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There are no shadows here on the Canvas, Killington told her, but when they make camp the blank whiteness of everything doesn’t keep her from falling asleep. When she wakes to darkness–thick, heavy, like grit on her tongue–she’s frightened. She can’t remember the last time she was scared of the dark. Actually, she can.

She fumbles in a bag and finds the striker he used to light the balloon. “Nightmare?” Killington mumbles, stirring. “Wait–don’t–”

She’s clicking it, and the flare of sparks traces them both in shadow. Gnomon is there, then, behind her. His cane is a sword.


“I’m being abducted,” says Nightjar, “by someone named Killington?”

“Mmm,” says Killington.

“That doesn’t bode terribly well,” she says.

“You don’t need to be afraid, little girl,” he says, grinning a knockaround grin. “Think of it this way: you’d be in more danger if I were my parents.”


“They named me that.”


Killington plays with cranks and sprockets, and the fire below the balloon turns from blue to white. They rise slowly to pass between two loops of road.

“My parents,” says Nightjar, stumbling a little, “named me Nightmare.”

“I know they did,” says Killington, and his smile disappears.


“Ignore her, little girl,” says the masked man.

“Alice,” says Alice.

His face quirks. “Very well,” he says. “McKinley. Bring me the water and salt, carefully. Remember–she can’t hurt you.”

“I know,” says Alice. “She hasn’t yet, why could she now?”

“He’s right,” says Nightmare sweetly. “It’d take me a while to break through this glass. A siege. I used to have terrible dreams about waiting forever in the dark… but mine weren’t as bad as my sister’s. About storms.”

Black lightning snaps; thunder cascades off the dome. Alice is startled, tripping, horror, the water spilling out of her hands.