Bumbler had proved to be a rather good worker. It took minimal effort to have him replace Bullet on the plow, and with the sturdier stallions pulling the plow, they were able to get two extra lines done a day. Margaret was hopeful for the future expansion.
Bill and Nick had been making steady progress on the fence, slowed by the need to fluffy proof the base at each length. To Margaret’s supply and confusion, Nick seemed quite serious about his work, carefully cementing each slat into place, testing each and every post to make sure everything was perfect, adding a special wooden trim board to completely seal off the bottom of the fence. Margaret wasn’t sure whether he was trying to keep something in or out of the garden, maybe both.
Sitting on the stairs of the deck, Margaret watched as both the two men and the fluffies worked, keeping an eye on Nick as much as she did the fluffies. She still didn’t trust the teen; the way he looked at the fluffies disturbed her. He looked at them as if they were slabs of meat at the market, sizing each of them up. Once he realized Margaret was staring at him he quickly turned back to his tasks however.
Turning, Margaret watched the group of working fluffies as they dropped the paper seed pouches into the holes she had made in the freshly plowed dirt, dutifully kicking dirt over them and walking back to retrieve a new seed. Bullet was still allowed to participate, her baby bulge only noticeable if you felt her stomach. Margaret smiled slightly; she was glad that Bullet was recovering from the loss of her former mate. She was such a darling little child.
Suddenly, Margaret heard a low groan. Walking over to the mummah trio, she saw Clementine looking positively sick. “Dearie, whats wrong? You look sick as a dog?” Clementine groaned softly before responding. “Cwementine nu bawky munstah mummah…” Margaret sighed. Crouching down, she slowly stroked the fluffies back before feeling her sides. As she expected, the fluffy was having contractions.
“Dearie, I will be right back.” Quickly, Margaret jogged inside, filling a bowl with warm water and grabbing a clean dishrag. She had just gotten the water to the right temperature when she heard the tell-tale scream. “BIGGEST POOPIES!” Walking fast as her 89 year old hips would take her, Margaret approached Clementine. “It’s ok dear, your babies are coming.”
Margaret positioned herself behind the mare just in time to catch the first baby, a yellow unicorn with the fuzzy white beginnings of a mane. Wiping the worst of the goo off the foal, she placed it in front of Clementine. “Clementine, meet your first baby!” Clementine gasped with joy through the pain of labor. “Dis babbeh am Cwementines? Is suuuuu pwetty!” Bending down, she began to clean the babbeh, recoiling at the first lick “Nu taste pwetty!” Before Margaret could even think about scolding her Clementine clenched her jaw and went back in, thoroughly licking the baby all over before her body was racked by another contraction.
Margaret reached out to catch the next foal, a dark blue earthy with two lines of white dots running down its back. It was quickly wiped down and put in front of its mother. Clementine gave the first foal a quick hug and placed it to the side, picking the new foal up wordlessly and beginning to lick it. Margaret turned to see that Bill and Nick had come over to the fence gate to spectate, Bill looking as worried as he had been when Sue was giving birth, Nick regarding the whole scene with his dark, emotionless, eyes.
Margaret smiled at the diligent new mother. Her marveling was quickly ended as the next foal slid out, a neon orange pegasus with fur so bright it almost hurt to look at, but through the glaringly orange fur Margaret could make out the wisps of a lime green mane. The fluffy onlookers oohed at the bright orange Pegasus, Bullet muttering a quiet “Su pwetty!” Margaret made a silent prayer to God that it wouldn’t become a bestest baby.
Margaret quickly passed the foal to Clementine, watching as she passed the blue foal to Bullet, who seemed to be acting as Clementines midwife, keeping the tiny babies warm between her legs as Clementine cleaned the foal in front of her, singing a mummah song to the foals who peeped quietly.
The final baby appeared to be a dark grey pegasus with uniquely white wings, but as Margaret wiped down its head the rag caught on a tiny little horn hidden by the amniotic sac. “Shit.” Margaret went pale. She hadn’t expected an alicorn to appear, and hadn’t even bothered to give them a talk about monster babies.
