• Published 29th Oct 2012
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Finding Faith - CoolBreeze



Haunted by the past, John finds his place in life, helping an orange pegasus mare...

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The Orange Mare

My Little Pony: Finding Faith
Chapter 1 “The Orange Mare


Gazing up at the clouds above, I let out a contented sigh, picking out vague shapes in the fluffy white objects as they glide over the city, the setting sun casting glorious orange highlights on them. I’m laying down in the grass at the banks of the river that runs past the city center, there’s a footpath for people to walk on that takes you on the scenic route to the city center.

I get up with an awkward sigh, brushing the back of my jeans off. With a glance up as the sun hits the horizon between the skyscrapers, I’m hit with a silent flash of blinding white light. I cry out in shock and double over, my hands rubbing at my eyes, trying to clear my vision of the bright splotches.

Several passers by stop and some cry out in alarm. My vision is returning but what I see is unbelievable. A bright white light, emitting little particles shaped like stars is travelling up from my feet. As the light reaches my knees, the alarmed voices from behind me escalate into cries of horror.

I turn around, the entire effort feels awkward. Looking around at the dozen or so people who have gathered, I notice that several of them have clasped their hands to their mouths. The light has reached my waist and as I look down I realise why they are all in a state of shock. Where, only a minute before I had been wearing a pair of runners and jeans, I can see a white coat of soft fur running down my legs, instead of feet at the ends however, I see large hooves.

Losing my balance as the light passes into my torso, I fall down onto all fours, my fingers curling around blades of grass. The light reaches my armpits and I watch in horror as my arms emerge on the other side, thick with natural muscle, my hands replaced by smaller hooves. The light seems to slip a hood over my vision and I cry out in surprise. But just as suddenly as it happened, with a pop it ended.

I find that I can raise my head despite being on all fours and I turn it, gazing over and back at myself. I'm covered from head to... to hoof in a coat of brilliant white. My gaze drifts further along and I realise that I am looking at... my flank. I can see that I have a black tail, with a grey zigzag stripe through the middle of it.

At this point, I turn back and cry out at the top of my lungs until my voice goes hoarse. Everything just seems so impossible, it can't be real, any of it, the people, the grass, the sky, me... it just has to be some nightmare. That's when I notice two police officers in their hazard vests, hands on their holsters as they slowly creep up to me.

“Keep back!” I croak at them. While I might not trust my own sense of reality right now, I sure as heck don't want to take the risk that it might all be real.

They draw in, the crowd pressing forward on my left, preventing me from even contemplating heading that way, and on the right, the two police officers are getting closer. As they do, I realise that I'm roughly only four feet tall now, barely up to some of their chests.

I wish I was someplace else! I think with such force that I hope some divine entity can hear and whisk me away.

To my own surprise, I feel an immense pressure in my fore-head and I can see a bright red glow just out of my vision. The crowd cries out and the police officers stop short. I feel my arms - no, my fore-legs spread without me even realising it. Now the glow intensifies, red stars sparkle and fade in my vision and there are beams of bright light shooting out from just above my head.

The crowd and the officers seem unsure of what to do now, I can see around the light that people have stopped, on the bridge further down the river, cars emptied of their drivers and passengers to see what the light show is all about, I presume.

I need time to think, to process what is happening and the crowd that's pressed in so close is not helping in the slightest bit, worse still I have a feeling that the light show coming from the top of my head isn't just light, there's something more material about it all.

One of the officers un-holsters his weapon, just as he begins to level it at me, closing my eyes I grunt with an extreme effort and a loud crack fills the air around my ears.

* * *

Opening my eyes, I find I'm not standing on the river's edge, and there aren't dozens of people watching me, closing in. Then I realise that there's not much of anything around me at all, just an emptiness, a void of anything in space.

Naturally the moment goes as quickly as it comes and with a start, I find myself hanging upside down in a tree, a branch wedged between my belly and my legs is all that is keeping me from falling down the several feet to the ground below.

I wriggle a little, unsure of how to proceed before I realise it's raining quite heavily. The pitter patter of raindrops on leaves an obvious indicator before the first droplet even passes my head through the foliage and splatting on a lower branch. The leafy green colour that fills my vision feels kind of wrong, like it's a bit too... vibrant perhaps. My gaze travels from the section of the branch wedged under my belly and legs, to where it meets the immense tree trunk. The further away the branch gets, the less detailed the bark seems to become, as in the complexity of its colours starts to fade. It's hard to explain really.

