The Unicorn

The Unicorn

This is the fifth finalist in Young Post's 2013 Summer Story competition, sponsored by Dymocks

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Summer Story 2013 Unicorn_L
Illustration: Kaliz Lee

In the middle of the summer holiday, most children would be up by 9am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But I don't fall into that category.

For starters, I usually wake up after noon and that day was no exception. Would it be like any other day? For once, I wish it had.

My little adventure began on my bed. My head was buried under a pillow and I was comfortable dressed in a white T-shirt and shorts.

I had intended taking a nice nap and waking up after 2pm because of a heavy studying session the night before. But my plans were wrecked by a short, 10-year-old girl bursting through the door at what I can only describe as the speed of sound. And you'll never guess what I was about to hear.

"Big brother, a unicorn just passed by!"

I thought my ears had deceived me. Did she just say "unicorn"? To end the matter quickly, and return to my well-deserved rest, I mumbled: "Kristi, you've been watching too much My Little Pony."

Taking a deep breath, she yelled back: "I'm telling the truth! A huge unicorn just passed by our house. If you don't believe me, I'll bet you HK$200."

I immediately sat up.

Knowing my sister's allowance (she's Daddy's little princess), she wasn't joking. I quickly put on my camouflage shorts and a pair of Crocs.

"Alright, where's this pony?"

I picked up my wallet, keys and phone as she led me out of the flat.

My jaw dropped when I looked at the street. It took a while to sink in, but I soon snapped back to reality.

Cars were flipped over. Thankfully none of them was in flames. There were large cracks all over the road, but no animal footprints. A few lamp posts were tipped over and some residents, along with a few policemen, were examining the wreckage.

There was a lot of chatter, most of which I couldn't understand, as people were being questioned.

"Thank goodness there aren't holes in buildings," I exclaimed at the top of my lungs. "But seriously, are you absolutely sure a unicorn caused all this?"

"Yeah, Fluffy usually makes a mess with trees, but I guess this is the first time he's been outside the forest. I wonder why he would come here ... ?"

"... You gave the thing a name?" I said, stunned. "Let me get this straight. You've met a mythical beast, which is considered the Swiss Army knife of all magical creatures, and you've given it - a name? And why have you kept it a secret? Why didn't you tell anyone?"

Kristi frisked her hair and gave me an embarrassed look. "Well, that's easy," she said. "No one ever asked."

I had to find out what was going on. Besides, all that studying was getting to my head and I didn't want to spend my whole summer playing League of Legends with my friends or burning the midnight oil going through book after book. And let's face it; it's been a while since I've had fresh air.

In the short time we'd been outside, I was already sweating.

I walked up to a policeman and asked him, in my broken Chinese, what was going on.

Thankfully, he replied in English. The police had no idea what had caused this, but thought it might have been an animal.

"It was probably a cow, or a buffalo, from the hiking area nearby. We'll find it," he said, before walking away.

I turned back to my little sister and asked her to come over. I told her what the policeman had said and we decided that finding Fluffy the unicorn would be a good idea. She thought it would be a nice idea if Fluffy made a new friend. I considered it the easiest HK$200 I'd ever made.

"Kristi, tell me everything you know about Fluffy - how you met him and where you think he is," I said.

She stroked her chin, lost in thought.

"It all started two weeks ago when I was jogging in the mountain area," she said.

"I think it was Wednesday or Thursday. I'm not sure. Unlike you, I make an effort to keep fit. And, in case you're wondering, Mum gave me permission and I had my phone with me.

"Anyway, I entered the trail area. While I was walking, taking a break from running, I heard a loud, rumbling noise. I thought it was an earthquake, so I hugged a tree. The rumbling grew louder and louder.

"Peeking from behind the tree, I looked round to see where it was coming from.

"I saw a large animal charging. It was silver, but might have been darker because of the sunlight. I was certain of two things, though. First, the animal had a horn and, second, it knew how to use it. It turned trees into popsicle sticks."

I took in everything she said. Even though I wasn't interested in most of what she had to say, I wanted to know where Fluffy was. I simply nodded my head to show that I was listening.

