“Help! I think I'm stuck!”
- Harry Houdini* #quote
I came up with a trick to never get caught off guard by jump-scares in horror movies. Jump-scares being the term I've heard for when something jumps out and screams or something. You know those moments in horror movies. The trick is to keep imagining something jumping out and screaming every single second. Then when it actually happens it's like “Oh, there you are.” Anyway onto the flash fiction!
The Child's Questions
Esteemed mathematician Charles Bright was doing a lecture to a large crowd at his university. A student of the university, because of scheduling reasons, had to bring along his son. In the crowd of two hundred people the child, named Ronnie by his father, was hardly noticed and was well behaved, and despite not understanding pretty most of what the professor was saying, listened anyway. The little boy listened and listened to all the complicated words. He didn't understand much, and the main point he took away from the lecture was that the Doctor Bright was very, very smart. So after the lecture he immediately walked away from his father and up to Doctor Bright. When the father heard that Ronnie wanted to ask the professor a math question he was curious what the little boy wanted to ask. He just started learning how to add and subtract, so what could he possibly want to know?
“Doctor Bright?” Ronnie said since his father taught him that the school teachers at universities were doctors and not Misters or Misses. “What's the biggest number?”
Charles gave the child an answer that was technically inaccurate, but could still work. “Infinity.”
Ronnie then said, “What's infinity minus one?”
“Infinity.” Doctor Bright knew that infinity wasn't really a number itself, but all numbers but an answers an answer.
“I thought you knew how to do math. Something minus one can't be it all over again! That's silly. Four minus one isn't four. It's three.”
And now Doctor Bright had to give the full answer since his mathematical capabilities were put in question. And that took quite some time. And then the Ronnie asked more questions about that. And then he asked more questions about that. And then more questions. Eventually these lines of inquiry led to Doctor Bright coming up with a brilliant mathematical epiphany.
The father had to leave, but Doctor Bright asked that anytime Ronnie needed a babysitter that the father call him immediately. He would need material for mathematical papers and the child worked as a suitable form of inspiration.