Cowed

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This is one of several 'cow' TF stories I had on my old site before the thought police took it down. I'm not sure why but cow stories were always the most popular...


Wendell Orman looked at his colleauge with frustration. "Damn it, Gunther, this could turn the company around."

The blonde haired German researcher looked back through his round rimmed glasses. "Wendell, I agree. But we have not done adequate research on the potential long term effects."

"We have, Gunther. We've done every test that the FDA is gonna ask for and then some." The American scientist pulled his fingers through his thinning hair. "Somebody'd have to eat about eight tons of cattle feed to have any affects at all."

The German gave in. "You're right, Wendell. Let's go for production."

The breakthrough caused a stir in the agricultural world. CorBeOn Corporation was a conglomerate known mainly for it's pharmaceuticals, but the last big medicine patent had run out, there had been a massive lawsuit over one of the company's vitamin pills, and the Agricultural Research Division had been on the brink of being shut down. But then the research team of Wendell Orman and Gunther Stahl had hit with 'Calf Max'- a feed additive that had cut the maturation time of calves in half. CorBeOn's fortunes immediately turned around, and the company's Health Products Division had followed up with it's own smash hit, 'MegaFlex III'- which delivered on it's promise of promoting good tendon health for human athletes.

*********************************************************

On the first anniversary of the release of Calf Max, Stahl and Orman were standing outside the division's main plant near Topeka, Kansas, watching equipment being loaded into a truck. A television reporter stuck a microphone in Orman's face.

"Tell us, Doctor Orman, exactly how does Calf Max work?"

"Our research looked at genetics," the researcher explained. "We took advantage of research into cancer and AIDS- cancer, for fast cell growth, and AIDS, for the genetic reprogramming of cells by a virus."

"That sounds scary," the reporter said. "Isn't it dangerous?"

"Not at all," Stahl replied. "The virus we engineered has a short life span- only a matter of hours. It goes in and reprograms a calf's cells to believe they are adult cells, and to grow rapidly, then the virus deteriorates and is passed from the animal's system. As soon as you stop feeding the supplement, the fast growth stops."

The reporter then pressed them on a different issue. "How do you feel about CorBeOn moving production from Topeka to Shanghai, China?" That was the real story- two hundred angry workers were being laid off in the Topeka plant.

"Our research will continue," Orman said, "so that we can help feed a hungry world."

*************************************************************

CorBeOn Shanghai Guanddong Manufacturing Facility, three months later

Bao Xing cursed the stupid Americans. They kept calling every two hours to change the production schedule, and he had already lost half a day's production time when the chemical mix hopper on the vitamin line had jammed, dumping a ton of vitamin C all over the floor. His cleaning crews were working, trying to get the sticky mess off the work benches, but it would take hours and they were rapidly falling behind schedule. "Li Wen!" he shouted. "We have to get the Mega Flex III shipment done, we're behind schedule."

His foreman looked with dismay. "Where will we mix it? The agriculture line?"

Bao Xing brightened. "Great idea."

The hopper on the agricultural products line was still half full of the last run of 'Calf Max', but there wasn't time to properly clean it. "Put in the molds- we'll just run it through, and toss out the first hundred jars or so," Bao Xing decided. With the equipment reset, their workers jumped into action. The Vitamin C had to be concentrated, so the first few jars would have Calf Max- already intended to be diluted- concentrated instead. But they'd be throwing it out, so it didn't matter.

Four hours later in the shipping department, Jian Hu was struggling to get the last boxes of 'Vitamin C' packed up, as the truck driver was yelling at her. "Hurry up. I'll never make it to the airport in time."

The last box was almost packed, but it was one bottle short. "Hold on," Hu begged. She looked around- no more bottles of vitamin C, but she'd seen some in the trash hopper near the plant floor. She ran down to the production floor, grabbed one of the jars from the hopper- probably a quality reject for the label being on wrong, or some minor problem- and hurried back, completing the last box. "Here you are," she said, handing it to the driver.

*******************************************************************************

"Cheryl, you're going to turn orange if you keep taking that junk," Lew Bateman told his neighbor.

