So, back in August I started running a ridiculous little story on Twitter, one poll at a time, letting my followers decide at each post where the story goes next. Here are the results so far. Feel free to join in; the latest poll is always pinned to the top of my Twitter profile page (easily accessible via the main page of my web site).
It’s a standard sort of Sunday until your doorbell rings. You open it to find a man standing there with an Irish Wolfhound.
“Sorry for the intrusion, but I’m led to believe you’re the best person to help me,” says the dog.
A lesser person might scream and slam the door, but you gaze calmly (and not far) down at the dog. “Well,” you say. “Clearly my cat’s been gossiping.”
“Your cat speaks highly of you,” says the wolfhound. “She said you might be the only person alive who could stop the Postman.”
“The Postman is back?” You blink, dismayed. “I thought they put him away for good after I found all those eyeballs in his truck.” You shudder. “And the most disturbing thing was, they were still blinking.”
“Well,” says the hound, “I know he’s escaped, and I can prove it. I’m Cu, by the way. This is Steve. He’s quiet because the Postman got his tongue.”
“My God,” you say to Steve, who shrugs and gives a wan half-smile. “Wait… the Postman’s after tongues now? He must be trying to build a Babel demon!”
“That’s why we came to you,” says Cu. “You know his motives better than anyone.”
You look away. “I ought to,” you say. “I was there when he was built. And I was married to him for eight years.” It’s hard to look back on those years, when you were more a collection of avant-garde Statements than a person. “Come in,” you say. “Let’s assemble the Beasts.”
You scan the street as you hold the door open, then close it behind the pair. Inside, Cu’s nails click on the hardwood as Steve eyes your Fibonacci Spiral tattoo. You turn away, self-conscious.
“Let’s head back to the workshop,” you say. “Some are partially assembled; my cat’ll gather the rest. Fifi is gonna want revenge.”
Cu’s ears perk. “What did the Postman do to Fifi?”
“Her last human was one of his victims. That’s how I met her. There’s also a crow and a llama, in addition to the two cyborgs, but Fifi can go fetch them.”
“Fetch?” comes a sardonic voice from above. You look up to see the battered gray tabby perched atop a bookshelf. “Maybe you should send Cu.”
“Hey, Fifi,” says the dog. “Good to see you again.” The cat flicks her good ear, her disdain evident.
“-Please- go get Lloyd and Nyx?” you ask Fifi sweetly.
“Fine.” She jumps down.
Back in the workshop, you find the partially-assembled unicorn and jackalope lying in disarray against the wall.
“Steve, I’m going to need an extra pair of hands,” you say. “That unicorn head is heavy.”
Steve bursts into tears.
“Oh, Steve,” you say softly in dismay. “These are cloned parts; they were never live animals! Cu…he’s still crying.”
Cu sighs. “Steve has been a mess lately.”
“Understandable,” you say. “Want to wait outside?”
Still teary, Steve answers by moving to help you lift the unicorn head. You feel a qualm at having lied. The white mane is brittle, nothing like it was when the beast ran free. You attach the head with a click, flip a switch. Uh oh. There’s a folded note on the floor.
Thing is, you live alone. As the unicorn eases to life with a low hum, you bend to pick up the paper, skin prickling. The note reads: DON’T TURN ON THE UNICORN.
The paper slips from your fingers, fluttering to the floor as you turn toward the unicorn in alarm. Too late. It tells Steve what you did.
“MURDERER,” the unicorn booms, its glass eyes rotating to fix directly on you. Among other things, you’re horrified that the jackalope is moving. You’re not sure where to direct your attention: toward the cyborg unicorn’s baleful gaze or the headless jackalope slowly inching its way toward its own head.
Luckily, Cu has your back. He lunges forward and, with surprising gentleness, seizes the jackalope between his jaws, giving you time to answer the allegations.