The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive

The Hash

Part 1: #One #Maths #Shopping #Adventure #Stranger

Jen sat on a park bench, squirming uncomfortably. Occasionally, a hand would move down and a couple of fingers slip under the hem of her skirt to confirm that this was all real, that it was still there. She was sure her face was as red as a beetroot now, her shame must be obvious to the entire world. But the dog-walkers and optimistic sunbathers didn’t give her a second glance. As if nobody could know what she was feeling, what she was doing here.

She still couldn’t believe it was true herself, even after all the strange and wonderful experiences she’d been through. Every touch confirmed that yes, it was really there. But could this really be a natural conclusion, from a few moments a year before spent wondering about the size of the largest numbers in the universe?

* * *

There are more numbers than anyone could ever count. In theory, there are infinitely many of them. But even limited to a human scale, things like international finance, or the odds of winning the lottery, the combinations are large enough that they’re beyond a human brain’s ability to really comprehend. Sometimes the relationships between those massive numbers are simple and predictable; if you add two large numbers, you know you’ll get one even larger. But some of the operations in advanced mathematics might seem entirely alien. Hash functions in particular, where you could never guess how large the result was going to be. That was what Jen had come across, when she started looking into the more esoteric areas of mathematics, and trying to find a suggestion that there was anyone out there who actually understood it all.

What she found next was something quite different. Nobody really understood these functions. They were used to generate random numbers, because they were a piece of maths so complex that they weren’t just difficult but literally impossible to predict. Chaos out of order. And while nobody could understand quite what was happening in there, or explain it in a way that made sense to the man on the street, there were people who’d made a game out of it. Instead of a number, you’d put in some prices from the stock market. And instead of a number with more digits than you could easily count, it would pick a place on the map. Completely unpredictable, you’d have no idea where it was in advance. Maybe you could guess the prices, but if you were a penny out on even one of the figures used in the calculation, the point could move a mile away, or a hundred miles.

It was like throwing darts at a map, Jen understood. You’d get a new location every day, and there was no way to predict it. But everyone who did the same calculation would find the same place. And if there were enough people in the world with the same idea, you might meet someone there. That sounded like something awesome.

“Something weird,” Simon corrected.

“Awesomely weird,” Jen shot back. She’d shared a house with Simon since they were both in college, while other housemates had moved out and been replaced over the years. But sometimes, he could really get on her nerves. “Imagine it! It’s like driving out at random, going somewhere you’ve never been before, but you might meet someone else there. New friends, even. You don’t know anything about them, except they’re doing the same little calculation.”

“And they’re probably a total nerd. You don’t see how strange this is?”

“Of course I do. That’s why I like it. I’ll be doing it, and I’m not a nerd.”


“You know what I mean. If nothing else, it’s a chance to meet other people who think weird is good. I might not be the only one. Or if nobody shows, I’ve found a new secluded spot. Somewhere to go when the world’s getting too heavy.”

“I’m not going to talk you out of this. Am I?”

“If you’re my friend, you wouldn’t try.”

* * *

The number of possible numbers is infinite. The number of possible points on the map was considerably smaller, but still large enough that Jen couldn’t consider all of them. Some places might be private, or in a river, or half way down a cliff. But she was sure there would be some possible locations that she could get to. People had met up doing this before, she’d learned that much from a website devoted to her new obsession. But after a couple of weeks, it seemed the odds of meeting someone must be vanishingly small. The places picked out by the calculation might be inside a house, or on a football pitch, or miles out in the bay. Or they could just be farther away than she had time to travel.

After three weeks of looking at the calculation, the newspaper, and the maps, she finally managed to reach the right place. She took a photograph of herself standing with a little flag, the latitude and longitude scrawled on, and she shared the photograph with all her online friends to let them know she’d finally found a hash.

She waited an hour, but it seemed that nobody else in the area was going to come out here today. So she went home just a little disheartened. She didn’t tell Claire why she was down, but Simon and Pete both tried to convince her that she was wasting her time. And that left her absolutely sure that she wasn’t going to give up.

