The classic team role-playing game of conspiracy and strangeness
Jungle All The Way
2.10 pm, Monday 25th May 1998
'Coolsville! Just like The Exorcist!' Maddy enthuses, sticking her tongue out and trying to swivel her head all the way round.
'Maddy, I think you've been possessed by something that seems to be on our side,' says Ella with no less enthusiasm. 'And it looks like we're mixed up with the Master again, and he knows about us. Why can't we ever manage anything secretly! What did it feel like, do you think we could communicate with that presence?'
'Again?' asks Maddy curiously. But she is now looking out through the window. 'Hmm. Wonder if I picked that up from the music box cassette or just, like, tuned in to something on the mountain... it felt, y'know, I was drifting, like usual - this music - and then, I can't exactly say... it was all sort of squiggly, like when you twiddle a radio, you know, and then you find a station and the voice comes through... and it's something like the shipping forecast on Radio Warsaw or something you can't understand. Not talking to me specially, anyway, I don't think, more like a sort of broadcast.'
'Perhaps we should try again with the real music box,' says Ella thoughtfully as they climb out of the cable car into the crisp bright air of the summit. 'But first... the voice said to protect ourselves. I've got a few ideas for doing that.'
As she explains her plan Maddy starts to leap about excitedly. 'Yes! Yes, yes, yes! A great big huuuge ritual with candles an' burning things an' dancing about, y'know, skyclad... well, maybe not the skyclad bit, but everything else. Let's do it now! Have you got your stuff? With Chaos Magic, you've got to be, like, spontaneous, see?'
'Oh, no, not just yet,' says Ella. 'I need to buy some things first.' She looks rather embarrassed.
'Oh. OK then, this evening!' Maddy peers down at the valley below. 'How're we going to get back down? I can't ski, can you? But I'll have a go at snowboarding. That looks cool!'
Greg walks over to Rehnstrom, smiling abashedly. 'I guess that there's some trick to it. Perhaps you'd better show me how it's played.' He offers the music box to Micke, and watches again, this time from close proximity.
Micke smiles cheerfully. 'I can't have played this for years - let's see?' He turns the music box over in his hands, but in fact it is quite obvious how it works and in a moment the eerie sounds are once more issuing from it.
Micke goes into a trance exactly as before, and Greg asks him softly 'Micke, what do you see?'
Micke's voice comes very slowly, and much more strongly accented than usual. 'See? I see nothing. It is dark.' His eyes are closed.
'Where are you?'
'I am at home. I am waiting.'
'Waiting for what? Who is talking to you?' persists Greg.
'Waiting for instructions. But He is not speaking to us.'
'He? Who is He? Is it He who takes care of you?' The musical box is about to end its noise, Greg judges, so he reaches across and snaps the lid shut, cutting it off. There is no change in Micke's trance.
'Yes...' Micke's voice is a hiss. 'He tells us we are few... he helps us protect ourselves... we must not accept from...' it dies away.
'From what?' asks Greg, but there is no further response: Micke just sits there. Greg snaps his fingers in front of his face, touches his cheek, shakes him gently by the shoulder, but he does not awaken.
Eventually Greg opens the musical box's lid and allows the tune (if so it can be called) to finish. As it does so, Micke opens his eyes and is relaxed again. 'Oh - it doesn't work. That's a pity. I suppose it must have broken.'
Over the next half hour or so Greg chats with Micke about his business and life, putting him at his ease. It emerges that he has never married 'because, you know, work... some people are lucky enough that they can put everything into their work and also into a marriage, but me, I can only be good at one thing, I suppose! And, you know...' he gestures around him 'a wife, I don't know... what would she add? I do well enough with just me.'
It also emerges that Micke had a great respect for Larsson as a child, but lost contact with him when the scoutmaster left his post. 'You grow away from these things, don't you?' He explains that Ollie Olsen is youngest but one of the scouts, Knut Johannesen being three months younger.
Diana shrugs in response to Alan's question, and runs her hand absently through her hair. 'Perhaps we should see if we can get into Liberg's place and, er, acquire his music box.'
Alan looks surprised.
Diana gives a brief smile. 'Well, he won't need it any more, will he?'
They head across town to the address they have been given for Harald Liberg, pausing only to buy a pair of gloves each: quite handy given the chilly weather, in any case.
