A small local FluffMart, in an isolated town in the middle of nowhere, just a few miles from the mountains. Unlike most FluffMarts, the lack of easy transportation of live goods meant that this one relied on its own breeding program to provide fluffies to sell, and they sold a lot of fluffies. The rough seasons and dangerous local wildlife meant that owners had to replace fluffies more frequently, and in an isolated place like this there wasn’t much to do.
One of the breeding mares had a new litter of foals. Like all of the breeding mares, she had good colors and quite expressive alicorn genes, but even so, and even with a high-quality stud, there were always going to be defective products. One of those, a gray-and-brown earthy foal, chirped happily.
His coat was just the right shade of mottled gray to remind a viewer of dirty concrete, and his mane perfectly evoked the color of week-old sewage. However, his mummah was a kind and compassionate mare, and fed all of her foals, so he didn’t experience stunted growth. Emotional connection, affection, and stimulation, on the other hand, was limited, since his mother’s interest was focused onto the prettier foals.
As he grew older, and they were taken away from mummah, he watched his siblings go one by one, purchased by new mummahs or daddehs. His heart ached, seeing how he was the only unwanted foal. Days past, and he grew bigger and stronger, until one day he was finally old enough to eat solid food.
“Nu wan miwkies! Wan big fwuffy nummies!”
“Oh, so you’re finally big enough to eat solid food?”
“Can babbeh hab sketties wike odda big babbehs?”
The part-time employee looked at him with a mixture of disgust and annoyance. “No, those are only for good fluffies. We aren’t going to waste it on ugly fluffies like you. You get kibble.”
The colt’s heart sank at that. He’d smelled the sketties when other foals had grown big enough to eat them, and they’d smelled so good. At least he’d get big-fluffy nummies now. The past few days the formula just hadn’t been able to satiate him, and he’d felt so, so hungry.
He flinched at the loud sound the kibble made when it filled his bowl. The other fluffies hadn’t gotten hard, dried food like this! They’d gotten soft, moist chow that smelled almost as good as the sketties!
“Babbeh nu wan kibbwe! Wan sketties!”
“Tough luck. Eat it or starve. See if I care.”
So the colt ate the kibble, teeth and gums aching as he crunched through the flavorless bowl. He spent that night writhing in pain as the cheap, bottom-shelf kibble gnawed at his insides. He was beginning to realize that life for an ugly foal was a tough life indeed.
The next morning he was moved from the foal sales cages to the bargain bin. Or, as he thought of it, the worst place ever.
“Pwease, nice wady! Be nyu mummah fow babbeh!” he desperately called out.
He’d been in the bargain bin for a few days. It was a large cage, floor covered in wood shavings that were rarely changed, and a litterbox that was rarely cleaned. It reeked, but that was the least of his concerns right now. He had to find a new family!
When he’d arrived, there had been five other fluffies in the bin. Each day, they were taken into the back room, and the most senior of the bargain-bin residents was pillowed, de-toothed, and turned into a litter-pal in front of them. And to add insult to injury, they were all forced to use the new litter-pal, on threat of being immediately turned into one.
Today, he was the fluffy with the most seniority. So he called out, desperately, straining his voice to the utmost, to try to find someone, anyone who would accept an ugly fluffy like him. Hours passed, and he felt the hopelessness enveloping him. It was hopeless.
“FluffMart is closing in 15 minutes!” came the voice over the PA system, and the colt fell into utter despair.
“Nu wan be wittew-paw…” he whispered, but he knew it was too late. He was too ugly, too unlovable, and now he was going to pay the price. He collapsed, closing his eyes and trying to savor the last few minutes of peace he’d ever know.
“Look, mom! That one!”
“Really? Don’t you want one of the prettier foals? Maybe one of the little chirpy ones?”
“No! They all look so spoiled, and he looks so sad! I want to have that one!”
“Okay, but if you get him you need to keep him, even if you want to get a prettier one instead later.”
“That one, please. The gray and brown one,” came the nice lady’s voice, but the colt didn’t respond. Obviously, she wasn’t talking about him.
“Alright. He’s on clearance so that’ll be $2.50. Did you need anything else to go with him?”
There were more words, but the colt didn’t hear them, as he was scooped out of the bin and placed into the hands of a small girl, maybe ten years old. Blood rushed in his ears as he realized they wanted him. Him! He wasn’t going to be a litter-pal after all!
Bu’ dat happen su wong ago! Dusk thought, and for a moment he was floating in nothingness again. He knew that what he was seeing wasn’t real, that it was just memories, but for some reason it seemed to pull him in.
He tried to fight it, tried to find his way back to the real world, but was hit by a sudden wave of unimaginable pain and horrible, gnawing nausea. It was so hard, but he pushed himself into it, and for a moment he saw the world he knew was real, blurred as it was as he floated in too-warm liquid.
Then the pain became unbearable and he fell back into a past he now knew was a paradise long lost.
