Hot fetid air blew up at Sarah Collins and messed with her mousy brown hair. The smell of the subway hit her nose. Sarah sighed just like every day after five or later when she went to this train station. All it needed was some red skinned demons to come screeching up the stairs to make the scene complete.
Yep, I am descending into Hell again, she thought. The bright yellow June sun gave way to the gloom and fluorescent lights of the 59th street stop. Her old assed laptop pulled at her back like the weight of her barely remembered sins. Seriously, I need to lay off of the religious thinking now, its just a too hot subway stop.
She fumbled through her brown purse for her metrocard while two tourists on cellphones jabbered away. The damned things were so loud, Sarah could hear the the folks on the other end. Finally, she slid the card through the slot on the turnstile and walked through.
Sarah swept her eyes over the station. Tourists stood in a group while other people stood pawing at their smartphones. She was putting the metrocard back in her wallet when something roughly brushed her arm. Brown eyes wide with fear, Sarah looked around the train station until she realized it was just some guy's backpack. She managed to push back the scary images in her mind of what could happen to a young woman in the subway. Thanks Ma!
While Sarah walked to the million step stairs, she passed by a bunch of posters of missing people. One poster showed an old guy with a cigarette sticking out of his mouth while he leaned on a metal crutch. Another picture was just a headshot of some overconfident jogger. His smile seemed a mile wide. The last picture really got Sarah's attention. It showed a slightly blurry picture of a harried mother with a baby in a three wheeled stroller.I wonder what happened to these people? Sarah sighed, she knew that she would never find out what happened to them.
She took a left turn and went down the too long staircase. Seriously, I could have gone past Hell by now, she thought as she stepped down from the fifth landing. More stairs filled her view. Sarah grimaced and carefully picked her way down the trash filled stairs. A misstep would cause quite a tumble.
Without health insurance, they would have to take her out back and shoot her like a lame horse. Even if they did not do that, the bills would probably make her grab the gun and put herself down. Sarah shook her head to clear it of her morbid musings. Finally, her feet touched the floor of the express train platform.
One more quick look around, it does not hurt to be aware and she headed to the end of the platform. Her mother had warned about taking a seat in the front or rear of the train, but its been a long day.
I am risking my life to put my butt in a seat when I have spent most of my day in a chair. Makes a lot of sense.
The answer to that thought was a quick screw you.
A cool breeze played with the hair on the back of her head. For a second, anger rose up in Sarah's heart as she turned around. What she saw made her blink in surprise.
Instead of a crappy mutilated poster for something Sarah could not afford, there was gateway to a forest. The cool refreshing breeze came from there but that was not the most interesting thing. A cute white unicorn stood in front of a tree waving its hoof like it was inviting her.
It had a white coat, bright blue eyes and a black curly mane. Then the unicorn winked at Sarah.
She took one step toward the creature when the sound of someone bitching about the stairs made Sarah look away. When she looked back, the trees and unicorn were gone.
A hot steamy wind blew over Sarah as the silver train pulled into the station. She glanced one more time at the place where she saw the trees before she pushed her way onto the crowded train for her hour of being shoved and smacked by backpacks.
This was one of the bad rides back home. For some reason, people were more surly, that made the game of 'Avoid my eyes' even worse. Some guy pushed past so hard, his backpack hit her like a vicious smack. At least the train was air conditioned, she thought. Sarah held that small comfort close while she tried not to get deafened by a group of extra noisy teenagers.
When the train stopped at her station, Sarah took a calming breath like when a warrior prepares for battle then she pushed her way to the doors. They opened with a hiss. Without a pause, she thrust her way through the teeming throng waiting to enter the already crowded train like a salmon swimming upstream.
Like the salmon when it reaches its spawning grounds, Sarah took some time to calm down. Unlike the salmon, she was thinking of Chinese food for dinner and maybe tv afterward. Also unlike the salmon, Sarah was probably not going to spawn and die.
Her evening ended up being deathly dull. There was nothing new on tv she wanted to watch so she just clicked through channels until her eyes started to close. When she missed half of something that was somewhat interesting, Sarah dragged her tired body to bed.
Then her eyes refused to close. The unicorn at 59th street occupied her thoughts. It was so cute. If she met a guy that had pale skin and blue eyes like that, well, that would be cool. No, that would be hot! A blush covered her face. Somehow Sarah thought that the unicorn was male. She slipped off to sleep thinking about unicorns and cool refreshing forests.
