That stupid, STUPID pony! I thought they were smarter than common animals! Why the hell couldn’t she just stay in the apartment? I thought to myself as I sprinted down the hallway. Shit, what am I gonna say? I don’t have a license and I don’t know a thing about talking ponies. That’s it! The truth!
I felt like I was going to throw up as I kicked open the door to the outside. The sun was brighter than it seemed merely seconds ago, and though the air was brisk, perspiration was abundant upon my forehead. What I was about to do surely would keep me from trouble with the pony catchers, but would I be safe from Luke?
I raised my hand. “Don’t worry guys, she’s with me. Come on my little pony.” I did my best to keep a straight face.
As I reached out to take hold of the still pony, my hand was smacked by a wire leash. The owner of the leash glared at me with anger and a tinge of hate. “Give her a moment! This is a sad occasion.”
There were tears beginning to well up in the pony catcher’s eyes. Then I heard the sobbing and whimpering coming from the ground. The mellow body heaved with each harsh breath. Fluttershy’s head was hidden behind a pair of hooves on the pavement. The bird was dead, despite her best attempts to fix whatever the impact had broken. This failure destroyed her. Life, even at its simplest form, was of great value to Fluttershy. This sentiment was tragically beautiful. The last time I felt so sad for a dead bird was when I was a child. That moment, actually, was when I decided to become a vet. And here was the feeling again; just as devastating as it was all those years ago.
We all waited there a few moments, and then the other catcher knelt down to Fluttershy. “Miss Fluttershy,” he sniffled and wiped his eyes, “I’m sorry, but we must take you with us.”
As she looked up at him, he slowly lowered the wire loop around her head and tightened it around her neck, though there was still plenty of slack.
“That won’t be necessary.” I said, “She’s with me.”
The first catcher stepped forward with the same glare in his eyes. “Show me your license.”
“Well, you see, I don’t actually have a license. My roommate is the carrier of the license and is currently not here.”
The pony catcher reached for what looked like a miniature cattle prod. “Well then, she’s just gonna have to come with us.”
I felt a lump in my throat. “You two are bronies, right? Tell me, how does it feel to abduct these creatures?” Luke would always rant about how he hated the way catchers would treat ponies.
The catcher’s eyes widened as he came towards me, his hand now closer to my face than the cattle prod. “You son of a bitch! You think I like this job? I get to hurt what I love every day!” As I backed away, he stormed faster.
I heard a clang as the handle of the wire leash was dropped. The other pony catcher had a hand on each of his co-worker’s shoulders. “Let it go Robbie. Love and tolerate, man. Love and tolerate.
Astounding; that phrase actually still meant something to someone after all this time. The catcher named Robbie relaxed his body and slowly walked away. The other picked up the leash and led Fluttershy to their van. She only looked back at me with tears and worry in her eyes, the same eyes that I saw the night I found her. Once again, all I wanted to do was help her, only this time I couldn't.
I stumbled back into the apartment and flopped onto the couch, feeling as lugubrious as ever. What am I gonna tell Luke? Wait, why am I worrying so much? This incident was no fault of my own. Didn’t I say to not be surprised if she was gone one day? It’s just a pony. They get picked up every day. I never cared before; why start? With the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders, I resumed my studying and waited for Luke.
A couple minutes passed and Luke came through the door with the biggest smile on his face. He was waving the little slip of plastic and called out, “Hey Fluttershy, you wanna take a walk?”
When Fluttershy didn’t canter over a look of worry fell upon Luke’s face. I had to break it to him. “She’s gone man.”
Luke looked like he was hit with a train. "What do you mean ‘gone’? Did you throw her out?”
He advanced towards me with clenched fists and tensed shoulders. Why did everyone want to jam their fists into my jawbone today?
“No, she flew out the window and a couple of pony catchers got her.”
This only seemed to make Luke angrier. He grabbed my arm and practically threw me out the door. “Get in the car,” said Luke in the darkest, most solemn voice I had ever heard him use.
“I told you we both shoulda got licenses,” Luke snapped at me, “and now look at what happened!”
“And who was gonna shell out the extra cash? It’s bad enough we had to get you one,” I rebuttled.
Luke might’ve had the pony license, but he never came around to getting a driver’s license, so as much as I didn’t want to come along he forced me to drive him to the pound. I assumed that this was another provision made by MoPA; a pound separate from regular pounds with special precautions and facilities. That didn’t make it look any less dreary on the inside, however. We walked inside, one a bit more briskly than the other, and asked to take a look around. Instead of cages, we found clear boxes with holes drilled in, and there were fire sprinklers everywhere. They were all over the ceiling and on the walls and even in each individual cell.
We eventually found Fluttershy, in block 6-B. She was curled up in the back of her cell, whimpering to herself. When she saw us, she inched a bit closer to the glass and gave a small smile. Luke put his hand on the glass and said, “Don’t worry Fluttershy, we’ll get you out of there. Did they hurt you? I’ll make sure they never lay a finger on you ever again!” You’d think Luke was a mother welcoming back her daughter from her first day at kindergarten.
