Bonus 16: Unicorns Fart Rainbows (another novella)

Unicorns Fart Rainbows
by
Matt Zurbo

Something went wrong for Cielo when, at the age of six, her father told her unicorns fart rainbows. She was already sure they existed, sure, and loved rainbows! But now she was all confused about meeting one.
   “Mum, they look so beautiful, but must smell so bad!” she moaned.
   “Love is love,” her mother told her. “Don’t let anything dampen your affection.”
   “Done!” said Cielo, chest out, and went outside to look at the weather.
   Dad was out there, cooking on the barbie.
   “What are you up to?” he asked his daughter.
   “If that’s how rainbows are made, Dad. I’m going to follow one to a unicorn,” Cielo told him.
   Dad smiled proudly.
   “Don’t forget a clothes peg for your nose, honey!” he suggested.
   From then on, whenever there was sunlight and drizzle, Cielo would leap out of her house, peg on her nose, carrying a $3 pair of binoculars, an op-shop butterfly net and a peanut butter sandwich, then run around the back paddocks chasing rainbows.
   School wasn’t much different. She’d bring carrots and pumpkin soup every day it looked like rain, “In case the unicorns are hungry.”
   “You’re such a weirdo!” the kids at school teased her.
   Cielo didn’t care. The other kids doubted. Their lives were ordinary. One day she’d show them! They’d never get to see rainbow farting unicorns!    

*****

Sitting around the dinner table could get awkward.
   “Dad, what if there’s a herd of unicorns?” Cielo asked.
   “Yes?” Dad said.
   “Would the sky be full of rainbows?”
   Dad scratched his chin.
   “If they all ate beans, I guess so,” he told her. “Imagine that…” he added, nose flinching.
   Cielo filled with fret.
   “You can light farts!” she worried. “One match, and the whole sky could be put on fire!”
   “Wow, flaming rainbows…” Dad pondered.
   “This isn’t funny,” Mum scolded him.
   But Cielo and her father kept on imagining.
   “Everybody would hate them!” the little girl shuddered.
   “Not if there were baboons around,” Dad smiled. “Baboons love to vacuum up bad smells. They even use real vacuums!”
   Mum had had enough!
   “Right you!” she pointed her spoon at Dad. “Change the topic!”
   “Did you know mermaids have stinky fish breath? That’s why they’re so bad at dating,” he whispered to his daughter.

*****

Cielo’s teacher was worried. The little girl would not budge in her belief that unicorns fart rainbows and mermaids have stinky fish breath.
   “Go sit in the corner with the new boy until you stop saying such gibberish!” she barked at her.
   Cielo dragged her feet to the corner. The new boy was there with a finger up his nostril.
   “Hi, I’m Oscar,” he said.
   “I know. I saw you move into the farm opposite ours,” Cielo told him. “Why are you being punished?”
   “I like to pick my nose,” he told her.
   “Oh,” she said.
   What a creep! But his smile was very friendly.
   “I like it here in the corner,” he told her, as if it was a secret. “I can think about stuff.”
   “Like what?” Cielo asked.
   “Magic bat poo. Ghouls that sing rap songs. Spaceships. Other stuff.”
   Cielo was shocked, impressed. She tried to picture an ogre dancing with a ladybug… and burst out smiling!
   “I bet my dad would like you!” she told him.

*****

Dad liked Oscar a lot – even if he was always picking his nose.
   “Did you know Little Red Riding Hood was really a 60 year old dwarf?” Dad told him.
   “No way!”
   “Yep. A likeable lady, tough as nails!” Dad insisted. “That wolf was always gunna go down!”
   “Wow, Red Riding Hood was 60!? Grandma must have been ancient!” the boy replied.
   “232!” Dad said. “But dwarfs in those parts lived to 300.”
   Dad took a minute to flip some burgers on the barbie.
   “Do you want one?” he asked Oscar.
   “No thank you,” Oscar said, holding up his green finger. He was full enough already. “Are you sure picking my nose will turn me into a werewolf?”
   “Absolutely!” Dad boasted. “Eventually.”
   “You’re father knows so much!” Oscar said to Cielo, but she was busy trying to test her father’s theory that fairies burp too much and only eat peanut butter sandwiches.
   “So, to recap…” Dad said. “Snot equals werewolves. Burps, fairies. Trolls like dancing to 70s rock ballads. The Dreamtime is real if you squint hard enough. Unicorns equal farts, which equal rainbows…”
   “And if you walk on your hands in the city, everybody looks happy!” Cielo called.
   “Exactly!” Dad beamed. He couldn’t be prouder.
   “Come here, you!” Mum’s angry voice came from the lounge.
   Dad went inside sheepishly.
   “Look!” Cielo shrieked to Oscar.
   “A rainbow!” he cried.
   And off they ran, fast as possible, looking for ogres, trolls, fairies, bunyips, and, of course, farting unicorns!    

