• Published 23rd Mar 2020
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Do Ponies on Earth have Magic Dreams? - Tiki Bat

The story of an optimistic young night pony, the special pony that enters his life, and how the two of them follow their dreams to make the world a better place!

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Chapter 7: A Trot Down Memory Lane

The sun sat low in the air, but despite that the sidewalks were still packed with people, both ponies and humans alike. Even with the assorted groups of ponies around, he was still painfully the odd one out. In fact, he had seen less than a handful of other night ponies, and of that already small amount, he was the only stallion, making him feel even more out of place than he already did.

Despite feeling like a complete outsider, he still continued to wander through the familiar locale, trotting down the street and toward the hotel he had spent much of his youth hanging around in. The crowded sidewalks might have normally bothered him, the tourism in the city had definitely started to return to a semblance of normalcy after all, but today something just kept him in a good mood. Maybe it was the crowded buses shuttling a mix of ponies and humans down Harbor, or maybe it was the tourists walking to the nearby parks, but for the first time in months he felt as if the world was almost as it was before ETS, his weird feelings of loneliness aside.

He cheerfully whistled a tune as he neared the Anaheim convention center, taking in the sight of the large hotels that sat out front of it, which seemed even larger to him now. A group of bystanders had already stopped at the crosswalk, and as he approached it the signal changed, letting the group cross.

He could have flown to the hotel of course, but the angry glares he had gotten during his first few city outings gave him the inclination that maybe it wasn’t the best of ideas. Not that it would matter much if he got fined or in trouble, he’d be gone from the state in a few days anyways, but not causing trouble would make his life a lot easier in the present, as small of a time as that was.

As he trotted into the front lobby of the hotel he couldn’t help but notice the stares he was getting from the humans around him, no doubt confused as to why a pony was stopping by a regular hotel rather than one of the pony hostels which had opened in the area. He shrugged it off though, this visit was long overdue and he felt bad enough that he had waited this long to see his parents in person.

Stanley had never lived too far from the rest of his family, preferring to stay close by so he could continue to spend time with them. However, much to his regret he had seldom tried to contact or communicate with his parents in any way since he had transformed, worried about whether they’d still accept him now that he was a pony.

Those guilty feelings of regret had finally reached a peak, and the young night pony had decided that today was the day he’d reconnect with them, at the very least just to ease each other’s worries. If they didn’t accept him then at least he could say that he tried to make that connection again, and at the end of the day that was what was most important to him.

Stanley had always been an only child, but to him that was just fine. In his eyes it meant that he got to spend more time with his parents, time spent making so many fun and exciting memories that continued to flood through his head as he approached the row of tall counters. Stanley didn’t know how his parents had fared, but could only hope for the best. They were always cheerful, even when times were tough, and he knew that whatever had happened to them during ETS, they would have made the most of it.

With a smile on his face, Stanley approached the concierge, who greeted him with a look of confusion, “Can I… Help you... sir?”

He nodded, “Yes actually… can you tell me if Valentino is still here?”

“May I ask who’s asking?... We don’t get very many pony guests, let alone ones that ask for members of staff by name. I hope you can understand my hesitation.”

“That’s fine,” he nodded, “you can tell him that Stanley’s come for a visit and I’m sure he’ll understand someone interrupting him for that.”

The tall human nodded for a moment before typing something on the computer in front of him, looking back down to the yellow night pony, “Just a moment,” With yet another confused look on his face, the concierge walked through a door behind the desk.

“Go ahead and tell him I’ll be in the lobby,” he confidently shouted through the open door.

Stanley knew the layout of the hotel well enough that he could probably navigate it with his eyes closed, and he knew that no doubt the human was walking down a short hallway to the row of offices that his father hopefully still occupied. His father had been the hotel’s event manager for close to 30 years, and with that came many chances for the young Stanley to run around the areas of the hotel that normal guests couldn’t. This unique upbringing gave him a good sense of where everything was, and more importantly, when certain members of staff, like his father for instance, would be in their offices.

