• Published 14th Jun 2020
  • 1,882 Views, 138 Comments

What you Need - Hemlock conium

Sometimes what you need isn't obvious, or easy.

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Chapter 2: I wish to emigrate to Equestria, please.

My fading consciousness in a defiant attempt to stay together did what it could to keep me thinking, to keep me alive. It recalled what memories it could, but the only one that it could seem to maintain for longer than a brief moment was what had led me to this moment. I felt like a prisoner in my own body as I was thrust back in time; forced to sit and revisit my mistake.

It was a warm June night on the edge of my dull town. A few bugs nipped me, buzzing about as the humidity of the air caused sweat to roll down the back of my neck. A relatively ordinary night all things considered: go to town, get dinner and then go home; only I'd never make it past step one. Nothing that day was strange or abnormal, and certainly nothing that would have suggested I end up alone in a forest only to be stuck dying in a street. Then again, I guess a lot of people die on what otherwise would constitute ordinary days. What a morbid thought, but I'm getting side tracked. I stood against the door to a local sandwich shop but, as I opened the door, an older gentleman approached. I quickly turned back around to open the door for him. He gave me a thankful nod in return and stuck up a bland conversation. Over what I can't recall, but we talked for maybe a minute before the real question was finally asked.

“What troubles me?” I parroted the man's bizarre question; It caught me off guard. Here was a complete stranger and he asked for my problems. I must have had quite the bewildered look as the elderly man in front of me gave a short but controlled laugh. His left hand reached out and fixed his black tie as he cleared his throat. All while his right hand continued to clutch a dusty but important looking jet black briefcase. Upon its hinge rested an odd blue emblem with two figures on it. But before I could investigate further my eyes met his again as he spoke up.

“Yes young man,” The gentleman’s voice carried with it a thick but undefinable southern accent,” So don't make me ask again.” He warned as a soft grin cracked against his aged, wrinkle and chestnut tinted cheeks. To which I simply shook my head in disbelief. When he first asked I thought he was simply being polite but, as his question took on a more serious tone I got the feeling he was looking for something, more. Not malicious but just, something. His gaze seemed to stare through me, as if he was searching my very soul for the answer to his true inquiry. My silence must have upset the man since he began to lightly tap the briefcase in an impatient manner as if to tell me to hurry up.

“Why do you care?” Is all I could muster out; netting me another soft chuckle.

“I can see it in your eyes boy. They're tired far beyond their years, and these aren't the kinds of things I'm wrong about either. So just speak plainly and I promise to help,“ He informed me; now casually leaning against the door frame opposite of me. While I had reservations about opening up to strangers, people in general for that matter, something about his offer seemed genuine; so much so it was hard to resist. I nearly spoke up before trying to think through what I was doing, so I bid my time hoping someone would show up to disrupt our conversation while I figured out how to proceed. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem anyone was interested in getting a sandwich at this time of night. The parking lot was dead empty, aside from the "employee parking only" section and a few wild plastic bags that blew about in the warm breeze.

I let out a sigh of disapproval as I looked back to meet the man’s gaze. He bobbed his head softly; motioning me to go on. It took most of my will power not to squirm at the thought of divulging such personal information. I should have left there, I owed nothing to the man, but instead my mind tried to find a way to procrastinate on answering instead. As if doing so would make the man lose interest and just leave but the determination glistening just behind his worn, chocolate brown, eyes made it clear he wouldn't budge on the issue.

“I don't even have your name and you're asking me something like that,” I countered defensively; raising my voice in an attempt to try and garner the inside employees' attention. Lamentably, the cashier was too preoccupied with his phone to have noticed my growing distress with the conversation. Before I could make any further attempts however, the old man stepped in front of me once more; cutting off my view inside.

“Some call me: ’a genie’, ‘a magician’, an ‘interloper’, others have simply coined me ‘that man’, but personally, I consider myself more of a…” He paused momentarily to roll his left hand in the air for dramatic effect. It was a long few painful moments of silence as the man seemed to search for the right word. But finally his hand gradually lowered back down to his tie; gripping it once more in hand as he answered.

