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Saturday, April 18th, 4:00 PM
Eliza frowned as she scrolled down the page. She knew this wasn’t exactly a normal job listing, but the terms and conditions were still really long. Maybe that was normal? This was a government-funded operation, so it was probably pretty safe. She’d initially been dead set on reading through the entire document before signing it, but that was before she’d seen the page count. The scrollbar was miniscule, and she’d barely managed to make it through the legal definitions section before she’d started skimming; not long after that she was just scrolling without absorbing much at all.
Words stuck out at her whenever the pace slowed, mostly ones she’d seen on the news. Boslacstilla. The disease had spread like wildfire through the cows in the United States, dropping their milk production to pre-domestication levels; enough to feed their offspring, but not enough to support the dairy needs of a nation. It was hypothesized to have originated somewhere in Wisconsin, but it had propagated so quickly that narrowing it down further had proved impossible. There’d even been signs of it popping up in India recently, which had driven prices up even higher. Another word jumped out at her, and she paused to carefully read the paragraph to herself.
“The undersigned does hereby consent to undergo Bovine Vitalization Therapy (BVT). By agreeing to undergo BVT, the undersigned also agrees to surrender production rights to…blah blah blah, yeah, yeah, you want the milk. Duh.” It’s not like she would be wanting it. She’d heard how much BVT boosted production, and it honestly sounded a bit fantastical. She’d tried to do a bit of research before this, but the actual process was so new that it was still blocked by NDAs, so all she really had to go on was the official material and its vague promises about being painless and safe. And, of course, well paid.
Less officially, though, rumors were flying left and right. Stories had been leaked from less-than-reputable sources about the frenetic pace that BVT had been rolled out and the myriad potential health hazards, but they didn’t seem to be much more than scaremongering; no one who’d been involved in the process had come forward with such information, and the articles were mostly just wild speculation. Despite that, they’d managed to worm their way into her head with some points – was it really a coincidence that BVT had been developed less than half a year after boslacstilla had first appeared?
She continued to scroll as she mused on it for the umpteenth time. It was a bit fishy that, right when America’s dairy crisis was reaching peak levels, BVT had been developed. A revolutionary gene therapy method, allegedly developed from pre-boslacstilla samples, that allowed a human host to replicate a dairy cow’s prodigious output. Boslacstilla didn’t affect humans; lab tests had shown that, while it could survive in a human host, it was too specialized to cause any harm, although it could be then spread to cattle. Doctors had compared it to feline toxoplasmosis, and estimated that as many as 80% of dairy farm workers were carrying it without even realizing.
The scrollbar hit the bottom of the page and she was suddenly presented with a very simple digital signature line. She paused, chewing her lip; she’d been thinking about this ever since they opened up public enrollment a couple weeks ago, but it was always just theoretical. She glanced around her cramped studio apartment and its lack of amenities; a futon that she’d bought off craigslist, a space heater in the corner for the winter months, the meager sink and counter space the apartment had come with, and of course the router she’d brought with her from college. Back when she’d had dreams for the future that didn’t involve working a dead-end minimum wage food service job, smiling at haughty customers and mopping grease stains off the floor.
That did it for her. She typed her name out with fierce determination. “I, Elizabeth Huevo, agree to abide by these terms and conditions, and volunteer for the Milkmaid Program!” she loudly announced before hitting the submit button. She sat back with a proud huff and waited for her slow connection to load the next page. A simple “Thank you for applying!” displayed at the top, and below it was a bunch of steps to take to help her first appointment go smoothly. She flopped back down on her futon and stared at the ceiling, a strange mix of feelings running through her.
A ding on her phone startled her, and she held it up above her so she could see the alert. The system had already suggested some scheduled dates for her first appointment. All of the dates for the next month and a half were filled up, unless she was willing to go in at some truly godforsaken hours. “Fuck it,” she muttered, and selected the soonest appointment she could: a Monday, at 2:00 AM. If it was going to suck, it might as well suck in two days rather than two months.
She raised eryaman otele gelen escort her head and glanced back at her laptop; the list of tasks to do before her appointment wasn’t very long, but she didn’t feel like looking at it right now. One hurdle at a time. She decided that she’d earned a little relaxation, and began to embark on an elaborate fantasy of throwing a letter of resignation in her incompetent manager’s face after having become America’s number one milkmaid. With giant tits. Yeah.
