Thursday, April 28, 2011


    They are pixels on the most massive screen and nothing more. They are part of the grandest and most ambitions piece of art ever conceived. They are my masterpiece.

    My blue minivan pulled up to the weathered gray house. I had ridden my bike past it countless times over the past week, and I was confident he was a single man and wouldn’t be expecting any visitors. He would be alone. He would be perfect.
    I grabbed a clip-board off the dash and locked the van. After walking across the street, I swung open the rusty chain link gate that led into his front lawn. There was no walkway to the door, only the tall, unkempt grass littered with bags of recyclables that had yet to make it to the curb.

    The world’s most beautiful and magnificent piece of art should mirror the most beautiful and magnificent thing in nature, in mathematics. No, not Pi. That’s for amateurs. The number e holds that distinction.

    At the door, I hear the TV blaring at an obscene level; it was on one of those cable news channels. It took me three tries with the doorbell before I heard the sound cut out and the rustling of a person getting off a chair. The door swung open and a bald man appeared. He looked me up and down then said, “What’d you want?”
    “Hello sir. I’m here with the Children of the World Fund.”
    “I’m not interested.” The man started to close the door when I stuck out my foot. It blocked the door and the man didn’t try to force the issue. He just shook his head and said, “Don’t make me get my gun.”

    If I could write the number e across the country, the biggest equation ever written for the greatest number ever, people would remember me for all of eternity.

    I smiled. “That won’t be necessary.” I pulled a silenced handgun from my coat pocket and pointed it at the man’s chest.
    He opened the door and backed up. “Take whatever you--”
    “Sit down, please.” I closed the door; the man stumbled onto his couch.
    “What do you want?”
    “I want to make art.” I pulled a paintbrush from my other coat pocket and dropped the clip-board to the floor.
    “You want to paint?”
    “In a sense.” I aimed the gun at the man’s head and pulled the trigger.

    There was some guy I heard of that put streamers up and down a highway for miles and miles. But I don’t know his name. If those banners, however, were covered in human blood, people would be saying his name for generations.

    I walked over to the body and dipped my paintbrush in the pool of blood and began to paint my equation on the wall above the couch.

    Once I had cleaned up and went back to the van, I took a push pin out of the glove box and placed it in the little town of Chokio MN. It was coming together, one piece at a time. My masterpiece was almost complete. The equation, written in bodies across America, was only a couple pixels away from making me immortal.


Sulci Collective April 29, 2011 at 3:43 AM  

wonderful idea and yes I agree, e is far more impressive a number to tilt at than Pi

marc nash

4ndyman April 29, 2011 at 8:40 AM  

I don't entirely understand what pixels have to do with the story (is there something inherent in the equation?). I do like this grisly glimpse into the mind of a mathematical serial killer, though.


FARfetched April 29, 2011 at 10:32 AM  

Fascinating glimpse into the twisted mind of a serial killer. So he's painting the equation in blood in each house, and picking houses based on their positions in his pixelated über-equation?

John Wiswell April 29, 2011 at 10:48 AM  

I smiled and outright chuckled eventually at the dissonance between the italicized thoughts and the streamlined narrative. He's a maniac, sure, but you've got style. At least two of 'em.

Sam Pennington April 29, 2011 at 10:54 AM  

I loved this story. The lines "He would be alone. He would be perfect." made my blood run cold!

Michael A Tate April 29, 2011 at 12:08 PM  

Thank you all for the comments.

4ndyman, the pixels are him making a giant "connect-the-dots" version of the equation across the country. I was a bit worried that wouldn't be as clear as I hoped.

FAR, that's correct. That's what I was going for.

John, yea I've always thought that serial killers (just based on what they do) have to be cold blooded when they do what they do. But there also has to be some more emotional drive that makes them do this. Glad you caught that.

Sam, glad you liked that line :) Love hearing complements like that.

Oh, and I fixed 3 of the typos. (I'll try not to type these up from my hand-written versions late at night anymore :))

Michael A Tate April 29, 2011 at 12:10 PM  


sorry I forgot you. But glad you see the greatness of e. I had a colleague in college who got the first 10 taylor series expansions of e tattooed on his forearm! (He was kinda nutty)

Raven Corinn Carluk April 29, 2011 at 12:57 PM  

I can think of much worse reasons to kill random people.

I wonder if there's a profiler yet who's got him figured out, or if he's still ahead of the game.

Sonia April 29, 2011 at 1:45 PM  

whoa, so creepy. But I really good look into the mind of a killer.

Anonymous April 29, 2011 at 4:14 PM  

Mathematically curious make great reading but I like the sympathy we instantly feel despite the guy's psychotic behaviour.

A cracking little story. Thanks.

Chuck Allen April 29, 2011 at 5:12 PM  

Being a math geek myself (not by profession but just by curiosity) I love this concept. The cold, matter-of-fact tone was perfect for this. Chilling, for sure.

(And I guess his twisted idea is more dramatic than painting imaginary numbers on his imaginary friends.)

Icy Sedgwick April 30, 2011 at 10:32 AM  

This has to be one of the most interesting serial killer rationales I've ever heard. Also, given the relative importance placed on Pi over e, it might be some time before he's caught. Not sure this kind of art will win him the Turner Prize though.

Michael A Tate May 1, 2011 at 5:45 PM  

Raven: I was actually thinking about making this into a longer piece. I'd think a cold/cool and mathematical serial killer would be an interesting challenge for law enforcement.

Sonia: Hopefully I don't don't get any closer to getting into the mind of a killer :P

ibc4: I'd be curious as to why you gained the sympathy. I'll be honest, you made me go back and re-read it a couple times, and I can't figure it out myself. But good to know my subconscious knows how to create that sympathy :)

Chuck: Funny comment. Loved the idea of killing imaginary people. That'd make a good comedy.

Icy: Yea, I hope he doesn't expect to win any awards.

Thanks again for all the comments.

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