'Ay think', said Mrs Whitlow, 'that it should be put haway somewhere out of 'arm's way, if it's hall the hsame to you.'
'Yes, yes, yes, of course,' said the Bursar hurriedly. Staff were hard to keep at Unseen University.
'Get rid of it,' said the Archchancellor.
The Bursar was horrified. 'Oh, no, sir,' he said. 'We never throw things out. Besides, it is probably quite valuable.'
'Hmm,' said Ridcully. 'Valuable?'
'Possibly an important historical artifact, Master.'
'Shove it in my study, then. I said the place needs bright'nin' up. It'll be one of them conversation pieces, right? Got to go now. Got to see a man about trainin' a gryphon. Good day, ladies-'
'Er, Archchancellor, I wonder if you could just sign-' the Bursar began, but to a closing door.
No-one asked Ksandra which of the pottery elephants had spat the ball, and the direction wouldn't have meant anything to them anyway.
That afternoon a couple of porters moved the universe's only working resograph into the Archchancellor's study.
No-one had found a way to add sound to moving pictures, but there was a sound that was particularly associated with Holy Wood. It was the sound of nails being hammered.
Holy Wood had gone critical. New houses, new streets, new neighbourhoods, appeared overnight. And, in those areas where the hastily-educated alchemical apprentices were not yet fully alongside the trickier stages of making octo-cellulose, disappeared even faster. Not that it made a lot of difference. Barely would the smoke have cleared before someone was hammering again.
And Holy Wood grew by fission. All you needed was a steadyhanded, non-smoking lad who could read alchemical signs, a handleman, a sackful of demons and lots of sunshine. Oh, and some people. But there were plenty of those. If you couldn't breed demons or mix chemicals or turn a handle rhythmically, you could always hold horses or wait on tables and look interesting while you hoped. Or, if all else failed, hammer nails. Building after rickety building skirted the ancient hill, their thin planks already curling and bleaching in the pitiless sun, but there was already a pressing need for more.
Because Holy Wood was calling. More people arrived every day. They didn't come to be ostlers, or tavern wenches, or short-order carpenters. They came to make movies.
And they didn't know why.
As Cut-me-own-Throat Dibbler knew in his heart, wherever two or more people are gathered together, someone will be trying to sell them a suspicious sausage in a bun.
Now that Dibbler was in fact engaged elsewhere, others had arisen to fulfil that function.
One such was Nodar Borgle the Klatchian, whose huge echoing shed wasn't so much a restaurant as a feeding factory. Great steaming tureens occupied one end. The rest of it was tables, and around the tables were -
Victor was astonished.
- there were trolls, humans and dwarfs. And a few gnomes. And perhaps even a few elves, the most elusive of Discworld races. And lots of other things, which Victor had to hope were trolls dressed up, because if they weren't, everyone was going to be in a lot of trouble. And they were all eating, and the amazing thing was that they were not eating one another.
'You take a plate and you queue up and then you pay for it,' said Ginger. 'It's called self-serf.'
'You pay for it before you eat it? What happens if it's dreadful?'
Ginger nodded grimly. 'That's why.'
Victor shrugged, and leaned down to the dwarf behind the lunch counter. 'I'd like-'
'It's stoo,' said the dwarf.
'What kind of stew?'
'There ain't more'n one kind. That's why it's stoo,' the dwarf snapped. 'Stop's stoo.'
'What I meant was, what's in it?' said Victor.
'If you need to ask, you're -not hungry enough,' said Ginger. 'Two stews, Fruntkin.'
Victor stared at the grey-brown stuff that was dribbled on to his plate. Strange lumps, carried to the surface by mysterious convection currents, bobbed for a moment, and then sank back down, hopefully forever.
Borgle belonged to the Dibbler school of cuisine.
'It's stoo or puffin, boy.' The cook leered. 'Half a dollar. Cheap at half the price.'
Victor handed over the money with reluctance, and looked around for Ginger.
'Over here,' said Ginger, sitting down at one of the long tables. 'Hi, Thunderfoot. Hi, Breccia, how's it goin'? This is Vic. New boy. Hi, Sniddin, didn't see you there.'
Victor found himself wedged between Ginger and a mountain troll in what looked like chain mail, but it turned out to be just Holy Wood chain mail, which was inexpertly knitted string painted silver.
Ginger started talking animatedly to a four-inch-high gnome and a dwarf in one half of a bear outfit, leaving Victor feeling a little isolated.
The troll nodded at him, and then grimaced at its plate.
'Dey call dis pumice,' he said. 'Dey never even bother to cut der lava off. And you can't even taste der sand.'
Victor stared at the troll's plate.
'I didn't know trolls ate rock,' he said, before he could stop himself.
'Aren't you made of it?'
'Yeah. But you're made a meat, an' what do you eat?'
Victor looked at his own plate. 'Good question,' he said.
'Vies doing a click for Silverfish,' said Ginger, turning around. 'It looks like they're going to make it a three-reeler.'
There was a general murmur of interest.
Victor carefully laid something yellow and wobbly on the side of his plate.
'Tell me,' he said thoughtfully, 'while you've been filming, have any of you had a . . . heard a sort of . . . felt that you were . . . ' He hesitated. They were all looking at him. 'I mean, did you ever feel something was acting through you? I can't think of any other way to put it.'
His fellow diners relaxed.
