'Ugh, my head…'
I curl up into a ball as I feel my… everything hurt. My head feels like it’s being split open from the inside, a low drone muting out all the sounds around me. Tears escape the sides of my eyes, as the whole experience becomes a bit too much and I cry out in pain.
'What the fuck even happened to me? I asked myself. I can’t even imagine what would cause this much pain, short from being run over by a truck… multiple times. But, if that happened I would sure as hell be lying in a comfortable hospital bed, with a sexy nurse already looking after my freshly awakened ass, pumping it full of painkillers.'
A particularly painful burst of unrelenting pain surged through my body and I could feel it contort in weird ways that it wasn’t supposed to. The ground beneath me seemed soft, yet had a rough texture to it, and the damp feeling on my skin informed me that I was naked for some reason.
'Ughhh, fuck. Something is very wrong here,' I thought to myself, as if I wasn’t already aware of that fact and tried to open my eyes in an attempt to figure out where I was.
I managed to keep them open for a split second before I clamped them shut again. Even though it wasn’t even that bright, I felt as if I’d just walked headfirst into a floodlight after spending ten years inside a dark cave. A new wave of pain surged through my body and I could feel something shifting inside of me, which actually caused me to cry out. My voice sounded hoarse, as if I hadn’t drank something in ages.
At least I was able to make out that I was in some kind of forest. I wasn’t sure what to do with that information, but at least I knew now.
All of a sudden, I felt as if something powerful was gripping my body, pulling in several different directions. I heard my own bones crack and break, the sounds reverberating in my head like a macabre orchestra, and I shouted like I never had in my entire life before. The sound of a flock of birds leaving their perch accompanied me into the sweet, sweet embrace of unconsciousness.
I awoke once more, feeling like death.
My whole body was sore, and the headache seemed to punctuate every thought with pain, if not a bit more subdued now. I readily swallowed the first pool of saliva that appeared in my mouth, anything to alleviate feeling like my throat was drier than the Mojave desert… The saliva left behind a burning sensation in my throat, but I could already feel a bit of moisture return to it.
That, of course, didn’t stop me from going straight into a coughing fit that would make a chain-smoker sound healthy. Which was weird, since I didn’t smoke.
I attempted to open my eyes, and actually managed to keep them open this time around. They refused to focus though, so I had to make do with trying to identify oddly shaped splotches of color.
As I suspected, I was definitely inside of a forest. Now that I actually could hear better, the usual sounds that one would expect within a forest were reaching my ears. Birdsong diffused the whole area, as if every tree around me was filled to the brim with little critters. I could hear the flapping of wings, long before a blue shaped blob swooped in from above and landed a few feet away from me.
It seemed to dip its head towards the ground several times with a weird motion, each time accompanied by miniscule splashes of water, which I could hear with an odd accuracy. It took me a while, but I eventually made the connection. Water. Just feet in front of me was water.
At this point I didn’t care if it was a dirty puddle filled with decaying foliage and every imaginable disease that ever existed. I needed to drink something, and I needed to do so yesterday!
With an enormous amount of effort I started pushing myself forward, the grunt and sudden movement disturbing the bird before it flew away in shock. My whole body felt oddly disconnected, as if my limbs weren’t attached to where they should be, but right now I couldn’t care less. All that mattered was getting something to soothe my burning throat.
I had no idea how long it took me, might have been seconds, or twenty minutes, but fighting through the pain, I finally reached the object of my desire, a puddle of water. Judging by it’s size and the damp dirt beneath me, it was mostly rainwater that hadn’t evaporated yet. I forewent using my hands to scoop it up and simply dumped my entire face into it’s cool relief. Or at least I tried to, my nose seemed to have grown several times larger for some reason, preventing me from doing that. Not really caring, I eagerly lapped up the lukewarm, dirty water with glee until there was almost nothing left.
My throat felt like shit after drinking that disgusting cocktail, but still… it felt less shitty than before. I coughed a few times more before rolling over onto my side. It was high time to stop moving, and I was intent to ride out what was most likely the most brutal case of a hangover in the history of alcohol.
Yesterday must have been a night to remember.
