Jamie sat back on his couch, taking in the last scenes of something he had never thought he would find himself watching. As the show ended and the credits began to roll, he rolled his eyes, his brain trying to discern just what exactly he had seen and what he was supposed to think of it.
Sighing, he switched the channel (just to make sure nobody could tell what he had been doing) and turned off the TV. He plopped back down on the couch and grabbed his laptop. Time to get some work done.
The computer, of course, had other plans. Mere seconds after he logged in, up popped a message. “Oh, no. Not this again.”
Trying to play it cool, he typed back <jamie_353: What?>
<br0n3: So did u watch it?>
He wasn’t going to get out of this one. <jamie_353: Yeah…>
“Ugh… I’m never going to live this down.” <jamie_353: Well, it wasn’t that bad>
<br0n3: Wait until u see the rest, you’ll be doin’ fanfics b4 u know it!>
<br0n3: Right, once u see one, u won’t stop, trust me!>
<jamie_353: Nah, it was good, but I just don’t have the time right now. I’ve got job applications to fill out.>
<br0n3: So there’s nothing stopping u from watching them after u finish your job apps.>
He groaned. He had walked right into the trap. <jamie_353: Like I said, IF.>
<br0n3: Good enough. Here, something 4 u.>
He groaned yet again as the image appeared, Pinkie Pie with green swirly eyes with the words “Welcome to the Herd” in big letters.
<jamie_353: Funny, you. Got to go, though, I have to finalize these. The interview for the first one is tomorrow.>
Jamie sighed again as he began typing…
Three hours later, Jamie clicked the button to wrap up the fruits of his labor, smiling as the printer on his desk began to whirr. “One down, four to go. Time to get some sleep,” he said to himself. He watched the carefully crafted resume and filled-out form fall into the paper tray, then grabbed a pen and signed on the necessary lines. After carefully placing the copies in a leather folder, he double-checked his alarm, turned out the lights, and fell asleep.
A loud knocking sound awoke him from his sleep. Yawning, he looked at the time. “Five in the morning? Who in the world…” He slipped out of bed and put on a robe before walking to the front door. He looked out the peephole, trying to see who it was, but he couldn’t see anyone. He had just turned around when he heard the knocks again, almost as if someone was knocking on the door with a piece of wood. “Oh, for the love of Pete…” He hastily unlocked the door and swung it open. For a few seconds he looked out, seeing nothing. Then he looked down.
His eyes went wide and he stared for what seemed like an eternity. “No… no, what… what?”
The visitor jumped at least three feet in the air, gave a huge GAAAAAAAASP, and shot down the street in a blur, leaving nothing but a pink trail and… something floating in midair?
Jamie’s sleep-addled brain had just enough time to recognize it as three purple tubes with colored speckles on them before gravity took over and they fell to the ground, exploding with a bang and releasing a cloud of confetti and streamers. “Gah! Wh… okay, think. It’s a dream. Yeah, definitely a dream.” With that out of the way, he calmly closed the door and went back to sleep.
Beep Beep. Beep Beep. CLICK. Jamie stretched his arms as he silenced the alarm, opening his eyes and looking around him as he remembered the weird dream. “Ooooooookay, that was definitely strange,” he said to himself, sliding out of bed and walking into the kitchen to make some coffee. “Maybe I shouldn’t be watching that show, I normally don’t have dreams like that.” He switched on the coffeemaker and started heating up an English muffin in the toaster oven for a quick breakfast. He wanted to be early to his interview. He picked up a spare copy of his resume and reviewed it, just in case.
The ding of the toaster oven broke his concentration, and he walked over to take the English muffin out. Opening the door of the toaster oven, he stopped short as he peered into the oven. Instead of the muffin… it was a cupcake.
He blinked and shook his head, looking at the oven again, realizing that the English muffin was right there in front of his eyes. “Crap. This isn’t good, I must be getting sick or something. Seeing things.” He looked at his watch. “Interview in less than an hour. Great.” Briefly he considered calling in sick, but decided against it. Maybe more coffee would help.
