It had been an exhausting night for Ishmael. Playing solo was always harder in Avalon but the rewards were greater. He was now a Level 12 bishop and had been approached to beta test the new sur-REAL level that the nine sisters were hard at work developing. Here the challenge was to keep the mind focused and flag the bugs in the system while beating the system, if it was beatable. The sisters had already lost several beta-testers - well, they were still in the game but lost to various degrees of autism and dyspraxia. Those who had hacked their characters to find the problem called it Dali-enation; lost to a virtual LSD trip on infinite loop.

Ishmael could see why they had coined the term. He had awoken in a fruit salad bar called the Copacabanana to the strains of Barry Manilow and fallen through the front door into a large jelly lightly garnished with limited edition skips shaped like the noses of the famous. Double-glancing, he had already recognized the wonky conks of Steve Bruce, Stephen Fry and Gerard Depardieu on the dessert before he had the sense to avoid the NPCs coming forward to investigate the commotion. "I'm fine", he said and as one, they doffed their crown green bowler hats and moved on.

The DJ in the Copacabanana had started playing Spice Girls and Britney now on his self-proclaimed giant wheels of cheese. Ishmael quickly concluded he had found a major bug. Britney and not Pink Floyd? Manilow and not Yes? The sur-REAL level was playing the wrong music. It was too up and poppy for this tripped-up land. It needed to be more into tune with the landscape less garish neon, more amorphous unity. The iPod he had brought with him into the game was still in his pocket and loaded with Wish You Were Here amongst others. He stuck his headphones in the DJs ears and wrote lead weight on his AAA pass. Sure enough, the mic man stopped to listen and his wheels of cheese changed into cartwheeling cats called Quentin.

There was an exit sign on the wall behind the bar. Ishmael tore a pencil from the now actually lead weight that was the DJs pass and added the word Level to the sign. I'm getting the hang of this place, he thought as he opened the door and stepped through to give the sisters his feedback.