Dora wouldn't let Gareth scan the cards himself. She insisted on placing them in the scanner with her own hands, one after the other. But since he complied with all her instructions without a protest, she gradually became less suspicious of him. At the end she let him take a photograph of the whole set, spread out on the floor, with the box next to them. Then she packed them away again, and tucked the box back into the front of her dungarees.

“That's great,” said Gareth. “Brilliant.” He seemed genuinely excited. “The guys in London are going to get such a buzz when they see these. Listen, I'm just going to put in a call, to let them know that the images are on their way. Do you want any drink or biscuits or anything?”

“No, thank you,” said Dora. “I'm not hungry.”

Adam nudged her sharply in the ribs. “I'm starving!” he said. “Ask him if he's got any cake.”

“Are you sure?” said Gareth politely. “Nothing at all to eat or drink?”

“Actually, have you got any cake?”

“Cake? Well, yeah, as a matter of fact I do have some Christmas cake. If you work for the Urizen Corporation, you get a big hamper at this time of the year. It's one of their things. They take the festive season very seriously. It means a lot to them.”

He came back a minute or two later, with a glass of orange juice and a slice of fruit cake on a plate. “There you go,” he said. “Now, I'm just going into the next room, to place that call – then I'll drive you back home.”

“I think he's nice, really,” said Dora after he was gone. “He's been quite friendly, hasn't he?”

“I don't like him,” said Adam with his mouth full. “That pony tail looks stupid! And don't forget he put that card in his pocket, then tried to pretend it wasn't there. And look at the size of this slice of cake! It's nowhere near big enough.”

“Let me have a piece,” said Dora.

“Get off! You said you didn't want any!”

“I didn't think I was hungry – but I am now.”

“Oh, all right,” said Adam, who had already eaten more than half the slice. “You have the rest.”

It certainly wasn't a particularly big slice for the two of them; and the orange juice didn't last long either.

“And I don't like the idea of him sending these images off to London,” said Adam.

Miniature versions of all the images were lined up neatly in rows on Gareth's flat-screen monitor, on the desk in front of them.

“I don't see what harm it can do.”

“Nor do I. Except that we know people are trying to get their hands on that box-”

“You mean we think they are,” said Dora.

“They definitely are. So, the fewer people that know you've got it, the better.”

“But the beetle didn't have anything to do with Gareth,” said Dora. “He couldn't even see it, I don't think. Whoever sent the beetle, they must be the real baddies.”

Adam gave a shudder. “That beetle was horrible,” he admitted. “But I don't know where it fits in.”

“Except it's like the one that dragged my Dad through the wall,” said Dora.

“Yes,” agreed Adam. “Perhaps there are two lots of baddies.”

“Oh, there can't be, can there?”

“I don't see why not... That horrible beetle, and his friends if he's got any; and the other lot, who are trying to get hold of your box. Wait a minute, I've got an idea. Why don't I go and see if I can hear what Gareth's saying?”

“What, eavesdrop on his telephone-conversation, you mean? Don't you know that you're not allowed to eavesdrop?”

“Oh, shut up. You're allowed to eavesdrop on baddies, if you want to find out their plans.”

“Hm. Perhaps you are. Well, why don't I go, then, instead of you? Girls are quieter than boys.”

“No, they're not!”

“Of course they are. You'll probably knock over a vase or something.”

“But he can't see me, can he? So even if I did knock a vase over, I expect he wouldn't notice.”

“That's another thing I don't understand,” whispered Dora. “How come he can't see you, but I can?”

“You couldn't see me either, to start with,” said Adam.

“And what about the beetle? How come we could see it, but the grown-ups couldn't?”

“Well, how am I meant to know?” said Adam. “Look, am I going to listen to his telephone conversation or not? We'll never find out what he's up to if we stand here talking all day.”

“All right,” said Dora. “But be careful.”


Adam walked boldly into the hall, but then he stopped. The door opposite – through which Gareth had disappeared – was shut. Adam reached towards it, then hesitated. Dora, watching from behind, could almost feel him wondering whether it could really be possible to open a door without the person on the other side noticing anything: and for a moment she thought he was going to turn round and come back: but then he grasped the handle, twisted it, pushed open the door, and stepped through.

