After a bit of shenanigans, some minor first aid, and a sprained pony ankle, there was a chorus of grumbling stomachs. I knew I wouldn’t have enough to feed six ponies, a baby dragon, and myself in the fridge. Then there was the leftover chicken and the beef tenderloin in the fridge. Worry was setting in if anypony saw what was in there while looking for a snack in the nearly empty veggie or fruit drawers.
“We need to do some shopping. I normally would be scared out of my mind doing this but I’m willing to risk having somepony be seen on camera. Because of that, I think that only one pony’s coming with me. Who wants to volunteer?” I was met with three hooves in the air in a flash: Fluttershy’s, Pinkie’s, and Twilight’s. “Okay girls, why should you go out grocery shopping with me?”
“Well, ummm, I’d like to make sure you get plenty of good fruits and vegetables for us to have for a while. I can also help you find nice things for us to make for dinner. But I don’t have to go… if you don’t want me to.” Just like last night, she kicked at the floor bashfully. Not a very strong vote of confidence on Fluttershy’s part, but what could I really expect from the shy pegasus?
“Alex,” Twilight may have only said one word but her voice was practically screaming curiosity already. “Not only will we be able to find adequate food for the coming week, but I’m also curious about your world. It may help to have a better scope of your world so that we can get back to our own.” Reasonable, if not borderline obsessive; seemed par for the course in regards to Twilight. Well, at least it wasn’t Lesson Zero’s Twilight, I thought.
“And why do you want to go Pinkie?” She seemed to always remain the wild card in everything so I just had to know why.
“Well duh.” The gears turning in my head told me exactly what she was going to say now. This didn’t stop me from wanting to hear it. “I should go with you because I know more about your world than any other pony here. Besides, if Fluttershy’s here then she and Rarity can begin making dinner with what we have already!”
I sighed; Pinkie had a point that ruled out Fluttershy. I wanted to take Twilight so that I could get her curiosity out of the way before it became dangerous. Still, there was way too much truth in the party pony’s logic, or occasional lack thereof. I realized something in an instant; Pinkie gave me the answer herself. “Twilight, I’m going to take you with me. Pinkie, I’d like you, Fluttershy, and Rarity to get working on dinner with what’s here. Flour, sugar, and the like are on the shelf left of the fridge and measuring cups are in the drawer beneath to them, pots and pans in the cabinet right under there. Also, try not to cause too big a mess.”
I got a salute from Rainbow, Applejack, and Pinkie. Pinkie’s and Rainbow’s salutes were expected, but not Applejack’s. This in effect, meant that Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Spike would have to preoccupy themselves while three ponies worked in the kitchen. Twilight followed me outside and into the garage. Like any stereotypical ‘rich guy’ there were a few cars, each was kept in good condition and they were all driven to an extent. I had several cars to facilitate what I had to bring to a job or what I had to take back home with me. However, I still had to show off a little so there were a few suited for just that.
You could cut Twilight’s curiosity with a knife though. “Alex, what are these and how do they work?”
“These are cars, kind of like horseless carriages, and they run by use of an internal combustion engine. I won’t go into exact details though.” My choice of a lack of details made Twilight give a rather adorable pouty face. It however, didn’t make her lose a lot of resolve. In fact, there was a whole world she would be seeing for the first time. “I just don’t think I can answer everything off the top of my head is all Twilight.” I picked a nice, red sports car from among them and opened the passenger door for Twilight.
She came around to the passenger side and hopped in. “I forgive you Alex.” She closed the door with magic and with a bit of help she was buckled in. I revved the engine and off we went. About now, I was sure Pinkie was trying to explain that humans were omnivores to everyone, especially Fluttershy.
I doubt Twilight really noticed that we were moving after we got into town. There was so much that was perfectly normal to any human. I however was worried, grocery shopping meant cameras; cameras meant attention. Eh, the smaller markets were safer. I drove across downtown, a nice place actually but not for ponies to remain inconspicuous. When we finally reached our destination, I found a place to park and turned to Twilight.
“I take it that there’s no invisibility spell up your mane?” It never hurt to ask, but it seemed more like a spell she might have studied in passing.
“Well,” she thought for a second, “I came across one before but it was too difficult at the time so I never tried it.” She looked to me, halfway between skeptical and concerned. “You’re really concerned about our safety Alex?”
“I just want to protect you girls from any backlash of the dangers of my world.” I knew I was blushing and my pride was taking center stage. There wasn’t much of it, but it was there.
