• Published 19th Nov 2018
  • 14,881 Views, 1,500 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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Power together

Author's Note:

Feel I am flagging somewhat, though this needs pulling back on track. Assuming I have a track. Which I do? Some things need to happen. Need to make those things happen.

There is also a pun in here that I'm proud of, but also deeply ashamed of.

And maybe something else people might notice. Maybe get mad about. Who knows? My life is rudderless.

The hospital, to my astonishment, largely fitted into what I thought a hospital should look like, albeit not a pony hospital. I’d expected something as rustic and backwards, but no, something approaching actual sophistication! Not sure how that worked but whatever, I was glad of it.

Upon arrival a remarkably bored-looking nurse showed me and Twilight to a side room where we sat and waited. This wasn’t exactly my idea of a rollicking good time but Twilight had seemed pretty insistent on it and, well, anything for a quiet life, right? Wasn’t like I had anything else to do.

And on the plus side it trapped Twilight where I could bombard her with questions. I felt like asking them, she seemed to enjoy answering them: we both win!

“How many princesses are there, exactly? Or have I met them all now? Or are there dozens more who are going to pop up at any moment? I feel underdressed if so.”

Twilight giggled. God I loved that sound. From any of them, I’d noticed. I mean sure yeah, Celestia’s kind of gave me a shiver but all of them just sounded so bloody happy whenever they did it! Just seemed to touch some sort of endorphin-pumpin’ spot right in my head.

Weird? Probably, but hell. Take what you can get.

“Well you won’t be underdressed for long thanks to Rarity. Not that you have anything to worry about anyway: there aren’t dozens of princesses, no. I think you’ve met most of them now. Bar one.”

“That’s still a fair whack of princesses. Any queens?”

A flicker passed over Twilight’s face. Barely noticeable.

“Not anymore, no,” she said, with forced lightness, and before I could follow up on that oddly tantalising hint she abruptly changed the subject:

“Have you finished the book that Celestia leant you yet? What did you think? It’s The Old Mare and the Sea! It’s one of my favourites, too.”

Really? Well, if that’s what they want the book to be called then go right ahead. Hope the author didn’t make exactly the same choices here as I remember them taking back home.

“Uh, no, not finished yet,” I said, which was true. Now it was my turn to want to try and hurry the subject along. “What about the other one? The fucking giant one? I ain’t even cracked the spine on that one yet.”

Luna’s mysterious book. What did a dream-barging-into horse princess consider a good thing to read? Was all of her personal collection quite so unwieldy? I did wonder.
Twilight cocked her head.

“Hmm? Oh, Luna’s book? No, sorry, I haven’t looked at it. Looks old. Could be anything.”

The mystery continued. Were I the sort of person to get hung up on not knowing things I might have started feeling agitated about that. But I wasn’t. So I didn’t. I’m sure I’d find out in time and be thoroughly underwhelmed.

The doctor came in at this point and forestalled anything further. What followed was what I assumed passed for a basic physical. As far as I could remember I’d never had one, or at least not for a very long time, and the experience was a novel one.

Every so often the doctor would ask this or that question about what I’d been through and Twilight - being the one with comprehensive understanding of Celestia’s notes - answered in my stead while I sat there like a lemon. Not fun, but novel. I got my knees tapped with a tiny mallet and everything.

The results of this tapping seemed to mildly trouble the doctor, who didn’t look happy.

“Could you hold your , uh, whatever those are out in front of you for me? Your claws?” The doctor asked, taking a punt.

“Hands,” I said. It wasn’t a complicated concept.

“Could you hold your hands out in front of you for me,” she repeated. I did so. She examined them and then let me drop them again.

“You have a tremor in your right, ah, hand - have you had that long?”

“I do?”

I lifted my right hand. It was indeed shaking. Just a little bit, but enough that even I could notice it. Weird.

“Fancy that,” I said, letting it flop into my lap again. The doctor frowned. Twilight frowned, too.

“I really need to contact Celestia about that specialist…” Twilight said more to herself than to me or the doctor.

Oh yes, the specialist. Who knew being stranded in magical horse land would be so tedious? A parade of introductions peppered with the occasional examination of my physical wellbeing? At least I was getting some new tablecloth. That was something, at least.

The doctor put me through a couple more paces before excusing herself to go and do something presumably important, stating she’d return shortly. Paperwork, maybe. Or, since she was a doctor, perhaps squeezing in a brief round of golf. Or a quick fag break.

Did ponies smoke? How would they even start to roll their own, what with their hooves? Come to think of it how had the doctor even been holding the little mallet she’d tapped me on the knees with? I’d been so spaced out I hadn’t been paying attention and I’d missed it.

Could she use a lighter with those hooves, too?

What a bizzare tangent.

While waiting I cast my eye over Twilight again, and a thought that had been nagging came back at me.