*****    

“I don’t smell anything yet,” Oscar complained.
   “There…!” Cielo yelled, pointing excitedly across the potato field, to a beautiful rainbow.
Its colours were so strong that the yellow and pink were leaking out into the mist, covering everything.
   “The unicorn must be huge!” she smiled.
   But the more they ran towards the rainbow, the more it seemed to shift further away with the weather.
   “Faster, faster…” Cielo chanted, scampering over paddock after paddock.
   “I’m trying, I’m trying…!” Oscar panted.
   Eventually, Cielo buckled over, and Oscar stopped running.
   “Now… I… know… why…” he puffed, “you… get a pot… of gold… for finding… the end of one…”
   Cielo watched hard.
   “I can almost see…” she squinted.
   “Something moving under…” Oscar also squinted.
   Unicorns? Trolls? Giants…?
   They squinted harder.
   “Bunyips…?” Cielo wondered.
   “What is a bunyip anyway?” Oscar said.
   “They’re like mythical Outback beasts, made up of all the Outback creatures,” Cielo said.
   “What do they do?”
   “I’m not sure. Protect and terrorise the waterholes, I think.”
   “Cool…” said Oscar.
   But before long, clouds shifted and the rainbow faded.

*****

Cielo and Oscar went into that field a lot after that. Straight from school each afternoon, all day on weekends, sitting in the potato rows wile waiting on farting unicorns, talking about all kinds of things.
   “Dragons aren’t real,” Oscar said. “If they were, we’d have seen them.”
   “They are real, but only exist in the hearts of bullies,” Cielo replied.
   “Good point. I can picture that!” Oscar agreed with her. “I still say mole men are real, though.”
   “Sure, why not? And if you could whisper in bat language, they’d tell you where all the treasure is buried.”
   ‘Well, obviously.”
   Cielo often found it hard talking to a boy who constantly picked his nose, but he was otherwise funny. And didn’t laugh at any of her or her Dad’s theories.
   “Hey, kids!” Mum called from the edge of the field. “It hasn’t rained in weeks. I’m starting the sprinklers!”
   Cielo looked at them, lined up in a never-ending row, on a frame held twenty feet high, by wheels that would carry them across the paddock.
   “The sun’s hot, Mum!” she called. “Can we let them get us?”
   “The water will agitate the blood and bone fertiliser. You’ll smell terrible!” Mum warned her.
   “I don’t mind!” Cielo insisted.
   Mum turned them on, and went back to other farm duties.
   Oscar watched as a wall of fine, squirting water slowly approached, while Cielo kept talking.
   “I’d have a talking wombat as a sidekick, as long as the elves didn’t get jealous,” she continued. “Wombats have a great sense of humour… and like blowing soap bubbles!”
   Closer, closer, came the sprinklers.
   “Uh, Cielo…” Oscar mumbled.
   “It’s okay, the wheels will pass either side of us,” she replied, dreamily.
   “No, look!” Oscar gasped.
   Cielo lifted her head. The mist from the sprinklers was catching the sun. There was red light, and orange, and blue, green, yellow. Colour everywhere!
   “The light, the water… We’re in a rainbow…” Oscar said, his mouth open in wonder.
   “Phew, that smell!” Cielo protested, covering her nose.
   Then she saw her first unicorn.

