Himalaya 2 – Stable

“How was your climb in the Himalayas? Did you get to the top?” It was yet another of his fellow medical students asking the same questions. Craig’s answer was always evasive. He didn’t want to talk about the climb, but more importantly, he didn’t want to talk about the hallucinations.

That’s what he decided had happened. No one sees unicorns, not once but twice. Everyone else on that first occasion on the mountain had missed the total eclipse because of the weather conditions. He had not only seen the eclipse but the two unicorns had come and licked his gloved hands.

He had later touched his fellow climber who had been injured, with his gloved hands. Ben’s health had miraculously improved.

Days later, when they had reached Lukla he had doubted the whole experience. When everyone was a sleep he had sat alone in the fading light, behind the stables where the yaks were kept. As he heard the yaks moving and smelt the hay, he looked up at the mountain he had so recently climbed. The unicorns had come to him again. First the white stallion and then the golden mare. This time he had not had his gloves on and the unicorns had licked his bare hands. He had felt saliva from their tongues as they licked him. He again felt the mythical creatures were blessing him. He felt total inner peace, as if they had taken him to some magical place. It was timeless and Craig never know how long he had sat there. He could never tell his fellow climbers of his experience. They would think he was mad.

The following day he had flown with the rest of his group back to Kathmandu. The City of Temples was well named. During the days he had spent there he had wandered the city visiting Pashupati and Change Narayan Temples. Enjoying the sight seeing, he had blanked out the events on the mountains. It was only at night the thoughts returned.

He had convinced himself in had all been an illusion. An X-ray had shown that Ben had indeed broken his ribs. It must have been the rest and the breathing exercises Ben had done as they waited for the other climbers to return from the ascent that had helped his recovery. It could not have been magic.

Craig, because he was a medical student, decided to visit a hospital, he wanted to see how the hospitals worked in Nepal. The staff welcomed his interest. He had been asked to sit beside a girl, who the staff had described as being life limiting. No one had visited the unconscious orphaned girl. He knew unconscious patients could sometimes hear voices. He had assumed that the child would speak Nepali, so she would not even understand what he was saying. Craig held her hand and leant forward slowly and quietly recounted the story which Ben had told him. In his mind he was in the two-man tent on the mountain. He told the story of how the unicorns had been created and his experience. No one would question him, no one would understand what he was talking about. It gave Craig peace to talk about the unicorns. That feeling of peace came back to him. Time slipped by as he talked about his experience. He felt relief at being able to speak, even if no one but the girl could hear him. Just voicing his thought gave him a sense relief and of peace.

Later the nurse came and took the girl’s blood pressure and quickly left. The doctor came and examined the girl. Craig curiously asked the Nepal doctor about the girl. The Doctor could not understand her recovery. The girl’s vital signs had been fading they had not expected the girl to last the hour. But her vital signs had improved, the doctor knew that all Craig had done had been to talk to her. Perhaps, that because someone had taken time to talk to her and had held her hand, had made her rally. Her condition was now stable but she was still unconscious. She had probably just gone into remission.

Craig looked at his hands and wondered. Two people had improved after he had touched them. It had to be coincidence, not some magical cure. Medically there must be some explanation.

On his final day before, he flew home, he visited the hospital again. The girl was sitting up in bed. Craig could not believe it, when the girl smiled at him. He did not stay he was too confused.

He was now back in his halls of residence ready for the start of term. He had become subdued as he anticipated the coming days when he would start his hospital placements. What if everyone he touched magical recovered? How would he explain it? It had to have been coincidence? The high altitude must have caused him to hallucinate. Yet why when he thought about the unicorn did he feel that sense of total peace.

The phone rang. It was his sister. “How was the Himalayas?”

“Beautiful and peaceful. I will show you the photos when I see you next. How are you? Are you at the stables have you been riding?” Craig respond, anything to change the subject.

Himalaya 1 – Corona

“Wish people would take their rubbish home. It’s getting to be like a rubbish dump up here.” The muffled voice said from the sleeping bag. Ben appeared to be looking at the glass pop bottle that Craig had brought into the two man tent, two days ago. Both man wore snow goggles and were so wrapped up that no skin was visible.

Ben had barely spoken from the time they had been together. So Craig decided to push the point. “How old do you think it is?”

“Thirty or forty years old. Who climbs in the Himalayas with glass bottles and packs of cheese and pickle sandwiches now a days?” Ben observed in a slow laboured voice.

