"Where is Ryan?"
"Manh?" Spook looked up at the sound of Hermanus' voice. She was pacing around in circles, chewing her lip and trying desperately to work out what the heck was going on. Her spear-stick lay propped against a wall. Spook knew she should probably keep it close, but she was too preoccupied. Besides, it hadn't done her much good other than made Elektra Van Helsing nearly fall over laughing at the sight of her brandishing it in her face. The memory of her taunting still make Spook's face burn when she thought about it.
"I saw him attack the General," Alara put in helpfully, "but I do not know where he has gone now."
"Oh gawd." said Spook. Just another thing to worry about.
She looked across the room at Elorie and the man she presumed was her husband, but she knew Elorie would be too distraught to offer any help. The characters were watching her expectantly. Alara was fiddling with her bowstring, and Ash and Morgan were standing side by side by the door while Hermanus' eyes flickered from Spook to his author and back again. Spook almost laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation. Warriors, fairies and princes were looking to her for leadership. If the situation hadn't been so bleak, or Spook so close to a breakdown, she might have found it hilarious.
Ohmahgawd, what am I going to do? Spook thought in a panic. She was still sweaty and panting from the fight in the garden, and her limbs were quivering with the adrenaline and terror that had come from facing the very villains she had created. She could still scarcely believe what was happening; here she was, in a strange country surrounded by fictional characters and people she'd never met, armed with nothing but a kitchen knife on a stick, fighting off villains who never should have lived anywhere outside of her imagination. Elorie's husband was injured, Elorie herself distraught, Ryan missing and now it seemed it was Spook who would have to take the lead. Spook was only fifteen years old.
She sat down on the floor and started chewing her thumbnail, legs crossed and back hunched as her eyes began to blur with tears. She didn't know what to do. There were people out there who wanted to murder them all, and somehow everyone wanted Spook to fix it. She could see it in their eyes, a faint glimmer of hope that perhaps the being who had brought them into existence could produce some fantastic plan that would make lightning bolts rain down from the sky and zap the villains into a fine red mist. But she couldn't. She was far away from home, she was scared, confused and utterly at a loss as to what to do.
"Stop it." said Spook out loud. "Stop it right now! Bursting into tears is not going to help, I have to do something! We need a plan, if we have a plan it will all be okay. Right, plan, plan plan, I need a plan."
"Spook?" Alara raised her eyebrow at her author, utterly bewildered. "What are you doing?"
Spook didn't answer. Instead she got to her feet and started pacing the room again, muttering and mumbling under her breath, occasionally punctuating her sentence with a virulent Latin curse. The characters watched her, their faces switching from incredulity to anxiety to downright consternation as Spook continued her internal debate. Finally, she stopped and turned to them.
"Alara and Hermanus, you two go outside and keep watch." she said.
"Keep watch for what?" Hermanus asked.
"Fluffy bunnies and unicorns." said Spook waspishly. She was in Leader Mode now, and anyone who was foolish enough to cross her would be thoroughly chewed for their ignorance. "What do you think, dummy? If you see any of them nearby, send them packing. Preferably with an arrow or two up their backsides."
Alara nodded and towed Hermanus out of the door. Spook turned to Ash and Morgan next.
"Right, Ash, you go and look for Ryan. Keep your sword with you, and yowl if you see anything that might jump out and try and kill us."
"What about me?" Morgan asked.
"I need you to help me out in here." said Spook. She saw the agonised look in Ash's eyes and sighed, "Sorry lovebirds, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. Ash, get your shift your butt out there and start looking."
Reluctantly, Ash began to head towards the door. Spook took a deep breath and turned to Morgan.
"Right, we're going to need an ambulance. Grab the phone and call 999 -"
"What?" Morgan looked confused. "You mean, 911?"
"Yeah yeah," said Spook, somewhat distractedly. She was ticking things off on her fingers, trying to work out what they needed, "And we'll need something to pad his wound and try and stop the bleeding. Grab an old jumper -"
"Is that a sweater?" Morgan asked.
"That thing." said Spook. "Also, we might want to unblock a couple of these barricades to let the paramedics in. Could you do some sort of protection spells for us? You know, just in case anything else leaps out of the woodwork and tries to suck our brains out through our eyeballs. Hmm ... we're gonna have to move the sofa ..."
"Same difference!" Spook yowled. "Honestly, am I speaking Korean? Agh," she knuckled her forhead, "pox on trans-Atlantic language differences. Anyway, just get on the phone and say we need an ambulance. I'll go and rummage for some sort of bandage."
"Umm ... okay." Morgan nodded hesitantly and headed off to find the phone. Spook took a few more deep breaths to fight down the fear rising in her throat and scampered off to find a makeshift bandage, wriggling through the barricades Elorie had evidently erected around the house and muttering to herself as she hunted.
"This house is hereby declared a Not-So-Safe Zone, and everything in it subject to any slightly haphazard and impromptu usage we may find, including for defence, attack, protection or painful bludgeoning," Spook giggled, "by order of General Spook, and the High Command of Oh-Dear-We're-In-Trouble-Now!"
In the other room, Spook heard Morgan begin to speak into the phone, stumbling and stuttering over her words as she struggled to pluck up a sufficient amount of courage.
"H-Hello? Umm, c-could you send an ambulance please? We have a bit of a - a situation on our hands ..."