He poured the rest of the coffee into a travel mug, quickly ate the English muffin, then went upstairs to get dressed. He would worry about getting a checkup later, right now he had an interview to be at.
Jamie felt a lot better after the shower. Hopefully the weird things he had been seeing that morning were more a result of how tired he was than something else. He chuckled. All he needed to do was make sure he didn’t think about that show during his interview.
He looked at his watch, perfect. If he brought the newspaper with him, he’d be able to read it while waiting, so he’d be sufficiently early while at the same time giving an air of informedness. He opened the front door and leaned down to get the paper, then froze when he saw it.
The paper was lying on… a pile of confetti.
It couldn’t be… this had to be a joke. Jamie grabbed the paper with disgust, walked over to his computer, and sent a quick message to his friend.
<jamie_353: Okay, what’s the big idea?>
A few seconds later the response came. <br0n3: What’s what?>
<jamie_353: The confetti?>
<br0n3: No idea what ur talking about> Several seconds passed. <br0n3: No, srsly, what r u talking about?>
<jamie_353: Never mind, it’s nothing. Got to get to the interview.>
<br0n3: Good luck then>
Jamie frowned, trying to figure out what was happening. His friend wasn’t the kind who would lie to him - they had pulled pranks on each other but they were always honest about it when they were discovered. He shook his head. “Must have been some weird party last night, probably the kids down the street,” he said to himself. That must have been why I didn’t sleep well. Yeah, that was it. With that, he walked back over to the table, picked up the folder with his materials, and walked out the door.
The drive started out rather uneventful, considering the strange events that had transpired over the past several hours. Try as he might, he just had the nagging feeling that something strange was going on, but he couldn’t place what it was. He once again shook the feeling out of his thoughts. “Alright, no more thinking about anything except the job. Just the job…”
He reached over and grabbed his cell phone, flipping it open and activating the speakerphone. “Hello, Jamie speaking.”
“Yes, Jamie, this is Derksen. Just so you know, I’m aware of the disturbances in your area so I’ll understand if you’re a bit late. Did you get stuck?”
“What… disturbances? No, I wasn’t aware of anything out of the ordinary.” He rolled his eyes. As if. “What’s going on?”
“We just saw it on the news,” Derksen explained. “We didn’t know if you had left early enough to avoid it. It’s happening on your street.”
“Any idea what it is?”
“No, they aren’t saying much.”
“Well, I’m more than halfway there, so I’m not going to get stuck. Any chance we can do the interview a bit earlier so I can get back and see what’s going on?”
“That can be arranged. Just let my secretary know when you get here.”
“I’ll do that.”
The interview went well enough, and though Jamie kept thinking he was seeing things moving behind Derksen’s chair, he kept his cool and came out feeling pretty pleased with himself. He surmised the large amount of coffee may have had something to do with it as well. Nothing would have been worse than getting badly distracted by hallucinations right in the middle of an important interview!
He hadn’t bothered to stay around after the interview to check the news, there was no telling how long it would be until they said more. When he got in his car and tuned to the news, they weren’t saying anything about any disturbances either. Station after station had nothing, and as he got closer, he didn’t see anything burning, so that was a good sign.
Finally turning onto his street, he felt an odd sense of foreboding wash over him. He slowed his car down to a crawl and looked around carefully. Nothing out of the ordinary. There was Mrs. Henderson’s car, parked just like it always was. The twins playing in front of the large gray house. His neighbor’s automatic sprinklers getting his driveway wet. Again. He sighed with relief. Derksen probably had the wrong street, he thought, everything seemed normal here. With that, he pulled into his driveway and got out of the car.
“Yes,” he muttered. “Everything normal.” He fumbled his keys as he walked up to the door. Yep, he thought mentally, he always seemed to fumble his keys like that. Everything was perfectly normal.
