Neil yawned as he reached for his door keys. It’d been a long couple of weeks, away on a business trip talking to boring people about even more boring products, but at least he was home now. Time to sit back, relax, and spend some time with the foal he’d recently adopted. Come to thing of it, she was probably a talkie-babbeh by now. He hoped she remembered him; he’d been away so long and her primary human contact had been his niece, who he’d hired to take care of the foal.
As soon as he stepped inside he realized something was wrong. The smell! It was like a thousand opened sewers spewing noxious fumes as an affront against both cleanliness and Godliness! Exhaustion fled as Neil ran to the safe room, fearing the worst.
The sight he opened the door to was far worse than he’d imagined. Shit. Was. Everywhere. On the walls, spread on the floor, somehow on the fucking ceiling. And sitting in the only clean spot, looking very pleased with herself, was his fluffy.
“What did you do?” Neil asked in genuine bewilderment and horror.
“Bestest babbeh nu wike wittewbox! Wan wittewpaw an’ wickie-cweanies!” the newly-bratty foal shouted at him. Paying attention to the saferoom TV he noticed that it was on FluffTV.
He seethed. He’d told her no FluffTV! He didn’t need that advertisement-infested, soulless, corporate filth infecting the foal’s mind. Worse still, it was clear that the saferoom hadn’t been cleaned in at least a few days. No doubt she’d just refilled the milk bottle and left, leaving the foal alone with only the TV to keep her company.
He’d have to deal with her later, though. Right now he needed to focus on damage control. Trying, and failing, to keep the fury out of his voice, he spoke. “Looks like your a talkie-babbeh now. I guess that means I should give you a name.”
It did not have the desired effect. “Bestest babbeh nu wan namesies! Bestest babbeh am bestest smawty!”
Well, looks like the foal was a write-off. However, Neil wasn’t really the type to just kill a foal the first time he heard smarty, so he would at least try to repair the damage. It wouldn’t work, he knew, but he’d give it a try. Call it an offering for his conscience before he stomped the little shit.
“Wan wittewpaw! Gib bestest-babbeh wittewpaw! FwuffTeeBee sae bestest fwuffies nee’ wittewpaw fow num poopies an’ gib bestest wickie-cweanies!”
Neil suddenly had an idea. If FluffTV had convinced her that she was superior, maybe he could convince her otherwise if FluffTV had lied to her. And he knew exactly how to convince her of that.
The litterpal section of FluffCo (FluffMart’s knock-off and far less ethical brand in the northeast U.S.) was depressing, as always. Once upon a time, as a fresh-faced and naive hugboxer, Neil had tried buying litterpals and giving them new lives. It didn’t really work. They’d been convinced they were trash, fit only to eat shit from superior fluffies. That, and losing their legs, teeth, and often other parts, drove most of them into a deep depression. Neil had ended up mercy-killing all of those “rescues.”
Most of the litterpals pleaded with him as he passed, while others were catatonic. A couple were returns, and those had a thousand-mile stare that unnerved him, even now. The desire to return after closing hours and give these fluffies what mercy he could began to build, but he ignored it. He was here for a reason.
Then he heard it, what he was listening for. A dual-toned voice, pleading like the others to have “Weggies an’ teefies an’ wumps” back. A so-called singer breed. Perfect.
Well, in general it would be unfair to call singer-breed fluffies perfect. They were considerably more flawed that normal fluffies, in fact. Their bones were more hollow, and broke even more easily. They had much more limited diets, and normal fluffy chow left them nutrient-deficient. And the “singing” they were specifically engineered for was a failure. Turns out that giving a fluffy two sets of vocal chords like a bird didn’t help with their innate tone-deafness.
None of that mattered to Neil, though. He had a specific use in mind for the litterpal, one that was far better for the little guy than the alternative. True, the litterpal was probably going to end up dead, but Neil was willing to give him a chance. Time to get him home and get the party started.
“Pwease, nice mistuh! Shitpiwe nu wan num poopies! Nu wan be wittewpaw!”
