[NexTech Bio-Industries parts 1 and 2 by Dildofarmer]
[NexTech Bio-Industries parts 3 and 4 by Dildofarmer]
[NexTech Bio-Industries Parts 5 and 6 by Dildofarmer]
[NexTech Bio-Industries parts 7 and 8 by Dildofarmer]
[NexTech Bio-Industries parts 9 and 10 by Dildofarmer]
[NexTech Bio-Industries parts 11 and 12 by Dildofarmer]
[NexTech Bio-Industries Parts 13, 14 and Epilogue by Dildofarmer]
13 Pathogenesis: Night
You are Hazel. You have more scaredies than ever now. You huddled in the front of your housie and looked at the humans’ broad backs while they bent over your babee. From the first glance, you could see that her leggie had breaky-owwies. Fluffies got those when they fell too far or got their leggie caught in a hole, or when they got stepped on by another fluffy. That’s what you think happened to your little wingie babee - Muffin was playing with her and gave her leggie owwies with mean steppies.
In the Tallest Tree herd, any dummy who hurt a babee would get bad owwies. Babees were for giving huggies and milkies, not hurties. You remember one time a dummy stallion gave a babee forever sleepies, and the smarty and his toughies gave that stallion very, very bad hurties - they even gave meanie biteys to one of his ears until it came off. Crying and leaking booboo juice, he had to run away from the herd.
But your herd was gone, and the only smarty around was James. You had learned to be afraid of James because he was the strongest, meanest monster ever. Since the day he had stolen all your milkies, you couldn’t look him in the face for long. You had become like the scaredy mummah Spring, not like a good mummah from the Tallest Tree Herd. You just wanted him to leave you alone, and you wanted to keep your babees safe.
That’s why you made such big angries when that stupid poopy dummy Muffin gave your foal owwies. You weren’t ready for James to let all the fluffies and babees play together, and you started to feel not pretty, and then when Muffin hurt your babees it gave you the biggest angries ever. But you can’t have angries now, because you’re back in your housie and James and Marcus have your poor babee. You just have scaredies and saddies. It makes you feel better to give huggies to your other two foals, but they have scaredies too. When you were giving hurties to Muffin, you couldn’t stop having angries. Now you can’t stop huuhuuing and having the worst saddies. You also feel sickies and yikkies dripping down from inside your poor throbbing head.
You remember when little herd babees would get leggie-breaky owwies. Sometimes they would just cry and have saddies for a long time, but their leggie would get better even if it was still crooked. Other times their leggie would keep giving them owwies, and then it would get puffy and not-pretty, and the little babees would have sickies. One time the Smarty sniffed a foal’s breaky-leggie and said it was not pretty, and he had to give it biteys so the babee wouldn’t die. The babee screamed, and the mummah cried and cried, and the babee died anyway.
Now, James makes angries whenever you ask for your babee back, even if you make pretty wordies and say that you have saddies. Then Marcus pulls Muffin out of her housie and gives her big hurties and yells at her. It gives you happies in a way but the noise makes you have more scaredies, and it makes your green wingie babee make scaredy poopies on your fluff. You don’t want your blue wingie babee to have hurties, but you don’t know what to do. You want to give the poor hurt babee huggies, but you can’t. So you lie in your housie and cry.
“Okay!” says Marcus. “That ought to hold it together.”
“If Dr. Frank sees this, I’m going to get shitcanned.” grumbles James. That makes Marcus laugh.
“Yeah, you’re gonna get shitcanned by a shitrat. Look, we’re both gonna get laid off soon anyhow, so don’t worry about it. Just ping Hopkins, tell him what happened and what you did about it. You know he doesn’t give a fuck. Try to be a man.”
James makes snorty noises. “Ok. For real, thanks for helping out.”
The humans bump their big fists together. Marcus heads towards the door. James turns toward you, and for the first time you see your poor little blue babee. He has his eyes closed, and he hangs limply from where James is pinching his mane. His tiny mouthie is open, and three of his leggies are wiggling weakly. The fourth leggie, in the back, has some shiny human stuff wrapped around it. James pops open your housie as the door shuts behind Marcus.
Huuu, pwease gif babee!”
