The Cows Have Eyes

Lawrence University Creative Writing Club Spring Serial Story: Part 5

It does not take an expert fortune-teller such as I, Allison Miller, to know that something is drastically wrong with Potterfield’s spiritual aura. Naturally, a town where everyone knows everyone is bound to cause unusual conjunctions in the spirit realm — but this is different. Ever since that Elliot character started his dealings with Mr. Bellarose, I have felt like something in the folk’s general aura has shifted.  

I was not surprised, really, when he died. It was ordained, as I explained to them last month. He was dragged along by a party from the Bellarose house, who came to solicit my services after I quite acutely predicted the details of Mr. Bellarose’s little tumble down the stairs. I predicted exactly which foot would break — his right one, in case you’re interested. Anyway, Mr. Elliot and the rest came by, curious for any other foresights I might have into their affairs, of which there were several. 

“Do sit in this chair, sir,” I said, gesturing to the chair beside the tea-table, on which rested a true gem of a crystal ball which I had bought in New Zealand. Mr. Elliot stiffly took a seat. I must admit, I hardly suppressed a giggle at how out –of place he seemed — so business-like, amidst my best finery. I sat opposite him. 

“Now,” I began, clasping my hands, “what do you see? Patterns? Images? Like, animals?” 

“Uh, no. Well… yeah, no.” Elliot’s beady eyes blinked in vexation. “Well, perhaps, I kinda see something that looks like it has four legs.” 

“Like a dog? Or perhaps a horse? Cat? You sure? It is definitely not a big cat? Cow?” 

“Close enough.” Mr. Elliot shrugged, “Look, I really don’t get this, I have a meeting to be at, Mr Bellarose is expecting me to bring the —” 

You will listen,” rasped another man that came along. This was a peculiar figure; tall, duck-footed, always in the shadows. Perhaps it was the light, or his choice of dark gray suit, but his skin seemed remarkably drained for color, despite it not being particularly pale. But what really put me in a loop was the darkness in his eyes — like murky water, with barely any whites. 

“Look into it again.” I turned back to Mr. Elliot, and this time, I mirrored his gaze. It was time to make the prediction. As Elliot and I stared at each other through the milky haze of quartz crystal, I breathed in the sweet scent of his spirit… closed my eyes… 

Stars. Moon, and me. A cow jumped over the moon. The cow’s head spun like a pinwheel around its neck, and its eye spun within its socket; a system of spinning, like the solar system. Milky Way. Now the cow’s eye was a black hole. Spinning. Upside-down. Stretches, not quite like yoga. Space-time continuum. Cow implodes, goes into black hole. Event horizon; a ring of light. It is shortening, no longer a ring. One end becomes a stick. Bright metal in a curve. Scythe. Black hole has a cape. Reaper. A cow will always die in a black hole. 

“Now that is preposterous!” Elliot flustered. “I am in perfectly good health! I am not about to tip off into a coffin just yet! Seriously, woman, what kind of buffoon do you take me to be? Enough: I’m not doing this anymore.” 

“Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.” I shrugged, and the door slammed behind him. The bodyguard, however, took his time to follow. Even though he turned his head, I could not shake the feeling that his eyes were still piercing my skin, gazing at me through the back of his head. A chill hit me as the tea kettle whistled, cups set up for three. 

As I said, no surprise they bumped him off. I also predicted that he would excrete a literal cow pie in the process, but decided to keep that to myself. 

Even though I had succeeded in predicting Mr. Elliot’s death, my vision didn’t reveal who the killer would be. So, I was tasked by the mystical authority to talk to the spirit of Mr. Elliot — to find out who killed him. They wouldn’t let me into the morgue, so I couldn’t get near the body early, unfortunately. But in my experience, even a stale spirit still speaks. So I’ve been out in the cemetery all night, conjuring the ether in. 

By dawn of day, and nay of night, by frosted hay and foggy light, what dost your spirit say, what is your plight?” My words were but whispers, but I sensed their power all the same. And as the first early hint of light began to caress the blades of grass around me, I began to feel it too. The spirit of Mr. Elliot; whose contract with life was at a close, but who had broken his contract with death as well. There it drifted, lingering on the edge, with nowhere to rest. With a deep breath thick with death, I saw a silhouette before me, no features distinguishable through the fog.  

Do not go back on your word, Allison,” his rasping voice penetrates me. “You have come to listen to me: now you must do as I say.”  

A toss sends silver through the air — a tube of lipstick. I apply it. Bend, and kiss the grave. Soft stone. E. Letters, words, note. Pen and paper.  

Dictate what I say.” 

Goodbye, my world. Goodbye, my love. May we meet again when the trumpets blow and the fallen fly, for I truly loved you. Done here. Rise, and see the sun also rise through the fog. Ball of white. Crystal ball. Elliot looking at me through a crystal ball. Eyes everywhere. Big eyes. Not Elliot anymore. Another man looking at me through a crystal ball. Bodyguard. Big, dark eyes, no whites to be seen. Black, murky, hazy — event horizon, black hole, space-time continuum. 

“Get it?” He is standing in the fog, in front of the rising sun. Right in front of me. “Have to say, I’m really glad this works. Now I am really sorry you got this far, since we can’t allow you to go much further. The police are behind me. I will yell. And I will make you run.” 

Seeing circles. But the man has a mirror. 

“Look.” His skin even more saturated in the foggy light, a grin sliding across his wide jaw, the cow-eyed man holds out his mirror so I can see my face and — by the ether — I swear on my own spirit and soul, I look just the same. Just the same.  

“STOP! STOP! POLICE!” A shout rings in my ears, but I am off. Running, running, away, down the hill. Never looking back. Away. I have four legs when I reach the bottom.