Title: Classical Mathematics
Length: ~765 words
Summary: Anything to make the music stop.
He heard math in the music. Numbers and symbols and formulas. As violins whined and the cello ascended, the music solved the Fournier problem. Dr Livingston would be pleased.
He collapsed into his chair as the music continued. The other scientists on the project swarmed his equations, muttering to each other. He couldn’t hear what they said over the music. They continued to prod him with more formulas, more equations. His hands itched to take up a marker again, or a crayon, or anything that he could use to write it all down. Instead, he dug his fingers into the arms of the chair. He didn’t care about the equations. He just wanted silence.
How long could he manage this time? Three months? Maybe four? He needed to lose himself in anything but music. How long had it been since the last time they dragged him back? Far, far too long.
The scientists’ debates annoyed him. They sounded like buzzing gnats, too excited by these new equations to even notice the needle still danced across the record. The music flowed through his mind, the maths riding the notes like a boat on a river. He groaned.
Someone lifted the needle. He opened his eyes long enough to see Marcus, his department head. The man turned a kind smile on him, and patted him on his bare shoulder. Helping him to his feet, Marcus half carried him to the door before he could struggle to stand on his own.
Marcus escorted him to his apartment. Since the last time he’d run away, they’d ordered him to move in with him. They thought Marcus would prevent him from leaving.
Throughout the building, people stopped and stared, whispering about him behind his back. He wore black and leather bracelets and never ever wore a collared shirt. He had at last count four piercings in each ear. Most damning of all, his hair dragged against his shoulders, even bound in a sloppy ponytail.
He stood out among the crowds of white collared, tie-wearing, shorn scientists that infested the research company. But that was good. He wasn’t like them. They could create their own amazing machines. They could write theories and think up brilliant ideas. He couldn’t create. His work didn’t rest on his own intellect. The music told him the answers. All he could do was listen – against his will.
The psychiatrist they forced him to see argued that his mind simply worked differently from anyone else’s. The music opened up the right half of his brain as he used his left, and together, the combined power gave him insight that no one else had. Her arguments only reminded him that he could only reach silence after death.
Music invaded his dreams. It stuck in his head. After hours of listening to classical music, the tune stuck in his head. He could never not hear it… Not working for the company.
Sex. Drugs. Rock and Roll.
Once he could take no more, he would flee to the next city, to the bad parts of town. To the parts that traded in mind-numbing drugs for cash or sexual favours. He’d find some warm body in some derelict building. Months would pass in a drug-induced haze. Then they’d find him again. They’d drag him back to his job as his body sweated and trembled from withdrawal. As soon as it became too much, he’d flee again.
And Marcus would always be there to haul him into the lab and out again. His job, as the disjointed rumours said, did not fit the description of the usual department head. The department head was supposed to be the source of the research, the brain behind the experiment. Marcus merely owned a prestigious title for being Cain’s babysitter.
Back at his apartment, Marcus settled him onto the couch before switching the television on. His psychiatrist hoped that the contrasting acoustics would disrupt his brain’s processing abilities. He would try anything to make the music stop.
“You must resent me so much,” he murmured.
The other man looked surprised. “Why would I resent you?”
The entire success of his career rested on Cain’s shoulders.
“I hope you resent me.” Cain laughed. He was entirely at Marcus’ mercy. As long as he insisted on bringing him back, they’d find him and haul him back. One day, Marcus will become so sick of him that instead of keeping him off drugs, he’d find that one needle that could end his life forever.
Then, he wouldn’t have to listen to the music any longer.