• Published 19th Nov 2018
  • 14,564 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 - collecting the stars

When I was cogent again, I was alone.

I was still in the fancy room though. Took me a couple seconds to properly run through what that meant and when I’d got it I felt pretty unhappy.

Not that I was going to pretend to have a clue what any of it meant. But I didn’t really need to know the details. I just needed to know that something very strange had apparently happened to me with no obvious explanation as to why. What was I meant to do about it?

Unclear.

Though at that moment I couldn't do anything at all anyway, being bed-bound and feeble, so the point was pretty moot. I tried to get out of bed, mainly just to see if I could, but I got nowhere and very nearly ended up falling out onto the floor again, so I packed it in.

I ended up just waiting, glaring into space. Would have twiddle my thumbs but they were too stiff to twiddle.

At least the sun wasn’t in my eyes anymore.

The bed had been moved back to where it had been before all the floating and tipping and while there was a handy-dandy jug of water on the table to the side I couldn’t reach far enough or steadily enough to do anything about it so, when I wasn’t glaring into space, I was glaring at the water, willing it to jump up into my mouth.

The water stubbornly refused to do this, and I continued to be thirsty.

After what felt like hours I heard the door open and flinched. There came the sound of hard clattering on tile, quickly then muffled by whatever carpet was laid down. Then my big, rainbow-haired friend was back again.

“You fainted,” she said.

“You noticed that?” I asked. Then I felt mean. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay. How do you feel?”

“Better. I couldn’t - could you pass me the jug, please?”

I held a hand out - which pleased me greatly, as my arms seemed to be starting to respond to me now - but rather than passing me the jug proper the horse-lady just poured out a glass and handed me that instead.

This she did without touching anything. That long, long horn of hers glowed a bit and then some of those strange glowy fields appeared about the jug and the cup as they moved around but that was that.

I was not going to ask about that. I was going to ignore it and pretend it never happened. If she wanted to have a way of doing things without having to smash things to bits with her hooves that was her lookout. I wasn’t getting involved.

I had my water, I was happy.

“Thank you,” I said, sipping.

“You’re welcome,” she said.

And then we were both quiet. Once my glass was empty I held it in both hands, rotating it slowly, considering, staring into the bottom of it.

Before too long I was forced to ask the question that had been burning away inside my mind:

“Did you - is this place really called Equestria?”

“Yes.”

Damn. Thought I’d imagined that part.

“And you’re a hor- Alicor- fuck it, you’re a horse, damnit. A magic flying pointy horse but still a horse. And the place is called Equestria?”

“Yes.”

“Is that the name of the whole place, or just the fancy city I saw outside?”

“The whole place. The city is called Canterlot.”

I stopped rotating the glass and looked up. Her eyes were huge.

“...I’m sorry could you run that by me again?” I asked.

Looking at her, I got the distinct impression she was doing her best not to laugh at me.

“Canterlot.”

“Like Camelot? But with horses?”

“I’ve never heard of Camelot but if that helps you then yes.”

Chewed that one over for a second, then:

“Can I faint again? Please?”

She actually did laugh at that one, albeit lightly, hoof held up to her face all dainty-like. She had gold stuff on her hoof, I saw, to compliment the rest of the swag she was dripping in. Certainly the most fabulous rainbow horse I’d ever seen in my life.

Not that I’d ever seen many, obviously, but still.

“I could have you sedated but I think it might hinder your recovery. The sooner you’re up and feeling better the sooner we might find out more of how you came to be here.”

This did sound like an inviting prospect, and the way she said it made it sound actively tantalising. Though that might just have been her voice. Really was starting to like her voice quite a bit.

Which reminded me of something.

“You know, I don’t think I caught your name at any point during all this,” I said.

“Celestia.”

Given I’d been braced for another horse-based pun this was actually quite refreshing.

“Oh,” I said.

“Oh?” She asked, eyebrow raised.

“Not bad oh. Sorry. That’s quite nice, actually.”