”Benefactor, The Benefactor if you will.” He said as if that were some kind of reasonable response. Benefactor? He must truly be mad, I thought to myself. Seeing as he believed some vague and creepy reply like that would get me to answer all his questions. Though insanity would explain his seemingly genuine desire to help me. Assuming it was due to his warped version of reality, it make sense why he seems to carry the confidence and the sincerity to approach me in the way he had, I reasoned.

“That's a title not a name,” I argued; my finger instinctively pointed at him as if I could somehow point out his nonsense in the literal sense. I wanted to try and end our little conversation there, but something about his voice was hypnotic. His southern drawl carried with it the kind of charisma you'd hear from one of those old, late night, radio, talk programs. It was kind of scary that a voice could hold such power.

“That may be so, but names in truth often lack meaning. As they are assigned by your parents at birth, before they could have any kind of idea of who you are. I'd argue a title tells you far more about a person, wouldn't you Mr. Phoenix?” He mused back with a subdued chuckle. I almost continued to rip into his reasoning until my jaw dropped in realization. He knew my name. He actually knew my name! My eyes widened as fear gripped my heart. How could a stranger know my name?!, I panicked. I looked over my body for any explanation, like a name tag or something but before I could speak, he spoke again; waving his hand dismissively in the air to dismiss my worry.

“Relax, son. I mean you no harm, I'm simply just a good reader of people. Just like I read your eyes I read your name.” He explained, well tried to explain. Like that is some kind of valid explanation, I irritably thought, reading people's emotional state was one thing, I'll give him that, but "reading names" is hogwash...

Great, I began to think to myself, he's a stalker who is probably trying to kidnap, drug me, both or something far worse. I shook my head as I gained control of my body once more. It was a liberating feeling as I began to try backing out towards my car. As good as a sandwich was, it was not worth whatever this man was planning. Regrettably this freedom would be stopped once more as his smooth voice froze me once more in my tracks. I hated myself for listening and yet it's all I could bring myself to do again.

“Unfortunately we don't have all day to mess around. Our time is running short.” His voice finally losing its friendly, warm, demeanor; dropping to something more distressed, gravely so. The change in tone sent chills up my spine like waves of spiders creeping their way up. It sounded as if I were in some kind of danger for rejecting the offer. The fear instilled by his tone was worse than that instilled by what he might do if I did give an answer to his original question. So I stood and prepared to give my answer and yet I had the suspicion this man already knew my past well enough. Even if he wasn't the stalker I thought he was, the way he hinted at things when he talked, implied he carried a much deeper wealth of information than he let on. Thus making his questioning all the more enigmatic and my worry for what he could know worse.

“If I tell you will you just leave me alone,” I asked, receiving no immediate answer. So despite his silence I answered.

“I was in a college drop out; I hated it there. I just couldn't find a reason to care enough to try and keep up my floundering grades. On top of that all they did was kill one hobby after another with their dumb testing and incoherent lectures. I use to actually enjoy English until I had to write an essay on ‘Paradise lost’. On top of that most of my teachers couldn't remember my name for more than a few hours before forgetting I was more than just a stack of paperwork. So with college a bust I dumbly enlisted into the USAF thinking it would provide me with…. Something! Or at least a way to pay off my loans, but I'm quickly coming to realize this was a mistake and with nowhere else to go….” I trailed off once more as the thought conjured up a host of emotions I just didn't want to deal with. So I took several moments to suppress them back down before I moved past that thought.

“Though with B.M.T in two weeks, I guess it really doesn't matter, oh well.” As I finished I let out an exhale of air I didn't know I'd been holding. Despite him being a stranger, it felt good to say it out loud, good to get it off my chest in general. Feeling good didn’t matter though, as it didn’t change reality. I’d go into the military only to likely suffer from a lack of motivation again. This reality was simply a matter of inevitability at this point with no escape. Believing we were done I started to move on but, before I could, The Man stopped me.

