I wobbled through the realms of unconsciousness like a pony made of Jello during a mild earthquake. I was stumbling, very unsteadily, through a marshmallowy wonderland of swirling color and subtly shifting shapes.
Whatever that doctor stuck me with, it was some strong stuff!
“Sounds like a soporific,” a scruffy-looking human said, limping by while leaning on a cane. “Possibly an opiate of some sort.”
“Huh…” I said. “I have no idea what that means.”
“Whatever,” he said irritably. “Like I care.”
He wandered off and sunk deeper and deeper into a gumdrop-shaped hillside with every step until his head disappeared from view.
“Trippy,” I said.
“I’ll say,” a cat said from a nearby sparkly tree limb.
I sighed. This was all kinds of crazy.
“Stop talking,” I told the cat. “Cats don’t talk.”
“Neither do ponies,” she pointed out.
Well, she had me there, I had to admit.
“So, cat. What’s going on?”
“Not much. You’re having a weird dream after being drugged by… What was it again? Hold on…”
The cat pulled out a note card from somewhere, along with a tiny pair of reading glasses.
“Doctor Creepy-face McLiar-pants?” she said.
“Yup, that’s his name,” I said. “He’s kind of a jerk. Keeps sticking needles in my rump. I’m not a pincushion!”
“You’re not really a pony, either,” she said. “You’d best get that sorted out.”
“Tryin’ to, baby,” I said, as I started walking down the road again. “Tryin’ my best.”
I blinked, and when I opened my eyes, I was on some sort of wooden sailing ship. The cat was sitting on a nearby rail, and the ship was slowly bobbing up and down. It was slightly disorientating.
“Ugh, I hate the ocean,” I groused. “Everything in it either wants to poison you, eat you, or infect you somehow.”
“Don’t go in the water, then,” the cat said, then started licking herself in an intimate area. I turned my back to give her some privacy, not that she apparently cared at all.
The door to the captain’s cabin burst open, and a mint-green blur zipped past me.
“All hands on deck!” shouted Cap’n Lyra, scourge of the Seven Seas.
“Sure, don’t go in the water,” I muttered, ignoring the Cap'n for now. “We’re just surrounded on it by all sides, no problem.”
“Belay that talk!” Cap’n Lyra snarled at me, glaring from underneath her ridiculously over-sized plumed pirate hat. The enormous white feather bobbled dangerously towards me, and I took a step back out of sheer self-preservation.
“Sorry Cap’n!” I shouted. “Just talking to this cat, here!”
“Do yer be crazy, filly? There be no cat there!”
I glanced over, and sure enough, the cat was gone.
“Figures,” I sighed.
“I dern’t allow nae mental cases on board mer pirate ship!” the Cap’n bellowed. “If yer gon’ be talkin’ ter phantom cats, Oi’ll put yer inna boat’n cast yer adrift!”
That accent was floating around more than the ship was, but I decided it was better not to mention it.
“Aye aye, Cap’n!”
“Ship ahoy!” Boson Bon Bon shouted.
Everypony (meaning the Cap’n, me, and Bon Bon) scrambled around like lunatics while we approached the other ship, full of terrified-looking ponies staring back at us.
“Show these scallywags the fearsome might o’ the Crimson Hand Pirates!” Cap’n Lyra barked. "Scuttle yon wee clipper with the might o' our roaring cannon!"
"Aye aye!" I shouted, saluting, preparing to fire the cannon.
I was more than half-sure the cannon would shoot nothing but streamers and confetti at the poor, doomed ponies on the other ship. In fact, I was so sure that, just before I fired it, I managed to convince myself that there was no way it could possibly happen, as it was far too likely, and the world didn't actually work that way.
So, when the cannon went off and blew party supplies all over the victim's ship, Cap'n Lyra was only slightly more surprised by it than I was, and a whole lot angrier.
“What. Was. That?!” she snarled, advancing on me.
“Um… party cannon?”
“The party cannon is canon!” Bon Bon chirped.
“I’ll put yer off my ship!” Lyra screamed, shoving me overboard.
Great, I’ll probably get eaten by a shark. I closed my eyes in anticipation, but the bite never came.
I slowly opened my eyes, feeling groggy and woozy and, oddly, like I was still rocking back and forth on the ship. The sight before me made no sense at all, as I was looking up at a blue ribbon of sky, barely visible through the treetops. The trees were slowly moving on either side of me, giving the impression that I was slowly moving forward while lying on my back.