“Okay, take it easy. We splinted your foal’s leg. He should be OK but you need to leave the tape alone. Hey!”
You squeeze the tears out of your eyes and sit up, reaching out your hoofies for your babee. James snatched it away at the last second and glared at you.
“Huu, sowwy, pwease… pwease gif babee!”
“Are you fucking listening to me?” He sounded so angry you cringed and finally looked up at his face.
“Yus, sowwy, pwease nu huwties…” you begged like a dummy.
James dangled your foal again, who had finally opened his eyes and looked down at you. His cheek fluff was matted from tears, and he peeped at you and then chirped. “See this shit on his leg? Don’t fucking touch it or mess with it. It’s keeping his leg straight. Get it?”
“Yus, pwease… huuu, babee nee’ huggies, huuu…” James seems to be more angry with you, but he drops your foal down into your hoofies. You huuhuu in between snuffling and nuzzling your foal, smelling its sweet scent. It chirps a few times, then speaks.
“Huu, mummah… huwties… pwease wuv…”
You make sniffies at your poor babee’s hurties leggie, but all you can smell is the bigger scent of the shiny human things stuck to it. You reach out with your mouthie and try to pull on it, but it makes your babee screech in pain, so you drop it.
“Sowwy, babees! Sowwy! Nu haf huwties!”
“I said don’t touch the TAPE!” hollers James, making you jump. “And you, retard,” James turns and snarls at Muffin “if I get fired over this shit, you’re as good as dead.”
You see the dark red mare huddled in the back of her housie with her hoofies over her head, but when James talks to her, she looks up like he just gave her bad owwies. She has a crazy look in her green eyes, like a fluffy running with scaredies from a monster.
“Nuuu! Nu huwties! Muffin sowwy! SOWWY! Wan’ daddeeeeh! Nu am bad fwuffy!” she wailed, then turns around and makes huuhuus. James just snorts and turns away. He slams his things together and leaves, hitting the wall with a boom and making the darkies-time come. The whole room goes silent for a little bit, except for Muffin making huuhuus and babees coughing and wheezing. Only then do you realize that your head is pounding and yikkies keep coming out of your nosie even though you aren’t making saddies anymore. You do not feel good.
Next door, Muffin is sobbing to herself between making snorties and coughies. Her red babees makes sneezies and chirps, but Muffin doesn’t look up. Her orangey babees creeps up and starts numming milkies from her milky place, but the mare doesn’t even lift up her hind leg.
“Nu am bad… huuu… am bad fwuffy… huu, huwt babees. Neffa haf daddeh. Jus’ wan’ daddeh.”
Part of you wants to make nicies at Muffin, but when you look down at your little hurt babee, it gives you angries again, so you don’t. Your eyes start working in the darky-dark, and you look through Muffin’s hutch to Spring’s. You can just barely make out the dim glow of her purple fluff. She is sitting up, holding one of her babees in her front hoofies and nuzzling it while rocking back and forth gently and making talkies to it. Her other two babees are almost invisible, but you hear one of them peep and cough and see that they are making cuddles against her rump.
“Spwing?” you say. The dark room seems to num up the sound of your voice. Spring doesn’t look at you, but you can tell she heard you because she stopped swaying.
“Spwing, yu babees haf sickies too?” After a little, she turns towards you and you can see her eyesies making shinies.
“Aww fwuffies haf sickies. Pointy babee… feew tuu wawm. Bad fo’ fwuffies. Aww fwuffies.”
“Gif huggies an’ wuv to sickies babees.” you say. It would make your heart-fluffy feel better if Spring could stop making saddies. “Make babees bettew.”
“Nu,” whispers the wingie mare. “Hoomans make fwuffies haf sickies. Nu can hewp. Hoomans gif fwuffies foweva sickies.” You see the babee in her hoofies turn its nosie towards its mummah’s voice, and its little leggies wiggle. It tosses its head from side to side, and then makes biggest littlest coughies, and makes a little ‘wek’ sound. Spring gives it mummah nuzzles and turns away from you.
You look down at your own babees. Your biggest babee, the brown earthie filly, is wheezing and making snifflies, but she is giving sleepy-snuggles to your poor broken-leggie wingie babee while your third babee cuddles up on the other side. You can hear yikkies rattling in their little chesties.
