“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 as he gasped for breath.
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, giving Ben sometime to recover. 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,” Craig wasn’t into fantasy. Unicorns belonged in story books along with fairies and wizards.
“Don’t you know the Legion of the the Unicorns.”
“No,” replied a puzzled Craig. He wondered how a middle aged civil servant could believe in fantasy.
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 Night 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 this 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 which would normally have been in the stables at night. The Winter Night Dragon 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. They barely reached safety 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 which 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. The magically water 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. For a moment they stood staring at each other, stunned by the change. Neither unicorn knew it then that they had incredible powers.
They emerged into the pass. The dragon launched another attack, but it had been shocked by the sudden change from night to day, it was confused. The stallion stamped his hooves on the ground and icy splinters fell into the dragon’s eyes blinding it. The mare, followed suit and stamped her hooves and an avalanche fell on to the dragon crushing it and sending it spiralling down on to the jagged rocks below. A shaft of light struck the remains and they turned to dark smoke. They disappeared in to the sky. Lightening flashed in the sky making loud crashes as they hit the smoke. The unicorns were finally free of danger.
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. He was exhausted.
“It happened because of a solar eclipse. Isn’t there a solar eclipse tomorrow?” Craig asked.
Ben nodded, he was too 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 was glad of the freedom from the confined space. 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 in the clear air.
The sky went dark turning day to night. As Craig stood in awe, he felt that something was behind him, so he slowly turned. Despite the darkness, Craig could see standing in front of him was a brilliant white unicorn stallion. The snow around looked grey in comparison. The mighty silver horn shone in the darkness. The unicorns tail sparkled with diamonds where the dragon’s breath had frozen it.
Craig stood transfixed. Was he hallucinating seeing the Unicorn from Ben’s story. 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. Craig felt like his whole body was tingling with a strange glow. Then another unicorn came forward, so he held out his left hand. The mare, like the stallion also licked his other hand.
Craig felt blessed and he suddenly remembered Ben’s words, that a group of unicorns was a blessing. He felt he was being blessed.
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. He was shaken and confused. He felt the force of the blizzard pushing him. He feared he would be swept of the mountain, so he had to crawl back to the safety of the tent.
It had been a magical moment. Craig know it was pure fantasy and could not have happened. It had all been the effects of the high altitude and confinement to the tent for days.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 again. 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,” Ben sounded surprised. “I can’t feel any pain any more and I can breath as if nothing had happened.”
Craig just sat back on his sleeping bag looking at his gloved hands and wondered. That should not have happened. Was it magic?
“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 who were climbing on the mountain had talked of their disappointment of 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. It had to be an hallucination.
He had later touched his fellow climber who had been injured, with his gloved hands. Craig’s health had miraculously improved. He could not explain it, that had to have been the rest and the breathing exercises.
Days later, when they had reached Lukla, the villager where the climbers met the sherpas before climbing in the Himalayas, 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. As he thought of the unicorns they 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 felt the same sensation tingling through him. He felt at peace. 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 needed distraction.
He had convinced himself it had all been an illusion. An X-ray had shown that Ben had indeed broken his ribs. The doctors had thought it was an old injury which had been aggregated by the fall. It must have been the rest and the breathing exercises Craig had made Ben do 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. He felt that tingle pass through him again. 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 and she would not understand what he was saying. 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 rushing in 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, the doctor wondered, that because someone had taken time to talk to her and had held her hand, had caused her to rally. Her condition was now stable but she was still unconscious. She had probable just gone into remission. She had received so serious a head injury that the prognoses was not good. She had been found in the street unconscious. No one had come forward to claim relationship to her. She was destined to a unknown grave, just one of the many street kids.
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 awake and lay in bed. Craig could not believe it, when the girl smiled at him as if she know 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 Ali. “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? How is your job hunting going?” Craig respond, anything to change the subject. The one thing he did not want to do was talk to his twin about magic.
Craig sleepily tumbled out of bed. It was the first day of a new term at University. He had been worrying about it since coming back from the Himalayas. Now he had to face his biggest fear. What would happen if he touched someone and like Ben and the girl in Kathmandu, their health miraculously improved, as if by magic. Off course the opposite could happen and it had all been hallucinations. What would the lecturers think if he had been hallucinating and the problem continued? Would he be send down? Would they suspect him of taking drugs? Who wants a doctor with a mental or drug problem? He was between a rock and a hard place.
He showered and dressed picking out what ever came nearest to hand to wear. He could not remember what he needed, so he just throw everything he might need into his bag. He ended up carrying several books. Craig staggered out into the corridor where there was a hum of activity. Other students were off to lectures. Several students spoke to him, his answers were short. He didn’t feel like talking to anyone.
Mathew who was on the same course hurried past. “We’ll be late. Come on hurry up Craig.”
Craig reached the porters lodge. He stopped to check for letters he thought he had time. He had three. A circular about a concert by the duo Bent to promote their Album Intercept. He couldn’t go so that would go in the bin. A letter which he recognised as his sister’s writing, he would read that later. The third throw him it was unexpected. The stamp told him it was from Kathmandu. Who could be writing to him? He turned it over twice. What could he do? Open it and send all those thoughts and emotions spinning round his head again. He had to leave it until after his lecture was over. He put it in his bag. Then he took it out again. He just couldn’t leave it. He’s need to open it was too great. It was an obsession taking over all other thoughts.
He found a bench, it was a warm day for October but he felt cold, as cold as he did on the upper slopes of the snow covered Himalayas. It was if he was magically taken back to the Himalayas.
He heard the clock striking in the distance. It brought him back to the present. He was late for the lecture. He ran, clutching his books and letters.
He was last in, the lecturer was already speaking. He tried to sneak in quietly and sit at the back. He stumbled as he went down the first step in the lecture theatre. The sound of his books flying through the air and landing on the steps near the front row echoed round the theatre. His letter seemed to float gracefully landing on a empty front row seat. Everyone turned round and looked at him. Time seemed to stand still.
“Nice of you to join us,” the lecturer sarcastically commented. The spell was broken.
He hastily almost tumbled down the steps to the front row. A girl helped pick up his books. He sat down in the seat which his letter had landed on, which happened to be next to the girl, after all she was still holding his books and other letters. She handed them to Craig. He placed the letter in front of him.
He hardly heard a word of the lecture. The lecturer pointedly asked him questions. It was only the quiet whisper from beside him that helped him survive the lecture.
Everyone trooped out at the end of the lecture leaving Craig and the girl left sitting in the theatre.
“Are you alright?” The girl asked.
Craig realised she couldn’t get out until he moved.
“Yes,” he mumbled. What was the girls name. He racked his memory. He’d been on the same course for four years and she had just been a face in the crowd.
“Sorry Tania. I am blocking you in.” Craig said as he moved clumsily, knocking his books flying. He got into the aisle and bent down to pick up his belongings.
“It’s Titania isn’t it?” He said as she stepped pass him. Someone had told him she didn’t like the name, so why had he made that comment.
She gave him a scowling look, then started to climb the steps.
“Your a fairy and I am a rock.” Craig commented without really knowing why.
She stopped and turned.
“Celtic rock actually.”
“Well that’s better than a fairy.” Tania said as she descended the steps and went passed Craig and picked up that letter. She held it out to him.
He stood up, just because he felt small beside her. He made no effort to take the letter. It seemed like an age that they both stood still, the letter between them.
Tania turned the letter over. “It’s from Tibet. Is that where the Rock went climbing?”
She leaned forward and placed the letter on top of Craig’s books.
“Ever had a letter you don’t know if it’s good news or bad news?”
“You mean like one to say if you have got into the university of your choice or not. Either way you have got to open it. What you need is a cup of coffee.” Tania said taking back the letter and climbing the steps to leave the theatre.
Craig followed. What else could he do.
The Cafeteria was a buzz with students. The tv screen was playing a American foot ball match. Tania homed in on an empty table in a corner. She sat down at the table and placed the letter in the middle.
“I’ll save the table. You get the coffee. Mine’s latte”
Craig was staring at the letter, but after a second prompt he went to get the coffees.
Mathew, the fellow medical student, intercepted him with a nudged. Mathew had a reputation for the ladies. Craig had concentrated on his studies and only had occasionally gone out with girls, just so no one thought he was gay.
“Your in there, with the ice maiden.” Mathew commented. Tania had turned him down on several occasions.
Craig just stared at him. “Just buying Coffee,” he replied.
Mathew turned, “Good intercept” he said looking at the tv screen and Craig hastily returned to the table.
Tania handed him the letter. “Its a letter from a hospital in Kathmandu. Were you ill out there?”
“No. How do you know it’s from the hospital?”
“It says so on the back,” Tania turned the envelope over and showed Craig the inscription.
“One of the climbers was injured so I went with him. Then I went the following day and spent the day there. Just to see what hospitals were like in Tibet.”
“Then it’s a thank you letter. Just open it and get it over with,” Tania insisted.
Craig did as he was told.
It was a handwritten letter and a folded sheet. He looked at the bottom of the letter the signature was unreadable.
The letter was not much better. It was in broken English so the theme was difficult to follow. He had to keep going back to the beginning to finally make sense of it.
“Well?” Tania asked “Good news or Bad news?”
“Good, I think” Craig said doubtfully sounding confused.
“Well” Tania leant forward, she touched his hand and Craig felt a tingle run up his arm. He quickly removed his hand and sat back.
“There was a girl,” Craig started.
“There always is,” commented Tania, sitting back as well, loosing interest in both Craig and the letter.
“She was eight maybe nine, I think,” that attracted Tania’s attention again. “She was unconscious.”
“What was the matter with her?” Tania asked. Craig wondered should I be telling this story to a girl I hardly know.
Tania prompted him to continue.
“She had some sort of accident. The girl had a head injury. They didn’t expect her to survive. She was a street kid, they didn’t even know her name. There was no one to sit with her. So I sat and talked to her. I don’t know the full details my Tibetan isn’t that good. The nurse, I think who wrote the letter, didn’t speak very good English. That’s why the letter is difficult to read. I can’t read the signature but I don’t know her name anyway.”
“That was kind of you to sit with the girl. So the nurse wrote to thank you.” Tania committed taking a sip of her latte.
Craig had opened the other sheet of paper. It was a picture drawn by a child with a signature on the bottom of Alisha. He just starred at it. He’s head was spinning again.
“”Craig what’s that?” Demanded Tania as she again touched his hand. Craig felt the same sensation.
Tania had to repeat her question before Craig, reluctantly searching for a answer, could reply.
