The-Cow-650The Cow

Samual Elliott


The cow knew she was in trouble.

She had thrown caution to the wind and now she was stuck.

The paddock she had ventured into was seldom tended, threaded with many a sinkhole for careless cows to be caught in. The cow was a hungry cow though, and it must be said, a particularly glutinous cow. Thus, she was willing to take more risks, risks that her contemporaries would balk at.

Hence, her current conundrum.

You fool, you pig of a cow, look at you now, look at this fine mess.

Now she was trapped and the night had long since fallen, plunging the world into a darkness so thick, the cow could barely see a few feet in every direction. Not that there was much to see, an expansive field, enclosed on all sides by ill-kept fences, though these ones were not electrified like those that circuited the more densely-populated fields belonging to her owner, the farmer.

She assiduously avoided those fields, they were overcrowded with a few hundred head of her kind, most of who never travelled further than the smattering of shade-offering trees laying sentinel, or to lap at the brooks jaggedly crossing through the property’s span like varicose veins on the bloated, saggy leg of the farmer.

The cow knew she would be waiting an age to be rescued; the farmer was rarely an intrepid explorer of his own property. Drunk more often than not, he usually kept to his house a half-mile away, tending to his meagre crops and toiling at his moonshine business, of which was thriving.

The cow was alone, and it was eerily quiet, nature was waiting on bated breath for something awful to happen, namely to her. She tried heaving herself upward again, testing her legs while shoving forward, trying to use her sizeable weight to compel gravity to free her. It didn’t work and she sunk further into the deep hole she had stumbled into.

I feel eyes, eyes on me, encroaching, nearing.

‘Help,’ she mooed, trying her most commanding tone, her entreaty carried wide and long across the empty plains, echoing until it came back to her, sounding more pathetic than it had when she mooed. ‘Hey, I need some help.’

No calls returned to her, none of her kin or kind replied. Typical them, they the apathetic, they the indifferent, lazing around all day, producing grainy, unworthy milk. Not like the cow, the cow was prized, the cow was cherished by the farmer, that was why she avoided his wrath, his random beatings, his kicks to the udders and whacks to the head, that he inflicted upon so many of the others.

Now her stomachs, ever widening as they were, had landed her in serious trouble. She could not sustain herself on the tufts left by the others in the main paddocks. She craved more, needed more. That was why she was a daring cow, which was why she had wandered off in search of succulent blades in the dead of night, when all the others huddled together for protection, scared of the pitch-dark, scared of the unknown that lurked out there, watching and producing queer sounds.

She tried to approximate how far away she was from help, and noted with a sinking in her heart, that she could be further than a mile away, far beyond the reach of her owner’s ailing ears, way beyond the reach or care of the others.

The cow thought about her plight and her options, she knew that she wasn’t in immediate danger, she had plenty of water to drink and she had eaten her fill before she set off. So she wouldn’t die from that. Realistically, the farmer would happen upon her at some point the next day, maybe by mid-afternoon, if not sooner. The sun would be unpleasant, and the flies would be plentiful in the boggy basin of the terrain, but overall, she could leave from her misadventure unscathed.

Yet the dread building inside her insisted she act, was adamant she flee, far, far away from where she had taken a spill. The senseless sensation would not quit growing with each instant of inertia.

It’s coming, something is coming, something mean, and hungry.

The darkness was encroaching upon the cow, smothering and taunting, she was positive someone, something, was watching her, serpentine tongue sliding over rows of wickedly sharp teeth, waiting.

‘Guys seriously,’ the cow mooed in her language again, louder this time, the cow equivalent of a bellow of anguish. ‘Guys, I know you can hear me, help me.’

Stony silence met her once again, nothing but nothing as minutes dragged by. It was of no use, no cavalcade of cows would cross over the fence, none of them knew where it was structurally weak like the cow did. She was on her lonesome.

At least I sure hope I am.

Panic struck her in earnest, hysteria was a hair-breadth away. The cow knew she was being stupid, but body prevailed over mind and she quickly grew exhausted trying to hurl herself out.

She swung her gaze around, panting, tongue dangling, eyes rolling, drained of all energy reserves. The cow collapsed, hunched forward, splayed outward, upper body out of the sinkhole, the rest consumed in the quicksand-like mush.

