Everyone has a bad morning at some point in their life. You know how it goes: You're tired, broken, you have the entire day of boring work/school in front of you, and if you don't get up RIGHT NOW, you will miss your bus and you are in a whole new world of trouble. If it wasn't for a miraculous drink called "coffee", mornings would eventually kill off everybody, or at the very least make them lose their minds.
But you have no idea what pain I've been through. The term "awful morning" doesn't even begin to describe it. Your suffering could never come close to mine, even if you hairstyle was destroyed beyond all repair, even if you were completely spent and exhausted, even if you had a terrible hangover.
For starters, have you ever woken up with an angry cat in your face?
That white fluffy monster pulled out its claws and started clawing me wherever it could reach. I instinctively punched it with my hoof-
This mystery will have to wait for later, there's a pissed-off pussy-cat in my face! Oh damn, I'm bleeding. I could feel the metallic taste of blood in my mouth.
"C'mere, you dirty little-!" I shouted, knocked it off my face and jumped at it, spreading my wings-
Wings? What the... I will need A LOT of coffee for this one. Also, it seems there is no point in drinking Red Bull now.
I kicked that ugly ball of fur in the stomach and it retreated to the bush, meowing. I have only now noticed my surroundings. I appeared to have woken up in a jungle. Huge trees were towering over my head, impenetrable bushes claimed the land all around me, and countless green lianas were hanging from branches.
My grazed face hurt terribly, but luckily for me, the cat didn't manage to hit my eyes. Which was something of a miracle, because I was slowly realising how huge my eyes have become. I bet they were bigger than my brain at this point. That most likely meant I was either cute or stupid. God dammit...
I found a small backpack on the ground nearby. Rummaging through it, I found some disinfectant and a piece of cloth, thank God! This was going to hurt, but I really didn't want my cuts to fester. And if they stopped bleeding, that would be great, too. Did you hear that, face? If you stopped bleeding, I would greatly appreciate it, thank you.
After a quick, painful session of patching up I took some time to find out what kind of creature I am. Hooves, wings, huge eyes... I think I've become one of the ponies from that show I love so much. From the sandy fur and gray mane I deduced that I am Daring Do.
But wait a second, Daring Do is a mare!
I looked between my hind legs...
...and screeched like a siren.
"Morning, you went too bloody far! You can take away my fingers, give me wings and whatever, but that was a part of my existence RIGHT THERE!" I screamed and observed my private area, completely shocked. There was a very important part missing, a part that I was not ready to give up.
Where is my coffee? Where the hell is my coffee!
In a flash of panic, I dumped all contents of a backpack on the ground. I was praying for something, ANYTHING containing caffeine. But sadly, Daring Do must have had other priorities when she was packing up. A rope, a tarpaulin, canned food plus a can opener, a canteen of water, a notebook, a map, first aid supplies, a towel... What the hell does she need a towel for?
I sat on my haunches, breathing heavily. How did this happen? I looked around to see what my cutiemark was, and the last vestiges of doubt disappeared. I had a picture of a compass on my ass. I was Daring Do. It was really happening. But why? Why was I Daring Do?! I knew I shouldn't have listened to those hypnotic recordings a friend of mine sent me.
Wait, that gave me an idea. I was listening to a hypnotic recording which was supposed to turn me into Daring Do. And it did. It was so successful that it literally made me crazy.
...No, that was not it. This whole thing was so real, it couldn't be just a figment of my imagination. This world, this body, it couldn't be simply a deranged fantasy. It was too real for that.
So what happened then? Again, why am I Daring Do?
I lay on my back, my heart and my breath both slowing after the initial rush of adrenaline. I calmed down.
And then I burst into tears.
I love Daring Do, she is my most favourite pony in the whole goddamn show. But I don't want to be Daring Do! I want to be myself! I want my hands, my fingers and my... thingy back. I want to go back to the world full of people and concrete! I don't want to live my life here, in this forsaken jungle full of vermin and angry cats!
My distressed mind spat out a simple question. What now?
I don't know.
