It is always night in the city of Ember, but there is no moon, no stars. The only light during the regular twelve hours of day comes from flood lamps that cast a yellowish glow over the streets of the city. For 250 years they have lived pleasantly, because there has been plenty of everything in the vast storerooms. But now there are more and more empty shelves, more and more times when the lights flicker and go out, leaving them in terrifying blackness for long minutes. Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet seem to be the only people who are worried.