*****

Mum was worried. Cielo and Oscar had been out in the potato field for hours. She could hear them as she worked – laughing, gasping, squealing, being amazed by something.
   Eventually, after the sprinklers rolled back again, they came running.
   “Dad! Dad! You were right!” Cielo leapt into his arms.
   “Of course I was!” Dad said.
   “About what?” Mum asked.
   “No idea. I’m just right a lot!” Dad insisted. “Phew! You two stink of fertiliser!”
   “No, that’s unicorn farts!” Cielo smiled.
   “Totally worth it!” Oscar agreed with her.
   “Now you’ve done it!” Mum growled. “Their imaginations have totally run away with them.”
   “But they’re real, Mum!” Cielo insisted.
   Oscar just picked his nose and smiled a lot. Cielo was far better at describing things.
   “A griffin was hanging out with the talking wombats! How funny is that! Then the unicorns and the fairies sat down and discussed how much they should show us.”
   “Cielo…” Mum said, with caution.
   “But Mum! We ran with bunyips! They’re so funny! They give bushmen wedgies while they’re sleeping!”
   “It’s true!” Oscar told her.
   Dad looked at how angry Mum was with him.
   “That’s enough,” she said, shooing Oscar onto his bicycle.
   Oscar and Cielo waved good-bye, and the boy rode home, excited.
   “Those two are trouble together,” Mum said, watching him go.

*****

School was horrible. Nobody would believe Cielo. Instead, they laughed, they teased and belittled.
   “There were all sorts of creatures,” Cielo insisted.
   “Look, I’m a monster!” Tyrone roared, all hunched and stomping.
   “No, you’re a dragon,” Cielo told him. All curled up and mean, she thought, shrunk into a little human.
   “Don’t even try to play with us at lunchtime,” scoffed Julie Scree.
   A witch, thought Cielo.
   She attempted to hold her head high while slinking back to her seat – very tricky. Oscar was at the desk behind her, face buried in something.
   “What are you doing?” she asked.
   “They’re trying to stop me picking my nose,” Oscar told her.
   “But that’s what you do,” Cielo insisted.
   “I know!” Oscar protested. “Every time I want to pick it, I have to draw something.”
   Cielo looked at his doodles of pizza-eating goblins, trumpet-playing stingrays and rainbow farting unicorns. So many ideas! The fairies he drew went right off the page, filling the desk around him.
   “I love it!” she smiled. “You like picking your nose so much, you’ll become a world famous artist.”
   “Stop talking!” demanded the teacher.
   “Freaks…” muttered Tyrone and Julie.

*****

Oscar sat with Cielo in the paddock, nervous, excited. “This is going to be epic!” he said, all bouncy, as Mum turned on the rainbow-bringing sprinklers, then went back to farm duties.
   Cielo just pouted.
   “What’s up?” he asked her.
   “The bullies were extra mean after school,” she said.
   “That Tyrone…” Oscar hissed.
   “And now my mood is all bad.”
   “The rainbow will fix that!” Oscar cheered, as the line of sprinklers got closer.
   “But, Oscar! What if we’re only seeing what we imagine?”
   “So? I believe in them. You believe in them.”
   “But what if, thanks to the bullies, I can only imagine angry things?”
   “Oh…” whispered Oscar.
   Images flooded into his head of robots that use bitterness for fuel, nasty fairy wasps, barbaric alien unicorn hunters.
   “Gah!” he squirmed. “Now you’ve got me doing it!”
   Then, just as the sprinklers were upon them, and colours started forming, Dad walked up.
   “Hiya kids!” he beamed.
   “Dad…?” Cielo fretted.
   “Yep! Me!” he cheered, looking around the field. “Nice day for some farting unicorns.”
   “No, Dad! You’ve got to run away! I might imagine something horrible that could eat you!” Cielo cried, in a panic.
   “Why would you do that, honey?” Dad said.
   “Bullies,” moped Oscar.
   “Pfft,” scoffed Dad. “Didn’t you know every hug you give creates an anti-bully? It’s a fact I tell you!”
   Then, as the water washed over them, and the stench of sodden blood and bone rose, he gave his daughter the single most mighty hug ever! One for the ages!
   It was so good, so warm, Cielo felt all her bad thoughts sinking away to hide somewhere.
   “You’re the best, Dad…” she said, as sunlight hit the spray, and rainbow colours blossomed in all their glory.
   Dad couldn’t really see much through the mist, other than shades of pink and blue and orange. As they faded, he heard Oscar call; “Look! Look! Some pirates burying their treasure!”
   “Woh! I’ve gotta check out that!” Dad cried, and took off towards where Oscar was pointing. “Maybe I can make them some burgers on the barbie!”
   “Oscar,” Cielo whispered, breathlessly, “look at how many fairies are out today…”
   “Wow,” Oscar gasped. “Pirates, and fairies…”
   “They’re beautiful and brown and grey and green and some are blue. The colours of rock, water and forest.”
   “I see them,” said Oscar.
   “I wonder who’s in charge of all this?” Cielo pondered, then turned to see a giant creature encrusted with gemstones and crystals, looming over her.
   More water fell in Oscar’s eyes.
   “What are you looking at!?” he asked.
   “Something BIG,” she told him.
   Oscar wiped his face.
   “I think it’s a water buffalo, standing like a human,” Cielo said.
   “Ulp!” Oscar gulped, as his vision came back to him.
   It was huge, surrounded by fading colours of the rainbow, as the sprinklers moved away from them.
   “Are you in charge?” Cielo asked, a bit frightened.
   The beast dropped to one knee.
   “No, you are,” its voice rumbled. “You’re the key to everything.”

