The girl's eyes are round and wide, hand raised to her mouth. She's sitting in a dark room, all musty and oppressive, yet she retains a certain shine and splendour. Her hair is tidy and her elegant dress is carefully gathered, flowing behind her like a river.
Zoe stumbles, suddenly aware of being glittery and gaudy, a bright unsubtle light. She turns for the crack in the books she'd stepped through just a moment before. It's gone; dank wall confronts her, impervious to her frantic scrabbling.
She scratches at the wall until her fingers are raw, shouting for Jamie. She only stops when soft hands nervously touch her shoulders, turning her around.
"You bleed," the girl says, and presses a lace handkerchief against Zoe's hands, gently drying the cuts.
"Thank you," Zoe says, but the girl seems to take no notice. "Who are you?" Zoe asks.
The girl freezes, her whole body rigid with fear. "They're coming again," she whispers, and pushes Zoe into a dark corner. She sits down on the bed, and goes still.
Zoe stands in the corner awkwardly. She hears no sound, no movement, no speech. After a few minutes she grows tired of illogical hiding, and comes back into the light.
The girl is sitting on her bed, head bowed. "We're lucky they didn't see you," she says, twisting the bloodstained handkerchief in her hands. "They would have killed you, and then I'd be alone here again."
"There was no one here," Zoe says. "No one at all."
"I'm so glad you're here with me," the girl replies, as if Zoe hadn't spoken. "Do you know a way to escape? My father must be so worried about me, and I'm going mad locked up in here, menaced by those horrible monsters."
"Look," Zoe says, sitting down next to the girl. "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't even know who you are. I haven't read your story yet, I guess."
"I don't think I have a story," the girl says, sadly. "I was born, I lived in a house, I loved my father, I was pretty. That's all there is to tell."
Zoe puts her arm around the girl's shoulder. She intends to tell her that everyone has a story to be told; everyone has an adventure inside them, and she should know as well as anyone. Instead her mouth disconnects from her brain, a momentary slip in the well-oiled gears. "You are very pretty," she says.
The girl blushes. "I hear it so often, I wonder what else there is of me."
"Write your own story, then," Zoe says. "I could help you, if you like," she continues, earnestly. "We're in a land of fiction. We can do anything we want."
The girl fixes her gaze on Zoe, a strong, knowing look, as if she's seeing her properly for the first time. Zoe shifts uncomfortably, feeling vulnerable and exposed.
"You speak in riddles and rhymes," she says. "You walked through a wall and you, you speak like no lady and your dress keeps flashing against my eyes. I cannot make heads or tails of you."
"Try," Zoe urges. "Try, it's the only way out of here."
The girl smiles, taking up Zoe's hand. "A story," she starts, unsure. "All I have known is this house, this life. But now there are monsters, and darkness, and you, shining so brightly against it all. Yes, a story," she continues. "Surely sometimes the princess doesn't need a prince. She finds her own way out of the dungeon and vanquishes the monster with her own will and wit. She takes up the sword; she does not submit."
Zoe laughs excitedly. "Yes, that's it," she says. She intends to tell the girl to continue, to come up with a definite plan of escape involving all the necessary details and computations. How could they get out of the room otherwise?
The girl kisses her instead.
Once again the gears have slipped, but half a groove only. It's a lower pitch, a softer hum, yet there's no grinding, no metallic complaints, only warm, warm, soft.
"Rescue me," the girl whispers against Zoe's lips, and from a distance Jamie's voice calls out, hurried and desperate. "Victoria Waterfield!" he cries. "Zoe, where are ye, lassie?" he shouts.
Zoe pulls back and suddenly she hears metal clanking, ominous outside the door, and in the corner the wall has black lettering.
"Will I see you again?" the girl asks, anxious and sad.
"Write another story," Zoe says, "One where you're free and happy, and that's where I'll be." She turns and steps through the crack in the wall, between the pages. Words rush over her and she organizes a special place for them in her head.
Later Jamie tells her about the girl who had travelled with him and the Doctor before, and Zoe just giggles and finishes it for him. She gets it exactly right.