• Published 1st Oct 2018
  • 992 Views, 48 Comments

Mac to the Future - Maran



Thanks to Dr. Discord's time machine, Big Mac becomes stranded in the year 1993.

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Mac in the Day

As the chilly air struck him, Big Mac took a deep breath. He walked away from the restaurant, continuing his journey toward Dr. Discord's home. The crisp air didn't clear his head, but it did help him organize his thoughts in a way that made sense to him. His pa was here, and yet they couldn't speak to each other as father and son. If Big Mac found an excuse to talk with Bright Mac alone, he might convince him that he was his future son, and then warn him about the wildfire. But his dad probably wouldn't believe him, and besides, the timeline was fixed and everything he was about to do had already come to pass in 2018. If history could be altered, there would be a paradox. Since every event that led to Big Mac going back in time would be at least slightly different, he might not travel back in time at all, thus negating any changes he made – so that he would go back . . .

Big Mac cut off his circuit of thought and focused on getting to Dr. Discord. Once his teacher showed him how to work the time machine, he could visit both of his parents whenever he wanted – preferably at a time after they had become parents, so it would be less of a shock for them. He could bring Applejack, Apple Bloom, and Granny Smith with him, and the family would finally be reunited. His parents weren't really departed from this earth – he could jump back and see them whenever he wanted!

Big Mac drank his coffee, slowing his pace so he wouldn't spill. Maybe time was just an illusion. After all, he'd lived an entire lifetime in however many hours since he'd climbed into the modified tour bus. It felt liberating not to be a slave to the clock, worrying about schedules and deadlines. And so he found that he didn't care how long it took him to walk across Canterlot from south to north.

He ate his breakfast and plodded forward, sitting down at bus stops for a few minutes whenever his feet felt tired. However, he didn't ride the bus, because he was too proud to beg for bus fare. He didn't mind the long journey, though. It was nice to have a break from school and farm work, where he could be alone with his thoughts. The sun tracked toward the west as Big Mac entered the neighborhood where Dr. Discord lived. He thought about what to say to his teacher to convince him to help figure out how to operate the time machine.

So lost in thought was Big Mac that he didn't pay attention to traffic when he crossed the street – didn't see the car coming toward him until it was too late. He tensed and pivoted to try to sprint back to the curb – then the bumper struck his legs head on. His torso doubled over the hood before his whole body snapped back toward the ground. On a reflex, Big Mac flung his arms down behind him and landed hard on his hands and elbows. Groaning, he rolled onto his side, curling in a near fetal position.

The car had stopped just short of running him over. A door opened, and a man's voice floated into Big Mac's ears.

“Oh my gods, I'm so sorry! Are you okay, son?” The man crouched down next to him. “Can you sit up?”

Big Mac's body responded more quickly than his brain as strong hands pushed up against his back. He lifted his arms and pressed his fingers against the silver car bumper, attempting to pull himself to his feet. The man gripped him under his armpits and supported his weight as they stood together.

“Come on, son, let's move out of the street, all right?”

Big Mac allowed the man to lead him to the sidewalk. His legs worked fine, even if they were sore. He gazed at the man who had hit him and was currently helping him. The man was middle-aged, but still physically fit. He had light amber skin, brown eyes, and matching curly brown hair with a single gray streak.

The man held Big Mac's shoulders at arm's length and stared up at him – for he was a few inches shorter. “Do you think you broke anything?”

Big Mac examined his upturned palms. The heels of his hands had been scraped; blood seeped out of both hands where the skin been forcibly removed.

“What should we do, Pa?”

Big Mac gasped as a very familiar person stepped around the vehicle and approached them. Although she was younger than Big Mac had seen her, she was unmistakably his mother. Her beautiful orange curls were pulled up in a high ponytail, and she wore a teal skirt that brought out the color of her eyes.

“Should we call the police?” she asked.

“Pull the car to the side of the road first, and then get us something to stop the bleeding,” ordered her father.

The teenage girl nodded and climbed into the driver's seat.

Big Mac's brain caught up to the situation as he realized that this strange man was his grandfather. He'd never even seen so much as a photo of either of his maternal grandparents, and he'd always assumed they had died before he was born. Big Mac gazed at his grandpa and his mom in turn, comparing the two. They both had thick, curly hair, but there weren't many other similarities that Big Mac could see. His ma must have taken after her ma more.