Turning back toward the lobby, the night pony smiled as another wave of nostalgia passed through him. This place had definitely changed a lot over the years, but it still looked and felt like the hotel he had spent a lot of his childhood running around in.

Soft piano music echoed through the large room as he trotted toward one of the tall windows that overlooked the pool. Taking a seat, he couldn’t help but smile again, feeling out of place, yet right at home. Everything from the familiar location to the peaceful piano music, to even the orange glow of the sunset outside— it all gave him this happy feeling of comfort, as strange as it might have felt when he had first thought about walking into this place.

“Stanley, is that you?” Asked a calm voice from behind him, bringing a smile to the night pony’s face.

He turned to greet the human, his smile growing even larger, “In the flesh— or I guess fur now.”

The human scrutinized him for a moment before taking a seat, letting out a small sigh as he looked the night pony in the eyes, “I’m so glad you’re okay, you dropped off the face of the earth for so long, your mother and I couldn’t help but get worried sick about all of this. Why did you wait so long to see us in person again?”

A twinge of regret passed through him, “Well to tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure what you’d think of,” he gestured toward himself with a hoof. “It was silly I know, and I’m sure mom’s been worried sick. I thought about stopping by the house earlier, but I kind of got cold hooves and thought meeting you over here would be better. My phone’s been dead for months now, and well, I guess I just decided to take a trot down memory lane.”

“Oh she has been,” he let out a chuckle, “believe me, I didn’t think I’d ever see such a colorful vocabulary come out of a pony’s mouth. Regardless of what you might look like now, you’re still my son, nothing could ever change that.”

Stanley paused for a moment, taking note of his father’s pony-like ears and the small discolored streak that ran through his hair, “So she’s…”

The human nodded, “Yeah, she beat me to the chase and transformed a few hours before that light show kicked in. I was close but not close enough.”

“And she stayed a pony?”

The human shrugged, “She didn’t have a choice, wound up getting her mark before she had the chance to go back— not like she was planning to as it was, but that mark kind of settled it for good. To tell you the truth, it was a little awkward at first but we’re going to make it work.”

“And if you can’t?”

He shrugged again, “Who knows, we never thought that far ahead. I love your mother no matter what she is and nothing would ever change that, as much of a challenge as this will be for us.”

Stanley nodded, “Well I’m glad to hear that you two weathered the storm.”

Valentino nodded, “I’m more than glad to see that you’re doing well too. I’m guessing you’re still in your apartment for now? Or have you decided to join up with one of those pony communes that’s been popping up outside of town?”

He nodded, “I’ve been staying in the apartment for now, though I’m pretty much out of funds to keep that going much longer. The bank’s definitely not going to take me back but oddly enough I think I’m fine with that.”

The human furrowed his brow in concern, “So what you’re saying is—”

“ — yes,” he nodded, “I’m probably going to get evicted, but don’t worry, I’ve got a couple plans for this.”

“Like?.. I know you said not to worry but this is something to worry about.”

“You know Jessica?”

“As in that girl that lived down the street when we were in Orange?”

The night pony nodded, “Yeah.”

“What about her?”

“Well you asked about it I was joining up with any of the local pony villages, and that’s definitely a thought. You see, she’s in charge of a pony village just outside of Santa Monica. We did a little bit of talking and if my other plan doesn’t work out then she’ll let me stay there— now I know what you’re thinking, it’s risky and weird, but don’t worry, they’re doing really well for themselves, and it helps that one of my best friends is running it.”

The human nodded, “Right… and what’s your other plan?”

“Well, I talked with Patrick and he’s staying in this town over in Arizona, I was kind of thinking about heading up there, you know just to start fresh somewhere else, put the past behind me and if all else fails then I’ll just come back home here and stick with Jess.”

“Stanley…” his dad began disapprovingly.