Nothing weird happened for a while, though I fully expected it to. I lay there, calmly accepting that something strange was going to happen any second now. Then, suddenly, something yellow and hairy flashed before my eyes, first one way, and then back again.
A burst of adrenaline surged through me as I completely panicked over what that creature might be. Giant yellow spider? Ravenous wolf creature? I just didn’t know!
So, screaming, I scrambled to my hooves, tripping over the improvised litter made of two long branches with some fabric stretched between them that I was being dragged along on, and stumbled right into something warm and fuzzy.
“What they hay?!” shouted an alarmed Applejack, as I extracted my face from her… tail area.
The fact that this was actually real began to sink in. That, and the fact that, in my panic, I had completely over-reacted to AJ’s blond tail swinging over my face as she dragged my unconscious self along the forest trail.
She was looking back over her shoulder at me, all indignant, which I can’t blame her for one bit. And, no, she does not smell like apples.
“Um, sorry, Applejack,” I said. “I was a little disoriented, and I panicked.”
Applejack scowled at me as I stood there, swaying woozily now that the adrenaline was wearing off. Then she snorted, and kicked the now-broken litter away from her.
Rainbow Dash, behind me, must have seen the whole thing. Either that, or she was laughing fit to burst for no reason at all. I glanced back and was surprised to see her pulling a litter of her own, on which was…
“It's Doctor Creepy-face McLiar-pants!” I shrieked, pointing a hoof. “Look out, he’s right behind you!”
Dash gave me an incredulous look, then went “Pfffft!” and started laughing again, this time actually falling down and rolling onto her back, kicking her legs in the air feebly.
I could feel myself blushing. Apparently, I’d said something stupid. In order to distract myself, I glanced around, trying to get my bearings. In addition to AJ, who was busily blushing and scowling at a tree at the moment, there was Twilight, who was up ahead on the path, looking back at us with mild impatience.
Rarity was next to Twilight, a poorly-concealed grin on her face, and next to Rarity was a very odd sight.
“Um… where’d the little filly come from?” I asked, pointing at the adorable little thing. She was a delicate pink shade with a blond mane tied in twin pigtails with red ribbons. Her blond tail also had a red ribbon, tied in a big red bow.
The little filly glared at me with the meanest look I’d ever seen from a pony.
“You tell anypony about this, and I swear, I’ll gut you,” she said in an instantly-recognizable gravelly voice.
I just stared at her for a few seconds before I started whooping with laughter of my own, joining Dashie on the ground, howling until my ribs started hurting! Oh, thank you poison joke! Reverse Flutterguy, it was an instant classic!
The gravelly-voiced filly glared pure death hatred beams at me while I giggled myself into near unconsciousness. I finally recovered enough to make my way weakly back up on my hooves.
“Where’s the other one?” I wheezed, still wobbly-kneed from the after effects of both the sedatives and the hilarity.
“Um. He’s right here,” a voice said behind me, and I turned to see Fluttershy, standing, apparently, all alone. She turned her head to the empty air beside her and said, “Could you turn sideways, please? If you don’t mind?”
A pony suddenly appeared out of thin air, making me jump slightly.
“He’s two-dimensional,” Twilight said, coming up beside me.
“I know,” I said, “but you can’t expect me to give everypony a detailed… OH! You mean literally two dimensional!”
That was seriously kind of cool. From the side, he looked perfectly normal. From the front, he just vanished! It was so weird!
So, now I knew what the poison joke did to two of them. Time to find out what happened to Doctor Creepy (etc.) back behind Rainbow Dash.
“So what happened to the doctor?” I asked.
“Watch,” Rainbow Dash said. She leaned down until her muzzle was right next to his ear. She took a deep breath, then shouted, “Wake up!”
The doctor snorted and all four legs kicked out. He blinked in confusion for a couple of seconds, then started to drag himself upright.
“You’ve all made the worst mistakes you can even imagine,” he snarled, eyes flashing. “When we get done with you-“
“Sleep,” Rainbow Dash said, and the doctor’s eyes rolled back in his head as he flopped bonelessly back down into the litter she was dragging.
“That… is so awesome!” I squealed.
I trotted around to the side of the litter.
“Wake up!” I shouted.
“You’ve made a powerful-!“
“You will rue the day-!”
“You’ll regret this when she-“
“Pinkie!” Twilight shouted. “Stop playing with him!”
There went Twilight, ruining my fun once again. It’s almost like it’s her job to be a buzzkill or something.
“I’m just getting a little revenge for all the times he knocked me out,” I said. “I have really freaky dreams when he does that.”
“It’s not right,” Twilight said.
