Chapter 1: Contact
Wind, all he felt was wind. He opened his eyes and immediately streams of tears began making their way up his cheek, but adjusted to the rush of wind. His eyes widened as the realization hit him—he was falling. Falling with the weight of a boulder, the human flailed his limbs frantically in the abandoned hope of grasping something that could in some way save his life.
The thoughts of death flashed through his mind, he was unable to decipher what he had needed to finish before he died. Then the thought hit him just as he crashed through the rickety support beams of an old barn. The beams exploded in a cacophonic array of splinters and large chunks of wood. Thousand of cobwebs entangle the bruised figure as he smashed into the dirt ground bellow, leaving a small crater where he lay. He bled from multiple wounds caused by the support beams and clung to consciousness as he lay moaning and groaning.
The sound of hoofs reverberated in the distance and shook the ground more violently as they got closer. A smile threatened to escape his lips just as he fell into unctuousness. He was once again alone in a dark, dead world.
The human awoke to the fragrant smell of laundry detergent. His eyes slightly opened to the scene of darkness. He could faintly see the glimmering outlining of objects in the distance. He tried sitting up in bed and to his surprise, he was able to. Although an effort for his weak bandaged limbs, the human managed to prop himself up onto his elbow so he could better view his surroundings.
As his eyes began to focus, his brow furrowed in confusion. The many outlines seemed to be some sort of horse stall—only it was furnished to look like a bedroom. There was a separate smaller room in the far corner where a brown, tattered cowboy hat hung and several ropes were coiled. On the other side of the room there were the outlines of picture frames hanging on the walls—it was still to gloomy to see the painting though.
His eyes swept over the room with interest, taking in the faint colors and the sweat smells. His sight then fell on a round nightstand next to the bed where a small picture frame set, along with a lamp and his clothes—they were neatly folded up. He slowly and painfully slipped out of bed. Out from underneath the covers the cold lay resting on his bare skin, causing a wave of goose bumps to cover his bruised form.
Carefully putting on his tattered wranglers and black turtleneck—as not to aggravate his injuries—the human then began to panic. He felt around under the bed and around the nightstand but couldn’t find what he was looking for. If anyone or anything were to get a hold of those items, anything could happen.
A quiet humming flowed through a crack in the door. The soft light of a candle brightened as its handler made her way to the door. The human’s eyes shot like daggers at the door. Slowly and carefully he sunk down into a crouching position and—one step at a time—made his way around the corner of the bed.
The humming stopped. He peered around the corner just as the door slowly opened with a squeak as the hinges rubbed against each other. The room flooded with the serene glow of the candle.
“Oh my gosh!” A soft, small voice gasped, the clomping of hooves echoed in the room. The human recoiled from the sudden outburst. “Where is he?”
The equine creature set the candle on the nightstand, then slowly made its way around the bed. “That’s right, just a little closer.” He thought. It was almost turning the corner he was hiding behind. “A little more...Now!” He grabbed it, slamming it to the closest wall available. Dust drifted down from the rafters as the creature hung by its neck, her hooves trying to grab at an unknown force. He found its eyes, the small flame of the candle reflected off of them. He saw only kindness.
The creature had a sun-yellow coat and a frosting-pink pink mane and matching tail. The only alien feature, was that it sported a pair of feather wings, they trembled and shook with fear.
His grip loosened, then finally he let go. He dropped to his knees in shock. Tears began to form in his eyes, then flowed uncontrollably.
The creature appeared to be about four feet tall. It was cowering mere feet from where the human had dropped. Its eyes were wide in both fear and wonder, the two legged figure that had attacked her was now falling apart altogether. It seemed to be attacking and the pegasus began struggling until she realized, she wasn’t being attacked, she was being hugged.
The mixture of emotion in those few minutes was something out of a movie. Nobody really ever experienced it.
“There there. It’s alright.” It cooed, voice slightly trembling. “Here, how about you come downstairs with me and I’ll fix you something to eat. You must be absolutely starving.”
