|The Transformation Story Archive||Mythical Beings|
It was the sound of screeching tires that first caught my attention. I watched as the red mini-van slid into the intersection and center punched my flatbed trailer. A white cloud enveloped the van. It's burning, I thought, as I grabbed the tire iron form under my seat, and leapt from my truck. I could see the driver slumped over the steering wheel. I hate seeing people burn.
I pried the door open. A blast of cold air stung my face. I cut the seat belt with my pocket knife and dragged the driver to the edge of the road. He was cyanotic, and there was no blood flowing from the deep gash the impact with steering wheel made in his forehead. He was frigid.
The billowing clouds of white vapor issuing from the van had ceased. My curiosity was peaked, what the hell had he been transporting? The inside of the van was a shambles. A hose connected to dewar marked LN2 had broken. The equipment it was connected to ripped lose from the floor and struck the safety grill behind the driver. There was a cylinder, a container of some sort, partially filled with thin glass tubes. Each tube was a couple of feet in length and half the diameter of a pencil. The impact of the collision split the container, and scattered the tubes all over the front of the van and out into the street. A label on the container read 'Better Breeding and Genetics Inc.'
I was startled by a cough from behind me. The driver was alive. He sat up, gagging for breath. After his lungs cleared, he relaxed fell back to a prone position. I took my tee-shirt and pressed it against the wound on his head, it had started bleeding profusely. I took his hand and placed it over the makeshift compress. "Hey, take it easy. I'll radio for help. You need to keep some pressure on this." He didn't say a word, but he held the shirt tight against the wound. When I returned from my truck he was standing, looking at his wrecked van. If it was possible, I'd say he looked even worse than he had before.
"That's it, there goes my job." was all he said. "Look, ah..." then I realized I hadn't checked his ID. \"Ray" he volunteered. "Yeah, look Ray, you're lucky to be alive. You can get always get another job." Ray sat down on the guard rail and sighed. "Not like that one. Best job I've ever had, but they'll fire me for sure when I get ticketed for inattentive driving." I sat down on the guard rail too. There was nothing else I could do except wait with him until the ambulance arrived.
"I didn't introduce myself, my name is Jack....so what was in the van?" Ray started to smile but the pain stopped him and turned it into a wince. "Bull semen." I squelched the temptation to laugh but a giggle escaped me. "You're kidding!" He looked back at the van. "No, that's what's in the van. Ruined, five years of work ruined." "Jeez Ray, what's the big deal. I mean like, can't you just get more?" He pulled the tee-shirt away from his forehead at looked at it. The bleeding had stanched. "It's not that simple. I was transporting that lot to the university for testing. It was genetically altered. No more waiting for the estrus cycle, any cow, at any time could be impregnated. It was going to revolutionize the beef industry."
It still didn't seem like all that big a deal to me, but some people take their jobs awfully seriously.
Ray started to wipe some of the blood from his hair. "Ouch! There's something stuck in my head!" He gently fingered an area at the back of his head. I pushed the hair aside. "Let me look at it. Ray, one of those glass tubes hit you in the head." As I watched a drop of blood oozed from the end of the tube. "I think it's in deep too." He looked ready to panic. "Pull it out! Jack! You've got to, you have to pull it out!" He began pulling at the tube, his bloody fingers slipping, it was firmly imbedded in his skull. "Oh God! Oh sweet Jesus! He screamed. Panic stricken, he jumped the guard rail and ran across a partially picked field, and into some standing corn.
I decided I'd better try and head him off. I climbed back into my truck and drove around to the far side of the section, hoping he'd run in a straight line. As I left I could heard the sound of sirens in the distance. I'd only been waiting a few minutes when he burst from the corn. He stopped running when he saw me. As he turned to run back into the cover of the standing corn, I yelled to him. "Ray, the ambulance is coming, you can hear the sirens. Get in the truck." He cocked his head listening for the sound. Then he wheeled and ran for my truck. He was panting heavily when he climbed into the cab.
"For someone that looked dead a few minutes, ago you sure can run." He leaned back against the door and stared at me. There was a look in his eyes that unnerved me. His eyes were huge, fear, I thought. His panting slowly subsided, but his breathing was still labored. "Look Ray, you need to go to the hospital. They'll be looking for you, and I'll be in trouble for leaving the scene of an accident. If we show up at the hospital everyone will be satisfied. Don't make things worse than they already are."
