The Moo

Justin Lo


            Everyone I asked told me that the Moo was an alien, something big and ugly – that’s how the children described it – or gargantuan with an eerie aura – that’s how the adults put it.  In any case, no one felt terribly pleased when he or she suddenly received the urge.  You see, the Moo had an inextricable charisma that created a yearning distress in all who were near it – a kilometer or so from its exhibition location – and an interminable addiction in all who had seen it.  The general public had logically termed that addiction the urge, and no one could use the word without reminding everyone of the monstrosity that sat in the museum basement.

            The Museum of Natural History was in fact somewhat excited about its newest addition, for people would flock in every morning to pay a visit to the Moo.  Of course, no one really knew who profited from the explosive volume, since all the curators and various other museum workers lived in the basement with the Moo, and the money paid to enter the museum sat in a lump next to the front desk.

            I was one of the last students at my school to encounter the urge; actually, I was the second to last, the final person to succumb being my girlfriend, Maria.  She’d been on vacation with her family when the Moo arrived, so she had never even heard of it until half the local population had experienced the urge.  I told her she was lucky, but she just shrugged the way she always shrugged, her shoulders gliding downwards with a casual elegance.  It was only a matter of time for everyone, and we eventually got into the habit of making the trip to the museum together in the morning before the sun even rose so that we could avoid the huge crowds.  Besides, it was more intimate and romantic that way: it was just the two of us, the sleeping museum staff, and the Moo.

            I must confess, there were times when I would spend more of the visit staring at the Moo than at Maria.  She didn’t seem to mind, but she’d always been considerate in that way.  We sometimes played a sort of game – I would sometimes suddenly turn away from the Moo and watch her instead while she looked at it, oblivious to everything around her, and I was convinced that she often did the same.  It was serene, somewhat melancholy; her fingers would pick at her grayscale sweater while her eyes remained fixed on the Moo.  My eyes would slowly drift upwards from her fingers to her hair.  Maria’s hair was the most beautiful thing in the world to behold.  She had a small mop of black strands that she wore tied with a small ribbon in the back even though it wasn’t long enough to be obtrusive even if she had let it down.  I think her hair was very important to her: she always seemed to be touching it every five minutes or so, and more rapidly when she was viewing the Moo.  It was part of her humanity, she explained to me one day when I asked her why all her childhood drawings were stick figures with voluminous black hair.  For me, that was reason enough, and besides, it was beautiful enough to be humanity all by itself.

            I loved Maria and Maria loved me; wasn’t that all it meant to be human, after all?  We used to kiss each other at least four times before we said our final goodbyes are school or after a date.  It was our own little addiction, I suppose, but Maria contended that it was hardly harmful, so we couldn’t really use the word addiction, and certainly not the word urge.  More recently, we began to kiss and say less.  We were hardly falling out of love – we had in fact started thinking about our common futures and all the wonderful things we could do on our honeymoon.  We didn’t even think about the Moo when we said those luxurious words and caressed each other under the waning moon.  However, the moments became more rare and something incredible seemed to be looming upon the land.

            Maria was the first to write something down about the Moo.  Everyone else seemed rather content with just talking about it, but as Maria had declared, no one really told the truth about the Moo.  When she wrote in her small notebook, she’d always put on a pair of very cute reading glasses and begin by tapping the tip of her pen against the pages three times.  She wrote diligently, with a fervor of a hurricane.  Usually, she kept the notebook in her lap, since her desk was so cluttered with other pieces of paper and various mini-sculptures that she loved to dust.

            It was about the time when she had completely filled one notebook with observations on the Moo that the first death was reported.  The whole town was in an uproar for a full week after the incident, for it was both ridiculous and appalling.  That boy was so innocent and bright, everyone argued, citing his excellent relations with his peers and his decent school grades and athletic involvement.  His parents, in an interview conducted two days after his death, admitted that he had grown withdrawn and blue a day or two before he drowned in the neighborhood pool in the evening (there wasn’t a lifeguard present).

            The only person who wasn’t surprised was Maria, who shrugged like she always did and reasoned that, from her observations, the Moo had the potential to do something very dangerous to people’s minds.  She certainly stood with the camp that declared the Moo to be a malignant alien, and she did all she could to resist the urge.  I tried to help her, too, by secretly turning off her alarm clock so that I’d be the only one to visit the Moo in the twilight of pre-dawn, but she woke up anyway.  On her part, she blocked up the door to prevent herself from getting out, only to realize too late that she had just climbed out her window and shimmied down the oak tree outside in her pajamas.

            I, unlike Maria, did not really feel strongly one way or another about the character of the Moo.  As a result, I did not feel the same desperation that she felt every time she failed to stop herself from going to see the Moo.  One time, she even pushed me to the ground when I tried to explain to her that it was okay to want to see the Moo, that everyone got the urge once a day.  With an exasperated scream, she retorted that there had been twenty reported suicides already – now one tragedy a day – and the Moo had grown immensely large, occupying the majority of the basement.  We viewed it from the large whole it had created in the middle of the first floor.

            We all wondered why someone didn’t just kill the Moo.  After all, it wasn’t like we cared about it in any way.  As has been stated, it was hideous.  In its obscene atrociousness, there was something beyond human comprehension, and it ate away at the mind.

            In the middle of the night on a Friday, Maria suddenly knocked on my front door, forcing me to get out of bed.  She asked me, quietly, if I would care if she were to vanish forever.  Of course, I said yes and that I loved her very much, but she still seemed to be very shaken about something.  I hugged her and dragged her into my house; she didn’t put up any resistance.

            The night had stilled the world; we could not hear the Moo breathing.  Tenderly, we simply clung to each other, rocking back and forth until we fell asleep.