Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.
Applejack wiped her brow and gazed over Sweet Apple Acres. The apples were ripening beautifully, and in a few days, she and Big Macintosh would be busy applebucking again. In the meantime, however, they had their new barn to finish. Inside, Apple Bloom and Granny Smith were installing the pens. Outside, Applejack and Big Macintosh were giving the new barn a fresh coat of paint as red as her brother's coat.
Applejack was about to pick up her paintbrush again when she spotted somepony approaching the barn. “Big Macintosh!” she called. “We have a visitor. You get started, and Ah'll deal with him,” she said.
“Sure thing, sis,” the stallion replied.
The farmpony adjusted her hat and trotted up to meet the visitor, a fairly nondescript earth pony stallion with a brown coat and two-tone orange mane. “Well, howdy, pardner,” she greeted him enthusiastically.
“Good day to you, Miss Applejack. I'm Keen Eye, from Town Hall, here to conduct your annual building inspection,” the stallion replied. He offered Applejack the official paperwork.
Applejack gave the documents a quick once-over. “Ah'll be happy to escort you around,” she replied.
The Apples prided themselves on the quality of everything they did, and kept their buildings in tip-top shape. The inspector found no problem with the farmhouse, the old barn, the silo, or the two sheds.
“There's one more building to inspect,” Keen Eye said. “This says you've built a new bar. Where is that building?”
“A bar? That's preposterous,” Applejack said. “Oh, y'all must mean the new barn,” she realized.
“That would make a lot more sense,” Keen Eye agreed. He double-checked his paperwork. “But this does say I'm here to inspect a bar.”
“Well, Ah don't know what to tell you, pardner,” Applejack said. “Y'all ain't gonna find a bar on Sweet Apple Acres.”
“I'll go ahead and delay my inspection for a month,” Keen Eye said. “That will give you time to visit Town Hall and get this problem corrected.”
“Thank you,” Applejack replied.
“Whaddaya mean there's nothin' y’all can do?”
Applejack stared down the silver earth pony behind the desk. His short blue mane was perfectly arranged on his head, unruffled by the slightest bit of hard work. The twist of red ribbon on his flank perfectly matched the name etched on the nameplate on his desk: Red Tape.
“I said, I can't simply ignore the clearly written words on the permit the Town Council approved,” the stallion explained evenly. “My forelegs are hobbled.”
“It's a typo. A typo!” Applejack exclaimed.
“I'm sorry, you can raise the issue when the Town Council meets again, in five weeks,” he replied.
“Ah want to speak to the Mayor myself,” Applejack stated.
“I'm terribly sorry, Miss. The mayor is attending the Equestrian Society of Mayors and Town Managers' annual meeting in Whinnypeg, and she won't be back for ten days,” Red Tape explained. “In the meantime, according to the permit, your bar is scheduled to be open in three days.”
“There ain't gonna be a bar, pardner,” Applejack replied angrily.
“I'm afraid there will be substantial penalties for failing to meet the requirements of your permit, Miss Applejack. And need I remind you the Apple family commercial license is up for renewal soon?” Red Tape added. “Ponyville is generally not interested in doing business with lawbreakers.”
Applejack glared at the stallion, but he watched her calmly, moving some papers around his desk. She wasn't going to be able to fix this alone.
“Would you be interested in acquiring a copy of the regulations surrounding the operation of bars and restaurants?” Red Tape offered. “There will be a nominal fee of ten bits, of course.”
Applejack paced angrily around the Ponyville library as Twilight Sparkle paged through a thick legal tome. “I'm sorry, Applejack,” she finally said. “As far as I can tell, everything Red Tape told you is in accordance with the law.”
“Ah can't stand being held over a barrel by that... that varmint!” Applejack spouted. “That no good, lousy, stinkin' varmint!”
“Whoa there, Applejack,” Twilight Sparkle cautioned. “Is there something between you two that I don't know about?”
“'Bout two years ago, he asked me on a date. Ah turned him down. Ever since, our official interactions have been a mite cold,” Applejack explained. “Ah'm sure he'd be helpful to anypony else.”