Stanley raised his hooves up, “I know, that’s far away and I just said I’m almost out of money, but I’ve got this all planned out though. I have the whole route planned out on a map, including bus routes, and there’s even plenty of stops on the way there. I’ve got a few thousand saved up and I’m going to use that to make sure I’m covered until I get up there. The place I’m moving to is a self sustaining village so I won’t even need money there.”

“I’m glad you’ve got this all planned out but that’s still a long way for you to just travel on your own. I mean you’re a small pony now, I can’t imagine that’s going to make it easy for you,.“ He paused, “We can drive you up there you know? It could save you a lot of money that you could just hold onto in case of an emergency.”

“I know dad but—”

“ — in fact I’d feel a lot better if I did. Look, you’re not my little boy anymore, and if you want to go move to some pony village in Arizona then I don’t really have a way to stop you. It’s better that it’s with a good friend like Patrick, but I’d rather drive you up there instead of you finding your way there on your own. It’ll be a lot safer that way, and it’ll stress your mother out less.” He paused for a moment, “Plus it’ll give me an excuse to skip town for a week, your mother and I were meaning on taking a little trip over to that timeshare we used to go to in Scottsdale, so it could be like one last big family road trip.”

Stanley laughed, “You just want to go on vacation early don’t you?”

The human smirked, “A little. I was supposed to go on vacation next month but I think Steven will be more than glad to trade given that you’re here.”

“Uncle Steve?” The night pony’s face lit up, “Maaan I haven’t seen that guy in years, I didn’t even know he still worked here.”

“Yep, he even managed to get a small promotion when his boss turned into a pony and decided to quit, lucky him. You know, he’d probably be pretty happy to see you again if you’re up for giving him a quick visit.”

Stanley nodded, “Sure, It’s not like I had anything else planned for today, I just wanted to catch you before I officially started to head out.”

“Oh, nothing else planned? Why don’t you join us for dinner then, I’m sure your mother would be more than happy to see you in person.”

“Alright, well lead the way then, it’ll be like one big trot down memory lane!” Stanley excitedly replied, earning a laugh from the human as he stood up.

Stanley was sitting out on the empty pool deck, sipping away at his soda by a covered fire pit. The sun had long set, and he was definitely feeling more awake now than he had been earlier. Revisiting with some of the staff that had been there when he was a child was a fun experience, but most of them had gone home for the night, leaving him alone while his father wrapped up his own work for the day.

Happy memories of his childhood continued to race through his head as he just peacefully took in the atmosphere, the fire’s warmth matching the warmth he felt on the inside.

He’d be lying to himself if he said he didn’t have any reservations with moving to an entirely different and unfamiliar area so suddenly, but with all the change that had taken place in a few months time, he supposed that something like was normal and underwhelming by comparison.

A lingering feeling of sadness also filled him, the thought of not being near his close family being something that just wouldn’t leave his head. A smile came across his face as he realized that he wouldn’t really be all that far away, having a pony for a mother meant that he could at least dream walk to her and keep in touch that way if he wasn’t able to use his phone like normal.

That brought up another reminder, he had all but abandoned his phone, not even bothering to pay the bill since he had transformed. If he was moving so far away on his own it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just pick up something small that he could use in emergencies, just in case he ever needed to get in contact with them. He made a mental note to get that sorted out before he left, he’d definitely need his dad’s help to get the voice controls set up, that would at least make dealing with it a lot more manageable for him.

”Are you ready to go?” The sound of his father’s voice broke through the nostalgic trance that held him.

“Huh?... Oh, yeah.” Stanley stood up from the lobby chair and nodded, trotting toward the side door, keeping a slower pace with the human, “So I’ll take it you two are still in the house?”

“Yeah, we weren’t sure what the plan was going to be at first, but we’re staying there as long as we can.”

The two walked out into the crowded parking lot, the moon shining brightly above them. Valentino reached into his pocket and aimed a key fob toward the same small car that he had driven for many years now, remotely starting it, “Have you ridden in a car since becoming a pony?”

