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A New Landscape by Landscape

By SlavePonyGeneral
Created: 21st December 2020 07:20:01 PM
28th March 2023 09:28:36 AM

  2. UPDATED: 11/13/2019
  4. >a “hard worker” the website said
  5. >she certainly looked pretty strong
  6. >the picture on the screen showed her at all angles
  7. >certainly looked like the kind of pony who would be able to help you do your landscaping work
  9. >so, you splurged
  10. >made the order, spent the money you’d been saving up
  11. >from what you hear, these ponies are pretty hardy
  12. >and in the list of descriptions, you saw “background in agriculture and manual labor”
  13. >and, surprisingly, she was rather cheap to purchase
  14. >that was all you needed to hear
  16. >You were surprised when you heard your phone ring so early in the morning
  17. >it was the salesmen notifying you of when they would arrive at your house with your brand new pony you purchased
  18. >11:00 am in the morning
  19. >It was a Sunday, normally your day off to sleep in
  20. >but the news made you excited enough to make it impossible to sleep anymore
  21. >So, you get up and groggily set up your coffee maker
  23. >You’ve already planned it out
  24. >You’ve got a guest room that you basically never use
  25. >It’ll be where she can sleep
  26. >and you’ve done your research on what ponies can eat
  27. >obviously, there’s no meat items allowed
  28. >but eggs are surprisingly ok to feed them, however
  29. >so, you bought a few dozen eggs
  30. >got plenty of fresh veggies and fruit
  31. >even some fancy bread
  33. >true, you made your wallet cry a little bit
  34. >you do okay for yourself, but you’re not exactly rich either
  35. >but it’s the middle of summer, and there is plenty of landscaping work that you and your company have to do right now
  36. >you make a decent living
  37. >even if it’s tiring work
  38. >hopefully, your little pony will be up to helping out
  39. >you took a bit of a gamble
  40. >you’ll have to see!
  42. >Finally, at ten past 11:00, you hear the knock on the door
  43. >a few loud thumps
  44. >then, the doorbell
  45. >You get up from your chair, where you’ve been sitting anxiously for the last half hour
  46. >you dart over, and open the door
  48. >on the other side, there’s a short, chubby man
  49. >maybe 5 foot 7
  50. >and in his hand, he’s holding a thick leather leash
  51. >your eyes follow it down, until you clap eyes on her
  53. >there she is, the pony that was in the picture
  54. >orange coat
  55. >little white freckles on her cheeks
  56. >emerald green eyes
  57. >blonde mane done up in a ponytail
  58. >it’s definitely the same pony
  60. >but then, you notice a few other things
  61. >and the little smile on your face slowly fades away
  63. >yeah, her mane is blonde
  64. >but, dirty blonde
  65. >as in, ACTUAL dirt
  66. >And the more you look her over, the more you see how skinny she is
  67. >wiry muscles show themselves, true
  68. >but so do her ribs, protruding faintly through the skin
  69. >you stare at her for a second
  71. >and the pony, a soon as she notices you looking at her, very quickly averts her eyes
  73. >The chubby man speaks, and you come back to reality
  75. “Hello, sir. Are you mister Anon?”
  77. >It was a question you knew the answer to
  78. >but it took you a few seconds to answer
  79. >you’re still looking at the pony there on your porch
  80. >and you start to realize why she was so much less expensive to purchase
  81. >eventually, though, you do respond
  83. “Uhh… yeah. That’s me.”
  85. >The man nods his head, and with one hand tightly grasping the leash, he reaches back and pulls out a clipboard
  87. “Right, mister Anon. I’ll just need you to sign and turn in this paperwork and give your signature of ownership. The rest of the information we need was already provided by you online.”
  89. >He hands you the clipboard and a pen
  90. >You pick it up, and begin to read
  91. >but your mind still wanders
  92. >and so do your eyes
  94. >the orange pony doesn’t look anywhere but the ground
  95. >neck lowered
  96. >it’s like she’s afraid to look at you
  98. >your gut churns
  99. >something feels off about this.
  100. >off about her
  101. >but even so, you tentatively sign the papers and hand the clipboard back to the man
  103. >He smiles, not showing any teeth
  104. >stretching out his fat cheeks
  105. >and he nods
  107. “Very well. Thank you for your business, sir. She’s yours, now. Enjoy.”
  109. >He passes the leash over to you
  110. >with a bit of hesitation you take it from him
  111. >He gives you a short, parting wave, and turns around, walking back toward his car
  112. >a shiny black sedan
  113. >with a couple of other chubby men sitting in the passenger and back seats
  115. >”Enjoy.”
  116. >That’s what he had said.
  118. >you only look for a few seconds before a chill runs up your spine
  119. >you aren’t even sure exactly why
  120. >you look away, and look back down to the pony on your porch
  122. >the little thing is a not much less than 5 feet tall, including her head
  123. >she hasn’t budged an inch from where she had been standing
  124. >and she’s still not looking at you
  125. >you look down to the leash in your hand
  127. >finally, you shake off the uneasy feelings and speak your first words to her
  128. >”Come on, let’s get you inside…”
  130. >You give a very gentle tug on the leash
  131. >she doesn’t speak a word, but her head lifts up momentarily when you pull the leash
  132. >then, she wordlessly takes a step forward through your front door
  134. >you walk backwards, watching her closely
  135. >she’s staring at the hardwood floor
  136. >her hooves clop noisily on the hard surface
  137. >the way she walks is a little draggy
  138. >the tips of her petite hooves slightly scraping the floor with each step
  140. >and lastly, you notice one more thing about you brand new little pony
  141. >she’s shivering.
  142. >Not the kind of shivering when you’re cold, oh no.
  143. >the kind of shivering someone does when they’re terrified
  145. >For a second, the two of you stand there in silence
  146. >and your thoughts begin to race
  148. >you let go of the leash
  149. >The pony’s ears perk up, for a moment
  150. >but then they droop back down
  152. >the silence is awful
  153. >painfully awkward
  154. >you decide to break it, since this pony is obviously incredibly shy
  156. “Hello, I’m Anon. What’s your name?”
  158. >You speak with a cordial tone
  159. >trying to lighten the mood
  160. >it doesn’t work
  162. >The pony remains silent for a few moments
  163. >she’s staring at the floor
  164. >her hooves are shivering as she stands motionless
  165. >you don’t push her, giving her plenty of time
  166. >and eventually, she answers
  168. “I-I’m Applejack, master.”
  170. >her voice has a familiar country twang to it
  171. >being down south, it fits right in
  172. >but she says her own name with a wince
  174. >however, that’s not the main thing you notice
  175. >did you hear that right?
  177. “Uhh… did you just call me ‘master’?
  179. >you ask her timidly
  180. >not threatening in any way
  181. >or so you thought
  183. >the blonde-maned pony’s eyes grow wide
  184. >she suddenly looks up at you
  185. >and her lip is quivering
  186. >she speaks with a stammer and shortness of breath
  188. “Oh, I-I’m real sorry! I didn’t know you w-wanted to be called something else…”
  190. >she slinks back a little bit
  191. >flinches away from your gaze
  193. >your confusion, however, only magnifies
  194. >so does your worry
  195. >what was the matter with this pony?
  197. >brow furrowed, you address her again
  199. “Yeaah... you can just call me Anon. Here, how about I just get this collar and leash off of you?”
  201. >you take one, cautious step forward
  202. >this pony looks like she’s ready to bolt, the way she’s shying away from you
  203. >you kneel down and gently take hold of the collar
  204. >your fingers gently brush the muscles in her neck
  205. >they are hard as a rock
  207. >but you also can see her ribs from close up
  208. >they aren’t bulging out, but you can definitely see them
  209. >you grimace
  211. “Hey… are you hungry, Applejack? I’ve got plenty of food for you. Fruits, veggies, greens, eggs…”
  213. >you cough to clear your throat
  214. >you fiddle with the buckle on the collar and pull the fabric out of the loop
  215. >once it’s off, you drop it on the floor
  216. >Applejack isn’t responding to you
  217. >so, you ask the question again
  219. “Um, Applejack? Do you want lunch?”
  221. >You scoot back, and stand up
  222. >but you hunch over and put your hands on your knees
  223. >you try to look her in the face, but she’s not looking back at you
  224. >your mind is going to dark places as you are beginning to piece things together
  226. >Finally, she answers
  227. >but it’s not what you anticipated
  229. “I-I’m… I’m allowed to eat all of that?”
  231. >for the first time since she arrived, she looks up at you
  232. >there’s a tiny glimmer in her eyes
  234. >but you must have been giving her a face by accident
  235. >because as soon as she does, she wilts, and turns her head back away from you
  236. >like she’s waiting to be struck
  238. >this is when you start to piece things together
  239. >your mind was rejecting it as a possibility before
  240. >you didn’t want to believe it
  241. >but the emaciated look, her demeanor, the pain and fear in her voice
  242. >it all went far beyond shyness
  243. >really, it was the most obvious thing in the world
  245. >This pony has been abused.
  247. >You are going to have to tread very carefully.
  248. >you don’t want to draw attention to all of those horrible things she must have had to go through
  249. >at least, not yet
  250. >poor thing doesn’t look ready
  251. >so, you simply nod
  252. >and answer her softly
  254. “Yes, Applejack. Of course, all of it. I got it just for you.”
  256. >rather than wait for her, you decide to go to the kitchen
  257. >the way your house is, there are no walls between the living room and the kitchen
  258. >you open up the fridge and take out a carton of eggs, some cheese, a few handfuls of spinach, and a fresh apple
  259. >put them down on the counter right in front of her
  261. “Hey, how about I make you an omelette? Cheese and spinach sound good?”
  263. >Applejack is still rather quiet
  264. >but she looks up at the counter, finally managing to peel her eyes away from the floor
  265. >when she sees the ingredients you’ve laid out in front of her, you once again see the spark in her eyes
  266. >just a tad of life in there
  267. >and the tips of her ears twitch upward
  268. >she inhales
  270. “Uh… uh huh…”
  272. >Good, because you were going to make it anyway
  273. >You don’t waste time getting started.
  274. >you pull out a pan and a bowl
  275. >start heating the stovetop and cracking the eggs into the bowl
  276. >you weren’t exactly a cook, but this was one of those things you could actually make pretty well
  277. >lots of burnt eggs along the way to mastery, though
  278. >you’re going to try extra hard today to make the best dish you can
  280. >you look over to her and realize that she’s sitting down on the floor, now
  281. >before, she was just standing there
  282. >bracing herself
  283. >you frown at her sympathetically and point to the living room couch
  285. “Hey, you can sit down on the couch and wait if you want, Applejack. Go ahead and make yourself feel at home!”
  287. >you talk loudly over the sizzling in the pan
  288. >checking the pan briefly before watching her
  289. >Applejack hears you, and looks over at the sofa
  290. >her emerald eyes widen, and her jaw falls
  291. >she glances over at you, a fearful expression on her face
  292. >but you just smile at her
  293. >and point at the couch again
  295. “Go on, it’s ok!”
  296. >Applejack once again looks over at you
  297. >she’s still very tense
  298. >but her expression, slowly, begins to relax
  299. >eventually, she slinks over to the sofa
  300. >and gingerly steps on, sitting down
  302. >a few minutes pass, and it’s all done
  303. >and it’s a masterpiece
  304. >you’re so glad you’re able to cook something so good for her
  305. >poor thing looks like she hasn’t had something like this in…
  306. >maybe ever.
  308. >you put her plate down on one end of the table and sit down on the other side
  310. “Alright, it’s done! Come on and eat up. I think you’ll like it, Applejack.”
  312. >you look over the counter, the only thing separating the living room from the kitchen
  313. >you see her still sitting there
  314. >shoulders up straight, not relaxing in the slightest
  315. >but when she hears her name, she seems to automatically get up
  316. >and she walks over to the table with that same drag in her hooves
  317. >but she does what you say like it’s an order
  319. >steady now
  320. >you’re going to take your time with her
  321. >it’s only just beginning
  323. ...
  325. >Applejack looks at you warily before she sits down
  326. >with a wince
  327. >you notice, and it makes you raise your eyebrows
  328. >you put the plate with the omelette down in front of her, and a fork
  329. >you don’t know if she uses those things, what with hooves and all
  330. >but you’ll cover all your bases
  331. >not used to this pony stuff yet
  333. >you sit down in the seat beside her
  334. >you have a cup of yogurt to eat so that things aren’t as awkward
  335. >so that you aren’t just watching her eat
  337. >Applejack stares down at the plate
  338. >her body is still shivering
  339. >she looks like she’s in a trance, under some kind of spell
  340. >you point at the plate
  342. “Go ahead, hon. You must be hungry. Right?”
  344. >Applejack seems like she refuses to look at you in the eye
  345. >but she, with a little hesitation, responds in the affirmative
  347. “Yes… I am, m-mmaster, I mean Anon! Anon….”