Before she could even attempt to explain to Clementine what her baby was, Margaret heard a scream from the back of the group. Punky. “MUNSTAH BABBEH!” The scene devolved into chaos, Scarlet hiding behind her hooves, a stream of scaredy poopies covering the rosebushes behind her as Jackson and Button took defensive positons as if to guard the mares from the tiny foal trembling in Margaret’s hand. To Margaret’s surprise Grapenut jumped in front of her, attempting to shield her and the foal from the advancing Bumbler, who at the current moment approached relatively unfazed by the chaos among them. Bullet and Clementine curled around the newborns, more afraid of the sudden commotion than anything else.
Punky, for her part, had begun screaming incoherently about monsters, clutching her bestest babbeh to her chest as the rest of her foals chirped and peeped in terror as they scrambled to get into their mothers warm embrace, most of them followed by a trail of liquid shit as the voided their bowels in fear.
Suddenly, all the fluffies screamed in pain and shock for a moment before suddenly stopping, bewildered and scared. Bumbler appeared to have suffered the worst, hoof clutched to the earless side of his head. Margaret looked around confused, noticing Nick slipping a strange silver tube back in his work belt. Margaret stared at him, Nick offering a slight shrug in response.
Margaret took the silence as an opportunity to explain the alicorn according to how the book said to, or at least to the best of her memory. The majority of the fluffies seemed to accept her speech about ‘pointie babies,’ ‘wingie babies,’ and ‘pointie-wingie babies.’ At least she believed so as all of them nodded in agreement, even Punky, much to Margaret’s surprise.
“Ma’am, I don’t want to be rude, but if foals don’t drink within fifteen minutes of birth, the generally die.” Margaret looked at Nick surprised, then down at the small alicorn attempting to latch to her finger. After she quickly made sure Clementine was okay and understood it wasn’t a monster, she placed the little foal in front of the mare, watching as she gave it a few cautious licks before relaxing and cleaning it normally.
Margaret quickly wiped down the mares backside and teats before taking the loudly chirping foals from between Bullets legs and placed them at the mare’s teats, the foals latching hungrily. Having finished cleaning the alicorn, Clementine lifted the foal gently and heaved herself into an upright position, placing it down amongst its sibling, singing gently to her small children. “Mummah wuv babbehs, babbehs wuv mummah, babbehs dwink miwkies, gwow up big an’ stwong!” Margaret smiled slowly stroked Clementines mane. She was sure the mare would make a good mother.
Nick silently left his spot at the fence to go back to working on the fence, as Bill let out a long low whistle. “She’s a fine mare Margaret. Damn fine, but that shit with the alley-corn had me fuckin’ scared shitless.” Margaret shot the burly man a glare. “No swearing in front of the fluffies, Bill.” Bill laughed. “Shit, you know I didn’t mean to.” Margarets glare deepened and the bearded man laughed and walked in through the garden gate, careful to latch it closed behind him.
He sat down cross-legged next to Clementine, softly ruffling her mane. “Hey girl, can I see your babies?” Clementine thought for a bit, then nodded. “Mistah Biww can wook, bu’ no touch, babbehs am tu widdwe!” Bill laughed again. “It’s just like Trixie and her pups all over again!” Bill sat and smiled as Clementine lifted each baby to show him, talking about how they were all going to be the “goodest babbehs evah!” Bill’s smile just continued to grow as the proud mummah paraded her babies for him. Tussling her mane, Bill stood up and returned to work, snapping a couple pictures to show Sue later.
Margaret decided to end work for the day there, retrieving her trusty shovel to remove the errant scaredy poopies herself. A mare giving birth was always an event, whether Margaret wanted it to be or not, and she really didn’t want to overburden the fluffies. Tossing the shit onto the ever growing pile, she retrieved her watering can, giving the field a liberal sprinkling in a fifth of the time it took Grapenut or Button to do it.