“They have put the girl in an orphanage but she drew a picture for me. To say thank you.”
How could he explain it. He just stared at the picture, a picture of the two unicorns and a waterfall. A figure with climbing gear was holding out his hands. But stranger still, in the top corner was a fairy with a crown on. Had Alisha drawn Titania Queen of the fairies. Had the letter flew throw the air and took him to Titania?
Craig shut the door to his room in the student accommodation and leaned against it for a time. Then he locked his door, safe in the knowledge that it would act as a shield against the outside world and interruptions.
He cleared his desk throwing his books and assortment of miscellaneous objects, even his previous copy of the Marvel comic with the word S.H.I.E.L.D on the front, onto the floor. Then he spread out the contents of his envelope from Kathmandu. He glanced briefly at the letter from the nurse but his main attention was on the picture from Alisha. When he had shown Tania the picture earlier he hadn’t had time to study it in depth. He was wandering how to escape from the situation he had found himself in. He barely know Tania and he was in danger of revealing his dark secret to her. She would probable spend the rest of the term avoiding him.
In the safety of his room he could see how remarkable the picture was. It was obviously a child’s drawing and had been done with a limited number of coloured pencils. It was the content of the picture that was remarkable. In the top left hand corner was an accurate depiction of the solar eclipse. The sun’s rays shielded by the moon, the corona clearly visible. How could a street kid, who had been unconscious in a hospital at the time know what it looked like? Then there was the picture of the climber, a picture of himself. Alisha could not have known what colour his climbing gear was, yet the colours were right. She had shown him with yellow hair. He was blond, not an easy colour to show with the palette she had. The unicorns were a good representation of the creatures and their size. The most remarkable representation was of the fairy in the top right hand corner. It showed a Titania queen of the fairies with the same black hair style as Tania and the fairy even had glasses and a crown. He didn’t remember seeing Titania, who preferred to be call Tania, wearing anything else but dark colours. She wasn’t quite a Goth, but near it. So why would a child draw a fairy dressed in dark blue, wearing glasses and a crown? Alisha could not have known fairy stories or that Titania was the queen of the fairies or what Tania looked like.
Confused, Craig went back to the letter and reread it several times making more sense of it than his first glance which had been under Tania’s scrutiny.
The nurse had written, the child had regained consciousness but had no memory of her past, so they had called her by the name he had given her. He sat back in his chair deep in thought trying to recall the things he had said to the unconscious child. No, he hadn’t given her a name. What had he said? Then he remembered telling the child he had a sister called Ali. Had the girl taken that and adapted it to a name that would have been familiar to her. In her unconscious state she could have picked up phases. He wasn’t sure she could even speak English, yet she had understood the story of the unicorns because her picture was so accurate.
His thoughts went to the other letter he had yet to opened. It was from his twin, Ali, she had been working in a stables in Scotland. Last night she had told him she had a job but it was a secret. He would find out tomorrow. The letter explained she had successfully got another job. It was in Abingdon not so far from Oxford, so that they would be able to met up. She had been concerned while he was away. She had had strange feelings she could not explain. Ali knew he wasn’t injured, a twin always knows, it was just something she had never felt before.
She would be driving down in the week. The stud farm had accommodation for her. She would be in touch with her new address as soon as she was settled. She had signed the letter with a flourish, unusual for Ali she had used her given name, Ailsa. Their parents had named their twins after an island in Firth of Clyde, Ailsa Craig. But if you looked at the two names, Alisha and Ailsa side by side there was a strong similarity.
The phone rang and for a moment Craig hesitated, his mind was still trying to processes the letters, picture and the names. Then he realised the call was from Ben, the climber he had helped on his Himalayan trip. Instinct told him he needed to answer it.
“Craig I’m in trouble I need your help. I am coming to Oxford tomorrow meet me at the station. I’ll be there for 10.32, if the trains on time.” Ben’s voice had that hint of panic which made it difficult to say no.
Ben wouldn’t explain over the phone. “Just be there I don’t know who else I can talk to. It’s all happened since the Himalayas trip.” Ben rang off, leaving Craig with a lot to think about. He had enough to deal with without Ben’s problems. Tomorrow he had no lectures but the following day he would be on the wards. What could possible go wrong on a geriatric ward if he touched people and they were healed. How was he going to explain it?
The Autumn sun streamed through the window and Craig had to shield his eyes from the glare. He walked to the window to pull the blind down. As he looked down into the courtyard Tania was sat beneath the statue of Perseus holding up his shield towards Medusa with snakes in her hair. Why was Tania there practically sat under his window? He turned away and when looked she was gone. Tania looked like she might prove to be yet another problem to deal with.
Craig sat in the cafe at Oxford station. He had arrived nearly an hour early. He just hadn’t been able to sleep. Life was getting complicated. Last night he had thought he had seen Tania sitting by a fountain, almost under his window, but when he went down to search, she had gone. The porter said no one had been in the court yard. Had she been there? Had he been hallucinating again? That was the real problem, that line between reality and fantasy were becoming blurred. He was beginning to question what was real. Unicorns and fairies were imaginary but they kept intruding into his life. Alisha and Ben were both real but both had been drawn into the imaginary world that had surrounded him since his trip to the Himalayas. Even his sister Ali sensed a change in him, so much that she was moving to live nearer him.
As a distraction, he began to read the article in Lancet that his lecturer had suggested reading before the next Lecture. It was about DNA and the use of cloning in medical procedures. It discussed the possibility of removing cells from a five day cloned embryo to use stem cells to treat diseases like heart problems, diabetes and spinal injuries. Also there were a lot of ethical problems surrounding the use of a cloned embryo. In the past designer babies were a considered an option but a child inherited 50% DNA from each parents but not the same DNA, so a suitable match was not guaranteed. Just look at himself and his twin. Ali was a girl and he male. But that was only the start, he had blond hair and Ali dark, their personalities were so different too.
Craig’s thought having wandered from the topic he looked up at the clock. Nearly time for Ben’s train. He needed another coffee, so he got two, one for Ben as well.
As Craig returned to his table Ben arrived.
“I got you a coffee,” Craig handed Ben a cup, “Shall we sit down?”
Ben took the coffee. “I don’t want to talk here. Can we go somewhere private?”
Craig was mystified but suggested they went and walked by the river. Ben wasn’t going to be drawn on why he had come. He just talked about his journey and climbing and just kept postponing the topic he had come to talk about.
Final they found a bench by the river. For what seemed like ages they sat drinking coffee. Then Craig got frustrated by the silence. “What is it that has brought you to Oxford?”
“It’s difficult, I don’t know where to start.” Ben replied looking round to ensure no one was near.
“Best place to start is at the beginning.” Craig prompted.
Ben nervously, again looked round. “It started in Katmandu, well that’s when I first noticed it. It’s strange, I don’t understand it. You’re a medical student. I thought you might be able to explain it.” Ben paused.
“I still don’t understand the problem. I am not a Doctor yet. If it’s a medical problem you should go to your own Doctor.” Craig started.
“No. No, not medical. It’s strange. Weird in fact. In Katmandu I thought it was to do with the altitude. People had a slight colour around them. But now everyone has a colour, its brighter and clear. It changes when they talk. I know it sounds mad,” Ben finished, he looking worried.
Craig watched him for a moment as he tried to make sense of the problem. “Are you talking about a person’s aura? I know, it sounds New age. and I don’t know much about it. But lots of people claim to see a person’s aura.”
“But is it real? I thought it didn’t exist,” worried Ben.
“Medically it’s not been proved to exist. There is a condition called Synesthesia but I don’t know much about it. I need to know more. But tell me what you see.”
Ben looked around and he could see a couple sat on a bench further a long the path. “Well, the girl over there has a red glow round her. That seems to indicate she is telling the lad something untrue. The lad has a faint green glow so he is listening and is believing her. I know it sounds weird but it’s like a traffic light system for lies.”
“Fascinating what about me? Do I have a colour? So if I told you two statement, one true and one false you would know the difference?” Craig wondered aloud.
“That’s strange too. Everyone has a colour except you. I can’t read you,” Ben stated sounding confused.
Craig was thoughtful for a moment. “That’s a shame we can’t test your theory. It might be a temporary situation,” Craig tried to sound reassuring, “Is it really a problem if you can see if someone is telling the truth.”
“You do know what I do for a living, don’t you?” Ben instantly questioned.
“Don’t think I do. You were always vague, something in public relations, a civil servant wasn’t it? You are not a spy are you?” Craig commented looking past Ben, he could see Tania in the distance walking towards them.
“Craig, I am Police Detective. Have you any idea what would happen if I started talking about New age stuff?”
“It might be useful to know who was telling the truth,” Craig again looked past Ben, “Listen, a friend of mine is walking this way and it look like she is going to speak to us. We could test if you could tell if she is telling the truth.”
Ben turned and looked at the girl walking towards them. As usual she was dressed in black. He turned back quickly, “But she is like you. Unreadable.”
Tania pause in front of them. Craig made the introductions. Then Tania spoke directly to Craig. “Hi, Just thought I would tell you I have to go somewhere tomorrow, so I will be late for the ward rounds.”
“Is it wise? It’s the first one,” Craig questioned.
“I’ll tell you about it tomorrow. Can’t stop,” Then she abruptly turned and walked away. Craig watched her go confused by her behaviour.
Ben was confused by her lack of aura, “I’ve looked at hundreds of people and they all have an aura, as you call it. It only you and Tania have a colourless aura. Going back to my job. We deal in evidence, people’s auras isn’t evidence.”
Craig’s thoughts returned to Ben’s problem. “But surely intuition comes into what you do. Having a indication someone is telling the truth could help you. You have to accept it there and use it. Hopefully it’s only a temporary condition, however, explaining the unexplainable is difficult.”
They talked for nearly an hour. Then Ben went to get his train still a worried man but reassured by being able to talk to someone. Craig on the other hand was troubled. He had helped Ben and Ben had now acquired an ability which was unexplained but could be useful to him. His encounter with Alisha had appeared to have given her the ability to predict who he would meet and draw things she could not know about. If he had healed them did it have side effects.
The next problem was why did he and Tania have no readable aura? Why had Alisha been able to draw a good likeness of her? Why was Ben able to see who was telling the truth?
There just seemed to be more and more questions and no answers.
Ali rang Craig on his mobile before he went to the Hospital. Ali was again worrying. She insisted as only a twin would, that ever since Craig had been to Tibet, something was different. She had that feeling again today.
Just don’t keep harping on.” Craig informed his sister. “There is nothing the matter. I am fine.”