We were just turning around to talk to the caretaker when a sprite little girl came bounding and giggling to Fluttershy’s cell. “Fluttershy,” she squealed, “Fluttershy! I missed you SOOOOOOO much! Where did you go?”
“Anna! It’s so good to see you again.” It was as if Fluttershy had seen sunshine for the first time in a week. “I’ve been with these two gentlemen.”
She pointed a hoof towards me and Luke, and we in turn looked at the little girl. I gave an awkward wave as she squinted at us accusingly. “Did you two do anything to her?” She said through gritted teeth.
Luke spoke up, “We took excellent care of her. May we ask how you know Fluttershy?”
Anna crossed her arms and smiled a satisfied smile. “She’s my little pony.”
Luke bit his lip as he let the words digest in his mind. “You mean…she’s your pet?”
“That’s right, and she’s coming home with me and Daddy.”
Fluttershy gasped and slid to the back of her cell. “You mean Mr. Vincent is here?”
The poor pony seemed more terrified of this Mr. Vincent than anything before, even the zombies. Little Anna turned to her pony and smiled. “Uh huh! He really missed you too!”
Fluttershy looked like she was about to throw up, but she put on a brave face and responded, “How…nice of him.”
She made the most fabricated grin I had ever seen, but it seemed to fool the little girl. What was it about this man that had Fluttershy to terrified? I had a hunch that Luke was picking up on the same vibe and wasn’t about to just let it go. “Annabelle! Where are you Annabelle?”
A thick, southern, gentleman’s accent filled the hallway that made everyone but Fluttershy’s heads turn. “I’m over here Daddy!”
The man walked over in a shimmering, navy blue, silk suit with such airs that you might think that he owned the world. I instantly recognized the man. Ned Vincent, an oil tycoon back in the day. His first big break occurred when another oil company used a snaking oil well and accidentally started siphoning oil from one of his company’s sites. He sued the company for several millions and has been the head of the oil game ever since. Lately, however, more and more companies have primarily used renewable fuel sources and have put Vincent into a hole. I could only hope he would show more mercy on two college students than he did on an oil company.
“There ya are Annabelle.” He turned towards Fluttershy and smiled. “Well, well, well. We finally found you little one. I say, where have ya been?”
Fluttershy was shivering in the back corner of her cell. Her face was half buried by her forehooves, her eyes trained on her figure of terror, never wanting to break eye contact so that she always knew where he was. Timidly, she pointed a hoof towards Luke and I while still hiding her face. Mr. Vincent turned his gaze towards us. He scanned us over once or twice, never losing his businessman’s smile. “Ah trust y’all didn’t do nothin’ to harm my daughter’s precious pony.”
I cleared my throat. “Uh, no sir. Only the best for, uh, an element of harmony.” A nervous chuckle was all I could manage after that.
Mr. Vincent’s eyes narrowed slightly as he leaned in. He almost whispered, “Of course, only the best for my little girl. Come along Annabelle,” he turned back to the little girl, “time we went to retrieve Fluttershy.”
After the two walked away to the caretaker’s office, I looked over at Luke. He had the same panic I had written all over his face. A shaky voice chimed in, “Please don’t let him take me.”
We both looked at Fluttershy. Luke asked her, “Why are you so afraid of him? Did he do something to you?”
“I…I’d rather not.”
Fluttershy covered the rest of her face in her hooves and began crying again. I had a terrible feeling about this. Whatever Ned Vincent did to Fluttershy it was serious. She looked up again. “You have to get us out of here!”
I scratched my head. “How would we do that? It’s not like we can just bust this glass open.”
“Not just me; all of us. We were never meant to come to be here. We belong back in Equestria.”
I looked around at the other ponies in the pound. Some were young, some were old. Some were bright colored, others dull. Some were skinny, others stocky and every size in between. All of them shared the same, broken expression. All were curled up, alone and separate. Their large eyes shimmered with tears and despair. There was a message in their eyes that was loud and clear; “Save us.” The calling shattered my heart. I fell back on the wall behind me and stared up at the ceiling. I could only utter one word, “Damn.”
Luke was in even worse shape. He was sitting on the ground, tears flowing from his eyes, but he never hiccupped or shuddered. Why do I want to help these…things? I couldn’t explain it, but at that instant, I knew I had a mission. These things were creatures too and it was my lifelong goal to help any creature in need that I could.
The door opened up again, and Mr. Vincent came strolling down. “Boys, y’all are in a world of trouble.” His smile somehow seemed more sincere now.
We stared at him, dumbstruck. I swallowed hard and got the nerve to ask, “Wha-what do you mean? What’d we do?”
“Y’all were holdin’ a pony without a license. That is very disappointing. Y’all looked like such good kids.”
Two pony catchers came from behind Mr. Vincent, pointing their cattle prods at us. They came closer and closer as we backed up closer to each other. It was official, everyone wanted to hurt me today.