“My only consolation to you is that the town charter grants the mayor the authority to approve changes to official documents of a 'corrective and non-significant nature', subject to approval by the Town Council at their next meeting,” Twilight Sparkle said. “So we just need to speak to the Mayor.”
“Who won't be back in town for more than a week,” Applejack continued. “What do I do?”
Twilight Sparkle levitated several books off the library's shelves. “You operate a bar. You do it in accordance with all regulations and with the same hard work you put into everything you do. And your friends will support you.”
Applejack broke the bad news to her family. Nopony was happy, but the Apples accepted it stoically, like any problem that befell the farm family. Big Macintosh disassembled part of the new barn's interior, freeing up the minimum required space for the tavern. Apple Bloom assembled the stall doors into a makeshift bar. And Granny Smith brought out the Apple family's special reserves to sell.
They all acknowledged it wasn't as bad as it could have been. For example, the family already had taps, for cider season, and a soda dispenser, normally only brought out for the family reunion. Similarly, the family's picnic tables and old chairs were re-purposed. But there were so many little things Applejack needed to buy. Toothpicks. Olives. Mixers. Those horrible little cherries with all the flavor sucked out of them. All of that was bits out of their rainy day fund, a fund already drawn down to pay for the new barn.
And then, of course, there was the alcohol. So many varieties of alcohol. They'd never drink it themselves, and they sure weren't going to serve their friends and family any alcohol not made from Apple family apples. So much waste.
Applejack stood behind the bar, but looked outside. It was still light outside. She should be spending these hours bucking apples, and then enjoying a hearty meal with her family after sundown. But because all bars had to be open between the hours of six and eleven in the evening, the orange mare found herself inside the barn turned bar.
The earth pony turned and stared at the dozens of bottles behind her. They rested there, mocking her. They would never be opened, because nopony would walk all the way to Sweet Apple Acres to....
The interior of the barn grew lighter as the barn door opened. A plum earth pony mare trotted in.
“Howdy, Berry Punch,” Applejack greeted her. “Didn't expect anypony to come here.”
“My Berry Sense told me to come here,” she said.
“What's Berry Sense?” Applejack asked.
“You know Pinkie Sense? It's like that, except for booze,” Berry Punch replied matter-of-factly. She sidled up to the bar. “So what do you have?”
“Well, as you can see, we have a full bar, but Ah hope you'll try some of the Apple family's hard cider or....”
“What's in that unmarked bottle?” Berry Punch interrupted.
“That's some of our special Apple family brandy blended with....”
“You had me at 'brandy',” Berry Punch again interrupted. “Brandy, neat.”
Applejack poured Berry Punch a drink. The plum mare pounded back the drink. “Now I'll have another.” The reluctant bartender looked at her customer crossly, but poured her a second drink. She consumed half of the second drink before setting down the glass.
“So, uh, why'd you come all the way here?” Applejack asked Berry Punch.
“The bars in town don't want my business,” Berry Punch replied.
Applejack looked at the mare curiously. As the evening progressed, she began to understand why. The more she drank, the louder Berry Punch became. She lost any concept of personal space, and switched rapidly between exuberance and depression.
“Dish is good shtuff,” Berry Punch slurred as she picked up her fifth glass. “What'm I drinking again?”
Applejack sighed. “As Ah tried to explain before, it's Apple family apple brandy blended with whiskey.”
Berry Punch hugged Applejack. “Dat'sh brilliant! You should totally shell that. You should name it after yourshelf.”
Applejack pushed the plum mare away. “Yeah, maybe,” she said noncommittally. At least she was earning some bits for her family this evening.
“Oh, and I forgot my pursh,” Berry Punch said. “Put dish on my tab.”
Applejack stared at Berry Punch. “Get... out,” she hissed.
A bored Applejack was reading the bartender's guide for the eighth time when the barn door opened. A cyan pegasus with a rainbow-colored mane flew in, executing a quick tour of the makeshift bar.
