Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad Sure Were Nice
We got a long way to go and a short time to get there
-Jerry Reed, “Eastbound and Down”
+ + +
Immediately in my imagination I punched myself in the head. 'I gotta poop'?
Pssssh, 'you're welcome'.
Christ, I could at least have borrowed a page from some antediluvian Miss Manners and claimed I was going to “powder my muzzle” or some other cutesy euphemism. Sure, I could be the foul-mouthed, “ironic” unicorn right out of another kind of cartoon, usually shown after midnight between screens of white-on-black text, but I thought it better to not betray too many expectations and play the hoof I was dealt.
Oh, who was I kidding? I'd been acting like a maniac from the moment I'd opened my mouth - Hopefully only because I had no idea how to handle this situation and not because this pony body and brain were somehow corrupting me. I felt like a home invader, which is essentially what I was, but making my threats by not correcting assumptions, and wanting escape rather than valuables. Maybe I was more like a fugitive demanding to be hidden. That character at least had a sympathetic angle—Everyone can identify with a desire for freedom, especially if it's unjustly taken away. I knew that ultimately I'd recklessly wandered into this situation, and that in all likelihood “unjust” is the last thing it was, but they didn't need to know that.
But now it was finally time to put this body through its literal paces.
As much as a part of me still wanted to just forget this whole “suddenly being a pony” business and go back to sleep, there was no way I was going to get my original human body back by lying on this couch. I'd have to use this one sooner or later, and while it was regrettable I had to take the plunge under such intense scrutiny, I figured if I'd learned to walk on two legs when I was not even that many years old, surely I could learn to walk on four when I was twenty-seven. Why, proportionally I should be able to handle ten pairs!
I thought for a moment about how I wanted to do this. I was still lying on my side with my legs hanging over the edge of the couch, so if I pulled them in a little I could simply roll over onto the floor and then stretch them out again to whatever ended up being my full height. Once I felt comfortable in that posture I could start moving one leg at a time, and though I might look clumsy and inelegant, presumably I'd have no major problems.
Let's get to it. I bent my legs a few times to get a feel for how they moved, and was struck immediately by how different this was going to be. While I still had all my original joints, all bending in their original directions, their position and function had been shifted “up” by one rung. What had been my wrists were now...fucking...knees. And as for my original legs, my ankles were now effectively knees that bent the wrong way. It was like a full body version of accidentally skipping a question on a fill-in-the-bubbles test, or getting your hand misaligned by one key on a Guitar Hero controller.
The main direction all my limbs bent had been effectively reversed, and I blanked on even trying to plan how I'd move. Up until now, I could pretend to a degree I was fundamentally unchanged, simply reclining in an unusual way on a couch, like some kind of vaguely equine Caligula, but now I was forced to confront a fundamentally different way of...Well, I didn't even know yet, and the thought of proceeding without a biped's more sensitive inner ear made me wary of trusting any intuitions.
I pulled my front legs up ahead of my face and my back legs up into my stomach so that their heavy hooves were facing outward, then shifted my weight and pushed off, rolling over and thudding onto the carpet with a surprisingly loud “whumph,” my long stomach getting a jolt as it slammed into the floor. I felt constricted by the strange pressure on my joints and immediately pushed down with all four limbs, shooting up faster than I anticipated—At least these legs were strong enough to forgive a lot of failed attempts, and push ups (squats?) were certainly going to be easier. But I was immediately confronted by how front-heavy I was, and reflexively leaned my neck back for fear of pitching over. At least my sense of balance was still working, though there was indeed a loss of sensitivity, a bit like a with a mild head cold.
The sensation of having hooves was tremendously strange as well, though on the soft carpet I couldn't be sure how representative an impression I was getting. Something a little like the balls of my feet were pressed on the ground in four places below me, but registering on the ends of my middle fingers and toes—The sensation of the other digits compressed into an indistinct mush above it—and each hoof somehow had another ghost of a little toe inside it(!?). The hard, blue outer material of the hooves themselves was completely insensate but transmitted feeling just as well as fingernails, giving me the sensation of touching the carpet through impossibly thick calluses or heavy welding gloves. They seemed to be a little softer on the underside, around that extra invisible “toe” and I told myself I'd have to check out the bottoms of them when I was out of sight. Before I'd even get that chance, however, I felt a powerful desire to scrape the hard, alien material off onto the carpet as if I'd stepped in four different dog turds, and suppressing this urge caused a building, claustrophobic itchiness and irritation. My own coat began to feel scratchy, and I continued staring straight down at the carpet.