Cheryl Catton looked across the table. "I'm not going to get the flu this year." She took another two of the 'C' pills- CorBeOn's vitamins had been on special at the mall, and she'd gotten this bottle at an extra discount, since the label was on upside down. They did taste a bit funny- but this wasn't her usual brand, she'd bought them because they were half price.

Bateman laughed. "Well, if you don't, I'll start taking those myself."

"Care for a couple?" Catton offered, pouring four into her hand.

Bateman started to reach across the table, then stood up. "Nah, I think I'll go back home and have some orange juice instead."

Cheryl popped the pills into her mouth- mega doses of Vitamin C were safe enough, she told herself, watching Bateman walk out the door. They'd frequently eat breakfast or dinner together- neither had any social life to speak of; both had demanding jobs that had them on the 'fast track' to grey hair. It was Saturday, but she was on the way to the office. Picking up her briefcase, she glanced in the mirror to make sure everything was 'just so', and made her way out to her car.

It was a short drive into the office- her home was on the edge of the suburbs, but it wasn't too far to downtown Racine. She glanced out the window as she drove- the Wisconsin suburbs were still interspersed with small farms that struggled to hold out the creeping growth of the Midwestern town.

As she sat alone in her office, working on legal briefs, she kept nervously eating- alternating between a big jar of pretzels and the vitamin C tablets through the morning. If I keep eating like this, I'll be as fat as a cow. The high heels she had worn to the office were hurting her feet a bit, which was about normal. There'd been no real reason to wear them on Saturday but force of habit.

The brief on the Mansten case was dull- a shoplifting case, but Doctor Mansten didn't want his kid to have a record, so they were paying for Catton and Associates to represent them. Cheryl was starting to get a headache, and reached up to rub her temples.

Her hand froze. She reached again, touched carefully- it feels like I've got fur growing on my forehead. She rand her fingertips across her face, feeling a strange sensation, then ran to the restroom to stare in the mirror.

Her face was covered with soft brown fur, that ran down onto her neck. Worse still, her nose was twisted into a disgusting shape, the nostrils seemingly too large. She closed her eyes, then reopened them- it was there, but it had to be some kind of hallucination.

She started to hyperventilate. This has to be a hallucination. I have to calm down, if I start to lose it there goes my practice- no one wants a nutcase for an attorney. She'd wait, this would pass.

Instead, it suddenly got worse. She felt as if her breasts were sagging, sliding down, and her bra began to painfully tear at her shoulders. She fumbled with her blouse, pulling desperately at the bra, and looked down at her chest. Her two breasts had somehow melded together, and were slowly moving downward toward her crotch, chased by the brownish fur on her neck.

Her intestines were churning, as if they were rearranging themselves. "That's it," she said aloud, to comfort herself. "Must be some kind of hallucinogenic food poisoning." Her voice had sounded deeper, and she reached to touch her ear- but it wasn't her ear, it was big, and floppy, and seemed covered with fur. She started to giggle- it was like a dog's ear, or maybe a rabbit or something.

For a moment, she considered calling for paramedics- but that wouldn't do, either, it'd be on the news. Best to just wait it out. This isn't so bad. It didn't hurt- it felt like part of her was jelly then it was different. She looked down, touched her breasts- they were way down her belly now, and she counted more nipples- there were three now- than there should have been. "I'm turning into a cow," she sang in a giddy mood, "moo, moo, moo." With an abrupt shock, she tried to speak again. "Mooo" was all that came out.

_Okay, this trip is turning bad. _ She tried to walk to the door, but felt dizzy, bending over to try to pull off her heels, she saw that her toes were gone, and there were a pair of hooves there instead, the shoes still held to her cowlike legs by the strong vinyl straps.

Her udder- she could no longer consider it her breasts- was pushing against the belt of the slacks she was wearing, so she undid the belt, letting them slide to the floor. She now stood naked, save the shoes, and she angrily shoved them off, regarding herself in the mirror.

