Imagine an archive, upside down and emptied out. In the daytime, every sound is eaten up by academic skin and well-read scarves, but this takes place at night, so there’s a lot more space to play with, sound-wise. Think creaks, rusty skitters. Lit from beneath by a whale oil lantern on a trolley, Sophisticated Man Working Late With Fervour is interrogating books, one by one, bouncing them above his head like they’re babies and he’s Dad acting strange at Christmas. There are so many books for him to interrogate, I mean, it’s an archive, so anyway, skipping ahead, he does it, he succeeds. He’s victorious. He has gleaned the critical piece of information from the tomes, I haven’t figured out yet what that is, but he’s giddy and takes off running. He’s gunning for the payphone in the lobby, the one with the frosted glass fracturing jaundiced light, the one with lipstick on the receiver, he very badly needs to call someone, but the archive comes alive around him, the archive is angry and come to life to stop Sophisticated Man Working Late With Fervour, come to life to crumple inwards and consolidate its various subsections into a single infinitely dense speck of space to prevent him from escaping with the knowledge he has bled from it, so as he scampers, the rough edges of old books cut his biceps, as he weaves, the chandeliers hook golden fingers into his hair and tear off clumps in bathplug pops, and anyway, skipping ahead, he reaches the payphone and the answer is quick, the voice says ‘what did you find?’ and Sophisticated Man Working Late With Fervour does not speak so the voice barks ‘are you there?’ but he does not reply, ‘what do the records say? can it be fixed?’ and the bookshelves and the tiles and the walls and the reading desks are roaring now, laughing maybe, victorious certainly, and pressing on the frosted glass, sucking the buttery light out like smoke, like he is tar inside a lit cigarette, until the light is dead and gone and Sophisticated Man Working Late With Fervour is in darkness, the kissed receiver still begging, the archive carving his box to splinters, wherein his lungs will breathe only twice more, wherein he cannot accept the end, not yet, wherein he accepts that he set it in motion in the first place, yes, he accepts that much and he doesn’t even know what he meant to do.