The klaxon sounded, blocking out all other sound throughout the facility. Men in white coats and hardhats scurried to and fro in seeming wild abandon.
“Fred,” shouted one, “you know what’s going on?” Without waiting for an answer he turned to study some dials and gauges.
“There’s been some kind of venting leak,” the one addressed as Fred answered. “Some radioactive coolant has been released into the discharge.”
“Holy shit!” gasped the first, whose name was Allen. “How much?”
“Dunno,” replied Fred, checking other dials and gauges. “Can’t have been too much, though. No general alert or evac has been called for yet. So, it’s probably minimal.”
Sunnyvale Dairy Farm was set in an almost stereotypical setting, gently rolling hills covered in emerald green grass, a few scattered trees, Holstein cattle sprinkled about grazing. A stream meandered through the middle of the pastureland. It served to supply water both for drinking and for cooling off the cattle.
The owner of the dairy, Mr. Sorensen, believed in a natural environment for his cattle and, so, used no steroids, or other artificial growth additives. In fact, he didn’t even believe in poling his cattle (permanently removing the horns). No single animal on Sunnyvale Farm was branded either, instead they were tagged in their ears. Sorensen was the proverbial good herdsman, too - he knew his animals and they all knew him. It was almost a personal relationship. Rather like the relations most people had with their pet dogs.
But Sorensen was only human. Like everyone else, he was getting older and the day-to-day effort of running the farm was getting to be too much for him. He put out fliers at the nearby State Mining and Agriculture Institute advertising for hired help. Even there, he didn’t get much interest. Working on a farm isn’t glamorous at all. No flash, no excitement. Just the steady routine of daily chores.
When Lauren Olsen applied for the position, she was the only applicant. Not that Sorensen minded. She was a veterinary student, so she was knowledgeable. She came from a farming background herself, so she knew what she was getting into. Besides, the twenty-one year old co-ed was more than easy on the eye. She was five foot six, medium brown hair, brown eyes and a figure that would look good on just about any calendar or centerfold.
Sorensen extended his hand, “Welcome aboard. Ya start tomorrah.”
“That’s great,” Lauren grinned, shaking the hand. “You won’t regret it, Mr. Sorensen. I’ll do the best job possible for you.”
“I’m sure you will. Best be gettin’ plenty o’ sleep tonight. Mornin’ milkin’ starts at 4:30 sharp, an’ the ladies hate at wait.”
“4:30 it is, sir.”
“Ya kin drop the sir. Call me Arnie.”
“Yes, sir…I mean, Arnie. Till tomorrow then.”
Back at her dorm, Lauren prepared for bed at a very early hour.
“You’re actually gonna do this?” gasped her roommate Heather. “I mean you’re gonna do the whole Daisy Mae bit and work on a farm with yucky, disgusting animals?”
“Yes, I am. And they’re cows, and they are neither yucky nor disgusting. It’s the same place that glass of milk you drink every morning at breakfast comes from.”
“My milk comes from the grocery store, not some animal.”
Lauren stared at her roommate. “Just what is your course of study here, Heather?”
“I’m working on my MRS Degree. Right now, I’ve got my eye on Travis B Williams, he’s studying to be a Mining Engineer. Someday, he’ll be making megabucks.”
“Uh-huh. That explains a lot.” Lauren turned out her light, pulled up the covers and rolled over to face the wall. She was asleep within minutes.
All day and all night, the leak from the nuclear plant fed into a small nearby stream. The gauges said the leak was sealed and limited - but the gauges were wrong.
The small stream fed into a somewhat larger stream about a mile and a half from the plant. That larger stream ran through some gently rolling, grass-covered hills - the self-same hills included in our idyllic scene at Sunnyvale Dairy Farm. The cattle drank from and waded in the stream all day and all night. The cattle neither saw nor tasted anything wrong with the water. However, even a casual human observer would have noticed the slight greenish glow coming from the tainted water.
Lauren arrived at Sunnyvale closer to 4:00 AM than the agreed upon 4:30. That way she was able to locate buckets and other needed equipment. Arnie was impressed with her work ethic.