The house, or rather mansion, is in a pleasant suburb, set back from the road: clearly the shipping business was doing well for Liberg, as with the other scouts. It is pretty sizeable even by local standards.
As Diana and Alan peer speculatively at it from the driveway, they are surprised by a car that turns in beside them. A grey-haired woman leans out of the window and says something in Norwegian.
'Oh,' says Diana, flustered, 'I'm sorry, we were...'
'English? Are you more journalists? I can only tell you what I told the others, what I told the police, you know.'
She sounds more resigned than hostile, so Diana decides to take advantage of the opportunity. 'Yes, that's right, we're with... Shipping News.'
'Oh, you'd better come in, then. Here, get in the car.' She opens the rear door for the two operatives.
As they crunch up the long drive the woman reveals herself to be Mare Kandre, Liberg's housekeeper. It was she who found the body. 'Frozen solid he was! Like a lump of ice! And this was in the sauna, mind you! I said, Mare my girl, there's something odd here.'
Once inside she quickly makes tea. 'Yes, very odd. The master was a great one for his sauna. But not to freeze solid like that, like ice - very unusual.'
'Had he seemed unusual in any other way - worried, perhaps?'
'No, not at all.' She shakes her head vigorously. 'Although perhaps... well, it doesn't matter, but I didn't want to worry him at the time... but no, surely. I told the police, anyway...'
'Told them what?' asks Diana gently.
'Well, there was a man lurking around the house, the day before, I was sure of it. I didn't tell the master, because he was gone by the time he got back from work. A shifty sort of man - a foreigner, some sort of Oriental.'
Alan, looking around the lushly-furnished room while this conversation progresses, sees something on top of the mantelpiece. 'I'm so sorry,' he says nervously, 'I don't suppose I could trouble you for some milk in my tea?'
Mrs Kandre looks slightly repelled by this unusual request, but nonetheless heads out to the kitchen to find some milk. During the minute of her absence, Alan rises, pockets the musical box, and returns to his seat.
Greg phones SITU and asks for Dr Haley, the biochemist who spoke with Nora earlier. 'Which stomach enzymes do the sweets react with?' he asks.
'The minor peptidases - carboxypeptidase especially - and phospholipase A2 is also necessary, we think. It's a complex reaction, though, seems to be very sensitive to conditions, it'll take weeks to plot it out properly - and we can't exactly trial it in vivo!' She laughs lightly.
Greg hopes that he has spelt these names correctly. 'Could we conceivably have the first ingredient for making a kind of thermal bomb which would create a heat implosion? Even outside the body, that might have drastic effects on someone.'
There is a brief silence. When Dr Haley speaks, her voice is slow and patient. 'You're not a scientist, are you, Senator Wentworth? Biochemical reactions of this type work on a completely different physical scale, and on a completely different timescale, to the reactions that take place in bombs.' She is not trying too hard to keep a patronizing tome from her voice.
'It was just an idea,' says Greg slightly defensively.
'Yes, well, thank you very much - we'll treat it with the attention it merits.'
Nora is also on the phone to SITU. She establishes that they have never heard of the VAM and do not expect, from her description, that it would have anything to do with the conspiracy SITU opposes. 'Too crass,' says Andre Swahn dismissively. The Japanese man sounds like a more hopeful prospect, although they cannot identify him and know specifically of no Japanese agent working for the enemy, he is their style. Nora jokingly introduces the idea that Santa Claus might be a member of the Conspiracy, and is made uneasy by Swahn's failure to laugh. 'We don't have anything on him, but... we'll have a dig around.'
'The other thing, the English boy in the hospital - Paul Elliot - the name rang a bell with me,' says Nora, 'and I recalled that we met him at an airport: as we were leaving Guyana he was heading inland towards the Demeter base.'
Swahn sucks in his breath sharply. 'Oh dear. That sounds rather too much of a coincidence, doesn't it? And he works for Crab? We've had our eye on them for some time. I do think that you might have mentioned his presence earlier, Agent McShane.' His tone is a trifle terse.
'Is he known to you, then?'
'Not personally, but we know for a fact that one of Crab's other journalists is an agent... anyway, enough on that, you're not cleared for more information than that. We'll see what we can find out about him from this end and get back to you.'
'Is he a danger? You should trace his movements, tell s about his associates...'
'Thank you, Agent McShane, we'll do everything that's appropriate,' cuts in Swahn.
