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IMPLICIT COST: An opportunity cost that does NOT involve a money payment or a market transaction. This should be contrasted with explicit cost that DOES involve a money payment or a market transaction. The common misconception among non-economists out there in the real world is that the term "cost" is synonymous with the term "payment," that is, all costs are explicit costs, to be a cost you have to give up some money. Well, I'm here to tell you that this isn't true. Cost is opportunity cost. It's the satisfaction NOT received from activities NOT pursued. It's the value of foregone production. And not all opportunity costs involve a money payment.

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by Orley M. Amos, Jr.
Professor of Economics
Oklahoma State University
Go to: Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Chapter Eighteen: Return From Leornia

Tyler found himself on hands and knees with his forehead touching a cold floor. The bright light from a midday sun was glancing off the floor and shinning in his eyes. This wasn't the green carpet in Leonardo's home. He lifted his head up, only to bump into something very hard, then dropped it back to the floor.

His mind raced with standard questions such as "Where am I?" and "What happened?" Perhaps he could get a clue from the blurred writing a few feet from his face. He tried to focus, but it remained a blur. He edged closer to compensate for his nearsightness.

'SCIWONOCE,' it seemed to say. "What does sciwonoce mean?" he asked himself.

The fuzz in his mind cleared enough that he realized that he was reading the word 'ECONOMICS' upside-down. This information only added to his confusion. Where was he? The last thing he remembered was Cali ranting about water and fruit and solving Leornian's problems.

Then he heard the professor's familiar voice, "Tyler," the voice said. "I am glad to see you. I did not know if I could get you back. Are you okay?"

Tyler raised his head more slowly this time, avoiding the desktop he had just bumped. Looking up, he saw Professor Francis standing next to his bookshelf, holding a tattered book.

"Professor!" Tyler exclaimed. "Where am I? What's happened? Where's Cali?"

"It's okay, Tyler," the professor said calmly. "You are safe. You are in my office. I have brought you out of Leornia. I was unsure if I could, but evidently you were close enough to the end of the path."

Tyler rose to his feet, then sat down on the same chair he had occupied on his initial visit to the professor's office. His books sat on the adjacent chair, untouched. Tyler shook his head and tried to adjust his glasses. But they were not there. He then became acutely aware of his physical condition and appearance. He was covered with a thin layer of caked mud, his T-shirt was torn, and his ragged jeans not only exposed his legs, but numerous small bites as well.

"I don't understand," he said, "I was standing in Leonardo's room. Cali was talking about water and Leornia's problems, now I'm here." He looked around the professor's office.

"I found it necessary to retrieve you," the professor explained. "The situation in Leornia is growing worse. I had to bring you out. I am still working on getting Cali out. But, she has been there longer. That makes it more difficult under the circumstances."

"Why did you have to bring me out?" Tyler demanded. "I think we were about to solve Leornia's problems. I think Cali had the answer."

"What do you mean Cali had the answer to Leornia's problems? What problems? What do you know about Leornia's problems?"

The professor's response caught Tyler off guard.

"You know, the shortage of instructors, the unemployed locators."

The professor made neither a sign of understanding nor a sign of surprise.

Tyler pressed on, evidently recalling more of Cali's discourse that he would have thought, "Cali figured out that the water is what gives instructors their teaching ability, and the fruit is what gives locators their power to locate learners. And for some reason there's not enough water, so there aren't enough instructors. So locator's are unemployed because the instructors aren't using them." Tyler was pleased with his recollection ability. In fact his mind seemed sharper than it had been for several days. He now realized how dull his thoughts had been while eating the fruit during his trip to Leornia.

The professor nodded. "So that is it."

"You've got to send me back," Tyler demanded, the seriousness of the situation dawning on Tyler. "I'm the key to solving this problem. One of the locators said I'm the only one who can solve Leornia's problems."

The professor gave Tyler an unexpected look of surprise, but said nothing.

"I've got to get back before the evil professor destroys Leornia," Tyler pleaded.

"Evil professor?" the professor chuckled. Then his chuckle faded to a look of grave concern. "Who is this 'evil professor?' Have you seem him."

