• Published 19th Nov 2018
  • 14,562 Views, 1,496 Comments

Bedbound (And Beyond) - Cackling Moron



Freshly-arrived human in a state of some disrepair is tended to by local deity.

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We're bedbound - we aim for the sun

Never in my life had I felt quite so fucked up.

I didn’t even have the common decency to remember what had happened, either. Neither a distant nor dim memory of a night out gone too heavy. No recollection of anything dangerous I might have been doing. I had nothing.

Groping back through my memories I came up with even more nothing. I was vaguely aware of who I was, but only in a general sense. I knew I existed, but beyond that not a whimper. Even a name was elusive.

I probably should have been more worried about that, but it was difficult to care about such comparatively small details when everything you did or were hurt.

Breathing was uncomfortable, air rasping every way into the body it could find. Swallowing hurt, my throat being parched. Wiggling my toes made me convinced that each and every one of them was recently shattered and only now healing or, at best, all individually stubbed. Likewise, flexing my fingers produced much the same painful effect, only in my hands. So I stopped doing it.

Looking around was particularly painful, as whatever bed I had been put into - while comfortable, I’ll admit - was directly facing a window and through this window was shining the sun. Being put into a bed at all was nice, yes, but gazing directly into the screaming face of the sun itself was not quite as nice. There was not even a net curtain to shield me. It was blinding.

Pleasantly warm, but blinding.

Couldn’t even raise a hand to shield my eyes as my arms didn’t seem to want to go through the effort and instead hung limp and weak by my sides. When I really, really tried to move my arms they flopped away from me and hurt. So at least that was consistent.

The light continued to be blinding. My eyelids could only do so much, and the piercing sunshine was making the pounding that filled my head - which seemed to have already been exacerbated by all the thinking I’d tried to do - worse.

I had to turn my head away instead, and keep my eyes closed. My neck protested in very strong terms, but needs must.

Propped up, I sat like this for a while. The room was very quiet.

Who had propped me up? I did not know. It seemed extremely unlikely given my barely-holding-together state that I’d done it myself. Presumably whoever had put me in the nice comfy bed had been kind enough to do it for me. I would thank them, I thought. I had the feeling it was the polite thing to do.

“Oh! You’re awake!”

A voice. A very definitely female voice, though not one I recognised. Or maybe I did and I just couldn’t remember. Could have gone either way.

A nice voice, certainly.

I cracked an eye to see if I might spot who it was but the blinding light made this impossible. I got the merest, briefest hint of someone moving by the foot of the bed and heard footfalls muffled by thick carpet, but that was it. None of this told me anything.

Not that I could have done much about it even if it had.

“That’s me. Awake,” I said. I sounded hoarse and three words was enough to set me coughing, coughing enough to send delightful stabs of pain tinkling up and down my ribs. I screwed my eyes shut and clutched at the sheets - such soft sheets! Almost a shame to clutch them so - and was so distracted coughing I barely even noticed the straw being proffered to my lips.

It could have been anything, but, really, at a time like that I felt like taking my chances. And so I drank. Cool, refreshing water. I must have drained whatever it was as I was quickly sucking down nothing but air and the straw withdrew.

My chest throbbed and my sides ached and my fingers were a veritable cheeseboard of pain following my rash decision to clench them, but the water had still been a godsend. I sighed happily and settled back. The little things were always appreciated.

“Better?” I heard the voice of my unknown guest ask.

Feeling it best not to try and speak for a little while given what had just happened I nodded and hummed instead.

“Good,” she said.

I don’t know a lot about voices, I’m not an expert. But even in my sorry state I knew that I rather liked this one. It was pleasant and oddly soothing. I kind of hoped she would keep talking so I might keep listening, but she seemed content to be quiet after this.

Again I tried to take a peek and again was stymied by the sun. Hissing, I turned my head away once more. My eyes were watering now, after-images refusing to fade away.

“I’m sorry, is it too bright?” She asked. I nodded.

“Just a tad,” I about managed to croak. No coughs came this time, much to my relief.

