“Ow, OW!” This is not going as I imagined it would be. I'm not sure if it's just Lyra's body, or if it's me, but I really don't seem to like people playing with my tail. “Ow! You can stop! I'll just tie the end of my tail with an elastic band or something.”
Mom has a passive look on her face. “Alright.” She glances at her watch, and then shakes her head. “We're behind schedule now any way. Will you be alright by yourself for a while?”
“Yeah, sure.” I turn my head to the door, and immediately feel better now that my mane isn't brushing against the back of my neck. The bun is definitely the right choice for me. It makes me feel like a greenish Nurse Redheart, sans nurses cap. “I'll just grab something to eat and then go back to my room.”
Before Mom can get up, I hop to my hooves and stagger for the door. It isn't until I exit into the hallway and reach the top of the stairs that I realize that I haven't actually successfully made it down the stairs in this form. While it's true my fall was more a result of being startled, and not incompetence, the memory of the indignity is still fresh in my mind.
Footfalls sound off behind me. “You didn't have any issue going up them earlier.” Mom says with a bit of a smile.
“Har, har. You didn't just fall down these stairs a while ago, either.” I turn my head sideways to show off the scowl on my face. “It's different knowing that my head is a counterweight to my balance, and with the slightest screw-up I'll go tumbling head-first down the stairs.”
“At any rate, could you move aside if you're not going down?” She motions sideways with her hand. “Some of us still have things to do.”
Tentatively, I shuffle sideways until my cheek bumps into the banister. I watch as she passes me, walking down the stairs. A wistful pang strikes me as I long for the ability to walk upright once more. I imagine that if half of what the fan-base makes is true, Lyra has probably had her share of incidences as a result of attempts at bipedal locomotion. Did Bon-Bon ever warn her about stairs?
Wait... I'm stalling again. Sliding away from the banister, I shake my head and ready myself. Just gotta do this one hoof at a time. Yeah, that's it. One step, two step... God, at this rate, I'll only be part-way up the stairs when the first guests arrive. It's the sort of situation that I want to avoid at all costs. I've gotta speed things up and stop just thinking them over.
Surely enough, I've been over-thinking the locomotion again. The instant I shrug off the mental bindings of how I think things should be done, I find the way that makes walking down the stairs feel natural and only marginally dangerous. The steady clip clop of my hooves as I cover the last few stairs fills me up with confidence, adding an extra bounce to my step.
Reaching the transition from the hardwood of the stairs to the stone tile of the foyer, I squeal inwardly. Soren – 2; Stairs – 1! I want to clap for myself, but that would require me to sink to my haunches, and I'm not completely certain that I would be able to get back up again. I'm really starting to feel peckish now. Can you really blame me though? The last thing I ate was in another body, and Lyra's stomach feels as though it hasn't yet eaten today.
Rounding the side of the stairs, it's a straight trot to the kitchen. Sure, I'm still staggering like Berry Punch on a bender, but I haven't done anything to harm myself in the last five minutes. After a whole few hours of laying around doing nothing, a tumble down the stairs and a shower scalding might seem like something to liven up the day, but I prefer the laying around to any of this.
Entering the kitchen, I see that all the groceries have been put away and everybody else is cleaning; Mom is over at the table, and Dad is at the sink, taking care of the buildup of pots and pans. I was hoping that I wouldn’t need to get into the fridge, as the freezer drawer keeps even the crisper—I just know a juicy apple is waiting for me in there—just out of my reach. Speaking of out of reach, there’s also the matter of getting a bowl to put my lunch in.
Cautiously levitating a magazine from the counter into the gap at the bottom of the cabinet door, I manage to pull it open. Before I can even think about levitating one of the earthenware bowls down onto the counter-top, I hear a cross “Ahem,” from my mother. Glancing over to the kitchen table where she is no longer wiping the wooden surface down, I see her glaring pointedly at me. “I don’t care if you are going to be careful, mister. After what you told me, I refuse to let you use that magic on any of our glasses or dishes.”
I groan, but don’t complain in response. “I understand.” I sigh, biting back a comment about bettering my skill through practice. “Could you please get a bowl down for me then? I ate this morning, but my host doesn’t seem to have eaten a thing today.”
She gives me this confused look upon hearing the word host, but ultimately chooses to remain silent. Yeah, she’s not suspicious or anything. Nope, keep telling yourself that. Silently, she walks around the jutting L-shape of the counter, and pulls down one of the bowls. Then she just starts watching me silently, tapping her foot. Yes, time’s a wasting, I know.
Poking my head into the relatively empty alcove beside the refrigerator, I pull out a foot-stool. It only takes minimal effort to nudge it into place in front of the fridge. Quickly drawing all four hooves up onto the relatively small surface area of the stool, I imagine that I probably look like a trained circus animal. An frantic moment later, my fore-hooves are braced on the handle of the freezer drawer. I grin victoriously as I nudge the doors open with my muzzle.
“You’re coping with this surprisingly well.” Dad says evenly as he finishes the last of the pots and pans.