Left on her own, she took a deep breath and looked around. In her heart of hearts she couldn't really believe that Gareth was a baddy, because he had such a nice house. It was a cottage all by itself in the middle of the countryside, quite an old-fashioned building, but very new and modern on the inside. Polished wooden flooring and beautiful rugs: expensive-looking chairs and settees: a huge flat-screen television in the corner. He hadn't skimped on the Christmas decorations, either. There was an enormous artificial tree in one corner of the room, festooned with gold and silver ribbons and bows and little blue fairy lights. There were angels and cherubs, golden pine-cones and clumps of artificial red berries on all the mantle-pieces and window-ledges. And there were red and green candles surrounded by artificial holly and ivy leaves on bookshelves and side-tables.

Inwardly Dora compared it to her Dad's scruffy, shabby house, which was much smaller for one thing, and full of clutter for another. Her Dad hardly ever had expensive new things. If he did buy anything new it was never the biggest or most up-to-date version.

She was just starting to wish, for the umpteenth time, that her Dad was a bit richer, when she remembered that he'd been hoping to earn more money by working for the Horizon Agency, and that was why he'd gone to London in the first place – if he really had gone to London – not been dragged through the wall by the black beetle, and not ended up asleep in Adam's house, wherever Adam's house was – and then Adam came back.

He shut the door carefully behind him, then came rushing across to Dora. “Now it's definite!” he hissed. “He's definitely is a baddy! I heard him!”

“Why?” said Dora, with a sinking heart. “What did he say?”

“He said it was definitely the one they were looking for, he was almost certain of it.”

“What did he mean?”

“He meant the box!”

“Who was he talking to?”

“I don't know. It sounded like his boss. But it must have been someone else who worked for the Urizen Corporation, I suppose. Anyway, he said he'd got you here, and you'd got the box, and he was going to send the images, but he was practically certain it was the one they were looking for, and – get this – he was going to keep you here until they could come and fetch it.”

“Keep me here?”

“That's what he said.”

“But he was meant to be taking me back home!”

“I know, but that's what he said.”

“Oh, I wish this had never got started! I wish I'd never seen that box! Why don't I just give it to them, if that's what they want?”

“You can't do! They're the baddies! Anyway, it's all connected. We've got to solve the puzzle or we won't be able to wake -”

This time it was Gareth who reappeared. “Listen, Dora,” he said, breezing into the room. “Bit of a problem getting you home, I'm afraid. The thing is, I was just talking to the office in London, and they're sending me a special delivery. It should be here within the next few minutes, but I can't go anywhere until it arrives. So I'll take you home after that. Okay?”

“Okay,” said Dora.

“Honestly, it won't take long. Thirty minutes, maximum. Probably less. Probably more like fifteen. Would you like another slice of that cake in the meantime?”

Adam elbowed her again, so she said “Yes, please.”

“And some more juice?”

“Yes, please.”

Gareth went out again.


“What shall we do?” said Adam. “Shall we just nip out of the front door, and run for it?”

“Won't he just come after us? Anyway, where would we go? I don't really know where we are. I don't think I could find my way home from here.”

“We could ask for directions.”

“But it's still raining out there!”

“We've got more important things to worry about than getting wet,” said Adam. “Stay here. I'll go and try the front door.”

He went into the hall, and she could hear him trying the front door. Then he came back.

“No good. It's locked, and we don't know where the key is. He's probably got it in his pocket. There's always the back door...”

“But Gareth's in the kitchen.”

“Yes. I could probably get past him, but you couldn't. I know what: we'll make him think you've escaped.”

“What? How?”

“Hide. Get inside a cupboard or something. When he comes back, he won't be able to find you. He'll open the front door, and rush outside, to see if you're anywhere in sight. That's our chance to nip out.”

Dora looked all around the room. “But won't he look in all the cupboards first, before he unlocks the front door?” She opened one of the cupboards experimentally. It was full of DVDs. “And anyway, we need an empty cupboard, or I won't be able to hide in it.”

