Ubergeeks John Scalzi and Wil Weaton have done something wonderful. This:
Other than writing stuff themselves, they had various other (in)famous people contribute, plus they ran a competition (based on the picture). Which I didn’t win.
The book itself is, technically, free. You can go read it at http://unicornpegasuskitten.com/. But since the whole point of the thing is to raise money for lupus sufferers (Wil and John paid for everything out of their own pockets), see if you can donate $5. Or maybe more.
Because sometimes, it is lupus.
However, here’s the story I wrote. All things being equal, the stories from the book are better than this. So go click on the link and enjoy.
I woke as my face was scraped raw by warm sandpaper coated in slime. Something monstrous had found me, and its spit dissolved my skin. I opened my eyes to a view of needle-sharp teeth, and gagged at the stench of salmon as the thing yawned.
“Good kitty,” I croaked.
It was taller than me, even without the wings spreading from its shoulders. Since my cave had a prudently small opening, only its head could fit inside – if it angled itself so the horn on its forehead didn’t scrape the roof. I scrambled back before it could lick me a second time. Blood dripped down my neck. I healed myself by magic before the thing attacked again.
“Where did you come from?” I said aloud.
“Well,” came a voice from outside, “when a unicorn and a pegasus and a cat all love each other very much –”
“No I meant—oh actually, that does answer one question. May I ask who you both are, and what you and your – er, noble steed – are doing here?”
“Are you the orc magician?” The voice was curiously flat, as if the man was mortally exhausted.
My heart sank. Even among other magicians, that question always led to an awkward conversation followed by an even more irritating battle. I had thought living on an active volcano would discourage further inquiry. “Just because I have green skin, pointy ears, and incredibly well-developed muscles doesn’t mean I’m going to kill you.” Under my breath I added, “Like all the others.”
The kitten retreated as someone tugged on its reins. Not for the first time, I was glad I slept in full armor.
A human stood by the lava river outside my cave. Other than his sweater, he was unarmed.
I took an involuntary step backward and hit stone. “That’s –”
“Yes,” he said, looking away. “The clown sweater. I need you to kill me.”
I looked at his young face and saw the deep worry lines of a man possessed by the most diabolical fiend of our time. “But. . . you’re immune. And besides, we’ve just met.”
“John. But –”
“I’m not immune.”
“Sometimes, it sleeps.”
“Can you take it off?” I asked. “Can someone take it off you?”
His eyes glittered, but he held himself together. “I used to have three brothers.”
“Ah. So I’m dead then.”
“No! Kill me first and save your life. And she’s not a monster. She’s Petunia, and she just likes to play.” He pulled down a golden spear from her back. “Take it!”
“Don’t make me do this. Killing people is so. . .”
All colour fled his face, silencing me. “It’s waking up. The clown. It’s coming! Help me!” I saw his eyes turn mad just before he leapt onto Petunia’s back. He lifted the spear and smiled the serene smile of the deranged.
The awkward-conversation part of our friendship was at an end.
I grabbed my axe and shield and ran outside. Wil seemed decent. The least I could do was sever his head from his body.
Petunia leapt into the air and bore down on me with her claws splayed. Magic filled me, sparking from my fingertips. I jumped straight into Wil and we both tumbled to the rocks. Petunia crouched to watch us, switching her horse’s tail from side to side in excitement.
“Unicorns,” I thought frantically, searching for a weakness. “Good for looking picturesque with virgins. Not helpful right at the moment.”
Wil leapt at me, drooling with fury. I parried and his spear clashed against my armored shoulder.
“Pegasuses,” I thought. “Pegasi? Good for traveling long distances fast. But flighty.”
Petunia’s eyes glowed with mad kitten joy. Her pupils darkened and she waggled her rear end, ready to spring.
Wil spun with impossible speed and I ducked just in time. His foot connected with my head, but I magically dismissed the bright stars of concussion before they got me killed.
“Kittens,” I thought. “Nice to look at, if you like that sort of thing. Attracted to shiny things. Also a source of pure, unadulterated evil.” I blinked, and knew what to do.
Luckily for us, Petunia was already in the mood to play.
Wil lunged for my throat and I didn’t have time to dodge naturally. My magical defenses shot me fifty feet into the air. I had time to look down as I fell, curious to see if gravity would get a chance to kill me before the rest. Or perhaps I’d think of some further magical brilliance. Either way, I looked forward to finding out what happened next.
Petunia sprang at me. She batted me sideways in mid-air, knocking me into my cave. I landed on nice soft armor and watched with quiet surprise as magical sparks healed my broken legs. With one hand, I pointed to Wil. Pretty blue sparks danced an irresistible pattern on the clown’s red nose.
Petunia took the bait. She pounced and pinned Wil to the rock with one paw, biting into his sparkly chest as he screamed in pain and rage.
She spat something white and red and grinning into the lava river, where it dissolved. Then she sat on Wil’s legs and licked the hole that used to be his chest.
I staggered outside, dragging up what magic I had to try and heal him. Sparks flew off me into him, building new organs, growing new skin, and filling him with new blood.
It was no use. Petunia’s saliva ate through him faster than I could build him back
Wil didn’t move.
“The sweater is dead,” I said, falling on my knees beside him. “Long live the sweater.”
Petunia yawned emphatically and touched him with the tip of her horn. “Unicorns,” I thought. “Handy for fixing poison. Does that include kitten spit?”
PS This piece of awesomeness comes free of charge. Your regular schedule of Daily Awesomeness will continue tomorrow.
PPS Please do spread the word about this book. If you’ve ever had a disease of the immune system or known someone who has, you’ll understand why.