“Babees wuv mummah, mummah wuv babees” you sing to them, bending down to make sniffies at the pretty babee-smell. “Mummah gif miwkies, babees num miwkies. Babees fo’ wuv, babees gwo-” suddenly, you feel yikkies clog up your nosie and talky-places, and you have to turn away from your babees and cough. Your chestie hurts, and your head goes all swimmy and sickies, and you have to cough and cough until some yikkies come out of your mouthie and fall down onto the floor-fluff. You make saddies in the darkness until sleepies come.
14 Mortality and Morbidity
The foal was dead, unmistakably dead. Its pink hooves were curled inwards, and its mouth was open a fingernail’s width. It lay utterly stiff and still on the grubby carpet of Spring’s hutch, head canted to one side, with an arrested dribble of greenish brown under its dark tail. Its eyes were still swollen and crusted with mucus. They would never open again. It was quite dead.
Spring was slumped on her rump, looking down at her dead unicorn colt with eyes that were no less swollen. She had felt worse and worse through the long, dark night, and at some point lost consciousness sitting up against the bars of her hutch. When she awoke, the throbbing in her head had diminished, but her foal was a corpse still half-clutched in her forehooves.
“Huu… babee? Babee? Babee… yu haf sickies? Babee?” she had mumbled.
The cold, fuzzy little package slid down Spring’s pudgy belly and between her full crotchboobs to the deck. The purple pegasus mare had been imagining her foals dead for as long as she could remember. The reality of it fit like an old glove, but she couldn’t help herself from begging even as she understood it had finally come to pass.
“Buuu, huuu… babee… pwease nu haf foweva sweepies. Mummah wuv babee. Wuv babees. Nu wan’… nu wan’ babees foweva sweepies. Huuu, huuu, huuuu…”
Her mumbling trailed off, and she just sat and stared at the dead foal and listened to the congested snoring of the remaining nine fluffy ponies in the chill pre-dawn darkness. Her own remaining foals - earth ponies, grey and green - slept fitfully, occasionally peeping in their sleep, obviously ill.
“N-n-nu cwy, babees… nu… nu haf sickies. Pwease.” she murmured.
Hours passed. Golden light grew around the edges of the lab’s door. The whole room seemed to take an anxious breath just before James hit the door with his shoulder. His extra-large coffee, khaki scrubs, grey backpack, white headphones and thick black glasses said that it was a normal morning. Tossing his head rhythmically, he chucked his bag on the table and booted up the laptop.
Hazel and Muffin stirred, stretching their stumpy legs and yawning with their pink tongues out. Their foals awoke, peeping as the warmth and comfort of the fluffpile vanished and the symptoms of illness re-announced themselves. Hazel prodded her foals towards the exposed grate above the litterbox, but halted as she saw the makeshift splint on her blue pegasus colt’s leg. Memories of the previous day’s misadventures came flooding back.
“Huu, huwties babees… weggie nu wowk! Babee, nu haf weggie owwies!” She lifted her foal by the nape, but when its cuffed rear leg swung free, it chirped shrilly as the raw ends of bone grated together.
Muffin’s head swiveled around at the noise, and her eyes filled with tears as she remembered, too. Her mind ran through the entire episode as well, but slower and clumsier than the feral mare’s - she twitched as she recalled: Giggling and jumping in glee… the pop of the foal’s leg breaking under her grey suede hoof… the little winged colt flapping its wings and leaking urine and shit onto the tile… Hazel ramming her, raining blows down on her face and chest… James roaring in anger… Marcus slamming her onto the tabletop and yelling over and over again that she was a bad fluffy, that she would never have a daddy, that everyone hated her.
“Nuuuu,” she moaned. “Muffin nu mean tu huwt babee! Muffin am gud fwuffy! Huuu,
wan’ daddeh! Muffin wan’ daddeh!”
Her voice brought Hazel’s stub of a muzzle around, a fiery glare in her big, soft eyes.
She set the crippled colt down over the litter box, where he toppled over.
“Nu! Yu huwt babee! Dummeh stupit mawe! Haychoo! Wan’ Smawty tu gif yu
owwies an’ foweva sweepies! HAYCHOO!” Hazel clumped forwards, anger once again overwhelming her urge to dote on her litter, and banged on the bars. Muffin shrank from the racket and hid her eyes behind her hooves.
