Ally woke in a dingy flat near the centre of a place in the magic-universe-realm, called Oxford (not to be mistaken for a place in the real-life-universe of the same name. Believe me, this Oxford is far more interesting. For one thing, there are more murders and teachers who go off on strange Buses and never come back to at the same place again. But I’m digressing…)
So Ally woke in the flat with a light swinging in the ceiling above her, and a worried girl wringing her hands as she paced the floor beside her.
“Duuuddee… What happened?” (‘Dude’ being the usual greeting for young women nowadays… Especially ones who have been in a trance for several days.)
“Why, oh, why, did I decide to read that letter?” Angel moaned, not talking to her companion, but at her.
“Why, oh why, oh, why? Why, oh, why, oh, why, oh, why? Tehe, that could be a song…” Angel gave a little giggle and started chanting the words over and over again under her breath, like some sort of hip-hop hymn. She was falling prey to another black spell…
It sounded like the poor girl had finally gone off her rocker.
“Angel. Angel? Duudddee?!” Ally repeated.
Angel’s head suddenly snapped up; her azure eyes had lost the wildness and were now just brimming with tears.
“Maddy’s gone, Ally. Something from The Funny Farm took hold of her and then some dead people came to collect her as their weird Queen.” Angel started sobbing into her hands, “I’ve failed her. I’ve lost my friend.”
“Well…” Ally pondered to into thin air, staring upwards and looking very much like an inquisitive professor of Thinkology.
“Having been ‘hooked’ up to The Funny Farm for so long, I’ve seen inside their little empire. I’ve seen what they do to people. And you know what? It’s all been placed into my head, tucked away and nicely stored.”
“What’s that got to do with Maddy?” Angel asked.
“Angel, dude,” Ally responded, “It means I’ve got a plan!”