The Horizontal Line was crawling and said to himself, “Oh, what a wonderful dream. How I wish it were true.” The Horizontal Line had dreamed that he was a friend of the children, and they all liked him. Here is why. Whenever a child was punished, the Horizontal Line intervened. For example, if a teacher told one of his students, “You must stand on one foot for ten minutes,” the Horizontal Line would reduce it to five. It was his job to reduce. Children hid the Horizontal Line from their mothers because they were afraid it might make their allowances smaller.
But it was just a dream about the children, and now the Horizontal Line was alone.
Maybe you would like to know more about the Horizontal Line. I know everything about the Horizontal Line, and I will tell you about it. Here is the picture of the Horizontal Line.
The Horizontal Line is a long line that lies on the ground and slithers on the floor, like a caterpillar. Many sharp points have grown on his body, like thorns on the stem of a rose. He uses these thorns to subtract something from someone. The Horizontal Line also plows the soil with his thorns as he crawls on the ground. It comes from the Minus family.
When the Horizontal Line was only eleven, his father died fighting to defend himself, but his mother survived. She went on to marry another man and abandoned Math City forever.
Now, you may wonder what he feeds on. Well, the Horizontal Line cuts a piece of a number’s body with his thorns when he gets hungry. Excessive hunger makes him lose control of his own body and draw numbers into himself, like a magnet, making them lighten up. The most important thing about him is, the Horizontal Line has four eyes, two heads, and two mouths with 64 teeth. He does not have a tail; instead, he has another head.
The Horizontal Line lives in Math City. Math City is a place within a Math book, and the pages of the book are the streets of Math City. Math City has many resources of multiplication, division, and numbers; the city is very rich and has earned a lot of money, but people of the world do not find it important, except for money. Of course, Math City does not attach any importance to UN laws, either.
One day the Horizontal Line was awakened by what felt like an ant bite on his cheek, but he was surprised to find a frozen tear. The Horizontal Line looked around; it was already morning.
The sun shone beautifully, but the Horizontal Line was all alone in the world. He got up and went to Math City. It walked the streets. On one of the streets, a warning grabbed his attention. It was 35th street, I think.
To all dear numbers of the city:
Beware! A minus, called Horizontal Line, is prowling about. Avoid him! You will change to zero if he finds you! Oh yes, being a zero is equal to your death. This minus is armed with cold and hot weapons, including a sharp knife and a loaded gun!
The Horizontal Line saw his picture on the warning. He felt embarrassed and continued sadly on his way.
As he entered the center of Math City, he heard a terrible din. It was the noise of the numbers gathered there. One, Two, Three, Ten, Twenty, One Hundred, Two Hundred, One Thousand, and many others had gathered to talk about their problems.
The Horizontal Line saw his friends and remembered their complaints from a few months ago.
Mr. Two cried, “You always subtract me, and I don’t want it to happen again.” When the Horizontal Line first met Mr. Two, he was the number Five Thousand; but the Horizontal Line constantly fed on the body of the number Five Thousand until he gradually became Mr. Two.
Of course, I should say that the numbers always change in Math City, but, until recently, the changes only happened when they wanted it. For example, the number Five Thousand was in love with Lady Fifty-One, who was so much smaller than he was. Well, he decided to become the number Fifty-Two, who could marry Lady Fifty-One, so he needed the help from the Horizontal Line. But after making friends with the Horizontal Line, he was gradually changed into Mr. Ten. Now, Lady Fifty-One did not want to marry him because he had become so much smaller than lady Fifty-One. The number Five Thousand wanted to become Mr. Fifty-Two who was a fit for Lady Fifty-One; but now he was too small to love Lady Fifty-One!
“You reduced us so much, we cannot walk anymore. You cut off my legs,” Lady Seven said angrily. She used to be a number that all people knew as Sir Seven Hundred Thousand, but now she was a lady. Lady Seven had wanted to be a senator when she had been Sir Seven Hundred Thousand. Just for taking a vote Sir befriended the Horizontal Line, but she was afflicted with this terrible misfortune. “Oh, my God, this is intolerable!”
Professor Six, who was too afraid of death, shouted, “Oh, no! I want to live on! Please stop it!” Because of his horror, he wanted to make the whole world safe from the danger of collapse.
Professor Six had always been an intellectual person who was interested in serious ideas and subjects, such as science. When he was eighteen, he proved 2 + 2 = 5 not 4. You may laugh at that, but he really could prove this.
And maybe you want to know how did Professor Six prove that 2 + 2 = 5? Oh yes, Mr. Six had done a lot of study on advanced societies, and terms of trade helped him to find this formula: 2 apples + his (her) profit = 3 apples.
Yes, in Math City 2 + 2 + a profit = 5 not 4.
Professor Six discovered this formula when he was studying businessmen. He saw that a businessman buys 2 apples for 2 dollars and 2 oranges for 2 dollars, but he wants to make at least $1 profit in this process, so when he wants to sell them, he will sell the apples and oranges for 5 dollars. In this way, the businessman sells 2 apples + 2 oranges + a profit which is = 5.