“Come on, Dusk. It’s time for your walk.”
“Dusk nu wan wawkies! Wan FwuffTeeBee!”
“You can watch it after we get back. You know it’s bad for you to stay inside all day. Come on!”
“Dummeh wiw mummah! Dusk nu wan wawkies!”
Dusk had gotten spoiled over the weeks since he’d finally found a new family. His little mummah doted on him, since he was her first pet, and he’d gotten used to doing whatever he wanted and getting whatever he wanted. Of course, this lead to him becoming considerably fatter than was ideal, which was why he was now required to go on daily walked down the street.
“Dusk!” shouted big mummah, and he decided that maybe going on a walk wasn’t such a bad idea. She’d eventually gotten tired of his bullshit, and yesterday had decided to take him down to the basement and let him watch her hobby, and he didn’t want to end up like the fluffies down there. Amateur surgery is messy.
“Dusk wub wawkies! Wub wiw mummah!” he said, changing his tone.
As they walked down the street, though, he internally seethed. How dare they not let him watch FluffTV when he wanted? He was the only babbeh in the house, and that made him the bestest babbeh! He should be allowed to do what he wanted!
Such thoughts occupied his mind as he walked, but turned into confusion when he suddenly reached the end of the leash and was stopped with a jerk. It didn’t hurt, the harness was soft and padded enough to protect him from that, but it was jarring. He turned around, and saw little mummah was swaying in place, a horrified expression on her face as she looked down at her hand. Red dripped from her mouth and around her fingers.
While she was distracted, Dusk pulled hard on the leash, and it came out of her hand. However, the sudden tug also disrupted her fragile balance, and she fell forward, head impacting the asphalt with a loud crack! Dusk didn’t care, only pausing to taunt her as he ran back towards home.
“Dummeh wiw mummah nu stahp bestest smawty fwom watch FwuffTeeBee nao!”
He ran as fast as he could, which was more of a slow trundling motion, until he reached the front door of the house. Pounding on the door got no response, but he continued anyway. Sooner or later big mummah would let him back inside. He’d tell her that dummeh little mummah told him he could watch FluffTV now. There was no way a dummeh human could tell he was lying, after all.
Eventually, however, he realized something was horribly wrong. It was growing darker. How long had been been sitting here? How long had it been since his kicking at the door became exhausted tapping? Why wasn’t he being let inside? Why wasn’t little mummah coming back?
He wandered his way back to where he’d left little mummah. As he approached, he heard the cawing of the scary flying-munstahs, but he wasn’t afraid. Little mummah always kept them away from him, so he was safe. He was her bestest babbeh, after all.
Then he saw her, still lying where he’d left her. He realized why there was such a loud cawing, when he saw the birdy-munstahs there. Watched them ripping strips of flesh off his little mummah. Suddenly, it hit him just how bad of a thing he’d done.
He crept up to her, ignored by the feasting carrion birds, and hugged her leg.
“Dusk am sowwy. Pwease, wiw mummah, nu gu fowebah-sweepies. Nu weabe Dusk. Dusk nu wiww be bad fwuffy nu mowe. Jus’ pwease nu weabe Dusk.”
That memory was almost painful enough to make the real world a preferable choice.
“Pwetty stawwion be nyu speciaw-fwiend? Gib fwuffy babbehs?”
A week had passed, and Dusk was wandering, half-starved and afraid, through the woods. The new fluff was the first live fluffy he’d met in a long time, and she wanted to be his special-friend? He was so lucky! But right now he was too hungry to care.
“Dusk hab tummeh-owwies. Nee’ nummies. Nu can be speciaw-fwiend,” he told her, mournfully.
“Dusk hab namesies? Fwuffy wub namesies! Fwuffy wiww shawe, gib Dusk nummies. Pwease gib fwuffy pwetty babbehs wif namesies wike Dusk! Owd hewd sae poopy fwuffy nu can hab babbehs, but fwuffy wan babbehs su much!”
Maybe…maybe this would work out.
“DUSK! KIWW FWUFFY! PWEASE! FWUFFY WAN DIE! SU SCAWED! SU MANY HUWTIES! PWEASE KIWW FWUFFY! WAN DIE! WAN DIE! WAN DIE!”
Dusk trembled, fighting with himself as he saw that the meanie herd had taken his special-friend’s eyes, too. She lay there, unable to move, unable to see, unable to do anything but scream, to beg. To beg him to end her misery
But he was too much of a coward to help her.
Dusk suddenly awoke. He wasn’t floating in the tank anymore, instead lying on a warm towel. Mummah stood over him, and again, he was grateful to see her monstrous visage. Anything was better than the memories. Better than remembering how bad of a babbeh, how bad of a fluffy, and how bad of a special-friend he’d been.
“Well, Dusk. Was it worth it?”
He stared up at her, at the first person he hadn’t failed or betrayed, the first person he’d been willing to sacrifice for. “Wowf it.”