It was a Thursday, and Mary was following her usual routine of turning on the power strips. She was in the kitchen, wedged underneath the table trying to reach the button labeled “kitchen appliances,” when from outside there erupted a chorus of low-pitched mooing. Startled, Mary lurched upward and banged her head against the top of the table.
Mary respected the cows. She honored their right to exist peacefully in her environment. She could see they had a certain beauty to them; they stood tall, their angular heads always munching and their glossy pelts always shimmering when the sun shone. She was glad that they were finally safe. Thanks to the persistent efforts of the Vegetarians For Cows Commission, or VFCC, every citizen was now required by law to be a vegetarian. Cows were free at last from the heinousness of the agriculture industry. They were finally granted their equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Humanity considered them no less than kin. The Vegetation Administration, the current government, instituted the new Roam-land security to ensure the cows’ safety. It was a system that employed representatives in each town, affectionately known as the Greenpeace Force, to help regulate vegetarian behavior and protect the cows. These officers were responsible for maintaining front and back lawns to make them ideal for grazing, and making sure that all families abided by the strict vegetarian policies. They were told to punish those who broke the vegetarian laws, but most people didn’t even consider harming the cows, let alone eating them. The idea seemed as heartless and disturbing as eating a human. In fact, there hadn’t been a recorded case of cow consumption in almost 50 years.
Sometimes, though, Mary was a little annoyed with the cows. She was continuously startled by loud grunts from outside her window and distracted by herds moving swiftly in the Cow-Lane on her street. They grazed in her backyard morning, noon, and night. She had to use a Manurifier to pick up piles manure so frequently that she had to buy a new one every month. She had to weave her way through cows every day to get to her bicycle (nobody drove cars anymore), to get to her office, and to get back to her house. So when she walked out onto her backyard patio this evening to start grilling the zucchini for dinner, she had to restrain herself from shooing away the cows occupying her lawn. She tried not to wrinkle her nose at the stench of the manure and she tried not to be bothered by the constant pitter-patter of shuffling hooves. But when the cows suddenly began to moo in unison, she couldn’t help but become flustered. Her hand slipped as she was placing down one of the zucchini slices on the grill, and it accidentally caught fire.
“George, come quick! I can’t control this!” she yelled to her husband through the open window.
“Don’t tell me the cows are eating the fence again. I just fixed it last weekend,” he yelled back.
“It’s not that. The zucchini’s caught fire and I don’t have anything to put it out with. Hurry up and help me!”
Mary was frantically trying put out the fire, but she didn’t want to leave it unattended and let it ruin dinner. The cows were mooing incessantly and the fire was burning hot, so in a panic, she threw her oven mitts on top of the vegetables in the hopes of smothering the flames. She had forgotten they were made of 100% pure, all natural, and, unfortunately, highly flammable cotton.
“I just had to run and get the fire extinguisher, Mary. I didn’t think the situation was dire, it is only vegetables we are talking about here,” he said. But as George looked up, he yelled with astonishment, “Oh my Vegetarian God, what did you do. You said it was the vegetables!” Mary and George stared into the yard in a state of shock. One of the cows was on fire.
“Oh George, I’m so sorry! I wasn’t thinking straight, the fire was growing bigger and bigger, I had to do something! I put the oven mitts on the grill to try to stifle the flame, and when they caught fire, well, I flung them off the grill. I didn’t expect this to happen, I was in a panic!”
“What!? You threw flaming balls of cotton into a herd of cows and you didn’t expect that one of them would get hurt? Mary, you’ve set a cow on fire!” Mary’s eyes were glued to the blazing cow. All the other cows had fled the scene, and the burning one was running in circles and screaming. It began to slow down until it finally fell to the ground.
“I would never do this on purpose. I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“Run inside and call the Greenpeace Force. We must inform them immediately so they can handle the proceedings. Be sure to emphasize that this was an accident!” said George.
“I know, I know. Just put it out already!” she said as she ran into the kitchen.
Age 16, Grade 11
The Fieldston School High School