James stepped out of his barn and stretched, feeling his back and shoulders pop as he leaned up, and back, before relaxing and walking towards his house. He had been in his barn working ever since he got done checking on the fluffies in the morning. Considering it was now nearly noon, he’d been in the barn for almost 6 hours already, and he felt that was deserving of a break.
It had been about five days since Emma was allowed back into the saferoom with her brothers and Fern, she hadn’t had anymore outbursts, but she also hasn’t particular said much of anything.
James went into the saferoom multiple times everyday, but the only time she talked was when she was scratched or pet, and even then she would only say “tank yu daddeh.” and say nothing more.
Today was no different, as he walked into the saferoom to the immediate excitement of the foals and Fern, while Emma simply follows ever family over to James, but says nothing.
James smiled and bent down, taking time to make sure to pet and scratch the chins of all the fluffies, eliciting happy coos and smiles. He then turned his attention to making sure the water dish was full, as well as making sure the autofeeder still had kibble in it. The fluffies at this point at dispersed across the saferoom and were doing their normal things. Though they seemed a bit distracted today for some reason.
James looked down and saw Pepper looking up at him, a sad expression on his face, he seemed nervous about something.
“Uhmmmm… Daddeh?? Can babbehs an’ mummah go oussidies? Wan pway in yawd…”
James had forgotten, the fluffies haven’t been out of the saferoom since they were bathed the other day. They must feel like they’ve been in here forever, and upon thinking about it for a moment longer he realized, this will also be the first time Emma has ever gone outside since before her eyes were opened. Maybe this would be good for her?
James bent down and picked Pepper up, causing him to giggle about the “gud upsies!”, and began rubbing the foals belly.
“Of course you guys can, I’ve been real busy these past few days, sorry I forgot to let you guys outside!” James said before setting the foal back down on the floor.
“Now go tell your mom and siblings that you’re all gonna go play in the yard for a while. I’ve gotta go get some things ready for you guys, I’ll be back in a moment.” With that, James stepped out of the saferoom, closing the door behind him, as Pepper ran as fast as his tiny little legs would carry him, across the room over to the rest of his little fluffy family.
The foals were roughly 3 and a half weeks old. Still small enough they fit into James’ hand relatively easily, but also big enough at this point that if they wiggled too much they might be at risk of slipping out. Their tails are longer, and boasting a unique color, as well as having manes, though they still weren’t as full or long as an adult, or even a bigger baby’s mane would be.
Pepper, for starters, had a green mane and tail, further fitting his namesake. Crow had developed an almost “pumpkin” orange tail and mane, he might sell well as a Halloween fluffy with his color combination, but James didn’t intend on getting rid of this family. Cloud had developed a white mane and tail, complementing his light blue fluff, as well as his name, very well. Finally, Emerald, who of course developed the same white mane that her mother had, making her effectively identically to Fern, just smaller.
Pepper finally reached his family and promptly sat on his haunches and began waving his front hooves at his mother and siblings.
“Mummah!! Mummah!! Daddeh sai fwuffies gu oussidies an’ pway wen daddeh am backies!” Fern turned her head at the foal, quickly followed by his brothers who stopped playing, and Emma who tilted her head, slightly confused.
“Daddeh sai’ gu ousside? Yay!!” “Wuv ousside! Wuv pway!!” “Wha’ am oussidies?”
Emma’s question caused everyone to quiet, and turn to look at her. Fern quickly remembered that the last time everyone went outside was when Emma was a bad baby.
“Ousside am have pwetty gwassy nummies, an’ wawmies fwom sky baww, an’ suuuu muchies woom tu wun an’ pway!!” Fern smiled proudly at her own explanation of what the outside was, and to be fair, for a fluffy, it was rather accurate.
Emma’s ears perked up a bit when hearing how wonderous the outside seemed to be, and she became a bit excited for the first time in a while. “Am ousside weawwy dat pwetty mummah??”
“Yus!! Am su pwetty an’ wawmsie! Mummah pwomise!” Fern smiled looking at Emma. Finally, something for her to look forward to.
The fluffies began happily running around the room, chasing each other and expressing excitement at the prospect of being allowed outside. Luckily all their playing meant they didn’t really notice it took James nearly fifteen minutes before he came back to the room, bursting through the door, very clearly out of breath.