Stanley shook his head, “I felt brave and took the bus a few days ago, but no actual car rides yet. I actually wound up giving my car away after ETS, though I had thought about selling it for some extra cash but so did everyone else apparently. I didn’t even get to give it one last ride.”

“Well this should be interesting then,” he gently opened the door, patting the blanket covered seat with a hand, “Your mother loves riding along, you know how much she used to love driving so I’m glad she can still enjoy this to a degree.”

The night pony carefully climbed onto the seat and made himself comfortable as the human walked around to the other side, “does she wear a seat belt?”

His father shook his head, “No, and I’m pretty sure that’s borderline illegal but I doubt we’ll get ticketed for it.”

Stanley shrugged as the car began to rumble, “Well if it hasn’t been an issue before then I guess we’re good to go.”

“Traffic should be light tonight, I’ve been taking the back road out of here and it’s surprisingly been fast lately, which is maybe the best thing to come out of ETS.”

Stanley let out a laugh, making himself comfortable by laying down on the seat. As they drove out of the hotel grounds nostalgia continued to flood Stanley’s thoughts, distracting him once more. His vision blurred as he reflected on the day. Stanley hadn’t ridden in a car as a pony yet, and the experience was certainly a strange one for him, the drive feeling so familiar, yet so different. He could add that to his growing list of things he never thought he’d think about. The ride flew by in a blue, with the night pony barely paying attention until the human gently reached over and shook him out of his nostalgia induced trance.

“Did you even hear what I said Stanley?” His father said with a somewhat annoyed tone.

“Huh? Oh… I’m sorry, it’s just so much to take in, today’s just been very nostalgic.”

“I asked you what made everything different. You were afraid of everything before and now you’re walking around with more confidence than I’ve ever seen you convey in your entire life. Did ETS do this?”

“It’s… complicated Dad. I can’t really say much about it, but I had some very… enlightening… experiences to say the least. Somepony very knowledgeable on the subject gave me some advice and it helped me a lot... a lot more than you could imagine.”

With a confused look his father answered, “Well Stanley that’s awfully vague, but if it’s helped you for the better than it’s fine by me,” he paused for a moment, “So was this someone… or rather somepony special?”

“No Dad, it’s not like that.” Stanley said with an annoyed look.

With a smirk his father simply replied, “Alright Stanley, you can’t fault me for asking.”

The night pony shrugged, “Guess I can’t. So you really don’t mind if I stay over today?”

The human shook his head, “Of course not, your mother’s going to be so excited to see you again, I’m sure she’ll be up all night asking you questions.”

Valentino pulled into the driveway of the simple one story home, a small but cozy dwelling nonetheless. Another flood of nostalgia washed over him as he gazed at the home.

Stanley sat up in his seat and excitedly looked out the window, “Wow, this place hasn’t changed a bit.”

“Well we’ve done some changes here and there but yeah, for the most part everything should be just as you remember it.” his father said with a grin and turned the car off, jogging over toward the passenger door and opening it for the night pony, who hopped down onto the concrete below.

Valentino walked towards the door, fishing his keys out from his pocket, turning to Stanley with a smirk on his face, “You know, maybe this should be a surprise, let’s let your mother guess who’s coming in shall we?”

“Let’s do it” he said, the father and son chuckling together.

Valentino unlocked the door, and after a few glances waved Stanley into the foyer.

“Ok you wait here until I call you in, sound good?” He whispered.

“Sounds good Dad.”

The human flipped on the hallway light and walked into the kitchen, excitedly shouting to his wife. “Aurora, we have a special guest tonight!”

“You didn’t tell me we were having guests over tonight Val, the house is a mess!” the familiar sound of his mother’s voice rang back with an annoyed tone.

Stanley’s father let out a laugh, “Oh I don’t think our guest will mind one bit.”

“I don’t care if they don’t mind it, I do.”

Valentino poked his head back into the foyer, “Why don’t you come in?”