Standing like this did not feel at all like being down on all fours as a human, namely because the immediate impression was being “up” on all fours instead—I felt like I was standing fully upright, but somehow in two places at once, with my stomach on a tightrope in between. If I ignored the sensations from everything behind my shoulders, it was almost possible to imagine myself as a short, armless human with a very flexible waist, but if that was the alternative I'd frankly rather be a pony, and quickly dismissed the image.
So I was left with a second “lower body” standing upright a couple feet “behind” me, with legs that bent in a way that was utterly foreign, except I couldn't let myself think of them that way because I still had to move them using the original motor commands.
I lifted my left front leg from my original elbow, my weird shoulders providing a groove of resistance to keep it on track, then extended it forward and let it droop so that the hoof contacted the carpet. I watched it splay outward subtly, an effect that felt slightly sickening, as if I were bending back a fingernail, but it was all in my head as my hoof felt perfectly comfortable. My first step as a pony had been a qualified success.
I finally looked up, as if I were expecting to have somehow advanced, and holy crap was I short: I couldn't have been much over four and a half feet tall, my eyes barely level with the seated humans.
I took another step forward, foolishly with my other front leg, slightly stretching myself out into an unnatural position. It was all so strange and uncanny, and I had no standard by which to judge how it was supposed to feel to walk as a pony, but this was obviously not it. Whatever force was behind my transformation, it had apparently not bothered to update any of my “software” or give me an appropriate Pony Operating System (Perhaps the only time I'd want a “POS”), and I was left with a human sensorimotor cortex connected correctly to the outside, but still containing the neural “homunculus” image of my original human form, and trying to map the commands for it onto the very differently proportioned pony of which I'd suddenly found myself in the proverbial saddle.
People with a physical disconnect between their neural body schematic and their proprioceptive sense, like say, a leg not being included on the map, can often have a burning desire to have that part amputated as the cognitive dissonance becomes a blight on their lives, but at least in my case, when one's conception of their entire body doesn't match its sensory input, there's nothing to make one part much more abhorrent than any other, and the whole thing blends into a sizzling mush of ickiness.
“Abhorrent” wasn't the right word, exactly—No more than trying to ride a unicycle for the first time is a traumatic experience in and of itself (falls excluded, of course), and I was simply too overwhelmed by the mechanics of the task at hand to feel violated at having been wrenched into these baffling contortions.
I wasn't sure how much of this was just my own kit, however—I'd never felt so much like I had a body as that I was really up in a little cockpit somewhere controlling one, and any sense of its parts was less a feeling of who I was than a mere "instrument readout." In fact, I'd always been somewhat ashamed that there was no sensation of "who I was"; all I'd ever truly felt like in my life was a floating camera and two manipulators, or like I really was just a brain inside a skull, consulting an imaginary internal display. I'd spent my whole life feeling trapped inside one animal only to find myself trapped in another, but now with readouts I didn't understand.
But I was torn about trying to recalibrate those readouts. On the one hand - hand, dammit! - I wanted to regain my competence and independence, but on the other, it would mean a degree of acquiescence to whatever had done this to me, and that if I were stuck like this for a while, when I finally changed back I'd require yet another period of adjustment.
But this was the here and now, where I had just taken two full steps forward and shouldn't I have gotten somewhere instead of being stretched out like a yawning cat!? But nooooooo, I had to have an entire extra set of legs to take care of! My life had suddenly become so much more pointlessly complicated, and for a moment I imagined myself sitting in a doctor's office, getting news about some terrible condition I'd suddenly been struck with, and maybe one day I'd be able to live a normal life, but I'd never again do X or Y or whatever activity I'd enjoyed up to that point, such as being a human, or male, or having hands - Things I had been doing every day. And this time there wasn't even a stem cell lab to join or ethics board to lie to in hopes of inventing a cure.
It was an infuriating condition, unjust and unfair. These consequences were astronomically out of proportion to any behavior. What lifestyle changes are you supposed to make to avoid getting turned into a goddamn girl unicorn? Avoid trans fats and...and... alfalfa? I knew the proximate trigger was that magic dragon I puffed but how could I ever have anticipated something like this would happen? My life had been suddenly turned inside out—attacked!—but I was blameless, wasn't I?
I'd always thought it was insipid how people looked for someone to blame when visited by disaster, demanding some agent out there “take responsibility” for the accident or the diagnosis or other calamity, pinning it on politicians or God or whomever, as long someone paid the price for fate's inevitabilities, but in spite of myself I felt the stirrings of this urge, and the resulting self-implication made me even madder, and down went my brand new ears. I clenched my teeth in response.