'Days just Holy Wood,' said the troll. 'It gets to you. It's all dis creativity sloshin' about.'
'That was a pretty bad attack you had, though,' said Ginger.
'Happens all the time,' said the dwarf reflectively. 'It's just Holy Wood. Last week, me and the lads were working on Tales of the Dwarfes and suddenly we all started singing.
Just like that. Just like this song came into our heads, all at once. What d'you think of that?'
'What song?' said Ginger.
'Search me. We just call it the “Hiho” song. That's all it was. Hihohiho. Hihohiho.'
'Sound like every other dwarf song I ever did hear,' rumbled the troll.
It was past two o'clock when they got back to the moving-picture-making place. The handleman had the back off the picture box and was scraping at its floor with a small shovel.
Dibbler was asleep in his canvas chair with a handkerchief over his face. But Silverfish was wide awake.
'Where have you two been?' he shouted.
'I was hungry,' said Victor.
'And you'll jolly well stay hungry, my lad, because-'
Dibbler lifted the corner of his handkerchief.
'Let's get started,' he muttered.
'But we can't have performers telling us-'
'Finish the click, and then sack him,' said Dibbler.
'Right!' Silverfish waved a threatening finger at Victor and Ginger. 'You'll never work in this town again!'
They got through the afternoon somehow. Dibbler made them bring a horse in, and cursed the handleman because the picture box still couldn't be moved around. The demons complained. So they put the horse head-on in front of the box and Victor bounced up and down in the saddle. As Dibbler said, it was good enough for moving pictures.
Afterwards, Silverfish very grudgingly paid them two dollars each and dismissed them.
'He'll tell all the other alchemists,' said Ginger dispiritedly. 'They stick together like glue.'
'I notice we only get two dollars a day but the trolls get three,' said Victor. 'Why's that?'
'Because there aren't so many trolls wanting to make moving pictures,' said Ginger. 'And a good handleman can get six or seven dollars a day. Performers aren't important.' She turned and glared at him.
'I was doing OK,' she said. 'Nothing special, but OK. I was getting quite a lot of work. People thought I was reliable. I was building a career-'
'You can't build a career on Holy Wood,' said Victor. 'That's like building a house on a swamp. Nothing's real.'
'I liked it! And now you've spoilt it all! And I'll probably have to go back to a horrible little village you've probably never even heard of! Back to bloody milkmaiding! Thanks very much! Every time I see a cow's arse, I'll think of you!'
She stormed off in the direction of the town leaving Victor with the trolls. After a while Rock cleared his throat.
'You got anywhere to stay?' he said.
'I don't think so,' said Victor, weakly.
'There's never enough places to stay,' said Morry.
'I thought I might sleep on the beach,' said Victor. 'It's warm enough, after all. I think I really could do with a good rest. Good night.'
He tottered off in that direction.
The sun was setting, and a wind off the sea had cooled things a little. Around the darkening bulk of the hill the lights of Holy Wood were being lit. Holy Wood only relaxed in the darkness. When your raw material is daylight, you don't waste it.
It was pleasant enough on the beach. No-one much went there. The driftwood, cracked and salt-crusted, was no good for building. It was stacked in a long white row on the tide line.
Victor pulled together enough to make a fire, and lay back and watched the surf.
From the top of the next dune, hidden behind a dry clump of grass, Gaspode the Wonder Dog watched him thoughtfully.
It was two hours after, midnight.
It had them now, and poured joyfully out of the hill, poured its glitter into the world.
Holy Wood dreams . . .
It dreams for everyone.
In the hot breathless darkness of a clapboard shack, Ginger Withel dreamed of red carpets and cheering crowds. And a grating. She kept coming back to a grating, in the dream, where a rush of warm air blew up her skirts . . .
In the not much cooler darkness of a marginally more expensive shack, Silverfish the moving picturesmith dreamed of cheering crowds, and someone giving him a prize for the best moving picture ever made. It was a great big statue.
Out in the sand dunes Rock and Morry dozed fitfully, because trolls are night creatures by nature and sleeping in darkness bruised the instincts of eons. They dreamed of mountains.
Down on the beach, under the stars, Victor dreamed of pounding hooves, flowing robes, pirate ships, sword fights, chandeliers . . .
On the next dune, Gaspode the Wonder Dog slept with one eye open and dreamed of wolves.
But Cut-me-own-Throat Dibbler was not dreaming, because he was not asleep.
It had been a long ride to Ankh-Morpork and he preferred selling horses to riding them, but he was there now.
The storms that so carefully avoided Holy Wood didn't worry about Ankh-Morpork, and it was pouring with rain. That didn't stop the city's night life, though - it just made it damper.
There was nothing you couldn't buy in Ankh-Morpork, even in the middle of the night. Dibbler had a lot of things to buy. He needed posters painted. He needed all sorts of things. Many of them involved ideas he'd had to invent in his head on the long ride, and now had to explain very carefully to other people. And he had to explain it fast.
The rain was a solid curtain when he finally staggered out into the grey light of dawn. The gutters overflowed. Along the rooftops, repulsive gargoyles threw up expertly over passers-by although, since it was now five a.m., the crowds had thinned out a bit.
Throat took a deep breath of the thick city air. Real air. You would have to go a long way to find air that was realer than Ankh-Morpork air. You could tell just by breathing it that other people had been doing the same thing for thousands of years.