovered and you, and he, and I, and the CEO of this company are all going down the drain together. Move! Now!” I could almost hear her click heels then rush away in a metallic rattle to get her boss.
Timmie appeared less than five minutes later, his face red, the fury in his puffed cheeks matched only by the stuttering which could not leave his mouth. “Are you insane Jack, are you off your rocker? What is this story with Kuwait, and what is this tone you took with Jerry, and what...?” his eyes slowly covered the white board, then his lower jaw hung down lower as he got closer, looking first at me to identify if it was a practical joke of some kind, even though I was not capable of anything like that. “What is this, Jack?” he asked, suddenly shivering no less than I was.
“This is the message Alphie was sending us, Timmie. 31415926535897 CATSHIT. What is Pi Catshit, Timmie?”
“Intelligence, damn intelligence,” he finally blurted.