The thing is, this time there was someone (somepony?) who'd inflicted this on me - There had to be, this wasn't just something blindly going wrong with me - but they were so remote and so unknown my anger had nothing to grab onto. They were just the wispiest of concepts, watching me but remaining invisible, and I didn't have a single lead on how to make them solid and track them down. It was like I'd been shot and left in the street.
I drew a ragged breath through my nose and my legs shook for a moment, but I was able to relax them enough to maintain a normal facade—Causing me to resent having to do so in the first place. And now I knew my composure was about to fail as I sensed the incursion into my thoughts of the inborn grandiloquence I was habituated into restraining.
Yeah you talk all super gay when you're either mad or wasted.
'Pissed,' you mean? (And don't use 'gay' like that, dumbshit.)
Well that was one thing—At least my relationship to language was unaffected. Whether my brain was truly a bastion of untouched humanity or I was merely misjudging the pony alternative, I was grateful for my continued frictionless use of profanity. What a blow it would have been to feel the easy seduction of euphemism to limit myself to counterfeits or pale shades—Didn't linguists call them “denatured”?—
Stop. Stop before you embarrass all of us.
—of those aboriginal exponents of intensity, looseness, conspicuously hidden vulnerability, and lively rhythm, chaining my choice of words to pegs at one-remove from the edges of the full verbal spectrum, never believing in my listeners' capacity to follow me there, asking them to play a substitution game in my stead.
I prized every hue in my verbal palate too highly for my blueness to ever be limited to the color of my coat.
Like Dorothy Parker zinging Norman Mailer's sop to editors in bowdlerizing his soldiers' language (“So you're the man who can't spell 'fuck.'”), I remembered how many times it took me to get past the first few episodes of Battlestar Galactica for just the same reason. At least ponyisms weren't trying to cover up or run away from anything. And anypony could tell you they were adorable.
I sighed as the tension began to leave my body. I'd been looking down this whole time, though—Unseeing as I once more fell into the core of my mind as if, in imitation of the mark on my flank, it hid its own supermassive black hole, where no light could reach. But now I was back in the starlit outer universe and had more prosaic matters to address.
Realizing that I was reaching forward with my forelegs like a mild stretch, I arced my back downward in imitation of a yoga pose, and affected a groan as if I were letting out the tension of a long day at the office. But as I reached a certain angle and pressed into a real stretch, a chill went up my spine, somehow building into something like a sneeze, and as it broke I actually neighed a little bit. I screwed my face in anger and almost screamed in frustration. Unable to let go of the bizarre shaking feeling in my throat that accompanied it, I clenched my whole body and dearly hoped this wasn't a preview of myself a possible month from now. But no. People. Out there.
“Man!” I commiserated, “That...That interdimensional travel, amirite?” I smiled and looked around the room. I was uncertain of how long I'd been holding that pose, and hence how long they'd been watching me, but it surely couldn't have been longer than it took to, say, compose your average text message.
will b a bit late, but plz order 4 me. bus hasnt shown up, also got turned into unicorn
“For sure,” Douglass replied knowingly, earning concerned glances from Shannon and Ben. If he weren't on the other side of the coffee table, I'd have offered him a hoof bump. Now it was time to start walking for real again, though, and I felt a momentary disorientation as I wondered which of my displaced joints I should move first to get my back legs to pull their weight.
Suddenly something clicked in my head, and I realized I'd been overthinking it.
You? That's crazy talk.
Oh, fuck off.
Sure thing! Enjoy never having dreams again!
...Regardless—Benighted terrestrial horses with little more intellect than the glue they were destined to become could walk and gallop with presumably only a minimum of concentration, so I just had to figure out what “handle” to mentally grasp on these legs to get them to move, and if Nature was operating at even close to its usual cleverness, the rest should take care of itself. That's what my human legs did, didn't they?
I thought back to what it was like to walk as a human. Basically the will to walk was a pair of staggered ovals attached to my feet, and centered on the ground. The top half of the oval raised them up and forward, and the bottom half was compressed into a flat line against the floor, exchanging that curvature for forward momentum. I never even thought about my actual legs while simply walking, just moving my feet like a puppeteer holding them by two attached sticks, or even more often merely thinking “that-a-way.”
I visualized myself as one of those little windup Triceratops toys, where the four legs have stubby flanges on the end that you can see move up and forward and down as they waddle along. Imagining a stick going sideways through my rear left hoof, I mentally grasped the stick and arced it forward. Sure enough, the leg raised properly and extended, the hoof naturally rotating back out to contact the ground, just like my original feet used to do. Elated, I tried the right back hoof, grasping its handle and tossing it forward, and except for a little stumble as the hoof failed to fully turn back out, it seemed to work much better than the “manual override” I'd been using before.