“Aren't you gonna say anything?” The lines in his grandfather's forehead deepened as he searched Big Mac's face. “What's your name, son?”

It took a second for Big Mac to remember the name he'd told his pa. “McBiggen.”

“Now we're gettin' somewhere,” said the older man with a nod. “I'm Grand Pear, and that's my daughter, Pear Butter.” He jerked his head toward the teen girl scrambling out of the sedan.

For an instant, Big Mac froze, and so did everything around him. “What!?”

“Are you okay?” His mother moved toward him and pressed wads of tissues into his raw hands to soak up the blood. “Stupid question. I mean, do you need to go to the hospital?”

Cautiously, Big Mac flexed his fingers, and then bent his arms. Suddenly there was a sharp pain in both elbows, where before they had felt merely sore. Wincing, he brought his arm toward the front of his body and saw the torn, bloodied elbows of his new hoodie.

“Here, let me help you,” his ma said at once, tugging off his hoodie. Since he was wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt underneath, the skin of his arms was exposed.

“Oh, my.” She bundled the hoodie under one arm while her fingers gently prodded the skin around his right elbow, her movements efficient. “You're bleedin' like a stuck pig, but I can't tell if you're gonna need stitches or not.” His mom – Pear Butter – held another wad of tissues against his elbow.

Big Mac wasn't particularly concerned about his injuries. How could he be, when faced with an existential crisis? His mom was a Pear, which meant that he was half Pear. After a moment, his shock morphed into indignation. Why hadn't anyone ever told him? In a way, he could understand why his parents didn't tell him about his family history when he was eight, but he wasn't a little kid anymore. He was a legal adult, and yet his Granny, Cousin Apple Rose, Cousin Goldie Delicious, none of his many older relatives had bothered to tell him and his sisters who their mother truly was. Instead, he'd had to travel back in time to find out the truth.

“I'll keep pressure on your elbows and you press the tissue on your palms, okay?” asked Pear Butter in a kind tone.

Big Mac nodded, feeling like he was eight again, coming home with scraped elbows and knees and having his mom clean them.

“I'm sorry about this,” repeated Grand Pear. “You just walked out suddenly from behind those bushes,” he added, pointing, “and I couldn't stop in time.”

Big Mac heaved a sigh. “It could've been worse.”

“So stoic!” Pear Butter gazed up at him, her turquoise eyes full of . . . admiration? What exactly was happening? Big Mac felt like he was leaving familiar ground and stumbling into the wilderness. He turned his head to direct his eyes somewhere in the vicinity of Grand Pear's head.

“I reckon I'll be fine once I get to my friend's house,” he added, remembering his main goal.

His grandfather nodded. “Is that where you were headin'? I could drive you the rest of the way. It's the least I could do after I hit you with my car. Where does your friend live?”

Big Mac hummed, searching his memory for the address without checking his phone. “Uh, he lives on Stone Street. I think the house number's 1082.”

Pear Butter carefully lifted the tissue on Big Mac's elbow. “The bleedin's slowin' down,” she reported.

“Good,” said Grand Pear. “But if you get blood on my car seats, it'll be a fitting punishment for my crime,” he added, giving Big Mac a wry smile.

More than anything else, that statement made Big Mac decide that he liked his grandpa. Big Mac returned the smile and shuffled toward the silver sedan. His ma slid one hand onto his back and kept her other hand pressed against the bloody tissues on his palm. Once again, he wondered what was happening between them. She opened the rear door and climbed inside, moving all the way down the bench seat before gesturing for Big Mac to sit next to her. After he complied, she wrapped her arm around his, her puffy, purple jacket sliding down to reveal one bare shoulder.

The car radio was tuned into the only country music station in the Canterlot area.

She's in love with the boy, and even if they have to run away, she's gonna marry that boy someday.

The song was one of his mom's favorites.

Grand Pear sat down in the driver's seat and eyed the two teens. “Well, Pear Butter, it's good to see you finally showin' interest in a boy besides that gods-damned apple farmer.”

Suddenly Big Mac was keenly aware of how dry his throat was. “What?” he rasped. Was that what was happening with his mother?

With a nervous laugh, Pear Butter looked down, her bangs hanging over her right eye. “Eyup,” she answered simply.

Squirming away from his ma, Big Mac said, “Can we get goin', Mr. Pear? My friend's waitin' for me.”

