Forever A Pone
Tonight I love you, but tomorrow go away
-Bitter:Sweet, "The Mating Game"
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In front of me was a mine shaft climbing up to some dark, unseen surface miles above, lined with the same comfy, broken-in carpet as the living room. Didn't an insurmountable grade this steep and high normally have a big, hissing platform elevator? I wondered if there was a way for me to sue the architect for not making this house Pony Accessible.
It's just stairs, dude.
Alright. I only needed to put one hoof in front of the other and follow Stephanie to whatever awaited me. As if preparing a landing strip, she hit a switch out of sight in the upstairs hallway, and the stairwell filled with light. My front end was safely out of sight behind the living room wall, but I wanted to get my back end hidden as soon as possible as well.
With my human legs I would regularly bound up stairs two at a time, but now that'd be a synchronized dance I wouldn't attempt without at least a helmet, and maybe a zipline to get back down (and some way to clean off mysterious tree sap).
The hand rail on one side would have seemed a lot less mocking if it didn't intersect my eye level, but ignoring it, I walked my front legs up the stairs until I felt a pull on the rest of me, then raised my back pair onto the bottom step. It turned out to be surprisingly trouble-free, actually, though I felt like a clumsy accordion as I alternated my front and back to keep them about three steps apart.
After about twenty seconds I reached the top, and walked myself forward and then sideways until each leg was safely on the second floor.
Stephanie was waiting in a door about eight feet down the hall, watching me with a big smile, and I quickly covered the distance and then walked past her through the door.
“Oh... I'm sorry, I didn't think about that,” she said, “Are stairs hard? For ponies?”
“Uhh, no, I'm kinda off today... I just don't know what went wrong!” That was some low-hanging fruit, but it still earned me another neck hug.
Stephanie closed the door, and without stopping to think that maybe I shouldn't grab the Money Spot (c'mon, I've had a rough morning), I ignored the sleeping bag on the floor and put my front hooves up on the big bed, then jumped with my back legs, flopping down on the covers and arranging myself on my stomach in a pose that I knew objectively I was capable of, but the way my limbs suddenly retracted under me made me involuntarily retch. Fortunately Stephanie had been looking away, pacing around the tiny room in excitement.
“Oh my god, ohhhhhhhhh my god, this is just so cool!” Stephanie was shaking her head and smiling.
“Ican'tbelieveI'mtalkingtoapony!” I smiled back. On one level I still couldn't really believe I was a pony, talking. I shifted on the bed, trying to hide how incredibly strange it felt to be folded up with my legs tucked underneath me like the flaps of a cardboard box. I felt physically fine, but couldn't stop anticipating the strange contortions to begin hurting at any moment, which prevented me from actually feeling comfortable. The blanket was bunching up in some indiscernible way at my waist, and the sensation of my knees on the sides of my stomach made me think my hips were seconds away from popping out of their sockets. In fact, everything below my waist just felt...
I retched again. Maybe this pose was a bad idea. No—If there was a way to get back to my old body, surely it required me to first master this one.
“So what's your name?” Stephanie was still excitedly pacing.
“Rrrrro-(YAWN) Blue Shift. It's Blue Shift.” I smiled and gestured knowingly to my Ass Galaxy.
“So what does it mean, exactly? What kind... What kind of talent would that be? ...Cosmology?” She asked with genuine curiosity.
I'd been dreading this... I wasn't entirely sure myself, but knowing that it was somehow representative of me, I gambled that just saying the first thing that popped into my head would have a good chance of being right. “It's, uh... I take...disparate...things from very far away, and quickly bring them close together...” Not terrible. “Uh, 'consilience!'” I shouted. No, too pretentious. “I go in my own direction, against the flow of the expanding universe...” What are you, Hot Topic Steven Hawking? “Also, space is neat!” There we go.
“So are you really from Equestria? It's...real?” She leaned in a little, and I laughed weakly and shrugged, avoiding her eyes and unwilling to answer either way. “You know there's a show about you guys here, right? It's a cartoon, uh, about the Elements of Harmony? Does it bother you if I talk about it? Wait, have real ponies actually seen it?”
“Oh no no, it's fine, but please don't go telling everyo- pony, 'cuz it'd just make things more complicated for me,” I said jovially, and she nodded acknowledgment. “But no, I like the show... It makes us look good!”
“Wow... Have any other ponies seen it? Has Celestia seen it?!”
“I wouldn't really know...I can really only speak for myself on that...”
