• Published 20th May 2017
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Brightly Lit - Penalt

The village of Brightly, British Columbia is a small, isolated place where everyone knows everyone, with a strong sense of community. A community that starts to include colourful little ponies.

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Chapter 4: Homeward Bound

Panic seized the five youngsters as each of them imagined their parents response at discovering their children had become a quintet of colourful little ponies.

“Crap, crap, crappity crap,” Billy repeated, lying on the ground with hooves on his head. “We are soooo dead.”

“Our parents are going to shit themselves!” Zak exclaimed, while nervously prancing in place.

“Zak! That’s a swear!” Rowey said, in shocked admonishment. Zak turned to protest at first, but as his eyes fell on Rowey they widened as an idea struck him.

“Wait, Rowey, you can fix this,” he said running up to the little unicorn. “You can...oof!” Air huffed out of him, as he tripped on a root he hadn’t noticed and fell onto his chest at her hooves.

“You okay?” Rowey asked, as she put a hoof on his shoulder in concern.

“Yeah, yeah,” Zak said, getting himself up and dusting himself off. “But you can fix this!”

“Me? How?” she asked, as the others clustered around her and Zak.

“You cast the spell that changed us,” Zak said, smiling. “You can reverse it, change us back.” Romy, Kya and Billy all voiced their agreement in a babble of sound.

“Guys, guys!” Rowey shouted over the babble, and the other four quieted down. “I don’t have a clue what I did exactly or how to reverse it. I mean, I can try a couple of things but...” She trailed off, shrugging.

“Try,” Kya said quietly, fumbling over the book that seemed to be at the centre of it all. “That’s all we want, just try.”

“Okay, but don’t expect much,” Rowey said, as she lay down on the ground and opened the book to the incantation she had read out before. Once again she read out the strange words and as she expected, nothing happened. Her friends all voiced their disappointment.

“Lemme try one more thing,” Rowey said, and she tried saying the words again, only this time backwards. Again, nothing happened. The five of them were still a group of colourful ponies in a forest glade near the foundations of an old ruined building.

“Sorry guys,” Rowey said, putting the book back into the box they had found it in. “Looks like we’re just going to have to live with it.”

“We better pack up and get going then,” Romy said, finding her watch where it had fallen off and looking at it. “Because if we don’t get going now, we’re gonna be late. And I don’t know about your folks, but our mom is gonna be pissed.

The group began to pack to leave and head for home. The book and it’s box were stowed in a backpack, garbage from their lunch tucked away, and the backpacks transitioned fairly easily to use by a pony with some adjustment to the straps.

“Um, problem,” Kya said, around the shaft of the ground probe which she was holding in her mouth. “I ken karry ths, but ah can’t fly with it.”

“Same problem here guys,” Billy said, trying and failing to balance a shovel over his back. “I think we’re gonna have to leave the tools here. Dad’s not gonna be happy about that.”

“I think your dad’s gonna have a couple of other things on his mind,” Zak said, as he started to put the tools in a pile. “Let’s just stack them up here for now, our parents can come get them later, but we gotta get going.”

“Which way we gonna go?” Romy asked, standing at the edge of the glade and looking out toward the town.

“We can’t go straight through town,” her sister said. “If we did, people would flip out. Super ponies running through town would scare them.”

“Then we take the back road around the outside of town,” Billy said. “C’mon guys. Let’s go, and try to stay under cover.” Over the next twenty minutes a couple of things became apparent. First, that there was a great deal of difference between the five of them when it came to running. Billy and Romy were definitely the frontrunners of the group. They were easily able to outdistance the others, as a trot for them was like a full gallop for the others and Rowey couldn’t even begin to keep up with Zak and Kya, the two pegasi of the group.

Second, it also because clear that despite the couple of hours they had spent learning to use their new bodies, they had a long way to go in order to master the abilities those bodies gave them. Moving at top speed for minutes at a time is not something a toddler, or even a foal does right away, and each of the five accumulated their share of bumps, scrapes and bruises as simple inexperience brought them down in a heap on the gravel back road that circled the outer edge of town.

Nor did the three times the group had to jump into the scrub and bushes by the roadside, to avoid being seen by other groups coming down the old road, do anything to help. At long last though, the group now sweaty, and a little dirty with bits of leaves and twigs in their fur, made it to the Pedersen’s small garage that held their car and accessed the back yard. The group sat in the warm garage for a few moments catching their breaths.

“What are we waiting for?” Zak asked, as his huffing and puffing slowed a bit.

“I’m trying to figure out how I’m gonna tell my mom we’re all ponies now,” Rowey said, and looked around. “Anyone have any ideas?”

The smell of cooking food filled the comfortable kitchen and Jean Pedersen leaned against her kitchen table and sighed. Cabbage rolls in tomato sauce were made and baking away in the oven. A pack of pork sausages sat on a tray on top of the oven, ready to go in and join the rolls soon. Racks of herbs and spices were all around the kitchen and it was a warm and homey place well lit by the late afternoon sun.

So, why have I been feeling nervous all afternoon? Jean thought to herself, rubbing her forehead. “And why does my forehead hurt? “ she asked the empty room, frustration colouring her words. She glanced at the clock on the stove, noting the time. Ten after four and the kids were ten minutes late, which was surprising because with Rowan as part of their group the kids were usually punctual to the minute. She nervously paced toward the living room, her long braid of hair swinging behind her as she tried to narrow down the source of the inexplicable anxiety that had plagued her all afternoon.