Grand Pear chuckled and pulled the car away from the curb. “All right, McBiggen. You'll get there much faster this way than walking, that's for sure.” He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel and spared his daughter a quick glance over his shoulder. “Pear Butter, are you sure you don't still have feelings for the apple spawn?”

Pear Butter stiffened. “I still think Bright Mac is a good guy, but, like, we're too different. I mean, a Pear and an Apple? What was I thinkin'? You're right, it would never work out.”

“Ha! Different?” Grand Pear shook his head. “You're giving him way too much credit, girl. He's conniving and manipulative just like his mother.”

Big Mac's heart hammered in his chest as he clenched his fists. This man was insulting his father and his grandmother!

His mother folded her hands in her lap. “Why do you think that, Pa?” she asked, her voice perfectly neutral.

“Come on, don't be so naive, girl. He broke my water silo on purpose so he could have an excuse to spend more time with you while he took his sweet time fixing it on our farm.” He tightly gripped the steering wheel. “How convenient for him.”

Big Mac narrowed his eyes, trying to think of a way to challenge Grand Pear without revealing himself as an Apple. “How do you know he broke it on purpose?” That certainly didn't sound like something his pa would do, even when he was young.

“He had the motive,” answered Grand Pear. “His farm has been our biggest competitor for a long time, so he would have reason to sabotage us by temporarily removing our emergency water supply. And he could make himself look good for Pear Butter by fixing the water tower and cozying up to her without sneaking around.”

“Isn't it just as likely that it was an accident, and Bright Mac just wanted to do the right thing?” asked Pear Butter. “I mean, you thought I knocked down the silo till he came forward.”

“You're still defending him!” Her father flung a hand into the air. “Look, even if it was an accident, he still used his clumsiness to take advantage of you.”

Pear Butter's mouth fell open, her pale peach face tinged a dark pink. “He didn't – we didn't do anything physical,” she stammered. “We just talked, that's all.”

“Only because I watched you like a hawk! I know exactly what that punk wanted from you.”

“Okay, Pa! I get it. You don't have to convince me.” Pear Butter crossed her arms.

Her father glanced back. “If you say so.”

“Well, I do say so. Let's just drop it.”

“Fine.” Grand Pear's head turned from side to side. “We're gettin' close to number 1082, McBiggen. Anything I should look for?”

Before he even read the numbers, Big Mac knew which house belonged to Dr. Discord. “It's that purple and yellow one,” he answered.

Grand Pear did a double take and gaped at the house with vertical purple and yellow striped siding. The front yard featured evergreen bushes that were cut into spheres on the right side and cubes on the left, and the lawn itself contained a smattering of weeds and mushrooms.

“I'll bet his neighbors love living next door to him,” Grand Pear said drily.

“Eyup,” said Big Mac and Pear Butter simultaneously. Then they glanced at each other and chuckled.

“Um, McBiggen, before you go, here's my – our phone number.” She handed him a receipt with the number written in ink. “Just in case you have any injuries that we didn't notice right away, or if you need anything else, just call.” She smiled and lightly bit her lower lip.

Big Mac didn't know what to say or how to feel, although mortification was working its way to the forefront.

“Oh! And here's your hooded sweatshirt back. I don't know if you'll wanna wear it again, but you might could use it as part of a scary Samhain costume.” As she passed the hoodie over to Big Mac, his cellphone fell out of the pocket.

“What's this?” She picked it up.

“It's, uh, my pager.” That was a thing in the Nineties, wasn't it?

Pear Butter blinked. “Really? I thought only doctors and business workers had pagers.” She pressed the button on the back and gasped when the lock screen flashed.

He snatched the phone and the hoodie out of her hands. “Uh, my family's rich,” he said lamely. “Gotta go!” He scrambled out of the vehicle, his feet and legs aching from walking all day and getting hit by the car. As he jogged up Dr. Discord's walkway, he attempted to look like he wasn't escaping from the most uncomfortable car ride in history. His mom had put the moves on him, his grandpa hated his pa and grandma, and Big Mac didn't even know who he really was anymore. Nor did he know who his mother was. The mom he remembered was Buttercup, the kind woman who loved apples and baking and music and, most importantly, loved his dad. This Pear Butter girl looked and sounded like his ma, but she was a different person. Or maybe he was simply telling himself this so he would feel less revulsion. He peeked over his shoulder at Pear Butter and Grand Pear and gave them a wave and a wince that he had meant to be a grin. Then he hustled up the steps onto the front stoop and rang the doorbell. He waited for what seemed like a minute while Grand Pear stayed in place, possibly to make sure someone was home and Big Mac was, in fact, welcome there.

