Steven Shinder

School has started at Copper Petal University. Pamela Sheer has just told her sister Peyton that she is the new school mascot. Dressed as Mandy the Mantleope, Pamela greets students at the Sitting Ducks Fair in the middle of Petal Lock Park, where she is about to meet a mysterious woman known as Unicoren...

Lemons Loom Like Rain

All throughout the fair, Pamela, dressed as Mandy the Mantleope, shook hands with students old and new. She knew that it was her duty to raise people's spirits during the depressing times of the school year, which intensified around testing time. She knew what it was like to feel glum. She was used to walking around school all alone during recess and lunchtime. But now she felt like a new person as she wore this iconic costume. She was expected to be more energetic, and she obliged to the requirements of this identity.

Some students were enthusiastic enough to take selfies with the mascot. It did not matter to Pamela that nobody knew who she was. She donned the mantle and got into character. She had no qualms galloping on the grass as a quadruped would, using all four limbs. It made her feel closer to the earth and one with the campus.

She halted when she saw a stoic woman with glowing white eyes. The horn adorning the woman's forehead offered a clue. From what Pamela could recall of CPU lore, this was Unicoren, normally seen in the eastern side of the park. She certainly had the aesthetic: a head and limbs that seemed to be made of dirt and somehow moved like flesh, with the rest of her covered in rocks. Up close, Pamela could see that Unicoren had digits on her hands, as well as hooves on her feet. Pamela wondered what she was doing here, away from her geese and the silver birches on the west side of the park.

“Do you normally come here?” Pamela asked.

“I am just here to visit.”

“I thought you couldn't leave your side.”

“I'm able to come and go as I please within the bounds of the park, though I rarely do. I choose occasions such as these. It's my geese who are not allowed over here.”

“How come?”

“It would upset the balance.”

Pamela had heard that it was bad luck for geese to walk to the ducks' side of the park, and vice versa. But nobody online seemed to know the reasoning. Only that it would start some sort of curse.


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