"I think so," Tyler said, trying to recall his experience with the ghostly images. "He was short and thin, with really light blue eyes, and a white hair. A bunch of white hair."

The professor nodded, then spoke aloud to himself, "Just as I thought. Werner is behind this. I never imaged he would go this far."

"Who's Werner?" Tyler demanded on the edge of his chair.

"Who?" the professor repeated directing his attention back to Tyler, "Oh... it's not important."

"NOT IMPORTANT!" Tyler screamed as he jumped from the chair, "He's sent monsters, flying reptiles, and you name it, at me. He's scared the devil out of me, chasing me all over the place. I think I deserve to know who he is."

"You are right," the professor apologized, "It's my fault that you have become involved. I suppose it's the least I can do." The professor paused as he tried to find the appropriate words. "Werner Wilhelm is a member of the council."

"The council?" Tyler asked more calmly as sat back down.

"Yes, the second council to be exact," the professor continued. "The council controls Leornia. In fact, the council created..." The professor began to say more but stopped.

"Created what?" Tyler prodded.

The professor walked from the bookshelf to his desk. He paused before sitting down, considering at least several alternatives. He then sighed almost imperceptibly as he resigned himself to a suitable explanation.

"Sit back and relax, Tyler," the professor said as he finally sat down himself. "I have a story to tell you."

Tyler sat back as the professor instructed, but he could hardly relax. The professor placed his hands together, the fingers forming a peak, searching for the proper words.

"Leornia was created several hundred years ago by the second council of professors. The original purpose of Leornia was to provide a central point for information distribution."

Tyler gave the professor a blank expression.

The professor was obviously hesitant to reveal too much, but continued anyway.

"You see, Tyler, the council consists of others, like me, whose primary purpose is to transmit and disseminate education and information to people throughout the world. Leornia was created to help us pursue that objective."

"Wow," Tyler said softly. "You created Leornia?"

"Yes, Leornia exists only from the combined mental wills of the council. It has served us well," the professor said, smiling slightly at Tyler's impressionability. "At first, council members transmitted information directly from Leornia. That's where we lived. We used Leornia to help stimulate industrial development in the early 1700s and 1800s. But, as the world became more complex and populous, and as information increased exponentially, we found it necessary to leave Leornia and to enter the real world itself. We had the good fortunately of turning Leornia over to the mammitts."

"Mammitts?" Tyler questioned.

"Yes," the professor answered in a way he knew Tyler would immediately understand, "the little creatures with the long, pointed ears. The council discovered that mammitts had developed very specialized skills which allowed them to assume our responsibilities. We gave them the necessary information and they did the rest -- disseminating it to people around the world."

"AH!" Tyler screamed, seeing the light. "Locators and instructors!"

The professor nodded, "Yes, one group of the mammitts developed the ability to transmit information and another group developed the ability the locator students receptive to information."

"And Cali said she knows why each of them can do what they do," Tyler interrupted.

The professor silently hoped Tyler was correct, but continued his explanation. "Leornia operated effectively until recently. Information has not been transmitted as it should. Our students have not been learning. Which is where Werner Wilhelm comes in."

"The... uh... evil professor," Tyler said.

"Not quite, Tyler. Professor Wilhelm is not an evil man," Professor Francis corrected, then paused to consider those words carefully. "Werner is also a council member and is responsible for psychologically related subject matter. He joined the council some time after we had created Leornia and apparently he was never satisfied with it," the professor said with hint of restrained contempt. "He has persistently argued for an alternative method of information transmission since joining the council -- a method that I do not personally endorse. And now Leornia's recent ineffectual operation has given Professor Wilhelm additional support for his arguments."

The professor dropped his head into his hands. The he raised his head and said, "Leornia's problems have helped him convince other members of the council that we should disband Leornia."

"What do you mean 'disband Leornia'?" Tyler asked hesitantly, thinking he might already know the answer.

The professor chose his words carefully, "To abandon the concept of Leornia and implement Werner's approach."

