Fortnum Roscoe, a young tax lawyer, sits opposite Cooper Hedon on a commuter train heading to a big city. Cooper sees that Fortnum is reading a book about dreams, and tries to share the details of his own recurring dream with Fortnum, who becomes ever more frustrated with Cooper's interruption to his morning reading. Cooper shares his theory that dreams and reality are not mixed, since he was killed in his recurring dream which felt so real that he felt conscious while dreaming. Much to Fortnum's irritation, Cooper expands on this alternate dream life:
He explains how he was living a life devoid of responsibility with his partner Bella, in a secluded, luxury compound. One night, whilst at its cabaret, the Inspector of the new totalitarian regime The Circle; disrupts the evening. Terrified of the threat of war, the attendees are persuaded to join The Circle after listening to a speech by its leader Johnson Evesham. Bella tries to confront the Inspector, and ends up having to run into hiding with Cooper. Bella desperately tries to convince Cooper to join the resistance against Johnson. Cooper is not convinced. Suddenly, huge planes and battleships approach, and bombing begins. Bella is shot in crossfire and bleeds out in Cooper's arms.