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Of Unicorns

What do we know of the lives of unicorns? Wrapped in myth and legend, these elegant animals exist in our imaginations, art and on the fringes. Often associated with rainbows, unicorns distinguish themselves from their horse cousins with a single horn.

Writers chased the myth and returned with tangible stories. Somewhat of a Carrot Ranch tradition, unicorns will always be near, an unofficial and yet beloved mascot.

The following stories are based on the February 22, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a unicorn.


On the Horn of a Dilemma by D. Avery

“Jeez, Pal. Do ya know what she wants this week?! Ain’t right fer a place that goes on about diversity an’ all. Shorty’s been on the road, musta got brainwashed.”

“Kid, jist calm yersef.”

“Wunder what color?”

“Kid, they can be any color you want.”

“Yeah, right. They’ll be all the same, all regulated. Why ain’tcha bothered, Pal? Oh, did Shorty give ya epaulets, make ya feel impotent?”

“That’s important and WHAT?”

“Uniforms, Shorty says uniforms now at Buckaroo Nation. Seems a might imperialistic ta me.”

“Kid, we’re to get unicorns, not uniforms.”



“That’s weird.”

“Jest ride.”


Captured by Stephanie Flint

Her fingers pass through the creature’s mane, which is silky white, like threads dipped in the morning dew. He is in chains. She slides her fingers under the delicate silver.

“You will be free.”

His ears swivel, listening. She strokes the damp fur of his neck. He breathes hard from the chase.

“Do not worry. I will return.”

She disappears, her slippers padding through the rain-flushed grass. When she returns, her gossamer gown whispering around her calves, the unicorn raises his head. His blue eyes regard her, pleading.

She reveals a pair of wire cutters and smiles. “Be free.”


Friendship is Blind by Molly Stevens

She slipped into a seat in the back of the classroom. It was her first day in the new school and experience taught her to keep a low profile. As best she could bearing her prominent appendage.

When the teacher called her name, twenty pairs of eyes bored into her. Her cheeks flushed, and she slumped deeper into her chair.

When the bell rang, one girl stayed behind, approached her and said, “I am sensing something magical about you.”

The unicorn knelt down, helped her new sightless friend onto her back, and together they pranced on to the playground.


Magical Thinking by Bill Engleson

It could have been a unicorn except for the fact that it wasn’t. The fact was…it was a cat.

The truth didn’t matter to Mulroney.

On that day when his mind snapped, all he cared about was a memory from his magical childhood, a dream of a thousand magnificent unicorns scampering in the sky.

The next morning, he begged his parents to come outside and bear witness.

They humoured him, said, “yes, we see them.”

“Why did you lie?” the doctor asked.

“He was so excited,” they replied.

“The world will crush him,” the doctor predicted with uncanny accuracy.


Unicorn by Frank Hubeny

Generally two of something balance better aesthetically and provide depth of experience, but I only had one horn growing out of the top of my head.

I wasn’t disabled or anything, but who would hire me? If you didn’t look at the horn, which was hard not to, I actually looked pretty good.

Kids bullied me because of the horn. I fought back. I did that a lot. I got real good at it. I mean it was fun. They sent me to the Riverland State Detention Facility and cut off my horn.

So, yeah, I was a unicorn.


Unicorn: A Cautionary Tale by Nicole

Once upon a time, farmers were free to plant seeds.  After harvest they collected and saved new seeds to plant again come spring.  Then came a greedy monster named Monstrosity, who sought to rule the land.  First, Monstrosity built a laboratory where he manufactured fictional corn. Then he took over the government, and made a law that real corn could not be planted forevermore.  The real farmers lost their farms. Monstrosity thought he’d won. Then one magical night a unicorn named TimesUp came and ate all of Monstrosity’s corn.  Rage consumed the monster, and real farmers came back home.


Grandpa’s Imagination by Ann Edall-Robson

“Come quick, Maggie. I told you they were still around.”

“Where, Grandpa, where? I don’t see anything.”

“You have to look really close, across the field, near the far corner.”

“I don’t see anything! Show me, show me. I don’t want to miss it. Summer’s almost over and you said you have only seen them in August.”

“Oh, there were a few in September, once.”

“I still can’t see it.”

“It’s over there, beside the willow bush.”

“Grandpa! That’s a cob of corn!”

“Yup, I told you, a uni-corn. One cob of corn left to harvest.”

“Oh, Grandpa…”


The Unicorn by Michael Grogan

The day the white unicorn appeared in my back paddock I thought I was seeing things.

It paused at the back fence and I took in its majesty.

Venturing to the fence we eyed each other off.

It dipped its head, his impressive horn pointing at me, and I reached out and touched it. It felt softer than I imagined, the spirals silky soft but there was a hidden strength within it.

It pawed the ground and moved closer and I felt the aura of its magic wash over me. Infused by this I had never felt so exhilarated.


Unicorns by Eric Pone

Maryann had issues. Reading Tolkien in the very unposh environs of the coffee shop she looks at Ginger and noticed her staring very intently. “Unicorns aren’t real you know.” She said this very confidently. “What the hell are you talking about?” Maryann replied. “Weird writers always bring up unicorns and yet no one has ever seen one.” Maryann was confused. “Lord of the Rings doesn’t have any unicorns!” Ginger countered. “Well just wanted to let you know they ain’t real. That’s all.” Maryann thinks Ginger had finally snapped went back to reading. “Why do I love you?” and laughed.


The Sorter by Ruchira Khanna

“Tara have you seen my bangles?” queried an impatient mom while looking high and low for her accessories.

“Right here!” the daughter shouted from her room to which the mom dashed in her direction.

Tara was quick to take it off the horn.

Mom had a hearty laugh seeing that the horn was nonetheless of a unicorn and was used to stack rubberbands, bangles, scrunchies, hairbands.

Tara stroked the stuffed animal lovingly, “He is not only my buddy with healing powers but also helps keep things sorted.” she grinned and exhibited lacerations on her lips, tongue, and left cheek.

Do We Need Unicorns by Rugby843

Yes, it’s a unicorn we need

The legendary healing steed

His magic will cure us

His reputation precedes.

The myth exclaims he heals the sick

Casts out poisons, is this the trick

We need this day to stop the slaughter

Of our innocent sons and daughters?

I would gladly ask him to aid

If I knew where this unicorn stayed

Or is he only seen in a book

Tell me, where should I look

It’s obvious we can’t do it alone

We need a mythological tome

To give us advice, tell us the answer

Is it this fantastical prancer?


The End of Magic by Dickensian

She had grazed in these fields since the beginning of time. But it was all over now. The last unicorn raised her head and looked around. She would miss the lilac sky, the blue fields and the lakes of crimson.