Kristi stopped talking to take a breath of air, and continued. "I decided to follow the creature. It moved fast, but had left a nice trail of hoofprints. I followed the tracks for about 30 minutes and they led to a large cave. I never knew Hong Kong had caves. It was dark inside, so I stayed outside and took a sandwich from my backpack.

"Suddenly, a large horn popped out of the dark cave and poked my hand gently. I saw bright yellow eyes, but I couldn't see the unicorn's face, so I left the sandwich in front of the cave entrance.

"The moment I turned my back to the cave I heard a rumble, and when I looked back, the bread was gone. Since then, whenever I have some spare time, I go back to the cave and take sandwiches for Fluffy to eat."

After hearing everything, I sighed. All her words sounded like a hoax, but after seeing the wreckage caused by that "unicorn", I was actually starting to believe she was telling the truth.

We then headed for one of the many entrances to the trail. Entering at the foot of the mountain, we walked past the airsoft pellet-gun area.

Heading upward, we were greeted by a herd of wild black goats. The bleating of the animals reminded me of the internet remixes of songs to which they add goat noises. This brought a smile to my face. After snapping a few pictures, we continued upward.

Midway into the trek, after we had passed the reservoir, my sister asked me a strange question - one that totally caught me off guard.

"Apart from the money, is there another reason you want to see Fluffy?"

I was speechless. No 16-year-old boy would actually be part of a hunt for an animal associated with princesses and rainbows, let alone organise one.

"Honestly, Kristi, I guess this will be my last chance to feel like a kid, ya know? Hong Kong's the third most competitive place in the world, and it's a dog-eat-dog world here."

The look on her face told me she hadn't understood the idiom, so I just patted her on the head to keep her quiet.

Leading the way, Kristi pointed to the spot where she had first seen Fluffy.

We climbed over a few rocks before arriving at the exact location. We followed a trail of fresh hoofprints and were careful to stay off the official signposted paths.

We passed through a lot of trees, which resembled a rainforest, and finally stopped in front of a large cave. We had completely strayed from the path that would lead us back down and away from the mountain. Instead, we had gone almost into the mountain.

Without hesitating, Kristi ran to the cave's entrance and yelled: "Fluffy! Fluffy!"

I ran after her and stood in front of the cave to catch a glimpse of what we were dealing with. We couldn't see what was inside. It was like staring into a black hole.

Suddenly, I could feel the ground shake. I was greeted by the sight of a large horn, which almost poked me in my face. I was startled that a creature lived in the cave, but disappointed, too, because ... well, because his horn was curved! It was something I forgot to take into account.

I sighed and revealed the painful truth to my sister.

"Fluffy isn't a unicorn, Kristi."

"What do you mean?" she asked, with a sad, puzzled frown.

I took out my mobile phone and turned on its flashlight. I entered the cave and waved it around. But the inhabitant obviously didn't like bright light. Fluffy swatted me with his horn and sent me flying. I ended up on the cold, hard ground roaring in pain.

The impact left me dazed and the last words I heard were my sister shouting, "Bad unicorn!", before I was knocked out cold.

I woke up groaning on a bed - my bed to be precise. I wriggled around and, thankfully, none of my bones was broken, although I felt a painful bruise on my left side. My sister was staring at me.

"Mum and Dad are worried sick," she said. "By the way, it took me an hour to get you back home. But riding on a unicorn is so much fun." She laughed.

"So bro, are you a believer now?" "Yes, sis, unicorns do exist. They're fat, hairy and we call them rhinos.

"Yet just why one is in Hong Kong? That still remains a mystery ..."

And with that, I took the nap that I deserved.

 

Stories from the other finalists

- WINNING STORY: You'll Never Guess What I Just Heard

- First runner-up: The Cursed Lives

- Second runner-up: The Voice Within

- The Master

- You won't believe what I just heard

- Imagining the peaceful forest

- Beauty isn't skin deep

- Living the life of James Bond

 

... and also take a look at the finalists' stories from last year's competition

- WINNING STORY: Eyes of the departed

- It will be spring by the time you awake

- A prank goes out of control

- The sad tale of a drowned ghost

- A love to remain forever unspoken

- Dreams of fame turn to tragedy

- All's Fair in Life and War

- I Should Have Listened to My Friends

- Don't Mess with the Old

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