Nobad the..."dog?" That's the right spelling in your letters? Okay, not what I'd have called them, but Nobad the dOg was failing utterly to actually listen to anything you were trying to communicate. Fortunately, it wasn't necessary that he truly understand you. Just as Fern, Isaac, and at one point the Jay Man had often gleaned the overall "gist" of what you thought they should do, a generalized subconscious new directive began to congeal out of the stinking muck that was Nobad's rotten little brain, which he more or less understood as:


  ...She was here! His wonderful and loving mother-creature! The one who did not have a name he had ever bothered to learn but had gifted him so very many names of his own! The flawless god-figure with a voice like an angelic choir and a fragrance like a candy store to the sensibilities of this squawking, hairy glob that eats garbage. The dog-glob had, incidentally, already technically detected her presence throughout the library, but he had sort of immediately forgotten it every single time he noticed there was something potentially fun to destroy. Not to mention, of course, that a nodule of the Old Flesh itself had previously been feeding the little creature direct orders to wreak havoc that even the beloved Mother-human would never have permitted him.

   To Nobad, the entity we know as the Old Flesh had been sort of like a cool grandmother who lets you stay up late gorging on sugars, or moistening snoodleflumes or whatever your given progenitors typically forbid. But for all intents and purposes, grandma had fallen asleep, and you were now filling that void of authority with a soft, subtle chatter of logic, reason and conscience like the rats in grandmother's walls. There may have been a bit of delay in the thing's cognition, but at last, Nobad ceased to run in circles and scampered off in search of his mom.

  This decision fortunately came just quickly enough for the creature to evade the toppling corpse of what represented the Betamax format. Rest In Peace, sweet had steadily evolved into the Grey's most efficient and affordable media storage technology and revolutionized their ability to reliably archive information, but now, they would remember you only as the first casualty of the Video Home System or "VHS," which would go on to stagnate the market and scarcely ever improve itself. Let's just hope that if anything does slay the foul VHS over the next few layers, it won't be that wretched Digital Video Disk. That would sure set your civilization back a bit.

  The beautiful carcass of Betamax slowly sank to the library's most stygian metaphysical depths of relevancy, to be picked apart for uncountable layers by the crude, ancient prototypical letters and numbers that constitute the library's equivalent to microbial decomposers. Alas, this poetic natural process was lost on Nobad as he locked on to that distant, wafting scent of cigarette breath.

  It was not long into his newfound quest, however, that he caught wiff of something else now familiar to him, and his flimsy cognitive processes were jerked once more in an entirely new direction. It was faint, and it was slightly different, but Nobad was sure of what he had just smelled.

"Grandma" was still here.


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