Chapter Three: A Party and a friend
As Phantom walked slowly into the seemingly abandoned building, he kept calling out for anypony. Now it might seem strange that he’d adapted to the language so quickly, but he’d been paying attention at the hospital. He might not know exactly where he is, but he knew that knowing the local lingo might come in handy. He walked forward into the building, and as he got about halfway between the door and the counter, the lights went off and the door closed.
“Surprise!!” Almost a hundred ponies screamed in unison as the light switched back on. Phantom dropped to the ground, terrified by the unexpected noise. He wasn’t usually all that good with surprises. He looked around the room quickly, but before he could finish attempting to figure out what was happening, he was interrupted by the same gasping pink pony.
“Hi, were ya surprised? Were ya? Were ya? Huh? Huh? Huh? Huh?” All of this delivered at lightning speed. It took Phantom a moment to figure out exactly what she’d said. He just nodded, too stunned still to be able to speak. The pony immediately proceeded to introduce herself as Pinkie Pie, and launched in on a semi-coherent ramble about why she’d thrown the party, (He looked lonely and he was somepony that she’d never seen before), and how awesome it was (but not as awesome as the time that she gasped….), and so on and so forth. Phantom was well distracted by her but it couldn’t last forever.
During a pause in Pinkie Pie’s now incoherent ramble, he took a look around the room. What he saw sent his brain into another meltdown. All around him, Ponies. Everywhere he looked there were ponies, no human faces, no faces of any kind that he could look to and find familiar in any way. He started to back for the door and bumped into a pony that had wandered in that direction. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
He bolted for cover, finding next to none, he kept running. Ponies were in his way everywhere. He finally spotted an empty table in a corner next to a curtain that was partially wrapped around the edge. He dove for it, and very skillfully slid under. Under the table it was quiet, and he wasn’t looking at entirely alien faces in every direction. He’d come to some sort of terms with the fact that he was now apparently a Pegasus, and at the Hospital it made sense that ponies would take care of their own kind, but he’d thought that there might be humans here, or at least something other than ponies. It was all so confusing, and terrifying, and he started to tremble.
Shaking and scared under the table, Phantom tried to figure out the best way to get out of this mad world. The only thing he couldn’t figure out was how he got here, and without that knowledge, he had no chance of getting back. That is if he wanted to go back. At the hospital, nobody had… Erm.. Nopony had asked him about his scars, and they didn’t treat him too badly at all actually. If only he had a familiar face that he could focus on. If one of the ponies from the hospital had been there, he might have been able to stand out there, to focus on a face that he’d become accustomed to over the past few weeks would have been an excellent way for him to deal with this sudden social anxiety. Well it was more a full blown phobia of being near ponies rather than anxiety.
He stayed in his place under the table as the party continued on. He trembled slightly from time to time hoping that everypony would go away so he could escape. The worst bout of shakes came when he saw pink legs, and heard Pinkie Pie asking if anyone had seen the new pony. He pulled back farther under the table then, until his rump hit the wall behind him. He stayed there as the party got rowdier and rowdier. It didn’t seem as if this party was ever going to end. He was right in the middle of a fantasy about there being a door right next to him when something hit him right in the face.
“Ouch,” He exclaimed, all thoughts of being as hidden as possible forgotten for that brief moment. Once he’d realized he’d spoken aloud, he whimpered and tried unsuccessfully to retreat farther. He looked up to see what had hit him in the face and was suddenly face to face with a vaguely familiar looking yellow pony.
“Oh! I’m so sorry for disturbing you… It’s just…. Well….. I don’t like crowds…… I didn’t hurt you did I?” The yellow pony asked. The face and voice started to jog Phantom’s memory. It hit him in an instant, and he saw a way out of this horrid predicament.
“You….D…Didn’t…” Phantom said quietly. He was still rather afraid, but being able to recognize somepony helped a lot with his confidence. The fact that it would be the kindest pony he’d met in his short time in this world helped even more.
“Oh, Phantom, is that you?” Fluttershy’s voice was at a more normal volume for her, rather than her terrified squeak. Had anypony at that moment asked, Phantom would have admitted to being rather surprised that Fluttershy remembered his name. They’d apparently met twice, once in the hospital, and once when he’d fallen which he didn’t remember. He was surprised he’d remembered Fluttershy’s name for that matter. He wasn’t exactly good with names, and he’d only heard her name once those few weeks ago.
“Y..Yes..” His voice was still cracking and he was still stuttering,the trembling in his body hadn’t subsided yet. He was more at ease, but he still wasn’t comfortable with the whole situation yet. The totality of the situation took that moment to once again settle in his mind, and he whimpered slightly. Even though it wasn’t directly because of Fluttershy, she cringed back.
