Adam was finishing a drawing of Sophie. It was the fifth he’d done today. As always, he held it back at arms length and squinted, examining it closely. Then he held it up for Valorie to see.
‘What do you think?’
Valorie didn’t even look up.
‘I’m sure it’s absolutely lovely,’ she said. ‘Just like the thousands of other lovely, lovely pictures you’ve drawn. Come on, we’ve been in here four days, do you call this entertainment?’
Adam looked coldly at her from underneath his fringe. It was unusually heavy today, as he had decided to brush it all in front of his eyes. He folded up the drawing and put it to one side.
‘You’re not here to be entertained. Anyway, at least I’m doing something productive,’ he said darkly. ‘Why don’t you ever draw?’
‘Because it’s boring, and I can’t draw.’
‘I bet you can. Draw me.’
‘Please draw me. I’ll give you some of my chewing gum.’
Adam realised he was fighting a losing battle. He sat back in his chair once again.
‘Do something. It’s incredibly dull watching you lounge around on that sofa all day, ignoring me. It’s infuriating. It gets on my nerves.’
‘Well don’t watch me then!’ Valorie snapped. ‘You don’t have to watch me all the time, you know I can’t escape.’
The dispute was interrupted by a knock on the door. Adam frowned and got up.
‘Who is it?’
A thin reedy voice, with a trace of some Scottish accent, most likely Aberdeen.
‘This is Derek Williams,’ the voice said. ‘I’ve come to negotiate with you. Let the girl go, and then we can talk.’
Adam’s frown got bigger.
‘Who the hell are you?’
‘I’m the head of the department of Magical Management. I believe you know my associate, Arthur O’Hanlon?’
Adam stepped forward. The rod was out as he reached the door, and opened it.
‘What exactly -’
He froze. Standing before him was not Derek Williams, Head of the department of Magical Management, but a blonde woman wearing a green blouse.
Adam snarled as he realised he’d been tricked. He pointed the rod at Eddie as she leapt past him. But suddenly Charley was there, splaying his hands before him. A blinding light struck Adam right in the eyes. He yelled and fell backwards over a chair.
Valorie watched, astonished, as Adam rolled around in pain. Eddie had reached her.
‘Are you OK?’ she said, holding her by the shoulders. Valorie winced.
‘Yeah, I think so. What are you doing here?’
‘Isn’t it obvious?’ Charley called to her over Adam’s screams. ‘We’re here to get you and take you home.’
Adam rolled around. ‘I’ll kill you all!’ he yelled, waving his rod around. Spells shot from the end of it and flashes around the room. Eddie ducked, shoving Valorie’s head down as a bluish beam streaked past.
Then the window beside them exploded. Glass showered down, jagged shards flung themselves forward. Valorie yelped and rolled onto the floor. She stood to see a man at the window. He was holding a hammer in his hand. He seemed to be floating by the window, some six floors from the ground.
Valorie was flabbergasted when she realised that the man was her father.
‘Dad!’ she yelled, rushing towards him. They hugged.
Adam yelled in frustration from his position on the floor and continued to fire spells around the room.
‘Come on, sweetheart,’ Mr Morse said, picking up his daughter. Vlorie let her father pull her out through the window frame. They were suspended more than 30 feet from the ground.
‘Come back, you can’t leave me like this! Sophie! I’ll get you! Where are you?’
As the two of them hung in midair, Valorie glimpses Charley as he rushed out the flat door. Eddie, meanwhile, stood where she was, focused, and then sank through the floor, as if it were nothing more than butter.
Valorie had no time to call out to her before her father suddenly stopped levitating.
They plunged down.
Valorie screamed, feeling a horrible sinking feeling in her belly. She saw the building rush upwards towards the sky. She saw through the windows as Eddie sank down through ceilings and floors, sinking right down through the block of flats.
The ground rushed at her. Valorie shut her eyes in terror, but at the last moment, her father regained control. They began to slow down.
Valorie opened her eyes. Yes, they were getting slower. She felt it. They were getting slower, and slower… her feet touched the floor. They had made it six floors down without dying.
‘Val, are you OK?’
Valorie clung to her father, rooted to the spot. She gazed up at the building, waiting for any sign of Adam appearing at the window. Valorie tried to talk, but shock prevented her from speaking coherently. Her father seemed to understand, and just held her there.
For the first time in days, she felt safe again.
Bare seconds later, Eddie came running from behind the corner to join them.
‘Adam Quinn won’t be blinded for long,’ she said. ‘I think we should get out of here while we can… before he starts firing at us again.’
Behind them, Charley appeared, very out of breath.
‘OK…’ he gasped. ‘Back… to the car.’
They ran. Valorie managed to let go of her father and sprinted ahead, not looking back, terrified that Adam had already recovered and was catching up to them.
She heard Charley gaining speed, and then he was in front of her, leading the way. Valorie followed him. He knew where he was going. He knew where they had to go to escape.
Sure enough, they rushed past another block of flats, and in the adjacent car park, a yellow car was parked.
Inside, Valorie’s mother was sitting, biting her nails. Then she saw her daughter and sat bolt upright. She tugged open her door and started to step out. Charley pushed her back in the car.
‘Not now. He’ll be after us, everybody, GET IN!’
Mrs Morse climbed back in, and soon found herself squashed up against the door by Valorie and her husband. Eddie hopped in the driver’s seat and Charley took the passenger seat.
Eddie put her foot down. They drove away.
Charley leaned round to talk to everyone in the back. ‘OK,’ he said. ‘Is everyone alright?’
They nodded. Mrs Morse took the opportunity to hug her daughter.
‘Oh, Val, sweetheart, we were so worried about you! Were you OK? Did he hurt you? What did he do? I’m so glad you’re OK. Oh, sweetie. Give your mum a hug, come on.’
Valorie hugged. ‘Slow down Mum.’
‘Sorry. I was just… where’d you get that bracelet?’
Valorie glanced down at her wrist, where the chain was still tightly fastened. Charley looked too.
‘Here,’ he said. ‘I can get that off.’ He leaned further over, and touched the bracelet. It fell off instantly, and he took it from her.
‘We don’t want to see that again,’ he said. ‘That was a purging chain – a very popular Wizarding charm. It completely purges the powers of the person that wears it.’
Valorie merely nodded. ‘He’s gonna be pretty mad that I escaped – I mean, that you came to get me.’
‘Yes, he is. As soon as we get back to your house, I’ll need to inform all our online friends, so we can gather together as soon as possible. I’ve given them enough time, I think.’
Eddie peered into the back seat for a split second.
‘Do we have a plan?’
Charley turned to her. ‘Of course,’ he said, as if it were obvious. ‘We get all these Wizards together and fight Adam Quinn. Hopefully we’ll win.’
‘How are we going to fight him?’ Eddie asked.
‘I don’t really know yet,’ Charley said hotly. ‘I just sort of thought we’d work it out as we went along. I haven’t seen the extent of his power for over three years.’
Eddie looked very grumpy, but kept her eyes on the road.
Valorie continued to hug her parents. ‘Ready to go home?’ her mother asked.
‘I think so.’