Returning the toys to the group, Margaret sat back and watched as they quickly recovered from the serious atmosphere that plagued the garden less than thirty minutes before, the garden filling with the sounds of giggles, squeals, and mummah songs. She watched them play until the sky grew orange, Waving at Bill and Nick as they packed up their tools to go home. After fixing the fluffies dinner, Margaret made herself a cup of tea and settled back into the old armchair, readying herself for a long night reading up on alicorn integration.
Bumbler had become much, much more sensitive to sound after Margaret had cut his ear off. The fluffies soft, droopy, fluff covered ears usually acted as a noise dampener, a pair of built in furry earmuffs. This was done to give them a bit of resistance towards loud noises like vacuum cleaners or lawn mowers, in hopes to minimize the amount of scaredy poopies when the landscapers drove by the saferoom window.
With his ear removed, Bumbler always had difficulty sleeping. If it wasn’t the snoring of the other fluffies, it was the chirping of crickets or the wind blowing through the rose bushes. He had taken to sleeping with the earless side of his head pressed tightly to the ground, the only way he got some merciful silence on most nights. But tonight was a bit different. Tonight, he could hear something from the ground. A low humming, followed by a loud clunk, then a heavy thumping.
A heavy thumping that was rapidly approaching the garden! Bumbler quietly got to his feet, alert, ready to protect his herd. Bumbler heard a soft sound, then a weird noise. It sounded like the funny noises the rocky balls at the old nestie made. A funny clickety clack noise. Bumbler approached the noise, seeing a soft white glow by the gate. Peering through the slats of the fence, Bumbler saw the lanky form of the tall dark maned human from earlier, typing away on a small, thin, block that glowed. Bumbler cocked his head inquisitively. “Wut hoomin doin?”
The dark maned human froze, turning to the Bumbler eyes wide. “I’m doing some, uh, special work on the fence to keep you guys safe from… Barky monsters.” Bumbler gasped, desperately wanting to run to the safety of the fluffpile but stopping himself. “Thewe nu bawky munstahs hewe yet, wite?” The human shook his head. “Not yet, but to make sure they don’t come here, I need to put this box somewhere here.” He showed Bumbler a strange blocky that had a weird round thingy on the front of it.
Bumbler puffed out his chest. “Bumbwah hewp mistah! Pwotect hewd fwom bawky munstahs!” The nice mistah whispered harshly at the Bumbler. “Quiet! If anyone else notices me, it will um… attract bird munstahs!” Bumbler gasped. “Nu!” The dark maned human nodded. “Yes, but I will find a way to protect you from them. But for now, will you help me hide this box?” Bumbler nodded vigorously. The human passed the fluffy the small blocky thingie.
“The most important thing to protect you from barky monsters is to not have ANYONE notice the box but you and me.” Bumbler looked around the garden, finally settling on placing the block in the meanie flowers that had given him the worst hurties when he had tried to eat them. Nestling the block deep into the thick brambles, pricking himself a couple times, he returned to the human who was playing with the thin not blocky again.
“Perfect.” The human muttered to himself. Turning to Bumbler, the human’s voice took on a grave tone. “If anyone besides you or me finds out about the box, then barky monsters will attack right away!” Bumbler gasped. “NU!” The dark maned man nodded gravely. “Yes. So make sure you don’t let ANYONE find it. I’ll be back after seven bright times to pick it up ok?” The fluffy nodded vigorously, despite not even being able to count past five. He was desperate to keep his new foals safe. The human smiled. Pulling a round ball out of his pocket, he passed it to the fluffy.
Bumbler sniffed the ball, barely registering the scent as skettis before wolfing it down. Licking his lips, he turned to thank the kind mistah for the nummies and protecting the herd from the barky monsters, but the human was already walking away fast towards the forest.
Bumbler walked back to the fluffpile, taking his place on the outskirts. A sleepy Jackson raised his head to look at Bumbler as he curled up. “Why Bumbwah smeww wike skettis?” He mumbled, still half asleep. “Go back to sweep, siwwy Jacksun, you smewwin tings.” The striped fluffy accepted this and curled back up. Bumbler pressed his head back against the ground, hearing the rumbling noise start up again, this time going away from the herd. Slowly, Bumbler drifted to sleep, plagued by nightmares of foxes, dogs, and owls.