So...This is what death is like?
It would be a lie to say you weren't disappointed. You always figured the afterlife would be more...colorful. But, no, it's just pitch black.
The only part of you awake right now was your mind. You could think, but you couldn't feel the rest of your body. Seeing as your soul has clearly departed from the land of the living, you weren't really surprised. What body was there to feel anyway?
How did this happen again? Your thoughts were hazy. Something about a river, a cart, and a farmer. Maybe two. It seemed like your thoughts were scattered all over the place, with no rhyme or reason guiding them.
There was something about an orange blur...what was that blur anyway? It didn't seem malicious...but rather, it gave off a vibe of genuine care. Was someone trying to save you before you died?
Well, it seems like they didn't do such a good job at that. Still, you credit them for their valiant effort. It's a shame you couldn't thank them in person.
You feel a sudden pain in your lungs. Strange. Pain exists for the dead?
Wait...lungs? Does this mean you're not dead?
Your eyes shoot open as you're brought back to life. You immediately close them again when the blinding light of the lamps overhead burn them insufferably. Coughing rather violently, you begin to feel the stinging pain of a hoof having just swiped across your face.
"Big Mac, get him some water!"
Water...you shudder at the mention of the accursed liquid. Water was the last thing you wanted, as it had nearly just took your life. Your coat was still wet with river water, and it smelled rather repugnant.
After a few moments, you manage to subdue the coughing. Opening your eyes slowly, you look around you. Wooden, lightly painted walls were on all sides. Hay covered the floor you were sitting on, and some generic farm equipment was tucked away in the corners. Your keen detective skills told you that you were in a barn.
You look for the source of the voice that had just spoke. Craning your head to the left, you find an orange mare...wait, it's that orange mare you had just stolen a cart of apples from.
Cringing at the identification of the mare, you finally find the strength to speak.
"W-Where am I!?" Not the most dignified thing to say as your first line to this mare, but you were having trouble organizing your thoughts at the moment.
"You're in the Sweet Apple Acres barn. Ya took a mighty nasty spill in that river." She replied. It was hard to get a good read on her. Her face showed a strange combination of emotions, consisting of concern, hatred, disgust, and relief.
Before you could speak again, a large, red stallion trots in, carrying a glass of water.
"Excuse me fer a moment." The mare says curtly. She walks over to the stallion, and beckons him to the other side of the barn, no doubt wanting a private conversation.
You decide to get a better examination on what you figured to be were your two saviors. The mare had a golden mane with a red band tied on the end. The same could be said for the pony's tail, which was done up in a...ponytail. Weird. Her eyes were emerald green, and several freckles were present just beneath them. Adorned on her head was a traditional, brown Stetson cowpony's hat. On her flank was a trio of red apples.
The stallion was, well, larger than average, to say the least. His coat was a sharp red, with a short-cut orange mane and cropped tail. A large, green apple was present on his flank, and he wore a yoke around his neck. Like the mare, he had freckles just beneath his eyes, which were only a shade darker green than hers. You figured the two must be siblings.
Once they exchanged a few whispers, the two farmers trotted back towards you.
"Alright," the mare started. "Here's the deal. I'm Applejack, and this here is Big Macintosh."
"Charmed," you curtly reply. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm just gonna-"
In an attempt to stand up, you fall flat on your face. Trying to move your front hooves in front of you, you find that you can't. They were tied behind your back.
"I was about to say that ya shouldn't try that. You ain't going anywhere, not after that little stunt you pulled!" Applejack says.
The apparent gentlecolt that he was, Big Macintosh helped set you back up against the wall. He offered the glass of water, which you graciously turned down.
"Okay," you start. "I'll admit, it wasn't my best performance. But hey, gotta give me props for trying, ey?"
"This ain't a game!" Applejack yelled, putting emphasis on the word 'ain't.' "Do you have any idea how much we lost cause of your little 'performance!?'"
"Oh, come on, how much can a few boxes of apples be worth?"
