Category Archives: Short Stories

Unicorn

A short story experiment in the second person.

For trigger warnings please highlight this text:

—->>Trigger Warnings: Drug use, Minor Sexual References (brief allusion to ‘sex crimes’), Implied Character Death.<<—-

It’s in white so people who want to avoid spoilers can do so! 🙂

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unican't

You ought to have left well enough alone.
That’s what you thought later on, although there was no way you could have known where it would lead.
It was just a wallet.
Think of it.

When you find a wallet outside the police station you have two options.
First, you can pick it up, walk ten feet, hand it in like a good citizen, and go about your day.
Second, you can pick it up, shove it down your jeans and run like blazes.

Which option you choose largely depends on why you were at the police station.

If, to choose an example completely at random, you were a seventeen-year-old male, Caucasian, six foot two, being questioned in connection with a string of burglaries in, say, the Alwoodley/Shadwell area… hypothetically, then, you would be much more likely to now be sat under a bush on a playing field rifling through someone else’s property.
Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Inside the wallet is the following: one twenty pence piece; one dead spider, large; three dead flies, small; one train ticket for London dated November 12th, 1993; one paper packet containing pills, white, small; one business card, new, bearing no name.
Not a very inspiring haul. The pills could be worth something, to the right person, but you don’t really know what they are – you’re no junkie. You feel a rising sense of injustice, like you always do when your efforts go unrewarded. Like that big place you’d done over by the posh school; looked loaded from the outside, but you get in and find out they’re bloody hippies. No video games, no hi-fi, not even a sodding telly. Not even in the kids’ rooms. That’s cruelty, that is. It’s no way to live. There ought to be a law.

You take a closer look at the business card. One side has a print of a horse, a bloody big one with a whacking great horn between the eyes. Unicorn, you think, like little girls love, although what (presumably) full grown man would want a unicorn on his business card you don’t want to know.
The other side has no printing on it, but someone’s scrawled a phone number across it in faulty black biro.

Right. That’d show them. A good prank call – scare them, make them think someone’s out to get them. Always fun. Gotta have your revenge. Like the big house. You spoil my night’s work, I’ll smash up your poncy vases and jump on your expensive coffee machine. Maybe take a shit on your rug.

There’s a payphone at the corner shop. Twenty p will do it – if you can’t threaten someone on twenty p then you’re wasting your time. And using their own money to do it has kind of a nice ring to it. Poetic.

Ringing, ringing.
You get ready your gravelly voice to scare them with. Wait for someone to answer…
“Have you got the girl?”
Jesus, what?
Again, impatiently: “Have you got the girl?”
This is not working out how you’d planned. Christ, what to do? Something noncommittal.
“Mmmm?”
“Good. Bring her to Goldenacre Park at midnight and you’ll get paid. Two thousand, like we agreed. Don’t be late.”
The line goes dead.

Hell, what have you got yourself mixed up in? There’s a lot you don’t understand in the message – what girl? Why do they want her? – but one thing you definitely do understand. Two thousand. Two thousand pounds. Two grand.
Two grand is a lot of fags. Two grand is a new bike, new trainers, new TV, and all without running drugs or owing owt to the gangs.
They’d have to carry it somehow, wouldn’t they? Two grand’s a lot of money. Maybe they’d have it in a suitcase, like in the films. You could hide, distract them somehow, and then swipe it. Has to be worth a try.

Goldenacre Park is a long way to walk. Bugger that for a laugh. You nick the first car you can get open and dump it in a field-gate nearby. The police will find it soon enough. They should just be glad you didn’t torch it, like the lads do.
It’s a little after midnight. It’s taken a good meal at the chippy and a six-pack swiped from the offy to give you the courage to come here. At least you’d taken the time to change into dark clothes.

Inside the park it’s pitch black, especially under the trees in the woods. Good thing hard lads aren’t afraid of the dark. On the other side of the woods there’s some landscaped scrub-land, big gorse bushes and little trees around wide grass paths. You flatten yourself behind a gorse bush when you see the four figures standing around in the blackness. They all seem to talk at once, and you can’t tell who says what.

“Can’t we have some light then?”
“No. Don’t be stupid.”
“I don’t reckon it’s here anyway.”
“Course it is. You’ll see when Gregson gets here with the virgin.”

Virgin? The ‘girl’. What the hell have you stumbled in to? You want no part in no sex crimes. You’re not into that shit.

“Oh, didn’t you hear? Gregson got picked up hanging around the school this afternoon. Spending the night in a cell.”
“You’re joking… what are we bloody well here for then?”
“Don’t worry, I spoke to Gregson this evening. Called me on the special number, said he had the girl.”
“What, how did he get out?”
“Good lawyer? Who cares. Anyway, he said he’d be here. He’s late.”

You definitely should be going now. The prank call had really put the cat among the pigeons, it seemed, and any moment now they might come looking for ‘Gregson’ and find…

“Bloody unicorn.”

What? You turn back to the figures as the one who spoke continues.

“This was a stupid idea. Should have just gone after the new dog-fighting contract instead, steady money in that.”
“Don’t be short-sighted. If we can catch this thing do you have any idea how much them Orientals will pay for it? Two piddling grand to bloody Gregson is nothing.”

Unicorn? You must be going mad. You can’t have heard that.

“Simple rarity value, isn’t it. Not many around. No idea what they want it for – fight it, ride it, probably eat it, knowing the Chinese.”
“Unicorn chow mein?”
“Haha, very funny. And they’re Korean, anyway.”

You’re not going mad. Unicorn. Unicorn! The men must be the mad ones if they thought they were going to catch one. Well, you hadn’t seen a suitcase with them, so you think you’ll leave the nutters to it. Not likely they’d catch one now anyway. Not without Gregson kidnapping them a girl.
Virgin. Hah! If it was the local school they were hanging round they’d not have much luck. Even some of the year sevens were right slags, especially for lads from other schools. Even you’d… well, you’d done stuff anyway, and surely that counted…
Breath, hot on the back of your neck.
You freeze.
You turn, very, very slowly.

It’s a horse.
It’s a bloody great horse. A huge one, black as shadows, with a massive two-foot spike the dirty blue-grey of a bruise.
It whickers softly and mouths at your hand with velvet lips.
The horn scrapes across your shoulder.
God, oh god oh god.
This is not your little sister’s unicorn.
With a squeak you back away. Into the gorse bush.

“What was that?”
“Over there.”
“It’s the bloody thing!”
“Get the gun.”

Your legs are jelly but you turn to run.
The big black horse (unicorn. Admit it.) runs alongside you, but you don’t get far. The unicorn screams, then something punches you in the back of the neck and everything fades to black.

It’s not long later. You’re in some kind of vehicle, on the floor, and there’s a huge hospital bed next to you with a large body on it. The unicorn is breathing, at least. So are you.
There are voices around, but you can’t focus on them. You can try opening your eyes, but there’s nothing but a blur.

“So we got it then.”
“No thanks to Gregson. At least now he doesn’t need to be paid.”
“Who’s the kid?”
“Dunno. Some lowlife. Probably wanted to mug us.”
“Just as well he’s not been popular with the ladies, eh?”

The men laugh harshly in a way that hurts your ears.

“So what do we do with him?”
“Get rid of him. Stick him with the rest of the tranquilisers and dump him in a car park. Leave the needles around – that way when the find the body they’ll just think he was out to get high.”

You try to move but it’s no use.
Multiple syringes are emptied into your arm.
Your head feels like glue.
You try to tell them you’re not like that. You don’t touch drugs. You’re a good boy.
Your body is so heavy.

You ought to have left well enough alone.

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