She knew what was happening. The number of people believing in magic, believing in her, was in decline. Hard, cold facts had taken over and people no longer dreamed. She lay down, breathing the sweet scent from the grass, ready to close her eyes one last time. But just as she thought it was all over, someone started dreaming.


My Secret Friend by Susan Sleggs

My homework was late again and my grades were dropping.

My English teacher said sadly, “How long has your Mom been in the hospital this time?”

“Six weeks.”

“I’m sorry. Try to do better getting your homework done. Are you all right at home alone so much?”

“Yes. I go for a lot of walks in the woods. It’s quiet there and I like to watch the chipmunks. They make me laugh.”

“You’re sure it’s safe.”

“Yes. I never see another human.” I didn’t tell her about the unicorn that walks with me. I knew she wouldn’t believe me.


Unicorns Aren’t Real by Norah Colvin

“What’s that supposed to be?” sneered Brucie.

Marnie bit her lip.

“Doesn’t look like anything to me,” he scoffed, inviting an audience.

“A unicorn,” she whispered.

“Miss said, ‘Draw your favourite animal.’ A unicorn can’t be your favourite animal–it’s not even real.”

Marnie continued drawing.

“Anyway, doesn’t look like a unicorn with those four horns.”

“They’re not horns.”

“Marnie’s unicorn’s got four horns,” laughed Brucie, a little too loudly.

Miss investigated.

“He said my unicorn’s got four horns. He said unicorns aren’t real.”

“How can unicorns have four horns if they’re not real?” asked Miss.

Brucie was silent.


Learning to Draw by Anne Goodwin

I’m rubbish at this. My horse looks more cow than anything, or wildebeest. Why am I even here?

It gets easier with practice, Miss Mills said. I take a deep breath, relax my shoulders and select a pencil with a sharpened point. Burnt umber: I haven’t used that yet. He might seem more equine with a bridle.

Before I’ve made a stroke, the teacher looms over me. My hand slips, etching a brown protrusion from the animal’s forehead. I hold my breath.

How lovely, she says. A unicorn!

Lovely? Something shifts in me. Maybe art class will be fun.


Party Animal by Michael Fishman

I stepped into the leg holes and frowned. “Seriously?”

“Hey, it was coin flip; can’t be fairer than that.”

“So, Bill, two outta three?”

“How about it’s your daughter’s birthday party?”

“All the more reason I should be the head, right?”

Bill smiled, turned, and pulled the suit over his head.

I pulled up my half, fastened the suspenders and bent over until my nose was right up against Bill’s ample hindquarters.

Maybe next year Tina’s favorite animal will be a monkey, or an ostrich, or some other animal that walks on two legs and not some stinking unicorn.


Unicorn by Kay Kingsley

Sarah and Julie were the two most beautiful princesses in all the land. Their cardboard castle stood tall and strong in their backyard kingdom. Their subjects (Barbies riding plastic horses and stuffed animals wearing precious gems) filled the castle interior. Their pink and purple gowns sparkled in the sun.

Jared waited on his pirate ship near the yard’s horizon, planning his castle plunder, dreaming of the enemies he would slay, making the princesses walk the plank.

But the princesses didn’t worry about the approaching ship. Galloping from the West, their protector came charging. It was Rex, the family unicorn.


Magical Appearance by Paula Moyer

Eight-year-old Jean loved the fairy tale book at her grandmother’s. A glossy, dark green cover, illustrations with every story. Big, thick, and heavy.

One afternoon she brought the hefty volume to the back yard. Perched in the white Adirondack chair, she turned the pages in complete absorption.

When the Rose-of-Sharon bush rustled, she didn’t look up. Just the ubiquitous Oklahoma wind. The stomp roused her.

Then Jean saw the small, white horse through the leaves. Oddly calm.

When Jean reached up to pet its nose, she saw it. The conical tusk.

“It’s true.” The horse spoke! “We are real.”


The Secret Stall by Charli Mills

“I don’t wanna pick blackberries. They got too many thorns.” Libby stuck her throbbing thumb in her mouth.

“Look, Libby’s a baby.” Her brother Joe pointed, and their cousins laughed. Libby headed to the barn. The cat was nicer than these five boys.

“Here kitty…” She could hear boy-chatter across the yard. It was dark inside. A shuffle sounded from behind the farm tractor. Careful not to trip over tools, Libby made her way to the back where a glow in the stall revealed a shining horn.

It was attached to a unicorn sleeping on a pile of quilts.


Daddy’s Little Girl by Annette Rochelle Aben

Momma says there’s no such things as unicorns. They are mythical beasts, the creations of rich imaginations. Really, the very idea of there being a pony with a horn protruding from its forehead. They are just freaks of nature.

I’ll bet my dad would agree with me. But I don’t know him, he never came back around after I was born.

I love it when I run around with my hair blowing wild and free in the wind. I imagine I’m a unicorn. Momma scolds, telling me to train my hair to hang over my freak of nature forehead.


Stable Hand by CalmKate

As I swept out the stables I felt a gentle nudge
these horses were so friendly, I felt blessed to have this job
turning to give him a pat my head hit something solid
imagine my shock when I saw a large translucent horn
This was no ordinary horse but a magical unicorn!
My head was in a spin, should I saddle him
when I noticed his wings folded
so I jumped astride, my joy I could not hide
Then out and up we went at a steep descent
over the fertile fields we climbed with birds winging by!


Unicorn by Pensitivity

He was her friend and loyal companion.

But he was the last of his kind, as was she.

She could not bear the thought of him dying, but his time was near and he wanted to give her one final gift before departing this world for the next.

She had wanted to be human, have legs rather than a fish tail, to walk among men and women alike.

As she nuzzled against him for the last time, he granted her wish.

She laid him gently in the sand and stood to watch the waves claim his body in farewell.


Miss Meadows by Juliet Nubel

As soon as they saw her impish, sparkling face they had to name her Aurn.

They saw their families feign smiles, and they heard the whispers whenever they took her out.

“Such a pretty child. But what an ugly name. They should have called her Daisy or Lily or Rose. She would go far in life as Daisy Meadows”. Then they laughed.

Aurn heard too. But she really didn’t care. She knew why they had done it. They reminded her every night.

“Why do we love you so much?”

“Because I am unique.”

“Yes, our little glittery unique Aurn.”


The Unicorn Price by Wallie & Friend

It had been a mistake. He was no hunter, and even if he had been it would have taken remarkable skill to catch this unicorn without some kind of deception. But he was desperate and the king’s bounty was tempting. Now the unicorn’s horn was at his heart.

The unicorn’s eyes gazed into his. But then the creature raised her head and turned aside. The man’s knees buckled with relief. He almost cried out when she nudged him with her soft muzzle.