Ali had arrived in Abingdon and started her new job. At the moment all she got to do was muck out stables. She hoped that when the yard got to know her, she would get to look after some of the famous horses. A part from stallions like ‘White Orchid’ who had won the Grand National, some of the mares were well known too, like ‘Golden Harp’. But Ali could tell Craig all about it if he would met her on Saturday in Oxford. Craig had no choice but to agree.
For Craig it was one more thing to fret about. It was his first day on the geriatric ward. He would have to go round with the registrar Doctor Roberts who had a reputation for being hard on the students. Craig’s worry was what if he touched a patient and they were cured? There would be a lot of questions he could not answer, especially as the two people he had healed seemed to have developed strange side effects.
He cycled up to the Hospital. He arrived in time. He needed to keep a low profile incase he got distracted, as he had in his last lecture. He didn’t have Tania to help him out today. He did wonder why she was going to be late but that was the least of his worries.
Craig found the ward rounds were disturbing, any moment something could go wrong. Craig touched a number of patients. Doctor Roberts asked him a number of pointed questions. He stumbled through his answers but he thought he had given credible replies. The other two students in the group had been equally anxious, so he had not stuck out like a sore thumb.
By the end of the shift Craig was exhausted but he breathed a sigh of relief. He had expected the day to end in disaster but it had been surprisingly normal. No one had been miraculously healed, in fact one patient had died, a man in his eighties. The man’s family had been at the bed side, as the death was expected.
Craig cycled into South Park. He found a bench and sat down to take stock of the day. It had just been ‘normal’. The only odd thing was that Tania had not turned up at all.
He looked out across the city at the magnificent sight of Oxford’s spires. He watched as two teenagers pushed a harp down a path precariously balancing on a scooter. It could only happen Oxford. You had to expect the unexpected in a university city.
It was then, it occurred to him to search for the similarities between Ben and Alisha’s cures. It had to be the Himalayas. He had healed them both in Tibet. He hadn’t healed anyone today, so therefore he could heal people in Tibet not Oxford. He was safe after all his weeks of worry.
Craig’s mobile pinged. It was text from Tania. ‘Meet me. The bench where you were yesterday. We need to talk’
“What was wrong now?” Craig thought.
Craig was about to get on his bike to ride down to the river, when he heard a scream and a boy’s voice shouting ‘help’. It was the two teenagers and both the scooter and the harp were on the ground a short distance away. He rushed to see what was wrong. The girl was lay on the path, her leg twisted at an angle which suggested to Craig that it was broken. She was screaming with pain. Craig prevented her from trying getting up. He held her hand and told her he was a medical student and she was in safe hands. If she could answer a few questions it would help.
“What’s your name?” Craig asked trying to sound calmer than he felt.
“My sister’s name is Jane,” interrupted the boy, which wasn’t what Craig wanted.
“Ok Jane, I am going to give your brother my phone and he’s going to dial 999 and get an ambulance,” Craig passed his phone to the boy and instructed him to go a few yards away, so he can talk to his sister.
“Tell me where it hurts and I can see what I can do to help.” Craig hoped that Jane had calmed down enough to speak to him.
“Mum will be so cross. I don’t need an ambulance. I will be in so much trouble. Where’s my harp?” The girl sobbed.
“No. Your Mum will understand. Is it just your leg that hurt? The ambulance people have this special splint that will make it feel easier. Now tell me if you hurt anywhere else?”
By this time the boy had come back and held out the phone.
“They want to talk to you,” The boy insisted.
Craig was able to explain to the operator that the girl, was Jane Morris, and she had a leg injury. He also managed to get the parent’s phone number from the boy, so the operator could contact them.
Jane’s top had a Unicorn on it, so Craig commented about it to try to distract Jane, who now seemed more worried about the harp. As Craig held her hand and talked to reassure her he felt the that strange tingling sensation again.
Craig could hear the ambulance’s siren and he looked across in the direction of the sound. To his surprise he could see Tania standing by his bike, surely she was a mile away by the river?
Within a minute the two ambulance men were beside the girl. They didn’t think the girl’s leg was broken. To Craig’s surprise it no longer looked twisted. For a moment he was speechless and confused.
“We will take you to the hospital and we will get it X-rayed to make sure,” One of the Ambulance men told Jane. “The operator has phoned your Mum and she is going to meet us in A & E department.”
“Your brother is going to come with you to make sure you are OK. The ambulance will take your things as well,” Craig informed them both, as they appeared as lost and confused as he was.
As the ambulance drove off Craig looked back at the bench and there was no sign of Tania. Where had she gone? Had he healed Jane? Had he got it all wrong? Could he heal people in Oxford too?
Craig watched as the ambulance disappeared from sight. The few people who had gathered round had also dispersed. He walked back to the bench where he had left his bike. There was no sign of Tania. Had he imaged she had been standing by his bike?
There was one way to find out. He rang her mobile. “Hi Tania. Where are you?”
“I am on the bench by the river, where you were talking to your friend yesterday,” Tania innocently responded.
“I thought you were in South Park,”A confused Craig answered.
“That’s miles away. I suppose you are going to come up with some fantastic story about a harp driving off in an ambulance,” Tania sounded amused.
Craig was speechless. Tania asked if he was still there. “Just getting on my bike. I’ll be with you shortly.”
Light was beginning to fade when he finally reached Tania still sitting on the bench. “Hi. Are you OK I was beginning to worry when you didn’t come to the ward.”
“I am fine. That’s the problem,” Tania responded cheerfully.
Craig shook his head in disbelief. Could today get any stranger, he thought.
“I wanted to talk to you,” Tania started to explain, “I thought of coming to see you the other night but got cold feet. I sort of dreamed what would happen if I did. Then yesterday you had someone with you. I have been so worried I needed to talk to someone.”
“You can talk to me any time,” Craig offered supportively. He was wondering how he had ended up in this position when up until last week he had barely spoken to Tania.
“You’re going to think I am fantasying,” Tania seemed doubtful. “I don’t know where to begin.”
“Start at the beginning. My life has become one long fantasy. So I will understand,”
It took Tania a few moments to gather her thoughts. “It was in the break I went to the doctors. He sent me to see a specialist,” She paused to see Craig’s reaction. Then she continued, ”They did a biopsy and I have been so worried I had no one to talk to. I don’t think I had said above half a dozen words to you until the first day of term. Linda my room made was away until last night.”
“You must have been so worried. Don’t you have family to support you?” Craig said holding her hand supportively.
“No. They are in Australia. Anyway I hesitated talking to you. Today I went for the results.” Tania went quiet as if not sure how to continue.
“When I arrived you said you were fine?” Craig asked.
“That’s it. I am fine. They kept me for hours doing tests. They couldn’t find anything. They just kept double checking things. They couldn’t believe there was no evidence not even a scar. It’s like I never had cancer but the tests from the biopsy they had done came back positive. I had to talk to someone. I didn’t know who else to talk too.”
Craig was stunned.
“Say something, Craig, I am not making it up,” Tania seemed agitated and took her hand away.
“Tell me, why did you think I would tell you a story about a harp driving off in a ambulance?” Craig mind was going in circles.
“I tell you I had cancer and you talk about harps in ambulances,” Tania angrily stood up and started to walk off.
“Tania wait let me try to explain. Only you will think it’s fantasy. I can heal people.” Craig paused as Tania turned back to him. “It sounds unbelievable but I healed Ben in the Himalayas. Then Alisha who sent the picture. I thought it only happened in Tibet. But what if I have healed you and a girl with a harp,” Then suddenly he sank back onto the bench. His head in his hands. “There are side effects. What have I done.”
“Side effects?” Tania came back to stand in front of him.
“Ben can see auras. He can tell if someone is innocent or guilty. Alisha can draw pictures of people and things she has not seen. How did you know about the girl and the harp.”
“I sat here and sort of dreamed it. You were helping a girl with a injured leg. There was a boy with a phone. On the path was a harp and a skate board. It wasn’t real. Just a daydream,” Tania sounded doubtful.
“But it was real and I saw you by my bike. Then you were gone. The other night I saw you by the fountain in the courtyard. When I went down you were gone and the porter said you had not come into the courtyard. Were you there or did you dream that too?” Craig questioned Tania.
“I dreamt it and you saw me,” Tania was as shocked as Craig.
“It’s your side effect.” Craig tried to make sense of the chain of events and explain it to Tania. “Alisha drew a picture of me on the mountain. I thought I had imagined seeing Unicorns and they gave me the power to heal. Ben was healed, then Alisha.
Alisha’s side effect is that she could draw you and she made you a fairy with wings. She imaged you as Titania. That’s what you can do, fly from place to place and I could see you. You knew what happened in South Park. God! What have I done to you and to that innocent girl. What’s her side effect going to be?”
“This can’t be for real?” a stunned Tania sat back down by Craig. Then another thought occurred to her. “If you can cure people what about all the people you saw today in the hospital?”
“I think I have to both touch someone and think about the unicorns. That’s what happened with Ben and Alisha. The day we had coffee we were looking at Alisha’s picture and I must have touched you. I felt something like a tingling sensation. It happened the same with girl in the park. She had a top with a unicorn on so I thought of the unicorns. I was just talking to her to calm her. On the wards I wasn’t thinking about unicorns and most of the time I had surgical gloves on, so nothing happened.”
“I need time to think about this,” Tania was thoughtful. “But if you did heal me, thank you.”
“I have just remembered. I am meeting my twin sister on Saturday. She knows something is wrong. She’s moved down from Scotland because she was concerned. How can I tell her all this. She just will not believe me? It’s just to weird,” Craig looked worried. “Come with me. She can’t ask too many questions with someone else with me.”
“She’ll think I am your girl friend. How are you going to explain that?”
“I don’t know but that’s the least of my worries.”
Craig sat on the side of his bed. He had locked his door when he came in because he didn’t want to be disturbed. After the events of today he needed time and another letter from Kathmandu needed to be opened.
He had been in a rush this morning, so he had not collected the mail. It was a shock to look at the picture it had contained. The Staff at the home had written that Alisha had been pleased with her present of paper and pencils and she had drawn him a picture to say thank you.
He just stared at it. Then he felt a presence by him. He looked up and it was Tania. But not the usual Tania, this Tania was almost translucent. A translucent Tania that had entered through a locked door. He uttered her name in shock.
He could see her lips moving but no word came out. He fumbled for a pad and pen and wrote ‘can you hear me.’ Tania nodded, then pointed to the picture.