She looked over to her altar, sitting in its spot by the fireplace and the silver gleam of its bowl and the blade of her athame beside it comforted her, and settled her mind a bit. She felt drawn to the altar and bowing her head in recognition of the call of her Goddess, walked over and ran the tips of her fingers over the selenite rod that served as her wand. A tingling, crackling electricity ran up her arm, and she pulled her hand away in shocked surprise.

Jean’s eyes went from her fingers to the rod and back to her fingers as she tried to determine the source of that tingling electricity that had run up her arm. It wasn’t static electricity, but something deeper and more powerful. She picked up the silky white rod and clasped it to her chest, as the electric buzzing filled her senses. She had handled high-tension lines a few times on a dare and they felt like her rod did just now. She was thinking on that and concentrating on the rod while holding it, when she heard the back door to the kitchen open.

“Hey Mom,” Rowan’s voice came from the kitchen.

“Hey,” Jean called back, wrenching her attention away from the white rod sitting between the peaks of her breasts. She was unable to see her daughter as the hallway partition blocked line of sight to the kitchen, “You girls are late. What happened? Is everyone okay?”

“Um...” Rowey’s voice came, and Jean could hear the spring of the back door creak as it was opened again. “Yah, we’re okay, but something...kinda, sorta happened.”

“What happened?” Jean said, a little annoyed as she set her wand back on the rose quartz points that formed its holder with as much care as she could manage.

“Um,” Rowan’s voice said, with that same hesitation. “It’s kinda hard to explain. Can you come to the kitchen so we can show you?”

“I’ll be there in a sec,” Jean said, to her daughter. “Is your sister with you?”

“Ya,” Rowan said, “Billy, Zak and Kya are with us too.”

“Oh go--” Jean turned the corner and froze, as she saw five little horse-like creatures who looked like they had run through a thicket, clustered in her kitchen by the back door. An odd foreboding came over her as she spoke, “Rowan, I’ve told you before, no bringing home strays, but where did these little cuties come from? And where are you?”

“Mom,” the little yellow horse said in her daughter’s voice. “It’s us.” Jean Pedersen’s mind completely shut down for a moment or two, and then bounced back in the only way it could initially, with denial.

“That’s a pretty good one there, Rowan,” Jean said, looking around. “Seriously, where are you?”

“It really is us,” the charcoal grey horse with silver tipped wings said. “We ran into something, well...magical.”

“Zak...is that you?” Jean asked, looking into the brown eyes of the small pegasus, who nodded his answer in the affirmative. Jean got down on one knee in front of him and tentatively touched him on the snout. Warm air from living lungs blew against her hand and the flesh beneath her hand moved and flexed. This wasn’t some prank, this was a living creature. She moved her hand to cup the side of the yellow horse’s face and it leaned into the touch.

“Rowan?” Jean asked, and she felt the head in her hand nod. It wasn’t possible, they couldn’t be her children and their friends, and she looked from one expressive, large eyed face to the next. Until she saw that one of them, a small red horse with a purple mane of all things, had irises that were split in colour down the middle. Half green and half brown, in the exact same manner of her younger daughter, and Jean knew she had a way to prove the identity of the furry ponies in her kitchen.

“Romy, come here,” Jean said, and the red horse took a few steps forward and laid its head on her shoulder.

“Hi Mom, I love you,” Romy’s voice came into her ear. A mother’s instinct filled Jean and she wanted to do nothing more than to hug that warm furry body to her, and say that everything was going to be okay, but she had to be sure.

“Romy, I have to be sure it’s you,” Jean said, moving the horse to arm’s length.

“Okay Mom, what do you want me to do?” the horse asked and Jean half saw, half felt the other horses gather around her in anticipation.

“What was the name I wanted to give you, but your father vetoed?” Jean asked. Only her children and her never to be sufficiently damned ex-husband knew the answer to that.

“Romanadvoratrelundar,” came the near instant reply. “Lady President of Gallifrey.” Jean gasped out a breath and pulled the pony into a bear hug. No one, outside her immediate family, knew of her childhood addiction to the classic Doctor Who and how she had wanted to name her daughter after the one companion that had been The Doctor’s equal in every way. The colourful pony in her arms had to be her daughter. There was no other explanation.

“Mom...air,” Romy gasped out with a giggle and everyone laughed a bit at that as Jean released her daughter. Jean let herself fall down onto her butt and the little horses around her followed suit, which put her barely a head taller than them. She looked from one to the other, and as she did she could begin to recognize the facial expressions and body postures of her daughters and their friends. It really was them, and her mind swirled with the questions of how and why this had happened to them.

Keep it together, girl. You’ve got to stay calm, for their sake. Take things one at a time, Jean thought to herself. Aloud, she said, “Okay, first off. Are any of you hurt or in pain?” All five said they were fine. “Are you sure?” Jean asked, “Because I’m seeing a fair bit of dirt and a few skinned knees at the least.”

“We’re fine, Mom,” Rowan insisted, then amended. “Well, mostly fine. We fell down a few times running here from where we were digging.”

“Okay, you five,” Jean said, deciding to insist on normality on some level. “Wipe your feet...er, hooves, brush yourselves off a bit, and go sit down in the living room. Kya, Zak, Billy, you head in there too, and I’ll be along with some bandaids after I call your parents over. I think we all need to be here while you tell us what happened. We can worry about how and why later.”

Author's Note:

This chapter is brought to you through the assistance of my current patrons:

Canary in the Coal Mine
and my newest patron,

Thank you, very much. It really is a big help.

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