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Deal 1363: Contest Postponed

The whole event had to be cancelled, you know. It’s not the money. We’ll be fine there even after we return all the registration fees. No, what really hurts is the loss to our reputation.

Many people rely on us to show their progress and announce new discoveries. Skipping this decade’s event entirely puts us all behind by a decade.

We can’t have that.

No.

So this is not really a cancellation. I mean, sure, we’ve given up the facility, told the vendors, returned fees, and such. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t hold a smaller version of our usual event after the immediate danger has passed.

So keep the training program going.

The contests will be rougher, and the program unprecedented. But they will happen. And no matter what else happens, we will know who this decade’s best bloodhound is.

In the meantime, we will continue to help the authorities. We must find all those missing, and set to rights all that went wrong unexpectedly.

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Deal 1338: Hosed

Around the bend, the next door opened into a surreal landscape of mismatched socks. The socks were all sizes, colors, and styles. And as far as the eye could see, there were no matched pairs.

There was also a quiet aura of misery as they socks grieved their missing partners.

In the center of the space was a clearing. It was here that new socks materialized from time to time. The recent arrivals hung around the edge, hoping to recognized the next sock. Their waiting was doomed to be fruitless.

The oldest socks lived in quiet isolation. A few of those tied their yarns off and leaped to their ultimate unraveling. The majority looked for the bright side to their fate. Life here can’t be all stick and no carrot.

Many hoped without fraying their residence would be temporary.

I tried to remain quiet, but my presence was quickly noticed, and I was swamped by a heap of young socks. All were still idealistic, and begged for help returning to the mundane world of laundromats and happy sock wearers.

I knew I didn’t dare offer to carry any without having some means to select the best candidate, and that I could not carry them all.

But I didn’t know how to explain that to hosiery.

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Deal 1325: Hoofbeats

Running, chasing the aardvark. The reason was unclear, it was just one of those things that had to be done. If it hadn’t been the aardvark, it probably would have been the zebra that needed chasing. And that would be hard on those trusting that hoofbeats were horses.

Blink.

A quick view of things if Dante was right. A special room is reserved here for the abusers of both aardvarks and zebras.

Blink.

Now I’m facedown on the sand. Not clear how I got here exactly, but it it time to apologize to whatever I was chasing.

But they’ve already left.

On the horizon, I can see signs of a city. Perhaps I could wander that way.

Blink.

Alas, it is not to be.

That incessant beeping I’m hearing is back in reality.

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Deal 1317: More Doors

As my quest continues, the doors seem to be everywhere I turn. But so far almost none of them have opened to my key. I have not given up hope of returning one day, but even I will admit the prospect seem grim.

Then I punched the button for the elevator. The door opened and I stepped inside.

That’s when I realized that I had never seen an elevator on this level before. The door closed behind me, and the elevator car went totally dark.

A light came on in the distance, and I knew that I had to prove myself by running to it before it disappeared. I would have made it too if I had seen the chasm. As I was falling seemingly endlessly, I replayed the whole journey looking for a better way forward.

I landed well, and realized that the chasm was actually a cliff, and I was closer to my goal.

I also realized that I was no longer sure why I was so set on catching the light. Glancing over my shoulder revealed that the light was a projector, and my image was projected on to the cliff face. With commentary. And suggestions.

The only way out of that trap was to change my goals and never look back. I decided then and there that first chance I got I would step onto stage dressed as Prince and perform.

That was nearly absurd enough to break me free. It did allow the light of the projector to show me a door hidden in the rocks at the base of the cliff. Surprisingly, my key fit the lock and the door opened.