“Beneath the oak tree is buried a silver star,” she said. “Its price will feed your children.”


The Rescue? by JulesPaige

So deep into the forest to the place of ‘dried rose petals
lacing her memories of bouquets’ that were only imagined.
Into the spaces where spider’s abandoned webs created
‘filaments of dust written in a dead language…’ That is
where the trance took her. She thought to decree her life
was full of worth, yet it appeared stygian.

Until a hoof attached to an appendage of a dream rested
near her knee as she sat upon the end of old wooden road.
All she had to do was accept ‘this’ fate – and never return to
reality. The unicorn concurred.


unicorn by  joem18b

my mama told me not to hang round rufus. don’t see that boy no more. he’s not our kind she said.

he’s my kind i said.

your young just horsing around my papa said your not stable yet. it’s your first rodeo.

he’s lasso’d my heart i said.

he wrangled your brain papa said.

i forbid you mama said but without disrepecting her wishes i respected mine more and rufus and i galloped into the woods behind our barn. the moon was full and i was left unsupervised as the t-shirt says.

now i’m mama of the world’s first zebra-corn.


Unicorn by Ritu Bhathal

“A unicorn? You want a unicorn?” Sarah turned from her daughter and looked at her ex-husband, Peter, rolling her eyes. “Honestly, it’s like living with Verruca Salt! She thinks she can demand anything, and that you’ll get it! How are you going to handle this one? They’re not even real!”

She was fed up of her daughter’s unrealistic demands, and the fact that Peter, anxious to score Best Parent points, would always succumb to the demands.

Peter just smiled and said “No problem, my Princess!” and hastily typed Unicorn into the Amazon search bar. Amazon sold everything after all!


Whiny Unicorns by Floridaborne

“Dad says you’re daft,” My 10 year old grandson advised me with a face so serious I had to smile.

“He believes in rainbows and unicorns,” I chuckled.  “I love your dad very much, but he has the common sense of a turnip.”

“That was mean,” my grandson said, bottom lip quivering.

“The world is a violent place.  If words make you cry, I don’t want to see what happens when you’re punched in the face.”

“You hurt my feelings!”

Footsteps, quick with anger, followed the words, “Out of my house, Ma!”

“Gladly,” I chuckled.

I walked to my Cadillac, considering the perfect gift for a family of whiny atheists. I’m changing my will and leaving everything to my church.


The Last of the Unicorns by Anurag Bakhshi

“Marry me Helen, I love you from the core of my heart.”

“Everyone says that Aaron.”

“I’m a unicorn….”

“What’s the big deal about that? You’re just a horse with a horn.”

“But I’m the last surviving member of my species…”

“Ohhhhh, so now I should marry you out of pity.”

“No, but unicorns are magical beings, marrying one leads to eternal youth.”

“Stop it, you’re just being pathetic now Aaron.”

“No, I swear it’s true.”

“How can a gal say no to THAT baby.”

And as Aaron kissed Helen to seal their union, he quietly uncrossed his hooves.


Magical Christmas Unicorn by Sarah Whiley

I inspected its creamy white head, and caramel-coloured body. What an amazing creature.

“Where can I get one?” I asked my sister.

She whispered the answer, adding, “There aren’t many left, so you’d better be quick.”

I didn’t hesitate, following her to its habitat.

The man beamed, “Ah, a wise choice madam! Inspired by the magical pillars of our universe: Unicorns, Christmas and Ice-cream; Bridge Road Brewers presents its limited edition, vanilla ice-cream ale, the Magical Christmas Unicorn. Please enjoy this beverage of fun.”

Handing over my money, rolling my eyes, I thought, Come on! It’s just a beer!


Singing Their Joy by D. Avery

The People hear their clan singing their joy at returning, their chirps and squeals, their clicking talk. The People gather to greet them, also singing happiness, laughter and talk. For both clans it is a time of feasting.

The men joke as they keep watch. We can see the ivory horns, but these ones are too far off, these ones are not ready. Hundreds more will swim by. There will be those who will come close, to be received by the People. We are grateful, waste nothing. We carve their stories in ivory, so the tuugaalik will live forever.


Dog Days and Phoenix Nights by Geoff Le Pard (from The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1)

It was morphogenesis; Milton was in flames but not in pain. Peter smiled. What next for the Staffie?

‘He’s smiling, Mum.’

‘It’s the sun. When they turn Grandpa to the window, it looks like he’s smiling.’ Mary slipped past the bleeping machines. ‘Here, I’ll move this.’

A horn grew from Milton’s head; Peter knew now. A unicorn. The flames engulfed the dog, leaving the horn pointing skywards. Peter felt happy at last.

‘There.’ Mary pulled the drip stand from the window so its shadow cut across Peter’s face. ‘I wish, he’d give us a sign.’

‘He’s peaceful, Mum.’


The Lion and the Unicorn by Sue Vincent

“…but I’m supposed to eat you. Part of the job description.” The lion roared his frustration. The pale object of his attentions polished her horn delicately, the sound of crystal on granite worse than chalk on a blackboard. The unicorn’s flanks quivered with amusement.

“You can try… but I don’t fancy your chances much.”

“But I’m King of the Beasts!” One huge paw struck the ground.

“Exactly. Strength of body against purity of soul…”

“It’s unnatural…”

“No… it is perfect.” The fragile creature lowered the crystal horn. “Beauty goes straight to the heart of you… and I never miss.”


The Unicorn by Deborah Bowman

The air is sweet as flowers, tart as leaves, chilled, yet warm as breath and blood.

I’m blinded by glare.

She stands in regal glory. A breeze whispers through her white mane, tail, and coat; eyes blue as sky; alabaster hooves. She sees me.

She nods. I go forth on fairy wings. Her breath escapes in silent words. She drops her massive head.

All the angelic colors of the rainbow radiate from The Unicorn’s horn. Magical, ethereal, silky to the touch. All there is and all there ever will be in one sensual stroke. I smile; she nuzzles me.


The Dig by Colleen Chesebro

As an archeologist, I spent hours looking for the bony remains of ancient creatures. Today, my frustration mounted. The land yielded nothing. If I didn’t find something valuable soon my funding would end.

A dry wind blew eddies of grit across a long, twisted object lodged in the ground. I brushed away the sand unveiling the skeleton of a prehistoric horse with a horn projecting from its skull. My trepidation mounted. Who would believe I had unearthed the bones of a mythological creature – a unicorn?

I felt the tremors of the earthquake begin as the land reclaimed my secret.


Strength in Peace by Rebecca Glaessner

I tapped run and the robotic creature shifted smoothly through the commands I’d coded. Satisfied, I packed it up for the presentation.