I look at him as if this it’s a bad joke. “You have no idea just how freaky this is for me.” I have no idea how incredulous my face actually looks, but somehow I manage it’s somewhere in the range of confused and adorable. “Besides, you seem to be doing just as well yourself.”
I hear a laugh from the table. Mom is now sitting in one of the chairs, enjoying a cigarette. “That’s rich. Have you forgotten that your father is an amateur paranormal investigator?” Shit, she’s right. I did forget. Derp! “He has to go in with the whole suspension of disbelief thing.”
“I won’t deny that I’m treating everything normal as a learning experience now,” I say as I levitate an apple and some grapes across the kitchen and into the bowl. “... but this is still weirding me out. I went from being just under six feet tall to just over three.” Nudging the fridge doors closed, I turn to glance at the bowl. “Oh, could someone please move my bowl to the coffee-table in the living room? I refuse to eat like the dogs.”
“Well, you are a small horse now.” Dad offers with a bit of humor. “Some people keep miniature ponies as pets.”
Hopping off the stool, I glare daggers at him before returning my gaze to the bowl. “Fuck! If I was in Equestria, I wouldn’t be suffering this indignity.” I mutter under my breath. “I’d be treated like a normal person!”
“... and there it is, ladies and gentlemen.” Mom says lacking all humor. “He knows more than he’s letting on for sure now.” She casts a gaze at my bowl, and then chuckles. “Well, at least I have leverage to get some information out of you.”
“You wouldn’t!” I protest. “I’m still your son!”
“That’s yet to be seen.” She smiles as she picks up my bowl and pops a grape into her mouth. “So, how about it? Hungry Soren?”
“Fine, but I get to eat while telling you.” I turn towards the living room entrance. “I also reserve the right to withhold information until after the family gathering. It’ll take less time that way.”
Trotting out into the living-room, I plunk my arse down on the floor in front of the coffee table. Once I’m sure they’ve crossed through the archway to the living room, a simple jerk of my head is enough to convince them to sit down on the couch opposite me. Their faces are equal parts eagerness and skepticism. I decide to hold out until the bowl is on the table. After all, the hold-out game works both ways.
Once the bowl of fruit is on the table in front of me, I levitate a single grape into my mouth before looking my parents in the eye. “There seems to be a reality other than our own: one that had been assumed to be fiction. The realm, or maybe just the particular country focused on in the fiction, is known as Equestria.” I levitate another grape, and bite off half. “Now, Equestria is every bit the Utopian fantasy fantasy setting. In addition to the existence of magic in the realm, there are dragons, manticores, phoenixes, and many other fantastic creatures. There’s even controlled climate.”
“The main difference between our two realms is the lack of humans. As a result of there being no humans, many denizens of Equestria, mostly notably creatures we consider to be livestock, are sentient on our level. Ponies—Pegasi, Unicorns like myself, and regular old Earth Ponies—are the socially dominant species. While Equestrian Society itself seems to be a meritocracy, most of the important stuff is seemingly delegated to two particular ponies, the winged unicorn Princesses Celestia and Luna.”
My look at me blankly as I take a bite out of my apple. I’m not surprised by their reactions of course. If I wasn’t a fan of the franchise, and someone told me this, I’d probably pointedly tell them how stupid they sound. It’s a pretty far out story. Levitating the bitten apple back into the bowl, I give them a questioning look. Surely they’d want to ask something or have some comment.
Mom is the first one to comment. “That sounds incredibly stupid.” She’s never been one for fantasy, so it’s not surprising to hear her say this. “It almost reminds me of something your aunt used to watch when she was just a little girl.” She’s of course talking about the first generation of My Little Pony. I think I’ll hold off on mentioning Friendship is Magic until later tonight. Same with my outing myself as a Brony.
Dad, on the other hand seems intrigued. “So... You’ve made first contact with beings from another dimension, and their first act is to trade bodies with you?” He lets out a bit of a laugh. “That’s some foreign exchange program they’ve got. I hope you opted in for the trade-back package.”
I cringe at the humored tone, because he’s now making light of my situation. “Eh, it’s not quite like that.” I take in a deep breath. “Lyra’s a bit... different from everypony else. According to the community, she’s obsessed with hands and humans, probably because of the ease with which hands can do things.”
Their eyebrows raise at my slip-up of everypony, and seemingly again at the mention of a community. Then again, I never did specify what community, so they may very well think I somehow came into contact with one of Equestria’s tinfoil hat-wearing residents. Maybe I have; who knows? “Anyway... Don’t ask me how, but I guess she got a hold of a laptop and access to the Internet—no, seriously don’t ask—which probably only increased her obsession.” I eat the last of my grapes, and then eye the apple again. “I guess she’s been sending out emails for a while, looking to contact humans after researching a body-swap spell. I was just the only one to reply.”
“So a magical email virus turned you into a pony?” My mother rolls her eyes as I levitate the apple back to my mouth. “I thought you knew better than to open attachments in suspicious emails?”
“It was actually during the Skype conversation that this happened. I honestly thought this was some sort of prank.” That’s it, the last of the apple is gone, and with that, their leverage. “If I ever figure an effective way of working our laptop or my tablet, she’s got a lot to explain. Our minds were supposed to trade places, not bodies. Some warning would have been nice too.”
