It was summer and bored of the sun and the long holiday Tom and I had gone over to Elliott’s to watch a horror film as we did most afternoons. We walked up the garden path and past the pristine lawn and manicured rose bushes his father was so proud of. Tom rang the bell and Elliott’s face appeared at the living room window, a moment later the door opened. Elliott‘s living room didn’t look out over a road, it looked out over a footpath, a strip of grass and high hedges that led through the estate to the old railway.
Inside we pulled the curtains to keep out the sun and sat down with Coke and crisps to watch Entities.
When it finished, Tom suggested driving down to see Dan. We stood up stretching, checking watches, and Elliott pulled the curtains. Outside was devastation. His front garden had been obliterated, the lawn a mass of churned mud, the grass by the path the same. All that remained of the roses were stumps.
“What the fuck!?”
We went outside. The destruction continued on either side, gardens laid waste along the whole strip. Elliott’s neighbour, an elderly gentleman, was standing with hands on his hips, surveying the mess with despair.
“What happened?” asked Elliott.
“Just got back?” the man asked.
Elliott shook his head.
“No, we’ve been inside watching a film.”
The man sighed and shook his head.
“I’m surprised you didn’t hear me shouting,” he said. “I’m surprised you didn’t hear them. They were outside your window eating your dad’s roses, about fifty of the buggers. They’ve gone down there,” he said, gesturing, “towards Crossways. I heard sirens so hopefully someone gathers them in before they do more damage. Or get themselves killed. Or someone.”
“Who? What?” asked Elliott.
“Cows,” said the man as though to an idiot. “Cows. A bloody great herd wandered through. They were ten minutes going past. How did you not hear them?”
We were silent for a moment.
“It must have been the screaming,” said Tom in a quiet voice.