From the author: The Sacred Non-Cow is a marvellous beast that grazes unmolested on the fertile pastures of ancient Babylon--until Man begins to encroach on Her lands with thoughts of roast beef. Then the Sacred Non-Cow faces difficult choices regarding Her future--if, indeed, She has a future.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was that of Silas Merlin the great wizard; creator of the behemoth, the magnificent golden Non-Cow who grazed peacefully in ancient Babylon. Flies landed on Her not and Her cud was sweeter than the finest yellow honey. In that land She was fruitful and She multiplied. Yet human beings lived there also in the distant hills and river valleys, and over time they too multiplied and approached the Non-Cow pastures.
Then it was the Non-Cow’s shiny beefy-sides were looked upon greedily. They were looked upon by Men with iron forks in their hands. The Women too, tending roasting spits and cauldrons, scrutinised them. Even the children played their part, drooling and salivating at the prospect of fresh-cooked dinners.
As for the great wizard, he really didn’t help at all. He said to the Non-Cow: “I have made ye special, but I will not protect ye from Man. Ye are the most orange of my creations, but also the most tasty. Your enemies will be many; moreover they will all be hungry.”
And so the canny Non-Cow sent out spies among the regular cattle; and thus they learned that Man was a schemer who was busily breaking all the laws that God had laid down regarding the acquisition of knowledge and cunning. Man was soon crafting tubes that poured forth fire and shot, and wicked grey combustible powders capable of blasting all the things. The Non-Cow was clever, but lacked the opposable thumb, so Her powers of invention could not match those of such Men. And thus the Non-Cow in time was subdued and rounded up; Men (and Women) began to eat Her. They roasted Her and fried Her and put Her in casseroles. They ate Her and they ate Her and declared Her delicious. Then they ate Her children, and Her children’s children, and Her children’s children’s children, all down the generations until her natural goldenness was dimmed, and her expression permanently changed from happy to sad.
The Non-Cow tried to invent Her own weapons. But pat grenades proved ineffective. And methane mines were merely smelly. And so it was She stamped Her hoof in frustration. Until it came to pass that the last straw was eaten and a great leader rose up among their kind.
His name was Garth.
He was the first of a great line of noble Garths, and he it was who said, “Enough of this eating.”
Garth led an exodus from that hungry land until all the mighty Non-Cows reached the far-off land of India. Then they weren’t (quite) so sad for a time for the Hindu religion held the Non-Cow sacred. They wandered the crowded cities of that place freely, although in truth they found the grazing there not so good; and also not every man obeyed the law that forbad the eating of Non-Cows. Moreover, some were not of the Hindu faith at all and such men would look upon the Non-Cow greedily, and gather them together, and eat them. And there were those who were Hindu but not quite so devout and those who were merely hungry, and those too would look upon the sacred Non-Cow and ultimately give into temptation until Spicy Hot Beef Masalas were being eaten all up and down the land.
And so it was that Garth XIV said, “Seriously, enough of this eating,” and led his somewhat depleted herd off to the far West to the green land of France. There the grazing was good and the Non-Cow was never again hungry; but the men of that land were already familiar with regular cattle, and quickly rounded Her up and were soon not only eating Her but depriving Her children of their mother’s milk, and making a great deal of very smelly stuff called cheese from it. And they captured the Non-Cow’s golden likeness with which to trade it, although in doing this they airbrushed her expression from irredeemably sad to happy and laughing.
And so it was that Garth XIX said, “All this eating really has to stop.” He led the sacred Non-Cow even further west across the ocean to arrive in a so-called land of opportunity. But there, alas, the men of that place again looked upon her tasty sides and greedily gathered in committee to plot the most efficient and delicious and above all profitable way to consume her. And thus the Quarter Pounder with Cheese was invented.
The men of that place grew truly fat on the Non-Cow. They grew and they grew even as they ate and they ate. And even when many of them died of coronary heart disease, still more of them were born to eat the sacred Non-Cow.
Until finally Garth XXV said, “We, the great race of Non-Cows won’t stand for this any longer!”
