• Published 17th Jun 2012
  • 4,603 Views, 68 Comments

Screwball Over - Warren Hutch

Third part of the "Screwball Trilogy". A profusion of peculiar pygmy ponies plagues Ponyville.

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Chapter 1

There was a small field in a hollow in the hills outside of Ponyville that nopony really paid too much attention to. It was too rocky to grow anything on, too soggy to build on, and too far out of the way for anypony to bother with for any other purpose. Nopony really owned it, and if you looked at a map in the town surveyor's office, it would only show up as a couple of contour lines on an isolated hillside.

The only use the ponies of Ponyville put this particular parcel of land to was dumping useless junk. Long ago, before anypony could remember, somepony had hauled an old wagon out there and abandoned it, setting a precedent and founding a tradition, or more like a bad habit.

Over the years the wagon's collapsing chassis had come to hold a central place among a ramshackle pile of old appliances and worn out farm equipment choked with weeds and wound round with brambles. Anypony expecting to rummage for salvage would come away disappointed, and probably in need of a tetanus shot. There was absolutely nothing of value here.

One particular piece of debris stood out from the dull greys and browns of rotting wood and rusting metal, nestled among the dandelions and queen's lace at the foot of the junk heap. It was a sort of cap, a small dome of bright yellow and white, with a green propeller poking up from the center. No pony had brought it there, it had simply drifted down from the sky and settled one summer morning.

It had been sitting there for months, while the local pegasi brought rain and snow, or cleared the sky for Celestia's simmering sun to beat down upon it. It had been frozen and thawed, crawled upon by insects, and blown by the breezes that whistled around the hollow on occasion. For all the time it had been out in the elements, it was in pristine condition. No natural forces seemed to affect it, save for the wind which could occasionally cause the propeller to spin lazily on its axis.

One bright sunny day, when the air was still and none of the trees in the surrounding hillside thickets rustled, the propeller began to turn, slowly at first, then faster and faster until the vanes became a flat disk of vibrant green. The dome seemed to swell at some pressure underneath, which suddenly released with a POP as a gout of swirling, multicolored smoke launched it a hoof's width into the air.

As the vapors cleared and the propeller spun down to stillness again, something stirred underneath. A tiny, dusty pink snout poked out from under the brim, followed by a little head about the size of a walnut with swirling purple eyes and a spiraling purple mane with white whirls flowing through it at random.

It looked around with a curious expression on its face, and soon the rest of it wriggled out from under, revealing a pony like body less than hoof high at the shoulder, The image of a tiny baseball and a screw was emblazoned on its flanks.

After it had pulled its undulating purple tail free, it reached under the brim of the propeller beanie and drew forth a tiny cap of its own that was small enough to be worn comfortably by a grape, which it set on its little head.

Having girded its pate, the diminutive pony creature took a long look around, casting its swirling gaze in all directions. It drew itself up on tip hooves, and spoke in a voice reminiscent of a chipmunk given the power of speech and a lungful for helium. "Bing!"

After making its initial statement, it began to explore its immediate surroundings. It wandered to and fro among the weeds of the field, its rambling path marked by little more than a rustling among the tall grass.

After it had clambered over the piles of junk, investigated several rocks, stared at the open sky, peered intently at the ground, and made several failed attempts to communicate with whatever bugs it encountered with a loud declaration of "Bing!", it returned to the propeller beanie it had appeared beneath and sat on its haunches in front of it.

The diminutive creature let out a little sigh, hanging its head and scuffling in the dirt with its tiny hoof. "Bing..."

It looked up as the propeller started to spin atop the green and yellow dome that had spawned it. Another swelling, another POP, another cloud of swirling smoke, and the vanes slowed to a stop once more.

The little pony thing climbed to its hooves and reached under the bottom edge of the cap with its forelegs, lifting it up. Another tiny pink ponyoid lay curled underneath. It stirred and looked back at the original with identical swirling purple eyes. This new arrival regarded its duplicate, cocked its head, and spoke in a similar tinny squeak. "Pleke!"

The original little equinoid raised the brim of the beanie higher and reached out a hoof, helping its clone to its feet and leading it out into the sunlight. When the new creature was clear of the beanie, its predecessor reached up and doffed its cap, revealing a second tiny beanie underneath. With great ceremony, it placed the first on its duplicate's head. "Bing!"

The newly arrived creature looked up at the headgear with a grin full of crooked teeth. "Pleke!"

Both of the little pink pony things craned their necks to look back at the original beanie as the propeller on top began to spin once more.


Rarity let out a faint, weary sigh and slouched ever so slightly in her seat on an overstuffed divan as her friend and sewing supplies salespony Button Stitch tapped her hoof on the remote control of a slide projector, causing the fully loaded carousel to shuffle and click forward. An image of a beaming tan earth pony stallion clad in a rather loud shirt and standing before some kind of large, spherical shape appeared on the screen. "And here's Davenport in front of Equestria's second largest ball of twine."