Moments later, the human sat alone on a plush leather couch in the main room of the house. A single fire illuminated the room, its lights dancing on the walls, giving the room a tranquil feeling considering the events that had occurred upstairs.
Five other equine figures surrounded him. An orange one even slept on the other side of the couch he was on. It rested it head on the arm of the couch, its breathing slow and peaceful. As for the other horse-like creatures, they slept in their own part of the room, their breathing slow just like the first.
Mare painting hung throughout the room. Though the dancing lights lit up the room slightly, it still wasn’t enough to get a clear look at them. A thin blanket of dust blanketed many of the bookshelves beside the fireplace. He could only bake out a few of the titles, such as; A Ponies Guide to Apple Harvesting; When to Buck Your Apples; An Apple’s Life for Me.
“These folk must be pretty into apples.” He breathed, making sure not to wake the ‘Ponies’ in the room with him. He was in the a book of fantasy. How could pegusi, unicorns, and ponies exist when he’s traversed the whole world and hasn’t come across any. Who would have thought they could talk either.
The one next to him stirred. He froze and slowly looked at her. It seemed to him it was starting to wake up. Its breathing quickened and it began to moan somewhat. His head snapped back forward he stared at the space in front of him. Hopping, preying it didn’t wake up. His prayers were not answered. The wingless and hornless creature sat up and rubbed both eyes with its hooves.
“Woo wee!” She said, stretching her hooves high in the air. “That accident yesterday left me durn tired. Fluttershy? Are ya still up?” She began looking around the room and her gaze stopped on the human. She just sat there and stared. He then finally got the guts to look back and what he saw was pure terror. The orange pony shrank back and continued stared at him.
“Uh...howdy.” He began. He gulped then continued. “Mah name is John. What’s yers?” He stuck out his hand, the orange pony looked at it and slowly raised her hoof to it, shaking it slowly.
“M-Mah name is A-Applejack.” She stuttered and gulped. Dropping her hoof to the cushion in front of her.
“Mighty fine. Pleasure meatin’ yer acquaintance Miss Applejack.” He smiled sincerely to her.
“AJ is just fine.” She insisted, “That’s what the rest of mah friends call me anyway.” He nodded and turned toward the kitchen entry way where a pale yellow light shone through. The yellow pegasus walked through with a tray of food grasped between her teeth. She set the trey down on the coffee table.
“Oh, I see you’ve met my friend Applejack.” She said blushing. “Oh silly me, where are my manners. I forgot to introduce myself.” She giggled “My name is Fluttershy. What’s your name...um, if you don’t mind me asking?”
He stuck out his hand in the same manner as he did for AJ. “Pleasant meetin’ ya. Mah name’s John. So, hehehe, ah don’t suppose ya know who owned that barn ah put a hole in?” His gaze switched between the two of them. Shredded with guilt he looked at his bandaged arms.
“That’ll be mah barn.” AJ answered, “and it’s no trouble. It was just an accident ah’m assumin’.” She was still looking at him with interest. She had never seen a creature like this. Nor a creature that could survive a fall like that, and have nearly recovered from yesterdays injuries. It just wasn’t natural. She needed to keep an eye on this thing.
“Oh, oh ah’m so sorry.” He clutching his hands together. His stomach churned with regret. “Ah can’t say ah rightfully know how ah got up there. But, like ya said, it was an accident.” And with that he stood up and started pacing. He was in deep thought.
“John, are you all right? You seem awfully troubled.” Fluttershy trotted over to him. Placing a gentle hoof on his hand. The contact caused a tingly feeling to rush up his arm and into his neck. He twitched. He sighed.
“No, no ah’m not alright. Ah just need to know how the heck ah got here.” he turned and walked back to the couch. Plopping down on it. A cloud of dust puffed up on contact. He fanned it away with his hand. “Ah need to know how ah got here so ah know how ta get back.”
“Whatever do you mean?” she asked him, hoof still on his hand as she sat next to him.