“Gonna tell me?” someone said, “somethin’ fierce, I bet.”

“A dragon, ya think?” another said.

Head held proud, I made my way to the platform.

“I chose to create something of legends,” I said, “something of the first world, something that inspired billions.”

Murmurs rippled through the crowd.

I revealed the creature.

Several scoffed, others laughed, “ridiculous.”

I tapped run and the crowd hushed, transfixed. The life-sized unicorn awoke.

“Something that’ll inspire peace through these wars.”


Hidden Treasure by Sherri Matthews

“Someink wrong with this ‘orse.”

“Ere…let me ‘ave a go.” Eve took the brush from Jim and replaced his rough bursts with soft, smooth strokes across the horse’s shoulders.

“So white and pretty, you are me darlin’. How I would love to fly away with you…”

Jim, close as breath, grabbed Eve by the back of her neck.

“Shut the hell up, talkin’ like that. Ain’t I warned you enough times? Shut yer trap if you want the dosh.”

Jim left for the pub.

Eve kept brushing, smiling through tears as she caressed the nub of a first wing.


Collateral Damage – Zen Style by Abby Rowe

‘But, Master, I work tirelessly to make myself a better man. Where I see a fault, I excise it.’

‘You so recklessly slay your dragons, my son, that one day you may find you have also destroyed the last unicorn. That is too high a price.’


‘A divine flash of light and purity, glimpsed in the corner of your mind’s eye, felt in your heart’s quiet moments. Never captured, always treasured. A mortal and elusive creature.’

‘What should I do?’

‘Pause. Contemplate the unseen existence of the unicorn. Ask the dragon how it is with his soul today.’


Hunter’s Honor by Jack Schuyler

“What do you mean? It can’t be done?” Thorn leaned forward, a scowl turning his face ugly in the dim light of the tavern. The man took a sip of Ale.

“Can be done. Won’t do it.”

Thorn slammed his fists on the table, “you’re supposed to be some master hunter! I pay you, you hunt the game.”

The man looked into his tankard, scrutinizing it briefly before spitting into the frothy interior. “There’s honor in this game. I’ll hunt dragon, chimera, or cockatrice, but I don’t know a man in this valley what will hunt you a unicorn.”


Unicorn by Patrick M. O’Connor

The large animal lumbered along slowly. It’s strides shaking the ground with each step.

I took aim and fired a shot. Missed.

He looked up, noticing the noise and spotted me.

His body turned to face me. Dipping his head, his single horn pointed directly at me.

A snort and he began a full-out run straight at me.

The ground shook under my feet. Dust flew everywhere.

Another shot, this time hitting the horn in the front of his head. It didn’t slow him down a bit.

I tried to reload but it was way too late.

Game over.


Judgement by Stephanie Fint

His curved horn meets with flesh and another criminal meets his fate. A sinner. A thief. No more shall he steal. The crowd roars their approval. The unicorn raises his bulky head and swings it side to side like a bull. They cheer for him and his judgment.

He flicks his tail, slender like a cow’s, with a tuft of brown hair at the end. The rest of his fur is black. His horn is tri-colored. Black at the base, cinnamon in the middle, and red on top. Stained red… it would be brown, but the blood never dries.


Unicorn’s Lament by Mat Wall of TellingStories

“Halt,” says the imperial guardsman, fingering the holster of his laser pistol.

I freeze before the transporter. I could run, but I would only look guilty. They’re not looking for me. They’re looking for a white horse with a single horn. They don’t understand. The legends are allegory.

“Passport,” he says.

I release my held breath. He doesn’t know what I am. A unicorn is not a creature. A unicorn is a person. We were once a proud people, but we’ve been hunted to the edges of the galaxy. For all I know, I may be the last one.


Unicorn by Heather Gonzalez

All that was left of her was a tattered stuffed unicorn. Much like that unicorn, my child was almost like a myth to me now. My former life seems as if it had floated away in the wind only leaving small remnants behind. They don’t tell you that when you lose all custody, it feels as if they have died or maybe even never existed as time goes by.

Maybe if I had realized that, I wouldn’t have injected such poison into my life. Now I am left with the scars of my choices and a tattered stuffed unicorn.


Like The Unicorn by Lisa Rey

She knew like the unicorn she would be hunted and many would try to bring her down. She also knew there was many who liked unicorns. She knew that like the unicorn, she was strong. She knew she would battle to the end against the prejudiced and the brainwashed who thought different of her because of one simple thing, that she was pansexual.

No one would stop her spirit … stop my spirit. I am me and like the unicorn I will glide through every forest and every storm.

Unicorn: Strong, fragile, human. Living, refusing to be made feel bad.


Youthicorn by Kerry E.B. Black

It sparkles in my periphery, silver as moonlight and as illusive. When I turn to catch it with my full gaze, it flees swifter than a shy spirit. Still I feel its unfailing goodness.

I used to be good, too, used to befriend the creature that haunts the corners of my consciousness. That was long ago, before age and experience settled upon my shoulders like cloaks layered atop one another. Before I lost my innocent interpretations and bowed to cynicism.

Now its glinting horn points to my failure, the unicorn that was but will never again exist for me.


Huh? by Geoff Le Pard


‘Do you think unicorns exist, Logan?’

‘No, they’re fantasy.’

‘Are you so sure?’

‘Course. There’s no evidence, Morgan. Can I watch the game?’

‘Why do you need evidence?’

‘Because you do. We’re rational beings…’

‘You believe in the atom yet you’ve not seen it.’

‘There’s evidence. Credible. Please let me watch.’

‘Seeing’s believing, eh?’

‘Is this about religion because we’re one nil up…’

‘This goes deeper that any debate on God’s existence.’


‘Yes, you believe, despite eons of evidence to the contrary that Palace will one day win something…’


‘Was that a unicorn? Or a pig?’


Interpretation by Deb Whittam

With brow furrowed and lips pursed Marc leaned back to consider his work, it was a job well done and with a flurry he made a small bow even as the wheezing voice intruded on his euphoria.

“Can I see yet?  It’s been hours.”

It had to be an exaggeration but as he glanced at the clock Marc realized Joel was right and without delay he turned the mirror to display the finished tattoo.

Joel squinted, “What the hell is that?”

“A unicorn of course,” Marc responded, indignation coloring his tone.

“I didn’t know unicorns only had one eye.”


No Absolute Truths by Reena Saxena

“The unicorn is a myth.”

“All myths originate from someone’s thoughts, when a need is felt for it.”

“Desperation to believe?”

“Yes. The story goes that only a virgin could capture it. Virgins denote power of purity. That makes the unicorn a symbol of truth.”

“There are no absolute truths either.”