Sarah awoke with a blush on her face, that faded along with the strangely arousing dream. The unicorn was in it but then the dream was gone. She shrugged and prepared for the shovey pushy noisy morning which would lead to a screamy crazy no definite specs but we want it yesterday workday. Whee!
At the end of the too long workday, Sarah stepped onto the express platform and marveled at the crowd of people waiting for the train. An announcement blared about a 'Police action at 42nd Street and service was delayed'. She was hoping to see the unicorn again but with all those people around it probably would get scared.
With a sigh, she moved to the front of the platform. Several people blocked her view of the area where she saw the unicorn. Then some guy walked next to Sarah, he turned and faced the wall. She heard liquid splashing. I guess its better than doing it on yourself. Sarah had been used to the pissy smell of that area that she did not smell it anymore, now she had a reminder.
The rest of the evening slid toward the toilet that the guy should have used. Nothing new to watch on tv and she knocked her dinner on the floor by accident. After the cleanup, even though she was a bit hungry, Sarah just went to bed. Deep down, she was hoping for another unicorn dream.
Well, she kinda got what wanted but there was just too much fear to these dreams. In one dream, her boss was a unicorn and he would poke her with his sharp horn when Sarah stopped typing.
The last dream she remembered was the worst. Sarah was in a subway car filled with mangy unicorns. They were making horse like noises into cellphones while the other ones stood and stared sullenly at Sarah. The car was filled with the smell of dirty sweaty fur. It was almost enough to make her cough, but she managed not to. Then the train pulled up at her stop. Sarah got up from her seat and started thrusting her way through the herd. That earned her several painful stabs from needle sharp horns. She hissed at the pain and the warm feeling of blood dripping down her back and sides. Then the subway doors opened.
A large herd of filthy unicorns eyed her with malice before one reared up and pushed Sarah back. She barely dodged the stomping hooves of the unicorns getting on the train before getting up. The subway doors closed. Loss filled her heart, she was never going home!
Sarah awoke with tears drying on her cheeks. It took her several minutes before she could get up and begin her morning routine. As the dreams faded from her memory, she began to feel better.
At the 59th street station
When Sarah left her job, it was almost 7:30. A sullen rage filled her. She wanted to take her mouse cable and tie it around the neck of "Wee" Rowena McAlison. Sarah could imagine pulling the wire tight until the annoying client's pink sharp tongue turned purple. Yes, the tongue would go well with her pale skin, Sarah's eyes narrowed while a grimace covered her face.
Ms. Rowena was the worst client that Sarah had the misfortune to work with. It takes a lot to get under Sarah's skin, but Rowena was digging away almost at the start. It did not bode well that Ms. Rowena showed up with her white with purple accented outfit a half hour later than her stated time. Of course once she arrived, she began giving orders in her Scottish accented voice. Sometimes Sarah could not understand her, and Rowena had a nice cutting insult to help out.
"Now dinnae try to change my mind even a wee bit. I know what I want," Rowena said while shaking a well manicured red nailed finger at Sarah and her boss.
Things went south real fast. Her boss just placated Rowena so she could direct her ire at Sarah. The only good thing about that was that Sarah thought less about quitting, and more about shoving assorted sharp objects into Rowena's wee place where the sun doesn't shine.
Now, she was was free for the day and her heart soared, but then she remembered that Rowena was a wee bit satisfied with her work and would be in tomorrow. Sarah's hands clenched. If she had a cherished pet or a diamond in her hands, they would be a red mush or black oil. Sarah had to wait a few minutes before her hands relaxed.Damn. Then she went down the stairs while a hot wind rushed up past her.
When Sarah reached the express train platform, she was hoping that maybe someone would start pissing on a wall near her so she could push them on the tracks. That mean thought made her pause. While Sarah tried to understand where her rage came from, a cool breeze touched her back.
Sarah whirled around and saw the unicorn. Some doubts floated up in her mind, but the prospect of another day with Rowena or worse made the unicorn the lesser of two evils. She ran toward the forest, and the waving unicorn. Her sure steps crossed the threshold between the subway and the forest.
One moment, Sarah was in a hot subway station and the next she was in a shadowy cool forest. She looked back and just saw trees, no subway platform. That gave her a bit of a chill. A hoof gently touched her leg. Sarah looked down and saw the white unicorn point further down the trail then it started walking. Every few seconds it would look back like a dog to see if its master or friend was following.