“Get behind one of the curtains, then.”

“What about the help cards?” said Dora. Then something caught her eye. She went towards the desk, on top of which stood the big flatscreened monitor of Gareth's computer, with images of all the cards in her box lined up on it.

“Good idea,” said Adam. “Get the box out – quick.”

“Wait a minute,” said Dora. “Look at this.”

One of the images on the computer screen was changing. It was a pencil-drawing of a man in an oldfashioned tall hat, with rolling countryside in the background. The pencil-drawing was turning from black-and-white into colour. And they could hear a bird twittering – lots of very rapid high notes, in a long stream.


“Wow,” said Adam.

“That's one of the help cards,” said Dora. “I wonder if the real card's doing the same thing?”

“Get it out and have a look. No – stop. What's that humming noise?”

They couldn't be sure how long the humming noise had been going on for, because it had only gradually been getting louder. But by now it was a definite sound, loud enough to make them notice. It was coming from outside, and it was rapidly getting closer.

A shadow swept across the front window, as if a huge bird had passed overhead. Simultaneously they heard Gareth emerge from the kitchen and hurry towards the front door. “I think this must be my delivery,” he called as he went past. He unlocked the front door and threw it open. Cool air flooded in, and they could hear the rain falling on the shrubbery and gravel.

Through the window they saw a huge black car come through the gate onto the gravelled space at the front of the house. It was the same kind of car that had been sent to fetch Dora and take her to London. It halted, and the passenger door opened. A woman got out. It was either Natasha, or somebody who looked almost exactly like her.

But now that the humming had stopped, they could hear that the man in the pencil-drawing on the computer was saying something:

“There is a gate in the centre of every wild flower, and there is another gate in the heart of every shining minute. Just at the place to which the lark mounts is a crystal gate, and there is a gate in every room of every house. And all of these gates open into eternity. Good morning, children.” He raised his tall hat politely. “Have you come out to hear the larks sing, or on an errand for your mother?”


It was early in the morning, and the pale sun was slanting across the meadow. It wasn't winter any more, but spring; and above them, so high up in the blue that the beating of their wings was only just visible as a tiny dark flickering, hung three skylarks, pouring out streamers of song.

“Don't tell him we're escaping,” said Adam. “He might be a baddy.”

“Escaping from whom?” inquired the man. “There is nobody here but ourselves.”

There was no sign of Gareth's house; and the countryside which had been a pencil-drawing a few moments earlier was now completely real, slightly chilly, and shining with dew.

“There are some people trying to catch us, though,” said Dora. “I expect they'll follow us here before long.”

“Ah,” said the oldfashioned gentleman wisely. “Every good man has his enemies. Such is the state of existence into which we are fallen. I myself have been accused of sedition.”

“You can see me,” said Adam. “And you heard what I said.”

The man frowned at him. “Yes, boy, of course I can see you and hear you. I have eyes and ears.”

“Well,” said Adam, “a lot of people can't. Especially grown-ups.”

The man's frown melted away, and he began to smile instead. “Indeed!” he said. “And what about your sister here?”

“Who, Dora? Oh, everyone can see her!”

“Yes, they can all see me,” said Dora.

“Hm!” said the man. “And you can see each other.”

“Yes,” said Dora.

“A very odd set of circumstances, some might say. But I should say, each man sees according to his nature. I myself, for example, often see things which are invisible to others. I remarked once to a friend of mine upon a little old man stooped with age who stood beside our path; and my friend replied that he saw only a white-headed dandelion, bent over by the wind. If the doors of perception were cleansed, every man could see to infinity.”

“Excuse me,” said Dora. “Do you mind telling us your name?”

“My name is William Blake,” said the man. “Engraver. Leastways, engraving is the craft by which I scrape my living. Poet and artist is how I should prefer to regard myself, but unfortunately few are familiar with my work.”

“Oh,” said Dora, “but I've heard of you. In fact I've got some of your pictures in my box.”

