• Published 11th Jan 2016
  • 4,304 Views, 228 Comments

Interviews At The Canterlot Exchange - billymorph

The Canterlot Exchange, ten thousand humans and ponies pass through its doors every day, on their way to destinations all across Earth and throughout Equestria. These are just a few of their stories.

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Terry Anton

In the light of Celestia’s newly risen sun I find myself sitting at the same table, but with a very different interviewee. Terry is a gryphoness of middling years, tawny feathered and with a striking, flame red crest that would not look out of place on a phoenix. She is sitting—though perhaps the word should be sprawling—across two seats and even then seems to be struggling to keep herself upright. There is no doubt that she is very recently transformed, her motions are too jerky, too wild and random, to be natural.

“I hate this,” she growls in a thick New York drawl, struggling to sit upright. Given her spine does not bend that way any more she fails in short order and flops back down onto the chairs like a boned fish. “I feel like the Hunchback of Notre Dame here.”

“Well, that’s quadrupedalism for you,” I point out, sliding a cup of coffee across the table towards her. “Here, have something to steady your nerves.”

“I’d prefer a couple aspirin and a back-brace.” With deliberate care she places both foreclaws on the table and leaves herself up into something resembling a sitting position, though I get the impression she is about to leap across the table at me. She scowls at the cup for a moment. “So, how’s this supposed to work?”

“I gather you’re supposed to use your hands.”

She scowls and raises a taloned foreclaw. “I wouldn’t call this a–argh!” The chair she’s perched on slips away suddenly, and Terry is pitched forwards. I snatch the coffee back, but Terry still smacks her beak shut on the table before collapsing to the ground in a heap.

“Son of a bitch!” she bellows, clutching her beak.

I wince, folding my ears flat as the roar echoes around the half empty food-court. With a sigh, I set aside my journalistic impartiality and, after much swearing, a few scratch marks and a stray feather or two, I manage to get Terry perched on the chair properly. She wobbles, sitting on her haunches and regarding her own posture with naked suspicion, as if at any moment her body intended to pitch her to the floor again.

It was a valid fear, to be fair. “So, want to try again?” I say, sliding the cooling cup of coffee back towards her.

Terry teeters on one foreleg as she struggles to grab the cup. It takes her three attempts, and on the second she manages to put a talon through the plastic lid. After a few false starts with the way her elbows bend, she manages to bring the cup up to her beak only to stall there. For a moment she scowls at the cup, opening and closing her beak and cocking her head as she tries to figure out her next step. With a very feline snarl of frustration she slams the cup back down on the table, shredding it and spreading coffee everywhere.

“Come on!” she snaps, throwing up her hand. The motion almost topples her and she throws out her wings as she struggles to keep her balance. “How does anyone in this stupid country get anything done?”

I shrug. “Well, at least you don’t have hooves.”

“I don’t have damn lips either,” she shoots right back. For a moment she’s silent as she tries to fold her wings back down, with little success. “Actually, you know what? I’d prefer hooves. I was ready for hooves. At least being a pony made some kind of sense, what’s a gryphon even supposed to be, anyway? Some drunken Arab’s idea of a monster?”

“Persian,” I correct.

“I don’t care!” Terry wobbles again and there’s a tearing sound as her claws dig into the chair. “Look at me. I’m a freaking cat-bird. I’ve got more limbs than I know what to do with. I have no idea how my elbows are supposed to work. I’ve got claws everywhere and I was given a pamphlet on preening on my way through immigration. Preening! I don’t even know what that is but I get the feeling I don’t want to know.”

“It’s to maintain your feathers by spreading oil on them.”

Terry blinks. “What oil?”

“You have a gland between your wings that–”

“I don’t what to know!” she exclaims, slamming her hands over her ears. A moment later her head hits the table again. “God-damn it!” She grips the table with both hands, her talons biting deep into the wood, but she doesn’t rise.

I pat her on the shoulder. “Try and think about the upsides. I hear a lot of people enjoy flying, once they get used to it.”

“I get vertigo,” Terry grumbles.

Somehow I doubt that has remained the case, but keep quiet. Leaning back, I retrieve my neglected notebook. “Okay, well in that case, let me ask you a question. Why did you want to come to Equestria?”

Terry raises her head and scowls down her break. “I didn’t want to anything.”

“Yet you came.”

She lets out a long whistling sigh and rests her beak on the table, just avoiding the coffee spill. “Yeah. I did... Because I’m an idiot. Because I couldn’t pay my rent anymore. Because sometimes life sucks balls and you have to make horrible choices.” Her eyes narrow. “You know, I was never very body proud. I was overweight, I drank, I had freaking weekly chiropractic sessions for my back pain. Yet–” she shrugs, and her left wing flops open. “–I already miss the piece of crap. This feels wrong. Everything about this body feels wrong. Fur, feathers, joints. I mean, look at my hands! Look at these claws.” She holds up her hand and splays out her talons. “I feel like I’m the monster in a slasher movie.”

I nod, scribbling down a few notes. “Yet, you’re still here. The portal is open whenever you want to go home.”

“Sure, kick me while I’m down why don’t you?” Terry growls. She fails to meet my eye for a long moment. “I... I lost my job six months ago. Well, I was ‘made redundant’, they said. The company got some welding robot in to replace me. Twice the speed, half the cost and the only problem was the asshole they pitched out on the street. I’ve been a welder all my life, literally, I was fresh outta school when I got the job. But they don’t want flesh and blood anymore.”

Another sigh escapes her. “Equestria still hires real people, though, so this is my only choice.” She chuckles and shakes her head. “Well, that or my brother’s couch and I can’t spend the rest of my life there. Pretty damn high price to pay for a job, though.” She looks down at her taloned fingers again and a shudder runs down the length of her spine.

There’s a sudden hush around us. Glancing around I see a familiar rainbow maned figure making her way across the concourse below, the crowd parting before her.

“But one you’re willing to pay?” I enquire, turning back to Terry.

“Maybe.” She drums her talons on the table. “Joe’s couch is looking tempting right now. But, it's not like I can afford a ticket home right now. If I had that kind of money to burn I would have stayed human. At least I kept my fingers, so that’s a start, and if there’s an honest job for me in Manehattan, then maybe, maybe, I’ll learn to live with it.”

She growls as she levers herself up onto her haunches. Perhaps it is just optimism, but she seems a little more stable, though her face twists into a disgusted sneer as she looks herself over.

“It’s a big maybe.”

I stand. “Well, that’s the first step. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s somepony I need to talk to. Good luck.”

Terry grumbles. “Sure. You too, Sandy.”

“And don’t worry,” I say, hurrying away. “I’m sure if you give it a chance you’ll find some upside to being a gryphoness.”

“Yeah...” Terry’s head shoots up. “Wait, gryphoness?”