I am Daring Do. What would Daring do in my place?
Well, she wouldn't notice anything strange. She would be in her own body, and she would just do whatever business she had in this place. She was probably headed for some sort of artifact when I suddenly invaded her noggin.
Wait, what if we switched places? Is Daring Do running around in my house, freaked out about her split hooves? Is she unraveling the secrets of bipedal movement and opposable thumbs?
It's possible. It's definitely possible.
After a few minutes of rolling around in the dirt I finally came up with a plan.
Step one: Don't die.
Step two: Find out what is going on.
I am a fucking genius. This plan was useless, full of glaring holes. I know that I must not die, but how exactly can I prevent that? And where do I start with this mystery? I seriously doubt I would find any clues here, like a book about mental magic or something.
Think. Think! Think of something!
If I am in an MLP universe, a pretty safe thing to assume at this point, then that means the cat which attacked me a while back is most likely a servant of Ahuizotl. And Ahuizotl was a nemesis of Daring Do. So the conclusion is: Ahuizotl knows where I am and is no doubt coming for me. Wait, Daring Do is a writer! Perhaps that notebook of hers will have some precious pieces of information in it.
Okay, new plan:
Step one: Change my position and find a safe hideout so Ahuizotl won't find me.
Step two: Read the best pony's notes, so I can figure out what's going on.
"Stupid, stupid plan," I grunted. I was retreating before one jaguar, two cougars and one ocelot. I had a cliff behind me, and the cats cunningly cut all my escape routes. I was trapped. They were approaching, hungry and restless. I was shaking uncontrollably, tears blurring my vision. I couldn't do anything, I was just watching those sharp, deadly teeth coming closer and closer.
"No... n-no, I don't wanna..." I whined. It was not my finest moment, I admit.
My hind leg stepped on the very edge of the cliff. That was it. Nowhere to run now.
I gulped and froze in place. The predators were coming for me. In a slow but determined pace.
I swear that jaguar was grinning maliciously. Laughing at my misery.
I was starting to wonder if there really is some sort of afterlife, but then something clicked in my head.
You have wings, dumbass.
Without thinking, I jumped back, into the abyss. The cats charged the moment they realised what I was doing, but they all managed to stop before falling to their doom.
All but one. The ocelot let out a terrified meow as it got pushed off the cliff by its peers.
We spent a few seconds falling next to each other. I was relatively calm, the cat was scared shitless.
"So, how are things?" I asked politely. Damn, my voice sounded weird. Even though it was a bit more rough than an average female voice, it still belonged to a girl.
"Well, life's not fair, kitty. Trust me, I know."
"You wouldn't know where I can get a cup of coffee around here, would you?"
I looked below me. There was still quite a distance to go before I would get smashed by the gravity's hammer. Ocelot looked like it had accepted its fate, gloomily falling to its certain doom.
Damn, I'm going to regret this...
I spread my wings slowly and maneuvered towards the cat. When it noticed me approaching, it growled menacingly, but didn't do anything beyond that.
It wasn't that big, I could mistake it for a regular cat with slightly unusual colours. I wrapped my hooves around the poor guy and pressed him against my torso. I felt him hug me back...
...and then he sank his claws into my sides.
Fuck ow ow ow ow I KNEW I would regret it! Fucking cat!
No time to curse, I needed to slow my fall. It would be pretty dumb death if I splatted against the ground just because I was too busy to use my wings. I felt the air resistance as I spread my wings fully, slowly changing vertical fall into a horizontal flight. Ocelot buried his nose in my fur, mumbling something to himself. He must have been completely flabbergasted by how this fall turned out for him.
We both survived in the end. I found a tiny cove in the side of the cliff and landed there. Perfect hiding spot, none of Ahuizotl's minions could get here. Unless they would suddenly grow a pair of wings. Which they couldn't do if it saved their lives, as my new friend so aptly demonstrated.
As soon as my hooves (nhh...) touched the ground, I tried to fold my wings. I couldn't, ocelot's paws were in the way.
"Hey, you can let go now."
