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Running. Got to get away. Creatures are chasing me. Getting closer. So tired. My lungs are burning. My legs are cramping up. The sounds behind are getting louder. Suddenly pain in my left leg. Something’s got me. It’s crushing me with its powerful grip, lifting muscle from bone. It’s almost too much to bear. I start to black out as something clamps down on my neck…
“Aaah!” I jolt awake. Thank goodness, it was only a dream. But something is amiss as I attempt to open my eyes. I can’t see. Something is covering my face. I reach up to feel what it is. It feels like bandages. My whole body aches now that I’ve been moving it, mostly concentrated on the face, right arm, and right ankle. Now everything is starting to make sense.
Sure, that dream may have been a dream, but what I can remember before the dream seems to have actually happened. The waking up in that forest, the running for my life from those wolf-like abominations, the damage I received right before blacking out…it started to come back to me. One last thing came to mind: the noise I heard just before blacking out. I remembered that it sounded like pots and pans being hit together, or something like that. It must’ve been what got the wolves to back off.
I’m lying on a bed. Only the bed seems a bit short for me. I can feel that the lower half of my legs is over the edge of it, but something wooden is holding them up under my feet: most likely a chair or end table. There feels like there’s bandages wrapped around my right ankle and forearm. Just another indicator that what happened I remember happening last night really did happen. That noise must’ve been the owner of the orchard I stumbled into. He or she probably heard my shouts and the howls of the wolves and come to check out the noise and scare the wolves of their property. It was just lucky for me that they showed up when they did. Then they must’ve found my body and carried me home and bandaged me up.
The one thing that bothered me the most was the wolves themselves. I still distinctly remember their horrid appearance. It was almost like a pile of branches broken off from a storm came to life and took the shape of a gigantic wolf. Those piercing eyes still haunted me too. I stook my head and tried to pretend I didn’t see what I saw…besides, wolves like that don’t really exist, right? I was just imagining things, wasn’t I?
The sound of a door opening snapped me out of my deep thoughts. Even though I couldn’t see, I still looked in the vague direction I heard the noise coming from and decided to try to sit up a little. My right arm argued with me the whole time I put my weight on it, but I just grunted through the pain and finally got my legs all the way onto the bed.
“Whoa there, partner,” A female voice called out, “Ya don’t wanna’ strain yerself too much. Ya’ll were in mighty bad shape when we found ya in the apple orchard.” The voice had a southern accent. Was that Texan? Heck if I know, but all I know is it was southern and she sounded friendly.
“Sorry,” I shyly said “My legs were asleep. And I also didn’t want to seem rude by laying down when someone else was in here.”
“Shoot, that’s mighty considerate of ya, but ya’ll don’t have to do that on my account. Ya’ll still need yer rest. Especially that leg of yours. It’ll need to stay elevated.”
“Even so, I still need to thank you for saving my rear back there. I coulda’ sworn those wolf-things were gonna get me back there, but the noises coming from your house must’ve scared them off.”
The female voice started sounding a bit surprised. It was disconcerting. “W-wait, ya’ll were being chased by them timber-wolves from the Everfree Forest? Shoot, now I know you’re lucky.”
I raised an eyebrow, even though she couldn’t see it. “What do you mean by that?”
“What I mean is, them timber-wolves are pretty vicious when it comes to bein’ in the forest, but they don’t normally leave it unless they see something they want. Granny’s usually outside makin’ noise with them pots n’ pans durin’ this harvestin’ season. Timber-wolves seem a bit more ornery durin’ this time, because of the storms over the forest. The noise keeps them away from the farm for the few days that happens.”
I was starting to get where she was going with this. “So, you’re saying that if I was being chased any other time, they wouldn’t have stopped at the forest?”
“Exactly. I don’t think me an’ Mac woulda’ gotten to ya’ll in time if it weren’t for my Granny’s crazy habits durin’ this time of year.”
“Mac? Who’s Mac?”
“Oh, he’s my older brother. He’s the one that carried ya’ll in here. I was the one who found ya, and I woulda’ carried ya in here myself, but I don’t think I coulda’ managed it, honestly.”
I smiled a little and replied. “Yeah, all my friends tell me I should lay off the junk food.” The voice chuckled at that.
“I wasn’t talkin’ about yer weight there.Ya’ll are just a lot taller than me. Mac had to carry ya in because he’s a lot taller than me. Or anypony else in my family, I reckon.” Wait, what was the word she used? It didn’t sound like “anyone”. My ears must be playing tricks on me. “‘S why we usually call him ‘Big Mac’.” I hear her walk back to the door as she yells out, “Big Mac! Get yer rear up here, our guest is awake!” She walks back closer to the bed and says, “Oh, and I just plum forgot. I never asked yer name! Awful rude of me.”
“That’s fine, a lot has happened today.” I responded with a smile, “I’m Vincent Martin. People who know me usually just call me Vince, though.”
“Well, a pleasure meetin’ ya, Vince. My name’s Applejack. Call me Applejack or AJ, whichever works better.”
“Applejack? Never heard that name before. But nice to meet you.” As I’m finishing my sentence, I hear the door open again.
“Ya called for me sis?” This voice also had a southern accent, but was male. And an extremely deep male voice at that.
