“You said they were vegetarians.” “Pardon?” “You said they were vegetarians. That isn’t true. I watched them eating their young.” I began this conversation with the cow after I had awoken to find myself being carried on his back. Surprisingly, I felt no pain from the kick he had inflicted earlier. It was very dark. Moonlight stabbed through the branches above, taunting me with its beauty. This caused me to remember that I had been dreaming about a beautiful woman during my cow induced sleep. I loved her hair…silky, golden, and mesmerizing. It was to my enjoyment that I remembered her because she took my mind off of the horrors I had faced previously and that I would probably have to endure again in more dreadful, terrifying ways. Still, the dream was like a blur, for I could not envision her fully upon awakening. I had only caught a fleeting glimpse of what I would later come to find was the most utterly real and beautiful thing in existence. Was she from my past? Did I even HAVE a past before waking up in this world? Could I ever see her face to face? But it was hard to find solace in thinking about her, because the cow I was with knew things, things of this world, and I didn’t, so I just had to talk to him. He hadn’t answered my question, so I asked again. “Cow, they’re not vegetarians. I saw them…” “Address me as STEER, Young creature. Or, if you do prefer, SIR. I am much older and wiser than you. Every creature of this world is older than you. Centuries old. Though, none of us really know how to explain it….oh silly me, I’m rambling on like a common horse. You want me to tell you if the fairies? They are a dreadful annoyance; everytime someone new comes along, they have to frighten them. They are not evil or even formidable in the least bit. That, young man, was the fairies feasting on their own bodies…why so shocked? Your face is sickly pale…well, they don’t like eating anything else with blood filled veins, and their wounds recover instantly when inflicted upon themselves. Their main diet is fruit and leaves, but eating themselves allows them to live forever. Most boring creatures, all controlled by one simple mind and vocabulary…” “Why is nothing here normal?!?!? Cows talking?!?!? Creatures that eat their own flesh?!?!?! A suit of armor that is somehow alive?!?!? Tell me now or I’ll slice you with my sword, I swear…” The cow simply laughed at my interruption. I was in horror, and this creature who acted as if he was my helper didn’t even give me pity. He replied, with a look of self righteous satisfaction on his face. “You cannot harm me, silly one. I am s noble servant of the Alpha, as are you, and I know that each of our brains are too large to permit us such stupidity. And what, exactly, is normal?” I could not answer him. “As I had thought. Cut me with your sword indeed! Even if you truly wanted to, I am much faster than you, and…” I rolled off of his back and kicked him hard in the face. Vengeance was mine. I didn’t care to know how he could help me any longer. His assumed authority over me(that’s how he seemed anyway) was unbearable. I ran off laughing as he howled with pain. Yes, it did sound very much like a MOO and it was hilarious. “COME BACK HERE YOY FILTHY COWARD!!!” He began to chase me with astonishing speed. I continued to race off into the jungle, wanting to look back but not daring to do it….and then I tripped. I could hear him calling for me from behind. I waited for a laugh or another fearsome kick from his hoof, but neither came. As he approached me, I turned to face him and saw a look of what seemed to be fear upon his face. “You have called Vengeance,” he gasped. “You have called it. It will be here shortly. We must make haste! Terrible mistake you have made! Terrible!” If this cow, this Steer, this sole creature I knew who had answers was frightened, I knew I should be as well. He seemed to know this world so well, acting as if he had survived for centuries grazing amongst the place. What on earth could frighten him? “We must make haste, we must make haste,” he said in a terrified whimper. “Vengeance is coming, we must make haste! Get on my back.” I climbed onto his back and held tight. He zoomed off into the jungle even faster than I had done just a few moments before. His strides shook the jungle floor, scattering birds and fairies from the trees and into the night sky. “Where are we going,” I asked. “We are going to the waterfall, the only place that can protect us from Vengeance until you are trained. What a considerable amount of mortal peril you have gotten us into….hold on tight!” We continued our race through the jungle. I had a feeling we were out of harm’s way, for nothing seemed to have been following us or anything, but then that illusion was broken. I heard a bloodcurdling roar that shook us hard enough for Steer to trip over his own feet and fall face first into a puddle. I fell off of his side and rolled down a hill. I heard him yell “Youngling!” As I tried to grab ahold of a branch, a vine, ANYTHING that could keep me from rolling further and further into this unknown called a jungle. I finally gripped a slimy toadstool protruding from the earth that didn’t even break. It held my weight and suspended me over what I now saw was the edge of an immense cliff. I began scrambling up the cliff face, hoping that whatever had produced that roar wasn’t waiting there to face me. As I pulled harder onto the toadstool to lift myself up, I saw that if was not a toadstool at all. It had two big yellow eyes perched atop its head. Slowly, it lifted up out of the ground to reveal a body covered with feathery tentacles. It made a disgusting shriek that was echoed by my own, for I was in deep fright and disgust. An evil mushroom, for pity’s sake! In this moment of fear I made a terrible mistake and let go, falling thousands of feet down, down to certain death below, down to the end of all things…….

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more!

-s.d.

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