“Oh, wow... So you came here on your own, then... Are you not supposed to come to Earth or something? You're not gonna be in trouble, are you!?" She slapped her palms down on her knees to support leaning far forward. I felt a twang of discomfort as the familiar bipedal gesture suddenly struck me as alien and uncanny, as if she were some kind of avant garde chair.
"Noooo no no no! It's fine! I'm—But yeah, I'm here on my own. I just wanted, uh, I just wanted to check it out."
"Well, I hope you can stay for a while! So tell me, did ponies like, plant the idea for the show in humans' minds, or...what happened? It can't be a coincidence!”
“No, I should say not, but, uh, that kinda thing's really not my bailiwick!” I stuck out my tongue.
Stephanie laughed and sat down facing me, on top of a rumpled sleeping bag, and scooted forward a little causing her plaid pajama pants to bunch up around her waist. Reflexively I glanced at her crotch, but looked away again before anything could register. I made a mental note to check later if I still liked girls, but at the moment I was too stressed to be attracted to much of anything. The possibility of having my sexual preference flipped around to mirror my original gender made me ambivalent (On the one hoof, ew and how dare they, but on the other, fair enough I guess), but as long as I genuinely liked what I liked either way, I didn't regard it as a high-priority problem.
The fact that I so far I'd seemed unchanged in other respects and didn't feel any “different” inside in general (though how would I tell, if a different me was doing the looking?) didn't lead me to suspect any changes of that sort, but who knew what different ratios of sex hormones my brain was now marinating in and what effect that might eventually have? And more worryingly, there could be totally unknown pony factors that might manifest themselves later: My memories and personality—everything I had effortless conscious access to—seemed to have been faithfully maintained, but there's a lot more to a brain than that, and I hoped I wouldn't find myself betrayed by some equine instinct I didn't know was there to be defused. Was I constantly being “dosed” with some alien concoction? Was there pony “spyware” hidden in my brain, and what would happen if it turned on?
“You know, you're a lot bigger than I thought...!” I mentally thanked Stephanie for bringing me back to reality. “Way more... realistic, too. You look pretty much like a real pony.”
I looked down at my chest and forelegs tucked underneath, then grinned. “I am real.”
“Hahaha, no... I mean, not all stylized like the show. Have you seen an Earth po- I mean, a pony from our world?”
“I always imagined ponies—Equestrians, I mean—were like, this tall,” she held her hand about three feet off the ground, “like a big dog, maybe, but you might be bigger than I am!” She wasn't the most massive individual, at about 5'3”, but it was true—I was definitely within the size range of Earth-as-in-the-planet ponies and not something that could curl up in your lap or walk on your keyboard. Though I didn't seem much different in terms of theoretical stretched-out length from my original body, I was thicker all over, and as I glanced back at the rising and falling contours of the blue hairy thing I was piloting around, I wondered how much I weighed now. I was making a respectable dent in the bed.
Stephanie apparently picked up on my eye direction, blurting out “How much do you wei-” before stopping herself with a facepalm worthy of a dictionary illustration.
“No, it's alright... I...I don't actually know!” She flashed an expression of pleasant surprise, and I considered making a Dove billboard joke or invoking Lena Dunham, but paused as it only made me wonder again where the hell my own clothes had gone.
“Try to pick me up and tell me,” I deadpanned. I didn't know where that came from—probably the same place my clothes had run off to—but she laughed and scooted forward again.
“Ohmigod, I just have so many questions!” She was right, asking in such a rapid fire succession that thankfully I didn't need to come up with answers—How old I was, where in Equestria I was from, what did we real ponies think of the TV show, did I have any family, what kind of magic could I do, and ooh ooh had I met the Princesses, what were they like, how long had Luna been back, had I been to Ponyville, did I know any of the Mane 6, was it really dangerous with all the monsters everywhere, do ponies ever seriously fight each other, had I ever seen a sonic rainboom, or the Wonderbolts, or Celestia raise the sun, what other holidays were there, did that Discord thing actually happen, what about the Changeling thing, and several more I couldn't even parse into words. I grinned as wide as my cheeks would allow and my heart almost burst at how excited she was, and wished I had some actual answers I could give her.
“Could you turn on some music so they can't hear us?” I changed the subject.
“Right! The message from Celestia! Sure!” She went over to her computer and futzed with the mouse for a few seconds.
“My name is Pinkie Pie (Hello!) And I am here to say (How ya doin?) I'm gonna...”