  349. >she swiftly corrects herself
  350. >she must have suddenly remembered that you wanted her to call you by your name
  351. >Tears spring to her eyes
  352. >she freezes
  354. >you see her beginning to panic
  355. >and you’re getting an idea of just how bad her past situation was
  356. >you try to dispel her fears as best as you can
  358. “Hold on, hold on, Applejack! It’s alright, I’m not mad at you! Ok? I promise, it’s no big deal!”
  360. >Applejack takes a hard, shaky breath
  361. >in and out
  362. >a tear falls down onto the table
  363. >she stammers
  365. “I-I’m-m sorry…”
  367. “That’s alright, hon. Now, please, just… eat. Ok?”
  369. >Applejack nods
  370. >she sniffles, and slowly, she bends her head down
  371. >she takes a mouthful from on end, chews it quietly, and swallows
  372. >then, she looks over at you again
  373. >like she’s seeking approval for the next bite
  375. >you feel her sad, fearful gaze as she stares at you
  376. >distrustingly
  377. >you smile gently
  378. >open up your yogurt cup
  379. >point at the omelette with your nose
  381. “Go on!”
  383. >Applejack gulps, and turns back to her plate
  384. >but then, she does something that surprises you
  385. >she eats much, MUCH more quickly
  386. >not ravenously, but close to it
  388. >your hand freezes around your yogurt spoon watching her
  389. >she’s breathing heavily as she eats
  390. >within thirty seconds, the whole thing is gone
  391. >Applejack swallows her last bite, and her ears fold back
  393. >you barely pay any attention to your spoon as you eat your yogurt
  394. >Applejack stares at her empty plate
  395. >screw it
  396. >you set your cup down
  397. >you weren’t hungry anyway
  399. “Sooo, Applejack… how about I show you your room?”
  401. >you get up from your seat
  402. >walk over to her
  403. >she finally follows you with her eyes
  404. >you gesture for her to get up
  406. “Don’t worry, I’ll get your plate. Come on, follow me…”
  408. >Applejack is predictably slow at first
  409. >but she nods her head silently and begins to slide out of her chair
  411. >this time, though, you pay close attention to her face
  412. >and she winces again
  413. >you once again see some tears come up in her eyes
  414. >she sets her hooves down at a weird angle
  415. >like she’s angling herself away from you
  417. >the alarm bells go off in your head
  418. >something is very wrong
  419. >you bite your lip
  420. >hold up your hand
  422. “Uhh… hold up.”
  424. >Applejack sucks in air through her nostrils
  425. >tenses up every muscle in her body
  426. >her eyes seem to pop out of her head for a moment
  427. >she looks at the floor by your feet
  429. “Applejack… turn around.”
  431. >Applejack’s jaw falls
  432. >and you hear a sob leave her
  433. >then, she does something that she hasn’t done in a while
  434. >she looks at you
  435. >right at you, if only for a moment
  437. >but she does what you say
  438. >bows her head, and turns around with a sob
  440. >when you see it, you bring a hand to your mouth
  441. >she’s trying to cover it with her tail, but it’s futile
  443. >all up and down her legs and rear, you see numerous, violet-red stripes
  444. >they stretch across horizontally
  445. >and there’s too many of them to count
  447. >all you can do is stare in shock
  448. >And the pony in front of you just quietly sobs
  450. >You aren’t sure what to do next
  452. >Applejack looks over her shoulder
  453. >tears are collecting on her chin and falling to the floor
  454. >now that she can’t hide it, she is expressing her pain more openly
  455. >and her obvious embarrassment
  457. “I-I’m… I’m a good pony, Anon, I promise I don’t, I-I won’t give you any trouble… I swear!”
  459. >As she continues talking, you begin to recall when your elementary school class talked about black slavery in the 1800s
  460. >something that sticks out in your mind as you realize what Applejack must believe you are thinking right now
  461. >when a potential buyer saw evidence of numerous whip scars, it was a sign that the slave was rebellious
  462. >it, in turn, decreased their valuation on the market
  463. >made them into a liability
  465. >your heart breaks as Applejack looks at you pleadingly
  467. “I’ll a-always do what you say, Anon! I’ll obey you…”
  469. >that’s it
  470. >you can’t bear to hear any more
  471. >you hold up your hand to gesture for her to stop
  472. >she does, with a whimper
  473. >lowering her ears and head
  475. >you take a long, deep breath
  477. “Applejack, listen to me, hon. Whatever your old “master” did to you… I ain’t him. I will never, ever be him. Do you understand?”
  479. >you do your best to keep your voice under control
  480. >you don’t want to scare her
  481. >but under the surface, you are furious
  482. >those lines, those scars
  483. >they are recent, and terrible
  484. >the skin has even been abraded enough to where there are patches that are shiny
  485. >where the skin’s surface isn’t there anymore
  487. >Applejack is crying openly, now
  488. >she responds, almost automatically
  490. “Yes, Anon!”
  492. >but you can hear in her tone of voice, the fear
  493. >and you get the sense that she wasn’t fully processing what you just said
  494. >like all she heard was “do you understand”
  495. >and she said yes out of fear of further punishment
  496. >you cringe
  498. >Applejack flinches when you step toward her
  499. >but her eyes grow wide when you get down on your knees
  500. >you do decide, however, to use her apparent will to obey you to your advantage
  501. >and give her a soft-spoken command
  503. “Please, turn around, Applejack. Turn around and look at me.”
  506. >thankfully, she lowers her tail, and turns herself around
  507. >she wavers at looking up at you, but she eventually does do what you ask
  508. >her eyes glisten, a tear tracing a line through the film of dust and dirt on her face
  509. >you stay kneeling
  510. >and very carefully, you extend your hands toward her
  511. >she gasps when you place them below her jaw, and gently lift her face
  513. “I will never, ever do what he did to you. What I just said is the honest truth, hon. Whatever horrible things he did to you, that’s all in the past. I’m not going to be like him.”
  515. >She looks intently at you
  516. >with those massive, expressive green irises
  517. >you could almost lose yourself in them
  518. >you blink rapidly for a moment, collecting yourself
  520. “Tell me if you understand, Applejack.”
  522. >Applejack’s face is frozen
  523. >a tear from her cheek drips onto your wrist
  524. >Her mouth is slightly agape
  525. >and it’s clear to you that she’s truly processing what you just told her, this time
  527. >faintly, she nods her head
  528. >you can feel her warm exhale on your wrists
  529. >releasing air she had been holding inside of her this whole time
  531. >it’s the first sign of her relaxing, even slightly, since you got her here
  532. >you smile at her
  533. >you hope it comes across as warm and welcoming
  535. >Applejack doesn’t smile back, but she doesn’t avert her eyes from you, either
  536. >like she has been all those times before
  537. >you can only hope that it isn’t just because you TOLD her to look at you
  538. >Either way, there is new business that you need to attend to
  540. >and she isn’t going to enjoy it.
  542. >you pull your hands away from her and slowly get up
  543. >Applejack’s head falls a little now that your hands aren’t propping it up
  544. >you really don’t want to say what you’re about to say
  545. >but after seeing those marks on her rear and legs, you can’t put it off
  546. >You bite your lip
  548. “Alright. Now, Applejack… those marks are bad, hon. And I don’t want to put you through even more pain, but… we gotta clean those cuts.”
  551. >You wince for Applejack’s sake
  552. >this won’t be pleasant for her
  554. >what you just said takes a moment to sink in
  555. >but once it does, the orange pony’s head shoots up
  556. >she fixes you with those huge, glistening eyes once more
  557. >breathes shallowly through her open mouth
  559. >you can clearly see the fear making a resurgence on her features
  560. >Her back hooves are shaking a little bit, too
  561. >she’s clearly still in a good deal of pain
  562. >but with a shuddering sigh, she lowers her head at you
  563. >gives a labored nod of her head
  564. >and once more, she seems calm
  566. “Y-yes, Anon.”
  568. >she sniffs
  569. >wipes a tear
  570. >but she also seems resigned to it all
  572. >that’s about as good of a reaction as you could hope for
  573. >so, you’ll get this over with now
  574. >you wave at her, motioning for her to follow you down the hallway
  576. “Alright. Let’s get you to the bathtub. Follow me…”
  578. ----
  580. >Applejack is standing stock still in the doorway while you search the bathroom cabinet
  581. >sorting through the crap, you withdraw a fresh new bar of soap, still in the cardboard box
  582. >it’s nothing fancy, but it will get the job done
  583. >you don’t have any of that fancy antibiotic cream or anything
  584. >there’s also a small bottle of rubbing alcohol down there, but you aren’t going to touch that
  585. >you don’t want Applejack’s screams of agony to be heard around the neighborhood
  586. >sure, you use it sometimes on the job when the blade of a shovel or something cuts your hands, but not for something as widespread as this
  587. >poor thing wouldn’t be able to take it.
  589. >you pop the bar of cream white soap from the box and turn on the water faucet
  590. >you run your hand beneath it until it is a comfortable lukewarm temperature
  591. >then, you motion to Applejack again
  593. “Come on, hon. I’ll help you into the tub.”
  595. >Applejack swallows, and slinks into the bathroom with her tail pressed tightly against her leg
  596. >she looks scared, but nothing like the terror that was on her face before
  597. >when she gets close enough, you reach under her front legs, and gently lift her up
  599. >holy COW, she’s heavier than you thought she would be
  600. >thankfully, you’re used to lifting heavy bags of sand and hauling wheelbarrows filled with mulch and gravel
  601. >you set her down very carefully into the tub, and make sure she can stand on all four legs before letting go
  602. >you face her rear and hind legs toward the faucet
  603. >water laps up against the fetlocks of her back hooves
  604. >Applejack’s breathing hard, but she’s not resisting you
  606. >you wince again when you see the marks
  607. >there are so many of them
  608. >some of the cuts are deeper than others
  609. >and it also doesn’t help that they’re in such a, well, embarrassing area
  610. >the wounds never appear to have been cleaned, as you expected
  611. >they’re dried out a little, but bits of dirt and grime are visible as well
  612. >honestly, her whole body could use a good bath
  613. >but you have to get this sorted first
  614. >have to give everything a thorough rinse with cool water until it’s moist and able to be cleaned
  616. >thankfully, you have one of those detachable shower handles with a hose, the kind you can use to wash things up close
  617. >hopefully that will speed things up a little
  619. “Ok Applejack, are you ready? I’m going to turn on the showerhead.”
  621. >Applejack gasps lightly
  622. >she looks over her shoulder
  623. >takes a long look at the showerhead in your hand
  624. >like she was trying to verify that you really WERE going to do what you said you were doing
  625. >when she sees it, she swallows, and turns back around
  627. >She nods her head, and you see her flick her tail away completely
  628. >keeping it off to the side
  629. >She also raises one of her front legs, and braces herself against the opposite wall with it
  631. “Y-Yeah. I’m ready, Anon.”
  633. >It’s only just occurring to you now, however, how vulnerable Applejack is right now
  634. >you know this has to feel awkward for her
  635. >after all, you can kind of see everything right now
  636. >with a normal animal, you wouldn’t think anything of it
  637. >not even with a normal horse, or a pony
  638. >but a pony that can talk?
  639. >That was different
  640. >certainly more different than you were hoping it would feel.
  642. >you push it out of your mind, however, when you realize that you have kept Applejack waiting for nearly ten extra seconds
  643. >so, you jerk the shower diverter on and point it at the bathtub wall
  644. >after all, you don’t want to startle her with a sudden rush of cool water
  645. >you want this to be as comfortable for her as you can make it
  647. >the water shoots out with a gurgle and a hiss
  648. >Just from that sound alone, she jumps a little
  649. >but she settles back down quick, exhaling sharply
  651. >you start with her right side, working from top to bottom
  652. >that way, everything will all flow down hill, so to speak
  653. >but when the lukewarm jets of water make contact with her damaged skin, Applejack winces audibly
  654. >she bends her bracing leg a little, closing her eyes
  655. >but she isn’t giving you any trouble as you work the water down slowly, watching some of the dirt and grime go down the drain
  656. >you are honestly appalled by how dark the water is beginning to look
  657. >Applejack may very well get an infection if you aren’t thorough enough
  659. >you go over the whole right side three times before switching to the other side
  660. >this time, Applejack’s legs and rear tense up, and she hisses from between clenched teeth
  661. >the water pressure must be a little high
  662. >but with how scabbed over some of these marks are, and how much dirt seems to be pressed deeply in, you have to have it that way
  664. >all the while, you are making a good effort to avoid the region directly below her tail
  665. >if anything, you have to get that part dead last, and only if she lets you
  666. >and only if you can stomach it
  668. >once the regions are rinsed well, you can see the skin beginning to moisten and the marks getting a little bit brighter in color
  669. >the wounds are more open, now, but that also means they’re going to hurt more, too
  670. >but that’s unavoidable
  672. >you reach down to the floor of the tub, and pick up the bar of now-lathered soap that you let sit in the pooling water, and grab a washcloth from a hook up on the wall
  673. >now it’s time for the even less pleasant part of this whole debacle
  674. >it’s not rubbing alcohol, but you know that this is still going to sting a lot
  675. >but it has to be done
  677. >you lean your head forward
  679. “Alright, Applejack. I gotta use the soap, now. You ready?”
