Now this is what I’m talking about. Short story time. Sorry, but this is a little longer than both my previous attempts put together. It’s not strictly keeping to the inspiration from 365 Creative Writing Prompts, but is definitely inspired by it.
So, it was a Thursday. Two weeks ago. As far as I knew, it was a Thursday like any other. I was going to get it in the neck from my supervisor that day, and so, yeah, a Thursday like any other.
When I left my flat I was half asleep, not because i’d had a late night or anything, it’s just hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed and walk to the train station when you hate your job.
Now, the houses on the other side of the street are big. I mean massive. And fancy. And in the morning they get all of the sun. I was walking to work in a suit (I mean come on! Who needs to wear a suit to a call centre?) and so stuck to the cool shadows on my side of the street. And that’s when it first caught my eye.
Outside the gate of number twelve, surrounded by bags of recycling and a deconstructed cot, stood a small unicorn rocking horse. It must have been around three feet tall, painted a very light pink with a golden horn and golden base. It’s mane seemed to be a synthetic golden hair of some sort, and on its backside, a love heart was painted in a deep red. It’s eyes were painted too, large and glossy with exaggerated eyelashes.
Then it winked at me.
I could have sworn it. But I told myself it was a trick of the light, a reflection of the sun hitting me at just the right angle, so I walked on.
Leicester Train Station is fairly central to the city. To get there I have a twenty or so minute walk through the spacious Victoria Park and down New Walk – a pedestrianised road with yellow gravel leading between a row of large Victorian houses, most of which have been converted to office blocks or student accommodation.
As I walked along the path between the trees of Vicky Park I smiled my regular morning hello to Mr Bald Man With Dog, tried not to stare at Large Breasted Blond during her morning jog, the same for Brunette With Nice Arse, who followed shortly on her daily exercise. I watched as the squirrels scrambled their way up the trees and into the litter bins. Standard morning routine. But then I stopped and stared in disbelief: in the children’s play area, partially obscured behind a roundabout that slowly squeaked to a halt, almost as though it had been hiding, a small, pink unicorn rocking horse with big, painted eyes and a red love heart on its backside.
Well… needless to say, I was pretty creeped out by this. I shot a glance around me, nothing out of the usual and no one waiting around the playground. It was a coincidence, I convinced myself, nothing but a coincidence. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me walking with a little more urgency.
Halfway down New Walk, a small bridge goes over Tigers Way – a short dual carriageway gridlocked at this time in the morning. On the bridge, a litter bin stands proudly next to a bench which is usually surrounded by homeless or alcoholics. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you, the damned unicorn was stood on the bin, facing up the path, looking at me.
I saw it from a way off, stuttered my walk for a brief moment, but resolutely walked on, keeping it in the corner of my eyes at all time. As I came closer, a bead of sweat trickled down my face. It was the same as before. The same pink. The same eyes. The same love heart on its backside. I tensed and rushed past, half convinced it would attack me if I got too close.
A moment later I glanced over my shoulder and a shuddered. It was still there, but now facing down the path. Towards me.
Never before had I actually wanted to get to work fast!
Fear took over. I legged it. By the time I made it to the train station my heart was pounding in my ears and I struggled to breathe. I removed my jacket and unbuttoned the top of my shirt. I glanced at the timetable. My train was due any moment now.
I dared not look around in case I saw the unicorn here. I made my way through the turnstiles and onto the platform, taking deep breaths to calm my heart and myself. Who could it be, I wondered, surely this entire thing was an elaborate prank set up just for me! I laughed at the idea. This was ridiculous!
I glanced along the platform as the train arrived. At the end, a small, pink unicorn rocking horse stood. A cold wave of dread rushed over me, but I forced myself to laugh. There was another one here, I told myself. Whoever was behind this must have hidden them all over the city. It must have taken ages. Must have cost an arm and a leg. I shook the fear from myself and, with a smile, got on the train.
The train to Nottingham takes around 30 minutes. I found a seat and within seconds had fallen asleep. The morning had worn me out; the fear, the running, the ridiculousness of it all! I was out cold.
I only woke around 5 minutes from Nottingham Station because an employee of the train line came to collect litter. With blurry eyes I adjusted to my surroundings and came back to my senses. Not soon after did I see the tuft of golden hair peeking over a seat a few rows ahead of me.
You have got to be kidding me.
The object behind the chair continued to slowly rise. A pink head. A golden horn. Those large painted eyes. Looking directly at me.
The train came to a stop. Enraged, I stood and marched to the seat where the unicorn had been.
I did not stop until I was at work, seated at my booth. I saw it five times on the way, but I did not stop. I sat with my head in my hands, breathing quickly and shallowly. I was panicked but I was safe.
He must have said my name three times before I realised he was there. Mr Foreman, my supervisor stood over me. He was a little weed of a man, a few years younger than myself, sleazy and greasy to look at.
‘Henry! You’re down on your quota for the third month!’ One moment he had a hand full of papers, the next they were thrown in my face and scattered on the floor around me. ‘I look at these figures and I think why do we even–’ he paused and looked at me. ‘You alright?’
‘I’m… I don’t know, Mr Foreman… I have just been–’
‘Anyway,’ the prick cut me off and gestured to the papers on the floor. ‘I look at these figures and I wonder why we even pay you! You, Henry, are worthless to us right now. Worse than that, you’re costing us money and we are getting nothing in return!’
