William Hoffacker

Attempting to Handle a Fast Cow, You Roll a 2

As a reward for killing the town werewolves, the humble dairy farmer offers you a special cow. “Better than any coin,” she says, “for all the milk she’ll supply. She won’t slow you down none on your adventures. She’s our fastest.”

The cow looks lean yet healthy, chewing cud, its black eyes unblinking. You can’t imagine traveling with such a dumb beast, but you don’t want to be impolite. The farmer hands you a rope tied loosely around the cow’s hulking neck.

“Go on,” she says, “introduce yourself.” You take it she doesn’t mean with words. Slowly you extend your hand toward the animal’s wet nose. As if in self-defense, the cow bites your hand—its teeth will leave a wide bruise across your fingers—and takes off at a sprint. The rope slides against your other hand, burning your palm, and you release it.

The cow runs westward, not slowing down. She is a fast cow, as advertised, so fast you doubt you would catch up even if you chased her from now until sunset. Not running after her might seem as ungrateful as rejecting the cow, but you turn to the baffled farmer and raise your wounded hands, as if they mean anything, as if they were clean.