- This short story was first published in Calverton’s ‘Village Gazette’ in February 2019.
TREVOR HAD known about the eyesight test but hadn’t prepared for the unicorn’s buttocks. Trevor had begged his unicorn, Keith, to stay still, but the horn-headed blighter, highly-strung at the best of times, was having none of it. The registration number, stencilled on Keith’s gluteus maximus, swayed elusively from side to side as the wretched creature munched contentedly on the patch of magic toadstools on the grass in front of him.
‘I can’t see the number. I’m sorry,’ muttered Trevor, feebly. He quietly prayed for the earth to open up and swallow him. Literally. This had happened to his friend Andy last week, a demon from a hell dimension.
‘Are you sure, Mr Chuckles?’ asked the werewolf in the high-vis jacket. ‘I’d have expected this from a vampire bat, ‘cos they’re short-sighted, but not from something like you.’
It’s not the unicorn, thought Trevor. It’s my eyesight. The first cyclops in two millennia to be clinically diagnosed with blurred vision and I’m too humiliated to disclose it when booking my driving test.
‘I need to pass this test,’ Trevor whimpered. ‘Please. It’s important. I start my new job tomorrow at Trent Barton.’
‘If the new job involves passenger transport, Mr Chuckles,’ said the driving examiner werewolf ruefully, ‘I think we have a problem.’
The werewolf, momentarily distracted, gazed upwards, wrinkling his long, hairy snout. The full moon hung there in the night sky but morning was coming quickly. In an hour or two it would be dawn and he’d likely wake up naked in a skip with memory loss again. He needed for this shift to be over, and for a savage bloodthirsty rampage in the forest, in that order. He’d need to hurry this test along. He dipped a claw in an ink pot and began to fill out the paperwork.
‘A paper-based form?’ enquired Trevor, surprised.
‘And use the mobile IT solution with these claws?’ retorted the werewolf, unhappily. His union was still arguing with Driving Standards because they’d not considered werewolf needs in the Equality Impact Assessment for examiner tech. The griffins and wookies had similar concerns and the banshees were out on strike over it.
‘The registration number! It’s … it’s … KV99 B47!’ shrieked Trevor triumphantly. He’d put on his monocle this time. Also, Keith had temporarily stopped jiggling his tush, which was nice.
The werewolf peered across the vehicle park. A careful check of Keith’s erratically undulating fundament confirmed that Trevor had read the number correctly. The werewolf flipped through the handbook to check next steps.
‘A paper-based procedures manual?’ enquired Trevor, surprised.
‘And look it up online with these claws?’ retorted the werewolf, scanning the page in front of him.
‘Standards of vision for driving …’ said the manual.
‘You must be able to read with glasses or contact lenses (or with a monocle in the case of a visually-impaired cyclops) a vehicle registration number from 20 metres.
You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, using that eye, or, if you are a cyclops, using the only eye you have.
You must also have an adequate field of vision – your optician can tell you about this.’
‘Do you have an optician?’ asked the werewolf.
‘I ate him,’ replied Trevor.
‘Oh. Then we might as well proceed, Mr Chuckles. Now, your vehicle. Could I ask you about emissions?’
‘Keith never eats sprouts.’
‘A manual unicorn or an automatic?’
The werewolf needed to be sure. A manual unicorn came with a gear stick between its eyes, but an automatic unicorn (otherwise known as a ‘horse’) didn’t. There were different driving test rules for automatic unicorns as any total prat could tell you.
‘It’s a manual unicorn,’ replied Trevor. ‘But it’s not mine – it’s a friend’s.’
The cyclops extended an enormous arm and pointed a gnarled finger at a feisty looking dual-controlled dragon, battling to the death with some beardy men with knobbly sticks, at the far end of the vehicle park. The beardy men weren’t wizards, they just did Plough Plays.
‘That’s my ride over there. Steve! Come here!’
Trevor whistled for Steve. The dragon pricked up its ears obediently and, as a parting shot, incinerated a warlock called Nigel with a perfunctory belch. Steve the dragon came over to Trevor at a trot, viciously butting Keith out of the way en route. The unicorn whinnied and scarpered, leaving a large deposit on the grass.
As Steve came fully into view, the werewolf trembled in horror. Oh surely not. Not now. Not today. He’d almost made it to the end of his shift and everything. With creeping dread, and in terrifying certainty of what would happen, the werewolf scanned the disc suspended from the chain round the dragon’s neck …
‘I can’t start tomorrow,’ said Trevor, tearfully, down the telephone.
His new boss wasn’t impressed. Trevor could sense it.
‘It isn’t that I failed my driving test, Marjorie,’ he mumbled, choking back the tears. ‘It’s more that my test … didn’t happen.’
‘And why exactly is that, Mr Chuckles?’ scowled the harpy (she was quite literally one of those).
Trevor struggled to find the words. It had all become too much to bear. In utter despair and submission, he broke down. Enormous, fat tears poured from his eye.
‘My vehicle … my vehicle ate the examiner,’ sobbed Trevor. ‘Gobbled him down in two big mouthfuls. And he was such a lovely werewolf, too. It must have been like snacking on a loo brush.’
There was silence at the other end of the telephone.
‘But … but I’ve got rid of Steve now,’ Trevor continued. ‘I’ve promised Driving Standards he’ll never devour a member of frontline operational staff again. It’s hard enough recruiting new people as it is, apparently. I feel so guilty. Like it’s all my fault. I should have known Steve would take it personally.’
‘Take what personally?’ asked Marjorie.
‘Well,’ sniffed Trevor. ‘It started when the werewolf told Steve his MOT had expired and his gear stick was crooked.’
copyright (c) carterbloke 2019
The following photo used under Creative Commons licence.
- Dragon c/o Paul K
All other photos c/o Wikimedia Commons.