Short Story - The Magical Cow
IT BEGINS, AS MOST STORIES BEGIN WITH AN ENDING.
I woke up, but kept my eyes glued shut for fear I would see the world of my nightmares and not the world I hoped deep in my heart still existed. Mercifully, with each waking moment, the images retreated and my mind started to clear.
Still, I lay there for a while longer, my eyes closed; frustrated by the fleeting feeling something horrible had just happened. I reached up to clear the sleep from my eyes only to come away with a hand covered in something warm and sticky. I brought my hand up to my nose and sniffed.
“Blood, how odd” I thought. I must have scratched myself in my sleep.” At least I hoped I’d scratched myself.
I rolled over on my side to get more comfortable and reached for my blanket. The ground beneath me pushed hard on his ribcage. The smell of damp earth filled my nostrils. My hand came away with a clump of grass not the soft swish of my cottony blanket. My dreams had just becomes realities.
My eyes flew open. The first thing they revealed was the truth of my fleeting nightmares. I found myself surrounded by a sea of greens, blues, browns, with a splash of others colors thrown in here and there to break up the monotony.
My heart raced. Was I dreaming? Possibly, but I’d never remembered a dream so vivid, so painful. I started to trace back the day’s events. I’d gotten home, eaten and headed off to…
A distant cry of pain interrupted my thoughts. “Hello!” I called out but no one answered. I shielded my eyes and looked into the sun trying to judge the hour of day from the sun’s position, I figured it to be late afternoon.
Another moan came from somewhere deep in the underbrush. “Are you ok?” I called out again. Still no one answered.
Where was I? .
Then I remembered: the town! I shuddered as the memories flooded back: the sudden earth tremor, running outside to see the town in flames, the screams of the people as they fled, of searching for my friends, of the smoke that choked my lungs, finally of giving up. I joined those who ran for their lives, scattered to the woods, the hills, anywhere safe. Then blackness consumed me.
I pushed myself up on his knees, my head screamed in pain. Ignoring the nausea, I staggered to my feet. My whole body felt sore and sluggish. So did my mind for that matter. At first, it took a great effort to get my limbs moving, but after a few moments of stretching, the stiffness abated some
I appeared to be alone in a trampled down glade in the forest. All around me, the tall slender pine trees pushed up through the canopy created by the much shorter oak trees. The tops of the trees swayed back and forth in the warm spring breeze creating a sound that reminded me of the waves as they crashed on the beach.
The sickeningly sweet scent of the flowers made my head hurt even more. I would have found the small glade restful but not now, not while my thoughts centered on finding out what had happened back in town. I looked around but saw no immediate path in or out of the glade. Oh well, I thought, I would have to create my own path
I started into the underbrush, headed in the direction of the moans I’d heard moments before. Traveling through dense undergrowth of the forest proper was slow but I moved forward drawn on by the near panic I felt. Up ahead I heard a sound like running water. At first, I dismissed it as just the rustling leaves in the breeze but after only a few more moments of fighting my way through the underbrush,
I came upon a small stream. I immediately dropped to my knees on the stream bank, cupped some of the cool water in my hands, and then splashed the water on my face. When I was sure I’d washed all the dried blood from my face I plunged my head beneath the water.
The numbing effect of the cold water helped the pain in my head subside. After a few moments, I lifted my head out of the water and just sat there on my knees sucking in short calming breaths. After I’d collected my thoughts, I bent just close enough to the water to allow my lips to take a prolonged drink then lifted my head from the water to find a woman watching me from the other side of the stream
Thinking her a mirage I dunked my head once again, but she was still there. She pointed over my shoulder. I turned my head around only to find myself face to face with some sort of warrior dressed all in gold. Well not literally face to face he was a good hundred yards away.
In his right hand he had a gold sword. He started to lift the sword and move forward in a menacing fashion. I looked around for a weapon. I of course didn’t have one. I turned back to find a red spotted cow standing between me and the warrior.
“Get on,” The cow said.
I just stood there. I heard a shrill whistle behind me. I turned to find the girl from across the river motioning at me.
“Get on the stinking cow.” She yelled.
What is it with this cow? I thought. I turned and ran over to the cow and jumped on her back.
“Bout time,” She said.
We vanished. Well I guess that is what happened because one minute we were in one place. The next we were across the river, the girl was sitting behind me as we traveled down a path in the woods.
The cow stopped. “I think we’re safe for now.” The cow said.
We hopped down from the back of the cow and stood there.
“What just happened?” I looked at the cow and the girl. “I mean I’m eating dinner, then I’m in a meadow then I’m on a cow now I’m here. So I have to ask again. What is going on?”
The cow looked at me. “Are you quite through?”I started to open my mouth to say something but thought it was better to keep my mouth shut.
“My name is Knor and this is my assistant Selda.”
I looked from the cow to the girl, “Your assistant?”
“It’s a long story...let just it has to do with some misplaced magic.”
“So you’re a magical cow.”
“No I’m a mage who may or may not have accidentally turned herself into a cow. But that is neither here nor there. Let’s get down to why you’re here.”
“Why I’m here...you mean there’s more than the fact you saved my life.”
“Yes, Said Selda, “We saved you for a purpose.”