A few weeks ago, I posted a #FlashFriday fic that started off, “The dragon selling hotdogs on the corner gave me the 411 on the dead unicorn.” It was a silly little fluff piece I listed under the heading “Suicidal Unicorns”. I had no intention of ever doing anything with it again (though I said I might someday), but the story just wouldn’t leave me alone.
This second flash installment weighs in a little longer than the first one, at around 950 words.
Back by popular request — here’s lookin’ at you, Julie — I give you the second installment of what I’m now calling Dead Unicorn Bridge.
When we left Mason, he was investigating the possible suicide of a unicorn named George who had either thrown himself or been thrown off the Brooklyn Bridge. The hotdog vendor, an unnamed dragon with questionable adherence to health code standards, gave Mason a lead to check: the unicorn’s live-in virgin, a girl named Sunshine, who’d left George the previous week for a guy she met online. With this information in hand, Mason returned to his car, hoping against hope that his elven partner would still be inside it, instead of out chasing butterflies and talking to flowers.
The story continues after the jump.
The car was empty when I got back to it, and it had been for some time, judging by the time stamp on the parking ticket lodged under the windshield wiper. Ivy was a good cop, and she’d saved my ass once or twice, but she got distracted easily. Tell her to stay in the car, and she’d have every intention of doing so… until she caught sight of the smallest bit of greenery. Then she’d be off to play with dragonflies and commune with dandelions, or whatever the fuck it was elves did with nature.
I snagged the ticket from under the wiper. Blocking a fire hydrant, hundred and fifteen dollar fine. I crumpled the ticket in my fist and looked both ways to make sure there weren’t any meter maids around before I tossed it into the gutter. The only thing scarier than the gangbangers in this neighbourhood — redcaps and trolls, mostly — were the meter maids. Even the ogres didn’t fuck with them or their scooters, and there wasn’t much that intimidated an ogre. It was a futile gesture, tossing it away. I’d end up paying for it one way or the other, but small acts of rebellion always made me feel better.
I wandered down the street, checking abandoned lots and alleyway gardens for my erstwhile partner. I found her sitting amid a pile of abandoned tires and rusty tin cans, playing with butterflies. An honest-to-god ring of lillies and crocuses had sprung up in the dirt around her, and vines were crawling across the tires. I knew if I checked, grass would be starting to grow under her ass too. If I hadn’t seen it a hundred times already, it would have been practically magical.
“I told you to stay in the car,” I said by way of greeting.
Ivy smiled radiantly at me and, despite myself, I felt my irritation slipping away. She was blonde and ethereal, a real looker for sure — all elves were — but Ivy had this quality to her, this verve, few people elf or not possessed. One smile from her, a look, a touch, and she could diffuse a raging giant hellbent on having spine and spleen for breakfast — I’d seen her do it, one of those saving-my-ass situations a year or so back. “It is a lovely day,” she replied. “And the car was stuffy.”
I hated when she had reasonable excuses for not being where she was supposed to be. “Then you crack a window. We got another ticket because your ass wasn’t planted in the driver’s seat. I’m not going to have any points left on my license at this rate.”
She tilted her head and the smile faded a little. The sunlight suddenly seemed dimmer. “I am sorry, Mason,” she said contritely. “I will pay the fine. Do you wish me to speak to the traffic court judge on your behalf? I can explain things so that you are not adversely affected.”
She would too. She’d talk to the traffic court judge, and she could probably get me a hundred extra points added to my license in addition to all the ones I’d had taken away. She was just that good. Hell, she’d talked me into quitting smoking, something I’d been trying to do for ten years before we were partnered. And all it took was one crinkle of her pert little nose and a concerned, “You are killing yourself, Mason” to make me swear off cigs forever. I sighed. “Forget about it,” I muttered. “What’s a couple of points and a hundred bucks between friends?”
Just like that, the sun and the smile were back. She reached up and tugged me down to sit beside her. There wasn’t as much dirt now, the grass had grown an inch through it. It was probably my imagination, but the air smelled fresher down here too. “Tell me,” she said, propping both hands under her chin and looking for all the world like an attentive kid, “how did the conversation with Nerzxaxthyvaurixalartimusylyx go? Did he have the information you were looking for?”
To me, he was just the hotdog-selling dragon, because my human mouth kept tangling up somewhere on the first X. For her, the dragon’s name tripped off her tongue like honey and silk. “He gave me a name and a reason it was probably suicide,” I said. “George had a virgin, dame named Sunshine, who left him a week ago for some guy she met online. Nerzil… Nazgul…the dragon said it was a real knock-down drag-out fight when she walked out.”
Ivy frowned a little. “Did he say where she went?”
I shrugged. Damn, the grass was soft. The past few days’ sleep deprivation were catching up with me. If I didn’t get off this patch of green soon, I was going to pass out. “Naw. He seemed to think it was our job to figure that out.”
“A virgin named Sunshine might not be easy to find in a city of this size, Mason.”
“Yeah, the thought had occured to me too.”
“I can perhaps narrow the field for us,” she said, and unfolded her lithe frame from the grass. I clambered to my own feet beside her. Ethereal-looking or not, she topped me by a good three inches and I was over six feet tall. “But I will have to check with my contacts.”
I blinked, and my stomach sank. Ivy didn’t have many contacts, and those that were could only be found one place. “Aw hell,” I groaned, knowing what was coming next.
“Mason,” Ivy said with another of those gut-twisting smiles of hers, “would you be so kind as to drive me to Central Park?”