Willis and Isaac had been navigating the long, winding path of a plankified library aisle for a rather thick layer or two, following a trail brownish splotches on the floor, kind of like muddy footprints. Isaac's enormous, compound eye was trained closely on these, indicating to Willis that there was something special about them. Besides these splotches, the only other detail of note was the remarkable dissaray of the bookshelves. Granted, an individual from your own world might have been more baffled by what some of the library is actually supposed to look like to the higher conceptospheres, given there are zones in which the equivalent of a "book" might closely resemble something like a dying potted plant, an unfinished Dennys Lumberjack Slam™ breakfast or a hovering cube of water with a severed foot floating in it, but rest assured, the dissaray surrounding Willis was obvious even for a child who did not typically care for the place.

Besides their disorder, the objects on the shelves were overwhelmingly what you would in fact recognize as books, even in Willis's perception, which as we just established was not actually a good sign, in much the same way that the zones are not supposed to be made entirely out of those dusty, greyish wooden boards. Every so often the books were interrupted by things that didn't qualify as books to any perceptoid, but still as disquietingly mundane as you can expect from the planks. A baby doll skewered with two dozen kitchen knives. A Garfield™ wall clock covered in barnacles. A stack of neatly folded beach towels soaked completely through with split pea soup.

These things hadn't always been nonsense. In fact, almost every single item to tumble from our world to the outer zones had a quite remarkable story. Even an item as seemingly unremarkable as a chewed pencil or an old sock often held some deep significance to at least one grey-zoner at some point, ranging from a funny little story they liked to share at parties, like the mutilated baby doll, to some unutterable atrocity whose tortured victims will never know justice, like the soupy beach towels. It's just that, by the time these things wound up in the plank maze or The Dump or in a talking spinal column's briefcase, the story of their origin and how they wound up where they did was typically a story with no remaining survivors, or at least none still human enough to tell it ever again.

"Pffft...what a bunch of boring junk!" said Willis, boredly rolling his eyeholes at an enormous diamond-framed wedding photo with the words "LOCK THE BASEMENT!!!" scrawled across its surface with ashes.

As they continued, however, the muddy stains on the floor became a little more chaotic, wavering back and forth between shelves that were themselves caked in small patches of grime.

Eventually, the aisle widened some, and almost every inch of the floor was marred with overlapping footprints, as if whatever left them had spent some extended period of activity in the same spot. More curiously, the planked shelves were broken up by a more pristine, vibrant little bookshelf still desperately clinging to its context. Two of its shelves were even still labeled, though their vibrational signatures were terribly out of tune with their contents. For a being like Willis, these misaligned signals were kind of like finding a jigsaw puzzle with just a few pieces conspicuously crammed into the wrong gaps, or perhaps a strange little turtle flailing helplessly on its back: there was simply no way a child could stand to move on without fixing the situation.

Willis could sense that five books in total were categorized incorrectly, and at least one thing did not even belong here at all.


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