Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Way of the Unicorn: A Fable

Once upon a time, there was a herd of unicorns in a forest in a far and distant country.

The unicorns were too small to use as draft animals or for riding, they were too ugly to be decorative, and they didn’t compete with humans for food, so they were left alone.

Now, unicorns had rather special horns, which weren’t made of keratin like other horned animals. They were made of blahnium, a mineral which was unique. It was, you see, so useless that it could be used for absolutely nothing.

And so the years turned to decades and centuries, and most people hardly even remembered that the unicorns existed.

But then, one day, a scientist in a laboratory owned by one of the nation’s top industrial concerns – who had been imported from another distant nation with the lure of high pay – invented a new entertainment device. It was a mega-revolutionary advance in the entertainment industry, overnight turning plasma screens and the like obsolete. And, of course, it had tremendous defence and propaganda applications as well.

Nobody else, in the whole wide world, had anything like it.

What was the secret of this entertainment device? It depended on electron flow through a sheet of material with very unusual properties.

This material was, of course, blahnium.

And nowhere was blahnium found, barring trace quantities, except in the horns of unicorns.

At the prompting of the defence and entertainment industries, and especially of the concern which employed the foreign scientist and so owned the patent, the government of the nation declared that the unicorns were now a Strategic Resource.

Therefore, it ordered that all the unicorns should be rousted out of their forest, and confined in a concentration camp, where their horns could be regularly harvested for their precious blahnium. And so men with nets and guns and cages came to the forest, and captured the unicorns, even the newborn foals, which had no horns; and locked them all away behind barbed wire.

There, each animal would have its horn cut off, with camp officials assuring the media that the horn had no nerve endings and so the animal could not possibly feel pain; while the unicorns cried bitter tears of agony, and dreaded the moment when the horn would grow back again, when it would be hacked off once more.

Of course, there were unicorns in a few other countries in the world, too; but with its new gadgets and is weapons, the nation attacked all of them, overthrew their governments, and locked away their animals for its own use. Soon, it controlled all the unicorns in the world.

Now among the unicorns there was one who was brave and resourceful, whose name was Midnight; and he was the strongest and most intelligent of them all.

One day, while rooting for grass near the barbed wire, Midnight saw a few strands loose, and he broke out through them and ran away as far as he could. But he was all alone, and though he wandered through many lands, he never found any more of his kind.

This made him very sad and unhappy. Finally he decided to kill himself.

“I’ll go to the edge of the world,” he thought, “and jump off into the void. That way, at least, they will never get to my horn.”

So he walked and walked, through many a desolate wilderness, until he finally reached the end of the world.

And then he jumped off, and he fell.

But at that moment, the moon was passing by, on her daily voyage round the world. The unicorn fell on the moon, and rode her down to the bottom of the world, which no eyes had ever seen before.

And the bottom of the world was full of blahnium. It grew in spires and spikes, lay along the ground in twisted sheets like rock, and bubbled molten from volcanoes, spilling into the sky.

The unicorn was entranced. “All I have to do,” he thought, “is tell the humans about all this blahnium just lying around for the taking. Then they can let us unicorns go, for surely we can be of no further use to them.”

So Midnight rode the moon up to the other side, till she rose past the edge of the world, and then, neatly as you please, he jumped off. After walking through many strange and unknown lands, he finally reached the concentration camp from which he had escaped. And, making his way past the guards, he managed to reach the camp commandant’s office.

“I have great news,” he said, and proceeded to tell the commandant of all the blahnium which was lying around for the taking, at the bottom of the world.

But the commandant frowned terribly. “Cultivating unicorn horn is big business now,” he said. “Unicorn horn futures sell high on the commodities market. If free blahnium becomes available, the market will implode, the investors will lose heavily, and we’ll lose our jobs. Besides, the country will no longer have an excuse to occupy foreign lands with unicorn populations.”

And he hit his alarm button to summon his staff, to recapture Midnight and put his back with the others; but they had grown slow and complacent, so that he just managed to get away.

This caused a mighty consternation in the industry and the government. “If that wretched animal tells anyone about the free blahnium,” the government said, “other countries, which now depend on us for the mineral’s supply, will become independent. We will lose our exceptional status as controller of the world.”

“Worse,” said the industry, “we’ll lose our profits.”

“We have to destroy this unicorn at once,” they both decided. “Even if we have to sacrifice the horn to do it.” Which goes to show just how concerned they were.

So they sent out kill teams with sniper rifles, and drones with missiles, and made announcements on the media of rewards to anyone who would give information about the evil rogue unicorn.

And the snipers shot several horses in error, and the drones bombed many cattle; but of Midnight they found no sign.

He had found shelter, with people who grew their own food, did not believe in the capitalist system and trickle-down economics, and did not invest in the stock market. This proves that they were rebel scum, anti-national terrorists and worse. But they were also clever enough to hide Midnight in a way that nobody found him.

“We are not interested in blahnium,” they said when he mentioned it. “But if they are hunting you, you’re safe with us, for their enemies are ours as well.”

And so many months passed.

Then, one day, in another of the nation’s top laboratories, another imported foreign scientist made another ground-breaking technological breakthrough. Far superior control of electron flow patterns could be achieved by substituting greedium for blahnium.

Overnight, blahnium was obsolete.

And greedium was found only in the brains of capitalist robber barons, sleazeball politicians, smarmy religious leaders, and other thoroughly morally corrupt, degenerate people. The more corrupt they were, the better the quality and quantity of greedium one could get out of them.

The blahnium market collapsed. The Greedium Wars began.

And, in the crash of the collapsing economic system, nobody noticed as the unicorns went free.

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is the tale of how the unicorns were emancipated from slavery.

Of course, nobody believes a word of it. It’s all far too ridiculous to be true.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2014 


  1. Leathersammie29/07/2014, 22:32

    :::stands on a table cheering::: GREEDIUM! GREEDIIUM! Use up the brains of capitalist robber barons, sleazeball politicians, smarmy religious leaders, and other thoroughly morally corrupt, degenerate people.


  3. I agree totally with Leathersammie! Too silly to be true? Maybe it is Bill, but it sure as hell makes a damn sweet fa are one of the most inventive writers I have ever come across in my 66 years in this life. Thanks so much for ALL your work here.

  4. If only.

    Hey, if we can convince these ambitious young men that there really is greedium inside the heads of all ambitious young men, we might have ourselves the makings of something worthwhile.


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