Right front. Left back. Left front. Right back. Right front. Left back. So easy now. First being able to speak, and now being able to walk, I realized I'd passed two major developmental milestones for the second time in my life, although this time I hoped no one was capturing them on home video.
“I'll be right back!” I smiled, but the humans simply looked at each other.
+ + +
I padded along the carpet and around the corner of the mustard-colored stucco walls. There was the bathroom door, a huge plank of wood blocking my access to my own face. The doorknob was just below the level of my head, and while it was the round kind, it was luckily not very wide. Time to put it in my mouth.
Disappointingly it still had the metallic taste of an ordinary doorknob, but I was able to grip it firmly with my teeth and turn just enough to free it, and I pulled my neck back to open it. I released it, ritualistically spit out the taste, and pulled the door open the rest of the way with a forelimb.
Sure enough, there was the mirror, just where I'd left it on the wall the night before, where I'd checked my hair and general affect after each time I completed the precipitation stage of the Beer Cycle. I wondered what kind of face would look back at me now, especially since from the rest of me I could tell I was entirely “real” and bore the same physical relation to the ponies in the show as the actual Harvey Pekar did to an R. Crumb sketch.
It was a little sad in a way, since that crisp, minimalist design was such a core part of why Ponies Are Awesome, and I'd want the full Roger Rabbit package if I could get it... After all, the same shapes done up in real pony-stuff instead of their animated equivalent would not truly be the same pony, not with what those 'chibi-style' shapes were drawn to represent in the first place.
I supposed my physicality was inevitable, since you likely had to be of the same substance as a given world to actually interact with it, once you stopped to consider why we have working real objects and people around us to begin with (If I still needed oxygen, how thick were the outlines on cartoon hemoglobin? And if that's not how it worked, why would I need oxygen?), unless I could get some ethereal stooge to read my intentions and instantly draw me doing them in Flash: Matter Edition at every moment, consciously deciding what to show and what to omit from the viewing distance and angle of everyone who would ever see me.
That might be a little abstruse an objection, but then those hangups are exactly the reason we see some things happen and not others in the first place...
Wait, maybe if you had an infinite number of Korean animators at an infinite number of Wacom tablets...
Now, I may have lived a sheltered life, but I was pretty unfamiliar with real-world unicorns. Tables, trees, clouds, and houses, on the other hand, I had seen in reality, and from what I could see of myself below the neck, I was separated from the look of the ponies in the show by about the same level of stylization. Whether the show was abstracted from a real Equestria somewhere out there, or the other way around, however, I could only guess. Either way, we had only been looking at it through the tiny keyhole of television.
But enough theory, it was time for observation. Use: Mirror On: Pony. There was a sink in the way, naturally enough, and a disconcertingly short amount of floor between it and a bathtub on the other side. I walked forward and clack clack clack and oh god the hooves on tile. These are not feet, these are definitely not feet. No, come on, get a grip.
I was too long to turn around without putting one pair of legs in the tub on the way there, and I hesitated simply for the silly acculturated reason that I wasn't taking a shower and it was someone else's bathroom. But I had to do it if I were going to shut the door behind me, so I lifted one back leg over the rim, then the other, then holding my head up high and back so I wouldn't whang it on the sink, I walked my front legs to the side and then stepped back over the rim, leaving me facing the door. I walked forward and wrapped my lips around the doorknob (I was going to go through toothpaste so fast if I remained a pony) and then backed up, pulling it shut.
I was now snugly between the sink and the tub, and in the gloomy light of the tiny frosted window I noticed a light switch up by the mirror. I backed up a little more and hit it with a forehoof. True to custom, it was for the mirror lights.
The sink was about at the level of my “collarbone,” and if I looked to the side I could actually just see my eyes and the top of my head in the bottom few inches of the mirror. I leaned in until my neck hit the side of the sink, and looked straight into those eyes.
My irises were a saturated burgundy, the kind you might see on expensive curtains from a department store ad or a chopped Studebaker pulling up to the Players Ball. I'd always had large eyes, but these were still about one-third larger and more “open” than they had been, but still set at one eye's width apart. They were angled ever so slightly out to the side, on either side of what I thought of as the “bridge” of my nose, revealing slightly more white on the side facing out when I looked straight ahead, but still remained primarily forward-facing and stereoscopic, unlike an Earth horse's, and were definitely the eyes of an intelligent creature, though not strictly human. Each was rimmed with rather feminine eyelashes, though the lack of any, uh, whatever-that-stuff-is-called on them kept them looking at least tasteful. I didn't seem to have eyebrows in the traditional sense, but there was a slight thickening of the hair above each eye that I could contort in much the same way. I closed one eye, then the other, seeing a lighter blue eyelid covered with very short, even hair descend over them, then crossed them and saw my image split into two transparent, blurry copies before I relaxed my eyes and it snapped back together.