The alabaster mare brought forth every scrap of vivacity she could muster to smile with something approximating interest. "Fascinating, darling..."

Button grinned and clicked the controller again. "And here's Davenport at the side of Equestria's second largest ball of twine."

Rarity could feel something inside her beginning to fossilize, but she kept up her convivial mask. "Amazing!"

The shutter clicked again. "And here's Davenport coming around to the back of Equestria's second largest ball of twine, but you can still see the side of it."

The pale unicorn's eye twitched imperceptibly as she maintained a cordial tone. "Astounding, Button dear."

Both mares turned their heads as the front door opened, streaming cheerful sunlight and fresh air into the heavily curtained living room. A stallion stood silhouetted in the doorway, his tail lashing with excitement. "Hey sugar-cushions! I'm home! Warm up those sizzling lips of yours 'cos I've got some great news for you! Why's it so dark in here?"

He reached up and flipped the switch by the door, drawing back in surprise at the sight of his blushing wife and a slightly dazed looking unicorn mare blinking in the sudden brightness. "Oh! I'm sorry! I didn't realize we had company. H-hello there, Miss Rarity."

Button got to her hooves and walked over to greet him, giving him a peck on the cheek. "That's okay, Davvy dear. Rarity and I bumped into one another at the spa this afternoon, and I finally talked her into stopping by to see our slides from the honeymoon trip to Hoofington."

The alabaster mare stood with a genteel, slightly fixed, smile. "Indeed, I simply had no excuse to stay away any longer." A touch of regret crept into her voice as she let out a strained laugh. "None at all."

A moment later she recovered her poise, flipping her luxurious violet mane and settling a bright expression on her face. "But I don't want to intrude if you have something important to discuss as husband and wife. I'll just be toddling along..."

Davenport held up a hoof to stop her. "No need, Miss Rarity, all of Ponyville's gonna know about it soon." He took Button's hoof in his own and gazed into her amber eyes with a broad smile. "We got the shop!"

The beige mare gasped and stood on the tips of her hooves with an elated grin of her own blossoming across her face. "Really? Prime Location accepted our offer? Oh Davvy, that's wonderful!"

Button turned to the alabaster unicorn with shining eyes. "Oh Rarity, it's like a dream come true!" The beige mare gave her unicorn friend an excited grin, hopping lightly on her hooves. "We're going to combine our businesses and move into a larger storefront. You're looking at the proud, future owners of Notions, Quills, and Sofas!"

Davenport threw a foreleg over his wife's shoulder and gave her a squeeze. "That's right. Once we put in our down payment, sign a few forms, and get 'em notarized, we'll not only be married. We'll be incorporated."

Button caught her breath and rounded on her husband, her gaze smoldering in her flushed face as her voice took on a sultry undertone. "Oh Davvy. That's so... so... Oh, I love it when you talk business..."

With that she threw her forelegs around his neck and pulled him into an eager kiss that caused a blush to spread across Rarity's alabaster features. She averted her gaze and scuffed at the carpet with a manicured hoof while the newly wedded couple shared their passionate embrace, oblivious to their surroundings.

Just as she was starting to edge sideways toward the door they finally disengaged. Rarity stopped cold with a nervous smile as Button turned to face her again, some stray curls of her golden brown mane falling across her brow. Davenport's knees went wobbly and his eyes crossed in the blissful daze that settled on his face.

The beige mare looked fondly at the elegant unicorn. "It's fitting that you're here to witness this."

A blush crossed her face as she cleared her throat self consciously. "Davvy's good news about the shop, I mean..."

She blinked away her embarrassment and continued. "You've been there for me every time my life has taken a turn for the better. I'm so lucky to have you as a friend."

Rarity gave the couple a warm smile. "Oh darling, you flatter me. I'm ever so happy for both of you. I'll be the first pony through the door when you open for business."

She bobbed her head toward the entrance. "Speaking of heading through the door, you two probably have a LOT to talk about. I should really get going."

Davenport's eyes finally uncrossed and he shook his head to clear it, fixing the unicorn with an earnest grin. "Not at all! I didn't mean to interrupt the slideshow. In fact, if you gals don't mind I'd be happy to join you in a nice long walk down memory lane." He gave his wife a wink and a squeeze.

Button brightened at the suggestion. "Oh! Well why don't we start over so we can all enjoy the show from the beginning."

The unicorn's alabaster face went even paler, as her pupils shrank to pinpricks. "NO!"

She caught herself, stammering to recover as a nonplussed expression washed over the earth pony couple's faces. "I... I mean, you KNOW darlings, this seems like cause for a bit more of a celebration. What say the three of us go down to Sugarcube Corner and have some celebratory sundaes. It'll be my treat!"

