It's two hours pre-dawn. Most cattle have settled in small groups, both for protection and warmth. The nearby town of Gisborne is neither lively, nor close enough to be a disturbance with either light or sound. Casting a dark silhouette from before a bright full yellow moon, a cow stands alone on a hill. An old long-dead steer's skull at his feed, he stands atop it. He watches.
Gisborne at night. My people. It seems a sleepy town to the uninitiated, but I have long since come to know it to be the four-sectioned belly of hell. I have grown in the darkness. From here, atop this gargoyle I watch over them alone. There is no inch of this pasture that is not under my own survey.
A small fox breaches the fence in a dark corner, ears twitch on the cow on the hill and he raises his head and lows deeply. Standing higher on his haunches and aligning his head perfectly to obscure the moon from the onlooking cattle and the fox. Other cow's moo in disturbed tones at the breach of silence and look upon the hill. The fox, sensing something askew with the situation, leaves the way he came.
The Batcow's symbol cut's deeply at the carnivores’ hearts. Carnivores are a superstitious and cowardly lot, the symbol preys on that fear. I... prey on that fear. To prevent it from ever happening again to another calf. That is my method, that is my mission.
Almost a decade earlier
“How you goin’, ol’ girl.” Alfie uttered, pressing his hand against the swollen cow’s side. “Geez Martha, you’re about to pop any minute. I better call the vet in.”
The farmer had precious little calf-birthing experience, and after the great expense of this particular artificial insemination he wasn’t game to attempt it himself. So some time later, after a quick phone call, a four wheel drive is seen powering up the lengthy driveway towards the homestead.
The vet strode past a bull being kept in the home paddock, towards the milking shed where Martha was being kept in isolation.
“She in here? This the one?”
That was the day. The day everything changed. My destiny would find a new path, to prevent the same thing from ever happening to another.
The vet feels the side of the cow. “Yep, she’s bloated, Alfie. Called me in right on time.”
With eager, expert fingers the desperate man clutched at my mother in desperation.
“Mooooooooooooo!” the bull bellowed.
“Thomas! Settle down.”
The bull began to thrash out. He flipped a drinking trough by the fence.
“Awww, no. She’s turned. The calf’s turned. Hell.”
The calf came out, with a hard yank. The vet fell on his rear end, covered by the calf and some putrid smelling afterbirth.
“There ya are, little fella. We were looking for you. Wait, what are you? That’s a—“
“A Montbéliarde.” The farmer said with a smile. “Yep. Martha was always a good breeder, so I got her inseminated with Montbéliarde for higher grade milk.”
“Well, ain’t she a spruce one.” The vet said.
“Yup. My little Spruce.”
“Aww Hell.” The vet pined, looking back at the calf’s mother. The cow’s mother had more than just afterbirth hanging from its cavity. He gave the farmer a look, which he immediately understood. Alfie looked at the floor and then walked away. The vet went to his car and brought out an air-canister and hand-piece; a captive bolt pistol.
“MOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Thomas the bull bellowed.
With a puff of compressed air the vet fired a bolt through the cow’s head, it stayed upright for a second and then crumpled to the floor of the milking shed.
I can still remember it. All of it. My father’s shout. The shot. Beads of milk falling to the cement like white pearls in the night, before she fell. Never to rise again.
Thomas the bull kicked the upturned trough, which echoed like thunder throughout the farm and then tore through the fence.
Lightning cracked, thunder rumbled and my father ran for that man. Joe Chill must fall. But the man was too fast.
“Jeezus!” the vet exclaimed, hurriedly re-loading the bolt gun. The bull rushed. The vet took aim and with another puff of air it was all over.
A young calf’s life was forever changed. I lay on that hard, cold cement besides my mother and father and lowed deeply, about all that was unfair in this world. It wasn’t for years until I would find my path and the means to change it.