He was about to put the key in the lock when he heard talking coming from inside. “Well, crap.” He looked around and grabbed a piece of pipe lying next to his door, then carefully opened the door. Heart pounding, he stepped inside and pressed a silent alarm button on the panel inside the door. However they had managed to bypass it, the police would arrive within minutes now. All he had to do was not alert them…
PSSSST! He swung his head around, trying to see where the voice had come from. Then a harsh voice whispered “He’s here!”
Wherever the voice was coming from, it was inside. And he was inside. With just a short piece of pipe to protect him. And he could hear whoever it was coming closer!
Before he could do anything, the door suddenly shut with a bang and latched itself. In a panic, he tried to fumble with the lock, but it wouldn’t budge. He turned, back against the door, and raised the pipe like a bat, ready for whoever came around the corner.
Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw then. As he stared, his mind tried to process the signals his eyes were apparently giving it. He stood there for a few seconds, dumbstruck, then slumped to the floor still staring at the impossible sight.
“Oh, you’ve GOT to be kidding me…”
Jamie looked on in shock, then closed his eyes and shook his head. “No, no, NO! I’m NOT crazy!”
“Crazy? But we’re right here…”
“Ssshhh!” whispered another voice. “He probably doesn’t recognize us. It’s not like we’re exactly common around here.” Speaking louder, the voice continued. “We’re not hallucinations. And you’re not crazy. Look, you probably think we’re not scientifically possible. As a matter of fact, I thought the same thing once and… well, it’s a long story. But you need to listen to us. There’s a lot at stake here.”
“And how do I know this isn’t just me going crazy?” Jamie asked, opening his eyes and staring at the group of ponies before him.
“Because we know about the weird things that have been happening,” said the purple unicorn.
Jamie muttered something to himself, then rolled his eyes and looked at the group. “Okay, okay, let’s assume you know what’s going on and that I’m not crazy. Introductions first. I’m Jamie. I know four of you at least. Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie, right?” The four in question nodded. “I don’t know you two, though.”
“And I’M Rainbow Dash, the one and…” At Twilight’s glare, she stopped, then shrugged. “Sorry.”
“Ooh, ooh!” squealed Pinkie Pie as she started bouncing up and down energetically, “That must mean… but THAT doesn’t make sense. You watched Season 1 Episode 15 didn’t you! That’s my favorite!”
“Uhh… yeah… wait, what? How do… you’re… What?”
“You know, Rainbow was mentioned in that one…”
“I... wasn’t... paying very close attention?”
Rainbow Dash looked at Twilight with a look of confusion. “Any idea what she’s talking about?”
Twilight shook her head. “I’d say it’s just Pinkie being Pinkie, but Pinkie isn’t the only weird thing about this situation. If only I had my library, I might be able to research this whole mess! Jamie, right? Do you have a checklist? Oh, PLEASE tell me you have a blank checklist!”
He facepalmed. “Is this normal?”
A chorus of “Yep!” told Jamie that it was.
“Okay, so what do we do now?” he asked, still unsure of where this whole thing was going. “So far, all I know is that I’ve seen some odd things this past day, and then all of a sudden you ponies show up. And I only watched one freaking episode!”
“Episode?” asked Rarity, then rolled her eyes as Pinkie shot her a meaningful glance. “Never mind.”
“Okay, so can SOMEBODY tell me what’s going on?”
“Right, then,” began Pinkie, inhaling and continuing in a slow, spooky voice. “Strange things have been happening!”
Twilight groaned. “No, really?”
“Yes, really! But this isn’t just the normal kind of strange, this is really strange, like REALLY strange strangey-strangeness.”
“Okay, Pinkie,” interjected Twilight. “We get it. What we need to know is what to do about it. I used my failsafe spell, but I can’t even tell if it failed or not. For all I know, Equestria could be fine, or it could be falling apart in complete chaos while we’re wasting time here arguing!” She took a deep breath. “Pinkie, if you know anything, we need you to tell us. You’re the only pony who seems to know anything relevant to our current situation.”