“I agree. But it is a truth that existed for someone at some point of time. And it will come into being, to purify all that surrounds it.” Grandpa was insistent.

I swear I saw a cloudy unicorn float through the sky. Grandpa had passed away last night.


Jest Quest by D. Avery



“A-maizing. I dunno, Pal. I don’t know much ‘bout uni-corns.”

“Break it down Kid. Ya know hosses?”

“Ain’t my first time at the rodeo.”

“An’ ya know longhorns?”

“Well, sure, we’ve had our share a longhorns at the ranch.”

“So jest round up a bronc with one long horn.”

“Thinkin’ we’re gonna have ta ride a long ways fer this ‘un.”

“Yep. Ta antiquity.”

“Next ta Barbuda?”

“No, into olden times, maybe even magical times.”

“Think I’ll jest hang back this time.”

“What’sa matter Kid?”

“Um, jest read ya gotta be a Virginian ta catch a uni-corn.”


February 22: Flash Fiction Challenge

White stretches all the way to nowhere. The apex kisses the horizon in secret and white cannot be separated from white like marble lips locked in eternity. Lady Lake is Michelangelo and sculpts her Superior domain into classical form. This is Keweenaw Bay.

Highway 2 curves around the bay and if I turn and look northeast I can glimpse this endless white where it’s impossible for me to discern the frozen lake from the cloudy sky.

Once beyond the bay, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan emerges a wintery forested wilderness. Lodgepole pines and slender, leafless birch cluster across rolling hills and open up to lakes and streams. The snowpack doesn’t measure up to a third of what the Keweenaw has and yet there’s plenty for snowmobilers.

Small towns come in and out of view as we drive through. We are headed to one of the largest rural VA hospitals in the nation — Oscar G. Johnson Medical Center. Everyone we’ve encountered in the medical system has been top-notch, but chasing down resolutions is like chasing unicorns.

Do the answers really exist?

Today, we had breakthroughs and more tests scheduled. Today, we gained a glimmer of hope.

Look, there she goes — the last unicorn. The maiden’s quest and protector, the unicorn has hidden since the rise of western civilization. Perhaps as women claim their bodies and voices, their lives and livelihoods, the unicorns will return.

But we have our own Carrot Ranch mythology when it comes to unicorns. When the literary community first began to solidify, we discovered that with safe space to explore we turned to dark writing. In retrospect, it signaled that we were willing to risk writing deeper into our truths and imagination. We trusted each other enough to present writing we wouldn’t typically pen or share.

It was a validating moment.

To lighten the mood I joked that we’d take on writing “unicorns and rainbows” next. The official prompt was “mythical creatures,” and it gave way to more dark writing and yet became one of the most profound collections we’ve assembled at Carrot Ranch. It is now Chapter 12 in The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1. And why we have a unicorn in our book trailer:

Work has begun on Vol. 2. In September, I put out a call for Rough Writers, and we added to the fold. From this group, 30 writers are participating in building a unique anthology that begins with 99 words first crafted here. It’s a process that will see fruition by the end of 2018.

Everyone who writes here has an essential identity from Welcomed Lurker to Constant Ranch-Hands to Ranch Ambassadors to Rough Writers to Friends to Patrons to Readers. We are all part of Buckaroo Nation — a status the community has bestowed upon those who write at Carrot Ranch. Our community is vibrant with creativity and diversity; our mission is simple — make literary art accessible.

To that goal, the Ranch is what you make of it. Bloggers can find their way through Carrot Ranch to a hub of important and exciting blogs. Fictioneers can participate in a prompt and discover other prompts within the greater community. Memoirists can find other like-minded writers. Same goes for most genres. Authors can find a platform that extends their own and newbies can learn from those with more experience.

Flash fiction is both a fun and worthy literary form, as well as a writing tool. You can learn more about my thoughts on the power of flash fiction here. You can also extend your writing reach as a guest essayist or taking on an advanced fiction challenge here. Raw Literature is a series that allows us all to discuss what we write, how, and why. You can join in every Tuesday.

Because the mission of Carrot Ranch Literary Community is accessibility, I want to make sure everyone here has a chance to participate in Vol. 2. I’m opening a section for “Friends” that will include responses to a new prompt. Because this is a published book, I will work with each writer to polish their submissions. You will get a bio along with our Rough Writers. It’s an excellent opportunity to build your writing portfolio.

If you are interested, please respond by March 14, 2018:

February 22, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a unicorn. It can be realistic or fantastical. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by February 27, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published February 28). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


NOTE: The following is from The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1.

The Secret Stall by Charli Mills

“I don’t wanna pick blackberries. They got too many thorns.” Libby stuck her throbbing thumb in her mouth.

“Look, Libby’s a baby.” Her brother Joe pointed, and their cousins laughed. Libby headed to the barn. The cat was nicer than these five boys.

“Here kitty…” She could hear boy-chatter across the yard. It was dark inside. A shuffle sounded from behind the farm tractor. Careful not to trip over tools, Libby made her way to the back where a glow in the stall revealed a shining horn.

It was attached to a unicorn sleeping on a pile of quilts.


Darling, I’m Exhausted!

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionWaves of weariness break us down like a beach, robbing us of of our mental, physical, spiritual and emotional sand.

The following selection of flash fiction rises up to the challenge of showing exhaustion.

Writers crafted everything from the first push of birth to the final days in front of the telly; from job dissatisfaction to grieving a recent passing. Even unicorns get exhausted.

June 11, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about exhaustion. Who is tired and why.

Why They Call It Labor by Paula Moyer

Push. Again. Oh, not done yet?

Jean had pushed for two hours. No baby’s head emerging yet. Her body was coated in a patina of sweat.

Lynn, the nurse-midwife, had suggested pushing on the toilet, and it seemed like a good idea. But nothing.

“Let’s go back to the bed and think this through,” Lynn said.

The bed. Eight feet and a universe away from the bathroom. Baby’s head somewhere in her pelvis.

“I’ll need help,” Jean whispered. Her husband, Lynn, and came together.

She walked. The head pressed.

“Oh, God! This hurts!”

He was born forty-five minutes later.


Muddy Ride by Kalpana Solsi

She bent down and with her left hand supporting her hip, winced, continued scrubbing each depression of the tyre with the brush to dislodge the caked mud. She poured water over the scrubbed tyres and continued with cleaning the steel body. Her T-shirt and track pant having been soaked in sweat, she wiped the beads of perspiration to her sleeves, climbed the steps to enter her cottage.

She passed by his room, tiptoed and looked admiringly at sleeping David, smiled and kissed the gleaming trophy at his bedside. He was now a big boy and hated to be kissed.


