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Cow Tippin’

By Beka Gremikova

Ya open the spaceship’s door and stare at yer landin’ spot. This deserted planet seems made for cows. Lotsa grass, stretchy bright sky. Some spindly trees for shade. No fences in sight. Yer herd will love it. Or oughta, anyway. Ya never know with them testy space cows. One thing wrong, and yer world turns upside-down and sideways.

Ya turn, whistle. A great thunderin’ echoes as the herd thumps down the spaceship ramp, and the planet quivers like a newborn chick under their bulk. Hopefully it’ll hold up for the next few months, until the cows have eaten their fill and ya move on to the next grazin’ grounds.

Last time the herd was here, it was yer grandpa lookin’ out for ’em. He loved this planet, wished they coulda stayed longer.

Ya ain’t so sure. Looks a li’l too pretty.

That bully Tutu barges past, whipping her tail in yer face. Ya scowl and push her gently outa the way. The drama cow staggers to the side—

—and the entire planet tilts like it’s forgotten all them gravitational laws.

Stupid space cows! Newton never figured them into one of his fancy ‘quations. No wonder they cain’t never stay anywhere too long.

No wonder ya cain’t stay anywhere fer long.

Ya regain yer balance and scowl at Tutu, who munches on grass like nothin’ happened. She just stares back, her eyes all round and innocent.

“Done?” ya snap.

She moos back, the sassy swine. But ya don’t dare call ’er that to ’er face. Cows are vengeful critters. Ya settle on a nearby rock, gnawin’ a blade of grass, and watch the herd chow down. What ya wouldn’t give ta have somethin’ to do other than stare at them gigantic space cows.

Ya sigh and try singin’ a song, but the herd grumbles, and Tutu glares.

Ya snap yer mouth shut.

Then, from the huddlin’ spindly trees, ya catch a noise. It’s no moo, that’s fer sure.

It’s a… giggle?

Ya turn, but nothin’s there. Just a bunch of sickly sticks tryin’ to be trees…

Wait a dern tootin’ minute—

A figure bursts from between them trees, hightailin’ across the grass. Short, thin, with wide eyes and bright green antennae and an even brighter green leather jacket. A straw hat flops around his young, unwrinkled face.

Ya groan. Just great. A teenager.

The kid stampedes past, hollering like a cow givin’ birth. He catches yer eye and grins.

The herd mutters to themselves. Tutu sidesteps, swayin’.

The ground shifts under yer feet, tiltin’ faster than it should. Yer head spins and yer stomach starts to complain.

Ya take off after that kid, wavin’ yer fist. If ya catch ’im, yer gonna give that li’l alien punk the what-for for upsetting the cows and almost settin’ off a planet-wide conniption, but he’s fast. He leaps over a bush, straw hat flyin’ off his head.

Behind ya comes a moo of alarm.

Ya fall sideways and land on yer chin as the entire planet shifts again. Pain springs through yer head, yet somehow ya look over yer shoulder.

More teenaged punks.

Are ya s’posed t’be a cow herder or a teen-herder?

These kids push the cows, tippin’ ’em over like cookie jars. Tutu’s already a drama queen—now she downright enjoys it, tumblin’ with a long, loud moo of false distress. Her legs splay out, and she clips one of them punks with a hoof.

The kid cusses and rubs his shin, then crashes to the ground as the planet tilts even quicker. His friends join ‘im, smashin’ their faces into the grass.

Serves ’em right.

Ya lie there, just holdin’ yer stomach while the planet rocks. Why, oh why, did ya have to be born to a family of space cow herders?

Ya ponder this while the sick feelin’ in yer head and stomach slowly fades, before ya stumble to yer feet. The cows—most of ’em still lyin’ on their sides—stare at ya with those big, wide eyes.

The kids jump up, huge grins on their faces. One pukes on a tree. “We’ve gotta do this again!” another says, their antennae shakin’.

Ya stagger toward them, ready to stuff grass down their gullets. They catch sight of yer face and skitter off, dashing helter-skelter, prolly back to their ship so they can go home and brag to all their friends.

Yer legs still shake from the world spinnin’, and ya know ya can’t catch ‘em. Better ta make sure yer cows are okay. Ya help the cows get back up and earn nothin’ but tail whips to the face. Yer eyes smart from the stings. Tutu headbutts yer shoulder.

“Isn’t ma fault!” ya tell ’er.

All she does is nibble at yer worn suspenders, but pushin’ ’er away, that’d be a bad plan. The world’s done ’nuff spinnin’ round yer ears fer one day. Ya let her graze on yer pants ’til she’s bored and wanders off to bully a bush. Yer grandpa never said nothin’ bout cow-tippin’ kids—must be a new fad.

Then ya head for the trees and break off the sharpest branches, to make somethin’ resemblin’ a spear.

Ya march back to the herd and settle on a rock, spear balanced over yer knee. Ya cain’t help a mockin’ laugh. Ya got what ya wanted—somethin’ else to do. Yer family business don’t seem so borin’ now, not with cow-tippin’ hooligans on the loose, threatenin’ gravitational laws.

Next time the punks invade, yer gonna be ready for ’em.

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Beka Gremikova writes folkloric fantasy from her nook in the Ottawa Valley, Ontario, Canada. When she’s not traveling, playing video games, or dabbling in art, she can be found curled up with a mystery novel. Her work is featured in Bingeworthy, Sensational, and Prismatic as well as the collections Aphotic Love, Fool’s Honor, Tales From the Tower, Moonlight and Claws, and more. Currently, she’s plotting a plethora of dark fantasy fairy tales.

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