A Matter Of Calculation

This was a story told to me when I was still a boy Scout 8 years ago, but it was an interesting story with a strong twist in the end.

4 friends decided to make a hiking trip to Gunung Tahan in Malaysia. As most of them were afraid of the sweltering afternoon heat, one of them suggested resting by day and climbing by night.

They started their journey after their dinner at around 8pm. It was a chilly night and as they went higher up the mountains, the mountain air caused them to shiver in cold. After around 3 hours of climbing, one of them could not continue the hike as the cold was really biting into him. The leader therefore proposed a break at a dilapidated hut just right ahead.

They felt better after drinking from the thermos, but every time the wind howled, it never failed to send a shiver right down their spine. Suddenly one of them had a brilliant idea of warming themselves up. He suggested a game and this is how it works:-

There are 4 corners for the hut. Each of them will stand at 1 corner. At the word go, 1 person will run to the other station and slap the other person in the hand. The other person in turn will run to the next corner and repeat the same process.

All of them thought that it was a fantastic idea and went ahead with the game. Sure enough, the running soon make them sweat and the cold became more bearable.

They left the hut and continued their journey up the mountains. Half an hour into the journey, one of them suddenly turned pale and paused in his tracks. His friends called to him but he would not answer. Only after 5 minute of dead silence did he resume his steps up the mountain path.

As puzzled as his friends were, they followed him up the mountains and no words were exchanged in the process. They soon reached the top and were very proud that they made it. The one hiker that had stooped earlier kept quiet and downed his drink in big gulps. When he was done he spoke:-

“Did all of you realized that it was impossible for us to play the game at the hut back then?”

This abrupt question brought silence to all of them. They looked at their friend with inquisitive eyes as if demanding an answer. He then spoke:-

“There were 4 corners. We are standing at corner A, B, C and D respectively. At the word go, A runs to be B, B runs to C, C runs to D and D runs to A…”

One of them then interrupted:-

“But no one could possibly be at A, because the person that was in A is now in B…”

There air was suddenly very tense and no one spoke. Needless to say, all of them went down a different path at the break of dawn… never to return to Gunung Tahan or even play an identical game, because you might never know when someone else decides to join in…

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