Zengler was an odd fish; Angler in the Typing Pools; liked to call books Reality Tablets. He thought of writers as con-artists – especially Immaculate Authors, who he called perpetrators of the longest con. Who was their mark? Anyone who picked up the book and believed it, or anyone whose name was scratched upon the sullied surface of its pages.
He went rogue back when his unit hit a narrative snag and a few of them were irreparably damaged by a narrative unspool. If he had had decent intelligence he might have avoided the trap, and if he had had decent back-up he might have avoided losing two operatives to existential shrapnel.
He had been tracing back lines from bookbuyers, through various brokerage firms, to hunt out suppliers … it was a slow process. Books weren’t things that got sold quickly – people invested themselves in the reading as much as they did in any kind of fiscal sense.
It was weird to him that the first time he found someone in possession of one of the Genesis Libraries and had to kill them in order to take possession, it was the fact that they loved books that made the whole thing hard. Most people that killers have to kill show a signal lack of imagination, and in fact have usually become some fluid in the art of murder that they are little more than retaliatory machines. Killing those kinds of automatons was easy.
The man sat before him was a little different.
‘You have not found someone like me in possession of these books, Mr Zengler. Immaculate Authors, Immoveable Editors, but what about Eternal Librarians?’
‘Really? Christ, every time I think I have penetrated as many layers deep s the whole thing goes, someone comes along and tells me that there are places I haven’t penetrated yet.’
‘If there were no mysteries then there would be no point in carrying on the journey. Do you think I ever know where the journey ends? I do not know how many books there are, nor how many I might recover. I keep looking.’
‘How are you finding your books?’
‘I only tell you this because I am confident that even if you are so disposed, you cannot kill me. There is a man, or a thing in the shape of a man, called Martello.’
‘The mapmaker? Friend of Coran Andress?’
‘Something like that.’
‘Oh, by the way, I don’t have to kill you – I thought you’d know that. A causal destablisation bomb – you drank it yesterday in that drink your barista sold you. Goodbye, sir, thank you for your book collection.’
Zengler smiled – all these stuffed shirts and there abilities, and their beliefs in what could and couldn’t be done to them. They were reading the wrong books.