  681. ...
  683. >Applejack shivers
  684. >she turns her head, and her eyes lock onto the bar of soap
  685. >she hesitates, but her head nods again
  687. “Yes, I-I’m ready Anon.”
  689. >then, she lifts up her other hoof, and presses that one against the wall, too
  690. >she hides her head in between her hooves, bracing herself
  691. >you wipe the bar of soap onto the washcloth, and give it a thorough covering layer
  692. >and then, not making her wait any longer, you start again from the top, pressing the soapy cloth deeply into the grooves of each mark
  694. “Ah… Ahh, ah! Ow...”
  696. >Applejack winces, and a shiver travels up her spine
  697. >She gasps and vocalizes softly into her hooves, but the hard walls echo it around the room
  698. >you have to ignore it
  699. >this is for the best
  700. >you are very methodical, making sure you trace every mark you see
  701. >the suds are turning darker in color, too
  703. >Applejack is still holding on, but you can hear her crying softly
  704. >her back hooves sometimes slosh the water when she raises and lowers them, trying to cope with the intense stinging pain
  705. >you once again, however, stay away from the place under her tail and between her legs
  706. >move past it, and slowly progress down her leg
  707. >until the whole surface of her right buttock and thigh is covered in suds
  708. >then, you rinse it all out with lukewarm water once again
  710. >a tear or two mixes in with the water in the tub as Applejack holds in sobs
  711. >the poor thing is only halfway done, too
  712. >you rinse out the cloth twice with water, and reapply the soap
  713. >then, you begin working on the other side
  715. “Ah! Ow, ow, ahh!”
  717. >this time, Applejack is louder than before
  718. >she bends both of her front hooves, like she’s trying to pull her rear end away from you
  719. >you continue cleaning, however, which draws a sob from her throat
  721. >you grimace
  722. >lowering your voice, you speak with a tone of gentle understanding
  724. “It’s gonna be ok, Applejack. Just stay strong, stay still, you can do it…”
  726. >still vocalizing, she gives a small stamp of her left rear hoof
  727. >splashing the water a bit
  728. >trying to do something to help distract herself
  729. >but hearing what you said, she unbends her front legs, and obediently moves back to where she was before
  730. >she mutters out a nearly-whispered apology
  732. “S-s-sorry, Anon…”
  734. “That’s ok. I’m working as fast as I can, hon.”
  736. >It will be over soon.
  738. ...
  740. >You do eventually make it all the way down her leg
  741. >Applejack is trying so hard to stay still, but her legs are shivering and shaking constantly
  742. >but when you start to rinse it all off, she begins to breathe a little easier
  743. >and her muscles relax
  744. >welcoming the cooling jets of water washing over the constant burn of stinging soap
  746. >the long slashes across her rump and legs are a different color than they were
  747. >the water finally lost its grayish brown color as it ran down her legs
  748. >you still grimace when you take a long look at the damage
  749. >but at least it can now heal properly, with some heavy bandages and gauze tape
  750. >your work, at least on this part of her body, is finally done
  751. >you smile
  753. “Alright, Applejack. That’s the end of that, ok? You did great.”
  755. >Applejack nods faintly, but keeps her face hidden in between her hooves, which remain propped up against the wall
  756. >you leave the showerhead running, angling it down
  757. >you rinse off the washcloth again, and reapply the soap for a third time
  758. >business hasn’t concluded just yet, but at least the worst part is finally done...
  760. “A...An-non?”
  762. >suddenly, you hear Applejack’s voice peep out, that soft country twang of hers coming through once again
  763. >You freeze, holding the washcloth in your hand
  764. >well, that was unexpected
  765. >the first time she’s actually initiated anything with you
  766. >hopefully, this is because she’s starting to trust you, even just a little bit
  768. >she also seems aware of the fact that she’s never addressed you before now, too
  769. >her voice cracks with timidity, like she’s expecting you to rebuke her for addressing you first
  770. >the thought that she would be so scared of something as simple as that...
  771. >it honestly makes you furious on the inside
  772. >but you keep your cool
  773. >you’re going to make sure that she knows that initiating conversation is perfectly ok
  774. >so, you reply, very casually
  776. “Yes, Applejack? Is everything alright?”
  778. >Applejack sniffs through clogged nostrils
  779. >she must have a runny nose after all that crying
  780. >the poor thing
  782. >she stammers out what she says next
  783. >this time, she doesn’t even look over her shoulder
  784. >but you can still see part of her face
  785. >and it’s gone from orange to furious, scarlet red
  786. >and the corners of her lips are curled downward in a fearful frown
  787. >she keeps her position, like she isn’t daring to budge unless you tell her it’s ok, first
  789. “Are you… are you gonna w-wash me… down there, too?”
  791. >Oh shit.
  794. >firstly, you take note of the nervousness in her voice
  795. >it’s very clear that she isn’t asking because she actually WANTS you to
  796. >and to be honest, you were considering not doing it
  797. >she may be a pony, but she’s not some mindless animal
  799. >but at the same time, you know that if it were you bathing yourself, you would want that spot cleaned, too
  800. >hell, ESPECIALLY that spot
  801. >but you also don’t want her to feel like you’re violating her
  802. >so, you sigh, and ask her the big question
  804. “Well… be honest with me, Applejack. Would you be ok with it?”
  806. >you wait for a reply
  807. >Applejack is thinking it through
  808. >glancing in your direction
  809. >you get the sense that she’s feeling you out
  810. >err, so to speak
  811. >trying to figure out if she trusts you enough
  812. >well, she understandably has issues with that, even though you’ve been nothing but nice to her
  813. >you wouldn’t blame her if she said no
  815. >and come to think of it, you kind of want her to say no…
  817. “I… I am.”
  819. >aaand that was not the answer you were expecting
  820. >you can practically feel the static in the air with how awkward the situation just got
  821. >you close your eyes, bite your lips
  822. >And when you open them, her nethers are right there
  824. >Applejack says no more
  825. >she’s closing her eyes, too
  826. >but you notice, with a strange, bubbling feeling building in your stomach, that she seems to extend her bracing legs even more
  827. >pushes her rear out, and lowers her front
  828. >and spreads her legs wider
  830. >you grip the soapy washcloth in your hand a little tighter
  831. >she’s actually trying to make it easier for you
  832. >you have to say, you never expected to be in a situation like this with her
  833. >but here you are
  834. >you don’t want to do this, really
  836. >but at the same time, you find yourself… flattered
  837. >in a really weird way
  838. >only a minute before, she was afraid you were going to hit her for just asking a question
  839. >and now, she trusts you this much?
  840. >quite a huge switch
  842. “Well… if you say so. Just… lemme know if you need me to stop. At any time. Ok?
  844. >Applejack nods
  846. “Yes, Anon. I, I understand.”
  848. >good
  849. >as long as she understands that, you’re just okay enough with this whole thing to do it
  850. >you take a moment to overcome your hesitation
  851. >remind yourself that she’s ok with this
  852. >and that it needs to be done
  853. >it needs to be done...
  855. >You bunch up the washcloth and pinch it between your four fingers
  856. >angle the softest part outward
  857. >and at last, you press it firmly onto the folds of her most private place
  859. >you feel her do a little jolt when you make contact
  860. >but she quickly relaxes
  861. >not hearing a demand for you to stop, you begin to rub the washcloth downward
  862. >pressing down firmly enough to actually do some good
  863. >you don’t scrub back and forth, but rather, you trace a single vertical line in the same direction
  864. >you feel the muscles tensing and contracting beneath your fingers, even through the cloth
  865. >Applejack is breathing hard through her nose
  866. >but she’s not telling you to stop
  868. >so you continue
  869. >pushing away… well, any thoughts whatsoever about what you’re actually doing right now
  870. >you cringe when you see the suds, like before, turning darker in color
  871. >it really is more than a little gross, but you feel terrible for Applejack
  872. >having such a part of her body be dirty can’t be comfortable
  873. >listening to her carefully, making sure you aren’t doing anything painful, you begin to focus your attentions on the right fold
  874. >through a thick layer of washcloth, you trace down the outer lip
  875. >that’s when you hear Applejack gasp
  877. “Ah…”
  879. >your hand stops dead in its tracks
  881. “You alright, hon?”
  883. ...
  885. >Applejack’s ribs rise and fall rapidly
  886. >she’s trying to keep her breathing under control
  887. >trying to keep quiet while you do your work
  888. >she nods
  890. “Y-yes, Anon, I’m fine. It’s just… it’s real sensitive.”
  892. >you frown
  893. >the air around you feels charged
  894. >so tense
  896. “Like… in a painful way, orr…”
  898. >She shakes her head, this time
  899. >and exhales sharply
  901. “N-no, the… other way...”
  903. >Oh.
  905. “Oh.”
  907. >Applejack’s back shivers, but she remains exactly where she is
  908. >meanwhile, you’re not sure what to do, now
  909. >you were kind of hoping that this would be one of those unpleasant things that you do and get over with, and hopefully forget about
  910. >I mean, you’re glad she’s not in pain and all
  911. >but you’d almost prefer a little more of that, over…
  912. >fuck, this is so awkward.
  913. >Fuck.
  915. “So… do you want me to stop, or…”
  917. >Applejack sighs
  918. >her tail twitches
  919. >then, she shakes her head
  921. “No, no… no, Anon. It’s ok.”
  923. >well, at least she doesn’t sound TOO enthusiastic
  924. >after all, you need to clean her, not… stimulate her.
  925. >damn, you should’ve just said no
  927. “If you’re sure, Applejack… I’m gonna keep going, ok?”
  929. >she says nothing
  930. >whatever
  931. >you push your thoughts aside once more and, with the same diligence as before, you finish scrubbing the right side
  932. >Applejack fortunately doesn’t seem to make much noise as you trace down the left side of her nethers
  933. >scrubbing it kind of like how you would wipe the dust from a guitar string
  934. >luckily, your efforts do not seem to be pointless
  935. >she’s definitely getting cleaner
  937. >now, for the final part
  938. >you bunch up the washcloth once again, and flatten your fingers inside of it
  939. >and, swallowing, you begin to clean the inner folds
  940. >it’s the last part, thank God
  941. >you feel like a total perve, but you don’t linger long
  943. >but Applejack is feeling it, for sure
  944. >her right rear leg twitches, sloshing in the water some more
  945. >she gives a gasp, and for just a short moment, her vocal chords crack
  946. >as soon as that happens, it’s out with your hand
  948. >once you pull it away, you swear that you can see her rump move back
  949. >jutting out even more, like it’s following the direction of your hand
  950. >but she pulls it back a second later
  952. >you pick up the showerhead again, which has been idly shooting water all over the floor of the bathtub
  953. >and you rinse the whole spot, making sure that every single sud is washed away
  955. >as soon as the water hits, though, Applejack makes the loudest sound yet
  956. >like a hiccup, but sharper
  957. >you decide that you aren’t going to ask
  959. >but then, something happens that draws your full attention
  960. >at the bottom of her nethers, right at the tip of her vagina, a pinkish red spot suddenly pops out
  961. >goes back in
  962. >then pops back out again
  964. >it keeps doing this, over and over again
  965. >you aren’t sure what to make of it
  966. >but it’s not like you’re going to ask your new pony what it is, either
  967. >”Hey, what’s wrong with your vagina?”
  968. >Jesus H. Christ…
  970. >once you stop rinsing her, however, it stops
  971. >and Applejack’s whole body does a little lurch forward
  972. >a harsh exhale leaves her, a pent up breath that hadn’t been released until now
  974. >and so concludes the most awkward situation you have ever been in all your life
  975. >both for you and, probably at least, for Applejack
  976. >you give the washcloth and extra thorough rinse, this time before you reapply the soap
  977. >you speak softly to Applejack, but still loudly enough to be audible over the background hiss of water
  979. “Alright, hon, we’re done with that. Now, I know you’re probably sick of standing there so long, but I’m just gonna get the whole rest of you now, ok?”
  981. >Applejack huffs and puffs
  982. >you notice out of the corner of your eye, that the thing pop in and out of her mare folds, again
  983. >but she answers you right away
  985. >Yes, yes An-non, I… I’ll stay right here, Anon.”
  987. >good, you think
  988. >she’s still cooperating, just like she always has been
  989. >even though you just basically fondled her
  990. >glad she’s so understanding
  991. >but you can’t help but give a little chuckle when you realize that she’s still in the same, bent over position
  992. >you clear your throat
  994. “Um, hey Applejack… you can just stand up regular, now, hon.”
  996. >her reaction is a little bit priceless
  997. >she gasps, redness on her face
  998. >starts to scramble
  999. >it’s a little difficult to do in a slippery tub, but she manages to put her front hooves back down and bring her back legs together
  1000. >she starts to stutter, retracing her words
  1002. “Oh, I uh… yes, Anon, yes, I-I’m just… just gimme just a s… sorry, Anon…”
  1004. “That’s alright, hon. Now, just do what you’ve been doing, and let me work. You’re going to be clean as a whistle by the time I’m done!”