“Well I promised to give you something to help, did I not?” The man reminded me; taking a knee to click open his briefcase as he rummaged through it. I tried to peek in, but his black suit obscured my vision. However I did get a better view of the emblem. It was familiar but I couldn't place my finger on it as it was too small to make out, but the image was of two creatures. One white and the other a darker blue than the background. Around them were dozens of stars as the two circled a moon and sun.

As I started to recall the odd insignia the man looked up at me expectantly to answer his question. I thought it rhetorical at first but as the silence continued, I realized it was a guessing game. So I let out a groan of frustration and gripped the bridge of my nose.

“Yes you did. So, is it a sustainable job that won't smother me or require a college degree?” I sarcastically retorted, mostly to myself. Even with the best intentions I knew full well he had nothing to offer me at that point. Though admittedly, I was intrigued to at least hear his crazy snake oil pitch. He let out another chuckle at my answer as he closed his briefcase; having pulled out a small sky blue document and a golden pen. Whatever was written on it I couldn't make it out yet. The general structure reminded me of a legal document but it was far too small to be that; it was about the size of a lost pet flyer at most. As I eyed the document he slowly got back to his feet and whipped the dust off his otherwise pristine, onyx tinted slacks. His eyes glanced over the paper one final time before he finally made his offer. An offer I hadn't expected, an offer I couldn't have expected.

"It's something that will permanently fix your issues, but it won't be easy. If, you choose to accept that is. This is nothing illegal, I assure you, but as I said It is something that will take work and a lot of it. I do promise it will work however Mr. Phoenix, provided that you try.” He assured me as he pitched his snake oil. While his vagueness left me uneasy he wasn't done.

“A one way ticket to your favorite show, a land that will give you the drive you're looking for, Equestria! All you must do is accept and try upon arrival. Now your starting location won't be ideal and I apologize but it's a new life nonetheless.” My heart stopped, though I'm unsure if it was because he knew I watched the show or because of the absurdity. I wanted to say something, anything really, but instead the craziness of his proposition forced a laugh out of me. I nearly fell on my back in a fit of tears. It was just so random and out of the blue, that my mind wasn't sure how to react. My hands gripped my gut as the laughter shifted to pain, but even that wasn't enough to stop my mad fit. It wasn't until I was forced to wheezing at the novelty of my situation that my laughing finally died off.

As I recovered I realized he was dead serious. He was handing over the small paper and golden pen. To which my eyes glanced over the paper’s words. At the top rested the big, bold, golden, elegant words “Equestria Exchange Project.” The title was followed by a thick block of text and a small line for my signature. Now admittedly, I didn’t read that paper in depth; mostly on account that I thought it to be entirely nonsense written by a mad man.

I do remember that the paper itself started with something along the lines of a resort pitch. Like Equestria was some sort of resort that helped destress and fix issues. "A life changing experience," It mentioned about halfway through. An odd word choice but I chalked it up to the man being unstable and moved on. The rest of the document was an explanation of how the process worked. It may as well have been Greek to me as it appeared to be a childish conception of magic that would have fallen right in line with the show. A "spirit exchange" here and a "magical bond" there.

“Well? Mr. Phoenix, do you accept?” He asked as the gentle and friendly smile returned to his face. It didn’t seem like he was smiling just for show either. But was actually pleased with my reaction. Like he was just happy to see me happy. That idea combined with realization he couldn't actually do anything and was just crazy put a lot of my worries at ease about this man. It took a few minutes to process the question this mad man, this "Benefactor" asked. Well since he truly believed in his madness I could understand his title he chose, even if a bit pretentious.

“What do I have to do?” I asked as I slowly rose back up; recovering from my laughter.

“All you must do is give me confirmation via signature then blink. Then when you open them you'll be there, I promise,” The Benefactor assured me once more. So for offering me a much needed laugh and seeing as how a blink couldn't do much, I humored him with my terrible, terrible mistake.

“I wish to emigrate to Equestria, please.” I replied cheekily as I signed the dotted line. Then as I blinked I heard his last words before waking in my fever dream.

“Good luck.” Was all he said before I was engulfed in blackness that would make the void of space blush. There was a brief feeling of numbness, followed by nothing; then I opened my eyes to that druggy haze.

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