At last, the door opened, and Dr. Discord loomed in all his glory. He looked like he hadn't aged in the past 25 years, except that his hair was black. His eyebrows and goatee were as white as they were in the future, however. He sported a brown vest over a yellow shirt, and a helmet with thick metal cables twisted and bundled together like horns on both sides.

Big Mac sighed with relief. Dr. Discord would help him. In the back of his head, Big Mac realized how far he must have fallen down the rabbit hole if he was looking to Dr. Discord for hope and comfort.

“I know what you're thinking: Why am I wearing this fabulous helmet?” The taller man pointed unnecessarily at his headgear. “Well, in addition to looking snazzy, it makes it possible for my brain to pick up on your brainwaves! And I'm sensing that you've come from a great distance.”

“Eyup.”

“Ha ha! All right, then, let's try a harder one. You want me to invite you inside.” Dr. Discord opened the door wider and made a sweeping gesture into his living room.

“Eyup.” Big Mac stepped inside the house.

“Marvelous! And you want to use my phone.”

“Uh, nope.”

“Damnit.” The older man frowned. “Hold on, not phone. You want to go home.”

Big Mac smiled. “Eyup.”

“And you came to me because . . .” He closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead.

“Doc, my name is Big Mac, and I'm from the future. You know that Flux Capacitor you thought of today? Well it worked, and I came here from 2018. Only I don't know how to use the time machine, and I need your help to figure it out.” He drew in a deep breath, unused to giving such a lengthy speech.

Dr. Discord opened his eyes wide. “Shit, this brainwave helmet doesn't work the way it's supposed to. Instead of letting me read your mind, it's letting you read mine!”

Big Mac blinked. “What?”

"You knew about the Flux Capacitor even though I haven't told anyone about it yet." The taller man took off his helmet and held it under his arm. “I just came up with the idea today.”

“Like I said, it worked.”

“So the very day I thought of the Flux Capacitor, someone uses it to travel from the future to this moment in time?”

“Exactly!” Big Mac was so excited that his usual “eyup” wouldn't do.

Dr. Discord glanced up at the ceiling. “I don't know, I liked my reverse mind-reading hypothesis better. Besides, where's the time machine, Future Boy?”

“I left it at the mall parkin' lot. It's a bus, and I was paranoid about drivin' it and accidentally gettin' myself more lost in time.”

“Then how can I be sure you're really from the future, hm?”

At once, Big Mac held his cellphone toward Dr. Discord. “This is my phone. It's like a mini computer. In the future, everyone carries one of these, even my granny. And look, the date still says 2018.”

Dr. Discord took it in his hand. “Incredible! This is the most sophisticated touch screen I've ever seen! And the graphics . . .”

“Uh . . .” Big Mac held up his hand. “Please don't remove any of my icons.” He'd forgotten that even little babies could use cellphones just enough to mess up a layout.

Dr. Discord glanced over at Big Mac's palm. “Your hand is disgusting. I have a first aid kit in the bathroom.” He went across the living room toward the hallway, pointing at a door that was covered in floral wallpaper. “Go clean and bandage your hand in there. Don't worry, I'll keep your mini-computer safe for you.”

Big Mac washed his hands and arms in the sink. The water made him realize that he hadn't had anything to drink since the coffee, so he was likely dehydrated. He filled one of his host's little paper cups from the tap and downed it in one gulp. Then he chased it with five more cupfulls.

While he rehydrated, Dr. Discord chatted animatedly. “Does everyone in the future write in hieroglyphics, or is it just this Snips person?”

Big Mac set down the cup and picked up a packet of gauze. “Not everyone uses emojis, but a lot of my friends do.”

“And some people use abbreviations, it seems. Trixie says, 'LOL.' Ooo, that must mean 'lots of love'!”

“Laughin' out loud,” corrected Big Mac.

“Laughing out loud . . . Let's see, she's replying to 'Can't be worse than the friendship games.' I don't understand why this is humorous.”

“You had to be there.” Big Mac unwrapped the gauze while Dr. Discord grew quiet for a moment. Big Mac didn't mind silence between friends and family. It was pleasant just to be with a friend, even if that friend was staring at a device.

