Metaphysics 101

”You’re going to Hell, you know.”

The Party Man in Black leaned forward, allowing his sunglasses to slide down his nose. One hand gripped the door frame with the same intensity his other hand held on to his beer bottle. He regarded Altar Boy with a mix of disdain and amusement.

“A little old to still be carrying that thing, aren’t we?”

“I don’t think 8 years was a long time.”

“Yeah. 8 years out there. Here, maybe you can recycle this.”

The Altar Boy sidestepped to avoid the flung bottle, which was deftly caught by a short, balding man with thick spectacles. It clinked as he dropped it into a large sack. The Party Man in Black snorted.

“Nice catch, Math Boy.”


“Whatever. It’s 6 AM. Try not to calculate too loudly while I slee--”

All three individuals clasped their ears as the lower brass portion of an Italian march suddenly blared.

“Enough. With. The. TUBA!” they shouted in near unison.

“Hey, eeets-a no too-bah! Ees Baritone Horn!” It was hard to see the Musician’s smile underneath his thick black mustache, or read his eyes beneath the brim of his red-white-and-green cap, but there certainly seemed to be mirth in his voice, with a hint of weariness. The music faded slightly as he strolled down one of the many long, labyrinthian corridors surrounding them.

“All of you. You’re all driving me to drink.” The Party Man in Black fell face forward on his mattress and began snoring loudly.

“Sinful.” scoffed the Altar Boy.

“Actually, by my calculations, he goes out an average of 1 to 3 times per year. The percentage isn’t that bad when compared to how often Worker is out there. It’s a necessary evil to alter other probabilities.”

The Math Boy nodded to various coffin-like metal boxes lining the shelves of one row. Plaques with words such as “Homeowner”, “Boyfriend”, “Husband”, and “Father” were visible, and each was hooked up to a monitor. Lines ran across each screen, along with a faint beeping, and each component was linked in a daisy chain of wires. A thin film of dust lay over the entire set-up.

“Monitoring these screens requires an increase in focus by seventy-three point--”

“Shhhh!” came an aggravated admonition from a nearby couch, “I’m trying to watch THIS screen!”

Math Boy shook his head sadly upon being scolded by the potato with the googly eyes. Spud was a creature of singular focus when his shows were on, and when his shows weren’t on there were DVDs. When there weren’t DVDs, he’d borrow Surfer’s computer and watch his shows there.

“I need to update my census,” muttered the Math Boy to everyone and no one in particular, “I’m beginning to lose track of everyone. Who’s active? Who’s deceased? Who’s dormant? Has anyone seen Singer? Music Lover? Dancer? Breakdancer? Shutterbug is barely around anymore. Runner comes through here 4 or 5 times a week, but at an average speed of 7.5 MPH, he doesn’t hear any of us. We might as well not exist. I’ve tried to warn him that the levels on Snackingest are increasing exponentially in proportion to the cooling weather, that Snackingest will trip him up at the first opportunity. At that speed, the result will be catastrophic.”

“Shutupshutupshutup!” came Party Man’s muffled voice from within his pillow. “We. Don’t. Care. And since when do you wear glasses?”

“Our parents wear glasses. I’ve always worn glasses. In here. For well over 11,000 days, if not more. There’s an algorithm which....”

But the Party Man in Black wasn’t listening. He was already out. His mattress was now a sealed metal cylinder, his name etched at the foot of it. The lights in the labyrinth dimmed. The blue walls and red linoleum faded. In the void, only the metal cylinders remained, and each closed with a hiss as they devoured their respective occupants. Math Boy was almost the last one to return to his. In the darkness, even Musician was silent. The only sound which remained was the clacking of the Surfer’s keys, always the last sound.

“Numbers don’t lie.” yawned Math Boy, his eyelids heavy. “All must total up to 100%, no more, no less. Not all of us can coexist at the same intensity. By my predictions, a shift is upon us. A major one. A necessary one. All that remains is....all that remains...all....good....th....”



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