03 January 2024


 —Your task once you put on the headset is to explore the world around you until you locate the beaver.

    The world presents itself much like a busy university setting in a large city. Student and professor types scurry and parade around the green, most silently, heads bowed toward the brick walks as if in contemplation.

    Your first thought is to find a zoo or a bio or psych lab of some sort where animals might be housed. But that is not what you do. You walk around the corner of a large neoclassical style building with high steps leading up to a brick façade of broad, fluted white columns and follow the contours of the ground which take you downhill farther and farther until you come to a broad, shallow river, its waves rippling in the evening sun. And there, just upstream, in front of a nondescript, multipurpose bridge—rail, auto, and pedestrian—lies a long, low structure of impacted mud and rocks and logs and twigs.

    Jumbled and chaotic but solid underfoot, the dam bears your weight as you step out on it and carefully tread your way across the wide river.

—The beaver is in the river, you say and remove the headset.

—My word! That is the fastest anyone has ever solved the problem of this world!

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