Don’t Have a Cow, Man
So it came to pass that a kingdom worshipped cows. The kingdom was based in the south of the land, whilst the north was ruled by the warchiefs. The man in the south, who sat on the throne, held in his hands a saucer, whereupon he gazed into the liquid substance inside the saucer, seeing in its ripples divine messages that would decide the future of his kingdom.
His most loyal servant stood by his right side, and it was to this side that the ruler leaned.
“The milk is telling me that I must meet with the warchiefs and see if I may unite them under my banner.”
“Not wise,” said the servant. “They are already united, and are on the way south to supplant you.”
The man in the south who sat on the throne lowered his saucer carefully to the floor. “Tell me, most honourable servant, do these men not believe in the holiness of the cow?”
“They... do not.”
The man in the south who sat on the throne and who had ordered his kingdom to worship cows felt a sudden urge to stroke his beard, but do so in public would be a sign of weakness. Not for three dozen years had the warlords in the north turned back from their path and headed towards the kingdom. Not since his father’s father’s father had a rebellion displaced a king.
But these men lacked knowledge of cows, and so would have to be punished.
Several weeks later a band of men rode roughshod up a river. On either side, armies of cows stood watching.
“They are not moving,” whispered the second in command.
“My brother’s love of cows has done strange things to these creatures,” spoke the man at the front. “He has concocted magics to bring them under his spell. This, more than anything, is a sign that his will is turned to madness, and that we must stem the evil tide that threatens to disrupt the peace of this realm.”
Silently, the boatsmen behind him nodded agreement. All were fatigued from their journey; on the way back south, they had been ambushed by monkeys, waylaid by domino-wielders, attacked by moustache-wielding otters, battered by fish, pounced upon by panthers, ambushed by ants, serenaded by snakes, lulled by lobsters, punched by pigeons, and watched by weirdos. The lands had become full of oddities. Prophets no longer proclaimed anything. St. Larry had taken to shrugging whenever prodded. It was into this time and space that the brother of the king came to restore order; for, if the king had been appointed by the will of God, and if this land’s sickness was a sign that God himself was sick, then it was clearly up to the rightful king to restore God’s health, and therefore the land’s health, for God was intertwined with the land.
“There are hundreds of them,” murmured a young men from near the back. “Why don’t they move?”
The king’s brother mused upon these words. How was it possible to bring cows under his control? Doubts crept into his mind. Only a supernatural being, a being given God’s power, would be able to bring cows under his control and communicate them to be absolutely still.
Then it occured to him.
“These cows... they are all dead.”
“But they cannot be. Your brother worships cows, as must the subjects of his kingdom.”
“He has killed them.”
“But he worships them.”
The king’s brother’s grey eyes glanced at the man; although for only a moment, they left a mark nonetheless, like rocks ricocheting from a surface. “He kills them because he worships them. As king, he cannot cope with the paradox of worshipping something that is bigger than himself, because he is king.”
“And this is why we must overthrow him? Because he is drunk with power but also drunk with paradox?”
“No. We must overthrow him because I really like milk.”
“Shit. Me too.”