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Alex caught in eyes

Alex began to feel fed up with it. His granddaddy had given him a trunk filled with old books and games. There were thrilling stories about inventions and adventures and all kinds of boxes with games. Now he sat with his parents around the table on this wintry saturday-afternoon. On a gameboard spiralling boxes were drawn, some contained a picture. He saw all kinds of geese, a labyrinth and a water-well. At first Alex liked the game, but now that he had been in prison for fifteen minutes already, he sat vainly waiting for his release. When his father laughed at his angry face Alex cried: 'You don't help me. I'm through with it, I quit'. The weekend was spoiled anyway. Monday mathematics test. If he would be asked, he would know nothing. All were looking at his red face when he had to stand in front. Moaning and groaning he climbed up the stairs.

In his room he felt two dice in his clenched fist. He threw them angrily on his desk. Each dice showed three black eyes. He threw again, the threes were up. This happened also the third and the fourth time. He sprang up to tell his parents. The door was locked. Were his parents gone? Had they locked him in? He cried for help and kicked against the door. Nobody seemed to hear him. Alex looked around the room. He saw the posters on the walls, the books on the shelf over his bed, his school-stuff on his desk with the white dice among them. Suddenly he recalled: his room measured three by three. 'I'm getting crazy', Alex thought and staggered towards his bed.

Rapidly the room became dark and icy. Spots were dancing before his eyes. His body trembled, his heart pounded. He writhed and put his arms around his legs. For a long time he remained in this position. Then, in the grey darkness, he saw the switch of his bedside lamp. A faint light began to glow. Was this his room? There were no door or window anymore. His desk, chair and closet were gone. The posters had disappeared, the walls were black with white circles. Alex saw his clock-radio on the shelf over his bed. The radio only emitted a whining sound. The red numbers flashed 00.00. It was past five-thirty when he had left the livingroom. He looked at his watch. The seconds-hand didn't move. Time has stopped, I am dead, Alex thought. He pinched his arm, it hurt.

Suddenly he noticed a red telephone with a dial. His fingers almost slipped when he dialled his parents' number. No tone, no sound. His ears tingled. He dialled 1200. 'Hello', said a voice. 'This is Alex, can you...'. The voice cut him off: 'That's OK. You can count now.' 'What do you mean?' stammered Alex. 'Just count', the telephone barked. 'Yes,' Alex said, 'one, tw..' A sweet smell surrounded him. His tongue swelled, he almost choked. He fell into a feverish sleep.

He was lying in a sunny garden full of plants and flowers. Under a tree stood a white horse with a horn on his head. 'You can breathe and feel again', the unicorn said and scratched letters and figures in the soil. 'Solve this sum', it said. He had to use roots and squares, but how? 'I don't know', Alex said. 'A complex problem', said the unicorn.

Alex was lying in the dark again. He felt a rope behind him and pulled it. A glaring yellow light shone from the ceiling. Amidst the rows of white eyes on the floor stood the red telephone. 1200 did not answer. Sweat broke out. The clock-radio said 05.20. He dialled it.

'Yes', a boys' voice said. 'this is Alex.' Alex stammered: 'What, who, who's that?' Again the boy said: 'This is Alex.' 'But I am Alex', said Alex, in defence of himself. 'That's what you think,' said the voice. 'Repeat what you've been doing before.' Alex counted: One, two,... his voice started to tremble, his eyes itched. Tears were streaming over his face and soon he felt calm and relieved.

Alex stood at the edge of a large pond. Moonlight quivered on the clear water. He heard twittering and cackling sounds around him, but did not see a single animal. Suddenly a hand broke through the watersurface. A naked boy appeared. He resembled Alex, but still looked a bit different. 'I'll help you', the boy said. With his finger he drew a triangle. 'You have to find the centre'. Alex drew lines and arcs. 'I can't', he said. The boy disappeared in a dense fog. The red numbers flashed 05.29. He switched on the ceiling-lamp and the bedside lamp. The telephone didn't make a sound. What was he doing wrong?. The three hands on his watch were on top of each other.

Something stirred in the square of eyes opposite him. He looked in the grinning face of the boy, then the wall changed into a shining mirror. Behind his back Alex read 92.50. He dialled that number and heard a creacking sound. He turned the clock-radio upside down and tried 65.20. 'What's the problem', a woman's voice said. 'Can you help me?' Alex asked. 'Just a moment', she replied. He counted: 'One, two, three,...' The room expanded in convulsions. A glaring light appeared. He heard cursing, screaming and yelling. The sounds cut into his head. An acid smell sickened him. Alex fainted.

He was lying on the floor in a large hall. There onlystood an enormous desk in front of a blackboard scribbled with formulas and figures. To the left he saw three dark windows, to the right a door. He heard a ticking sound, then footsteps. A woman came towards him. He swallowed and said in a hoarse voice; 'Mother, why did you lock me up?' The woman took his hand. 'I am not your mother. You are confused, you have lost your orientation. This room measures 60 by 50 by 8 meters, Go stand in the middle. Take that vertex as the source. Calculate the position of the top of your head. Take your time.'

I must take half of length and width, Alex thought, that's easy. I am 1.67, so that's the height. Would that be all? Hadn't he forgotten something? Yes, the fourth dimension. He had recently turned fourteen. 'The answer is (30, 25, 1.67, 14)', Alex said. 'Good boy', the woman said. She kissed him and left the room.

The boy stood in front of him. 'You are me', Alex said and extended his hand. The boy winked and slowly became invisible. Lastly his grinning face disappeared. Tears welled from Alex' eyes. In the little mirror he saw 02.20 in red numbers. The room was as usual. His watch said ten to six. The telephone was gone. He counted to ten, opened the door and went to the livingroom. 'There's our prodigal son', father said. The game of goose was still on the table. 'Would you clear the table please', his mother said, 'we'll have dinner in a minute.' Alex took the dice from his pocket and trew double six. Cheerful he took his pawn from the prison and put the game-board, pawns and dice back in the box.

Olaf Korder

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