She pressed her case with a knowing grin. "I'd wager that when Pinkie Pie hears the news she'll want to get started right away on a party for your grand opening."

Button and Davenport exchanged glances, a smile spreading across their faces as the beige mare turned to her friend. "That's a great idea!"

The tan stallion nodded enthusiastically. "You had me at sundaes. Lets go!"

Rarity let out a sigh of relief as the earth pony couple made their way out the front door. She cast a wan gaze at the slide projector before she telekinetically unplugged it, suppressing the urge to tear the cord out at the other end as well. She trotted after them, shutting the door behind her with her magic.


The three ponies were soon sitting together in a booth at the town sweet shop, with Button and Davenport sharing a vanilla milkshake with two straws while Rarity daintily picked her way through a sundae of mint chocolate chip ice cream drizzled with raspberry sauce and caramel.

The alabaster unicorn was doing her best to make pleasant conversation, but found herself rather distracted. It might have been the half finished orders that hung on the dress forms back in her workroom. It might have been trying to come up with a polite way to avoid going back to watch the newlyweds' vacation slides.

Or, it may very well have been the bright pink, magenta maned mare who crouched behind one of the counters and peered at them across its surface, with her limpid blue eyes narrowed in a similar fashion to the way Rarity's pet cat Opalescence peered at her toy mouse when she was getting ready to pounce on it.

The two earth ponies sharing the booth with her were oblivious to Pinkie Pie's piercing gaze, sitting as they were with their backs to her. Rarity was a bit unnerved, and grew more and more so under the party pony's unflinching scrutiny. Usually, Pinkie never paid that much attention to anything for very long unless it was covered in cake frosting, or in imminent danger of becoming so.

Hoping to forestall this eventuality, Rarity cleared her throat and got to her hooves. "Excuse me, darlings. I need to go powder my nose."

Button nodded vaguely, her eyes locked on her husbands as they sat cheek to cheek drinking their sweet concoction and trading winks and smitten grins with one another.

Without further ado the pale unicorn set out across the bakery's tiled floor, picking up her pace as she approached her frizzy maned earth pony friend. She lashed her curling violet tail as she leaned in to whisper to the pink mare. "Pinkie Pie, before I point out that it's hardly polite to stare, might I be so bold as to inquire just what are you staring at?"

The apprentice baker kept her gaze leveled across the glass counter top at Button and Davenport, replying in a loud whisper. "Has Button Stitch been acting... weird today?"

Rarity let out a sigh. "Not unless one would call ensnaring a friend into viewing a mind numbing procession of vacation slides "weird"..." A shudder shook her frame from the very depths of her soul. "... which I would not, having become thoroughly acquainted with the practice while growing up with my parents and attending family gatherings with my aunts and uncles."

Pinkie continued to stare at the newlyweds, her brow knitting speculatively. "So... no turning pink and purple and speaking in gibberish, or spelling out random words with bric-a-brac, or painting ponies up to look like a Pichorseo?"

The alabaster unicorn pursed her lips, turning to peer dubiously over her shoulder at the two earth ponies. "N-no... Not unless she was nipping off between slides of Equestria's second largest ball of twine."

She cocked an eyebrow as she turned a quizzical gaze back to her magenta and pink friend. "Why do you ask? Are you having your Unknown Mystery X Twitch thing?"

The pink mare gave a brief shake of her head. "You mean X The Unknown, a.k.a. the Mystery Cross Twitch." A look of uncertainty crossed her open features as she reached up with a hoof to rub one of her eyes. "Well... No... But my ears and eyes have been itchy since this morning."

Rarity tsked and tossed her mane. "Maybe it's allergies, darling. Or maybe the lid on one of your canisters of sneezing powder isn't screwed on tightly enough." She held back the part that had crossed her mind about other things that weren't as tightly screwed on as they ought to be.

Pinkie's brow furrowed. "I dunno... I just can't help but feel something's... out of whack... Maybe..."

The alabaster mare held up a manicured hoof to silence her, shaking her head with a slightly upturned snout. "Even if I hadn't just spent all afternoon sitting on one of her couches watching slides, during which absolutely nothing unusual or even mildly interesting happened, I'd say that whatever you imagine was happening was extremely unlikely."

She cast another glance back at the beige mare and tan stallion. "Twilight examined Button quite thoroughly after that last... incident, and several experts from Canterlot University appointed by Princess Celestia herself did the same. They all declared her completely cured of her... affliction."

The party pony proceeded to pout. "But..."

Rarity fixed her with a stern glare. "Darling, I know you mean well, but as both your friend and hers, I must insist that you let the matter drop. She and Davenport are ever so happy right now, and I won't have you upsetting her hard earned peace of mind by dredging up things that are better forgotten."

