by Balthasar999

Friendship is Magic, But so is Magic


Friendship is Magic, But so is Magic

I don't practice Santeria, I ain't got no crystal ball
-Sublime, “Santeria”

+ + +

There was once, for a few hours, a photo of my nuts on Facebook. Well, not of them; I mean, it wasn't a photographic study of manjigglies or an Arrested Development-style Iraqi landscape, but they were clearly visible if you looked down there, or maybe you just saw it pop up in your feed if you were friends with “Rob's Balls.”

New Msg: Blue Shift's Vaj wants to be friends on Facebook. How do you know each other?

It was an accident, of course, involving a hot tub party and my thinking boxers would make an effective swim suit, and my friend deleted it the instant someone noticed. It could have been because I was 'Las Vegas' drunk, but I didn't mind the photo at the time, and I didn't see now why I should ultimately mind a remake that the real me could never realistically be tied to. Neither version of my face was even in it.

Besides, if I could trust anyone right now, it was Ms. Stephanie Whatever-her-last-name-was.

Now that I had some time to calm down and wasn't under any scrutiny, I decided to put together some kind of plan to get someplace comfortable and safe, and eventually bring back Rob Classic.

Finding my bag and especially the scroll inside that started this whole mess was the immediate Primary Mission Objective. Presumably I could use it to contact Celestia, or whoever was playing at being her, and beg her to sort out said mess. It should still be somewhere inside the house, though in retrospect it had proved capable of moving around on its own, following me from the deck to the couch, so it could be anywhere. But at the time it had wanted to be found, so assuming I hadn't ruined whatever magic was directing it by cutting the scroll, or it hadn't just timed out, finding the bag might take care of itself. Nevertheless, at least a cursory search was necessary to put my mind at ease.

Similarly, my clothes were hopefully still around. They could be in a heap in the alley, or reduced to a distant expanding sphere of photons, or back in my closet, folded with utmost care after a delicate and cleansing trip through a scented cloud by the finest laundry pegasi, but I hoped they'd at least taken all the shit out of my pockets first and left it somewhere I could find—Most importantly my apartment keys. When I'd moved in, my landlord had the very good suggestion of making duplicates and burying them under the bushes outside the gate (“Just in case you suddenly turn into a pony one day and lose your pants,” I'm sure he meant to add by way of example), so if worse came to worse I could likely still get inside, assuming the manilla envelope hadn't soaked through and they'd rusted into uselessness. But aside from familiarity and privacy, I wasn't sure there was anything actually helpful back home and no reason any other place couldn't become a good Pony Forward HQ. Nevertheless, there could be something waiting for me there related to my situation, so I resolved to at least go back and reconnoiter.

The next order of business was to assemble a Team. At least that was the first word that came to mind for a circle of trusted friends and/or family I could hide out with and who could make sure I had food and a place to sleep until we solved this. Sam and Ryan, my two best friends for close to a decade—good enough friends to quickly delete a photo of my nads on Facebook—were the most obvious choice. The three of us had been inseparable since meeting in the dorm freshman year. I was going to get cartloads of shit for having turned into an adorable female pony, because obviously I had done it entirely on purpose somehow by watching too much MLP (after Sam was told what it was) and now surely they're seeing the true Inner Self of someone who had actually always been Blue Shift. If TV as a whole had taught me anything about friendship it's that it's easier to magically raise the sun and moon than to convince someone you're not actually keeping a secret. Just gay or trans as a human, they could deal with, but believing I was really a pony deep inside would be far too fucked up even for them. Hopefully I wouldn't have trouble getting them to acknowledge I was only one on the outside and as surprised by it as they were.

Once I could convince them this had all happened by accident we'd all be a lot more comfortable and they'd devote more energy to helping me get back to normal than anyone I could think of.

Though if I went to sleep around them, it was almost certain they would shave something into my butt.

I could contact my mom and dad, but there wasn't much point, since both of them lived far away in Boston or Idaho, respectively, and hopefully by the time any of us could get to the other I'd be their fully human son again. If I called them I'd have to waste far too much time convincing them the girl on the phone was me and not some loopy tomboy friend I was colluding with to play pointless tricks on them (Me? Tricks?), oh and by the way I'm also totally a blue unicorn now, so...uh... Maybe you should get a plane ticket and a hotel and come, uh, hang out, I guess. Dad, bring hay, Mom, bring, uh, Benadryl 'cuz I'm probably not hypoallergenic.

