Atlas Mathematica 794 Words

May 9, 2023

Justin Cross


For whatever this is worth: This is a lesson. It’s not one that I believe I need, nor one that I asked for, but one given to me nonetheless. 

When one’s natural state of being involves never fully understanding what is going on under any circumstances, discrete lessons from the outside become easier to identify. This one is struggling to stay discrete. A large bar from a graph slowly fills the road ahead of me, a not-so-subtle indication as to which direction I should be going. I take a step, which seems to initiate a fluttering in my peripheral vision. I look around, the mountaintops have a fuzzy hue over them. It doesn’t immediately make itself clear to me, and I’m not too sure if it exists. I look up at the sky, and the fluttering disappears. I look forward, there it is again. 

I’ve stopped and started on the path a few times now. I think my in-and-outness is coming from the possibility that I’m misunderstanding the lesson. ‘Maybe if I give in to the lesson, everything else will follow!’ Maybe this is true. Either way, I’m still on that road, and every time I stop, the fill inches forward just a bit faster. Might as well ponder the question at hand, go ahead and use my steps as some kinetic energy for my mind.
There is a graph depicting four bars. Bar 1 is shorter than Bar 2, which is longer than Bar 3, which is shorter than Bar 4. Is Bar 3:

This was the first thing I saw when the lesson began. I take that as a nice clue, indicating that perhaps the solution to this question is what will bring me back. It sounds relatively simple, especially considering how one of them is obviously false. After all, how can bar 3 be longer than 1 and 2 if it’s longer than 1?

I’m at a good starting point, I think. Just give me a bit longer, alright?


I’ve been ‘almost home’ for as long as I feel I can remember. Weirdly enough, the clock has been stuck at 12:45 for at least a few bars. The only reason I find myself pondering on time at the moment is because it seems to be part of the lesson. 

This lesson, further down the road,  but not far enough for the road to keep filling, is a story. People are here, or at least have been here. Or, if they haven’t been here, there’s something in this world that knows about people. Or, if nothing in this world knows about people, then the world must at least function in a way in which I am allowed to recognize the text before me as a depiction of my brethren. Regardless, people are part of this lesson.
In this lesson, people can behave in such a manner: 

Mary has a bucket of fire at the beach twelve feet behind the tree. John has a bucket of water at the tree 3.7 meters in front of the beach. If Mary and John make their way towards the point of intersection between the tree and the beach, in feet, how much distance will John have to traverse before he is engulfed by Mary?

The tick has been stuck at 12:45 for so long.

Time isn’t directly mentioned in the problem, but it feels very implied, right?


It has been roughly one half of an hour since I made my way out of time. 

In a twisted and sick use of the word, the path ‘helps’ me as I walk. It only moves with the steps that I take. There’s a fascinating sound that comes from the steps. Every single one produces a sharp and glassy crunch that cackles out from the floor. The light shoots up far faster than the sound can reach my ears. 

This is, of course, until it decides not to. The floor light runs far into the distance, and it takes me with it. It’s not helping me, it’s just moving me. It goes faster




I hear the last question as I rush into the beyond:

There is a lonely leaf that is trapped in a gust of wind moving so much faster than it. The leaf waits for a new current to ride away into the sun. If the leaf jumps from current to current at a consistent speed, would it be more likely to find a comfortable current than if it had waited in it’s present gust?

I don’t get it until I do, and I cry a little bit. 


Hound of a Steep Hill 599 Words

April 10, 2023

By Justin Cross

There is an old and steep hill in Maine

Once upon a time, it’s slope held three domains:

At the top, quiet and sly dogs kept their packs.

At the bottom, no matter.

In the middle, one hound who fought off carnivores who came from far away.

The middle was granted to him by the packs at the top, who asked, in return, for:

Food made of one torso for the packs, two legs as a snack, and two legs for the pups.”

The hound of the middle complied, for he often gathered far more than he needed.


One day, a carnivore arose in the middle of the hill.

This one had a power that the hound had never seen before:

This carnivore stood on his two legs. He extended an arm, and from the arm, an arch, an arch that drew a string, and a string that flung a stick.

The stick punctured the leg of the hound, who howled and tunneled towards the risen, striking him and flinging him down to the bottom.

The hound made his attempt to flee to the top to aid his wound, but the hill was steep, and from his limp, he fell.

At the bottom of the hill, he woke and found himself bruised and beaten, with his fur in the grass and grass in his fur.

Cold and warm red circles were on his leg, and a leg with a stick wound, but no stick.

Around him was the carnivore he had just faced, who was not mad or sad. Rather, he sat quiet and peaceful as he mended his arch. Beyond him, were dozens of rats, hundreds of cats, and thousands of dogs. Not a single animal was less scathed than he.

He began a trek upward, for he was wounded and needed aid. Knowing he would not be seen without a catch, he dragged up a dead cat, for the cat was made of one torso for the packs, two legs as a snack, and two legs for the pups.

When he made it to the top of the hill, the other dogs hissed and growled, wishing to force him back down.

He said, “I am grateful for your land and wish to uphold our deal. I never ask for more thanks, but today, I need your aid.”

The leader dog stepped forward to the hound and said, “You fell to the bottom and lost the middle. You have no business at the top and must leave now.”

The hound barked back, “But I have brought your meal that fulfills our deal!”

The dogs laughed, and the leader dog said, “For a hound of the bottom, to stay here you would need to bring us tenfold of our deal.”

The dogs backed the hound back down to the ground.


With his leg failing and his bite blunt, the hound had a new quota to fill.

At the bottom, death was as present as the trees, with or without the hunting of the hound. 

Weeks later, at the top, the hound, now sickly, thin, red, purple, and green, one by one, dragged up ten meals to be seen:

Ten dead dogs from the bottom. Tenfold of the deal.

The hound made sure that the leader dog saw all ten.

All ten, each with one torso for the packs, two legs as a snack, and two legs for the pups.

The hound said, “There is no more need for a quantified arrangement. For if you wish a meal which fulfills your deal, simply live with your downward zeal.”


River of Rite 116 Words

May 9, 2023

Justin Cross

Locate a stream with no halt in sight.

Divide your time between the day and night.

Walk along the hard gale’s westward trust.

Emerge to a natural pillar of rust.

Locate or create a functional raft.

Some planks of wood should be fit for the draft.

Row and row, you may know this part well,

make your way, bring home a story to tell.

You’re gone and lost in the sea of the land,

you’re gone and lost in the loosest of man.

The depths of beyond and the depths of sin,

Carved a rite as the devil eases a grin.

Walk, run, fly, or swim as you must.

expect to be greeted by scathing dust.