“Yep! Big Mac, I’d like ya to meet Vince.” So this was the Big Mac she mentioned earlier. Dang, his voice even sounded worthy of his name.
“Pleased to meet yer acquaintance, Vince. Ya’ll were in pretty nasty shape out there when we found ya outside.”
I nodded. “So I’ve heard. And nice to meet you too, Big Mac.” I switch to a teasing grin, “I feel like I know ya already, because of Applejack over here.”
Applejack responses with a light chuckle, “Well shoot, there’s a lot more to my big bro here besides the fact that he can lift big things.”
“Eeyup, I also keep my sis’s bull-headed in check,” I hear a thumping sound, “Ow.”
I let out a hearty laugh that echoes of the walls, “Heh, I think I like you guys already. Tell ya what, why don’t I take off these bandages off my eyes? Actually, now that I think about it, why do I have these on? I don’t remember exactly damaging my eyes when I fell yesterday…”
“W-well there’s a story behind that. Um…” Applejack began to stutter out. How strange.
Big Mac interrupted her, “When we found ya out there, yer face was nicked up pretty bad like. Figured it’d be best to just be best to cover it all up with bandages.” I heard Applejack let out a breath she must’ve been holding during that time.
This all wasn’t making sense to me. It sounded like they were lying to me about this. But why would they do that? Was the damage worse than I thought and they were just sugarcoating it for me? Or maybe they were telling the truth, and I was just misinterpreting things I can’t even see in the first place. I figured I’d give them the benefit of the doubt, seeing as they were the reason I was even sitting here now. So I just dropped that part of the subject.
“Alright-y,” I finally got out, “But…can I still remove these eye bandages? I don’t feel any pain, at least above the nose, anyway. I’d like to be able to see stuff.”
“Errrr…sure thing, sugarcube,” Applejack replied while I heard her and Big Mac step back a bit, “Just be sure not to freak out too much when you finally can see.”
I stopped my arms right as they were about to undo the knot to the bandages behind my head, “…What do you mean by that, exactly?”
“You’ll understand when you get the bandage off.”
Now I was a little frightened. What did she mean that I’ll understand when I can finally see? Was I right with my previous thought that the damage was far worse than I had previous thought? Would I open my eyes and be blind in one eye? Or worse, both eyes? I started to undo the wrapping fiercely and haphazardly now. I just wanted them off so I can see what has happened to my sight. As the last of the bandages fell from my head, I sat there apprehensively for a second with my eyes shut. Light. I can see some light coming through my eyelids. That’s a decent sign at best. I slowly open my eyes so they can adjust properly. I can see through both eyes, after the few seconds it takes for them to adjust. I slump a little and sigh in relief.
What I didn’t expect next was what I saw after opening them. There was an orange female pony standing in the room. Seeing this made my eyes open a little wider and I jumped a little in surprise. It had a Stetson on its head, and its blonde mane and tail was held by rubber bands on the ends. To its right, with its head sticking partially out the door was another pony. This one was male, much taller, and had a red coat with an orange mane. My mind had refused to connect the dots just yet, so I looked between these two ponies a bit, furrowed my brow a bit and yelled out while looking about the room, “Hey, Applejack! Did you and Mac leave the room or something?”
“No, sugarcube, we’re right here,” came Applejack’s voice. From the direction of the female pony.
“HOLY CRAP!” I yelled in surprise as I tried to scoot frantically back against the wall behind me. The only thing is, with my legs kicking furiously in order for me to get away, my right ankle made contact with the bedpost. I stopped squirming and yelled out in pain as I held my leg.
“Careful there, sugarcube!” the mare called out as it reached out with one of its front hooves and tried to rub my ankle where I had struck it. I instinctively pulled back from the touch, which made me wince a bit in pain again.
“Would ya hold still? It’s me, Applejack! Big Mac is right over there! Didn’t I tell ya’ll to not to freak out when you took off them bandages? This was why.” She stood there and stared at me adamantly, but I saw a bit of compassion in her eyes. I looked over at Mac and saw he was wearing the perfect poker face. But he was standing near Applejack. Probably just in case I freaked out again.
It was only after hearing her say their names, I started to understand and calm down just a little bit. Applejack resumed caring for my twice-damaged ankle. It started to feel a little better, thanks to that.
I looked between them too and laughed just once to myself, “Heh, talking ponies. That doesn’t happen where I’m from. Sure I’m not dreaming or anything?”
She looked at me strangely, but her face softened to a smile, “I reckon not, partner. We’re about as real as you are. Talking ponies are a normal occurrence around these parts, though. I’m figuring you’re not from Equestria.”
“Nope, I’m from a country called the United State of America.”
“Never heard of it. Kinda makes me wonder how ya’ll got here.”
“Same here. I’m definitely not in Kansas anymore.”
“What? Oh, sorry. It’s an expression from where I’m from. It just means I’m definitely not anywhere I know or recognize.”
And I was true. I definitely wasn’t any where I recognized. This…Equestria? I hadn’t heard of it, like how Applejack hadn’t heard of where I’m from. I started to wonder: am I in a new world? And if so…how did I get here? And even more importantly: how, if at all, would I get back?