“I’m sorry… If you want me to go….” Her voice was so dispirited and quiet it could barely be made out over the noise of the party that was slowly pressing in on the solitude under the table. Even as she spoke, Fluttershy started backing away. Feeling like the only pony he knew was about to leave him, Phantom did something he’d never before in his life done. He reached out for her with a hoof. It was still shaking, and his eyes were shut against the sudden tears that welled in his eyes at the realization that he truly was alone in this world. Before him was the only pony that had ever really tried to reach out to him, even though he still hadn’t quite caught on to that part fully yet. The motion of his hoof was enough to make Fluttershy pause.
“Please. D..D…Don’t g-g-g-go…..” His voice was silent and full of fear. Tears had started to leak out from under his eyelids. He’d only been this helpless once before, and the memories of that moment crept in on him, making his situation that much the worse.
The sound of roofing beams cracking and splintering, the heat of the fire burning, a small voice crying out in pain….
He shook his head and whimpered again. Fluttershy seemed worried for a moment. She settled down where she was. “I’ll stay… If you want me to….” Even though her voice was quiet, there was a trace of happiness there. They stayed in that position for a moment before she noticed the tears that were silently falling down his face. “Oh, my…. Whats the matter?”
Phantom had never once in his life ever had anyone take enough interest in him to ask what was wrong before. It startled him so much, the tears began to stop. He opened his right eye, and received another shock. Normally he opened his right eye when he didn’t want to see the world, but wanted to give the impression that he was looking at the person he was talking to. He was blind in that eye after all. Or rather he had been blind in that eye. As it opened, he got a full view of Fluttershy’s concerned face. The sudden knowledge that he had vision in his right eye again brought him back to the terrified phase. He shut the eye again just as quickly and started trembling again. Fluttershy didn’t say anything at all, whether for fear of scaring him more or just for a lack of words Phantom couldn’t say, but the silence did bring him to his senses.
“I’m sorry,” he said, half whispering. “This is all so new to me. I’m not used to any of this…” It was the first sentence he’d said since he’d become a Pegasus that hadn’t been full of stutters or pauses. The look on Fluttershy’s face changed partially from one of concern to one of mild confusion. Phantom felt like he should explain, but he didn’t want to say everything, he didn’t trust Fluttershy that much yet. He didn’t know if he would ever trust anyone, but he owed it to this kind mare to give some sort of explanation.
“I’m not from around here….. Where I’m from… It’s not like this at all…. None of it….” His sentences kept trailing off as he continued on the same track. “I’ve never really had anyone pay attention to me, so I got scared… I’m not any good talking to peo…Erm… Ponies…” He really hoped that Fluttershy hadn’t noticed his mild slip in grammar. He stopped talking, partially embarrassed because he hadn’t said that much in a single go in years. Fluttershy didn’t seem to notice his embarrassment though.
“Oh that’s okay,” she said brightly. “To be honest, I’m not that good with crowds either. I feel too closed in… That’s why I hide.” She was smiling slightly now, and Phantom, realizing that other ponies were like him, started to feel better.
They stayed under that table for the rest of the party, talking and having a good time between the two of them. Pinkie pie noticed them under the table, and rather unpinkishly decided to leave them alone. Fluttershy had enough trouble being social under normal circumstances, and the new pony seemed frightened, so Pinkie thought it would be best for the two of them to be left alone.
The party wound down and did come to an end eventually, mostly because Mr. and Mrs. Cake came down and asked everyone to leave so that they and their babies could get some sleep. As everyone was heading out the door, Phantom and Fluttershy crawled out from under the table. Phantom had long ago stopped trembling, and was now feeling rather content. Maybe this life wasn’t all that bad. Fluttershy was a very nice pony, and he thought that it was amazing that she took care of wild animals. They’d been having such a nice conversation under the table that neither of them put any thought to rejoining the party, or much of anything else either. As they walked to the door, Phantom noticed that Fluttershy seemed a little downcast. Well, since she’d cheered him up, he owed it to her to do the same.
“Fluttershy? Is something the matter?”
“I just didn’t want our conversation to end… I was having… Fun…” Fluttershy’s voice had taken on its quieter tones again. Phantom was starting to learn that that meant she was either embarrassed or upset. Luckily for him this was something that he could actually remedy.
“It doesn’t have to end just because the party ended… We could go for a walk… “ His voice trailed off at the end a bit as his confidence wavered. Being confident was not something he was normally good at, but since this was a new life, he felt like he should try. “That sound good?”
Fluttershy nodded and smiled, and so the two of them walked out of Sugarcube Corner together and set off for a moonlit stroll through Ponyville. Phantom smiled genuinely as they exited the building, happy that he’d found somepony to call a friend.