Exhaustion by Irene A. Waters

The barrow slows as though it too is overcome with tiredness. Jack battles the urge to sleep. He has to keep awake. He has to be ready for any chance to escape his captor but the soothing rocking motion of the barrow lulls him gently until his eyelids droop and the flicker of his struggle is no more.

“You said twenty-four hours.You promised.” Spent, she sat.
The police officer glanced at his calendar and sighed. Only four days until retirement and so much still to do. Probable runaway. Most of them were. Why now ? Resignedly he gathered the required forms.


What a Day! by Ruchira Khanna

Paula is scrubbing the floor as she adjusts her hair behind her ear with the backside of her hand. She picks up the leftover plates, cups from the corners of the room and neatly tucks the decorations away.

Finally, she plops hard on the couch, and admires her room as she crosses her legs and taps them hard.

“Aha! The house is spick and span” she says in a soft tone.

Gets up to change, takes a detour to her kid’s room, which has toys lying on the floor. As she adjusts his blanket she whispers, “Happy Birthday, Leo”


The To-Do List by Amber Prince

I stared down at my to-do list, a lock of hair falling across my sweaty forehead. Only half of my list was completed and my muscles already screamed for me to wave the white flag in defeat. But I must go on, there were only 18 hours left until guests arrived.

If I ate dinner while vacuuming and cleaned the bathroom while I showered and dressed in the morning then that might save time. And energy.

Whose great idea was it to throw this party anyway? Oh right, mine.

I stretched my arms and snapped on my rubber gloves.


No Rest for the Wicked by Charli Mills

Sarah rubbed the small of her back with her knuckled fists. Slowly she hung her neck forward, then side to side. Glaring at the cauldron of dirty water, suds and shirts, she lifted the paddle to stir again.

“Need a back rub?” Bill Hickok swung a long leg up over the top railing of the horse pen and perched like a blonde crow. Even his buckskin pants and fringed shirt shimmered golden.

“No. Just taking a breather.”

“I hear Mary McCandless is working the spunk out of you. Come on, Sarah, take a break. Even idle hands get rest.”


Vampire on the Job by Sarah Brentyn

Cynthia stepped out the door with a smile. She skipped to her car. For once, she wasn’t dreading work.

Slipping on strappy pink sandals, she threw her sneakers on the seat and walked into the office.

“Good morning,” she beamed. “What a beau…”

Then she saw Amber.

Cynthia deflated. “I thought you were out today.”

“Nope!” Amber attacked Cynthia with anecdotes and questions. Another date, another mess. Paperwork problems. Computer issues. A date for tonight. How to work the coffee machine.

Cynthia dragged herself through the door. She plopped down with a pint of ice cream and a beer.


Sleep Deprived Flash Fiction by Susan Zutautas

As Joe was driving home in the wee hours of the morning, totally exhausted from working the past three weeks straight without a day of rest, he could not believe what he saw on the side of the road.

Was he hallucinating or was his mind playing tricks? He’d not had much sleep for the past week, and rubbing his eyes to try to get a clearer view wasn’t helping. Slowing his truck down, veering onto the shoulder to get a better look Joe could not believe it. Quickly he grabbed his rifle bringing his truck to a stop.


William of Charleston by Larry LaForge

William has had it. His dream job has gone sour. Getting through each day is pure drudgery.

He’s always taken pride in pulling his load at work, but now there’s no joy.

The historical port city has lost its charm. Quaint cobblestone streets, once a thing of beauty to him, are now just another occupational hazard.

Tour guides are more annoying than ever. William cringes when they misinform, but is not in a position to correct their embellished stories.

William fears he’s trapped in this dead end job. You see, he has no formal education.

Few carriage horses do.

(A 100-word version of this story is posted at Flash Fiction Magazine’s site for LarryLaForge100words.)


A Unicorn at School by Norah Colvin

‘Miss. Marnie has a toy in her bag.’

‘Uh-uh,’ I responded.

‘You’re not allowed to have toys at school,’ he insisted.


Trust him! Always dobbing.

‘Miss,’ he persisted, tugging my sleeve.

‘What is it?’ I sighed, dragging myself out of the confusion of marks and percentages that now seemed more important to telling a child’s story than their own words and actions.

I looked at the little fellow pleading for my attention. They were all so needy; so demanding; but time . . .

‘It’s a unicorn, Miss.’

‘Unicorn! Let’s see!’ I was back. A child in need!


Trials of a Unicorn, Part 2 by Anne Goodwin

He was hungry, thirsty and the pain spiked in his knees with every footfall, but he dared not stop. Nor would he look back to the place he’d thought was home. He pressed forward through the alien landscape: the grey rocks shaped like goblins; the pale vegetation that knifed his lips when he bent to eat.

When he saw the shimmering water, he thought his brain was playing tricks with him. But he couldn’t deny the graceful creatures lowering their heads to drink. Would they make space for him among them? Would they shun him and his single horn?


The Tears of Gods by Geoff Le Pard

Mary rubbed her back. Packing her father’s belongings took forever.

‘Are you tired, Mum?’

Mary forced a smile. ‘Exhausted.’

‘Dad said you need rest.’

‘Maybe a walk. Later. When the rain stops.’

‘Does it rain in heaven, Mum?’

‘I don’t know.’ Was there heaven? She hoped so.

‘Will Grandpa Peter get wet?’

‘He wouldn’t mind.’


‘He’d use it to get out of chores and go fishing.’ She glanced up at the hunkering clouds. ‘Eh, Dad?’

Peter looked down and nodded. Too right. ‘Milton. There.’

The dog-cum-unicorn leapt in the water, horn to the fore, and speared the salmon.


Time Enough by Lisa Reiter

Looking into the slightly desperate amber eyes, she did her best to swallow some porridge.

“Is it ok, Grandma?”

“It’s delicious, love. I’ve just had enough.”

“Can I get you anything? Are you comfortable?”

“I’m fine” She sighed, “Just pop the telly on before you leave.”

“I thought I might stay with you today.”

“Oh, Alice, there’s really no need. I shan’t get up to much!”

“I know, I just feel.. I’m worried about you. Should I call Dr.Graham?”

“No! Whatever for? There’s nothing wrong.”

At 96, she was just tired, tired of living and she’d had enough.


New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications.  All writers welcome!

The Fantastical

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionWe found out that unicorns and rainbows aren’t always lollipops and sunshine. Darkness encroaches, mysteries unfold and heroes face challenges. Writers rework old mythologies  into new ones. The fantastical becomes believable with concrete and sensual details, and real stories borrow from fantastical elements.

June 4, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a fantastical element or creature.

Rainbows and Unicorns Delivered by Sarah Brentyn

Aww… How Sweet!

Sunlight filled the field of flowers. Light purple stalks of lavender stretched out as far as I could see, enveloping me in an intoxicating earthy-floral scent.

