Here’s an exclusive extract from Winter Minimus and the Low Fashion School by Robert Dorazi
During Gregor absence, miss Terne tried once more to give a sewing lecture. But after pricking her own fingers and the rest of her body so many times, and accidentally cutting herself with the scissors, she decided it was less dangerous to take the students out for a walk in town.
The streets of Paris really didn’t look like ice field 46, and the river was not even frozen! No way to ice skate on top of it, and not a single penguin on sight! But after a one-hour walk on dark, small, and noisy alleys, Winter saw something familiar at last. He called over Sassou.
― Look at this igloo! he said.
He walked closer the newspapers kiosk and put one of his hands against it.
― People around use a very strange ice to build their igloos! Look Sassou, it is multicolour and hot. It’s amazing. Do you have tv inside, or a bowling track? he asked the kiosk owner
Sassou quickly joined Winter, and tried to drag him far away. But her attention was caught by one of the newspapers displayed on the kiosk outside walls. She forgot about Winter, and started to read.
― Hey, you! In this country, people pay first and read after. This is not Cameroon here, the seller shouted.
― I come from Botswana, not Cameroon! And we also buy newspapers in my country. Winter, pay him!
― Pay him with what? And what does it mean anyway? Winter asked.
Sassou didn’t answer. She had already picked up the newspaper and walked away, still reading.
The seller held out his hand wide open to Winter.
― It’s 1 euro 50, he said when he realized the boy was not moving. You owe me 1 euro 50. You are going to tell me you come from Kenya too? Come on, hurry up! Give me my money.
Winter searched his scruffy hair, then opened his hand. The man inside the hot and multicolour igloo opened his eyes and mouth as big as portholes when he saw what Winter had on his palm.
― Is there something that is of interest to you? Winter asked. It’s all I have here.
In his hand was a shell, a teeth from a troll, and two small green stones that humans were calling emeralds, but that ice sorcerers were only calling useless green stones.
The seller seemed to hesitate in front of the shell and the teeth, but then seized both emeralds in a fast move.
― These two green… er… green stones will do, he said. They are worth exactly 1 euro 50! Okay, now off you go to blow hot wind with your friend in Senegal!
Winter was too happy to grant the wish of the man. He didn’t even have to use his magic wand. Conjuring up wind when you live in Antarctica was a classic.
― Tornado spiralis !
In no time at all, all the newspapers from the kiosk had been scattered around Paris (Raoul Volfoni would have added “puzzle way”.) they were followed by the seller who took off, flabbergasted, holding tight to his tiny wooden house, and looking around as if an angry troll was chasing him.
As for Winter, he went on his way, relieved that the seller had not taken away his precious shell. There was only one like this in the whole ice field 46, and the other ice sorcerers were all jealous about it!
When he caught up with Sassou, she was sitting down on a bench, avidly reading the newspaper that Winter had just bought for two useless green stones. She was staring at a picture of a small woman escorted by her tall brother with a long nose. The headline above the picture was as follow:
Spectacular escape from Supercrazy asylum.
Garr Gorr and her brother on the loose.
― Listen to this! Sassou said.
Then she started to read the article that had drawn her interest earlier.
We have just learnt that the dangerous criminal mind Garr Gorr has escaped from Supercrazy asylum two months ago. Garr Gorr is the evildoer who stole the three pyramids of Egypt, and replaced them with cardboard copies. She is also the one who glued two arms to the Milo Venus so that she had to be amputated again. The short stature of Garr Gorr should not cause us to forget that she is the second most machiavellian criminal of all the machiavellian criminals. The most machiavellian criminal being Doctor Menace, of course. Garr Gorr escaped with some help from her brother Terny Gorr, a tall man with a long nose, and another accomplice whose name is unknown but who can drive a bus and cooks badly.
― It’s a nice story, Winter said. How many arms did this Venus have?
― I think I know where this Garr Gorr is! Sassou replied. And if I am right…
Miss Terne, escorted with Chen, Youssouf and the others, arrived just at that same moment. So Sassou quickly got rid of the newspaper in the bin beside the bench.
When they came back to the Low Fashion school, it was already dark, and even before they get inside Sassou pointed out to Winter that there was light inside the library. The light went off immediately after that. A few moments later, Gregor walked down the stairs to greet the children on the ground floor. He seemed very happy judging by the large smile on his face.
However, after miss Terne had whispered few words in his ears, Gregor seemed much less pleased and happy. He stared at Winter then spoke to the gray woman at low voice. She nodded and smiled a dangerous smile.
― As I have promised you, I brought back with me a gift for each one of you. You will receive this present tonight,
and you’ll be able to take it with you when you go home, Gregor announced.
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