I was lying there, unmoving, for what felt like an eternity, listening to the soothing sounds of the forest. The symphony of animal noises and trees creaking provided a soothing place of respite for my pained body and mind, focusing on it distracted from the pain, if only slightly. Eventually, I felt as if I was back to a somewhat working order. Or, just a regular hangover, I guess. Relatively used to this level of pain and nausea, I got to work on getting into an upright position and took stock of my situation.
The first thing I noticed when trying to do just that, was that my limbs were sticking out at very weird angles and felt like they didn’t have the same amount of dexterity they had before.
'Priority number one upon opening eyes: Figure out how badly fucked up my body is,' I thought to myself.
Somehow, I got myself into a sitting position and attempted to rub the cobwebs out of my eyes by using my right hand. But, instead of the warm and gentle embrace of my hand, I was greeted by the cold and unfeeling thing of whatever I just rammed in between my eyes. I recoiled in pain, attempting to rub the pained spot on my forehead, making it only worse in the process before giving up.
Fed up with it all, I carefully opened my eyes, blinking at an accelerated rate until they finally focused on the world around me. The fact that I was in a forest was once again, confirmed, as well as the fact that I could actually… see more? I wasn’t exactly sure, but it felt as if my peripheral vision had grown larger and more accurate. Remembering my earlier objective, I looked down to check out my body and almost had an aneurysm.
For some reason I had four furry stumps instead of my usual limbs, which is to say, two healthy arms and legs. In fact, my whole body seemed to be covered in fur of a matte gray color, complemented by fiery red hair that messily hung from my shoulders and invaded my vision from above. If my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me, I even had some sort of tail of the same red color.
What disturbed me the most, though, was the fact that there were two wings snugly folded to my sides. I gave them an experimental flap, the movement coming way too naturally for my own taste, confirming that this was indeed my own body.
I closed my eyes again and took a deep breath. Something was incredibly fucked up, and it looked like it was my body. I didn’t really want to believe it, but now that I paid attention to it, the sensations being returned to my brain matched my outer appearance.
I opened my eyes once more. Yep, still in the wrong body, I thought, looking for another nearby puddle.
I found one in short order and wobbled my way over to it. Walking didn’t seem too hard, if a bit unstable. It was actually a lot like crawling on all fours, just without half of my legs being dragged along the floor. Once I arrived at my destination I tried to use the puddle as a makeshift mirror, which kind of worked. Due to the low light, all that greeted me was a somewhat transparent reflection, but it was enough to give me a general idea of what my head looked like.
Two, big floppy ears stood at attention on my head, swiveling around every so often, which I hadn’t even noticed up until now. I had what appeared to be a muzzle, which would explain my earlier issues with drinking, and my eyes were abnormally large, almost comically so. At least they had kept their deep blue color. What really sent me through a loop though, was the horn that was protruding out of my forehead, emerging from my… mane? Like a giant middle finger to common sense.
“Am I a fucking unicorn?” I said out loud. “And a pegasus at the same time? A unisus?”
Great, at least I could still talk. Yay, me! But, judging by the slightly higher than usual pitch of my voice, combined with the relatively low altitude of my body, I concluded that I had reverted back into a child. Either that, or unicorn adults were ridiculously small. My naming sense seemed to be fatally wounded as well, since it just occured to me that pegacorn was a way better word.
Whatever the situation was that I found myself in, I had more than enough of it, and sleeping for a bit sounded amazing right now. I looked around for a semi-comfortable place to lie down as I spotted something black close to me. Hobbling over to investigate, I identified the thing as my hoodie. Not questioning how or why, it appeared like it was the only thing of my effects that made it here, I picked it up with my mouth and carried it over towards the base of a tree, using it as a makeshift pillow.
Whatever the fuck was going on, I could deal with it tomorrow. And who knows? Maybe it was all a dream after all.
I awoke with a grumble, as the sun hit my face at that perfect, yet impossible angle through the trees that surrounded me. The atmosphere around me already told me, that what I experienced yesterday was definitely not a dream. My body was still resting on the soft fabric of my hoodie and the earth below me was still wet from the rain, which left my fur in a damp and uncomfortable state, and my limbs still felt oh so horribly wrong.
