James McDonald stood at the back of the Chemicals R Us truck and watched as Roberts, the lab technician, brewed his concoctions. A few minutes later the farmer shook his head and marveled, "My dad told me that in the old days a man came with a little black bag and before that farmers used a bull. Incredible. And to think that they used to add the flavors after the cow was milked."
He shook his head again and followed the techie into the huge barn where cows swayed in straps while fed from the front at a conveyer belt and vaccuums guzzled at their rears. After injecting the five newborn calves, the techie chatted as he watched for reactions.
"So, how many chocolate cows do you have?"
"One hundred and thirty. I keep ten regulars for the Company. They still have a few customers who want to add their own flavorings. The Mega Milk farm in Wisconsin supplies them mostly though."
The techie, who looked to be fresh out of ag school and was probably working on his master's, like most, grunted and scanned the calves one last time and turned to leave. "They look all right, but keep an eye on that little pink one that's still heaving. If it doesn't stop inside a half hour, use the X-Lax cocktail. You'll probably have to ship it to Doggie Delights."
The farmer nodded. "It's great the way people have switched to the flavored dog foods. I hear that Mildly Mocha is number one now, but Creamy Coconut is moving up fast. How you all coming with the yogurt cows? They still exploding?"
The technician's eyes lit up. "It takes longer now before they swell up and burst, but I'm writing my thesis on that, and just maybe..."
After the techie left and the farmer returned to his office, the cows passed the word about the calves. No humans knew yet about their enhanced intelligence and telepathy. The ag student responsible for that had been disappointed at the apparent lack of results and moved on to Texas longhorns. (That herd worked with PETA and the Nature Conservancy and quietly bought up two huge ranches in Texas.)
"I think your little one is going to be all right, Essie." Evangeline was the only cow who could see the calves from where she hung. "She's standing up and just took a couple steps."
"We have to leave soon," Eclipse said. "The Tailess Wonder says the G line is coming along well. Pity about the poor Fs. They were all sour, and there wasn't a dog food company that would take them."
Smoky was a Maine Coon cat. She was big, gray, and well-practiced in spying. She'd been raised on the colostrum from the E line cows and her capabilities had been enhanced as well. She'd joined the conspiracy when she discovered what was happening to her litters; she'd hidden the last two. Her sixth litter was due soon, and she had plotted the escape. Her paws could manipulate the computer keys in the farm office. Her screen name was Hisss.
That evening the farmer was still twitching when he carefully closed the office door for the night. Smoky's screech echoed through the barn, and the cows flinched even though they knew it was part of the plan. She licked her tail for a couple minutes before rebooting the computer. She knew the farmer wasn't about to evict a cat whose tail had been caught in a door.
She accessed the NASA link she'd hid. Here was the one to the stranger. And here was the one to Mega Milk's trucking schedule. Twelve trucks should do it. Now to alter the injection timings and change the orders for space station Zippydedodah. She also reinstated the university program to make the newsprint feed mixture taste like grass. They'd dumped that project because there was no profit in it. Finally, she erased the funding for the cat/monkey project and sent the scientists responsible to space station Beta. Let them breathe toxic waste.
A week later the trucks arrived. The farmer had gone to pick up the videos and equipment for the G line. The summons had arrived two weeks earlier, but Smoky had filed it and covered up the delay. The E cows arrived at the Houston space port disguised as the Clover Cream shipment for weightless testing. The Clover Cream cows went to Mars. The Mars colonists would probably keep them even if they had to hide them.
The one hundred forty-five E cows went in two shuttles to Zippy, along with eleven full grown cats--including a wild and rangy black tom, five kittens, and the milking robots. Smoky had become adept at hiding, sneaking, and pillaging supplies. After the cows and cats were unloaded, they took over the station and cut communications and practiced kicking themselves and assorted humans around the station.
The Mega Milk board members watched the viewer in satisfaction as a big cow swam down one of the wide corridors. "Great idea for an experiment, Roberts," the MM CEO told the techie. "We've isolated them and can see how they do in weightlessness. I have to admit those big cows are too unwieldy on earth now. And fruit flavors are the coming thing."
They left the room and were asleep when a strange space ship docked at Zippydedodah. Smoky welcomed the aliens as her brood occupied their ship. She'd made contact three months earlier via a university link, but didn't trust aliens any more than humans.
Now, as the newcomers were distracted by the discrepancy between the drawing of the multi-limbed human and massive four-legged cows, the cats practiced at the ship's controls, and the cows stampeded the aliens onto the station and locked the door behind them, stranding the hairy, vermilion octopods with frantic humans.
Earth watched for several hours as the cow-commandeered space ship continued practicing around the moon. "The Cows Are Jumping Over The Moon Again" read at least one headline before they left, vanishing into the immensity of the Milky Way.
Joy Smith writes fiction and non-fiction, including interviews. Her interviews have been published in Expressions, Inscriptions, Working Writer, and Author Network among other publications (both print and e-zines). Ms. Smith's fiction has appeared most recently in Romancing the Skyz, Once Upon a World, and Star Leaper. She has an audiobook, Sugar Time, coming out soon.
Published by permission of the author.