  1006. >with a little blush on her face, she simply nods wordlessly
  1007. >she gives a little smile, even though it fades shortly afterward
  1009. >it’s the happiest expression you’ve ever seen her make.
  1011. >with determination, and breathing a sigh of relief, you get to work.
  1014. >it still felt a little awkward, you won’t lie
  1015. >but bathing the rest of her, after THAT, felt like nothing
  1016. >when you finally finish rinsing her off, her orange coat looks a lot like it did in the picture
  1017. >bright, smooth, and soft
  1019. >unfortunately, washing her also reveals some other things
  1020. >a mixture of things you hadn’t noticed before, and things that were covered up before
  1021. >smaller, shallower scars scattered over her frame, as well as a good number of bruises
  1022. >this pony’s former master…
  1023. >you’d like to wrap your hands around his neck
  1025. >you dry her off, but take care not to touch her rear and thighs
  1026. >you don’t want pieces of fabric finding their way into the wounds
  1027. >that’s just going to have to drip dry
  1028. >you leave her for a moment, and search the bathroom cabinet again
  1029. >you find some gauze, but you give a low groan when you realize that it isn’t going to be enough
  1030. >you also don’t have any medical tape
  1031. >jesus, you probably should have checked that BEFORE you deep cleaned her… everything
  1032. >you’re in a bit of a pickle right now
  1033. >there’s a pharmacy only a five minute drive away from your house
  1034. >but you can’t take Applejack with you
  1035. >there’s no way
  1036. >you don’t want those scars to be seen in public
  1037. >and besides, you aren’t going to let her go anywhere at all while those things aren’t covered up
  1039. >but you can’t just leave her here at home, either
  1040. >not without supervision, that is…
  1041. >or… can you?
  1043. >you try to find another way, but it’s starting to become clear
  1044. >you’re probably making a huge mistake
  1045. >but you can’t see how else you’re going to do this
  1047. >you fix Applejack with a serious stare
  1048. >she’s not looking directly at you at first, but when she notices you staring at her, she jerks her head sideways to look back at you
  1049. >that instant, she folds her ears back
  1050. >and she seizes up
  1052. >you show her the half-used roll of gauze
  1054. “Hey, hon. I just checked the cabinet to get you some dressing for the wounds on you, but… I don’t have what I need.”
  1056. >Applejack’s face, steadily, relaxes a bit
  1057. >when she hears your tone of voice, you think she realizes that you aren’t cross with her
  1058. >jeez, your stare must have been angry looking
  1059. >you’ll have to work on that
  1060. >ahem
  1062. “So… I’m gonna have to go up to the store and get some stuff. It’s only five minutes away. So, Applejack…”
  1064. >you point at the placemat below her hooves
  1066. “I’m gonna need you to stay put while I’m gone. Ok?”
  1068. >Applejack, her face timid and fearful before, suddenly goes blank
  1069. >looks at you with this expression of “wait, what?”
  1070. >but she glances down at the placemat
  1071. >and when she looks back at you, she nods resolutely
  1073. “Yes, Anon. I won’t leave this spot, I promise.”
  1075. >you hear her enthusiasm
  1076. >or… whatever it is
  1077. >come to think of it, you honestly don’t doubt her, either
  1078. >poor thing probably still thinks you’ll take a belt to her or something if she moves
  1079. >but you’ll use her irrational fear to your advantage this time
  1081. >you nod back at her, and smile
  1083. “Ok, good. Thank you, Applejack. I’ll be back very soon, don’t worry!”
  1085. >you wave goodbye, and close the door slowly
  1086. >she doesn’t wave back
  1087. >but that’s ok.
  1088. >you know she’s going to be ok.
  1091. >your truck is a piece of shit.
  1092. >no really, it’s fucking garbage
  1093. >the whole back seat section is filled with half-empty bags of organic fertilizer, hardwood mulch, stone fragments, old fast food bags, a toolbox…
  1094. >you’re pretty sure Applejack would get an infection just being near this thing
  1095. >whatever happens, you made the right call
  1097. >you arrive at the pharmacy
  1098. >it takes you five minutes by itself just to find the stuff
  1099. >damn, gauze is expensive
  1100. >so is special first aid tape
  1101. >but it’s worth every penny if it means you can help this poor pony out
  1102. >fuck it, you get a tube of antibiotic ointment, too
  1103. >you really hope it won’t sting
  1104. >but you have to keep the region moist
  1105. >otherwise, the scars won’t heal as well or as quickly
  1107. >you make a beeline to the car once you’ve paid for them
  1108. >plastic bag in your hand
  1109. >you hop in the driver’s seat and toss the bag in the passenger’s side
  1111. >you back up quickly, in a hurry to get home…
  1113. >and then, you see a flash of headlights from behind and to the right of you
  1114. >which is followed by a thundering CRUNCH of metal
  1115. >And your head jerks to the side, before whiplashing back the other direction
  1117. >it takes a moment for it to sink in what just happened
  1118. >you sit there, hands gripping the wheel
  1119. >white knuckled
  1120. >and then, once you understand what just occurred, you swear
  1121. >loudly
  1125. ...
  1128. >the police were slow to the scene
  1129. >you told the guy driving the other truck that he could have your info, and he could back with you
  1130. >it was your fault, after all
  1131. >but nooo, he had to get the police
  1133. >well, you had looked over to his truck
  1134. >and you sighed with relative relief when you realized that it’s a piece of shit, too
  1135. >and the damage is quite minor
  1136. >at least your payment out of pocket wouldn’t be TOO exorbitant
  1137. >you hope
  1138. >but your premium is gonna go up, for sure
  1139. >damn it, you really wanted to save up some more spending money from your jobs this summer
  1140. >but life gives you lemons, and all that shit
  1142. >the dent from tonight honestly blends in with the rest of your jalopy
  1143. >you’re just glad you can drive home
  1145. >you check your watch
  1146. >and swear again
  1147. >it’s been almost two goddamn hours
  1148. >you told her it would take you what, five minutes? Ten minutes there and back?
  1149. >this is horrible.
  1151. >You rush to the front door, fumbling with the keys
  1152. >you just hope Applejack hasn’t thought the worst
  1153. >you hope she’s still there…
  1155. >you throw the door open and jog inside, heading right for the bathroom with the plastic bag of gauze and cream in your hand
  1157. “Applejack! I’m back, hon, I’m back! I’m so sorry...”
  1159. >You reach the bathroom door
  1160. >you see that it’s still closed
  1161. >you turn the knob and slam it open
  1163. “Ah! AHH! Ah…”
  1165. >and there she is
  1166. >lying down on the placemat on the floor
  1167. >or, at least, she WAS lying down
  1168. >but she jolts awake when the door swings open
  1169. >practically jumps in the air, and thumps into the wall of the bathtub behind her
  1170. >her sharp, terrified scream echoes around the bathroom
  1171. >and it’s soon followed by heavy, labored breathing
  1173. >she stares up at you with her pupils wide as saucers
  1174. >her ears pin down on her head, and she seems to try and melt into the bathtub wall
  1176. >well, now you feel like an idiot
  1177. >you had to just crash into the room, didn’t you?
  1178. >it’s not like the poor thing wasn’t already scared enough
  1179. >you quickly get down on one knee, and hold the bag forward, toward her cowering frame
  1181. “Hey, hey, it’s me, Applejack! It’s Anon!”
  1183. >you reach into the plastic bag and pull out the gauze, tape, and tube of cream
  1184. >you set them down at your feet, right in front of her
  1185. >then, you stick the bag in the trash can
  1186. >all the while, you’re looking at her
  1187. >taking in the fear you see in her eyes
  1188. >it’s heartbreaking
  1189. >you try to calm her down
  1191. “See? I got the stuff. I’m gonna be able to get your marks covered up, now. Applejack?”
  1193. >she looks like she’s in a bit of shock
  1194. >her eyes are still huge, but at least she’s not heaving as much
  1195. >then, as the seconds tick by, you finally see her release the tension in her muscles
  1196. >you also see a few tears spill right out of her eyes and plop onto the tile floor
  1198. >you keep talking to her, making sure your voice is calm, clear, and soft
  1200. “I’m sorry, so sorry I took so long, hon. I just… I got into a car accident. It wasn’t a big one, but I had to wait for the police, and… gosh, I’m so sorry, Applejack.”
  1202. >she makes no reply other than a sniffle
  1203. >she covers up her face partway with her hoof
  1204. >she begins to whisper something, but she closes her mouth before scarcely a syllable gets out
  1206. >you lean your head forward
  1208. “Applejack? What is it, hon?”
  1211. >she shivers
  1212. >continues to face the wall
  1214. “I-I thought… you were mad, c-cuz I was sleeping…”
  1216. >she stutters, and squirms uncomfortably
  1217. >you shake your head, gritting your teeth together
  1218. >your heart aches just hearing that
  1220. “Oh, no, no, Applejack! Why would I get angry over something like that? Besides, I’m the one who left you here for two hours… and I’m really sorry I slammed that door open, ok? I know it must have startled you.”
  1222. >Applejack finally dares to look at you
  1223. >you try to give her a warm smile
  1224. >hope to calm her down, make her realize you aren’t going to hurt her
  1226. >and, for once, it seems to work
  1227. >she lowers her hoof, showing the rest of her tearstained face
  1229. >now that she has calmed down, you pick up the gauze, tape, and antibiotic cream
  1230. >she looks at your hands warily, but seems to know that whatever it is, it’s going onto her
  1231. >god, you really hope this cream doesn’t burn…
  1233. “Ok, hon. I’m gonna need you stand up and stay still for me, ok?”
  1235. ----
  1237. >it’s a lot harder to apply all of this stuff than you you thought it would be
  1238. >thankfully, the antibiotic cream doesn’t sting when you put it on
  1239. >Applejack still braced herself against the wall anyway, though
  1240. >she actually seemed a little surprised when she realized that it didn’t hurt when you applied it
  1241. >poor girl probably thought you were going to make even more pain for her
  1243. >wrapping the gauze around her rump and affixing it on both of her flanks with the tape wasn’t easy, either
  1244. >you had to avoid putting gauze over either of her private spots, so you did vertical strips of gauze beside them instead
  1245. >once you got down to her legs, it was a lot less awkward, though
  1246. >it kind of looks weird once you’re finished
  1247. >but hey, it got the job done
  1248. >all finished, now
  1249. >now, it just needs to heal
  1251. >you put away what’s left of the cream, tape, and gauze under the bathroom sink
  1252. >then, you scoot yourself around to get a better look at her face, which is hidden between her hooves
  1253. >she’s still bracing herself
  1254. >you clear your throat
  1256. “Ok, Applejack. It’s all done.”
  1258. >she lifts up her head, and sighs deeply
  1259. >then, this time without you having to remind her, she takes her hooves off the wall
  1260. >stands up straight
  1261. >you smile
  1263. “You did great, hon. Thank you so much for cooperating all this time, even though I know it hurt a lot…”
  1265. >she nods her head, and bows it down
  1266. >she’s still not looking directly at you, but she does turn her body a little bit
  1267. >facing the corner to your right
  1269. >it suddenly occurs to you that she never seems to look right at you
  1270. >barely a glance every now and then, but that’s it
  1271. >unless you tell her to, that is
  1272. >you’ll have to work on that later
  1273. >for now, you have to tell her a few things
  1274. >and you might as well tell her to look at you while you say them
  1276. “Hey, look at me for a minute, hon.”
  1278. >Applejack’s eyes get bigger for a moment, and her ears twitch
  1279. >but, just like every other time you’ve told her to do something, she does it with little hesitation
  1280. >you stay kneeling, not wanting to tower over her in a domineering way
  1282. “Good. Now, those scars are going to take time to heal, ok? So, I need you not to touch those bandages, be very careful if you want to sit down, and not exert yourself too much, ok? Those bandages need to stay on.”
  1284. >you give her the instructions with a level voice
  1285. >firmly enough, but there’s no need to “hammer it in”
  1286. >she does nothing less than try her best to remember everything you told her
  1287. >sure enough, she replies in a grave tone
  1289. “Yes, Anon. I understand.”
  1291. >you inwardly fist pump
  1292. >well, now that’s settled
  1293. >this long, horribly awkward cleaning session is over
  1294. >and now, you’re gonna help this mare out in any way that you can
  1295. >you can’t wait for what you’re going to show her next
  1296. >even the thought of the car accident only hours before seems to fade in your mind
  1298. >you wave her toward you
  1299. >she understands the silent gesture, and approaches you, but stays at a distance
  1301. “Ok, Applejack. Let me show you your new room!”
  1303. ------
  1305. >It’s right down the hall
  1306. >conveniently close to the bathroom
  1307. >it’s not a big room, and not a big bed
  1308. >but somehow, you doubt that will be a problem
  1310. >Applejack follows you at a short distance, maybe two feet
  1311. >so when you open the door to her room, she doesn’t automatically go in
  1312. >you have to point inside
  1314. “Come on, take a look!”