“Tell ya what,” he began. “Since you’ve milked cows before, you take that part and I’ll run the separator. Then we’ll both load the milk and cream on the truck and take it into town. That way I can show you where everything is.”
“Sounds like a plan, si…Arnie.”
He smiled at her correction. “You’ll find milking stools just inside the barn door.”
Lauren moved through the cool, dark barn, past the stanchions and finally, to the pasture-side door. She slid the door back and was greeted immediately by several members of the dairy herd, waiting to enter and be milked. As they filed in and took their usual places, Lauren hurried along and, using the scoop, placed a small pile of grain at each stanchion.
Then she came around and began to close the stanchion at the neck of each feeding cow.
She had seven in place, but the eighth seemed to have some difficulty. She pushed and shoved her way through the bovine masses in an effort to assist Number Eight.
But the cow seemed to want no part of her help. It shied and balked at everything she tried. In fact, Lauren could have sworn that the animal was deliberately swatting her with its tail.
“C’mon, girl,” she grunted, shoving the cow toward its place. “Move.”
The cow must have been as frustrated as Lauren at this point, her massive head swung around suddenly and, before Lauren could react, bit the near hand of the young woman.
“Ow! Son of a…” yelped Lauren. “That frigging hurt!” She shoved and kicked, and the cow moved into place and the stanchion was closed.
Sorensen had heard only a portion of the commotion. “You okay in there?”
“Yeah. Just a bit of a placement problem. All taken care of now.”
Lauren noticed a bit of blood on the fleshy side of her left hand, the one that got bit. A cursory exam gave her to believe that is wasn’t so serious as to need immediate attention.
She milked the eight cows with no further incident, released them and repeated the process twice more. Having milked a total of twenty-four cows in the hour and a half, she took the last bucket to Arnie at the separator. Then helped him wash the machinery before loading the four cans of milk and two of cream into the pickup for transport to town. Arnie had already loaded a similar number of cans from the evening before.
Arnie noticed her fingering the bite. “What happened there?”
“Oh, one of the first batch bit me. It’s nothing.”
“Dear child, there’s always the danger of infection. Here, let me look at it.”
Arnie examined the wound. Indeed, it really did not look all that serious. But he carefully washed it and applied a salve he kept in the barn for those times when a cow cut her udder on barbed wire or such.
“Keep an eye on that. Let me know if it is starts turning red.”
“I will. But I don’t think it’s anything.”
“Still, you keep an eye on it. For me, if for nothing else. Hear me?”
“I hear you…Mother Sorensen.”
They grinned at each other and drove into town.
Finding the dairy, delivering the milk and cream, and getting a voucher for the delivery proved very anti-climactic after the excitement of the first morning.
The rest of the day was rather dull and routine for a typical small dairy farm. Arnie and Lauren checked fences, delivered a couple of salt blocks to the pasture, took a quick inventory of new calves (it being THAT time of year) and did some general maintenance around the barn and machinery.
About five that afternoon, the cows returned for the evening milking. Number Eight was again recalcitrant, but proved easier to move into place than in the morning. In fact, she seemed somewhat remorseful and licked Lauren’s wounded hand a couple of times.
Lauren smiled her patented “Mona Lisa smile” and muttered, “Its okay, you’re forgiven. Do you forgive me?” She wrapped her arms around Eight’s neck. Eight lowed a long, low note as if to say, “Yes, you’re forgiven.”
That night, as she prepared for bed, Lauren noticed a bit of inflammation around the bite and put some healing ointment on it. She also noticed a rather persistent itch on her lower abdomen.
The next morning, Lauren examined the bite. Not only was the inflammation gone, but that wound seemed to be completely healed.
“Thought it wasn’t too serious,” she thought to herself as she dressed for Day Two.
“How’s the hand?” Arnie asked by way of greeting her that morning.
“Healed. See?” She held it up for inspection. “I knew it wasn’t too bad.”
“Just the same, be careful today.”
“Yes, Mother Sorensen.”
The morning passed without incident. One of the cows was calving near the barn, so Lauren opted to stay and watch after her while Arnie made the morning deliveries. It would be some time before the birth so it seemed like a fair bargain.
