• Published 6th Apr 2012
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The Man With Two Names - Tarot Card



A human is off to a rough start when Fluttershy finds him eating one of her chickens, and breaks his arm. Can Derpy and the human convince Ponyville to give him a second chance?

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The Guest Speaker (Cheerilee)

"Er, is that the—" Applejack hummed and hawed, her green eyes growing wide.

"Yes, I thought the class would be interested in a guest speaker," I said.

"Is it… supposed ta be in the—"

"Yes," I said hastily. Having the exact same conversation with every single pony who was walking their foal to school was wearing my patience thin. I forced a smile.

"Bye Applejack! Ah’ll see ya later to—" Apple Bloom said, making a start for the classroom. She was blocked by her sister’s hoof.

"Hold up, sugarcube," Applejack said. "Cheerilee, ah don’t know if you lost yer marbles or something, but that’s a bona fide wild human you got in there. You’ve seen what it does when it’s hungry! Ah don’t know if Ah want little Apple Bloom anywhere near that thing." She drew her little sister close for emphasis, to which Apple Bloom protested.

"Applejack, Mr. Jeremiah is perfectly well behaved, and perfectly harmless. Go see for yourself," I said. Applejack poked her head around the door frame. The human looked up from the book it was reading to find her staring gaze. After a moment of unbroken eye contact, the human smiled gingerly, and gave a friendly wave of his good arm.

"Oh, uh, howdy there!" Applejack chuckled nervously, before ducking back outside and turning to me. She narrowed her eyes doubtfully. “Ah don’t know, it might be rabid.”

Oh dear. "I’d never put any of my students in a dangerous situation. He’s nothing like what ponies have been saying. Aside from that one incident, he hasn’t harmed a fly. Don’t you trust me AJ?”

She paused for a moment. “Okay Cheerilee,” she said. “Applebloom, you go on ahead in. If that thing starts eating your friends, just remember what Ah taught you ‘bout buckin’ apple trees.” She gave Apple Bloom a tight squeeze, and with that, she headed back towards her farm.

“Something wrong?” Mr. Jeremiah asked as I walked into the classroom.

“Oh nothing, just another paranoid parent, convinced that you're going to make us into pony stew,” I sighed.

He patted my shoulder reassuringly. “Hey, that’s why I’m here, right?” He said. I heard a colt gasp. “Wait. That came out wrong! I mean I’m here to prove I’m not going to eat you! I —”

I shoved my hoof over his mouth before he could say anything worse. "Next time, think the words before you say them," I said under my breath. He scowled. I dropped my hoof and turned to face the students. "Today class, we have a very special visitor—"

"Is it the human?" Snails asked.

"Well, yes, but he prefers to be called by his name, isn't that right Mr. Jeremiah?"

The odd, fully clothed creature sitting in one of the desks looked up at me. He was wearing pants, and an unzipped hoodie. Something about his terrible posture reminded me of Lyra, though I couldn't quite put my hoof on it. He scratched the short bristly fur that enveloped the lower half of his face.

“Actually Ms. Cheerilee, my last name is Walker. So you would call me ‘Mr. Walker’ if you were inclined to be formal,” he said politely.

This time, the orange filly Pegasus raised her hoof. “Why do you have two different names?” Scootaloo spoke without waiting to be called on.

"Well, One’s like a family name, and the other is my given name," Walker said. He was met with confused looks. "Just call me Walker." He sighed, and glanced at me. “So, what do I tell them?” He whispered, curving his hand so that I would be the only one to hear.

“Tell them…” I pondered this for a moment. What would be a good place to start? “Tell them how you came here.”

“That’s certainly something they already know,” He whispered back. It was true. It’s not everyday an alien creature waltzes out of middle of Everfree forest. Okay, maybe that happens pretty often, but still. It was Fluttershy who first saw him. She discovered this bizarre creature in her backyard preparing to cook one of her chickens. Naturally, she launched into attack mode. After one broken arm, and a good amount of confused screaming and apologizing on both sides, Fluttershy brought him to the vet.

