'Stress Relief' CH4, by Zetsumi

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

In the palm of Arthur’s hand, limply struggling to raise her head after days locked within a small metal cylinder, lay a foal with fluff the colour of freshly fallen snow. On her back, a pair of tiny feathered wings trembled weakly, and on her forehead, the barest nub of a newgrown horn could be seen, a tiny rounded lump protruding from between the pale tufts of her fuzz.

Arthur’s mind raced with this new, unexpected development, awash with possibility. Should he throw her in with the others as she was, and watch the curious terror her kind seemed to evoke in theirs unfold? He contemplated removing the horn for a few moments, before ruling it out as a possibility—that was a pleasure better saved for later, when she was old enough to understand what was happening, what was being taken from her. Right now, all he would achieve was panicked chirping and confusion. No, better to wait, to allow her to ripen, before plucking her cruelly from the branch at her very sweetest.

He shifted his hand slightly, bringing her into his shadow, where she could open her eyes and adjust without looking directly into the harsh midday light filtering through the window behind him. Her peeps slowed, becoming softer and less frantic, and after a few more blinks, she managed to open her eyes completely. They were like pools of brilliant blue, warm and innocent, and a strange contrast to his own striking, ice-blue pupils: Her eyes were as the summer to the
winter of his own piercing gaze, gentle and curious instead of cold and hollow.

To the alicorn, Arthur was cast in silhouette: a pitch-black figure outlined in brilliant rays that stung her see-places like countless tiny needles. She gave a small, involuntary shudder: something about the man-shaped blob of darkness before her reminded her of the can, of the lightless, oppressive void in which she had lived until now. For a moment, he seemed as all her terror and loneliness personified, as if the blackness that had enshrouded her all her life had sprang from the cold metal can alongside her and taken human form. But then, he spoke.

Hello there, little one. I’m your new daddy.

She didn’t recognize the sounds, but something within her knew what each of them meant—not in a logical sense, rather, she felt their meanings. Familiarity, friendliness: A greeting. Shrinking, a sensation of being dwarfed. And then, the last sound had the most profound impact upon her: a strange sense of comfort and security. Family.
As her mind grew, she would naturally come to understand these noises. All fluffies were born with an innate understanding of language, but as infants, they lacked the ability to interpret them as anything more distinct than fleeting sensations.

Arthur, for his part, marveled at the immediate effect his words had on the trembling foal, its body visibly relaxing into his palm. There was something about it that bothered him, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on—it was the same sensation he felt looking at lifelike CGI, of there being an imperceptible, yet undeniably unnatural element at work, something the conscious mind couldn’t grasp yet the unconscious noticed keenly. An eerie sense of wrongness, of artificiality. It made him wonder—were these things truly alive? Could they even truly understand, or were they simply bio-computers, following a program so complex it gave the illusion of intellect where none truly existed? A living being needed to undergo a learning process, slowly forming a foundation of context, before it could be taught the meaning of a word. Even an animal had to be taught commands through repetition and demonstration. Yet this thing immediately seemed to understand him, and something about that filled him with an incomprehensible unease. It was the same unease of an offer that seemed to good to be true; a deep-set, anxious sense of mistrust with no rational reason behind it.

The foal’s chirps had gradually softened to contented coos by this point, a realization which brought Arthur back to his body. Opening a nearby drawer, he withdrew a tea-towel, which he placed on the bench, and a hot water bottle, which he deposited in the microwave. He keyed the combination, the sudden electronic beeps causing the filly in his palm to tense, before gradually relaxing again as Arthur hit the power button. He busied himself stroking and settling the foal while waiting for the cycle to finish, then withdrew the now lukewarm bottle, folded the tea-towel several times, and placed the filly gently atop it. Then he searched the kitchen cupboards for a large mixing bowl, and placed all three within, leaving the filly warm, safe, and protected from slips or falls from atop her cosy perch. The foal let out a few weak chirps as she felt Arthur’s presence draw back, but a soft word from her new daddy soothed her to silence, for the time being.

