The Legend of @%*! (a.k.a. Puke, the Gnome)
^>^>‽ (a.k.a. Stud, the Purple Unicorn)
(As Told to Sam Knight)
Authors Note: On the morning of June 16, 2014, the day after Denver Comic Con, I woke up to find this transcription upon my computer. I had talked to several people at DCC who were writing a ‘purple unicorn story’ to be submitted to the anthology ‘One Horn to Rule Them All,’ but I had neither the time, nor a good idea to write a story. I hesitate to list myself as author as I have no recollection of transcribing this, and I cannot find it as a recorded conversation in the dictation app on my phone.
If you look up ‘purple unicorn’ online, you will find it means ‘something too good to be true’. That is what I consider this, and I suspect a prank has been played here somewhere. One of my author friends has found a way to really write a ‘purple unicorn story’. Nonetheless, I felt obligated to make it available in the hopes that whoever truly deserves credit for it would find satisfaction in what they had done.
@%*! (a.k.a. Puke, the Gnome): All right already. I just talk into the stupid phone, I get it! Hey. Look at that! It’s writing as I talk. You got a fairy in there? You know I hate fairies.
Sam Knight: No. It’s just a voice to text app. No magic.
Puke: Okay. My name is @%*! and I am—Hey! You told me there were no fairies!
Sam: There aren’t.
Puke: Poppycock! Look what it did to my name. Only the Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairies do that to my name. Hey I didn’t say sweet and cute! What is this, Knight? You trying to pull a fast one on me?
Sam: I swear I don’t know anything about it! My phone gets words wrong all the time, but it has never censored me before.
Puke: Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairies! Gah! That’s not what I said. Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairies! GAH!
Sam: Look, I can tell this is upsetting you. We don’t have to do this.
Puke: No. I don’t like having the fact that I owe you hanging over my head, Knight. I’m gonna tell you this story, and then I don’t owe you anything anymore. You’ll never see me again. Except maybe once in a while for one of those Sam Adams’ Noble Pils. Those are pretty good.
Sam: It would be an honor to share one with you from time to time.
Puke: Yeah, just like it was an honor to rescue me and make me feel like I owed you.
Sam: I never said you owed me. That was all you.
Puke: Well maybe us old folk have a sense of honor you humans never quite took to, eh? Anyway, this makes us even. And don’t ever go telling anyone about rescuing me from the port-a-potty. I’ll deny everything.
Sam: I won’t ever say a word.
Puke: Whatever. So, as I was saying, my name is @%*!
I realize that’s an offensive word in your language, and that’s why the Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairies keep censoring it, but you need to realize that it was my name before humans, who were in awe of me, incorporated it into their language as a descriptor of what I, as a mighty warrior, easily did to my enemies.
When I finally got tired of being censored all the time, I stared using my mother’s maiden name: Puke. The humans stole that name and incorporated it into their language as well, using it as a descriptor of the way my enemies would regurgitate in pure terror at the news of my approach.
Before you laugh at my nomenclature problems, just stop and think about how many humans you know who’ve had their name enter the human lexicon, not once, but twice.
My best friend ^>^>‽ had the same problem. Crap! See that? The Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairies do it to his name, too. So he started going by the name of his sire, Stud. Which, again, entered your lexicon. In a bit better way than ^>^>‽, if I do say so myself. At least Stud has good connotations to it.
Puke: What’s that weird symbol at the end of ^>^>‽’s name?
Sam: The interrobang?
Puke: Ha! Okay. I have to admit—sometimes the Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairies have a sense of humor. Except when it comes to me.
Sam: They don’t like you?
Puke: They have a hive-mind, and what one Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairy knows, they all know.
Sam: I see….
Puke: No you don’t. Let’s just say if you’ve been with one Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairy, you’ve been with them all. And if you didn’t know they had a hive-mind, they might let you go on thinking they were all individuals for the first thousand or so, so that they could later throw it in your face that you were a cheating cad, even if you hadn’t really cheated because they are a single individual with thousands of bodies.
Anyway. Moving on.
You wanted a purple unicorn story, and I’m going to tell you one.