If I got too much heat on me in the city, retreating to Dad's secluded spot in Idaho was an option. He'd enjoy seeing me once the shock wore off and we could still smoke cigars and drink whiskey and go hiking, and even fishing once I got this horn figured out, all away from the world's curious, burning gaze. And appropriately enough, aside from this entire morning, my last visit there was the closest I'd been to a real horse in many years. He didn't own any (that he knew about, as of today) but they were, you know, "around." I really hoped as an attempt at stealth I wouldn't be shoved in with them somewhere to play “new kid” and interact with them now, though, since we would probably not have anything in common. At least I hoped not....brrr.

The other problem with escaping to Idaho, however, was that unlike my dad, I didn't want to live out in the middle of nowhere. It might end up being my only safe option, but by god I was going to exhaust the rest of them first. I wasn't going to forever give up on the world or the kind of life I wanted merely for fear of what might happen if I were discovered. I would either be human again, or take my chances as as pony.

There was Mom, but going to Boston wouldn't be a change from where I was now, the only difference being that family was there instead of my friends. She'd be happy to do what she could to get me back to normal, but I couldn't go outside without risk of disaster and I'd only be a burden.

All of my other relatives were similarly spread throughout the country, and couldn't offer me any better aid or protection (who has experience with this kind of thing?) than anyone else closer, so family was a non-starter.

Steph was a powerful ally, however. She knew who I was, what I was, how I got to be it, and in fact was more clued in to my situation than anyone excluding myself. It was hard to remember to factor her in since I'd only known her for a total of maybe four hours, but her help would be invaluable and it seemed unfair to deprive someone so excited about seeing a real pony with the opportunity to see the whole thing through. She'd said “we.”

And “we'd” have to figure out a way to remain in contact in case we got separated. I didn't know if I could use my phone's touchscreen even if I found it, but if I had her number, at least, I could get someone else to dial it. The internet was another option, and I felt confident I could use a mouse with both front hooves (one to move and one to click) though they were too wide and round everywhere to consider trying to type with the edges of them. A pencil in my teeth would suffice if I got desperate.

Or magic, dumbass.

Magic! Of course! It's hard to remember a capacity you've never used, that you can't feel, and that you can't see the source of right on your forehead even if you cross your eyes and look up till they hurt. My bangs were in the way, but even if they weren't I doubt I'd be able to see it without straining upward. My ...snout on the other hand... God, now that I'd noticed it that huge blue translucency down there was all I could look at, like when you notice your own breathing and feel like you're going to have to consciously control it for the rest of your life. At least until you think about something else.

Like doing magic. OK. I thought about the experience with my tail, and wondered if there wasn't some way to prod this horn from the outside into doing something I could then feel on the inside and recreate. Electricity and magnets seemed like the most obvious choice, and I carefully crawled off the bed, narrowly avoiding landing in a heap on the floor, then waved my horn over the softly glowing laptop, the speakers, several lamps, and an electrical outlet (it even occurred to me to try sticking it in, but that was daft and anyway the blunted end was far too wide to fit) but no luck, and I resumed my prone position on the nice, soft bed. I tapped my horn increasingly hard with a hoof, trying to focus my attention on where it attached to my skull, but there was no sensation there that betrayed the existence of anything but bone.

In pretty much every story ever written about paranormal powers, extreme emotion seemed to be the key to switching them on for the first time. The “No, Boom” I'd heard it called, where our helpless heroine screams in terror at her approaching assailant, awakening her latent powers at the last moment and causing the unlucky schmuck's head to perform a 100% Organic fireworks display.

My own emotional state since finally confessing my true nature had been a tautly suspended equilibrium, like the skin of a drum stretched to immobility by incredible tension from every direction. At the moment I felt... Not relaxed, not even close, but perhaps “calm.” It was the kind of low-activity emotional state that was still pregnant with apprehension, like soldiers playing cards in a bunker, and I didn't think I'd be able to work myself into any kind of frenzy without becoming too overwhelmed by other future possibilities to maintain it. I couldn't even take advantage of my privacy to work myself into a different kind of agitation—There was no way I'd be able to keep my mind on my business.