Tyler looked anxiously at the professor, hoping he did not fully understand the professor's words.

The professor tried again, "The council, through its collective will, provides for the very existence of Leornia. Without us, there is no Leornia. If we do not want Leornia, then Leornia does not exist."

"What are you saying professor?" Tyler stood to his feet.

"I am saying," the professor began to raise his voice, more from fear than from anger, "if the other professors on the council do not want Leornia, then Leornian is no more. It will be gone."

"Well.... you can't let that happened," Tyler pleaded. "You just can't!"

"There is little that I can do alone. Although I helped create Leornia, I can not keep it together by myself. Leornia is too massive for the powers of one professor. I have recently expanded my efforts to keep it intact. I can not continue that much longer."

Tyler saw that the usually vigorous professor was pale and weak.

"We can make it work again," Tyler pleaded. "We know why it's not working right. If you send me back, we can solve the problems. I am the key."

"It may be too late," the professor said, "I was lucky just to bring you out. Leornia is breaking up rapidly as other members of the council grow disenchanted. And when Leornia goes everything in Leornia goes. I can not jeopardize your life by sending you back. I will not do it?"

"My life..." Tyler swallowed hard, realizing the full extent of the danger. Then he realized further implications from the destruction of Leornia and said, "But Cali?... and Leonardo?..."

The professor grimly nodded.

"Then you MUST send me back..." he screamed, "before it's too late. Don't you see, I'm the only hope. If you don't send me back, then Leornia IS doomed."

"But others have joined with Werner," the professor said, trying to remain calm, "I don't think I can stop the others... even for a little while."

"But I..." Tyler said hesitantly, "I can save Leornia." Then more confidently he said, "I know I can do it. I'm the one. Please professor, send me back. You must."

The professor nodded reluctantly, knowing his options were running thin. He opened his tattered old book and leafed through it quickly. "I am not sure where to send you. We never send students anywhere but the beginning of a path."

"I was at Leonardo's place, in the instructor's village," Tyler tried to help. "The others are there. Send me back there."

Anxiously, the professor flipped his the book. "I will do what I can." He flipped through a few pages, shook his head, then flipped through a few more. Finally he said, "Let me try this." He spoke words that were incomprehensible to Tyler.

As happened once before, Tyler grew dizzy and fell head first toward the floor. As he fell, the professor said, "No that's not going to work," then mumbled something else.

Tyler had a series of rapid, surreal impressions. First he saw and felt thick red foliage like that in the valley of the locators. Then he had the sensation of choking on the orange dirt of the path, like his original trip. Next he felt the hard rocks from the side of the mountain scraping against his exposed skin. And finally he was face down in the dark red of the short carpet grass. Thankfully the impressions stopped.

He remained motionless on the ground, collecting his senses. Then he raised his head slowly, seeing a dense wall of umbrella trees. It was the wall to the instructor's village. But which side? He sat up and scanned the area. The outside!

He rose to his feet. How had they entered last time? A passage under the trees. A hole in the ground. He looked around, but nothing seemed familiar. Everything was hazy and indistinct. The colors, once bright and sharply contrasting, were shades of gray, one color barely distinguishable from another. The grayish yellow of the trees tended to blend with the grayish red of the carpet grass and the grayish orange of the dirt path.

He searched frantically for the passage inside, kicking clumps of grass everywhere. But no passage. He had to find Cali, Leonardo, and the others before it was too late, before Leornia was gone. He continued searching.

Then Tyler heard the flutter of wings overhead. His suspicious companion the flying cat-faced frog swooped down and perched on his shoulder.

"Follow me," it croaked before jumping into flight.

Tyler hesitated, still wondering which side of the conflict the frog was on. Relieved to have any assistance, though, Tyler followed. The frog-cat landed on a patch of grayish red carpet grass, with Tyler a step behind, puffing hard. The frog fluttered its wings as it jumped up and down on the patch of grass.

Tyler reach for the patch of grass and the frog bounded off. He grabbed a clump and pulled. There it was -- the passage. Tyler quickly scampered through and exited on the other side of the wall. There sat the hazy magnificence of the instructor's village. The frog dropped down to perch on his shoulder.