My guest giggled. Somehow, the sound entered my ears and seemed to bypass my brain entirely, much preferring to instead travel up and down the length of my spine. I tingled. Tingling was much, much better than aching and throbbing.

Generally speaking…

There was the sound of fabric shifting as curtains were drawn and I could see the light level dropping, hopefully to somewhere more comfortable. I had another little peek, and this time wasn’t immediately forced to close my eyes again.

The after-images did make picking out the details hard though. A great, white blob was sat right in the middle of my vision, leaving me able to sort of half-peek at what was around it, and even then not in enough detail to get a proper impression.

What I could see looked opulent, expensive. How I knew this was unclear, but I did. Rich carpet, fancy sideboards, shiny looking artistic bollocks to sit on the top of the sideboards. All very luxurious. The bed, were I able to get a proper look, would probably be fancy too. Just a guess.

“Better?” She asked. I could see her moving, sort of, but with the mere edges of what I was left to work with I couldn’t make out much more than the fact she was there, and I knew that anyway. I nodded and hummed again, swallowing. My throat hurt less.

“I couldn’t-” I started to say, but I only got that far before the coughing came again. Not as bad this time, but enough to stop me in my tracks. At least I got more water out of it, which was something, especially since what I’d been meaning to ask was for more water anyway.

I slurped it down and decided that from here on out I’d stick to single words, at most.

My mysterious, lovely-sounding caretaker - possibly captor? Remained to be seen - came padding around the side of the bed. I’d given up trying to see what she looked like. My eyes were blurrier now after the coughing and, really, the experience of hearing her speak while I just lay back with my eyes closed was nice enough to justify itself.

“I’m going to ask you some yes or no questions, okay? Nothing serious, don’t worry, I just want to try and learn a little bit more about you. Just nod if it’s yes, okay?” She asked.

I nodded.

I had the hang of this already.

“You have the hang of this already,” she said. I could practically hear the smile on that one.

Nailed it.

“Okay: Do you know where you are?”

Pretty easy question. I didn’t have the foggiest idea where I was. I shook my head.

“Do you know how you got here?”

Easy again! If I didn’t know where I was how was I meant to know how I’d got there? Another shake.

“Alright. Do you know who I am?”

I must just have been really good at yes or not questions because these were all so easy. She could have been anyone. More head shaking. I was bursting with confidence.

“Do you know who you are?”

Ah.

Now that was harder. I had to think about that one.

I had to be someone, surely? And isn’t knowing who you are a pretty basic thing? Doesn’t everyone know who they are? So why didn’t I? I knew I was a man, that much was certain. And a man has a name, doesn’t he? So what was mine?

Nothing. I had nothing.

I shook my head, but this time I didn’t feel so happy with myself about it.

“That’s okay. You were in such a state when I found that you that you’re lucky to be alive at all. I’m sure it’ll come back once you’re feeling better.”

I wasn’t sure about this but I trusted her implicitly. If she said so, I’d believe it.

“Can you open your eyes for me?” She asked.

My initial answer would have been ‘no’, but she’d asked me so damn nicely I just that I didn’t really have a choice. I peeked and saw blurry nothingness. There was a blobby outline there that might have been her, but could have been something else. I could also see something sort of rippling. Curtain, maybe? Couldn’t feel a breeze. Weird.

And why would it be so close? Real weird.

“Little bit more, I know you can do it,” she said.

And hell, if she said so what was there to stop me?

I opened my eyes properly and blinked. Still watery and still blurry, but clearing up the more I blinked. Without the sunlight and with that afterimage all-but gone I could see properly! Could see the luxurious room! The alarmingly big bed!

The thing sat next to me, smiling at me.

Thing.

White face. Fur Fuzzy. Lightly fuzzy. Big, big eyes. Big billowy sparkly rainbow hair. Colours unclear. Long face. Muzzle? Four legs. Four legs?

There was a problem here. What was it?

Oh yes, that was it.

“You are not human,” I said, flatly. Rationally speaking I could see this was the case, and it seemed obvious. Irrationally, a bit in my brain started screaming at me, but didn’t tell me why it was doing it. The effect was enough to keep me frozen though.