*****

Dad found the pirates fascinating, and the fairies funny. They sang rude little poems about poo poo and wee wee.
   He walked back to tell Cielo and Oscar about it, but they were looking straight up, talking to nothing.
   “What are you doing?” he asked.
   “Chatting with a giant water buffalo,” Cielo said.
   “It’s covered in mist and stuff, and really cool,” said Oscar.
   But all Dad could see was Mum walking towards them.
   “What are you up to?” she asked him. “The slasher needs fixing.”
   Cielo looked at her, then to the beast. But it was gone again.
   “Mum!” she called. “Didn’t you see it?”
   “See what?” Mum protested. “No, nothing.”
   “But…”
   “What a stench!” Mum reeled back, holding her nose. “I’m going to have to get the hose on you!”
   And the mist was gone. And the beast. And the fairies.
   “Wow,” Oscar said. “A real mystery…”

*****

School was cruel. Nobody believed Cielo. Nobody! And Tyrone made sure everybody was mean about it.
   “Farting unicorns!?” he bellowed, heaving back and forward, wide eyed, laughing himself stupid.
   It was a nasty laugh, all fake and loud, that said to the whole class; Join in, or else!
   Cielo was sure the noise coming out of his mouth was dragon’s breath, burning her heart, like fire.
   “Leave her alone!” Oscar shouted.
   “Shut up and go back to your stupid drawings!” Tyrone barked.
   “I bet you two have been kissing!” Julie Scree announced, like fact.
   “Ewww!” everybody giggled.
   “Snot Boy and Fart Girl!” laughed Tyrone.
   “Snot and Fart! Snot and Fart! Snot and Fart!” everybody chanted.

*****

“Well, that was no fun,” Oscar said, sitting in the field with Cielo.
   “I hate dragons,” she told him.
   He put his arm on her shoulder.
   “Do you want a hug?”
   “No.”
   There was an awkward silence between them.
   “It sure is hot!” Oscar panted. “You’re Mum will turn on the sprinklers soon.”
   Cielo was too sad to reply.
   “C’m’on,” Oscar told her. “That creature said you’re the key, no-one else. Why tell the kids at school anything?”
   “They need to see unicorns, Oscar! Everybody does! To make them less mean, to make them less bitter,” Cielo pleaded.
   Cielo was crying. It made Oscar feel terrible.
   “They’re mean because they’re mean,” he told her.
   “No, they just don’t know any better,” Cielo mumbled, her head lowered. “What if I stop believing? What if I grow up? What then? We should all be the key,” she told him.
   Then, the sprinklers washed over them, flooding away Cielo’s tears. Sun caught the water, colours grew everywhere, bright and beautiful.
   The smell was just plain terrible!
   “Listen…” Oscar laughed. “Farting!”
   The sound came from everywhere. The colour in the air was magic, even after the sprinklers had moved on.
   “At last,” he said, looking across the field. “Unicorns!”