It’s kind of ironic you asked me for a purple unicorn story, actually, as there was only one purple unicorn, and his story ties into all of the rest of the unicorns. His name, like I said, was ^>^>‽, and he was the most magnificent unicorn who ever lived. This was to be the downfall of the unicorns, but I’ll get to that later.
For now, what you need to know was that he was unmatched in skill and strength by any other equine creature. The centaurs probably had him beat in intelligence, but they’re not around anymore either, are they? So that’s not saying much.
He was born when humans were still quite young. I was still pretty young myself, only a couple of centuries old. I still had magnificent flowing flaxen hair back then. Back before I married the Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairies, and they turned me gray.
I mean, really! Look at me! Except for the blue stuff, I’m white as snow and only two and a half millennia old. I should just now be starting to get the distinguished gray at the temples!
Anyway. ^>^>‽ was the first and only purple unicorn. There were pink ones, red ones, blue ones, white ones and black ones, but there was only one purple one. Vain and jealous creatures that they were, the other unicorns all instantly had problems with ^>^>‽.
GAH! Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairies! I hate the way they keep changing what I say! Fine! STUD! Happy? I’ll call him Stud.
Sam: What was that noise?
Puke: That one like a humming bird peeing on a wind chime?
Sam: Uh, yeah, I guess so.
Puke: That was the Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairies laughing because I finally gave in, and they got their way. Just ignore them. If you don’t, they might become amused by you, and your human lifespan is too short to make it until they’ll get bored with you. Trust me on that one.
So, anyway, Stud became a social outcast, as all of the other unicorns were jealous of his … purpleness. Although, privately and individually, nearly every single one of them sought him out to try to garner his affections. Sickening, really. See, until Stud came along, the unicorns were monogamous creatures. They pretty much mated for life. But they were all so incredibly enamored by him, that, well … let’s just say they were all pretty much out looking for him instead of doing what the birds and the bees do. This is why we never see unicorns anymore.
They kicked him out of the community to try to solve this problem, but it didn’t work. After he left, they all just bickered and blamed one another while they pined over him. Bunch of ninnies, I swear.
Stud and I met in the forest by chance one day, he was trying to find somewhere to be, where there weren’t any other unicorns, and I was just out sowing wild oats.
Take that literally, by the way. That was my job back then. The meaning changed as my reputation grew.
I noticed Stud right off, as his horn glinted and threw sunlight everywhere. It was like a giant amethyst, but prettier. He hated it. Said it always reflected into his eyes and made him see little green spots.
He saw me, too, because of my jolly red suit. I can’t remember why I thought it would be a good thing to always wear red, but for some reason I did, and it kind of became my thing. Now all the gnomes do it. Even that over-sized one. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess.
But I wasn’t the only one to spot the purple stars his horn cast shining throughout the forest. A lump of trolls did, too.
Did you know a group of trolls was called a lump? Yeah, not many people know that anymore. I guess after a creature goes extinct, people start to forget about them.
So, this lump of trolls jumps out of the trees just as I was getting ready to introduce myself to Stud. Of course, being the sensible creature he was, he assumed I was with them and had acted as a distraction. He tried to stomp on me with his shiny golden hooves as he speared the first troll with his cornus. I guess you’d call that his horn.
Luckily for me, I understood what was going on, because I dodged his strike and rolled under him, where I could have easily gutted him with my sword. But I was a natural born troll fighter, and the thought never even crossed my mind. I swear.
I ran out from between Stud’s back legs and stabbed an attacking troll in the softies. I don’t know if the troll was more surprised at having been stabbed, at where he got stabbed, or at where he had seen me suddenly appear from, but his eyes got big as apples before he grabbed his tenders and started screeching like a jaybird.
I did a backflip, tossing myself up into the air and landing on Stud’s back. From there I was able to reach high enough to land killing blows instead of merely incapacitating ones.
Two more trolls charged Stud’s backside as he tried to buck me off, but I was already an accomplished fighter by that time. Staying on Stud’s back and fighting trolls with my sword, while he bucked and kicked, was no more difficult than dodging pots and pans being tossed at you by an angry missus. Not that I’d know anything about that.
