I had to give the Cakes credit. The bed, separated from Pinkie’s by a nightstand, was quite comfortable, and big enough for me to stretch out on. As I sat and tested it, Pinkie sat on her own bed, grinning at me.
“How is it?” she asked.
“Cozy,” I said, satisfied. “I’m gonna sleep like a baby on this thing.”
“Does that mean you’ll need a diaper and a bottle?” Pinkie asked, tilting her head.
“No, Pinkie, it means...Forget it.”
Suddenly, Pinkie’s ear twitched. She sat stiffly, tense as a bowstring, her ear perked. Straining my own ears, I felt I could hear it too: a low, distant rumble of voices from below.
“What’s that?” I asked. “I thought it was closing time.”
“You know what? Why don’t I go check it out?” Pinkie asked, her smile widening for some reason. “I’ll be right back.”
She hopped off her bed and bounced away. leaving me by myself. Apparently, ponies could come and go as they pleased, even if an establishment was closed for the night. This was a weird world I’d stumbled into.
Sitting here by myself finally gave me time to ponder over my situation, and aside from the fact that I at least had a roof over my head, it didn’t look enviable on other counts. I only had one set of clothes, which had already grown dirty from all I’d done today (though Rarity promised to amend that), no toiletries (I probably stank too), no money (what was the exchange rate in Ponyville, anyway?), no phone (did they even get reception out here?). In fact, I didn’t even have a way of contacting my family.
My family...They must be beside themselves with worry by now, if they’d realized I was gone. I wracked my brains again, trying to remember what I had been doing before waking up in Equestria…but nothing came. The time before I had woken up was all a vague blur. If only I could just let them know I was fine, it would have made things much more bearable, but the very fact that I couldn’t, and that they would be saddled with worrying about me when I was alive and well, even across such a far distance, brought tears to my eyes, and a pain in my throat, as if I’d swallowed a baseball bat…
But it was worse, much worse.
What if I never got back to them at all? The pain in my throat increasing, I recalled all the times I’d been distant from them, impatient with them for being asked to do something, unwilling to partake in their activities when I didn’t feel like it, even if I wasn't even meaning to be rude. None of those times could ever be amended for…What if I’d gotten into a fight with my parents before being whisked off, and I never was to be given the chance to say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I love you’?…
Such a thought burned in me like a hot iron, and the tears dripped onto my hands as I clenched them on my knees, trying my hardest to keep from sobbing…
(Mom...Dad...if only you could hear me...If only you knew...)
A sudden knocking at the door snapped me back to reality.
“Davie?” came Pinkie’s voice.
I swallowed, trying to keep my voice steady as I spoke.
“Could you come with me? There’s something I need to show you.”
“Uh, sure, Pinkie. I’ll be there in one second.” I answered back.
I wiped my face on a corner of the comforter covering my bed, got up, and headed for the door. To all appearances, nothing had happened.
“That was like 10 one-seconds, mister,” said Pinkie, pouting, as I emerged.
I couldn’t help but grin. This pony really did know how to make others smile.
“Relax, Pinkie, I wouldn’t leave you hanging,” I said, ruffling her mane.
Her pout disappeared, and her smile returned.
“I know, silly. Now, come on! You don’t want to miss this!”
She dashed down the stairs leading back to the main area, and I followed, curious as to what I was urged not to ‘miss’. Was there a meteor shower tonight? Something about the moon? Whatever it was, it had put Pinkie into a profound excitement. As I approached her as she waited at the bottom of the stairs for me, I could see her pudgy body practically shivering with anticipation.
“Ok, what’s the big surprise?” I asked, crossing my arms, smiling at her behavior.
By way of answer, she pushed the door to the bakery open.
Whether it was the collective shouts that assailed my eardrums or the sheer force of the sight that met me that staggered me, I don’t think I could guess. At any rate, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing: Sugarcube Corner was packed with innumerable ponies, most of which I could recognize as either being part of the crowd in the town square, customers at Sugarcube Corner, or Pinkie’s closer friends. The only ones I couldn’t see were Twilight and Spike, no doubt absent because of the former’s headache. There were streamers and balloons set up, and a large table with tasty-looking refreshments and a punch bowl. Over in the corner was a turntable, where a grinning unicorn DJ wearing enormous shades was standing. I just stood there, absolutely bewildered.
“Pinkie…how…what…when did you have time to do all this??” I stammered.
“Easy!” said Pinkie, who was grinning from ear to ear. “I asked Derpy to go around and spread an impromptu invitation!”
She pointed to the pegasus with the wonky eyes, who smiled jovially and waved at me.
“After Mr. and Mrs. Cake were done upstairs, I took you up so that you wouldn’t see everypony come in! I went to go help set up, then came and got you!”
“Pinkie,” I said, after a stunned silence on my part, “I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t, yet!” said Pinkie, still grinning. “There’s one more thing I have to do!”