Next was everything else. The most obvious point of interest was the horn, which was a little over six inches long and thickly spiraled, blunted in an inviting, won't-poke-your-eye-out way, and the same blue as the rest of me, with the very faint striated texture natural to horns in general, though covered in what seemed like a slightly glossy lacquer of some kind. Overall, it was the part of me closest to looking like it was straight from the show. It was set in a much larger forehead than any pony from this world ever had, part of a clearly human-sized cranium, but all of that was thankfully hidden under a thick mane that preserved the more aerodynamic, anodyne contours of the rest of the face.
The mane was feathered and straight and long-ish, and a light, delicate blue, with a single four inch-wide white, or actually very light teal, stripe down the center abutting the horn on the right - No, I was looking in a mirror - left side. That curved around to my right, terminating in the untrimmed forelock I'd earlier swept out of my face, which hid the base of the horn, for which I was grateful because I was sure that “interface” or whatever would have looked freaky without bangs. Sorry, Rarity. This forelock came over the top of my head between my ears, with what looked like a few cowlicks at the top from sleeping on the couch. I couldn't see the back from this low angle, but just from looking around, and from the sensation of it moving, it seemed equally shaggy and eager to get in my way.
I looked up at my ears, pointing out and up like two elongated radar dishes, each about four inches long and tapering to a narrow point. A strip up the inside was made ever so slightly purple by the presumably pinkish skin under the shorter hair, and examining them closely I was glad that no gross veins or anything were conspicuously visible on the inner surface, like you sometimes see. The longer hair on the back and interior sides of them extended a few millimeters over the edge, and for all intents and purposes they seemed identical any ordinary horse ears. I flopped them down and was somehow reminded of the hands of Wile E. Coyote trying to protect his head from a falling anvil. The tips of them curved almost imperceptibly back up, like the edges of a wry smile, which I thought gave the gesture a disarmingly innocent look I might be able to exploit later.
I'd been staring at the top of my head for a minute or two, and decided it was time to work my way down the reflection, and so seesaw my real self upwards. I'd have to stand on my back legs and hold myself up with my front, and wasn't sure how difficult this was going to be, but it seemed like the kind of thing I should make sure I'd be able to do, if for no other reason than to feel a bit more human again. I sat back on my haunches and scooted myself forward so that I was in front of the sink, grateful nothing sensitive was actually touching the floor, then turned myself to face it and put my front hooves up on top in a pose that reminded me of trying to drape some kind of delicate fabric. I didn't think I'd be able to use them to just do a “pull up,” but with a simultaneous kick from my back legs I shot up into a standing position much more quickly and easily than I anticipated. Too easily, almost, since as I was now standing at almost ninety degrees to the way I was “designed” to stand, my head tried to pull me over backwards and I had to quickly lean far forward to avoid no doubt cracking it on the tub.
I remained frozen for a few seconds as I waited for my heart to stop racing and my stomach to return to its customary spot below my lungs. I told myself I probably would have been alright—It wouldn't be the first time I'd fallen over backwards onto something hard—But it still would have been a tremendously unpleasant experience whether I'd seriously injured myself or not, in addition to the fact that lying around in pain is actually surprisingly boring. I made a low sigh, but what emerged from my throat was once again a nicker of some kind. I winced. It was like the vocal cord equivalent of angling your leg in just the right way such that it twitches on its own. It occurred to me to try it again to make sure, but I demurred.
My organs now returned to their default positions, I refocused my eyes and looked up into the mirror.
The rest of the mane was just as shaggy as the forelock all the way down my neck and was either styled, or naturally had a tendency, to sweep forward, resulting in little “sideburns” under my ears, gradually tapering down into one final lock, or curl, or whatever, at the “wicker,” I think it's called, where my neck bent outwards into my back (I'd have to learn more about horse anatomy...). The teal-white stripe curved around on the left side and out into the bottom of one of the little “sideburns.” The blue was a lighter, more “dainty,” robin's-egg hue than I'd normally consider adorning myself with, but overall I'd gotten off pretty light, as it were, in terms of girly colors. For the first time I consciously wondered how they were chosen. I thought they looked alright, but were they really supposed to be “so me,” picked from the palate of whatever entity assembles ponies to order, or was it just a coincidence and this was an unfortunate somepony's body I had hopped into like a garage attendant into Ferris Bueller's Ferrari? If that was the case, what happened to her? I could guess, but she was effectively beyond my reach in any case...Well, good luck to ya, lady. Maybe if we meet eventually at least we'll have this as an ice breaker.