Her face was even more obscenely cow like, the red lipstick still showing on her fat lips. Her eyes still looked human, but her neck was now thickening. The brown fur reached down her arms, covered her body, and she felt with a shock an odd sensation at the base of her spine- looking in the mirror, a tail was beginning to push out. She reached around to touch it with her fingers, but felt them seeming to thicken, and become insensitive. "Moo," she said. Somebody drugged my coffee. That's gotta be it, I'm on some kind of...

It hadn't been painful until now, but it felt as if her bones all twisted and stretched at once. Cheryl would have screamed, but all that came out was a shrieking "MOO" as she collapsed on the floor.

She scrambled to get up, but her hooves slid on the slick tile, and when she finally could, her vision seemed blurry. She looked into the mirror in terror, as the colors of the world all seemed to fade to a grayish haze, and she stumbled from the restroom into her office in a mad unreasoning terror. _I have to get out of here! _

She hit the doors and stumbled outside. It was dark and starting to rain. There was no one around, so she started to run clumsily on unfamiliar legs toward the road. I'll go home, sleep it off. I'll be fine tomorrow.

She'd made it a half block when she saw a pickup truck driving next to her, slowly. Two men inside were watching her. "MOOO!" she said, hoping they'd understand.

The one on the passenger seat stepped out of the slow moving truck and expertly tossed a rope across her head. "Come on, bessie," he said. "You musta got out."

She stopped, but the man was pulling insistently on the rope. "MOOO!" Cheryl said again. These morons think I'm a cow.

The one man hopped in the back of the truck, turning the end of the rope around the truck's trailer hitch, and the other began to drive the truck slowly. Cheryl had no option to to follow or be strangled by the rope.

She felt humiliated as they stopped the truck at a farm. The man jumped out of the back of the truck, pulling her toward a gate and a field full of brown cows. "She's lost her tag," the man said.

"Crap. I'll get another one," the driver said. He walked into the barn, then returned, carrying some kind of odd looking pliers. Cheryl started to struggle, but the first man grabbed one of her ears and twisted it.

Cheryl watched with wonder, then felt a sharp pain as the tool punched a hole in her ear, followed shortly by a yellow tag. "396," the driver said.

I'm an attorney, and my name is Cheryl Catton , she tried to say, but all that came out was another plaintive 'MOO!" as they shoved her through the gate. The cows looked at her curiously for a second, then returned their attention to a large rack filled with some foul smelling vegetables.

Cheryl remembered from one of her cases- cows had several stomachs and could eat rancid and spoiled food. She looked at the mess the cows were eating- spoiled tomatos and corn, the tomatos had weevils crawling out of them and she turned away in disgust. She walked out away from the cows- they were disgusting animals- and managed to lie down, falling asleep.

She woke the next morning, wondering why the alarm hadn't gone off, then realized she was outdoors. That stupid cow nightmare- I must have passed out in the yard or something. Trying to stand up, she realized with a start that it continued- she was in a field, and a bunch of cows were standing around, mooing loudly.

Looking around, she saw the two men had returned and were pouring some kind of sacks into the feed bins. She was starved, and walked over, finding this time it was some dried corn- more palatable. She walked over to eat, but a cow shoved her aside. She pushed back- I'm an attorney - and the cow painfully kicked her.

Startled, she backed off, and tried elsewhere. Again a cow pushed her away, and she had to settle for the far end of the feeder, where the rusting metal still tasted of rancid tomato. I'm going to sue the shit out of these people. When the men came closer, she stared at them, and in her best courtroom voice, said 'Moo!"

"I don't know if this is one of ours, Clem," the first man said- the one who'd been driving yesterday.

"She's a Holstein, sure enough," the second said, "but you're right- she seems kinda scrawny. Don't know if she's a decent milker, but if she ain't, let's run her over to the butcher this weekend."

"MOO!" Cheryl tried to scream out, looking at the two with terror in her eyes.

Clem laughed. "You sure scared her good, Bill. I 'bout think she understood you."

PROMINENT LOCAL ATTORNEY MISSING

Racine (NPI)- Local attorney Cheryl Catton's disappearance has officialy been turned into a murder investigation, according to Racine Police spokesman Marty Short.

