• 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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Deep inside

Author's Note:

Never give up! Never surrender!

Indeed, I was soggy, but only a bit. The sunshine had done a reasonable enough job of drying off most of me, so mostly it was just a bit of dampness in the cracks, and I could live with that. Things could have been much worse.

Double indeed! Things could have been much worse all over! Sure they didn’t look that great, but they weren’t as awful as they could be! So they had to be at least somewhat good!

And so it was.

It was rather as though someone had reached inside my head and flipped a switch I’d been unaware of - where before I could almost feel the rising tide of panic and woe, now all that was gone! I was instead filled to the brim with hope and optimism.

I could swear it was coming out of my pores! What an about face!

Why can’t I feel like this all the time? Why didn’t I feel like this before? It’s so easy!

Damp and semi-giggly I limped back to the castle. I had a plan!

I would slip seamlessly back into the party, assuming it was still going on. If anyone asked where I’d been I could come up with a snappy excuse - princess business! Not a lie and sure to be bought. If they asked why I was damp? Well, I’d cross that bridge when I’d come to it.

First! I would eat something. I was a little peckish now, which was why this was step one. I’d left that mystery cupcake where I’d found it because what kind of strange person would pick a cupcake they just found on the floor? Well, me, depending on the day. But I hadn’t. So I was hungry.

Second! Find Twilight. I had no idea where she’d disappeared to and that kind of worried me a little. She’d said she’d come back, after all. And I’d disappeared, too! So maybe she was also worried! Good to get it sorted soon.

Third! Ask Twilight if she could teach me to read and write!

Bollocks to pride, some things just needed doing. It looked like I was going to be kicking around Equestria for some while yet, and I couldn’t make a proper go of it if I was illiterate.

And once I knew how to read, I could read Celestia’s book! And tell her what I thought of it! This could only be a good thing. And then I could follow that up with other books! Good things on good things!

And even further, I might even be able to teach Twilight how to write in English! Why not? I had a feeling she’d be down for something like that, so hell!

But maybe later, all things in time. Best to hold my horses!

Ha!

To my surprise the party hadn’t died down in the slightest. If anything, it seemed a little more crowded than it had been when I’d snuck away! Or been stolen away, rather - I hadn’t seen it when I’d snuck away.

Back home, amongst humanity, that would have been a good thing because it would have let me slip in. Here though, I stuck out, and just blending in with the crowd wasn’t really an option.

Fortunately, no-one present seemed to want to make an issue of me having vanished to my room in the presence of the princesses only to return from outside without them.

I’d got away with it!

Or so I thought, until I felt a familiar weight on my head again. I froze.

With glacial slowness and immense menace a pink wodge of hair appeared before my face, followed by two big, accusatory blue eyes.

“And you, mister! Where’d you think you’ve been?”

I panicked. In the face of Pinkie’s unexpected intensity - and sheer eyeball-actually-pressing-against-me-ew-gross proximity - I went blank. Even the possibility of an excuse disappeared completely from out of my head.

“The lake?” I ventured.

“The lake!” She said, as though this was what she’d expected all along, tapping a hoof to her chin and somehow continuing to maintain her balance perched atop my head. “Why the lake?”

“Because the lake is nice?”

Perhaps I wasn’t quite on top form as I thought I’d been. Then again, I did have a pony sitting on me. That would take off anyone’s edge.

“Because the lake is nice…” Pinkie repeated, sitting up so that her hindlegs were now hanging either side of my face. This struck me as kind of an obscene position to take but, hey, I don’t sit on heads so what do I know? I just stood and took it, wondering where she might be going with any of this and kind of hoping someone might swoop in and save me.

No-one did. Obviously.

“Nice for what?” She snapped, leaning down again and making me flinch from the suddenness. At least I didn’t fall over!

“Alone time and swimming?” I said, phrasing it as a question in the vain hope that she might deny it and actually tell me what she wanted to hear.