“Daddeh!! …Am yu otay?”
comical wheeze “Don’t worry Fern! I was just doing some stuff in the backyard real quick. Alright, go get your foals, we’re going outside!” James was doubled over, panting heavily as he told this to Fern, who turned around and went to gather the foals.
Shortly after they followed James out of the saferoom, and into the backyard. And the fluffies all paused and gasped in amazement, especially Emma. James had connected five large cardboard boxes, that were roughly refrigerator sized, with four different six foot “play tunnels” that were intended for children. But they seemed like they’d work fine for fluffies.
Each of the cardboard boxes only had one entrance hole, except for the center one which was only accessible through the tunnels. He had covered the entrances with fabric to try and keep out bugs and other critters out. He had cut out little windows in the cardboard to let light in, and covered those with a fabric as well, making sure it was a light color to allow as much light in as possible. The cardboard, as well as tunnels, was secured tightly to the ground, however it was easily able to be un-secured for quick removal in the event of weather or necessary cleaning.
The insides had been lined with some of the multitudes of soft blankets that James had lying around his home, and there were even fluffy-beds in the center cardboard tower. There was also two litterboxes in two of the outer towers, just in case someone couldn’t make it to the compost pile.
James looked down at the fluffies, who said nothing as they all walked closer to the cardboard complex. The colts running in immediately, with Emma a bit more apprehensive, but quickly following after her siblings. Fern just looked up at James.
“Dis… am aww fow fwuffies? Fwuffies git tuu housies?” Fern looked back and forth between James and the cardboard playplace behind her.
“Yep. I figured you guys might get bored with just a big barren yard and a sandbox.” He motioned over to the sandbox near the edge of the yard, which had a new fluffy sized ramp leading in and out of it. "Make sure to tell them it’s not a litterbox, I don’t think I ever cleared that up with them.
Fern nodded at James, still not breaking eye contact, seemingly still in awe of the whole situation.
James snapped his fingers to the left of Fern’s head, causing her to jump and focus more closely to what he’s saying. “One last thing Fern. This is very important, I need you to pay attention.”
He squatted down closer to the ground to be closer to the fluffy. “The news said that more feral herds have been seen around town and around the woods nearby, so I just want to make something clear to you; if you see any other fluffies you need to come tell me right away okay? They aren’t supposed to be out here, and I don’t want them to hurt you or your foals.”
Fern’s face dropped at the mention of her babies being hurt. “Wha- buh… Fwuffies nu huwt babbehs! Babbehs am gud babbehs!”
“I know Fern, but most feral fluffies don’t end up as nice as you are. I’m sure there were a few mean fluffies in your old herd, right? Now that you’re a fluffy with a “daddy” and a house, they’ll say anything to try and get what you have. Just do what I say, and make sure to let me know as soon as you see one. Okay?”
The fluffy just sat there, tears filling her eyes, it was plain to see that she realized what James was saying was true, she did remember there being some meanies in her herd, but because the smarty liked her they never bothered her, but she’d seen what happened to other fluffies.
“Don’t worry about it Fern, as far as we are in the country I doubt any will make it out here. I just wanted to make sure you knew the rule. I’m gonna go back inside and sit down for a while, you guys will be safe out here. There’s some kibble and a water bowl over by the fence, and I’ll leave the slidey door open, just yell or run inside if you need me, okay?”
Fern just shook her head up and down as James scratched her chin before turning around and going inside. She then turned around and went inside with her foals.
Before long everyone had forgotten and was running through tunnels, from one box to another, out of the boxes, across the yard, into the sandbox, all over. They’d been outside for about an hour when all the colts collapsed into a pile in the middle tower and began napping, with Fern soon joining them.
However, Emma was still entranced by the backyard, and couldn’t fall asleep justtt yet. Which led to her scurrying out of the cardboard towers and over to the fence to get a drink of water before trying to sleep with everyone else. Although when she was getting a drink she heard a rustling on the other side of the chain-link fence, like something rummaging through leaves. But she saw nothing, so she bent her head back down into the water to get a mouthful, before hearing the rustling again, and then, a voice.
“Weawwy pwetty gweenie-babbeh! Wan’ be fwuffy nyu fwen?”