The attorney, nationally known for her successful lawsuits against animal rights activists, has been missing since Saturday. Police released few details, but sources say that her torn clothing was found strewn about her Racine office by coworkers arriving on Monday morning.

PART II

Cheryl's next four days were miserable. The other cows- the real cows, she kept reminding herself- knew there was something wrong about the newcomer, and bullied her about, driving her away from the feeder that was now her objective. She finally managed to get in and had to eat quickly, and was dismayed to find herself vomiting constantly, the food churning up to her mouth. The first few times she'd spat it out, then realized that cattle had to regurgitate their food to chew it again- 'chewing their cud', as the saying went. She hated the taste of it, the rancid vegetables or pasty pellets mixed with her own stomach acid, but considered the alternative for the 'scrawny cow'.

On the fifth day, the two farmers began to run the cows into a pen. Cheryl joined them, not knowing what else to do, and she found that they were being taken removed one by one. She tried to hang back, but so did all the others, and being low in the 'pecking order' was forced to the front and into a chute.

"Three ninety six," the first man- Clem was his name, she remembered- said as he read her ear tag.

My name is Cheryl Catton, you idiot, she thought. She tried to verbalize. "MOO!" came out.

The second man said nothing, but Cheryl felt a sharp jab in her shoulder and realized they were giving her an injection. She didn't know what it was, but they then pushed her forward, to another group of cattle, and her place in the chute was filled by another cow.

A half hour later, she began to feel warm in her udder, and guessed the purpose of the shot. Hormones- so this body will think it's pregnant and produce milk. At least I don't have to go through that nightmare of being bred. She shuddered with the thought, and dreaded what was to come.

That evening, the cattle were herded into the barn. Cheryl found herself pushed into a narrow stall, and a bar was closed behind her. Clem was walking down the line, hooking some kind of alien looking apparatus to each cow's udder.

Cheryl felt tight underneath; her udders felt as if they'd explode. She was anticipating some relief, but the cold metal devices that Clem attached to each teat pinched painfully as they began to squeeze. Cheryl could do nothing but stand in the tiny stall, feeling the machine squeeze her constantly. She tried to eat some of the hay that was in a rack in front of her face, but the violation of her udder was too distracting. NO NO NO, it's not 'my' udder. This isn't me. I am a woman, not a cow.

Clem came back from time to time, looking at a dial and making notes on a clipboard. After what seemed an eternity, the machine suddenly stopped. Cheryl relaxed, looking from side to side, wondering why the other cows' machines still ran.

"Three ninety six is dry already, Bill," she heard Clem say, and she turned her neck to look behind at the two men.

"Maybe if we bred her?" the one named Bill replied. Cheryl wanted to scream "NO" but only a long, plaintive "Moooo!" came out.

"Nope," Clem said. "Not worth the bother. I think she's a cull."

"Yeah, plenty of good ones to not waste space on this," Bill said, and the two walked off.

Cheryl didn't like the sound of it, but about a half hour later the rest of the machines shut off, and the pair came back in and released the cows. She shuffled after the rest of the herd as they went into the field for the night, and she made her way over to the watering trough and looked at the reflection of her face. What did I do to deserve this? Ten grand on plastic surgery to fix my nose, and look at me now. I'm an ugly cow, and even a loser cow.

The next day was back into the small pen. Bill and Clem were walking through, looking at ear tags. Cheryl watched as they selected a few cows, put nylon halters on them, and led them into an even smaller pen. They walked up to her. "Three ninety six," Bill said.

Clem put a halter on and tugged. It was designed to put pressure at the back of her head- she froze for a moment but the pain made her move forward, joining four other cows. They seemed calm, so Cheryl figured nothing was amiss.

She was wrong. A few minutes later, Clem drove up in a pickup truck with a trailer hooked to the back. Cheryl's heart pounded, remembering the farmers' conversation from a few days earlier. The four cows loaded into the trailer somewhat calmly, scrambling to the front to grab at some hay. You idiots, they're taking you to the butcher, Cheryl thought, but then Bill was there, putting the halter on. "Come on, three ninety six," he said, pulling.

