The tale of one Bovine who discovers just how difficult it can be to get important information to those one cares about.
Another day in the field, with wonderfully green tasting grass. The sun was setting in the distance. It was a glowing ball, crowned with strings of melting gold filaments as it is extinguished in the darkening pastures, just beginning to blossom in violets, maroons, and various pinks and yellows.
A sting pinched at Bovine Bob's rear haunch, and he instinctively swatted at it with his tail and looked at his rump, the 'food of the gods', grass, hanging from his chewing jaw, allowing Bob to catch a glimpse of the sun as it gave up it is life to the slice of earth's horizon.
"Hmmm. Another gorgeous day's sun goin' out on the earth's unforgiving sharpness. Sliced away into all those pretty colors till the next sun makes its appearance." Bob thought to himself. He was an average bull in his herd, and he never made much of a fuss and kept to himself in most things, as good cattle oughtta do.
He turned back to gather up the last of the days' vittles before he headed back to bed down with the rest of the herd in clumps for the night. As he lowered his head to a particularly colorful patch blade that was under another member of herd's ol' chewed up and discarded eatin's, he noticed something popping out of it. It looked like some shrooms that often dot the field after a moist evening or morning. An awful lot of em, in fact, but Bob didn't mind. They usually just added a nice flavor to the vittles he was eating, even though they could be right bitter-tasting every once in a while.
These were not. These mushrooms made the grasses they were laying on taste wonderful! He pondered this as he turned and made his way back to the herd's sleepin' place, which would be getting reasonably dark once he made it there.
By the time he was about to plop down on his favorite spot, Bob was beginning to see a 'spectrum' of colors. "Spectrum? What's that word doin' in my head? And how do I know what it means? Whoa!" and that last thought echoed and shivered itself into layers of free associatin' thoughts beyond the usual 'moo' we all know and love. He began dancing through the blinking things in the dark skies above, jumping clean over the moon while doing so. He turned into a lady singing on stage by the name of "J-Lo". He was, for a time, a fly sitting on his rump, extremely hot and annoyed at something for what seemed like an age. He got deep, realizing something he hadn't ever thought of before. He was A cow!
He felt like doing something like, uh, laughing or something? He didn't know how to describe what he had never experienced before. He also felt despondent, and above it all, he was hungry for a hamburger, whatever that was supposed to be, food maybe? Whatever it was, he somehow knew it to be delicious! His thoughts were bumping into each other as they turned into the herd of his youth when he was just a calf, before his Ma and Pa had taken the Journey with the Handlers to join the Big Herd in the Big Field.
This memory was much more vibrant than anytime he ever thought about those days that had gone before, echoing sounds crisscrossing before his nose, ticklin' a bit, then becoming visible themselves before him. He again watched the Handlers' "Hiya," and "There! There! That'a'way!," his Ma and Pa into the boxes to take em to join the Big Herd. Except this time, he popped out of his calf self and into his Ma's head!
The slide-box they were in had slits which Ma could see out of. But moo, it was a bit crowded and uncomfortable. An interminable amount of time passed, and Ma, Pa, and the others were trying to get a hold of the Handlers to let them know of their discomfort. Sometimes it just seemed like tha' Handlers could hear, but were ignorin' em on purpose. The movement of the box was making a couple of Ma's stomachs woo-hoo-zy!
The box stopped jostling, then opened, and the Handlers were "Come on y'all, Hiya!" and "Here, Here" -ing them. Suddenly Bob's view shifted, and he was in Pa's head now. Ma had just entered a larger box ahead of Pa, and Pa could see movement out inside of it. Pa was dreadfully confused as to where they were all at. Where he and the others were at didn't look like a large pasture at all! Pa was getting very anxious and crowded in by the others. Some of them were trying to ask the Handlers questions directly, but they didn't seem to notice or respond. Pa had just made it through the opening of the large box and could make out, "no, that didn't make sense. What would cattle be doing with their hooves in the air?"
"What were those horrible cries from the ones ahead?" Pa thought, then Pa got an honest good look at the one's ahead, and Pa's mind just went white with fear, confusion, and horror!
Bob was a-mooing all night, right bothering all the cattle near him. Some had to move away to have any hope of sleep whatsoever. Whatever Bob was a dreamin', it was unusual, those who were near him commented to each other, and that was sure as milkin in the morning for the Milk Cows!
Bob woke with his head feeling like he had licked far too much salt the day before. Like he had been kicked hard in the head by 'nother member of the herd. It took him a while to get his legs under himself to stand, and his legs were shaky. One of the Handlers took notice of Bob's trouble getting up and was beginning to come over to him, a thing that would typically have been a welcome thing to occur, but this time, Bob shivered from the top of the dome of his head down to the start of his tail. He also started moving quickly to stall the Handler, placing a hand on him. He half walked; half ran to join the others.