With a large smile on his face Stanley trotted in.

“Uh… hey mom, it’s good to see you again!”

The pink pegasus stared at him with a look of disbelief on her face, silently staring back for a few long moments.

“Stanley… where were you?! Do you know how worried we were?!” She excitedly ran up, embracing her son in a tight hug, “I’m just glad you’re all good, it’s good to see you again.”

With the smile returning to his face, he excitedly replied, “It’s great to see you too Mom!... I’m sorry I didn’t try to contact you guys sooner, I kind of got caught up with some stuff.”

“We’ve all been, why don’t you tell us what you’ve been up to over dinner, we’re having spaghetti for dinner, I know that that’s your favorite.”

“It feels like forever since I had spaghetti.”

Stanley walked over to the table and set a place for himself, echoing the same actions as he did as a child. As he prepared his place at the table, his father prepared a plate for him, bringing it over and setting it down in front of him.

“I still use Grandma’s family recipe… with just a few modifications to make it palatable for ponies.”

Stanley looked down at the food in front of him, the smell of it bringing back even more great memories.

“This already looks so much better than the boring stuff I’ve been eating for the last few months,” He eagerly said as he began to dig in.

“Tell me what you’ve been up to since ETS, did you do anything exciting or have you been staying out of trouble?” his mother said in between bites.

“Well, like I told Dad earlier, I met somepony who was able to help give me some advice on the role of fear and how to find the strength to face it. It gave me some confidence to plan out what I wanted to do going forward, and I’ve got a great plan in the future. And how about you? I know the human cities are kind of hard to live in.”

She shrugged, “It’s irritating when I have to go downtown, but it’s not as bad out here. There’s been enough to keep me busy so I don’t need to go there as often.”

“What about your job? I know you were planning on retiring anyways, in a way this was kind of a blessing in disguise if you think about it.”

“I was a few months out when ETS happened, Mr. Chambers and I both agreed that retiring early was the best option going forward… We left on good terms though, he harbored no ill will or anything towards me, he just felt that it was too hard for me to continue as it was especially when I only had a few months left. What about you?”

Stanley paused for a moment, “Unemployed, probably for the indefinite future.”

With a worried look, his mother simply replied, “Oh Stanley, I’m so sorry to hear that. I know how hard you worked to get where you were, how have you been taking it?”

“A lot better than you might think. I’m not going to be able to afford the apartment anymore, but that’s alright. I’ve actually been thinking about paying Patrick a visit again, he’s out in some pony village in Arizona, and it’s been such a long time since we’ve seen each other.”

“Arizona? Isn’t that a little far to go Stanley? I know you’re a night pony now, but please make sure you’re really ready.”

“I’m pretty sure I am. To tell you the truth I was more worried with how you’d react to seeing me again, especially after I kind of ghosted you for two months, but that’s just another fear that I can put to rest again.”

“Stanley,” Aurora spoke up, “you know perfectly well that your father and I would never turn our backs on you. No matter what happens you’ll always be our little boy.”

“Thanks Mom, it really means a lot to me, from both of you. Dad said the exact same thing earlier.”

Finishing his meal, he stood up and awkwardly dragged his plate to the sink, rinsing it off and trotting into the living room, brushing a hoof against an old record player, “You guys don’t mind if I put on some music do you?”

“Oh not at all son, not at all!” Valentino cheerfully replied.

Stanley browsed through the many records in the collection, coming across one of his favorites. With a smile he put it on, walking towards his old room, carried on by the same gentle piano melody of Stardust that had been playing in the lobby earlier.

As he entered his old room another rush of memories came flooding back to him. From the desk, to the bookshelf, to the posters on the wall… it was exactly as he remembered. His old treasures and knick knacks that he had left behind sat there now, untouched by the hands of time. As he sat down on the familiar bed and closed his eyes for a moment, he was left with one final thought… he had a lot to be excited about in the future, and this was just the first few steps of his new life.

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