It was neither night nor day, Zap lay back on an area of sand that had once formed a tidal beach, looking up at the violet sky. The landscape was deserted. The few beach-huts and the white, rectilinear building of the old Grand Hotel with its mock Regency facade were all that survived of a resort that had come to resemble a stage-set. The idea of the sea was a blue mirage. It had receded so far that he would have to cross a savannah to reach it, a plain littered with the anfractuous reefs and angular boulders that had once formed part of the sea-bed. Now it was a coral forest-a stone terrain waiting for a tide that would never reclaim it.