"I think I get it," I said softly. That seemed to be about all the explanation I was going to get at this point, which was sort of disappointing. Perhaps at some point I'd get a little more information? "But why am I here? This is the Hideout For Misfit Characters, right? And I'm not a character. I'm a real person."
Ara looked at me. "I'm sorry? What do you mean? I'm a character, and I'm a real person. Face it, pixie, everyone here is a character."
He'd got it all wrong. It was insulting to call me 'pixie', but for now I let it slide. There were more important things happening: I knew what I was all right, and it wasn't a character. "No, no, you don't understand. I don't think I'm supposed to be here. There must be some mistake."
"Aoife." That was Leigh, the woman who just arrived. "We're all characters. Half of us don't realise it at first but we soon find out. I'm sorry we had to be the ones to tell you--I know it's hard."
"I don't have an Author, though!" I exclaimed. "How can I be a character without an Author? And I don't hear voices in my head and I choose everything I want to do. I don't have an Author."
"Uh oh," said Ara, looking at one of the others. Bother, I'd forgotten their names already. Stupid pixie brain. "This looks like one of Del's; she's let them get out of control again."
"What are you talking about?" I was getting really worked up. My green skin changed, so that it was tinged with orange and red. It always did that when I was angry. It became a lot more opaque, too. Must be nearly midday. "Who is Del? I don't understand!"
"Calm down, Aoife," said Leigh. As she spoke, I heard something in my head.
~Aoife? Is that you?~
I've gone mad. That was my first reaction. And then, ~oh, shoot. You're not my Author are you? I don't want to be a character!~
~No, I'm not your author~ Well, that was reassuring. If the voice I heard wasn't my author perhaps they were mistaken and the voice they heard wasn't theirs. ~I'm the Hideout itself. Don't you remember me?~
And then I realised that I did. I did remember it. That voice, haunting the edges of my recollections--I knew where I was. I'd been here before.