There weren’t supposed to be unicorns in the Town.
There weren’t supposed to be unicorns at all, of course – they were a myth, a superstition. But inside the Town? Such things should not even be thought of. Not in the Town, with its rationality, its science, its straight streets and straight walls and rational protections against the myth and credulity of the common Village folk. Not in the Town, with its upright people who worked hard for a day’s living in the Factory, who struggled to live in the faint miasma of Progress. There was no space nor time for unicorns in the Town. They did not belong.
And certainly not in the Factory, the heart of all those things the Town stood for, with its soot-blackened stone and its towering stacks, with its tired but proud workers, with its managers and thinkers and planners who understood how the world was supposed to work. A unicorn, if such things existed, could not survive in the Town, much less in the factory.
But Harah who worked at Gear Station One whispered to Jik, who worked the same station, that she’d seen something out of the corner of her eye. And Jik muttered about it to Tonor, who worked at Gear Station Two, and confirmed that he, too, had seen a glitter of horn, a suggestion of malice.
And Tonor mentioned both sightings to Ura, who passed it on to Pallas at the Inspection Booth, who had the sharpest eyes on the floor. And Pallas kept those eyes peeled, and told Rodder, who carried the big stick, when she’d seen the tell-tale streak of white. And Rodder chased the faintest flash through the factory floor, overturning trays and disrupting the whole processes, only to be told by Infe’s daughter, who was visiting, that she’d seen the thing leave by the shipping dock.
Infe’s daughter went home giggling, remembering the horn glimmering, and the happy face of the Unicorn munching the begonias in the Factory courtyard.
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