Therefore, Professor Six announced: “Businessman means “Business” + “Man” = Business + Him (profit) = 2
The profit was always a constant.
So in Math City: A stupid man + 5 stupid women + him/her (employer) = 7 stupid, or a stupid woman + 5 stupid men + him/her (employer) = 7 stupid.
This is called “Indigenous knowledge”. This knowledge is so different from the general knowledge. All results of the indigenous knowledge are like that, Policy, Culture, Society, Philosophy and.... this is Math City, of course, not your country; certainly, your country is not like Math City. Anyway, I hope your city is not like my city.
Mr. Six was a law professor at the University of Math City. He often talked nonsense and gave speeches about impractical things. Before meeting the Horizontal Line, he had been Ms. Fifty-Five Thousand at the university.
The Horizontal Line remembered Ms. Fifty-Five Thousand had been so fat, she could hardly stand up. That was not suitable for a professor; so she decided to befriend the Horizontal Line in order to have a more attractive figure. The professor wanted to become the number Sixty-Five. Sixty-Five would be a most beautiful lady, but the Horizontal Line could not resist overeating, especially eating the lady professor who had a very tasty body, and therefore Ms. Fifty-Five Thousand became Mr. Six. Although he was angry about being changed into the number Six, he was satisfied on the whole, because he had become a man, which meant that people in Math City would be more respectful of his speeches and ideas. Yes, after this change Professor Six understood that in Math City, a man is more important than a woman, or even a few women.
Before, when he was a woman, she had to give a lecture about 4 hours long, but afterwards, he presented a short speech about 1 hour long. People of Math City never took women’s ideas seriously, but everyone paid attention to a man who mounted a rostrum. Therefore, although he used to be a woman, Professor Six now was really proud to be a man; and if he was a bit unhappy, it was just because he was so close to death.
That very day, Poor Zero cried out, “Stop it!”, but nobody heard Comrade Zero. Again, it roared, “Get out of our city!” but again nobody heard Comrade Zero, which before its friendship with the Horizontal Line, had been Lady Thirteen, a very unlucky number. She tried to do things as well, but without success, all thought that Lady Thirteen was an unlucky number, the unluckiness was confusing her; so, she was not able to understand her problems. She had many problems in life, such as high rentals to be paid. Lady Thirteen had approached the Horizontal Line because she wanted to decrease her unluckiness, but she was quickly changed into the number Zero, which was never heard by the people, because they could not even see it.
Besides, the numbers of Math City believe Zero is equal to death. Comrade Zero was neither man nor woman! It was only a poor worker that usually cleaned up the streets or buildings.
Poor Zero was everywhere and nowhere. It attended all costs and main projects of Math City, but it failed to achieve anything as a worker. For example, the people of Math City, in order to create the number one million or a million bricks, needed 6 Zeroes, but they were not as important as One Million. Zeroes were everywhere, which means that without Zeroes the people could not create a lot of stuff. Nevertheless, nobody attached importance to them.
On that particular day, they all shouted, “All the minuses are the same”. The Horizontal Line asked warily, “Am I a minus?!”
Even until that day, the Horizontal Line did not know he is a minus. From then on, he was alone, and nobody wanted to befriend him.
Now after a long time, the Horizontal Line recognized some of his friends’ voices among the crowd at city center, but their appearances had changed. He looked at them and said, “Why have they become so fat, again?”
At that moment, Number One Hundred Eighty Thousand shouted, “Oh no! I should go on a diet, my stomach is getting big!” He made and sold sweets and cakes at his confectionery shop.
First, I must tell you about a sweet in Math City. It was a puzzle, which would give a lot of pleasure to a number who could find an answer to that puzzle and usually said, “So great, oh my god Mmmmm… lol”, but the same number would feel very bitter if she (he) could not solve the puzzle and could only moan. The puzzles were either too sweet or as bitter as snake poison. The people of Math City were very much interested in eating puzzling sweets. Of course, provided that the sweets did not become snake poison.
One Million One Hundred was lying on the ground; he told Three and Four, “I have become so heavy that I cannot walk.” He was a dentist and only knew how to pull teeth out. Extracting teeth was very important in Math City because the pulling out teeth was a punishment here. When someone broke a law or rule, he (she) faced the penalty of extracting teeth.
“My fatness is killing me. Please help!” said Seventeen Million, who belonged to the highest social class and came from an aristocratic background. He was the boss everywhere, school, municipality, hospital, factory, park, street, even the toilet. Nevertheless, he was incapable of doing any work. In fact, he was an inefficient aristocrat who laid down the law just to make money and boast. He merely heeded and listened to the voice of middle-class Mathcityians, who mostly worked hard and went swimming or watched a film on TV after work. For this same reason, they did not have enough time to follow the boss’s works and could not know what the boss did for them! Well, he then abused his position of power as a boss to make his wishes came true.
Anyway, a strange thing was happening in the midst of to-do! As the Horizontal Line came closer to them, the nagging of the fat numbers lessened.