Panda’s confusion had only grown worse after the sale of one of her babies.
She paced around the box of her pen, counting fattening talkie-bebbehs constantly and worrying as she kept them together in the nest. When one moved, she put it back and told it to stay, no matter how hard her sensitive filly cried for her and tried to wiggle towards her milkie-places.
“Nu! Bad babbeh! Stay dewe! Mummah nee’ fin’ wast babbeh!”
Naturally, her foals grew more and more stressed as their mother’s anxiety grew. Her twisty-spined foal of indeterminate gender would bite on the sensitive babbeh’s scruff to try and hold them in place and gradually, it grew into a sore where the thin, downy fluff was pulled out by squirming against teeth. The constant chirping and screeching made the twisty babbeh upset as well, making it bite harder and harder, hit their sister with hurty hoofsies and upset their mother more.
“Bad babbehs!! Nu bitey sissy!” Panda shrieked and pulled the two apart. “Stay! Dewe! Nu be dummeh!”
Jules’ patience was growing thin, especially without Danny there to help him. The kid’s dad wasn’t well, so he was on the other side of the country looking after him since nobody else would go near the old bastard. Jules swore off him years ago, but Danny was a bleeding heart. His last words to him as he climbed up into the pickup truck when he left were ‘tell my brother I hope he dies’.
Without Danny helping him, Jules’ operation went to shit. He hadn’t realised how much he relied on his nephew for just about everything until he wasn’t there and care for the many, many Fluffies in his mill fell to the side. He was shit at selling them, too. Without a handsome young man who had manners fronting the operation, Jules put everyone off. His usual suppliers were fine, but the private buyers for designer foals were immediately put off by him. So no big ticket foals sold.
He realised that he didn’t know his mares.
It wasn’t until Panda rejected one of her babies— so late— that Jules realised something was very wrong with her.
Her sensitive filly was no issue— that little bitch was fine, there would be no problem selling her once Danny came back. It was the other two. The colt he’d fixed the cleft lip on had become Panda’s ‘bestes hewpie babbeh’ and joined her in punishing the one with the fucked up spine for being so cruel to the sensitive one. As such, it was regressing rapidly and needed to be separated.
He called it Zebra. It wasn’t male or female, just kind of… neither. Since it had stopped talking, it just suckled on its hoof dejectedly and messed itself. Danny’s notes on it said that it struggled with bowel control and food retention. Well, a little holiday in isolation would do ‘em good. Surely?
Zebra needed to wear a diaper, as they didn’t know when their guts were going to spasm and squirt nigh-toxic, bad poopies behind them. They laid limply on the meagre bedding provided in isolation pens in thick padding, twisted spine aching and stomach churning uncomfortably. Often, they had to just sit there in their soiled diaper and rashes came on easily, but few things were worse than the infections.
Making pee-pees burned like the hells and Zebra screeched like a banshee every time their little bladder gave out. They suckled on their hoof to try and give themselves a modicum of comfort, but even that hurt. Turns out that sucking and chewing on flesh for long enough makes it soggy, sodden and painful— sure enough, the Fluffy’s unwashed mouth brought another infection to their agonised little body.
Without milkies from Mummah and the company of their siblings, Zebra could barely function. Their hoof was bandaged and a pacifier stuck in their mouth to keep them quiet and as comfortable as possible. Kibble hurt their teethsies. Milky kibble made them sick. Formula on its own wasn’t enough to subsist on and Zebra was shitting half of their nutrients out every day, perpetually empty-bellied and miserable.
Only a creature in the utter depths of despair would squirm around, squishing in their diaper to try and press precious poopies out of the leg holes. To Zebra, the filth on their blanket was like manna, slurped up desperately to try and fill the gaping hole in their belly and scrounge for nutrients.
Uh… uh uh uh, eeeh! Ehhhhh ehh!
With one hurty hoofsie bandaged up and the other so weak, they could only fight against the tight diaper tapes against their slowly receding belly. Zebra got thinner by the day, regressed where they should have grown and made bizarre, morose vocalisations in lieu of words.
Gnawing hunger gave way to nausea. Thin formula poopies tasted even worse on the way up again, but Zebra licked it back down all the same. They groped around in the sodden, shitty blanket for their pacifier and suckled on that instead as a deep calm washed over the foal’s whole sense of being. With a deep sigh, Zebra defecated again into the confines of their blown out diaper and drifted off to fitful sleep.
Jules’ brother died. Danny stayed for another month to sort out his estate and arrange the funeral. Jules barked down the phone at him every night that he needed to come back right away, but Danny was needed in too many places at once.
When he finally came back, he’d lost weight and was empty handed— Jules’ brother didn’t leave a damn thing for him in the will. The bank got the house and Danny was left with the funeral debt, so it was time to shift Panda’s foals! Well. They weren’t as young and cute as they would have been, but it couldn’t have been that bad, surely?
Danny watched the foal writhing and grunting in its own waste with horror. It was slathered in shit, barely recognisable as black and white any more, making noises that he’d never heard out of a Fluffy before, not even the sensitive ones— this abject creature was lost to its own bizarre, stricken body and behaviour made worse by isolation.
What he’d hoped would be some peace and quiet, some time to recuperate and rest devolved into wallowing in shit and screeching.
This wasn’t merely a disability. No, this was desperation. A certain kind of madness borne of squalor and pain.