Leaving the foal in her makeshift nest, Arthur set about preparing himself a meal in his usual methodical fashion. He moved with purpose, without a single misstep, going through the motions of making a turkey sandwich with the practiced ritual of a well-oiled machine. Plated lunch in hand, he strode down the hall, taking a right instead of a left when he came to the twin doors of his saferoom and ‘playroom’.

The playroom was in many ways a mirror of the saferoom. It was padded—though in this instance, not for safety, but soundproofing—and decorated in similarly garish, bright colours. In fact, almost everything in it was painted in pastel, from the large, flat bench that occupied half of the far wall, to the fluffy-sized chains and manacles that were bolted to it. Even the hacksaws and pliers that hung in their racks on the wall above the bench had been given a cheerful coat of paint, with some of his favorites decorated with childish stickers, glitter, and shiny studs. The room had a heavy odor of vanilla, an odor that served to mask the other, less pleasant ones that had long since permeated into the very walls and floor. In a corner sat an armchair, flanked by a small end table and arrayed in front of a wall-mounted TV, and it was to this armchair Arthur strode, setting his lunch down on the table and picking up the remote. With the push of a button, the screen blinked to life, displaying a menu, and Arthur carefully navigated it, scrolling through file after file, each of them labelled with a date, a name, and a set of numbers. It was time to whet his appetite, and with more than the meager meal he’d brought with him.

At last, he settled on a file labelled ‘02/08/21 - Ballerina [1/3]’.

Arthur smiled warmly at the name, recalling how the fluffy it belonged to had earned it. Even as a foal, she’d loved dancing, and was one of the few fluffies he’d seen keep the habit through adulthood. She’d noticed young the way his face had lit up when she pranced around with slightly less clumsiness than the average ‘dancie baby’, and had used it as a way to show her thanks, or even to cheer him up when she thought he was upset.

Settling deeper into the comfortable chair, Arthur hit ‘play’ and took his first bite of his sandwich.

The screen showed a fluffy, with a coat of a pale pink, strapped to the same bench that sat in the corner of the playroom. Three of her legs were immobilized with a ‘leggie board’, a device with four holes in it that saw widespread use among fluffy owners. The fourth leg, one of her hind legs, was stretched out behind her, clamped tightly into an upright manacle. The fluffy looked expectantly at the camera, or more accurately, at the man who currently stood off-camera behind it. Her face was a mixture of hope and worry, though she was clearly struggling to mask the latter.

“Daddeh, can Bawwwina… can haf babbehs bac nao?” the fluffy asked cautiously, before quickly appending: “Am bewwy sowwy Bawwwina ask ouh fo’ tweats aga’n, wiww be good fwuffy nao.”

The fluffy’s query was met only with a poignant silence, which lingered long enough for her to visibly contemplate asking again. She opened her mouth as if to speak, then clearly thought better of the idea and closed it. The sound of movement came from behind the camera, and a figure strode into view—Arthur himself, though his back was to the camera. He positioned himself in front of the bench, carefully checking to make he wasn’t blocking the camera’s view of Ballerina, before rustling through the toolrack on the wall beside her.

“Daddeh…?” the fluffy ventured, more cautiously this time, but then her voice took on a distinct note of consternation. “Why daddeh no make tawkies? Haf huwties? Bawwwina dancie, make dadd-”

The fluffy trailed off as she squirmed on the spot, trying to pull herself upright, evidently having forgotten her legs were trapped in the board.

“Daddeh? Wet Bawwwina up so can be dancie fwuffy fo-”

Abruptly, Arthur spoke, though it wasn’t the same warm voice he’d used with his latest batch of fluffies so far. It was the same familiar, clipped tones, but he spoke with a flat monotone, putting no emotion behind the words at all…

“You’ll dance soon, Ballerina.” he intoned absently as he fingered the tools one after another.

“Yay! Bawwwina wub dancie, wub daddeh!” the fluffy cooed, squirming happily in her restraints. But as the seconds stretched into minutes without a response, the smile began to fade from her face, replaced with a growing concern. At long last, withdrawing a long, straight metal spike and a hammer from the tool rack above her, Arthur broke the uncomfortable silence.

