I address you, dear Reader, from the back seat of the no. 39 bus, en route from Beijing Capital International Airport to the University of the World of Laminate’s Taizhou Campus (Eastern Possessions).*
Darren from IT is seated over a wheel hub somewhere in the middle of the bus. Although I have long since lost sight of him, obscured as he is by a mountain of suitcases, livestock, canned goods, and fellow passengers, I feel sure he is enjoying his first experience of travel beyond the perimeters of the UWL campus.
The bus driver is clearly unfamiliar with the advanced driving skills test of which I am a graduate (distinction), dear Reader.
Several emergency stops have been made, for no apparent reason, and at one point I believe the doors were opened and something was ejected, judging by the hullaballoo inside and wail from outside that Shiny and I heard while plumping our cushions on the back seat.
Such are the customs and practices to which one must accustom oneself, dear Reader, as a sensitive student of the Other.
Meanwhile, Shiny has breathed hotly on the thick layer of ice covering the emergency exit window, creating a small viewing portal through which we peer out at scenes of indescribable foreignness.
But what is happening now, dear Reader?
The bus has come to a shrieking halt.
We have arrived.
I push Shiny out of the way, dear Reader, and bend down to peer through the small, cat-sized porthole.
I see an oddly familiar sign.
It reads, ‘Humanities Lighthouse, Taizhou Campus. Beaconing you away from Ignorance of the Iceberg since 2012’. The wizened figures of the bursar couchant and vice-chancellor rampant frame the lettering.
Shiny and I make our way off the bus. The bus zooms off, into the night.
We huddle together, shivering.
Dear Reader. We are standing at the base of the Humanities Lighthouse. Next to it is the Courtyard, Koi Carp Pond, Boiler Room, the Piggery, the Library (Information Nexus), the Dining Hall – all exact replicas of their UWL equivalents, apart from their size (3/4 scale).
Just to my right, dear Reader, there is a sign reading ‘Remembering Garden’.
Which only goes to beg two questions, dear Reader-
Who, or what, is in the Remembering Garden?
where is Darren?
* Not under any circumstances to be confused with the University of Taizhou, an upstanding educational establishment.