Hugh Lassen

Leaning against the wall in the manager's office, William Kauft gazed blankly out the window. The office was set back from the main thoroughfare, between some trees. The amount of light that came through the windows was less due to a momentary decrease in travelers. William reflected on the work it had taken to become the owner of the family electronic engineering firm. He realized how far he had come in eighteen years and how pleasant it was to finally enjoy it.

The city of Goldhagen was winding down after a warm summer dauze (period of time denoting the usual nine hours for work), however, William knew that his dauze hadn't finished. In fact the hardest part was yet to come, he was going to propose to buy Magnus Brinkman's chain of electronic appliance stores. Marcus Brinkman was a heptagon who owned a chain of lower class chain of stores in the south end of the city. Kauft did not like Brinkman, in fact he couldn't stand the arrogant heptagon, but Kauft couldn't turn away a chance to improve the business.

Mrs. Kauft had prepared roasted leg of fractal and ellipse for supper. Kauft had carefully polished the sides of his hexagonal frame using the polishing wall. He had also turned up the intensity of his light for two reasons; on the one hand he wanted to impress Brinkman, but on the other hand he wanted to intimidate him. To merge his store with Brinkman's meant a monopoly and therefore assured success. The scene was set, his hexagonal wife looked perfectly light and acutely regular.

Brinkman and his wife arrived late as was expected. As they rubbed sides Kauft purposefully rotated just enough to scratch Brinkman's pretentious frame. Supper passed strenuously as they talked about the rising circle, Harragon, who was gaining more and more political power. When I say they talked, I do not mean emitting sound, in fact the mouth consisted of a break in the frame that dilated. These dilations were watched by the listener's acute eye, who then transferred them to "words."

The economic situation in Goldhagen was severe, many small businesses were going bankrupt. Brinkman had offered to merge with Kauft because he realized that if he didn't act quickly he would also face bankruptcy. During the course of supper, no direct allusions to the deal were made. Instead Brinkman and his wife discussed the nature of Harragon's political motives. Harragon was severely anti-hexagonal, he decided that anyone with more sides was socially acceptable. Anyone with less sides became part of the slave class. In this way Harragon believed that the only way to progress was through unification of the upper class. He hated the hexagons because in his eyes they were neither this nor that. On the one hand they were trying to be like the upper classes but, really they were part of the slave class.

Mrs. Kauft brought out the syrup topped rectangles. This action seemed to crack the tension allowing Kauft to lead into the carefully prepared speech about the advantages of merging. During the whole speech, Brinkman oscillated impatiently and his light flickered faintly. He was devastated to give up his business to a mere hexagon. Conversely he thought about what he would lose if he listened to his vain pride.

As Kauft began to close the deal he reflected on what it meant for the hexagon race. He was the most entrepreneurial hexagon in Goldhagen. The school teachers had dubbed him, "an inspiration." This would be the culmination of his career. He felt the electricity buzzing around his frame funneling into his eloquent speech. He began the conclusion, the price. "30,000 mega watts." Not all that much, but considering the market a reasonable amount. Brinkman's light flickered faster and faster until it appeared as one consistent glow.

In the other room Mrs. Kauft and Mrs. Brinkman had suspended their talk, there was too much resting on this decision to maintain idle conversation. Mrs. Kauft stared intently at Brinkman, waiting to see what he mouthed. As he slowly opened his mouth a strange sound seemed to come from outside. This was the first time that anyone in Flatland had heard a sound. The sound was long, low and deep. Both Mr. and Mrs. Kauft began to shudder under the impact of the sound. Mr. Kauft thought the sound had somehow entered inside him and couldn't get out, bouncing off his six sides like a trapped point. The Kaufts had both begun to rotate north-east-south-west, due to the tremendous impact. As they gained momentum the rotation began to increase in speed. This seemed to last forever but, as they later found out it was only for ten juinites. The noise began to subside and slowly The Kaufts stopped rotating and reduced their shuddering.. As they came to a stop they noticed the look of amazement on the Brinkman's faces. It hadn't gone, the noise still occupied their frames, only they were able to realize where they were. The pain was relentless, when would it subside?

Kauft finally addressed Brinkman, "What the hell happened? What did you do, you no good heptagon. If you don't watch it I'll jab you as hard as I can with one of my corners." Here Kauft was at a distinct advantage. Brinkman and his wife gaped confusedly, they didn't know what had happened either. They had just witnessed two hexagons flash and shudder then begin to rotate at high speeds. Kauft could still feel a point banging from side to side in his frame, what was it he asked himself.

The following dauze, Kauft decided to skip work and try and figure out why he and his wife still felt an annoying ringing in their frames. He decided to study the properties of sound hoping that this might uncover what was wrong with him. He had read in A Square's extraordinary memoirs that in other worlds one could exchange such "sounds" to perform a "dialogue." Kauft knew that A Square had been criticized as fantastical but, upon further research he discovered that A Square believed that sounds propagated exactly, leaving no echoes or reverberation. He had had a nasty suspicion that someone from a different world had been talking near by, however, this did not account for the consistent echo which had not fully disappeared. Kauft could not understand it. Why, if the only sound Flatlanders knew existed (space land sound), did it continue to ring. And more strangely why did it only affect he and his wife and not the Brinkman's.

