Another week another Flash Fiction entry for Chuck Wendig's weekly challenge. This time the topic is unicorns. I decided to talk about them and some of their lesser known progeny. This one tops out at 966 words. I hope you enjoy it.
Rise of the Donkeycorns
The last unicorn was dead. It was their horns that had done it in the end. Somehow, somewhere, a rumor started that soon became fact to humans, that a ground up unicorn horn was an aphrodisiac. It hadn’t taken long for the end to come, and Phil weeped for them even though part of him thought they didn’t deserve his tears. He had tried to help save them, the dying wish of his mother, but as much as he tried he couldn’t stop the humans from their bloody work.
Phil and his mother were more or less ostracized by the other unicorns shortly after he was born. She would smile and say things would be okay but Phil knew they wouldn’t be. It was all because of his father. Unlike all the other unicorns his dad was a donkey. Phil’s mom always said that he was a brave and loving donkey, but Phil would never know that. He was gone before Phil had ever gotten a chance to know him. It was because of him that Phil was labeled and treated by the others, not as a fellow unicorn, but as word he would first hate but eventually come to love as it would save him from the fate that befell the others. Donkeycorn.
Phil had a rough time when trying to fit in with other unicorns. While all the other unicorns were snow white with shining manes, Phil’s coat was brown. His ears were longer than theirs and while they neighed all he could do was bray. He still sparkled like they did though and still had the same magic horn they did. But it wasn’t enough for the other unicorns. They teased, they fought, and they made his life hell for 15 years until he left and set out on his own to seek his own fate.
And that Phil did until that terrible day that he found is own mother dying on the forest floor. She had been hunted by the humans and taken down with a net. They had knocked her out, removed her horn, and left her to die. There was nothing that he could do to save her. No magic of his could prevent this after her horn was removed. He cried with her as she lay there, doing all he could to comfort her in her last moments. That’s when she had tasked him with the quest that would occupy the next 10 years. To save the unicorns. A quest that he would fail and succeed at depending on your point of view.
By the time his mother had died there weren’t many unicorns left. Fifty or sixty at most. The humans were a brutal tribe and had been hunting the unicorns for decades. He tried to warn them, tried to convince them to hide, but to no avail. Why would they listen to the donkycorn? What did he know? He was still an outsider to them, not to be trusted. They were confident that their magic was enough to protect them from the humans, and that they wouldn’t have the same fate as the other unicorns. They said those that died were careless and foolish to go near human lands. This went on for some time until the Dark Day happened. Twenty-five of them at once, all gone, taken by a large hunting party. Half of the unicorns. It was a massacre.
Slowly the unicorns started to listen and even come to Phil for help. He tried relocating them to to safety, secreting them away and hiding them with magic. But the humans were too smart. All it took was one mistake by the unicorn in hiding, say a glance in the open of a clearing, and the humans would descend and do their bloody work. Phil also tried keeping them on the run, moving a unicorn from place to place always ahead of the attack. This didn’t work either. Eventually the unicorn would make the wrong move and get trapped. Then it was only a matter of time till the unicorn was murdered.
In many of these cases Phil was there when it happened, trying to stop the murder. He succeeded sometimes and was able to kill or drive off the humans, staining his opal horn red with blood, but most times he was overwhelmed and the unicorn woulds suffer the same evil fate as his mother. The interesting thing was that the humans never came after him. He had the same horn, sure, but it was obvious to them that he was a donkey, and they wanted unicorn horns not donkey horns. Phil was beaten, cut, and stabbed but never killed, and always able to escape. On one level he was sad that still after all these years he still wasn’t good enough to be on equal footing with the unicorns, but on another he was glad that he was still alive and not of interest to the humans.
And so one day he found himself in a glade, weeping over the corpse of the last unicorn, with a deep sadness in knowing that there would be no more of their kind. But where one thing ends another begins. Wiping the tears from his face he exited the glade and trotted into the sun. Phil smiled at the sight of his jenny and foal. He had met her in his travels and they had quick become friends and mates. The foal followed soon after. His son brayed and jumped at the sight of his father. The small horn on his foal’s head made Phil smile, and he swore to himself that he would never let what happened to unicorns happen to his progeny, no matter what the cost. The rise of the donkycorns had begun.