Bumbler was absolutely FURIOUS. How dare that human put him in the sorry box? If only he had really TRIED, he knew he could have giver her forever sleepies. He just didn’t want to yet. Stomping over to the cleaned part of the garden, he curled up and sulked.
He stared daggers at Grapenut. This was all his fault, he’d been the one to say they should go into the garden in the first place. Sure Bumbler taken credit for the idea, but at the time, it seemed like a good idea. That meant it was a smarty idea, and therefore HIS idea. But now it was a bad idea, the monster mommy having ruined the paradise they had found.
He scowled. The gate was far too tall to scale properly, and he had already checked to see if they could burrow out, only to find a wall of hard rocks underneath the fence. Unless the monster left the gates open, he wouldn’t be able to escape. Even if he did escape, there was no point in leaving without his toughies and mares. His scowl deepened.
Almost all the other fluffies didn’t want to leave, even after he threatened them with sorry hoofsies, claiming that “Mummah no munstah, mummah nice mummah.” He had been absolutely enraged, the only fluffy still on his side being Punky, the best mare in the herd.
Bumbler called the rest of the fluffies over to make a fluffpile to sleep. Jackson and Button protested, still in the middle of a game of tag, but for now, he was still the leader as long as Margaret wasn’t around. The threat of worstest hurties and sorry hoofies still bore weight. As long as he was smarty, it was still his right to sleep in the warmest part of the pile.
As the fluffies all snuggled up for the night, Bumbler began to plot. He didn’t get very far before the warmth and exhaustion had lulled him into a deep sleep.
“Expanding the garden to half an acre wouldn’t really be a problem ma’am.” Thomas marked a couple spots on the grass with his spray can. “And converting some prefab chicken coops to fluffy size would be absolutely no problem. Things are pretty slow right now, we could have them both done within a week.”
Walking back through the gate into the garden, Thomas stooped down and pet Clementine’s head as she giggled and cooed. Margaret smiled at the young man. “Thank you Thomas. Do you think you could hook a drinking trough into the well system as well? I don’t know how good the water in the fountain is, and I’d rather not risk them all coming down with parasites.”
Thomas grinned. “Absolutely, that would be no problem at all. It’s fine if it’s hooked into the hose system, right?” Margaret nodded. “That’s absolutely fine; the hose water already goes through the softener. One last thing,” Standing up, she motioned him over to a corner with her, lowering her voice to a whisper.
“These things are dumb as bricks, so I can’t have them in the same area as active construction. They WILL get themselves killed.” Thomas nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I wouldn’t trust Nick not to ‘accidentally’ drop a sledgehammer on their heads, just to see what happens.” Margaret grimaced. “Why hasn’t Bill fired him yet?” Thomas shrugged. “Does his work and shows up on time, and that’s all Bill really cares about.”
Thomas walked back over to Clementine, stroking her headfluff as she snuggled in his lap. “I really wish I could afford to take care of a fluffy, they’re so sweet.” Margaret smiled at the sight. She’d always liked Thomas; ever since she met him when Bill had first brought him around to build the deck. She made a mental note to call him over after Clementine gave birth, give him the first pick of the litter.
Packing up his tools, Thomas walked back to his truck. Placing the tool bag in the bed of the truck, he picked up some wood stakes and a mallet. Margaret watched as he set out the stakes in the places he marked earlier. Looking over to the clock, she saw it was five minutes past noon. She smiled.
“LINE UP!” The fluffies, with the exception of Bumbler, assumed formation. Margaret had begun timing the fluffies. They had been improving, only taking two minutes to get into their designated positions. Bumbler stood to the side confused. “Why dummeh fwuffies standin’ wike dat? What does wine up mean?” Margaret realized he’d been in the compost bin every time she’d asked them to line up before. Walking over to the fluffy, she picked him up, feeling him flinch as she lifted him and set him in between Button and Jackson. “Bumbler, when I say line up, I want you to stand in between Jackson and Button. Understood?” Bumbler scowled. “Dummeh munstah, Bumbwah SMARTEH, Bumbwah stan in fwont of dummeh hew-“ His sentence was cut short as Margaret’s makeshift sorry stick connected with his backside. “SCREEEEEEEEEEE!!!” He shit himself as the stick connected a second time.