Craig, a medical student, had felt elated that he had got further than base camp. Ben, an experienced climber, on the other hand, had expected to get to the top. The slip had left Ben with a minor injury, a cracked rib. The group leader had decided that Ben and Craig should go no further. The thin air at high altitude would be dangerous for Ben. Ben and Craig would wait for the group to came back down. The weather had closed in. For two days Craig had not been able to leave the tent. Craig had made Ben do breathing and limited exercises in the confined space. Ben was not happy.

The wind blew and the sides of the flimsy tent rocked in and out.

“I felt like something was watching me, when I was outside. Perhaps it’s the abominable snowman.” Commented Craig. “It felts like a giant hand is pushing me through the tent.”

“Abominable Snowmen don’t exist, now if you said unicorns, I might have believed you.” Ben said as he struggled to breathe.

“Unicorns don’t exist.”

“Don’t you know the Legion of the the Unicorns?”

“No.” Said a puzzled Craig

Ben was silent for a time, then he told the story slowly as his breathing was difficult. The frequent long breaks giving emphasis to the story.

“Back in the distant past, this area of the Himalayas was very magical. Perhaps its the altitude that gave the water that flows down special powers. It created lots of strange and unique creatures. Not all were beautiful, one was the Winter Dragon, a vicious creature, which breathed out an icy breath that froze all that it came in contact with. It lived in a cave and came out to hunt as the sun set.

On one special day, two horses, a white colt and a bay mare were in the meadows when there was a solar eclipse. As the moon passed in front of the sun, so only the sun’s corona was visible, the sky went black. The dragon thought it was evening and came out to hunt. He saw the horses and swooped down. He chased the frightened horses driving them ever higher up the mountain. They slipped along the dangerous slopes until that came to a rocky outcrop and hid beneath it. The dragon’s breath froze the horses tails. As the dragon circled above, ready for the next onslaught, the horses saw a waterfall and beyond it a pass twisting downwards.

They raced towards it. As they entered the magical water, cascading from above, they were momentally blinded by the spray. It was at this moment the moon’s passage across the sky began to reveal the sun. The sun’s rays fell down onto the waterfall in a brilliant shaft of light. It struck the horses transforming them into unicorns. The white horse turned into a magnificent stallion with a horn of silver. The mare was golden with a horn of gold. Neither unicorn knew it but now they had incredible powers.

They emerged into the pass. The dragon launched another attack. The stallion stamped his hooves on the ground and icy splinters fell into the dragon’s eyes blinding it. The mare stamped her hooves and an avalanche fell on to the dragon crushing it and sending it spiralling down on to the jagged rocks below. They were finally free.

Over the next months the unicorns discovered their powers. It was these two unicorns that created the seven types of unicorns. A group of unicorns are called a blessing you know.”

Ben stopped exhausted as breathing was both difficult and painful.

“It happened because of a solar eclipse. Isn’t there a solar eclipse tomorrow?” Craig asked.

Ben nodded, he was exhausted and was soon asleep.

On the following morning, as Craig lay in his sleeping bag, the blizzard outside seemed to have abated. Sunlight shone on the tent. Craig crawled out of the tent and moved to stand in the light. He looked up through his protective lensed goggles, to see the sun. The moon was crossing in front of it, so that the sun’s`corona could be seen. It was a moving sight seen at the high altitude.

The sky went dark. As Craig stood in awe, he felt that something was behind him, so he slowly turned. Standing in front of him was a brilliant white unicorn stallion. The snow around looked grey in comparison. The mighty silver horn shone as the sun’s rays touched it. The unicorns tail sparkled with diamonds where the dragon’s breath had frozen it.

Craig stood transfixed. Slowly he held out his right hand as a sign that he meant it no harm. The stallion bent forward and licked his gloved hand. The silver horn rested on his shoulder. Then another unicorn came forward, so he held out his left hand. The mare, like the stallion also licked his hand.

Craig felt blessed and he suddenly remembered Ben’s words, that a group of unicorns was a blessing.

The moon finally passed from in front of the sun. Craig had not at first noticed that the unicorns had begun to disappear, tail first. Finally only their disappearing tongues were left. The sun’s rays became engulfed by cloud and the blizzard raged again. Craig was alone and had to crawl back to the safety of the tent.

Would he tell anyone how he had seen unicorns? He thought not. After all he doubted that anyone even Ben would believe he had seen a solar eclipse during a blizzard.

The cold chill that Craig let into the tent disturbed Ben. He was struggling to breathe. Craig knelt beside him, one hand on Ben’s arm, the other on his chest he talked Ben through the breathing exercises. Gradually Ben’s breathing became easier. Ben sat up and took a deep breathe.

“Never thought your exercises would work but I can’t feel any pain now.”

Craig just sat back on his sleeping bag looking at his gloved hands and wondered.