“Nuuuu! Buu, huuu, huu! Am gud fwuffy!”
“FUCKIN’ ALREADY?” bellowed James, who had pulled his headphones and stalked up to the middle hutch, “First thing in the morning and you pieces of shit are already fuckin’ YELLING?” Snagging the top bars of both mare’s hutches, he lifted them a few inches off the rail and dropped them - to a fluffy, a shocking display of strength, followed by an ear-splitting, earth-shaking BANG. The biopets whinnied in fear along with their broods.
Muffin collapsed onto the carpet, lifted her tail, and sprayed a gout of shit onto the carpet.
“Nuuuu! Scawedy poopies!”
“Wheep! Wheep! Babee scawed!”
The only creature that didn’t flinch was Spring - which caught James’ attention. He cocked his head sideways, his brow furrowing in curiosity instead of anger. Spring’s grey and green foals were cowering in the folds of the blanket, crying. The lavender mare was slouched against the bars, unmoving, her bare udders poking out between her hammy, fluffy legs. On the carpet in front was the corpse of the sandy-colored unicorn. It only took a second.
“Is that thing dead?”
Spring shivered but didn’t take her eyes off the stiff body, and only whispered.
“Shit.” breathed James. For a few seconds, the only sound was the mewling and peeping of frightened foals. “Ecchhh, I’m gonna have to ping Hopkins. Shit.” He wheeled around and bent over his laptop.
Muffin flounced into her blanket and began sobbing, followed by her foals. Hazel trotted up into the front of her hutch and called across.
“Spwing… yu babee haf foweva sweepies?” The pegasus didn’t answer, but the piebald mare could see the dead foal. She had seen such things before. “Yuh… yuh babee haf foweva sweepies.” She looked at her own foals. They were hiding in the makeshift nest, but instead of watching James, they were cuddled up together, coughing or snorting every once in a while. Occasional strings of snot leaked from their noses, and they peeped in discomfort in an off-kilter harmony. Panic rose in her tone. “Babees haf sickies… wha mummah du? Nu kno how to hewp babees! Nu wan’ babees haf foweva sweepies!”
“Nu can hewp babees.” intoned Spring, her squeaky voice gone scratchy. “Babees aww haf sickies.”
James’ laptop pinged. “Hrmmm… please recover cadaver and… the fuck? Oh. Cause of death. Great.” He stood and crossed back over to Spring’s hutch with a concerned scowl behind the black frames of his glasses and a rubber glove on his hand.
“Mistew? Mistew? Spwing’s babees haf foweva sweepies!” quailed Hazel. “Babees haf sickies, pwease hewp babees an’ mummahs!”
“Yeah, I know. Shut up.” Pop, pop went the latches on Spring’s cage.
Spring looked up at the noise, her eyes shimmering with tears and a runner of snot leaking from her nose. The pink insides of her mouth flashed as she opened and closed it a few times in surprise, but she didn’t get a sound out until James had scooped up the sandy-colored corpse of the unicorn foal in his gloved hand.
“Buh… buh… babee dead… huuu, babee foweva sweepies.”
“Yeah. You didn’t accidentally suffocate it or anything, right?”
“Babee haf sickies… yu gif babees sickies! Yu kiww babees!” Spring stood on shaking legs, and for the first time in her life, puffed out her stained cheeks in anger at a human. James wasn’t even listening, and was peering at the dead foal curiously, turning it left and right. “GIF BABEE BACK! HAYCHOO! SPWING HAYCHOO!”
That got his attention. “Wha…?”
“Huuu, HAYCHOO! YU KIWW BABEES! SPWING WA’ GUD FWUFFY AN’… AN’… NU BE BAD, AN YU KIWW BABEES! WAS GUD FWUFFY! GUD BABEE!” Between her anger, tears and congestion, the biopet’s voice became a raspy screech. Tears coated her sapphire eyes, but underneath were hot stars, so startling that James unconsciously leaned back a bit.
He was only caught aback for a moment. “Hey! Calm the fuck down!” He clapped the hutch door shut. Spring bared her teeth and made a lunge for his fingers, but came up well short. Over the space of a heartbeat, the lab tech went from baffled to angry. “The fuck? Did you just try to bite me?”