Before, Margaret had restrained herself when she first hit him with the stick, worried about cracking his pelvis. This time, she really didn’t care if she broke something. Secretly, she hoped she’d break something, give him something to remember, seeing as a sorry box doesn’t appear to leave a lasting impression. She gave him a total of ten lashes, the last three drawing blood.
Panting, she tossed him down to the soft grass sobbing. She turned to the rest of the herd, cowering in fear, tail tucked between their legs. Margaret sighed as she noticed most of them had also shit themselves, their tails pressing filth deep into their fur. She debated just hosing them all down, but decided it would be unnecessary trauma.
Margaret cleared her throat. “Does anyone know why Bumbler got the sorry stick?” The herd was silent, their eyes fixed on the shit and blood colored stick, clearly terrified of the stake. Margaret wondered if this trauma would cause them to be terrified of gardening stakes. She sincerely hoped it wouldn’t. That would throw a real wrench into her long term plans.
Slowly, Grapenut raised his hoof. “Bumbwah bweak a wule, caww mummah a dummeh munstah.” Margaret smiled. “That’s right Grapenut! But aside from calling me names, he called you all names too. That’s not nice.” She made an exaggerated frown at Bumbler, the blood already clotted, but the pain still seemingly excruciating. “Theres a new rule now. No calling anyone dummies, stupid, monsters, poopy, or ANYTHING that is to make them feel bad. Am I understood?” The fluffies, still shaking in terror, agreed with a chorus of “Otay mummah.”
Turning to Bumbler, she tossed a shovel at him. “Pick it up.” He glared at her, but quickly picked the shovel up when she reached for the makeshift sorry stick. He held it awkwardly in his mouth, staring at her as she motioned to the pile of shit he had dropped while getting struck. “Pick the poop up, and carry it over to the litterbox.” She passed the rest of the shovels out to the rest of the worker fluffies. “Start with that pile, then move on to another. I will tell you when you can stop.” She glared at the unicorn. “Am I understood?” He sullenly nodded as he walked over to the pile of feces. Margaret was surprised at how quickly he grasped the use of the shovel. Maybe he was a bit smarter than the average fluffy.
Margaret heard a low whistle from the gate. She turned to see Thomas leaning over the fence, watching the fluffies as they dutifully transported their shit to the compost pile. “Never thought I’d see a fluffy shoveling shit. How’d you train them?”
Margaret smiled. “Grapenut over there is a smart cookie. I showed him how to hold the shovel, and then demonstrated how to shovel the shit without slamming your head directly into the pile.”
Thomas smile faded from his face as he motioned Margaret over to him. “Listen, that yellow and black one, hes a smarty isn’t he?” Margaret nodded. “Yeah, I know.” She turned to look at the stallion. As soon as she looked, he pretended to be work; shoveling in an area that Jackson had already cleaned yesterday. Thomas grimaced. “Margaret, you need to have him put down.”
Margaret shook her head. “Not until he does something that warrants it. I know they say all smarties are incurable, but I’m no cold blooded killer.” “Then let someone else kill him. Hell, I’ll do it.” Margaret was shocked. “Thomas, I thought you loved fluffies.” “I do,” Thomas sighed. “That’s why I’m offering.” He opened the gate and stepped inside. “If that smarty is left to his own devices, he will kill one of the others eventually. That’s not a possibility, it’s an inevitability. He needs to be gone before the foals come.”
Margaret stared at the fluffy, still pretending to work, throwing a glance her way every few seconds to check if she was still watching him. “I know Thomas, I know. But I won’t have him killed unless he does something worth killing him for.”
Thomas walked over to the pregnant trio, reaching to pet Punky, but stopping after she turned away from him with a huff. He instead reached for Scarlet, stroking her head as she babbled happily to him about her tummeh babbehs. Thomas smiled as he listened to the babble with the patience of a saint. Margaret looked out at the vegetable patch, the dirt shoddy and compacted.
Suddenly, inspiration struck her. “Hey Thomas, I have a request for you.” Thomas looked up at her from where he was sitting, both Scarlet and Clementine cuddled in his lap. “Whats up?” Margaret grinned as she looked at the uneven patch of dirt. “How hard would it be for you to build a fluffy sized plough?” Thomas laughed. “Give me three days.”