A pink hoof poked me in the nose.

“You went swimming?”

“Yes?”

“Without me?” Pinkie asked, somehow her voice managing to rise even higher.

“Yes?”

She gasped, appalled.

“How could you!”

What?

Not how I saw that going.

“Next time I’ll tell you first?” I asked, cautiously, the verbal equivalent of crossing a frozen pond.

Pinkie stared at me, eyes narrowed. The noise of the party seemed distant. I swallowed.

Then her smile came back.

“Yay! Good,” she said, flipping off my hand and executing a perfect landing. I think she might have squeaked, too, and confetti might have been involved from somewhere. Could have been my imagination.

Well, that was easy. I’d kind of expected more of a chewing out.

Maybe she was just lulling me into a false sense of security?

Just in case I gave her a scratch behind the ears. I wasn’t sure why, exactly, but something inside me told me that it’d defuse the situation. To my shock it seemed to work, and that time I definitely heard Pinkie make a squeaking sound.

“Oh, also, I had a question for you: can cupcakes move on their own here? Just out of curiosity,” I asked as she quite aggressively shoved her head against my hand. The question caught her attention though and she pulled back, contemplating.

“Not that I know of. Though that would make sense. It’s not behaviour I’ve ever observed...why?”

“Just curious, like I said.”

To be fair, I preferred to live in a world where cupcakes remained immobile. Huge and daunting looking, fine, but moving? That’d be a bit much for me. A bit rich for my blood!

“Anyway, I’m going to go find Twilight,” I said, giving Pinkie a farewell pat - one I hoped would satisfy her and keep from pressing with anything further. Again, it seemed to do the job.

“And enjoy the party?” She asked, pouting a little as my hand pulled away.

“And enjoy the party, yes. Thanks again, by the way. You did a fine job.”

That got her beaming, worth it for that alone! But also true. I couldn’t organise a pissup in a brewery so I was very impressed by anyone who arrive in a place on time, let alone put together something like this.

I then went looking for Twilight. I had to engage in various small outbreaks of small talk along my way, but this wasn’t so bad. Mostly involved laughing in the right places and I could do that, each smatter of platitudes taking more further across the room.

I eventually found her, sat apart from everyone and moping. This was a sorry sight indeed. Was almost enough to deflate my unusually buoyant mood. Almost, but not quite. Mostly it just filled with a desire to cheer her up.

“There you are!” I said, making her jump. For a good second or two she looked happy to see me. Then her face fell, and she went back to just looking at the floor.

“Oh, hey. Hi John,” she said.

This wasn’t going according to plan at all. I put on my best, most serious ‘let’s sort this out’ frown and sat down on the chair beside her. The chair wasn’t especially happy about this, but such was a chair’s lot in life.

“You okay?” I asked. She did not look up.

“I’m fine. Where’d you go?”

“Swimming,” I said, which did get her to glance up, albeit only for a moment.

“Swimming?”

I was getting the vaguest impression of deja vu.

“Yeah. The lake? Turns out it’s not that deep. Pretty wet though.”

I’d hoped for a giggle out of that one. I’d have taken even a titter! But I got nothing. She just kept on looking downwards, running her hooves around one another. This really wasn’t going according to plan.

My unusually ebullient mood was listing, in severe danger of capsizing completely. I couldn’t go back to feeling miserable! I wouldn’t! Press onwards!

“And what about you, eh?” I said, giving her a nudge. “Last I saw of you was you going off with promises of food. Last I saw of you! Get lost?”

“Oh, that, sorry. Took longer than I thought and when I got back you - when I got back you were gone,” she said, swallowing and shifting in her seat.

I could believe that.

“Waylaid by party shenanigans? Happens to the best of us. Hey, while I was in the midst of a brisk doggy-paddle I had a chance to think about what you offered before - about teaching me to read.”

Her ears twitched and her head tilted up ever-so-slightly. Was it my imagination or did her eyes look a little red? Probably the lighting. I was never any good with colours, anyway.

