The Guild of Imaginary Animals

“I’ve been made, people, I’ve been made,” Dave said. “Photographs and everything.”

“Can’t you push the Photoshop angle?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“They tagged me.” The okapi’s head shook sadly side to side. “They tagged me. That’s it, I’m official now.”

Sasquatch lumbered over, using a knuckle every third step or so. “Sorry, Dave,” he said, laying a huge furry hand on the okapi’s back.

“They got photos of me, too,” Nessie said, her smirk showing teeth two feet back. She circled the small inlet, her head forward, toward the shore. “Decades ago. And they’re still talking about whether they’re real.”

“It’s not the same,” came a voice from off to the side, not aimed in their direction. They saw only the profile of his long head and sharp ears, his fur bristling upward despite the warm day. Head now over his shoulder, he hissed though his long canine teeth, then spoke again. “And you all know it.”

“Spike,” said the unicorn, always one to keep things cheery, “come on now.”

“He was tagged,” said the chupacabra. “Tagged. They have a little microchip recording every move. There’s no mystery after that. No scientist debunking the viral video. He’s official.”

“Glub blug,” said someone from below the water’s surface.

“You know they can’t hear you if you don’t talk into the tube, Coelo.”

The fish cleared what passed for his throat. “I said I know how he feels. You all said we could still hang out, but now I barely see you-“

“Most of us live on land, Coelo,”

“Well, still.”

“Besides, we have to be careful,” Nessie said.

“You know,” when he was agitated, Ceolo couldn’t stop the bubbles from forming as he spoke, “no one ever talks about the centuries they thought I was extinct. No, one lazy cousin gets caught by one random fisherman–“

Everyone else made deliberate eye-contact above the water. “Maybe we should stick to the issue in front of us,” said the unicorn, “if no one minds.”

A long horn poked out of the water, followed by a rounded head. “I agree with Celo,” said Dennis.

“I thought we were moving on?” Nessie looked around for support and found none.

Dennis continued. “I mean, they have tours now to look at me. From mythical to tours. It’s humiliating. You really need your friends at a time like this.”

“There’s just the thing,” Nessie said, curling her body slightly away from the narwhale.

“See?” he said. “See? This is what I’m talking about. Always edging away.”

“We all know they’re kind of stupid,” she continued, shooting the narwhale a glare that probably could turn sailors to stone, “but they still may figure out that if they follow you-“

“They’ll find you guys?” Dave said. “That’s nice.”

“But true,” said Spike. The narwhale eyed him closely, or as closely as he could from the water.

“You know something,” he said.

“No I don’t.” Spike edged away from the group.

The narwhale turned his head. “Come to think of it, there’ve been a lot of reports of you lately. On real news channels.”


“So,” said the unicorn, dropping her happy tone, “it’s interesting that you’re not the one who got made.”

“It happens,” said Spike. They stared at him. “It does,” he said.

“You sold him out, didn’t you?” The voice was so pure, so magical, so beautiful, they all stayed where they stood or swam, unable to move from the weight of it. “Oh give it a rest, people,” said Roberta, languidly flapping her tail against the surface of the water. “It’s just me. You’ve heard me talk a million times.”

“Sorry,” said the Sasquatch, blushing a bit, “gets us every time.”

“But my point.”

“Fine.” Spike snarled, then regained his composure. “Fine. You got me. I turned him in. Legendary isn’t something you can take lightly.” He stalked back and forth, his shoulders angular through his skin and fur, “you have to protect it.”


“But what, Sunshine?” he said to the unicorn.

“My name is Sunsteen,” she said. “Sunsteen. Geez, you’d think you’d get it by now.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said the okapi. “The damage is done. I’m doomed to forever be the one at the zoo the kids point at and say, ‘Mommy, what happened to the rest of that zebra’s stripes?’”

Dave sighed.

“Well,” said Nessie, “I don’t want to rush you, but-“

“Nessie,” said Sunsteen.

“What? He’s been tagged. You know elf hidden enchantment spells aren’t what they used to be. It’s not like they have a warranty or anything these days.”

“Yeah,” said Dave sadly, “I guess I’d better hit the road.”

“We’ll see each other,” Roberta offered him a hollow smile, “as much as before. More, even.”

“I’m still waiting on lunch,” said the narwhale.

“My schedule’s really booked.”


“Ok.” Dave took a few steps toward the Arc of Magical Passing and then stopped and turned. “See you, I guess.” They all smiled at him, sort of, but said nothing else. Putting one hoof in front of the other in front of the other, he plodded through the Arc.

They waited until he was out of sight. “So, should we change the pass-code for the glen now, or wait until the other realies clear out?”

“Glub blub glug glug bog,” Coelo said, away from his tube.

“What’d he say?” Sunsteen asked no one in particular.

“We can still hear you,” said Dennis

“Right,” said Spike, his eyes gleaming, “right.”

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