She ain't squeezed back here with us, neither, so don't worry 'bout that.
I continued my scan of the pony in the mirror. My nose—muzzle—sloped out from a shallow start between my eyes and ended in a dainty, rounded snout maybe four inches ahead of my original face, with flattened nostrils on its corners. It tapered slightly as it went down to my almost non-existent “chin,” before rounding off entirely and shooting back about six inches to meet to my neck. On the sides it smoothly transitioned into rounded cheeks and a flared “jawline” that I presumed was the chewing muscles, which pressing my teeth together and seeing it tighten quickly confirmed, and the end around my nostrils was slightly darker and almost velvety, disturbingly like a normal horse's. Set about two-thirds of the way down from my nostrils was my mouth, not much changed, but shifted forward several inches and slightly more exposed on either side by subtle, light lavender-colored lips that extended a tiny bit into where I once had cheeks. The way my mouth angled up and out to the tip of my nose gave the impression of a slight overbite. I pulled my lips back and saw two rows of straight, flat, identical teeth, forcing the scents various hygiene products to the front of my brain by association. No canines, just a small gap before a transition to equally regular molars on the sides, and I ran my tongue over it, trying to remember that I hadn't violently lost a tooth. They were clean and white and well-aligned, and I hoped I'd figure out a way to keep them that way if my condition turned out to be....
I stuck out my tongue to a distance that would put Gene Simmons to shame, waggled it from side to side, tried to touch my nose (finally success), tried to roll it (could still do that, too), then made as many faces as I could think of, slowing down when I realized I could see that gross gap behind my front teeth if I smiled too broadly. I didn't have much in the way of eyebrows, and they probably would have been covered up by my bangs in any case, but it was an expressive face, and I had hardly any trouble making it do whatever I wanted.
My overall impression was of a creature that was to a terrestrial pony what a Homo sapiens was to an Australopithecus. The face in the mirror couldn't be mistaken for anything but that of a real horse, but at the same time was too dynamic and delicate to belong to something that lived in a barnyard. The effect was exotic, but not bizarre or unnatural, and could've been the believable product of some stable's long-term program to breed a pony that looked as if it could hold up its end of a conversation. The forward-facing eyes, the outré colors, and of course the unicorn horn no doubt added to the impression that this was not just a horse, of course, of course.
I thought about trying to see my aft section to find out what it was, exactly, that had tipped off Shannon as to my sex, and how heavy a “gauge” I was unwittingly blasting people with when I turned around and gave them both barrels, but logistically it didn't seem practical in this bathroom since I didn't see an obvious way to get my back end high enough. And I was reluctant to try harder: Everyone knows about male horses and the cable they're swinging, and I was a little afraid that whatever mare bits had been installed back there might be correspondingly over-the-top. I figured I'd remain happily ignorant for now and rely on the tail and the Nudity License I got as a quadruped, improvising some kind of pants if my sapience voided it.
I put on my best angry face and growled a few times as I tried flexing, one foreleg and then the other (once I figured out how to position them to even see anything), and then my stomach, but the result was disappointing as I had almost no muscle tone, just soft, round, undeniably quite feminine pony meat everywhere. I wasn't sure if ponies were ever supposed to have abs, but the fact that my stomach seemed to just be a smooth convex barrel shape with only a hint of even a navel suggested that they were not. Oh well, situps were a chore anyway, not that I knew how a pony would even do one.
I was embarrassed to admit it, too, but I, or at least this mare I was piloting around, was massively cute, enough to inflame my already enormous vain streak. While “totes adorbs” was not the look I usually aimed for, I found that as long as I felt I was easy to look at, I was much more OK with things than I would've predicted. I didn't think that reflection looked attractive in any sense, but I briefly imagined trying to make out with myself in the mirror, something I'd also jokingly tried as a human, realizing that now the anatomy of my face also meant my nose wouldn't get painfully squashed, but refrained as a twinge of something in my brain coalesced into “no pony,” in imitation of the inane fratboy disclaimer, “no homo.”