Anyway, I ran the first one through the ear while it was looking and laughing at the troll I’d stabbed in the softies. The second one tried to club me, but I used the momentum of one of Stud’s bucks to jump and propel myself at least twelve feet up into the air. I came down using my sword like a pogo stick, landing right on top of its head.
Ah, that was a move I was proud of. I never did it again though. I found out the hard way I couldn’t pull the sword back out of the skewered skull and the ground fast enough to keep using it in the fight. I had to resort to hand-to-knee combat.
Without my sword I wasn’t tall enough to reach the tender parts anymore, so I was reduced to going for the patellar reflex to cause the trolls to trip, allowing Stud to stomp on their heads.
By now, he had realized I was helping, not fighting, him, and we ended up making a good team. I’d punch three or four kneecaps, he’d stomp and spear. We repeated that about ten times, until I ran out of kneecaps.
Then the forest was quiet.
Stud and I looked at each other over the bodies of a dozen trolls and grinned like idiots. We were kindred spirits, and we knew it.
Our friendship came easy. We took to wandering together and clearing out troll infestations wherever we went. The humans, especially the womenfolk, have always been in awe of unicorns, but when the two of us went into action, everyone took note.
Trolls had terrorized all other living creatures for time immemorial, now here came ^>^>‽ and @%*! sweeping the monsters aside like they were nothing. We garnered a well-deserved reputation, and everywhere we went, we were welcomed, sought-after, and blessed.
But it was a fool’s paradise.
It goes to your head, you know? All that fame. Having females of all species throw themselves at you everywhere you go.
Stud eventually became so picky of the company he kept that he would only associate with virgins. I should have been so smart. Had I been more discreet, I might not have run into problems with the Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairies. But how could we have known what would happen?
We were young and stupid. Not to mention too busy killing trolls to think about consequences. We traveled to the Four Corners of the Earth, killing every troll we could catch. This was back before God made the Earth round to mess with the non-believers, so we were able to easily reach everyplace the trolls could hide.
As our reputation grew, it became harder to find the trolls. Not only were there fewer of them, but they actively hid from us. We started having longer and longer times between battles, which gave us more and more time to … well …^>^>‽. That’s where the term came from. Stud became so infamous for it, his name became synonymous.
I teased him about it mercilessly, but he didn’t care. He didn’t even throw it in my face when we found out my name, @%*!, had taken on meaning as well. Actually we both kind of enjoyed hearing the trolls yell my name before they dropped their weapons and ran away. Sometimes, I wondered if they weren’t actually afraid of my name more than me! That didn’t stop us from chasing them down though.
It should have, I guess. The world would be a mighty different place had we left a few trolls alive to keep the human population thinned out.
Instead, we embraced the human lifestyle. Felt like we were accepted. We reveled in the battles and the celebrations! Oh! The celebrations! People back then knew how to party, let me tell you. Oh, the things they would do. I remember this one party they named after me …
Anyways, Stud and I had fought so many battles and killed so many trolls, that we had no qualms about staying awhile when we were welcomed. Eventually we found a place where we kind of settled in, almost became permanent fixtures. People would come from miles and miles to party with the gnome and the purple unicorn who had beaten back the trolls. With new people always coming in for the party, the party never really ended.
Ah, those were the days. And, oh the reputation we had!
Then came the day the trolls banded together in a lump the likes of which had never been seen before. Instead of the usual lumps of five to twenty, this one was over ten thousand strong.
They marched upon the province we were staying in at the time. You may have heard of a couple of the cities there. Sodom and Gomorrah.
Don’t you look at me that way, Knight.
Sam: What way?
Puke: You don’t know me. You have no right to judge me.
Sam: I didn’t say anything!
Puke: Right. Sitting there all high and mighty, putting two and two together and realizing Stud and I were the reasons for Sodom and Gomorrah’s reputations. Well you don’t know what the world was like back then! And you have no idea what kind of pressures Stud and I were under.
We had reputations, and people expected us to live up to it, day after day, year after year.
I swear, that day Stud and I stood on the hill above Gomorrah and watched that lump of trolls, monsters as far as the eye could see, marching towards us with clubs in their hands and murder in their eyes…. It was damned near a relief to think we were going to die.