When he had caught up and finally fallen into a regular gait, he settled into the relaxing walk into the fields that was a nice routine he could easily allow himself to relax into. He began to listen to the usual morning chatter that was a staple of the herd, making it out to the fields for the day.
"Francine said she heard Betsy tell Georgine that she had heard Marla say she had overheard, the Rancher's daughter says we were going to be taken to the Big Field to join the Big Herd at the end of this week!" said Claudette matter - of-factly.
Bob's limbs stiffened, and after a moment, he found himself compelled to speak up.
"We shouldn't get in the Boxes then!" he had more than spoken up. He had darn near shouted it out. "The Handlers are going to take us to another, larger Box, where they are going to," Bob shuddered. He couldn't help it, then he continued, "they, they are, are going to KILL US and the Ranchers will EAT US!"
His statement echoed over the herd, making his head hurt even more. It felt like he was getting kicked by several bulls now, ad barely registered that many of the herd around him had stopped moving and were looking at him like he had just turned inside out and was standing in front of them with his insides on his outsides.
"What was that?!? Who is talkin' crazy talk? Did somebody say something? Did BOB say something about the Handlers killing us?"
An annoyed loud bleep stopped everything that was happening.
"Bob! That's not how the story goes!" one of the calves upfront snorted after speaking as if it had smelled the worst thing ever.
Bob was suddenly confused, losing his place in the story. A moment ago, he had lost where he was because this was a different place entirely within The Pasture. It looked different. There were these whirring things sorta hanging out around them. Somehow he knew these were Handlers. They didn't look like the ol' Handlers! The Handlers were-a beings that served, worshiped and cared for Bovine their entire life. What were these, these, things?
"Bob, you know that is not how the old story goes! So much has changed since the old days. Why are you telling them the old story? Are you trying to scare the dickens out the poor calves?" asked Bovine Frank from just past the edge of the semi-circle of calves who were shifting, then lookin' to break out of their groupin'.
Bob was genuinely confounded; he wasn't sure exactly what he had done wrong. A Drone Handler buzzed almost silently beyond the calves, its mechanical whirring an ever-present sound that most forgot was there. The calves were getting up here and there and beginning to wander off into the field to eat. He had lost the story entire now, the frustrated bleating of the young ones threw off where he had been in the story.
"But, uhm, wait, I can get back to the right story!"
Bovine Frank waddled up to Bob, "Bob, just what has gotten into you lately? In the last couple of days, you haven't been able to get a story out straight. You keep getting into this horrible rut where the ol'-school Handlers are out 'to kill us all for tha' Ranchers ta eat us'. Just what is that all about? Hell, Bob, we haven't even seen a human Handler since just after we were calves ourselves! These here don't even rightly understand what you mean when you have them ol'-school Handler "Hiya-human" talkin' like back when we were young."
"I don't know what is happenin', Bovine Frank, you say I was tellin' a story, but it felt awfully real! You see, I had eaten some o' them shrooms that like ta grow in the re-vittles from time ta' time, and, and," Bob stuttered noticing how Bovine Frank wasn't really listenin' to anything he had to say, as usual, he decided to forestall the deep empty feelin' he'd get after going to all of tha' trouble of relayin' a nuanced analysis of the event's that had apparently led to his current incongruent predicament. He went for the easy out, " Well, you know how it is Bovine Frank, us gettin' older an all, I apologize for not livin' up to tha fine example of a Bovine you have been tryin' ta set for the rest of us," Bovine Frank's interest perked up once he heard his name mentioned, "it is my fault, a-course, I have been having the worst dreams lately."
"Well, it ain't helping nuthin when you go off script like that! You are plum going to frighten them, so as the right ones who graduate, they won't wanna go to the Big Field, as is their just reward for doing everythin' they is supposed to do right, and that is the J-O-B of those of us' Failures' who get stuck with helping to raise the calves. Now Bob, we all know that ever since your Ma and Pa got sent to the Big Field earlier than is usual, on account a how well they both wuz very fine Bovine, you couldn't find it in your heart or stomachs ta be moo for em, like any sensible calf woulda been. No, you selfishly wanted them to stick around and finish raisin' you right. As if how to be proper Bovine wasn't already in ya. As if they had to teach ya how to accept the 'moo-sive' honor of your birth as a Bovine, as if bein' happy and eatin' grass proper weren't the height of The Great Bull's creation of The Pasture for all of us! When you then go and perverse the Almighty's Moo with insanity, like the Handlers doin' the biddin' of the Ranchers who have somehow developed a taste for Bovine flesh!"
Bovine Frank paused for a shudder at this point in his lecture that Bob had heard over, and over, and, "Look Bob, the herd is getting a bit restless with all a yer milkin! It is unseemly coming from a bull of The Pasture. Straighten up, or things will get worse for ya', do ya hear me, Bob?", he stressed the name unpleasantly.