“There is no possible way ah’m from this planet or dimension.” He answered, he made tight fists, his knuckles turning white.
“How do ya figure?”
“Well for starters, ah was miles underground in a dusty cavern, than ah’m suddenly fallin’ from the sky.” He stuck up a finger, and then a second one when he said. “Second, ya’ll have fresh food and wood to burn a fire. Plus it’s safe to breath this air. And third,” he stuck up a third finger. “You two exist.”
“What is yer world like!” AJ shouted, causing the other ponies to stir, then in a quieter tone she asked. “Ah mean, ya’ll don’t have air ta breath and food ta eat where yer from?”
“Ah can tell ya one thing an one thing only, where ah come from is the one place ya would not want to go.” His voice got low and serious as he added. “Otherwise, it’s none of yer concern about mah world or what ah do there. But now that ah know of this place—when ah leave ah’ll be sure to come back.”
AJ sighed. “Ok, ye’re almost more random than Pinkie Pie.” She said.
“What? Whose Pinkie Pie?”
“Ah said yer almost more random than Pinkie Pie. Pinkie Pie is the pink one on the couch right there.” She pointed with her hoof to the pink fuzz headed pony on the couch across from him. “And if ya can get more random than her, ah say ya two are goin’ to be the best of friends.”
“What makes ya think ah’m random.” His voice was still low and gravely.
“Yer random cause ya keep on spoutin’ out random stuff in no specific order. That’s why.”
“Well sorry. First thing ah’ve had ta talk to in over twelve years and its tellin’ me not ta talk. Ah tend ta have a lot on mah mind right now, sorry fer wantin’ ta talk.”
AJ’s head fell, her eyes fixed on her hooves. “Sorry.” was all she had to say.
“Oh John, we didn’t know, please forgive us.” Fluttershy pleaded. She scooted closer to him, wrapping her forelimbs around his arm. A sharp pain ran up his arm, but he ignored it.
“It’s alright, ah just am a little overwhelmed and confused, that’s all.” He rested a hand on her hoof to reassure her.
“AJ, who are you talking to.” A blue pegasus rose from under her quilted blanket. Her eyes were still full of sleep when she looked at him. All she did was blink, and blink, and blink. Her mouth dropped open and her eyes grew wide. Then in a rainbow blur she disappeared, then reappeared right in front of him, hovering above his lap.
“What in Celestia’s name are you?” She pointed an accusing hoof only inches away from his face. He kept a steady face and just stared back with an emotionless gaze. The pegusi hoof began to shake until she backed down and landed on the floor next to Applejack.
“I-I’m Rainbow dash,”—she gulped—“Fastest flier in all Equestria.” Her hooves shuffled back and forth.
“Mah name’s John.” He said, a small smile curving at his lips. “Best engineer on earth.” An awkward grin appeared on Rainbow’s face when he finished.
“You know, you sound a lot like AJ.” She said, standing taller and prouder. “I haven’t seen anypony that wasn’t related to Applejack with that accent.”
“So it seems.” He sat back with a groan he stretched his whole upper torso. His back arched in a way nopony had ever witnessed. The ponies watched in horror, as if he might be broken. Bones popped in his back and joints, and with a sigh of relief he fell back down onto the couch.
“What in tarnations was that?” AJ asked. “Ya looked like ya would have snapped like a twig.”
“Ah was stretchin’.” He answered. “Ah’ve been sleepin’ and then came right to this couch and sat down. Mah back was achin’.”
“That’s how your kind stretches?” Fluttershy asked, awestricken. “I mean...It looked like you were in pain.”
“Well...everyone stretches different, and...wait...what do ya mean by mah kind?” Fluttershy shied back behind AJ, peeking over her back. One eye hidden by her pink mane.
“S-Sorry, I-I didn’t mean to make you feel bad.”
“No, It’s ok. Just kinda funny, that’s all.” His eyes dropped to his hands again and he sighed heavily. “No harm done.” They all looked at him, AJ still unsure about this creature. It did seem nice enough, but she wasn’t going to take her chances. This thing could still be faking.
