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First 500 Words - Harper & the Unicorn
Harper & the Unicornreleased on
October 5, 2018. It is set in the pixie dust world setting, and comes before
the short story Harper’s Choice, which features the same character.
When Harper goes after a lone unicorn without back-up
she’s breaking every rule, and none. The only questions are: will her partner
get to her before things go totally to pieces, and exactly how much havoc can
one lone unicorn and a P.O.S. officer create before back-up arrives?
Today, I sat in the old gum tree, looking
at the ground below. A footpath left a concrete barrier between the edge of the
road and the sparse, dry grass beneath me. I’d been sitting there for almost an
hour when I finally saw what I’d been waiting for—a unicorn, trotting happily
down the middle of the road, its hooves tap, tap, tapping on the dotted centre
There you are, I
thought, but I did not say it out loud.
Unicorns had very
good hearing, and I was already walking the very sharp and slicey edge of a
very precarious problem. I watched, and I waited, and I prayed the wind
wouldn’t shift. Unicorns also had a very good sense of smell. Pretty soon it
was going to…
It came to a
prancing halt, still in the middle of the road, tilting its head this way and
that, until I was sure it had scented me. As I watched, it raised its head and
snuffed the air, and then it looked up—and then back down—the road, and took a
sideways bound off the street and into the shadows of a nearby walking track
overhung by pine-like she-oaks.
What the hey?
It stayed on the
tarmac making up the combined bike and pedestrian path, trotting swiftly until
it reached the first bend, and then it took another sidewards bound, that
landed it four metres off the path, looking back towards the road. I watched
the tilt of its head, glad I was screened by a fine film of she-oak needles as
well as gum leaves.
Whatever it was up
to, it was being Hella cautious about it.
I stayed up in the
tree, following the ghost-white shimmer of its fur as it doubled back towards
the bridge. That was curious—as far as I knew the portal to the Other Realms
only worked one way, and that was the side of the bridge I was on. The side
under the she-oaks… well, I hadn’t thought to try coming through that way.
When I couldn’t’
see the unicorn’s ghostly outline, anymore, I scanned the area for anyone else
who might be watching, and then slid over the edge of the branch, letting
myself dangle by my fingertips, before dropping to the ground. Straightening
up, I dusted myself off, and looked around, again. Still no-one—not even the
guy across the road, and he seemed to see everything.
Well, if he wasn’t
out watching the unicorn, then he wouldn’t be out watching me, either, now,
I walked across
the road and down the path under the she-oaks. It wasn’t hard to find the
unicorn’s trail. Like big horses, those things weighed close to half a tonne.
It was a bit hard to hide the divots it had left behind when landing. The only
thing it had managed to do was stop anyone from finding its back trail.
And why, I wondered,
would it want to do that?
The more I thought
about it, the more I didn’t like it. Unicorns usually travelled in threes or
fours, and they almost always travelled with a pixie or ten. This one had been
completely alone, and was acting like it would like to stay that way. Time to
find out why, before it went and got itself into more trouble than even a
unicorn could handle.
This morning, when I checked in with
Ingress, I noticed a key beside one of the local portals. Usually when you
click on one of these there’s this little entry underneath to tell you what it’s
a key for. Today, it was also accompanied by a picture of the portal to which it connects. Way cool,