A distant droning sound demanded her attention, origin unknown, taking definition, more robust and strident as it neared. Lights bounced off in the distance, sweeping through the inky darkness. The truck roared over the yonder hill, skidding wildly, kicking mud and grass into the air as it careened a warpath along the paddock. The truck’s bright, insidious eyes found the cow and held her, altering its course to head directly for her.

Oh my cow god, please give me strength, give me your providence.

The cow renewed her efforts at freeing herself, with tenfold the vigour. She struggled valiantly, and was rewarded with removing some half an inch more of her body out from the hole, but it was earned with exertion and she had no energy remaining to brace for any blows. The truck was charging straight toward her, emitting its guttural roar, baying for her blood. The cow had witnessed the indiscriminate wrath of trucks cut down some of her species that had strayed from the sanctuary of the paddock, leaving viscera stretching a hundred feet across the road.

The cow prepared for her demise, closing her eyes and waiting for salvation or blackness, so long as she would be spared further torment from the truck. But, no death, violent or otherwise, came to her. The truck stopped short, some twenty feet away, abruptly silencing the battle cry and extinguishing its fiery eyes.

Certain it was some cruel ruse to lower her guard; the cow peeked through her lashes at the supposedly slumbering beast. Two men emerged from within, lurching in an ungainly movement that the cow recognised all too well—the folly of drink. They staggered toward her, speaking in their language, exchanging a bottle that they both slugged from greedily.

The cow squinted at them in the gloom, trying to decipher features. Her eyesight wasn’t above reproach but she was fairly sure that both men were strangers, not any of the handful of regular folk that performed odd jobs about the extended farm, or the weirdo friends that frequented the farmer’s home. The cow felt fear anew, she mistrusted mankind deeply by nature, and two drunks were not likely to change her mind.

Drink makes men wicked, more than usual; I have seen what their treachery can cause. I don’t want to be on the receiving end of it.

One broke off from the other and retraced his steps to the truck, the other continued his advancement toward the cow, hooting and chuckling like an idiot, the cow disliked the sound of his amusement, a sinister sound. She tried to free herself for the umpteenth time, now through slow, deliberate movements, her hooves manoeuvring around, roaming for more solid ground, so too her hind legs, trying to find stable, unyielding footing within the sinkhole, enough to launch herself off.

The man had reached within a few feet of her, he hunched forward, deathly quiet now, the cow would’ve preferred some imbecilic chuckling instead of this silence, that of appraisal, malevolent appraisal. The man held up a torch, clicking the contraption on. Ultra-bright light spilled out, the beam struck the cow directly in her eyes. She looked away, but the man simply moved over, ensuring she could not escape its cone.

She kept her eyes shut and tried to heave herself up, hoping that would frighten him enough to run away.

Leave me alone you stupid human, go off and die someplace.

He did nothing of the sort.

She detected the presence of the other man as he ran toward them, dipping and staggering, precariously close to tumbling face-first to the cow-pat covered earth. He managed to avoid falling as he slowed to a halt next to his friend, they engaged in some animated discussion, which the cow was grateful for, given it distracted the man who had been shining the torch in her eyes. The other man proudly presented yards of rope, holding them like a trophy, sending the dread sense in the cow’s stomachs into overdrive.

After some wild gesticulation from the man holding the torch, the man holding the rope ran back toward the pickup. A few moments of silence passed, with the man holding the torch observing what his buddy was up to. The cow had finally found some solid ground within the sinkhole, enough to press her almost-ton weight upon.

Hooves don’t fail me now.

She heaved and shoved, scrambling with her hooves, clawing each hard-earned half-foot. The man holding the torch was startled by her sudden movement and backed away, falling over his own feet and straight onto his butt, much to the amusement of his friend. The cow had cleared another foot, most of her body was free from the sinkhole scourge, a few more such movements and she would be out, able to run for the paddock where her contemporaries and normality lay.

The other man returned, bottle in one hand, rope in the other, only now it was taut, having been lashed to the truck. The cow watched in growing horror as the man approached, extending the rope toward her. As he neared she went slack, playing dead, when he was almost upon her, the cow flailed, using her sizeable head as a battering ram.

The ploy paid off, she felt her head connect with the soft meat of his body, sending him flying. The other man tumbled over too, though only from succumbing to riotous laughter at his buddy’s expense. The downed man jumped up as quickly as his impaired condition could muster, lurching forward with the ardency of the angry; he rummaged around on the earth until he recovered the rope and bottle.

