Dear Aunt Ora,

I've got a large - something, I'm not sure what, locked in the kitchen. All I know is that it's about the size of a horse, with a large horn in the middle of its head, and seems to be warbling the lesser known hits of Burt Bacharach with a voice strangely like Ralph Nader's. My husband says it's the personification of America's democratic discontent, but all I know is that if I don't get into the kitchen soon, the pot roast will be ruined. What can I do?


Thuds and crashes could be heard behind the closed and barricaded door, along with snatches of what sounded like 'I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself'. Sibyl looked at Pythia, who looked at Cassidy, who looked back at Sibyl. None of them made a move.

Pythia broke the lengthening silence. She hooked a thumb at Cassidy. "*She's* the youngest."

"That doesn't mean I'm a virgin!" Cassidy protested animatedly. "I've slept with like *oodles* of boys, 'cos I'm devastatingly attractive, okay? How about you, Miss Army Boots? Ever get anybody to look at *you* twice?"

"Of course I have," said Pythia huffily. "Steve Irwin and me, we scaled the heights of passion countless times. That was before he was married, naturally."

"You and Steve?" Sibyl quirked an eyebrow. "What a coinc-- I mean, I didn't know that. Be that as it may, one of us must go in there and tame that creature. It's worth $28,000 to the firm."

"Well, what about you?" Pythia asked. "What's the extent of *your* carnal knowledge, oh fearless CEO?"

Sibyl stiffened. "A lady doesn't talk about such matters."

"She's a virgin!" Cassidy squealed in delight.

"I didn't say that--"

"Go on then! Name one of your conquests! Just one name!"

Sibyl glared icily at DRI's office junior. "Ms McBlonde, there are times when a hint of immaturity intrudes upon your demeanour. Still, as I said, *one* of us must go in - I suppose it may as well be myself. Hand me the halter, please."

As the others cleared away the furniture stacked up against the kitchen door, Sibyl squared her shoulders and prepared to face almost certain death. Pythia removed the final table. Sibyl unlocked the door, grasped the handle, turned it, entered the kitchen. The door slammed behind her. This was immediately followed by the sound of the barricade being hastily re-erected. Sibyl looked around.

The kitchen was a shambles. Doors were hanging off cabinets, stools were overturned and splintered, the floor was covered with smashed crockery and glassware. A disembowelled microwave oven rested in the sink. The acrid smell of burnt pot roast permeated the air.

In the centre of the room stood the agent of all this destruction. Half as high again as a horse, almost blindingly white, with enormous dark, liquid eyes and a fearsome golden horn protruding from its forehead. It was magnificent!

The creature addressed Sibyl in an odd, nasal whine. "What have you got there?" it demanded. The client had been right - it *did* sound like Ralph Nader.

Sibyl held up the halter. She forced words out with difficulty. "I've, ah, I've come to capture you. I, uh, could come back later if it's not convenient...?"

The unicorn appeared to grow in size. Its mane stood on end, its nostrils flared, its eyes lit up with barely suppressed fury. It pawed the floor.

Accusingly: "You are not a virgin!"

"Well, no, technically not, I suppose," Sibyl waffled. "There was that Grateful Dead concert back in 1972 and, well, you know how it's virtually illegal to attend a 'Dead concert unstoned, right? And, well, I met Steve there - that's Steve Irwin, the Australian naturalist - have you heard of him? Well, Steve was such a dashing young man in those days, and so, well, what with one or two puffs of marijuana and a double lemonade shandy and, well, one thing leading to another and all..."

Sibyl trailed off as the unicorn's eyes burned into hers for what seemed like an eternity. Then, suddenly, it was as if the creature collapsed into itself.
"Damn, you're right," it said glumly. "For all practical purposes, you *are* a virgin."
It approached her submissively and lowered its head, allowing her to slip the halter around its neck. She started to lead it towards the door.
"Would you like to hear my rendition of 'Forgive Me (For Giving You Such A Bad Time)'?" the unicorn asked.

"I prefer 'What's New Pussycat'."

The unicorn started singing. Sibyl's sense of triumph was tempered somewhat by the realisation that Pythia and Cassidy were going to be simply insufferable in the coming week or two.