For even though, objectively, the communications system of the compound had not changed one bit, it nevertheless fell very quickly into disuse and decay. And as it crumbled, so did the spirit of harmony and communal progress that had always characterized the relations of A, B, C, and D. For now, since they would always forget that they had assembled an object themselves and thus bore a large share of responsibility for its shape, it was easy to ridicule the sender for any defects. They also began to spend less and less time working to assemble things, because, once the mental block descended, there was no feeling of reward for a job well done. As soon as they finished an assembly, the hypnosis would take effect, and suddenly, even though they were worn out, still, it was the other fellow who had done all the hard, creative work of putting it together. Any fool could take a finished product out of the chamber in the hub. So they came to resent, and therefore abandon, any assembly jobs that required real work. But this was not the worst effect foreseen by the magician when he cast his peculiar spell. For, indeed, it was not long before each of the persons came to entertain, privately, the idea that all the others had gone insane. One would send instructions to the others for some device of which he was particularly proud, just as he had always done. Only now of course he believed that he sent, not instructions, but the thing itself. Then, when the others would send him instructions in return, to confirm their receipt of his, he would assemble the object, forget, think that they had returned him the thing itself, and then stare in horror at what he saw. Here he had sent them a wonderful tool, and they returned to him grotesque parodies. Really, what could explain this? All they had to do was to successfully remove his object from the chamber in the hub. How could they change it so shockingly in performing an operation of such moronic simplicity? Were they imbeciles? Or was there perhaps some malice in their behavior? Eventually they all came privately to the conclusion that the others had either become hostile or else gone berserk. Either way, it did not matter much. None of them took the communications system seriously any more.
After some time A was wandering near the communication machine and noticed all of the small papers from the many communications among him and the other inhabitants of the compound laying on the ground. He didn’t recognize what they were immediately, but as he thought about what they could be, he started remembering what they represented.