'The other thing, then, is can you send out a hypnotist to help us regress the scouts whilst they are in their music-box-induced hypnotic state?'
'No problem - we'll have someone with you tomorrow afternoon.'
While walking back into Oslo, Diana gives Liberg's musical box an experimental tinkle: it sounds just like all the others. She grins briefly at Alan and asks 'Have you got any bright ideas on what to do next?'
'Hansen's place?' he suggests shyly.
This turns out to be only a mile or so away, a pleasant walk through the brisk afternoon. It is another large detached house, but it has a ghostlike, empty feel about it, its dead, dark windows staring sightlessly across the grass.
Peering through the letterbox, Diana can see a small stack of boxes in the hall, each bearing the Statoil logo. 'Those must be the things from his office,' she whispers - why, she is not sure, as there is no-one to overhear.
While Alan keeps a nervous lookout, Diana applies first a phonecard and then her penknife to the door's catch. It is something of a struggle involving the use of three hands at once, and her hair keeps falling into her eyes at the crucial moment, but eventually the bolt clicks back and the door swings silently open.
Their footsteps echo in the dusty hall. 'You take that side, I'll take this?' suggests Alan.
Nora heads for the hospital and seeks out the helpful Matron. There is a great deal of digging around, but it appears the letter left by the mystery Santa was not kept. She does manage to find out the address of Dr Hammer's niece, Sylla Trogard, who lives in Lillehammer.
'Well, here's his musical box,' says Alan, presenting it to Diana. It is identical to the others, and makes the same noise when wound. 'Have you got anything?'
'Most of this is very dull - just shipping documents, minutes of meetings, plans of equipment and so on,' says Diana, who is sitting rather disconsolately amid the contents of the Statoil boxes. 'I've found this, though - his copy of the despatch order for Knut's carbon black. It's identical to the one we've seen.'
She picks it up to show to Alan, and only then does she see the piece of paper underneath. It is another despatch note, for another 2388 grams of carbon black - the identical quantity to Knut's consignment. It is dated 15th May 1998, the day after Knut's death. And it is addressed to Mr Paul Elliot, 226 Anlaby Road, Hull.
It is late afternoon by the time the operatives are all reunited to share the information they have gained, in the Skallagrim café.
'Greg, where did you get the info on VAM?' asks Iain. 'I think I'd like to follow that lead up and see what can be found out about them.'
'Mm, they sound like a perfect foil for the Master - a possible counterpart to the duelling clubs of Germany?' suggests Ella.
'It was at the local paper,' says Greg. He looks distinctly thoughtful, turning one of the musical boxes over in his hands. 'Knut's should probably be sent to SITU by special messenger as quickly and securely as possible. We need a very, very thorough analysis of the music boxes. The outside of it is supposed to be painted steel, but I just wonder if some of the innards might be ytterbium?'
'We need to check back with the people at the Demeter Project and hear about how things are there,' says Greg. 'I have a hunch that things have not been entirely quiet there. We might be wise to check on Paul Elliot too. For that matter, we should check with Crab to see if Elliot really works for them, and what they are looking into.' He looks at Nora. 'You might need a new employer...'
Nora jerks convulsively at this suggestion, spilling coffee all over the table.
'I have an idea for opening things up,' continues Greg. 'How about if we bring both Olsens to Larsson, and video them listening to the musical box - then we can play the video back to them all afterwards, and see how they react. I anticipate possibilities ranging from an immediate attempt to kill us or to summon The Master's agents to an aghast astonishment followed by a brainstorming session among the Olsens and Larsson. At the very least, we should be able to demonstrate to poor Larsson that there is something that has wrecked his life which is an outside influence and which can be removed, so that he has reason to hope for a recovery. It should also clue in the Olsen brothers that maybe they should regard one another in different ways than they do now.'
'No,' says Ella, 'I don't think we should risk confiding in Ollie.' She looks around her fellows. 'Not that I don't trust him, but for his own safety. Look what happened to Anna in Heidelberg, and he's got a young family.'
'What did happen in Heidelberg?' asks Diana curiously. Ella just shudders.
Maddy has been jigging impatiently, waiting for an opportunity to break in, and finally settles for making her own. 'Anyway, right, um, well, I still think it's aliens an' all, but maybe they're not, like vibes an' stuff. I think this Master guy's behind it all: like, he must be really really old - an' it sounds like he arrived in a spaceship hundreds of years ago. Everyone knows the old gods were really astronauts, like Eric von Heineken said...'