The instant I heard the opening guitar strums I threw my head back with laughter and let myself sing along with her until the end of the first chorus. “Ha...haha... Alright, alright...That was awesome, but we both know that's a long one. So if you—OH, what the hay!!” We both sang along till the bridge, at which point she stopped it so we could move on. It was physically less of a struggle to sing with this even, non-gravelly voice, though not being used to it I had trouble staying on key.
“Hahaha, ha...OK,” I wheezed in between laughs, “Something a little more cloak and dagger, if you don't mind.” She opened up a rock playlist and the fuzzy, rolling opening of The Black Keys' “Gold on the Ceiling” blared out of the little portable speakers. I nodded my approval at the unexpected choice, and then a little bit to the beat. She was still concentrating on the laptop, which was almost too bad since I wanted to see how she'd react to a pony digging on rock music.
She abruptly spun around. “Before you tell me, can I just touch your ears? ...I'm sorry, it's just...!”
I glanced away. This was going to become “weird” after the fact if she found out I was the same human male she'd been talking to the previous night. Hell, it was weird now. At the same time, I couldn't deny the appeal of little affection in these troubled times, and far be it from me to crush in someone else the very same curiosity I'd indulged earlier.
“It...uh...Sure! I mean, hooooowwwww often do you get to meet a pony, right?” I said with an avuncular drone I hoped would later make it seem like I was trying not to enjoy it too much.
She squealed and hopped over to the bed, sitting down next to me and putting a thumb and forefinger on each ear. I remember those... I shuddered and tensed a little at the sensation of being touched in what I naturally considered the empty air above my head, and with a mild involuntary snort, automatically both ears both flopped down out of her grasp. “Sorry. Try again,” I said and relaxed my...scalp...and they popped up again. She lightly rubbed them like a pair of dollar bills as I stared straight ahead at the wall, hearing the loud PWUHFPWUHT of movement so close to my eardrums and then listening to how the timbre of the music changed as she moved them around by their tips.
She let go and I shook them out, noticing for the first time that they actually felt like the closest thing to fingers on this body. I closed my eyes and played with them a little more, seeing if I could make them dance or otherwise do something interesting. It still felt utterly bizarre, but gradually became just “novel” as I gained more coordination with them over the course of half a minute or so.
“Oh that's so cool!” she squawked in a tiny, pinched voice and hugged my neck. I dialed up a low-key nervous laugh from my catalog of tension-defusers and kept staring straight ahead. She pulled back, but left a hand on my shoulder, and started petting me. I frowned slightly despite the fact that everything rearward of my frontal cortex very much did not want her to stop. Like ostentatious facial hair that strangers ask to touch, the hairs of the coat... multiply it: If you ever find yourself in the body of a pony, "being petted" absolutely needs to go on your to-do list.
“You're so soft!” Steph squeaked excitedly, before jerking her hand back with a self-conscious “Oops!” and her own nervous laugh, shifting away on the bed.
I echoed it and looked back at her with a shrug, which was actually possible now in the traditional sense because I was lying on my stomach. Deep in my lizard brain, which I noted I still had, I realized if I wanted to, I could totally just kiss her right there, and on a higher level I noted that the fuzzy feeling in my stomach and rise in my throat meant that, in fact, I did still like (human) girls.
Suddenly I worried if the laconic chuckle I had just given didn't in fact come off as bedroom eyes, and more importantly if my unfamiliar equipment out of sight in the back wasn't automatically spooling up into Standby Mode, or whatever it was supposed to do. No activity so far as I could tell...unless that—NOPE, just my imagination—and I pressed my tail hard into my whole butt...area...just in case. Even though the way that tail had twitched a couple times when she was petting me was also totally voluntary and on purpose and that's final.
I didn't want to deal with this—It still felt like I was “house sitting” this body, and now on top of it I was taking care of the unknown owner's metaphorical expensive pet bird or heirloom piano, and if I so much as sat on it wrong some kind of silent alarm would be tripped and then Virginia Woolf would kick down the door and demand to see my papers, lest she bludgeon me to death with a copy of Orlando.
For the first time since I'd woken up as a pony, I actually felt naked.
I glanced idly around the room, trying to look like I was doing anything except defending myself from my own charges of thoughtcrime for so much as entertaining the concept of inter-species lesbianism, with its inevitably ensuing mental slide show.
Fuckin-A, man, I'd do both a' them chicks. Even the weird-shaped one.
