Books: An Abridged Existence (excerpt)

Chapter 8

Harold hates the number 8. It has always been the most unlucky of all numbers for him. It all started at a very early age, his hatred of the number 8. He was 8 years old at the time. Walking with his 8 siblings, all who constantly picked on him. They walked through the park, accompanied by their parents. It was the 8th of August. The leaves had started to turn brown early that year, and fall came sooner than expected.

They went to the swings on the playground at the park, but there were only eight swings in all. Harold was left out. He sat down on a bench and began to pout. The sky grew cloudy and within eight minutes it began to rain. His eight siblings and two parents ran to the nearby shelter house, but they left behind Harold. He saw where they had gone, and followed slowly after, still pouting and splashing in the puddles that were quickly forming on the ground, mixing with dirt and turning into mud.

Once he had arrived in the shelter house, his parents became very displeased that he had become covered from head to toe in mud. They grounded him for eight months. However, later that night, at approximately eight, his favorite toy broke.

All these incidents compelled Harold to learn more about his enemy, the number eight. What was it? Where was it from? Why did it hate him? How can he destroy it?

These questions eluded Harold for quite some time. He went to bookstores, libraries, and colleges searching for the answers. Many long hours he spend looking over the books, reading tables, and talking to professors. He didn’t learn everything he had hoped to about the number eight. Several important things he did learn about the nature of the number eight though.

It is an even number. This makes Harold even more curious. Is the number eight merely the henchmen of the other even numbers? Do all of the other evens pressure eight into a vendetta against Harold? Or is it the prime numbers pressuring number eight? Have they told eight they’d let him in their club if he made life miserable for Harold? Or is eight really two fours in disguise, trying to frame number eight? So many questions keep popping up whenever Harold would come close to answering one.

Then one day Harold stops caring about the number eight. And for a time, life is calm for him. He gradually begins to forget all about the number eight and the evils associated with it. The number eight fades back into the crowd of faceless numbers. One might even say that the number eight had gone on the lam for a short period of time. Short enough for Harold to forget about it, but not so long that the number eight would forget its sole purpose for existence.