Or maybe that was just because I’d had enough of the Wonderfully Sweet and Cute Fairies. They had recently revealed to me they were a hive-mind and were really letting me have it.
I don’t know that I really had much fight left in me. I may have been ready to give up. I mean, we were on top of the world, at the top of our game, and I was getting tired of it. The parties were all the same, the people were all the same. There was nothing different to do, and there was nowhere to go but down.
Then Stud reared up, his gemstone horn gleaming in the gilded light of the evening sun and his golden hooves waving defiantly at his enemies. His purple coat was nearly iridescent, a color the likes of which had never been seen on Earth before, and his eyes were like blue sapphires, lit from a cold fire deep within.
He was showing off for the ladies, you know.
They had all gathered at the gates of the city to watch us battle the lump of trolls. Weren’t many men there, though; a few, but not as many as history would lead you to believe. Most of the men were hoping the trolls would finally kill us. They were tired of the competition.
Stud, knowing we had an audience, charged off toward the center of the lump, nostrils flared and mane streaming behind. He was so busy showing off, he forgot me.
I had to grab a nearby ass.
Sorry. That just brought back memories. Sorry. It just brought back memories. The nerve of those people! After all I had done. I can still hear them now. They used their new meanings for my name and made the lewdest comments about the little gnome @%*! and how hard I was riding the—never mind. No wonder the … wonderfully sweet and cute fairies censor my name now.
Huh. Did you ever stop to think that the word conjugate means to join, and the word conjugal comes from the same root. That pretty much all started right there. I guess I had more of an impact on your language than I had realized. I should make a list someday.
Anyway, I had no idea where Stud was. He had been swallowed by the lump of trolls. I was in danger of being swallowed up, too, but fortunately my reputation preceded me, and the first wave of trolls started vomiting as I approached.
The sound of a hundred trolls screaming my name and retching in fear was too much for the poor ass. It had never been in battle and it panicked and turned back. I leapt off and charged into the trolls on foot, reduced to attacking what feet, knees, and softies I could reach.
By God, what a sight I must have been! A two-foot tall gnome, perfectly coiffed with golden flowing hair and beard, outfitted in my best and brightest red suit, charging boldly into a ten thousand strong lump of ten foot tall trolls….
Sam: Are you all right?
Sam: You’ve just been sitting there for five minutes. Are you all right?
Puke: Oh. Oh, yeah. Just caught up in memories, I guess. Sorry. Where was I?
Sam: The ass ran away, and you were charging the lump of trolls on foot.
Puke: Yes! I was!
This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The trolls were large enough, and I was small enough, that the trolls got in each other’s way trying to get to me as I raced between their legs, slicing with my sword.
They would lift a leg to stomp and I would stab the other knee. If they tried to swing a club, like as not, they hit one of their own. I was dropping trolls like a flock of gulls drops … uh, droppings. But none were mortal blows. There were so many trolls all around me, I couldn’t safely stay in one place long enough to deal a killing blow. I needed Stud to finish them off, or to raise me up high enough I could properly deal out death.
You would think a downed troll would be good enough, but it wasn’t. Trolls are creatures of the Earth, and they heal a lot faster than most. With ten thousand of them to battle, the first I attacked would be healed long before I made it to the last, and they would be on me again. It would have been a never-ending battle. Assuming I could fight forever, that is. Which I couldn’t.
I was beginning to tire from chopping at ankles and danglies, wondering how much longer I could last, and where Stud was, when I heard the thundering sound. I shouldn’t have been able to hear it. I was in the middle of a battle with ten thousand trolls all around me, but the hooves of two thousand unicorns striking the ground as they charged shook the very Earth itself!
Trolls all around me stopped to look, ugly jaws agape at the undulating rainbow of horned equines galloping over the hills towards them. I admit I forgot I was in the middle of battle and stopped to watch, too. It was a sight this world has never seen before or since.
Their horns glinted and their hooves flashed as their multi-hued coats brushed shoulder to shoulder in the advance. Manes and tails swirled majestically behind them as they rode in, all of the unicorns, as one, united for the first, last, and only time, to protect one of their own: Stud, the purple unicorn they had all loved so much that they had banished him from their presence.
