And he also didn't know why.

But he was determined to find out.


None would have believed, in the final years of the Century of the Fruitbat, that Discworld affairs were being watched keenly and impatiently by intelligences greater than Man's, or at least much nastier; that their affairs were being scrutinized and studied as a man with a three-day appetite might study the All-You-Can-Gobble-For A Dollar menu outside Harga's House of Ribs . . .

Well, actually . . . most wizards would have believed it, if anyone had told them.

And the Librarian would certainly have believed it.

And Mrs Marietta Cosmopilite of 3 Quirm Street, Ankh-Morpork, would have believed it, too. But she believed the world was round, that a sprig of garlic in her underwear drawer kept away vampires, that it did you good to get out and have a laugh occasionally, that there was niceness in everyone if you only knew where to look, and that three horrible little dwarfs peered in at her undressing every night.[4]

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Holy Wood! . . .

. . . was nothing very much, yet. Just a hill by the sea, and on the other side of the hill, a lot of sand dunes. It was that special sort of beautiful area which is only beautiful if you can leave after briefly admiring its beauty and go somewhere else where there are hot tubs and cold drinks. Actually staying there for any length of time is a penance.

Nevertheless, there was a town there . . . just. Wooden shacks had been built wherever someone had dropped a load of timber, and they were crude, as if the builders had resented the time taken from something more important that they'd much rather be doing. They were square plank boxes.

Except for the front.

If you wanted to understand Holy Wood, Victor said years afterwards, you had to understand its buildings.

You'd see a box on the sand. It'd have a roughly peaked roof, but that wasn't important, because it never rained in Holy Wood. There'd be cracks in the walls, stuffed with old rags. The windows would be holes-glass was too fragile to cart all the way from Ankh-Morpork. And, from behind, the front was just like a huge wooden billboard, held up by a network of struts.

From the front, it was a fretted, carved, painted, ornate, baroque architectural extravaganza. In Ankh-Morpork, sensible men built their houses plain, so as not to attract attention, and kept the decoration for inside. But Holy Wood wore its houses inside out.

Victor walked up what passed for the main street in a daze. He had woken up in the early hours out in the dunes. Why? He'd decided to come to Holy Wood, but why? He couldn't remember. All he could remember was that, at the time, it was the obvious thing to do. There had been hundreds of good reasons.

If only he could remember one of them.

Not that his mind had any room to review memories. It was too busy being aware that he was very hungry and acutely thirsty. His pockets had yielded a total of seven pence. That wouldn't buy a bowl of soup, let alone a good meal.

He needed a good meal. Things would look a lot clearer after a good meal.

He pushed through the crowds. Most of them seemed to be carpenters, but there were others, carrying carboys or mysterious boxes. And everyone was moving very quickly and resolutely, bent on some powerful purpose of their own.

Except him.

He trailed up the impromptu street, gawping at the houses, feeling like a stray grasshopper in an ant hill. Arid there didn't seem to-

'Why don't you look where you're going!'

He rebounded off a wall. When he got his balance the other party in the collision had already whirred off into the crowd. He stared for a moment and then ran desperately after her.

'Hey!' he said, 'Sorry! Excuse me? Miss?'

She stopped, and waited impatiently as he caught up.

'Well?' she said.

She was a foot shorter than him and her shape was doubtful since most of her was covered in a ridiculously frilly dress, although the dress wasn't as ludicrous as the big blond wig full of ringlets. And her face was white with make-up apart from her eyes, which were heavily ringed in black. The general effect was of a lampshade that hadn't been getting much sleep lately.

'Well?' she repeated, 'Hurry up! They're shooting again in five minutes!'


She unbent slightly. 'No, don't tell me,' she said. 'You've just got here. It's all new to you. You don't know what to do. You're hungry. You haven't got any money. Right?'

'Yes! How did you know?'

'Everyone starts like that. And now you want to break into the clicks, right?'

'The clicks?'

She rolled her eyes, deep within their black circles.

'Moving pictures!'

'Oh-' I do, he thought. I didn't know it but I do. Yes. That's why I came here. Why didn't I think of that? 'Yes,' he said. 'Yes, that's what I want to do. I want to, er, break in. And how does one do that?'

'One waits for ever and ever. Until one is noticed.' The girl looked him up and down with unconcealed contempt. 'Take up carpentry, why don't you? Holy Wood always needs good wood butchers.'

And then she spun around and was gone, lost in a crowd of busy people.

'Er, thank you,' Victor called after her. 'Thank you.' He raised his voice and added, 'I hope your eyes get better!'

He jingled the coins in his pocket.

Well, carpentry was out. It sounded too much like hard work. He'd tried it once, and wood and him had soon reached an agreement - he wouldn't touch it, and it wouldn't split.

Waiting for ever and ever had its attractions, but you needed money to do it with.

His fingers closed around a small, unexpected rectangle. He pulled it out and looked at it.

Silverfish's card.

No. 1 Holy Wood turned out to be a couple of shacks inside a high fence. There was a queue at the gate. It was made up of trolls, dwarfs and humans. They looked as though they had been there for some time; in fact, some of them had such a naturally dispirited way of sagging while remaining upright that they might have been specially-evolved descendants of the original prehistoric queuers.