“Indeed!” said Mr Blake, staring at her and smiling again. “Forgive me, child, but I think you may be mistaken.”

“No, I don't think so. I've got them right here. I'm sure the vicar said they were by William Blake.”

“A vicar!” he cried. “A vicar who knows my pictures! Tell me, my dear, did he roll his eyes and pull a ghastly face when he mentioned me? Did he describe me as a terrible blasphemer, and assure you that I was certain to go straight to hell when I died?”

“No, he didn't. I can't remember exactly what he said, but I'm sure it wasn't that.”

“You astonish me more and more. Come then, let me see this box.”

“Shall I show it to him?” said Dora to Adam.

“You might as well,” replied Adam. “You've gone and told him all about it.”

“Is it a secret, then?” said Mr Blake.

“Sort of,” said Adam.

“Well then,” said Mr Blake gravely, “I shall mention it to no-one without your permission. You have my solemn promise.”

Dora opened her box and took out the cards. She couldn't show him the pencil-drawing of the man in the old fashioned hat, because that card was now blank; but she showed him the old man with a streaming beard leaning out of a cloud, with two angled spokes of light coming from his hand; and she showed him the man who looked like her Dad, lying on his back with a snake wrapped round his body, and an angel flying over him.


“Yes, these are mine,” said Mr Blake. “The Ancient of Days, and Elohim Creating Adam.”

“I'm called Adam,” said Adam. “Is Elohim the name of that angel?”

“Yes. One of the old names for God, whom I should call Nobodaddy.”

“The angel doesn't look very happy in that picture,” said Dora. “And Adam doesn't look very happy either.”

“It was a dark day for both of them,” said Mr Blake.

“Why was it?” asked Dora.

“Well, if you have a little time I will tell you. You have doubtless been taught that God created the world, and then he created Adam and Eve, and put them in the Garden of Eden.”

“Yes,” said Adam, “but they got thrown out.”

“Quite so: they were expelled from Eden when they broke God's law. So the story runs. But there is another story which is quite different.”

“Oh! How does that one go?” said Dora.

“Originally it was impossible to break God's law,” said Mr Blake, “because there were no such things as laws. There were no separations or divisions, no rules or measurements. All things were in harmony.”

“You mean there was no right or wrong?” said Adam.

“There was only right. But then one of the eternal spirits grew proud, and wanted control over the others. His name is Intellect, also called Urizen.”

“Urizen!” said Dora.

“Yes. Are you familiar with the name?”

“Have you ever heard of the Urizen Corporation?” asked Adam.

“No, never. But let me finish my story. Urizen separated out a region from the rest of eternity, shrank it into solid matter, weighed it in his scales, measured it with his rods and plumblines, circumscribed it with his compasses, and wrote laws for it in his great brass-bound books. This sorry region, the region over which Urizen rules, is the universe in which we live: a universe of separation and jealousy, cold clay and starry wheels. But even Urizen could see how imperfect his creation was, and being a thinker he could not rest until he found a way to explain its flaws. On the other hand, he could not see that the imperfection sprang from his own workmanship. So he made up the story that those who lived in his world were to blame for its problems, because they had broken the law and eaten the forbidden fruit.”

“So it wasn't really Adam's fault!” said Adam.

“Adam's sin,” said Mr Blake, “was to believe what Urizen told him. He believed himself to be a sinner, because Urizen told him so. He thought the universe was finite, and that anything which could not be measured did not really exist, because that was what Urizen believed. He thought that if a thing was in one place it could not be in another; that two contradictory things could not be true at the same time; and that death was something entirely separate from life, like a black monster hiding behind the sun. Worst of all, he thought Urizen was God, because Urizen thought so himself.”

“Then it's all just lies!” said Dora.

“Not entirely lies,” said Mr Blake. “A mixture of half-truths and errors. A net of confusion; and Urizen is trapped in this net himself; in fact he wove it from his own bowels. He imprisoned himself long before he imprisoned anybody else. That is what gives him such power.”

“He's the biggest baddy of the lot,” said Adam.