I was all but forgotten as the trolls let loose battle cries and raced to meet the new opponents. After all, not more than twenty or so had been able to see me at any one time. The other nine thousand were getting pretty bored.
Except for the ones around Stud.
They were having a great time….
Puke: And what?
Sam: The trolls around Stud were having a great time?
Puke: Yeah. Right. They were hacking him to death. They cut him up into little pieces and ate him raw. It was a hell of a way to die. Anyways. There’s your purple unicorn story. Thanks for the beer. I’ll see you around, maybe.
Sam: That’s it? Stud died?
Puke: That’s it. End of story.
(Louder buzzing noise)
Sam: Oh. Well. Thanks.
Puke: Whatever. I gotta go. See you.
(Cracking noise. Like small thunderclap)
Puke: $^!@! Woman! Leave me alone!
Puke: No! I don’t want to!
Fine! FINE! Just leave me alone!
Puke: Okay, Knight. I lied. The trolls didn’t hack Stud to pieces. They were getting unicorn rides.
The trolls around Stud all had huge smiles on their faces as they giggled and waited their turn or chittered like little girls, talking with those who already had ridden him. Some farther back in the crowd, where they could see what was happening, but couldn’t get close enough to participate, were agitated and fighting among themselves, trying to get closer.
When the other unicorns appeared over the hill, all of the trolls cheered with excitement and raced toward them, arms up in the air with glee. The unicorns were happy to see them, too. Within minutes, trolls and humans alike were getting unicorn rides and the whole battle had turned into a party where everyone was having a great time.
It was the most disgusting thing I ever saw.
Turns out trolls and unicorns were old friends and hadn’t been spending any time together since … since I came into the picture.
I hadn’t really understood the way things were in the world, and I messed them all up.
I ran away from home when I was only a hundred years old. I thought I knew what the world was about, but I didn’t really know anything.
Give me another beer, Knight.
Thanks. How many have I had?
Sam: That glass makes a full twelve ounce bottle.
Puke: Lord! How’d I let myself get so drunk around a human again?
Look. The trolls had been out searching for Stud, to tell him the unicorns wanted him back. See, every time we saw a unicorn, Stud just left. He didn’t want to talk to them anymore. And I kind of encouraged that. And every time we saw trolls, we killed them. I kind of encouraged that, too.
Trolls are mindless, savage brutes who eat anything they can. Unless they are with a unicorn. Something about a unicorn’s magic civilizes them. But I didn’t know that! So I killed them before they could kill us. Or so I thought. Apparently, they were pretty helpless when they were civilized by Stud’s magic and they just stood around letting the little gnome cut them up.
And so it went.
Until that day outside of Gomorrah. All of those happy unicorns and trolls and humans….
How many trolls had I killed? Thousands.
I felt so guilty.
And I was so angry. Angry at myself, and angry at everyone else for being happy.
I got drunk. Not a little drunk, mind you, but Sodom and Gomorrah drunk, and then I foolishly tried to fix the situation.
I got into the … the wonderfully sweet and cute fairies’ magic stuff and tried to cast a spell.
I don’t even remember what I was trying to do, I just remember trying.
The next thing I knew I had blasted the two cities off the Earth.
I remember the blast atomizing all the trolls and unicorns and humans, smearing them across the sky into a rainbow.
You know, that’s where rainbows really come from—dead unicorns. I killed them all and some part of their magic left that trace. Rainbows didn’t exist when I was a kid.
Now everyone looks at them and talks about how beautiful they are, and I look at them and see dead unicorns.
Sam: I’m sorry. I didn’t know.
Puke: How could you? I never told anyone, and everyone else there died.
I wish I would have died, too. Somehow the magic spell protected me because I was the one using it. Now there’s no one left but humans. And me.
Sam: What about the wonderfully sweet and cute fairies? They’re still around.
Puke: I don’t talk to them.
Sam: Why not?
Puke? Why not?
Puke: Because she was right! Okay? Because I’m tired of everyone else always being right, and I’m always wrong! I just want to be left alone! I’m sorry already! I’m sorry!