When he lifted the bottle up to meet the beam of his friend’s torch, he yelled out, the sound of rage carrying across the vast plains, achieving an almost godlike quality. The cow noted that the bottle had been drained of the contents during his tumble. He ran forward and dispensed a kick aimed for her face, she turned at the pivotal moment, and so much of her side absorbed the blow. Regardless, the pain inflicted was considerable.

‘Leave me alone,’ the cow bellowed. ‘Go away.’

The men stared at her in disbelief, though of course they did not understand what she was saying. The less-riled man holding the torch muttered something to his buddy, who reluctantly approached, this time with substantially more caution. The cow thrashed around, hoping her frenzied activity would dissuade the man from doing whatever he had planned, all to no avail. She felt the rope drape around her neck, and when she shifted one way, the other man plucked the rope and tightened it. She realised that her struggling was aiding the two men in their task, so she immediately ceased her movements.

Oh cow god, please stop this savagery, please help me, I beg of you.

Too late.

The rope was not taut but tight enough for her to know definitively that it was a noose. The men worked in pairs, ducking from her face and snapping mouth, tying knot after knot. Satisfied they had done enough; the men retreated to marvel at their handiwork.

The cow remained stationary, glaring at them, making a low moo of lament. The one who shined the light in her eyes, the self-same guy who appeared to be giving orders, issued another one and the other man complied, hastening back to the truck in his drunken shuffle. The cow fixedly watched him. She gauged correctly what was about to transpire and prayed to the cow god she was wrong.

The man disappeared into the truck, a second later the decrepit vehicle wheezed to life, its alien eyes blazing with malicious energy, taunting the cow. The cow shoved forward again, grateful that the respite from proceedings had restored some energy, she cleared another foot, could feel the night’s balmy air on her hindquarters, more of this and she would finally be free.

The truck reversed, the cow heard the snap of the rope before she felt the pressure tightening inexorably. The rope was doing her a kindness of removing her from where she was stuck, but it also did a tremendous disservice of choking the life from her. Her demise was a toss-up between suffocation and a snapped neck, neither of which the cow relished.

She realised that remaining stationary would merely quicken her death, so she shoved forward again, hooves digging in, claiming purchase, using whatever strength she still possessed, coupled with the fine motivator of fear.

Give me a break, for the love of cow god and all that is holy, help me, save me.

The majority of her body now free, the cow was still in great peril. The pace of the truck was gruelling and she could not possibly match for long, she felt the coarse rope burrowing, biting, as if a sentient being hungry for her flesh. Blood welled and pain pulsated, but the cow ignored both, along with the gnawing hysteria, staying focused and continued to plant one hoof in front of the other.

There was a terrifying moment where she lost her purchase claimed on the ground and tumbled backward, the strain on her neck became near unbearable and she could feel bones grating, stretching, threatening to snap. Somehow, through sheer force of will, she recovered her footing and surged forward once again. Finally she was out and upright, standing on her own accord with all four hooves firmly planted on sturdy soil.

Deadly tugging ceased; the truck was quietened once again, stilled by the man, the mechanical beast expressing its ire with a raspy tick. He emerged from within, racing back to the side by his friend, the holder of the torch and issuer of orders. The cow waited impatiently for the pair to remove the rope, given the job was well and truly done.

Free me you fools, cut me loose, I’m not out of danger yet.

They made no move to do so.

They engaged in some loud, odious discussion, staring at the cow with broad smiles all the while. The cow glared at them defiant, itching to rush them, reluctant to do so. She did not fancy her odds with the noose still cutting deep into her neck, and she understood that she was tethered, sure she might be able to bolt and her momentum might split the rope, but she might just as easily snap her neck.

So she waited and fumed.

The order-giver dropped his hand to his pocket, digging deep. The cow watched in wonderment. He withdrew a knife, a short sliver of a blade flicked forth. The man strode behind the cow, chuckling his mantra, she tried to turn to follow his path, but the rope bound her in place, rendering her immobile.

She heard his footfalls, crunching in grass, squelching in mud, nearing. The cow jerked at the rope, testing it, producing more guffawing from the fool that stayed at her front, rotten teeth revealed, turned to nubs of charcoal in the dim moon’s glow. She felt the other man’s proximity, as he approached her back, could feel his body heat and smell his putrid miasma of tobacco, alcohol and cruelty.