Greg nods in agreement. 'Another hunch: is there a comet which was on a close approach to the Earth at the time that the scouts were marooned, and does it by any chance have a period of either thirty years - so it would be coming back now - or eighty years - the length of Sig's absence? I'm thinking that Sig was gone for eighty years, in the manner of Rip Van Winkle or someone who has gone Underhill. Could this possibly be a result of the time distortion involved with interstellar flight suggested by Einstein's theories?'
At this suggestion Nora's self-control, which has been nobly struggling so far, snaps altogether. She slams her cup down on the table, breaking it, and half stands, leaning forward aggressively over the table. 'Look, I don't know why you lot are all so convinced by this girl's mad ravings, and her twisted rituals and ideas -' she gestures violently at the startled Maddy '- but I'm really having a hard time swallowing it all. Let's try and keep our feet on the ground here, all right? As far as I'm concerned, the 'Ice Palace' must be just the scouts' version of what it felt like to be near death in a cable car. As for all the other ideas about spaceships and aliens - ridiculous!'
She glances round wildly, as the others regard her with a mixture of fear (Alan), sympathy (Diana), puzzlement (Greg), concern (Ella and Iain) and resentment (Maddy). 'You're all clearly suffering from great stress, because as far as I can see you're just babbling incoherently... God! I can't stand it any longer!'
She flings back her chair and strides quickly out of the café, leaving the startled operatives to apologise to the waitress who comes over to mop up the spilt coffee.
'She called me mad,' mutters Maddy. 'That's not nice.' Her lower lip protrudes dangerously and starts to wobble.
'She's been under a lot of strain, I'm sure she didn't mean it' says Ella hastily, although she has difficulty forcing conviction into the words.
'Anyway,' says Greg, 'we need to keep on making progress. It occurred to me that the Labrador retriever seen in the picture we found in Knut's office was probably Blødax. We ought to look into that dog, if there's any way to do that. Knut's parents still live in Lillehammer, don't they?' He sips his coffee. 'I thought that Rehnstrom was cocking his head in the manner of a dog, and then, your description, Ella, of Maddy turning her head from side to side and sniffing was also a little bit doglike. Is there some clue here?'
'The dog's probably dead by now,' says Iain, 'if it was adult when Knut was ten, in the photo. I'll go and visit the parents, anyway.'
Ella spends a little while looking for the town's health shop, and also a florist. She buys sea salt, turmeric, birchbark, cedar shavings, fennel, lemon, rosemary, thyme, and acacia. She puts all these into a small bag.
Then, returning to the hotel, she asks each of the group for seven strands of their hair, and she sets them into small blobs of white candle wax. As Nora has disappeared into the town, Ella just raids her hairbrush, hoping that her permission is not necessary for the spell to work. She explains that its purpose is to bind the group together so that they may draw strength from each other and prevent evil infiltrating. She prepares posies of angelica, basil, daffodil, garlic flowers, hemlock, laurel, rosemary, mistletoe, dill and rowan, and insists that everyone should carry them to protect themselves against evil. They are tied with white silk rope, and each has one of the wax blobs attached.
It is noticeable that during this procedure she makes frequent, slightly embarrassed, reference to a photocopied manuscript she has in her bag.
She and Maddy then set off up towards the mountain once more, carrying one of the musical boxes.
Greg sends Knut's musical box to SITU, and occupies himself hiring a video camera and portable VCR. He then visits Ollie Olsen once more, this time in the company of Diana who is the only other operative free.
Ollie agrees, bemusedly, to visit Larsson in the operatives' company. He says that he has been wondering how the old man is getting on. He explains that it was simple generosity that prompted him to give the musical box to Larsson: he had never even played it himself, as he had been sat on his brother Martin's bed. He had thought that Martin would let him share his as well if he didn't have one of his own any more, although this turned out not to be the case.
From Ollie's house Greg phones Martin, who while polite makes it clear that he is rather busy. The mention of Larsson softens him slightly, and then Ollie speaks to him (in Norwegian and with an occasionally rather brusque tone). Eventually he agrees to take part in the trial.