They stare at me incredulously for what feels like forever. Nudging the bowl back towards them, I rise to my hooves and stagger my way back to the stairs. Thankfully there’s an entrance from the living room to the foyer too. It saves me having to stagger too close to the basement door and risk the dogs starting up again. I have enough headaches today without an actual headache to top it all off.
“Anyway, you’ve used up your leverage.” I say with an awkwardly girlish laugh. “If you hadn’t eaten that grape, you could have gotten more!” Teasing is mean, but when my day has been this shitty, I have every right to be a bit of a bitch. I quickly scramble up the stairs before they can say anything. The door is simpler from this side. I can just stand up against it, depress the handle, and push through, kicking it shut with a hoof again.
From the other side of the door, I hear Mom shout, “If you expect me to bring you supper later, you best remember that you still owe us answers.”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah, yeah.” I told you both I was going to tell you everything later; you’ve got enough on your minds with the gathering in a few hours! Don’t rush me! “All in due time. For now, I need to see if I can’t contact that little sneak.”
I trot over to my bed, hoping my tablet will co-operate with me. Again, I have troubles getting onto my bed, but that’s to be expected when I’m a bit over three feet tall and have no hands. Once I’m on, though, I feel a bit of relief as my belly presses against the cool blankets. At least some things are still the same.
While I would rather not use my mouth on my e-reader tablet, I still prefer actually having it in once piece. Carefully, I grab one side of it with my lips, lifting it up until I can firmly grip it with my teeth. Once I have it on the bed, a quick jab of the hoof to the power switch at the arbitrary top brings it out of sleep mode. A page of Fallout: Equestria fills the screen.
I know that the hoof is out of the question for use with the touchscreen, and tongue or tooth won’t work well either. My horn would be too awkward to tap the screen with any ease. Then again, I already know that a pen in the mouth is worth one in the hand. Thankfully, I still have a stylus in the same headboard alcove that I had the tablet. Without even turning my head, it floats effortlessly into my mouth.
Tap. Tap. I’m at the home screen now. To my surprise, the icon to the email application is indicating that I already have messages. They could be from anybody, but somehow I just know it’s her. Tap. The slow loading of the application on this old thing is absolutely grueling. I flick my tail anxiously as I wait.
Received 4 hours ago
Hi, Soren? I’m a bit worried. The spell didn’t work quite as I expected it. I’m sure you’re perfectly aware by now, but only our bodies have switched places. Your Skype connection dropped and I haven’t been able to raise you since the switch. Are you alright? Send me an email when you get the chance, or if you are able to, could you maybe call on Skype?
There are things we need to discuss, like my new dietary requirements, as well as privacy. I mean, I don’t even know you, aside from your works. I really want to talk about your hands though. This is all so new to me and I’m so excited about having a chance to be human. I wonder how everypony will react?
Anyway, I’ve got so many experiences ahead of me! Wish me Luck!
Received 15 minutes ago
Subject: Oh my gosh!
Hi again! This is so much fun. I’m so tall compared to everypony now! Figuring out your bipedal movement was a real pain, but its nothing for the ultimate human fan-girl. You should have seen the looks I’ve been getting around Ponyville. They were simply spellbound! Maybe now everypony will see why I find humans so fascinating.
I got a hold of Twilight after the incident, and I think I know what went wrong. I may have made the tiniest bumble in understanding the purpose of the spell. Let me tell you, she was NOT impressed with me when she found out what I’d done! I mean sure, she’s about as fascinated with all this as me, but she’s all about the boring science-y aspect of it all.
As an aside, after switching bodies, I no longer had direct access to the Internet. The laptop said that it couldn’t find the network it had been connected to before, but it kept picking up stronger ‘Wi-fi signals’ every time a unicorn would walk by the house. When I was at the library and Carousel Boutique, I was picking up really strong signals! I guess maybe you’ll be getting free Internet now too?
Right, I should mention that I wasn’t too impressed with the outfit you chose for me. Shorts and a dressing gown, really? I’d swear you just woke up when we switched bodies. Ah well, it took some convincing, as well as reassurance from Twilight, but Rarity is making an ensemble for me, footwear included! Once she realized how fun the challenge could be, she asked if she could design the outfit herself, and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
But listen to me prattling on like a school-filly. I hope to hear back from you soon. I’m really concerned at this point, not just for my body, but for you. I can’t help but think that your sudden disappearance is a bad omen.
Oh god... Rarity has taken on a clothes order from Lyra? Now I expect I’ll be getting my body back in some sort of frou-frou gown that won’t be suited to my form, yet horrifyingly flattering to my rotund form. God help me if Rarity convinced Lyra to let her give my body a make-over. I’ll murder them both if she so much as touched my goatee.
Time for me to send a response. I think “You blew up my computer, you crazy mare!” makes an excellent subject line. Time to tell her all about my experiences, and warn her about the goatee. Only I get to decide when the most masculine feature on my face gets to go bye-bye.