Now, Garth XXV was a particularly wise and brave Non-Cow, both book learned and well versed in all the latest crafty technological ways of humans. His horns were as long as tusks and moreover his voice was of melted butter; he knew how to schmooze and even sing in the ways of humans. So he it was who appeared one thundery day outside the glass-fronted offices of Sansar VR in Silicon Valley. He stampeded his way to the nearest desk, dripping rainwater on the carpet, and demanded of the harassed young woman there that his entire great race of Non-Cows be uploaded where, as he understood it, “nobody eats anybody.”
“But that’s impossible,” the young woman, who was called Lacie, replied.
“We have faith,” he said.
“No. You don’t get it,” Lacie said.
“You will deliver us from evil,” Garth replied.
And he wouldn’t go away, and his horns were truly mighty, until at last the CEO was called to whom Garth fully laid out his plan.
“But that’s impossible,” reiterated Ebbe, the CEO.
“Nothing is beyond he that believes,” said the great Non-Cow.
“In that case you don’t need us at all,” replied Ebbe.
Garth narrowed his brows so that his horns pointed more directly forward, right at the CEO. Was he being mocked?
Ebbe flinched but held his ground; Garth picked up a tablet from the desk and pointed his hoof at the screen. “I wish you to consult an article of advanced science,” he said. “From The Lancet outlining how you will do this wonderful thing.
“Then we would sell our bodies,” continued Garth, “which have great price in these lands, to fund this grand enterprise. Once you have built the means for us to upload ourselves we will no longer need them.”
“Let me see that,” said Ebbe, seizing the tablet. He looked at the Non-Cow long and slow as Garth folded his cloven-hoofed forelegs and chewed cud.
Ebbe huffed as he read, pushing his seat back so that it wobbled on two legs. According to the article, the process had so far only been tried on rats, and yet... his company was well known for achieving the technologically impossible.
“Well, we are due an update,” he said, at last.
Garth leaned back in his seat also, which cracked beneath him, and for the first time in several millennia a Non-Cow smiled. He stayed that way, at least for a little while, as the busy minions worked, churning out code with great efficiency, much faster than any dairy or slaughter-house could produce butter or beef.
It took three months, but finally, the Update was ready. It was written on tablets of stone. More importantly news of it went viral on Placehook and Glitter. Many assembled to bear witness; thousands outside the offices; millions via Cameo, Pitch and Viewtube, including many in India and France and the lands of ancient Babylon; they watched as Ebbe placed the headsets onto the mighty heads of Garth and his herd. He had to lead them into the offices one by one, as there were neither headsets nor room in the building for all of them at once.
Garth closed his great brown eyes when it was his turn and the device was placed over his great head, and for a time he remembered nothing. But when he opened them all was a wonder, an undiscovered country, where the pastures grew truly greener though, having left his physical body behind, he was not in the least bit hungry.
Finding his voice through the myriad screens he addressed the multitudes: “We the great race of wondrous Non-Cows have founded a new land, and a new life, a new Experience, one much greater than that of flesh and blood where there are no Quarter Pounders with Cheese or even Spicy Beef Masalas. You are witnessing a giant leap for bovine-kind. Join us!”
And the people marvelled; and many became Vegans after. And in time humanity followed the Non-Cow into virtual space, although this is not a tale about them.
And thus the Non-Cow was finally free and happy; although since by this time Garth’s expression, in common with the rest of his herd, had resumed its former gloomy state, you’d never know it.
I wouldn’t usually post acknowledgements at the end of a short story, but this piece is (arguably) fan fiction rather than a wholly original story so it seems appropriate.
First off, I want to thank Silas Merlin, resident of SansarVR, and one of Sansar’s best known and most talented 3D artists. Silas created the Non-Cow avatar. The picture that accompanies this story is of the actual Non-Cow avatar; you can find more of Silas’ work at his Sansar store here: https://store.sansar.com/store/SilasMerlin?page=1&sort=rating
Second, I must thank Garth, former employee of Sansar and the best known wearer of the Non-Cow avatar. In particular I want to thank him for outlining his ideas about what the Non-Cow might be—Her sacred and Biblical past. If you want to see Garth the Non-Cow in action, he has a Youtube channel:
Last but by no means least I must thank all the staff at Linden Labs. Thank you for building such a wonderful virtual world platform. Even though it’s currently undergoing a change of ownership, it has such huge potential it will surely succeed given time. If you enjoyed this story, please do check out Sansar, especially if you’re isolating at this challenging time—we have a great community! https://atlas.sansar.com/
See you in Sansar!