  1316. >Applejack purses her lips together, and nods silently
  1317. >she slinks up to you, standing on the other side of the doorway, watching you closely
  1318. >jeez, it’s like she’s expecting you to kick her if she fails some kind of test you’re giving her, or something
  1319. >you take a step back and give her all the room she needs
  1321. >she steps into the doorway
  1322. >and freezes
  1324. >you look down at her
  1325. >the seconds tick by
  1326. >and holy cow, she’s still not moving
  1328. >eventually, you see her front legs shake
  1329. >you’re about to say something, ask her if something is wrong
  1330. >you even look in the room with her
  1331. >half expecting some horror you weren’t aware of to be residing in the room
  1332. >I mean, you haven’t used this room in a while, so…”
  1334. “I… have a bed?”
  1336. >she asks the question in a mutter
  1337. >barely above a whisper
  1338. >she chokes on the word “bed”
  1340. >your heart flutters in your chest
  1341. >god, this hurts...
  1342. >you nod
  1344. “Yes, Applejack. It’s all yours!”
  1346. >she continues to stand there
  1347. >and stare
  1348. >and stare…
  1349. >just… in shock
  1350. >She hiccups
  1352. “But… I haven’t done anything yet…”
  1354. >she sounds so surprised
  1355. >and now, you can’t help smiling
  1356. >but that smile quickly turns into a grimace
  1357. >she’s so shocked that she gets to sleep in a bed…
  1359. >thinks she has to “earn” something so basic
  1360. >something you take for granted
  1362. >something happens to you
  1363. >you have an urge to do something that you were hesitant to do before
  1364. >Applejack is standing right next to you
  1365. >your hand is right there behind her head
  1367. >you bite your lip
  1368. >tense your whole body, hoping she won’t freak out
  1370. “It’s alright, hon.”
  1372. >you reach out, and put your hand on her head
  1373. >as expected, she tenses up
  1374. >gasps
  1375. >and her eyes dart over to you for an instant
  1376. >but you don’t withdraw your hand
  1378. >instead, you slowly brush over her mane with your hand, down the length of her neck
  1379. >feel her vertebrae faintly sticking out through her skin
  1380. >you wince, but you don’t stop
  1381. >you pet her several more times
  1382. >and she doesn’t move
  1384. >but then, something happens that chills your blood
  1385. >you’ll never forget it
  1387. “Ohh… I understand, An-non, I… wh-where do you want me?”
  1389. >your hand stops mid pet
  1390. >this time, you don’t just think it
  1391. >it slips out of your mouth in a low whisper
  1393. “Oh… oh shit…”
  1395. ------
  1397. >Applejack heard you.
  1398. >You feel her muscles twitch under her skin as she angles her ears in your direction
  1399. >when you pull your hand away, she turns her head
  1400. >a worried look on her face
  1402. >you hold up your hands and take a step back
  1403. >shaking your head
  1404. >you take a deep breath with eyes closed, holding your head in your hands
  1406. “Uhh, Applejack… I just… what…”
  1408. >somehow, this is the biggest bombshell yet
  1409. >even bigger than when you saw the scars across her rear and legs
  1410. >does she really mean…
  1412. >it gets more unbelievable
  1413. >Applejack turns around after a second of hesitation
  1414. >you hear her hoofsteps as she rotates around to face you
  1415. >then, she speaks
  1417. “Oh, I-I understand, m-master Anon, I… the bandages…”
  1419. >you hear her take a step forward
  1420. >slowly, your eyes open up, but not before you feel something that jerks you to a state of alertness
  1421. >something tugs the fabric on your pants, and then, you hear the sound of your zipper being pulled down
  1422. >heart stopping, you look down to see Applejack right there, the head of the zipper in her teeth
  1424. >you can’t help how your respond
  1425. >if you could do a redo, you would
  1426. >but your hands, formerly behind your head, fly down
  1427. >and sharply, you swat her snout
  1429. “GAH! Applejack! No, no!”
  1431. >you flinch as soon as your hand connects
  1432. >Applejack’s teeth come off of your zipper
  1433. >she yips, and her eyes go cross for a brief moment
  1434. >you didn’t hit her hard, but when she stumbles back, you know you didn’t have to
  1435. >you stand there in shock, reeling back yourself
  1437. >Applejack, thanks to the swat to her nose, has fresh new tears welling up in her eyes
  1438. >she covers her snout with a hoof
  1439. >and looks shamefully down at the ground
  1441. “I, I-I’m sssorry, Anon, I’m sorry! I’m sorry, I thought… I’ll t-turn around…”
  1443. >you can only stare in disbelief when she turns around and raises her tail
  1444. >and lowers the front of her body to the floor
  1445. >your mouth gapes open, and you start furiously shaking your head
  1446. >a loud shout preparing to escape your throat
  1448. >Applejack looks over her shoulder, at you
  1449. >through her teary eyes
  1451. “I can bend over the b-bed, mas--”
  1453. “APPLEJACK, STOP!”
  1455. -----
  1457. >the whole house falls completely silent
  1458. >yet, it seems like your command is echoing around the hallway
  1460. >Instantly, before another word could get out, Applejack stopped
  1461. >and you can see her muscles bulge with tension
  1462. >she cringes like she’s just been kicked, and her tail clamps down over her privates
  1463. >you stare down at her with your jaw slackened
  1465. >there are tears in your eyes when you see her expression
  1466. >such fear
  1467. >a look that implores you about what she’s done wrong
  1468. >You bite your lips and calm yourself down from your outburst
  1470. >Applejack is still bent over
  1471. >her chin and cheek pressed against the carpet
  1472. >she won’t move
  1474. >So, you’re going to have to make her.
  1475. >it’s for her own good
  1476. >keeping your voice level, you address her after almost a minute of silence has passed
  1478. “Applejack, hon… stand up. Stand up, and turn around.”
  1480. >as usual, you don’t have to tell her twice
  1481. >her legs quiver, obviously sore from maintaining such an uncomfortable position
  1482. >but she does what you say
  1483. >however, you didn’t tell her to look at you
  1484. >so, she doesn’t, opting to gaze at the floor
  1486. >you don’t even know how to respond
  1487. >all you had done was pet her
  1488. >shown her some much-needed affection
  1489. >you never thought it would have led to this.
  1491. >you can tell Applejack is trying valiantly not to break down
  1492. >there is a small red spot on her nose where you bopped her
  1493. >you almost apologize, but you decide against it at the last second
  1494. >it was disturbing how fast she had worked your fly down
  1495. >you note, with a grimace, that she has obviously done it before
  1496. >you had to stop her right away, and besides, you didn’t actually hurt her
  1497. >no blood was dripping out of her nose, thank goodness...
  1499. >her soft voice, nearly a whisper, reaches your ears and pulls you out of your thoughts
  1501. “Master Anon, I---I’m so sorry, p-please---”
  1503. >you can’t hear any more of this
  1504. >it’s too much
  1505. >you cut her off right away, holding up your hand
  1507. “No, no. No, just… just stop, Applejack. Please. I’m not mad, I-I… just… just come here, hon. Come here.”
  1509. >you speak with as much softness as possible
  1510. >hold out your hand like you have something it it
  1511. >beckoning her toward you
  1512. >you even get down on one knee
  1514. >Applejack looks at you with terror in her eyes
  1515. >but despite herself, she takes the first, shivering step in your direction
  1516. >blinking rapidly, breathing heavily
  1517. >a tear falls like a rock to the floor
  1518. >but slowly, she approaches your outstretched hand
  1520. >you swallow hard
  1521. >there are no words you can think to say right now
  1522. >so, you’re going to do something else, instead
  1523. >you’re not going to say a word
  1525. >Applejack lowers her head in submission, and places it beneath your hand
  1526. >and that’s when you make your move
  1528. >you lean forward, both arms outstretched
  1529. >and then, clasping down tightly, you hug her around her shoulders
  1530. >and pull her into you
  1532. >the tension you feel in her entire body is unreal
  1533. >hard as stone
  1534. >you feel her jump in place when your arms wrap around her
  1536. “Ahh! Ah, ah…”
  1538. >you briefly feel her body jerk backward
  1539. >but just for a moment
  1540. >then, gradually, you feel her settle more into you
  1541. >her warm breath tickles your back, even through your t-shirt
  1542. >her head is perched on your shoulder
  1543. >then, you move one of your hands up to the top of her head
  1544. >and laying it into her silk-like mane you cradle her head
  1546. >you press your cheek against the side of her neck
  1547. >it feels so much like a normal horse
  1548. >you close your eyes, and at last, words make their way onto your tongue
  1549. >And then, hugging her tighter, you say them
  1550. >words that you never would have dreamed you would ever say, to anyone
  1552. “I’m not going to rape you.”
  1554. >you grasp the hairs of her mane in between your fingers
  1555. >and you dare to pet her head again
  1556. >her coat still smells like fresh soap from your bath
  1557. >you hold her close, and begin to rock her from side to side
  1559. >Applejack sniffles, and you feel her chest heave
  1560. >you continue stroking her mane, and repeat yourself in whispers
  1561. >she slowly starts to relax, and you feel just the slightest give in the skin of her neck
  1563. “I’m not going to rape you, alright? I’m not going to rape you. I’m…”
  1565. >then, it happens
  1566. >a sob
  1567. >you feel it wrack her body in your hold
  1568. >then another
  1569. >a hot teardrop falls onto your back, and seeps through the fabric of your shirt
  1570. >and her body, formerly tense as a coiled spring, begins to melt into your arms
  1572. >suddenly, you feel her weight pressing against you
  1573. >she goes limp, and several sobs escape her
  1574. >she’s pushing you backward, but you brace yourself on one knee and bear her weight
  1575. >in between cries, she tried to get something out
  1577. “I… I-I… I…”
  1579. >then, it all breaks loose
  1580. >she loses it, completely
  1581. >what can only be described as a broken wail leaves her throat
  1582. >her howls echo up and down the hallway
  1583. >tortured cries, the result of so much anguish for so long, come flooding out
  1585. >you don’t say a word.
  1586. >you press yourself deeper into her body, and keep her secure
  1587. >and her cries go on and on.
  1589. -------
  1591. >you sit in your chair
  1592. >rotating a half empty bottle of beer in your hands
  1593. >a small lamp is the only thing lighting the room
  1595. >it’s getting late, but you can’t sleep
  1596. >Applejack, on the other hand, had no trouble
  1597. >the poor pony had exhausted herself from crying so hard, for so long
  1598. >you don’t even know if she really felt it when you picked her up and tucked her into her new bed
  1599. >you were very careful to lay her on her side, and make sure that her damaged rear was not taking any of her weight
  1600. >and that was that.
  1602. >You had to go to work tomorrow.
  1603. >Not only that, but your line of work meant that you had to get up early
  1604. >you had to meet with your other four employees before you all drove to the work site
  1605. >you also had to go up the stone sales center and get another pallet of stone because you were close to running out
  1606. >it was a big patio, after all
  1607. >and you were already running behind
  1608. >you were hoping that your new pony would be able to pitch in some help
  1609. >you’d show her the ropes, give her some simpler jobs to start out
  1610. >make sure she knew what she was doing
  1611. >but now…
  1613. >You couldn’t take her up to the work site in this condition
  1614. >Her hindquarters were whipped to hell, her body was thin, her mind…
  1615. >well, that was in the worst shape of all.
  1616. >but could you possibly leave her here? All alone, for hours?
  1617. >you almost think you should admit her to a hospital
  1618. >but you really won’t have much money to spare until you can finish this patio job
  1619. >and with the car accident, you know your premium is going to increase a ton
  1621. >you don’t know what to do.
  1622. >this had been such a bad idea…
  1623. >no. No it hadn’t.
  1624. >Applejack had been through hell before she came to you
  1625. >you saved her
  1626. >you saved her life.
  1628. >and you know, it’s starting to occur to you
  1629. >you’d left her in the same place for two hours
  1630. >on a damn bathmat
  1631. >and she hadn’t moved
  1632. >she hadn’t done anything to your house
  1633. >in fact, she’d done exactly what you said
  1634. >which only makes sense…
  1636. >you don’t want to do it, but you’re going to have to wake her up early
  1637. >she needs sleep, but you don’t want her to wake up and find you totally gone
  1638. >you thought of leaving a note, but that wouldn’t be ideal
  1640. >you drain the rest of your beer and get up
  1641. >it’s getting late, and maybe you’ll be able to fall asleep eventually
  1642. >you don’t take sleeping pills, because they make it almost impossible to get up the next morning
  1644. >two hours later, after tossing and turning and nearly throwing your blanket right off the bed, you finally drift to sleep.
  1646. -----
  1648. >the beep of your alarm rips you out of your slumber
  1649. >with a sharp breath, you roll over and slap the top of the clock, and the beeping ceases
  1651. >you actually look at the clock, hoping that maybe, just maybe, you still had 30 minutes left or something
  1652. >but you don’t
  1653. >you groan
  1655. >back to the old grind.