People started to notice now. Colleagues stood to look over booth walls, agape and watching. Embarrassed, I looked away and caught sight of the window. I almost threw up. There it was, that bastard unicorn on the other side, perched on the windowsill. How the hell did that happen? We are on the tenth floor!
I stood, eyes wide at it, speechless.
‘Look at me when I’m talking to you!’ Mr Foreman continued, ‘You’re an expense, Henry! And one we could do without! If you don’t get your act together and start showing us some figures, you’re out!’ I didn’t react. ‘That’s it! You, in my office. Now.’ Then he leaned in and sneered in disgust. He took a deep breath through the nose. I was wet with sweat. ‘You stink.’ he said as he straightened himself. ‘Sort your life out. And pick up those papers.’
As he left, I turned to the window. It had vanished.
‘Where is it? Where has it gone?!’ I shouted. My colleagues sunk their heads into their monitors, ignoring me. ‘The unicorn! It was right there a moment ago! Where did it go!?’
No answer. I fell into my chair and wiped my brow. I folded my arms on the desk and rested my head. I forced myself to breathe deeply, to calm myself. Then, from behind me, I heard a noise.
The sweet and innocent voice gave me a fright! I jumped around and cried at what I saw. There, in my very cubicle, was the pink unicorn rocking horse. And it spoke to me in naive, stuttered words.
‘D-d-don’t worry, Henwy.’ it said. A tear of terror fell from my eyes. The unicorn rocked slightly as it spoke in its soft candyfloss tones. ‘I… I ‘m here to h-h-hewp.’
Quickly I glanced about the office. Everyone was hard at work, eyes at monitors, headsets on. I looked at the– the thing in front of me.
I leant lower, not wanting to get close..
‘What… are you?!’ my voice was shaking. So was the rest of me.
‘I’m y-your way outa h-here, Henwy!’ It gave a rock and shook its mane. The golden hair flowed in an appealing way and settled into position. A slight smile escaped me.
‘What?’ I asked. ‘I don’t know what you mean. What are you going to do?’
‘You know that… that p-pwace you dweam of? W-with the grassy fiewds and the f-fwowing wivers? You cawl it Dandwia?’
I stared in disbelief. Dandria. It was indeed a land I visited in my dreams.
‘I never told anyone about that… How do you know about that?!’ I struggled to keep my voice down, then gave another check around the office. Foreman was glaring at me from across the room. I turned back to the unicorn. ‘What are you talking about!?’
‘I know you, Henwy. I know awl abowt you. I am fwom Dandwia, the land in your dweams, and I can take you there, now!’
This was impossible. I looked over, Foreman was making his way towards me and he looked pissed!
‘Now!’ the unicorn said, ‘Henwy, we need you! You must do exactly as I say!’
In a confused panic, I agreed.
‘G-g-good! Now hurwy, get on my b-back. I need you to r-rock me, hard! The quicker you rock me, the faster the m-magic will work!’
I did as it asked, I sat on the three foot unicorn’s back and started to rock. Ahead of me I saw Foreman start to run in my direction.
‘Hawder, Henwy, rock me Hawder!’ the unicorn cried out. My colleagues were starting to move now, they all stood in shock at what was happening.
I sat on the little unicorn and rocked harder, and harder! ‘It’s not working!’ I called out. Foreman was on me now, shouting at the top of his lungs.
‘M-mr Fowman is in the way! Get rid of him!’ the rocking horse shouted, ‘Use the bin!’
I stood from the Unicorn with my waste paper basket in hand and with a smooth sweep brought it down hard on my supervisor’s head. It connected with a crack and a cry, and the gasps of my colleagues. They called out for security.
‘Now rock me, Henwy!’ I sat and rocked the rocking horse as vigorously as I could. ‘I-it’s working!’ it yelled. And with no better timing. The elevator doors had opened and two burly security guards stepped out. One colleague stood pointing at me, and as soon as they saw me, the guards started to run.
I rocked harder.
I felt… I felt the magic. And then…
And then the security guards tackled me. They wrestled me to the ground and pinned me there until I stopped struggling. Eventually they picked me up and lead me out. As I passed the window, I saw the pink unicorn swaying pleasantly outside the office window. It was laughing at me! The little prick! It somehow managed to mouth something obscene at me and continued to laugh as I was escorted away.
‘… and that was how I got fired.’
The receptionist looked at me, disbelievingly. She held my resume in her hand.
‘Don’t you think you need to… you know… get help?’ she asked.
I laughed. ‘That’s what my last place said, but the shrink found nothing wrong with me. I think the most confusing part about it all was that later, everyone in the office agreed that they had seen the pink unicorn rocking horse, but no one knew how it got there or where it went after I was tackled by security.’
‘So,’ said the receptionist, ‘you mean to tell me that this… this really happened?’
‘Yeah. oh… and the next day I got a letter through my door.’ I withdrew a folded piece of skyblue paper from my bag. It had the naive design of a sunny day over grassy fields and flowing rivers. I passed it over to the receptionist, her long, bright red fingernails scratched my skin as she took it from me.
She unfolded it and read out loud. ‘Henwy, you should probably get yourself checked, I wasn’t wearing protection.’ She looked at me. ‘It’s signed with a red love heart.’
(c) Oz Durose 2017
Haha! Fun times! I was thinking about that all day! Glad I got it out. Once again, it is not edited or even re-read, so sorry if it is all over the place.