At the gate was a large, heavy-set man, who was eyeing the queue with the smug look of minor power-wielders everywhere.

'Excuse me-' Victor began.

'Mister Silverfish ain't hiring any more people this morning,' said the man out of the corner of his mouth., 'So scram.' .

'But he said that if ever I was in- '

'Did I just say scram, friend?'

'Yes, but-'

The door in the fence opened a fraction. A small pale face poked out.

'We need a troll and a coupla humans,' it said. 'One day, usual rates.' The gate shut again.

The man straightened up and cupped his scarred hands around his mouth.

'Right, you horrible lot!' he shouted. 'You heard the man!' He ran his eyes over the line with the practised gaze of a stock breeder. 'You, you and you,' he said, pointing.

'Excuse me,' said Victor helpfully, 'but I think that man over there was actually first in the-'

He was shoved out of the way. The lucky three shuffled in. He thought he saw the glint of coins changing hands. Then the gatekeeper turned an angry red face towards him.

'You,' he said, 'get to the end of the queue. And stay there!'

Victor stared at him. He stared at the gate. He looked at the long line of dispirited people.

'Um, no,' he said. 'I don't think so. Thanks all the same.'

'Then beat it!'

Victor gave him a friendly smile. He walked to the end of the fence, and followed it. It turned, at the far end, into a narrow alley.

Victor searched among the usual alley debris for a while until he found a piece of scrap paper. Then he rolled up his sleeves. And only then did he inspect the fence carefully until he found a couple of loose boards that, with a bit of effort, let him through.

This brought him into an area stacked with lumber and piles of cloth. There was no-one around.

Walking purposefully, in the knowledge that no-one with their sleeves rolled up who walks purposefully with a piece of paper held conspicuously in their hand is ever challenged, he set out across the wood and canvas wonderland of Interesting and Instructive Kinematography.

There were buildings painted on the back of other buildings. There were trees that were trees, at the front, and just a mass of struts at the back. There was a flurry of activity although, as far as Victor could see; no-one was actually producing anything.

He watched a man in a long black cloak, a black hat and a moustache like a yard brush tie a girl to one of the trees. No-one seemed interested in stopping him, even though she was struggling. A couple of people were in fact watching disinterestedly, and there was a man standing behind a large box on a tripod, turning a handle.

She flung out an imploring arm and opened and shut her mouth soundlessly.

One of the watchers stood up, sorted through a stack of boards beside him, and held one up in front of the box.

It was black. On it, in white, were the words 'Noe! Noe!'

He walked away. The villain twirled his moustache. The man walked back with a board. This time it said 'Ahar! My proude beauty!'

Another of the seated watchers picked up a megaphone.

'Fine, fine,' he said. 'OK, take a five minutes break and then everyone back here for the big fight scene.'

The villain untied the girl. They wandered off. The man stopped turning the handle, lit a cigarette, and then opened the top of the box.

'Everyone get that?' he said.

There was a chorus of squeaks.

Victor walked over and tapped the megaphone man on his shoulder.

'Urgent message for Mr Silverfish?' he said.

'He's in the offices over there,' said the man, jerking his thumb over his shoulder without looking around.

'Thank you.'

The first shed he poked his head into contained nothing but rows of small cages stretching away into the gloom. Indistinct things hurled themselves against the bars and chittered at him. He slammed the door hurriedly.

The next door revealed Silverfish, standing in front of a desk covered with bits of glassware and drifts of paper. He didn't turn around.

'Just put it over there,' he said absently.

'It's me, Mr Silverfish,' said Victor.

Silverfish turned around and peered vaguely at him, as if it was Victor's fault that his name meant nothing.


'I've come because of that job,' said Victor. 'You know?'

'What job? What should I know?' said Silverfish. 'How the hell did you get in here?'

'I broke into moving pictures,' said Victor. 'But it's nothing that a hammer and a few nails won't put right.'

Panic bloomed on Silverfish's face. Victor pulled out the card and waved it in what he hoped was a reassuring way.

'In Ankh-Morpork?' he said. 'A couple of nights ago? You were being menaced?'

Realization dawned. 'Oh, yes,' said Silverfish faintly. 'And you were the lad who was of some help.'

'And you said to come and see you if I wanted to move pictures,' said Victor. 'I didn't, then, but I do now.' He gave Silverfish a bright smile.

But he thought: he's going to try and wriggle out of it. He's regretting the offer. He's going to send me back to the queue.

'Well, of course,' said Silverfish, 'a lot of very talented people want to be in moving pictures. We're going to have sound any day now. I mean, are you a carpenter? Any alchemical experience? Have you ever trained imps? Any good with your hands at all?'

'No,' Victor admitted.

'Can you sing?'

'A bit. In the bath. But not very well,' Victor conceded.

'Can you dance?'


'Swords? Do you know how to handle a sword?'

'A little,' said Victor. He'd used one sometimes in the gym. He'd never in fact fought an opponent, since wizards generally abhor exercise and the only other University resident who ever entered the place was the Librarian, and then only to use the ropes and rings. But Victor had practised an energetic and idiosyncratic technique in front of the mirror, and the mirror had never beaten him yet.

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