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The 71st state is Sequoia. Its capital is Yggdrasil. Its nickname is the Wildfire State. It is a state of pillarous woods and infinite canopy. No sun dapples the ground within its borders. The redwoods have no top here, and their countless branches block out the light. It takes many hours to walk around even one of their great trunks, warped and melting with age. The dark air is smoky with cedar and pollen. There is no birdsong, for if there are birds, they would be many countless miles above you. There is only the quiet wind as it runs fingers through the pines.
there is fire, and then there will be light. You will see it coming from very far away, but it will still overtake you. It will be red and glowing, but blinding to you after so long in the dark. It will rise tall, and consume the fallen branches, the pine needles, the brittle undergrowth. It will not burn the trees. It is not capable, and the trees have grown so tall they are now beyond the reach of death.
Here is how to enter Sequoia. Travel deep into the redwoods. Find the tallest, oldest tree. Stare at the top. Your mind will strain from perspective, the impossibility of something being so tall, so high above and yet simultaneously right at your feet. This is how you will know you have found it. Scrape sap and needles from the floor of the wood, and make them into a poultice with which you will cover your eyes. Bind this to your head with long strips of cedar bark. Lie down at the base of the tree, and do not move for a day and a night. Keep your breathing shallow. You may be bitten by insects. You may hear animals approach you. You may hear their subaudible growls, and feel their breath upon your face. You may feel them nip at your ears. You must not move. They will not harm you unless you move. You must remain perfectly still. Only when a day and a night has passed, and you hear nothing, only then may you remove the sticky mat from your eyes. By then you will have arrived.
Here is how to exit Sequoia. When you see the light of wildfires in the distance, you must run. You must find a tree that has become hollowed by age, still living, but with burn marks on its hide. You must squeeze yourself inside this hollow, curling yourself up as tightly as you can manage, and quickly seal the entrance up with earth. You will hear the fire approaching, and you will feel the temperature within the space rise. You will feel the clammy moisture of rot become humid. You will feel small many-legged creatures moving over your skin in order to escape the heat, moving deeper into the tree through small cracks you cannot travel. You will feel the fire crackling and lashing outside your makeshift shelter, trying to get in. It will do this for a long time. Do not panic, as this will waste what little oxygen you have. Eventually, it will give up, but you must not leave yet. The ash will retain heat for many days, as will the moisture in the earth and the rotten wood around you. Only once it is cool again on your skin should you unbury yourself. You will be dirty, light-headed due to lack of air, and most likely severely burned. Seeking medical attention as quickly as possible is advised.
The National Exogeographic Service has given Sequoia an “Orange” danger rating. Tourism is not advised at this time.
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