“So this is what you're stuck doing?” Rainbow Dash asked, taking a seat at the bar.
“Yeah,” Applejack said.
“Never thought I'd see the day,” the pegasus said.
“That makes two of us,” Applejack agreed.
“So, what did the termite say when he walked into the bar?” Rainbow Dash joked. Without allowing Applejack to answer, she continued. “Is the bar tender?” She guffawed, pounding the bar with her hoof.
“Dash, the regulations surrounding running a bar in Ponyville give me the right to refuse service to anypony,” Applejack warned.
“Okay, okay, chill. I just thought you'd appreciate a joke,” Rainbow Dash said.
“This is more like a nightmare,” Applejack said.
“Let me brighten your mood by buying something. So what do you sell here?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Well, our specialty is Apple family hard cider, and we also have....” Applejack started.
“Whoa, you have cider?” Rainbow Dash interjected. “That's not hard, that's an easy choice!”
“Uh, Dash, this ain't the cider we sell each fall,” Applejack mentioned.
The pegasus slammed two bits on the counter. “Cider me!”
Applejack cautiously uncorked a chilled bottle and passed it to her friend. Rainbow Dash took the bottle in hoof and drank a mouthful of the hard cider. “You're right,” she agreed. “This isn't like your normal cider. This is better! It even beats fresh-squeezed raincloud after a busy day on weather patrol.
The earth pony regarded the pegasus suspiciously. “What do you know about a busy day?” she said.
“It took a long time to clear the clouds that drifted over the town from the Everfree Forest today,” Rainbow Dash said. “I barely had time for... all my other work.”
“Uh-huh,” Applejack said, unconvinced.
Rainbow Dash drained the bottle and set it on the table. “That hit the spot! I'll have another,” she said.
“Uh, Dash, this stuff is brewed for the Apple family. You know, hardy earth ponies, not lightweight pegasi. Ah don't think you should drink this like regular cider,” Applejack cautioned.
Rainbow Dash glared at Applejack. “You saying I'm a lightweight? That I'm not tough?” She dropped ten more bits on the bar. “I accept the challenge.”
The farmer turned bartender had some understanding that biological differences made it easier for pegasi to get drunk. “She'll be asleep before finishing the third bottle,” Applejack thought.
Rainbow Dash grew louder as she drank the second bottle of cider. The pegasus never really stood still, as if her body were telling her to move even when she was consciously trying to remain still. But the swaying she displayed while sitting on the bar stool wasn't this familiar movement.
“That was awesome! MORE!” Rainbow Dash shouted.
“Dash, you're going to regret it tomorrow if y’all don't stop drinking,” Applejack warned.
“I never regret awesome!” she replied as she held out her hoof. Applejack was surprised at how coherent her friend's speech remained, even as her body betrayed the cider's influence. She sighed. If there's one way Rainbow Dash was most like her, it was her stubbornness. Applejack passed over a third bottle.
“You're going to keep selling this, right?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Ah'm not planning on it,” Applejack replied honestly.
“Cause I'm going to keep buying! Every day!” the pegasus continued. Her swaying grew more pronounced. Instinctual commands caused the pegasus' wings to flare out, slight movements helping her maintain her balance.
Rainbow Dash finished her third bottle of cider faster than her second. Applejack was impressed at her friend's toughness, but was afraid of continuing to serve her. “Ah don't think you can handle another,” Applejack said.
“I so am!” Rainbow Dash announced loudly.
“You don't even look in any condition to sit, let alone walk,” Applejack said.
“I'll show you!” Rainbow Dash said. Her wings opened.
“Uh-oh,” Applejack thought.
The speedy pegasus may have been inebriated, but the muscles behind her wings remained powerful. She took off, gaining elevation almost effortlessly. Applejack dashed out from behind the bar, taking some solace in the fact that her friend wouldn't be able to fly too high.
Rainbow Dash flew with instinct honed by years of practice. But knowing what to do didn't help as the alcohol in her bloodstream slowed down everything. “Time for a nap,” she muttered, and closed her eyes. Unfortunately, she was still in the air.