It was the most confused Kauft had been in his life. Every time he settled into the comfortable hexagonal chair he would feel the tingling in his head. He had reached the point of sheer anger when Mrs. Kauft arrived flickering anxiously. She turned to her husband who looked terrible and mouthed, "Every hexagon I know had the same awful experience last night. They all asked me whether you knew what it was. Can you stop it." What did this mean thought Kauft, how could one create a sound and more importantly how could one make it specific to one race. Kauft dismissed himself and went back into the study. His honor was now at stake, he was frustrated, angry at the persistent ringing, and downright determined to figure it out. Kauft believed that the answer lay in A Square's memoirs. If the sound was created in Space land, Kauft reflected, then the space land creature must have been near by. Kauft tried to recall all the mathematics he had studied to become an engineer. He attempted to visualize it but found that incredibly strenuous. Finally he used A Square's dream to line land as a model to visualize what it would have been like. Could he, Kauft thought, have floated near line land and used Spacelandic sounds to disturb the linelanders? He thought long and hard about this and decided though it might be possible to disturb the linelanders for a brief period, it was not possible to sustain a perpetual, if diminishing sound. Which now that he thought about it was now only a humming in his brain, however, this humming was causing a ceaseless frame ache. Kauft was one of the few shapes that believed A Square's memoirs, he felt sure that the answer lay in A Squares memoirs.

In the middle of the night the Kaufts were awoken by the sudden thundering, their frames shook, shuddered and began to rotate furiously. The sound felt like a huge electric current streaming through their frames, forming an electric lattice of shearing pain connecting all the points of their frames together. Upon the impact of the sound Mr. and Mrs. Kauft clashed sides numerous times as they were sleeping next to each other. At the time this was not noticed but, after the thumping had subsided a bit, they both felt a structural throb adding to the excruciating pain. Kauft's acute mind guessed subconsciously that the "noise" was subsiding at t to the -1. Both of the Kaufts had come to stop, panting furiously. Mrs. Kauft was mouthing strange expressions of pain that Mr. Kauft had never seen before. This alarmed Kauft incredibly, his wife had gone into shock. Something had to be done, Kauft was under enormous pressure to get work out what was happening. However, due to the perpetual ringing, which existed alongside the previous reverberation, it was impossible for Kauft to concentrate at all. He knew that he had to gently rub sides with his wife to coerce her out of shock. Ten juinites later the ringing had decreased enough to allow Mrs. Kauft a moment to collect herself.

The rest of the night was agonizingly painful and Kauft gave his wife two very strong sleeping pills to ease her mind. Meanwhile he decided that the hexagonal race could not continue like this, something had to be done. Kauft turned to A Square's memoirs once again. He re-read about how a sphere visited A Square by passing through Flatland. Amidst all the pain in his frame a notion began to get clearer and clearer. If a spacelandic object was to hold itself in Flatland at a consistent level, they would appear to be a Flatlander. If they held themselves so that Flatland sliced the section of their spacelandic frame where their mouth was. They could then create a noise in Flatland that would continue forever. He realized this because, A Square's research showed that Huygen's principal (a famous spherical mathematician) proves false in Flatland. Huygen's principle allows shapes in Space land to hear and see clearly and succinctly without echoes. Waves, or ripples will continue forever in Flatland. Kauft began to realize the immense gravity of the situation, theoretically Flatland could become a living hell.

Finally it dawned on Kauft, Harragon was a three dimensional object posing as a circle. He had come to destroy the Hexagons by creating searing sounds that would never cease only build on each other. At this point Kauft could barely operate as the two different sounds bounced around his frame driving him to the brink of sanity. Mrs. Kauft rested next to him, although not too close, her light pulsating slowly showing her near unconscious state.

Kauft had to attempt to save himself and his race. To do this he must discover why it had affected only the Hexagons and no-one else. The sound waves must have been sent out at such a frequency to be able to enter the specific mouth size of a hexagon. In this way they could bounce around in the inside of the frame, letting out a certain amount of the wave every so often, but never letting out all of the sound.

Having discovered the reason for this pain Kauft attempted to close his mouth. This must be the answer but, he decided that he could not go on living with this incessant noise in his frame so he left his mouth open hoping to close it as soon as another sound came. Kauft raced outside to tell all the other Hexagons he knew of the solution to the problem. As he was leaving the house it happened again, he was too late, the sound was inside him fizzing in his frame. As he shuddered he felt another booming shaking his already fragile frame. The Hexagonal structure splintered and cracked. All over Flatland hexagons went to a gruesome, undeserving death.