Realizing I was now blushing a little bit, I leaned in close to see how this was even possible, and saw that a lot of the hair on my cheeks was actually standing slightly on end, leading to a darker look, and seemed to be slightly translucent, or have some kind of...fiberoptic property, though the majority of color was in the less covered areas such as around my nostrils, eyes, and inner ears. Overall it was a subtle effect but definitely noticeable.
Wanting to reestablish my aesthetic approval of the face in the mirror, I held up a foreleg and wagged the end up and down while nodding my head in an attempt at the “mad props” gesture, snapping out “Lookin' cute, feelin' cute!” with a bouncy rhythm.
Daaaayum, guuuuuuuuurl! Get over here an' lemme tap that plot! Way you stand, y'all halfway to twerkin' already!
The effect wasn't quite what I'd hoped, and I looked more brain damaged than funny.
...Which I must have been, because suddenly I realized that most of this time I actually did have to poop. In my defense, it wasn't recognizably the same sensation at first, probably due to whatever weird new pipes were in there were for digesting things like hay, but it was unmistakable the “check anus” dashboard light was flashing. I didn't think I could reach my cake decorator afterward, however, and then winced with hypothetical shame as the notion of me cavalierly wiping my ass on various things in the room flashed through my head. I thought about the dynamics for a minute and figured that even though I could likely get everything in the bowl just by backing up to it, the fall might be enough to splash poo water out onto the nice people's floor, and more importantly my own absorbent, hair-covered legs.
Oh, and tail. Damn. Uh... Now would be the time to learn to use it, I guessed. My earlier hunch, that my sensorimotor cortex had not been considerately rewired for pony use (though maybe that was the price to pay for feeling as unchanged mentally as I did), gained another point as, one muscle group at a time, I clenched everything I could feel south of my equator, to see it do no more than occasionally shake from the exertion.
It then occurred to me to approach it from the outside in, and I lowered my rear end until my tail touched the ground, then carefully stepped on it with a back hoof, and ever so slowly raised myself again. As soon as the hair became taught I felt something on the end of my spine “open up,” like a new pocket discovered in a familiar pair of jeans, and by sending commands into that new space I was able to flick it around clumsily until I started to feel a bit of a burn—Clearly, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it wasn't very strong.
Feeling confident that I could avoid shitting all over myself, I raised the toilet seat with a hoof and turned around, half-squatting at a very awkward angle to bring everything as low as I could, held my tail up and to the side, and then freed the legless dogs to sea. A regular series of deep bloink sounds made me grimace and stick out my tongue, but I remained unsplashed and didn't stink up the place too badly. Wishing I knew how to use my horn, assuming it really worked, I pulled down a long stretch of toilet paper and pressed it up against the wall with my butt, moving up and down to hopefully at least make an effort at hygiene, and angling my rear end slightly downward to make sure that's all it remained. Fortunately it looked like I was pretty clean to begin with, so I ripped off what I spooled out by pressing it against the wall again, and flicked it into the toilet.
Oh—And that's what a hoof looks like on the bottom, I see... I wasn't sure what I expected, but they seemed entirely ordinary. Flat, and hard. And with some little... folded thing of flesh at the base which must have been what I felt earlier. And I noticed a lot of long hair on the backs of my "fingers," filling up what would have been empty space. 'Unshorn Fetlocks'? How much hair was this body 'supposed' to have, anyway? Did I have the equivalent of mare 5 o'clock shadow? If I met a real Equestrian, would I be censured for not shaving my legs after all?
But it didn't matter at the moment, because it looked like the only other Equestrian object in the world was floating just a few feet away. I may still have been magical, as far as the humans back in the living room knew, but it was fortunate none of them were in here to ruin the mystique, because what lingered in the bowl would've been both senses of plain old horseshit. I briefly considered examining it more closely to see if there was any evidence of what I'd been eating as a human (that frozen pizza?), or if somehow this body came “pre-loaded,” but my more sensitive pony nose was telling me that I wasn't that curious, and I guessed that no one back in the living room would be particularly interested in any discoveries.
The humans back in the living room! I'd been so interested in checking myself out I'd forgotten how much I was putting my fate in their hands by leaving them alone. I waffled for a moment over whether to wash my hooves, and if one even does that, but I decided to play it safe and at least give the outward sign I was savvy about this kind of thing, so quickly launched myself up to the sink and turned a faucet knob, just swiping each hoof quickly through the stream and then wiping them one at a time on my chest so they didn't drip. I dropped back down to all fours and put my mouth around the doorknob... I really needed to get that horn working... and as soon as I began to turn it, I heard frantic scrambling from the other side of the door.