Pinkie rested her chin on the cool glass of the counter, tearing her gaze away from the couple and meeting the unicorn's sapphire eyes with her limpid blue ones. "But... but..."

The alabaster mare leaned in, pressing her case in a harsh whisper. "Do you want to make her, or her husband, or me, unhappy?"

The pink earth pony reared back with a horrified expression. "Oh NO! Never in a kajillion years!"

Rarity narrowed her eyes. "Then swear that you'll keep your itchy ears to yourself."

Pinkie let out a sigh, reluctantly launching into an elaborate pantomime. "Okay... Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my HI THERE, BUTTON! Do you two lovebirdies need a refill on that vanilla shake?"

The pale unicorn nearly leapt into the rafters as she turned to see the beige mare standing next to her. "WAUGH!"

Button cast a curious glance between Pinkie and Rarity as the frazzled dressmaker caught her breath and held a hoof to her chest, trying to get her heartbeat to slow down below a thousand beats a minute. The beige shopkeeper gave them an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry to interrupt..."

Pinkie Pie instantly dropped into a cheerfully conversational tone, propping her chin up on the counter over crossed forelegs as her frizzy tail waved behind her. "No problemo, muchacha mio! Rarity was just telling me about the totally incredible vacation slides from your honeymoon trip. Did you guys really get to see Equestria's second largest ball of twine? That must have been super duper string-a-riffic!"

An eager smile spread across Button's face. "Words can't do it justice. It simply must be seen to be believed!" She gave a little hop. "I've got an idea! Davvy, Rarity, and I were all set to watch the whole slideshow from the beginning. You'd be more than welcome to join us!"

Pinkie in turn started to hop as well, grinning from ear to ear with a manic gleam in her eyes. "Oh, that would be GREAT! I bet I'd want to see 'em twice, maybe three times even!" She turned and started to poing away toward the kitchen. "I'm gonna go ask the Cakes if I can knock off early."

Button beamed over her shoulder as she headed back to the booth where her husband sat. "Wonderful! I'll let Davvy know we'll need to pull an extra couch down from the store room. We can set the living room up like a theater!"

Rarity stood with a stunned expression on her face, that darkened into a look of simmering rage as her ears levered back and her alabaster cheeks and brow flushed angry red. She glared sapphire daggers at Pinkie Pie's receding tail as it disappeared through the swinging double doors.

The fuming unicorn muttered through clenched teeth. "Oh, I'm gonna knock YOU off early for that, you balloon headed..." She trailed off, the epithets boiling away in her mind as a lady's decorum overcame, with considerable difficulty, a primal urge to leap over the counter and throttle Pinkie Pie with her bare hooves.

A moment later, the fury drained out of her as she slumped to her haunches with a defeated sigh.


Rarity spent the rest of the evening seated like a marble statuette on Button and Davenport's couch, a rictus smile set on her face. Pinkie bounced enthusiastically on the cushions beside her, exulting over each successive slide as if she were watching a fireworks display with birthday presents dropping from the sky on parachutes after every explosion.

By the third pass through the carousel, the pale unicorn was beginning to envy Princess Luna's thousand year sojourn on the lifeless face of the moon.


An earth pony mare with a coat the color of red grapes was making her way home late that night, a pair of saddlebags slung haphazardly over her back. She placed her hooves with deliberate care as she wobbled from street lamp to street lamp. She didn't need the lamps to light her way, since Princess Luna's moon hung gibbous in the dark velvet of the star speckled sky, but the posts provided excellent support when her balance didn't quite align with the pull of gravity.

It was during one such pause in her forward progress that some movement at the edge of the pool of warm light cast by the lamp caught her slightly unfocused eye. A procession of little pink and purple ponies, each only about as tall as her fetlock and wearing tiny yellow and green propeller beanies, marched in a line past her as she blinked, rubbed her eyes with a hoof, blinked again, and then stared with rapidly shrinking pupils as a look of dumfounded amazement washed across her face.

Occasionally one of the little ponyoids would stop and address her in a voice like a tiny kazoo, causing her to flinch back skittishly. "Greep!", "Oople!", "Imsk!", "Ning!", "Gimby!", "Hooba!", "Ootini!", "Mimp!", "Eegee!"

Eventually, they seemed to lose interest in her and just kept heading intently along their way.

After several minutes of watching the parade of diminutive creatures pass, she drew herself up with a look of bleary resolve, and then craned her neck to rummage in her saddlebag. A fumbling search later, she pulled out a flask, which she uncorked with a flick of her head before dumping its contents out on the cobblestones at her hooves. The grape colored mare tossed the vessel away and sat back on her haunches, placing a hoof over her heart and holding up the other as she solemnly muttered an oath under her breath.

Her brief ritual completed, she rose unsteadily to her hooves and staggered away into the night, while the line of tiny pony creatures marched resolutely onward.