Larsson's apartment is much as before, and the ex-scoutmaster suspiciously admits Greg once more. Both Olsens appear ill at ease amid the mess of the flat, and Martin greets Larsson stiffly and embarrassedly. Ollie is more open, and Larsson seems genuinely glad to see him.
All sit quietly, and Greg fires up the camera while Diana winds the musical box.
Iain visits the library again, establishing quickly that no comet is known with the characteristics Greg suggested, and that there is nothing more to be learnt - here, at least - on Egil Soderstrom, on the legend of Sig, or anything on the Wild Hunt, Fimbulwinter or related topics that seems to be relevant. He does learn that the concept of 'troll' in Norwegian folklore covers a wide variety of creature, not just big ugly things that live under bridges. It means 'earth spirit', and is used in the myth to describe entities Iain would more readily think of as gnomes, elves or even fairies.
Knut Johannesen's parents live in a small house on the outskirts of Lillehammer. They are a quiet middle-aged couple: Knut was their only child. Iain introduces himself as writing for Scouting Weekly, writing an obituary of Knut as a distinguished ex-scout, and the Johannesens warm to him rapidly. They are happy to witter on at length about their departed son and his achievements, which truth to tell do not sound all that remarkable. It emerges that when very young Knut was not a great performer at school, being something of an ill-disciplined tearaway, but the Scouts 'made a man of him' in Mr Johannesen's words, and from the age of eight or so onwards he excelled in his studies, as did the other scouts (apart from Ollie of course).
Iain turns the conversation to Blødax, a few pictures of whom are mixed among the ones of the young Knut, and Mrs Johannesen tells of how her boy loved that dog. 'They were like brothers. Blødax died twelve years ago, but Knut always remembered him. He even told me once that he always used Blødax's name as his computer password, just so that he could type it every day and think of his dear friend!'
Nora spent some time repairing the damage to her nerves and restoring her makeup, and is now dressed to kill in a rather seedy bar across the town. It contains mostly young people, and the walls are decorated with neo-Fascist regalia and symbols. She has obtained, via the Lillehammers Nyheter, an introduction to a young man named Jens Larby, the leader of the VAM group in Lillehammer.
Jens is not an impressive character. He is very well built, testament to the efficacy of the local weights room, but he does not strike Nora as a great thinker. He is also rather drunk. She has gathered that the VAM is not a very powerful or well-organized group, nothing like the British National Party or Australia First, who have political representation at council level. Instead it seems to be little more than a bunch of thugs who run around at night putting in the windows of immigrant-run shops. None of the scouts have ever been members.
At about this point Iain turns up. He meets Nora's eyes warily, but she seems to be back to her old 'up' self once more. In fact, the scene is rather reminiscent of the cellar bar in Heidelberg.
Nora has pretty much given up on Jens as a useful lead, so comes to join Iain after a while. 'The music boxes causing scouts to fall into a hypnotic trance seem a sensible idea,' she explains. 'We could use the effect that each box has on its owner - inducing a trance-like state - to search the home of each scout.'
'If there's anything more to be found,' says Iain.
'I have to say I'm reasonably convinced that the scouts are bad guys - simply because going into trances and acting like ancient Norse heroes is just not normal,' she replies. 'They were probably hypnotised into believing that they were Norse heroes so the bad things they did would seem OK.'
'Well, we don't know that they've done any particularly bad things,' says Iain, 'unless you count Knut trying to smuggle that carbon black into the space probe, and hacking the computer - whatever that was about.'
As the music sounds, Diana observes Martin Olsen fall straight away into a trance, and his brother Ollie exclaim 'What a dreadful noise!' Roald Larsson also goes into a trance, but in his case it is far from peaceful and meditative - instead he jerks and thrashes about, his eyes moving rapidly from side to side under their lids.
Ollie, shocked, does not know whether to tend his brother or his old scoutmaster, but Greg waves him back to his seat with a gesture of authority, and he waits, teeth on edge, until the noise finishes.
Martin and Larsson both come smoothly out of their trances, unaware of what has just occurred.
'Now,' says Greg, as Ollie looks worriedly from one to the other, 'have a look at this!' He pops the tape into the VCR, and tenses himself, ready for sudden action.
As the scene replays, Martin Olsen stares, frowning and shaking his head slightly, puzzledly at the screen. Larsson on the other hand gets very angry. 'What? What are you...? I will not tolerate this nonsense! Out! Stop your...'