“Really?”

“Yes! I was being an idiot before, saying I’d think about it with no intention of actually doing so. But I did! And I can see now it’d be a really good idea. Can’t think of anyone better to do learn from than you, either, smarty-pants.”

That put a little colour in her cheeks and the very beginnings of a smile on her lips. Much better!

“And,” I said, giving her another little nudge. “I might be able to teach you to write in English. If you’d be down for that. Getting a bit ahead of myself and not much good, I know, but I just thought you might be interested. Maybe?”

Oh I hoped she said yes. I imagined I’d be the worst teacher in the world, but the thought of having something I could actually do or give was a delicious one. Something I could give back! Useless, obviously, but then that would be very me, wouldn’t it?

Twilight’s wings ruffled and she scootched an inch or so over her chair towards me, looking up properly now though with occasional looks away.

“You’d do that?”

“Sure, why not? I’m more interested in you teaching me! I think it’d fun. You know, kind of horribly emasculating having to start over against from scratch but hey, got to start somewhere, right?”

And then once I learn how to read and write I can become a terrifying sorcerous overlord, build a big black pyramid and eventually destroy the planet. Maybe. Or just see what Equestrian literature is actually like. One of those two.

I predicted a lot of horse puns. Just as an outside guess.

“I just...thought you’d be going back to Canterlot, now that you were better.”

I frowned, again, but not a constructed one this time. One of honest confusion. I was better now? Mostly, I supposed, but still. Did Twilight know something I didn’t?

“Uh, maybe? Eventually. Possibly? Not yet. I’m not going anywhere, am I? In a bigger sense, I mean. And Ponyville’s nice. Unless you want me gone? Need the room back?” I asked. Twilight blanched a little.

“No, no! Not like that! I thought - I thought you’d want to be nearer Celestia, that’s all,” Twilight said, eyes dropping, hooves doing that odd round-and-round fidgeting thing.

That put a little dent in my mood, remembering that whole episode of however-many-minutes ago. How long had it been? Oh dear, I’d lost track of time again.

“Ah, I think she might need some space. Especially given the last I saw of her was her, uh, teleporting away for some reason. She seemed to have stuff going on. I’m sure she’ll, ah - I’m sure she’ll tell me when she has some free time. Busy lady! And she knows where I am.”

“She teleported away?”

“Yeah. Probably normal. You not seen her then, I take it?” I asked. Twilight shook her head. “Ah, well, there you go. Probably gone back then. Something probably came up. That happens, I’m sure. Busy lady, like I say. Just one of those things.”

Good mood in serious danger! Genuine risk of extending internal wrangling ‘What did I do?’ and ‘How could I have handled it better?’ and ‘What does any of it mean?’ and ‘Dear God I do hope that wasn’t the last time I saw her’. I’m not going to be miserable again, I’m not! Not today, at least! Today was shit to start with - I’m ending on a high note, damnit!

You can’t come out the gate a big-dick cool guy! Not everything resolves immediately! Peaks and troughs! Setup now, payoff later! It might feel bad, but it won’t always feel bad! Just going to take a little time! You will see Celestia again! You will find out what on earth all of that was about and you’ll explain and she’ll explain and it’ll all be fine! You will learn how to read and Twilight’ll teach you and it’ll be a grand old time!

Everything is going to be a-o-fucking-kay! It’s going to be brilliant!

So I put on my winningest smile, finally gave into temptation and gave Twilight a scratch behind the ears - with immediate and overwhelmingly positive results. Maybe I did know how ponies were meant to work!

“Come on,” I said, standing, my hand coming with me and nearly making Twilight tip over as she tried to lean into scratching fingers that were no longer there. “This party is still going on and I, for one, am grabbing some food. Given that someone dawdled when they said they’d kindly fetch some for me.”

I grinned. Twilight pouted.

But she followed me anyway.