*****

“Mum, oh, Mum!” Cielo gushed. “The unicorns, they were wonderful!”
   “Uh-hu,” Mum replied.
   “They were blue, and red, and one was yellow, and they were so big, and perfect, and the black one had wings!
   Mum looked past Cielo.
   “Oscar!” she snapped. “If you pick your nose once more in my house…!”
   “Eep!” Oscar gulped, slowly lowering his finger.
   He grabbed a pen and paper to do some drawing.
   “Mum, Mum!” Cielo continued. “I rode one, the black one! It flew! The others were walking around, raising dirt, and we flew above them!”
   “Uh-hu,” Mum said again. “And what happened then?”
   “It kept farting and making more rainbows!”
   “Oh, anything else?” Mum asked.
   “The water buffalo was there again. Watching and waiting, while the fairies tittered.”
   “Waiting? What for?”
   “I dunno. Me, I figure.”
   “To do what?” Mum asked.
   “I’m not sure, Mum, that’s what’s so frustrating.”
   “Hm. That water buffalo sounds interesting,” Mum told her.
   That night, Cielo lay in bed, looking at the ceiling, remembering what it was like to ride a flying unicorn, the strength, the muscles, the smooth rush of air. The simplicity.
   Oh, it was wonderful!
   Cielo wanted her and Oscar to ride a unicorn each, while the herd raced each other through bush, into strange lands, with strange plants, and odd coloured skies, where everything was liquid mysteries.
   She wanted it so bad it hurt. The thought was so glorious, it scared her.

*****

“Oscar! Psst! Psst!” Cielo whispered through clenched teeth. “Hey…!”
   Sneaking out to his place wasn’t easy, even under moonlight. And shouting quietly was downright impossible! How dare he sleep so soundly!
   “Oscar!” she tapped at his window.
   The moon was reflecting on the glass, showing her a scared image of herself.
   “Os-car! PSST!”
   Finally, he stirred, and climbed out the window.
   He and Cielo sat on his grandfather’s tractor, a light mist, highlighted by the moon, all around them.
   “I think the water buffalo…” Cielo started.
   “What’s that stink?” Oscar said. “Is it the hops? They smell real bad when harvested!”
   “I dunno. But, Oscar, the water buffalo…”
   “Pew! Maybe it’s the dairy over the rise. All that poo, they never clean their yards properly!”
   “The water buffalo, Oscar!” Cielo insisted. “I think it wants me to save them.”
   “How?” Oscar asked.
   “I’m not too sure, it’s weird. Dad’s just all, y’know, ‘Ye-haw!’ But the water buffalo, it’s like it wants me to figure out things. It’s as if it wants me to know I believe in them. Does that make sense?”
   “Dunno. Yes, no,” said Oscar.
   “Well I do! Oh, I do believe! I will try and save them!”
   “Thank you,” a deep voice rumbled.
   Cielo turned to see the moonlight had caught the mist, creating majestic, silver, midnight rainbows. Under them, unicorns galloped through beautiful shades of grey, farting.
   “I told you…! That smell!” Oscar winced. “Hang on… Who just talked then?”
   They turned to see the water buffalo standing over them, lit by moonlight, its smile full of shadows.

*****

“Mum, I feel like it’s my birthday this weekend,” Cielo told her mother.
   Mum had endured a hard day fencing, and was now in the kitchen with her daughter and Oscar, making dinner while Dad continued fixing the harvesting tractor.
   “Actually, your birthday is five months away,” she replied. “It couldn’t be more not this weekend.”
   “But I FEEL like it is, y’know?” Cielo pondered. “I’m going to invite some friends over.”
   Mum looked right into her daughter.
   “To go out in the potato field?”
   “Maybe,” Cielo said, cheekily.
   “To stand in wet blood and bone and smell like farts?”
   “Maybe,” Cielo said again, less confident.
   Mum got down on her knees, so she was at the same eye level, held her daughter’s hands tenderly.
   “Baby, I do love the way you think, love it! But you’ve got to put some weight behind it. You have to give something if you want to get something,” she smiled.
   “Mum?” Cielo said.
   “You’re Dad would believe submarines can be used as balloons! But…”
   “They can if you’re a crab! He told me!” Cielo interrupted. “All it would need is a piece of string, and-“
   “Cielo!” her mother insisted. “If you want the kids at school to believe in farting unicorns, first you have to offer them something. Prepare them a little.”
   That sounded big! Way over Cielo’s head.
   “Help…” she whispered, half serious.
   This meant everything to her! Every! Thing!
   “What magic do you have for your classmates, honey? C’m’on. You told me these creatures think you’re the bridge.”
   “You don’t believe any of this, though, Mum.”
   “You don’t know that. And that’s not the point. You do. And I believe in you! What do you have to make that bridge?”
   Cielo’s mouth opened and closed as she searched for answers. Tears started flowing.
   “Nothing,” she finally pouted. “Nothing at all! All I can do is imagine stupid things Dad says and tell stories.”
   “And Oscar?” Mum asked.
   “Wah!” Oscar jumped. He’d been half asleep. His name was mentioned!
   “Oscar?” Cielo said.
   “You can describe things,” Mum smiled, “and Oscar can draw them…”