I stretched out my hand and gently ran my fingers through the unicorn’s silky mane. In the distance, luminescent rainbows filled the sky. Fairies flitted around the standing stones, darting around mounds of mushrooms—red and white polka dotted toadstools. The dragons soared much higher in the air, their iridescent scales shimmering in the sun.

I took a deep breath, plopping down in a soft patch of moss, and plucked a lollipop flower.


Conservation by Lisa Reiter

It was hot but the door was closed. She snuck up to peak through a gap. She’d not been allowed to the barn since the birth, but Mother was distracted with Tommy.

She’d heard the grinder going. The horses were stamping and whinnying just like when there was a fire in the hayloft. Her father and the men were holding the newborn while the blacksmith seemed to be branding its bleeding head.

A shout – she’d been seen! Father rushed to get her. Gently he said:

“You mustn’t tell anyone – there are bad people trying to wipe out the unicorns.”


The Scaly Curse by Amber Prince

The wind whipped her face as they soared across the night sky. She leaned forward, resting her face against the worn scales that made up his body. Their time together was coming to an end, they could both feel the changes in the air.

They were only given one night a year, as this was their curse. He wasn’t even granted his old human form to be able to hold her tight. This is how they would share their love until one died or one forgot the other.

But she didn’t care. The dragon was her father after all.


Dog Days and Phoenix Nights by Geoff Le Pard

It was morphogenesis; Milton was in flames but not in pain. Peter smiled. What next for the Staffie?

‘He’s smiling, Mum.’

‘It’s the sun. When they turn Grandpa to the window, it looks like he’s smiling.’ Mary slipped past the bleeping machines. ‘Here, I’ll move this.’

A horn grew from Milton’s head; Peter knew now. A unicorn. The flames engulfed the dog, leaving the horn pointing skywards. Peter felt happy at last.

‘There.’ Mary pulled the drip stand from the window so its shadow cut across Peter’s face. ‘I wish, he’d give us a sign.’

‘He’s peaceful, Mum.’


The Patrick Cat by Jeanne Belisle Lombardo

The rain stopped. She stepped through to the patio, drank in the scent of quenched earth and creosote, then moved to the Palo Verde tree.

Her hand on the smooth, green bark, she looked east. A rainbow crowned Fire Rock Mountain.

The she noticed it, the chain, hanging free from a bough. The terracotta winged cat that Patrick had given her was gone.

She toed the earth. “Where are you Patrick?” she whispered. “Don’t die on me again.”

A rustle near the rosemary. A cat the color of clay pawed the air. “Meer,” it said. And took flight.


The Secret Stall by Charli Mills

“I don’t wanna pick blackberries. Too many thorns. ” Libby stuck her throbbing thumb in her mouth.

“Look, Libby’s a baby.” Her brother Joe pointed and their cousins laughed. Libby headed to the barn. The cat was nicer than these five boys.

“Here kitty…” She could hear boy-chatter across the yard. It was dark inside. A shuffle sounded from behind the farm tractor. Careful not to trip over tools, Libby made her way to the back where a glow in the stall revealed a shining horn.

It was attached to a unicorn sleeping on a pile of quilts.


Heaven-Sent by Paula Moyer

Jean and Stan raced from their trailer-on-a-lake. The new puppy snoozed in the crate in back.

What a week. They had flown back from Harry’s funeral in New Brunswick to pick up the puppy, spent a few days on the lake with her. Now they were on their way to their vet appointment.

Stan drove. Jean drifted into a nap, but fought off fear. She had not had a dog for 40 years. Were they crazy?

Next to the puppy was an angel – with wings!

“Harry sends his blessings.”

Jean woke. The angel was gone.

So was the fear.


The Unicorn by Irene A.Waters

Jack hurt. Crammed in the barrow like a foetus in the womb he screamed but his taped mouth ensured silence and made breathing difficult. His ears hurt from the high-pitched squeak of the wheel barrow. A new sound, barely audible at first, came softly, a tinkling of tiny bells blown in the breeze. His breathing slowed as the chimes calmed him. He felt he was no longer alone with the barrow man but dismissed the occasional glimpses of the white, one-horned horse as pure fantasy. He had lost track of time. He no longer knew in what realm he travelled.


Unicorn Knights by Norah Colvin

She sat on the bed and looked around. Funny how some things don’t change.

They had left it untouched for all those years since her escape, waiting for her return. But she never did. Never could. Until now.

“You should,” she was told. “Make peace.” “Let it go.”

It didn’t look so scary now. They were both gone. She was grown.

Sunlight glinted on the unicorn. It had faded but waited still, on the night-table, for their nocturnal escapades away from cruel reality.

She fingered it for a moment, remembering. Then dumped it in the wastebasket.

“Sell!” she said.


OhNoYouDon’tMAN by Larry Laforge

A perpetrator entered the school, guns packed, ready to strike. In an instant he was frozen, locked in place by some unknown force. Baffled authorities apprehended the still figure.

The oddly named superhero, holding inexplicable powers and firm resolve, scans his worldwide monitors.

Within seconds robbers are stopped in their tracks in London. Terrorists in Prague can’t move. Kidnappers in Atlanta are immobilized. All are frozen still just before the dirty deed.

OhNoYouDon’tMAN suddenly bolts for his Brazilian monitor, where he abruptly thwarts a header.

There’s no way his favorite team is going to lose in the World Cup.


A Knight in Plastic Armor by Pete

Dylan trudged home, his sword clicking on the sidewalk behind his steps. Sir Galahad followed obediently, his dented cardboard horn still affixed to his head.

Dylan knew naught that a unicorn would incite such howls of laughter from the knights of the picnic table—a most shameful lot indeed, he thought piteously. Therewith Galahad barked and Dylan spun around to find Amelia, Sir Derrick’s older sister.

“Dylan.” She approached, shining with…well she was on the phone. “Here, you forgot your cake.” Galahad nosed the chocolate frosted offering.

“Thank you me lady, thou –“

“Come on Dylan, don’t push it.”


Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin

He woke with the sun and staggered to his feet. He felt clumsy, heavy head and throbbing forehead echoing the antics of the night before. The music. The dancing. The drugs.

He tried to join his siblings, but they showed him their backs. He trotted towards his mother, but his aunts barred his way.

Thirst raging in his throat, he cantered to the pool. Bending to drink, he caught his reflection: hooves; fetlocks; knees; chest; muzzle. Yet no longer a horse: projecting from his forehead, a huge horn spiralled to a point. He’d be living as a unicorn now.


Rainbows and Unicorns by Georgia Bell

The woman smiled, faint lines around her eyes crinkling as she shook her head. “God, was I ever that young?”