'It's a travesty of justice, Your Honor! The defendant was of the same species less than twenty-four hours ago and remains mentally unchanged!' And life had conditioned me, in a very Pavlovian way, to expect that a situation where I was sitting naked on a bed while a girl put her hands on me was tacitly agreed to end in fucking. I wasn't the badguy here, right!? If it turns out I can't change back, there's still no goddamn way I'm gonna remain celibate for the rest of my life!
I wondered if she'd be this forward and open if I'd been a stallion. Probably, but I still felt like some kind of insidious sleeper agent. Even though I hadn't actually done anything inappropriate as far as I could tell, I knew this kind of inherently deceptive situation was one of those things people are encouraged to get upset about, and that surely in the eyes of some cadre of advice columnists or bloggers somewhere I was evil just for being there and still on a major thoughtcrime-spree. Perhaps if I were rumbled, I could exploit (ahem) this female voice to keep the truth from sinking in on anything but a purely intellectual level...
I wondered if any equivalent of this had entered Stephanie's mind, or if the tension was entirely unilateral. I doubted anything major had made it to the forefront of her consciousness, since while I was accustomed to thinking of human women in that context, she didn't know that, and to her I was very likely not even on the radar in the first place. Then again, we shared a culture full of sexualized riding crops and saddles, and that “Riding My Pony” club song by Ginuwine with what sounds like frogs burping in the background, etc., and that laptop she brought could be full of Rule 34 for all I knew. Anything was possible, as of today.
But no. No no no no no. I'd had enough of that. I didn't actually want to, I mean, not the real me, not really. Not in a way any more salient than a simple appetite, like sleep, food, really being able to kill for a beer, or suddenly and inexplicably wanting to go play mini golf—Which I suppose is exactly the attitude that always made me something of the manwhore I was worried about being outed as. But Steph wasn't even my type—Shannon downstairs was a lot closer, looks wise—and while idle flirting and casual sex were decent entertainment, once the challenge of charming your way into someone's pants had been met, it was honestly pretty downhill from there, made worthwhile mainly by a desire to be seen as good in bed. Ironically, that desire itself helped keep me from seriously considering moving things in that direction—How do you even kiss someone with a... a muzzle? Was it better or worse than braces?
But dude, if SHE wants a slice a' that—
Noooooooope. You're done. Shut it down, she's not touching us anymore and we've got more important things to think about.
Like yer hopefully not too weird lookin'—
Right, we get it. You can stop.
I ain't gonna stop till it starts doin' somethin'! Quit box-blockin' yerself!
What? Is that even—OK, I promise when I have a chance I will get up on that, so to speak.
'S all I'm askin'...
Are you done? OK... Always conceiving of every crazy thing I could do was so exhausting. Poe called it the Imp of the Perverse, and Sartre said it was the price of free will, but I doubt even they managed to foresee someone trying to repress their knowledge of the fact that, if they wanted to, they could indeed inflict pony pantyhamster on anyone they encountered.
But that awareness of the normally inconceivable or taboo was also a wellspring of creativity, and I wouldn't trade it for peace of mind in a zillion years. I still apparently had a human brain, and I wondered if I had been a pony through-and-through, assuming they really were qualitatively different inside, if suddenly a whole realm of thoughts would now be closed to me. It was an upsetting idea—Besides the inherent creepiness of being thus rewritten, there were already too many ideas forbidden to my brain (higher dimensions sprang to mind immediately, or rather didn't, to my daily dismay). It was more upsetting, in fact, than the awareness of unsettling possibilities which it would aim to dispel.
Reconciled once again to thinking uncomfortable thoughts, I now glanced at Steph with genuine calm, and tried to assess any tension between us. If she thought I'd acted weird after she pet me I'd just dismiss it as “a pony thing,” I mean, how would she know otherwise?
Heh heh heh, I'LL show her a Pony Thing!
You're back? Good luck with that. ...At that moment, from somewhere deep in my brain's sub-basement I heard Stephanie as the French knight from Monty Python & The Holy Grail cry out “We've already got one, you see!” There we go: Few things can kill game (or bring it back to life, depending) like a Monty Python reference.
“This is kinda stupid, but...” Stephanie looked sheepish and glanced anywhere but my eyes. Oh no, what did she figure out...? I sniffed as stealthily as possible—Did I 'smell'? I dearly hoped not but I didn't have any experience with this new tapestry of fragrances... “But... umm..” She brought her shoulders up and leaned in conspiratorially. “...Do you wanna see my OC pony?”
I smiled broadly. You know what? I definitely did.