Thomas was quite put out by being put in what seemed to be some type of prison cell. There were no windows or even a door in the room. As soon as he had been tossed into the chamber the opening he had been forced to enter through sealed off without any trace. It had taken a substantial investment of time and concentration to calm back down to a reasonable demeanor, but eventually his breathing had returned to normal and he had begun to look around.
The first thing he noticed was the writing on the wall, and no I don’t mean that as a figure of speech. Printed across the far surface of the room in near perfect characters was a very long mathematical formula. When I say long I mean, long. I won’t go into the details of the formula because you wouldn’t understand. I certainly do not understand it, but that is precisely why Thomas was there and you and I were not. When he approached he found that the characters were scratched neatly as on a class room writing board.
Other than a small knee height stand with a stack of chalk and an eraser on it, there was nothing else in the room. All of the walls were slate black and had no adornments. In fact the room was so unremarkable that I will not spend anymore time on description. It is what Thomas did that you, no doubt, care about. For, he is the subject of this investigation.
He picked up the top piece of chalk to examine it. The sound it made as it was lifted from the pile was comforting. During his 27 years as a physics professor he had heard that sound every day. It was not without some satisfaction that he spun the piece of ordinary white 9mm chalk around between his finger and his thumb. He had often done this while giving a lecture, or performing a class demonstration. It was something of a nervous habit.
He stepped back to stare at the formula and this was where he stood for some time, talking to himself. At first he had thought the string of symbols and numbers was some type of joke. He had played with the idea that his colleague Walter, also a well known physicist and his only friend, had executed an elaborate prank by having him kidnapped. That, however, seemed unlikely considering that Walter, Did I mention that this is his only remaining friend, was also an octogenarian.
After considering this for some time, Thomas came to the conclusion that although he was a physicist, Walter did not have the means to teleport a body. For that is what had seemed to happen directly prior to Thomas’ unexpected arrival in this strange place. No, in Thomas’ estimation Walter, Nobel Prizes notwithstanding, was too much of a royal nincompoop to hatch such a scheme. Besides teleportation was the stuff of fiction, and this after all was the real world. He decided to consider these things more thoroughly later.
His eyes scanned the formula as his experienced mind began to run through the steps of finding its solution. He was drawn to it, somewhat like a bee to flowers. As the tip of his chalk touched the slate wall, he wondered what would happen if he was able to solve it. Something about the strange way in which he was abducted told him, it might be better to leave it unsolved. He, however, could not resist.