Dr. Discord broke the silence as Big Mac finished wrapping his hands in gauze. “Are there mutants with wings and cat ears in 2018, or is this a special effect?”

“You're in my gallery now?” Big Mac stared through the bathroom doorway at Dr. Discord, who held up the phone to show him the screen.

“What in Tartarus is going on in this picture?” asked Dr. Discord.

It was the group selfie that Pinkie Pie had sent Big Mac after the Rainbooms’ defeat of Wallflower Blush (a student he had no memory of).

“It's complicated. You know the myths about monsters and sorcerers and whatnot comin' from magical worlds? Turns out there's some truth to 'em.”

“You're referring to the Magic Portal Theory, although calling it a theory is a bit generous.”

Big Mac gaped at him. “You know about magic portals?”

Shrugging one shoulder, Dr. Discord replied, “Theories about 'magic' portals have been circling around for hundreds of years. Some say that yetis and the Loch Neighs monster came through these portals, and the World Tree itself was one such portal. As a scientist, I think that if there are creatures from other worlds, they might have technology so far beyond our understanding that it seems like magic to some people.”

“Huh.” Big Mac thought for a moment. “That's an interestin' idea, Doc, but Sunset Shimmer is from another world, and she calls it magic.”

Dr. Discord flipped the phone around to view the screen again.

“She's the one with the hair that looks like bacon,” elaborated Big Mac. “She brought a crown from that world, and used it to turn into a flying she-demon and force the rest of us to become her brainwashed army . . .” He paused and massaged his forehead. “Damn, this sounds insane when I say it out loud.”

“I'll say!” agreed Dr. Discord. “This girl doesn't look like a she-demon at all!”

“She got better.”

“Are the other cat girls from this other world, too?”

“Nope. One of them's my sister. They got powers to respond to new magic threats, or somethin' like that. No one ever gives a straight answer.” Big Mac taped gauze to his elbow.

“Your sister's the blonde one, isn't she? The freckles give it away.”

“Eyup, that's Applejack. I got another kid sister, too, but she ain't in that photo.” Big Mac finished bandaging his other elbow and began to put away the first aid supplies.

“You and your sisters were born after this year, correct?”

Wrinkling his brow, Big Mac eyed Dr. Discord. “Eyup. Why do you ask?”

“Well, not that it's any of my business,” said Dr. Discord while thumbing through Big Mac's phone, “but why are you paranoid about getting lost in time when you should be paranoid about erasing yourself from existence – and your sisters, for that matter?”

Big Mac shook his head. “You can't prevent your own birth. That would create a paradox, right?”

“You're smarter than you look, kid,” said Dr. Discord, tilting his head back. “Yes, I'm well aware of the time travel paradox. But I propose that jumping to the past would produce enough flux to alter the timeline. Of course, it's only a hypothesis, and even if it's correct, you're likely safe as long as you don't have any direct contact with your parents.”

“Actually, those folks who gave me a ride here were my ma and grandpa,” said Big Mac, hunching his shoulders, “and I ran into my pa at McDonalds this mornin'.”

Dr. Discord smacked his forehead. Then he smacked Big Mac's forehead for good measure.

“Hey!” yelled Big Mac.

“Well, you deserve it for being so careless! How could you accept a ride from your mother? Don't you know you might have doomed yourself?”

Big Mac backed farther into the bathroom and turned his head away. “It's worse than that. My ma . . .” He trailed off, muttering out of the corner of his mouth.

Dr. Discord tilted his head to the side. “What was that?”

Big Mac sucked in a breath. “My ma made a pass at me, all right?”

The older man's jaw dropped. “Great Highlander, Big Mac, this is worse than I thought! Your only options are to make sure your parents get together, or become your own father!”

“I'm not my own father!” Big Mac clenched his fists, wincing as his fingertips dug into his raw palms. “I know who my father was, and I would never–!”

The taller man held out his hand in a placating gesture. “Relax, man, it was just a joke! A little gallows humor, so to speak.”

Big Mac calmed down a bit. “Fine, but is it as bad as you say? I'm still here, aren't I?”