  1657. >you roll out of bed and walk groggily to the bathroom
  1658. >yawning loudly
  1659. >the light stings your eyes when you flip the switch
  1660. >as usual, you splash some cold water on your face
  1661. >it wakes you up
  1662. >at least, sort of
  1663. >then, you leave the light on and enter the hallway again
  1664. >you’re going to whip up some breakfast...
  1666. >you know, you really might have forgotten
  1667. >you were so groggy that you actually may have forgotten about the pony you had put to bed last night
  1668. >but lucky for you, when you exit the bathroom, she makes it impossible
  1670. >she’s standing right there, at the other end of the hall
  1671. >looking right at you
  1672. >the light coming out of the bathroom reflecting off of her huge, emerald green eyes
  1674. >you freeze in place
  1675. >practically stop mid yawn
  1676. >she points her nose at the floor, but angles her eyes up at you
  1678. “G-good morning, master Anon.”
  1680. ------
  1682. >The two of you meet eyes, and stare for a long while
  1683. >all you can really see well at first was the light gleaming off of her eyes
  1684. >but the rest of her comes into the picture as your eyes adjust to the dark
  1686. >you tilt your head in surprise
  1688. “Oh. Well, hey. You’re… already up.”
  1690. >you rub your eyes and lean against the wall
  1691. >Applejack nods her head, and stands up straighter
  1693. “Yes, Master Anon. The sun was just starting to go up.”
  1695. >she almost sounds like a soldier
  1696. >talking to her superior officer, or something
  1697. >you furrow your eyebrows and chuckle under your breath
  1698. >and yawn again
  1700. “Oh. So, is that when you, you know, normally get up?”
  1702. >It’s a basic question
  1703. >you didn’t intend to communicate anything other than what you asked
  1704. >but you underestimate her nerves
  1706. >She lowers her head, and her posture slumps
  1707. >then, she asks you a question with a significantly diminished tone
  1709. “I’m sorry, di-id you want me up earlier? I haven’t done any work yet, I’m s…”
  1711. >She trails off
  1712. >and suddenly, it’s back to yesterday’s grind
  1713. >you take your leaning arm off of the wall, and shake your head at her
  1715. “No, no, Applejack. Relax, ok? Take a deep breath.”
  1717. >As usual, she takes your request as a demand
  1718. >breathes in deeply, and exhales deeply
  1719. >stops herself mid-sentence
  1720. >when it appears she has calmed down, you continue
  1722. “Well, if I’m honest, Applejack, I was going to let you sleep as long as you wanted this morning. I have to go to work early in the morning, and I was going to leave you a note letting you know where I was and letting you know what food I have for you to eat.”
  1724. >Applejack listens to you intently
  1725. >but as you talk, you can see one of her eyebrows rising up in confusion
  1726. >she looks down at your feet, appearing to contemplate what you’ve just said
  1728. “Oh, uh… yes, Anon. But-”
  1730. >she seizes up a bit
  1731. >you notice her look up at you as soon as the last word leaves her lips
  1732. >like she’s expecting you to rebuke her for talking back
  1733. >well, you’re going to clear that up right now
  1735. “Go on, hon, what is it?”
  1737. >Applejack seems to relax at your gentle tone
  1738. >she licks her lips
  1739. >and takes a step back
  1741. “I just… what work do you want me to do, Anon?”
  1743. >well, this is getting a little bit complicated
  1744. >you were planning on telling her yesterday why she was here
  1745. >why you purchased her in the first place
  1746. >but the whole everything yesterday had been such a clusterfuck you never got the chance.
  1747. >Now, you had to explain it all early in the morning
  1748. >damn, this week isn’t starting off well
  1750. “Ehh, it’s… a little complicated right now, hon. Don’t worry, I’ll have work for you to do, I will, it’s just… I can’t let you work in this state. Your rear end needs to heal, and you need to gain some weight back before I can let you work with me and my team.”
  1752. >You watch her face closely
  1753. >every word you say, for some reason, seems to be worrying her more
  1754. >she stammers, falls silent, but then begins to say something back in reply
  1756. “I can work, Master, I can work. I can pull, I can carry, I can push…”
  1758. “I’m sure you can, Applejack. But now, you need to get rest. There is no way you’re going to be working while those cuts are still healing. This stuff is good, hard work, and I’m not having you get injured or having your cuts start weeping again. Ok?”
  1760. >You wait for her typical “Yes, Anon, master sir your highness”
  1761. >but surprisingly, this time, there’s quite the delay
  1762. >she’s silently pondering everything to herself
  1764. >she licks her lips again, and her brow forms a V shape in between her eyes
  1766. “I-I… Anon, I…”
  1768. >ok, you really don’t have time for this
  1769. >if she’s going to be so obedient, you’re going to just have to keep on taking advantage of it when it’s for her own good
  1771. “No, Applejack. Stop. There’s no discussion here. What I said is final, and I don’t want to hear any more. Ok?”
  1773. >wow, you sounded a little harsh
  1774. >but you have to get going
  1775. >you haven’t even gotten your coffee going, yet…
  1777. >The expression Applejack makes is a pretty drastic change
  1778. >she communicates with her eyes low to the ground that she knows she’s overstepped her bounds a bit
  1779. >Shrinks back
  1780. >but she nods, and says no more on the matter.
  1782. “Yes, Anon.”
  1784. -----
  1786. >Applejack is quiet for the next ten minutes
  1787. >she gingerly sits down at the table on a pillow-padded chair as you sip your coffee, absentmindedly eating your eggs
  1788. >she eats the breakfast you’ve laid out in front of her, but very slowly
  1789. >she looks around the dimly lit room
  1790. >you glance back and forth between your steaming mug, the clock on the wall, and the pony across the table from you
  1792. >there’s a dejected look on her face
  1793. >a certain cloudiness in the whites of her eyes
  1794. >you poke the yolk of one of your eggs and watch it run out over the plate, but you don’t eat
  1795. >watching her is making you lose your appetite
  1797. “Hey, Applejack. You ok, hon?”
  1799. >the lack of delay when she nods her head at you is surprising
  1800. >she bites her lip, and stands back on her hooves
  1802. “Yes, A-Anon, I’m fine. I’m ok.”
  1804. >her posture changes
  1805. >shoulders are broader, head held higher
  1806. >legs straight
  1807. >like you’ve snapped her out of something
  1809. >but then it hits you
  1810. >she’s still trying to get you to change your mind
  1811. >put on the air that she’s ready to work.
  1812. >She dare not ask you again, you know
  1813. >but she’s a smart girl.
  1815. >still, you can’t.
  1816. >even though, for whatever reason, it’s killing her spirits
  1817. >the pony needs rest and rejuvenation
  1818. >and the injuries she’s sustained don’t mix with dirt, sand, and stone dust
  1819. >you shake your head
  1821. “Look, hon. I know you said you want to work, and I’m very happy to see you eager. The team and I could really use the help. But you can not, I repeat, can NOT work yet. I’m sorry, but that’s what has to happen. Ok, Applejack?”
  1823. >She folds her ears back, and her shoulders slump
  1824. >every new word makes her shrink down even more
  1825. >but she nods anyway
  1827. “Yes, Master Anon. I… so I will work, though?”
  1829. >you puff air through your nostrils in a slight laugh
  1830. >you drop your fork onto the plate
  1831. >and give a good natured roll of your eyes, smiling
  1833. “Yees, Applejack. I promise. I promise you’ll have plenty of work to do once you’ve healed up and you don’t look as skinny. And you can start by eating your breakfast now, ok? I mean, is everything on your plate alright?”
  1835. >you honestly aren’t mad
  1836. >just perplexed, and maybe a bit amused
  1837. >well, you don’t have to worry about work ethic whatsoever
  1838. >more than can be said than for a couple of your own guys
  1839. >you lean your head in your hand
  1841. >Applejack pauses and eyes her plate
  1842. >then she takes a little mouthful of her scrambled eggs
  1843. >she chews, swallows, and nods her head
  1845. “It’s good, Anon. Thank you.”
  1847. “Good. I’m glad. I made sure there weren’t any shells in it.”
  1849. >that gets a tiny smile out of her
  1850. >it disappears right away, but you notice
  1851. >and then, you smile
  1853. >another minute passes, and now you’re starting to think
  1854. >she wants to work, that much is true
  1855. >and you are going to have to leave her here alone for at least this week
  1856. >and it’s not like there’s an abundance of things to do
  1857. >and actually, even though you live here, when you are sick yourself, you get a little stir crazy, too.
  1859. >alright, Applejack. You win… sort of.
  1860. >you sigh, take the last bite of your breakfast, and get up
  1861. >Applejack flinches, and stares up at you now
  1863. >she watches you nervously as you open the drawer of your small end table
  1864. >a low stammer escapes her
  1866. “M-Master Anon?”
  1868. >you pull out a piece of paper, a pen, and tap your chin
  1869. >then, you begin to write
  1871. “Ok, Applejack. You may not be able to work with me now, but I’m going to write a list of things for you to do, right here at home. Ok?”
  1874. >paying close attention to her facial expression, you notice her ears perk up and angle towards you with intrigue
  1875. >her nervous frown fades
  1876. >you don’t know if she thought you were going to pull something else out of the drawer, or what
  1877. >you don’t know what’s going through her head
  1878. >it takes you a minute or two to think of enough things to put up on the list
  1879. >by the time you’re done, you have five things
  1880. >a few of them are minor things that you just have there to keep her busy if that’s what she wants
  1881. >the fifth, however, you added with an asterisk next to it
  1882. >there’s some dirt involved
  1884. >You pick up the piece of paper and walk over to where Applejack is standing
  1885. >then, you rotate the list in front of your chest so that it’s facing her
  1887. “Alright. Now, Applejack, here’s a list of some of the things that could be done around here. I’m not home all that much lately because of all the work I have to do, but with you here… maybe this stuff can finally get done.”
  1889. >you point at the first item and work your way down
  1890. >Applejack is listening very attentively
  1891. >paying close attention to every single word with wide eyes
  1893. “First, there’s the kitchen floor. It needs some sweeping, but I’ve got a broom and dustpan in the pantry. It’s on the bottom shelf. Then, I have a bit of a dust problem in the house… I, uhh, haven’t gotten around to dusting in a long time, but I have a duster in the laundry room. I’ll get it for you.”
  1895. >Applejack nods after each item, uttering a quick “Yes, Anon” each time
  1896. >you continue
  1898. “Thirdly, and this is really not something you have to do if you don’t want to, hon, but the bathroom we were in last night could use some extra scrubbing. I have a handled brush and a load of cleaning soap under the sink, but if you don’t want to do that, that’s fine. Just make sure you keep your bandages clear, ok?”
  1900. >Applejack nods enthusiastically
  1902. “Yes, Anon. I’ll be careful.”
  1904. “Good. Now, I also have some dirty dishes that need cleaning. They’re in the broken dishwasher. The sink’s right up there, and I got a nice wide stepladder propped up against the kitchen wall right over there so you can reach the counter. Just take your time, be careful, and don’t feel any pressure, ok?”
  1906. >Applejack purses her lips together, and nods her head
  1907. >she looks over at the stepladder, following your gaze
  1909. “Yes, Anon.”
  1911. >you smile
  1912. >you have a feeling she’ll be alright
  1913. >and now, for the final item
  1914. >you take a deep breath
  1916. “Good, Applejack. Now, this last one, you most DEFINITELY don’t have to do right now. But I wanted to leave it on the table just in case. My flowerbeds… well, they’re in bad shape. In fact, basically everything in there is a weed. If you can salvage any of the flowers in there, leave them, but I won’t be upset if you ripped basically all the plants in the beds out of there. There’s clover, dandelions, crabgrass, and all kinds of other crap sitting in there, growing taller and taller. Now, the really important thing here, Applejack, is that you have to do whatever you can to make sure that no dirt gets on those bandages. If you think you might, don’t do it, ok?”
  1918. >Applejack follows your eyes around the edge of the walls, getting an idea of how many beds of dirt and weeds you have around the house
  1919. >she’s very attentive
  1920. >the pony nods her head, a little slower this time, and glances over her shoulder back at her rear with a swish of her tail
  1922. “Yes, Anon. I understand.”
  1924. >You smile
  1925. >setting the list down on the kitchen table, you kneel down in front of her
  1926. >and despite her flinch, you put your hand under her chin
  1927. >you speak softly, making eye contact
  1929. “Ok. Now, listen to me, ok? If you don’t want to do this stuff today and decide that you want to rest, that’s perfectly alright. And if you aren’t sure of what to do or forget how to do something after I show you how, please don’t feel like you have to do it today. Ok?”
  1931. >Applejack hesitates for a moment
  1932. >and her nod is slower, but her eyes show understanding
  1933. >you really, really want to stress to her that she isn’t going to be in trouble if she doesn’t get all of these things done today
  1934. >you honestly hope she doesn’t get any of them done today, especially not after what happened yesterday
  1935. >pony needs some well deserved rest
  1937. >but for some reason
  1938. >you know, just a hunch
  1939. >you think she won’t just sleep today
  1940. >but it’s ok.