Despite hanging upside down in a tree, and not knowing where I am and the sudden change in weather. I find a kind of peace being there. That's when I notice the orange form sitting several meters away, staring into a pool of water. At first I think it's someone in an orange raincoat, but then I realise they can't possibly be, the orange encompasses most of their form with a long, flaring purple tail and a head of drooping purple hair.

“I just wish there was somebody who understands me.” the orange creature says in perfect English. For some reason I feel like I should be disturbed by that, but I'm not.

“I don't know if I can go on...” it continues to itself. The voice is undeniably female but there's a hint of youth in the almost scratchy voice as well.

I wiggle my legs a little, to no avail, I even try and bend all the way around to dislodge myself with my fore-hooves, when that fails I fling back into my upside down pose.

“Hey, um, excuse me?” I call out to her. Waving my hooves back and forth in front of my head as I dangle.

She jumps a little and I notice a pair of delicate looking wings flare out to her sides, indicating surprise as she turns her head, looking for the source of my voice.

“Up here, in the tree.” I call to her. Watching as she gets up onto her hooves and trots over to the cover of the tree and looks right up at me with a quirky smile.

“How in the hay did you get up there?” She asks me, putting a hoof to her chin and allow her smile to widen.

I try my best to shrug, glad that she's smiling despite her previous comment. Something tells me that however I got here, I was just in time to stop something dreadful from happening.

“Say, you have wings, think you could come up and try to help dislodge me?” I ask her, making a show of pointing at myself.

She seems to take a moment to consider it, she looks a little unsure, of herself or me I can't tell. But then the look vanishes, replaced by one of determination as she wriggles her flanks from side to side before charging at the base of the tree trunk. I almost want to cry out for her to stop, until I see she jumps up, her hooves slamming into the base, shaking the tree to its very core, and forcing her higher up into the air where she beats those delicate looking wings of hers. With just a few wing beats, she draws eye level with me and smirks.

“You look even more ridiculous up close than from below!” she exclaims with a jovial laugh.

I give a modest shrug before answering, “I try my best I guess.” She proceeds to grip me around the middle before lifting me off the branch. At first it seems like she's going to carry me down, but I quickly see my mistake, while her wings can support herself, she's not exactly able to carry the both of us aloft, and in true testament to my realisation, I fall down, breaking a branch on the way. She lands on top of me and I groan out, partially winded by the impact.

“Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to.” she says, rolling off me and helping me to my hooves while I try and get my breath, and a little of my composure back.

“Don't worry about it... uh well this is a little embarrassing, we don't know each other's names!” I say before pressing my right fore-hoof to my chest.

“I'm Scootaloo.” she introduces herself, holding out a hoof. I presume she wants me to shake it.

Now I'm stuck, kind of at a loss. My memory feels really hazy, like a smog is concealing it from me and it just won't clear. With an effort I try and recall my own name, and find that there are a lot of things I can't recall, like where I'm from and even what I was. I guess that what I was isn't of concern, seeing as I have hooves and a tail, I assume I'm some sort of equine like the orange mare in front of me, Scootaloo. Still at a loss for my name, I cast my thoughts as deep as I can.

“Is everything okay? You're kinda zoning out there,” Scootaloo asks, waving her hoof in front of me.

“Uh, well it's just that... I can't seem to recall my name.” I answer honestly. I struggle to recall it, I can't even remember what day or month it is.

She gives me a quizzical look but allows me to think. After a time I remember something, that wherever I am from, we called a person who has no name, a John Doe.

“I guess, you can call me John.” I say, extending my own hoof to her with a meek smile. She takes my hoof in her own and I feel an almost magnetic grip between the two appendages, she shakes and we separate. I stare at my hoof for a moment before storing the whole thing away, questions like that can come later.

“So, Scootaloo isn't it? What are you doing out here in this downpour? You'll catch your death out here in this cold.” I say, bending my hind legs so that I'm in a comfortable sitting position.

She, at first, seems to be at a loss for words. I assume I may have rushed things a bit too much for her liking and wonder if perhaps I should instead ask something else before she tentatively responds.

“Well... uh, well I...” She pauses, I can see the insecurity in her eyes, those big purple eyes. “I guess it won't hurt to tell you... See, I'm a blankflank,” she turns and shows me her flank, which looks quite normal to me.

