Corkhorn, for all intents and purposes, was a really unlucky unicorn. Maybe coming from a family of really lucky unicorns gave him all the recessive genes. Maybe it was all the good luck charms he used that reversed his luck that day. Or the knock to the back of the head that did it before waking up back there.
While the unlucky Unicorn turned Delivery boy mulled over where his stuff was. He came across his long lost delivery. Relief oozed into every muscle.
Corkhorn sighed, “Oh good my boba pearls are safe.”
Realization hit him like a bellyflop in the pool.
“Ack! The Customers didn’t receive them!” Corkhorn cursed, “Cudgemuffins!”
He pounded his fist. The clang spooked him. Corkhorn skittered down the air duct in fear that his luck, and that duct, would fall out beneath him. A commotion at the next air vent down stopped him. He peeked between the slats. His heart pounded hard enough to pulse in his ears again. They pinned back in retreat.
Right there just below him sat the chicken in captain’s chair. Her comb peaked through her helm. The wings whose “hands” clung to the armrests had light orange primary feathers beneath the speckled convert feathers.
Her quartermaster, grizzled and gray Pachycephalosaurus, stood just behind to the left. Collar beeping around his neck. A hippo sat at the communications desk to the left that swapped wigs every time the mood changed.
“The prisoner escaped!” cried the hippo. “Collapsed the whole brig!”
“Hunt him down,” snorted the captain. “And shoot him.”
“But Captain Cluck-vers,” bespoke the Quartermaster. He bit back a honk when the shock collar fired up. “We need our hostage. Master Squaregate will shoot us without him.”
The captain smashed the button on her chair. Several men went down in convulsive twists. The boa constrictor rigger went falling from the ceiling and onto the otter boatswain. The women screamed in horror. The hippo from communications ran to aid the men getting electrocuted.
Air erupted from the captain’s wing. Her primary and tail feathers burned white hot. Plestic melted. The floor caught on fire three inches from the hippo’s toes.
Three able bodied sailors behind the flailing Master Gunner aimed a fire extinguisher to douse the floor. The communication officer’s heart pounded in her chest.
Corkhorn’s heart pounded against his ribs. What a scary chicken to behold this captain. Even the Navigator ignored the suffering as if this was normal.
“We’ll be at the next drop-off point in twenty-four hours,” announced Hippolyta, “What do you want to do with the hostage Unicorn?”
“Hmmmm,” hummed the Captain. Flesh was still sizzling from the shock collars. Burning flesh assaulted Corkhorn’s nostrils watching this captain work, “Oh yeah! Got to flip that switch.”
The Captain pressed the button on the chair. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone panicked when Captain Cluck-vers plucked the panel out of the Captain’s chair. It was a smart-phone just like the one Corkhorn kept in his back pocket.
Of course! I’ll just call Master Squaregate for help, hoped Corkhorn. He padded his pants pockets only to find it empty. Cudgemuffins.
That WAS his phone down there. It had all his emergency contact numbers. It had his delivery route. It had Master Squaregate’s standard issue universal port. There was no telling how many space colonies could be entered into.
“Fudgies!” cussed Corkhorn. He pounded his fist on the vent. His cork loosened. “Whoops!”
Down he fell through the vent. He conked heads with the Captain’s crown. The phone got dropped. He dropped into the Captain’s lap. Half the crew were still reeling from the shock of their necks.
“Um,” Corkhorn blinked. He popped on the cork. Phasers fired up with a hum. Several red dots aimed for vital organs. “Pardon me.”
Corkhorn ran for his life. The gunfire erupted after him followed by a powerful heatwave via Captain Cluck-vers’ palm. Scorched mane caught on fire. The walls of the ship melted.
“Help meeeee!” Corkhorn squeaked.
He ran down the hall leading to the Medical Bay. Skidding to a halt on all fours as a shadow blotted out the lights. The figures eyes, deathly ivory in a grizzled black face. Scars tore up his muzzle into a ghastly twist. Carnassials gnashed. Oni tusks hung as the Grizzly’s fangs. The beast swung around showing the bone saw he had in place of a severed paw.
“AIEEEE!” Corkhorn screamed.
Dr. AIEEE cocked his head and pointed his only bear paw at himself. Corkhorn double-timed it across the hall to the Construction Bay only to fall shocked by a grizzled mirror of a bear. Dr. AIEEE’S identical-twin brother, Mr. ZZZ, had a monkey wrench for a prosthetic on the other arm. The two with their matching patchwork torsos, twisted-scarred mouths, and milky eyes were a perfect anesthetic for the easily stressed. What Corkhorn underestimated were the limits of his own body.
Biologically a heart the size of a rabbit’s could only endure so much. Corkhorn’s world went white. His eyes went blank. He pitched face forward onto the cold floor.
The pirates swarmed the hallway as his world went dark.