He pulled the door handle and started to jump from the cab. I swerved so the door swung shut, almost leaving the road in the process. He lost his grip on the handle and fell, sprawling across the seat. "Are you nuts? You could have been killed!" I was screaming at him. I caught myself and stopped. "look, Ray, I live a mile down the road. Let's stop there and then we can discuss what you want to do. I promise, I won't try anything cute." He looked up at me and nodded.
As we drove down the dirt road that leads from the highway to my place, Ray was calming down. His movement was now slow and deliberate, he looked like he was in a lot of pain. As we walked to the house, from the shed where I park the truck, he noticed the cattle penned up next to my barn. He stared at them until we reached the porch.
I pulled a chair away from the wall. "Here Ray, sit down before you fall down." I made some coffee but he wouldn't drink it. Then for the first time since the accident he spoke. "I'm really tired. Jack, I need to get some sleep." I was still worried about his head wound. "I dunno Ray, you could have a concussion, hell, I'm sure you do. You should go to the hospital."
He started breathing heavy again. "No, no hospital. All I need is some sleep." He got up and started to leave. The front steps creaked under his weight.
I didn't think he'd get very far. "All right, sleep here then. You can use the spare bedroom. We'll see how you feel tomorrow." I showed him to the room and set a chair down in the hall. At least I could hear him breathing, and maybe catch him if he became distressed. I fell asleep.
It was three in the morning when the sound of a crash woke me up. I was just about to enter his room when the door burst open and sent me flying. The last thing I remembered was hitting the wall. It was daylight when I came to. The spare bedroom looked like it had been hit by a tornado. The furniture was splintered, and there were gaping holes in the plaster. The bedroom door was off it's hinges. Ray wasn't in the house. I started to search.
I found him in the barn. He was laying face down in a pile of hay. His clothes were shredded. I tried to roll him over. Gee! He's heavy, I can barely budge him. I shook him a couple of times without getting any response. As I turned to leave, he awoke with a snort. "What! Where am I?" He said. His voice was deep, and his speech thick, he sounded totally unfamiliar to me. He rolled over and sat up.
I was speechless. The wound on his forehead was completely healed. His face had flattened, his broad flaring nostrils, pushed out jaws, and heavy lips, looked very much like those of a bull. I heard a sound like crunching gristle, his ears grew drooping away from his head. There was a loud pop as one of his shoes split open. I could see the reason his shoe had split. He had a large cloven hoof where his foot had been.
I ran from the barn, slamming the door behind me and bolting it. I couldn't stop myself from taking a second look at him, and as I watched through a crack in the door, he staggered in my direction. Then he stopped and grabbed his head. He fell to his knees and began to moan. As I watched, heavy black horns sprouted from his brow. The moaning rose in volume until he was bellowing. As he lashed out in pain he sheared one of the eight inch square posts that supports the barn in two. He stopped thrashing around and held his hands out in front of him.
Moaning softly, he watched his fingers fuse, and his thumbs completely disappear. He turned his huge two fingered hands over, examining them. A large tear rolled down his hairy cheek. He stood up and clawed the remnants of his clothing from a rapidly expanding body. Above the sound of tearing cloth, the sounds of cracking sinews accompanied his movements. This door is not going to hold him, I thought, and I went to the house to get my rifle.
When I returned to the barn, Ray was nowhere in sight. I began to cautiously search the barn. When I heard his heavy breathing behind me, I knew I was in trouble. I turned, raised my rifle, and froze. I was confronted by a living nightmare. Squinting bloodshot eyes, and flaring nostrils, ribbons of saliva streaming from his thick muzzle, he towered over me. He's huge, I thought, his biceps alone is larger than my thigh.
With a snort he knocked the rifle from my hand. He followed up with a back hand that lifted me off my feet, and sent me sailing into a stall. I lay there unable to catch my breath. As I heard the heavy thud of his footsteps approach, I closed my eyes. Maybe if he thinks I'm dead, I thought.