I reflected that among my many problems at the moment (as much as they were all ultimately facets of the same problem) not being able to use this horn was far and away the most "first world" of the bunch. After all, I could have wound up an earth pony.

That thought made me far more uncomfortable than I was willing to acknowledge. Being an E.P. might have made it easier to pass myself off as an ordinary animal if I wanted to avoid massive attention, but if I were still blue and so humanly expressive that might have been impossible no matter what. I didn't think the supposed extra strength or endurance would come in handy when I was trying to stay hidden, and any power over plants and the soil would be next to useless here in the wind-blasted asphalt expanse of a major city—I doubted anyone would be moved enough by my generosity to leave me be if I presented them with a dandelion I'd summoned from between the sidewalk cracks.

That kind of thing was no good for some...pony like me. It Takes All Kinds, certainly, but when stood against the wondrous or impossible, the merely "instrumental" good of feeding and nurturing the community seemed like a stifling burden compared to the vastly horizon-expanding and fundamentally new capacities for exploration and knowledge I considered ends-in-themselves. Of course I wanted to be closer to Nature, but streams and hills and trees and fertile fields to till were incidental ornamentation in a world where Nature encompassed every extreme from the seething of subatomic quantum foam to the fathomless voids between galactic clusters.

I had zero interest in a pastoral lifestyle, or in agriculture and plants save as curiosities, so better communing with the biosphere, or more capability to productively engage in the necessary-but-loathsome banalities of daily existence sounded to me like being buried alive.

People told me to appreciate the small things in life, but what they failed to appreciate was that I had already wrapped that up—Each had been appreciated, assimilated, summarized, and cross-referenced in its little museum drawer, ready for mental combination with the others into something hopefully qualitatively different and interesting, the space between them collapsing as they're pulled from their respective archival drawers, each marked with precious little cards, proclaiming:

I was already frustrated enough with the tiny scope of human capabilities, and if other options were now, actually, finally available, I wanted my umwelt, my personal sensorium, not expanded but entirely redefined—To ignore all the new possibilities of (and for) creation in favor of what I already automatically perceived as life's texture would be an abdication of everything it meant to me to be a sapient being.

Having the transcendence of magic or the sublimity of flight dangled in front of me yet forever out of my reach would be an insult that I could never forgive. If changing breed was against the rules, then I would tear down heaven and earth to be the first exception or that would be the last rule they would ever make.

Suddenly that feeling was doubly charged with the knowledge of the inevitable injustice, compounded over who-knows-how-many millenia, of innocent ponies who ended up the "wrong" sort—An earth pony with a deep, abiding need to directly interact with the magic that undergirded her world, a unicorn who spent every waking moment looking at the sky and then incinerating the confining dirt at his feet in frustration and resentment, a pegasus who dreamed of making things grow to nurture the community and the strength to turn that into a life's unimpeachably pure and honest labor, and on and on. What a scope for suffering.

The casual injustice of Nature angered me enough on this world, and to think it might continue in another, where the ability to prevent it should be trivial, made me almost livid.

I was actually seeing red. No—I was touching red, in some impossible synasthetic confluence of perception in the space ahead of me, and it jolted me out of my rage. Ahead of me was a...patch of diffuse material about four feet in diameter and of the purest primary red. Only it wasn't any color at all, because I couldn't actually see it—as far as I could tell it had no physical existence whatsoever—but nevertheless some form of perception of which I'd been wholly unaware was pressing into it from all sides, informing me of its location several feet in front of my nose, and of its texture: A little like the resistance of pushing two identical poles of a magnet together, with a roiling fuzziness like static electricity on one's arm hair or the snow between TV channels.

It seemed, for lack of a better word, magical. Ah.

It was perhaps not the most saintly or big-hearted method, but inadvertently giving my horn the emotional kick it needed by riling myself up with the idea I might have been denied one in the first place had a pleasingly elliptical quality; appropriately just the kind of thing, out of the three possibilities, a unicorn would likely appreciate most.

