The unexpected combination of the spinning and the flames froze the six men. They continued to stand, staring, as Alison wiggled her fingers in a goodbye gesture and dropped through the hole.
Messing with henchmen, she thought as she fell. Never gets old.
I've been here too long. I've started to hallucinate, thought Heather Harker as the ceiling of her cell seemed to open up and a girl in dark glasses and a thick gold chain fell on top of her.
"It's okay, Treasure. I'm gonna get you out of this," yelled Alison as she plummeted though the hole and hit the bed. Then she got a look at the terrified girl who lumpy bed and body she was lying in top of. The skin was flawless, the features were angelic, the hair tumbled into chestnut curls. All the trademarks of the tiny TV queen. The chic-but quirky ensemble--black lace Forever 21 top, gold Miu Miu skirt, Givenchy wedges-- was something Treasure's stylists would put together or her. But on closer examination--and it was difficult to get much closer than Alison currently was--there was something...missing. A further second ticked by, and then Alison knew what the girl was lacking. Charisma. Whatever the quality was that differentiated celebrities from civilians, this girl didn't possess so much as an ounce of it.
"You're not Treasure Spinney!" said Alison, accusingly.
"That's what I've been trying to tell them," moaned the girl. "I'm her stand-in. I do the stuff she doesn't want to do. Like show up for rehearsals or wave to fans or go to the launch of the Jen
Girl contest. I kept saying `You've made a mistake. I'm not Treasure Spinney. I'm Heather Harker.' But they wouldn't listen. They grabbed me after the Jen Girl rehearsals. They threw me in a van and then they locked me in here."
Alison looked at the tear-stained girl and felt a stab of sympathy. You spend your days standing in the shadow of a star. You're invisible the second she shows up. And then you get abducted by inept Belgians.
"Who are you?" Heather Harker suddenly demanded.
Alison paused. What should she tell the girl? That less than six months ago she was the privileged and popular daughter of a Brentwood attorney? That her best friends were so insecure and jealous of what they perceived as her perfect life that they manipulated her into undergoing experimental cosmetic surgery? That the operation went haywire, turning her into a freak whose fingers burst into flames every time her emotions were aroused? That her fire-starting abilities were ignited by a run-in with the real Treasure Spinney when they fought over a sale item at Barneys? That her stepmother had turned out to be a criminally insane mind-controller who Alison had crushed under a giant ball of frozen poo? That she led a double existence as beloved Beverly Hills High School student by day and superhero Hottie by night( or, technically, by late afternoon to early evening because she still had homework and a social life)?
There wasn't time to tell her any of that, and, besides, Heather looked so freaked out, Alison doubted she could comprehend any of it. So she said, "I'm an angel."
Heather's eyes widened. Her mouth went slack.
Alison pointed up at the hole in the ceiling. "I knew you were in need. So I came to help you. That's what we do." I hope she's buying this, thought Alison. The dazed look on Heather's face indicated that she needed to attribute the bizarre things that were happening to something. It might as well be divine intervention.
"If I'm going to get us out of here, I need you to do one thing for me," Alison went on.
"Anything," breathed Heather, who had made the instant leap from sniveling stand-in to full-on believer in all things miraculous.
"I need you to close your eyes and pray. And don't open them until something miraculous happens."
Heather didn't need telling twice. She rolled of the bed, nudged the tin plate containing a half-eaten Belgian waffle to one side, squeezed her eyes shut, pushed her palms together and began moving her lips in silent prayer. Alison looked at the girl and experienced brief but bitter pangs of disappointment that it wasn't the real Treasure Spinney on her knees praying for salvation. Then she snapped out of it. She was a superhero who fought for the unprotected and the oppressed and, clearly, few people were more oppressed than Treasure Spinney's stand-in.