“Huuu, gif yu biggest owwies! Muh - mummah wuv babees! Gif yu OWWIES!” A streamer of drool fell from Spring’s mouth as she hollered and bashed her head against the cage bars. She gritted her teeth and bumbled around in a half-circle, then planted all four of her grey suede hooves and lifted her tail. “Gif yu wowst poopies! POOPIES!”
“Don’t you fucking da-” James stopped, mouth agape, as Spring squeezed her guts and sprayed a half-pint of brown liquid shit out through the bars of her hutch. It drummed down on the tile, splattering far and wide. The man was still gobsmacked when the frenzied fluffy shuffled back around to face him, panting and with her eyes glaring crazily.
“You little piece of shit!” James snarled as he shook off his confusion. He tossed the dead foal onto the table and reached for the yardstick, so flustered that he couldn’t pick it up in one try. Spring was unafraid, snarling and flashing her teeth underneath her pink nose. Muffin was weeping and pissing herself in a heap in the back of her hutch. Hazel sat on her rump in the front of hers, stunned to see Spring so angry and fierce after all.
“James! James!” came a reedy voice from the front of the lab. Everyone turned and saw Dr. Hopkins’ scarecrow figure in the doorway. The flourescent lights shimmered in his thick glasses. Everyone froze, except Spring, who was panting and making growling noises in the back of her throat.
“Dr. Hopkins?” he said, plainly reeling.
“Yes, yes, what is going on here? I came down as soon as I could - you said there - yes, James, we don’t need that right now.” The tall, skinny man stepped forward and gestured faintly at the yardstick, which James had neglected to put down. “Yes, I understand there has been a fatality?”
“Uh, yeah, uh, well, I came in this morning and, uh…” James’ voice trailed off as he tried to remember where he had tossed the fuzzy little corpse of Spring’s unicorn foal.
“Huuu… Yu kiww babees! Spwing gud fwuffy an’ yu kiww gud babees!” squealed Spring, pacing back and forth - the sight of the doctor only agitated her worse, blending terror with her helpless anger.
“Munsta!” piped her grey-blue colt, which then stuffed its hooves in its eyes and began to cry. “Huuu, buu-huuuuu!”
“Hrmmmm, yes,” mumbled the Doctor. With an icy concentration, he simply didn’t register the screaming of the frenzied mare or the splatter of shit on the floor and instead pulled a tiny pair of tweezers out of his pocket and peered intensely at the dead little unicorn. “Pharyngeal occultation, I’m nearly certain. The foal wasn’t injured or accidentally crushed or any some such, yes?” His brown eyes flicked up to James, who was trying to ignore Spring and nervously scratching his own scalp.
“Don’t think so. This one’s a pretty careful mother. Er, she was. Jesus. Umm, I don’t think anything bad happened to the foal except it got sick.”
“Wha yu du wif babees? GIF BABEE! WAN’ BABEE! HUU, HUU! HAYCHOO! Yu- YU NUM POOPIES!” Spring’s raving rang out, but Dr. Hopkins didn’t even bat an eyelash.
“Yes. Well, we are still within the parameters of a successful test. I want you to pull serum samples from all the fluffies today. If their immunovariances are all consistent, or show an increase in viral loads from yesterday, then we can, ah, mark this a dead end. Yes. I will advise Doctors Guptahar and Frank, but I think a final blood test will be the end of our procedure.”
Both humans turned and looked meaningfully at the fluffies - Hopkins seemed to be looking straight into their bloodstreams, while James was frazzled. The whole room seemed to take a breath, Spring included. She was crying freely into her cheek fluff, marking her teddy-bear face with dark violet warpaint. Her ears flattened. Muffin remained with her head jammed in the rear corner of her hutch, moaning to herself. Hazel flinched from the humans’ interested stares, and chugged around to embrace her clutch of frightened foals.
“You know, I forbade my children from owning any of these creatures.” said Hopkins in a mild tone. James didn’t reply for a few seconds.
“Yeah. Well, I better get to it. I’ll clean up, too.”