The cyan pegasus' wings locked, and she spiraled downward. Applejack watched her descent, worried. “Please, don't hurt yourself,” she whispered. The earth pony ran around, trying to stay under her friend.
“Not the bottles!” she shouted as Rainbow Dash neared the ground. Applejack reared, and caught the pegasus in her forelegs. The two tumbled to the ground, almost smashing into the bar.
“Mmm, captain of the Wonderbolts? Of course,” Rainbow Dash muttered. Applejack got to her hooves and picked up Rainbow Dash. Nothing left to do but let her sleep, make sure she was okay, and say “I told you so” in the morning.
“I never thought I'd see this on a farm!”
Applejack leveled her eyes at the new arrival. Purveyor of carrots, bane of the marketplace, eternal rival: Carrot Top. She was always trying to convince ponies that vegetables were better than fruits. And now, she was here.
“This could happen to you if yer not careful,” Applejack warned.
“Oh, I doubt that. So what are you serving?” the orange-maned earth pony wondered.
“The house specialty is Apple family hard cider, and some Apple family apple brandy blend,” said Applejack.
“So what do you have that isn't hoof-made by the Apples?” Carrot Top asked.
“Pretty much everything else,” Applejack admitted.
“A beer, then,” Carrot Top requested.
Applejack picked out a cold beer from the untouched selection of purchased alcohol and slid the bottle to Carrot Top.
Carrot Top nursed the beer. Bothered by the quiet, Applejack finally asked, “So what brings you here?”
“Market just isn't the same without you,” Carrot Top admitted. “All your brother does is sell apples. There's no laughable attempts to tell parents that apples are good for their foals, when everypony knows it's vegetables that make foals grow big and strong.”
“Ya know, Carrot Top, Ah think yer old enough to know the truth. Carrots aren't good for the eyes. That's just an old mare's tale,” Applejack retorted.
“An apple a day does not keep the doctor away. It's about time you admitted that to yourself,” Carrot Top continued.
“And Ah think you should be worried that all the rabbits steal from mah farm,” Applejack said. “What kind of carrot farmer has rabbits... RABBITS!... ignoring her?”
“I heard Cheerilee hates it when her students bring her apples,” Carrot Top offered. “Hates it!”
The two mares stared at each other, serious expressions on their faces. Applejack's was the first to shift, the corners of her mouth lifting slightly. Carrot Top started to smile as well. Soon, the farmers were sharing an exuberant laugh.
“Ah can't wait until this stupid situation gets resolved,” Applejack said. “Ah'm gonna go to the market, and Ah'm gonna sell like I've never sold before.”
“Oh, you're going to try selling well?” Carrot Top teased.
Applejack stared into her rival's green eyes. “Ah'll outsell you for sure. It ain't much of a challenge, Ah know.”
“That sounds like a bet,” Carrot Top said. “My bottle of carrot vodka against your bottle of apple brandy.”
Applejack spit into her hoof and extended her foreleg towards her rival. Carrot Top met Applejack's hoof with her own. “You're on,” both mares said simultaneously.
Two hours had passed on the fourth night of operations. The only visitor so far was Apple Bloom, bringing her older sister dinner. Applejack still didn't want to be here, but she missed being able to talk to somepony, anypony.
The barn door creaked. Applejack smiled and raised her head as she said, “Welcome.” She then regretted that word when she saw the pony who walked in. The silver-coated earth pony stallion smiled as he surveyed the establishment. “Quaint,” he said.
“Well, how do you do, Red Tape,” Applejack said coldly. “Ah hope you're here for a drink.”
“Indeed I am, Miss Applejack. I do enjoy going out for a drink on the occasional evening.” Red Tape took a seat at the bar and placed three bits on it. “A Manehattan cocktail, please.”
Applejack poured whiskey and vermouth into a glass and added a dash of bitters. She added a maraschino cherry and hoofed over the glass. “That's not a Manehattan,” Red Tape said.
