• Published 25th Jan 2013
  • 6,431 Views, 229 Comments

Someone Came With Her - chromewasp



You keep sayin' somethin' about bein' male and "human" before you showed up in Appleloosa...

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Sonora

Tumbleweed stares at you for a long moment. You're afraid he's about to burst out laughing, but then he casts his eyes downward.

“Stranger,” he sighs, “you have no idea how many times I've heard that this week.”

“What do you mean?” you ask, put off-balance by his words.

“Somethin' strange has been happenin' to Appleloosa lately. All sorts of strange critters are turnin' up, the wells are goin' dry, the crops are all withered and brown...it's unsettlin' the settlers and cowin' the cowponies.”

He fixes you with a grave gaze, his voice lowering slightly. “A lotta folks claim there's somethin' rotten at work. They say it's a hex, or maybe some kinda bad magic seepin' up from the ground. Whatever it is, Sheriff Silverstar saw fit to bring in some magic experts from up north.”

A spark of hope lights you up. “Could they help me break the curse?”

He chuckles. “They wouldn't be 'experts' if they couldn't. It was one of them who found you, in fact: a decent young fellow by the name of Fairweather.”

A small smile crosses your muzzle. Suddenly it seems like things might not be so grim after all. Getting changed back would be the first step to ending this nightmare. Then maybe you could find a way back home, and--

--and leave Appleloosa to its fate. Your stomach sinks at this realization, and sinks even further when you remember Aaron and Daniel. You hardly know the two strangers, but you can't just leave them behind. They had tried to save you, and they deserve at least as much of a chance to go home as you.

Perhaps, though, that's a problem for after you're back to your old self. Your transformed body feels maddeningly weak and vulnerable, as if your muscles have turned to butter. The idea of going on a rescue mission like this is downright terrifying.

“I need to talk to these guys. Where are they?” you ask, starting to rise from the bed.

“You ain't goin' nowhere,” Tumbleweed says sternly, putting a hoof on your chest. “You need to rest. Besides, Fairweather and his pals are out of town right now.”

“Then I'll go find them,” you protest. “You don't know how important this is.”

“What's important is that you don't push yourself,” he chides as he places a wet washcloth on your forehead.

“You have no idea what I've been through!” you snap, trying to push his hoof away. “Now let me go!”

You don't want to spend a second more like this, damn it! Faintly you realize that your cheeks are flushed, and there's a growing rasp in your sickly-sweet voice. Dizziness shakes your world as you struggle to get out of bed, and you tumble to the floor. You bash your head against the wooden boards, sending stars streaking through your vision.

Hot tears run down your cheeks, but they're not from the pain. Your curl up on the floor in a sobbing mess, hating yourself and the man who did this to you in equal measure.

You're pathetic, a small and unsavory part of you taunts. It seems to speak with the voice of Trask. You're pathetic, and you'll never be anything else.

You barely notice as Tumbleweed calls in a nurse to help you back onto the bed. You hardly feel it when he puts a fresh washcloth on your head, and you almost don't hear him when he finally speaks again.

“I don't know what you've been through, stranger. But rest assured, I ain't gonna hang you out to dry. As soon as the ponies you're lookin' for get back, I'll bring 'em over here and we'll see what we can do. That sound alright?”

Sniffling quietly, you nod.

“There's only one thing I ask in return,” Tumbleweed says, “and that's to let yourself rest. I'll get you fixed up, stranger. It's on my honor.”

You lock eyes with him, blinking back your dwindling tears. “Thank you,” you manage to say.

“Think nothin' of it,” he says, trotting out of the room. “Just give me a shout if you need anythin'.”

"Oh! One more thing," Tumbleweed says, poking his head back into your room, "I never gave you a chance to introduce yourself. What's your name, stranger?”

You barely stop yourself from telling him your real name, which wouldn't particularly work with your new sex. Your mind races for some pleasantly generic substitute, but it pulls up nothing but blanks.

Tumbleweed raises an eyebrow. "You all right?"

"I'm fine, just a bit distracted," you say. "My name's...”

A name finally pops into your head, seemingly from nowhere. “...Sonora.”

Tumbleweed smiles earnestly. "Sonora, huh? Not a bad name. Anyway, I should give you a chance to sleep. I'm sure you've had enough of me for today.”

He excuses himself shortly afterward, and idly you wonder where the name “Sonora” came from. After some brief contemplation you remember a little detail from your vacation plans: right about now, you were supposed to be in the Sonoran Desert. You had promised to take some panoramic shots of the landscape for a friend.

You sigh plaintively. Soon your loved ones will start wondering where you went. It's yet another incentive to get back, and yet another drop in the ocean of hatred you have for Trask.

And yet, the only thing you can do is wait. You lie there for a hellishly long time, doing nothing but staring up at the rough timber ceiling. Every now and then Tumbleweed or his nurse drops by to give you a drink or a tiny salt tablet, but never with any news on the magic experts.

