And at one point the Azala began to collect, to catalog, to organize. Nothing that anyone would miss, for as near as can be ascertained the Azala only scavenged from refuse piles and debris fields.

It’s speculated that manufactured items appeal to the Azala more than natural ones, though why this might be so is unknown. Just as the Azala has never been observed, it has never been communicated with. Indeed, it may be that communication is impossible.

But it is clear that the items are collected, because they can be seen on display in what can only be described as the Azala’s home, a glen that can only be entered when the sun is at the right height on a fourth Tuesday. Sometimes it is an island and others it is seamlessly part of a surrounding landscape.

Trees fill it, but not the trees that exist in normal or ordered space-time. Rather they bear boughs of old and broken human invention: cameras, tape recorders, VHS tapes, hubcaps, wastebaskets. Serial number checks have confirmed that the items are of human origin, and their broken lenses or cracked cases indicate their cast-off origins.

But just as no one has been able to explain so much about the Azala, none can say how the trees’ branches become fused to the inorganic detritus.

Nor can anyone offer more than speculation about why every piece of human writing save numbers is mercilessly scratched out.

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