By Ric Waters
Mrs. Sothesby shushed her students once the lights dimmed and the screen behind her lit up.
“Children, we’ve been given a special treat today. As many of you know, unicorns were once believed to be made-up creatures from myth.”
A picture of the one-horned white horse prancing majestically appeared on the screen.
“The zoo has done research to show that unicorns were real and lived a long time ago in a place called Arabia.”
The screen changed to show a map of the Middle East, highlighting the boundaries of Arabia.
Sandy-haired Sarah thrust up her hand immediately. Mrs. Sothesby acknowledged her. “Then, why aren’t there any unicorns now?”
“That’s a great question, Sarah! You see, when unicorns existed, they were very rare, which made them very special. The sultans — who were the leaders of Arabia at that time — became very jealous of anyone else possessing one, so they wiped out all the unicorns they could not have. Eventually, the ones they had also died, so they were left with nothing.”
Sarah looked saddened by this story.
Mrs. Sothesby saw her reaction, but was ready, putting on a bright smile. “But, as I said, the zoo has been learning what they can about these animals and they’ve done something … magical!”
A moment after the screen went dark, a video started, showing people in head-to-toe white outfits picking and drilling at bones, squirting fluids into test tubes, monitoring a tub in which an animal embryo grew and finally to the little horse with a bony knob on its head took its first wobbling steps.
Once the video ended, the lights came on and the screen scrolled up to reveal a small enclosure with grass and a wooden fence.
“So, here you see the results of their work: a living, breathing unicorn.”
Sarah, who had her hand to the glass separating the class from the creature, stared at the brilliant white coat of the creature, which lay curled to one side. “Why’s it not moving, Mrs. Sothesby?”
The teacher looked down in horror as the mythical-creature-come-to-life opened an eye halfway, then let it droop shut. A zoo employee hit a button and the screen slowly lowered to block their view. Mrs. Sothesby had to drag little Sarah away as white-outfitted people burst into the unicorn enclosure and seized its occupant.
“No!” Sarah cried, still reaching towards the unfortunate creature, as tears began to flow down her cheeks.
The lights went out in the room as the teacher led the children quickly away and on to the next exhibit.
For years thereafter, Sarah wondered whether the whole event had been a theatrical production. She came to believe that unicorns had never existed.
Ric Waters is a writer who delves into a variety of genres and different worlds to explore the human condition, and is a fan of pop culture.