She zipped off, and in the next instant, she returned with a small, colorfully-painted wagon, shaped vaguely like a treasure chest on wheels. She pressed a button on its side, there was a clicking and whirring noise, and the top slid open to reveal flags, trumpets, what looked like striped organ pipes, and a glass-fronted box. All at once, music, like a carnival calliope, began to play. As it did so, Pinkie began to caper and dance as if she were in a vaudeville performance, and then she started singing,
“Welcome, welcome, welcome, a fine welcome to you
Welcome, welcome, welcome, I say how do you do
Welcome, welcome, welcome, I say hip-hip-hoo-RAY
Welcome, welcome, welcome, to Po-ny-ville
She finished this up with a slide on her knees, forelegs held high. The dance itself was funny to see, but she also had a surprisingly sweet singing voice.
“Wait for it!” said Pinkie, excitedly.
Then, suddenly, with a ding, the glass front on the box sprang open, and jettisoned a freshly-baked cake straight past me and onto a nearby table. So it was an oven: very clever. Then, the striped pipes let out a boom, and confetti came blasting out, raining it down on everyone present. Everypony attending applauded by stamping the floor with their hooves. I would have been surprised if the ruckus didn’t wake up the babies.
“Yes!” cheered Pinkie. “I knew I’d gotten it right!” She whispered as an aside to me, “You wouldn’t believe how many times I got the confetti and cake mixed up.”
I shuddered to imagine such an occurrence, but moreover, I was extremely touched; Pinkie had gone out of her way to give me a proper Ponyville welcome in her own way, when she hadn’t had the time or opportunity to do it earlier, and all planned out before dinnertime! I regarded the little pony with re-misting eyes.
“Pinkie, you don’t know how much this means to me. Thank you.”
With a smile as warm as a preheated stove-top, she threw her forelegs around me in a hug, and I returned it. A collective “aww” floated through the attendees.
After Pinkie released me, I picked up a glass of water and held it up for a toast. I could a feel a speech in me on a whim.
“Everypony, before we get this party underway, I’d like to propose a few toasts.”
Everypony held up their own glasses, either with their hooves or by unicorn magic.
“First, to Twilight Sparkle, who I can see was unable to attend, due to a recent magic-induced headache. I’ve had the honor of meeting Miss Sparkle today, and can only express my regrets at her absence and my wishes for her speedy recovery. To Twilight!”
“To Twilight!” said everypony.
“Second, to you, Ponyville. You’ve made a stranger outside of your norm feel as welcome as if I were one of you. I can only hope that during my stay, I can repay you for your kindness. To Ponyville!”
“Third, to Princess Celestia, who knows of my presence in Ponyville. I can only express my gratitude for her understanding of my situation, and hope to be of service to her when I can. To Princess Celestia!”
“To Princess Celestia!”
“And finally, but certainly not least…to Pinkie Pie.”
Pinkie looked up.
“It was she who discovered me, and if she hadn’t, I might not have been introduced to the Equestrian way quite as handily, as I’m told there’s no better friend than her. I heartily believe that now.”
Pinkie’s cheeks turned red with pleased embarrassment.
“To Pinkie Pie!”
“To Pinkie Pie!”
“And now, Ponyville, without further ado…"
Pinkie leaped in to finish the statement.
"Let’s get this party started!”
The DJ started up a record that wouldn’t have been out of place at a disco dance party, as everypony started dancing and mingling, and Pinkie led me around to introduce me to those in attendance that I hadn’t formally met. From her, I learned that the purple pony with the grapes cutie mark was named Berry Punch, a yellow mare I’d seen with a very curly orange mane and a carrot cutie mark was known as Golden Harvest, and she elaborated on the gray pegasus, Derpy Hooves. She was Ponyville’s chief mail carrier, and even if she sometimes misplaced her deliveries, she was very faithful and friendly, and had a deep fondness for muffins.
I was spared the awkwardness of trying to decide which of her mismatched eyes to focus on as Pinkie took me off to introduce me to more ponies. However, she got caught up in the music, which she claimed was her ‘jam’, and went to dance, so I was left to mingle by myself. Naturally, I gravitated over to where Pinkie’s other best friends were. They were gathered at the refreshment table, where Rainbow Dash seemed to be telling a joke.
“A colt was working bagging groceries at a market. They recently installed a machine that made fresh-squeezed orange juice.”
“No foolin’?” asked Applejack. “Boy, what I’d give for somethin’ like that.”
“The colt asks if he can try the machine out, but he was denied. The manager said-”
“'Sorry, son, baggers can’t be juicers.’”
The four looked up and spotted me. I had supplied the punch line for Rainbow’s joke myself; if there was one thing my friends back home knew about me, it was my affinity for corny jokes. Rainbow looked annoyed at first at not being able to finish the joke herself, but brightened almost immediately when she saw it was me.
“Well, well, it’s the man of the hour himself!” she said.
“Good to see you again, dear,” said Rarity.