Eight weeks passed, and then ten. Every morning, she would look at the market figures in the back page of the newspaper, the financial reports that nobody else in the house read. And she’d do the calculation by hand, just to be contrary. She was well aware that some modern calculators would do it automatically, or that there were websites that automatically displayed the point on a map every day. But to Jen, it seemed like that would be defeating the whole point. It was a complex piece of mathematics, that took her nearly ten minutes each morning, but there was always a sense of satisfaction. And to her, it was a proof that even if the human brain couldn’t really understand or predict the results of that calculation, she was still capable of doing it, and of using the results. She didn’t need a computer just yet.

She reached two hashes on consecutive days, and then two weeks with none even close. Once, her little crosses on the map were positioned in various bodies of water for a whole week, and she wondered if fate, or some kind of god of mathematics, might be playing with her. Months later, she could do a significant part of the calculations in her head, not needing a calculator or even to make notes on paper until it came to the last stages. She’d been to a dozen different places, from parks and villages she’d never known were there to streets she’d walked along on a regular shopping trip.

One day, she did the calculations and thought she knew where it was even before she’d lined up her straightedge on the map. It was close to places that she knew the coordinates of, and today’s hash had to fall somewhere within the bounds of the Gregory Levinson Memorial Park. At first she thought it might land in the duck pond again, and prevent her reaching the spot even if she could get quite close. Then she measured it, and found that it was almost in the centre of the lake.

That wasn’t a failure. There were boats on the lake, sometimes. Little pedal-powered things hired out to any kids who were willing to brave the weather, and a couple of canoes if you had enough money. Jen resolved that she would get there this time, even if it was on the lake.

The gate was locked up. They were doing some kind of maintenance on some of the paths, and all parking space was needed for construction equipment. She parked elsewhere, and walked into the park through one of the smaller gates. The heavens opened as she got close, and left her soaked to the skin. And she arrived just in time to find a sign stuck on the front of the boat rental kiosk, saying that the operator had closed up early today due to the weather.

It shouldn’t have got to her, not when she’d survived so many failures. But she’d never come so close only to fail before, and it seemed like the fates really were conspiring against her. Jen pouted, and tried not to cry.

* * *

An hour later, the sun was beating down again. Jen had calmed herself down by doing something productive, which often seemed to help. She walked around the supermarket, picking up things she’d been instructed to buy and just a few luxuries for herself. In the back pocket of her jeans, she had a folded questionnaire to fill in with details about exactly how polite staff had been, if they’d directed her to the right aisle when she asked about a relatively obscure brand of cognac, and how many uniforms she’d seen in each department. When she got home, she would have to examine the produce in her shopping bag, and answer questions about that as well. Whether her bread had been squashed, and if a pack of four bell peppers contained one significantly larger than the others. For the time spent filling in the forms, she would get the full amount of her shopping trip refunded, and she could keep any of the items that seemed interesting on the shopping list.

She’d found that expeditions like this were a great way to find out if she liked unfamiliar foods, and an excuse to learn new or exotic recipes. Simon said that was weird too.

Today, she decided, she would walk back into the park and sit at one of the picnic tables to complete her form. And maybe, if she was lucky, she could also see if the boat hire was open again now that the rain had finished. She was almost dry now, the sun warm enough to drive away the dampness of her clothes, and she was starting to think it wouldn’t be such a bad day after all, if nothing else stood in her way.

There were no canoes or rowing boats available.

“Sorry, Miss,” the guy in the little hut explained, with an expression that said he really wasn’t sorry at all. “I put them back in the shed, it’s not worth getting them out now. There’s just the paddle boats.”

Jen turned and looked at the lake. There were two boats tied up at the end of the tiny pier, hideous plastic things that were supposed to look like swans but really didn’t. They were driven by two sets of pedals, which presumably drove different paddles, leading to a hilarious day out for some couples as they tried to steer the thing by pedalling at different speeds.

“You can’t drive one of those on your own, can you?” Jen asked, and the bored teen just shook his head. “But I need to go out on the lake!”

“Sorry, Miss,” another half-hearted shrug, and he went back to playing some game on his phone.

“I’m on my own too,” a voice from just behind Jen’s shoulder made her jump. She turned to see a man just over average height, a little skinnier, hair slicked back with the last remnants of the rain and the kind of smile that suggested he’d seen the punchline of the joke everyone else was suffering through. Fashionable, as far as Jen could guess, probably popular, and very much self-assured. “How about we share a boat?”