“For now.” Dr. Discord began pacing back and forth. “If the Flux Capacitor functions the way I designed it to, it will have created a sort of protective 'flux bubble' around you and anything else that you brought back. The bubble would gradually weaken the longer you stayed with any part of the time stream, until it would be as if you never existed.” Dr. Discord spread his hand. “If I'm correct, your sisters would disappear first, since they're outside the flux bubble.” He stared at the phone screen. “Sister One looks fine. I assume you have a photo of Sister Two stored somewhere on this device.”

Dr. Discord passed the phone to Big Mac, who quickly found the fall sibling photo. Apple Bloom's head was missing. It wasn't cropped out of the frame – it was just gone, with empty space above it.

Big Mac gasped. “Apple Bloom!”

Dr. Discord sighed, sounding uncharacteristically glum. “Just as I thought. Your best bet, Future Boy, is to find your mother again and tell her to go out with that nice Mr. Mac fellow, or whatever your dad's name is.”

“Actually, my ma gave me her number,” said Big Mac, tugging the receipt out of his pocket.

Dr. Discord's eyes opened wide. “Oh.” Then he perked up, returning to his typical energy level. “Well, that's convenient! Just use that high-tech phone to call your mom and get this mess straightened out, and then we can be on our way to the time machine.”

“I can't make calls now,” said Big Mac with a sheepish smile, “on account of my service provider doesn't exist yet, among other reasons.”

Grinning, Dr. Discord looked at him out of the corners of his eyes. “Ah, I was right: you do need to use my phone!”


“Hello?”

“Hey, this is McBiggen.” Big Mac's hand sweated against the phone receiver.

“Oh, wow, I didn't think you'd call so soon!” exclaimed Pear Butter. “Everything okay?”

“Eyup.”

“Awesome. How's your hands and elbows?”

“Not too bad. Listen . . .” He swallowed. “Pear Butter, I just wanted to tell you that I don't like you the way you seem to like me.”

“Oh.” His mother's voice was pained. “I see. I reckon I didn't make a good first impression, huh?”

“No, it's nothin' you did, it's just that I can tell from the way you talked about P–Bright Mac that you still have feelings for him.”

For a moment, there was only muted shuffling on the other end of the line. “Is it that obvious?” she asked in a hushed tone.

“Eyup.”

“I gotta talk quiet so my pa doesn't overhear. The truth is, I still care about Bright Mac very much. We've had a special connection for as long as I can remember. But, well, you heard my pa. He hates Bright's whole family, especially his ma, and the feeling's mutual. I'm afraid of what my pa would do if Bright and I became serious.”

“What do you think he'd do?” asked Big Mac, lowering his eyebrows.

“Kick me out of the house, most likely.”

“You really think he'd do that to his own daughter?”

“I'm afraid his hatred of the Apples is stronger than his love for anyone else, including me,” answered Pear Butter. “So I thought that maybe I could try to be happy with someone else. You can see how that worked out.”

“Don't give up. I'm sure that someday your pa will realize what a good guy Bright Mac is.” Big Mac didn't fully believe his own words, however. After all, there might be a valid reason his family had never kept photos of his maternal grandparents.

His mom laughed bitterly. “Fat chance of that happenin'. Apples could cure lung cancer and my pa would complain that they didn't cure other forms of cancer.”

“He seemed like a decent guy till he started rantin' about the Apples, aside from hittin' me with his car, but that was an accident,” mused Big Mac.

“Oh, don't get me wrong, my father has his good qualities. Gives everyone the benefit of the doubt unless they're an Apple. But he holds a grudge like no one else.”

“Well, what would it take to get him past it?”

“I'm not sure. It'd have to be somethin' personal and meaningful. Maybe if . . .” She paused. “The Fall Formal's comin' up this Friday, and my pa is gonna chaperone. If he saw Bright Mac do somethin' noble to help me, it might change his mind. I'm gettin' an idea, and I'll need your help to pull it off. But I wanna tell Bright about it first. We'll work out the details and call you back. We have caller ID – is this a good number to call you?”

“Eyup.”

“Cool. So, what do you say? I know it's askin' a lot.”

“I'll need to know exactly what your idea is, but if you really think it'll help end the feud, then I'm in,” replied Big Mac with a little smile.

“Awesome! Thank you so much! Talk to you later.”

Then came the dial tone.

“Bye, Ma,” he said softly. His throat and stomach felt like they were being squeezed from within, and tears pricked his eyes. Pear Butter was his mother. A less mature version, certainly, but she was the same person who had bandaged his wounds, cared for her family, and loved Bright Mac.