The cow tried to retain her composure, plotting some ingenious scheme that would free her from her lashing and rid her of the tormentors. Nothing sprang to mind, only familiar panic, dumb and useless. The cow heard the man clear his sinuses and spit the wad at her flank. The loogie connected with her skin, the reaction was almost a chemical burn, causing her to violently start. The cow kicked out her hind legs, feeling the blow land squarely in the man’s midsection, admittedly a glancing blow, with only a portion of her strength, nevertheless the hit downed him all the same. She heard him thud on the ground and groan with pain, gasping fused with snorting, indicative of a serious case of winding.

Good, couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.

The cow had no time for exultation, for the other man charged forward. She was not prepared for such a strike and she caught the full force of his attack, directly to the side of her head. She felt the shattering of glass, as the sparks exploded before her eyes, dissolving into blobs of blackness as her head reeled back and she felt her quivering knees buckle. It dawned on her that the man had deliberately broken the empty bottle over her head, the realisation coming to her as she went slack, struggling to stay upright.

While she was still gaining her bearings, the man punched her, hitting the other side of her face.

She mooed, intending on instilling fear in her foe. He did back away, shaking his hand to race around to assist his buddy.

Trying to seize an opportunity, the cow tugged at the rope, testing its durability. The line went tight, attached to the truck, formidable-looking, offering no slack, the cow yanked harder, trying to distinguish some fraying, or any promising sign that she was straining the rope to a breaking point.

She could detect none whatsoever.

She heard a crackling sound; sinister and unmistakable, a sound that haunted all of her kind, engrained in them from their earliest life. She wrested herself backward, trying to plunge onto her hindquarters, using all her immense weight. The truck shifted, dipping downward as if in benediction, before bouncing back to normal, her binding made a plaintive sound, as if weakening, unable to endure such tension. The cow felt the rope tighten, felt her bones straining, but bunched her muscles together, and felt the air supply cut from her, yet she repeated the movement all the same. Without warning, she felt the cattle-prod jab her side.

Immediately she recoiled, legs buckling, body slumped, urine gushed and faeces dropped. She smelt the stench of her own scorched flesh, but could not move, trapped in a body that was no longer her own, a convulsing and twitching husk.

The sudden, violent movement frayed the rope at the bumper, she felt it slacken, dangling somewhat, giving some breathing room as she tried to remember how to inhale. Her body shuddered and her throat heaved with mucous, stunned, sapped of all strength, and feeling every bit of the throbbing pain of her exhaustion.

A sound shattered the scene, deafening, dwarfing all others, making the truck’s throaty growls a mere meek whisper in comparison. The mighty din intensified, drawing near, causing the ground to shake, causing the cow’s teeth to chatter and her udders to pulsate as if pumped.

The two men scrambled into view, the recipient of the cow’s kick staggered along, half-crouched, clutching at his tenderised stomach, supported by his friend, who ineffectively consoled him as they both gazed heavenward, searching for the sound’s origin.

What in the cow god is that? Salvation? The cow rapture?

The cow had slightly recovered, enough to raise her head, staring to the sky, doubting what her eyes reported back to her brain.

A myriad of lights floated in the stilled night, some pinpricks, others globes, others larger than the cow and others larger still, all shifting and morphing, ebbing and flowing like the tides of the ocean. No two the same and no two staying in place for longer than a second, ephemeral motion, impossible to track and predict. The lights had pattern, a frenetic system that the cow could not understand, but found the striking optical achievement no less beautiful, no less mesmerising.

The sound emanating from the legion of lights was unlike any the cow had ever heard, the exhaling of a vacuum of air, the distortion of reality, a drastic reworking of perception. The cow glimpsed vague outlines of something, and it was a something, hovering in the air, lowering, yet there was an oscillation to the colossus’ movements, a distinctly rhythmic inhalation and exhalation.

Is that thing breathing? Can a monster be so big?

The cow wondered if she beheld a living being, beyond all her scope of understanding and all definitions of measurement that she knew. An entity that man had no name for or knowledge of.

Could it be the one responsible for the spate of circles defacing the farmer’s crops?

The men stopped dead in their tracks, clinging to one another, totally engrossed in the spectacular display above, descending toward them. When they realizeded that the something was soon to reach them, the men snapped out of their trance and dashed toward the truck. The cow caught a glimpse of one globe, distinguishable from the others by its colour that of an iridescent red, detach itself from the hub and hurtle toward the truck.

The impact occurred some half-second later, the damage inflicted was instant and catastrophic. The pickup exploded, sending shrapnel in every direction and a tongue of flame shot some fifty feet in the air. The force of the blast sent the two men flying; and the cow knocked off her hooves, immediately followed with the tidal wave of intense heat, which scorched much of the cow’s head.

