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The Initial Problem

The Initial Problem

10 mins 339 10 mins 339


Even though it’s far from a new year, I decided to have a new diary, marking the beginning of my new life. First of all, a note for everyone (except me) who reads this: I am Nicholas Dawson, a Lecturer, and this is my personal diary. Stop right here or your body shall rot in hell!

14th July,

After an exhausting voyage, I have finally reached London. Thanks to Captain Andrews for a safe journey. I’ll be joining Durham University from tomorrow as a Mathematics Lecturer; this being the greatest opportunity I have received in my twenty-two years of existence. A new beginning awaits, and I cannot wait for it!

15th July,

Would you believe it? Today was my very first day and I received a pleasant surprise right on cue! I met James, my college friend, after a full decade. Ever since he wrote his papers on the Binomial Theorem, I knew that he was going to be a huge name in Mathematics. He is the Head of our department; a post he rightfully deserves. He introduced me to everyone, praising – and flattering – me at the same time.

21st July,

Today, I got to catch up with James since we both were free. He informed me about some more of my friends with whom I had lost contact. I’ll make it a point to meet them during the holidays. He is a great human being, and it’s peculiar that all my diary entries are revolving around him.

25th July,

James did something weird today. During lunch, we were sitting in the teacher’s room when I asked him to pass a book from my bag. He complied; but not before taking my diary out. He asked, “May I?” Though before I could politely refuse, he already had the notebook in his palm. He seemed pleased on reading about himself. However, from now on, I’ll have to make sure he doesn’t get his hands on my diary again.

26th July,

Well, it doesn’t get any weirder than this. Today, James asked me to start my entries with “Dear Diary.” I told him that I like it this way better. But he kept insisting and eventually, I had to agree just to shoo him away. Every genius individual has a bizarre personality, I guess! I hope the first meeting between James and the diary was the last one since my career could go down the drain pretty quickly if he reads this one, haha.

11th August,

James was very happy today. His research on the dynamics of an asteroid is really shaping up well. He invited me and a few more fellow professors to have a look at the first draft. To be very honest, it looks way better than any other book on astrophysics I’ve ever read.

12th August,

Something very intriguing happened at Durham University today. Professor Bunsen -- the senior-most in our department -- suggested some edits in the draft of James’ book. However, for some reason, James dismissed the idea in a disrespectful way. Professor Bunsen looked genuinely hurt. I need to talk to James about this.

25th August,

Finally, I got a chance to speak to James about Professor Bunsen. By the looks of it, he doesn’t like Professor Bunsen one tiny bit. He thinks he is just an “old man who is waiting for his time to end” & that “his words shouldn’t be taken seriously.” I tried to talk to him about respect but he didn’t want any of it. Apparently, there’s an ego problem between the two here.

27th September,

James’ papers on the dynamics of an asteroid were released today. But things got ugly when Professor Bunsen, once again, tried to talk to James about an error in one of his Initial Value Differential Equations. To me, it looked like the former was correct. James, though, was adamant on his stand and soon lost cool. A heated argument began, which ended with James asking Professor Bunsen to leave the room. Rumours are that Professor Bunsen will file a complaint in this regard.

1st October,

James showed how big of a heart he truly has! Owing to his recent misbehaviour, he publicly apologised very courteously to Professor Bunsen. Although a few staff members told me that it was the fear of complaint that drew the apology, I feel otherwise. Regret and remorse were evident in his words, which brought tears even in Professor Bunsen’s eyes. For once, James has indeed learnt his lesson, and my respect for him has increased too. After all, not everyone can admit a mistake in a room full of people.

2nd October,

Today, I had to stay up late at Durham University for evaluation of answer sheets, but I wish I hadn’t. As I was leaving (I don’t know if it’s safe enough to write this in a diary but still…), I saw James drag something towards a large pit. On stepping closer, I saw that it was the corpse of Professor Bunsen! I might have made a slight noise since James looked in my direction. But he turned away soon.

I thought about informing the cops, but I got cold feet. I still have. At the end of the day, if James walks free, there will be severe consequences awaiting me. But I cannot let Professor Bunsen’s soul suffer because of this. I think I will leave an anonymous tip for the Scotland Yard. This is the only way. They are the most competent police force in all of England, if not the world. They should be able to book a strong case against James, even without an eye-witness. Yes, I will drop a letter right now. 

I have lost all respect for James today. Professor Bunsen was the most honest and non-violent man I had ever known. May God bless humanity with someone who can fill his void!

3rd October,   

Scotland Yard arrived today. They dug up Professor Bunsen and arrested James on the spot. Contrary to what I expected, he was very calm during the entire ordeal. Most of the faculty was shocked at the entire incident and were unable to answer the questions that the cops asked. I, for one, answered all the questions, except for the fact that I had seen James bury the corpse of Professor Bunsen. I… just couldn’t. I did not sign up for this. And I’m pretty sure they don’t need an eye-witness to bring Professor Bunsen justice.

