Bogleech.com's 2017 Horror Write-off:
Submitted by Reggie
The cows came from Tillamook.
I was at the county fair when it happened. My mom found me waiting in line for a ball toss game when she whisked me away. She said we had to leave now and we weren't going back to the campsite. I got in the car with my cousins and brother, my aunt said we were going back to grandma's house in Portland. A voice on the radio said that dairy cows had escaped into the woods and sewers. The voice warned to leave the area. My aunt put on a CD soundtrack from a movie.
I stared out the window into the woods and vacant dairy fields hoping for a glimpse of the chaos that cut my beloved camping trip short. I thought I saw a cow, just a blink of one, leaping triumphantly through the forest, but maybe I only saw what I wished was real.
The days at Grandma's house blurred into each other. Nobody discussed the cows except late at night when the adults got loud and the kids were sent to a quiet room to pretend to sleep.
One day before we were scheduled to leave my East Coast relatives'learned their flights were delayed indefinitely. The highways my family would use were shut down the day after. The adults were frustrated but I didn't mind the news. I liked this place. I liked the earthy smells and the wet and late night philosophy with my cousins shared in whispers so the adults wouldn't hear. I had nearly forgotten the cows.
The last distinct memory I have after that was a quiet day. My dad, uncle, and cousins had gone to Freddy's. I was sitting on Grandma's porch, breathing in the scent of moss and soil as I followed the mucus paths of slugs and snails. Grandma stepped out, she said there was a farmer's market nearby and asked if I'd like to put on my new dress and go with her and my aunt. There would be fresh berries, maybe some sweets, and yummy honey.
I ran upstairs, glass clinking in display cases from the rhythm of my feet. I put on the floral dress Grandma made me and walked back down. While I waited I slipped into the kitchen to pilfer hidden sweets. My uncle slept in front of the news. They were talking about the cows, reminding viewers they had reached the Beaverton area. Be wary of the sewer cows. Stay away from the storm drains.
Grandma and my aunt arrived downstairs ready to go. I followed them up the street, disappointed I couldn't walk along the curb and play raging torrent. And then across the street I saw it.
I saw the mass of great black bovine heads nodding and swaying at the grate of the storm drain. Their eyes glowed a reflective white and never blinked, the number of eyes suggesting far more heads than I could see. A girl on a bike passed, dropping a basket of strawberries. The bovine swaying increased with the excitement, seeming to pulsate. Long, spindly, two-clawed limbs, broken mockeries of bovine form, stretched and probed beyond the grate.
I felt my skin grow cold and I understood. I turned away from the grate and skipped to catch up to my Grandma. I had honeycomb to buy.
It has been over a decade since the cows first made their way to the sewers. They spread across the west coast rapidly and are currently creeping across the midwest. At this point, they're just an inconvenient fact of life. When they're discussed at all in conversation, it's with the tone of voice you might use to talk about feral dogs. They've stopped asking questions about them. I think people are scared to listen. They don't want to know. I don't blame them.
I can't help but feel a strange sympathy for the cows. I know that I'm not supposed to, but sometimes I pick up some strawberries and honeycomb and leave them beside a storm drain. I never see them, if I can avoid it, but somehow I know that they remember what I can never forget.