Diana moves to soothe him, taking his hand in hers, but he lashes weakly out at her (fortunately missing). Tears stream down his face.
'Let's put him to bed,' says Ollie solemnly, and he and Diana shepherd the old man into the bedroom.
Greg stays to keep an eye on Martin, who as the tape finishes sits back, his chin in one hand. 'This is very disturbing. It looked as though I was in some form of hypnotic trance.'
'That's right,' says Greg eagerly.
'Maybe the notes of the musical box - I know that certain frequencies of flashing light can trigger epileptic fits in susceptible people,' says Martin. 'There was a case last year of a Japanese television programme, I remember, which had such effects on its viewers - young children. I think it was called Pokemon.' He releases breath with a hiss. 'Perhaps this is some similar effect, and I have a genetic predisposition to it. I wonder how common it is? These musical boxes might be rather dangerous - what if one was played in a car, and affected the driver? We will have to look into this. I saw that Ollie was unaffected, even though he is my brother, so it must be a recessive gene, at least. And poor Mr Larsson had a different effect: he is older, I suppose.'
He straightens to his feet. 'Thank you very much, Mr Wentworth, for bringing this matter to my attention. I shall raise it with the Minister on my return to Parliament in two days' time: we will have to set up a task force, or a commission, to look into these boxes. Do you know who the manufacturer is? I know we were given them when we were very small: it may be a firm that is no longer in business.'
Up on the mountain, it is starting to get dark as Ella and Maddy reach the summit. Maddy has been drawing liberally on the litre bottle of blackcurrant Absolut vodka she bought in duty free, and encouraging Ella to do likewise. 'Magic always works better if you're a bit squiffy...' she explains.
Ella shows Maddy which way north is, and Maddy tramples out a big circle in the snow, putting a musical box to its northern edge.
Meanwhile Ella dabs salt water around the place and sprinkles the bag of herbs and spices she bought earlier around, to purify and get rid of any evil and negativity. She starts to chant, invoking Alcyone, the Princess Who Averts Evil, and T'ao Hua Hsiennui, Peach Blossom Girl.
Maddy pauses to listen. 'Cool! Peach Blossom Girl - is she from one of those Japanese mango cartoons? Y'know, the ones where they have those huge big eyes and go round beating people up?'
She smashes her Double-Subliminal Dream Machine under the heel of her DM, in the centre of the circle. 'A sacrifice.' Then she borrows Ella's knife and cuts the palm of each hand. 'Always works better with a wee bit of blood.'
Ella calls out for help to Ah Kin, who protects against evil that comes in darkness, and Maddy throws herself face down onto the snow, her arms outstretched to east and west. 'Okay!' Her voice is muffled by snow. 'Start the music!'
It is dark, and everything is fuzzy and rippled, as though seen through the bottom of a smoked glass. She is in a small room, but she is up in the top corner. In the centre of the room a man works at a computer. He is vaguely familiar, and then she remembers where she has seen him - at Cayenne airport, as the team were leaving French Guyana. He is Paul Elliot. The scene snaps into place - it is Bernard Joubert's office, at Project Demeter. Elliot is tapping away on the computer, a glazed expression on his face. Under the desk is the trunk over which he was taking such care when they met at the airport.
In the other top corner of the room, opposite her awareness, is a Voice. It has no shape and no substance, but it has a presence all its own. The room is distorted around it. It murmurs, in a deep, reassuring voice, come now, my boy, come now, you can do it, my lad, my brave warrior lad, the time is close, the plan is nigh, my boy, I will protect you from those, they will come to prevent you, yes, but you will be safe, you must take care, my boy.
Then it suddenly stops, and Maddy feels that it has become aware of her intrusion. A feeling of dreadful cold suffuses her entire being, and everything goes black.
Maddy has been lying still, Ella kneeling at the foot of the circle, watching her carefully as the darkness gathers. Suddenly there is a flash of light, and, all around, the protective ring of herbs and spices that she laid catches fire, burning with a cold, eerie blue flame. Ella feels a deathly chill wash over her, as though it has splashed outwards from the centre of the ring.
She leaps up, darts into the circle and snatches Maddy up, dreadfully aware that something has gone wrong. Maddy is unconscious, as cold as ice, her skin starting to blue, crystals forming on her hair and lashes. The only warmth is that emanating from the posy she wears, which pulses with heat in time to the beat of Ella's heart.