An essay by Dr. Albert Ratzwaren, as provided by Denzell Cooper
Art by Luke Spooner
I’d never killed anyone before, but killing myself seemed like the next logical step. The traffic beneath the bridge zipped by, headlights illuminating the tarmac as cars and lorries were swept along, up to the roundabout that would take them to the town centre or the suburbs or perhaps another city, homes with children and husbands and wives. None of them saw me, or if they did then they didn’t notice that I was standing on the wrong side of the railing. Or perhaps they didn’t care. Perhaps they just didn’t want to get involved, praying to the gods that I didn’t jump until they were already past, and they could see me on the news and say that it was such a tragedy but, no, they hadn’t seen me.
Horns blared and tyres squealed. I looked up to see the near miss as the cars slowly pulled away from each other on the roundabout. I couldn’t see the drivers, but I knew the gestures that were being made. It seemed odd that people were still going about their business as normal when the order in my life had fallen apart so completely. How could they not realise that today was so different?
I looked around to make sure that there was nobody else there before I spoke. “Today is no different for them,” I told myself, blushing despite knowing that I was alone.
Another scream of brakes straining to bring a ton of metal to a stop. So soon after the last, another car had almost slammed into the side of a white van. I had no idea whose fault it was. I imagined the police asking me to give my opinion and me pleading that at the time I was trying to kill myself. I smirked at the joke. Still got my sense of humour then. I took a deep breath and looked down.
I didn’t want to jump, but I couldn’t see any other solution to the problem. Sure, mum and dad would miss me. John at work who always said hello in the morning would wonder where I’d gone. Smoky, my cat, would probably pine for me until someone else realised that she needed feeding. Who else? Not Ingrid, that was for certain. Ingrid wouldn’t even know unless she happened to see it on the news. I doubted that she was likely to be watching the news.
Brakes, horns, crunch. The two cars bumped together and caused some superficial damage. I’d never been out here at this time of the evening, with the rush hour traffic on a Friday causing people to take silly risks. There were certainly a lot of near misses and scrapes tonight. And then somewhere inside my brain, I pieced it together, the timings made sense to me. There was a pattern. Somehow, being there in the vicinity of the accidents and in such a heightened state as I was, I had noticed it where nobody else would. The accidents and near misses weren’t happening at random at all, they were following the most complicated pattern I had ever seen.
I knew that I should jump before someone saw me and called the police to talk me out of it, but this was fascinating. It made no sense, obviously, that there would be a pattern to it, but I watched and waited anyway. For ten full minutes I stood there, and then horns blared in fury and brake lights flared like a Mexican wave through the traffic behind the near miss. Right on time, I thought. Amazing. I made a little prediction to myself about when it would happen again as I climbed back over the railing and then gripped the cold metal and pulled my coat around me to watch.
When it happened right on schedule, I actually laughed. Not at the accident, obviously, that would be horribly cruel. It looked like quite a smash. But it confirmed it. There was definitely a pattern. “Well, well,” I said as I shook my head. I shoved my hands into my pockets and turned away from the road, shrugging down inside my coat as I wandered off towards home.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2015 collection.
Dr. Ratzwaren was an eminent theoretical physicist and mathematician until his suicide in October 2013. The events of his final weeks, as detailed here, are reconstructed from diary entries and a final declaration hastily scrawled in blood on the underside of a red Honda Accord. His wife, Ingrid, was placed in psychiatric care in early November 2013, where she is still recovering from “severe delusions.” Dr. Ratzwaren’s theories have been largely disproved by the scientific community, except for a handful of devotees who hope to reconstruct his work from his diaries and a chart found on his kitchen table.
Denzell Cooper works as a training consultant by day, and writes fiction and poetry by night. His work has appeared in the anthology Mental Ward: Echoes of the Past and Mad Scientist Journal, among many others. Regular free stories can be read on his personal blog: http://denzellcooperwriter.blogspot.co.uk/. He is a founding member of the Albert Ratzwaren Mathematical Pattern Investigative Team.
Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.