‘Sorry?’
‘The number 42,’she said.
‘What about it?’ He sighed sinking deeper in his chair noticing he was almost out of beer.
‘I read it on a blog from a writer. It made me think.’
‘Who’s the writer?’
‘Christopher Fielden.’
‘Never heard of.’
‘Not so uncommon, nobody ever heard of me, yet.’
‘So whats with the 42 then?’
‘Its a Douglas Adams thing.’
‘Who the hell is that?’
‘Douglas Adams, also a writer.’
‘Repeating myself: Never heard of.’
‘No, you never read a book so you won’t know him.’
‘I do read a book, sometimes. I just prefer good newspapers. What did this Adams guy write so far?
‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. He is dead now.’
‘The what?’
‘The Hitchhikers Guide, oh never mind. I liked the Long Dark Teatime of the Soul even better.’
‘Cute title. What is he, a nutcase? ‘
‘Aren’t we all?’
‘Speak for yourself, I am quite normal.’
‘The fact that you perceive yourself as being normal, indicates the dangerous level of your abnormality.’
‘No, I am perfectly normal with a perfectly normal life doing perfectly normal things every day.’
‘How utterly boring.’
‘No it is not.’
‘Yes it is. Haven’t you ever heard what Goethe said?’
‘Oh I know him, poet wasn’t he?’
She sighed. ‘Amongst a whole load of other things, yes. He said: “Escape the insult of an ordinary fate”. I intend to do just that.’
‘You are a nutcase.’
‘Yes, but a functioning one so quite harmless. Do you still want to know about number 42?’
‘Will I be able to stop you?’
‘No. Number 42 is supposed to be the answer to the meaning of life.’
‘42 is the answer to the meaning of life? That’s ridiculous.’
‘Well, do you have an answer then?’
‘There is no meaning. Do you think your dog thinks there is a meaning of life? He doesn’t. He just wants to eat, shit, play ball, sleep and then eat again. We are just like that. This whole idiotic, spiritual idea that there is supposed to be a higher meaning, infuriates me. Nowadays everybody checks their horoscopes, gets their palms read or their chakras put right. I am getting sick and tired of this world of tea-leaf reading and fork bending. Just live, make the best of it and then die, preferable not too old.’
‘Why not too old? ‘
‘Because with everybody getting so old these days our whole system of national health is going down the drains. ‘
‘You are a cynic.’
‘No I’m a realist. And 42 is not an answer, just a joke or something.’
‘The writer himself said it was a joke, fake, yes, or just something that he made up. ‘
‘Well there you go: He explained it himself. Simple solutions are always the best; Occam’s Razor, I’m not entirely stupid.’
‘Adams also wrote that reality was frequently inaccurate.’
He let out a snort. ‘His reality might have been.’

‘Did you know they found many coincidences with the number 42?’
‘42 coincidences, I guess.’
She ignored him. ‘It was a whole article in the Independent.’
‘God, that is supposed to be a not-completely-trashy paper! Are they spitting out this sort of rubbish these days?’
‘I thought you read newspapers instead of books? Haven’t you read it then? Anyway, 42 also featured in the Valenzetti equation.’
‘Whose equation?’
‘I thought you were a scientist? Never mind.According to Wikipedia the Valenzetti Equation is the mathematical equation developed by the Princeton University mathematician Enzo Valenzetti. Its creation was the result of efforts made following the Cuban Missile Crisis by the United States and the Soviet Union to find a solution to the hostility and danger of imminent global disaster created by the Cold War. The equation was secretly commissioned through the UN Security Council and is used to predict the time of human extinction.’
‘I like the sound of that. Everybody dying at 42 so why don’t we?’
‘Oh shut up. The Valenzetti Equation are the numbers 4+8 15+16 23+42 and may have some sort of physical meaning. The numbers may be the predicted date of the end of the human race, and as the final moment nears, they become increasingly common in the most unexpected places. Apparently there are six specific ways that would lead to the end of Humanity. The specific numbers may refer to the amount of time there is left before that particular form of extinction occurs. 4 corresponds with “nuclear fire”, 8 with “chemical warfare”, 15 with “biological warfare”, 16 with “conventional warfare”, 23 with “pandemic”, 42 with “over-population”.
‘Over-population is a problem. That’s why we have to stop becoming so old.’

‘And if you look up the Angel number 42’, she continued, ‘it says that you are looking for your divine purpose in life. Angel Number 42 is a message from your angels about pursuing your passions and life purpose. When you do things you love, and put your heart and soul towards achieving your goals, the angels give you guidance.’
‘Don’t go tea-leaf reading on me! I hate that and you know it.’
‘No tea-leaf reading, just the Internet and why do you hate it so much, scared it might contain a bit of truth? Facts are the only things you care about. ‘
‘I trust my senses.’
‘Right, can you actually see electricity? Or what about magnetic fields? And you can’t “see” the Internet for that matter.’
‘You see things that aren’t there.’
‘There are things you don’t see.’
‘Now you are going to tell me that Stonehenge has 42 stones, the Twelve Apostles were actually with 42 before they started to drop in the ocean and we secretly have 42 world wonders.’
‘Elvis Presley died at 42 and cricket has 42 laws’.
‘How profound. And what happened in your all important year of being 42?’
‘I crased my car and had to buy reading glasses but that’s beside the point.’
You are suffering from apophenia you know.’
‘Apophenia has been defined as the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data’, she retorted.
‘Wrong: Apophenia is known as a Type 1 error – the identification of false patterns in data. It may be compared with a so-called false positive in other test situations. Nothing meaningful or interconnecting in that.’

Whatever you say,number 42?’
‘Woman, you are insufferable! So how did this incredibly boring number become this huge answer in that book with the ridiculous title?’
‘42 was the answer of a large computer called Deep Thought especially designed to answer The Question.’
‘What was The Question actually?’
‘They forgot.’

He looked at her incredulously. ‘They forgot?! You are saying you started this whole discussion knowing it was a futile one in the first place?’
She shrugged. ‘Be happy, I just proved your point: life is meaningless. Might as well live it, want another beer?’

This story was inspired by the writer Christopher Fielden and his To Hull and Back writing competition. You can find him on

www.christopherfielden.com

Written by Cissy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *