Flash Fiction – Tipping the Balance, a cowpunk tale

The mooing cut across the empty night.

Dug into Georgie’s ears. Sliced right into the core of his being.

No, he told himself with a compulsive brush on the sleeves of his leather jacket.

“It ain’t your fault,” Georgie whispered toward the cows.

The herds of cows, dozens, hundreds, thousands, stretched as far as he could see.

In fact, if Milk and Cheese PMC had anything to say about it, the cows were the only source of good. And MAC, of course.

“The hell a private military corporation have to do with cows anyway?” Georgie asked himself again. It did not matter.

Big Bovine had been controlling them for too long. No way in hell was he going to stand for it any longer.

Another swipe of his jacket’s sleeves. The leather had been illegal for longer than Georgie’s twenty years.

Yeah, well, MAC wants to keep it from him, they can come and get it.

His mother hadn’t wanted to hear him talk like that before. Before Maggie’s disorder, what made her need to eat extra, more than Georgie even, to survive.

Georgie slunk over the fence, dragging the chains behind him and hushing the cows that stirred at his passing.

Before Georgie’s pop had cut his own rations too far. A fatherly act, yes, but now he was dead.

Sure, keep shoving moldy old cheese down our throats, Georgie thought.

You’d think with all these cows around, the only source of purified food, that beef would at least be on the menu.

Oh no, the cow is too important. Can’t slaughter them for common folk.

The chains caught on the fence after Georgie trailed them about ten feet. He went back to untangle them. The cows watched him.

You couldn’t sneak up on a cow, Georgie had learned preparing this mission.

Mission. Hell. What a name for one man trying to thumb his nose at the fat corporation that couldn’t afford to feed his sister.

This would take care of all that.

The chains slid through the grass behind Georgie now, and he approached the structure.

It loomed in the center of the pastures, reaching up into the heavens almost so far that Georgie could almost not make out the top.

Solid metal thing. Everyone had thought that it was just a worthless piece of corporate art, a way for MAC PMC to remind the people that they relied on the scraps of their table.

That old man had told Georgie that it wasn’t true.

Well, yeah, sure, the cows were the only ones who had the digestive tract sturdy enough to pull out the Desolation from the grains they ate.

But it was more than that.

Milk and Cheese were feeding the cows something special.

Georgie passed under the dim shadow of the giant structure. The thing blocked out the sky now. No cows around this thing.

He thought they were afraid of it.

Couldn’t blame ’em, either.

George dropped the chains on the ground and pulled the canteen off his leather belt.

The udders hung down above his head. Each metal teat was as big as Georgie himself.

Step ladders around, so he pushed one over to let him reach the tubes that descended from the udders.

The nozzle’s tip was as big as Georgie’s fist, so he would just have to make a mess of things getting it into the canteen.

He depressed the lever.

The nozzle fired the white liquid out with such force that the tube jumped out of Georgie’s hands and clanged up against the underside of the big structure. Georgie’s coat was coated in the stuff.

Ruined. Georgie cursed.

The cows began to stir at the noises, grumbling to each other. Georgie shushed them.

He grabbed the tube again and, more carefully squirted some of the stuff into his canteen.

Super milk, the old man had called it. The geezer had worked in the lab that developed the stuff right after the Desolation dropped, saved the whole damn planet far as Georgie knew.

Milk and Cheese PMC had taken that saving grace and turned it into a ham handed rule.

Georgie licked his fingers, trying to clean them up enough to seal the cap of the canteen.

Holy–

Georgie could not help but shout for joy at the taste.

It wasn’t just the taste, though. The whole experience… it was like the milk brought life back into his limbs, supercharged his freakin’ brain.

Super milk.

The cows stirred, more upset now at the disturbances.

“We don’t got long,” Georgie told the milk in his canteen, though he wasn’t sure why. Sophie would need that milk if she was gonna survive, but that was his backup plan.

Georgie moved quick now. The chains all had hooks on the ends, and with the strength the milk gave him, Georgie tossed the chains with ease onto the giant metal body of the structure.

The hooks grabbed on in a half dozen places, all settling and remaining attached when he tugged to test them.

The cows all mooed now, frenzied by the ruckus. They bellowed, and the bottom fell out from Georgie’s stomach.

A loud siren erupted in the night, back toward the main part of the Milk and Cheese compound.

Georgie thought he heard a helicopter.

Time to go.

Not just a helicopter. The entire damn military part of the corporation seemed to be mobilizing behind him.

Georgie followed the chains stretched along the ground, reached the fence and hopped it.

The car was still running. It was a hunk of junk, converted to run on the newer biodiesels. Corn was only good for processing through the cows or making gas, and being so easy to grow, they used it however they could.

Georgie hopped into the driver’s seat and tossed the canteen on the passenger seat. No time to think.

Gun it.

The car lurched forward, and over the roar of the engine, Georgie heard the slither of chains sliding along the ground for a moment before the metal links lifted.

The car sped forward, and Georgie counted it down in his head. He knew about how long it should take before he ran out of rope, and–

BAM.

The car reached the end of its tether. Georgie’s face slammed into the steering wheel and he felt the back wheels lift off the ground before crashing back down and pulling the car back.

Dazed, Georgie tried to check behind him, but the rearview mirror had popped off.

Instinctively, he grabbed at the canteen and took a hit. His mind cleared a bit, and he opened the door to look back.

No.

It had not been enough.

The giant statue still stood. The car was not powerful enough to pull it down. Georgie slammed his hand down on the hood as military vehicles began to come around the wide fields. Helicopters swung bright searchlights around.

He had to try again.

Georgie clamored into the car and hit it in reverse.

Faster than he thought it would, the rear bumper nudged the fence. He could not back up much more without getting the car stuck.

More power.

He needed more power in the car.

His mind raced.

If Georgie could distribute the super milk far and wide, it would fix the plants, fix the food.

The old man had been clear on that.

It would fix the food.

Food like the corn would be edible again.

The corn that made his gas.

Georgie scrambled out of the car, canteen in hand. It was a long shot, but hell, at this point…

The milk slurped down into the gas tank.

The facility’s lights flicked on as Georgie tossed the canteen aside.

He could not help starting up at the enormous metal cow, now lit by the brash golden lights. Quite imposing.

And it was done.

Georgie laid the accelerator down on the floorboard, speeding away.

He could feel it. Feel the milk powering the fuel.

For a moment, time slowed as the chains stretched to the limit. Then Georgie’s face slammed into the steering wheel.

The car skidded back toward the pasture, spinning around and wrapping in the chains.

Georgie pushed through the darkness threatening to take him and looked up.

The giant cow leaned down toward him, as if trying to stare him down.

It hung in perfect equilibrium, it seemed, for a long moment.

Georgie watched the cow, ignoring the armored personnel carriers approaching from both sides.

The cow watched Georgie.

Georgie watched the cow.

Then it fell.

As the metal cow crashed down upon the car, Georgie retained consciousness long enough to watch the explosion of white super milk flying far and wide.

The food would get fixed. Milk and Cheese PMC would have no more hold over his friends and family.

Georgie grinned to himself as everything turned to white.

– – – – –

Okay, the story is over, folks. Below is some mostly non-fiction rambling. Move along.

So let me just say that this is one of the more ridiculous stories I have ever written. And that is saying something, considering the fact that, when I was younger, I wrote and illustrated a short fable that explained how monkeys got their tales.

Something to do with snakes wrapping around their waists to increase tree-swinging aptitude. And she’d skin eventually morphing into a working limb. I don’t know. I hear my mom still has it stashed someplace safe. (As in the public is kept safe from it.)

Part of me might be tempted to keep this story hidden from the public eye as well. It does not make much sense, in the real world. Starvation is a much more complex topic than I made it out to be here. Plus, these people are whining about getting to eat cheese all the time? What is wrong with them?

The main reason I am resisting the urge to tuck this story away in the no-no box is this: sometimes it is good to be ridiculous where other people can see. Putting this story up is the proverbial letting-down-of-hair (unrelated to the pound or so of hair I had clipped today). Let’s all relax, sit around, and tell a stupid story.

I can laugh at myself, and I expect at least a shake of the head from everyone else that looks at this.

Of course, I can’t be too relaxed about it, because it definitely seems like I am carrying on quite a lot about this.

Are my hidden insecurities… perhaps… not so hidden?

Well, yeah, I thought that was the whole point of having a blog.

And if you have read all the way down to this point, well… perhaps your time would be better spent checking out some of the other anything-punk stories. Go take a look, yeah? I’ll just be over here dreaming up new ways for cows to take over the world.

4 thoughts on “Flash Fiction – Tipping the Balance, a cowpunk tale

  1. Nothing wrong with being ridiculous — Kurt Vonnegut made a pretty decent career out of it. Not what I expected for “Cowpunk” (though I couldn’t say exactly what I did expect) but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    1. Yes, it is kind of tough to figure out what ‘cowpunk’ really is, in its essence. I mean, really. Also, a typo suggests a companion subgenre of ‘sowpunk.’ We could go places!

      Glad you enjoyed.

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