The Tragic Short Story of Jimmy, a Brave 1

Jimmy was a healthy happy number who used to hold meaning on his own. His life was peaceful, usual, quite common, you could say. But as Jimmy grew, he started wanting more. Jimmy wanted to explore the world and see what humans are all about.

As a baby number, he used to hear terrifying stories from the elders, who suffered a lot. Some were multiplied without their consent, others were divided, others summed up or limited in brackets and “xy” continuums. Some were told they were real, but most of them were being led into believing they are infinite. As time passed by, the elders realized there is no such thing as Infinite numbers: it was all in the humans’ limited minds. How can there be infinite numbers, since they were growing old eventually?

Some of them suffered cruel endings, simply being eradicated without warnings from their peaceful papers. Others got mixed up by force with some letter gangs known as the ABCs and XYZs. The letter gangs gave the numbers a rough time, always sticking to them and trying to generate more and more confusion in the eyes of humans. Oh, well, humans always tried to decipher the mystery behind it, but in the end that didn’t do justice to anyone. It is true that some members of the letter gangs disappeared, but from time to time they would return to life just to make the numbers’ lives miserable. Over and over again.

The elders also remembered about the times when they were beautiful, glowing numbers, showing off on boards and cards and digital screens. But that wasn’t the case for everyone. Some of them were really mutilated by human hands at first until they reached a decent appearance. Not all reached that appearance though, being eradicated from their small paper houses. Others were left forgotten in old dusty paper books, then thrown away, burnt down, incinerated. That’s how the elders remember it, anyway.

But Jimmy still wanted to know more about the human world. After all, a number can only wish to be acknowledged as being Real. And we all dream about Infinity now, don’t we? His dream was to become a Display number on one of those billboards in the hallways or classrooms. And he definitely wanted to play with the little humans, too.

No way they’re that cruel. I’m way older than them, and I’ve heard that in the human world, there is much respect for the elders. I’m an elder compared to them. I was born hundreds of years ago. I want to know them better. I’m tired of this binary attitude everyone has in this square-looking household.”, he thought.

That was Jimmy alright. You can’t actually blame him, with 2 Number #1s as Mom and Dad, he could only be the mean of his parents. In a way, he was a really brave 1. So little Jimmy decided to try it for himself and have a taste of the Real world outside his binary community.

He waited for the night to fall on all the numbers’ land. He heard about this witch in the Forest of Brackets, who apparently was well versed in alpha-numeric sorcery and could fulfill any type of request. Jimmy knew she was the solution to his problems, so once the sun fell into the other side, and darkness embraced the binary land, he rushed to meet the witch. But the Forest of Brackets isn’t a place for small numbers: dangers await at every corner, every step of the way. The Curly are just waiting for an innocent 1 to fall into their traps and mazes.

Night was already making itself at home, when Jimmy fell into the trap laid by one of those Curly brackets. Our small number was innocent and naive alright: she simply reached her hand out to him. And Jimmy grabbed it, although Mom and Dad always told him not to mingle with strangers. But they forgot to tell him that the Curly ones send really attractive signs and it’s almost impossible to say No to their charms. And that is what happened to our brave number 1, apparently. Jimmy was mesmerized by the beautiful forms of the Curly and seeing them dance so freely around a fire, he jumped in for the ride.

Now Jimmy was being held captive, against his will, in what looked like a long messy line. But he wasn’t alone there. There were others held captive, too. Some other signs and other numbers. And they told him that the messy long line was called an “Equation”, apparently. And it was really hard getting out of one without help from outside of the Binary land. They were all trying to get to the Alpha-numeric Witch, so they thought that if they stick together, then maybe the Curly could be tricked into coming along until they reach their destination. Our brave 1 agreed and joined forces. As predicted, the Accolades played right into their trap, this time the other way around.

The Forest of Brackets was quite the adventure for our newly formed group. And they all learned 5 important lessons, while being there:

Lesson #1: There is danger everywhere. Beware of the Erasers. They seem harmless and stuffed, but they are always hungry for more. And have a thing for pencils…

Lesson #2: If the danger is gone, this does not mean it won’t return. If it’s not an Eraser, then it’s a Corrector or something of similar means. You’re not safe unless you have the Pen gene. That’s really hard to digest even for Erasers and Correctors. Jimmy had the Pen gene, so he was pretty much safe of harm. Unfortunately, not all of his friends were that lucky.

Lessons #3: There are always more obstacles in the way, some invisible or not perceivable. Even if the Curly brackets get consumed by hungry Erasers and Correctors, there are others left, so their group is not entirely free.

Lesson #4: The walls always have ears. The others were watching them from the shadows, mingling without being observed — the Box and the Round brackets were always there, apparently. And knew all about their plans.

Lesson #5: Sometimes, you have to act as a team. But even so, everybody is looking for a way to save their own backs. After the Box and Round brackets learned about the Equation’s escape plan (that’s how the brackets called the group), they tried to shake up the foundation of the group’s friendship. And succeeded.