Eventually the daylight begins to fade. It seems you'll have to spend the night here, and the prospect is deeply unappealing. As exhausted as you are, you have no idea how you'll get any sleep. Your mind is caught in an endless loop of self-recrimination and frustration. If only you had skipped the trip to Sawgrass...if only you had stayed away from the tower...if only you had stopped Trask...

You replay each mistake in your mind like a neurotic director pouring over every frame of his movie. Eventually the memories become so intense that you start to forget where you are. Slowly and insidiously, your vision blurs to a grainy smudge. A low thrum sounds in your ears, eventually coalescing into a steady beat. It is the sound of your hooves as you gallop madly across an impossibly vast desert.

Faintly you feel that something is off; that this doesn't make sense. But those doubts disintegrate when you discover that someone is chasing you. Someone with limitless energy and an acidic laugh.

Forcing yourself to look behind, you see Trask walking towards you. His steps are unhurried, and yet he rapidly gains on you despite your lunatic pace.

You scream and try to run faster.

"You should watch where you're going," Trask declares. Suddenly you trip over something that bites painfully into your legs. You stumble face-first into the sand, scrambling to try and get back on your hooves.

But there's nowhere near enough time. Your pulse hammers in your ears as Trask walks up to you and stoops down.

"Why are you running?” he asks, staring coldly at you. “Do you think I'm the worst thing in this desert?”

You can't bring yourself to say anything. He nods slowly, a thin smile creeping across his face. “That's the answer I was looking for.”

He stands up and paces off to the side, his boots thudding heavily through the sand. Not daring to even blink, you watch as he walks over to an unfinished radio mast. Three guy-wires truss the structure like leashes, and you realize it was one of these cables that made you trip.

Trask gazes silently at the antenna before he looks back at you. “Don't you want to know what I'm planning?”

“I couldn't care less,” you spit, almost instantly regretting it. Your heart races as he steps closer, your limbs cold and numb.

Trask chuckles. “You're becoming an Equestrian faster than I thought. So narrow-minded, so clueless...and yet, so useful.”

You are jolted out of the nightmare by a rooster's crow. Sunlight the hue of egg yolk pours through the window, and already you can hear the steady clip-clop of hooves as the ponies of Appleloosa go about their business.

The memories of the dream fade mercifully fast, but you still have more than enough reasons to be anxious this morning. Now that you've recovered from the heat, you'll finally have a chance to see if your transformation can be reversed.

Stretching your unfamiliar limbs, you wonder where you'll be at the end of today. Lying down in your own bed, fully restored and brought home? Or will you have to find a way to sleep with the knowledge that you'll never be--

--never be yourself again. The prospect infects your thoughts like a virus, and it takes all your discipline to counter it with a heavy dose of cautious optimism.

Your stomach churns. You feel like you're about to give a speech to the world. From the hallway wafts the sweet smell of toast, but it only makes you feel even more sick.

"Mornin'!" a cheerful voice calls. You turn your head and see a plump orange earthy pony nurse carrying a small tray heaped with food. She sets the tray down on a side table and stares expectantly at you. “You're Sonora, right? Nice to meet you; name's Sharp Cider.”

She sets the tray down on a side table and stares expectantly at you.

“Don't be skittish, darlin',” she coaxes. “Breakfast is complimentary.”

"Thanks," you say, "but I'm not feeling very hungry."

"You sure?" she pleads, giving you a look that an army of orphaned baby bunnies couldn't match.

You sigh. There isn't much defense against that line of attack. Gingerly gripping a slice of toast between your two front hooves, you take a tiny bite.

Soon you're nibbling on the toast like a nervous rat. It's much coarser than any other bread you've tasted, and somehow this makes it perfect. You finish it so quickly you almost bite off your own hooves.

"Did you make this? It's amazing," you say.

Sharp Cider beams beatifically. "Aw, shucks. It's just some buttered alfalfa bread."

You swallow, fighting the sudden urge to cough. Yes, life, you mentally sigh. I get it. I'm a horse. I like horse food now.

As you get started on your second piece, a shocking thought flashes through your mind: this tastes better than bacon. Even more blasphemously, the thought of eating meat at all is strangely...unappetizing.

"Are you all right?" Sharp Cider asks. "You look like you just saw the Tommyknocker."

"Tommyknocker?" you ask through an unladylike mouthful of bread.

"Oh, just a silly lil legend 'round these parts. Care for some apple juice?"

"Thanks," you say, clumsily grasping the glass and taking a sip. It's a perfect blend of sweet and sour, sublimely cold and refreshing. You let the taste linger on your tongue for a bit before you press again. "But really, I want to know. What's the Tommyknocker?"

Sharp Cider blushes slightly. “I havta admit, I don't know all that much about it. Fairweather's gang would probably be the ones to talk to. You still want to see 'em, right?”

“Of course!” you say, a lot more eagerly than you would have liked.

“I think I saw 'em over by the saloon a little while back. Want me to send for 'em?”

“Won't be necessary,” you assure her. “I'll go over there myself.”

“But you haven't finished your—oh, never mind.” To your equal surprise, you've utterly demolished your breakfast. Not a single crumb of toast or drop of apple juice remains.

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