Emma and the Minotaur HTML version

7 A Girl and a Tree
Emma ran.
Pink slippers slapped the cold, wet street as she ran. It wasn’t raining anymore but the clouds that
lingered shrouded the light of the moon. The street lamps shone feebly and their light glinted off a
parked car here and there.
She was halfway to Lockhart Road when she stepped in a puddle and sent water spraying up all
over her pajama bottoms. As she slowed down, she saw that there was a dog on the side of the road and
he was staring at her. He was a small dog with big ears.
“What?” she said, but she couldn’t hear her own voice over the music.
The little dog tilted his head. He barked twice, though Emma could not hear him, and then rushed
toward a house where a woman was standing just inside the door, waving him in.
Emma put her head down to avoid the gaze of the woman. She walked on and, before she knew it,
she found herself facing the darkness of Glenridge Forest.
“The music!” she said.
She tried to calm down and think things through. This could be the the music that she had heard
once before, and it could be the music that Andrew Milligan claimed to have heard. But it was so loud
that it was almost painful. It hadn’t been that way the first time around. The first time she had heard the
song of the tree, it had been sweet and it had made her happy. Maybe this was something else.
Just as she was thinking this, the intensity of the music relented and it didn’t feel as though her head
was filled with it. The music wasn’t everywhere at once anymore but it seemed to be coming from a
particular direction. It was as though the source of the music had read Emma’s thoughts and, where
before it had had a great sense of urgency, now it was content to let Emma figure things out.
“You wanted me to come?” she said.
Emma could follow the music if she chose, and maybe if she did, she would find out what had
happened to Mr Milligan and now, possibly, to Jake.
Emma took a step forward. The image of a man with horns flashed in her mind. She remembered
that night in the rain when she had seen something in the forest and it had frightened her. She ima gined
a horned monster taking Jake away and she shuddered. She knew that it was ridiculous, that there was
no such thing as monsters or men with horns but, in the dark, in the middle of the cold night, it was
hard to shake away the feeling of fear that filled her stomach.
It occurred to her that the music may not last for long and that if her friend was in there then it was
her responsibility to find him. She took a deep breath and walked under the cover of the trees.
Emma took two steps and then looked back to where she had come from. She couldn’t see the road.
The light from the street lamps had disappeared. She walked back a few steps and found only more
forest waiting for her.
She sat down where she was and waited for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. From far away there
came a long howl. The noises of night drifted to her as gradually as her night vision did. It took a long
while but eventually she could see the dark outlines of the trees and of the undergrowth in every
direction. There was nothing she could do but follow the music now.
As she walked, the normal sounds of the night were joined by a different sound altogether. It was
the deep groan of strained wood, like a log being bent, and it was coming from everywhere around her.
She couldn’t see what was causing the sound but her mind conjured up the inevitable image of walking
She walked on for a long time and, as she went, she started to notice bright eyes that were staring at
her from the dark of the night. She could hear the scurrying of little feet as though the owners of the