'Because my Uncle Oswald lay quite still like that. Mind you, I only ever saw him once. And that was at his funeral.'

Victor opened his mouth - and there were distant, blurred voices. A few stones moved. A voice, a little closer now, trilled, 'Hallo, little children. This way, little children.'

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'That's Rock!' said Ginger.

'I'd know that voice anywhere,' said Victor. 'Hey! Rock! It's me! Victor!'

There was a worried pause. Then Rock's voice bellowed: 'It's my friend Victor!'

'That mean we can't eat him?'

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'No-one is to eat my friend Victor! We dig him out with speed!'

There was the sound of crunching. Then another troll's voice complained, 'They call this limestone? I call it tasteless.'

There was some more scrabbling. A third voice said, 'Don't see why we can't eat him. Who'd know?'

'You uncivilized troll,' scolded Rock. 'What you thinking of? You eat people, everyone laugh at you, say, “He very defective troll, do not know how to behave in polite society” and stop paying you three dollar a day and send you back to mountains.'

Victor gave what he hoped would sound like a light chuckle.

'They're a lot of laughs, aren't they?' he said.

'Heaps,' said Ginger.

'Of course, all that stuff about eating people is just bravado. They hardly ever do it. You shouldn't worry about it.'

'I'm not. I'm worried because I walk around all the time when I'm asleep and I don't know why. You make it sound as if I was going to wake up that sleeping creature. It's a horrible thought. Something's inside my head.'

There was a crash as more rocks were pulled aside.

'That's the odd thing,' said Victor. 'When people are, er, possessed, the, er, possessing thing doesn't usually care much about them or anyone else. I mean, it wouldn't have just tied me up. It would have hit me over the head with something.'

He reached for her hand in the dark.

'That thing on the slab,' he said.

'What about it?'

'I've seen it before. It's in the book I found. There's dozens of pictures of it, and they must have thought it was very important to keep it behind the gate. That's what the pictograms say, I think. Gate . . . man. The man behind the gate. The prisoner. You see, I'm sure the reason why all the priests or whoever they were had to go and chant there every day was-'

A slab by his head was pulled aside and weak daylight poured through. It was very closely followed by Laddie, who tried to lick Victor's face and bark at the same time.

'Yes, yes! Well done, Laddie,' said Victor, trying to fight him off. 'Good dog. Good boy, Laddie.'

'Good boy Laddie! Good boy Laddie!'

The bark brought several small shards of stone down from the ceiling.

'Aha!' said Rock. Several other troll heads appeared behind him as Victor and Ginger stared out of the hole.

'They not little children,' muttered the one who had been complaining about the eating ban. 'They look stringy.'

'I tell you before,' said Rock menacingly, 'no eating people. It cause no end of trouble.'

'Why not just one leg? Then everyone'll be-'

Rock picked up a half-ton slab in one hand, weighed it thoughtfully, and then hit the other troll so hard with it that it broke.

'I tell you before,' he told the recumbent figure, 'it trolls like you getting us a bad name. How can we take rightful place in brotherhood of sapient species with defective trolls like you letting side down alter time?'

He reached through the hole and pulled Victor out bodily.

'Thanks, Rock. Er. There's Ginger in there, too.'

Rock gave him a crafty nudge that bruised a couple of ribs.

'So I see,' he said. 'And she wearing very pretty silk neggleliggle. You find nice place to indulge in bit of “What is the health of your parent?” and the Disc move for you, yeah?' The other trolls grinned.

'Uh, yes, I suppose-' Victor began.

'That's not true at all!' snapped Ginger, as she was helped through the hole. 'We weren't-'

'Yes, it is!' said Victor, making furious signals with his hands and eyebrows. 'It's absolutely true! You're absolutely right, Rock!'

'Yeah,' said one of the trolls behind Rock. 'I seen them on the clicks. He kissing her and carrying her off the whole time.'

'Now listen,' Ginger began.

'And now we get out of here fast,' said Rock. 'This whole ceiling looking very defective to me. Could go at any time.'

Victor glanced up. Several of the blocks were dipping ominously.

'You're right,' he said. He grabbed the arm of the protesting Ginger and hustled her along the passage. The trolls gathered up the fallen compatriot who did not know how to behave in polite company and plodded after them.

'That was disgusting, giving them the impression that-' Ginger hissed.

'Shut up!' snapped Victor. 'What did you want me to say, hmm? I mean, what sort of explanation do you think would fit? What would you like people to know?'

She hesitated.

'Well, all right,' she conceded. 'But you could have thought of something else. You could have said we were exploring, or looking for, for fossils-' her voice trailed off.

'Yes, in the middle of the night with you in a silk neggleliggle,' said Victor. 'What is a neggleliggle, anyway?'

'He meant negligee,' said Ginger.

'Come on, let's get back to town. Afterwards I might just have time to have a couple of hours' sleep.'

'What do you mean, afterwards?'

'We're going to have to buy these lads a big drink-'

There was a low rumble from the hill. A cloud of dust billowed out of the doorway and covered the trolls. The rest of the roof had gone.

'And that's it,' said Victor. 'It's over. Can you make the sleepwalking part of you understand that? It's no good trying to get in any more, there isn't any way. It's buried. It's over. Thank goodness.'