“I wasn’t abused as a child, you know.” he said, with the detached, indifferent air of an accountant reciting figures. “Nor was I neglected. My parents were supportive, but not overbearing.”

Ballerina cocked her head to the side inquisitively, her confusion showing clearly on her face—confusion that only grew as Arthur moved out of her sight, along the bench until he stood behind her.

“Bawwwina no unnerstan da-”

“I had a healthy school life, too.” Arthur cut her off, continuing his spiel as if he was barely aware of her presence. “I was never bullied or harassed. I had good grades, though not excellent. By all accounts I was a perfectly normal boy.”

As he spoke, he placed the spike against Ballerina’s leg, at the very point where her hoof ended and her fluff began, and gently began to work the tip between the flesh and keratin. Ballerina winced slightly at the sensation, trying unsuccessfully to shift her weight away from her rear hoof.

“Daddeh, wah ouh doin-”

“In fact, I can’t recall an single instance of trauma. My childhood was as normal as it was dull and uneventful. And yet-”

In a single savage motion, Arthur angled the spike closer to Ballerina’s leg, and swung the hammer down. Metal met metal with a dull clank, which was quickly lost in the cacophony of Ballerina’s sudden anguished scream as the spike was driven between her hoof and the raw flesh beneath it. The noise was deafening, a high-pitched shriek of panic that would have been heard for a city block, save for the soundproofed walls of the playroom.

Arthur waited for the screeching to subside into sobs, before continuing.

“I never changed. Nothing ever snapped in me. I suppose I must have just been like this all along.”

“Huuuu… huuuuuuuuuuh…”

“Even as a child, I was fascinated by the strangest things. Once, I found a history book in the school library, about medieval torture devices.”

Sob Sniffle

“Once I started reading it, it was as if something took a hold of me. I couldn’t stop—not that I wanted to. I was utterly enraptured, cover-to-cover.”


With each swing of the hammer, Ballerina shrieked all the louder and more desperately, her tinny voice starting to grow hoarse and raspy. And in a stark contrast, the louder she screamed, the more animate Arthur grew, his voice starting to take on an edge of glee. His mouth had twisted into an almost drunken grin, as if thinking back on an intoxicatingly fond memory.

“It doesn’t bother me, it never did, really. No, what bothers me is having to conceal it. Every word that comes out of my mouth, I have to stop and ask myself: Is this what a normal person would say?”


By this point Ballerina could no longer even articulate screams or squeals, instead letting out a strange gurgling noise. The tip of the spike had made its way to the very base of her hoof now, and with every impact the hoofcap budged slightly, sliding from her leg like a sock to reveal the raw, red nerve fibres beneath.

“I must admit, it gets exhausting sometimes. I can never let down my guard, never relax. Well… almost never.”


With one final stroke, the hoofcap ripped free of Ballerina’s hoof, the soft keratin disc clattering across the bench. Surprisingly, there was little blood, though the feathery strands of the fluffy’s delicate exposed hoof leaked a viscous pink fluid. Her eyes bulged in anguish: there were a lot of nerve endings in a fluffy’s hoof, nerve endings that were never meant to be laid bare like this. Even the sensation of the very air against Ballerina’s degloved hoof was agony. Arthur, on the other hand, was beaming: he looked as if all the weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and been replaced with pure bliss.
He unclamped the manacle binding Ballerina’s hoof and lifted her free of the fluffy board, taking care to avoid the brown matted fluff of her rear, soaked with the scaredy-poopies she’d been spraying all over the bench behind her with each stroke of the hammer. He hefted her into the air, paying little mind to her constant squirming, and dropped her on the ground at his feet.

“Now, be a good fluffy and dance for daddy.” he said, with the scarecely-contained excitement of a child on christmas morning.

Ballerina let out another sob, thrashing with pain, and making little effort to pull herself together, until Arthur’s voice cut through the fog of her terror with the first real threat he’d made since this whole ordeal had begun.

"Dance. Or I’ll bring your babies into the playroom to take their mother’s punishment for her.