“Whaddaya mean?” Applejack replied.
“You added dry vermouth, not sweet vermouth,” he said.
“Huh?” Applejack said. She turned and paged through the borrowed book of drink recipes. “Huh. You're right.”
Applejack remade the cocktail. “You know, if you want things like correctly made drinks, then why aren't you drinking at a place run by somepony with that talent?” she commented.
“I'm a citizen of Ponyville, interested in trying all of the town's businesses,” he explained.
Red Tape consumed his cocktail in silence. When he finished, he stood up, left a one bit tip, and said “Thanks for the drink.”
The least eventful customer for Applejack's bar turned out to be the least satisfying one.
Early the fifth evening, the barn door opened to admit the makeshift bar's fifth customer. Unlike everypony else, the lavender unicorn chose to sit at one of the tables, claiming a seat in the corner.
“Howdy, Twilight!” Applejack called. “Y’all want somethin' to drink?”
Twilight Sparkle kept her eyes on a trio of books, paper, ink, and quills as they levitated out of her saddlebags. “Nothing hard for me tonight. I'll just have a tonic water with lime,” she requested.
“Comin' right up,” the earth pony said.
Applejack poured the drink and carried it over to her friend. “Whaddaya got there?” she asked.
One of the three books was open, and Twilight Sparkle was already taking notes with her magically animated quill. “Just a little studying.” The unicorn didn't lift her eye from the text as she spoke.
“Uh, sugarcube, don't you live in a library?” Applejack said.
“Of course! It's just that, see, Spike is shedding scales right now. It's a bit distracting,” Twilight Sparkle explained.
Applejack collected the two bits Twilight Sparkle had placed on the table and headed back to the bar. “Is Spike okay bein' alone?” she asked.
“He's fine, Applejack. It's just a lot of itching, nothing dangerous. I've left him with a bottle of medicated lotion and three tubs of chocolate ice cream, both of which make him feel better,” Twilight Sparkle said.
“Ah guess that means he'll be okay,” Applejack commented as she wiped dry some glasses.
“Plus, if I'm there, he'll actively complain. When he’s shedding, he likes soliciting sympathy from anypony in earshot,” the unicorn added. “I needed to study someplace I knew would be quiet.”
Twilight Sparkle glanced up when she heard Applejack set a glass down on the bar with a resounding thud. The earth pony was staring off into space, looking perturbed.
“What's wrong, Applejack?” Twilight Sparkle asked.
“Nothin',” Applejack replied.
“You can tell me,” Twilight Sparkle urged.
Applejack shook her head. “It's nothin',” she said again. The earth pony looked back. Twilight Sparkle had pushed away her study materials. She actually closed her book and moved it to the far corner of the table.
“Just sit,” the unicorn ordered. “I said something wrong, and I'm sorry. But you should talk about what's bothering you.”
Applejack dropped the towel on the bar and took a seat opposite Twilight Sparkle. “You know Ah don't want to do this, right?” the earth pony said.
“I read you loud and clear when you were talking to me about this originally,” Twilight Sparkle responded.
“Yeah. But since Ah am doin' this, Ah want to be the best Ah can. And this is not mah best. This is a failure,” Applejack stated.
“I wouldn't say that, Applejack,” Twilight Sparkle argued. “You're doing a good job in a role you've never filled before. You will do anything to help your farm, and this experience just proves it.”
“The way things are goin', it's gonna hurt mah farm in the end, even if we get the Mayor to put an end to this,” Applejack said.
“Look, Applejack. I have an appointment with the mayor the day she gets back. Come with me. I'll make sure she corrects that permit. As for....” Twilight Sparkle trailed off. “You know, I shouldn't have left Spike alone. That wasn't a good thing for me to do, as a parental figure, or as a friend.”
Twilight Sparkle's horn glowed, and her books and paper returned to her saddlebags. “I'll see you later, Applejack,” she said.
And with Twilight Sparkle's rapid departure, Applejack found herself alone again.