Maybe it had never actually been a danger, and whatever force was responsible for matching minds with pony bodies would do so as reliably and subtly as the Hogwarts Sorting Hat, and nopony would end up in a niche they found intolerable. And even if they did, if the power existed to turn a non-pony such as myself into any kind of pony at all, surely the power existed to jump that much shorter gap. A force with enough psychology and graphic design prowess to craft a symbol representing each pony and engrave it on their tuchas surely wouldn't be so clueless as to let a much more fundamental, daily aspect of their existence be so woefully mismatched. There was a bit of a chicken-and-egg possibility, of course, that anypony of a certain breed simply wouldn't develop the kind of personality that would generate unmeetable needs in the first place, but the end result was the same.

Now that I could actually use this magic, however, those speculations suddenly became much, much less interesting.

Something was... going on on my forehead. Another space had been opened, or my awareness had extended to fill it, but it was “cold” and unlike any sensation I was familiar with. Placing all my attention on it, I was able to “tighten” or “slide” something that caused what felt like an electric arc to shoot out from my horn and roll along the far wall. It bisected the red-seeming blob floating in front of me, which suddenly dissolved into a shower of invisible curlicues.

There was a tapered cylinder of sensation in my horn that I could manipulate, causing more arcs to appear in front of me, seeming to snap to invisible lines of force like wires suspended in a magnetic field. I kept the icy sensation in my horn “tense,” and an arc held itself in midair, curving through the space ahead as I shifted that feeling back and forth. It suddenly jumped across a gap, staying anchored to both my horn and the spot on the wall, but curving now in the opposite direction.

I withdrew one foreleg and tapped my horn with a hoof—It felt almost like a tooth being touched, and I swallowed with apprehension at the knowledge I'd probably always have to keep it out of harm's way, then replaced my foreleg underneath me. There was magic to be done.

I'd been keeping it “tense,” and attempted to pull the arc backwards towards me, and it dragged something out of the air as it moved, like the wake of a speedboat. It curled through the air a bit like dye in water, and unthinkingly I tried to swat at it with that arc of energy. It turned solid, in a manner of speaking, and hovered in the air before fading away, while the “tether” of light momentarily stuck to it.

Gradually I developed a sense of what a horn was and what I was supposed to do with it. While it didn't physically move of course, by “moving” the sensation within it I was able to control a ghostly point of focus which could stir invisible “stuff” out of the air. Whatever it was I was creating seemed to have a mind of its own, and shifted shape and color as I batted it around. I tried to see how quickly I could move things, and the point of focus bifurcated as if I'd crossed whatever was the equivalent of my eyes. I now found myself controlling two invisible tendrils of energy, and then without warning as many as I could mentally hold. Any color I imagined as I touched these floating wisps of “aether” was transferred into them, and their behavior would suddenly change accordingly.

My overall impression was... No, that's not right. Hm. The closest thing I could compare it to would be a “breakthrough” salvia trip, or watching the end sequence of “2001,” somehow in braille, somehow outside of your body in the space in front of you.

A small part of me had been disappointed I wasn't a pegasus, since having an extra pair of limbs and then flying with them would have been an amazing experience... To tell the truth, however, that part of me would remain disappointed I was anything except an alicorn, and the rest of me was bowled over by how this was an entirely different order of experience altogether: Forget ordinary appendages of sinew and bone, I was creating sheets of force with a “muscle” it seemed my imagination had suddenly grown inside my horn.

I mean, this was magic. A different realm, with different rules, alongside our own—One that people had dreamed of for...forever...and here it was, right in front of me, and I was touching it with otherworldly senses and manipulators that before this moment I literally was incapable of imagining were possible. It really was a sixth sense, not like any of the others but just as unarguably real, like receiving cochlear implants and suddenly being able to hear for the first time. “Magic” was the only term worthy of it.

I made some green, smooth, very ductile material that was easy to stretch into long and complicated shapes that stayed still in the air like the trails of sparklers on a summer night, fading over about thirty seconds if I stopped paying attention to them.

I made a smooth crimson tetrahedron, and it split in half, then the halves split in half, and again and again until it had vanished into imperceptible dust.

I tried to make a sculpture of a person from the white base material, but I inadvertently changed it to blue and it instantly snapped into a low-fi holographic mirror of myself as a pony, invisible to normal sight. I dispelled it immediately with a shudder.

I made a yellow...thing...about the size of a standing human that began to rapidly turn itself inside out, cycling through about two dozen configurations in a way I had previously thought inconceivable outside of an M.C. Escher drawing, before abruptly imploding to a point.

I tried to make something gray, but it kept “slipping” out of my grasp into other colors instead.