Twilight’s ears flopped, her concern replaced with doubt. “I appreciate that, but the things on the news aren’t right here are they? Pinkie showed us the news before you got up.” She traced a circle in the chair with her hoof, an irritably perfect circle. “There isn’t danger around every corner is there?”
“Not really, but I think it isn’t a good idea to go around often. Humans might react negatively to what they assume to be cartoon characters trotting along the sidewalk with them.” I smiled. “I don’t mind it since I’m adapting, but there are some who might be afraid.”
She nodded her head, “I suppose so. But why allow somepony to come with you in the first place?”
“I want to make sure we get things you girls like. It also helps to have a second opinion about fruits and vegetables. I’m not very good at that sort of thing.”
“Why didn’t you want Pinkie to go with you?”
“Something she said, she suggested Rarity and Fluttershy start making something. I was worried about something in the fridge since we humans are omnivores. I wanted Pinkie to help reassure Fluttershy about the side of beef in the fridge.”
Twilight looked taken back by my admission. “I could’ve explained that to her too.”
“And you’d let Pinkie out into the world while she can do whatever it is she does?”
I startled her, making her stare in disbelief. “I guess not,” she didn’t sound too convinced. “You would trade one wild card for a different one?”
I returned her own look of disbelief, but tried to smile and regain my composure. “I suppose I wanted a more level headed one,” I admitted. She was good at this, a worthy advisory for skirting the issue. “Ready to get to work then, they’ll be disappointed if we come back really late.”
She unbuckled her seatbelt with magic and opened the door, with me following suit. “Why not just drag Applejack for produce?”
“What and come back with a few bags of apples? I don’t think so; one cannot live on apples alone.” We shared a laugh as we went inside. It was a quaint little produce store. It sold from local farmers whenever possible. There weren’t many customers present and I was thankful the store’s staff was preoccupied with them.
I grabbed a cart and we went to the produce. It was a relatively simple affair, I asked and she evaluated it while holding it with magic. After a quick crash course in our currency and measures, she had a knack for finding good deals too. Yes, this was perfect for the most part. Well, until it came to dry goods like flour and some spices, where we both weren’t very skilled. Then there was the occasional odd glance in my direction from across the store, no doubt people under the impression that I was talking to myself.
We left without much trouble, a double take from the clerk caused Twilight to grin up at him before heading out the door ahead of me. “How worried were you Alex,” she asked as I put the groceries in the car.
“On a scale of one to ten, I’d say a six or seven. It’s a small place with very little in the security camera department, but I was also happy you stayed quiet for the most part.”
“I-I didn’t want to draw too much attention Alex.” She stammered before calmly getting back into my car and buckling up.
“Was there anything you wanted to ask me about while we’re out here Twilight?”
“Yes,” her face filled with the curiosity from earlier. “Why aren’t there a lot of people out in town? I mean to say that I lived in Canterlot for most of my life and Applejack told us about Manehattan, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a place so deserted in the streets.”
“Everyone wants to go where they want to as fast as possible, and around now everyone also wants to get something to eat. That means there’s very few people moving around outside. They like it in warm buildings too, it’s still winter right now.”
“Oh, do you have to do something like Winter Wrap-Up here?”
I shook my head. “Humans have to let nature take care of itself. We can’t really affect it so our weather isn’t really like yours.”
“Oh, and what keeps everything working around here? I mean there’s no magic here so what power source is there.”
“Electricity, ours is a world of technology. I think some things would be different if there was magic, but I know someone would abuse it in the end.” I started up the car, I felt like things went far too easily when we went out. Doubt and confusion might be able to keep a person or two quiet, but not once the whole town got talking. Yes, I thought it was better to keep them all safe by being as discreet as possible.
“Um before we go back I’d like to ask a teeny, tiny favor Alex.”
“What would this favor be Twilight?”
“I’d like it if we could stop somewhere and get a few notebooks.”
I cocked an eyebrow and looked to her. “Do you want to keep notes about everything you learn? I mean that if that’s the case I have plenty at home.”
She shook her head a little. “That’s not it; I’d like everypony to write a little about their time here.”
This felt a little awkward. “Alright, I know a place.” I knew it; this was too easy.
There was a quaint used and antique bookstore closer to home. With the low customer influx, how it was still open was anyone’s guess. I didn’t often visit but for nicer notebooks or journals, it was the perfect place.
“Okay,” I began after I pulled into the tiny nearby parking lot, “this place is run by a young couple and it’s a nice store. They bought it from the last owner and they keep it running just fine. I’m not really sure how it stays open but it has for as long as I can remember.”
