These penalty universes are 4 dimensional constructions created in their own space and time. They have a fixed time track. You actually go through the experience when you are put through one.
Each penalty universe has a single goal. The entire universe is designed to abberate this goal by causing it to decay down through about 10,000 or so items. After this, you have something about which you have problems in survival and so it becomes a dynamic through which you survive instead of just being something you can do or not do at will.
There will also be a terminal, which is the thing that you are being throughout the experience. Lets say that the goal was "to Wash" (this is not a real one but they are like this), then the terminal could be a "Housekeeper". Note that it is not a "washer" or "one who washes". The original choice of terminal seems to have been a simple arbitrary. But of course, it is now recognized as something which seems very natural to be doing the goal.
There are items throughout the experience. They are thought ridges that you receive as you go through it. Most of them contain the goal and have the structure "TO (goal) IS TO (...)". For example, TO WASH IS TO BE CHEERFUL. However, at basic, the charge is not on the item but on the experience. The item only tells you what to think about it. These items were restimulated by repeated runs through the universe and by later electronic implants which only contained the items. As a result, the items can have significant charge, but the earliest charge is on the experience that happens along with the item.
These are not in a GPM flip flop pattern with terminal and opterm and alternation of two sides. They are in a simple downward progression of the goal gradually becoming more and more abberated. The general pattern of the progression is the tone scale from plus 40 to minus 40. All the tone levels, scales, and buttons you have heard in Scientology are items in this thing.
This is the source of the tone scale. It is an arbitrary that everyone follows like clockwork. For example, there are items like TO WASH IS TO BE ANGRY etc. at their proper place in the sequence. The experience on this one might be that someone throws a tomato at the window you just washed and you get angry. There are also somatic items such as "TO WASH IS TO HAVE A PAIN IN THE FOOT". The experience on this might be dropping a bucket of water on you foot. However, the somatic items often repeat so that the same item might occur again later as a mouse bites your foot.
There is no specific opterm or op-goal. Instead, the entire universe eventually works against you. There are competitors and opponents who give you lots of trouble. There might be cleaning women who go a better job and so take away your work, there might be tax collectors who interfere with your work, and there might be kids with spay cans who make life intolerable by making the windows unwashable. Eventually perhaps the city passes an ordinance against washing and the police chase and capture you and execute you.
Up at the top of each of these penalty universes, the items and the experience are just wonderful. All of the top scale buttons will be there and the aesthetic and aliveness in the experience are incredible. Its so good that it really draws you in. There is nothing in this universe that can compare with the tops of these penalty universes. We were very powerful and high on the scale when we created these and it's far beyond our current capabilities.
When you run one of these, you have to spot that wonderful aesthetic at the top. But don't get suckered by it. It's the bait in the trap. It leads you down to death and worse. This is described in 8-80. Now we have the actual incidents that did this. Originally, it was only these wonderful aesthetics that caused you to keep mocking up the incident.
You can plot the whole thing against the tone scale. It's an exact map of the incident. Late in the incident, you're at the bottom of the scale and in horrible shape and getting hit with items that set up all the really abberated behavior. Eventually you're captured and dragged before some god (usually one or another kind of statue) who zaps you and divides you against yourself for your crimes. Then you're let go but you age and die fairly rapidly.
Unfortunately, death is not the end of the implant. Once you're buried (or put in a mausoleum or whatever), there will be something that keeps your spirit in the grave. Often it is a cross. Or the people will chant or something over the grave to keep you in it. You strain to get out and find that you can't. Then there are loads more items laying in bottom scale things (such as the bottom of the chart of attitudes). Next, some sort of devils will come to drag your spirit out of the grave. At this point, you start struggling (as the spirit of the housekeeper or whatever) to stay in the grave. But they drag you out anyway and throw you in volcano where your "spirit" is tortured further.
The final item is "Stay There" and you are supposed to stay in there forever. Of course whoever's blanketing you pulls off at this point and eventually you cognite and exteriorize out of the implant universe.
When I stumbled across these, I started by just trying to run items out of one of these. I quickly found that I had to run the description as well as the item. Each item I pulled off revealed more. They were scattered all throughout the implant. By metering, I managed to keep the items in order. They came off in some sort of random associated fashion. It was not possible to simply list each item in sequence. Finally I was putting them on index cards and trying to keep the cards in order, locating the right position for each new item found. Soon I had thousands of items for one specific goal and no end in sight. They ran from plus 40 down to minus 40 on the tone scale and included the most incredible array of material. Everything from showing you that a solution will become a new problem to laying in the mechanics of energy behavior.
It was starting to seem like an impossible task. The items had loads of charge and had me jumping out of my skin handling them. The TA would sometimes fly up and down by a couple of divisions as an item went into restim and then was spotted. Once the TA even went completely around the dial on a single item. It was hair raising.
Then I found the earlier beginning to the incident. It made everything easy.