“Howdy, big guy!” said Applejack.
“Hello again, Dave…” said Fluttershy.
“Hey, girls! Glad you could make it! Then again, I had no idea this would be going on. Pinkie’s really unpredictable.”
“Don’t we know it,” said Rarity with a small sigh.
“But everypony knows that Pinkie throws the best parties in Ponyville!” said Rainbow.
“That she does,” I said. “I’ve never seen a party like this before. It’s amazing how much thought she puts into setting them up.”
“She always did have an eye for what’s ‘fun’,” said Rarity.
“So whatcha been up to before?” asked Applejack.
“Well, Pinkie had actually treated me to a nice dinner of spaghetti and wheat balls.”
“Oh, that sounds wonderful!” said Fluttershy. “I have my own recipe for it, of course, but I’m sure hers was perfectly tasty, too.”
“You cook too, Fluttershy?” I asked, interested.
She looked away, bashfully.
“Well, I wouldn’t say I’m good at it…”
“Aw, c’mon, sugarcube, don’t be so modest,” said Applejack, putting a friendly foreleg around the shy pegasus’s shoulders. She then said to me, “How do ya think she takes care of all them animals she keeps?”
“Good point,” I said, reflectively.
“Really, I’m only good with soups and salads, mostly,” Fluttershy insisted. “So many of my pets are herbivores, anyway.”
I decided to pour myself a glass of punch while this was going on.
“What’s in this?” I asked.
It looked bluish-purple, and there were lemons in the punch bowl.
“Oh, it’s Pinkie’s special recipe,” said Rarity. “I believe she calls it a…” She tapped her chin with her hoof in thought. “What was it, Applejack?” she asked the farm pony.
“I think she said it was a ‘fruit-tastic jam-bonanza’,” said Applejack.
That did sound like something Pinkie would say.
“Ah, yes, thank you, dear. And it’s, er…Gummy’s favorite,” she added, with a slight hesitation.
I wasn’t quite sure what the hesitation was for; maybe Rarity wasn’t a fan of reptiles, like me. At the worst, she could be implying that Gummy…nah, that was just silly, and kinda gross.
“Oh? Where is the little guy?" I asked. "Wouldn’t this kind of activity spook him?”
“Oh, don’t worry, I’m keeping him entertained,” said Fluttershy.
She looked down with a warm smile, and I followed her gaze, nearly laughing at what I saw. Fluttershy was gently swishing her long, silky tail, and Gummy was scampering after it, nipping at its tip. If I hadn’t met Gummy beforehand, I would not have taken the sight so lightly, especially considering that this was Fluttershy, but I remembered Gummy’s lack of teeth, and also saw that this was just a part of Fluttershy’s love for animals shining through again, even for ones as peculiar as Gummy. I took a sip of the punch.
“…Wow!” I exclaimed. It had been like an explosion of fruit flavors dancing on my taste buds. “It’s like Pinkie made two parties: one out here and one in my mouth!”
“When Pinkie parties, she goes all out!” said Rainbow. She looked like she was loving every minute of it.
“I can certainly see that. Bringing in a live DJ, too. I wonder how much that cost.”
“Probably not much,” said Rainbow. “Vinyl and Pinkie are pretty tight.”
“Yeah, Vinyl Scratch, or DJ P0N-3. That’s her stage name.”
I looked over at the DJ. She was white, with an electric-blue mane striped with lighter blue, wearing obnoxiously huge purple-tinted shades, and her cutie mark resembled a pair of musical eighth notes. She was up on her hind legs, fore hooves on the turntable, bobbing her head in time with the beat. Pinkie did seem to have a very wide, very diverse selection of friends. Then again, I suppose that was expected when you were friends with everyone in a town.
Looking around at all the party guests, it made me realize how shabby and unkempt I must have looked, which in itself is a poor thing, being the guest of honor. Sure, my hair was fine, but my clothes were still worn and used-looking from the very active day I’d undertaken.
“Something wrong, dear?” Rarity asked.
“I just feel a little out of place with how messy I am among all you clean ponies,” I said, ruefully.
“Aw, it’s no big deal,” said Rainbow, waving an airy hoof. “You’ve got the perfect party animal look to you in that getup!”
“Do I?” I asked, puzzled.
“Trust me, dude, you’re fine.”
“And besides,” said Rarity, rolling her eyes at Rainbow Dash, “he shall have a fresh new ensemble soon enough. I’ll see to that.”
“Thanks, Rarity," I said. "It still means a lot to me that you’re willing to do this.”
“Oh, let’s not fret about that just now,” said Rarity, holding up her hoof. “This is a party, is it not?”
“So get your party on, monkey boy!” said Rainbow, giving my shoulder a punch.
“I’ll certainly try,” I said, rubbing my shoulder, though I added to myself, as I turned away, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a party to ‘get on’ in my life.”
*Special props to Daniel Ingram for composing Pinkie's Welcome Song*