"Why didn't YOU locate the passage?" the cat-frog asked.

"What?" Tyler was startled, still not quite to a talking frog-cat on his shoulder.

Then he considered the frog-cat's question. Why did he not get a 'feeling' about the location of the passage? Perhaps his trip to the real world had destroyed the fruit's effect. After all, the mental dullness had faded in the professor's office. If true, if he had lost his locating ability, it might spell disaster for him and Leornia.

To test this idea he concentrated on locating Cali and Leonardo.

At first he felt nothing. Then he slowly sensed their direction. If his powers had left, they were coming back. He darted off as fast as his exhausted, beat up body would take him. He burst in through the opening of Leonardo's home.

Cali and Leonardo were standing together in a near hug. Both were looking at the spot where Tyler had been standing before his departure from Leornia.

"Cali!" he called from the doorway.

Cali turned abruptly toward the opening and Tyler's voice.

"Tyler," she said. "How did you get over there. You were just over there a second ago. How did you... Oh, never mind. Did you hear what we figured out. It's the water. The water is what gives instructors their ability. Leonardo can read the symbols."

"I know." Then Tyler explained his recent trip to the real world. "Professor Francis brought me out of Leornia and back to his office. Then returned me here."

"I don't understand, Tyler," Cali said, "Why did the professor take you out, then send you back? What's going on?"

"I'm not completely sure," Tyler said, his newly dulled brain trying to recall the conversation with the professor. "But we've got trouble, Cali," Tyler said solemnly, "Big trouble. Even worse than those monsters."

"What do you mean?" Cali demanded.

"The professor said that Leornia might be destroyed," Tyler tried to recall the professor's explanation, but with the return of his locating talent, his mental acumen faded. "If the other professors pull out then Leornia is doomed. We don't have much time."

"Doomed? Other professors? What do you mean?" Cali asked, upset that a damper was placed on her discovery.

"I mean," Tyler said slowly and emphatically, "That Leornia, and everything in it will be destroyed, vanish, ceased to exist."

"Including us?" Cali asked slowly.

"Yes, everything," Tyler acknowledged.

Even though Leornado was on his way to becoming a dim-witted locator, he understood the seriousness of the situation. "What can we do?" he asked. "We've got to do something?"

"I told the professor that we had discovered why there was a shortage of instructors," Tyler continued. "He said he would try to stop the other professors from pulling out."

"We've got to hurry," Cali said anxiously, "Let's get Mark."

Tyler closed his eyes and pointed the direction. They followed Tyler as he ran and darted between structures and statues of the village, ignoring his own exhausted physical state. They stopped outside a structure much like Leonardo's.

"This is it," Tyler said, "He should be inside."

The commotion had already aroused Mark. He was on his way outside.

"What is wrong?" Mark asked, sensing that something serious was amiss.

"The water...," Cali said excitedly, "The water is the key. Where is the water?"

"Water?" he asked defensively. "Why do you need to know about our water?"

"It's the key," Cali emphasized again. "We need to know where you get your water."

"We..." he hesitated, "The water belongs to instructors. We can't..."

"Come on Mark," Tyler ordered the instructor in an unusual tone of voice. "Where is your water?"

Cali tried to calm herself down. "Tyler just spoke with Professor Francis," she explained. "He said that the professors are pulling out of Leornia, and if they do, then Leornia will be destroyed."

"What?!?!..." he exclaimed. Then Mark considered Cali's claim. "Yes, of course, that makes sense, that explains what's been happening. But, why do you need to know about our water? Plato and the ad hoc committee will look into this."

"We don't have time. Look around you. The water is the key to your problem," Cali said, "The water is the source of your ability."

"And the fruit," Tyler joined in, his memory still partially intact, "gives locators their ability."

"Oh come on," Mark said unconvinced. "The fruit and the water? That is absurd." Then he thought for a moment. "We don't eat fruit here. And I know the locators have no access to our water. No, it can not be." He paused, and surveyed the grayness of the once colorful village, "But it must. Quickly, follow me. The water is this way."