I made a blue sphere, and tried to make it “pixellated,” with a texture of tiny stacked cubes, and as soon as I did so it flattened and stretched into a horizontal ring that expanded almost faster than I could perceive, zipping out through the walls until I lost track of it. I recalled that a sphere turning into a torus like that was mathematically impossible, at least in a purely topological sense, but more importantly I'd hoped I hadn't just pinged every other magic user in, god, hopefully not the whole solar system. I tried to convince myself it had dissipated quickly, if there was even anypony out there to see it.

I formed a disc of material but as soon as I colored it a kind of deep purple, it became “fuzzy” and developed a strong tendency to fold over onto itself and I had to consciously hold it open like the jaws of a bear trap. Eventually I couldn't maintain the pressure and it folded itself over and over until it was a small sphere. Deciding that whatever it was, it was beyond me at the moment, I let go, and it immediately “popped.”

Up until now, none of these forms had shown any hint of physical reality, but in the space occupied by the tiny purple dot, there was suddenly a bright yellow shower of sparks and a disconcertingly firecracker-like report. I was simultaneously elated to have it confirmed I wasn't actually hallucinating any of this, and afraid I might have just set the carpet on fire, though the sparks dissolved before they hit the floor.

I decided not to try any more colors or textures until I was either far away from anything flammable or was able to get some kind of guidance.

Dear Princess Celestia, please send some books on what any of this shit is, and also the instructions for how to shoot some lasers at fools. Make sure they're in English, though—Can't read no Pon-ese.

I pulled out another “mass” of material and began to play around with it, getting comfortable controlling whatever extended force of mine it was that was manipulating this invisible field.

Overall it reminded me just a little of a 3D printer. I was generating a shape in the external world from abstract plans in my head, able to vary the “material” inside it by thinking in different colors or textures as I “touched” it with the appropriate kind of force field. It seemed likely that creating interacting parts out of various shapes of different magical “materials” was how more complex spells were attempted. If that were the case—if spells really were massive hyperdimensional “machines,” or a kind of command syntax, like a spatial equivalent of the strings of magic words in so many fantasy stories, and these strange forms were the individual sub-commands you'd assemble into some kind of grammar—then Twilight Sparkle's rationalist, scientific bent suddenly made lot more sense, as did the need for extensive study to be proficient in any magic at all. Maybe this was like magic's “GUI” and familiar metaphors about “weaving” spells suddenly took on a much more literal cast.

Right now I was like a caveman when it came to magic and hadn't even discovered the equivalent of the wheel, let alone the pulley, inclined plane, or Large Hadron Collider, but I felt that there were rules, and they were graspable, as clearly different as they were from the rules obeyed by “physical” machines.

I thought of teleporting and Twilight's horn “lasers,” and imagined the invisible, surrealistic, non-euclidean “gateways” and “cannons” she must have been constructing from memory with furious speed. How transformation spells might work I couldn't begin to guess, despite their sudden relevance to my life, but I had a brief mental image of ethereal alligator clamps going between the target object and an invisible blueprint, with a Frankensteinian switch hovering nearby waiting to be thrown. I could already feel that magic could theoretically perform its motions as fast as they could be imagined, working with robotic speed and precision (Maybe a truly powerful unicorn is at all times surrounded by an invisible “factory,” even), but I blanched at the idea of remembering hundreds of schematics or recipes to instantly assemble impossible contraptions at a whim, and the unlimited combinatorial possibilities for new and powerful spells once one understood what each of those surreal “units” was actually for.

Equestria in fact had incredibly high technology, just not the kind you can see in only three dimensions. To a unicorn (or perhaps any pony) the entire countryside was no doubt a hymn to industry, worked into its beautiful shapes by legions of quietly purring, elegant, invisible contrivances called spells.

I momentarily recalled the colossal, prismatic “Indra's Net” lattice I'd seen in that dream, stretching its inscrutable components across the solar system to engulf the very sun, and on the chance that it really existed I marveled at the potential of the realm into which I had just stepped.

If being a pony was permanent, it was not without its perks. Putting that now uncomfortably ambivalent notion aside, however, I continued experimenting.

