"It's Adam - he's gone missing."
Emily from the science department races into the staffroom, her face a picture of despair. This is unusual. Normally her face resembles a potato with stick-on eyebrows. It still looks slightly potato-ey. But there is a definite carrotish hue of shock.
"Who's Adam?" says Steve, who is busy filing school reports into the Morrison's carrier bag that passes for his briefcase.
"The science department's pet ant." Emily flings herself on to a chewed-up armchair and begins tearing at her grubby fingernails in frustration. "I thought he was asleep in the corner of his tank - but it turns out that was just a piece of lint."
Annette starts to snigger. She catches my eye, and immediately conceals her face behind a Mars bar.
"Emily," I venture. "Don't you think it might have been sensible to get another sort of pet for the science department? A gerbil, perhaps? Or even a lizard?"
She shakes her head. "Adam was a great addition to the classroom. Friendly, sociable ... ".
"Yes, he'd come out and wriggle his antennae while I was teaching biology."
"It's good to know even ants have a boredom threshold," mumbles Steve, tying up his Morrison's bag with masking tape. "He was probably giving you the finger."
"Shut up" says Emily, a spray of snot exploding from her nostrils like a freshly-opened bottle of Lambrini. "You're all idiots. Adam was a wonderful, noble soul. He was worth a million of you good-for-nothings."
I sit down beside her and pat her stained laboratory coat. "I appreciate that now is a time of mourning for you. But given that Adam's an ant, and therefore considerably smaller than both Lord Lucan and Osama bin Laden, I really don't know if there's anything we can do to find him."
"Erm, I wouldn't be so sure about that," says Graham from geography, staring anxiously at his open jam sandwich.
"Oh please no!" glugs Emily, breaking into renewed sobs.
Love Kate x.