"Those weren't just any ol' apples. Those boxes had Zap Apples in 'em! Ya know, the kind that are really rare, and very valuable?"
"Hm." You let out a small chuckle. "So this was more of a loss for my record than I knew..."
"Y'all think this is funny!?" The mare was no longer trying to hide her angry from you at this point.
"In a cosmic sorta way, yes."
Just before Applejack let loose her fury unto you, a deep voice spoke. "AJ..." You and Applejack look towards the source of the voice. Big Macintosh looked at his sister with a rather bored look on his face, eyebrow raised, as if to tell her to keep her cool.
"Ugh, fine." She said to the stallion. "Now look, here's the deal. Those Zap Apples ain't exactly easy to replace. We won't get another batch of them for some time. Not to mention that cart wasn't cheap either, so we lost quite a bit of revenue cause of you. So now, you've got two options."
If these ropes weren't on my hooves, I could think of at least three viable options. You muse to yourself. "Fine, what are my options, 'AJ?'" You finish the sentence in a rather teasing voice.
"One," she starts. "You work on our farm to pay off the damages you've done. When it's all finished, we let you go, and nopony ever speaks of this again."
"Gag, what's option B?" You ask.
"Option number two..." She punctuates her statement by slamming a hoof on the wall right next to your head. Bringing her face close to yours, she continues. "We turn you over to the authorities, and let them have their way with you."
Oh no. You knew exactly where that would lead. Prison. You've seen prison. You've heard stories about prison. You've had friends who have been in prison. You don't like prison.
"And what's to stop me from running away?"
"The fact that your tied up and this entire barn is locked down oughta keep you sittin' tight."
Considering the facts, you don't have many options. This cowgirl must be some kind of expert on knots. The ropes on your hooves wouldn't budge. Looking around, you see the exits to the barn are all locked up securely. No doubt these two would be keeping a close eye on you tonight. Should you choose to stay, they would most likely keep a close eye on you during your time here.
Better to be watched on by farmers than prison guards, right?
"Well, that's a fairly easy decision." You let out a sigh. "Where will I be bunking?"
"Right here, in the barn. I'm sure a varmint like you is used to sleepin' in the dirt."
...Ouch. "You mean like, here? Right where I'm sitting?"
"Yeah. And don't even think about leaving. Ya won't get out."
"Oh, I wouldn't even dream of it. Perish the thought!" You say, sarcasm lacing your words. Something in your head clicked, bringing you back to a serious demeanor. As much as you didn't want to say it, you knew you at least owed it to her. "But, I suppose I should be thanking you."
"Fer what?" She asks, a skeptical look on her face.
"Well, you just saved me from drowning. I suppose that warrants some praise."
"Hmph." Not wanting to dignify you with a proper response, she simply turns around and heads for the door, her brother following close behind. "Get some sleep, you'll need it for tomorrow's work. Oh, and one more thing?" She turns back and walks up to you bringing a hoof to lift your face to hers, she meets your gaze.
"You do NOT call me 'AJ.' Only my closest friends and family may call me that. And you sure as hay ain't in either category." There was only one emotion in her face at this point: seething anger.
"My sincerest apologies, Madame Applejack." You reply, doing your best to keep a straight face.
Applejack merely stares daggers into your eyes for a few seconds before turning back to the door and leaving the barn.
As the two farmers leave the barn, they reseal the door. There's no doubt in your mind that they will be keeping an eye on the barn all night to ensure you don't escape. Looking around, there really isn't any other viable exit in sight. Or bed. She wasn't kidding when she said you were sleeping right where you sat.
You reflect on just how you had gotten into this mess. You got a little overconfident, sure. And you could have checked around to find out about that damn dog. But, in the end, the one prevalent factor leading to your demise was simple.
Because you screwed up. Big time.
The fatigue of having nearly drowned taking over you, you decide your only option at this point would be to attempt to get some sleep. Using your snout, you push some hay together into a makeshift pillow. With a small pile assembled, you lie your head down on the hay, close your eyes, and drift off to a rather uncomfortable slumber.