“Um...just wonderin’. Did you happen ta find a duffel bag and the stuff that was attached to mah belt?” He gestured to his belt, lifting his shirt up to show them the decorative leather belt. “Cause...well....it wouldn’t be too good if something or someone got a hold of’m.”
“Why? Are they dangerous?” AJ was in his face now, eyes locked on a dead stare with his.
“They certainly ain’t toys. But yes.” He pushed the pony away with a finger and she backed away, still not taking her eyes away from his. “Don’t worry, they’re useless unless whoever usin’ them knows how ta use them.”
“Um...AJ, can’t you leave your guest alone?” Rainbow asked, her hoof on her shoulder. “It’s not like he did anything wrong other than crash into your barn, which I have done on many occasions.”
“She’s right dear.” Rarity said, which gave her an unfriendly glare from Rainbow. “He hasn’t harmed anypony so far.” She added, not even noticing Rainbow.
“And he seemed pretty shaken up when he woke up, I doubt he could do much harm...um, if you know what I mean.” Fluttershy hid behind her mane.
“Um...don’t mean ta be rude and all...but ah’m kinda in the room too. It’s not like ah can’t hear.” John folded his arms and looked at the three of them accusingly. Tapping his foot on the hardwood floor he added, “Now...back to mah question...does any of ya know where mah stuff is?” His eyebrow shot up as Rainbow hesitated an answer. “Ya have somethin’ ta say Miss Dash?” Dash eyed the ground, and slowly raised her eyes to look at him.
“Um...I may have happened to be in the skies when you fell,” she paused and licked her lips, “and another object was falling further away, and right after you hit the ground your stuff fell in the Everfree.” All the ponies gasped, their eyes widened in fear.
“Not the Everfree!”
“Nopony ever goes in there.”
“Why sugar, yer stuff is as good as lost.”
A confused look hung from John’s face. His eyes left Rainbow’s and returned to AJ’s. “What’s so terrible ‘bout a name? Now...what exactly is this Everfree that’s happens to be so dangerous?”
“Well,” Fluttershy began, “the Everfree is a vast forest full of creatures. The plants grow by themselves, the animals take care of themselves, and...”
“And worst of all,” Rainbow butted in, “the weather happens all by itself.” Her eyes were wide in fear.
“Wow, all the bad in yer world sounds like all the normal in mah world.” He scratched the scruff on his face. “Ya know, weather, animals, and plants are suppose ta take care of themselves. Ever hear of the natural order?” Another gasp, this time from their newly awaken guest.
“Oh, Twilight dear, meet our guest.” Rarity ushered the purple unicorn to an empty spot next to John. “He was just telling us how his world is exactly like the Everfree.”
The purple unicorn eyed him intently, she almost seemed to be examining him. He shifted uncomfortably and turned his back slightly to Twilight. “So mah stuff landed in a forest that is exactly like the place ah was born and raised in. Doesn’t sound too hard.”
That earned an unwelcome stare from Applejack and a confused one from Fluttershy. Rainbow Dash seemed excited with the idea. Twilight’s expression hadn’t changed, but he didn’t dare turn toward her. “It’s almost mornin’, when the sun rises ah can head on out and start searchin’. If Miss Rainbow here would so kindly show me the direction, ah should be back before sundown.”
They gasped, this time Twilight joined them. “OK, OK. Stop with the gaspin’. It’s not that bad. Just cause ah’m in bandages doesn’t mean ah can’t take care of mahself. Ya can decide whether or not ya want me ta return before ah leave, but ah need ta get that stuff soon.” They exchanged worried looks. John stood up and started walking into the other room.
“John, wait.” It was Twilight. “We’ll go with you. If it’s true your from another world, than you know nothing about Equestria.”
“Ah thought ya were scared of the Everfree.”
“Not when all of us are together.”
“Fine, we’ll leave in a couple hours. Ah suggest ya get some more sleep.