It was all surreal, Tania was like a ghost in his room. She was as translucent as the Unicorns had been. He wondered what would happen if he touched her. The unicorns had touched him but then there had been consequences. Best keep his distance for now.
“You look like a ghost,” Craig muttered. Then he held out the picture so Tania could see it. “It came this morning but I didn’t pick it up until tonight. How could Alisha know that today I would met a girl with a harp in a park. Look, she has even drawn a jagged line for the skyline which looks like the skyline of the Oxfords spires you get from South Park.”
Craig waited as if expecting a reply but then realised that he could not hear Tania. Instead she pointed to the left side of the picture.
“I wondered about that. It looks like a bucket on its side and something else beside it. But there was no bucket. It even looks like there are horses grazing in the park too. For now it’s a mystery. Maybe something is going to happen with a bucket and some horses. I don’t have a bucket do you?’
Tania shook her head.
“You know its very unnerving seeing you looking like a ghost. Perhaps you should go home and ring me,” Craig suggested. Tania nodded and disappeared, just as the Unicorns had done.
Almost immediately Craig’s mobile rang. “Are you OK you were just like a ghost. It was a bit unnerving,” Craig answered.
“What did you think I had kicked the bucket? I feel very dry. I need a drink but for the moment I feel shaky. Otherwise I am fine,” Tania cheerfully replied.
“I could see a translucent you but I couldn’t hear you. How did you get into my room?” Craig asked as it occurred to him. That having a ghostly figure appear in his room could create a bit of a problem. What if it happened at an embarrassing moment.
“I wasn’t trying to get in your room. I was just trying this ‘moving out-of-body’ thing and tried to get into my bathroom. I ended up by the fountain again. I could see your light on and just thought about you and there I was standing looking at you. I was as shocked as you were,” Tania explained.
Craig’s phone bleeped. “I have another call, who could be calling at this time of night? I best answer it, its Ali’s number. I’ll ring back.”
But the call wasn’t from Ali. It was from one of the stable lads. Ali had had an accident. She had been knocked unconscious, so they had sent for an ambulance. The nearest A & E was John Radcliffe Hospital, so could he meet them there? Craig was stunned. Shakily Craig asked what were her injuries, what had happened.
All Harry, the stable lad, could tell him was that they had found her in the yard unconscious with a bump on her head. They hadn’t moved her. Just put a horse blanket over her. She appeared to have fallen over a bucket. There was water and glass where she had fallen. Now he came to look, her hand was bleeding but not much. The ambulance had now arrived so he was moving away. Harry rang off.
The thought that kept going round in his head was ‘Ali has fallen over a bucket”. It took several minutes for Craig to gather his thoughts into a logical order.
He rang Tania back and told her “Ali has fallen over a bucket at the stables and they are taking her to JR. She is unconscious. I am going up to A & E on my bike.”
“I’ll meet you there,” Tania offered. “Fallen over a bucket. Be careful Craig. If it was foretold, it may mean you have to heal her. Just be careful, the doctors are already suspicious about my cancer suddenly disappearing. Try to get to her before the doctors. Linda’s wards rotation means she is in A & E tonight. You know Linda, the girl with the red hair. Use her to get to your sister before the doctor’s do. I am still feeling a bit weak but as soon as I can I will be with you.”
“As long as you come in person,” Craig stressed. “Don’t think they could cope with a ghost walking round A & E.” He rang off. Grabbed his jacket and bicycle clips and was soon peddling towards the Hospital.
How had Alisha known about the Harp and bucket? She had even put horses in the picture. Were the pictures telling him what to do? The first had been about Tania as a fairy. He had healed her without realising. This picture was about a harp and bucket. Had Tania been right and it meant he had to heal Ali. But what would the consequences be?
Craig was out of breath by the time he had cycled up to the hospital. As he put his bike in the rack, Matthew, a medical student who lived in his halls of residence came out of the hospital.
“Hi Craig,” he cheerfully greeted Craig. “What’s going on? First the ice maiden is all over you, now the vivacious Linda is asking for you.”
“Can’t stop!” Craig said as he rushed past Matthew heading for A & E. He left Matthew wondering why suddenly all the girls wanted Craig, who he had always thought was dull and boring.
Linda met Craig as he came into A & E. “Hi, Tania rang to let me know what had happened. They have just brought your sister in. I will show you the way. I didn’t know you and Tania were a thing?”
“What? No we are just friends, How’s my sister?” Linda let the way into a cubicle. There was a nurse stood by the bed taking Ali’s blood pressure and connecting her to monitors. Linda introduced Craig to the nurse as Ali’s brother and tactfully left Craig to answer questions.
Craig was stunned to see his usually bright active sister lay in a bed. She looked ashen with the evidence of blood which had flowed from a head wound, caked on her face and covering her clothes. Her one hand was bandaged.
The nurse told him they were waiting to send her for a scan but in the mean time, could he answer questions. They were standard questions but a couple of times the nurse had to repeat the question. Craig had a splitting headache. It often happened, that as twins, they could feel each other’s pain. For now it left him confused. He felt shaky, so he sat on the bed and took his sister’s uninjured hand.
“I’ll get you a chair. You look as ashen as your sister,” The nurse said. Then she must have spoken to Linda hovering outside the curtained cubicle, because Linda appeared with a chair.
“You look awful. We will soon get Ali a scan.” Linda said reassuringly. Her usual bouncy personality subdued and professional.
“Thanks,” Craig muttered. If he was right, what he had to do was to hold Ali’s hand and tell her the legend of the Unicorns, just as Ben had told him. It had to be sooner rather than later, before they found out the extent of Ali’s injuries. He held Ali’s hand tightly and silently recited the story. He felt that tingling sensation again. Nothing seemed to happen to Ali she lay motionless in the bed. So he closed his eyes and thought about everything that had happened that day on a mountain in the Himalayas.
His headache seemed to ease a little. Then he heard Ali faintly telling him he was holding her hand to tight.
He opened his eyes. Ali was just as she had been. Her eyes were closed. Her dark matted hair highlighted her face which was still white. He looked across to the nurse. “She may be unconscious for a time. Her vital signs have improved slightly.” The nurse turned to check the monitors again. ‘Unconscious’ but he had heard Ali’s voice or had it all been in his head.
Craig looked back at Ali. “Craig what is happening? Where am I?” A frightened Ali muttered. But her lips didn’t move and her eyes remained closed. The nurse appeared not to have heard his sister speak. He looked from the nurse back to Ali.
“It’s OK Ali. You are in hospital. I am beside you. Can you hear me?” Craig transmitted his message silently looking straight at his sisters face. What if the side effect was to make Ali telepathic? He waited to see if she responded.
“It’s dark. I can’t see. I can hear you, I am so scared am I blind?”Craig could hear the fear in Ali’s voice.
“ Give it time. Your sight will come back. You had a fall at the stables. For the moment it’s better if you keep your eyes closed. They are going to take you for a scan. You must have hit your head. Just rest for now.” Craig was not sure how his sister would react if she know they were talking telepathically. The situation was confusing enough as it was. “Harry phoned from the stables. He told me you had fallen over a bucket. You knocked yourself unconscious. Your body has shut down while it heals. Just try to relax,” Craig tried to reassure his sister although alarm bells were ring in his head and his head ache was making him feel confused. Or was it Ali who was confused and he was just sensing the emotion.
“I didn’t fall over a bucket,” Ali’s voice was fragmented but the message was clear. “There was someone there in the yard. They wore black they were carrying something in their hand. There must have been two of them, someone hit me from behind.”
Craig almost jumped as a hand was gently laid on his shoulder. He turned almost expecting someone to hit him. He was relieved to see it was Tania, the real Tania not a ghost.
“The porter is on his way to take Ali for a scan,” Tania soothingly informed him. “Linda told me but she had finished her shift when I called her. So she stayed on until you came. She has now gone for a meal.”
“What? Who’s that?” Ali’s voice resounded shakily in his head.
“It’s OK, it’s my friend Tania.” Craig turned back to Ali to reassure her but this time he said the words out loud.
“Unconscious patients often hear what you are saying. Just reassure Ali and she will know you are here,” Tania responded.
The porter arrived. “We can go down with her,” Tania told Craig.
“We will be with you. You are going for a scan,” Craig spoke out loud but then silently he added. “If you were attacked. I need to talk to Tania to tell her what has happened. Harry didn’t know. He told me you fell over a bucket.”
Craig felt ill. His head still ached and he felt confused. He was channeling Ali’s pain and metal state and it was stopping his ability to think clearly. He needed Tania’s logical mind to sort out the present situation. Who would attack Ali and why?
Craig flopped down on to his bed after kicking off his shoes. He lay there trying to bring his thoughts back into focus. Ali had been taken to hospital unconscious. He had sat holding her hand trying to work out what to do. If he was right, then he could heal her, by both touching her and thinking about the unicorns. The problem was that as a twin he could feel her pain. His head ached and he felt confused. What had happen next was even more confusing. She had talked to him telepathically while remaining unconscious.
Following a scan the Doctor had asked a lot of questions. It appeared Ali had fractured her skull sometime in the past. Craig had been vague, saying that as she rode horses she had had several falls. How could he reveal that her injuries had begun to heal because of the unicorn’s magic? How could he tell the doctor he had been talking to her telepathically? The doctors would not believe Ali had been cured by magic. It occurred to him that each time he had healed someone there had been a side effect. Being able to talk to Ali telepathically must be her side effect.
Ali had finally come round but she was confused and remembered nothing about her injuries. The doctor said they would keep Ali in hospital over night because of the concussions. As he sat by his sister, Craig had two Ali’s talking to him. The Ali that lay in the bed and was confused and spoke with a frail voice and then there was the telepathic voice which resounded in Craig’s head. He assumed it must be Ali’s subconscious. The subconscious Ali told him someone had a attacked her from behind. She had seen a man in the yard holding something. Because of the famous stud horses, including White Orchid which had won the Grand National, the security at the yard was tight. The man should not have been there. The whole situation coupled with him feeling unwell sent his mind into free fall. He felt like he was loosing hold on reality.
When Ali was taken up to a ward in the early hours, Craig came home. His head ached he was confused and tired. The only person he could talk to was Tania and she had gone home earlier and would be fast to sleep by now. He didn’t know what to do. No one would believe him, even if he rang the Castle Stud Farm to tell them Ali was attacked. They believed that Ali had fallen over a bucket. Surely they would have checked their security system to see what had happened to Ali. Or would they not bother, would they not see there had been an intruder.
