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Emma's Emu
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Emma's Emu: Chapter 2

The very next day, after school, a huge delivery van rumbled to a halt outside Emma's house.

This must be it! Emma thought. This must be my grand prize! Maybe it was the library of astronomy books, or the riding outfit -- with six months of free lessons! Maybe it was the African Safari holiday, or the hot air balloon!

"This 14 Balmoral Park?" the man asked when she opened the door.

"Yes," she replied.

"Your Mom around?"

"She's still at work."

"Doesn't matter. Sign here." He handed her a chewed pen and pointed to a spot on the clipboard. Then, over his shoulder, "OK, boys, bring it in."

Two more men jumped out of the cab, and opened the back of the van, hauling out a huge wooden crate.

"Where do you want it, Miss?"

"Um, in the living room, please," said Emma.

They wrestled the crate into the house (chipping some paint off the door) and dragged it into the middle of the living room.

"OK," said the first man. "We're off."

Emma stood there, staring at the huge crate. What could possibly be inside? Lots of holes were drilled into the top, but they were too small to see through. Then, from deep inside, came a hollow grunt which sent a shiver through Emma. Never before had she heard anything like it. Whatever's in there, she thought, it's definitely alive.

There was a hook at the top of the crate. She nervously pulled it out from the catch, and the front panel fell outwards onto the carpet with a muffled thud. Bits of straw wafted out, along with a thick, spicy smell that was not altogether pleasant.

Then the creature walked out.

Emma took a few steps back.

She supposed it was some sort of bird. But it was certainly unlike any bird she'd ever seen. For starters, it was huge, almost as big as her. It had a dark brown, feathery body, two long and very skinny legs, and a long, snaky neck with a small, beaked head at the end. And as far as Emma could tell, this bird -- if it even was a bird -- didn't have any wings.

It looked like a thatched cottage with legs.

The bird swivelled its head round to take in the rest of the living room. Catching sight of the vase of flowers on the coffee table, it made a quick side step, and devoured the flowers in one hungry bite. The bird looked quickly back at Emma, as if expecting a telling off. They watched each other for a few more seconds.

Then, with a flamboyant rustling of its feathers, the bird pooped enthusiastically on the carpet.

"Oh, no!" Emma groaned.

The bird cocked its head, intrigued by the sound of Emma's voice, and made a low, hooting call. Emma jumped. Then the bird set off across the living room at a speedy clip, strutting through the kitchen, nibbling at a few houseplants as it went. Trailing cautiously behind, Emma was completely at a loss. What was she supposed to do with this strange creature? Probably the best thing would be to get it back into the crate, while she thought things over. But how?


Emma's Emu copyright Kenneth Oppel


© copyright Kenneth Oppel & Firewing Productions