"If it's your birthday," they told her in the Bar Estrava, "Tram Zero will let you ride for free. But it has to be your birthday. Because otherwise it would be mean, and nobody is mean to Tram Zero. Nobody."
But the next day was 1 July and it was indeed Nao's birthday, her twenty-fifth. She had never been able to decide what to do with that momentous day; but now her brother was missing and she knew where Tram Zero was and there was nothing for it but to go.
Nao found Tram Zero in North Barton. He was as nightblack as she had heard; his voice redolent of old woodsmoke, his querulous song whispering up. This, she knew, used to be the old North Barton village square, and there had been a pub on the corner called the Railway or was it the Singing Stars? Possibly both.
Tram Zero chuckled. The space-dark skeleton at the wheel turned to look and she saw red-orange fires in its eyes. I am not afraid, she told herself. In fact, I am terrified, but that is nothing new.
She climbed aboard.
"Happy birthday," said the tram. "Let's go."
And with a whine of motors and a rumble that came from the fabric of spacetime itself, they went.