Willis C. Tori was like any typical child. Energetic, curious, approximately two to five inches tall depending on the drawing, and made entirely of blood vessels that were shaped kind of like a little guy. He was especially most typical of all for a child inhabiting a manifestation zone in which nothing like Nintendo exists, or maybe only exists as, like, a weird guy somewhere with a Nintendo for a head, who probably just plays you like a video game while he digests your brain, or something like that, and was also probably busy somewhere anyway, which is all to say that Willis was horribly, horribly bored.

   "Ugh, I'm BORED!!!" said Willis as he floundered around on the Hospital floor, leaving perfectly Willis-shaped patches of cleanliness as dirt clung to his slimy veins. This was an activity he might have been extensively invested in if there had been something else he was supposed to be doing instead, but since there were currently only a long list of things he would outright prefer to be doing, he knew without question that his present situation was Seriously the Worst Ever.

   He had waited far too many layers for Fern to reawaken. Fern was someone else's mom who had found him alone when she intruded into his own mom's private office and then become his best friend, which was not important to unpack right now. She had also gotten her meat dead again, and her conceptual core was taking exceptionally long to put its meat back on, but this didn't worry Willis because sometimes adults just did that and they always told him everything was fine (it usually wasn't, but he was a mostly good kid who didn't press the issue).

   "Grehlg" said his other best friend, Isaac, who used to be the meat of someone who didn't need it anymore and would never be all that terribly important again, but if for some reason he was your favorite thing in this series, God help you, you might still want to see all this nonsense through to the end, honest.

   "You're right!" said Willis, who for the record has actually never known what Isaac is saying, but interprets the sounds as he pleases and just assumes with an unflinching child confidence that he literally understands the creature's speech. This time, what he imagined he heard was the suggestion to tackle some of Fern's ongoing business all by themselves. If she had been back in her meat, she might have told him to just stay out of trouble, but watching her get killed repeatedly by cute, tasty animals and sometimes littler kids than himself was making him feel increasingly like she needed his protection at least slightly more than the reverse, which was under several circumstances correct.

   "It can't be that hard to find some dumb ol' babies!"

   At this, a metallic box on the ceiling hurriedly fizzed to life. It was their friend Chip, who was made of numbers instead of meat, at least on this layer. On some layers they were the opposite things. On some they were the exact same thing. Willis was just beginning to wonder if number meat had number blood, and how it tasted, when Chip spoke in his stammering way that someone didn't have the energy to write this time, and it's not like Willis ever really noticed it.

   "Willis, as Hospital staff and the only conscious adult present, I must insist that due to unpredictable danger levels, you must remain here until Fern reconstitutes, regardless of how bored you are. I know you think you should be helpful, but it's not the best idea to do whatever you please. Us adults shouldn't have too much trouble sorting out our problems...promise."

   It would have been a good idea for Willis to pay attention to these words, but he was still thinking about number blood, and then he got to thinking about how the number 5 looked like a worm, and worm blood was gross, so maybe number blood was gross, or maybe just number 5 blood was gross, and maybe number 6 blood by being one more than a worm was a little less gross, and then he wondered how many numbers you had to count up for the REALLY good blood. In any case, what Willis HEARD Chip say to him was this:

   "Willis, as hospital staff and the only conscious adult present, I must insist that due to ------------- ------ --- ---- ------ ---- ----- ---- -------------, ---------- -- how bored you are - ---- --- ----- you should be helpful, --- it's --- the best idea to do whatever you please. Us adults -------- have too much trouble tackling our problems on our own."

"ZACTLY!" Said Willis. "Where do we start?!"

"Willis...no." Implored Chip. "Your mother would be furious."

   "She's also your boss so you can't tell me what to do :)" said Willis, pronouncing the emoticon as smugly as a child can muster.

   "Sighhh" sighed Chip. Willis was correct, he technically outranked most Hospital staff and parastaff. It didn't usually matter because there wasn't usually anything so hazardous going on. "If you truly insist, Willis, then I have in fact just now received some rather interesting data on the likely whereabouts of the missing patients, and I have calculated the safest - er, that is, the most exciting - course of action you could take to aid the Hospital as well as Fern."

   "But," he continued, "This is still an important responsibility, Willis. You're going to have to take this seriously. If you encounter any unexpected threats, Fern will need you to make a tactical retreat and report your findings to me immediately. Can you do that for us, Willis?"

   Willis nodded with great enthusiasm and beamed with visible confidence in a very mature fashion, which was enough to reassure the worried adult, even though Willis hadn't actually listened to anything he just said, but had only just concluded that blood would begin to taste its most delicious at the number 19. This was correct.

"Alright" said Chip, "I know we can trust you to hurry back if ANYTHING happens."

   And so began a humble misadventure that wouldn't quite be anything like what Fern gets up to, but would still advance the "A" plot and feature some degree of audience participation, maybe even battle scenes, without taking nearly as much real world time as her attempt to fix one computer, or her attempt to retrieve one identification card, or her attempt to figure out one password. Good lord, Fern, you could seriously use a running narrator to help move things along. It's really too bad that would suck all the sodium out of your body and replace it with pure chlorine. Grey zoners miss out on all the best stuff that way. Where were we? Oh, that's right!

And so began...


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