I slowly opened my eyes to take in the familiar setting of the forest which I found myself in before going to sleep. Whatever strange body I had acquired yesterday was still feeling sore, so the first order of the day consisted of copious amounts of stretching out. Aside from getting the after sleep drowsiness out of my system, this had the practical side effect of allowing me to reacquaint myself with my body.
The movements in and of itself came to me quite naturally, as if I had possessed these limbs for all my life. Even the wings proved to be no problem, and I achieved what I assumed to be the full range of movement with them. I played with the thought of whether or not I was able to fly with them or not, since they looked pretty small in proportion to my already too small body, but trashed the thought almost immediately. Given the miniscule probability of my success in taking off, I was almost guaranteed a crash since I had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t want to add an injury to my already fucked up situation.
In other, more happy news, pretty much all of the pain in my body was gone. Aside from the headache of course, which had subsided to a dull throbbing. Not enough to take me out of the game, but enough to be annoying.
Whatever happened yesterday was some seriously fucked up shit, when I remember the impossible contortions my body went through I still shuddered. I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t leave behind some kind of trauma on me…
Deciding that it would be best to practice my movement to be… less wobbly and more viable to traverse a forest, I started doing some light exercises. Which basically boiled down to me trying to walk straight and stable without falling over. I took quite a few dives to the ground and some light bruising, but eventually I felt like I got the hang of it. Next, I moved on to some light jumps, which might come in handy in case there were big roots in my way or something.
Turns out it was harder than I thought to balance the landing without feet. After many a failed attempt, it dawned on me that I could just do bunny hops. That way I would be able to use all four of my hoof-things to compensate my momentum. After only three times it turned out that my idea was genius! Landing was a lot easier this way, and while it didn’t look graceful at all, it fulfilled it’s purpose.
Happy with my range of movement I decided that it was finally time to head away from my safe clearing and into the unknown forest. Priority number one was to find either shelter, or some sort of civilisation, if that even was a thing that existed… wherever I was. Sure didn’t feel like Kansas.
My stomach rumbled, and for the first time I realized that I was actually hungry. Very hungry. Priority number one was just replaced with finding something edible. If I was lucky, there would be some fruit bearing trees or bushes close to me.
I walked back to where my hoodie was, still crumpled up at the base of the tree where I left it. It was my favourite. The fabric felt soft and was warm enough in the winter, without getting to stuffy in hot weather. A pocket was located in the stomach area, which would allow me to hide my hands as a warmer alternative to my pants and there were two threads dangling down from the hood, which allowed for the adjustment of it’s size. The little plastic bits at their respective ends were chewed up to hell and back, since that was one of my favourite things to keep my restless body occupied.
Leaving it here was out of the question, but taking it with me seemed like an impossible task. I had no hands to carry it, no backpack, and if I just flung it over my back, I was sure that I’d have to pick it up every few feet. The idea to just hang it from my horn briefly crossed my mind, but I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to see anything this way. It seemed like the only option was to actually wear it.
I eyed my hoodie and after a while decided that it was possible to wear it, even in this weird unicorn-pegasus body. I’d just have to put my two front things through the arm-holes and I should be all set.
I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy and I had to assume some rather embarrassing positions, one of which led me to realize I was still definitely male, but eventually I got my hoodie on. The cut wasn’t made to be worn by a pony, so I felt some slight pinching at some points, but since my body had also shrunk quite a bit, it wasn’t too bad. My wings were completely covered by my hoodie, which felt odd, but not too uncomfortable.
Happy that finally everything was in order, I picked a direction at random and started walking. As I did so, I made a mental checklist.
'Alright, I’ll have to look out for anything edible while I walk, let’s hope I find something quick. Finding a vantage point or body of water is also on the list of top priorities, ideally a river. If I do find one, I’ll just follow it downstream and hopefully hit a village somewhere along the way.
I sure do hope whatever lives here is friendly and smart enough to build their settlements close to water… if they even need water to survive.'
My checklist complete I made my way past trees and bushes of all kinds. They didn’t look too different from what I knew, but every once in awhile there would be a plant or flower that looked just too alien to be from the earth I knew. I wasn’t too sure what it was about them, since I hadn’t majored in flower spotting or some useless shit like that, but whenever I crossed paths with one, I just felt that they were… wrong.