Of course—They were far too curious about their otherworldly visitor to remain in the living room and do something so gauche as sit and discuss their plan of action. They probably wanted to know if I was going to talk to some entity through their mirror or spin straw into gold or any number of supernatural things a fairy tale creature might do when left alone in a bathroom. Hopefully I was quiet and fragrant enough that they didn't figure out I really did just flex in the mirror and take a crap.
+ + +
As with most new things, coming back was a lot simpler than going over. The three humans were in their original seats, and pretending I never knew otherwise, I hoisted myself back to my own spot on the couch, and once more comfortably lay on my side, then smiled at my companions.
“...Have everything you need?” Shannon asked by way of moving things forward.
Of course I didn't have what I really needed, but knowing that what she meant was soap or Goldfish crackers or something, out of habit I chirped “Oh yeah! Thanks!” before I could stop myself.
Alright. Think. Thinkthinkthinkthinkthink. ...Sink, drink, stink, rink, “Sink the Pink” is really an underrated AC/DC song... Oh man, could I still do a good Angus Young impression with this voice?
Suddenly I heard footsteps coming down the stairs from the bedrooms that I'd ignored the previous night. Stephanie, the girl from the deck, groggily popped out from around the corner into the living room and froze when she saw me, then suddenly gasped with excitement.
“A PONYYYY!” she cried out, with a smile I didn't think existed outside of commercials set on Christmas Morning. Before I could even form a coherent thought she bounded over to me and squeezed my neck, then pulled back and looked me over. “Oh my god, how is this even... ? You've got a cutie mark and everything! What's your name? What are you even DOING here? Ohmigod, is...is Equestria REAL? Oh wow, this is just...! Augh, you're so cute! Is that...? Can I touch your horn? Ohmigod can I see you do magic!? I'm sorry, I just...” She descended into a string of similarly incredulous exclamations as she started stroking my mane. The rest of us were all too stunned to say anything.
Either Douglass or Ben spoke up. “Steph, do you—”
Recovering my wits, I turned to look her straight in the eye. “Stephanie!” I said in what I hoped was a forceful but friendly manner.
“You really talk! You really TALK! And you know my name! Ohmigod!” she smiled even wider and sucked in air to make a scratchy squeaking noise.
“That's right! And I have a very important message for you from Princess Celestia herself!” I felt incredibly dirty for telling her a lie like that with such feigned excitement, and building up her own excitement even more, but it was the first thing out of my mouth as a way to keep control of the situation. She looked like she was about to faint. “Can we talk somewhere privately?” I asked.
“Of course!” She shot back up to a standing position, startling me slightly. “C'mon!” Stephanie bounded back over to the stairwell and motioned for me to follow. I reached out my legs again and rolled into them to make contact with the floor, then looked around the room at the other humans.
“It's very important you all help Stephanie out with what I'm about to tell her, so nopony go anywhere, OK?” I'd done a little bit too good of a job trying to sound like a kindergarten teacher, and it made me feel...weird.
“'Nopony'...!” she squealed again at the foot of the stairs. Oh forget it - I knew I was only letting out more rope to eventually hang myself, but in the moment I was having an absolute blast making someone this excited. Excuse me, somepony. I couldn't keep from smiling ridiculously back at her. Finally this was getting fun.
I stepped with increasing confidence around the coffee table, past the humans, to the foot of the stairs against the far wall, wobbling only slightly as a back hoof slid on an unnoticed empty bag of nachos.
She leaped up the stairs and disappeared into what I presumed was the room she picked for our talk, and as I reached the bottom of the stairs after her, I turned around to face the Living Room Trio. “Alright, we'll be right back,” I said, “we just need to talk for a little bit. Remember, we need your help for royal unicorn business! I'll explain everything later! Don't go anywhere!”
Before I could start my mission to walk up the stairs without looking like a stroke victim, Shannon turned back to me and somberly but cautiously asked, “How does she know about...? What was she talking about just now?”
I winked at her. “Oh, it's alright!” I accidentally squealed out, and cleared my throat again, “None of you are in any danger.”
Good job, Secret Agent Man, THAT'LL make 'em feel safe. Maybe you should keep a “this is for your own protection” in the pocket too, if you want 'em to REALLY trust you.
Wait! Of course! “...As long as you trust me and stick close, that is. I promise you'll all be fine,” I lied. As long as I was essentially holding them hostage, I figured I might as well get some Stockholm Syndrome working for me.
Now say “Come with me if you want to live!”
As I turned around and my head passed the corner of the stairwell, I heard Douglass cry out with sarcastic resignation, “I fucking KNEW IT!”