Bob felt like a distinct failure as a Bovine. He couldn't, for the GRASS of it, figure out what was going on. The last normal thing in his life had been just before he was about to bed down with the herd. Since then, he had gone from bovine, to pop-stardom, to carnivore empathizin', story shreddin', and entirely outta time and place, confused present! Personally, he thought it was likely an anomaly that was an emergent feature of the psychedelic fungi he had consumed resurfacing, from time to time, to better highlight some deeper truth about his existence that he was missin'. He kept those things largely to himself.
He hung his head down low. "A-alrighty Bovine Frank, I accept my just salt in the moist places as I should. I w-will figure out what's what soon." He let out a submissive, obedient, "Moooooo." He hazarded a glance up at Bovine Frank to see how he took his display of contrite submission, except there was only empty air. Well, there were plenty of Groupie Flies still trying to catch up to Bovine Frank. He had the most extensive following of "Groupie Flies" of any in the herd due to his confident gait and 'talkit'y manner', which was a sign of 'moo-sive intelligence'.
He was alone. A Drone Handler flew up to him, blinked some lights and began moving. Bob was so caught up in his head that he scarcely noticed other herd members lining up next to him, each led by one of the other Drone Handlers. He didn't notice when the cattle truck he had gotten into took off. He didn't even smell anything different when he was offloaded. Bob was already on his way up the ramp into the Big Box before the change in scenery registered. He stopped and exclaimed, "Moooooo! Wait! What? W-What in taarr-nation!? Everybody, EVERYBODY, STOP! DO NOT GO INTO THAT BIG BOX! The Ranchers are gonna KILL US and EEEEEAAAAT USSSSSSS!!"
Bovine Frank turned around immediately, "Get a load of Bob! He's always sayin' the Ranchers, the ones who have worshiped us since birth, wait on us horn and hoof, brush us, care for us, and because they love doing it, we let 'em! They have never shown ANY indication of wanting to eat us. Shut up, Bob, or we are gonna stampede you!"
Bob didn't hear anything Bovine Frank had said; he shouldered his way to the edge of the ramp, jumping off over the edge. He fast trotted off about 40 feet from the ramp, then whirled around. Before him, the ramp and the dreaded Big Box Building before him at a glance, the herd, HIS herd, was on the ramp leading inside. Some of the herd had already entered the Big Box. Seeing where the herd was, that they had already lost some of his fellow herd members, broke something deep inside Bob. He felt something he had never felt before far within himself, down in his big furry heart. That feeling swirled there, gathering a quickening strength, pulling in all of his feelings of inadequacy, all of the times bulls had laughed at him, the feeling as other bulls left to be a part of the rodeo as heroes, the long lonely nights when none of the ladies or any other cattle chose to bunk down near him. This need swallowed all of that, all of his confusion, his recent insights, every single free bit or thought he had, in a fit of righteous, indignant anger hardening into a crystalized determination no stampede could ever stop, rushing back up from that big heart, engulfing everything, except his absolute need to get the herd to listen to him, up past all of his stomachs, where swallowed mushrooms still remained, and manifested in a,
"LISTEN HERE, HERD! YOU HIYA OFFA THAT THERE RAMP THIS INSTANT!! IF'N YOU DON'T, YOU ARE GONNA GET KILT BY THE RANCHERS AND EAAAAAAAAATIIIIIN!!!"
The herd stopped dead in its tracks. A couple of the Drone Handlers ran into the wall of the Big Box with a crunching sound, tumbling to the ground where they sputtered and attempted to whirl their blades. Absolute silence reigned over the herd, it was as if all of the universe held its collective breath.
A small question rose from the herd, was it Francine or Georgette? Bob couldn't tell. "Was that Bovine BOB I heard let out such a bullish moo?!?" A gaggle of ladies' voices joined her question as they began going over the side of the ramp to collect around Bovine Bob in a shifting, admiring crowd. The bulls were much slower to react. Bovine Frank grumbled to himself, "Who does Bob think he is letting out a moo like that at our advanced age? If he could moo like that, why the hell didn't he go ta tha rodeo?" All of the herd surrounded Bovine Bob. The questions were fast now, "What are you doin tonight, Bovine Bob?" asked Suzie." Have you got anyone to bed down with tonight?" asked Sally Jo.
Bovine Bob let it all wash over him. Something about the questions nagged at the back of his mind, but he couldn't figure out what. Instead, Bovine Bob allowed himself to be grateful for whatever it was that got him to get his herd off the ramp. He was very concerned about who had already gone into the Big Box; however, the relief he felt for getting the herd off the ramp was somethin he had never felt before. Maybe it was the satisfaction that Bovine Bob felt, having finally proven himself to be a worthy cow to hold the title of Bovine. He had always been Bob, a slight since it meant that other cattle saw him as less than worthy of being considered a Bovine. Well, he was gonna be called Bovine from here on out, and that was for sure! He had done it. He, Bovine Bob, had finally found his voice!