With his mind in a spin. He closed his eyes and was suddenly in another place and time. His feet felt cold and wet. He looked down. He had taken his shoes off when he had lay on the bed fully clothed. Now the damp dew on the grass was seeping into his socks. He looked around. He found he was in a large meadow with lush green grass sprinkled with meadow flowers. The meadow was surrounded by trees and in the distance there was a hill with a castle on top of it. There were red and white pennants flying from its tall towers. Should he walk towards it, he thought. It must be occupied because of the pennants. He felt like he was in a fairy tale and knight on horses would suddenly appear.
He felt a movement behind him. He turned. He was facing the white unicorn stallion. For a time he just stood there stunned. The stallion pawed the earth. Craig held his hands out as if to say I don’t understand. The stallion stopped and stepped back then dropped his head so his horn touched the ground near Craig’s wet feet.
Craig bent down and where the unicorns horn touched the ground was a small white flower.
Not sure what to do Craig asked, “Do you want me to pick it?” The stallion stepped back again and seemed to nod his head.
Craig stood up with the flower in his hand. He suddenly felt dizzy and for a moment closed his eyes as the world seemed to be spinning round.
When the dizziness stopped Craig was conscious that he was lying down. His feet were wet and he sensed someone near so he opened his eyes. There was no meadow, no castle and no unicorns. Just a ghostly looking Tania standing by his bed in his room in the halls of residence.
“Are you OK,” the ghostly figure asked. Craig was shocked last time Tania had transported herself to his room he couldn’t hear her. But then Ben’s powers had developed with time. So maybe Tania’s powers had taken time to develop too.
“I must have been dreaming. I can hear you,” Craig answered still not sure if he was a wake or still dreaming.
“You gave me a fright,” Tania exclaimed. “You are lying on the bed fully clothed and you looked like you were dead, lying there holding a flower in both hands. But at least it’s not a Arum lily.”
Craig sat up. His head was still spinning. He just stared at the flower he had picked in the meadow. How could you dream you had picked a flower and then wake up holding it?
Tania too looked at the flower. “It’s not a lily. It’s a wild orchid,” she commented.
Craig sat on the side of the bed. Just staring at the flower. “It’s a white orchid” he exclaimed.
“It’s a orchid and it’s white. So why are you holding it?” Tania wondered.
“I dreamt the unicorn showed me the flower and I picked it, but when I woke up I was still holding it.” Craig suddenly made the connection. “The unicorn wanted me to have it. It’s a white orchid and that’s the name of one of the horses at the stables Ali works at. The unicorn was trying to tell me that White Orchid, the horse, is in danger. What happened to Ali is something to do with White Orchid. She didn’t fall over a bucket. Someone was at Castle Stud and it has to do with White Orchid.”
There was noise outside the door, other students were waking up. Craig heard a knock on his door and the door opened. He wished he had locked his door but he had been too tired last night. He turned to look where Tania had been but she had disappeared. He thought that was one advantage of being able to transport yourself.
Matthew a fellow student looked round the room. “I thought you had a girl in here with you,” he said with a cheeky smile, as he looked round curiously, “where have you hidden her?”
“There’s no one here but me and if there was someone, you shouldn’t have walked in,” Craig responded agitated.
“I definitely heard voices,” Matthew insisted, as he searched the room for a hiding places.
Craig panicked so he reached for his phone, dropping the white orchid on his bed. “I was on the phone.”
“Oh, it’s just that you suddenly seem popular with the girls.” He reached down and picked up the flower Craig had dropped. “What’s this? I thought it was a real flower but it’s porcelain, it’s very realistic.” He held the flower flat on his hand. “Who does it belong to?”
Craig looked at it in surprise, how could a flower that was real while he held it suddenly be porcelain? More importantly how was he going to explain it? His mind worked overtime. “My sister is in hospital after a fall, it’s hers.” He took it back from Matthew. “I am keeping it for her, it’s her favourite brooch.”
The phone rang, Craig hesitated, “It might be the hospital they were only keeping Ali in over night. I have to answer this,” He paused then added, “in private.”
“OK,” Matthew muttered as he left.
Craig answered the phone to realise with relief it was Tania. After confirming Matthew had gone, he told Tania about the orchid being porcelain. Once over the shock,Tania suggested that they asked Linda, her room mate, to make it into a real brooch as she had been making badges for a rally. It would be easy to attach a clip to it.
“I could then give the brooch to Ali. It has unicorn magic in it, so it might protect her. I am waiting for the hospital to ring so I can take her back to the stables. I want to look round. I hope the taxi will take a credit card, I don’t think I have enough cash on me,” Craig explained still staring at the orchid.
“I have a car, you know,” responded Titania. “I will come and pick you up, we don’t have a lecture until three, we should have time.”
“Thanks,” Craig wondered how she could afford to run a car but there were a lot of things he didn’t know about Tania.
Tania phoned again when she was outside. In the meantime the hospital had rung to say that he could collect Ali.
They found Ali in the ward waiting room. She looked from Craig to Tania then after greeting Craig she said to Tania. “Did I see you last night? Who are you?”
Tania was stood so close behind Craig their arms were touching, “Tania’s a friend. She has a car, so we can take you back to the stables.”
Ali just looked from one to the other. ‘I have never known my brother to acknowledge he had a girlfriend. Is that why I have been having strange feelings?’ Craig smiled, not the right time to tell his sister that he could hear her subconscious thoughts.
Tania whispered in his ear, “I got that too.”
Craig turned in surprise.
“What are you two whispering about?” Ali demanded.
For the second time Craig had to think quickly, “Tania is worried about the parking. Shall we go or do you have to wait for medicines?” But as Ali had been told to take paracetamol for her head ache they could leave.
Ali walked between Craig and Tania. ‘Why didn’t you tell me you had a girlfriend and a girlfriend that looks like a goth with her black hair and dress.’ Ali wondered subconsciously. Craig looked across at Tania but it was obvious that she hadn’t heard the comment. He had been surprised Tania had heard the previous comment but then she had been touching him. Could he only transmit the telepathic thoughts if he was touching someone. The whole thing was becoming more and more complicated.
When they reached Tania’s car Ali exclaimed in surprise, “Is this your car?”
Tania laughed, “That’s exactly what Craig said. Yes it is my car, my father gave it to me.” She opened the doors of her gold coloured beetle with purple flowers and butterflies painted all over it. “It’s my father’s old car, he was a bit of a hippy in his day. He didn’t need it when he went to Australia. I don’t drive it much, people stare too much. It’s easier getting a round Oxford on a bike anyway.”
Craig was glad that Tania wasn’t touching him when he heard Ali’s thoughts on the car.
Tania turned out to be a good driver and the conversation on the journey was kept in safe channels.
Craig was wondering what he would find at the stables. Ali had no conscious recognition of the events of last night. Her subconscious thoughts, that had told him she was attacked, remained vivid but shed no real light on things. The picture Alisha had sent him suggested that there had been something by the bucket. He suspected that what ever it had been had been cleared up. It was a busy stable yard and if they all believed that Ali had just fallen over a bucket there could be no evidence left. ‘Perhaps I need a detective,’ he thought. ‘I could always ring Ben,’
“Who is Ben? What picture and who is Alisha?” Ali asked sounding confused. She was sitting in the back and didn’t know that Craig hadn’t spoken out loud.
“That’s an odd question.” Tania commented looking at Craig sat beside her as they pulled to a stop outside the security gates.
“Are you going to explain it all to Ali now or later,” asked Tania.
“Oh. Later, much later,” Craig commented as a man in riding gear came up to the gate.
The man who was wearing a cloth cap and was wearing riding boots, stared at the multicoloured car, then at the occupants. He stepped through the gate closing it behind him. He walked to the driver’s side of the car, “This is private property. You can reverse out,” he sternly advised.
Craig got out of the passenger seat and lean on the gold coloured car roof with butterflies painted on it, “We have brought my sister back from the hospital. She lives here.”
The man looked in the back of the car as if he had only just noticed Ali, “Well! Not any more. She was on trial and walking round the stables at night drunk is not acceptable. She can collect her things but you stay out of here.”
“What!” A shocked Ali had got out of the car and stared at the man, “I don’t know who you are?”
The man had by now walked round the car and faced the brother and sister, “I am the Head Groom. Now I will let you in to collect your things but not these two,” He nodded towards Craig and Tania.
Tania who had also got out of the car and had been looking at the sign by the gate that not only announced ‘Castle Stud Farm’ but also said underneath the owners names. “We would like to speak to Mr Webb, please,” she announced, “You can’t sack Ali for having an accident.”
The Head Groom was defiant, “I am in charge of the stables,” he stated. “I was away when Ali was engaged but I am back now and what I say goes.”
Tania rang the number also conveniently displayed on the board. Craig listened as Tania in a mixture of polite requests and firm demands talked to someone on the other end of the phone.
“You shouldn’t have done that. The family are celebrating the arrival of a new grandchild,” the Groom angrily announced.
A few minutes later a tall grey haired man, who was holding a champagne flute, came out to the gate. He looked spaciously at the psychedelic car and Tania with her long black hair falling nearly to her waist and dressed in a long black dress. He shook his head and looked at his champagne flute as if to question how much he had drunk. “Well! Ali we weren’t on site last night when you had your! Er! accident,” he looked at Ali as he spoke, “James here has pointed out to me that drinking in the yard is a dismissible offence.”
“But I don’t drink,” protested Ali.
“There was glass by the bucket you fell over,” James informed everyone.
“I don’t remember what happened. I just know I have never had a drink in my life. I don’t know why I was in the yard.” Ali defended herself struggling to remember the events of last night.
It was Ali’s conscious voice talking. Her subconscious voice was telling Craig a different story. “Perhaps,” Craig translated her thoughts, “You heard something that made you go out to investigate.”
“No one else heard anything except you shouting out when you fell,” James commented smugly.
“If that is true, can we see the security footage from last night?” Craig requested.
“No you can’t,” Mr Webb firmly responded, “No one sees that, especially strangers like you.”
“Thats right,” James butted in.
Mr Webb continued, “You say you are Ali’s brother but if you are twins you look nothing alike. I know nothing about any of you. Ali could have told us a pack of lie on her C.V. I shouldn’t show you our security system. You could be trying to steal our horses for all I know.”
Craig wasn’t going to be defeated, “Then will you look at the footage Mr Webb? I can see that this moment is not a good time. We will come back tomorrow and we can then discuss the situation. You can’t sack Ali because she had a fall, not without evidence that she did something wrong. My sister has come down from Scotland for this job. She has nowhere to go.”