Cheryl dug her heels in. Pain or no, she wasn't getting into the trailer. "Damn it, Clem, this one's throwin' a fit."

"Hang on." Clem walked over, an odd sticklike object in his hand, and he walked behind Cheryl. Something touched her rump, and a searing, mind numbing pain ran up her spinal cord, and she involuntarily jumped forward and away from the pain. Bill pointed her in the trailer, the pain repeated, and she found herself standing with the other cows in what amounted to a death van.

Bill slammed the rear door of the stock trailer shut and slammed down the bar that held it shut. "Okay, girls," he said in an almost kind voice. "Nice havin' ya' here, but it's time to become hamburger."

Cheryl felt something warm, and realized her bladder had emptied from fear. It was a disgusting part of being a cow, she thought, and she'd tried her best to stay clean, but her hind end always seemed covered with some kind of excrement. The trailer began to move, and the cows jostled her as the truck bounced down the road. Clem wasn't sparing the speed, and they were tossed from side to side in the trailer as it sped down the road.

The trip ended- too soon for Cheryl , as she knew what was coming. The five were prodded from the trailer and into a large holding pen with about a hundred other cattle.

Cheryl felt raw fear. The cows were standing about, unconcerned. We're going to die, and you're standing around chewing your cud? "Mooo!" she cried out, trying to warn them.

The two farmers came out of an office, got in the truck and drove off. Cheryl felt as if her fate was sealed. The pen was large, with two gates- one led to the parking area, where she had entered, the other led into a narrow and long passage between two fences that led into a building. Cheryl could smell the scent of blood and gore, and she knew that this was the end.

After a few hours, a large group of people began to trickle into the building. She could guess that it was time for the shift to start, and the cows were soon being pushed, tugged, prodded and bullied into the long passage that led to the building. She hung back as long as she could, but was soon being hit with the electric prod. "This one's a real jerk," one of the workers complained.

"Won't be much longer," another replied.

She stood in the death line. Every minute or so, the cow ahead of her moved up about six feet, the ones behind her pushed forward stupidly, forcing Cheryl to walk forward as well. They eventually got far enough that Cheryl could see inside the building.

The passage led to a narrow metal chute, and she watched with a mix of horror and disgust as a cow walked into it. A bar shut behind the cow, then a man standing by the cow's head placed some kind of air powered tool against it and pulled a trigger. The cow slumped, and the man pulled a lever, flipping the cow- dead or unconscious, Cheryl couldn't tell which- onto a chute, where the limp body slid down out of her sight. Again she froze, trying to keep from being pushed toward her execution, but the dozens of cows behind her pushed her forward.

Finally, she up to the chute. She watched the cow ahead of her walk in, the bar shut. The air hissed from the tool, the hose didn't have a good seal. The man that was doing the killing seemed rather ordinary- wearing a white coat and safety glasses as he pushed the tool against the cow's head, pulled the trigger-

Cheryl watched as a bit of the cow's brain spurted out, and she realized that this was it- her death was moments away. The cow flipped onto the chute, a bit of blood and brain spilling onto it, joining the slime that was already there, and Cheryl could see the carcass slide down to join several other cow corpses that were waiting. A group of men and women, also wearing white coats, were taking one of the dead cows and hooking it's hind legs to a chain, pulling it off the ground and adding it to an assembly line that was carving them up one by one. The line stretched out- she could see the nearby carcasses were clearly cows, hanging lifeless, the next station down had cows with their bellies cut open, intestines stewn about.

NO, NO, I am a WOMAN NOT A COW! She struggled again, and a prod hit her rump. She jumped away from it and felt the metal bar slam behind her and began to shake in fear as the man- she could smell mint on his breath, he was chewing gum- brought the gun toward her head. She flipped it from side to side, trying to get away, hoping for some miracle.

"Hey Rich, c'mere," someone called, and the man looked away from her.

"What'cha want?"

"C'mere, okay?"

The man put the gun down and walked off, leaving Cheryl in the chute. She suddenly felt furious- they wouldn't even do her the courtesy of killing her quickly, and her anger began to replace the fear. I'd like to kick that jerk's ass.

