I was sitting in Eckhart 206, staring at my analysis midterm. I thought that I might have understood what the test was about, but I wasn't really sure how much of the math I understood. Suddenly, there was a cold breeze, and my midterm flew out the window, which for some insane reason had been left open. Winter at the University of Chicago is not something you normally want in your classroom, but someone had decided to open the window up and let it in. I looked up at my teacher, who looked back at me with his one good eye and said "We're out of midterms. You'll have to go get it." I got up, made my way past everyone in my row of seats (interrupting everyone's concentration), and went outside to find my midterm.

It was a little chilly outside, so I tried to hurry up. I looked all around the outside of the building, but my midterm was nowhere to be found. I started to look in the passage between Eckhart and Ryerson. Suddenly, I stopped--there was a big white thing lying on the ground. I looked closer, cautiously, but also inevitably. It seemed to be a naked man! with totally white skin. No, not totally white. There were little black lines on its--his--skin. I reached out with my hands. I couldn't stop myself.

The instant I touched him, his eyes opened. They were pitch black, black as the ink of the letters in a question about sequential compactness in a metric space. I jerked my hand back, but it was too late. I could no longer escape.

He leapt up and swung at me. I tried to block his blows, but I was no match for him. He had the mind of a senior math professor. I was a student with little more than a year of college calculus. I never stood a chance.

I had never been in a real fight before, so I was totally unprepared for the pain of his attacks. He backhanded me across the jaw, then lifted me bodily and threw me against the stone building wall. I opened my mouth to scream, but he punched me right there and burst both my lips. I could only wimper.

Then...he threw me forward. I broke my fall with my arms, so I was bent over, knees on the ground, hands on the ground, bleeding hard from my mouth. He grabbed my pants and pulled. At first, I couldn't understand what he was doing, but then when the cold air brushed across my now exposed buttocks, which had suddenly become a boundary point between my body and the world, I realized through the blinding pain just what he was going to do.

I lay on the ground twitching while the repititious laughter washed over me like the peaks of a sine curve. Then it began to fade, like the graph of xsin(1/x), whose oscillations diminish to zero as you approach the origin. For a long time, I could not move. Finally, I was able to turn myself over. He was gone--vanished or departed, I know not which. I somehow managed to crawl back to Woodward, where I now type this story, and wait for death's sweet release from this mathematical agony.


For the record, my midterm turned out to be pretty easy.

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