Normally, she would have cared for any creature herself, even a carnivorous one. But no predatory animal had ever hurt her chickens before. She only wanted this Minotaur-like beast as far away from Ponyville as possible. However, her natural sympathies compelled her bring the injured monster to a different healer. After she explained the situation to the veterinarian...

Well...

He had become the talk of the town, to say the least. His stature, his hands, his arm carried in a sling. Even though the hysteria died down fairly quickly, there was no doubt the children of the town were well versed in all the awful stories the grape vine had to offer about this “Jeremiah Walker”. No doubt that they've seen him around town, taking advantage of his peculiar appendages to make a few bits assisting a repair pony. The parents had taken to shepherding their young away from the creature whenever he was out in public.

Derpy was the kind, foolhardy soul, that with equal parts hospitality and reckless abandon, opened her home to the human. It was she that convinced me to commission him as a guest speaker for the class. We were hoping this visit could quell some of the fear that the residents of Ponyville had instilled in their children.

"How would you feel about answering a few questions? I’m sure they would benefit from dispelling some of the worse rumors." Certainly the young ponies would be curious about the primate’s way of living.

“I’m up for anything. Heck, answering questions? There are far worse ways to make a few bucks.” I gave him a puzzled look. “Er, bits,” he amended. This human was strange. I’ve heard him call bits ‘dollars’ before. They must be some sort of currency from where’s he’s from. With two names.

I resolved to ponder this matter later, and turned to the class. "All right fillies and colts! We’re going to have Mr. Walker answer any questions you might have, about him, or humans in general." Walker smiled sheepishly as I spoke.

“I h-heard that you ate one of Fluttershy’s chickens. Is it true? Y-you, eat chickens? You eat animals?” A frightened Sweetie Belle asked. Scootaloo gulped loudly, and shifted in her seat.

“Well, not anymore,” Walker grumbled, looking at his arm in a sling.

“Um, Mr. Walker Sir?” a timid voice asked. “Do you eat ponies?”

“No, of course not. Never have, never will. Just bread, carrots and peanut butter these days. And muffins, lots and lots of muffins.” He said, with just a hint of glumness. With this, a few foals breathed a sigh of relief. My heart went out to him. There are only so many flavors of muffins that Sugarcube Corner has to offer. "Basically whatever my landlady—"

"You mean landmare," I interrupted. I made a mental note that he was beginning to catch on to the proper names of things now, at least a little bit.

He nodded, and continued. “Landmare buys. I tend to spook some of the… sales ponies whenever I shop, so she just factors the food into the rent.”

“What about cows? Did you ever eat a cow?” The voice asked again.

”Well—”

"Okay!" I butted in before the human could put his own hoof in his mouth again. It was imperative that he does not shock the students. "Any questions that aren’t about his diet?"

The room was silent. Sweetie Belle rubbed her hoof against her chin as she thought. Then her eyes lit up. She waved her hoof frantically in the air. “Mr. Walker, what does your name mean? What’s a Jeremiah? And I know what a walker is. Does that mean you made walkers at home?”

Another hoof shot up. “Does that mean your cutie mark is a walker?”

“Maybe his special talent is walking, with, like, two legs.”

“You said your family name was Walker. Does your whole family walk really well?” a fourth interjected.

The human pinched his brow. “This is gonna be a long day,” he muttered.


At the break for lunch, Walker looked absolutely worn out. As the foals left the classroom with their lunches in their mouths, his head flopped down onto the desk he was sitting in. I felt a pang of sympathy for him. Though I loved them to bits, my students were always a hoofull. They were always more energetic and unruly whenever the typical schedule was altered. The class would have any other mare banging her head against the chalkboard.

“Hey, I still have you for two more hours,” I gently chided. “And I need you up and alert. Well, not right now actually. Do you have something to eat?” Walker didn’t look up.

“Frrr the last time, I don’t eat ponies,” he said, his voice muffled by his arms.

I rolled my eyes, and stomped my hoof on the floor, startling him awake. “If you didn’t bring anything, you’re more than welcome to some of my lunch,” I said, as I pulled out a drawer and withdrew a brown paper bag. I always packed enough to share. Some little foals were prone to forgetting their lunches, and I’d never dream of letting one of my students go hungry, even for one meal. Besides, this precaution was more for my benefit. Before I started packing two lunches, I would usually end up giving my own away. Just the mere thought of those missed meals sent my stomach grumbling.