“But he is also the Prince of Light,” said Mr Blake; “and one day, we must hope, he will return to his true nature. Now, tell me about this Urizen Corporation.”

“Well,” said Dora, “we don't really know all that much about it. It's a very big business. They've got adverts on the telly and everything.”

“They must have loads and loads of money,” said Adam.

“Yes, and they're after my box.”

“And what is the box?” asked Mr Blake.

“My Dad got it for me. He got it from a funny little shop I'd never seen before. It isn't like a normal toy. Normal toys are advertised on the telly, and they make thousands of thousands of them, all exactly the same: but I think this one may be the only one of its kind. And Adam thinks we've got to solve the puzzle – because the cards inside the box seem to be a kind of puzzle. He thinks we've got to solve the puzzle to wake my Dad up.”

“Your father is asleep?”

“It's all very confusing,” said Dora. “I can't really understand what's going on. My Dad used to work by himself, making things on his computer, but he was always poor, so he went off to London to work for a big agency...”

“The Urizen Corporation again?” asked Mr Blake.

“No – the Horizon Agency.”

“Urizen – Horizon. Almost the same word.”

“Yes!” said Dora. “I never thought of that before! And that lady Natasha seems to work for both of them! Perhaps it's really the Urizen Agency, not the Horizon Agency at all.”

“And now your father is asleep,” pursued Mr Blake.

“He's asleep in my house,” said Adam. “Only I think it's a shadow of him.”

“And the other thing is,” said Dora, “that the night before he went to London, I had a dream about him being dragged through the wall by a big black beetle.”

“Only it wasn't a dream,” said Adam, “because I saw it too.”

“Very well,” said Mr Blake. “I understand some of this.”

“Do you?” cried Dora. “How can my Dad be in London and in Adam's house at the same time?”

“His physical body is in London, working in the mills of greed and oppression; while his spiritual self remains at home, sleeping a deathly sleep to preserve itself from non-entity. He cannot be reunited and awoken until he is set free from the webs of Urizen.”

“But why are people trying to steal my box?” said Dora.

“Urizen and his servants are jealous of whatever they cannot control. They say they are always looking for new things, and so they are: but only to get hold of them and squeeze the life out of them. Everything must be made to fit their deathly pattern. That is why they want your box. Fear of difference. Which is also the reason, I might add, why they have accused me of sedition and attempted to throw me in jail. In fact,” added Mr Blake, looking around sharply, “while we have been talking, Urizen has cast his net. Here are some of his servants now.”


At the far end of the field was a stile, and two men were just climbing over it. One of them wore the black uniform of an old fashioned policeman, and the other wore the red of an old fashioned soldier. The first was carrying a heavy stick and the second had a drawn sword in his hand. Mr Blake and the children turned to look at the other end of the field, only to see another two men hurrying towards them from that direction as well, although they were further away: both were in black or dark blue this time, one of them accompanied by a squat, powerful-looking dog, and the other carrying a cudgel.

“William Blake!” shouted the man in red, who was the closest. “Stand where you are, sir! We have a warrant for you, and for your accomplices!”

“These children are nothing to do with me!” Mr Blake shouted back. “I met them walking here in the field!”

“We will let the magistrate decide about that,” replied the man in red.

“Children,” said Mr Blake, “I think you had better run. Urizen will imprison anyone who happens to stand in his path, but this is really nothing to do with you.”

“I think it is something to do with us,” said Adam. “Look over there!”

To their left the field sloped upwards to a wood. Something big and black was just emerging from the other side of the treeline. It got higher and closer both at the same time, quite quickly, and as it approached they heard a humming, droning sound. It was like a huge black flying beetle with the early morning light shining on the curve of its shell – so much so that Adam compulsively grabbed hold of Dora's arm in a moment of panic – but really it was a car, one of the huge black cars which belonged to the Urizen Corporation, although at the moment there was no sign of its wheels, and it was impossible to tell how it was managing to stay in the air.

“Even in my visions, I have never seen anything like this before,” said Mr Blake.

“We have,” said Dora.

The humming noise got louder. The car was almost over them now, and sinking slowly towards the earth.