Applejack turned the crank of the well, drawing up a bucket of cool, fresh water. Following a day of hard work, she always headed to the well. The earth pony drank deeply, and then splashed her face with the refreshing liquid. Her mood soured as she considered the evening of non-work facing her.
“Gotta get to it anyway,” she mused as she walked to the new barn. What Applejack saw as she opened the door stopped her in her tracks. The entire barn had been transformed. Strips of cloth hung from the wooden walls, softening the interior and making it feel more intimate. Cloth tablecloths covered the tables, and candle-sized magic lights illuminated the interior warmly. Additional tables had been brought in, and were covered in cupcakes. Finally, the Apple family piano was moved into the barn.
Pinkie Pie suddenly appeared behind Applejack. “Do you like it? Huh? Huh?” she asked excitedly.
“Uh, how did ya...” she started, before seeing the rest of her best friends step out from behind the bar, where they had been hiding.
“Applejack, we're here to make sure you have at least one successful night as a bar owner,” Twilight Sparkle explained.
“I simply adored the chance to refine the décor here,” Rarity said.
Pinkie Pie popped out from under the table of cupcakes. “And I made cupcakes for everypony!” She waved a hoof over her creations. “We have extra salty salted caramel cupcakes, and extra spicy chocolate hot sauce cupcakes, and extra sour lime margarita cupcakes! Everypony will love them, and then everypony will be super thirsty!”
“We all spread the word throughout Ponyville that Applejack's bar was the happening place to be tonight!” Rainbow Dash said.
“This is wonderful and all,” Applejack uttered, “but, ah, this is a mite too much.”
“Nonsense. We're all here to help you,” Twilight Sparkle explained. “Even your family is in on this.”
Rarity leaned out the door. “That's your cue,” she called. After a moment, she continued. “Oh, don't be like that, you look fabulous.”
A slightly embarrassed Big Macintosh walked into the barn, wearing a fine tuxedo.
“Your server today,” Rarity told Applejack. “You should see how many mares wanted to come when I mentioned I was planning on putting your brother in a tuxedo.”
Applejack was positive there was a blush hidden under her brother's red coat.
Granny Smith walked into the barn. “And I'll be playing some lively tunes on that there piano,” she said.
Pinkie Pie entered the barn, despite nopony seeing her leave. “Apple Bloom is arriving with the first group of guests! Everypony, get ready to PAAAR-TAY!” she exclaimed.
“This is what I was missing,” thought Applejack. It seemed like all of Ponyville was here, and she was busy. Gloriously busy. She was joined by Fluttershy and Twilight Sparkle in making drinks. Rainbow Dash delivered the drinks to the ponies who wanted their drinks as fast as possible, while Big Macintosh balanced trays of drinks for the guests who more wanted to see Big Macintosh carry a tray of drinks. Rarity and Pinkie Pie served as impromptu hostesses. Granny Smith's collection of raucous and surprisingly bawdy piano tunes kept up the crowd's energies.
Little Apple Bloom kept herself busy busing the dirty glasses back to the farmhouse, where Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo helped her clean them. While the other two crusaders weren't interested in a dish washing cutie mark, they were interested in helping Applejack, no matter whether or not that endeavor would grant a cutie mark.
As the night progressed, the feeling of accomplishment was magnified by seeing bits accumulate in the old box being used as a till. Even Berry Punch had come back to pay her tab and get another drink; it turns out the mare couldn't resist the promise of Pinkie Pie's margarita cupcakes. At the same time, the levels of the bottles of alcohol fell. Dozens of bottles were emptied that night.
As the crowds finally dwindled, Applejack noticed it was two hours past her normal close. The clock that she had installed to count down the minutes of her imprisonment had been forgotten during this busy evening. Her brother trotted up to her, his bow tie finally loosened. “Sis, you're goin' to Town Hall with Twilight tomorrow, and then you're takin' the rest of the day off,” he ordered.
“Sure thing,” she agreed.