The human blinked a few times before answering. “Oh, no thanks. Derpy packed me something this morning,” He picked up his rucksack, and walked out of the classroom. I followed him out and laid down in my usual spot, beneath the tree adjacent to the playground. I looked at Jeremiah, who seemed a tad lost, not knowing where to sit. I put down my lunch, and invited him to take a seat. He joined me under the shade of the oak, and pulled a sandwich out. Carefully, he opened it up, and pulled out the daffodils. My mouth watered at the sight of them. Dear Celestia, I was hungry.

"God bless that mare, goes out of her way to make me lunch, and I can’t even eat half of it." As Walker took a large chomp out as the sandwich, he looked up, and was greeted by the sight of Apple Bloom.

“Um, excuse me sir,” she said, sheepishly scraping the ground with her hoof. She had the same southern twang in her voice as her sister. “Ah don’t mean to bother you much about what things you do and don’t eat, but Big Mac says ya could help on on the farm, but my sister says that you’re dangerous cuz you eat other animals, and you might eat my friends. She says Ah shouldn’t even get close to you. And ah wanna know…“ At this point I stopped listening. I had only fifteen minutes to enjoy a meal, and the dandelions in my bag weren’t getting any fresher. But I was saving those for last. Instead, I opted for the apple. As I polished that off, my hunger ebbed, and my focus drifted back into the conversation.

“Well, I’m an omnivore,” Walker explained.

“Ohhh…” Apple Bloom said knowingly. She turned to me. “Ms. Cheerilee, what’s an omnivore?”

“It means he eats all kinds of things,” I said between bites of dandelion.

Apple Bloom’s brow furrowed in contemplation, the way it always does when something was on the tip of her tongue. Oh! just like Spike!” she exclaimed. I smiled warmly. The little lessons like this remind why I became a teacher in the first place.

“Now, Ms...” Walker began, looking expectantly at her.

“Apple Bloom!” she said, nearly jumping. She really was excited to talk to this human, wasn’t she?

“Now Ms. Apple Bloom, I have a question for you, if you don’t mind. How come you don’t have your mark?” he said.

“Well, ah…ah didn’t get it yet,” she said. Her ears drooped, along with her bow.

“But every single pony I’ve seen so far has one. Why not you?” My jaw dropped. Oh Celestia, please tell me he didn’t just ask that.

“But Ah’m tryin’ Really hard to earn it,” She said indignantly. “An’ so is Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle. We just haven’t found our special talent yet!”

"So…that means you aren’t born with your marks?" I wondered what feather brained pony gave him that idea.

"A pony gets their cutie mark whenever they discover their talent," I interjected. I leaned in and whispered to him. “Don’t you have manners? She’s one of the last ones in her class to get one." Apple Bloom’s obsession with obtaining a cutie mark was bad enough. She didn’t need some alien creature singling her out, unwittingly playing her insecurities.

The new information took a moment to register in his mind. “How the hell was I supposed to know that?” He whispered harshly. “Warn me next time,” He turned back to Apple Bloom, charming as ever. “Sorry Ms. Apple Bloom if I offended you; I don’t know much about what I’m supposed to say or not,“ He said. Well that much is clear, I thought. The formality of his address put a grin back on her face, evidently gleeful of being referred to by an adult title. Any trace of grievance was wiped away. Not bad Walker, not bad. It seemed like he was more than capable of yanking the hoof out of his mouth with his overly formal mannerisms. Satisfied with his eloquence, and Apple Bloom’s renewed good humor, he took another chomp out of his sandwich. I wanted to smack that smile off his face.

“That’s okay mister! Ah just got one more question. Spike’s an omnivore, but Spike doesn’t eat chickens. And you eat animals. But ah bet you only eat certain kinds of animals?”

Oh Apple Bloom, why do you have to be the inquisitive student all the time? Thank Celestia that Walker had his mouth stuffed with carrot and peanut butter sandwich. I answered before Walker had a chance, claiming that humans only ever ate certain birds, nudging my hoof against his rib. He seemed to take the hint, and nodded in confirmation.

