This post is not a commercial for Rainbocorns, or a review of them. No, I had a pretty rough week, last week, and that makes me contemplative about Covid.

Rules and regulations

Like most parents in the Netherlands, we’ve been under a lot of pressure the past year. After the first couple of weeks of school for my daughter, the school closed for nearly three months. Then came summer break, and after that things went relatively well, until we went into a new lockdown in December. You know the drill.

In the fall, children could go to school as long as they were not coughing. If they were, you had to keep them home until they were well. Young children hardly transmitted Covid, after all. Nowadays, with new mutations, children have become a bigger transmission vector. Now, the rules are that if your child has symptoms, they’ve got to stay home and should be in quarantine and tested. Unfortunately, they don’t have to socially distance themselves, while being at school and daycare. It’s a recipe for problems.

That’s where the Rainbocorns come in.


My daughter isn’t ill that often — we’re lucky that way. However, three days after the schools reopened, her teacher was tested positive. That meant 5 days of quarantine and a test. We were a bit worried, but what do you know, offering her a present if she was brave did wonders. She went skipping through the test building when she got her test.

A few weeks later, she got a cold, and we had to test her again. And last week, the daycares reopened, giving her another cold. Test number three went well enough. She always powers through with her stuffed bunny clutched in her arms. The medics were nice enough to also test her doll, which was sweet. Unpacking a new rainbocorn sealed the deal. Side note, my wife managed to find them at a discount, otherwise they would be too bloody expensive.

Unfortunately, a few days later, there was no result. We called and everything was supposedly fine. A day later we called again. Still no result. Oh wait, my daughter’s test sample had not been properly registered and there would be no test result. Was it the added testing of her doll that triggered the mistake? We’ll never know.

The result was another priority test. My daughter was happy enough, with another rainbocorn in the offing. I’d already been tested the day before so I was not unduly worried she actually had Covid. Still, we went and she got the yellow rainbocorn in the picture above.

All’s well that ends well, I guess, but all in all, with another four days of quarantine, the whole business was pretty grueling.

Rainbows and unicorns

The rainbocorn is not just a stuffed toy that my daughter loves. They’re almost a promise. There is a summer with rainbows and unicorns ahead. I know there is. But first we have to power through the current trials.

I know there are people that are not on their best testing behavior. They’re sick of the restraints. Politicians — at least in the Netherlands — have been promising relief for months, like I wrote before. Some are following Trump and Bolsonaro in the lie that there is no pandemic. The thing is: like with real rainbows, there might be a pot of gold at the end, but if you get closer, the rainbow seems to move.

Three months ago, on Facebook I placed a rant that I’d wish politicians would just stop making promises they couldn’t keep. I said then that the next 100 days would suck, but after that we’d probably be approaching the end of the tunnel. I did some calculations: May 15th is day number 100 from my prediction. And I think our Rainbocorn is still there, but it is a little smaller than I’d hoped.

Of course, politicians have been making false promises for all those 100 days, and they’ve eased measures too soon, given bad examples. People are fed up, they flout the rules, and often believe they are ‘owed’ a reprieve. That hasn’t helped. And to that last I say: no you’re not owed a damned thing.

Rainbocorns for healthcare

I’ve been tested two times now, my wife three times, and my daughter four times. I don’t see that as a problem. I see that as a badge of honor. All around the world, people have been clapping for healthcare workers, but that’s just an empty gesture. I get myself tested when I have a cold. I’ve been working from home for a year. I wear a mask (actually over my nose too). Clapping is nice, but sticking to the rules is what actually helps. I do my part, even if it’s inconvenient.

Am I saint? Of course not. I’ve messed up. But if I do end up in the hospital needing oxygen, at least I can look the Intensive Care staff in the eye and say ‘I did what I could’. Because the person that’s staring back through the protective clothing has seen a third of the people they took care of die this past year. They’ve skipped holidays. They’ve been through the wringer, in part because people can’t be bothered to pull a f*cking piece of cloth over their nose, or get a free test when they have a cough and stay inside.

Healthcare workers deserve a rainbocorn too. A summer where they can go on holiday. Or just go home and not see more people die.

And we should be there soon. Brasil and India are burning, and half the underdeveloped world is still screwed, but we rich spoiled people should soon be in the clear.


Vaccines are our new Rainbocorn. We live in a time when we can develop, not one, but half a dozen vaccines for a new disease in less than a year. Power to us. My parents and parents-in-law all got their first shots. As soon as possible, I want that shot too. Because after that I get my own Rainbocorn: less stress, less fear.

There are a lot of people out there who worry. ‘Is it safe? It was developed so fast.’ they will say. ‘No, I only want natural remedies’. ‘See, Astrazeneca causes blood cloths’. Of course, those reasons are all bullshit. The facts are simple: you will eventually get exposed to Covid. And the chances of that disease messing you up are a thousand times more likely than a vaccine messing you up. So you should get that shot when you can.

Now honestly, I don’t really give a shit about people who get ill after refusing to be vaccinated. But like with drunken driving, it’s not just yourself you’re messing up. First, there are the health workers who have to take care of you. They might have to watch you die and live with that. But that’s not the worst. People with organ transplants, or certain types of cancer, or other diseases, have compromised immune systems. The vaccines don’t work well for these people.

So, if you are healthy and refuse to get vaccinated, you might spread Covid to those people. If you don’t take the vaccine when you can, you are actively playing Russian roulette with other people’s lives. It’s the equivalent of rolling some dice, and if it comes up all sixes, you go out and choke a random person with an artificial liver to death. And that’s just not okay.

In summary

Be a Rainbocorn and get yourself tested, wear a mask, and keep your distance. Be a rainbocorn to other people and get yourself vaccinated.

I certainly will.

Martin Stellinga Written by:

I'm a science fiction and fantasy writer from the Netherlands