One of these bushes actually bore some kind of purple fruit, resembling a pear. I seriously considered just stuffing my mouth with them, but after some careful consideration decided against it. For all I knew, one bite could kill me and I actually quite enjoyed being alive. Even if I was in a seriously weird situation.
I really needed some answers on just what happened to me, because I felt like freaking out. Keeping a cool head like I always tried to, reminded me that a mental breakdown would help nobody, least of all myself, and so I trotted ever onwards.
Walking through the forest was actually calming my troubled mind. It was a familiar sight, even if marred by the occasional alien plant, and nothing was threatening to overload any of my senses.
I trudged on for what felt like hours, and most likely was, since the sun was travelling at a sedate pace with me. When I woke up, it seemed to just have risen, but now it had passed its zenith and was already on it’s way towards the horizon. It worried me a bit that I hadn’t found edible food or any shelter yet, but I convinced myself that I still had quite some time left in the day.
My body seemed to be of a slightly different opinion though, since the rumbling of my stomach had grown more frequent, and I could feel myself getting weaker and lightheaded as more time passed. I was still good on all fronts, but my pace had slowed down considerably.
Just a few minutes later, I finally spotted a treeline up ahead. That either meant there was a big clearing, or hopefully the edge of the forest. I sped up my pace and broke the treeline to find out it was the latter. I had finally found the edge of the forest, but to my amazement, that wasn’t the only thing I found.
In the distance I could see a village that looked like it was pulled straight out of an idealized version of the middle ages. Quaint little houses with thatched roofs were haphazardly built along streets, to build a moderately sized village.
It was a bit far away, but when I squinted my eyes, I could make out creatures walking to and fro among the buildings: creatures that seemed to look exactly like I did, which is to say, horse-like. Seeing some of them flying around over the roofs confirmed my theory that I was most likely able to utilize my own wings to fly, but still boggled my mind somewhat.
At least I wouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb if I walked among them, and strangely enough, I was suddenly glad to have my body altered to match the local populace. Strutting around as a human would have most likely gotten me strapped to a dissecting table faster than I could say: “Take me to your leader!”
Unfortunately, this was the final straw that confirmed that this was most definitely NOT Kansas anymore.
The questions I had been repressing in the back of my mind all rushed to the front at once.
What the fuck happened to me? Why am I a horse abomination instead of a human? Who did this to me? Is it possible to return to earth? Will I ever see my family again? Will I ever attend another Sabaton concert, like just before shit hit the fan? Will I ever be able to re-grow my magnificent beard?
Yes, I’m an enormous metal-head, sue me.
I let my body plop to the ground, not feeling like standing anymore and tried to contemplate my situation and what to do now without having a panic attack. While I was doing that, I spotted a yellow something make it’s way in my direction, following a dirt path that led past my position and towards a small hut that was close-by that I hadn’t noticed before.
As it got closer, I was able to see that it had wings, just like me, but no horn. That most likely meant that there were different kinds of variation of horses in this world. The butter yellow pegasus had a soft pink mane and was carrying green… saddlebags? Embroidered on it was an emblem of three butterflies, identical to a mark on its posterior. Maybe it was some sort of clan affiliation thing?
As it got closer to me, I estimated it to be about twice my size, which disqualified it as a horse, in my opinion. A pony maybe? A pony pegasus? It hummed a happy tune as it walked past my position, still halfway amidst the trees, without noticing me. The humming sounded quite feminine, so I categorized this specimen as female for now.
It occurred to me that this was a prime opportunity to learn a bit more about this world before revealing myself, and I got up and started following her while remaining just inside the forest. As I suspected, the hut up ahead seemed to be where she lived, as she went inside almost immediately after arriving.
The hut almost reminded me of a hobbit hole, if it was built above ground, and all kinds of animals were positively swarming the place. I saw a chicken coop, as well as other abodes for the animals, which most likely meant that the pegasus cared for most, if not all of them in some kind of fashion. Most importantly though, I saw a little stream of water flowing alongside the hut and a little bridge leading over it, providing easy access to the hut.