Twilight was very nice. This I had kind of worked out already. Cute as anything and caring as all out - maybe a little bit too caring, given that I was sat in a hospital, but hell, is that a bad thing?

And I felt a tiny bit bad kind of skirting around the whole ‘Yo I can’t read’ issue. I wasn’t lying to her, technically, really, just avoiding the subject. And that felt like lying to me. And it wasn’t a little thing, right? Could have been something big! Magic was weird after all, right? Could have been the signifier of something significant. Could have been the key to unlocking the cast-iron vault that was my lost memories!

Or something. Unlikely. But still, couldn’t hurt to maybe bring it up.

Right?

“Uh, Twilight, I’m going to admit something to you and it’s going to make me feel bad admitting it but I probably have to,” I said.

“Okay…?”

She was treading carefully. I mean, with an opener like what I’d just given it paid to be prepared for anything.

“You know how I mentioned I hadn’t finished the book Celestia leant me yet?”

She nodded. Also, unrelated, but how quickly she think I read anyway? How quickly did she read? Jesus!

“That’d be because I, uh, can’t read it,” I said.

“You can’t read?” Twilight asked, taking obvious effort to keep the horror out of her voice. Plainly such a state of being would be worse than death, or so was the impression I got.

“No, I can read, I just can’t read whatever it is you guys write in. I think. I could probably write, too. You got a pen?”

She did not, but the nurse outside did have a pencil, as we discovered. Twilight hopped up to go ask to borrow one and some paper and returned shortly.

“Thanks,” I said, taking both and quickly writing out ‘Twilight’, just because. The shake of my hand was difficult to ignore now. Had it been there the whole time and I just hadn’t noticed, or was it new? This is what I got for not paying attention.

Either way I got it done.

I turned the paper around so she could get a look and she peered at it.

“See?” I said.

She peered some more, harder.

“I can’t read that,” she said.

“That’s your name I wrote out there. In English, at least. Could you please do it in, uh, whatever it is you guys got?”

“Mareain,” she said matter-of-factly.

I blinked.

“Your language is called...Mareain?”

“Yes, why?”

Something about this annoyed me greatly, but I couldn’t put my finger on what. Just made me angry for reasons I couldn’t fully describe. Best to just gloss over it.

“Nothing. Write it out, if you’d be so kind.”

She did so. I could not read it.

“Huh. An impasse. I can’t read yours and you can’t read mine.”

Twilight looked like how I felt.

“It’s kind of odd that you can speak it so fluently but not read or write it,” she said, holding mine up and squinting at it, turning it this and that way but getting nowhere.

“To be honest I’m kind of glad I can speak it.”

Can you even begin to imagine the clusterbumble of trying to navigate this place with a language barrier? I think illiteracy was probably dodging a bullet, all things considered.

“Me too. Still, this is strange…” Twilight said, rubbing her chin in obvious deep thought.

Strange was putting it lightly, but I hardly thought this was the strangest part of the whole thing. My position was that my being here at all was the strangest of all, everything else just followed from there.

“Just kind of bums me out that I can’t read the book, you know?”

Or any book, really. Reading was great, this was known, but that I’d been lent these two books - even the huge one - and couldn’t actually enjoy them and honestly report back my enjoyment just kind of made me a little miserable. Like I was ungrateful!

Irrational, obviously, but that was pretty consistent with how I was.

A thought occurred to me.

“Hey Twilight, couldn’t you just shove magic into my head and fix that? Magic’s cool like that, right?”

She wrinkled her muzzle with professional distaste.

“Theoretically it could be possible, but I’d have to read up on it first. I couldn’t just do it now. And I’m a little reluctant to interfere too much with your head until the spec-”

“The specialist, yes, yes. You’re probably right. You are the expert, after all.”

“I could always teach you!”

“Uh...Twilight, how old are you?”

She told me. A year or two South of me.

I did not want someone younger than me teaching me how to read. Especially not a tiny adorable magical horse. And a princess to boot! How humiliating. What use was pride if it wasn’t keeping you in a disadvantageous situation by denying you a perfectly reasonable route out?

“I’ll think about it,” I said, being saved from having to clarify by the return of the doctor.

“You’re clear to go. I’m a little concerned about your right-hand side but given what you’ve been through - and the dearth of information about it - I can’t really recommend anything else other than rest and continued observation. If that tremor gets worse you come back here, yes? Right away. Other than that just take it easy and maybe have a follow up in a week or two.”

Thrilling stuff. I nodded, Twilight and the doctor exchanged some words over the best way to look after your lumbering dimensional interloper and then we were out again, me stumping along with my cobbled-together stick. Apparently the doctor had looked for something more suitable but had come up empty.

Well that was an enlightening waste of time. At least now I could go get some clothes, right?

“Onwards, Twilight!” I said, striding off only stopping when I noticed Twilight hadn’t budged an inch.

“The roundabout house?” I asked, waving my stick off down the street. I was pretty confident Rarity was in that general direction. Twilight wordlessly pointed the opposite way. I sighed. Useless.