And he stayed there, glued to my belly. I jabbed him with my hoof, he hissed again and didn't budge. Poor thing, he must have been in shock. I lay on my back, trying to ignore the frigid rock and ocelot's claws still deeply buried in my body. Thankfully I was not bleeding, but that fact did nothing to alleviate the sharp pain.
"Look, buddy, do you want to spend the rest of your life molesting me?" I said and jabbed that hardheaded cat again.
"Vrauuuuurrrrr. Vrrrrr. Mrrr-rau."
After his eloquent oration, he finally climbed off me. I rubbed my aching sides, left ocelot to circle the cave and fetched Daring's notebook from my backpack. Yeah, I guess it's mine now, since I am Daring Do...
One quick glance assured me that the ocelot was currently not plotting my murder. He was too preoccupied by hissing at rocks.
"Does that mean we are friends?"
He ignored me. I was not sure if that was a good sign or a bad sign. I started reading.
June 30th, 1005:
Bored, too peaceful for me! Going to the Canterlot library.
July 2nd, 1005:
I found out about this artifact called Dimension Cross. Professor Horski should know more.
July 3rd, 1005:
Horski helped me to locate and research the artifact. It's not just any average trinket. Dimension Cross does exactly what its name suggests: It crosses dimensions.
July 6th, 1005:
It's time to set off to the Amazingian rainforest. Last time I was there I got that sapphire statue. It will be nice to visit again.
July 8th: 1005:
AGAIN. What is it with Ahuizotl and me? We ALWAYS search for the same artifact. We ALWAYS fight for it!
July 9th: 1005:
Ahuizotl got the hold of the Cross and plans to do something with it. I have to stop him.
"Huh, that's interesting," I muttered. Everything was making a lot more sense now. Ahuizotl probably used the power of the artifact to get rid of his greatest rival; he replaced Daring Do with some random schlub from a different dimension and then he sent his pets to catch themselves a lunch.
Well, he picked a wrong schlub. Because this schlub has had enough and is now seriously pissed off. I am sick of this adventure, and if getting that artifact means returning to my world, then so be it. Nobody, NOBODY will get away with dragging me out of bed in such an unholy way. I am angry, I am determined, and I had found myself an ally. At least I think so.
"Whose side are you on?"
The ocelot looked at me as if I was absolutely mad. "Mrrrou."
Okay, that question will have to remain unresolved for now. I closed the notebook, hissed in pain and searched for some sort of salve that would ease the pain from my tortured sides.
I had a clear goal now: Finding Ahuizotl and the artifact he was guarding. Hopefully it would get me back home. Oci (I named him that) would ride on my back, I'd drop him off in the jungle and let him do whatever he wanted. I learned the hard way that he would not accept orders from me. I tried to give him an order and he demonstratively peed on my map in response.
The message was clear: "Piss off."
I packed all my things, minus the ruined map, and let Oci climb on me. We took off and flew up together. After we gained a bit of altitude, I managed to find a small clearing in the jungle, a great place to land. Just as I touched down, Oci jumped off me and rushed to the nearest bush.
Yeah, bail on me. Why wouldn't you, you ungrateful fuck.
And it looks like I won't have to bother finding Ahuizotl, because that mutated monkey just threw a net over me.
SCREW. THIS. DAY.
"You are ekzactly the pony I needed, Daring Do! And you know why!"
"This is not the pony you're looking for, you mistake of nature."
I was lying on a rough rocky floor of something that appeared to be an ancient temple. My four legs were tied together and I had a band around my body, holding my wings in place.
"Enoukh of your pointless insults!" Ahuizotl barked and slapped me with his hand-tail thing. "It won't help you! I know you've been studying the Dimension Khoss, and I want to know how it workhs. We khan do this the easy way, or the hard way."
I have made a slight error in my assumptions. Ahuizotl wasn't aware of what he had done, the body switch must have been a side effect of his experiments. But if nobody here knows how the artifact works... How will I get home?