There's a bar like it in every town. It's dimly-lit and the drinkers, although they talk, don't address their words to one another and they don't listen, either. They just talk the hurt inside. It's a bar for the derelict and the unlucky and all of those people who have been temporarily flagged off the racetrack of life and into the pits.

It always does a brisk trade.

On this dawn the mourners sat ranged along the counter, each in his cloud of gloom, each certain that he was the most unfortunate individual in the Whole world.

'I created it,' said Silverfish, morosely. 'I thought it would be educational. It could broaden people's horizons. I didn't intend for it to be a, a, a show. With a thousand elephants!' he added nastily.

'Yeah,' said Detritus. 'She don't know what she wants. I do what she want, then she say, that not right, you a troll with no finer feelin', you do not understand what a girl wants. She say, Girl want sticky things to eat in box with bow around, I make box with bow around, she open box, she scream, she say flayed horse not what she mean. She don't know what she wants.'

'Yeah,' said a voice from under Silverfish's stool. 'It'd serve 'em all right if I went off an' joined the wolves.'

'I mean, take this Blown Away thing,' said Silverfish. 'It's not even real. It's not like things really were. It's just lies. Anyone can tell lies.'

'Yeah,' said Detritus. 'Like, she say, Girl want music under window, I play music under window, everyone in street wake up and shouting out of house, You bad troll, what you hitting rocks this time of night? And she never even wake up.'

'Yeah,' said Silverfish.

'Yeah,' said Detritus.

'Yeah,' said the voice under the stool.

The man who ran the bar was naturally cheerful. It wasn't hard to be cheerful, really, when your customers acted like lightning rods for any misery that happened to be floating around. He'd found that it wasn't a good idea to say things like, 'Never mind, look on the bright side,' because there never was one, or 'Cheer up, it may never happen,' because often it already had. All that was expected of him was to keep the drink coming.

He was a little puzzled this morning, though. There seemed to be an extra person in the bar, quite apart from whoever it was speaking up from the floor. He kept getting the feeling that he was serving an extra drink, and even getting paid for it, and even talking to the mysterious purchaser. But he couldn't see him. In fact he wasn't quite sure what he was seeing, or who he was talking to.

He wandered down to the far end of the bar.

A glass slid towards him.

SAME AGAIN, said a voice out of the shadows.

'Er,' said the barman. 'Yeah. Sure. What was it?'

ANYTHING.

The barman filled it with rum. It was pulled away.

The barman sought for something to say. For some reason, he was feeling terrified.

'Don't see you in here, much,' he managed.

I COME FOR THE ATMOSPHERE. SAME AGAIN.

'Work in Holy Wood, do you?'said the barman, topping up the glass quickly. It vanished again.

NOT FOR SOME TIME. SAME AGAIN.

The barman hesitated. He was, at heart, a kindly soul. 'You don't think you've had enough, do you?' he said.

I KNOW EXACTLY WHEN I'VE HAD ENOUGH.

'Everyone says that, though.'

I KNOW WHEN. EVERYONE'S HAD ENOUGH.

There was something very odd about that voice. The barman wasn't quite sure that he was hearing it with his ears. 'Oh. Well, er,' he said. 'Same again?'

NO. BUSY DAY TOMORROW. KEEP THE CHANGE.

A handful of coins slid across the counter. They felt icy cold, and most of them were heavily corroded.

'Oh, er-' the barman began.

The door opened and shut, letting in a cold blast of air despite the warmth of the night.

The barman wiped the top of the bar in a distracted way, carefully avoiding the coins.

'You see some funny types, running a bar,' he muttered. A voice by his ear said, I FORGOT. A PACKET OF NUTS, PLEASE.

Snow glittered on the rimward outriders of the Ramtop mountains, that great world-spanning range which, where it curves around the Circle Sea, forms a natural wall between Klatch and the great flat Sto plains.

It was the home of rogue glaciers and prowling avalanches and high, silent fields of snow.

And yetis. Yetis are a high-altitude species of troll, and quite unaware that eating people is out of fashion. Their view is: if it moves, eat it. If it doesn't, then wait for it to move. And then eat it.

They'd been listening all day to the sounds. Echoes had bounced from peak to peak along the frozen ranges until, now, it was a steady dull rumble.

'My cousin', said one of them, idly probing a hollow tooth with a claw, 'said they was enormous grey animals. Elephants.'

'Bigger'n us?' said the other yeti.

'Nearly as bigger'n us,' said the first yeti. 'Loads of them, he said. More than he could count.'

The second yeti sniffed the wind and appeared to consider this.

'Yeah, well,' he said, gloomily. 'Your cousin can't count above one.'

'He said there was lots of big ones. Big fat grey elephants, all climbing, all roped together. Big and slow. All carrying lots of oograah.'

Ah.

The first yeti indicated the vast sloping snowfield.

'Good and deep today,' he said. 'Nothing's gonna move fast in this, right? We lie down in the snow, they won't see us till they're right on top of us, we panic 'em, it's Big Eats time.' He waved his enormous paws in the air. 'Very heavy, my cousin said. They'll not move fast, you mark my words.'

The other yeti shrugged.

'Let's do it,' he said, against the sound of distant, terrified trumpeting.

They lay down in the snow, their white hides turning them into two unsuspicious mounds. It was a technique that had worked time and again, and had been handed down from yeti to yeti for thousands of years, although it wasn't going to be handed much further.

They waited.

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