Smarty awoke sometime later by vomiting pure stomach acid from his guts. He stirred and dragged himself up to a standing position, spluttering and wheezing through a throat scorched by his own bodily fluids.
“Smawty hungwy…” He muttered to himself, waddling back into the sewer, away from the filth-encrusted ‘sang-widge’ he’d been forced to abandon the day prior.
At the thought of it, disgusting as it had been, Smarty’s stomach let out a violent growl. Smarty huffed, puffing out his cheeks.
“Shaddup tummeh! Smawty finkin’!” He snapped. He was trying to think of how to find food (how did you find food again? The herd had always done it, Smarty had just told them to…), when his stomach let out another grumble, breaking his concentration.
“Dummeh tummeh! Smawty say SHADDUP!” Smarty yelled, before swinging a hoof at his own stomach.
But then… it HURT!
“OWIES!” Smarty squeaked, falling over to his side.
How had it happened?! Had his tummy tried to hurt him?! Well, he’d show it!
Smarty raised another hoof and bopped his tummy again, determined to show it who was the bo-
“OWIES!” He squeaked again, rolling around in pain.
It was insane! Any time he tried to give his stupid belly some sorry-hoofsies, it gave them right back!
“Dummeh tummeh, stop huwty Smawty!” Smarty yelled at his belly, which let out another violent growl.
Seeing no way of winning the battle against his own organs, Smarty hauled himself to his feet, and continued miserably trudging through the tunnels, the only sounds audible being a random gurgling groan from Smarty’s empty stomach.
Smarty was about ready to give up and demand his herd bring him food like usual (having forgotten again that they weren’t around anymore), when he stopped.
He could smell something!
It was faint, but after smelling nothing but poopies and peepies and sicky-wawas for days on end… any slightly different smell would stand out like a… well, like a good smell in a lot of bad smells!
Smarty scampered down the tunnels, being led entirely by his nose, sometimes even running face-first into brick walls as he had long since stopped looking where he was going. All that he cared about was finding where the smell was coming from.
The smell smelled like… like…
“Nummies…” Smarty mumbled to himself, drool pouring from his slack mouth.
Smarty turned a corner, and smelled the smell stronger than ever. Dead ahead, he could see a small hole in the wall where the bricks had crumbled away over time. It was dark inside, but Smarty was prepared to risk anything (even his herd… strike that, especially his herd) if it meant getting nummies in his tummy!
Smarty lunged forwards, launching himself towards the brick wall… and missing, slamming his face into the bricks next to it first. Then he got up and crawled in normally, blood dripping from his squashed nose.
Smarty didn’t have to crawl far, and soon found himself in an entirely new room.
It was dimly lit by a single bulb hanging from the ceiling, and seemed to be full of big metal cylinders of some sort, all of which were quietly rumbling and humming to themselves.
Smarty crawled fully out of the hole, and began to look around for the nummy smell. He loooked and looked and looked, and finally found something. A single hunk of bread that had been knocked into a corner some time ago.
Smarty launched himself into it, devouring it in seconds. It wasn’t much, but nummies were nummies! The strange thing was, the food was gone, but the smell persisted. Smarty knew there had to be more nummies around, he just had to find them!
As best as he could figure, it was coming from the far end of the room… up a set of steps and from underneath a door.
Smarty grimaced at the stairs, but knew he had no other choice. He had to put in the effort to climb them, every single one of them… for the NUMMIES!!!
Ten minutes later, Smarty had finished climbing all three of the small stone steps, and was completely out of breath from the ordeal.
He sniffed around at the bottom of the door, and could definitely smell something tasty. He wasn’t sure what it was, but it was absolutely food! There was only one problem… there was a stupid door in the way!
“Dummeh doow! Mobe!” Smarty said, banging a hoof against the door.
On the opposite side, nobody heard the banging, because the door was marked ‘BOILER ROOM’, and the staff of the restaurant were used to hearing bangs and thumps coming from the heating devices contained within. As long as the place was still relatively warm, who cared what sounds the damn things made?
But back in the boiler room, Smarty was getting more and more frustrated. First the stupid door had the audacity to exist in the first place, and now it was refusing to listen to him! What was the world coming to?!
“Stoopid doow! Yoo wisten to Smawty, owe Smawty gib you sowwy-poopies!”
The door, astonishingly, did not reply.
Smarty turned on the step (which was more difficult than it sounded), and planted his rear flat against the door’s wooden surface. With an extra special effort, he let rip, intending to coat the door in whatever sorry poopies he had left… but something went wrong.