Another giggle on her part. If I was growing to like her voice I was growing to love those.

“Thank you. My parents thought so too.”

“Well that’s always helpful.”

Further quiet. I strained to try and put the glass back on the table but had so much trouble that Celestia took pity and did it for me with more of he glowing magical stuff.

“Thanks,” I said.

That got me thinking though, this casual telekinesis. She’d lifted the bed before, too, I was fairly certain. So not only a talking horse but a talking horse that had magical control of mind over matter.

This made more nervous than I was comfortable admitting, even to myself.

“So magic, huh?” I asked.

“Yes?”

“Not something we have back home. That just normal around here?”

On reflection this was a bit of a silly question to be asking a talking horse, but too late. She took it with good grace, smiling politely at what was likely a very embarrassing thing for her to have heard.

“Quite normal. And when you say it’s not something you have, do you mean at all?” She asked.

“Yep, not a whisper. Much to the disappointment of many, I’m sure. No, we’re a materialist bunch where I’m from. Well, mainly. You’ll find people who’ll argue at length about the particulars but mainly things are pretty straightforward. Earth goes around the sun and all that.”

Celestia cocked an eyebrow.

“Is that so?”

The way she said this stopped me before I could say anything else. Couldn’t quite put my finger on why, though.

“I feel like I’m missing something here,” I siad.

“Oh no, nothing. I’m just interested.”

“You’re a magic hor- alicorn - and you’re the one interested in me?”

I’d caught myself that time and she seemed to appreciate it, which made me feel pretty good, though she did tilt her head at me a little once I’d finished speaking.

“You’re an alien,” she said. “Forgive me for being interested in a visitor from a world entirely unlike my own.”

I hadn’t thought about it from that way.

“Well when you put it like that…”

Radiating low-key triumph, Celestia sat herself down by my bedside and then, to my surprise, laid her head on the bed itself. It was about the right level to let her do this and still keep eye-contact with me and converse comfortably, though why she’d do it I had no idea.

Her face touched my leg through the covers.

And I flinched.

I hadn’t meant to. It had been unconscious. But it had been obvious enough that she’d noticed and paused, looking up at me.

“I don’t have to get so close, if you’d prefer?”

“No, no it’s fine. Sorry. Don’t know what that was. Just, ah, happened. Sorry.”

What unconscious nonsense was this? Here was Celestia - and I did actually rather like that name - being wonderfully pleasant company and then there was me, flinching when she got a little close!

So what if she wasn’t human? That was no reason to recoil. Think brain, think, don’t let these reflexes make you look bad!

To my horror she started pulling away, smile gone.

“No no! Really! It’s fine! Ignore me! Just a, uh, you know, injury thing. Yeah, you touched a sore sport. It’s fine. Stay there. Really.”

She was wavering, uncertain, eyeing me.

“Please?” I added.

That seemed to clinch it, and she settled back. This time I did not flinch. This was good.

As a rule I’m not a huge fan of proximity. If people want to be near me I’d rather they did it for as little time as possible. If they could do it without touching me that was better. But I did not want to insult the hospitality I had been - and was still being - shown. If this was how Celestia operated then I could tolerate it. The least I could do for her.

And, really, it wasn’t that bad.

“What else can you tell me?” She asked.

“About what? Earth?”

She nodded as best she could with her head where it was.

“Uh...I’m not sure where to start,” I said, suddenly acutely aware of what an odd situation I found myself in, trying to pick a topic to do with my home planet to a quadrupedal, magical, winged, talking thing that looked like a horse but was maybe not really a horse.

And which was also looking after me, a human, after I apparently arrived out of nowhere heavily injured. Couldn't forget that part.

Running through what my situation actually was I thought I must be in some kind of shock to be so easily able to roll with it all.

Celestia, for her part, looked unconcerned and made some sweeping gesture with one of her wings. The way she was able to move them was alarming. Not very much like any kind of wing I was familiar with. She could probably pick a lock with the damn thing if she wanted.