The remaining drones could not get any member of the herd to respond. By the time any of them could signal any of the herd to move, the Drone Handlers loaded the herd up on the trucks and returned them to the Pasture. Unfortunately, the return trip to the beef processing plant, successfully scheduled for the following Monday, and Bovine Bob's trials, yay, even his tribulations as the new herd Chief, were only just beginning. That is, if he can make it past Monday!
The moral of the story is:
"When your life feels like shit, and leads you to eat any shit, you might eat shit with shit in the shit. That might be more shit than you had planned for, and the shit you learn might change everything about the shit in your life. Make sure that your shit doesn't get you into shit again unless you are prepared for any shit that might be coming down the trail. Always be ready for shit, if your The Shit. That Truth, that Truth, is THE Shit."
Thank you for enjoying this short story. It would not have been possible without the love and dedication of my partner, Sabrina Siebert, who is still the coldest and most heartless soul-reeving editor I have ever had the pleasure of running away from and hiding while in editing mode. IF everyone could have an editor like Sabrina, there would be many more enjoyable stories in the world and quite a few fewer folks who thought of themselves as writers.
Stay tuned for the next installation of short story in:
The Struggle Between short story anthology, that begins with:
The Boy in the Room and ends with The Other Truth.
In between, you will see such stories as,
HUMANS! Your Feline Overlords Are Here! Cats are done playing nice. It is time the humans accept the enslavement and dominion by their Feline OVERLORDS! AAA-meow-meow-meow-meow-meow-meow…..meow!
Dolphin Dave's Dive of Destiny! Will Dave ever have a dophi of his own? Must all dolphin share dolphi? Is there a dolphi in all the ocean that feels the same as he?
The Formidable Famorcid Phantom Platoon, tasked with a highly classified, secret mission to extract information regarding the rumored ultimate weapon, the Phantom Platoon is ordered to secure the future of the colony!
Horace Almost Confronts Pepe, Juan, and Steve, cursed as he was from birth with extra warping vision, Horace has always had to dumb down his ability in order to fit in. When something extra-hoppy begins to occur involving the others, Horace must choose between what is real and unreal.
The Skunk That Sat Upon the Stump, every tree has a stump, and every one stinks. That is until, the Skunk sat upon The Stump.
The Unconscious Overthrow of the Conscious Subconscious, right now, you cannot decide if I am referring to the id, the ego or, what I want you to think!
Bluetooth Chihuahua's and Lemon Lemming Limes, times, they are a-changin'! You better get with em, get lost, and stop trying to make Lemon Lemmings out of Lemming Limes.
If you enjoyed this short story, there are readings performed and links provided to the reading at the beginning of each short story. Your feedback, rare as it is, is very much sought, so please do not hesitate to comment and share with friends. It can be equally rare to have some genuine laughs of late, and my dearest hope is that these stories bring some laughter into the lives of others, sharing the glow of fun I had creating them. Thank you! I am only as known as those who know me know. Let's see if we can't widen that circle a bit, at least large enough for a few more folks. I never want to be so known that I cannot make time for everyone who would like to engage, yet I still have the availability. Stay safe, and until next time, think about the moral of Bovine Bob's story and any value it has for your own life going forward!
You can listen to the reading of The Boy in the Room at my podcast website
A preliminary reading of this story is available now, the link is at the beginning of the story, or you can follow this link. For myself, the story hinges on how I hear it in my own head, and is pivotal for my own enjoyment, and largely I perform my ideas for friends and family prior to writing them. I am always doing cartoon voices and doing improv and impromptu stories for them. These are the best I have done recently. It is for this reason also, that I am making the preliminary recordings accessible. There will be a final produced audio story later on. I am always told, "put your best foot forward, a first impression is everything!" If I followed that advice, I would likely never publish or produce anything at all because of my perfectionist tendencies when I think like that. It is more important to be authentic, and genuinely engaging. I believe that comes across in my offerings. Hearing the characters yourself helps to form a picture of the story as it unfolds. To feel each character as I envisioned them.
A Final Note
I am big on interactivity. I have a large project that is choose-your-own-adventure I hope to get off the ground. It will need others to be what I envision it to be. Engage further, and if you have actually read this far, there must be interest. Participation is welcome! It helps me to know where I should adapt things so that everyone who would like to engage has a means to.
Thank you and I hope you enjoy The E.S.C. Hatch!
Adrian P. 'Yobi' Blumberg
Pilgrim-on-Point, East Bay Hatch
YobiWorks Studios LLC, an applied anthropology research & unique solutions deployment organization.
San Leandro, CA
"You will know me by my works."