A Lesson in Probability Theory

The seconds ticked by as the Professor carried Howw down the stairs to the ground floor, his cell phone propped between his shoulder and his ear so that he could maintain his grip on Howw. Meanwhile, Howw's brain flipped through each of his potential plans until he found one that, while quite probably not the BEST option, was good enough, once you took into account the ever-decreasing amount of time left for processing. 

And besides, this plan was special; unique from the others in one very important, but frequently overlooked manner: Irony. Yes, Howw felt sure that this would be the one and only ironic plan of the bunch, and irony tended to add a hint of luck to the mix, which he would definitely need if this plan was going to work.

Without further ado, Howw wriggled one hand free and shoved a finger down his throat to induce vomiting. 

"UGGHHH!" shouted the Professor, cringing at the warm, clumpy substance that had just spilled onto his back.

Howw smiled at his own brilliance. Because what was the Professor going to do, drown him in the fountain like he'd threatened? He'd already revealed that plan, so he couldn't use it anymore. He'd know, of course, that Howw would have already evaluated a counter-plan to that one. Morbius would now have to rethink his own plan, having surely discounted any possibility that Howw would have actually, as he'd suggested, thrown up on his back. This momentary re-thinking would buy Howw some extra time. He wasn't sure how much time, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.56 seconds.

The Professor's initial reaction was, fortunately, just as Howw had predicted in his best-case-scenario projection. The Professor dropped the phone, dropped Howw, slid the barf-covered coat off his back and let it fall to the floor, and then began to chase after Howw, who had now gained a comfortable 6 or 7 steps on him.

You see, Howw felt certain that whoever was about to be on the other end of that phone call was a much bigger threat to him than Morbius was, which is why the main purpose of this plan was to get Morbius as far away from the phone as possible before he stopped chasing him. This would give Howw that much time again before Morbius could get back to the phone and be able to make his call. Or perhaps more time, if he was out of breath and had to walk back. Either way, it would be enough time that Howw could escape completely, and the person Morbius was trying to call would have no more luck finding him than if he'd never set foot inside the Professor's house in the first place.

The plan now set into action, Howw only had to follow the steps and hope that the variables in the plan went the way they were supposed to. So far, everything had gone his way, but the biggest "if" was coming up next. He held his breath as he ran out the door, and after counting 7 steps, looked back to see if the Professor was still following him.

The plan, as Howw had conceived it, went like this:

  • Step 1: Vomit on the Professor's back.
  • Variables 1, 2, and 3: The Professor drops both Howw and the phone, and takes off his coat.
  • Step 2: Run!
  • Variable 4: The Professor chooses to chase Howw instead of letting him go and picking up the phone again. This bit was instinct. Morbius was a predator, and predators chase things that run away from them. The more important variable was:
  • Variable 5: The Professor continues to chase Howw after he's run out the front door, rather than turning back around and getting the phone. The door posed not only a physical barrier, but a mental one as well, which would surely spark a momentary re-evaluation in the Professor's mind. Hopefully he would ignore it.

Howw sighed in relief as he glanced back and saw the man clambering out the door after him. In the seconds that followed, he quickly ran over the rest of the plan in his head.

  • Step 3: Run!
  • Variable 5: Mrs. Hitchens, the old lady that lived three houses down from here, is sitting on her front porch reading a book and smoking her usual 6:30 cigarette.
  • Step 4: Run up to her porch yelling "Pedophile! Pedophile! Help! Call 9-1-1!"
  • Variable 6: Mrs. Hitchens is not entirely deaf, hears Howw's yelling from a good distance, and goes inside to call 9-1-1.
  • Variable 7: The Professor, not wanting to be seen as a pedophile, stops chasing Howw before Mrs. Hitchens reaches the phone.
  • Step 5: Come up with something clever to say to Mrs. Hitchens that explains why she doesn't actually need to call 9-1-1.


As any statistician will tell you… you should never make a plan that relies on too many variables because, although the probability of any one individual thing going wrong may be quite small, as N goes to infinity it becomes exponentially more likely that at least one of them will, in fact, go wrong. N in this case was 7, which, though infinitely smaller than infinity, was still about 3-too-many. Variables 1-6 went off without a hitch, but 7, unfortunately, didn't go so well. 

With Morbius still on his tail, Howw had no choice but to keep running, follow Mrs. Hitchens inside her house, slam the door behind him, lock it, and by doing so, grant her the time she needed to call the police and report the deranged pedophile that had just chased a boy into her home. This was about to get weird.

The End

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