They followed Mark as he weaved his way between several structures, then entered a maze of umbrella trees. The instructor travelled the course as if he knew if very well. After a short, but exhausting scamper, they reached another wall of umbrella trees, much like the one surrounding the village.

"Our water is on the other side," Mark explained as he headed to a patch of red carpet and lifted it up, revealing a passageway. They hurried through as before. This time, they emptied into a large clearing. Resting at the base of the mountain was a large basin, several times the size of one of the locator villages.

"This is our water," Mark said, motioning to the basin.

They approached the edge and looked over. They saw only a shallow layer of purple-tinted water covering the bottom several feet below.

"This is it?" Cali asked. "This is all of it?"

"There used to be more," Mark said solemnly. "At one time we could use all that we wanted. But not now.... In the past, the basin was always full. If we used some, it would fill back up. But no longer."

"What does this mean, Cali?" Tyler asked his own thoughts at a dead end.

"There's not enough water here for what I had in mind," she paused. "I thought we could give water to several locators, changing them back into instructors, like what happened to Leonardo. With more instructors, the professors would get the teaching they want, and Leornia's problems would be solved." She laughed in frustration, sitting down hard on the orange-gray dirt. "It seemed to be a simple production possibilities problem, just liked the professor talked about in class." She sat dejectedly on a small spot of dull orange dirt.

"Production possibilities?" Tyler asked, not seeing the connection.

"Sure," she said half-heartedly, "production possibilities. All we had to do was reallocate Loernia's resources. We take some water and give it to locators to produce more instructors. It seemed simple enough in principle, but I guess the real world, or at least this world, doesn't always fit the principles."

Tyler walked slowly around the periphery of the basin. When he reached the part where the edge of the basin met the base of the mountain he stopped and bent over. He touched the red foliage covering the slope of the mountain. It felt damp.

"Mark," he called out, breaking the silence, "where does the water come from? I mean how does it get into the basin?"

Cali stood up and joined Tyler, followed by Leonardo and Mark.

Mark responded, "I'm not sure. That question has never arisen."

"Here Cali," Tyler said moving back, "feel this grass. It's wet."

Cali felt the area indicated by Tyler. Indeed it was wet. She tasted the moisture.

"This is the water," she said without question. "But where does it come from?"

"If you knew that," Leonardo asked, "would it help?"

"Yes, of course," Cali said reaching down and grabbing Leonardo by both shoulders. "You're almost a locator. Can you find the source of the water?"

Leonardo shook his head, and said, "I'm not a very good locator. And even if I was, I could only locate learners, not other things."

"But you must try," Cali insisted. "You must try."

Leonardo closed his eyes. He extended his paw and slowly turned -- until he was pointing directly at Tyler.

"I can not find the source of the water," he apologized. All I can do is locate Tyler."

"But why Tyler...?" then she slowly placed her hands to the sides of her face. "How stupid of me. Of course! Tyler!"

They turned to Tyler.

"You Tyler," Cali continued. "That's why you're the one Aristotle said was the key. Now Leonardo has also pointed to you, too. You're the one -- the one who can locate the source of the water."

"That makes a good deal of sense," Mark interjected. "Leornian locators only locate learners in, or from, the real world."

Dulled wits could not keep Tyler from realizing the significance. He had to locate the source of the water. And when he did, they would solve this problem. He was indeed the key.

He closed his eyes. He slowly pointed his finger at the mountain. "The water comes from there," he said, "the mountain."

"Inside the mountain?" Cali asked.

Tyler paused for a moment of thought. The rest waited anxiously for some sign.

"THE CAVES!" he screamed, "The mud in the caves." He held out his dirty arms for the others to inspect. "The mud I fell into must be the source of the water." Tyler closed his eyes and walked up the side of the mountain. He stopped beside an opening.

He said, "I believe this will lead us to the source of water."


Go to: Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Copyright © 1997, 2002 by Orley M. Amos, Jr. All rights reserved. Not to be quoted without permission of the author.

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