The stream seemed to originate from somewhere within the forest, which was ideal for me, since I could drink as much as I wanted without having to step out of my tree cover. I drank the clear water eagerly, the cool liquid soothing my unhappy stomach for a bit. After I was finally satisfied, I immediately noticed with some displeasure that I drank too much, as I could feel it sloshing around in my stomach and felt like throwing up.
Fighting with myself, I forced myself to keep it in and returned to stalking my subject, which had by now come back out of her hut to feed the animals. Various kinds of animal food was tributed amongst the critters, which happily frolicked all about their caretaker. I watched with some wonderment, as she seemed to be able to actually grab and hold things with her hooves, which logically seemed impossible. I mentally filed the abnormality away as either ‘magnets’ or ‘magic’ for later.
My eyes went wide as she pulled something round and red out of the sack she was carrying around, and my body moved towards her location before I even knew what I was doing. There was not a singular doubt in my mind that what she was holding was most definitely an apple! And apples were edible.
“Excuse me, lady?” I called out as I practically ran across the little bridge. “Excuse me!”
My calling seemed to have gotten her attention as her ears swivelled around to my location, shortly followed by her head. She seemed confused towards my presence and purpose here, but before she could get a single word in I was already standing next to her and talking again.
“Oh please, for the love of god,” I pleaded. “Could I please have one of those apples? I’m literally starving right now! Please, anything! I’ll do anything for just one apple!”
I threw myself down in front of her and made a begging motion with my forehooves. The buttery pegasus seemed more confused than ever and was just about to say something when she was interrupted once again.
A dull thump resounded next to me, accompanied by a small cloud of earth and dust.
“Hey Fluttershy,” another voice said. “Who’s this?”
I couldn’t categorize the voice as either male or female from just sound alone, as it was quite raspy, so I turned my head to look at the new arrival. A sky blue pegasus with an honest to god rainbow colored mane had landed just a few feet away from me and was staring at me curiously.
“I.. I don’t know…” The yellow pegasus, apparently called Fluttershy, replied in a soft voice. “He just showed up right now, begging me for an apple…”
“Begging you for an apple?” The blue pegasus repeated, their conversation reminding me of my own agenda. “What’s up with that?”
“Please,” I said, getting the attention from both pegasi. “I haven’t eaten anything in days! Just one apple and I’d be forever grateful to you!”
It wasn’t really my style to beg for things, but the hunger was doing things to me. As far as I knew, it was at least two days since my last meal, but it felt like a lot more and I was getting desperate. The yellow pegasus still holding my target within sight wasn’t doing me any favors either.
“Whoa,” the blue pegasus suddenly said, getting all up in my face and startling me. “What happened to you? You look like you haven’t seen a shower for weeks!”
“I was in the forest,” I started to explain, but was unexpectedly interrupted by Fluttershy.
“Oh my…” She said in a worried tone. “Did you get lost? How long were you in there? The Everfree is such a scary place, I simply couldn’t imagine being lost in there, I’d be so scared…”
“As far as I know, I was always in there…” I blurted out without properly thinking about my words.
“Always?” The blue pegasus asked, getting up close and personal once again, as if she suspected me of lying.
“Rainbow Dash!” Another name filed away. “Can’t you see you’re scaring the poor little thing? What if his parents abandoned him in there when he was just a baby? Oh the horror. Here, take this apple, there’s more inside, take as many as you need.”
I was just about to correct Fluttershy about the fake and over dramatic back story she thought up for me, but she was holding out an apple to me and that was all I cared about. Whatever, free, and somewhat plausible back-story. Not familiar with the voodoo magic they used for grabbing things, I simply bit into it and brought it close to the ground so I could support it with both of my hooves, ravenously devouring the fruit.
“Oh, just look at him, he must have gone through so much,” Fluttershy said. “The poor thing.”
“That all sounds a bit over the top,” Rainbow Dash replied. “But, he does seem like he has been through quite a bit of trouble.”
“Come on little colt,” Fluttershy said to me. “Come inside, I’ll make you something proper to eat.”
She gestured towards her front door and I happily followed her and a still sceptical looking Rainbow Dash inside. For all I knew this was the alien-world equivalent of getting into the candy-van, but the promise of an actual meal made me throw away all of my concerns. Whatever this new world held in store for me, it could wait until after my stomach was filled.