“Tell me something mundane.”

“Mundane, huh?”

I scratched my head and cast around for something that fitted the bill. The consistency of what I had in my head was patchy at best, but my options were still pretty overwhelming. Most of my life had been mundane, or at least so much of it that even severe memory loss left me with lots to choose from.

So for the sake of simplicity I told her about the last full day of mine that I could clearly remember, which just-so happened to have been a Monday. Not sure if that added anything, but it felt like it did.

There was absolutely nothing interesting about the day in question. I wasn’t even sure how long ago it was, it was just the last day I could remember in detail. A perfectly, painfully ordinary Monday. Drizzling, grey. The commute to work. Someone drove through a puddle and got me - that was unusual and dickish, but hardly fantastic. Just a little spice to the story.

She’d been quite indignant on my behalf, which I’d appreciated.

And so it went from there. Even with my touch-and-go recollection I knew that this was a painfully dull day. All through it though Celestia listened with rapt attention, seemingly becoming more engrossed with every trivial detail I brought up. She leant in closer, scooching around on the floor and laying her head properly alongside my leg, eyes peering up. Her horn was now worryingly close, but felt it rude to comment on this.

Never have I ever had anyone listen to me so earnestly or for long so. I wasn’t sure what to do. Normally a few sentences into me talking about my day I can see eyes start to glaze over. Celestia looked like she was having the time of her life, which was quite motivating at least.

And, where she’d ended up, I was also having to fight the serious urge to scratch her behind the ears. I had no idea where the thought had come from, but I’d just noticed that they flickered every so often while she listened and then there it was, this urge. Probably not a good thing to do, I imagined.

In the end I just focussed on the point of her horn to keep from looking at them. This seemed to work.

Eventually I just ran out of things to say.

“-and then I, uh, went to bed. And that was about it. Sorry if I was rambling there. Not very interesting, I know.”

Now that I was out of full flow I felt a little sheepish about having spoken for so long and about so little to something so evidently more interesting than myself. Celestia didn’t appear to mind though

“I wanted to hear about a normal day and that was what you told me about. Thank you.”

Never had I heard those two words delivered with such sincere warmth. I even got a shiver up my spine and it seemed to settle right between my shoulder blades. Shifting was uncomfortable, but I had no choice.

“Uh, think nothing of it,” I said, at which point my stomach felt the need to interject and growled more loudly than I had ever heard it do in my life. To my knowledge, at least.

“Oh my,” Celestia said, taken aback. “Hungry?”

“Apparently?” I said. It was the first I’d heard about it, but now that my insides had decided that it was so it really was so. The stabbing, gnawing kind of hunger - out of nowhere! Accursed body, why you got to do me like this?

Celestia was smiling. This was radiant.

“I can help you with that. Now, I don’t want to make assumptions but when you were examined it was suggested that your species might eat meat?”

Presumably there were signs for that sort of thing? Incisors, I guess?

“Among other things,” I said, in lieu of being able to think of anything else to say.

“Ah, so you do eat other things? That is good. I’ve had some meat ordered in, you see, though it has yet to arrive. What little stock was on hoof had spoilt, unfortunately. Mostly kept around for visitors and we have not had any in a while. Not a lot of call for it normally.”

“You don’t eat meat?” I asked.

“I’m a horse, am I not?” She asked me, giving a very fancy wings-spread kind of a bow. I had a feeling this was for mocking effect, and judging by the look on her face I was right, too.

“Hey! In my defence you’re doing a good few non-horse-like things. I don’t know how things work here…” I grumbled. Though in retrospect, I probably could have made an educated guess. “I’m an invalid, stop bullying me,” I added in further grumblings.

For this I got a pat on the head from one of her wings and another giggle. So maybe things weren’t all that bad.

“Yes you are, poor thing. Delirious, too,” she said.

I’d have folded my arms grumpily at this point, had I been able to.

“Hah.”

“I’ll have some soup fixed for you, if you’d like?”