“She can collect her things now. I don’t want her on site,” Mr Webb stressed but added, “I will see you tomorrow at shall we say 10 o’clock.” Craig had to be satisfied with that.
“But I can’t drive my car,” Ali added sounding confused.
Craig explained that because Ali was still confused she should not drive It was finally agreed that Ali should be let in to get a bag of overnight things. Tania had offered to let her sleep on the sofa of the house she shared with Linda, a fellow medical student.
While they were driving back to Oxford the topic of conversation was the stables until Craigs mobile rang. It was from Mrs Morris, the mother of Jane, the girl with the harp, who Craig had helped when she had an accident in South Park.
“Jane’s Mother,” Craig explained to the others, “rang to say thank you. Jane’s fine. Jane and her brother are going to put on a little concert in South Park on Sunday. They would like me to come, so Jane could say thank you in person,” Craig paused and then looking at Tania added, “Jane’s harp playing has improved beyond recognition. Her teacher was stunned by her improvement. She has so much confidence in her playing that she will be doing a solo on the harp and her brother will accompany her on the flute.”
Craig felt relief, if the side effect of his healing Jane, was only an improvement in her harp playing he could cope with that. What he had to do now was concentrate on Ali’s problem and the conundrum of why the Unicorns wanted him to take an interest in White Orchid the stallion at the Stud. He secretly hoped that Alisha would send him another picture with a clue in it.
Tania had suggested they went straight to her house. Craig had expected a typical shared student lodgings. It was in fact a detached house in extensive grounds. The security gates opened automatically as did the garage doors.
Craig and Ali got out while Tania hid her multicoloured car in the double garage. Craig carried Ali’s things and they went through the front door into a spacious hall.
“Not what I was expecting,” Craig said as he looked around. Linda emerged from a room.
“Hi,” she exclaimed. “Tania doesn’t usually bring visitors.”
“Ali needed somewhere to stop, so I said she can sleep on the sofa,” Tania led them through to an enormous lounge with french windows looking out on to well kept gardens. “Just pop Ali’s things on one of the sofas for now and I will show you around.” Craig glanced at the collection of paintings on the wall which included a painting of Tania’s car with a collection of hippies leaning on it in front of a castle.
Tania took them into the room Linda had emerged from. It was a large dining room but the table was covered with boxes.
“This was the dining room but Linda has taken over,” Tania explained.
“I am making badges for a rally,” Linda explained. “Hang on, I have your brooch here,” as Linda unearthed a small box and handed it to Craig. He opened it and it was the white orchid.
Craig in turn gave it to Ali. “This is for you.”
“Whoo, thanks, this is beautiful. It looks real. I’ll save it for a special occasion.” Ali stared at it.
“It is to wear now to bring good luck. It’s a kind of magical brooch,” Craig, smiled as he pinned it onto her top. Tania then continued her tour.
“This is the kitchen but the rest of the rooms down stairs are out of bounds. The doors are locked. Linda and I have rooms upstairs but the other rooms are also out of bounds,” Tania said leading them back to the dining room after a quick tour of the kitchen. “You can help yourself to what you want in the kitchen Ali.”
“Are there only two of you here,” Craig wondered out aloud.
“Yes, It’s my father’s House. You will find the his rooms locked. He thinks if I stay here we will be cheaper than security,” Tania joked a little bitterly. “Otherwise I only see him about once every five years.” The then went to the dining room.
“What are you making?” Ali asked Linda looking at all the badges.
“Well, I made some for a rally, now every time anyone does a protest I get asked to make badges. Someone always wants to liberate someone or something,” Linda explained.
“My Dad, the hippy, was always liberating animals from research labs,” Tania told them. “There was a lots of that sort of thing going on back then.”
Craig thought that there was a mysterious past but hesitated to ask. “Now we prescribe the drugs that your father was trying to prevent being tested to save lives.”
“Very true, but we had better go, Craig, or we will be late getting to the lecture,” Tania reminded him. “You will be on your own Ali. Don’t answer the door to anyone. You look like you need to rest.”
Craig sat by Tania and Linda as they listened to the lecture on DNA. Mathew joined them for coffee afterwards and tried to chat Linda up with no success.
Tania arranged to pick Craig up next morning about 9 o’clock for their visit to Castle Stud Farm. They then went their separate ways. Mathew walking back to the halls of residence with Craig. Mathew wanted to know how long he had been going out with Tania and if he could put a good word in for him with Linda. Craig tried to explain they were just friends and hoped Mathew would not see Tania pick him up in that car next morning.
Tania was on time. Craig was late. He had to sit in the back as Ali was in the front seat. “Glad to see you are wearing your brooch,” Craig commented as he got in the car.
“Yes. It’s so pretty,” Ali replied. ‘Tania made me wear it,’ Ali’s subconscious added.
Craig wondered if he should tell his sister she was sending telepathic messages. Best not, it might freak her out.
“Do you remember yet why you were in the stable yard?” Craig cautiously asked.
“No, it’s all still a blank,” Ali answered, ‘I saw someone from my bedroom window in the yard’ was the subconscious reply.
“I was late because I was talking to Ben,” Craig explained juggling the thoughts in his head. “He was the climber I was with in the Himalayas,” Craig told Ali adding. “He is also a Police Inspector. I was asking his advice.”
Ali wasn’t sure that her getting sacked was a criminal matter. Finally they arrived at the Stud and they were reluctantly let in and taken to the office.
Mr Webb, the owner of the Stud, met them and immediately produced a photo taken from the security camera. It showed Ali lying on the floor in the yard. There was glass scattered by her hand and a bucket on it’s side.
Craig and Tania studied the photo while Ali told Mr Webb that she didn’t drink so it couldn’t be alcohol in the glass.
“Could we see some shots taken before this one to show Ali falling, please,” Craig asked not satisfied.
Mr Webb was not happy but finally agreed. He phoned his wife with instructions. Mr Webb was not going to let them near the security system. Mrs Webb arrived with two photos, “I had difficulty in isolating the moment Ali fell,” she told them putting two photos on the table.
Craig studied them for a time looking at all three photos. “This one,” Craig pointed to one of the new photos. “The time stamp says ten, twenty three and three seconds shows the yard empty but there is a broom and bucket by the stable door. This one, three seconds later shows Ali on the floor. The bucket is by her but there is no broom by the stable door. That’s a lot to happen in three seconds, Ali to come into the yard and the broom to disappear and the bucket move across the yard.”
Mr Webb then studied the two photos Craig had indicated. Tania was also studying the photos “It’s a bit like spot the difference pictures you get in the paper. If you look at the background not at Ali there are a lot of little things that are different.”
“Are you suggesting I have doctored the tapes?” Mr Webb sounded angry.
“No,” Craig hastily replied, “You wouldn’t need to. I think Ali interrupted someone in your yard, someone who was able to access you security system and to reset your tape. It wasn’t Ali because she was unconscious and then taken to hospital. The question is who and what were they doing?”
Ali had plonked herself down in a chair. She looked pale. One hand was on her orchid brooch, the other was holding her head. “I can hear voices in by head,” Ali sounded totally confused.
Craig knelt by his sister and touched her arm. He could also hear the voices and he realised who was speaking, but he wasn’t about to tell anyone especially Ali.
Craig remained kneeling by Ali for a few moments in the stables office. He turned to Tania and asked her to hold Ali’s other hand.
“Ali, I know you are feeling wretched but you are still suffering from concussion,” he told her gently. “We should take you back to the house.” Craig then stood up leaving Tania with Ali.
He addressed Mr Webb with more confidence than he felt. “Ali needs to rest. Coming out here is too much for her. Could you come down to the house in, say, a hour then we can discuss what you are going to do about Ali’s job.”
“I could ring you. I am busy this morning,” Mr Webb insisted. He seemed agitated as he looked from the video screen photos then to his wife and then back to Craig.
“Ali could sue you for negligence but we could discuss it quietly. What Ali wants is her job back. I will expect you in an hour, no later, as Tania and I are working at the hospital later. Don’t do anything until we have talked, involving the police might cause a problem,” Craig then took Ali’s arm and walked her to Tania’s car.
Tania seemed upset while Ali was holding her head. As Tania drove out of the stables, Craig turned to the back seat, where Ali was sitting. “Your head is better now the voices are gone.” It was a statement not a question. “I have a great deal to explain but we can do that at the house. I have to make a call.”
Craig called Ben and from the conversation Tania realised he was being invited to visit the house. She pulled into a lay-by. “Craig you can not invite Ben to my father’s house,” she angrily interrupted.
Craig merely told Ben to ring him when he reached Oxford.
“My father rang last night and told me off for inviting you and Ali into the house,” Tania seemed distressed. “You cannot invite Ben or Mr Webb to the house.”
“How will he know?” Craig wondered as he tried to work out what to do, having already made the invitations.
“My father watches the security video,” Tania sounded annoyed, but she continued trying to explain. “I told him Ali was a friend who needed a bed for the night but he wasn’t happy. Also he thinks you are my boyfriend and has told me you are not to visit and, as for Ben, he would be really angry.”
“What is it about Ben? He couldn’t think Ben was a boyfriend. He’s old enough to be your father!” Craig was perplexed by the subject.
Ali interrupted, still sounding wretched, “I don’t know what you are on about but I could find a place if you don’t want me.”
Craig turned back to his twin sister. “Ali it’s complicated.” Craig took a deep breath. He had to explain sooner or later. “When I was in the Himalayas something strange happened.”
“I know that. I have had funny feelings ever since the day of the eclipse. I wondered if you saw it but you haven’t talked about it,” Ali answered.
“Yes that was when it happened but I am not able to explain it fully right now but I can heal people. I just have to touch them and think of what happened during the eclipse.” Craig paused to see the effect on his sister. “The problem is, there are side effects.”
“Side effects! What are you talking about? Healing people is a good thing if you want to be a doctor, isn’t it?” Ali asked sounding confused.
“Well yes and no. I healed a girl called Jane and she is now an expert at playing the harp. Alisha in Tibet keeps sending me pictures foretelling the future. The thing is, I tried to heal you and you have a side effect.”
“What side effect?” Ali asked in alarm.
“You are telepathic,” Craig explained as gently as he could, “I can hear your thoughts and if I am touching Tania, she can hear them as well.”
“Hear my thoughts? I don’t believe you,” Ali was sounding distressed.
“Think of a five figure number, Ali,” Craig told his sister as he reached out to hold Tania’s hand.
After a pause Tania repeated Ali’s thoughts, “ 67839” Ali sat open mouthed.