The words greeted Neil when he set the box down on the counter (wincing at the prospect of how much disinfecting that was going to necessitate) and opened the front, revealing a depressed-looking foal. Old pity stirred in his chest, but for now he had to be cold-hearted. The litterpal was going to want to die regardless of what he did, so there was no point backing out now.
“Well, I’m afraid that’s what I bought you for. If you’d prefer I can return you to the store, though.”
This drew the expecting response. “Nuuu! Shitpiwe wiww num poopies! Nu wan buwnie-huwties! Nu wan fowebah-sweepies!”
Yep. Typical FluffCo. Returned litterpals couldn’t be reused, of course, due to concerns about infectious disease, so the returns were kept on the shelves and periodically tortured, usually via burning, until they died. Allegedly to inspire the litterpals to do a better job, but mostly just for kicks.
“Well then, Shitpile,” Neil flinched as he said the name. “I need you to be a litterpal for my fluffy. Can you do that?”
Tears moistened the fluff around Shitpile’s face, and Neil could hear a gentle rustling in the box as the foal’s remaining back legs kicked pointlessly, but he nodded. “Jus’ nu gib buwnie-huwties, pwease. Wiww num poopies fow nice-mistuh.”
“That’s a good foal. Now, before you get started, now about I give you some sketties?”
The foal’s bleak expression didn’t even lift at the offering.
“Dummeh daddeh gib bestest babbeh wittewpaw?” the newly-named Tina asked, partially in surprise but mostly in delight.
“That’s right. Now, you promise to be a good fluffy from now on?”
“Bestest babbeh du wut wan, bu’ wan be gud fwuffy fow nao.”
“Fine. That’ll work. Alright, here’s your new litterpal!”
Neil lifted the sheet off of Shitpile’s box, and Tina laughed. “Dummeh poopie babbeh bettew gib bestest wickie-cweanies ow bestest-babbeh gib sowwy-hoofsies!” she said, mocking the litterpal as she approached.
Shitpile sobbed softly, but complied. Tina giggled, forcing the litterpal’s head back purely out of cruelty. Then she froze. Her expression slowly turned from sadistic glee to confusion, then horror, then unadulterated suffering.
“SCREEEEEEE!” she wailed as she took off, running around the saferoom. “Dummeh wittewpaw gib poopie-pwace biggest owwies! Nu wike! Nu wike!”
“Shitpiwe am sowwy! Pwease nu taek Shitpiwe baek! Nu wan buwnie-huwties! Pwease!”
Neil struggled to suppress laughter at the cacophony. Tina’s suffering didn’t seem to be easing up in the slightest. In fact, her screeches grew increasingly desperate and her running grew faster, as she struggled in vain to flee the agony. The she hit a wet patch on the saferoom floor and slipped.
The tumbled headfirst into one of the huge piles of shit that Neil had yet to clean. Her legs scrabbled frantically and she emitted panicked gurgling, but the floor, slick with the mess she’d made, offered no traction for her to escape her rancid tomb. Neil just stood there, stunned. He hadn’t expected it to go that far.
By the time he reached her and dug her out of the pile, Tina had already aspirated enough feces that he knew she stood no chance of surviving. Not a cruel person by nature, Neil ended her suffering quickly with a sharp twist to her neck. Well, he’d known she was a write-off from the start. At least he got some amusement out of it.
As for Shitpile, who Neil had already renamed to Storm in his head…well, he had his back legs, so with prosthetics he could probably walk. Maybe Neil could put the ex-litterpal’s life back together. And if not…well, death was probably the best option for the little guy.
He absentmindedly rubbed at the wide patch of blisters on his arm. Unlike Storm, he didn’t have avian DNA. Which meant that the nearly-pure-capsiacin sauce that’d dripped onto his arm when he was making the litterpal’s sketties had immediately caused burns, even though he’d washed it away quickly.
He whistled to himself as he began opening the box restraining Storm. Overall, it wasn’t a bad deal. A bratty foal with good colors couldn’t even begin to compare with an eternally grateful foal, regardless of color.