The Void Cow: Condensed Narrative Milk
Here’s a version of The Void Cow: A Tale of Dark Dairy (a story told entirely through Twitter polls) that looks more like an actual narrative. Anything in bold was chosen by the court of Twitter opinion through a weekly poll.
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Captain hates it when I call it this, but a messenger came from the buttcrack trail between the mountains with a message from our sworn enemies. I was told to deliver it to the Queen without reading it. In the light, I can make out the first few words. I can see the words…your queendom sucks!
Captain snatches the letter, then promptly tosses the sealed envelope back to me.
“Sucks to be you.” She says.
“Why’s that, sir?” I ask.
Captain shrugs, “Queen’s going to chop your head off after you deliver something like that to her.” She chuckles, “…your queendom sucks.”
My eyes widen. “But cap, I like my head!”
Her mouth fishhooks, “I could take it or leave it. In fact, I’m going to leave it. I order you to update your will and hand-deliver this letter directly to the queen.”
Looks like I can’t get out of this. Maybe I can make a request, “Can I have money? Lots of money.”
Cap massages her temples, “Let me get this straight. You want a pay raise, per diem, and a bonus?”
I look down. “Yes.”
She chuckles, “Fat chance! Unless…you’re willing to do something for me. A little job, off the books, in the Queen’s capital. No info until you agree.”
“Sure! I’m sketchy as fuck,” I reply.
“Fantastic! I knew there was a reason I hired you.” Cap hands me a wooden box, parchment, and a cartoonishly large sack of coin. “Deliver this box to that address. Whatever you do, don’t open the box!”
“Why, what’s in the box?”
“I know I didn’t just hand you that big ass sack of coin for you to be asking questions,” Cap scorns. I notice an inscription on the box: Money, lots of money. She watches me read it. “Just deliver the damn thing to the resident. Sealed.” “All right then!” I say as I leave en route to queen.
Without delay, I gather supplies for the journey and hop on my trusted steed. I’ll have to write a letter to my family once I get to the capital. She’s not the fastest horse in the land, but a faithful friend nonetheless. Her name is Daymare.
Daymare and I bask in the sun as we trot along to the capital—providing ourselves some daycare. There’s a four-way split, all roads leading to the city. Real inefficient, if you ask me, but nonetheless I must choose a route. Toughshit Alley.
“It’s all right, girl. Nothing to be scared of. This way is quickest, we won’t be here long.” I say, stroking her mane.
“That’s right, you won’t.” Someone replies. I halt. Behind the arrow pointed at my face, I see The Captain!
“Little change of plans.” Captain says as hooded figures loosely surround me.
“We’re going to take that letter off your hands. Deliver this one instead.”
Someone hands me a perfect replica of the letter.
“What does it say,” I ask.
Cap relaxes her bow, “It says new king, who dis?”
“We want queeny to visit the new king of the dirtbags to the east,” Cap explains.
“You’re not going to kill me?”
“What? No! I was agreeing with you—this is the quickest route.”
My brow sinks. “…Uruk doesn’t have a new king.”
“Ya-huh! No more questions—off you go.”
“Wait…I want mo money mo money mo money!”
Cap shakes her head. “Not happening.”
I grab the box, and read its inscription aloud. “I’ll take some from here then.”
With fear in their blood, the ambushers give me some space. One of the figures pats the air gently and says, “Don’t open that, it’s going to get out!”
The air grows dense. We’re silent, but the birds keep chirping.
“Looks like a Flexican Standoff,” I say.
Cap puts a finger up. “Don’t say that. It’s prejudiced.”
She snaps her finger. Someone slings two sacks of coin tied together over Daymare. “That’s all you’re getting.”
I smugly saunter off.
As I ride off, someone behind me says, “Smug bastard.”
Buildings and suspicious people replace trees and suspicious birds. I’d better watch my back, the alley is more alley-like now. I should conceal my bountiful haul of cash by writing ‘not cash’ on ‘em.
“Why are you writing ‘not cash’ on those coin bags?” A muddy alley girl asks.
“They’re clearly not coin bags, as is evident by the label.”
“You think because we live in an alley that we’re all as stupid as you?” The girl says while drawing a knife.
I must ride off, crying.
“I’m rich, I don’t have to take this from some peasant brat!” I egress, wiping tears away.
The entire Alley mocks me! They’re just jealous because they’re all so poor and ugly. No matter, I’m already gazing upon the grandiose structures of our capital city. It’s time to deliver that package!
I knock. Moments later, a woman opens the door.
“We already paid our taxes in full,” she says.
“Oh, right. This box inscription and my uniform must make me look like a tax collector.”
What am I about to deliver? I going to just open the damn box.
A technicolor fog spills out into the house. A hand, wielding a blade that looks just like mine, juts out from the fog and pierces someone else in the house. The fog consolidates into a shape. My shape. This cloud just stole my likeness.
“What have you done,” the woman exclaims.
I attack the fog clone.
“Have at you!” I say, crossing blades with the vapor.
After a fine parry, it extends its smog out and creates five long armed arms. Each appendage fatally wounds the other members of her family but spares us. With a smile and wave, it dissolves.
I say, “Whoops, wrong house.”
“You killed my entire family and you’re telling me you got the wrong house?!” The woman chants something under her breath. Did I just give a witch a reason to hate me? I’m fucked. I’d better stop her with tongue twisters.
“Go maire do chos istigh rit,” she whispers in an unfamiliar language. I start to feel sick to my stomach.
I respond with, “Tell the teller to take terrible taxes!”
“Go maire do pharóiste teaghlaigh,” she belts.
“Still shouting silly spells! Stop seething sister, since soon scary skeletons stand side-by-side sarcastic scorning squashes.”
Shapes in calcium white and pumpkin orange fade in, ethereal becoming corporeal. Music chimes. Humanoid skeletons dance and candle-lit pumpkin mouths passive-aggressively insult the woman’s appearance. One pumpkin delivers a stunning blow, “Hey lady conjure up a better face!”
She paws at her face and whatever magic this lady was trying to cast fizzles out.
“How’d…Now I see—you’re one of Captain Rancid’s boots. She can’t kill me so she sends a witless idiot to kill my family.”
“It’s a vapor. Not many brains in a cloud.”
“I’m talking about you, idiot.”
“I not didn’t dumb know brain about foggy good.”
“Uh, looks like someone’s got a powerful curse on you. This must be Rancid’s work. Wonder what she’s going to make you do.”
I see my fearful face reflected in the witch’s sad eyes.
“I’m cursed? Help!” I screech.
The witch scratches her chin and says, “As mad as I am at what you’ve done, it’s not your fault. Rancid’s the one to blame for all this. I’ll try and remove her curse but we need to tell Queen Brandy about these possessed void spirits.”
She chants and waves her arms. I feel salty, like a pretzel.
“Are you feeling salty, like a pretzel?” She asks.
“Yes! How’d you know? It’s like you’re magic.”
“I am magic.” She says with a furrowed brow.
“Anyway, savory vibes means it’s working!” The witch claims. “I can visualize the nature of your curse. I see a flock of birds pulling at you like a puppet, voting on how to control you. Let me try blocking their options…Got it! Did that work?”
Rancid appears, staring you—yes you, dear reader—down, as if staring through you and into your soul. “This sad excuse for a witch is trying to murder you, my precious little birds. Now’s the time. Let’s get rid of the Queen’s number one supplier of fresh Void Milk. We’ll put an end to the production of these monstrosities yet. What shall we do?”
“Poop on her car!”
Rancid smirks, “She loves that car like another family member. By desecrating that, we’ll destroy the only thing she has left in this world. How wickedly delightful!”