"Hey, Ahuizotl, listen here: You inadvertently blasted Daring Do into another dimension and replaced her with me. I have no idea what is going on, deep inside I am not even a pony, your hocus-pocus ruined my day and sent me far away from home and I am really getting ticked off now."
He laughed. It was a loud, raucous laughter, the kind that pierces your ears and drills right into your brain. Then he abruptly stopped.
"That must be the best story I have heard from you yet! And you thinkh I will fall for that?"
"I swear that all you just heard is true."
"You khan swear all you want, but now I thinkh you should pray instead." Ahuizotl grinned maliciously and took a... torture device in his hand...
"AAAAAH! NO, NO, PLEASE NOOOOO!"
He got tired after what must have been several hours of torment. He threw me in a dark, damp cell and left me to rot.
My stomach... it hurt. My whole body was twitching on its own, my sides burned from exhaustion. I couldn't breathe, the band around my abdomen was crushing my wings... The rope was gnawing at my legs... All hope was gone, replaced by pain. I think I passed out for a while.
When I woke up, I was hungry. My stomach was rumbling and hurting, torturing me even further. I wished I could die.
I lifted my head and saw Oci's adorable face in a tiny, barred window. He slipped right by the bars and jumped down. He approached me in a royal, dignified manner, and started nuzzling up to my face.
"Heh, I sure love seeing you, Oci, but could you help me? Please?"
Oci lowered his head, sniffing the rope I was bound with. Then he started chewing, making bizarre sounds. He sounded like a freaking cat chainsaw!
After about a minute of determined chewing my shackles finally came loose and I immediately got rid of the band around my barrel. The only thing keeping me from freedom were the cell doors. But before I got to that, I had other, more important matters to attend to.
"Oci, you little brat," I whispered and hugged him. He started purring like a kitten.
But then he suddenly coughed and pulled back from the hug.
"Oci? Are you okay?"
I jumped in a surprise when Oci vomited right on the ground. And I was even more shocked when he pushed the contents of his stomach towards me with his paw.
I was paralyzed. I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing, and trust me, at that point I would believe almost anything.
"O-oci... What the hell were you thinking?"
It was five coffee beans in total. I took them in my hooves, cringing as I felt the slippery texture. Well, what was I supposed to do? You don't just refuse a gift like this... Although that was by far the most disgusting thing I have ever done in my life.
I quickly threw them in my mouth. I almost hurled when I felt the foul, acidic taste in my mouth, but forced myself to chew.
Suddenly the taste changed on a fly. Instead of the awful taste of vomit, I felt the bitter, enticing taste of victory. Coffee.
I sighed in pleasure and scratched Oci behind his left ear. He shook his head in a funny way, apparently he didn't appreciate that. I didn't care though, I wanted to cuddle him to death!
"Thank you, Oci, I needed this."
I got up from the floor and felt the caffeine setting in. Damn, that was some strong stuff! Five beans were enough to make me all jittery and hyperactive, it even made my heart itch.
Before me, a heavy braced door stood defiantly, blocking my way.
It didn't stand a chance.
I was running through the dark corridors with Oci in hot pursuit. Truth be told, I had no idea where I was going, but I figured that every corridor must lead somewhere and I let Lady Luck decide my fate. She must have smiled so much that her mouth hurt, because not a minute later I found a ritual chamber. And there, I saw a pedestal with a cross on it.
I approached it slowly. It looked like a fairly regular trinket, similar to ones worn by Christian monks. But this one was glowing with faint blue light. The moment I noticed it, I was one hundred percent sure that I had just found the Dimension Cross. I had no idea what to do with it, so I just hung it around my neck.
I was expecting a rush of energy, a sudden change of some kind... but nothing happened.
"Well, now I am out of ideas."
"Who is this?!"
I jumped in shock. You might say that I was just fidgety because of caffeine, but a voice in my head would be alarming no matter what.
"So they were right, I really am crazy... I can hear voices in my head."
"Hey! Do you hear me? I can hear voices in my head, too! I can hear you!"
A brief silence ensued, both of us realising what was happening right now.
"Daring Do? Is that you?"
"Yes! Who are you and what are you doing in my head?!"
