The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
fictional character Gahlen, who first appears in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.
Each A-to-Z daily post is a stand-alone tale - partly true, partly fiction.
By Internet Archive Book Images - https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14783741542/Source book page: https://archive.org/stream/whatpicturestoseea00brya/whatpicturestoseea00brya#page/n212/mode/1up, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43740397
Demise of Bovine in Flash-Fire
Genre: Soft-boiled Thriller
A slow drizzle began around noon, chilling the air. We attended to crops under an overcast sky. Near dark, a Dresden cousin came looking for help when his sow’s head got stuck in the fence. I sent the two boys to hold the pig calm while the cousin worked the head loose. He invited the boys to stay the night. I agreed to send word if our cow commenced to calve.
The storm picked up around midnight. Rolling thunder had Ma squirreled under the quilt. When an ear-splitting boom hinted the earth had shattered, we figured the well exploded.
Instead, fire was licking at barn walls. Panicked-animal sounds confirmed flames had crept inside. The chickens were safe in their coop. The pig pen lay upwind. Only a plow horse and milk cow were in the barn overnight. We rushed out to salvage what we could.
When I swung the barn door open, the horse escaped. But flames blocked a path to the cow’s stall. I dared not attempt a rescue, even after Ma mentioned its condition. The cow was expected to calve soon, assuring milk production for another year and a frolicking young calf.
Rain did little to contain the fire. Dry hay fueled the flames. Neighbors arriving with buckets formed a brigade but knew the effort was hopeless.
Mournful bovine sounds rose, then ceased when a final sheet of roofing collapsed. We sprang into action, using farm tools to disperse smoldering materials while searching desperately for the cow.
Ma stood near the pig pen, shivering as she regained her senses. She no longer mourned the cow’s death or the loss of a newborn. Rather, she feared for her young daughter who had taken to spending nights near the unborn calf she already called Creamy.
A cry arose as men located the cow. Reinforced slats supported the fallen roof and the animal’s muscular carcass protected a newborn calf. Within the jumble of legs lay another figure.
The tale has a happy ending. Although the cow died, the boys administered round-the-clock feedings and the calf flourished to become a milk cow. Sheltered by a mother cow whose instincts were to protect its young, the daughter also survived.
“On the site of the burned barn, a commemorative rock reads: Mother of Creamy.