Suddenly she felt strange- as if her forelegs were shrinking. There was a sudden sharp pain in her hips, and she looked back- her vision was suddenly sharpening and the colors becoming clear again, and she looked in disbelief as the hair around her waist- yes, it was a waist again- began to disappear, drawn back inside her body. Her arms were rapidly shrinking, and the hooves at the end of her arms were changing, back to fingers- she could wiggle them again. She reached up, feeling her ears and face- they felt human again, and looking down she could again see her breasts, moving up to where they belonged.

She was there- standing, a woman again, though naked in a cow slaughter chute. Glancing at the clock, she saw it was noon. "They went to lunch," she said. She was still angry, but this was a chance to get away.

There was one way out- disgusting though it was. She climbed onto the chute, slimy from the blood and brain of countless cows, and slid down it, landing on the carcass of the cow that had stood ahead of her. There was no time for sympathy, she walked as quickly as she could until she found a changing room. Rummaging through the lockers, she found one of the lab coats and pulled it on. Another locker had a purse- she had no compunction at taking it from one of the people that had almost been her executioner. There were keys in the purse for a car- a Yugo. She couldn't believe her good fortune, the cheap and old car would be easy to find.

The guard looked at her as she left the plant- she was barefoot, there was dried blood in her hair, she had a big yellow tag in her left ear, and he could tell she had very little on under the lab coat. But it'd be a hassle to find out why, so he looked back at the magazine he was reading and kept munching on his sandwich.

She found the Yugo and gunned it to life. It was only a half hour drive back to her house, where she retrieved a key from a fake rock and let herself in. She wanted badly to shower away the stink, but first needed to make a call. "Lew, it's Cheryl."

"My god, Cheryl. The cops have been looking for you for a week. Where are you?"

"Come over, I'll explain." She hung up. Lew was an attorney, she'd had two weeks to think about it, and she knew what had caused her change, and she knew what she wanted to do. Lew was there in a few minutes.

"You look like hell," he said.

"I've been through it. You remember those vitamin pills I was taking?"

"Yeah, the 'Super C' from CorBeOn?"

"It did something to me," she said. "I'm going to want you to file a lawsuit."

"What did it do?" Bateman asked.

"This is going to sound crazy," she said. "It turned me into a cow."

"Hallucinations?" Bateman said.

"No, I mean it turned me into a friggin', fat cow." She sat at the table, really exhausted. "Cheryl, that's nuts." He reached for the phone. "I'll call a doctor. You'll need to let the..." he suddenly stopped speaking, staring at his neighbor, at the brownish fur that was appearing on her face. He watched in fascination as her ears began to change shape.

Cheryl looked up at him, saw the strange look, and touched her face. "No," she moaned. "It's happening again." Already her breasts were starting their migration downward, billowing out obscenely, and her feet and hands were becoming hooves.

Bateman slowly replaced the phone on it's cradle as he watched. Her legs were thickening, as were her arms, lengthening along with her torso, and she suddenly collapsed forward as her hips changed; the lab coat tore, revealing her almost completely bovine form. Her neck thickened, leaving a human head on an otherwise cow.

"Cheryl, that is too...weird."

"Lew, you have to find these CorBeOn people and youuuoooo. Moooo." Cheryl was cut off as her face began to push into it's new form, and Bateman watched with a mixture of shock, disgust, and a bit of guilty excitement as his neighbor fully became a cow. She stood there, looking at Bateman with pleading eyes. "Mooo."

"Cheryl, I'll find them, and we'll sue them for every cent they've got and will ever have," Bateman promised.

Six hours later, Wendell Orman and Gunther Stahl sat in Orman's office reading the email in disbelief. "Is it possible?" Orman said.

"Do you remember what the idiots in the plant in China did? The German scientist replied. "I would think that the shock would kill most individuals, but if one was healthy..." he shrugged. "It is possible. The genetic reprogramming would make her into a cow, but adequate stress could force the cells to revert to their original status for brief periods of time."

"We have to contain this," Orman said. "If it gets out, there'll be hysteria. No one will eat meat again."