“Thank you. Yes. You’ve done very good work in here. I trust you know how to dispose of the subjects? I have not been briefed.” The tall man stalked towards the door without another sound. En route, he lifted the lid on a conveniently-placed red plastic tub and dropped the dead foal into its maw. A sad, hollow noise rang out and he was gone.
“Babee!? Wha yu du wif babees? Why yu gif fwuffies sickies? Huuu, gud babees… Spwing am gud mummah!” The pegasus mare’s voice had gone scratchy and raw, and she was heaving for breath. She scuttled backwards a few awkward steps as James approached her cage.
“I can’t believe you shit on the floor.”
“Gif yu poopies! Poopies meanie dummeh! Haychoo! Twy tu be gud fwuffy… an yu gif huwties an FOWEVA SWEEPIES! Huuu, NU FAIW!”
“Look, I’m sorry your foal died, okay? It wasn’t supposed to -”
“HUUUU, KIWW YU! GIF OUCHIES! YU WEAVE FWUFFIES AWONE!” the mare screeched insanely. She was shaking so bad it was rattling the cage.
“Look! -” James started angrily. He reached up to unsnap Spring’s cage - he was stressed and angry, and the mare’s continuing temper tantrum wasn’t something he was prepared to ignore.
Spring’s eyes widened in horror. She chugged around once more, but this time headed for the blanket in the back of her hutch where her two remaining foals had been crying and hugging one another. The cloudy grey colt had managed to shit on itself and its green sibling in fear, and both had pissed uncontrollably when their mother had started to hammer on the cage wall. Both sat up when their dam bore down, reaching up with their tiny stub legs and peeping pitifully.
“Huuu, nuuu! NU! NU HUWT BABEES! NU GET BABEES NU MOAW!” raved the pegasus. Time seemed to stand still - James was unsnapping the second latch, and saw the mare’s purple mane pop up. She brought all her weight down on her right front hoof, squarely on her green filly’s belly. It chirped sharply, and before it could draw breath again, Spring pounded it with her left, jamming every ounce of strength in her round body down on its abdomen. Its eyes bugged out, and it stuck its pink tongue out a full inch. A spew of shit mixed with blood burst out from under its tail.
“Gekkkhh-” it slavered, vomiting up half-digested milk.
“Huuu, scawedies! Nu! Babees!” squeaked the grey-blue colt, falling over on its rump and lifting its own tail up between its rear legs. “Am babee! Wuv mumm-”
Spring stamped both hooves on the green foal’s belly again, feeling something pop under the soft, sweet-smelling fluff. Simultaneously, she lunged forward to clap her teeth on the grey one’s head.
“Wheep! Wheep! Nu! Nuuuu!” it squealed, kicking its twiggy legs.
“Nuu! Nu, Spwing!” wailed Hazel from the far hutch.
“What the fuck are you doing?!?” James was so shocked he stepped forward into the puddle of shit and yanked the front of Spring’s hutch down. His hand fastened on her lower back and hauled her backwards until all four hooves had slipped off the edge. She faceplanted on the floor of her cage with the grey colt’s head still halfway in her mouth. The impact clacked her jaw shut, splitting the foal’s throat. A gush of warm blood filled Spring’s mouth.
“The FUCK!” James’ tense nerves betrayed him. He flinched violently at the sight of the near-decapitated foal falling and spraying blood, and his grip on Spring’s back slipped. She was flung up above James’ head, then down to the rim of the lab table, where she crashed spine-first on the steel curb and bent into an ungainly crescent. The fluffy pony’s thoracic vertebrae couldn’t hang, and Spring’s spinal cord parted like a snapped pencil. She hit the deck two feet from her grey foal.
James froze for a second, holding his breath and then letting out an unconscious whimper. He braced his hand on the table and stooped over Spring. She was lying in a sprawl, with her front legs pointed north and her rear legs pointed more-or-less south, each pair making weak off-rhythm humping motions. She was gasping, eyes rolling crazily about.
“Mugh… babees…” she groaned.
“What did you do? You killed your fuckin’ foals?”
“Nu… yu kiww… aww fwuffies. Fwuffies gud and yu’ kiww. Nu faiw. Nu wet fwuffies… hkkkk…”
“Look, I’m sorry you lost one, but your other two foals probably would have lived, retard!”
