The Cheat Code, Part I

I stumbled upon in math class, of all places.

Mrs. Jefferson may be a nasty old bat of a teacher, but her eyesight is still as sharp as ever, and we’d almost all gotten warnings at some point in the year for having our phones out.  I knew better than to rely on that method of distraction.  But really, anything is better than trying to learn differentiation.

So every day became a new exercise in sending away my mind.  One day, I counted every tile in the ceiling (548, by the way).  Another day, I used only the random accumulations of items from the bottom of my backpack to build a small working projectile cannon, which I used for the rest of the class period to launch small paper wads into Suzie’s hair.

But one day, I found myself with no other tools or implements to distract myself.  Bored nearly to the point of paying attention, I began tapping my fingers on the side of the desk.

I started with a simple repetitive beat, and then shifted into more complex rhythms.  My mind kept on switching between “Enter Sandman” and one of those songs where Lil John is always yelling, which made for some interesting beat patterns.  And to be honest, I’m not quite sure when the code actually hit.

But next thing I knew, I was looking up as someone yelled my name.  Mrs. Jefferson was looming over me, her eyes two hard points behind the bottlecap glasses.  “Davis!  Are you even paying attention?”

“Yes, I’m listening,” I stammered out quickly.  It was a blatant lie, but I hoped that she would just gloss over it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have that much luck.  “Well then, why don’t you take a crack at the problem on the board behind me?” Mrs. Jefferson suggested, a smile appearing at the edges of her lips as she gestured and stepped aside.

I turned my gaze to the chalkboard without much hope.  Sure enough, there was a doozy of a big problem up there, with plenty of symbols that were definitely not numbers.  But to my surprise, as I stared at the equation, it seemed to glow and fuzz slightly, and the answer was immediately clear in my head.

“Three zeta over two pi,” I recited, reading off the words burning on the inside of my forehead.

Mrs. Jefferson looked taken aback, but recovered after a second.  “Yes, that’s correct,” she said, and quickly moved on with the lesson.

I sat back in my desk, proud of myself but not sure how I had pulled that off.  I definitely hadn’t been paying any attention.  How in the world had I solved that problem?

To be continued!

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