“Cmon, little guy, let’s… not do this,” Danny murmured as he pulled some latex gloves from a box on his cart and gingerly picked Zebra out of its stinking morass of blankets. He dry heaved at the sickly squelch of over-burdened diaper and how it hung in a sloppy, brown mass from the young Fluffy’s visible pelvis and the braying wheezes through its nose of pain. He had to cradle Zebra along his arm and support the weight of the diaper in one hand.
Zebra waved their weak front leggies in the air as if to ask for closer huggies, bandaged hoof soaked just as badly in faeces as the rest of their malnourished body. Against all better judgement, Danny held Zebra against his chest… and heaved again.
He couldn’t hustle to the sink fast enough. Between the dripping diaper and phlegmy, nasal cries, Zebra sounded uncannily like a baby. A fresh wave of nausea struck Danny and when he reached the industrial sink, he vomited into one side of it and dumped Zebra onto the other side. He gripped the steel and tried to breathe, but the stench was inescapable.
His gloves came off. His shirt came off. He scooped his vomit towards the drain and winced as he undid the tapes on Zebra’s diaper… and immediately vomited again.
Zebra’s beautiful black fluff was gone.
Swathes of raw, sore flesh had been sodden for too long, split into open wounds and festered. Pus and blood ran through the shit and piss in vile swirls and when Danny finally got the tap on, Zebra screeched as cool water hit the inflammation. Danny scruffed the poor creature so he could lift them out of the diaper and rinsed the sink as best as he could, while Zebra hung in the air, the very picture of pathetic.
The pacifier stayed in Zebra’s mouth the whole time, partially muffling their screams as Danny started the agonising process of rinsing out what little fluff was left and flushing out wounds. Once the worst of the shit and filth was off of the shivering Fluffy, Danny laid them down on their tummy against the cold metal of the drainage board and set about bagging and properly disposing of the diaper.
The cold was an initial shock that turned into soothing cool against the infected wounds that riddled Zebra’s groin. The stricken creature shook with cold, blearily watching Danny work. For the first time in what felt like forever, Zebra began to coo. Relief. The burny-itchies didn’t feel so bad here and though he was freezing, it felt so much nicer than boiling in a diaper and blankets. Careful hands gathered the Fluffy’s delicate body back up again and went back into the sink, to slightly warmer water this time.
The only soap Jules would buy was a cheap antibacterial vet dip, which did the job over special Fluff Shampoo. Zebra squeaked through their nose as their back end sores went into the cold, stinging liquid, then tried to squirm as they were immersed in it to their neck. Danny brought them out and massaged the solution into their fluff, then up their head and mane and rinsed it out. The water ran brown with filth, finally stripping out built up gunk, leaving Zebra properly clean.
Last of all was the hoof.
Laid on the draining board again, Danny started on the vet wrap.
“I’m so sorry,” Danny muttered under his breath, as the tape came apart and with it, a fresh wave of pestilence. Zebra screamed as their spongy, necrotic hoof peeled away from the bone and splattered into the sink with the bandage and a disgusting splat. A pressurised squirt of recycled shit shot out of the Fluffy’s inflamed asshole in a mixture of agony and terror, streaking across the steel board behind them.
What was left had to go into the antibacterial dip and was washed off, dipped and washed, all the way up Zebra’s leg. The foal watched with bulging eyes as the remainder of its leg was dried, swaddled in non-stick padding and wrapped up again.
“God, Zebra, I’m so, so sorry,” Danny tried to apologise as he dried the remainder of Zebra off, trying to be as gentle and careful as possible, but the Fluffy simply shook in his grasp, eyes wide and pacifier clenched in soft teeth. “It’ll be okay, shhhh, shh…” He soothed, as he slathered boundary cream over the sores despite Zebra’s twitching.
He rested Zebra against his chest and could feel the foal’s ribs. There was still the rest of the Fluffies to feed and check, but he couldn’t stand to leave Zebra alone. As fast as he could with one hand, Danny bundled up a clean towel, set it down on his cart and placed Zebra onto it. He covered the struggling foal with another towel and cracked a hand warmer that they used for rejected foals, tucked it under the base towel and watched their eyes slide closed and some of the tension leave their skinny form.
The Fluffies in the pens were so happy to see him! All of them were grubby, litter boxes piled up and bedding filthy, so Danny had to painstakingly remove each mare and her foals from the pen, clean everything out top to bottom, give the Fluffies a washcloth bath, change their water, clean their food bowls and refill them. Many of the pregnant dams he’d left were ecstatic to finally show him their foals as he worked and patiently let him give them ‘Dann-ee wicky-cweanies’. After each cleaning, he checked to make sure that Zebra was still breathing and was relieved every time.
When he got to Panda, his heart sunk the deepest.
“Mistew Dann-ee? Dat yew?” She asked, squinting through milky eyes. She could barely see any more, her sensitive filly latched on to her teat on one side and her healthier foal huddled up to her other side. “Panda… am soon-mummah! Hab hewe babbehs an’ tummeh babbehs… hee hee, suu many babbehs! Bestes’ hewper babbeh teww mummah wat see an’ how big mummah gettin, suu gud babbeh. Vewy tiwed, Mistew Dann-ee hewe late?”
She wagged her tail against a backed-up pile of poopies, smiling vacantly into the distance as Danny’s stomach fell deeper.
Continuation of Jules’ Fluffy mill from Bathory.