Monday, April 20th, 2:00 AM
A voice cut into Eliza’s nap. “Elizabeth?”
She jolted up, disoriented. A smartly dressed woman stood at the office door, looking at her with a faint smile. Eliza returned the smile, a little nonplussed, trying not to act like a weirdo while she waited for her brain to catch up to her surroundings.
The woman gave her a gentle verbal nudge. “You have an appointment at two, yes?”
“Oh! Yes!” That was enough to jog her memory, and she was back in the moment. She’d had a groggy morning wakeup and a dismal bus ride here, and then slowly nodded off into her baggy (but professional!) clothes while she waited for her appointment. She jumped up and walked towards the woman, noting her somewhat haggard appearance, something she could sympathize with all too well. “I’m so sorry, I must have fallen asleep.”
The woman nodded and ushered her in, gesturing towards a chair in front of a fairly spartan desk. “I don’t blame you. Early mornings can be rough.” Eliza took the chair and watched the woman settle in on the other side of the desk. Was that sarcasm? She couldn’t tell.
They sat in awkward silence while the woman – the placard on her desk said Natalie Alderman – fiddled with her laptop, presumably pulling up Eliza’s application. Eliza fought the desire to squirm in her chair; she hated job interviews under the best of circumstances, and she still wasn’t sure how rigorous this one’s screening process was.
After several excruciating minutes, Natalie turned away from her computer and smiled, clasping her hands in front of her. “Well, everything seems to be in order with your application, so let’s get to the interview. Don’t worry, it’s nothing too strict; we just want to make sure you’re a good fit for the program. This interview will be recorded, though; is that okay?”
Eliza felt a little guilty – her anxiety had probably been evident on her face. “Yeah. That’s fine.”
“Great!” Natalie replied, looking back to her screen for a moment and hitting a key. “You wrote that you’re currently working in food service, but didn’t go into details. Can you tell me a little more about that?” Natalie’s face was soft and motherly, but her eyes were razor sharp, and Eliza felt them burrowing into her.
“It’s not really a…high level position,” Eliza began, lacing her fingers together unconsciously. “I’m just a minimum wage employee at Fun Burger. You know, that crummy chain place? I’ve been there for a couple years, but I don’t think it’s really going anywhere.”
Natalie nodded sympathetically, and Eliza wondered if she’d just imagined the harsh look from a moment ago. “Nothing to be ashamed of, Ms. Huevo. I just needed to know if it was somewhere that might result in a…conflict of interest.” She tapped away at her keyboard for a moment, then turned back. “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
This question. Eliza hated this question. Should she lie and make up some kind of ambition? Or should she be honest and admit that she didn’t see much changing for her in the future, no matter how far ahead? After a moment of deliberation, she decided to go with honesty. They’d probably want a passionless drone for this anyway. “Pretty much the same place,” she admitted, trying to ignore the pang of dismay it gave her to say that. “I don’t have a lot of prospects without a college education, and I don’t have the time or the money to go back and get one. Not that I know what I’d want to get a degree in anyway.”
“That’s quite alright,” Natalie said, turning back to record something on her computer. “Although if you change your mind in the future, you may want to look into our financial assistance programs.” She scrolled a little bit this time before turning back. “Okay, just one last question, I think. Do you see yourself having children in the future?”
Eliza felt a small rush of indignation and responded without thinking. “That’s…well, that’s a little personal, don’t you think? Do I really need to answer that?”
Natalie lifted her hands off the table in mock surrender. “Sorry, Ms. Huevo, let me explain. The effects of BVT on breastfeeding mothers aren’t yet known, so we’re trying to be careful. As things stand now, BVT is not a reversible treatment, and our experts have warned us that there may be unexpected side effects during or following pregnancy.”
The dots weren’t hard to connect. “Oh,” Eliza said sheepishly. sincan escort “That makes sense. Sorry.” The explanation had sounded prepared; she probably wasn’t the first to react poorly to the question.