The screaming in my head just gave me the general impression that things that were not human should not be talking. Least of all horses. Which is what this was. I knew that now. It came back to me.

“You are a horse,” I said, equally flatly. I then clapped eyes onto the long, long horn jutting from this particular horse’s head and another fact floated into my awareness. “A unicorn.”

Then I saw wings.

“You’re a peg - pega - fuck, pegasus?”

That took me a bit of effort to actually bring forth.

Throughout all of this it - she? - just kept smiling pleasantly at me, apparently content to let me blunder through whatever I could remember. I was out though.

Horse, unicorn and pegasus were all I got from looking at her. What any of them really meant to me wasn’t as obvious. They sat there in my brain and there were a few details about them that presented themselves proudly to me, but I didn’t know what to do with any of it.

Horses shouldn’t talk. That was a fact. I knew that. But she must have done. Unless someone was hiding behind her. That seemed like a lot of work for someone to go through. Unlikely? Possible though.

She was still smiling. It a nice smile - I knew this, too - but somehow that just made the screaming in my head worse the more I looked at it, so I looked away. Something about how horses should not be able to smile. I looked at my lap instead, as it seemed a safe enough place to keep my eyes.

“I feel uncomfortable and I do not know why,” I said apologetically. There was a flicker and a ruffling as she shifted in position, but I couldn’t see her do it.

“Is it my fault?” She asked, plainly concerned.

It was odd. If I kept her out of view and made it so that all I heard was her voice, the screaming lessened. I felt legitimately soothed if I kept things that way. This seemed unfair on her somehow. Not her fault she was a horse. Or three types of horse-like thing all at once.

“No, no it’s probably mine. Somehow,” I said, looking at my hands. They looked bruised. I appeared to be missing a fingernail. Ouch.

“Are you a human?” She asked.

“Sorry what?”

“You said I wasn’t one. Were you expecting one? Is that what you are?”

A good question. A quick mental check. Yes, yes, pretty sure a human was what I was. I was looking down at my hands, after all. If I were a horse - and, hey, if a talking horse is sat next to me maybe being a horse is normal - I wouldn’t have hands. Conclusion: human. Probably.

“Uh, yes. I’m fairly certain.”

At this point, all the talking I’d been doing caught up with me and my throat dried once more. I could feel the coughing building up somewhere South of my chest and fought to hold it back, but to no avail.

I coughed with such force I managed to shift the covers off of myself, and when I sensed - felt more than saw - my bedside-buddy moving in to do something about this I panicked. Some hellish combination of the irrational, screaming terror in my head, the coughing and my earnest desire to do things for myself all conspired to somehow see me launching out of the bed and landing on the floor.

This hurt. This hurt so much I lost about a second or two, and by the time everything stopped being white I was in the air and I could hear something twinkling.

“You have to be careful,” she said, striking a good balance between concerned and scolding as I was lowered back into bed and the covers replaced. How that had happened I did not know, as my eyes had watered up again and I could see nothing.

I turned to her. For some reason it was easier looking at her when she was an indistinct shape. Made it easier to forget that she was, you know, not a human. Which was bad. I was pretty sure that was bad. Pretty sure I should have known the reasons why.

“I’m not in a good way, am I?” I asked, holding very still.

“No,” she said. “You were very close to death when we found you, and for a while we weren’t even sure you’d wake up at all. We’re very glad that you did, though.”

The royal ‘we’? Or were there more horses lurking nearby? Biding their time?

I considered what she’d said to me. About having been near death.

“Shouldn’t I be in a…”

I felt around for the word. I knew I knew it. I could feel it in my head. It was so close. I could see everything about it, knew exactly what it was I was going for. Gritting my teeth I made a final mental leap and then it popped up, unbidden.

It was like coming up for air. Bliss.

“Hospital! That’s the one. Hospital. Shouldn't I be in a hospital? Assuming you, uh, have them? Being a...horse...and all…?”

Did horses have hospitals? Something told me no, but that same something also told me that they shouldn't be talking, either, so maybe these ones worked by different rules to whatever that something was familiar with.

