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HOW TO GAG
A SINGING GOAT

BY BRENDA ANDERSON

 

The small mountain village of Blechtz woke one morning to opera. Amazed, the villagers tracked the loud, dramatic, heart-rending songs to a goat.

A singing goat.

Blechtz went wild. Some rushed to the nearest church and gave thanks for the miracle. Others made recordings and sent them to their friends—and enemies. Most plotted the goat’s demise. They laid baits and traps, which the goat evaded. They left maps with directions to the nearest village, but the goat stayed. They blocked off the vertical mountainside where it lived, but the goat found a way.

Through binoculars, the villagers studied its leaps and bounds in dismay.

“It’s mocking us. Singing on a mountainside! Disgraceful!”

“Unnatural!”

“Look at it, dancing on air.”

“Where’s the gun?”

But whenever a bullet came its way, the goat leaped aside. Clearly, it had an almost supernatural ability to stay alive.

“What did I say? It’s the spawn of Satan. He takes care of his own.”

“Nonsense! Only God gives an animal a voice like that. It’s a blessing.”

“Punishment, more like.”

“Could it be hormones?”

They gathered half a dozen bucks and left them within sight of the singing female, but it turned and ran for the hills.

“God, it’s a nun.”

They shook their heads in disgust, but the goat sang on.

One night a gigantic earthquake leveled the village. After burying their dead, the survivors gathered in the ruins of their homes.

“There’s no food or water,” they cried.

“The road’s blocked. We’re trapped.”

“We’ll die!”

The goat circled the ruins and sang with unusual strength and energy. The villagers hurled stones at it and missed. The next morning it returned, followed by men from the nearest town, which clung to a ravine on the other side of the mountain. Each rescuer insisted that a glorious voice had urged them forward, singing of a desperate need that lay just round the corner. Now that they’d found what remained of Blechtz, could the locals please bring out the owner of this enchanting voice?

The villagers looked at each other.

“It’s shy,” said one.

She’s,” hastily corrected his neighbor.

“…a saint,” improvised another.

“Her work is done, and she’s moved on.”

But it just seemed that way. Months later, someone heard the goat again and pulled out his binoculars.

“It’s put on weight.”

The villagers laid down tools.

“Do you suppose…?”

They nodded sagely. “It happens. Nuns. Saints, even.”

The goat began to sing in a lower register. Now, instead of dazzling coloratura, it opted for mezzo contralto. To everyone’s despair, Wagner became its favourite.

“If I hear one more chorus of those bloody Valkyrie, I’ll slit my throat,” moaned an old man.

“Why not the goat’s?” said others. “Who’s kidding who? That creature is going to outlive the lot of us. She’ll sing us all into the grave.”

One day they heard bleating and tracked its source. On the vertical mountainside, beside the goat’s lifeless body, a tiny kid wobbled on unsteady legs. The villagers rushed to its aid, and the elders removed the mother’s body. The local gravedigger buried it beneath cement on the other side of the mountain, where the elders guessed the kid’s father lived. When questioned about a headstone, they shook their heads.

“Start making a fuss, and she’ll come back for an encore.”

The villagers took turns caring for the orphan, and waited.

It grew into a large, healthy billy goat that sang Wagner in a powerful bass baritone which left everyone weak at the knees. The villagers made a recording and voted to sell it—and the singer himself—to the highest bidder. Offers flooded in. When they saw the size of the winning bid, several fainted. The villagers threw the biggest party ever, packed the goat up and waved it farewell.

“Bye,” they called. “Don’t come back.”

As the truck pulled away, the goat started to sing.

Everyone ran inside.

 

Brenda Anderson's fiction has appeared in various, places including Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online, and most recently in Drabbledark and Wavelengths Anthology. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia, and tweets irregularly @CinnamonShops.


Published August 13th, 2018