  1941. >this isn’t strenuous stuff.
  1942. >she’ll be fine.
  1944. >Applejack’s voice cuts through your ruminations
  1946. “Yes, Anon. I understand.”
  1948. >And that’s that.
  1949. >You’ve got fifteen minutes before you have to leave
  1950. >time to get moving…
  1953. >It had taken twenty minutes to fully explain everything to Applejack
  1954. >but it was alright.
  1955. >it’s not like you were actually on a strict timetable day to day
  1956. >hell, you were the employer, and it’s not like you’d never been a tad late before
  1958. >Applejack had not disappointed you
  1959. >remaining attentive as ever
  1960. >You had spent those extra five minutes drilling it into her head that it was ok not to do things today
  1961. >you think she had understood…
  1963. >well, you were going to try and get things done quickly today.
  1965. >sometimes, you all met at the house or worksite, and sometimes, you all met at your own driveway
  1966. >you wished you’d agreed to meet at the latter
  1967. >would have given you some extra sleep
  1968. >goodness, you were exhausted right now
  1969. >probably the sleeping pills still wearing off
  1970. >you’ll get through it
  1972. >as usual, highway traffic sucked
  1973. >added an extra twenty minutes to the trip
  1974. >but you’d factored that in already
  1975. >you hoped your employees did the same
  1977. >you were the first to arrive, as usual
  1978. >not because they were late, but because you were early
  1979. >as with most of your clients, the house is pretty huge
  1980. >around back is the project your team has been working on
  1981. >you can’t see it from the front, and it’s a bit of a trek from the driveway
  1982. >it’s made it a pain to get all those pallets of stone onto the patio ground
  1983. >as well as the wheelbarrows full of gravel and sand
  1984. >no wonder you’re so far behind schedule
  1986. >you hop into the bed of your truck and retrieve a few of the tools you’ll need
  1987. >a shovel, a few bags of stone dust, a hammer and chisel, and a big stone saw
  1988. >carrying the bags, you walk around
  1990. >and there it is
  1991. >the nightmare
  1992. >the project from hell
  1994. >the patio is pretty huge
  1995. >three different levels of light red sandstone, each level about five inches above the one below it
  1996. >the whole thing is rectangular in shape, with a medium height border wall all around it
  1997. >or, at least, there will be one
  1999. >but the worst thing are the pillars in the middle
  2000. >they’re all covered in stone fragments on the bottom foundation
  2001. >those stone fragments might look haphazard, but holy hell, they are difficult to cut
  2002. >it takes a lot of expertise and skill, as well as time, to do them right
  2003. >they can be all different shapes, but they have to be around the same size
  2004. >cut from raw stone chunks
  2005. >also, they have to jut out the same distance from the pillar, so they have to be the same thickness
  2006. >it’s been a time vacuum unlike anything you ever expected
  2007. >you look over the the ground beside the patio, where the raw stone chunks are lying down
  2008. >man, the last thing you want to hear…
  2010. -----
  2012. “Boss, we gon’ need more stone.”
  2014. >this project isn’t a nightmare.
  2015. >it’s a night terror.
  2016. >you stare blankly at the man standing across from you, pointing at the pillars with his open hand
  2017. >you feel the air stop in your lungs
  2018. >trying to process
  2019. >hoping he’s joking
  2021. >but he’s not.
  2022. >you bring a hand up to your face, trying to hide your bubbling anger
  2024. “Alfredo… Alfredo, I just bought whole new pallet last week, man! Can’t you just…”
  2026. >you trail off when he shakes his head at you, an apologetic look in his eyes
  2027. >he gestures to the pillars again
  2029. “There’s not enough, boss. ‘s not enough, have to cut too much…”
  2031. >you groan, and take a step back
  2032. >you couldn’t believe it
  2034. >Alfredo was a fantastic worker
  2035. >and not only that, he was a skill stonecutter and mason
  2036. >you pay him very well
  2037. >he’s very good at what he does
  2039. >which is why it hurts
  2040. >because you know he’s right.
  2042. >that was easily another 1.5 grand you’re going to have to put into this project
  2043. >and you’ve already gotten more stone not one, not two, but three times
  2044. >you seriously underestimated this project
  2045. >those damn pillars…
  2047. >fuck it.
  2048. >you’re not going to worry about those for today
  2049. >you wave your hand at the pillars like you’re shooing away a fly
  2051. “Ahh, don’t worry about that for today, Alfredo. Let’s just join Paco and Aaron and focus on getting those other pallets of stone unloaded for sitting wall, ok? I’ll get more stone pieces tomorrow.”
  2053. >Alfredo shrugs his shoulders
  2054. >adjusts his gloves on his hands, sets down the chisel in his hand, and walks over to an empty wheelbarrow
  2056. “Ech, alright, boss.”
  2058. >you sigh
  2059. >when you’ll ever get this patio done, you have no idea
  2060. >no timetable
  2061. >this is going to be a looong day…
  2063. -----
  2065. >damn, your legs were sore
  2066. >it hurt to even step on the brake
  2067. >better wheelbarrows are yet another thing you’re going to have to add to your list of things to get
  2068. >the ones you have now are creaky, and tip over if you look at them funny
  2070. >still, focusing all your attention on the sitting wall on the outside of the patio was a good idea
  2071. >you’d finished a good chunk of it
  2072. >even managed to affix some of it with mortar
  2073. >all you needed were the capstones, now, and you’d be able to finish it hopefully by the end of Wednesday
  2075. >truthfully, you could have gotten more done
  2076. >but you didn’t want to wait too long
  2077. >it was hard to work while you were distracted, anyway
  2078. >the thought of the orange pony at home, all alone for hours, made you call it quits by 2:30
  2079. >your fellow workers hadn’t complained, either
  2080. >this was tough work
  2082. >also on the plus side, the traffic wasn’t as bad yet
  2083. >you were almost home after only thirty minutes
  2084. >when you do arrive, you wait in the truck for a minute while you sip the rest of the gatorade bottle you purchased on the way back
  2085. >and you take a few deep breaths
  2087. >you aren’t sure what you’re going to see
  2088. >but whatever it is, you’re going to try to prepare for it
  2090. >you empty the bottle, throw it in an old grocery bag, and hop on out
  2091. >both of your feet feel like lead weights in your muddy, steel-toed boots
  2092. >you kick the dirt off the bottoms, take them off, and reach for the doorknob
  2094. >but then, you pause
  2095. >suddenly, you realize that there’s something different
  2096. >you were so tired that you almost didn’t see it, but it hits you
  2097. >you look at the beds of dirt on either side of the door
  2099. >they’re clear.
  2100. >before, there was a jungle of weeds
  2101. >but now, it’s just brown dirt
  2102. >and you can also see, as you look down the front wall, that there is a huge pile of leaves and debris
  2103. >all of the crap that was once in those flowerbeds
  2104. >and at first glance, you can also see the roots on the plants, still covered in dirt
  2106. >holy cow, she actually did it
  2107. >and it wasn’t a half-assed job, either
  2108. >she went all out, made sure to get to the deepest roots she could
  2109. >a smile spreads across your lips
  2111. >somehow, deep down, you expected this
  2112. >You couldn’t wait until she could really work with you and your team
  2113. >someone with her work ethic, with her drive…
  2114. >it was amazing
  2116. >you open the front door, and step inside
  2118. >you didn’t think that the mood in the air could change so quickly
  2119. >so dramatically
  2120. >but as soon as you enter, your smile disappears
  2122. >the first thing you notice is the total silence
  2123. >like the very air has gone still
  2124. >you don’t know why, but your hairs stand on end
  2125. >a prickling chill travels up your spine
  2126. >there isn’t a single peep
  2127. >not even your air conditioning is running at the moment
  2129. >Something is wrong.
  2131. >as quietly as you can, you set your work boots down beside the door, and close the front door
  2132. >the air around you feels oppressive
  2133. >weighing you down
  2134. >you call out, quietly
  2136. “Applejack? I’m home. Where are you?”
  2138. >you walk further in, past the couch
  2139. >no response
  2140. >your stomach starts churning
  2141. >you try again
  2143. “Applejack? Hon, you there?”
  2145. >still nothing
  2146. >well, she must not be inside the house
  2147. >then it hits you
  2149. >Of course! She must be working outside
  2150. >you exhale a breath you’d been holding inside of you
  2151. >nothing to worry about! She was just hard at work, that was all.
  2153. >you walk over to the sliding glass door at the opposite end of the room
  2154. >the blinds are partly closed, letting only some of the sunshine through
  2155. >it draws a thick column of light on the carpet, slicing the room in half
  2157. >you almost miss it as you walk over
  2158. >the light is so bright, it practically washes it out
  2159. >when you see the glistening out of the corner of your eye, you turn your head
  2160. >and you see it there, lying on the floor
  2162. >plate shards.
  2163. >they’re lying in a neat pile, and lying in the metal dustpan
  2164. >out in plain view
  2165. >and it’s a big stack
  2166. >and there’s something else you notice
  2168. >the shards are put back in the shape of the plates
  2169. >that is, as best as they CAN be put together
  2170. >and you can see that there are five plates in total that have been shattered
  2172. >and then, you eyes travel to a piece of paper
  2173. >it’s lying beside the dustpan
  2174. >and there’s word scribbled onto it
  2176. >gulping, and feeling a sinking in your stomach, you pick it up
  2177. >and read the words printed on the middle of the page
  2179. “Master Anon,
  2180. I am waiting in your room.
  2181. Applejack”
  2183. >the words leave your lips in a whisper
  2184. >and you read them over silently in your head several times
  2185. >eyes switching between the shards of the plates and the note in your hand, until finally, you turn around
  2186. >and look down the hallway, toward the end
  2188. >you clap eyes on your bedroom door
  2189. >and though you left it open this morning, it is closed.
  2191. >with every inhale you take, your intestines twist up into knots
  2192. >it was the forlorn frankness of those words that made your heart ache the most
  2193. >the resignation
  2195. >you let the paper fall to the floor
  2196. >it flutters down and lands on top of the shard stack
  2197. >then, closing your eyes, you start down the hallway
  2199. >to the pony surely awaiting doom.
  2201. ...
  2203. >only wearing socks makes your steps very quiet
  2204. >especially on the carpet floor
  2205. >you know very well you will startle her if you open the door too quickly again
  2206. >and right now, startling her might induce a panic attack
  2207. >you can’t imagine what went through Applejack’s head when the plates broke
  2209. >when you reach the door, you listen very closely
  2210. >expecting maybe to hear her crying from the other side of the door
  2211. >but you don’t even hear that
  2212. >that makes you nervous
  2214. >is she sleeping?
  2215. >is she hiding somewhere else?
  2216. >or maybe she’s already made a run for it, hoping to buy herself some time with her note?
  2217. >all seem very unlikely, but…
  2219. >clenching your teeth, you knock on the door
  2220. >only a few times, and not too hard
  2221. >trying so hard not to convey anger or aggression in any way
  2223. “Hey, Applejack? Are you in there, hon?”
  2225. >your head leans in, and you press your ear against the wood
  2226. >at first, you can’t pick up anything
  2227. >in fact, you almost ask again
  2229. >but the cracked, choked voice, with just a hint of its now familiar country twang, pipes up from the other side of the door
  2230. >and takes the breath out of your lungs
  2232. “Y-y…..yes, Master, Ano…”
  2234. >she’s so shaky, she can’t even get the last consonant out
  2235. >you cringe
  2236. >then, you reach down, turn the doorknob and begin to push the door open
  2238. >That’s when you hear her gasp
  2239. >it’s accompanied by a sob
  2240. >you feel your eyes water a bit just hearing that
  2241. >you keep your voice calm and collected
  2243. “It’s ok, Applejack. It’s ok. I’m not angry, ok, hon?”
  2245. >you inch the door forward a little more
  2246. >somehow, you can sense her flinch
  2247. >you lick your lips nervously
  2249. >finally, you gently let the door swing open
  2250. >and you stand in the entrance
  2252. >there she is, sure enough
  2253. >beside your bed, on the floor
  2254. >she’s lowered her face to the floor, burying her nose in the carpet and resting uncomfortably on her knees
  2255. >whole body pressed into the floor like she’s trying to disappear
  2257. >her face is streaked with red
  2258. >so many lines of dried tears that they are one big blotch on her cheeks
  2259. >she’s shivering visibly from where you’re standing
  2260. >you open your mouth, about to say something
  2261. >but you stop
  2262. >your mouth stays open, jaw hanging loose when you see what’s lying on the ground in front of her
  2264. >a stick, thick as your finger and longer than your arm
  2265. >an old belt of yours, one of the ones you leave on the floor of your closet
  2266. >and a large, heavy kitchen spoon
  2268. >she doesn’t look at you
  2269. >closing her eyes, waiting
  2270. >she’s shuddering without cries
  2272. >you can only stare
  2273. >eyes fixed on the things on the floor, laid out in a row
  2274. >a sharp, stabbing pain hitting you in the gut
  2276. >Applejack cringes, and starts to speak
  2277. >voice just as cracked, broken
  2279. “P-Please, don’t… Master, please don’t g-get rid of me… please!”