*****

Dad was in fine form on the way to school.
   “Did you know there’s a gravity tax?” he said. “It’s true! If I didn’t put $2 in the gravity meter each night, we’d drift away.”
   “Uh-hu,” said Cielo.
   She already had enough on her mind, Dad was driving her crazy!
   “That’ what happened to the dinosaurs. They didn’t pay enough gravity tax,” he continued.
   “So what happens when you drift away?” Cielo asked.
   “You float to Heaven, but the people who actually died get angry, because you’re queue jumping!”
   “Sounds complicated,” said Cielo.
   “Sure, but at least you get to meet dinosaurs,” Dad smiled.
   He was the best! He was the worst! Dad drove Cielo crazy. She held her big surprises tightly in her hand, hoping her class could see things the way he liked to.

*****

Class was horrible. Tyrone and Julie glared at Cielo, waiting to jump on anything she might say. It made her feel sad. It made her feel heavy.
   “But…” she started.
   “I said I’m not coming to any stupid birthday party,” the bully hissed.
   When Cielo looked at him just right, she could almost see the reptilian eyes, the scaly skin.
   “Show and tell. You first, Cielo,” the teacher pointed.
   Cielo had never been more scared. She stood in front of the class, and, with a shaking hand, held out a small, home-made comic.
   “I wrote this, and Oscar drew it!” she said.
   “Wah!” shrieked Oscar, hiding under his desk.
   “This is about Tyrone the Dragon,” Cielo continued.
   And read it.
   And showed the drawings of of a boy dragon, flying above unicorns that farted, and fairies that burped too much. Tyrone! The Fire breathing lord of the yard! Mighty king of the fields! Hero to everyone!
   “Hey! That IS me!” he both bragged and mocked her.
   “We’ve done one about Julie, too,” Cielo added. “The warrior Princess.”
   “And Louie, and Aiysha, and our friend, the rock-n-roll water buffalo…”
   Then she handed more comics out, to each kid that was in them.
   Tyrone looked puzzled, disgusted! Nobody gave him things, he took them!
   “So many comics. That’s a lot of work. Read and return each one nicely,” the teacher told everyone.
   “No, that’s okay. The comics are for who they’re about. They can keep them,” Cielo told her.  

*****

Soon enough, lunchtime came. Cielo and Oscar watched nervously as Tyron and his friends sat in the playground, ignoring the monkey bars, reading small, hand-sized comic books.
   “Look!” Cielo said. “He’s laughing!”
   Tyrone stood up, making teeth actions with his fingers, roaring, carrying on.
   Cielo and Oscar turned to see Julie, with her friends, on the seats under the tree, holding her comic book, acting like a great Princess.
   Her friends laughed, then kept reading.

