Daniel's Unicorn Dream

      Daniel lived his life in captivity, a soothsayer for kings. From the time he was brought to Nebuchadnezzar as a child, he saw visions at night. He knew secrets, could read the future in the throw of the stones, and understood the significance of numbers. It was in Sushan, as he was sleeping on the ground, that Daniel first saw the unicorn.

     At that time, Daniel was worried; his visions chased him all night long, and for many months he had not been still in his mind. For once, he would have liked a night to pass without event, without shimmering edges. This night, the winds blew around him, and he buried his face in his sleeves. Eventually he fell asleep, but once again his sleep was troubled. In his dream he was at the River Ulai. By its bank stood a ram with two horns, one larger than the other. The ram was growing; it expanded with every breath, and its gray sides looked like smooth brains. With every breath, it grew to the west, and the north, and the south. It was invincible.

     Then the unicorn appeared It looked like a goat, stood above the curve of the river, and its eyes were white and red with rage. With lowered horn it stalked across the river toward the ram. With its every footstep ripples swelled outward and broke against the banks like tidal waves. The wind whipped around its horn and sounded low, like thunder, like the call of whales; and lightning splintered from the tip of its horn.

     The unicorn pursued the ram until the two animals were facing each other. The ram backed up, the unicorn pushed forward. Finally the two beasts stood still. They both lowered their horns and stamped upon the ground with their hoofs. The unicorn lunged at the ram's head; with a swoop of its swordAike horn, it severed the horns of the ram, knocked the beast into the river and trampled it. The muddy waters of the Ulai swiHed scarlet.

     Then the unicorn began to grow. Its single horn, now tipped with blood, broke off, and in its place there sprung up four smaller horns. Out of one of them sprouted yet another, which grew greater than the others until it touched the heavens. Stars plummeted in a veil of sparks and the ground was covered with the dust of comets.

     Daniel knew not what the dream meant, and he was faint with confusion and worry. Searching for meaning he dipped his fingers in the river and touched the cast-off horn of the unicorn. At once, he heard a voice from between the banks of the Ulai that made the earth beneath him vibrate. He whirled around, and saw before him the Angel Gabriel, with wings like rainbows.

     Gabriel told him what the vision meant. The ram's two horns were the kings of Media and Persia~and although one king was greater than the other, they lived together side by side. But then the rough unicorn with its one horn approached; the horn was Alexander, the ruler of Greece, who one day would conquer the other kingdoms with his sword. But his kingdom, great as it would be, would not last. Four kings without his power would rise up when he died and divide his kingdom among them. One kingdom would become four, and out of one of those would come Antiochus Epiphanes, who would persecute the Jews and defile the temple.

     That night, Daniel became sick and all the next day was nauseous and could not eat. Nonetheless, he went about his daily tasks and was relieved when, the next night, his sleep was cloudy and unremarkable. Daniel told his vision to the king. And in time the events he had prophesied came to pass.