The long-tongued desert cow

So a man was lost, wandering alone in an inhospatible desert. He wandered for what seemed like days, and was by this point very thirsty and quite hungry. As if in answer to his cries for help, he sees in the distance a small tent with a long rope leading up into the air, and another small tent floating there very high above it. Surely, this second tent in the air must be a mirage, but the first one on the ground seems real enough. The man staggers up to the tent, trying not to think too hard about the second tent up in the air, or the odd pink rope that he can plainly see extending down into a small hole in the ground. When he gets close enough, he can see a withered old couple sitting next to a withered old cow with its face buried in the sand and rocks. The old couple, surprised to see a stranger this far out in the desert, hurry to help the man into the shade of the tent. Let's give him a glass of whey, they say in unison. The man, quite sure now that this tent at least is not a mirage, feels a sudden revulsion at the thought of drinking a glass of whey. Please, says the man, do you have any water? Not much water in the desert, the old couple reply in unison. How do you live here with no water? the man asks. Well, you see, the couple explains, we have a long-tongued desert cow, she sticks her tongue way down underground to where there is water. We milk, her, but since she eats very little, the milk comes out as only whey. In response to this commentary, the cow flicks an ear and swats at an insect with her tail. I'm sorry, the man says, but I'm afraid I might throw up if I try to drink a glass of whey. I don't mean to snub your generosity. Don't you have anything else I could drink? Or is there a well nearby? The only other person for many miles is our neighbors in the tent floating above ours. The strange couple say in unison. The man looks up, finally acknowledging the tent floating in the air. You can see their long-tongued desert cow's tongue reaching down into that hole in the ground right there. They live off nothing but whey as well. Feeling delirious from exposure, the man asks one more time... So there's nothing else to drink? And the old couple reply... It's either our whey... or the high whey.


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