“You’ll get used to it,” Twilight reassured me, leading the way.

“Guess I shouldn’t expect to be an expert from one day out,” I said. She smiled.

“Exactly!”

Lovely girl.

“So who’s the one princess I haven’t seen yet?”

“Cadence! She’s my sister-in-law. You probably won’t meet her, at least not for a while.”

I learnt then about the Crystal Empire. That it was called an empire despite not seeming to be one - and also being previously ruled by a queen that Twilight didn’t want to be pressed on and now a princess who was related to the other princesses and married to another of the princesses brother? Kind of convoluted, right? - kind of got under my skin.

Sounded kind of neat though. Blizzards, magical shields, crystals. Certainly, Twilight’s enthusiasm about the place was infectious.

“I’m sure you can visit sometime, if you want!” Twilight said. Then she seemed to think better of it and hurriedly continued: “Uh, you know, assuming you want to. And are still here. Because you want to go home, right? And we can help with that!”

“It’s okay Twilight, all things in time. I can’t even remember the place right now. They probably think I’m dead anyway. Assuming anyone’s noticed.”

Twilight blanched, or at least went as pale as she could, and then hopped up on her hindlegs, putting her hooves against me and fixing me with a fierce glare. I hadn’t expected that.

“Don’t say that! I’m sure you’re missed. We’ll get you healthy and we’ll get you home,” she said, emphatically. “Okay?”

“Whatever you say, Twilight,” I said. She glared harder. I practically wilted.

“Okay?” She pressed, hooves digging into me.

“I’m not sure what you want from me,” I mumbled.

Twilight then hugged me, legs wrapping around my waist.

“Don’t be so down on yourself, I told you!”

“I’ll see what I can do,” I said, not sure what to do with my free hand and gingerly letting it settle onto the back of Twilight’s neck. She was very soft.

“Pinkie was right, you are warm,” she said, muffled against me.

Little awkward. Twilight broke the hug and cleared her throat.

“Shall we keep going?” She suggested.

Seemed like a good idea. The rest of the walk passed in somewhat uncomfortable silence. Every so often Twilight would wander a little too close and bump into my side, ricocheting off while volleying apologies. This was actually pretty fucking cute. Flustered little thing! Whatever was her deal?

The bell to the boutique jangled again and we entered just in time to see Rarity coming out to meet us. Must have seen us coming.

“Now, do bear in mind that I was pressed for time while creating this so don’t judge it too harshly,” Rarity said, but I was too distracted by what she was magically carrying to really pay too much attention.

The thing was an eyesore, yes, but a glorious, gem-studded eyesore the likes of which went so far into the bowels of tastelessness it somehow punched clear through the bottom and ended up coming back around again. At least in my opinion!

A wonderful, gaudy nightmare that I’d be glad to wear! Purple had always been my colour! Probably.

And so comfortable looking, too!

I stood in awe and held out my hands and it passed over to me. Thing had surprising heft to it, but so soft! And I could tell that it would be considerable more modest, too. No more flashing people by accident for me. Only on purpose from now on.

“Oh my God,” I breathed. “It’s a robe. A fabulous robe! I’m going to look like a fabulous wizard! This is the best day of my life, Rarity.”

I was not even kidding. Why hold back?

Rarity blushed and waved a hoof at me.

“Oh it’s nothing, really! Just something I threw together!”

“If this is what counts as ‘just throwing together’ then I’d love to see you on a good day, Rarity. I’d be astonished!”

Hyperbole, yes, but I’d just been given free robes! Lurid robes! Something about this just filled me with a sense of genuine excitement. I could stop looking grubby and out of place and kind of obscene and start looking that tiny bit more like I fitted in - by sticking out horribly!

Maybe I was losing my mind. Again. Some more.

Mostly though I just wanted to put the thing on.

“Uh, could you guys just, ah, turn? Just for a second?”

Rarity looked confused by this but Twilight did not and coaxed her into turning before asking any questions. Me appealing for privacy at this point was kind of dumb given that everyone had probably seen everything by now, but it was a habit. I felt the need.

Once they’d turned I divested myself of the tablecloth and popped the robe on over my head. Though maybe ‘robe’ was doing it a disservice. I just couldn’t think of a better word for something so loose-fitting and comfy. Nice baggy sleeves and even a cord to tie around my waist! Rarity was on the ball.

“Yeah, definitely either a fabulous wizard or fabulous eleventh century monk,” I said, looking down at myself. The two of them turned back, Rarity with obvious rapture and Twilight with a face that was an unreadable mask.

“What do you think, Twilight?” I said, doing my best flex, hand in front of my face and actually, legitimately sparkling.

Twilight’s face remained unreadable, though her eyes did widen a little.

“Uh, you’re certainly eye-catching.”

I gave a twirl.

“Damn straight I am. And now for all the right reasons!”