The magicians sip mint tea from colorless glasses made of sugar, and when they are done, they eat the glasses, crunch. They sit on balconies overlooking the sea and toy with the vines growing through the metalwork. A cacophony of music rises up from the streets and bursts out of the subway tunnels in spasms of commuters, guitars, flutes, drums, strange instruments cobbled together out of garbage and remaindered paint.

Jannes traces constellations in his notebook, calculates aphelion, perihelion, declension and ascension. “I am hoping,” he murmurs, half to himself, “to live long enough to see another planet.”

Mambres is down among the dishes, trying to work out the significance of bread crumb positioning. “Oh, I doubt it,” he says. There are 124 crumbs on the table, mostly concentrated on his side — Jannes doesn’t care for lemon wafers — and they cast shadows of doubtful import. “They’ve only just put a few simulacra down on Kolob. It’ll be centuries yet before anyone has enough of an idea of the place to send someone over.”

“You never know,” Jannes protests. “We are not exact scientists.”

“No, you never know,” sighs his partner, “but we — we can guess.”