The default magical “substance” was white and almost slippery-smooth, though of course it wasn't really white at all, but “felt” white when I touched it. It had a consistency that reminded me of those magnetic flake toys you sometimes see on office desks, where you can push them into various shapes and they'll stay that way—Or of very malleable clay, if it were perfectly elastic and lighter than air. It had a “volume” that stayed fixed if ignored, but I could “pull” more of it out or “push” it back in, in a way that reminded me of theories about objects in a higher spatial dimension extruding through ours—Like a cone, say, moving through a two dimensional sheet on which it would seem to be a mysteriously growing or shrinking circle.

When brought in contact with a solid object, the field conformed to it without resistance, becoming visible as blue “foxfire,” reminding me of electromagnetic phenomena like ball lightning or hot plasma. I immediately guessed what it was and why it was blue, as well as what my horn must also look like at the moment, and glanced out to indeed see little blue highlights glinting off almost every shiny surface. I shoved all of the field away to where it came from except for a blob about six inches across, which I pushed into a pen on the desk across from me until it engulfed the pen entirely, blue haze about an inch thick glowing around it, then I pulled on the material. Immediately the pen lifted off the desk, held in the center of the blank, blue-glowing “field,” and like the field, would stay stationary wherever I pushed it.

I was not even close to the point where 'levitation would have been a breeze,' but it was at least doable, and if I could keep it up I felt like I'd be much less at the mercy of an environment not geared toward the handless. I pushed the pen back and forth through the air, then set it back down on the table. I didn't feel confident enough yet in my control to try to write anything, and didn't want to interrupt this experience to look for paper to do it on.

Besides, my horn was actually beginning to ache, and I noticed that I was a bit short of breath. This really was physically taxing, and I wondered how much stamina I would have to build up before less than ten minutes of messing around wouldn't leave me winded and I could cast something resembling a real spell.

Nevertheless I felt a great deal of confidence and connection to an increasingly real-seeming Equestria. Surely this whole realm of esoteric power hadn't been concocted just for me to play around in on my own.

So which came first, the show or the... place? Almost certainly the real Equestria existed prior—Real places and events had been turned into fiction countless times but I wasn't aware of any examples of the opposite, at least outside of a theme park (And a theme park that could turn people into ponies you'd think would be more famous). So somehow it'd been leaking through, or implanted in human minds like the images of Devil's Tower in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Maybe that synergy is how it got so popular. Who knows? The alternative was some fathomlessly powerful mentality “playing” Equestria (giving another layer to Discord's resemblance to Q, I smirked), but not having anything even remotely in the same league in terms of experience to make a call over which was more plausible, or even how to tell them apart, I figured in either case my best course of action was to play along.

Ironically, dealing with the real Equestria might be more dangerous, I thought. A mysterious black Monolith or Discord-like being playing a game with me based on a work of fiction would be more likely to keep to the canon that we mutually understood, but if he was out there, the real Discord, or any number of similar trickster demigods or razor-fanged monsters waiting in the wings, would have no reason for any such compunction and be far more unpredictable. The one ray of hope was that if Discord or Chrysalis or Sombra or whomever really existed, the powerful and apparently omnibenevolent Celestia likely did as well, and I could think of no better sun goddess to have in your corner. I hoped if she were out there she knew I wanted some guidance, and also didn't mind that I wanted to see if she really did look that cute eating cake. And if Luna looked that cute just standing around.

Suddenly I realized for the last several minutes I'd been so taken with magic and my own thoughts that I'd been ignoring some loud talking coming from downstairs, and the futile attempts by my ears to alert me to it by pointing at the door. Unfamiliar voices, mostly, but I thought I could make out Douglass and Steph, talking to at least one man and woman. They were muffled and unintelligible, but the way they climbed up and down in intensity made it clear they weren't entirely playing nice. There was a brief period of silence, and then I heard a series of sharp thunks coming up the stairs. Steph burst through the door and almost slammed it behind her, slowing down at the last instant to avoid making a racket.

“OK, um...OK... You gotta go.”

“What...!?” My stomach sank. I was in real trouble now, wasn't I?

“Shhhh!” Steph lightly stepped over to me and knelt so that her face was only a little below mine. “Do you remember Adam, the roommate from last night?”

I mimicked her hushed tones. “Uhhhh, kinda stocky guy, super short hair, uh, works in IT? Smiles like this?

