“Babbehs nu fo nummies,” you muttered to yourself again around a mouthful of moss, “Mummah ge nummies, nu num babbehs.”
Once the shock of Needle’s words had worn off, you understood the gravity of them. If the nummies were going away, you needed to get it now. Your hoofsteps had worked a path into the snow leading back to your burrow on your many trips to grab food. Anything even slightly edible you came across was bundled up and carefully carried back to your den, where you tucked them in the back of the tube where the dirt blocked the end.
“Mummah bak ‘gain!” Your grey baby cheered as you ducked your head to enter the tube. You gave her a weak smile, dropping the bundle of moss on your nummie pile. It was growing, now larger than your foals, but it wasn’t enough. You had no idea how long a cold time was or how much food you would need. Your muscles ached, and your hooves had long since passed through the pain and lapsed into a tingly numbness. Your little leaf nest looked so inviting, and with the sky ball low in the sky you could just call it a day and curl up…
“Mummah hab enuf nummies?” your blue baby asked, laying in the leaves next to where the monster baby slept.
“Nu yet, babbeh. Mummah nee a widdle mowe.” You would not let him be a nummie baby. You would not let his sister be a nummy baby. You would not make the monster baby a nummie baby, though if it came to that…
“Mrrp?” The monster baby lifted his head, blinking his strange slit-pupiled eyes at you.
No. Not even him. There would be no nummie babies this cold time or any cold times that came after. You gave him a kiss on the top of his head and he replied with his happy rumblies. “Mummah be bak again soon, gun get mowe nummies an den pway wif babbehs.”
Your foals cheered, chattering their excitement as you left. One last trip, then some quality time with your family before bed. It wasn’t safe to be out when the sky ball had gone to sleep anyway. You would have more time, you were sure, to build up the supplies you needed.
That night something woke you from your pleasant dreams of frolicking in the sunshine. You didn’t know what it was, but your thinkie place was telling you it was important. Slowly lifting your head you scanned your den squinting in the darkness. You didn’t see anything but the soft glow of the street lights shining into the tube and the shadows of your food stores, the few acorns knocked aside by your foals’ games.
Your monster baby was awake at your side as well, sharp ears pricked up. The two of you sat in watchful silence for a forever, scanning the den. Your monster baby often startled at nothing, or stared intently into the distance as if something was there, so you decided he must have woken you and began to put your head back down.
Then you heard it. A rustling from the nummy pile.
Your monster baby slowly stood, not waking his blue brother that slept on his side. You started to try to untangle yourself from your foals as well but your silver baby was laying across your back hoof. There was no way you would rise without waking her. You watched as the monster foal crept towards the pile, striped tail twitching. What did he see? You had no way of asking him without alerting whatever was there, and it wasn’t like he would respond anyway. What if it was dangerous? You bit your lip to stop yourself from calling out to him. You couldn’t protect him from this angle, and he was creeping towards the noise in a very predatory way. You slowly curled yourself tighter around your sleeping foals, praying he knew what he was doing.
Faster than any monster on the road, the monster baby pounced into the nummie pile. The sound woke both your foals, and you spread yourself over them, hoping to shield them from whatever the monster baby was fighting. It felt like a forever of kicking and scrabbling, of acorns and moss raining down on you, of trying to say soothing words to your quivering foals.
As quickly as it started, the den fell silent once again.
“…Wha… Wha…” your silver foal was whispering over and over, her brother just shaking in silence at her side.
Slowly you lifted your head. The monster baby had his back to you, hunched over something in the nummie pile.
“Munstah babbeh…?” You asked, your throat suddenly dry.
He turned to look at you, a dark smear up the side of his face. His eyes were wide and wild, somehow glowing through the darkness. He licked his lips, his sharp teeth glinting. Seeing him like this, seeing him as the monster he was, put a chill down your spine. You hid your face in your hooves, beginning to quake.
“Wha… Wha am…?” your silver foal finally managed to ask.
“Mummah… Mummah nu kno…” You whispered back.
But you did know. You knew this was the end for you and your foals. The monster had finally grown, finally become the dangerous creature he was meant to be. Your foals would be nummie babies after all, nummies for the creature you had cared for alongside them. Needle was right, you were a dummy after all. Why did you keep him? Why didn’t you leave him in the bush you found him in? A monster is a monster, no amount of love and huggies would change that.
You flinched as something landed heavily in the leaves in front of you. The monster’s paws? You shook, waiting to feel the first sharp blow of his claws. Your foals began to sob softly under you. Would your body protect them long enough for them to get away? They wouldn’t last long without you, if what Needle said was true about the cold times.
“Munstah… Munstah nu huwt babbehs…” You said. Begging was all you had. You didn’t anticipate the monster listening to you, but maybe your time acting as his mummah would sway him.
There was no reply. You lifted your head, wondering why the monster wasn’t killing you and gasped. In the leaves in front of you was a squeaky monster, its insides all torn out. Was this some sort of threat? A promise of things to come? Sitting proudly behind it was the monster baby, staring intently at you.
“Munstah… Save babbehs…?”
The monster blinked at you, starting its happy rumblies once again.
You looked down at the bloody mess at your hooves, then back to the monster baby. “Munstah save babbehs…” You sniffled. “Munstah… nu am munstah!” your sniffle turned to full on sobs as your foals wriggled out from under you.
“Eeeh! Icky munstah!” Your grey baby scooted back from the mess.
“Munstah bruddah gib wowstest huwties to munstah!!” the blue baby shouted, hugging his side.
“Nu, nu am munstah.” You wiped the tears from your eyes and set a hoof on your third baby’s shoulder. “Mummah am su sowwy. Nebah shud caww yu munstah. Yu am mummah’s owange babbeh, an mummah wub yu su much.”
Your newly dubbed orange baby shoved his head into your chest, rumbling loudly. You hugged him tightly. “Mummah wub babbehs, aww babbehs guud babbehs.”