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Nothing special here, move along, nothing to see, just ignore the lump under the sheet and the red stuff...

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Watching the Christmas rain fall and having Librarian thoughts · 10:28pm Dec 28th, 2019

As I doodle notes and bits for various projects under construction, I am inspired by the strangest things. It's raining outside. Admittedly it's three days after Christmas, and it's Kansas, so we're used to strange weather, but it made me write a little on Substitute Librarian, and I thought I'd share some of the wet and chill. Enjoy below the break.

The Substitute Librarian
Night Deposit

Winter was at least honest about itself. Snow piled everywhere meant ice underhoof, icicles hanging from eves told everypony to watch where they were going, and although it had disagreeable elements, it was balanced by the inevitable Hearth’s Warming Sales.

The week after Nightmare Night was the most deceitful time of the calendar. An evil, cruel time with damp breezes hovering just above or below freezing, depending on how the pegasi had the clouds stacked, little dribblets of sleet or drizzle down the back of the neck at unexpected times, and soggy leaves that dampened hocks and stuck in the frogs if you were foolish enough to walk through a pile of them. Boots did not help, because the damp fragments of leaves inevitably worked their way in through the open tops, forming an indescribably mash in the bottom that squished with every step, and dried into an unremovable paste when you came inside.

It was the one time of year where Emerald would have been perfectly glad to spend sitting by the fireplace, sipping cocoa, and catching up on his perpetual reading homework for his college classes, instead of…

“Are you getting off the train, sir?”

“What?” Emerald looked over his shoulder at the mustached conductor, then back out at the Ponyville train station. “Oh, just thinking. I’m supposed to be covering the library for a few days, and—”

“Then off you go,” said the old stallion, giving him a push. “We’ve got a schedule. And keep an eye out. It’s Flitter weather.”

“Flitter—?” Emerald turned around out on the train platform, only to have the train door slide shut and the train start to move almost immediately. It did seem to be a warning, although ‘Flitter’ did not show up on the weather schedule posted on the side of the station, but his first step out from under the station’s roof on his way to the library made the warning abruptly obvious.

“Oops,” sounded a female voice from above, in the same vague direction that the brief deluge of slush had just fallen. “Sorry.”

Whatever pegasus had just dumped a cloud on him certainly did not sound sorry. The laughter only drove the point in deeper.

“That’s fine,” he called up into the cloud cover. “Accidents do happen, after—”

The second cloud full of slush caught him right in the face.

* * *

“Good morning, Madam Mayor.” Emerald stood in the center of her office and dripped, because that seemed at first glance to be the best position to transmit his ire. Apparently, such ire had been directed at the mayor before in greater measure, and she was shrugging it off much like Emerald’s rain slicker was supposed to likewise shed rain. A long, cold thread of growing ice down the side of his neck proved that selling point from Barneigh’s was less than honest.

“Flitter weather,” said the mayor, who had not stopped writing. “I see you got my letter?”

“Three day gig, same pay as the last time,” said Emerald. “Twilight Sparkle left on whatever she does for Princess Celestia, I presume?”

“Personal appearance in Manehattan, I believe.” The mayor finished writing and passed the paper across the desk. “Standard contract, your complaint to the weather patrol about Flitter, and insurance waiver. Sign, please.”

Comments ( 8 )

Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart's heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul's sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time's covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.

Flitter comes courtesy of Estee's Five Hundred Little Murders. She's... adorable, like a baby porcupine who likes gnawing on your car wiring.

Ah yes, that good old Ponyville Visitor's Insurance.

Find out what Flitter likes the most, then remove it for each infraction. If she starts to infract more, shes obviously useless for the job. Post her to Saddle Arabia.

I AM being nice.

I don't care what it is, nothing gets more adorable once it's chewing on your car wiring.

In unrelated news, I locked one of my cats out of my bedroom last night. I needed at least one hour without something chewing on one of my extremities.

Is this a standalone bit in a blog post, or part of a future chapter?


Woot! More SubLib. A nice little surprise present. :twilightsmile:

Seems like someone does not do ‘play nice with the others’.

"The ponies at Town Hall have a system. The first time, Mayor Mare will describe in three hurried sentences what's needed to me before rushing off to fix whatever or whoever is turning her day and Ponyville's day into misery. I'll flesh it out and write something vaguely fitting the requirements, and pass it along to Jotted Memo. Jotted will take one look at this and start complaining about my parentage (or lack thereof), before realising that I and everyone else in the office have left to help Mayor Mare with whatever is threatening Ponyville's existance today. He'll then write it out, adding the minor necessary things like full stops and all the other punctuation that civilised language has. Mayor Mare will come back, take one look at the result and then sigh. She'll cross out and initial the bits that aren't really needed, scrawl in enough vaguely worded extras that Legal Argument will again consider going on a five year trip to discover if seaponies really do exist, and then sign it. Jotted then uses the Duplicator in the office to make as many copies as required, and calls it a day."

"The second time it occurs is generally calmer but comes with much worse language, as Mayor Mare and Jotted get to commit literary murder on the first copy they can find from the last time. It's a much slower process because everyone involved has been around the problem before, so ponies know that a quick trot or maybe even a brisk walk rather than a flat out gallop is all that's needed (Flower Trio excepted). I've found that the first half hour is the entertaining bit, and then after that things get repetitive, so I'lll go for a quick walk, maybe even a slow coffee. I'll come back to find the first time's attempt on my desk along with a list of contradictory stringent demands from the pair of ponies that are pointedly Not Talking To Each Other. Then I sit down and go through it all and then write down what will actually work. Once I'm finished I'll nod to Mayor and Jotted (who by now are quite happily talking to each other). Jotted will take this and spend an hour or so going over it with Mayor Mare, and once finished Legal will sit in and have a go at it as well (there might even be biscuits and tea if it's not quitting time). 10 or 20 copies will be run off (generally more if Cherilee's class is involved), and a number of copies will be stored ready-to-hoof and in the stationary cupboard. A few will be sent off to Canterlot so that the Palace and the various bureaucracies can be involved and/or threatened with work."

"Now, if it's a common enough occurance, once the stationery cupboard has no more to give and the requisite frantic office clean-and-search has produced nothing, Jotted will telegram to Printing Press And Daughters in Canterlot for two hundred copies of Form Ponyville-187-B, delivery in three business days by train."

One of the colts in the front swayed a bit, looked around at his peers and found out he'd just volunteered himself. "Miss Scrawled, I don't understand why you're telling us this" he said, and a sea of muzzles nodded enthusiastically in agreement.

Scrawled Note sighed as she looked out on the sea of young muzzles, tree sap and mud displayed to her out in front of City Hall. Generally by this time of whatever emergency had fallen Ponyville, the adults were busy finishing cleaning up, and any excuse was good enough to get the kids out from underhoof of the work. Sending the youngsters to City Hall was an easy way to keep them busy and was a good way to get started on all the various documentation and claims that followed whatever disaster had occured.

"Sorry all, but we're all out of forms 187-B from the last time there was a Triffid invasion. Mayor Mare says that Jotted has already telegraphed for a fresh bunch to be made up, but it'll be Thursday before they're here".

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