• Published 2nd Jun 2013
  • 2,057 Views, 33 Comments

Flutter By - Radiant Dawn

She's lost, without any idea how or why. Now she's completely isolated on an unknown world with no way to get home...a world she has found to be loud, scary, and rather alien.

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Chapter 3: A Cloudy New Day

Chapter 3: A Cloudy New Day

Waking up came slowly for me, more than I was used to. Before coming to this world, I was so used to waking up before the sun rose to tend to the animals that depended upon me, and even since being here, I slept so little that I was used to watching the sun rise. The rising of the sun and the moon had been one of the few comfortable constants in my life since coming here, as it looked so similar to the way it happened in Equestria. This morning however, I woke to the sun’s rays filtering through the closed blinds in Geoff’s room, and the sound and smell of him cooking something downstairs.

I gently pushed the blanket and sheet away from myself before slowly standing and stretching my aching limbs. I was sore from being still for so long ‒ as up until this point, I slept an average of only four hours per night ‒ but it was a good kind of sore. It reminded me that my body was already beginning to repair itself.

I carefully stepped down from the bed itself and prepared to make my way downstairs, only to be stopped in my tracks by a rather strong scent. I stopped and sniffed the air a few times before scrunching my face up in disgust as I realized the smell was emanating from me. True that I bathed whenever I could, but without adequate safe areas until now, it had been nearly a week since I had last bathed, and even longer since I had used soap. With that in mind I decided to take Geoff up on his offer to bathe, and exited the room and turned right, entering the washroom.

Seeing as how Geoff’s kind was so much taller than a pony, it made sense that everything in the washroom was so much larger than I was used to. It would make grooming myself a little difficult, but I would find a way to do it since I had been offered.

Luckily for me as I looked over the plumbing of the shower, I noticed that it was very similar to what ponies used, except with a metal hose that connected to a strange wall-mounted box, which led to a detached shower head that was held on a small chrome hook on the tiled wall. I eyed the unknown box warily, unsure of what it did.

“It’s a power shower.” spoke Geoff’s voice from behind, surprising me and causing me to let out a small noise of surprise.

I took a moment to compose myself before turning to him quizzically. “A power shower?”

He nodded before walking past me, pointing to the small knob upon the little box. “This controls the pressure of the water. It’s a useful little device for a place that is lacking in natural water pressure.”

I was more than a little intrigued at the device. Truth be told, many parts of Ponyville could make good use of such a thing.

“Anyway,” he continued, “I figured I would explain what it was so you didn’t have a heart attack when it came on.” He then reached up to a hook that was upon the door and pulled down a pair of large teal-colored towels, folding and leaving them upon the lid of what could only be a toilet bowl. “Here’s a few towels, and I already told you where the soaps are in there. I’ll have a hot breakfast ready for you when you’ve finished.” Without another word, he left the room and closed the door behind him.

I stared at the closed door for a moment before sighing and turning back to the shower, happy to finally have soap to use and hot water.

I reached in and cautiously turned the blue knob, which I assume was for the cold water. The water flowed through the lower faucet liberally, and I ran my hoof through it as I turned the other knob ‒ the red one ‒ trying to adjust the water to a comfortable temperature. It was incredible just how similar everything was to my own plumbing back home, and I was happy to feel that sort of similarity.

Once the water was warm enough, I turned the center knob and watched as the water rerouted to the shower head, and then stepped into the warm stream of water with a sigh of relief. It felt wonderful to be using a real shower again, and it was clear my skin agreed with me as I felt the itchiness from going unwashed fade away. I then looked to my left and smiled as I carefully used my wings to grasp the soap bottles provided to me, and set about washing myself.

As I descended the stairs with the provided towel wrapped around my mane, I couldn’t help but be a little bit disgusted with myself at how bright and vibrant my decidedly-thin coat was compared to before washing. That meant that I was filthy beforehand, and still Geoff had let me sleep like that in his bed. I wanted to wash the bed linens because of that, but simply because of the fact that I was unsure where I would wash them, I decided to wait until he did so, and offer my help at that time.

