Crow and The Unicorn–shorter version
Crow and The Unicorn
by Michael Wombat
Crow sighed, teetering across the heaving deck. He descended into the reeking hold of the frigate “Miranda Kate”. The Captain glowered, a huge frown on his scarred forehead.
“What in Satan’s arse is this?”
Uh-oh. The Captain had noticed. Crow coughed. He shuffled. He took out his glass eye and polished it on his neckerchief. Spitting on the back, he slid it back into its socket with a soft fup.
“Unicorn, Cap’n. Obtained this morn. By me. As ordered. By you,” he bluffed.
“Its horn’s wonky, Mr. Crow. It’s a wonky-horned unicorn.”
“You’re lucky to get any unicorn at all,” thought Crow, while saying “Really?”
He affected to peer over the rope between them and the creature. It resembled a horse, but from its forehead protruded a horn, spiralled, and it has to be said, wobbling as the unicorn moved.
“Optical illusion,” tried Crow, “Like when you wobble your spare leg for the lads.”
“Arseholes. That, Mr. Crow, is a loose horn. Look, it droops!”
The horn was a bit precarious. The unicorn tilted its head, and the horn tipped back into a central position.
“Our client stated,” the Captain extracted a paper from his pocket and read, “One perfect unicorn, pristine white, with golden horn so that my new bride might toss her bouquet thereupon, ensuring a lifetime of happiness and fat children, as told by legend.”
The Captain fixed Crow with his steely gaze, known across the Seven Seas to be the fiercest piercing gaze in at least five of them.
“What colour is this unicorn, Crow?” he spat.
“Mucky-grey!” shouted the Captain, whacking Crow with his chapeau. “And its horn? What colour do you call that?”
“LEMON-CHIFFON? IT’S WAZZ-COLOURED, YOU NONCE!”
“Wazz-coloured. Yes, sir.”
Crow scuffed his feet in the sawdust. The unicorn watched them, its liquid blue eyes sparkling with dream-dust and magic. It raised its beautiful tail and did a massive dump.
“Even the unicorn knows what you are, Crow. The client will never accept this. Think of something.”
“Paint, sir?” suggested Crow, expecting another hat attack. Before the blow could fall they were interrupted.
“Cap’n! Tis the Revenue! Their boat’s alongside!”
“Bum,” growled the Captain. He stumped over to the ladder, wooden leg striking a catchy rhythm. By the hatch stood a tall woman, fully six feet, in the purple uniform of the King’s Revenue. Her hair whipped about her face.
“Captain Bliss?” she inquired. The Captain nodded.
“Magic Inspector Laura James.” She looked down on the Captain, continuing in a bored tone.
“Do you carry Spellbeans, Dreamwhisky, arcane jewellery, or mind-enhancing Leafchew?”
“No,” answered the Captain.
There was a whinny from below.
“Except for that horse,” the Captain flailed, “Horses are allowed, obviously, normal horses are. Being most mundane and not at all magical like unicorns are, which that isn’t.”
“Hmmm,” said their interrogator, dubiously. She threw out her dragonskin boot and strode to the hatch. Crow and the Captain panicked as she lowered herself into the darkness. They waited, hearing nothing. Then she reappeared, sniffing.
“Stinks down there,” she advised, clambering into the Revenue boat, “Get that horseshit cleaned up.”
The Revenue boat sloshed away, the steer-shaman chanting water-repelling incantations. Crow and the Captain stared at each other, then ran to the hatch. Beyond the rope, the unicorn looked bored. There was a dark patch on its forehead, but no horn.
The unicorn looked exasperated, and tapped its hoof. Crow and the Captain looked down. There, in a dark corner, lay the horn.
“Fetch that paint,” ordered the Captain, “While you’re at it, bring some glue.”
“Those the Gods have joined let none sunder,” sang the minister, “Michael, kiss your bride.” The handsome groom embraced his new wife as the guests cheered. Crow crossed his fingers.
“Anna,” the minister continued, “You may fling.”
The beautiful bride tossed her bouquet of winterpoppies towards a patchily-painted unicorn, whose horn was curiously off-centre. The bouquet landed directly on the horn, hanging there for a tantalising moment. Then the horn fell off. The unicorn did another dump.
Michael and Anna did not notice, smiling and hugging and lost in each other’s eyes. Crow polished his own eye.
“It’s true, Captain,” he said, “Love is truly blind.”
Written for Written for Anna and Michael’s Dark Fairy Queen Writerly Bridal Shower. Wombatty congratulations to you both!