Wheels within wheels within wheels.

There is supposed to be an axle, somewhere, though Cedar’s been climbing for days without so much as a sniff. Everyone swears it’s just a few more layers down, always just another five or ten levels off. She has her doubts.

Ptolemy creaks and groans like a ship at sea; the regular slow spin of its courtyards and bedrooms, gardens and libraries, lampposts and lights. Ptolemy’s rooms are always rising, always falling; for every six vertical meters she gains she covers six hundred or more along the rim. She descends through floors and ceilings at night, when the aquarium light grows murky and indistinct, when the whole vast mobile comes to a stop. Cedar passes through, passes through; meets scientists, lovers, killers, frauds and poets, passes onward and through. Cadges food, beer, weed, swaps traveler’s tales and spit for a place to sleep. They are hungry for new faces.

She has forgotten the sky. She tries to tell them about the stars, about the golden hoop of the sun, but can only make them one more set of wheels. “There’s supposed to be a center, somewhere,” she says, vaguely, and can only picture a vast oily pivot. She, indefatigable traveler, descends and descends, and draws no closer.