“Now, that’s not to say there will be a negative interaction,” Natalie continued. “We’re simply being upfront about possible side effects, especially when it comes to something as important as an individual’s ability to start a family. If you want to wait until the research is complete, then I can…”
“No, no,” Eliza said quickly, cutting her off. “I…don’t really care about having kids. That’s okay.” Truthfully, it wasn’t something she’d put much thought into; it’d all depend on meeting the right person, something she wasn’t pinning much hope on.
Natalie’s smile returned and she pressed a few keys on her keyboard. “Great! Well, that’s all settled, then. No more questions!”
“That’s…it?” Eliza said, a little puzzled. Natalie had said that was the last question, but…she’d had interviews before. Three questions was almost nothing, especially given that one of them was basically just a disclaimer. Had she given a wrong answer along the way?
“That’s it!” Natalie said. “I’m going to send you to a clinic nearby for a blood test so we can make sure there’s nothing to worry about, and if that clears, you’re in!” She reached a hand across the desk. “Congratulations on becoming a milkmaid, Ms. Huevo.”
Eliza took her hand and shook it, still a little confused. “Uh, thanks.” She paused. “So when do I start?”
Friday, April 24th, 2:00 PM
Eliza looked away and winced as the nurse pressed the needle into her arm. “You know, I thought it’d be larger,” she joked, trying not to think about what she was being injected with.
The nurse gave a diplomatic laugh, just long and loud enough to make Eliza feel like she’d been the first to say that. “Same here! When they handed me the first one of these, I said – guess big things really do come in small packages!” She put an adhesive bandage over the injection site and Eliza reached up to roll her sleeve down, but the nurse stopped her. “Oh, you ain’t done yet. That’s the first of five.” She winked at Eliza’s look of dismay. “First time’s the worst! Once your body starts making the hormones on its own you won’t even need these, though.”
Eliza scrambled for conversation while the nurse prepared the second injection. The walls of the room were much emptier than she was used to from clinics; there wasn’t an educational poster in sight. From outside, the building had looked more like an office complex than a hospital. “What is this place, anyway?” she asked, not really expecting an honest answer, but craving some kind of distraction from the needles.
“Government facility, I guess,” the nurse replied, jabbing Eliza for a second time. “They took the whole thing over for BVT work a while back. Not too many of these places in the country! Most of it’s reserved as production floors, but they keep this area as an on-site infirmary.”
“Do you get a lot of injuries?” Eliza asked nervously, remembering all the conspiracy theories she’d seen about the secret side effects of BVT.
The nurse laughed. “Oh, hardly any! Mostly we just monitor hormone levels and administer correctional doses if needed. And of course we also handle new milkmaids like yourself.” Eliza heard a quiet tak tak tak as the nurse tapped the syringe filled with the third dose. “BVT’s a lot safer than you’d think, with how much stuff they gotta pump into you. Sometimes a woman’s body rejects it, but even that’s pretty easygoing. I hear it happens less now anyway.”
Eliza blurted out the first question that came to her mind, just to keep the conversation going as the nurse zeroed in on her arm again. “What’s it like? In the…production rooms?”
“Not too sure, I’ve never really asked. But most women seem to like it. Besides, I can hazard a guess.” She leaned in to whisper conspiratorially, looking left and right before speaking in a loud whisper. “They milk ya!” She laughed and turned back around, missing the blush that crept across Eliza’s face.
“What about the…the growth?” Eliza asked, casting about again for anything to say. She gestured at her shabby chest, its curve barely discernible beneath her shirt. “How fast does that happen? Should I start getting new bras?” Should I start getting bras, period?
“Oh, don’t you worry about that,” the nurse said cheerfully, stabbing Eliza in the arm again. “Those things’ll grow faster than you can imagine. We’ll handle the bra situation, we’ve got rentals you can use until your growth slows.” She stuck the last adhesive bandage on and rolled the sleeve down. “Aaaaand we’re done!”
“Done? I thought you said there were five shots, not four.” Eliza rubbed her poor abused arm. It was already feeling sore, and she was pretty sure she could see a bruise forming under the olive skin.
The gölbaşı otele gelen escort nurse laughed. “Yeah, I tell that to the nervous ones. They usually run out of steam right before the last shot, so I just started pacing them like that.” She pulled off her gloves and tossed them in the trash. “Alright, you should be good. Doctor’ll be in shortly to answer any questions you have and give you a proper timeline.” She opened the door but stopped at the threshold. “You okay? You’re looking a bit pale.”