“You can say he's black, you know. But anyway, yeah, that's him. He left really early this morning to go into work, before we all got up, and he, um, saw you.”


“And he called the cops.” My eyes bulged. “Or... I mean, not the cops, but like animal control or a game warden or something, and some cops just came along because they wanted to track down who was mistreating, um, you.”

“And they're downstairs right now, aren't they?”

“Yeah. Adam just came right in with them on his lunch break or something, and...um... you shed a little bit on the couch.”

“Oh...” I felt a mixture of dread at leaving evidence and shame at leaving a mess. “Sorry...”

“No, we should be sorry. We, um, we kinda fucked up.” She sucked her teeth, and I blinked conspicuously to prompt her to elaborate. “We didn't know what to do—None of us were on the same page, but Ben kinda stepped in and said you'd run off, and we didn't stop you because you were kinda agitated and we didn't want to get kicked or bitten or anything.”

“Uhhhh, alright...”

“But now they wanna look around and stuff, and the two cops with them noticed there was a party here and now they're all interested in anything that might have, um, happened. Adam caught on pretty quick, plus he doesn't want them snooping around any more than we do.”

“Wait, why didn't they follow you up here? Oh shit, did they!?”

“No, I don't think so... I dunno... There are all of us downstairs, and then with the three animal control guys, and leftover stuff from the party all vying for their attention and I think they're just kinda confused. And Ben is amazing! He got up and just sorta... He's like leading them around out back on the kitchen and the deck, saying you got up and walked all around there. He also made up stuff about your, um, 'owner' being there and that's really got a hold on them. That's when I ran up here.”

“Wow, uh... Tell him thanks...” He'd been so silent and detached before, but maybe that was simply a pragmatic, worldly nature that refused to touch situations he didn't know how to handle. Talking to a unicorn might be outside his purview, but talking to cops was a damn useful skill to have—The common advice that one shouldn't do it ever was not really applicable once the ice had been broken.

“But you gotta go! They're gonna come up here any minute!”

“Uhh, how do I...”

Steph shot to her feet and over to the window, putting her weight underneath the middle frame and pushing upwards.

“Ohhh no... You gotta be kidding...”

It slid open with a wooden squeak, and she lifted it up with her palms until it was flush with the top pane. “I think you can fit. It's, uh...” She stuck her head out and looked down. “There's a dumpster right below here. It's actually not that far if you dangle down first. Go out backwards, and then hook your...arms over the windowsill.”

“Uh, I, uh...”

“C'mon!” She was right, there really wasn't any time to argue. I slid my forelegs out from under me and pushed with my back pair to send myself forward, then caught myself on the floor, and walked forward until my back legs fell off the bed. It felt so much harder when I knew I had to hurry. I glanced behind me, but on the dark purple bedspread I couldn't see clearly if I'd left any traces or not. Steph chimed in again. “Yeah, I'll ditch the covers. C'mon!”

“Uhh...” It took me a second to remember how to walk with my mind moving this fast, but I moved as quickly as I could over to the window, while Steph placed a chair up against the wall, so its back was pressed against the sill. I moved up to it, then turned around and, looking carefully behind me, lifted my back legs onto it, then pulled myself in, then with some trepidation lifted one back leg and then the other so they were sticking out the window, alternating with raising my front legs onto the chair.

I started sliding myself backwards out the window until I would reach a tipping point. Steph was right, I was able to fit, and—
"Are you OK!? Why did you just squeak?"

"Y-you were right about where my nipples are," I hissed, more at myself for even making such a sound.

I continued sliding out the door, then as my center of gravity passed the windowsill my front legs began to rise, and Steph grabbed them to help steady me while I hooked them over the frame. My head was still inside, and as I pulled it out, I cracked my horn on the wooden bottom of the pane.

“Augh!” I winced. It really did feel like hitting a tooth.

I was now dangling out the window, my back legs and stomach pressed against the wooden siding while my head hovered at the level of the wooden frame. I felt heavy, but only a bit more than when doing an ordinary pullup, even though my grip on the windowsill with what used to be my wrists was less than ideal, digging into the insides of my "front knees."

I was able to crane my neck quite far to the side and look down to assess my landing spot. Steph was right, there was a dumpster almost directly below me, but she neglected to mention that the lid was closed. I stared at it and gaped vacantly as I wondered if I could use magic to open it. Or if landing in garbage would even be preferable.

