"s 2015 Horror Write-off:

" Transformations Of A Curve "

Submitted by Nausicaa Harris

a true story


Math is fun during the day.

At night, though, it’s another story.


Ever since I was little, something weird happens when I don’t get enough sleep: I start hallucinating.

At least, I hope it’s all hallucinations, because if it’s really happening, then 1) something is irrevocably wrong with the universe and 2) I am going to cry like a baby.

It starts out with the room changing size, or sometimes just my bed. It’s hard to describe; some parts of it get bigger, others get smaller, and all to the precise size, big or small, that sets off something in the dark recesses of my brain that screams “this is wrong”. This size stuff happens when I’m awake, too; there are certain things I can’t touch – a few Lego pieces, some pencils, occasional dishware – because because they’re just wrong, the wrong size, the wrong shape … they’re little pieces of space that shouldn’t be. But at least they have the decency to stay the same offensive size; in my hallucinations, the room shifts and slips, and I can’t get a grip on reality.

But the size thing is nothing compared to what comes later.


That’s when the equations come out.

White strings of numbers and operators in equations that make no sense, always matched to my current level of mathematical knowledge – sitting up terrified after watching Princess Mononoke when I was twelve, I saw basic algebra scrolling past me; nowadays, trying to get to sleep after a late party, I’m haunted by integral signs grown monstrously large. The equations aren’t malicious, but I’m compelled to try to solve them, running along things that make no sense, always with the implication that I’ll finally be able to figure something out about what’s going on. There’s always a sense of meaning behind them, but meaning I can’t grasp, and that frightens me, and infuriates me. Maybe it’s because it’s always mathematical in nature; I’ve never had this happen to me without the math. The biggest deviation from the numerical norm is the huge, painful Mandelbrot set that I saw swimming in the air once; aside from that, it’s always equations, the numbers and operators which, however much I try, I cannot decipher.


Usually, if I turn on the light, it will go away. I used to want to cry for my mother when this happened. Now, I’ve progressed to the point where I can just sit up and read Terry Pratchett until the room has settled, fall grudgingly into sleep, and hate myself the next day – often, ironically, during math class, struggling to remain awake when my body wants to catch up on sleep. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get to the point where it no longer affects me, but I hope at least it won’t create such irrational fear in me.

But there still feels like there’s a sense of meaning behind the math, like there’s something going on that I can’t see. Which leaves the possibility that this is my mene, mene, tekel, upharsin; that I will discover that my fear is indeed completely rational.

And I’m not sure which would be worse.