“Nuuuuu…” Ballerina managed weakly, “Huuu… Nu gib babbehs foweba sweepies…”
“Oh, I won’t kill them.” Arthur said cheerfully. “But before I’m done with them, you’ll be begging me to.”

Ballerina struggled, squirming onto her belly and planting her forelegs on the floor, before letting out a shriek of pain as her degloved hoof touched the ground. Arthur shrugged, and turned on his heel, walking towards the door.

“Wai…” Ballerina’s voice halted his feet. “Nu huwt babbehs. Bawwwina… Bawwwina be dancie fwuffy for daddeh.”

Arthur turned to face her again, smiling the first smile that had reached his eyes since he’d adopted the ‘soon-mumma’. The first genuine smile he’d worn in months. He watched with rapt attention as the fluffy planted her raw, exposed hoof on the ground, struggling not to scream from the overwhelming deluge of pain assaulting her. It was a struggle she lost the second she tried to sit up onto her hind legs. With the loudest screech she’d let out yet, she immediately collapsed onto her belly again, twitching in shock, her eyes staring blankly off into space.
For a moment, Arthur thought the shock might well have killed her, until the chubby salmon sack of fluff that lay on the ground beneath him began faintly sobbing and huuuing again, before promptly letting loose another river of filth with a barely audible ‘pffft’.

“And another bad poopie too.” Arthur crowed, leering down at the twitching fluffy lying in a pool of her own waste. “So, which baby shall we start with? I think Orchid would just love to come join her mother in the playroom, don’t you.”

“Bawwwina dancie…” the fluffy simply repeated, her voice ragged with exhaustion. Straining even to move now, she rolled over, her fluff matted brown on the side on which she’d been laying, and attempted to struggle to her feet again.

But try as she might, she was too far gone: the pain was simply too much for her, and no matter how she exerted herself, she couldn’t manage to tolerate it for more than a few seconds before collapsing to the ground again.

His sandwich long since finished, Arthur thumbed the remote to stop the playback, returning to the menu before switching the tv off as well. He stood up and stretched, twisting his body this way and that in a futile effort to work out the kinks that knotted his muscles with stress, before giving up on the endeavor.

“Oh well. I’ll just have to put up with it a little longer.” he muttered to himself, switching off the lights and closing the door to the playroom behind himself.

He had barely managed one step towards the kitchen when a faint noise caught his ear. Closing his eyes, he listened for a moment, before kneeling and putting his ear against the saferoom door, only just able to make out the faint voices arguing within.

Dummeh Motow, new daddeh say fwuffies gotta make good poopies in da wittabawks!”
“It was a acksiden!”
“Nu cawe, is stiww a bad poopie!”
“Motow TWY to make good poopie! Jus’ din’t weach wittabawks in time…”
“Dat cos’ Motow id a poopie babbeh what make bad poopies!”
“Nu caww Motow poopie, dummeh Naby!”

Arthur could almost feel his muscles unknotting ever so slightly as he listened, and soon found himself drifting down the corridor to the kitchen with a smile on his face. First, he’d feed the Alicorn, and prepare formula for the foals.

And then, well, it seemed he was going to get to put his plans for Navy into action earlier than he’d hoped.


I hope Navy doesn’t get indulged too much into being a little hellion. Fully expect suffering and death for all of them but I do hope the sadistic colt gets some comeuppance for how he was treating his brothers.


Navy isn’t sadistic, just a little brighter than the average fluffy and having picked up some bad habits from the BarginFluff pens that don’t bother to separate out foals with shitty attitudes/potential smarties. He’s more like a kid that fell in with a bunch of bullies and played along to fit in.
Although, where he will end up is anyone’s guess.


This never got continued? I really enjoyed the premise and your writing.

As I mentioned in another submission, I actually have the ending to this 100% planned out, I simply need to find the time to sit down, reread it all to refresh the trivial details, and actually scribble it out.
Unfortunately I haven’t had a lot of said time recently, owing to spending two weeks in hospital, and needing to catch up on the things I wasn’t able to do during those two weeks in hospital. :laughing: