Leaves go First

Roots then the trunk. The trunk then the branches. The branches then the leaves. The path of a tree is simple to follow and easy to describe. If you know which way is up.

Chapter 1: Leaves

Ginny looked at me like I was nuts. "Are you nuts?" She asked, thus confirming my suspicions and further disconnecting me from the conversation.

"You've got to realise that by now we'd be accepted! The below must of changed by now." I flipped a page of my imaginary book. "The below may change in appearance, Gin, but it will not change its policies."

This was an age old debate that was brought up due to boredom, or an urge to drive me insane. It used to, and then I stopped caring.

Oh sure, I cared at first, we all did, but once you've been in the above for as long as we have, it's hard to truly give a shit about what happens below.

"I'm not even sure they remember that we're up here." Ginny snorts. "Of course they do! They're the ones who put us up here!" I sigh, this conversation was tedious and endless, so I changed tactics. "What's wrong with up here?"

"WHAT'S WRONG?" She shouts, and the trees above us sway with the noise. "You're impossible." She mutters and walks away, much to my enjoyment.

It was a pointed and silly question to ask, yet it had served its purpose. The girl was gone and I could finally enjoy some quiet. The quiet had already driven some in the above crazy, not really crazy but they weren't quite right in the head. And silence seemed to make them angry; we call them talkers.

The above is a nice enough place, at least now it is. When we got here it was all sand and rock. Now at least the trees are hanging from above and skim our heads as we walk. Purple and green and yellow and black, it makes for a beautiful makeshift sky. Until we had the trees the above's above was simply white as far as the up went.

I put down my imaginary book and listened for the footsteps that began a moment after I began to listen for them. Footsteps are notoriously hard to hear on sand, but once you know what to listen for, and how to listen, it's simple enough.

These particular footsteps belong to Sole, as I expected. Exactly 2 full imaginary pages after one pisses off Ginny, you can expect Sole to show up; either to congratulate you or to complain that she was in a foul mood.

By the sounds of things it was the latter.

"Come on! Do you really have to do that? You know after you do she goes and bothers everyone else." I force myself not to smile.

"That's the point, so she doesn't bother me." Sole snorts, much like Ginny, and shakes his head. "Not nice." I allow myself to smile this time. "Exactly." That word effectively ends the conversation and Sole joins the growing list of those who aren't going to speak to me for about 30 imaginary pages.

And on cue he walks away, and I smile again, once more on cue. 10 pages later I notice one of the leaves has fallen into my imaginary book. And it's then I realise that I must have zoned out again. The striking purple leaf is about the size of my palm, and cold to the touch.

Such a boring colour, purple, it is far too common to be beautiful. Yet it is far from ugly. Purple, I decided, is a 'just there' colour. The revelation aside, I stood and began my book walk. Once I finish an imaginary book, I walk around the above, then I sit again and go through another imaginary book. Sometimes abover's talk to me, other books I simple sit alone. Neither one is a preference, only a reality.

My rounds this book are simple, Neither Ginny, Sole, Rolan, Stalc, or Ebb are talking to me now. That leaves only 5 others available for conversation. Rarely do I get to speak to Ginny on my rounds, it's almost a game to me. To see how many books I can go through before she will speak to me again.

It is of no matter though.

I begin my rounds and walk past the port hole, the window to the below. Fran, Stalc, Ginny and Pueter are by it today, and 2 of the 4 are ignoring me. Fran and Pueter look up and smile at me.

"Ahh, nice to see you." Fran says, a small smile on her round face. "You've put leaves in your hair again." I state, and she nods at my observation. "Yellow for this book, is it over already?" A silly question even By Fran's standards. "Of course, why else would I be making my rounds?" She laughs, a grating sound.

"Oh right, of course." She grins again and turns back to Gin and chatters away. I suspect that she has only 4 books to go before she becomes a talker. Though one could argue that she's nuts already.

"Are you at the beginning of your rounds?" Pueter asks, not looking away from the port hole. "The very beginning." I state, and he only nods absently in response.

Pueter rarely speaks to me on my rounds, so even this short question causes me to question him to see if I could get him to speak more.

"Anything new, in the below?" I ask, quietly and carefully. He shrugs, then points down. "The buildings are now only grey or black, no longer colourful." I nod in response, not wishing to further push the experiment today.

"Good book to you all." I say louder, addressing the whole group. Gin scowls and Stalc completely ignores my address. He's such an odd one.

His reasons for not speaking to me are few, yet he holds to them like a tree with no sand below it. His face is long and is accentuated by the scowl he wears when I have offended him. Which is often. Like Gin, he almost seems to seek me out in order to cause me to dislike him.

Which is impossible, he's far too bright for me to not like him. And he is far more brilliant when he is angry. And of course, I use that to my full advantage.

I continue my rounds and come across Sole, Rolan, and Ebb. All are muttering around a pile of rocks and look up sharply as I pass, none are speaking to me so I simply pass by. Rolan looks like he wishes to speak, yet Ebb shakes her head fiercely, glaring at me.

Rolan and Ebb look mostly the same, round faces and large eyes, yet they are very different. Rolan rarely gets mad, and so the fact that he is, or was, is fascinating. I must remember how I did it for the next time we speak. Either to avoid it, or to exploit it.

Ebb is almost always angry, if not at me then at someone else. Usually Ginny. Though most are mad at Ginny at least a few times a book. She is constantly watching, yet lets on nothing. I must keep an eye on this one.

"Greetings." Lise says. Her narrow eyes are bright. I nod in acknowledgment and her smile stretches her thin face. She is usually a happy person, and even can tolerate Gin. She is useful, to me only. She is open and willing to share what others do not. I do my best to keep her close to me. She is of no use to me if her loyalty is questionable.

"How are your rounds going?" Aloe asks, I smile at her. "Almost done, Aloe. How are you?" She smiles. It is best to keep her happy as well, she holds influence over most of them. "I am well." Once again I nod. The two turn away and I start to walk towards the last resident. Zar.

Looking up at the trees, I hoist myself up and climb up the branches, the truck, and then finally reach the roots. This is where Zar resides, among the multitude of coloured roots and the vast white up. I smile at him, sitting on the largest root that could easily support all the residents.

"Ah, welcome back." I only nod. When with Zar it is best to listen before speaking. "The others are getting complacent, half of them are mad at you. And the others have not changed." I stay silent, waiting for more.

"The below has indeed forgotten us. After 10,000 books we are but a tale in the mind of long dead down worlders. It is time to act or do nothing. You must choose." I sigh, and he nods at me indicating that he is finished.

"We will begin preparations, as expected. The 10,000th book is ending, and we must prepare for what we have to do."