Eliza was feeling very cold all of a sudden. She hugged herself tightly. “Y-Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little…dizzy.” Her head was starting to spin and she couldn’t feel her own body’s weight anymore. She tried to lift her gaze to the nurse, but she couldn’t figure out which way was up.
And suddenly she found herself hunched over, retching. She heard liquid hit the bag of the trash can – was that always in front of her? The nurse was saying something, but it was taking all of her concentration not to fall sideways out of her chair. A detached part of her realized this was probably the “rejection” the nurse had been talking about, and she idly wondered why the idea of that made her so sad.
The nurse appeared again with a plastic cup full of water, and helped her drink it in small sips. Eliza’s balance began to return, and with it a bit of embarrassment at being treated like a child. She took the cup and continued sipping, trying not to spill any of it. The sudden wave of nausea was gone, but she was ready for it to reappear at any moment. “Sorry,” she mumbled glumly. At least she’d washed out of the program quickly.
“Don’t be,” came a new voice from beside her. She glanced up and saw a kindly woman next to the nurse. “Sudden onset of morning sickness is common early in BVT. It should clear up by your next visit, though.” Eliza realized with a jolt that she must be the doctor the nurse had mentioned.
“So…that wasn’t rejection?” she asked hesitantly, her voice hoarse.
The doctor shook her head. “No, rejection takes a few days to show up, and usually comes out the other end. Besides, we screen for that with the blood test now. We haven’t had that happen for months.” She frowned. “Although normally it takes at least a day before nausea symptoms start. I’d like to keep you here for a few hours, if that’s okay.”
“I’m feeling much better…” Eliza protested weakly. The doctor raised her eyebrows sarcastically and she relented. “Okay, sure. Not like I’ve got anything going on anyway.” She paused as a thought occurred to her. “Wait, will I be charged for that?”
“Not a dime,” the doctor said cheerfully, moving a second chair over to sit down while the nurse quietly exited the room. “The government’s covering all of this, at least until the immediate dairy crisis is over. I’m pretty sure this is cheaper than importing more cow’s milk anyway, especially with boslacstilla spreading to India.” She picked up a clipboard she’d set down on the table. “Anywho, onto business.”
The conversation became blessedly mundane, and Eliza’s embarrassment faded quickly. Apart from the BVT, this was just like any other doctor visit. How are you feeling, do you have any concerns, so on and so forth. After a few minutes, the doctor handed her an information packet. “You’ll want to look this over. You’ll find your growth timeline, dietary guidelines, and milking schedule in there, among other things. And of course you already know about the potential nausea.” She winked. “Should make for some good reading material tonight, eh?”
Eliza flushed a little. “Yeah, I guess.” She hesitated, then decided to press her luck. “Are you sure I have to stay for a few hours? It’s just that I’m three hours away by bus, and if I miss the three o’clock then the next one’s not until six.”
The doctor’s eyes widened in surprise. “Wow, most women live a little closer. Well…in that case, it should be okay. But if you experience any other side-effects, please call.” Eliza frowned and opened her mouth, but the doctor just pointed to the packet. “My number’s in there.”
She stood up and walked towards the door, motioning for Eliza to follow her. “That should about cover it. You can go ahead and check out at the front. Read the packet, follow the instructions, and we’ll see you in a week for your first milking!”
Eliza’s heart beat a little faster as she scurried towards the checkout desk. Her first milking? In just a week? This was all moving so fast; she hadn’t really thought about it. At first she’d just fantasized about the money, but now that she was actually in the middle of it, she found she was looking forward to more than just the paycheck.
Maybe being a milkmaid wouldn’t be so bad.
Friday, May 1st, 2:00 PM
Being a milkmaid was horrible.
Eliza’s breasts had been growing at an alarming rate, and they were feeling uncomfortably full. It wasn’t something she was used to. The packet had warned her not to attempt to express milk on her own because it would be a violation of her contract, but ironically, she wouldn’t have even thought of that if it hadn’t mentioned it. It was a moot point anyway; she had no idea how to go about doing that in the first place.
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