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You wake up in a clearing the size of a small house. On all sides is the thickest jungle you’ve ever seen, and the air is so wet that every breath feels like you’re drowning. In your pocket is a waterproof notebook, some matches, and a ball of lint. There’s a single path leading into the jungle, and you hear something that sounds like an old synthesizer’s impression of bird song, repeating over and over.
After you walk along the path for a few minutes, you emerge in a second clearing, where a small azure bird is perched on a single tree. It’s mouth is frozen open, and it continues to emit the same song you heard earlier. It’s grasping something in its claws, which upon closer inspection is a jigsaw puzzle piece. You take the puzzle piece, and spend a few more minutes listening to the bird song. Its chirps and tweets seem to be encoding a number, a big one by the sound of it. You write the number in your notebook (7C2BAC1D) and walk down a path opposite the one that led you to this clearing.
When you emerge from the jungle, you seem to have somehow looped back to the clearing with the bird. Everything is the same, but the puzzle piece is back in its claws, and the song is a different pattern of sounds. You check your pocket—the first puzzle piece is still there—and then realize this is a new clearing. You write down the new song (1CC28A903 seems to be the number this time) and walk onward again into the steamy jungle...
Only to emerge yet again into an identical clearing: same blue bird, different song, different puzzle piece. The deja vu you feel makes you slightly sick, but you take the piece, write down the number (2AC30BE38) and head onward to yet another clearing with a new number (52726803C) and a new puzzle piece.
Just as you begin to despair that this jungle is some sort of loopworld with no end, you emerge into a huge open space, hundreds of times larger than the previous clearings. All around the perimeter are innumerable paths into the jungle, and at the dead center is another bird. You take the puzzle piece and write down the song’s endlessly repeating number in your book (BF1D1DF06) but are at a loss for what to do next. Each path looks equally foreboding, and you can hear strains of birdsong coming from each of them, different but similar. You can feel the beginnings of hunger pangs, and you have a sense of certainty that many Hunter’s journeys have ended forever in this oppressive maze. You sit down next to the bird, and tilt your head to carefully listen to the songs coming from each of the thousandfold paths—maybe there’s something in the songs that can lead you in the right direction?