The story takes place in a small provincial town on the Hungarian Plain. The weather is bitterly cold (twenty degrees below zero) but no snow has fallen. Despite this, hundreds of bewildered people stand around a circus trailer (or corrugated iron box) in the main square, waiting to see the main attraction - the stuffed carcass of a whale. The people composing this faceless, ragged crowd have come from distant parts of the country as well as neighbouring settlements, and the strange state of affairs the presence of strangers, the extreme cold is disturbing the order of the small town. Relationships are changing, and some ambitious people feel they can take advantage of the situation; while others who are more passive fall into even deeper uncertainty. The unbearable tension is brought to a head by the figure of the Prince, who is hiding behind the whale; his mere appearance is enough to unleash destructive emotions. The ensuing apocalypse spares no one - not the scientifically-minded outsiders, the teenage enthusiasts, the philistines who care only about their own safety, nor the family nothing historically privileged by European culture.