Embarrassingly, my stomach was more worried about breakfast at the moment.

It took only a few seconds to find the kitchen area, and when I did, I entered as quietly as possible and sat at the table, attempting to sit as comfortably as possible in the large chair provided to me. True that it wasn’t made for a pony, but the extra space at the back allowed comfortable space for my sparsely-feathered wings, which also reminded me that I needed to preen at some point.

“Good morning to you, Fluttershy.” greeted Geoff from his place at the stove, not even turning to look at me. “I do hope the washing implements were useful.”

I nodded, though he clearly didn’t see it. “They were. Thank you so much. I feel so much better now that I’m clean.” I then shifted a bit uneasily as I added, “A-and I’m sorry about sleeping in your bed when I was so filthy.”

Again, without turning around, he waved his hand dismissively at me. “It is no trouble. Your health is far more important than the cleanliness of my bed. Besides, that’s what washing powder is for. I’ll put them on to wash after we’re finished with breakfast, that way you can have a clean place to sleep tonight.”

It still surprised me just how kind a perfect stranger was being to me. Part of me wondered whether his kindness was simply “just because”, or whether he was kind only because I was his way back to Equestria. Personally, I hoped for the former, but also kept the possibility of the latter in mind.

“So um…” I began, questioning whether I should delve into his personal life, “w-what do you do for a living?”

He chuckled lightly before turning to face me for the first time, leaning against the counter. “I was wondering when you would ask me that. Curiously enough, I don’t specifically have a set career. I do whatever catches my fancy really, as over the centuries I have become quite skilled in just about anything you could think of. From music to war, and from healing to technology, I try and learn all that I can. One never knows when a certain skill may be of use, after all. Currently though, I work as a shepherd for sheep. It is a quiet life, and company is rare, save when I go to market to sell the sheep or wool.” He then turned his eyes toward the window behind me and smiled. “It will be a calm day today, so if you wish, I can show you what I do. You can meet Moon Lily and Rex, my two dogs.”

The mention of animals instantly brightened my mood a bit more, and I couldn’t help but smile excitedly as I nodded. “Oh yes, that sounds wonderful!”

He chuckled at my behavior and turned back to the stove, stirring a sizzling pan of something that smelled wonderful. “Well I am glad you approve.” He then picked up the pan and slid the contents of the pan onto two plates, then he asked, “I seem to have forgotten, but do ponies eat eggs?”

I shrugged. “I suppose it’s up to the pony. Pegasi and earth-ponies tend to eat them more than unicorns. I personally don’t care for them.”

He nodded before finishing what he was doing. A minute or two later, he turned to me and brought the two plates over to the table, setting one in front of me. I could see and smell what looked like scrambled eggs and a few meats on his plate, while mine was an assortment of toast, beans in some sort of reddish sauce, fresh-cut tomatoes, and a few fried potatoes, and sautéed mushrooms. The rest looked wonderful, but I was a little wary of the red sauce the beans were in.

He must have noticed my apprehension, since he pointed to my plate as he took a seat across from me. “The sauce is just tomato sauce. I promise, there isn’t any meat on your plate.”

I nodded gratefully before carefully picking up the fork provided to me with my right wingtip feathers, carefully holding it before dipping it forward onto the plate to spear some of the tomatoes and mushroom. I then brought it to my mouth and took a bite. As the flavors invaded my taste buds, I nearly moaned in great approval of the taste, and offered a smile to Geoff.

He pointed his own fork at me before warning, “Don’t try and eat all of that if you start feeling full. Overfeeding could actually do more harm to you than good, so once you’re satisfied, just let me know. I just wanted to give you a good variety is all. The dogs enjoy the leftovers anyway.”

I nodded again before setting back into the lovely breakfast, happy to eat my first real meal in longer than I cared to think about. Truthfully, I couldn’t remember if I’d ever eaten this good at home either, but either way I was very pleased with how he was caring for me. So rare was it that I actually let somepony take care of me that I honestly didn’t know how nice it was. Sure, I still wanted to pay him back somehow for his help, but I couldn’t deny that it felt nice to be cared for.

And yet again, the food was incredible.

It had taken nearly an hour to finish breakfast, as not only did I take my time so as to keep from causing harm to myself, but I also found myself interested in Geoff and his life on this world, namely in the differences he had found between it and Equestria. He told me that there were quite a few things that were similar between our two races, but also there were just as many things different as well. He assumed it had something to do with the fact that humans were the apex predator of the entire planet of Earth, but couldn’t definitively prove anything in regards to it.

After he started his bed linens washing, he continued to explain to me as much as he could as we approached a wide open field where some sheep could be seen grazing, with some of the most lush green grass I had ever seen. It was so peaceful a place, and just from the atmosphere surrounding us, it felt like the meadows near my home in Equestria. If only for a second as I reveled in the beauty of the landscape, I didn’t miss home.

A flash of movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention, and I turned to see two dogs running toward us. Just from looking at them, I could tell they were the same breed as Winona, Applejack’s border collie. One of them was a deep reddish-brown with patches of white along the chest, paws, and face, while the other was a whitewashed version of its friend, only with more white.

“Border collies!” I exclaimed with a smile, looking to Geoff. “Applejack has one on her farm that helps her herd the cows.”

Geoff seemed impressed as he gazed down at me with a smile. “Ah, so you’re familiar with the breed. Brilliant animals, aren’t they?”

I nodded happily as the two dogs bounded toward me, clearly unsure if I was meant to be greeted like a human, or herded. For a moment, I could see them both take their crouched stance in front of me, but a simple noise from their owner caused them to lay down and wait for us to approach.

As I trotted next to Geoff, I could already feel the effects of my emaciation, but was too overjoyed to care for the time being, so I instead happily greeted the dogs with a smile and “kissing” noises, which I remembered Winona loving for some reason. Apparently, the two dogs quickly decided that a “herd animal” wouldn’t be making such noises, as their expressions changed from focused stares to curiousness.

When Geoff and I finally reached the two dogs, he took a knee before them and patted the one on the left ‒ the one with a darker fur color ‒ and gestured with his head to me. “Come on then, go say hi.”

The dog approached me slowly and sniffed around my face for a moment before dropping its chest to the ground in the familiar “play with me!” stance that I knew from domesticated canines. This meant that I was accepted as a friend of its master, instead of something to be herded. The other dog quickly followed suit, and before I knew it the two were prancing playfully around me as they traded licks and yips of excitement.

I had missed this.

“Well,” Geoff chuckled out with a smile, “I am so glad they accepted you so quickly. I’ve always held the firm belief that animals can sense a good person, and this just proves that fact.” He then patted the darker one’s back and explained, “This is Moon Lily,” he then passed his attention to the other, “and this is Rex. They’re both mates and have been working this land with me for nearly five years now. Got them both as pups, and raised them myself.”

I giggled as Rex gave an affectionate lick to my nose, and grinned at Geoff. “They’re beautiful, Geoff.”

He nodded before standing again and stating, “Time to work, you lot.” Instantly, the dogs turned their attention to the sheep. “Walk on.” At this command, both dogs approached the flock of sheep at a crouched walk, their gazes never leaving the flock itself.

As I continued to watch, I faintly heard Geoff call out some other commands, which caused the dogs to circle the sheep different directions, as well as stop or even lay down on command. Truthfully, I wasn’t listening. Instead, I was focused on just how beautiful it was to watch the two working dogs be in perfect sync with their owner. It was artistry in itself, and it was a sight to behold.

After a few moments of this, the word “pen” snapped me out of my daydream, and I watched as the two dogs slowly herded the sheep into a small fenced pen in the middle of the field, and when Geoff closed the sheep within by locking the gate, the dogs stood still and waited patiently.

After a few moments of silence, Geoff smiled at the two dogs and stated, “That’ll do. Well done.”

Clearly “work” was over, as the two dogs bounded away from the sheep and back to me, while Geoff let the sheep out of their pen again.

“Well,” he announced, making his way back over to me, “that’s pretty much it. For the most part, the dogs protect the sheep and herd them to where I need to go, while also keeping a lookout for thieves that might try to steal the sheep.”

I nodded as I nuzzled the panting dogs, amazed at just how useful such a bright animal could be in nearly any type of work. “Yes. Applejack’s does the same thing for her, except with cows. It’s amazing how well they work for you.”

He nudged my shoulder with his hand as he motioned to the house. “Well, it’ll be lunchtime soon, and you can’t afford to skip a meal. Come on then, let’s head back in for now. We’ve got to get you healthy, and that won’t be happening if you don’t eat some good food.”

I offered him a smile before I turned towards the home, following Geoff as he led me back to his house.

Lunch was a simple sandwich of lettuce, tomatoes, and green cucumbers, which I was thankful for. Technically the cucumbers weren’t ripe, but I had never particularly liked the bitterness of the ripened version.

Another thing I found strange was the fact that so much of the flora of Earth was either similar or identical to that of Equestria. For example, I even recognized the grass-type as carpetgrass, which was a type of grass that thrived in low-light, moist areas. Even the tomatoes that I had eaten tasted so similar to the ones that Applejack grew on her farm, which had me wondering just how similar the two worlds were.

The only thing that seems to separate the two worlds is magic (or lack thereof).

Thankfully for me, the rest of the day was very calm as well, which gave me plenty of time to rest and recuperate from my starvation and lack of adequate sleep. Geoff saw fit to introduce television to me, which was a wondrous experience. It was a strange flattened device with a “screen” on front which projected moving pictures, as if I were looking into one of Twilight’s scrying gems. Most of the choices (which Geoff told me were called “programs”) spoke of things that I didn’t understand, but the daily news was what caught my attention, and I thought I would make my confusion known.

Geoff and I were sharing space upon his sofa (which I decided was the sofa to end all sofas) and watching his daily news channel when the weather report flickered onto the television.

“Wait,” I began, trying to understand what was happening as I formulated my question, “humans can predict the weather? I thought you told me that humans don’t control the weather.”

Geoff looked to me and nodded, then gestured back to the television. “We don’t. The predictions are basically an educated guess, using what humans know about meteorology, physics, and the different factors that make up our weather patterns for the world. This includes high-altitude jet streams, high- and low-pressure systems, as well as seasonal occurrences. Using all that information, the news people can make a good guess as to how the weather will behave. It’s not spot-on, but it’s as close as humans can get to predicting the future.” I formed my lips into a silent “oh” before turning my attention back to the television, seeing that rain was scheduled for the next six days, which caused Geoff to chuckle. “Well, that’s England for you. At least it’s consistent.”

I giggled at his response and said, “It reminds me of Trottingham back home. I remember a joke that said, ‘If it’s not raining, start looking for Discord.’ I’ve never actually been there, but we have a few ponies in Ponyville from there, and they described it to be...well, like here.”

He nodded with a smile. “It’s mild weather though. We don’t get mad storms like some of the other parts of the world, and nor do we get a week or so straight of boiling heat either. Like I said, it’s consistent for the most part.”

I smiled gently as my eyelids began to droop, and I found myself beginning to fight to stay awake. Unfortunately for me it was a losing battle, but Geoff didn’t seem to mind as I laid my chin down on his knee as I closed my eyes. Instead, he busied his hand with running through my mane, which was so relaxing that before I knew it, I was asleep again.

A/N: Moon Lily and Rex are based off of my own two dogs, Piper and Laddie. Beautiful dogs, and anyone that has experience with border collies will agree that once you get one, no other breed compares in terms of intelligence and ease of training.