Apple Bloom rushed back to tell the rest of the class. The earth ponies and the unicorns seemed mollified by this new morsel of information; the lone, orange Pegasus considerably less so.

I let out a sigh of relief, disaster once again averted. We both watched the news spread across the playground as we ate.

"You know, I don’t enjoy lying to these kids," he said haughtily.

"Two things. First off, as far as I’m concerned, what I said is the truth. Don’t try to contradict me; my stomach’s full of lunch, and I plan to keep it that way. Second, if ponies even for a moment, believe that you might eat something that talks, then you can expect them to chase you out of this town with torches and pitchforks. It’s one thing to be a carnivorous animal. It’s another to be a carnivorous animal that breaks into ponies’ homes, and tries to eat their pets."

He made no reply. We sat there in tense silence for another moment before he spoke up again. "Cheerilee?"

"Yes?" I braced myself for whatever nonsense he might spew next.

"If ponies aren’t born with marks, how come their name is always matches it?"

Suddenly, his previous inference didn’t seem so far-fetched. “Well, take Apple Bloom. Her whole family has been apple farmers for generations. They assume that her talent is going to be something with apples, so the name fits. That’s what most parents do. They name their child after their own profession, and hope the child follows in their hoofsteps, and stays with the family.”

“What happens if they get a different talent then the rest of the family?”

What happens? I fought back unsavory memories, of my family, of the cherry farm we worked, nestled in the Appleloosan frontier.

No use.

There I was again, showing my smiling flower cutie mark off to my eldest sister Blackcherry, and dad.

"So how’d you get it?" she asked, her blue eyes beaming with pride. It was the first good thing to happen since Mom had started growing ill five months ago. "And what’s it mean?"

“I got it when I showed Blossom how the water pump works! My special talent’s gotta be teaching ponies! Dad, I’m gonna be a teacher!” I practically shouted, unable to contain my excitement. I was grinning uncontrollably, the first time in a long while. I spun in a circle as I tried to get a better view of my flank. The ridiculous manestyle I had copied from the magazines in the general store only served to obscure my view of it.

My dad looked like he’d been dunked in ice water. After a murmur in each other’s ears, my dad and Blackcherry excused themselves, and went over to the next room. They began talking in harsh whispers. “She’s gonna end up moving away. The nearest place that even has a school is all the way in Ponyville. That’s at least 60 miles away!” I heard my dad say. “What are we gonna do? If it was just gardening, then she could stay here! Why couldn’t have it been that?”

"Maybe she can set up a school here. Maybe she doesn’t even need to move," Blackcherry said, hoping against hope she was right. The smile slipped from my face.

“There isn’t any way she could ever do that. Nowhere near enough ponies to justify a school house around here...” my dad said, his voice faltering. “Why is it so buckin' hard to just to keep a stallion’s family together?” His voice grew into a violent, impotent rage. I heard something shatter.

“Dad?” I asked, my voice cracking. I nudged the door open, and looked down at the floor. It was littered with shards of the mirror that just moments before hung on the wall. Through the broken reflection, I saw tears welling up in his brown eyes.

"I’m going out," he murmured, and walked towards the door, avoiding our gazes. Glass crunched beneath his hooves.

"Where?"

"Store." His voice was nearly inaudible. "We need a new mirror." The door slammed shut.


"What’s up Frizzy-mane?” my sister said. She faked a smile, a facade that fooled no one. “We’re just discussing your cutie mark."

"Why’s dad so upset then?" I felt myself on the verge of tears.

"It’s been hard on him since Mom died." Her smile dropped off into a troubled countenance. “He’s just worried that you won’t be able to stay with us. But we’ll figure out something. Right?" She drew me into a hug.

“Ms. Cheerilee?”

I snapped back to reality.

“The wrong cutie mark can be a wedge that splits you from your family. Usually they end up moving away, changing their names.” I said, avoiding his gaze.

"Are you okay? Did I say something rude again?” Walker asked.

“Yeah, and no.” I ached to see my family again. He looked at me, probing my emotions.