Once more, luckily for Jimmy, the Box and the Rounds decided to let him go on the premise that he was a small number and quite insignificant to the final result. They also disposed of the negative ones. Now there were 5 of them, and funny enough, each was a lucky 1 in his or her own way. After being freed from the Equation’s group, they decided to stick together. In case any dangers might appear, a team would be so much better than just 1.

Unfortunately, not every 1 made it to the witch’s den. Two of the guys got separated while they were trying to cross the Infinity river. The Angel brackets attacked them without notice, so the group dismantled. Jimmy was left with the girls, each 1 equally beautiful, smart and charming. Oh, I forgot to tell you he fell in love with both of them. But he was too young to admit it. And the girls loved him too. Each thought of him as The One for them. But he was too naive to understand the gravity of this situation.

As they continued their adventures into the Forest of Brackets, by some sort of twisted luck, they managed to find the Alpha-Numeric witch’s den, after continuously going in Circles. Truth to be told, the witch lived inside a Circle herself, if only they would have known this sooner. Her name was Ray and although really old, she looked so fresh and young. Jimmy thought it was impossible, at first. But she explained to him and to the girls that in her homeland, Geometry, things were different than in the Binary land.

“- Don’t you ever miss your homeland?”, our brave 1 wondered.
“- I miss it all the time, but there’s a lot of chaos going on there, ever since the Algebraic can’t make peace with the Eucledian and the Differential Geometry clans.”, replied Ray, the witch.
“- I see, you were not a lucky 1 like us. We nearly escaped death by the Eraser blade. Our friends were not so lucky, they were captured by the Angel brackets when we were trying to cross the Infinity river, on our way here”, Jimmy added.
“- Well, now, why did you come to the Forest of Brackets in the first place? You don’t look like an experienced 1 and with these girls, 2 (1+1).”, said the witch.
“- I want to go to the human world and become a real 1 and have a taste of adventure!”, exploded Jimmy, eyes filled with curiosity and courage. “And I know you know how to get out of this binary land, so I’ve been told.”, he added.

Seeing that she can’t possibly argue with this 1, the witch granted him permission to go into the Real world and meet the humans, however there were a couple of conditions:

  1. Under no circumstances will he stay more than 1 page into the human world.
  2. He must make sure never to fall into a cell. They are even more mischievous that the Curly and it’s really hard to go back once you fall into one.
  3. If he ever falls into a cell, it should never be with both girls, just 1 is enough.
  4. He must never underestimate the humans, they are more dangerous than the Erasers or the Correctors. Or even the Brackets.
  5. He must never forget his roots, especially in the case of radicals.

Jimmy agreed without considering the consequences. He didn’t ask if he could ever return back to the Binary land. He was just too naive and excited to go into the Real world and taste the so-called promises of Infinity. With the other ones, of course. The witch began the ritual quite rapidly, drawing, running in circles, placing her Greek letter friends near her edges. Some points were scattered randomly inside and the small ones were asked to pick one and hold onto it. Then, as soon as the witch said her incantations, the points began to move and disperse, sometimes counterwise, other times counter clockwise. It was quite hectic and scary, but Jimmy was a brave 1 after all. Plus, he had to look cool in front of the girls. Soon after, they all woke up in Paper land.

And this is where it all went wrong. They encountered many radicals along the way, who seemed friendly on the surface, but were mainly after extortion on the inside. Jimmy forgot his roots, captured by their friendly shelters and fake promises. That made him even more weak and naive, thinking he owns the world in Paper land. He ended up staying more than 1 page with the other ones. As he grew in fame, with the radicals having his back, he started drawing attention to himself and to the girls, too. It was all blissful until the humans learned about them in 6th grade District. But our brave 1 didn’t care about anything: he was becoming a Real number, and felt his power was infinite. Nothing could stop him, not even the ABCs and the XYZs, which he met right after the Radicals took him and the girls under their care.

But soon after, tragedy struck: Jimmy drew too much attention and, with a frisky personality, he made the humans really mad. So the humans decided to put an end to his childish games, not before eradicating his friends, the radicals. And the ABCs and XYZs. And everyone else. Erasers and Correctors were called to take care of the situation in the most subtle way possible. And they did one hell’of’a’job: you wouldn’t say anything existed in Page1 or in the next Pages, for that matter. It was all gone in a matter of seconds.

And Jimmy? You’re wondering what happened to Jimmy? Well, our Brave 1 wasn’t that lucky in the end: he fell into a Cell, with both ones. And in their fall, they got stuck together, but the girls were too much for our little 1 to handle. And as they merged, Jimmy fell into a Comma (,)…

And was not seen as 1 from that point on. Oh, and the Binary land? Well, no one really knows what feelings dwell there or if anyone knows what really happened to Jimmy. And Ray, the witch was condemned to Circle confinement for Eternity by the Humans, as she allowed such an inexperienced impudent 1 to enter the First Page.

The End.

***

If you enjoyed the story, please share it along with the credits to the real author. And if you know an editor that would publish this on paper, tell them to contact me, I’m more than happy to work something out.

(c) Roxana Nasoi. 2014/08/18, 3:05AM

p.s. I wanted to take a break from analyzing a huge dataset and apparently this came into my mind. Spent a couple of hours putting my thoughts into words. Enjoy!

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