In fact, something had gone wrong some time ago.
Smarty hadn’t eaten properly in several days. He didn’t have enough food in his body for long enough to digest into poopies, and he had used up the last of them days ago. All that came out of his body was a particularly powerful fart.
But the fart, with Smarty’s rear pressed so firmly against the flat surface of the door, acted almost like the thruster of a rocket, pushing Smarty forwards enough that he tipped over and fell down the stone steps, bouncing and crashing all the way down.
“EEP! HEWP! NU! OWIES!” He squeaked as he tumbled, hitting the concrete floor of the boiler room and rolling along the floor, straight towards one of the boilers.
And that’s when things went from bad to worse.
Smarty rolled right into the boiler. At first nothing seemed amiss, Smarty even felt quite toasty… but slowly, his dim-witted mind put together that the nice toasty feeling was getting to be a little too much.
In fact, it was a LOT of a little too much!
“Owie! OWIE! HUWTIES!” Smarty squeaked as he finally pulled himself up, hearing the sizzle of burning skin emanating from his back.
Smarty looked at the huge, metal cylinder, standing so tall above him, clunking and clonking and banging and booming. It had dared to hurt Smarty! Even now, his back felt very crispy and scorched!
Smarty knew what to do with this stupid thing!
He couldn’t very well give it sorry-poopies, but he couldn’t certainly give it sorry-hoofsies!
Smarty reeled back, bringing up his two front hooves, and slammed them hard against the blazing hot metal surface of the old-fashioned boiler.
Almost immediately, Smarty shrieked in agony as his hooves began to burn and melt. He fell away, trembling in pain, but wasn’t prepared to give up yet! From his position of lying on his stomach, he bucked at the boiler with his rear hooves… but the same thing happened again! He fell away, his rear hooves just as badly burned as his front ones.
Smarty knew what the metal thingy was… it was some kind of monster!
“Nu! Nu huwt Smawty!” Smarty begged as he scrambled to get away from the scary thing. “Smawty nu du nuffin wong! Smawty bestest Smawty! Pwease nu hu-”
Smarty placed a hoof on the ground.
And shrieked all over again.
In his blind, agonised panic he had forgotten where the pain was actually coming from: his own feet. In his desperate attempt to run away, he had slammed his hoof into the floor, and caused a whole new sensation of blinding pain to shoot through his body.
Forgetting that leg for the time being, Smarty tried another… but again, the same thing happened!
Smarty couldn’t believe what was going on!
Any time he tried to place a hoof down, it hurt! How exactly was Smarty meant to run away in conditions like this?!
Breaking into a blind panic, Smarty launched himself forwards on all four hooves, running and scrambling around as best he could, placing a single hoof down, only to pull it back up as soon as it began to hurt, then placing another one down instead… rinse and repeat.
The result was Smarty doing what could only be described as some sort of spastic jig as he bounced and jiggled and jived around the room, spinning and twisting and jerking as he squealed and squeaked and whined about how much his hooves hurt.
Then, in the midst of his panic and confusion, Smarty blundered right into the boiler again.
“SCREEE! BUWNY HUWTIES!!!” He shrieked as his rear end slammed against the boiler’s hot metal surface, roasting away Smarty’s fur and sizzling his sensitive skin.
He pulled himself away from the boiler, but… that left him standing his hooves again!!!
Once again Smarty returned to his awkward, impromptu jig, and once again he tumbled around so much he landed against the boiler once more… face-first.
And so it continued for several minutes. Smarty would try walking on his hooves, desperately looking for one that didn’t hurt (which was none of them), only for the pain to be so much that he couldn’t focus and ended up blundering directly into the boiler again, and again, and again.
His face, his rear, his sides, his belly, even his face again…
After 10 minutes of constant screaming and sizzling, Smarty fell to the ground, wheezing after having screamed himself hoarse.
75% of his body had been roasted by the boiler, most of his fluff was gone, exposing his skin which had been blistered and crisped by the scalding metal of the boiler. Worst of all was Smarty’s face, which had been partially melted after it slammed into the boiler twice. His lower lip had begun to sag downwards, one of his eyes was permanently half-closed, his nose was twisted and deformed. Even his horn had been flattened and twisted into a sort of downwards-pointing hook shape.
Smarty managed to painfully drag himself out of the boiler room, wheezing and crying (or trying to anyway, with tear-ducts covered in mounds of melted skin and scabs).
As he pulled himself back into the sewer, he briefly caught sight of himself in a river of sewage, and saw his reflection looking dimly back at him.
He looked like a monster.
And that made Smarty cry even harder.