“There is more Ali. The voices you heard in the stable office, you received them telepathically,” Craig calmly explained.
“But they were talking rubbish, they kept asking who I was and what I wanted,” Ali objected.
“Yes but I think it was White Orchid, the stallion that was talking to you. Remember you were touching the white orchid brooch.”
“What! Are you saying I was listening to the ramblings of a horse? That’s ridiculous,” Ali exclaimed putting her hands up to her head.
Craig tried to reassure her, “The brooch is the link between you and White Orchid. I know it sounds strange but no stranger than Ben being able to know if people are telling the truth. He can see their auras. That’s why we need Ben here so he knows who is telling us the truth and who is lying,” he turned to look at Tania. “He has a camper van. All we have to do is find somewhere for him to park. Your father can’t be angry if he just came to the house.”
Tania just stared at Craig for a moment before answering him. “You don’t understand. If my father came back to England he would be arrested. The last thing he wants is a police inspector nosing round the house. He is already upset about Ali stopping. He thinks you are my boyfriend so I told him you were Linda’s boyfriend. He now says Linda and Ali has to go and you are not to come to the house.”
‘I feel wretched,’ Ali transmitted her thoughts but as Craig was still holding Tania’s hand she too could hear. ‘Let me get this straight. Now Lina and I are homeless. I can talk to you telepathically. I can be a Dr Dolittle and talk to animals. You friend’s a lie detector. Oh and Tania’s father’s a criminal.’
“Well I guess that sums it up, apart from I get pictures foretelling the future and Tania can transport herself to places. We are like super heroes but everything seems to relates back to White Orchid,” Craig added.
“and,” Tania explained, trying to set the record straight, “My father’s not a criminal, not yet. He hasn’t been arrested.”
“Let’s just think this out, we can’t stay in a lay-by arguing, so perhaps, Tania, if you rang your father, I could talk to him and I could explain the situation,” Craig suggested.
Tania just stared at him for a moment, “You are going to tell my father you have magical powers and we are super heroes?”
“Well, not exactly in those words,” Craig offered. “What harm is it going to do? It can’t get much worse. I need to stop him evicting Linda. She hasn’t done anything.”
Tania reluctantly rang her father, then handed Craig the phone. After an extremely strange conversation Craig had managed to explain that Tania, Linda and himself were all on the same University course. They were all just friends. The situation of Ali being at the house was just temporary, until they had sorted her job problems out. Ali’s employer was coming so they could talk in a neutral atmosphere. Oh! and another friend was also going to come as a mediator. After today it would hopefully all be sorted out. If not they would find somewhere else for Ali to stay. Craig then handed the phone back to Tania.
After a short conversation Tania ended the call. “He says that if it’s not all sorted in 48 hours we can all leave. So now I am being evicted as well.”
“I am sorry Tania. Let’s get going. Can we call at the halls of residence? I need to see if there is any post.” Craig hoped that there would be another fortune telling picture from Alisha.
“Ok, but you do realise that if my father looks at the full security tapes at the house, rather than just glancing at them he will hear all the conversation too. My father will not appreciate Ben being there, so you can’t mention he is a policeman,” Tania insisted.
“Ben told me he was a civil servant it was only a few days ago he explained he was a Police Inspector. I will stick to the story he is a Civil Servant,” Craig agreed.
When they arrived at the house, they all went in. Ali lay down on the settee, she was confused. Her head ached and she kept saying ‘I can talk to animals. That’s ridiculous,” Only Craig could hear her subconscious ramblings. Tania was upset and kept asking Craig, “What are you going to do to solve this?”, with the two girls talking at him at the same time. Craig was only grateful that Linda was at the hospital this morning. His head was in a spin.
There had been no letter from Tibet, but when he looked at his phone he discovered he had an email from the Orphanage in Kathmandu. He had forgotten when he had written to the Orphanage he had given them his email address. He opened up the email and there was a picture. He was mystified and confused.
Before he could show Tania the picture, Mr Webb had arrived.
He was shown into the lounge by Tania. Mr Webb looked around. “I recognise this house. It is ‘The Magical Unicorn’s house.’ I should have known when I saw the car yesterday,” was his surprising comment as he looked around.
“What!” Exclaimed Craig totally thrown by the comment.
“The pop group. I was a big fan,” Mr Webb explained. “We used to come and stand outside in the hope of seeing the group. This was Bob Head’s house.”
“The group was the ‘Magical Unicorn’ I didn’t realise, before my time,” Craig sounded shocked. Why had Tania not told him what her father did.
“Think I should make Tea,” Tania announced and disappeared hastily.
“You must know their song ‘Fairy, dance with me.’ It’s a classic. They are always playing it on the radio. It’s on the album ‘Magic’ That’s the picture over there that’s on the cover,” Mr Webb further explained. Craig turned to the picture that he had noticed when he first had come to the house. It showed the same car, they had been using, with four hippy looking men leaning on it. He had heard the song only yesterday. He had always thought it was just another love song. It had never occurred to him what was the true meaning. It was about a father wanting to dance with his daughter.
Tania returned with the tea tray. She looked a little shyly at Craig. “Perhaps I should have mentioned the ‘Magical Unicorn’?”
‘Perhaps you should,” Craig was still stunned by the Unicorn connection.
“What are you talking about?” Ali asked sitting up looking totally confused.
Before Craig could say anything his phone rang. He answered it while Tania poured the tea and handed the cups out.
“Ben will be with us in about ten minutes,” Craig explained before turning to speak directly to Mr Webb. “Ben is a friend. He is an expert on security. I thought he might be able to help. Someone must have access to your security at the Stables to have been able to change you security tapes to make it look like Ali had fallen in the yard and no one else was there. Ali did nothing. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“That had occurred to me having had time to think about it,” Mr Webb pointed put. “I should contact the police rather than be here.”
“Involving the police and you may never find out the truth,” Craig responded. “The perpetuators are already covering their tracks. They have had time. As long as they think you are blaming Ali they might wait to see how things pan out.”
“But some of the horses in the Stables are worth millions as stud stallions. I can’t take risks. If the security is compromised I have to contact the Police,” Mr Webb expressed his concern.
“Who ever compromised the security, probably works in the stables or has access on a regular basis to the horses,” Craig pointed out. “The one person you know can’t be involved is Ali because someone attacked her. I think we should drink our tea. Ben will be here soon. Then we can all talk about it and come up with a plan of action.”
Ben looked round at the four other people in the room. “That’s strange,” he thought, “there are only three people who’s aura I can not read and they are all sat in the room with me.” They were Craig, his twin and Tania who were all an enigma, as their feelings were concealed. Mr Webb however was an open book. At the moment he was showing a bright orange, an indication he was agitated. When he explained the situation to Ben it was green, indicating he was telling the truth.
“What we need to work out,” Ben suggested, “is what is going on. Is someone trying to steal one of the horses or is something else going on? In this day and age, with DNA testing, stealing a stud horse for stud purposes would be impossible. Stealing a horse for ransom could be a possibility. That could have been what happened with Shergar. When was that?”
Mr Webb was thoughtful for a moment. “1981, I believe. That’s forty years ago. The ransom was 2 million then, so what would they ask now? No one knows what happened to Shergar, it’s a mystery. It was tragic. I can’t have that happen to White Orchid or any of my horses. How do you steal and conceal a racehorse? If that is what is going on, I must contact the police immediately.”
“It has to be an inside job for someone to be able to change your security tapes. The question is, what was the glass that cut Ali’s hand? I think, we can ignore the suggestion that she had been drinking and had a drink in her hand. The night Ali was attacked something was going on that involved a glass container which got broken,” Ben kept a close eye on Mr Webb watching his aura. It was still green. He continued, “You could contact the police but that might escalate the situation. I could visit the stables and take a look around if you could think of a cover story.”
It took nearly half a hour to come up with a plan of action. Ben would visit the stables later in the day. He would pose as a writer doing research for a book about retired racehorses. Mr Webb would visit the police and discuss the situation with them. With such valuable horses at the stud, not just his stallions but the visiting mares he declared he could not afford to take risks. Discretion was paramount, his business could be damaged if it became known he had a security problem.
When Mr Webb had left, Ben explained his position to Craig. He was on ‘Leave’ following a disagreement with his superiors. He believed someone was innocent when all the evidence suggested a man was guilty. How could he explain that he could read people’s auras. So it had been suggested he take a couple of weeks leave. That was why Ben had be driving to Oxford when Craig rang.
Ali had listened with fascination to the conversations. “I just don’t understand what’s going on. Please explain it in simple language. I am so confused, Craig.”
Craig took a deep breath. “Well I didn’t mean to conceal things from any of you. When I was in the Himalayas, during the eclipse, I saw two unicorns. Yes, I know they don’t exist. I thought it was an hallucination, but then things keep happening. It’s bizarre! I can heal people if I think of the unicorns. The problem is that there are side effects. Ben can see auras, Tania can transport herself, Ali you are telepathic. I can hear what you are thinking and if I am touching someone they too can hear as well. Then there is a girl called Jane who can play a harp exceptionally well where before she could not play. The other person is Alisha in Kathmandu, who sends me pictures foretelling the future. The thing is, I got a picture in an email today. It shows the four of us sitting in a circle holding hands. It’s similar to Alisha’s earlier picture of Jane, so I know it’s South Park from the way she has drawn the skyline. Jane is there in the distance with the harp, which means it must be Sunday when Jane is giving a concert.”
“This is ridiculous, teleporting, telepathy, healing and foretelling the future! Theses things don’t exist, Craig, you are fantasising,” Ben interrupted.
“Just as reading people’s aura isn’t possible but you do it,” Craig quickly retorted.
“No one can teleport,” Ali added, as she was finding it as difficult to take it all in as Ben.
“I can only ‘think myself’ to where Craig is,” Tania explained. “I can’t go where I want. It’s weird, I tried to go from my bedroom into the bathroom once and ended in Craig’s room.”
“That could be embarrassing,” Ben commented but after a moments thought he added, “Almost as embarrassing as four adults, sitting in a circle, holding hands, in a public park during a concert. It’s not going to happen.”
Craig looked at Tania, “At least you believe me don’t you?”
“Yes but there are so many things we don’t know. Like if I transport myself can other people see me. If Ali can hear what horses are thinking, can she hear what cats think. If Jane can play the harp, how does it relate to being able to read auras. Then again do Alisha’s pictures relate to the future or are we making things happen. If we all go to the park on Sunday because of the picture, then Alisha hasn’t predicted the future, she has created it. Do you see what I mean?” Tania thoughtfully tried to make sense of the situation.