Dr. Discord cleared his throat. “What's this about ending the feud between the Pears and Apples?”

And so Big Mac relayed Pear Butter's half of the conversation to Dr. Discord, whose eyebrows rose higher and higher.

“Well, well, well. The Apples and Pears are like the Hooffields and McColts without the murders. It's a wonder you were even born!”

Big Mac checked the picture on his phone. The lower two-thirds of Apple Bloom's head were visible.

“Look, Apple Bloom's comin' back!” He showed Dr. Discord.

“That is encouraging, but you're not in the clear yet. If I were you, I'd follow through with your mother's plan, just to be sure. In the meantime, I'd like to recover the time machine bus from the mall parking lot. I'll feel better if it's in my driveway.”


Big Mac felt himself being nudged awake. “We're here! Get up!” Dr. Discord hopped out of his car and bounded over to the bus. Then he tore a fistful of fliers from the windshield. “Really, now! Do these ever work? Who's going to buy something from someone who obstructs their view when they're trying to get home?”

One bold canvasser had stuck a two-foot long poster on the side of the bus. Dr. Discord crumpled it while Big Mac unlocked the bus, and then they both climbed inside.

“Oooo, this is classy!” said Dr. Discord, admiring the interior's gold accents and mood lighting. “I can see why future me chose this to be the vehicle for the Flux Capacitor. Ah, and there it is. Isn't it beautiful?” His scarlet eyes shimmered.

“Doc, what do you make of this?” Big Mac pointed to the LED display with the sequence of letters.

BB-AF-BJJD AGAA:AA
BA-BA-CABI ABDA:FE
BA-BA-CABI ABCF:AA

“Hm?” Dr. Discord stared at the dashboard and stroked his beard. “It's a code. It must represent dates and times – there's no other display that would show that data. Did you come back in time today, Big Mac?”

“Eyup.”

“Of course, the top row is for setting your arrival time.” Dr. Discord toggled the arrows next to the display, changing the first letter before carefully putting it back the way it was. “That's it! B is one! See, this has to be eleven, and that's the one in 1993.” Dr. Discord pointed.

Then he smoothed out a flier and took a pen out of his pocket. In about a minute, he deciphered the code.

“Each letter is a number, and they go in alphabetical order starting with A as zero. I think future me made this a little too easy, if I really wanted this to be a safeguard.” He leaned over the dashboard. “And I'm guessing the other two rows are either the previous two setpoints, or the previous times that the bus left. At any rate, I don't see a way to change them.” Standing up straight, he added, “Now that we have the settings, let's figure out how to activate the temporal displacement. Can you remember what you did when you went back?”

I didn't really do anything. It was radio controlled, or at least the engine and steerin' were.”

“Really?” Dr. Discord knitted his brow. “I kind of assumed you took it for a joyride. You mean I sent you back via radio control without teaching you how to use the time travel controls?”

Big Mac didn't feel like explaining about Coach Iron Will and his goat – Dr. Discord probably didn't even know who Iron Will was, yet. “One of my teachers did it. We was just messin' around,” he said evasively. “The bus went really fast both times it traveled through time – I reckon it was doin' ninety.”

“This old bus did ninety miles per hour?” Dr. Discord opened his eyes wide. “Impressive, although it was quite careless for a teacher to do that.”

Big Mac laughed.

“So then what happened? Did you see your teacher or the bus do anything else before it shot through time?”

“First sparks flew off the wheels, and then the bus, and then there was a wall of electricity in front of it. That's how you know it's workin', I reckon.”

“Well, I think that's enough information to take it for a spin.” Dr. Discord placed his hand on the steering wheel.

Big Mac arched an eyebrow. He tried to make it as expressive as Applejack's eyebrow, but he wasn't certain if he was pulling it off.

“I meant to my house, of course, in this present time,” clarified Dr. Discord. “I want to look under the hood before I attempt to displace the bus in time, and I don't feel comfortable doing that with so many people around. I'll just drive home and you can follow me in my car.”

“What if I get pulled over? My driver's license says I haven't even been born yet.”

Dr. Discord snorted. “Like any cop is going to notice my car when there's a psychedelic antique bus driving in front of it.”

Big Mac couldn't argue with that logic.

Author's Note:

Well, that happened.

Grand Pear’s theory about Bright Mac breaking the silo on purpose was a spur-of-the-moment decision on my part, but it fits Grand Pear's character.