This month’s word is unicorn, meaning “a mythical creature resembling a horse, with a single horn in the center of its forehead”.
Everyone knew there were no more unicorns. The last known unicorn had died in a zoo, in 2025. No wild unicorns had been seen for decades before that, despite extensive searches.
And yet, the rumours persisted.
T was convinced they were true. He spent hours scouring all corners of the Internet, following up leads in obscure forums and repeatedly viewing blurry videos which claimed to show unicorns. He even met furtive strangers in dingy pubs to get his hands on hardcopy evidence. He’d plotted alleged sightings on maps, and was saving up to visit the area where the most encounters had been reported. He was not the most prolific poster on the unicorn forums, but he was one of the most persistent.
T knew that if there were still unicorns, he would find them. How could he let all that beauty, that wondrous power, remain hidden? It never occurred to him that the unicorns, if they existed, might have their own ideas about that. There were those who felt that if there were unicorns still, they should be allowed to live in peace, and PowrCorn882 was one of them. They would often argue for hours online with T, trying to change his mind. It never worked; both of them always ended up more entrenched than ever in their original positions.
Although the search for unicorns was the driving passion of T’s life, he still had a day job, doing data entry for a widget manufacturer. It wasn’t exciting, but the pay and hours were reasonable. He had just finished his shift and was on his way home when a van pulled up ahead of him and several masked people piled out. They grabbed him by the arms and hustled him into the vehicle where they blindfolded and tied him up.
T was so surprised he didn’t even struggle. Secretly, he was thrilled. He’d read about this kind of thing happening to other people, but he’d never expected to be on the receiving end himself. He regarded it as vindication, really – if he wasn’t on to something, they wouldn’t have kidnapped him, right? He hoped he was going to meet someone high up in the conspiracy, and not just henchpeople.
As a result of this thought process, T was surprisingly chipper when he was dragged from the van and into a small room. He was pushed into a chair and then the blindfold was removed. T blinked a few times, his eyes adjusting to the light. He was sitting at a table, with a masked figure seated across from him.
“You have to stop trying to find unicorns,” the figure said.
“You’ve proved me right,” T replied. “I must be on to something or I wouldn’t be here.”
The figure sighed. “I thought you’d say that, but I wanted to give you the chance.
“I’ll never stop now,” T replied.
“As you wish,” the figure replied. They gestured to the people who had brought T in, and two of them stepped forward, grabbing T’s arms and dragging him to his feet.
“Wait!” T cried. “Don’t I get to know who you are, or your plans, or anything?”
“It’s not a movie, T, it’s real life. I’m not going to monologue. You had a chance, you chose not to take it.”
T stared angrily at the figure as he was dragged away.
“Who are you?” he shouted. “At least tell me that much!”
The figure shook their head, standing up and walking away from T. They vanished through a door on the opposite side of the room.
T was dragged out another door, along a featureless corridor, down several dimly-lit flights of steps, along another corridor with rough-hewn stone walls, and into a small cell. He was dropped unceremoniously on a small bed. His captors cut his bonds and left the room, locking the door behind them. T stood up and rushed to the door.
“You’re just going to leave me here?” T asked incredulously, peering out through the slot in the door.
“Yup. You’ll be fed regularly.”
“Yeah, we’re not animals.”
The two exchanged a glance, laughing.
“But… But…” T stammered.
“You’re going to die here,” the first explained. “That’s the end of your story.”
They strode away, laughing. T let go of the bars and slid down, burying his face in his hands. So this was how it ended. He hadn’t seen that coming. The rest of his life, in this tiny cell.
“And I never even got to see a unicorn,” he sighed.
© bardofupton 2018