“What! Ali can hear what horses are thinking? I have come to a mad house,” a shocked Ben commented.
“No, it’s just the house of the ‘Magical Unicorns’, or so Mr Webb told us earlier. I didn’t know Tania’s father was a singer in a band called the ‘Magical Unicorns’. I didn’t know the legend of the Unicorns until Ben told me in the Himalayas. Something is drawing us together. It has to be the Magical Unicorns. They have made us super heroes. The question is, what do they want us to do?” Craig challenged.
By Sunday morning Ben was finally convinced that Craig, Tania and Ali’s had magical powers, after all he could not deny his own powers. Ben had by now visited the Castle stables twice and spent time talking to the stable’s staff.
They had accepted his story that he was writing a book and answered his odd questions. There had been only two people who were showing red aura’s during these conversations. Harry, the stable lad, who had rung Craig the night that Ali had her accident was definitely hiding something when the topic of unusual events came up. His story that he had just happened to find Ali wasn’t true. The other person was James, the head groom, he was definitely telling lies. His answers were all tinged with red. There was also a purple aura that Ben had identified as someone calculating answers.
Ben’s camper van had been parked in the drive of Tania’s father’s house. Tania had received several phone calls from her father in New Zealand. He was not happy and even threatened to return to England. Tania’s new friends were giving him grave concern. However, it was apparent that he was more concerned about the Magical Unicorn memorabilia, which was locked away in the house, than Tania’s wellbeing.
On Sunday morning Craig had again returned to the topic of going to South Park to listen to Jane’s concert. “I am not going to have a seance in broad daylight in a public park,” Ben protested.
“Just think of it as picnic in the park,” Craig insisted.
Ali had found distraction in cooking exotic dishes in the kitchen. The result was the picnic was not cheese and pickle sandwiches.
They sat around a picnic blanket tucking into the treats as they listened to the music. Jane’s performance was fifth on the list. As the harp music drifted across to them Craig insisted they held hands. Ben was reluctant but finally agreed. Nothing happened. Ben removed his hands, embarrassed. “That didn’t work. I presume something magical was supposed to happen.”
Then Jane began to play her second piece. “That’s my song,”Tania excitedly declared. ‘Dance with me Fairy’, the song that was the Magical Unicorns biggest hit. We should hold hands now. It’s a sign.”
Ben looked round to make sure no one was looking but as they were in the shade of a tree they were well hidden. He took Tania and Ali’s out stretched hands reluctantly.
Suddenly there was a strange feeling, almost as if an electric current was passing through them. Ben looked at Craig. “Don’t let go,” Craig clearly told him but his lips did not move. “While we are in a circle Ali’s power allows us to talk telepathically.”
“What else is happening?” Ben thought out aloud.
“I think Tania’s power is taking us somewhere,” and the strange feeling continued but now the four of them seemed to be spinning. When finally the spinning stopped, before they could gather their thoughts, a new voice said, “Welcome to my hidden kingdom. Keep holding hands. It will hold you here and I can talk through Ali.”
There beside them stood the magnificent white unicorn stallion. They had been transported to the meadow that Craig had visited before. He could see the wild orchids around them and in the distance the same castle with the pendants flying.
“This is so exotic, “ Ali commented in awe.
“I would say it’s magical,” Tania responded.
“Listen, I brought you all here to tell you a story,” the unicorn spoke with authority. “In the beginning Unicorns were created in the mountains that you call the Himalayas, during a solar eclipse. When we heard Ben telling you the story, Craig, we knew that fate had brought you together for the next eclipse and you could help us.” The unicorn mare was now beside the stallion.
“In that distant time we travelled between each domain of your world. Overtime, in each place we established blessings of unicorns. But Man was unkind and attacked us. They believed our horns would give them eternal life. The only eternal life is for those people we choose to bring into this dimension. In the land of the sand, the unicorn stallion was killed and the mare taken. Man forced a horse stallion on her. The result was a colt with unique abilities. It had no magical powers but had a speed that out ran the common horse. Three stallions were bred before we could rescue the mare and bring her here.”
Now beside the two Unicorns that Craig had first met there appeared another unicorn mare.
The four listened as the Stallion continued. “There was another such incident in the Ice domain. Until now we have kept the offspring of these Sand and the Ice unicorns apart. It is dangerous for the spirits of Sand and Ice Unicorns to mix. Now Man has again stolen. This time it is the spirit and ‘Essence of life’ of White Orchid, a descendant of Sand Unicorns that has been taken and given to a descendant of a Ice Unicorns. The foal, when it arrives, could have magic. A dangerous magic which comes from the mixing of uncontrolled spirits. We need to rescue this foal and move it to our world.
We can only do this with your combined help. Our magic can not find them, there is a shield of black magic that protects the mare. To save the foal, it would take six people who have been touched by our magic, to hold hands round the foal. You are four but there are two more to bring into the circle. First, you must find the mare before the foal is born and be there with the number of six to encircle the foal when it comes into your world,” the stallion finished,” That is all you need to do.”
The Stallion words sank in. Craig exclaimed “That is all? But Alisha is in Kathmandu and I have only spoken to Jane once. That’s apart from finding the mare. Can I not heal someone close to us like Linda?”
“Your powers are not limitless, you must obey me,” the stallion informed them. “Now you must return to your world. To stay too long will mean you are trapped here.”
The strange feelings returned and suddenly they were back in South Park and Jane was still playing on the harp ‘Dance with me Fairy’.
Ben flopped into the leather arm chair. He had said very little after they had found themselves back sitting round the picnic rug in South Park. They all felt dizzy and confused. Ben had exclaimed, “I hope you all saw what I saw or I am going mad.”
Ali had uttered “Unicorns.”
Tania had added, “A meadow near a castle,” they all confirmed the shared experience.
Craig told the girls to pack up the picnic things and he went and had a word with Jane’s mother. Jane had finished playing the harp and was receiving a lot of congratulations..
Craig, Ali and Tania had all then piled into Ben’s camper to made their way back to Tania’s house.
“I need a drink to steady my nerves,” Ben told Craig.
Tania disappeared but came back with four glasses and then got a box from a cupboard. She took the lid off and handed Ben a miniature whiskey.
Ben looked in the box. “That’s a lot of miniatures.”
“The Magic Unicorns played the tune for a advert for a whiskey company. They were handouts for the group,” Tania informed them.
“Will your Father mind?” Craig asked concerned.
“I don’t care if he does,” Tania defiantly announced. “He only supported me after my mother disappeared because a DNA test proved I was his daughter. He sent me to a boarding school. I haven’t seen him for years.”
Craig could see how upset she was, so he quickly suggested they reviewed what the Unicorns had both told and instructed them to do.
“Good. Idea,” Ben replied opening his second miniature.
“I know how you feel Tania, our Parents left us with our Grandmother and went to India and they disappeared too,” Ali said with empathy. “You feel abandoned.”
“Strange!” Ben added thoughtfully, “My father was a climber and he disappeared in an avalanche in the Himalayas. So all four of us have had disappearing parents.”
“Alisha was a street kid, so she has disappearing parents too,” Craig pointed out.
“But Jane has parents, you spoke to them Craig, so that breaks the chain of coincidences,” Tania objected.
“Well, no. When I spoke to the ‘The Parents’ I said they must be proud. They said they were always proud when any of the foster children did well. So all of us could have disappearing parents,” Craig explained.
“Is there another connection,” suggested Tania, “You said, Craig, Ben told you the story of the Unicorns.”
Ben nodded in agreement as he lined up his empty miniatures like soldiers. “My father wrote children’s stories. It was the last story he wrote. They found it in his things.” Ben explained.
Tania continued, “I have of course, ‘Magical Unicorns in my history. Do you have Unicorns in your history too?”
It was Ali that answered, “Craig and I were six when our parents disappeared. Shortly after a package arrived with two miniature unicorn toys. Craig gave his to me but I still have them.”
“When I first met Jane she was wearing a t shirt with a Unicorn on so if nothing else she likes Unicorns,” Craig informed them. They were all silent for a time.
Ben helped himself to another miniature before he suggested they got back to finding a mare in foal, saying there must be thousands of them.
“Well, no, just the ones connected to White Orchid. Could we get a list of mares from the Castle Stables?” Suggested Craig.
“Then what? Even if we visited all of them, how will we know which one?” Enquired Tania.
“There are two points,” Ben commented, “Point One, the Unicorns couldn’t find the mare because she is shielded by black magic. Which means it could be dangerous and it’s only Ali who can hear horses. It might be only Ali who could detect the foal we want. The other point, all this comes from the break in and the attack on Ali. What’s the connection,” Ben pointed out using his detective skills.
All four remained silent as they digested the facts they individually knew.
It was finally Ali that broke the silence, “Just a point but not all mares were serviced at the stables. Some of the mares could be anywhere in the world.”
“What?” Exclaimed Ben.
“I think Ali means, like IVF for horses,” Tania commented.
“Hang on,” Ben sat up and got his mobile out and searched his phone for a photo before handing it to Craig. “It’s one of the security photos. I have zoomed in on the glass. It’s too thin and and has too narrow a shape to be a drinking glass. Pass it to the girls. Ali could it be a file that in the Unicorn’s phase held its ‘essence of life’?”
“Yes,” Ali confirmed simply.
“Then what was happening at the stables wasn’t someone trying to steal horses or doping them but stealing the sperm,” Ben announced. “We have to find the culprits to find the mare before she foals.”
“There is something else I have thought of.” Ali reached for a miniature and poured it. “ It’s the history of thoroughbreds. All purebred horse trace their lineage back to three stallions that were imported to England from the deserts. That’s the three stallions the Unicorns told us about. That means White Orchid’s DNA came from one of or more of these Sand Stallions who were direct descendants of a Unicorn. The Unicorns spoke of different domains. So for instance the wild mustangs in America could come from the Prairies Unicorns.”
“The Ice Unicorns, which we want, could not come from Antarctica. There are no horses there,” Ben pointed out.
“But they could come from Siberia, Iceland or Norway. We are looking for a mare from a different breed of horse that has been given White Orchids ‘Essence of Life,” Ali explained.
“And that mare could be anywhere in the world and we have to all be there including Alisha from an orphanage in Kathmandu,” Ben summed up. “The first thing is to find out who attacked Ali because that’s the only lead we have right now.”
“This is not going to be simple and it could be dangerous. We are dealing with criminals and black magic,” Craig pointed out.