Know When to Lie



by David Gallinger

Two men sat on opposite sides of a small room.  The table was four feet wide by six feet long, and was lined up perfectly with the floor tiles and ceiling tiles.  The ceiling tiles, however, were two feet by four feet although the floor tiles were square, and one foot across.  The room was eight feet by eight feet, and a one-way mirror was on the wall facing the short side of the table opposite the door.  The mirror was the same size as the table and the door was half the size of the table.  The floor tiles were matched up perfectly with the shape of the room but the ceiling tiles were not.  The room was sixty-four square feet in size and each tile was eight square feet in size; it should have been possible to install the ceiling so that all of them were complete tiles, with none cut down.  For some reason, they had been installed so that each wall was lined by half-tiles, with quarter-tiles in the corners, and this was really bothering Jason.  It was acceptable to him in the sense that it formed a symmetrical, repeating pattern.  The problem was the number of holes in each tile.  Complete tiles had 433 holes: that is the 64th prime integer and there were 64 floor tiles, which created a satisfying pattern.  If all the tiles were complete, there would be 3464 holes in total and that would have been awesome.  However, the half-tiles had been cut in such a way that the cut intersected some of the holes, and they were not perfectly measured; they all had a different number of holes, some of which were prime numbers and some were not, and this increased the amount of data that Jason had to memorize to satisfy his compulsion.  It was terribly inconsiderate.

Jason was here to be interrogated and he didn't appreciate the distraction.  Furthermore, he didn't like his interviewer.  The man was dressed in exactly the same suit as Jason, which could be a coincidence or it could be an attempt to unnerve him.  He hadn't shaved this morning and he probably thought that no one would notice because of his light hair color.  However, because of the lighting each whisker had a little shadow that made it very salient.  Jason tried to ignore the lights.  He hated them.  They were incandescent bulbs set in cages on the walls.

He did not know the name of the man interviewing him.  This also bothered him.  The man was not wearing his name badge.  Everyone should have a visible name badge in this building, at all times.  He didn't like it when something was inconsistent.  The other man introduced himself.

“Jason, my name is Mark,” he said.

“Thank you,” said Jason.

“Do you understand why you're here?”

“Because you suspect me of being a spy,” said Jason.





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