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The Abandoned Former Habitation on the Mountain Plateau

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<< The Weird Tree Period The Abandoned Former Habitation on the Mountain Plateau The Attack >>

The Abandoned Former Habitation on the Mountain Plateau is one of the periods of the xkcd comic Time .  It began at frame 2179 and ended just before The Attack, at frame 2225 .

The period is marked by Cueball and Megan coming over a hill and discovering a small building and a fence built on a plateau.  The two examine the area and discover that it appears to have been abandoned.  They find a small pail and shovel, and postulate that whoever lived in the habitation may also have enjoyed building castles, a reference to The Sandcastle.

Some of the pixels of raptorcat movement in the bushes near the end of the period were later deemed mustard by Randall and removed retroactively.


As part of their continuing journey towards the top of the mountain, Cueball and Megan move past the weird tree, atop the plateau they'd reached in the previous period. They see very clear signs of human habitation, the first since the abandoned habitation adjacent to the vineyard, whereat they first decided to ascend the mountains. In the first scene piece there is an apparent cairn, some wood, and a box-like object. After taking a few steps foward to a small raised ledge where the objects are first visible, Megan points and says
Xkcd time 20130619 0100

First noticing the cairn, and possibly the other signs of habitation beyond it.

"Oh!" It is not immediately clear if she is pointing at the cairn or something beyond it off-frame. No additional comments are made about the cairn, and they continue forward to the next scene piece. Right after they leave the scene, the edge of some other moving object appears at the left edge of the frame in frame 2188. The scene changes before it can fully emerge, and its definite implication of Cueball and Megan being followed by something mysterious and unseen lends a deep sense of foreboding and anticipation to the scene. It is generally believed this was a foreshadowing early appearance of the "raptorcat" that would attack Cuegan in the next period.

In the next scene piece, they see a box next to a tree and the beginning of a fence, starting halfway through the frame and conintuing off the right side. They pass through without comment. Finally, they come to the startling third scene piece of the period, beginning with the terminus of the fence, a yard area with various objects, and a seemingly intact rectanglar building with a large window and a small out structure to the immediate right on the very edge of the frame. This is by far the largest man-made structure encountered by Cuegan on their journey, surpassed perhaps only by their own sandcastle.

They approach the building, and Megan calls into it. Hearing no response, so goes inside. Cueball initially stays outside, but calls in to ask if she sees anything. She responds, "Just some old furniture. Shelves. A broken bowl." Cueball enters as well, his head seen through the window. He looks around a bit, then leaves first, approaching the items in the yard. He picks up a small shovel as she leaves the building. He then picks up and inspects a small bucket. Just as he's setting it down, she steps up on th
Xkcd time 20130620 2000

The abrupt ending to the Habitation on Mountain Plateau Period

e small out structure and says "Oh hey--There's a stream back here. And it almost looks like there's something on top of the mountain." Cueball responds, "Hmm... Could be." She jumps down and joins him. They inspect a small sand pit of sorts and Cueball says, "I think whoever lived here liked building castles, too." Megan kneels down and, much like the beginning of the Comic, begins making a small castle in the sand. Cueball reaches into his bag, removes a small flag and places it on top of the castle. Megan says, "Oh! You brought a flag?" Cueball begins to respond, "Yeah, I--" but is cut short when he notices something behind Megan. This period, like Cueball's sentence, is abruptly cut short by a violent turn of events.


The cairn was the first point of discussion during this period. Many worldwide purposes of cairns in various cultures were discussed, such as property indicators, warning signs, grave markers, and monuments. There was general frustration that Cueball and Megan did not comment on it to give us any insight as to what this particular cairn might be for. Some actually doubted if it was in fact a cairn at all, some even suggesting that it might be a small evergreen tree, but most were agreed that it looked quite definitively like a rock pile. The next mystery never fully explained was the box in the second set piece, which many postulated to be some sort of basket.


Example of wood-slat construction potentially resembling that shown of the empty building Cuegan find in this period.

The largest topic of discussion during the period was the building they found, especially the nature of its construction and the window to the inside, including the four notches that seemed to suggest hinges to now-missing doors. Several commenters on the One True Thread proposed various ideas for the nature of the building's construction. It was first suggested by ChronosDragon that the appearance of the building seemed to suggest intentionally loose bricks for the purpose of air ventilation, a custom common to various tribes in Africa, thus aiding the proponents of the Africa and Madagascar Theories. BlueCrab suggested a wide range of possible building techniques and locales, including the included picture here of wooden slat construction. Other theories included loose fitting stone or adobe structures, while others saw the small cracks or spaces as merely a stylistic way of portraying a nonetheless solid stone or brick structure.

Much speculation was spent on the shape of the window frame, with the four "bumps" that perhaps represented hinges to now missing window shutter doors. It was also wondered at first if there was another open window on the opposite wall, or perhaps that the wall was missing altogether, since the window rectangle was white, looking at first as if it showed all the way through to the sky. Others speculated that either the walls inside were white, or else it was simply shown white to make it evident that a window was there, and thus aid in identifying the structure as a small house or shed. The missing wall hypothesis seems unlikely since Megan had to actually still enter the building to look around and see what was inside (since Cueball couldn't see without asking her), which wouldn't likely have been necessary if there were walls missing.

The presence of sand castle building materials led some to speculate if this was once the home of LaPetite who seemed to be fascinated by sand castles. If so, it apparently doesn't seem to be her most recent dwelling, suggesting that perhaps her people emigrated to the lower elevations near the small river or perhaps the hills.

Molpy Sightings and MustardEdit

  • There is a small ground molpy seen in the first scene piece in the shrub they first encounter when entering the scene.
  • Most significant molpy sighting during this period was the appearance of the foreboding follower at the left edge of the second scene piece, followed by the major rustling in the bushes in the third piece, from which the raptorcat would emerge, interrupting this period to begin The Attack. The former appearance of the follower is now almost universally accepted as being the nose of the raptorcat.
    • Some of the rustling pixels were removed retroactively, apparently deemed mustard by Randall, in frame 2223 and 2224 (click links to see difference comparisons).

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