The Chain It Doth Asymptotically Approach

A short story by Richard Brooksby, 1991-06-20.

"I'm generally attracted to dense people." he said.

"I don't see that you have much choice." I replied. I had been cycling with Alan the day before, and it had happened then. We were cruising along the path which leads from the mill pool to the meadows by the river which leads from its source to its conclusion somewhere near the sea which lead form here to there, and probably came back again for all I knew. I stopped in order to examine my saddle, but Alan didn't seem to notice, and rode straight past.

"Are you going to stop?" I called after him. At this point he began to ride around in little circles. I wasn't sure what to do about this -- my saddle had nearly worn through and it was getting light. Before long they would be coming after us with garden hoses, and then where would we be? Suddenly I had an idea. Quickly I pulled out my notebook and wrote it down. Then I returned to the problem in hand.

I thought about something which had occurred three nights before in the college bar. Alan was roaring drunk, as usual.

"You just don't know when to stop." I had said. He just looked blank, but I knew that he'd start at any moment. I left before he had the chance.

I knew what to do about Alan's cyclic bicycling behaviour: I went over and kicked him in the teeth. Alan respected power. On the way back he asked me if I enjoyed the music that he had recorded for me on his synthesizer.

"I've finished the tape," I said, "and I rather enjoyed it. Do you have any more?"

"I have an inexhaustible supply." he said, opaquely.

Alan was a biologist, and his particular speciality was cloning, although his work was rather unpredictable. He seemed to solve problems remarkably quickly; soon we would be calling him Doctor, and then it would be time for tea.

Then the disaster happened. Minsky was speeding down the road in his convertible, and heading straight for Alan and myself. I jumped aside, but Alan didn't seem to register until it was too late. He was a regular guy, the embodiment of a paradigm, and a model for us all, but we all have to end sometime.