Null-Mart was particularly bright as most large stores are. The store leaned inwards from the outer-walls. Parts of the ceiling made loud creaking sounds, while bent metal made a showing of the vivid, starry sky. There was a loud humming which must've been coming from air-conditioners through the intricate ventilation system.
Peculiar creatures went flying in a dizzying array at random intervals across the open gaps in the ceiling. A few of the creatures came in the store and began flying around, each looked like a cross between a dog and bat with large wings, four eyes, and two protruding mouths; to make matters more curious the creatures had ash and black smoke trailing from their faces.
Herbert belched before speaking, "Somewhere in this store is a young woman who thinks.. she is a bird."
With arms crossed, an awkward expression came over Lacie's face, "What?"
"You need to find this person and bring her back to me if you want me to help you."
“Why?” Lacie coughed from the smoke pouring out of Herbert's mouth.
“Curiousity and guilt.”
“Oh.. okay.” Lacie replied, feeling that she was starting to annoy the rabbit too much. As the girl took her leave past Herbert she noticed a caterpillar cocoon hanging off the inside of an empty bottle of gin.
Some feet down the aisle the young lady heard the low, crackly voice of a woman, "No more glasses, camera-eyes."
The area around Lacie's eyes tingled. Feeling around her eyes it seemed as though her glasses were melting to her face. She gasped and cupped her hands over what felt like strange mechanical devices which had formed over eyes. Behind her was all fuzzy and some distance away Herbert's back seemed two-dimensional like a cardboard cutout.
The young lady was frantic, "Oh my Null! Null!? What's happening?"
A pale-blue wool suit appeared atop the aisle division as though an invisible figure was filling it. A deep voice bellowed out from the wardrobe, "I am the lead romanticist for the modern age, I have bought the dance and I have bought the grave."
The robed, long-faced gentlemen looked from across the aisle, "Young lady, are you alright?"
Lacie glanced at the robed gentlemen who had a black suit underneath, then at the vacant space where the other talking suit had been, then Herbert's back (who was now normal looking with an enormous puff of smoke emanating above him), and finally back at the robed man.
The man kindly protested, "Well maybe there's something wrong with your sight, how did you come to have microscope eyes?"
"They formed from my glasses." Lacie explained.
A nearby light flickered as the man was taken back, realizing he had further upset the girl. Tears welled up from the ends of Lacie's mechanical eyes while a drizzle of raindrops echoed across the top of the ceiling. Some rain fell through the crevices, one of which was right above the robed and suited man.
There was a distant pounding which only seemed to worry Lacie. She recognized the sound but was unsure.
From out of the right came a Japanese woman around mid-thirties in white garments. From her clothes, strips of cloth hung down fading into warm colors like some sort of exquisite mummy. She had pretty makeup, jewelry, brown eyes like Lacie's normal eyes, and well-styled hair. What was most noticeable though, was the warm smile on the lady’s face and the cart next to her full of different cheeses. Upon seeing the scene the woman spoke, "Victor, who is this lovely girl your upsetting?"
Victor's forehead was wet with rain. He went to Lacie and wiped off some of her tears as if he was a close relative, "I apologize if I upset you.”
“No its fine.” Lacie said.
“Well by now you should know my name. What is yours?" Victor replied.
The pounding got louder and the college girl replied awkwardly, "Its Lacie."
The beaming Asian woman was now next to Victor. She shook Lacie's hand making Lacie feel even more nervous, "Hi Lacie, I'm Syll."
There was some rock music Lacie could hear playing throughout Null-Mart, nothing sounding like they played on the radio back home; the music was audible underneath of the loud, nearby pounding. Syll had noticed the heavy hits against the floor, but Victor had not just yet. The robed, old man looked up at the dark creatures flying above in the ceiling gaps, his precious hoard of cheese, and then Lacie, "Syll is a lovely creature from the Something Prefecture. And I'm from-- what's that loud pounding?"
The same suit which appeared to be worn by an invisible figure had shifted next to the cart of cheese as though it was about to steal the cart. Instantly a huge, ugly statue came smashing through the end of the aisle division, crushing the pale blue suit and almost knocking over the cart. Lacie, Syll, and Victor quickly got out of the monstrous statue’s way. The suit spoke as its fabric changed into sparkling black sludge that oozed out onto the floor, with the words coming from it now inaudible.
The ends of Lacie's mechanical-eyes fell off hitting the floor with a clink. She gasped, reaching around her glasses and face to find them immediately back to normal.
Victor and Syll peered down the aisle-way. Syll pushed back excess strips of cloth dangling from her torso and checked her pockets as Victor spoke, "There goes that gargoyle again."
Lacie looked down at the microscope lenses wondering what the heck just happened, and if she should pick them up, in case they come in handy later on. Her eyes went back to Victor and Syll, "Why does he keep doing that? Wait.. He runs when people are crying, and rain comes down?"
"Gargoyles were originally designed to direct that." Syll informed.
"Oh.." Lacie jolted. "I have to get going, I'm running out of time!"
"Where do you need to go?" Victor asked, peeling off the wrapping on some cheese.
"I have to find the woman who.. thinks she's a bird." Lacie replied timidly.
Victor arched an eyebrow in curiosity, "Interesting. I've not yet had the privilege of meeting her!"
"Oh!" Lacie remembered. "Uh.. I have to tell you that someone named Odis wants your cheese..?"
"Ah.. I'll deal with him later on then.. Lets get going." Victor put the half-eaten cheese in the cart with a serious, almost grim look on his face.
A familiar smokey, voice came from behind Lacie. "That you should."
It was Herbert, "All your noise is annoying my distorted senses."
“Sorry.." Lacie's apology was barely audible as she looked down and scratched the back of her head.
Annoyed by Herbert, Victor started down the Dairy Section on the ends of the aisles. Herbert hopped back over to his familiar spot. The large rabbit's movement was quite a hilarious sight to Syll and Lacie who tried to contain themselves from laughing.
Lacie looked down at microscope lenses on the the tiled floor. It seemed like they vibrated for a second, and she heard the old woman's voice whispering to her, “No more glasses.. alchemy..”
Syll motioned, "Are you coming?"
Lacie knelt down picked up the lenses and put them in her pocket with some kind of instinctual reflex. They could come in handy. Especially in a place as strange and potentially dangerous as N'Qevna.
White, black, and purple confetti poured from dead light fixtures with mad strangers who seemed from different worlds or perceptions. In Aisle 4, a woman in dirty rags cried out for her husband in gripping distress, but all that was left in front of her was what seemed to be a rotting apple. Aisle 4 itself looked like an old library of ancient books and rotting fruit filling the shelves.. with an occasional couple of involuntarily-moving squirrel skulls and a pumpkin.
There was a white-masked individual in a bear suit with the head and mouth of the imitation animal as the hood. He or she used a lengthy, crotchety branch as a walking stick, their back and spine bent with a stupor. The person in the bear suit was atop an aisle divider full of rolled carpets. He or she was laying out the carpets one by one-- save the place where a lone clothes dresser covered in aged stickers laid on its side with a missing drawer. At the top end of this aisle divider which was being carpeted was a little girl; she was covered head to toe in a shade of light blue with a dripping watering hose, trying to get the end to unplug.
Lacie quickly ventured to Syll with Victor not far away from them. Ahead was the back of some husky man, some feet away, who seemed to be inspecting eggs to the left. And the same black-clad youth who Lacie had spotted when she entered Null-Mart was still on the top of a further aisle division, drinking at a corner. Further away, men in medieval and military outfits of great differences were locked in battle with the giant, flying bat-dogs.