“Did that happen to you?” He asked tentatively. I wasn’t particularly keen on discussing my personal life with an alien today. Come on Cheerilee, shift the focus. Think...

Got it!

I immediately put on a cheerier face.

“Actually Walker, no; I was thinking of somepony else. I’ve take it you’ve met Pinkie Pie?”

“Yes I have.”

“Well she was from a family of rock farmers, and when she got her balloon cutie mark, she ended up leaving them behind and coming to Ponyville.” the moment I said “rock farming” I could have sworn I heard his brain blow a gasket. “Come to think of it, Derpy changed her name shortly after coming to Ponyville. She used to go by Ditzy Doo.” This fact left him contemplating.

Within minutes, it was time to return back to the classroom. I figured that Walker could benefit from a little bit of Equestrian history. I had him sit back in a desk at the edge of the class. A few of the foals adjacent to walker scooted desks a healthy distance away from him.

I hadn’t realized before how ill-fitting the desk was for a human. It seemed comically disproportionate, almost. Nevertheless, he remained moderately engaged in the day’s lesson, asking a few questions about who somepony was or what they did. More than I can say for Snails; at the end of the lecture, he woke up with a piece of paper stuck to his face, much to the amusement of his classmates.

“All right fillies and gentlecolts! That’s it for class today. Homework is to write a report on the human. The school paper is meeting today!” I said. The students adjourned to the playground once more, to wait for their escorts home. I walked over to my desk, and pulled out a little satchel of bits. I bit the drawstring, and brought it to Walker.

“Fifteen bits? Not too shabby,” he said, counting the coins. He looked up at me earnestly. “So, how’d you think it went? Do they think I’m not a killer anymore? ”

“Well...could have been worse. They won’t be chasing you out of town anytime soon,” I chuckled.

“Oh...yeah,” He stared at the ground dejectedly. I realized that things weren’t looking so bright for him right now. Not only an outsider thrust into a new world, but feared and avoided by most of the community.

“Hey, you’re doing all right,” I said softly. “I know it looks bad now, but if you keep on doing what you can, they’ll come around,”

“Let’s hope.”

“There he is, Big Mac!” I heard Applebloom’s voice. She ran into the classroom. “Mr. Walker! Ma brother wants to talk ta ya! He wants to know if yah can help us with harvesting,”

As she spoke, Big Macintosh walked in. Walker stood up to greet him.

“Hello, I’m Jeremiah,” he said, sticking out his good hand.

“Ahm Big Mac,” Hoof and hand met in a shake. even as large as Big Mac was, he still had to look up at Walker. “Applebloom’s told me about you, and ah reckon we could use yer help, in exchange for a few bits.”

“What exactly would I be helping with?”

“Well, there’s all these birds that always eat the crop, and we can never keep em away, they’re just not afraid of the scarecrows we make. and so ah thought to mah self, ‘what would scare a bird?’ And so I thought of what eats birds, and then that’s when ah realized you’d be perfect for the job!” Applebloom talked so quickly, I could barely understand her.

“So, you want me to be a scarecrow?”

“Eeyup,” Big Mac said.

As they continued discussing the work they had in mind, I went to my desk; In the right corner, was a framed picture of me and my family, Mom, Dad, Me in the middle, and Blackcherry and Blossom on either side. mom had her pastry cutie mark, and my dad’s two-cherries mark, the same one as Blackcherry’s. Blossom and I the only blank flanks. The odd ones out.


I sighed heavily.

I had a letter to write.



Dear Blackcherry,

I know it’s been a long time since I've talked to you. I haven’t been the most attentive pony since I left. How is dad? last time I saw him, he wouldn’t even look at me. Is he still mad at me for leaving? Well besides that, how are things at Black Horse Farms? Blossom must’ve gotten her cutie mark by now. I’ll bet its a tree. She was really good at bucking, even as a little filly. I was thinking of taking a month or so off, and just visiting you all. I’d like to spend some time with you again, and dad, and Blossom. I feel like its time that I act like I'm part of this family again.

Love, your dearest sister,
Cherryseed.

Author's Note:

Edited by genericlogin1