} 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
} 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
} "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.