|Joey sat up. She appeared to be lying on the sofa. Then she looked around her and frowned in confusion. This wasn't Die Rosen. It looked a little like Die Rosen, and the view from the window was the same, but while the Salon in Die Rosen was decorated a very well-co-ordinated red, this room was blue. Sofas and armchairs were scattered around the room, and opposite where she was sitting, Jack filled one. He smiled when he saw she was awake.|
Joey still felt very vague. The only thing she was acutely aware of was a blinding pain in the back of her head. Maybe it was red, after all. Maybe she was seeing things and all the extra chairs and sofas weren't there at all. Maybe she was in Die Rosen. Yes, she must be. Where else would she be?
Suddenly, she remembered her manners and greeted her friend.
"Oh, sorry! Hello, Jack! Did Madge or Jem show you in?"
Jack frowned. "Joey, what are you talking about?"
"Have the guests arrived?" she continued. "What's she like? The girl, I mean, not her mother. She's my age, Jack, and the three of us are going to be such friends!" She ended on an excited note.
Jack bit his lip. This did not look good. "Joey, what guests? We aren't expecting any guests!"
Joey looked confused. "What do you mean, we aren't expecting any guests? And have you forgotten? The Howards?"
Jack's face clouded. The Howards! Now her blabbering made sense! It had been quite a knock.
As if to confirm his worries, a young voice outside yelled "Voices! She's awake!"
Jack rushed over to Joey and grabbed her shoulders, pushing her back against the back of the sofa.
"Is that Peggy? And that reminds me" she continued to babble "have you seen Rix? Has he come out of his temper tantrum yet?"
There was a thunderous noise and the door burst open, revealing a crowd of strange children, none of whom she recognised. With gleeful cries of "Mamma!", they all ran forwards.
Jo turned and looked behind her. There was no-one there. They must mean her.
In confirmation, one very small girl with a cloud of chestnut hair ran forwards and took a fistful of her skirt. Jo looked down at her in alarm and tugged her skirt away. It was red. Since when had she owned anything red? The little girl's smile wavered for a moment, then she burst into tears.
Jack grabbed the girl and put her out of the room.
"Out, out, all of you, out!" he cried. They fled, frightened, but one girl protested.
"OUT, I said, Cecil!" roared Jack. The girl followed the others.
Papa? Something was wrong. Very wrong. Jo was beginning to feel alarmed.
"Jack! Who are those children? Who let them in? Where am I?" For the illusion of the blue room had not vanished. "Where are Madge and Jem and Robin and Stacie and Grizel and Juliet and Daisy and Primula and Peggy and Rix and Bride and Jackie and Davie and Sybil?"
Jack grabbed her arms and bent down so that his eyes were on a level with hers.
"Joey." he said, his voice very serious. "I want you to give me your full name, your age and the year."
Joey gaped at him. "Josephine Mary Bettany, nineteen, nineteen thirty-three. Why?"
Jack let go of her, uttered a word she did not recognise - sheltered as she was, Joey had never heard anyone swear before - and left the room. He returned a minute later with a sharp object. He sat down on the arm of the sofa right next to her, but his head was high above hers. He reached down with his free hand and put an arm round her waist so that she could feel it diagonally across her back. It made her feel uncomfortable.
She looked up at him and began once again her stream of questions.
"Jack, where is everybody? Who were those children? Where am I? Why am I here? Why on Earth did you want to know my name? What's going-?"
Her question was left unfinished as Jack pulled her sleeve up roughly and dug the sharp point of the syringe into her arm and her eyes rolled back in her head as she fainted, her head lolling, her mouth open slightly, and resting in the crook of Jack's arm.