“This some kind of pick up line?” Jen hazarded, “Because I’m not the kind to go to some secluded spot with a guy just because he’s cute. I’m only interested in people I can be friends with too.”

“Good plan,” he shrugged. “And no. I just want to ride in a boat, and it looks like they’re all made for two. Not to mention, I don’t think the lake has that many secluded corners. Even the island, there’s like a half dozen trees, you’d have to be visible from here.”

“Fair enough. If we can get to where I want to be.”

The guy nodded and stepped forward, wallet already open. That was one point in his favour, though Jen didn’t really need to worry about such a small amount. He negotiated a couple of hours on the boat, just to be on the safe side, and then sauntered over to the nearest one. Jen managed to wedge herself into an uncomfortable plastic seat, and then slipped her phone out of her pocket. She had a simple app that would give her latitude and longitude, so that she would know when she got to the right place.

“GPS?” her knight in shining leather asked with a smile, showing off an almost impossibly perfect line of white teeth. “Don’t tell me you’re hunting for a hash point?”

“Yes!” Jen gasped, “You too? I’ve not met anyone else doing it, I was starting to think it’s all like some elaborate joke.”

“I met a couple of guys in a pub a few years back. In Stamford, of all places. Went to a conference, and it landed just down the street. And I’ve just missed some guy before, I think. Arrived just as he was driving off. But it’s not that common, you know? People think it’s weird. So you get to meet the weird people. I call that a plus. Eric, by the way.”

“Jen. And thanks. Shall we pedal?”

It didn’t take them long to get the hang of controlling the weird little boat. Eric seemed to be fitter, or at least able to pedal faster against the resistance of the water, so he asked Jen to pedal as fast as she was comfortable with, and then dropped his speed until they stopped turning left all the time. Then he could adjust his own speed to control their direction, which he mastered surprisingly quickly.

Jen was intrigued by the navigation system he was using. Rather than the maps on her phone, which had an optional popup showing latitude and longitude, he seemed to be going for a more robust, low-tech option. His device was military-olive, and had an antenna the size of his thumb sticking out of one corner. On its face were several rows of large LCDs, displaying seven-segment numerals for location, bearing, and altitude.

“That’s a bit old-school, isn’t it? You know most phones do GPS now?”

“I don’t carry one,” he answered. “I’d rather not be reachable sometimes. I’ve had enough of technology everywhere, and multifunction devices with innumerable distractions. I like to carry a gadget that will do exactly what I need it to do, and nothing more.”

“You could probably do this with a sextant or something, cut technology to the minimum.”

“You could. And I’m learning. It doesn’t work so well on water, though, and I think it’s not precise enough to pin down an exact point. Looks like we’re aiming for the island today.”

“You don’t like modern computers? It’s harder to get away from them now, but I’ve wondered how much effort they really save.”

“I work with computers these days, I don’t have a problem with technology. I just don’t like the ubiquity, one device that does everything. I’ll use a computer to write code, or to fill in a report, but I like tools that I can use, rather than having them try to guess what I want. Maybe it’s like a form of art, in its way. Like, I use computers at work, so for fun I pick hobbies that can be done with simpler tools. Like an artist who’d rather use a brush than a camera. Simpler, and just does what you tell it, so you know that the picture is entirely your own work.”

“I can see that,” Jen nodded, “Should I slow down?”

Eric looked around them, and back at the bored-looking kid on the shore.

“Keep going until we stop,” he said, “We’ll run her up on the sandbank, make sure it doesn’t drift away and leave us stuck here. Not good for the boat, but I don’t think that kid will even notice.”

Jen nodded, and kept the pedals turning. She didn’t know the first thing about boats, but Eric’s confidence was contagious. The island on the lake was just a little mound of sand with a couple of trees on it, and the boat rode up onto the edge with a thump that sounded loud enough to get the attention of every tourist within a mile. Fortunately, neither of them were interested enough to do more than turn their heads towards the grounded boat, and then go on with their own entertainments.

There was nobody who would care about them now. And just for a moment, Jen felt like they were completely cut off from the modern world. This deserted island might hold some treasure after all.