“Darned right, it’s not right!” I said. “Oh, wait… you meant me playing with his sleep disorder?”
“Fine,” I grumbled. “But why are they here?”
Fluttershy answered before Twilight could.
“We couldn’t just leave them!” she said.
“That’s true,” Twilight said. “The two-dimensional one might have been fine, but not the little filly or the narcoleptic doctor!”
“I am not a little filly,” Gravel-voice said angrily.
“Aww, she’s so cute!” Rainbow said, trying not to snicker with laughter and not succeeding very well.
"Quit it!" he/she said, stomping an adorable hoof in frustration.
"Awww," said Fluttershy, who was being completely un-ironic about it. "So cute!"
"None of you would be laughing if you knew what it's like to be suddenly stuck inside the body of a pink filly!" he/she raged.
"Yo," I said, raising a hoof. "I know exactly what that's like, and it's still pretty funny, dude."
More with the death glares! That pretty much eliminated any chance of bonding over shared experiences and a lack of male genitalia, I tell you.
"We should get moving again," Twilight said, making a monumental effort to not let a smile of her own break out across her face.
"You have to admit, Twilight," I said, "being on this side of poison joke is a lot more funny."
The unicorn snorted with laughter, then quickly tried to hide it by rubbing at her nose as if she'd just stifled a sneeze.
"I... hate you all..." the little pink filly said, scowling cutely. "So very, very much."
"Okay," Twilight admitted, smirking, "it's a little funny... what are you doing?"
I glanced up guiltily from where I was about to start lowering Dr. Creepy's left front hoof into a bowl of warm water.
"Nothing!" I said, dropping the hoof.
"Where did you get... Oh, nevermind," Twilight said. "We should all get going."
Everypony agreed (except the prisoners, of course) and we started walking down the road again.
It turns out that I'd been knocked out for the better part of a whole day, and we were now two or three days away from Castle Penumbra, depending on how much distance we covered over the next couple days. I was really glad they didn't wait for me to wake up, since that would have just wasted a whole bunch of time.
Good news is, Applejack forgave me for my unwanted intrusion into her personal space. Though, that might have been her wanting to let it drop because Rainbow Dash kept needling her about it.
The others filled me in on some of the details as we walked. After I'd been rendered less-than-conscious, it was pretty easy for the rest of them to wrap up the others. They'd kept them under guard, at first to make sure they didn't try to loop around and ambush us at a later time.
After that first night, though, they realized that the team of bad guys must have run through a patch of poison joke, and decided to bring them with us, rather than have them face the terrors of the Everfree alone.
"You may just regret that," gravel-voice said.
"Hold up, wait a minute," I said. "Look, I can't keep thinking of you as 'gravel-voice'. So, how about I start calling you by your name?"
"Forget it," s/he growled.
"Aw, come on," I urged. The little filly just scowled menacingly at me.
"Look, I need to call you something. So, either you tell us your real name, or we start calling you Princess Puffball."
"You wouldn't dare!"
"Fine... it's" *mumble mumble*
"A bit louder, please?"
"Cinnamon Swirl! Okay? My name is Cinnamon Swirl!"
This time, Twilight lost it too.
"Fine, laugh it up," he said grumpily. "I'm so arresting you all when we get back to Ponyville."
The other guy, the flat one, his name was simply Terrace. A nice, normal earth pony name, I was told. Boring! I decided to call him 'Flats' instead. Poor guy couldn't talk. I mean, his mouth moved and everything, but no sound came out. I felt kind of bad for him, but he didn't seem hurt or anything.
We made pretty good time the rest of the evening, and started setting up camp before it got dark. We had everything: a big bonfire, tents, s'mores, the whole nine yards. We even woke up the doctor for a little bit, letting him eat and drink before putting him back under.
Doctor Creepy-face, by the way, has a real potty mouth. Just thought you should know.
Finally, it was time for bed. AJ and I got the first watch, as we were sharing a tent. She was the only one who'd brought a tent large enough for two, and I was nowhere near sleepy, after having been asleep most of the day. So, Applejack and I stayed up, chatting idly about various things for a couple of hours, and then it was Rarity and Fluttershy's turn to take watch.
That's it. That's all there was to that day of traveling. So far, it was my first day in the forest where nothing bad or scary happened to me.
I lay down to sleep, terrified, because I knew that the Everfree forest just loved itself some dramatic irony... I spent half the night lying awake, expecting anything from a dragon assault, to an earthquake or a forest fire.
You know what ended up happening? Nothing. Not a darned thing.
Stupid inconsistent forest...
...wait, why am I complaining?