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    "Noooooooooooooooo!" I wailed, seeing my work go up in smoke, seized my captor and applied pressure to the nerve in his elbow. "You scum! You'll pay for that! I didn't save! How will I explain this to my professor? Maybe I should just bring her your SEVERED HEAD!"
    Instantly I was surrounded by black-clad freaks with swords, the latter pointed impolitely toward my throat, eyes, and other vital parts. Whatever they said about ninjas having no code of honor, they were probably right.
    "Release him," another of the strangely solid figments demanded quietly, in a slightly-less-dubbed-sounding voice. This one was okay, I sensed; there was a kind of quiet confidence there, none of this threat and bluster business. Do what I tell you or I will kill you came across pretty clearly. The one that had ruined the computer (did I have to pay for that? I found myself worrying) growled at me. I tossed long blond hair over my shoulders and glared bitterly at them.
    "Sure, no sweat. There's a few hours left before it's due. What d'you say we forget about this, make a run to Perkins, have some coffee and be friends?" I released my victimizer-turned-victim slowly, smiling that particularly vicious, manic smile that comes upon one at these moments.
    The first ninja snarled beneath his black mask, rubbing his elbow. I hoped I hadn't injured his self-esteem, but then the second ninja spoke again."
    "We are terribly sorry, but you must come with us."
    With that, another of them drew something from his belt and hurled it to the floor. The room dissolved into clouds of gas, and I passed out, realizing pleasantly that this was obviously a dream and I would wake up soon, would perhaps even have finished my story while unconscious. Then came a falling sensation, and darkness.

    Something was terribly wrong, other than the economy and the Clinton White House. Why had Socks and Chelsea both vanished so mysteriously from the news? Dead? Preggers? Placed in charge of a renewed investigation into Madonna's lack of acting ability? There was obviously a major cover-up going on. I shook my head groggily, aware that things were than a bit out of focus. I was supposed to be awake, back in Wheat computer lab, working on a story for some class I had foolishly taken. At the very least I ought to be in my own bed, perhaps with handsome and frisky company, and the entire day had been a horrible dream.
    Anyway, I was pretty damn certain there shouldn't be any cows around, is what I'm trying to get at.
    I closed my eyes again and counted to twenty, which often works to get rid of Things That Should Not Be There. When I opened them, I worked first on the small things, picking out some details from my surroundings. I'd obviously forgotten to get undressed before I went to sleep, because I was still in the same jeans and now-ripe sweatshirt. And someone had played a practical joke on me, because there was all this grass in my bed—not the good kind. Slightly damp, in fact. And where the hell was that smell coming from? Not my sweatshirt. If my bed had a visitor, he really needed some mouthwash. I looked up.
    Well. It was a cow. Breathing that nasty breath all over my face, looking at me out of those big brown eyes everyone gets so luvvy over—and why? When it comes down to it, a cow is just not a cuddly sort of animal. It's big and dirty and basically a mobile steak, far as I'm concerned—but I digress.
    This one was looking at me, and it had horns. And large hooves. I cringed, whimpered, and finally told myself, Dammit, Jen, be a woman! It's time to stand up for yourself and what you think is right. Fight for freedom and good hygiene!
    "Shoo," I told the cow bravely.

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Except where otherwise noted, all material on this site is © 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson