• Published 15th Mar 2014
  • 538 Views, 14 Comments

Where Southern Birds Fly - Quicksear



Thrown to the dogs in a world not her own, can one pony find the help she needs to recover, and maybe, just maybe, get back home?

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1. Collection

My name is Ditzy Doo, and I am not one of you. I'm a different being altogether, in ways neither of our kinds fully understand. Maybe, if things had been different, we would know more by now, but...personally, I don't think we should. Not after what happened to me, to the friends I made in your world. Maybe one day, when you understand peace at heart, but not now. I bear the scars as testament to the evil you are capable of, but the fact that I am here at all proves the good in your hearts.

It is not a pretty story, none the better for me never really seeing any of it, but it is a good one. because despite what I went through, I learned more about myself than I ever could have before, even though it took losing everything I ever was. The very first thing I remember, and where it all starts, is with a question...

*****

Why?

...I don’t know why. I don’t know where, either.

I don’t know why I’m here in the dark. I don’t know why they lock me up or hit me when they want to. I don’t know what they want me to do, or why they let those other mean animals attack me.

I tried to talk to them, say hello. Ask directions back to...well, I don’t know where to anymore.

I don’t really know much, now.

I remember little bits sometimes, when I’m allowed to sleep and the pain isn't too much. It seems like I’d be able to get a lot of sleep here in the dark. But this rope around my hooves is really uncomfortable. I think I’m bleeding.

So yes, memories are pleasant compared. I remember flying. Flying must be fun. I remember the cool breeze through my mane, in my fur. Is that why I have wings? To soar so high in the clouds? I don’t know, because they are tied up too. I remember flying to...fetch something, something important, and then not knowing where that something was, not knowing where I was. A bright light around me. Then I saw a roof, and went down to see if whoever was there could help me.

They didn't.

I tried to talk to them, say hello...

After that, my next memory is of ropes, a circle of shouting, leering faces, heaving dirty limbs, and one of those Creatures. The ones with the teeth and the claws. It wanted to fight. No, that’s not right; fighting was all it knew. I tried to calm it down, but it didn't really want to listen, or couldn’t understand. It bit me. A lot.

So they – whatever they are – threw me down here, with ropes around my fetlocks and neck, and a few strips of cloth wrapped around the bite marks to stop me from dying.

I want to go home. I don’t know where Home is, or what it’s like, but I’m sure it has light, at least. I like the sunshine. I think. I haven’t seen it in a while. And every time they take me out it’s just to fight another one of those Creatures with the teeth, in the darkness. A deeper darkness, a sad darkness. I can’t help but think that the shadows outside the ring of light the Tall Ones thrust me into have eyes, watching me, watching the fights, and they cry. I don’t often look out, though. I’m too busy trying to run.

The Fights. So many fights they've thrown me into. Sometimes, in the evening when the shadows are only crawling out, they’ll throw me into their circle of high crates with two chains wrapped around my middle, pinning my wings so that all I can do is look at the scared and confused young pups they throw in first. ‘Young blood to wet the ground’, they say, along with mine. Mostly mine. It doesn't take long for the incomprehensible screaming to whip the young ones into fury. Or terror, I’m not sure.

Other times, though, they haul me up in the dead of night and pit me against an old scarred, beaten, bleeding killer. A creature beyond pity, fear or empathy. A creature who listened to the screams of the Tall Ones, goaded into higher fury at their innumerable voices Those nights I barely crawl out alive.

One night, though, I found myself under the ring of dirt-stained faces, standing in the crimson dust and fur, staring down at his red eyes. That creature, white as snow, except for his bloodied maw: he’d already won a fight, and I was his little victory present. I was just chew toy for the good boy, the winner. Not a voice was heard when he was the the one lying in the dirt, dying.

And now I can’t remember anything straight.

My throat hurts. I think I was bitten, it doesn't feel like a bruise. My wings feel bruised. That’s how I know they’re there, under the ropes. I don’t have much else to go on. I can’t hear anything other than myself, and I can’t make much noise anymore. I used to, I remember that. I used to sing, strange as that sounds All I can feel other than pain is dirt under me, a hard wall to lean on, and the feeling of ragged mane falling into my eyes. I don’t even stop that anymore. I just let my eye twitch and wait for it to resolve itself. Not very smart, maybe, but I can’t feel that eye anyway.

Smart...I think I used to be smart. Maybe not clever, but I’m sure I used to be smart. I don’t know what the difference is, but that’s what I remember. This is why I say ‘used to be’. Maybe a friend told me that? I’m sure I used to have those, too, some other creature like me, someone to call mine, someone I could trust, someone to laugh with and be happy for. I’d like a friend.

Actually, no. I wouldn't. Because then they’d be here with me. What I really want is to either be out of this hole, up through the doorway they always throw me through, with my hooves loose one last time. I know those creatures with the teeth and the claws and the scared eyes aren't bad. I know those Tall Ones who make us fight are. Because I used to be smart. And next time one of those Tall Ones opens the door to throw something down here for me eat and call me bad names, I’ll find a way out, even if they just beat me again.

Because I used to have a Name.

Because dying would be better than lying here in the darkness, in the cold and the wet, only left alone long enough for the bleeding to stop before being thrown into the next fight.

Oh, look, the door’s opening. Oh Maker, it’s bright...

Oh, why won’t they let me just die?

*****

“Tory! What the hell are you doing over there, we’ve got dogs to count...Tory? Tory!”

Tory jerked back from the low cellar door and looked about the busy yard. He had to lean out further from his secluded corner of the ramshackle building to spot the severe-looking tallier scowling in Tory’s direction.

At least Tory had the decency to look contrite. “Sorry, Doc, but – ow!

That exclamation certainly got the older man’s attention. As to why; both men’s full attention was taken up with the dull sound of a piece of wood contacting Tory’s skull.

They both stared at the chunk of chipboard as it sat settling on the ground. Then they looked at each other across the distance between them. The older man’s frown deepened, “Tory, is there someone down there the police missed?”

Tory glanced back down the cellar stairs. What he saw, though, defied his powers of description. “...Uh, boss, you might want to come and look at this yourself...”

The professor sighed deeply and pressed his white coat smooth. Tory’s curiosity was often enough to drive him to distraction. They were standing at ground zero for the biggest ever Collection in Pennsylvania State history and the kid was checking basements for puppies. He looked up into the messy, junk-filled yard, part of a secluded small-holding south of Pittsburgh, and tracked the scurrying motions of volunteers and police personnel busy scratching at their own clipboards, brushing the scarlet dust away, cataloging and rating amidst the rows of rusty, chained up cages and kennels filled with madly barking, veteran fighting pitbulls.

Well, the dogs aren't going anywhere, not in their states... As much as the professor hated to admit it, Tory usually found interesting things. Like a hiding Ringleader, perhaps? The crime boss in charge of this disgusting mess was still at large. He waved over a policewoman and pointed towards Tory at the edge of the house where the gambling ring had been based, now empty after the earlier police raid, “Officer, my colleague may have found a person over here. May we...?”

She lowered her clipboard and turned towards the white-coated man, nodding curtly. “Doctor Charles Alison?”

“Yes Ma’am, just, not a doctor...” He replied dully.

“Where’s your parole officer?”

“Probably counting dogs, ma’am, like everybody else. Now please, may we..?”

She seemed far from satisfied, but she drew her revolver with a nod and followed Charles over to the hatchway where Tory could still be seen. The boy was leaning down into the depths, muttering and visibly flinching every now and again.

“Hey, don’t worry – ow – look, just let me – ow – calm the hell – ow, stop throwing apple cores, will ya?!”

“Step aside, sir,” The officer growled, pulling Tory out of the way and stepping into the hatchway, only to get an apple core straight to the nose. Charles, standing to the side, clapped mockingly as he waited for the police officer to drag out another animal abuser.

Only, she didn’t react as he expected. No shouting of a person’s rights down the hole, no warning shots either. He’d been looking forward to that. Instead, she froze for a second, before bringing up her flashlight and flicking it on against the dark. Another pause.

“Doctor, I think this fits your bill a hell of a lot better than mine...”

“Ma’am, I’m not a - what?” Alison and Tory exchanged looks. Charles was confused; he was just here to fill out his community service by counting dogs, rescuing ducks or putting band aids on kittens, whatever the Humane Society office ordered. Yes, community service. Police enforced. As in, 'save animals or prison'. Of course, he picked the former, considering his line of work as a veterinary researcher . It would be a shame to waste all those years of study completely, after all. Only, neither ducks nor kittens threw apple cores, and dogs aren’t that smart. But a police officer doesn’t defer to a zoologist for a human target.

Suddenly, Charles had to look down that hole.

The officer slowly stepped aside, whispering, “I think it’s out of ammunition, now, Doctor.”

“Right,” Charles mumbled, peeking over the edge of the frame, down into the darkness.

The cellar was huge and dank. Dirt floor and cinderblock walls, with cages, chains and what seemed disturbingly like bones scattered about. But Charles barely glanced at all that in the flat grey darkness, because right there, at the foot of the stairs leading into the shadows, in the lone shaft of light, was the strangest creature he had ever seen.

The only thing he could see for sure was that it was in a terrible condition. He couldn’t even tell what it was. All around its body was wrapped a black plastic tarp, tied down with a heavy coarse rope. Same treatment for its legs. He could see bloodied rags across its neck, head and hindquarters, obscuring nearly the entirety of its body. It squinted up at him with one eye, the other sealed with rimy blood, and rolled over, its bound forelegs flicking up at him.

The chipboard hit Charles clean between the eyes.

He reeled from the impact, thrown off balance by the surprisingly dense chunk of wood. The police officer caught him as he fell, quickly checking his face for injury. Other than a small bruise and a tight scowl, he was unharmed. Still, Charles could clearly hear Tory laughing.

He leaned back, too excited to feel the embarrassment, already calling orders to the intern; “Tory, get a truck over here, and let’s get this creature back to the clinic, it needs immediate care! We need to clean it up as soon as possible.”

Tory peeped down at it. It hadn’t moved. “But what is it?” He breathed.

Charles shook his head, equally enthused. “I have no idea, Tory, but we’re going to find out-“

“Not so fast!” The Officer called, pulling the researcher up short, “You’ve got to log out with your parole officer, Alison.”

“Oh, not Doctor anymore?” he growled, shaking himself free, glaring back at her, “I’m sorry, but this is more important. Log me out yourself.” And with that, he whirled to the yard, calling a driver right up to the hatch. As Charles watched Tory and some other interns crawl down the hole to carefully lift out the stricken creature therein, he knew that this affair, at least, would be worth the trouble.

That officer can go shove it. This could be the biggest discovery of 1980, and I’m not gonna miss it…

Author's Note:

Finally getting this story out! It took an embarrassingly long time to get it to the point where I was happy with it, and not just me, but my horde of friends at the Asylum , Madmoth, ShouldNotExist, Kaitou42, Riff Pick and Listener especially. These guys are great, even just for a pick-me-up when I fell off my moderately high horse. So, a few months on-and-off, and this is the result.

Keep in mind the date folks: beginning of April, 1980. It is somewhat important. I put some research into this story; coming from a different hemisphere completely makes it a little difficult to write for another country so different from my own, so if you catch anything incorrect or out of period, feel free to tell me.