"More like in your body. I am a sandy-coloured mare with a gray mane."
"And I am... I don't know what I am! The only thing I can tell for sure is that I'm a... a stallion!"
"Just calm down, calm down, okay? It seems our bodies are switched and that our minds are connected. Do you know how to use this thing? Dimension Cross, I mean?"
"Oh balls, Ahuizotl just found out I escaped."
"I know how to use the Cross, but you need more time! Can you defend yourself against his minions?"
"I had my morning coffee, now I can do anything."
"If you think that helps..."
A bunch of felines jumped out of the shadows. Cats of all kinds were growling, hissing and baring their teeth at me. Oci disappeared somewhere, and I knew I couldn't rely on his help this time. Chewing through rope was one thing, but taking on an opponent three times his size? He was just a little tomcat, not a superhero.
I was alone against a whole pack of predators. But unlike last time, when I was terrified to the point of almost fainting, I had my caffeine now. The essence of immortality was coursing through my veins, now I was a Fearless Warrior of Doom.
"You thought you would eskhape, didn't you? Get her, my pets!"
All the tigers, cougars, leopards, lions and cheetahs charged as one. I flapped my powerful wings and two cats collided right below me. I stomped on their heads to further hurt their egos, then flew up and hovered in the air.
"That will teach you, furballs!"
"Are you doing well?"
"Yeah! I know kung-fu! How are YOU doing?!"
"I'm sitting in some sort of white room, bound in a straitjacket. I can't wait to switch places with you."
The beasts didn't wait for me and Daring to catch up. They were already climbing on walls, approaching me quickly. I bolted down, catching the nearest tiger in the head with my hoof. One cougar jumped on me from above, but I bounced against the ground and kicked it right in the teeth.
"Hearing you, I really regret not being there."
"You are missing out!" I screamed and stomped on a leopard's back.
"What happened to you anyway? How did you get in the temple?"
"I fell of a cliff..." Punched a tiger in the ribs. "I befriended an ocelot..." Headbutted a lion. "Ahuizotl imprisoned me and tried to get me talking..." I was standing on my front legs while rotating around, my hind legs bucking rapidly and hitting anything that came too close.
"Did he tickle you?"
"Yes. A lot."
"Yeah, he tends to do that. I never had any trouble enduring it."
"You're not me. I loathe tickling."
"Oh really? You're ticklish?" I could literally hear Daring Do smirking as she was saying that.
I barely even realised that I had just kicked all of the Ahuizotl's minions into submission. The felines were retreating, meowing, growling, but none of them dared cross my path or even come close to me.
Ahuizotl himself was long gone, he probably bailed as soon as I started getting upper hand... I mean hoof.
I walked out of the temple through main entrance, grinning like a maniac. Fuck yeah, don't ever mess with hyped mare with a soul of a frustrated nerd!
"So, what am I supposed to do now?" I asked. I was back where it all started, in Daring's camp. I had all her possessions with me, except for the map of course. I even put on a pith helmet I forgot to take with me. Daring must never know I went on an adventure without this thing! She would kill me.
"It's that simple?"
"Yes, it is. When I return to my own body, I'm gonna stomp on that stupid cross until it turns to dust. And then it will all be over."
"Daring, just one more thing..."
"Please take care of Oci," I said, petting the little tommy as he laid next to me, purring affectionately. "He's not an enemy, quite the contrary: I would still be rotting in Ahuizotl's prison if it wasn't for him."
"I hate cats, but... but okay. If Oci is as useful as you claim, I'll try to give him benefit of the doubt."
"Great. Let's not waste any more time. Goodnight."
After a long, insane day I was beaten, exhausted and tired. I was already feeling drowsy and my eyes closed pretty much by themselves. It didn't take long before I ventured into the land of dreams, leaving the jungle, Ahuizotl, Oci and everything else behind.
When I woke up, I was back in my old body.
Tied up in a straitjacket.
Closed in a white room with padded out walls.
And I knew there was no Oci to save me.
"This is the second shittiest morning ever."