*****

This was ridiculous!
   Cielo thought she was nervous at school. Well, now it was Saturday, the butterflies in her stomach had little humans in their stomach, that had even smaller butterflies in their stomach! She watched as Tyrone arrived with his father, and Julie with her parents. One-by-one, all the kids from school rocked up, and drifted away from the adults, over the paddocks.
   It was the hottest day yet, perfect! When they got the potato field, Oscar turned on the sprinklers.
   “Pew! What’s that smell?” Julie Scree protested.
   “It’s the sprinklers wetting the blood and bone,” Tyrone held his nose.
   Cielo waited until the moment the water was rolling over them, misty droplets hitting sunlight, colour everywhere… The stuff of rainbows!
   “No,” she said. “It’s unicorns farting.”
   “Look!” Oscar shouted.
   The girls turned first, and saw unicorns, just like Oscar had drawn them! Green and blue and purple, lazing in the field, walking, flying, galloping towards them.
   Farting rainbows.
   “Fairies!” gasped Cielo.
   And fairies descended, as they did in the comic books, gently, sprinkling tinsel, whispering little giggles.
   One glance and Julie knew she was, indeed, a Princess. She admired her long silver dress, and went about greeting her subjects.
   Oscar looked up, announcing he was talking to ogres.
   Tyrone stood on a mound, watching everybody as they ran around with well-dressed grasshoppers, and playing with octopuses in cattle troughs, and talking to mermaids that jumped out of impossibly shallow puddles, and combing the mains of farting unicorns.
   “So, does this mean I am a dragon?” he asked.
   “Of course!” Cielo told him.
   “Far out!” Tyrone said, and began to uncurl, and clear his throat, and grow and grow… and take the shape of a winged reptile.
   “I’m still not sure abut this…” Oscar worried.
   “Roarrrr!” Tyron shouted, as flames flew between his sharp teeth, setting a tree on fire.
   A smile grew across his scaly face.
   “Cool…” he crooned, then roared again, burning a stump as fairies flew from it.
   “Wee! Tyrone the Dragon!” Cielo announced. “Can we go for a ride on you?”
   Everybody cheered!
   “Dragon rides!” cried the bubble-blowing wombats.
   Tyrone turned and glared.
   “Nobody rides on this dragon!” he thundered, and took to the sky, breathing at Cielo.
   “Roarrr!”
   Cielo scampered, barely managing to jump clear, landing in wet fertiliser.
   “Haha! The best!” three of Tyrone’s friends said, joining him.
   They flew around, bumping into other kids, bowling them over, chasing them, setting fire to everything.
   “I knew it!” said Oscar.
   “Oh…” said Cielo.

*****

The time bubble around Cielo and the water buffalo was soothing. From its safety, she watched everybody frozen in time. Kids, fairies, unicorns, somehow both still and running. Dragon Tyrone and his dragon friends, halted as they set fire to everything. Even the flames weren’t moving. 
   “What do you mean you can’t help?” she protested to the water buffalo. “Look at you! You’re enormous!”
   “Oh, I can, I just won’t,” it told her.
   “But WHY!?”
   “I thought it would be obvious,” the water buffalo said. “Nice time bubble, by the way,” it added. “Good, quick thinking.”
   “Don’t change the topic,” Cielo insisted.
   “I wasn’t,” the water buffalo said. “The time bubble is clever. I told you that to show you something.”
   “Like what!?” Cielo huffed, furiously.
   “What if I’m not around? Or your father? It’s up to you. It always was, and will be.”
   “I don’t get it?” Cielo confessed. “I’m a girl. Tyrone’s a dragon! How could I get rid of a dragon?”
   “Get rid of? There’ll always be dragons Cielo, they’re as important as fairies,” the water buffalo smiled. “But this isn’t the schoolyard. If imagination can’t conquer brute strength here, what good is it?”
   “But…” Cielo said. “That is…”
   She looked at all the trouble outside her time bubble.
   “You sound just like my mother…” she grumbled. Then, gradually, Cielo thought about what she just said. “Hey, are you my…?”
   But the water buffalo was gone, and so was her time bubble.
   “Wahoo!” called Tyrone and his friends, as they burned everything.