“Of course that should say barn,” Mayor Mare said. “Even without confirming it by looking at the minutes of the past Town Council meetings, it should have been obvious to anypony.” She corrected the permit and initialed the correction. “I'll add this to the agenda for the next meeting, and let Keen Eye know he can finish his inspection.”
“Thank you kindly, Mayor,” Applejack said.
“I'm just glad I was able to find you had this authority by reading the town charter,” Twilight Sparkle said.
“Why didn't Red Tape fix this?” the mayor asked. “He was in charge when I was gone.”
“He said there was nothin' he could do,” Applejack replied.
“He could have done exactly what I did,” the mayor said.
Twilight Sparkle pondered the town charter for a moment. “Does the provision of the charter that grants you this authority allow it to be used by the mayor's designated representative?” she asked.
“I'm not sure,” Mayor Mare admitted. “But I certainly wouldn't have criticized him for making the right decision. I guess a mayor just has a different skill set than a bureaucrat.”
Applejack looked as if she wanted to say something; words were almost visibly caught in her throat. Twilight Sparkle looked at her encouragingly. Finally, the orange mare spoke. “Ah suspect Red Tape acted the way he did for personal, not professional, reasons.”
The mayor nodded; it seemed she knew what Applejack meant. “That's disappointing to hear,” Mayor Mare said. “I promise you I'll talk to him, but I doubt he'll admit to anything. Really, I don't have any grounds to criticize him, if he did everything by the book.”
Twilight Sparkle suddenly smiled. “Mayor, would you mind if Applejack and I spent some time looking through the town records?” she asked.
“Of course,” the mayor replied. “Good luck finding what you're looking for.
Red Tape relaxed at the kitchen table. Sunday was his favorite day of the week, and he always started it out with a cup of tea and the Sunday Manehattan Times. A relaxing morning, uninterrupted by....
He heard a knock on the door.
A relaxing morning....
The knocking was insistent. Sighing, the silver stallion stood up and walked to the door.
“Good morning, Red Tape,” said Keen Eye as Red Tape opened the door. “I have your inspection scheduled for today.”
“On a Sunday?” Red Tape wondered.
“The mayor asked me to schedule this inspection as soon as possible,” Keen Eye responded.
Red Tape shrugged, and admitted the brown earth pony. Keen Eye inspected the doors, windows, and ceiling of the ground floor. “I see a few superficial cracks in the plaster, but it's nothing you need to repair,” he said. “Shall we head upstairs?”
Red Tape nodded. The two stallions headed upstairs, Keen Eye checking the stairwell carefully. He peered down the hallway, and then referred to his notes. “It says here you built an expansion to the second floor since your last inspection. Extended the hallway, and added a bedroom and a bat room.”
“Yeah,” Red Tape agreed, before correcting himself. “Wait. You mean bathroom, right?”
Keen Eye checked his paperwork a second time. “This permit says bedroom and bat room,” he stated matter-of-factly.
Red Tape checked the document himself. “That's clearly a typo,” he stated.
“You can take that up at the Town Council's next meeting, in three weeks,” Keen Eye said. He started down the stairs. “For now, I'm going to help you pass your inspection.”
A chill passed down Red Tape's spine as he followed the inspector. “What do you mean by that?” he asked hesitantly.
Keen Eye leaned out the front door. “Are you ready, Fluttershy?” he called.
The butter yellow pegasus stepped to the door, a covered cage in her mouth. She set it down just inside the doorway.
“Thank you for building a bat room, Mr. Red Tape,” Fluttershy said. “These six adorable critters have been waiting so long to get adopted.”
Red Tape's jaw hung open. He tried to move, tried to say something, but the shock of the situation prevented from acting before Fluttershy pulled the blanket off the cage.
Hideous winged rats! Beady eyes! Squished faces! Red Tape started to sweat. The whole scene moved in slow motion as the pegasus lifted the latch and opened the cages.
Excited squeaking filled the air as the monstrosities flew from the cage. One landed on Red Tape's mane. The stallion passed out most ingloriously.
“Oh, my,” Fluttershy said. “I've never seen anypony so excited to adopt a pet!”