Author: Timothy Goss

He lingering in thought, prodding, poking, unforgettable.

Mannhoff revealed the math like a seasoned magician. We expected a cape and top hat, from which he might produce a rabbit, or a pigeon, but we were all in open-toed Sandals so who was I to talk. I noticed a striped discolouration infecting his right middle toe. He told us this was the way it was.

“There’s no mistake.” He said triumphantly, “Everything adds up.” And tapped the white board on the wall. He had scrawled a couple of equations to illustrate his point, and he was right, everything did add up.

We offered a half-assed applause, dazed by the revelations. It seemed obvious, if unbelievable; the notion of self dissolved away along with the concept of here and now, and fragments of history and culture. As the informed majority, we witnessed the shattering of dreams and illusions, and the delusion of time, beginning and ending, a universal rhythm, that was our truth, our shared delusion, but now…

“The masses will look for a way back, ” he warned, “A short cut back to the beginning, so they can have it all again.”

Even Mannhoff had squirreled enough away to maintain himself and those he loved, despite his knowledge. Some thought him fantasist and those chose loneliness, isolation, but Mannhoff poo-pooed their choices and promoted community:

“I still pay my insurance.” He said, mockingly honest to all.

Of course whatever it was in the long run would be revealed in the vulnerability of everything else. When fundamentals crack and splinter, and finally dissolved into the remainder, the remainder is all there can be.

Mannhoff package it for the assembled, but it was difficult to hear and like tofu at a barbeque, hard to digest. Some tried to wash it down with the champagne, but bulked at its meaning, others just dismissed it out of hand, shaking their heads and muttering softly. We all knew that nothing would be the same again.

I saw Paris on the platform and over heard his mobile conversation , as did the remaining commuters. He threatened Apollo over some unpaid deals and the air was blood blue. Before his train departed Paris threw a javelin through the security guard stationed on the platform. The man cried out before toppling onto the tracks. Things were unravelling.

Still Mannhoff’s words prodded me, and I wasted days, weeks, after his talk figuring out the knot, trying find something more, and all the while we unwound like comic book mummies. What if he had said nothing, did nothing and stopped the math before it redefined things. Then again maybe he considered everything before his revelations, maybe it was too large a burden to shoulder alone. Or maybe he just thought people should know. Whatever the process, the out come was never certain.

Other teams began looking at the numbers and opening new fields of interest. The remainder however was illusive, either by accident or design, and was reluctant to be described as anything we understand.

And then the true character of humanity and it’s relationship to the remainder, as promised, was discovered and it was Mannhoff’s team who eventually came through. The equations were elegant, deceptive, and finally irrefutable, and the interpretation as difficult to accept as Mannhoff’s original presentation. Ten billion humans it identified, every last one of us cast from the whole, excreted by the remainder, our energy and essence expelled from the spiritual sphincter.