“Do you want me to come in,” asked Twilight in a mixture of anxious and nervous.
“Last time I visited they had a little girl.” I bit my lip. “I think she’d love to meet you if she’s there.”
Twilight looked at me nervously. “Are you sure? I mean shouldn’t we remain unseen by a lot of humans?”
“It’ll make her whole day to see somepony Twilight.” To be honest, I didn’t know if she watched the show, but I knew that if she did then it would be a wonderful treat. It’s just one of those ‘do it for the little kid’ things some people can’t resist.
“But what if she isn’t there?”
“Wait out here by the lot and I’ll ask inside okay?”
Twilight nodded and unbuckled. “I really hope it’s all worth it Alex.”
“I’d like to hope it is Twilight,” I replied as I got out and made my way to the storefront.
The store was rather quaint inside, lined with shelves carefully organized and filled with the musky aroma of early editions. If there ever was a literary aphrodisiac then I assure you, this was it. As I came in out of the cold, the woman at the register looked over to the threshold.
“Hello Alex,” she said, “it’s been a while hasn’t it?”
“Yeah, how is everything Sarah?”
“It’s alright, what brings you in today?”
I gave a meek smile before I closed the door behind me. “Is Lauren here today?”
“Yeah, she’s up in my office. Did you want to talk to her?”
I took a deep breath and recomposed myself. “Actually I have a question, does she watch My Little Pony?”
“Every single Saturday, why do you want to know?”
My meek smile returned. “I have someone she might want to meet, is it okay if I bring her in?”
“I’ll go tell her and you can bring your friend in okay?”
“Sure thing,” I opened the door and ushered Twilight to come over.
“It’s no trouble,” she asked once she was a pony length away from me.
“It’s just fine Twilight,” I replied as I held the door open for her.
As soon as we returned inside however, time seemed to slow to a crawl. A little ten-year old girl came downstairs and looked ecstatic. “Mommy look,” she squealed, “it’s Twilight Sparkle!”
“Twilight,” I said calmly, “I’d like you to meet Lauren Korowitz. She’s the most energetic little girl I know. She may rival Pinkie at times, like when Pinkie thinks before she acts.”
“She’s absolutely adorable,” said Twilight with a shining gleam in her eyes.
I simply rolled my eyes as Lauren raced down the stairs while Twilight rushed towards her. “Twilight, we still have something to do.”
“I know Alex,” she told me with a nod before turning back to Lauren. “It’s nice to see you Lauren but we came to get a few journals.”
“You both can’t stay too long then,” asked Sarah as she walked past Twilight and her daughter.
I nodded and felt a little bad about having to do this to such a cute little girl like Lauren. “We have groceries in the car and should get back home before everyone else decides to eat without us.”
“And just who is ‘everyone else’ Alexander,” harped the store’s owner.
My meek smile returned for the third time in about fifteen minutes. “Uh, Twilight’s friends,” I said nervously.
“Can you keep this secret Lauren,” asked Twilight.
“Yep,” she replied cheerfully, “just try and visit some other time okay?”
“Well, as long as your mother’s fine with it we will.”
All eyes shifted to Sarah, who had returned to her place behind the counter. “Just call beforehand Alex.”
“Come on Lauren,” Twilight said with a smile, “how about we pick out some diaries for my friends.”
She smiled and ran off, leading the lavender unicorn towards the back of the store.
After a little while, I sighed. “Anything interesting come in Sarah?”
“We got a second printing set of classic Bond stories.”
“I’ll pass. They’re more of my brother’s thing. Anything else?”
“Not much of note but I’ll be sure to call you if we happen to sell them.”
“Thanks, I’ll pass the message along to my Rick when he gets back.”
“Do you get any letters from him?”
“Sometimes, I think he’s just sending me something so he knows I know he’s alive. His heart’s in the right place but sometimes he needs to think before he writes.”
“Well you can’t expect everything to be just fine while he’s out doing who knows what for the Marines right?”
“I guess, I mean I don’t disapprove of what he chose, but I’m still bothered by it. I’m not my dad, and I have no intention to act like him about Rick’s life.”
Lauren and Twilight came back a few minutes later with the ones they wanted. “I even got one for Spike,” Twilight said as she showed me a plain looking book.
Sarah rang up the books and I paid her, but before we left, we heard one last thing from Lauren. “Don’t be strangers you two.”
“Don’t worry,” Twilight said as she cut me off on what I could only guess to be a reflex.
“We won’t,” I added before opening the door, getting a blast of cold air immediately.