Emma and the Minotaur
10 Mr Jingles
It was Thursday morning and Emma returned to school. She passed Mr Clarence, the principal, on
her way into the school building. She put her head down and hoped that he wouldn’t notice her. She
had missed detention.
She made it to her classroom without incident and sat down at her desk. Miss Robins wasn’t there
yet. Emma wished there was some way that she could avoid her too. This school year had so far been
an awful mess and she couldn’t wait until it was over. At least her marks were good.
Jake came in a few moments later and he rushed over to her.
“So what happened?” he said.
“Lots!” Emma said. “There’s lots to tell. I’ll tell you at recess, okay?”
“Mr Milligan, please sit down,” said a familiar voice.
Emma looked up and saw that Mr Clarence had entered the classroom. He was standing beside
Miss Robins’ desk. The teacher was nowhere to be seen.
Jake rushed to his seat.
“Since there were a couple of absentees yesterday,” Mr Clarence said. “Some of you may not know
that Miss Robins is unable to teach at this time so I’ll be taking over her teaching duties for at least
Emma and Jake exchanged a glance. She wondered if Miss Robins was another disappearance or if
she was just sick.
As the morning’s lessons went on, Emma started to think that she could get used to Mr Clarence as
a teacher. There was something about the way he spoke and conducted himself that was both
authoritative and engaging. She couldn’t put her finger on it but she thought that maybe it was because
his manner was like that of a grandparent, or maybe a grandparent’s grandparent.
When it was time for recess, Mr Clarence asked Emma to stay behind. Jake looked back at her from
the doorway as he was leaving the room and she shrugged and mouthed the words “lunch time.” The
boy nodded and walked out of the room, leaving her alone with the principal.
“It won’t be too long now,” he said. “Have a seat, Emma.” He motioned to one of the desks in the
front row and Emma sat down. She wasn’t sure what it was that he was talking about.
“Rebecca Robins has disappeared with the rest of them, you see,” he continued. “It won’t be long
now. Not long at all.”
Mr Clarence smiled a kindly smile. “The storm is coming, Emma. Very soon. I give it no more than
a week. Time is running out for us all.”
Emma looked out the window but she didn’t think that he was talking about a literal storm. Outside,
it was sunny.
“I suspect they will decide to close the school soon. Temporarily, of course. And who knows what
the reaction will be like out there.” He swept his arm in the direction of the windows.
Emma didn’t know what to say.
“I’m just a rambling old man,” Mr Clarence said and he sighed. “Anyhow, I’ll get to my point. You
are very far ahead in your lessons, correct?”
“I think, then, that you should take the next few days off to make time for your… extracurriculars. I
know you’re very busy with certain projects. Musical ones, I’m sure.”
“Yes, sir,” Emma said again. She was baffled.
“Time is running out, Emma, and these projects of yours are very important. Not much time now.