“It’s an epidemic, that’s what it is,” says Cascadia Police chief Grant Wuhl. “Everybody thinks it’s easy, safe money. But ain’t no such thing.”

Chief Wuhl is standing by the burnt-out shell of a local math lab, which was firebombed by rivals over the weekend and burnt to the ground. Two tutors and a retired statistics teacher were put in the burn unit at Cascadia General in the attack.

“We’ve seen three attacks like this over the last three months,” says Wuhl sadly. “People know that math is dangerous, and doing math is a one-way ticket to County or worse,” he continues. “But they see those reports coming out in the media, about the massive demand for people in STEM fields and the high salaries at stake and, well…they just get greedy.”

According to statistics provided by Captain Wuhl, the number of illicit math labs in the county has tripled since 2010, and the number of non-violent and violent math-related offenses has quadrupled. Schools have reported their supplies of graph paper, calculators, and protractors are regularly raided. Many local office supply stores have been requiring a teacher’s note to purchase TI-83s, once freely available but now suspect thanks to their key role in the production of math.

“It used to be that you could come in here and just buy a TI-83 for whatever,” says Sandy Perrier, a clerk at the Osborn University Bookstore. “But then we had these crazy-looking guys with pocket protectors and bloodshot eyes coming in to buy 10 or 12 at once. You knew they were cooking math, but you just couldn’t prove it.”

At press time, the Cascadia City Council was considering a draft proposal to introduce programs at the elementary, middle, and high school levels to warn kids about the dangers of using, abusing, and cooking math. Many worry that, with the process glamorized by popular TV shows like Breaking Polynomials or Sons of Geometry, this is a losing battle.

Osborn University, meanwhile, has reported record interest in their new x-ray crystallography program. “You wouldn’t belive how much people are looking for a little crystal math these days,” says Osborn professor Dr. Lewis Dodgson. “It’s crazy.”

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