“Okie dokie lokie! So, a little over a year ago I was out at Sweet Apple Acres inviting Applejack to a party…”
“Wait, over a YEAR ago?” asked Rainbow Dash. “You are so…”
“Random, I know! So, I was inviting Applejack to a party but the first time Applejack opened her barn door, there was this weird guy” - here she gestured at Jamie - “standing there instead, and then I was like GAAAAAAAASP and then I ran off. I never did find those confetti launchers, but I had another pair just in case of confetti launcher emergencies. Good thing too, the animators were just getting back from their lunch break, so nothing got delayed.”
“Ah remember that day, and ah know ya only knocked on that door once.”
“And,” said Jamie, “I only saw you at my door with those things last night.”
“But that doesn’t make sense!” exclaimed Twilight. “It must have been somepony else.” She looked at Jamie, who was clearly not a pony. “Uhh… someBODY else?”
Fluttershy looked at Twilight, then said in a tiny voice “ummm… excuse…”
“Pinkie,” said Rarity, “are you saying that you actually saw him a year ago? Are you REALLY sure you’re not making this up?”
“if you don’t mind…”
Pinkie shook her head. “Nopey dopie, I’m not making it up.”
Twilight’s eyes went wide. “Of course. Oh, by Celestia, this is bad. If Pinkie is right and she really saw him at the same time in the past and now…”
“um… that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you…”
“…then we could be looking at some form of reality collapse!” finished Twilight.
“And that’s bad, I presume,” Jamie observed.
“Of course!” said Twilight, beginning to panic. “Think about everything you know suddenly changing at random, even yourself, never staying the way they are and sometimes appearing or disappearing or changing right in front of you. It’s more than bad, it’s a disaster!”
Jamie gulped. “You mean… like the cupcake…”
Pinkie nodded. “Just like that. Even YOU could suddenly become a cupcake if it gets really bad!”
“Ugh, STOP talking about CUPCAKES!” yelled Rainbow Dash, idly massaging her wing. “We have to find whatever’s causing it and buck it into the next dimension!”
Pinkie’s eyes went wide. “Wow, Dashie, now even YOU’RE doing it. It must be spreading.”
“Doing what?” Rainbow asked, puzzled.
“Rainbow, sugarcube, ya really don’t wanna know.”
“And there it goes again,” said Pinkie Pie. “The important thing is to see just how much damage has been done to the wall.”
Jamie glanced around. “What wall?”
Pinkie stared at Jamie. “You mean you don’t know?” Seconds passed. “You don’t, do you?. I thought at least YOU would know about it.” She suddenly smiled widely. “Well, I guess at least we know you’re not part of the problem. Not that I thought that you were, of course.”
“Don’t know what?” asked Twilight. “What problem? Really, Pinkie, this is important. Tell us! ”
Pinkie frowned and shook her head. “No, Twilight, of all things, I can’t tell you this. Please trust me.”
“Pinkie, I’m serious! What’s so bad you can’t tell us?”
There was a long pause. “I…” said Pinkie, suddenly very solemn. “This is… more than serious. I really don’t want to burden you with it.” She looked nervously at the other ponies for several seconds, then hung her head. “No. I can’t do it. I just can’t do it!”
Twilight walked over to the pink pony. “Pinkie, we need to know. At least tell me. You know me, I can handle whatever it is.”
“Well… alright. But Pinkie Promise me you won’t tell ANYPONY else about this. I can’t bear to think of how it could affect other ponies. And you need to remember… this doesn’t really change anything. Just remember that.”
“Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my… eye,” Twilight finished after a brief pause, careful to keep her hoof a short distance from her face. “Okay, Pinkie. I’m ready.”
Pinkie leaned close to Twilight and whispered to her for several seconds, the rest of the ponies and Jamie looking on with bated breath.
As she finished, Pinkie stepped back a couple paces, looking at Twilight with concern. Twilight just stood there for what seemed like an eternity, a look of shock on her face, then sank to the ground, tears starting to roll down her cheeks.
Pinkie’s next words echoed around the room, silent except for the unicorn’s sobs. “I’m so sorry, Twilight.”