Preparation. Bullseye by Tim Pinks

See the Part One. Pastureland
See the Part Two. Preparation
See the Part Three. Passage
See the Part FourPamplona
See the Part Five. Pandemonium, and the Passing

Part 2. Preparation

Pamplona! And my horns are still tingling.

I am Miura, bovine royalty, and I am going to run through the streets of a place that is legendary in all Bulldom. A royal animal in the Kingdom of Navarra. Perfect. It is the way it should be. It just is.

A whole bull moon has passed since my brothers and I heard the news, and we are being made ready by those human. But going back to that day when our destiny was sealed, my brothers and I waited until the humans had left and then talked excitedly amongst ourselves. That night the whole herd went down to the river, and if you could have seen our thoughts passing between us it would have looked like a thousand fireflies dancing by the waters edge.

And Moonmother, she was just beautiful that night, huge, round and glowing. We knew she was looking at us, thinking about us. We were to be 8 chosen bulls, of which 6 would fight, and 2 would be kept in reserve, just in case they were needed. When I say “fight”, this isn’t strictly true. It isn’t a fight, and was never intended to be, but rather it’s a way that Iberian human devised to demonstrate his prowess and skill over a wild animal. Bullfight? That’s such manshit.

It was a lovely night, with bullmoon round and smiling, when our ancestral mother has her full attention on us. She even looked up at us from her reflection in the river.

Amongst our herd is a very special bull, respected by all. He is very old now, 24 of your years, perhaps a hundred in our world. He is one of the very few bulls to have survived a bullfight, which he managed to do by being, well, unkillable. He fought bravely and fiercely, and it was decided by those human in charge that he could return to where he came from. Back here, to Pastureland. For a bull to be so honoured by human is almost unheard of, but it happens, once in a bluemoon.

The old ones’ name is Mercury, and he is my great, great grandfather. To tell the truth, he is father, grandfather and more to a great many of us! Bulls will be bulls…But he had a great tale to tell, and though we had heard some of it before, every bull in the field listened as he told us his story.

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“It was one of those rare times when Sunfather and Moonmother became one, and I and my brothers were put on one of those great smoke billowing, giant wheeled, roaring chariots that human calls truck, and we were taken away from here, our home, across the deserts and plains, rivers and mountains of this Iberia”.

Every single one of us was silent. This was to be our destiny, too. You could have heard a leaf fall.

One of my brothers, Cosmic, asked “And what did this journey smell of?”.

“Oh”, said Mercury, “the smells. At first we could still smell Pastureland, but as we moved farther and farther away, the sweet smell of home left us, and eventually all our noses could sense was the taste of dry, like when the riverbank hasn’t had any water during the hot time. Oh, and the odor of human and his world, of course. But finally, after a night which seemed to last as long as a season to us, we began to smell mountain again”.

“Ah, mountain”, said a young bull. “Wonderful. Anything else?”.

“Ha, yes. There is the odor of human and his world, like I said. It is hard to smell things properly in his world. They have many of those noisy, wheeled chariots. Big ones, small ones, long ones, and they cough and splutter, and yes, fart all the time”.

The young ones laughed at this. Another of my brothers, Sunbeam, then asked, “Tell us about these mountains of rock that some of the human choose to live in”.

“Great Toro!”, Mercury exclaimed, and a strange look of complete bafflement appeared on his face.

“Some of the human choose to live in great piles of concrete and steel they have constructed, packed together in their thousands, like ants in their tunnels. These places are bovine free, with no pasture, and the air stands still. They make what they call windows so they can see out of their concrete cells, but nothing can get in. No smells, no birds, no mountain breeze”.

There was no noise amongst us on this most silent of nights. We couldn’t imagine such a thing. Even our breathing seemed to have stopped.

“And the smell?” asked Cosmic.

Mercury wrinkled his nose. “The smell! Oh sheepdip, the smell. The small ones, that they call villages, are okay. The bigger ones, towns, are not so good. But the giant ones, my goodness…You know when you pass a field, and it is way too full of sheep who have been there too long, because they are still waiting to be moved to pasture?”

Everyone, not just the young ones, nodded and made “yuk”, and “ugh” and such noises.

“Well”, continued old Mercury. “That is the smell!”

A collective “pooaagh” rang out from all of us.

Another of my brothers asked, “What are these windows made of, that you can see through but nothing can get through?”

“Well”, he said, “we think that they are made from the river. It is water that human has killed, so it no longer runs”.

And in disbelief, and shock, the whole herd turned to stare at the river.

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For a long time after that, nothing was said. The reality had really hit home that some of us would be leaving our world for ever, for a completely different one. Human world.

Finally, Sunbeam, said, “Great old bull, do these giant places where many human chooses to stay have a name, like our home is called Pastureland?”

And with that question every single animal in the herd turned to look at Mercury, because we knew what was coming.

“Oh, yes” he said, eyes twinkling. “As I said, there are little villages and bigger towns, but the jungles of concrete and steel they live in are called…”

And we waited, because we knew.

“Shitties”. And with that thousands of tons of taurine aristocracy fell about laughing.

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Old Mercury died soon after that, one evening during a storm, eating grass by some trees. The dark light in his eyes had shown brightly after he’d told us again of his adventures, of how he’d survived a bullfight in a far off town, and been chosen to return to Pastureland to, well, make more of us.

The night of the storm he even said he could feel a tingling in his horns, thinking about us going to Pamplona, and some of us were looking at him in admiration when suddenly one of natures’ messengers roared and exploded and a screaming ray of fire came down and hit him, leaving his body on the field but taking his spirit and soul and being up to the heavenly pastures where all the bulls and cows that ever were look over us.

A divine one was back with his ancestors and the tears fell heavily from the celestial pastures that night.

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The next day things started happening, many human came on many of their horse and chased us, harried us, charged us and teased us. Then they’d leave us alone, and then come back. It was hard work sometimes, but we were never hurt and we got fitter and leaner. It was fun, too.

Then we realised what was happening. Some of our kind the human makes fatter for food. But we were being made fitter to fight. To fight, and to die, in a far off town called Pamplona.

Pamplona! And the tingling in our horns is becoming like the fence human uses to keep sheep in sometimes. Electric.