“I think if you let go you'll be fine!” Steph still had her hands on my forelegs but wasn't gripping them anymore.

“W...Wait!” It still seemed like quite a drop, though it couldn't have been more than five feet from the dumpster lid to my hanging bottom hooves. “...What should I do?” Once I was out in the alley, I was back to square one, really. And there was no Rainbow Dash down there to catch me if I let go.

“I...uh...” She hadn't really thought about it either. It just seemed natural to flee. “Get somewhere safe, contact your friends...? Uh, or call—” She smooshed her eyes shut at the realization I didn't have a phone or a way to dial it. “I know who you are now, so I'll try to find you online or something. I wouldn't come back here, though!”

“Th...Thanks! Thanks for everything—I'm sure I'll be alright.” That wan't true.

“You will!” She gave me a peck on the cheek, with a perfect imitation of Princess Leia's "For luck!" causing me to start sliding back in surprise. Here we go...

I let my forelegs slide off the windowsill and let my back legs go loose to absorb the impact. I hit the dumpster with a heavy metallic bang, my legs collapsed into my stomach, and I fell onto my butt while rolling sideways off the plastic lid. Fortunately it had a lot of give, or my legs probably would have ached a lot more than they did. The uncomfortable thought flashed through my head that normally a hard landing like that would make my balls hurt, as opposed to another pair of sensations informing me I wasn't quite as much of a 'surfboard' as I'd hoped. I lifted my head up as I fell so I wouldn't smack it on the concrete, then landed hard on my stomach, knees, and forehooves. And the smell—Ugh, stupid pony nose...

I lay there for a second and desperately hoped the noise wasn't too obvious, then raised myself onto all fours again. I looked back at my knees and was relieved to see they weren't scraped, but my coat was mussed and gritty in several places along my sides and legs. My back hooves still stung a little bit, but I was undamaged.

And utterly unsure of what to do. I glanced up and saw that Steph had closed the window, and hopefully was hiding any evidence left behind that I'd been lying on that bed. Had the authorities heard me fall? It sounded like regular alley clatter, so hopefully they'd chalk it up to someone taking out their trash, since any “amazing diving horse” is traditionally expected to land in a tank of water.

Looking behind me, I could see I was exposed to the street, so I quickly stumbled to the opposite side of the dumpster to get out of sight. I was in shadow, but anyone looking out of the windows on the opposite side of the alley would easily see me.

...Oh no... What if none of this had even been necessary? Besides just a healthy wariness of cops, why was I so worried about the police? Being a talking pony wasn't against the law. I doubted there was even a procedure for this and it would only embroil them in my situation, so why would they be any more likely to give me trouble than to exercise discretion and forget the whole thing? Their job was to serve and protect, which sometimes they actually did, and didn't my even being able to articulate that mean I still counted? At the very least I could threaten them with causing an interdimensional diplomatic incident...

And what if they analyzed the hair I left behind to see what kind of dye was in it, as a lead on their imaginary suspect who's abusing and then abandoning potentially dangerous animals around town? What would they do if they found out it was natural? It was still just pigment either way, so would they even be able to tell? There are natural dyes made from plants and stuff, right? Plants can be blue.

Maybe I should have stayed, and also tried to win the cooperation of these trained professionals, instead of taking my chances with just anyone on the street. This way it was only a matter of time before I joined the Alabama Leprechaun as a local news legend.
Who all seen the unicorn, say YEAAAAAAAH

The Fuzz inside were still a complete unknown, and the fewer people involved the better. And I was wasting time out here. “So long, dogcatchers! 'Fuckity-bye!'” I allowed myself to mumble by way of closure.

I wanted to go home. So that's what I decided to do.

I glanced around, trying to orient myself. My view was completely blocked on every side except one. There was a rectangle of blue sky overhead, but I couldn't see the sun, and I couldn't see the skyscrapers downtown to act as a compass. Back alleys would keep me reasonably hidden, but I didn't want to spend one second longer outside than necessary.

Especially not here. Once the Heat was done inside, no doubt they'd do a once-over of the block, trying to find any hoof prints or other evidence of where I'd wandered off to before I bit a kid or whatever they were afraid I might do.

There was really only one direction to go, so I straightened myself out, and put one hoof in front of the other.