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So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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Zanzibar's Reading Room

Part II: Three-piece-lawsuit
by: Zanzibar

She crouched down further behind the barrels. What was she going to do now? Would invisible people notice if she came walking out, visible? That is... could they see one another? She had no idea how such things worked. It was certainly something they had failed to cover in her science class, along with everything else that seemed helpful for the real world.

There was only one way to find out. After all, nothing could be as strange as the place she had just come from, and these people seemed friendly enough. All she had to do was reach the edge of town- and then... then?

She squeezed out from behind the barrels and walked boldly into the crowd, her feet sinking into the shimmering golden sand that seemed to coat everything. Some of the invisible people seemed to turn towards her as she walked, but nobody moved to intercept her and nobody cried out at her.
Which way out of town? She decided to ask someone. Was everyone looking at her? No, just a few here and there, she thought. But she couldn't see their eyes, anyway, so how could you tell?
She should ask someone who looked like they knew where things were... someone who didn't look too busy, either. It was so difficult when you could not even see whether their face was kindly or their eyes focused on some important task. This was much more difficult than asking things of normal strangers, which in her opinion was already scary enough.

Tentatively she approached what looked like a large, floating dress wearing a fancy hat and carrying a parasol next to a finely tailored three-piece suit with a smart-looking walking stick.
"Excuse me very much," she said in her most polite voice, the one she always used with her father's important University guests, "Can you tell me which way it is to the edge of town, if you please?"

The large hat turned down at her. "My goodness," it said, or rather, the lady beneath the hat said, addressing the front of her jumper, "what an ostentatious accessory you have, young lady."
She looked down at her clothes. She was wearing a simple red jumper with a white undershirt, black socks, patent leather shoes and the red scarf her grandmother had knitted for her. That didn't seem very ostentatious at all.
She bowed apologetically. "I'm very sorry, ma'am." It seemed very frightening to stare at the blank space where the woman's face should be. One could not even guage her expression!
The hat jerked back suddenly. "Oh, my, I quite forgot that they talk! It's been so long since I've journeyed to any country where that is the style!" There was a fit of laughing, which seemed to contain more than one ladies' voice.
She looked around, startled, to see where the other voices had come from, but the other people in the marketplace seemed abnormally quiet and still.
"Why does it stare into empty space?" asked a different voice from the direction of the invisible woman, seeming to address again the front of her jumper instead of her face. "I've never heard good things about them," said a muffled female voice. "Just between you an me, I think they're a little tacky."

She stared wide-eyed at the dress, unsure of what to say. What did they mean when they said "it". What was staring into empty space?
"Why won't you answer me?" said the second voice, speaking from the vicinity of the dress. A velvet-glove emerged from the dress's sleeve and plucked at her jumper. "Hello!?!" said a fourth voice from the glove itself.

The glove flew back into the sleeve as if it had been burnt.
"Why.... I think it's DEAD!" it cried.

For a moment there was a pause, like a great taking in of breath as everyone in the marketplace drew back from her a single step. Then chaos was unleashed. Before she could even protest the hat gave a loud scream and fell to the ground in a crumpled heap. The dress leaned heavily against the three-piece-suit, dropping the parasol and leaving both velvet gloves hanging momentarily in the air. The muffled voice from within the dress began screaming in loud sharp bursts- and would not stop screaming. The three-piece-suit made a lunge towards her, but it could not make a proper move as it was burdened by the weight of the fancy dress and in many different pitches of men's voices it was trying to soothe the screaming voice from the interior of the dress.
Suddenly she was struck from behind by something hard and small. A radish! The urchins and the shop keeper had both turned from their argument and were throwing radishes at her! Without thinking, she started to run, blindly dashing away from the advancing mass of clothing and into any open space.
"MURDERER!" someone shouted, "It must have killed them!!"
She looked up too late to avoid running into a knot of customers emerging en masse from a nearby stall. They grabbed her fiercely with their sleeve cuffs and pant cuffs and anything they could muster and threw her to the sandy ground. She wrestled against them-- their strangeness, their many voices, their lack of faces- their lack of hands, their lack of anything human besides clothes! Clothes!! Sand was filling up her shoes and getting in her ears and eyes. A large amount went spilling down the back of her neck.
Then there was a shout, a shout which emanated from her but at the same time certainly did not emanate from her at all.
"Get away! Get away! You hear! She didn't kill us! You hear! We're very much alive!"
The jackets and workshirts that she had been tussling with got to their feet, shrugging their headless shoulders and turning to one another. She was pulled up by her jumper... quite literally pulled up by it as she was certainly untouched by anything else.
"I am quite sorry." said the voice, coming decidedly from her jumper itself, which was now dirty beyond belief. "I believe you thought that we were dead. We are not. Thank-you for your concern, but my goodness, what a reaction! We had employed this human to ferry us through this country so that we could rest ourselves from our long travel. I am sorry, I am a foreigner and not used to the customs here. I did not realize that our human would find trouble. I understand that you are not used to seeing humans here."

The crowd rustled amongst itself in its strange, thatchy voices. Some apologies were mumbled, and they began self-consciously brushing themselves off.
The three-piece-suit finally came foward. He was cradling the lady's hat in the crook of his sleeve. "Please, young lady, let me apologize," he said, addressing her jumper, "we have heard stories about human beings wearing about suits of lifeless clothing... you can imagine how horrifying that would be... I am so sorry for our error. Please know that we welcome foreigners in our peaceful land, and I hope you do not judge it by our hasty actions."

She curtsied involuntarily and gave an awkward bow.
"Of course no offense has been meant, and none shall be taken," replied her jumper generously. "If you will kindly point us to the way out of the city, all will be forgiven."

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