"It has nothing to do with meat," Stahl said. "Only an idiot would think that."

"People are idiots, Gunther. We have to handle this- permanently, if you know what I mean. I'll see you at the airport."

Stahl watched as Orman left. The German reached into his desk and pulled out a small pistol. He checked it carefully, seeing it was loaded and the safety on. They'd be flying in CorBeOn's private jet, so he didn't have to worry about any security checkpoints, and he slid the gun into his pocket.

Six hours later, the pair sat with Bateman in Cheryl's kitchen, looking at the cow that stood in the house's living room. "If this is a hoax," Orman began, "you'll be in a lot of trouble, counselor."

"No hoax," Bateman replied with assurance. "Cheryl, come over here."

The cow walked over, looking at the two scientists. "So you've taught a cow to come to your voice," Orman said. "Dave Letterman is always looking for pet tricks."

The cow picked a marker pen off the table in her mouth, and walked to the marker board on the refridgerator. Stahl felt a bit of excitement as a scientist as the cow slowly spelled out 'I AM CHERYL' in block letters. "So," Bateman said. "You want to see her on Letterman spelling out 'CorBeOn did this to me?"

Orman seemed defeated. "We need this kept quiet, you understand."

"Of course," Bateman said. "I'm only looking out for Cheryl. If she's going to be a cow the rest of her life, we'll want the best of care- say a fifty acre estate- and it's going to cost CorBeOn a considerable sum." Bateman was thinking of his own attorney's fees as well.

"Yes. A cow the rest of her life," Orman said. The balding scientist reached into his pocket, then moving too quickly for such a heavy man suddenly plunged a syringe into Bateman's arm.

"What the hell?" Bateman said, looking with surprise and pain.

"Wendell, what are you doing?" Stahl demanded.

Orman had a cold gleam in his eye. "Can't have Cheryl lonely, now, can we?" Bateman was starting to tremble, and his hands seemed to be spastically shaking. The attorney began to make choking sounds, and his neck suddenly swelled up to an enormous size. His shoulders and hips expanded abruptly as well, tearing his Gucci jogging suit, and revealing rapidly growing dark brown hair.

"You're making me into a bull?" Bateman gasped out.

Orman said nothing as Bateman's face suddenly changed, pushing out, and he flopped forward onto his arms- but they weren't arms, they were forelegs. A tail began to grow from his spine, drooping toward the floor, and Bateman looked at them with an almost mad terror in his eyes. He bellowed out- a loud, deeper 'MOO' than Cheryl's; nothing he could do could stop the transformation as his chest continued to deepen and widen, the coarse brown hair covering his body.

Stahl looked at his colleauge. "Wendell, are you insane?"

"This solves our problems," Orman said. "I'll drug them both, call a local slaughterhouse and tell them that someone was playing a joke, come get two free cows." He was pulling out another syringe when he saw the pistol that was suddenly in Stahl's hand. "Come on, Gunther. The company will be ruined if this gets out."

"Wendell, I can't let you do this," the German said softly.

Orman turned toward Stahl, a syringe in his hand. "Well, Gunther, you have a choice. I'm not giving up the fruits of my research. You can either shoot me, or help me. Or if you want, you can join these two at McDonald's." He lunged toward Stahl, and a pistol shot rang out.

Two days later, Stahl was unloading a cow and a bull at a small farm near Topeka. It specialized in care for horses- they didn't ask why the German had cattle for pets, it fit in with the llamas and donkey that other boarders had. "Here they are," Stahl told the farm owner. "Wendell and Cheryl."

The woman chuckled. "Wendell fit's the bull, but Cheryl?" She looked at the cow. "Have you bred them yet?"

"No," Stahl said. "That's up to them, if they want to."

Another kook. Well, he's a handsome and wealthy one. "All right. I'll put them in a pasture together. I doubt if they'll bother the horses."

The German walked out into the pasture with them, away from earshot. "I promise you both, I will find a way to reverse this."

Wendell still seemed a bit in shock, but Cheryl looked about- the place was clean, and the threat of death was gone. She nodded in reply.