At first I raise an eyebrow but quickly lower it and ask, “What's a blankflank? You look fine to me, nothing outwardly strange at all.”

She giggles for a while before resuming her serious manner, “You're not joking?” she asks me, a tinge of concern in her voice.

“No. Actually, that makes me wonder...” I say before turning my head and looking at my own flank, it's just as bare as Scootaloo's but there's nothing outwardly odd about that in my mind. If you asked me for my opinion I'd say that we looked like a relatively healthy pair of equines.

Scootaloo leans over to see what I'm looking at and lets out a gasp of surprise, a hoof coming up to her own mouth to silence it before it drags on. After a few moments of listening to the sound of my own soft breathing and the rain falling around us, she speaks up again, removing her hoof from her mouth.

“You're a blankflank too!” She raises her eyebrows with an incredulous look. “You really don't know what a blankflank is?” I shake my head in response before she presses on. “Well... as odd as that sounds... a blankflank is a pony who hasn't gotten their cutie mark yet, the mark that shows our special talent. I thought I was the only pony around who had grown up and still not gotten their mark, but you're a fully grown buck without one!”

I'm not at all too sure how to take all of that, cutie marks? Talents? My mind races, trying to process it all. I understand enough of it to see that at our ages, we're supposed to have one of these marks on our flanks, and neither of us do.

“We're getting sidetracked though, I was telling you why I'm out here in this miserable weather? Well... you see, I'm an orphan, I have no family and when my friends got their cutie marks and I didn't... we started to drift apart, they moved on with their lives and I was stuck. Worse... I'm a failure of a pegasus, I can't even fly properly.” she finishes, I can tell she's depressed as she finishes, the feeling very familiar to me.

“Why does that matter?” I begin, “Just because you don't have this cutie mark, doesn't mean you don't have a talent. And your friends, if that's what we should be calling them, should have stuck by your side. If you ask me, they aren't your friends if they define their friendship on something so silly as a mark on your flank.”

She looks up at me, with an expression I can't describe. “You're right...” she trails off, her gaze drifting to the base of the tree.

I let out a sigh as I gaze out from under the tree and into the rain that masks the distance from our view, “You know,” I begin, “Life can be hard, kind of like a game of cards, you can get dealt a bad hand of cards that make it hard to win, but you just gotta press on anyway, who knows you may draw that lucky card and scrape a win in?” I look back over at Scootaloo, peering into her sad, purple eyes. “I guess what I’m saying is that, sure, life isn’t the greatest for you, but you gotta be chipper, don’t let it drag you down. Be strong, smart and brave, face the challenge and tackle it.”

“I... alright,” she finishes, a little lamely. I feel that there's a driven person behind this depression, just waiting to come out and do good.

“As for your ability to fly, you did pretty good when I was stuck up there-” I pause to and point my hoof up at the branches above, “-even if you couldn’t support my weight, that’s not lack of ability.”

I finish, allowing the orange mare to mull over what I’d said. Her brow furrows in deep thought and I begin to wonder if it was a little too much, too early. We barely know one another and I think if I was in her shoes - err, hooves - I'd be a bit overwhelmed, heck I was overwhelmed right now in my own position. I swallow the uncertainty and just wait patiently.

After an indeterminable amount of time, thanks to the lack of a sun, and any kind of device that measures time at all, Scootaloo speaks up, “I... I think I understand, John.”

Giving her a genuine smile, I pat her shoulder with a hoof. She shies away at first and I can tell she's a bit uncertain, but when she sees my smile she returns it.

“Thanks John. Sometimes I just get stuck in a dark place.” she comments before moving to sit beside me.

I turn my head to keep eye contact with her and as our sides meet, I feel that she's really cold and her coat is soaked through. “You must be freezing.” I point out, having been kept relatively dry from the tree, I'm a bit better off and press in close to her, sharing my own body heat. Scootaloo let's out a content sigh and to my surprise, she falls asleep next to me.

“Well... I guess. Um, this is okay. Once the rain stops I'll take her home or something.” I whisper to myself.

My mind fills with questions. Where am I? Am I a pony like Scootaloo? Who am I? Why can't I remember? Do I want to remember? What will I do? What can I do?
But it all boils down and I find the solution, even if it is a temporary one.
I am in the right place, at the right time and for the first time in this new life, I feel a true sense of accomplishment.