His hot humid breath blew on my face, and I could hear the liquid undertones of his breathing. He was so close, I could smell him. Finally, I couldn't bare the strain anymore, I opened my eyes. His broad head filled by view, large brown eyes, no longer bloodshot in rage, now appeared soft. He lowed softly, it almost sounded like "Jack." I took a deep breath, the pain from a cracked rib made me gasp and close my eyes. When I opened them again he was gone.
In the weeks that followed I often found his deep hoof prints around the barn. He ate from the gravity feeder, that I'd set up for the cattle, and drank from the stock tanks. He was cautious, and even though I tried to catch sight of him, I didn't catch so much as a glimpse. He's probably still worried that I intend to shoot him. Even a large beast could stay hidden in the several thousand acres of heavily wooded land, that was adjacent to my farm, permanently so if he wanted to.
Then I had an idea. I set up a feeder in a secluded space behind the barn. I nailed a sheet of plywood to the side and left a lumber crayon hanging on a string attached to it. A sort of giant message board, something I felt even his massive hands could manipulate effectively. I filled the feeder with mostly protein pellets, and left a message on the plywood. 'Is this OK?' The next morning I found his reply. 'Next time leave a virgin.' So he has a sense of humor. Beneath his heavy brow, and massive horns, there was still a human brain. I hoped. I left another message. 'I want to see you, don't worry I won't shoot.' The answer was two words, 'River pasture.' I started on my way.
Of all the places on the farm, the pasture which the river cut through was my favorite. It is, in a word, idyllic. A few dozen head of cattle grazed there through the summer months. It was a long walk from the house, I suspected he wanted to check me out. Maybe make sure I didn't have a rifle, and that I wasn't being followed. I doubted I could win a race back to the house, and my rifle, that worried me.
When I reached the pasture I examined the scene carefully. Peacefully grazing cattle, nothing unusual. So I sat on a stump, waiting for Ray to make his move. I never heard him approach.
"Jack." A deep resonant voice, almost musical, said my name. I turned and saw the minotaur step from the shade of the trees, where he had been watching me,into a shaft of sunlight. In a few more strides he was close enough to touch. I know he could see me trembling,
I was scared. I'd seen bulls gore people before, trying to mash them into a greasy spot on the turf with their heads, and trampling them in the process. A burst lung, or ruptured stomach, was not the way I wanted to exit this world.
His muzzle twisted into a smile. "Jack, I can't go back. I won't live out the rest of my life in a hospital, or worse. You understand, don't you?" As he spoke his expression changed, he looked forlorn, and in his voice was a sadness, the depths of which I could not plumb. I never imagined the face of a bull could be so expressive. I was totally absorbed in that thought, and didn't even think to answer.
He knelt down, bending low, so we were eye to eye. His horns spread out above my head. "Jack, are you all right." I started to laugh, maybe a bit hysterically. Now, he looked puzzled. Finally, I caught my breath and answered him. "Am I all right? I'm sitting in my pasture, talking to a minotaur. No, I'm probably out of my mind."
The minotaur tipped his great head, considering my statement. "No, not out of your mind, at least as long as you don't try to tell anyone that you talk to minotaurs." Ray had a point, who would believe me? He swatted a fly, with his long ropy tail, while he was waiting for my reply.
"Yeah, well you don't have to worry about that. I'm not going to tell anyone. I like the peace and quiet. If I did convince anyone that you are real, they wouldn't rest until you were caught. That could take years with you hiding in the deep woods. Years of strangers tramping all over the place, no I wouldn't like that."
Ray grinned. His big coarse bottom teeth made him look comical dispite his size. "You don't mind me eating out of your feeders?" I shrugged, "no."
"You wouldn't mind if I visit now and then?" I scratched my head, and thought for a moment. "Just stay off the porch, it won't hold you. I don't want the bother of lifting you out of the root cellar, with a backhoe."
He looked over at the herd of grazing cattle. "And of course you won't mind if I keep in practice, you know at my old job. Just for old times sake." His last question was followed deep rumble in his throat, which I took for laughter. "Your old job?" I said under my breath.
Maybe his mind is damaged, I thought, as I made my way back to the house. How could he possibly drive a van, he's eighteen feet tall and weighs a couple of thousand pounds. Then it hit me. I could still hear him laughing, it sounded like thunder in the distance. I'm going to have a busy calving season next spring.
Ray copyright 1996 by Jack deMule.
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