Sarah followed but misgivings were starting to surface in her mind. The silence of the forest started to bear down on her. Being a city girl, all she knew of forests was from tv, but even those forests had some sort of sounds in them. Birdsong, animals, something, it felt like she was in an outdoor tomb.
While she was musing about the absence of sounds, her feet stepped on something with a crack. Sarah leaned down, and picked up the beige object. It was a bit of bone that something had gnawed on, the teeth marks were pretty deep. Maybe its a bone from a person? That thought snaked into her mind. She looked back.
Sarah would have turned back but the unicorn stroked her side, it felt good, almost reassuring. With a sigh, she followed the unicorn further down the path.
The path opened into a clearing surrounded by trees. At first, Sarah breathed a sigh of relief. She was expecting something terrible not an empty clearing. The unicorn went to the edge of the clearing several steps away, Sarah took a few steps to follow it when a glint of light on something shiny caught her eye.
Items seemed to appear out of the grass like the things in the 'Can you find' books she read when she was a child. There was a metal cane with a bit of blood on it, some black and silver jogging shoes were a few steps away and there was a three wheeled stroller with a bloody seat. Sarah did not bother to notice the colors of the stroller, the dark red of dried blood was the only color her eyes could see.
It did not take too long before Sarah realized that these items belonged to some of the missing people she saw in the posters. A glance back at her unicorn friend showed that he brought company. There were more unicorns looking at her. Something about their gaze reminded her of the time she got mugged, the mugger had the same cold appraising look in his eyes.
The yellow unicorn with the pink mane and tail seemed to have really cold looking bluish green eyes. Before Sarah could do anything, a brown and white unicorn pranced its way to her. The creature's poise and self assuredness reminded her of Rowena. Sarah clenched her hands then looked back at the cane. She wondered if she had the time to grab it. A quick glance showed the brown and white unicorn rearing up to knock Sarah off of her feet.
Sarah hit the ground so hard all of the air was driven out of her lungs. A few gasps later and the unicorn was on her chest looking her right in the eye. Blue eyes gazed into brown eyes.
She tried to punch the unicorn but it just gracefully moved its head away from the wild swing then the creature smiled and Sarah felt the crushing weight of black despair.
The brown and white prancing creature had a set of sharp triangular teeth that even a shark would be proud to have. Before Sarah could aim another swing, the unicorn tore her throat out.
Sarah tried to scream, but the blood filling her throat made it hard to breathe then something hit her hard on the top of her head, stars flashed behind her slowly closing eyes. As she went into shock, Sarah could feel her clothes being ripped off as well as some things chewing on her body.
Before Sarah slipped away, she wondered if anyone would put up a missing poster for her.
A half hour later, a content brown and white unicorn looked around at her friends. In the background, hungry foals snarled and gnawed blood splattered bones. The brown and white unicorn stomped her forehooves on the ground.
"Well, Cyril, darling, you have outdone yourself this time," she said.
The white unicorn with the blue eyes and black curly mane bowed. "Thank you Hortense."
The pink and yellow unicorn looked at Hortense with concern in its blue green eyes. "W-what about m-me? I did a lot of s-scrying b-before we found these creatures. Then I c-cast the gateway s-spell. Also I had t-to use m-magic to watch their terrible t-tv shows."
"You are correct Sofira dear, without the both of you, things would have been pretty grim," Hortense said with a wide smile.
Several foals had taken to licking ruby red blood off of her fur.
Hortense looked around at the adult unicorns. "Who knew that mythical creatures could be so tasty?"
Sofira squeaked out a "M-me!" but she was ignored.
"Now we have a way to get more food. I have to admit, once those horrid howling wolves had been all eaten, I was so sure there was nothing left that would be worth eating," Hortense said.
A brown unicorn stallion said "Well, there were the birds."
"T-too b-b-bony!" Sofira said with a disgusted toss of her pink mane.
"The Herd needs more food. It seems now the problem is how do we get more of these creatures here?" Hortense said.
"I nnnnngh," Sofira tried to say, she hit the ground with her left forehoof in frustration.
Hortense gave Sofira a reassuring look. "Sofira darling, just take a nice deep breath and let it out slowly."
Sofira shyly looked around then took a deep breath. "Um, why don't we use illusion magic and make ourselves look like tv show characters? Humans love tv show characters."
The clearing was silent except for the fussing of the still hungry foals.
Then the stomping began, low at first then it was like thunder.
Hortense stood up. "Sofira darling, that is a splendid idea."