The next floor was also unexpected. The air was cooler, and overall it felt less personal, but they could also feel that it was full of character. It was an arts and crafts aisle. There were sheets of paper of many different colors, piles of cardboard, some water-based paint, glitter, scissors, and more. You wouldn't make a masterpiece out of them, for sure, but for a child with a good imagination this would have been a paradise. More contrasting, though, was the backdrop. The colorful merchandise was all stocked on pure white shelves and countertops. Everything felt clean, maybe a little too clean. The only color, aside from what was on the shelves was an impersonal sky blue painted on some of the wall.
The layout of this floor was much simpler. It wasn't a single rectangular room, but it wasn't the intricate maze of the library. There were a few rooms here and there, but everything was neat and tidy and clean. There wasn't a speck of dust anywere in sight.
Jhin was still carrying the folding chair they had found on the previous floor, and with much noise and clamour. Melissa had asked him why, but all he answered was "combat", so she left it at that. From time to time she had tried to make other constructs- not other informatics ones, that she could do well, but she had tried to make constructs of what could be other elements. The problem was, she didn't know what they were, and even if she did she probably wasn't compatible.
Despite the floor being so much simpler than the one above, the couldn't find the next elevator. At first they only wandered and observed their surroundings, but after they had searched the whole floor and found nothing, Melissa had the idea that perhaps, the elevator was hidden.
In this case, she decided that they should either search for it by removing shelves and countertops, which would take very long, or they could try to search for a local who would know where it was.
They stopped moving for a bit, to listen to the noises of the floor. There where what sounded like chimes, but it came from all around them, so they didn't pay it much mind. They could also hear what seemed like squelching and squeaking, but after Melissa's encounter with the rotten pile on the first floor she refused to follow that noise.
Except... that she didn't have a choice. There was no other sound. So, resolutely, they made their way to it. What they found was, thankfully, not as bad as she imagined. It was a small puddle of what looked like, well, glue. Not a specific kind, but rather, just, glue. It had a vacant expression on its face, and seemed to be barely present.
"Hi ? Hello ? Can you hear us ?" tried Melissa. Slowly, the glue slime turned to face them. But it didn't answer. It just stared at them. "Hello ? Can you hear us ?" tried Melissa again, in a louder voice. But the slime still stared.
Melissa fell silent.
"Yes I can hear you just fine." finally answered the pile, in a slow, unbearably slow voice. "No need to repeat yourself, I told you I can hear you well." it said again, after a bit more wait.
"This isn't going to work." Jhin whispered to Melissa. And then he hit the slime full force with the folding chair. But the slime wistood the attack and turned to stare at Jhin.
Melissa crouched near the puddle and spoke slowly. "We are trying to go to the next floor. Do you know where the elevator is ?" and she waited. After some time, the slime answered "Yes, the elevator is behind you." And it slowly turned around to face the other direction.
Jhin nearly ran to check the wall behind them, and surely enough, behind the shelves, they found the metallic door of the elevator.
The ride this time was a bit more... accentuated. The elevator stopped and dropped a few times, to the fear of Melissa who didn't want to get stuck in the elevator, and of Jhin who didn't want to get stuck in the mall.
But the next floor was unexpected. It was small, and smelled of food, but it didn't try to impress them or to sell them thousands of products. And, more importantly, it made sense.