After seven days and seven nights of fasting on a lonely moor, hunt during the dark of the moon in a secluded glade. Trapping a unicorn is an onerous and grueling task. It will lead you a merry chase; you must be motivated past weariness and self-defeat. Bring an image of your daughter to mind, when she was yet rosy-cheeked and full of giggles and verve.
Do not be distracted by its dignified beauty. Harden your heart to the enormity of your crime. Do not consider whether it is the last of its kind. Pierce its eye with a silver javelin. Plug your ears so its scream will not shred your heart more than it already is. Ignore your soul. So I was just sitting slouched down at the kitchen table eating our usual breakfast: scrambled eggs cooked real dry and black bacon bits and charred toast. Mommo was standing at the e-eco-cooker drying more scrambled eggs and shouting up the stairs at Poppo. My older brother Nicky was sitting at one side of the table, pushing at his eggs with his fork and making strange faces, like he didn't much feel like eating eggs that morning. My little sister Suzy was sitting in her babyfloater, crying because Mommo wasn't feeding her yet. I was trying real hard to eat my eggs nicely, because Mommo had promised me double allowance that week if I ate without tempering, like she called it, and making Poppo yell at me.
Anyway, Poppo finally came down, sort of in a hurry, fixing one of his funny old ties, and making funny faces to go along with it. Mommo gave him a mean look when she thought we weren't looking, but Poppo just smiled at her. So she slid his plate in front of him and sat down by Suzy to begin feeding her. Poppo just looked funny at the eggs for a while; he didn't even notice that I was being good and eating my hyperdry eggs. He finally picked up his fork and started moving the scrambled eggs around his plate. I notice the scars on her back. I wasn't born yesterday. She's a made-over angel. Wasn't meant to be, maybe, or maybe she fucked up somehow. She slumps over the gleaming bar like she doesn't want to be disturbed, but I can't stop my feet from trudging over, leaving traces of soot.
She doesn't look up. Don't think she sees me, though the fluorescence casts my shadow over her clutched hands on the alabaster countertop. Gebra Mahara has found a suitor, but he lives on the Geborian home world, three star systems away. Mahara has chosen my own love Arina to be carrier, and so soon I must bid her farewell.
"It's not fair," I say to Arina. We're lying in our hammock next to the artificial lake outside Mahara's palace. "She could choose anyone to be carrier. Why you?" Do you believe in the Flock?
It's not hard. No harder than believing in Santa Claus, who manages to be in every mall, and every chimney of every home, while at the same time being so unique, so individual, that children know him on sight. Have you ever played that game--exquisite corpse--where someone draws a head, a second person adds a torso, and the last person draws the legs? Well, I took an art class at the community college and one of our assignments was like that. We were supposed to draw half a self-portrait and then pass the art to someone else. There'd be two faces, done in two different styles, neatly separated by a vertical line down the middle.
Faces are hard to draw, so I put the assignment off as long as possible. The night before the half-self-portrait was due, I had a little whiskey. Possibly a lot of whiskey. It didn't make me a better artist, but it did help me care less about my mistakes. I finished my side of the artwork at 11:45pm, which left me no prayer of getting anyone to draw the other half. Being somewhat less than sober, I had a brilliant idea: I made a new email account, wrote the address and password on a slip of paper, and sealed it in an envelope labeled "open in 2025."
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