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    "Go away, dammit." I flapped a hand at its nose, trying to frighten it away, and finally went so far as to slap it. This was rewarded with an affronted-sounding huff before the bovine went off to do whatever it was it spent its time doing. I stood up, pleased at my triumph, and was immediately confronted by yet another problem of perspective: what was a field of grass, complete with a sizable herd of dairy cattle, doing inside an airplane hangar?
    And why would someone build an airplane hangar without any doors?
    And where was that light coming from?
    And why were there ninjas loitering around the walls, smoking clove cigarettes, holding pitchforks?
    Growing dizzy, I realized immediately that my best course of action was to pretend that all of this was perfectly normal, and thereby avoid sending whatever was left of my brain into shock.
    Accordingly, I loitered like a ninja, wishing I had a cigarette of any stripe, watching and being watched by cows. Possibly by ninjas as well, but it was harder to tell with the masks. After a while this got quite boring, so I widened my area of loitering, being careful where I put my feet. No one seemed to mind, so I widened some more.
    And then my luck took a radical turn. In what direction, I have no idea. Casually trying to move toward a wall free of ninjas, I nearly tripped over a human figure lying in the grass.
    Rick, another member of my class. He and I had chatted via computer a while back in the evening. He kept trying to ask me out. Wonderful.
    "Hi, Jen." He sat up.
    "Hi. What the hell is going on?"
    "Beats me."
    "How long have you been here?"
    "A few minutes, I guess. These guys in black came, and—"
    "Uh-huh. I know." Fascinating. I checked for ninjas and cows. I didn't like the way the latter kept looking at me, like they were the carnivores here. Braving their possibly ugly wrath, I wandered away from Rick, toward the wall. Unfortunately, he followed me. With no ninjas there and the cows busily swatting nonexistent flies, I ran my hands over the wall. Warm. The lights went out.
    I yanked my hands back, and the light returned, just in time for me to see the ninja leaping towards me. I had been through this before, and managed to fall in a graceful, swan song fashion as the gas grenade exploded. The last thing I saw was Rick's startled and astoundingly stupid face as he, too, passed out.
    No cows registered on my retinas when I opened my eyes again.
    Things were much worse than that. I was under water. I was drowning, I was dead, I was dreaming, this had to be a dream. Dammit.
    "Wow, what a trip," Rick commented in an awed tone.
    No, what a nightmare. I didn't have time for this kind of carp. I mean crap. A small rainbow trout goosed me and zipped off through the water. I ignored Rick's hopeful glance and looked around. I thought I saw a ninja in scuba gear off in the distance. Oh, please, let me wake up, I'll never procrastinate again, I swear.
    The lights went out. Before I could wonder "what lights?" they came back and I was inside a mushroom. I could tell by the shape of the ceiling. A guy dressed like Spiderman walked by outside, and then a woman covered in blue paint. I heard myself whimper.
    Even stranger scenes continued to pass before our eyes, which at least kept Rick quiet. I think he had decided he'd gotten hold of some weird acid or something and planned to enjoy the ride. My personal theory that I was on the verge of death and this was some kind of OOBE wilted as soon as I looked over at Rick. If this was anywhere near Heaven, I didn't want to go.
    The cows came back. One of them lumbered toward us, mooing or lowing or whatever it is they do. It stopped right in front of me, making stupid noises. I stared back at it and wished for a sledgehammer. A couple more came after it, then more until we were surrounded.

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