IN the City, the Zero Tram was a legend. People said it was absolutely black, not the black of paint but the black of anti-light, like a hole in reality; that its driver was a skeleton.
What happened if you boarded Tram 0? Nao had long since suspected that the information on its whereabouts and its destination was obscured deliberately, else citizens would just take off who knew where, to the forested valleys and endless rice fields that lay Outside, and Outside was somewhere they didn’t want you to go. Tram 0 was a myth of freedom, then.
But someone, some thoughtful band of pioneers now so forgotten they seemed like a Lost Race, progenitors of the ‘enta geweorc’ of the ancients, someone had laid down metre-gauge tracks just about everywhere. Not only in the city and up to Upland, but also across those forested valleys and rice fields, embankments surrounded on both sides by water, lines tracing the outer walls of citadels silent but for the shriek of birds and monkeys for centuries now. Perhaps the stern ghosts of long-dead warriors gazed from the battlements.
In the city they said that ghosts, too, were holes in reality, that the shadows often seen flitting between buildings at nightfall occupied another world, at an angle to our own, though Nao would have been very surprised if it had been a right angle. She, as a mathematician, understood that there were very few platonic solids in Nature. As a musician she was more interested in the music of the spheres.