*****

Cielo ran up to Louie, calling; “Hey, I like your elephant nose!”
   Louie looked shocked, then dipped his elephant trunk into the sprinkler water, and started squirting out the dragon fires.
   “Pheh! More, more, more!” laughed Tyrone, breathing even hotter fire.
   “Aiysha!” Cielo then called, “Jump on those magic water toads!”
   Aiysha leapt on a giant magic water toad, then another, then another. Jump, jump, jump! Gribbit, squirt! Gribbit, squirt! Gribbit, squirt! They wet down the dragons.
   “Haha! Nothing can stop us!” Tyrone cheered. “Roar! More fire! Roar! More! Roar!”
   Cielo watched fairies fleeing, wings ablaze. She cried, and threw those tears, putting out their fires. Quickly, she gathered all the kids who weren’t bullies.
   “Pick a unicorn and circle the dragons,” she told them.
   “I’m scared of them. They’ll never let us do that,” said Louie.
   “Trust me,” Cielo insisted. “They’ll be distracted.”
   “Hey!” she cried. “Hey, hey, hey!” until all the dragons were looking at her.
   “Check it! A boring little girl!” Tyron thundered. “I’m too powerful for you!”
   And he was. In the schoolyard, as a boy. That’s what made him a bully. And he was no different as a dragon, in a field full of farting unicorns.
   A bully! Oh, Cielo loathed them!
   “Sure, you are,” she said. “But are you as big strong as a giant?”
   Then looked at Oscar.
   “Me?” he squawked.
   “You,” she insisted. “A giant at heart. A giant!”
   But it was hard to tell anyone anything when they were 60ft tall!

*****

Oscar stood, looking down through clouds at Tyrone, who pulled his wings back, cocked his dragon head.
   What could the bully do? If the giant wasn’t real, then neither was the dragon.
   “Ooga, ooga, ogga!” Oscar’s voice filled the valley. Boom, boom, boom, went his footsteps!
   This was hilarious!
   Everybody wobbled and tried to keep their footing, except the dragons.
   Tyrone glared at him. Weak little Oscar. Snotty fingers Oscar. So easy to push around. But he’d been announced as a giant. Rainbow rules were rainbow rules, and Tyrone liked being a dragon.
   “I can burn you…” he growled. “No matter how big you are.”
   Then he inhaled. But it was too late. The unicorns had him surrounded. Backs to the dragons, they all started farting. Rainbow colours filled the air around Tyrone and his gang. Blues! Reds! Yellows!
   Pfft! Brrp! Pong! The smell was terrible!
   “Ha! My socks smell worse!” Tyrone scoffed.
   “He has a point,” Oscar admitted, his giant voice echoing. “Fart smells would be like sweets to boys like him.”
   “Yes, but farts catch on fire,” announced Cielo. “They’ll blow themselves up if they try and burn you.”
   Tyrone paused. His friends paused. The kids paused. The unicorns stopped farting. Fairies watched. This moment was their future.
   Everything.
   Then Julie Scree marched up to Tyrone and slapped him!
   “I’m a Princess!” she insisted. “A WARRIOR PRINCESS!” she shouted. “How DARE you threaten my subjects!”
   Tyrone knew better than to mess with Julie Scree. He and his friends stood there, dumbstruck, while she shouted at them.
   “Dragons are proud! Dragons are worthy! A real dragon would defend this field! AND all that are in it!”
   “Against what?” moped Tyrone.
   “Gargoyles…” said Louie.
   “Witches…” said Aiysha.
   “Shadow beasts…” said Cielo, looking into the trees beyond the fence line.
   “Anything, everything…” said the water buffalo.
   Cielo turned to see it, in the background, watching. She could have sworn it gave a knowing wink to Julie.
   “Against snot monsters…!” added Oscar.
   “If you ever want to come back again, it had better be to protect us!” Julie commanded.
   “Well, I wasn’t expecting that…” Oscar whispered to Cielo, as the sun went down and the sprinklers came back towards them.

*****

Cooee!” Dad’s voice bounced across the valley. “Calling all grommets! All pixies and munchkins! Food time! Yeah!”
   Cielo walked back towards the farmhouse with her friends, holding Oscar’s hand (the one he didn’t pick his nose with), picturing the future.
   In it, she could see their town being special. Full of kids not scared of their imaginations. Happier. Freer. Daring to dream, to do, to pass on that attitude. To run down the street as if surfing inland tsunamis!
   Ideas lead to ideas, which lead to even more ideas. Cielo pictured her family’s potato field being a haven for all sorts of amazingness! That the kids who went there would learn to find rainbows in their own ways – by standing under sunset waterfalls, by playing with hoses and staying outdoors as rain approached.
   “It feels like we’ve started something…” she said, voice full of pride, to Oscar.
   They walked happily through the gate, not noticing the water buffalo in the background, smiling, as it turned off the sprinklers.

 

The End  

  

  

    

  

  

  

      

4 thoughts on “Bonus 16: Unicorns Fart Rainbows (another novella)

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