Lauren absently scratched her lower abdomen as she watched Arnie drive off. She then turned to the mother-to-be.
“Well, Momma, I guess it’s just you and me and the stork.” She patted the cow’s rump loudly. And spoke soothing non-words to the distressed animal.
Lauren observed aloud, “Funny. You don’t look all THAT pregnant to me. But, then, it’s been years since I helped deliver a calf. Now, don’t worry, Momma, we’ll both get through this with a minimum of effort…I hope.”
Lauren felt a bit of something at the base of her spine, but was more worried about the impending birth than some minor discomfort on herself. She hooked her thumbs in the waistband of her jeans and adjusted her clothing. That seemed to easy the slight discomfort.
About half an hour after Arnie left, Lauren was struck but a sudden headache. It was almost as if someone had shot a thunderbolt through each temple. The pain caused her to almost loose consciousness. The cow seemed to eye her critically as she slowly regained her equilibrium. Lauren casually chewed her gum and felt a general contentment after the blast of pain. She actually gave it no further thought. She failed to realize that she hadn’t been chewing any gum.
The cow seemed in less distress for now and Lauren realized the poor thing had not been milked yet. She got a bucket and proceeded to take care of that need. While she was sitting on the stool she noticed that her jean felt uncomfortably tight across her stomach, but figured it was due to her current posture. The cow’s tail kept getting in the way, and Lauren almost had to bat it away.
Having finished the milking, Lauren stood, set the stool aside and turned to take the bucket away. She still noticed the tightness of the jeans across the abdomen and fumbled with the button and zipper as she took a couple of steps. The cow’s tail caught her arm a glancing blow and she made to bat it away.
Lauren suddenly realized she was a good six feet from the cow and the tail couldn’t possibly have come from that source. In the same instant, she heard a ripping sound and looked down. The sight that met her eyes was almost as staggering as the earlier blast of pain had been.
Her jeans had split along each leg. Legs that had somehow gained size and muscle since her last inspection that morning. She noticed a bovine tail swishing near one leg and tracked it to its source - the base of her own spine! Just then, the jeans opened up and what could only be described as an under-deeloped udder fell forward and down, easing the tightness of the jeans.
“Wha…what is happening to me?” she gasped. She started to raise a hand to her forehead, but saw that the hand had only three finger, all black, and all as hard as if covered totally by a single nail on each. She then noticed a fine furry down on her arms. A furry down in a familiar black-and-white randomness.
“Omigod,” she gasped again. “I’m turning into a cow? How? Why? This is impossible.”
Lauren felt her ears moving independently and as if hinged, she knew they now stood out on either side of her head. Her arms and torso began putting on bulk, as her chest expanded, her breasts were absorbed until her chest was as flat as when she was a little girl. With a last ripping blast her jeans fell away, followed by her destroyed panties. Her expanding chest destroyed the red blouse she had so carefully tied under her breasts that morning and the bra beneath.
She tried to run but found that she could barely balance on her now hooved feet. The bucket of milk fell from a hand that could no longer grasp it, but it went unnoted. Great clumps of Lauren’s beautiful, below-the-shoulder hair fell to the ground of their own accord. The wind blew away the hair and the tattered rags of Lauren’s clothing.
The over-balancing became too much and Lauren fell to all fours. Not hands and knees, but to all four hooves. Her spine and pelvis cracked and shifted position. She would never walk upright on two feet again. She tried to call for help but only a lowing and a bawling of a young heifer could be heard.
She turned to face the pregnant cow, noticing that during her unexplained transformation, the birth must have been accomplished. The afterbirth lay discarded like a beached jellyfish.
The cow ambled over to Lauren and began to lick her entire new body. Yes, Sunnyvale had a new calf. A heifer. Someday she would join the milking herd. Maybe even be bred with the bull - after all, calving helped to keep the milk flowing.
Arnie Sorensen never did learn what happened to Lauren Olsen, even though he tried to locate her. After all, he owed her two days wages. He was just thankful that she helped the cow with her birthing before she disappeared forever.