Chapter One: Living Daylight

To sleep perchance to dream – no chance. Not here. Not now.

- Is she -

- Have they got her or have they got into her?

- What are we going to do?

- It's inadvisable to comment -

- What's she quoting from?

- Sorry?

- I said what's she quoting from?

- Oh, Hamlet.

- What are we going to do?

- It's inadvisable to comment on what goes on in this house.

- Is that a quote from something?

- Tender is the Night.

- Well, stop it. It's giving me shivers to hear it. I don't want to think of them getting you. Or getting into you or whatever it is.

- It's nothing. I really can't say a word.

- I said stop it! This isn't like you – this is no time to be messing about!

- It's inadvisable -

- Have they got you?

- - to comment -

- To sleep -

- Sit down! Get back!

- to comment -

- Palatino - Nauporta -

- Nauporta has murdered sleep.

­- If she can put her name in there – she must still be -

- to comment perchance to sleep to be inadvisably dreaming

- - and scrambling it, is that good or bad? Listen – it's me, can you hear me at all?

Can you hear me? Wake up – it's me – it's – I can't add any more lies or stories to this; I can't risk it – so it's Glauca. I know you don't know that name but you do know me. If you're in there – behind all the words and ideas and stories – then please keep trying. I'm going to find the part of you that's embedded in the dreamline, if I can. I don't know what I'm doing. But I'm going to try. You have to keep trying too. I don't know if you can hear me – but I am here. I know it's not safe to make promises and that they're more stories yet, so I won't promise to get you out, and I'll try not to promise even to try. Safest only to talk about things which are concrete, and nothing is, but the safest thing I can say is just that I am here.

Chapter Two: Olive Green Hair

Amanda met Chris at an office party when she was twenty one. When Amanda was twenty one, that is – she had no idea how old Chris was, and from the day Amanda met her she never seemed to age at all. At the same party, she met Sophia, who was nineteen at the time and had been working at the institute for only a month.

The party was for all those working at the Lowfire Institute, not just the lower levels. It was therefore held on one of the highest floors, where Amanda hadn't been needed since she'd started work there a year ago. It was spacious here, and light and airy, and she let the cool wind from the open windows soften and sting her face in turn as it circulated. She knew that she was pale, and that her eyes were tired from weeks of working by gas lamp and candlelight, but she was still elated. Despite living and working in darkness, and being isolated from her colleagues on the upper floors (who, despite the fact that there was no angle from which their studies could be considered normal, regarded the lower levels as just a bit too weird) the job was everything she could have hoped for. And who knew – if she worked hard – promotion wasn't impossible – promotion to a job so important that no one would even tell her what it was.

In fact it mildly irritated her that she had to work in the darkness. They weren't in the Shadow Halls, but on the level above them, and she was sure that it was actually unnecessary for them to be down here. For Death Scholars and scryers into other universes and Darkness Calibrators and whatever other strange people worked down there, the darkness, the moist ceilings, the caverns gaping wide below the clean institute halls, were all necessary for one reason or another for their work to function. But Amanda was assistant to – alright, so she didn't know precisely what he did, but it was all about words and stories – which surely, surely, functioned and could be read, if anything, better in the light?

Still, she wasn't complaining. A bit of darkness was worth the job, which paid well and never stopped twisting and surprising and being exciting.