My stomach growled again, somehow managing to sound approving. Who knew it had such agency?

“I think that sounds about my level right now. Thank you. You don’t need to do all this for me, you know,” I said.

She fixed me with those big eyes and said:

“But I want to.”

Again, the sincerity was palpable. I could have reached out grabbed great handfuls of it, had I been able to raise my arms more than a few inches off the bed without them shaking.

“...however you get your kicks, Celestia,” I said.

Beaming, big swishy tail flicking, she turned and trotted happily out of the room, closing the door behind her.

I’m not the kind of man who would willingly allow himself to be taken care of. I am the kind of man who will frustrate everyone around me by pressing forward even as a wheezing, sneezing, aching mess, shrugging off all attempts by anyone to offer me support, succor or sympathy.

So why, exactly, was I so happy about the idea of being brought soup in bed by a horse?

I put it down to being excessively injured. Not being able to move was a very good excuse, in my book. How was I to do anything in such a state? And the throbbing in my head - which had been present but lulled throughout my whole conversation with Celestia - was making itself known again, further keeping me in place.

So really, exactly, it wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t help it. I had no choice.

I had to let myself be taken care of.

But it was by Celestia. So it wasn’t all bad. Because she was pretty damn nice. For a magical talking horse. For something that spoke and laughed like a woman while also having a horn that was a good - what? - two? Three foot long? And wings? And was a horse?

I frowned as my mind wandered back onto that. It was these two bits of me grinding painfully against one another. On the one side I had my rational self which rather liked having my injuries seen to, being placed in a comfortable bed and also having someone to talk to who sounded nice when they talked back.

On the other side was some baseline, visceral part of me that was warning me of imminent danger. Why? Because of strangeness! The unusual! Things that were as they should not be! The part of me that kept looking around for other exits and asking whether Celestia had locked the door behind her on the way out.

Not that I could have managed to get there anyway, in my state.

That gave me another pause for thought. How fucked up was I, again?

My arms were a write-off, this I knew. Resting on top of the covers I could just about stretch them out, but any attempt to raise them higher than the level of my legs, say, was a struggle. I tried, I really did, but they just wouldn’t do it. So that was something.

Legs though, legs were promising. They hurt, but they at least seemed to do what I told them. I could work with that. Lift one, hold it, then lift the other and hold that too. Agony, sure, but I was doing it. Positive!

I could work with that. If the legs worked I could make it to the door, give it a nudge. Just to check, obviously. Wasn’t going anywhere. Just proving that paranoid, fearful part of me that everything was above-board. That was all.

And getting up and about was good, right?

With all that decided I girded my loins, gritted my teeth and in one fell swoop swung my legs out of bed and promptly stacked it, falling flat on my face - which crunched - and getting tangled in the sheets.

My nose was probably broken, that I could figure out. The pain was a clue, as the blood now soaking the expensive looking rug on which my bed was sat.

“Ow,” I said, trying to push myself up. I failed. I tried to roll over. Failed that, too. Tried to wriggle forward a little and got basically nowhere. I was stuck, face-down, on the floor, in pain, making a mess.

I would have sworn, but that felt like it would have taken too much energy and concentration at that moment. Besides, my head hurt too much, so I just rested my head on the floor and went limp instead.

“Well this sucks,” I said into the rug, which I felt sure must have agreed with me.

When you’re helpless on the floor, I discovered, time passes very slowly. It’s a lot like any occasion where you have nothing to do but sit and think only you’re not sitting you’re lying on the floor with every inch of your body aching and your face hurting. So it’s worse, on the whole.

Worse, before too long I could feel the rising need to pee. If the rug hadn’t liked me before then it sure wouldn’t like me very soon.

“I wonder if Celestia will still be friendly if she comes back to find me lying in a puddle of my own piss?” I pondered aloud. That sort of thing could really change your opinion of someone, I’d found. Personally speaking. Could never really look at them the same way again.

Though a lot of it is contextual, I supposed.