When the Cow Breaks

A twist on Jack and the Beanstalk set in France, poor Jacques faces off with the lead singer of the heavy metal band Colossus for a golden guitar, a bag of chocolate coins, and the love of his girl.


Once upon a time there was a young man named Jacques, who lived with his widowed grandmother. They were both very poor, for times had been hard and Jacques was too musically-inclined to work. Almost all the furnishings of their little chalet had been sold to keep their Cuisinart food replicator running, until at last there was nothing left to sell.

One day, after replicating a platter of soufflé au fromage and a pitcher of milk, the Cuisinart de la Vache broke with a sputtering wheeze.

“Don’t just sit there scribbling music,” his grandmother cried. “Do something!”

Jacques removed his synthophones and fiddled with the cow-spotted replicator. Smoke curled from a charred matter resequencer. “I cannot mend this, mémé.  What shall we do?”

His grandmother flopped onto her chaise lounge. “Since you cannot find work, you must trade your LePad for a new resequencer or we shall starve.”

Jacques swooned and dropped his music sheets. After losing his guitar to the grocer, his LePad was all he had in the world—apart from sweet, sweet Annabelle, who was just as poor as Jacques.

“What of your blurry Cézanne?” he asked, throwing his arms wide. “Or that frightening Rodin sculpture? Can you not sell one of those instead?”

His grandmother dabbed her eyes with a silk handkerchief. “Are you mad? One cannot trade art for food. Go now.” She opened her first edition of Les Misérables and would say no more.

“Music is also art, mémé.” Jacques slipped into his Bonjour jeans and tucked his puffy shirt in. “But I agree we must eat.” With a heavy heart and an empty stomach he packed a bag for the long trip to the city.


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