I’m good at math, but not useful math. If I was born at any other time in all of human history, I would provide literally no value to society. The math I know doesn’t help build bridges, or, I don’t know, trebuchets. Instead, it helps rich corporations calculate the rate of return on capital investments over an amortized multi-year time frame.
It is, in other words, useless.
My lack of practical skills never bothered me before. I do okay for myself as long as I’m surrounded by a functioning, post-industrial society. However, now that I’m stranded on the roof of a small triplex on the outskirts of the city, with no apparent rescue, I kind of wish I had taken up carpentry or something.
I’ve been trapped up here for two days. I’m starving. The rainwater has helped to keep me hydrated, but there’s nothing to eat. I’d leave the roof, but I’m surrounded by the apocalypse. And before you ask, I was ready for the zombie Apocalypse. Zombies I could handle. This, however, I wasn’t prepared for.
Werewolves. A goddamn werewolf Apocalypse. The street are lousy with them. They’re everywhere and they suck.
Pro: Werewolves can’t climb buildings. They are, to all appearances, dumber than zombies. They are super easy to distract with tennis balls.
Con: They never change back to human and they rub up against everything. They howl all day and look up at me with hungry eyes. There is not a good boy among them.
I have attempted to use my math to stop them. “Hey wolves,” I have called down, “Consider this! Two plus two equals four. It is an absolute truth in a world filled with uncertainty.”
I expect their minds to be blown, but no. They pay no attention and continue to frolic in the mud. One eats a flea. I remain trapped.
Goddamn werewolves. They are the shittiest.
On day four I devise another way to put my medium-use skills to work, and that is to calculate my death down to the minute. A 185 pound man requires, at minimum, 2,400 calories a day. I am getting zero. My body can convert existing fat stores at a rate of 300 calories per day, meaning, I am losing a pound roughly every 1.5 days. At this rate, I will waste away and die in approximately three weeks.
Tremble in the face of my awesome math.
By day fifteen, I am insensate with hunger and can’t do anything beyond lie on my back and breathe. I have tried nothing and I have no further ideas. I consider my life. I was given a fat pitch down the middle and rather than swing for the fence, I took the walk. I got on base, but my team didn’t score.
The rain falls down without my help, and the world continues. I open my mouth to catch the water and I see a flicker of light against the sun. It gets bigger. If this is death, it feels overdone.
It’s not death though, it’s a helicopter. A spectacularly improbable helicopter. It lands beside me and I have no strength to do more than turn my head. A well-fed soldier leaps out, dressed in impressive black body armor. He seems very useful and professional.
“Are you okay?” he says.
“I am lying on my back, trapped on a roof, surrounded by werewolves.” I say. “I have had better moments.”
“We’re rebuilding society,” he says and I wonder how many right swipes he would get on Tinder with that line. “If you have any practical talents we can use, you can come with me.”
I think about how I can calculate Internal Rates of Return, and the Net Present Value of money and I know how to depreciate assets consistent with accounting principles. This brave new world will need to understand cost benefit analysis, won’t they? I think about my answer.
“I know how to cook medical-grade opium.”
“Come with me.” He says
I take his hand and I am saved.