“Nu… yu kiww aww… bweeding yunit… kiww aww fwuffies. Kiww Babees. Gud babees.“
James was silent. Gruesome memories of the shutdown process ran through his mind and he shuddered a little. He looked over at the mess under Spring’s cage, where her grey colt had died thrashing around in a miniature landscape of cold shit and warm blood. Its eyes were open, pointed straight at its mother.
“Okay. I liked you, and I didn’t want you to die here, but…”
“Wet fwuffies go.” Spring’s back legs stopped their pumping motion.
“Stawp be meanie. Wet go. Hazew… back to big outies. Stawp kiww fwuffies.”
James looked up at the cages. Hazel and Muffin were both standing against the bars, looking down at him. Their little foals were lined up, too, silhouetted against the ceiling tiles. Muffin was silent for once, and Hazel was crying into the fluff on her cheeks. For the first time, he saw the tiny, scarred bite marks on her ears.
“Wet fwuffies geh. Geh. Gehk.” murmured Spring.
Spring began to shake and make slavering, grunting noises. Just before she died, her eyes pointed in different directions and a handful of foam leaked out of her mouth. Then she was suddenly just a lump of dead lilac fluff.
Muffin started crying as James stood up. He stared at the fluffy’s corpse for a few moments, and then stalked over to the table and picked up his venipuncture kit. Hazel cringed away from him and backed up into the far corner of her cage, followed by her litter.
First he collected his tiny bounty of blood from the belly-stomped foal in Spring’s cage. It was wiggling its last. He peeled the misshapen thing up from the carpet by its tail and dropped it in the red biowaste bin, leaking goo from both ends. It was soon joined by its even more noisome sibling, and finally James knelt again to poke Spring with his needle.
He tossed her earthly remains in the bin. She landed belly-up and her sad, walleyed gaze locked with his one more time. He shivered and closed the lid, and then tossed his needles and bottles on the table and walked out of the lab.
“God damn, James! I say again, god damn!” boomed Marcus from the passenger seat. He rolled the window down so that James wouldn’t miss any of his harangue. It almost drowned out the steady whining wail from the back seat. James took a moment to gaze out at the meadow along the side of the dirt road.
The moody grey light through the cloud cover wasn’t entirely unlike the fluorescent lights from the lab. It was chilly, too. But instead of heartless linoleum tile, the ground was covered by tough grass and heath. Barely twenty-four hours had gone by between Spring’s death and the all-hands staff meeting at which Marcus, James and about two dozen other techs had been regretfully laid off, effective immediately. Muffin and Hazel had spent those hours huddling in their cages and looking at the stained carpet where Spring and her foals had once padded about, wondering when it was going to be their turn.
The freshly unemployed man opened the rear passenger door and heaved up the closest of two big cardboard boxes. Piping voices rang out from inside.
“Buu huu, scawwy! Nu wike!” came a thin peep.
“Babee hush. Nu make woudies.” was a huskier, raspy murmur.
“Huuuuuuu, huuuuu! - hic - eeeeeh! Eeeeeeeeeh!” wailed the second box from the other side of the car.
The bottom of the box was marked with little piss-stains in a few places, but none had soaked into the cloth seats, James observed with relief. Still, he was unwilling to put away his gruff demeanor, so he set the box down with a bump and then pushed it over with its toe. The flaps fell open with some soft thumping noises and a chirp.
Hazel waddled haltingly out of the box. She huffed in fear and surprise, her eyes going wide at the sight of the open meadow. The cardboard flaps brushed her brown and white flanks. Underneath, her trio of foals peeped softly as they took their first goggle-eyed look at the world outside. None of them knew quite what to say. Except Marcus.
“Driving out here to release a goddamn fluffy into the wild, James! Born free, James!”
James snorted. The noise brought Hazel’s stubby muzzle around and up. She cowered at the sight of the looming human, for once dressed in baggy blue jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt. Her hooves slipped on the cardboard as she tried to retreat and crowd her foals back into the box.
“Huu, sowwy! Nu huwties! Nu huwties!” she whined.
James sighed. “I’m not going to hurt you, stupid. I’m turning you loose. Get out of there and take off.”
“Whu… wha nice mistew say? Pwease nu huwties!”