She smelt herself cooking; finding the foul stench disconcertingly close to the one often found permeating from the farmer’s house. The cow landed heavily on the ground, ears full of shrieking bells, eyes full of phosphorus white.

The cow made no attempt to move at first, certain she was dead or on the verge. Her breathing was shallow but regular, without difficulty, though she ached from being brutally tossed about and the burns that covered much of her upper body. She supposed that feeling any sensation was probably a sign that her demise was not inevitable, but she was not game enough to try rising and inspect herself.

Not for a while anyway. Aren’t I entitled to some rest?

Sound returned belatedly, fuzzy tones made indistinguishable from the shrill ringing buffeting her eardrums. Eventually the high-pitched whined subsided to such a point she was able to distinguish individual noises, namely screaming. Willing her eyes to adjust, to return to their former glory, she swivelled them around, hoping the contrast in colours would speed the process. After a while the wall of white faded, and she could discern outlines of figures, rudimentary though they were.

She spotted her two tormentors, laying some distance from one another. Both men had been badly burnt by the decimation of the truck, features blackened, bodies smouldering, pouring a profusion of thick smoke into the unblemished night air. They feebly extended hands, pleading for help that would never come.

The cow was not a sadist, but she did take a small measure of satisfaction in observing the pair in the throes of suffering, given what they had done to her and planned to do. The wreckage of the truck had been scattered far, leaving spot-fires wherever the hunks of melted chrome and charred metal had landed. The twisted shell of the pickup was ablaze, casting a warm, almost inviting glow on the surrounding area.

I guess those two will be hitching a long ride home, assuming they escape with their sordid lives intact.

The cow had no interest in their welfare, singularly concerned about her own, which at present was uncertain. She accepted there would be no benefit lingering in the area, with some luck the farmer would’ve been abruptly awoken from his drunken slumber by the deafening noise, and felt compelled to investigate the disturbance, twelve-gauge in hand. She could intercept him along the way if she made haste now, thus it was decided.

Almighty cow god, give me the strength required.

The cow made to stand up, finally noticing that the rope previously fastened was loose, without a trace of tightness. Her vision sought and found that the line had been severed, the end crisped, leaking gossamer-sized tendrils of smoke. Freed from what had incapacitated her, the cow ducked her head and lurched off, wobbly to be sure, but she felt her balance returning, her eyesight clearing.

The more distance she covered, the better she felt. Only her sense of smell haunted her, the roasting of the hair on her hide mingling with the roasting of the men’s flesh, made for a terrible miasma that pervaded her nostrils and clung with the lasting impact of a skunk’s spray.

I won’t forget the smell of charred human in a hurry.

She had travelled some thirty feet before she heard foreign sounds, drastically different from that of the men’s screams and wails. Intrigued, the cow slowed and rounded, justifying her stalling as a break necessary to restore her breathing.

By now her vision had returned to normal, marred with a few drops of white, not dissimilar to staring at the sun for an extended period of time. Regardless, she was positive that her eyes were deceiving her.

Figures glided through the smoke, not the gait that the cow would relate to humans, this was seamless, fluid movement, the floating of spectres. The figures, six in all, were impossibly tall and slender, bristling with appendages; some thin, others thick, protruding from all sections of their sizeable forms. Atop the bodies, rested what the cow figured was their head, oddly shaped, thickest at its base, extending upward to a thin, sharp point. Purple eyes, bright as stars, twice in number as that of an arachnids, were the only noticeable feature.

The cow felt their studying of her, it was not the fleeting inspection of a disinterested human, for mankind never appreciated the cow as an equal, in intelligence or standing. These beings though, she felt their eyes probing, effortlessly peeling back her façade, seeing her for all that she was, her core and soul. She did not enjoy the sensation their lingering gaze evoked, but she was transfixed, knowing that she was at their mercy, to run would be a futile and undignified act.

Please leave me be, I have no quarrel with you or yours. I only ever wanted to find more tasty grass and roots.

She stood her ground and to her surprise the creatures left her be; focusing their collective attention on the two injured men curled in foetal positions below them. One figure stepped from the rank, raising a lone, tentacle-like limb, pointed in the general direction of the humans. They rose, seemingly supported and lifted by unseen hands, groaning, as if in some sedated, semi-conscious state.