The girl stepped back into the shadows, unsure and uncertain. “Who are you?”

The woman extended her hand. “Come with me,” she said. “There’s not much time.”

“For what?” The girl moved into the sun again, drawn towards this woman whose hair sparkled with the same golden sheen as hers.

“To make things different,” she said. “To make things right.”

“How do you know which is which?” the girl asked.

“You don’t,” the woman said. “That’s why I’m here.


Splashes of Sadness by Sarah Brentyn

It had been three years since his sister drowned.

He sat in the gritty, damp sand near the edge of the ocean, to prove he wasn’t afraid. No one was at the beach. Not in November. He didn’t hear babies squealing or kids splashing. He didn’t smell coconut-scented sunscreen or baking bodies.

But he did smell seaweed. He did hear sirens. He remembered that day three years, five months, and seventeen days ago.

He was not alone.

Salt water splashed near him as the sirens sounded once more. Calling him like his sister. This time, he would join them.


Innocence Declared by Charli Mills

Sarah stood outside the log cabin, arms folded, watching a blackbird perch on a cattail. Inside Cobb argued with Mary. His wife. Was the man foolish enough to declare his relationship with Sarah was “nothing”?

The word stung. Silence consumed the cabin. Then Mary stepped outside, following Sarah’s regard of the marsh.

“What are you looking at, Girl?”

“A unicorn.”


“There, bedded in the reeds. She’s the color of sunlight with a golden horn.” Sarah pointed at the blackbird.

“I don’t see it.”

Sarah glanced at Mary. “I forgot. Only maidens can see.”

“Are you innocent?” Mary asked.


New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications.  All writers welcome!


June 4: Flash Fiction Challenge

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionA milestone post–#100 for Carrot Ranch. And this is the 14th flash fiction challenge. Thank you for reading and participating!

Last week netted another compilation of stories as flashy and minute as minnows in a stream. Each week I feel child-like in the wonderment of how stories can burst to life and be told in 99 words. Practicing weekly flash within a dynamic literary tribe certainly charges my batteries.

Literature has three sides. Like an equilateral triangle, each side is valuable: reading, writing and discoursing. When we come together in a literary community we get to participate in all three sides.

And when we practice all three, our production grows stronger. We learn and experiment with new processes; we gain insights from different perspectives; and we discuss ideas that bubble up. It also “fills the well” as Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way,” would say. It means that we fill the well of inspiration as we empty ourselves onto the page.

Each story, comment and blog reflection sparks my creative side and challenges me to think beyond opinion, pop culture and what is. I can unleash my mind to consider what is possible. Which leads us to imagination.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying,

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Imagination powers the gears in a writer’s mind. Even the memoirist must imagine how memories transform into moments with meaning. Creative non-fiction writers must imagine what the mundane holds. Think of Annie Dillard in “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” who once described her tom cat with such imagination that she turned grisly reality into an act of beauty:

“I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who would jump through the open window by my bed in the middle of the night and land on my chest. I’d half-awaken. He’d stick his skull under my nose and purr, stinking of urine and blood. Some nights he kneaded my bare chest with his front paws, powerfully, arching his back, as if sharpening his claws, or pummeling a mother for milk. And some mornings I’d wake in daylight to find my body covered with paw prints in blood; I looked as though I’d been painted with roses.”

Often I try to think of the most outlandish thing to describe the most simple. It taps into my imagination, cracking open cliches to reveal our own unique voice.  Imagination lets me become something else, lets me see something strange in something common. It pushes my voice to speak creatively as I did in a piece called “Carnival Clouds”:

The thunderheads are rimmed in pink like airy cotton-candy. To the west the sky lightens and to the east the clouds look back-lit like garish signs for carnival rides. I want to ride the clouds like the birds do, to soar on thermals and dip fast toward the pond and pull up again, roller coaster-style.

Writer, Sarah Brentyn, reminded me of the power of imagination in writing in a comment she made: “maybe our next prompt should be unicorns and rainbows.” It was ironic, too because the day she left that comment I had doctored a photo of one of the Elmira Pond horses:

Unicorn of Elmira Pond

So if you are following me, let’s go over the rainbow this week! Let’s snap the halters off our inner unicorns and let them romp through our writing. Feel free as a phoenix in flames to write fantastically, yet also think of how you can use the fantastical to enrich realities.

It can work both ways–the best fantasy stories (like “The Hobbit” or “The Dragon Reborn” series) are grounded in concrete details. Think of it this way–what sound would a unicorn make as it trotted past traffic on a busy city street? What real place might an unreal creature show up?

Or, how can you use the idea of a unicorn in a non-fantasy story? What symbolism does it have? Can it be funny, tragic or ironic? This week, inspired by a burst of creativity, I’ve crafted two stories, one fantastical and one a continuation of historical fiction (about Sarah and Cobb). And both stories include a unicorn.

June 4, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a fantastical element or creature. The element can include a memory, describe something common as outlandish, or it can be pure, unfiltered fantasy. I can’t wait to see what emerges from your imagination. Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, June 10 to be included in the compilation.

The Secret Stall by Charli Mills

“I don’t wanna pick blackberries. Too many thorns. ” Libby stuck her throbbing thumb in her mouth.

“Look, Libby’s a baby.” Her brother Joe pointed and their cousins laughed. Libby headed to the barn. The cat was nicer than these five boys.

“Here kitty…” She could hear boy-chatter across the yard. It was dark inside. A shuffle sounded from behind the farm tractor. Careful not to trip over tools, Libby made her way to the back where a glow in the stall revealed a shining horn.

It was attached to a unicorn sleeping on a pile of quilts.


Innocence Declared by Charli Mills

Sarah stood outside the log cabin, arms folded, watching a blackbird perch on a cattail. Inside Cobb argued with Mary. His wife. Was the man foolish enough to declare his relationship with Sarah was “nothing”?

The word stung. Silence consumed the cabin. Then Mary stepped outside, following Sarah’s regard of the marsh.

“What are you looking at, Girl?”

“A unicorn.”


“There, bedded in the reeds. She’s the color of sunlight with a golden horn.” Sarah pointed at the blackbird.

“I don’t see it.”

Sarah glanced at Mary. “I forgot. Only maidens can see.”

“Are you innocent?” Mary asked.


Rules of Play:

  1. New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
  2. Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  3. Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
  4. Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
  5. If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
  6. Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
  7. Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
  8. Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
  9. You can also follow on Carrot Ranch Communications by “liking” the Facebook page.
  10. First-time comments are filtered by Word Press and not posted immediately. I’ll find it (it goes to my email) and make sure it gets posted! After you have commented once, the filter will recognize you for future commenting. Sorry for that inconvenience, but I do get frequent and strange SPAM comments, thus I filter.