“No, I’m saying you’re free to go. Go run off and find your goddamn herd or whatever. I hope you freeze to death.”
No answer came except foals peeping. James grew irritated and lightly kicked the back of the box. The four fluffies tumbled out the front and onto the grass. Hazel’s two pegasus foals chirped in fright and hugged each other while their mother struggled to her feet and rounded on James. Her eyes were full of terror. The brown earthie filly stood by its mother, trying to be brave even as it pissed down its own back legs.
“Go on, git.” James waved vaguely at the screen of trees across the meadow. Then he stepped back.
“Fwu- fwuffy can gu? Nu huwties? Nu steaw miwkies?”
“Yeah. Spring’s last request. Consider yourself lucky.”
“Huuu…” Hazel mumbled. She backed off a few quivering paces from James, who was slouching against his car in an exaggerated show of indifference. “Babees… babees fowwow Mummah!” she blurted. She had to plod around a bit and nudge her foals to get them together, then backed off another step. Without taking her fearful eyes off James, she darted forward and grabbed the corner of the fleece blanket that had flopped out the front of the box.
Huffing frantically out the sides of her mouth, she turned tail with all the grace of a city bus and chugged off into the meadow, dragging the blanket like a battle flag. Peeping in fear, her foals followed. The blue one was still hobbling on a tender, half-healed leg, but its brother and sister bumped it along in and out of the bunches of grass.
“Go on, little fluffy! Go be free, like god intended!” came Marcus’ infinitely amused boom from the front seat. The sudden noise brought tears to Hazel’s eyes, but she didn’t stop or look back. Only her dark brown earthie filly did - once they were twenty yards or so from the dirt road, it halted and turned to face James. They regarded each other for a second, and then the filly puffed out her chubby brown cheeks and flapped her tongue at the human.
“Thhbbbbpppt!” and she was done, awkwardly bumbling through the grass to catch up to her mother. James shook his head. He shuffled back to the car, shoulders slumped.
“Why don’t you drop this dumb shit off, too?” Marcus turned halfway around and slapped his big hand down on the top of the remaining cardboard box. It made a sharp pop, and the whine from inside cut out in a choked gasp.
“Huuu!” came the squeal, followed by a loud, wet farting noise. “Nu wike! SCAWEDIES!”
“Taking her to a shelter. She’s got good colors - two-tone fluffs are in demand. Don’t know how she ended up in the lab in the first place.” James twisted the key.
The noise from the box started up again along with the engine. “Eh! Eh! Eh! Huuuuuuuu - huuuuuu - eeeeeeeeeh! Nu wike dawkies! Nu wan’ scawedies!”
“Yeah, can’t imagine why nobody wanted to take this piece of shit home. You’re a crazy man, James! Getting shitcanned has finally pushed you over the edge! He’s a crazy man! CRAZY MAN!!” Marcus turned and hollered at the tiny blots of color that were vanishing into the edge of the forest.
Muffin ran out of breath after a while, or maybe the grinding of the tires on the dirt road put her to sleep.
“After this, you want to go to the Pit? It’s half price slice day. We can get on their wi-fi and file for unemployment.”
“Yeah, yeah.” rumbled Marcus. “Manny says Valu-Med is hiring techs. Or a job on campus. Gotta earn our kibble somehow. Motherfuckers in charge set it up that way, son! We either play ball or we might as well go live with the fuckin’ fluffs in the woods!”
James snorted again. He poked the stereo until heavy metal music roared to life.
At the edge of the forest, Hazel was coaxing her foals to keep moving every time they stopped to sniff at a plant or moss-covered stone. She tried to talk to them around her mouthful of blanket. “Haf tu fin’ hewd, babees… wiww fin’ hewd an’ evewyfing wiww be gud!”
Author’s Note: Okay, that’s a wrap. This story, especially the ending, got a wide variety of reactions on the Booru and it was all pretty different from what people are commenting on Fluffy Community. I remembered some people liking it and others feeling betrayed and angry. Of course, the Booru was still allowing anonymous comments at that time and it had a lot of those, so you never really know.
I’ve got two other stories about this size on Google Drive but they both need a lot of rewriting and editing and I am debating starting something new instead. Either way, it will probably take a while as my work is picking up. Thanks for reading!