5th October,

I have completely lost faith in law today. They released James. Lack of evidence. Utter bullshit. And the first thing he does: Gives a speech about Professor Bunsen in the university auditorium. Says how he impacted his life and research. Argues that if he wanted to kill him, why would he apologise in the first place. Sack of lies. But I am the only one who knows this. Everyone else believed him. I have to give it to him. He is an excellent orator. No, no, no, he is an excellent brainwasher. He planned it all beforehand… the apology, the misdirection, the deception.

But he will not get away with this. I will tell Scotland Yard that I saw James burying the corpse. That ought to carry some weight.

 Hell! I won’t. What would a single eye-witness add to the case when there is simply no evidence. That too, an eye-witness that didn’t even see the crime taking place. Granted, I saw James putting away the dead body, but I never saw him actually committing the crime. Lawyers these days! They’ll tear me apart in court. 

There’s nothing I can do about this. No matter what happens, I cannot bring Professor Bunsen back. Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that you have lost. 


1st December,

For two months, I have been trying to move on. For two months, I have been trying to un-see what I saw on 2nd October 1869. For two months, I have been putting on a fake smile every time I meet James. For two months, I have been having nightmares about Professor Bunsen asking me to help him attain salvation.

I know all of this sounds very cheesy and fictitious. But that is until something like this happens to you. I was the guy who rolled his eyes on hearing about spirits. I was the guy who made fun of people describing their nightmares. It is easy to say “If I was in his place, I would have--” But when you face a situation first-hand, you realise there’s a big difference between talking the talk and walking the walk.

But I won’t stop. I won’t let my fear control me. Maybe my career will suffer, maybe James will walk free nonetheless, maybe my life will never be the same again, but I owe it to Professor Bunsen to at least give it a try. He deserves justice. His family deserves justice.

I will go to Scotland Yard tomorrow. I will fight this uphill battle.

2nd December,

Dear Diary,

You know, Diary, you will never see a tiger poking its nose in another tiger’s business. You will never see a jackal going out of its way to help a fellow jackal. You will never see a lion willing to sacrifice its life for ‘ethics’ and ‘righteousness’. Only humans do all those things, because, for some reason, they believe they are the moral compass of the planet. They think they are some hero who needs to eliminate all the vices that exist in society. They think it’s their duty to right all wrongs when all they need to do is just their OWN GODDAMN WORK! 

You are born… you do what you enjoy… you do what you’re good at… you die. Is that very difficult? What do you think, diary? IS THAT VERY DIFFICULT? I don’t think so. Do you love being a professor? Good for you. Stick to it. Profess. Research. Do not poke your nose where it doesn’t belong. Do not suggest edits. Do not complain about others. Do not try to be a detective. Do not try to be a hero. Because when you do, you are putting unnecessary strain on your mind and body… Unnecessary strain due to unnecessary actions… Unnecessary actions that have severe consequences, as your old friend found out first-hand. 

The day I saw that anonymous letter in the police station, I knew it was Nicholas who had written it. I know the chap’s handwriting, and I’m pretty observant right from birth. I realised he might have seen me doing the… uhm… let’s just say, “deed”. Correction: He must have seen me doing the deed. Or how else do you explain the letter? However, he did not come forward as an eye-witness, which was surprising. Hence, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and decided to let him live. For old times’ sake. Also, I knew that those cops did not have a single piece of evidence that could frame me. 

However, all of a sudden, Nicholas develops an angel’s halo. Nicholas wants to go to the cops. Nicholas wants to serve justice. Nicholas wants to be a hero. And now Nicholas is playing justice and differential equations with that cranky, old Bunsen up in heaven.

“But how did you know Nicholas was going to the cops?” I believe that’s the question on your mind, Diary, isn’t it? Well, the answer is body language. For these last two months, I saw a gloomy Nicholas every day. He looked sad, dejected, hopeless. But today, all of a sudden, he was smiling. There was a spark in his eyes, there was determination. And I could guess what that meant. To confirm my suspicions, I followed him after classes and when I was sure he was going to the Yard, I took him out. And now that I read his words, I am pretty proud of myself for guessing that one right.

You know, Diary, every incident in your life teaches you something. What this incident taught me is that if I can get away with one murder, I can get away with them all. I think I can start a career in this field. Just as a side business; extra money wouldn’t hurt, eh? But all this killing and burying has already put unnecessary strain on me. You know what? Why shouldn’t I just advise people on committing crimes? How does that sound to you? It’s a pretty unique business venture, isn’t it? The first of its kind. I could call myself a… a consulting criminal!

“But what if you get in trouble? What if someone comes after you?” In that case, Diary, I’ll go after him too. If someone chases me, I’ll chase him back. If someone attempts to kill me, I’ll kill him back. And if that ‘someone’ comes back from death, then I assure you, I promise you, no, no, no, I SWEAR to you, I will. Come. Back. Too.

Yours Truly, 

Prof. James Moriarty  


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