They made no protestations or visible signs of discomfort as they were raised high, levitating in the air. The leader made a barely perceptible movement, the equivalent of cocking a thumb, and the men’s ascension continued, higher and higher, until they disappeared within the gargantuan outline circuited by lights overhead.

The cow watched this all, fearing she would be next, preferring instantly-dispensed death instead of whatever hell awaited above. The figures were waiting, all turned to her, all sets of eyes, so many eyes, affixed to her, searching for answers, toying with possibilities.

‘Please,’ the cow mooed to them. ‘Leave me be.’

It was a humble and heartfelt entreaty, her last-ditch effort to ensure her life was spared. She strongly doubted the creatures would understand her language, but it was worth a shot, better that than the alternative.

Silence ensued and endured until she was sure she had made a disastrous tactical error.

Should have kept my damn mouth shut, maybe they would have judged me to be a simpleton, too pathetic to take interest in and too paltry to abduct for the sake of a trophy.

The leader at the front made a gesture with its two largest appendages clasped together, digits entwined, a curt dip and bow. The meaning of the gesture was lost on the cow, but the leader rotated in its seamless, graceful manner and departed, gliding along as if water sluicing, the others followed accordingly.

The cow watched them retreat into the brightest and biggest cone of light situated at ground level, she tried to track their departure, to sneak a peek at the boundless wonders beyond, if only to whet her imagination’s appetite.

However the light’s radiance was too much to bear and the cow begrudgingly averted her eyes. She was still partially blinded when she heard the thunderous sound shatter the night once again, the non-sound, that of a celestial vacuum, the tearing of air and splitting of dimension. Steeling herself, she flung her gaze up to the sky just in time to witness the object fading, consumed by the clouds and the ubiquitous dark.

Thank you for sparing me.

Then it was quiet and serene and nature breathed again, as did the cow, exhaling in exultation for a life bestowed a new lease. She scanned the surroundings furtively once more, checking to confirm beyond any sliver of a doubt that she was on her lonesome. Aside from the fire gutting the ruins of the truck, and the few dozen smoking bits of debris scattered haphazardly about, there was no proof that any of it had happened.

Well maybe it didn’t then. Oh don’t be stupid, it happened alright.

The cow shuffled home at an unhurried pace, wincing at every step, stumbling frequently, her scorched flesh ultra-sensitive and aching every time a gust of wind caught her. Her neck felt like it had been crushed to an inch of its size, throttled to an inch of life, so too her side smarted from the severe burn left by the cattle-prod. Finally, her head gave her the most grief, dizzy and numb, misshapen from the kicks and punches she had sustained.

She knew she would be in a great deal of pain tomorrow, and probably for some time after that, but it was survivable, she would heal. The superficial wounds would mend and in the fullness of time she might grow to not have nightmares about the event.

‘Where have you been?’ asked one of her kin as she returned to the main paddock, bovine voice thick with slumber. ‘What was that sound?’

‘Nowhere,’ the cow answered dismissively. ‘Nothing.’


‘Go back to sleep.’ The cow bade, and headed to a quieter spot in the paddock.

The two hundred head of cow may have stirred when the deafening, stringent sound of the explosion first reported back to them, though they were all fast asleep again now, huddled in large groups, calves resting against their mother’s side.

The cow selected a vacant spot not far from the others and settled in. The ceaseless cacophony of snores and wind-breaking brought her inexplicable comfort, solace that she had never known.

Normally I can’t bear to hear such a racket. What’s changed?

The cow did not have answers, nor did rest come easy despite her bone-tiredness. Kept awake with the dregs of adrenaline, she contemplated what had befallen her and what she had witnessed.

I can never tell anyone, they’d never believe me anyway.

Her wounds did heal, leaving a smattering of scar tissue that served as a constant reminder of what a lapse in caution would lead to. Her composure remained unflappable, though her once haughty personality mellowed, mollified by the company of the others. She found herself greatly treasuring their presence, their simple outlook on life, such honest contentment was infectious.

On the odd occasion she did yank herself awake from the murky depths of a vivid nightmare. She would remedy the lingering angst by creeping up to her loved ones, finding dreamless sleep placing her head against theirs; she wouldn’t stir for the remainder of the evening.

Sometimes she studied the star-festooned sky, mind adrift and aimless, musing over what had become of the two men, or the beings that had abducted them. She invariably dismissed such thoughts and distracted herself with the mundane monotony inherent in being a cow.