Best to assume nothing, for now.

She giggled again and again my spine responded more than my brain did. In fact, this giggle seemed to reach other parts of my body, and those tingled too. This seemed like a good thing, but not the sort of thing I should tell her was happening. I had an idea she might take it the wrong way.

If nothing else, the giggling made me feel much about about being at death’s door. If she could giggle about it then surely it couldn’t be all that bad.

Right?

“You’re in no condition to be moved right now, I’m afraid. I had doctors come to you. You are stable though, so don’t worry. Just delicate. It was felt best that you remain here.”

I’m not a doctor, so if a doctor had considered the situation acceptable then far be it from me to go poking holes. I had a nice bed, I was sound.

“Well I’m not complaining,” I said, luxuriating under the covers. Then I froze. “This isn’t your bed, is it?”

Yet more giggling. I was rapidly coming to be very fond of that noise.

“No, it isn’t. I can have you moved there if you feel up to it?”

No idea what to make of that.

“Here is good. I just, uh, just wouldn’t like to think of you giving up your bed for me, is all.”

“Very sweet of you.”

“S’just polite…”

My vision was clearing up by that point, so I found myself looking again into that face. Smiling face. I twigged at last that the rippling I’d seen was, in fact, her sparkly rainbow hair. Though on a horse isn’t that called something else?

Whatever it was called the thing was voluminous. And so sparkly! I found myself staring. So much so she clearly noticed, turning her head a little so I got a better look. This made me blush, and so I turned away, even if my neck protested from having to move.

That horrible, incoherent, wordless, squirming terror that was gnawing at my skull and dribbling down to my guts was clearing up the more my thoughts started getting back into line. I was starting to understand a little more why having a big, smiling, talking horse with rainbow hair standing next to my bed was cause for concern.

“Uh,” I said, unsure of how to broach the subject. “I am, ah, confused. And concerned.”

“Is it anything I can help you with?” She asked.

“Uh, no. Well, maybe. You see, horses shouldn’t...talk...but you are. And this - this is a source of some confusion. To me. I don’t know if I’m in the wrong place or if I’ve been...wrong thoughts. I am confused.”

The look on her face was far too polite and thoughtful given the nonsense I’d just spouted.

“Well I can help you a little bit with that. I am not a horse. I am an alicorn,” she said.

This did not help me in the least.

“Uh…”

“What does talk, that you know of?”

This I thought about. The answer was immediate and obvious in my mind so I had to double-check to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

“...just humans.”

In broad terms. I felt it best not to get into questions of sign language and mimicry among anything non-human because, really, who had the time?

She seemed slightly taken aback by this revelation.

“In your world, it is only the humans who can talk? Nothing else at all? What species do you share your world with?”

“Lots, I wouldn’t know where to sta- wait, back up. My world?”

There is a tendency to assume that, in a weird situation, it’s everything else that is at fault and out of place. It’s that irritating little habit to always put yourself at the centre of everything. Up until this point, I’d assumed that I was fine, and that my horse - alicorn, rather, whatever that meant - friend, the bed, the fancy-pants room and everything else was what was being weird.

Everything else needed to explain itself to me. I was fine, you see? I had the right to be here.

But on her saying that, I felt a shiver of doubt. I didn’t like it one bit.

She seemed to notice this, as her smile softened and she looked, again, concerned. This time vering on deeply concerned.

“What is the name of your world?”

“Earth. I guess?”

To my immediate alarm the bed slid forward across the floor and tilted upwards. As this took me towards the window I felt I had good reason to be alarmed.

“It’s alright,” she said, trotting alongside as the bed moved. “I’ve got you.”

This was reassuring, but not wholly reassuring enough for me to feel totally comfortable about being in a bed that was lifting off the floor for no obvious reason. That, and the odd glowy field suddenly surrounding me was a bit worrying, too.

But then I looked out the window. At which point I stopped worrying. Stopped thinking much of anything, in fact.

“This is Equestria,” I heard a voice say, though it sounded like it was coming from a long way off.

I then fainted.