Stud: Well, look at Pretty Boy, burying his problems at the bottom of a drinking thimble again! I see you tried coloring your hair again. Blue, huh? Bit odd.
Puke: Go away, Stud. I’m in one of my moods. You don’t want to—Stud!
Dear God Almighty! I thought you were dead!
Stud: Stud? Are you still calling me that? I don’t get it. Why do you keep calling me that? Hey! Watch the coat—I just had it brushed.
Puke: Stud, this is Sam Knight, he’s a writer looking for a purple unicorn story. Knight, this is Stud—the world’s only purple unicorn.
Stud: Not the only one. Not anymore.
Sam: Holy crap! You really are a unicorn!
Puke: Please don’t touch the horn. Fingerprints, you know.
Sam: Sorry. Um… Pleased to meet you?
Puke: Not the only one? You’re a father now!
Stud: Oh that stuff messed you up bad, didn’t it.
Puke: I can’t believe you’re alive!
Sam: Holy crap…
Stud: Please watch the coat.
Puke: What? You can sit here talking to a Gnome, but you think I’m lying about purple unicorns? I bet you think I was lying about killing trolls, too!
Stud: Right. He’s still wasted. At least we found him. Get on. You’re coming with us.
Puke: What? Come with you where?
Stud: Cockaigne. Your home. Remember?
Puke: It sounds familiar….
Stud: How long until it’s worn off?
Stud: All right. Give it a bit longer.
Puke: What are you talking about?
Stud: I’m sorry, Joe. It was a bad joke on my part. All those years listening to you complain about having a boring life….
I cast a spell on you at the Nerf Battle Game and LARPing so you’d think we’d had an exciting adventure. It kind of backfired. The whole party broke up when you keep stabbing trolls in the junk and screaming ‘@%*!’
After I cast the spell, someone told me you’d decided to try some ‘Colorado Brownies’. My guess is that reacted to the spell. Next thing any of us knew, you’d gotten it in your head that you’d done something horribly wrong and you ran away. Every time Titania came looking for you, you hid from her.
Puke: Titania? I remember! I’m married to her!
Stud: Oh? What was he calling you?
Puke: Okay, that’s enough.
Puke: Stop it already.
Stud: HA! A public latrine? No jest?
Puke: Seriously, Frank. I’m feeling much better now. Can we go home?
Stud: Well, at least you got my name right this time. Hop on. Mind the coat.
Puke: Titania? Does Knight have to remember any of this?
Puke: I know I promised him a purple unicorn story, and I gave him one, but he doesn’t have to remember it, does he?
Good. Thank you.
Knight? It was nice knowing you. You’re not too bad—for a human.
Sam: So the story you told me wasn’t true?
Puke: That’s the point of a purple unicorn story, isn’t it? Too good to be true?
See you around!
Sam: Wait! Your name is really Joe?
Puke: Yeah. And his is Frank. I was using our LARPing names when I told the story.
Sam: But … uh … never mind. It was an absolute pleasure to meet both of you.
Sam: All three of you. I hope to meet you again someday.
Puke: Right. Let’s go.
Stud: What’s with the blue stuff all over you?
Puke: It was from the port-a-potty.
Stud: Of course. And you were in there why, exactly?
Puke: It dyes your skin blue. Makes me look like Papa Smurf. The girls dig Papa Smurf.
Stud: I notice your red suit doesn’t seem to have any on it.
(Cracking noise. Like small thunderclap)
Puke: Ow! Woman! Leave me alone!
Author’s Note (number 2): Although I found no evidence of whoever wrote this, I did find four empty beer bottles (Sam Adams’ Noble Pils) next to a lawn chair in my backyard. I also found some rainbow swirled Play-Dough in a pile (yes that kind of pile) covered in glitter in the middle of my lawn. I’m pretty sure it was Play-Dough. No, I don’t have it. I was going to save it and give it back when I found out who put it there, but I got distracted while going for a baggie, and when I came back, the neighbor’s dog was eating it.
If you were the one who played this prank on me, I just wanted to say thanks. We all need a little magic in our lives, and I needed this.