  2281. >she opens her eyes, and that’s when the tears spring loose
  2282. >staring at the stick in front of her, not daring to even look up
  2284. “A-Anything, please don’t… Master, please don’t, I-I’ll do anything, punish me, but please, Master please don’t get rid of me…”
  2286. >She clumsily begins to stand
  2287. >and then, with a broken, choked whine, she bends herself over your bed
  2288. >her back hooves don’t touch the carpet
  2289. >watching in silent shock, your eyes widen
  2290. >her bandages are not there anymore
  2291. >they’re laid out on the floor behind her
  2292. >and her scarred, bare skin is exposed to the air again
  2294. >she hides her eyes between her front hooves
  2295. >throws her tail off to the side
  2296. >and gives one last shuddering sob before lying still
  2298. >and with that, and you standing still as a statue, silence takes over
  2299. >and the shock settles in.
  2302. >eventually, though, you do come to your senses
  2303. >and when you look down again, you see she hasn’t moved
  2304. >hasn’t looked over at you despite the fact you’ve been standing there for…
  2305. >well, a while, you think.
  2307. >you eyes drift back to those marks
  2308. >open to the air once again
  2309. >and then, you feel a bit of frustration bubble up inside of you
  2310. >you bite your lips
  2312. >you’re going to have to dress them up all over again only one day later
  2313. >you were hoping your arrangement would last at least two days
  2315. >you hold your head in your hand
  2316. >Applejack is shivering
  2317. >sobbing
  2318. >actually expecting you to pick up one of those items on the floor and use it on her
  2319. >for breaking some plates
  2320. >it was so sad to think about
  2322. >it feels weird that the first words you speak are a question
  2324. “I, uh… what happened to your bandages, hon? I thought I told you to keep them on.”
  2326. >you said it as gently as you could
  2327. >practically cooing the words
  2328. >as soon as you ask the question, you cringe and hold yourself back from punching yourself in the cock
  2329. >you maybe, just maybe, should have reassured her that you weren’t going to hurt her FIRST
  2330. >now she probably thinks it’s just another thing you’re going to punish her for
  2331. >you open your mouth, about to do just that, but it’s too late as Applejack begins to stammer
  2333. “I-I got dirt on them, M-Master, I’m ss-sorry! I’m so sorry, I’m…”
  2335. >Applejack continues to look forward at the wall, straightening her back legs
  2336. >she sobs
  2337. >your stomach sinks, and you close your eyes
  2339. >this was horrible.
  2340. >you hold up your hand as she begins to hyperventilate, gripping the comforter tightly while she crosses her hooves behind her
  2341. >you were going to end this, right now
  2343. “Applejack, please, please calm down, hon! I’m not going to punish you!”
  2345. >at first, you aren’t totally sure she heard you
  2346. >she’s still breathing shallow, tensed as a compressed spring
  2348. >but a few seconds later, there’s a change in the rhythm of how she’s crying, now
  2349. >you can’t put your finger on it exactly, but somehow something is just… different
  2350. >her breathing seemed to be coming from a deeper place
  2352. >when you look down at the floor, your jaw clenches when you see the spoon, belt, and stick lying there
  2353. >you take a quiet step forward, trying not to startle poor Applejack again, and gather all of the things in one hand
  2354. >all the while you stare at Applejack
  2355. >you toss the belt back into your open closet, and then walk toward the open door
  2356. >the sound of the heavy piece of leather hitting the floor makes Applejack yelp, and you wince in silent apology
  2358. “Shh, it’s alright, hon! Now, I’m gonna go put this spoon back in the kitchen and… well, throw this stick out into the yard. So you just stay there, ok? I’ll be back. Ok?”
  2360. >you feel a little like you’re talking to a small child right now
  2361. >a small, abused, neglected child
  2362. >you seriously hope it’s already sunken in that she isn’t in for a beating
  2364. >But thankfully, you see Applejack nod
  2365. >hide her dripping nose under her front hooves, and sinking into the mattress
  2366. >she’s still crying, but not as hard
  2368. “Y---Yes, Anon, I’ll stay…”
  2370. >alright, good
  2371. >that’s that
  2372. >you leave the room with the door open and immediately head to your kitchen, where you drop the spoon on the counter
  2373. >you probably won’t be looking at that spoon the same way ever again
  2374. >then, you lazily throw the stick out through the half open glass door and slide it back shut
  2376. >now, it’s just a matter of the bandages
  2377. >so, you go to the bathroom and take out the gauze and cream again
  2378. >thankfully it’s a big roll
  2379. >it’ll last you long enough for today
  2380. >however, the bottle of cream is a little less than half full
  2381. >guess you’ll have to spread it thinner
  2383. >but then, you also notice that bottle of rubbing alcohol and some cotton balls there
  2384. >hesitating, you do eventually grab those, too
  2385. >depending on what you see, you might end up having to use it
  2386. >you know you said you wouldn’t punish her, but you aren’t putting her back in the bathtub for a smaller affected area
  2387. >alcohol would be easier, then, but…
  2389. >crossing your fingers despite everything in your hands, you walk back into the room.
  2392. >you aren’t surprised that Applejack hasn’t moved
  2393. >you make sure to announce your presence so you don’t startle her
  2395. “Hey, hon. I’m back.”
  2397. >she jumps a bit, but not too badly
  2398. >sniffles, and tenses up
  2399. >her tail is still off to the side
  2400. >you see what you’re going to have to do, and it’s deja vu from last night
  2401. >this pony may be high maintenance, but it’s not something that she can help
  2402. >she speaks very softly
  2404. “Y-Yes, Anon…”
  2406. >you set down the rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, antibiotic cream, gauze and tape down on the bed
  2407. >in her view
  2408. >you want her to know what you’re doing
  2409. >you lean forward so you are closer to her face
  2411. “I gotta do what I did last night again, ok? I’ve got the rest of the cream here I used last night, but I’m not sure it’s gonna be enough. I might have to use a little rubbing alcohol, ok?”
  2413. >Applejack hears that, and you see her eyes widen a bit
  2414. >she darts her eyes over to the materials you dropped on the bed, and sees the bottle there
  2415. >you can see a small shiver travel up her spine
  2416. >she closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and nods her head in acceptance
  2417. >despite the fact that she clearly knows what it’ll mean for her
  2419. “Yes, Anon… I understand, I-I… I slipped, a-and it… it… I really messed up, Anon.”
  2421. >Tears come back to her eyes, and they add to the dampness on the blanket under her face
  2422. >you wince, and slowly, you look back over at her flanks
  2423. >taking a much closer look, you feel the breath catch in your ribs
  2425. >damn it.
  2426. >sure enough, a good amount of dirt and dust got past the bandages on a couple of spots, on the left hindquarter
  2427. >That little bit left of the cream isn’t going to be able to get all of that
  2428. >and besides, you can’t just stick the cream on the dirt and let the particles just sit in there with open marks like this
  2430. >son of a bitch
  2431. >you NEVER should have given her that weeding job
  2432. >even though she had done a fantastic job…
  2433. >well, it’s too late now.
  2434. >Technically, she hadn’t been careful like you said, made an honest mistake
  2435. >but now, she was going to have to go through some more pain
  2436. >you really didn’t want to do this
  2437. >maybe you could do the bathtub routine again…
  2439. >no, this was faster.
  2440. >she’d survive.
  2441. >it was going to be alright
  2442. >you gently set a hand on the back of her head, through her blonde mane
  2444. “Alright, hon. I’m just gonna do it. It’ll sting a lot, but it won’t last long, I promise. Ok?”
  2446. >Applejack hides her snout between her hooves, eyes still closed
  2447. >she looks afraid, but her nod and voice are resolute
  2449. “Yes, Master Anon.”
  2451. >you smile just a tad, and pet her head once before picking up the bottle of rubbing alcohol
  2452. >you carefully unscrew the cap, place a cotton ball over the opening, and tip the bottle back and forth to moisten it
  2453. >you get down on one knee, and do another survey of the damage
  2455. >you know, with the bandages on you’d almost forgotten exactly how the marks looked
  2456. >and you wanted to forget
  2457. >whoever did this to her didn’t punish her, they tortured her
  2458. >and now, with the ball of alcohol soaked cotton in your fingers, you realize with a pause that you are going to make her re-experience some of that pain, all over again
  2460. >you bit your lip, hard
  2461. >then, you take a gentle hold of her left leg
  2462. >quickly, you explain yourself to her
  2464. “I’m holding this to make sure that you don’t kick me on accident, ok? I’m gonna start now.”
  2466. >Applejack mutters another ‘Yes, Anon’ under her hooves, and you feel the muscles in her leg harden
  2467. >shit, you feel so bad right now
  2469. >then, finally, you press the cotton ball into one of the many cuts and begin gently dabbing and swiping the dirt away
  2470. >Applejack’s shoots up from the blanket, and a loud gasp escapes through her clenched teeth
  2472. “AaAAH! Ahow, ow!”
  2474. >you feel her left leg twitch in your hand, kicking out lightly
  2475. >her hoof flexes around your palm, and her other leg thumps the side of the bed
  2476. >a sob escapes her as you continue, trying to work as fast as possible
  2477. >her crying gets a little louder
  2479. “Na, AHAaahaa, ooowwaaa! AH, M-Master, MASTER!”
  2481. >Your hand freezes, and your blood runs cold.
  2485. >you don’t know why, but there’s just something different about it this time
  2486. >the way Applejack’s voice broke, the way she’s shaking her head and suddenly having muscle spasms
  2487. >you know alcohol hurts, but this…
  2489. “Master, please no, nonoonono! NO MORE PLEASE! I’M SORRY I’M SOORRYYY!! AAA! NOO!”
  2491. >Her leg is pulling away from your holding hand, and she’s grasping at the blanket
  2492. >the cotton ball falls from your hand
  2493. >holy shit, she’s hysterical
  2494. >mouth gaping open with horrifying cries of anguish
  2495. >you’re frozen, brain trying to process what you’re seeing and hearing
  2499. >Applejack bucks her legs, and writhes on the bed, flaying all her limbs in a frenzied panic
  2500. >You get hit by her other leg on the shoulder
  2501. >and holy hell, does it hurt
  2502. >That’s what jolts you out of whatever trance you were in
  2503. >with a grunt, you suddenly spring to your feet, and you scramble to try and bring Applejack under control
  2504. >she’s rolling back and forth, pulling herself forward over the bed
  2505. >all the while howling and raving at the top of her lungs
  2506. >totally losing it
  2508. >you place your hands on her back, and try to get a hold of her
  2509. >she’s flailing around and disheveling the blanket beneath her
  2510. >tears are pouring out of her, almost incoherent from sobbing
  2511. >begging and begging for the pain to stop
  2512. >you call out over her cries, trying to direct them to her ears
  2514. “Applejack! Stop, stop! Hon, what’s going on? Calm down, calm down! APPLEJACK!”
  2516. >she isn’t stopping, though
  2517. >instead, she starts saying something else
  2518. >and it’s making the hairs on your arms stand up
  2520. “I-I’ll--be a good girl, I’LL BE A GOOD GIRL! Please no more I’ll be a good girl I’m sorry Master, pleasepleaseplease I’m sorry…”
  2522. >her voice is cracking
  2523. >it’s more breathy than before
  2524. >slurred, exhausted
  2525. >trying to be loud, but she’s just not strong enough
  2526. >her head rolls back and forth on the bed, mouth agape
  2527. >gasping out the words ‘please’ and ‘good girl’ over and over
  2529. >it’s like she’s not even aware that you’re there
  2530. >like she doesn’t know where she is
  2531. >distant, like she’s in a different world
  2532. >you wave your hand in front of her face, but she looks right through it
  2533. >her cries go from loud to soft, then back to loud again, cycling back and forth
  2535. >this wasn’t the alcohol
  2536. >this was a full on panic attack unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed
  2537. >her gasping, sobbing and writhing in your hold chills you to the bone
  2538. >your brain races a mile a minute
  2540. >water.
  2541. >cold water. You needed it right now.
  2542. >Springing into action, you let go off Applejack’s relentlessly struggling body and sprint to the kitchen
  2543. >you grab a big glass and fill it with the tap before rushing back, not caring about the spillage in the hall
  2545. >Applejack is covering her head and splaying her hind legs open, kicking them into the air
  2546. >still pleading, sobbing wretchedly
  2547. >you brandish the glass of cold water, step aside of her legs
  2548. >and then, having a clear shot to her face, you chuck the content of the glass onto her
  2550. >the splash makes a wet slap as it hits her face
  2551. >and a short, sharp scream rips out of her throat
  2552. >but then, in the following seconds, her broken howls and cries for mercy suddenly cease
  2555. >her legs, which had been kicking like a rodeo bull, collapse with a thump onto the bed
  2556. >and her head, at last, stops lolling from side to side as she affixes the ceiling above her with her wide, emerald eyes
  2557. >her breathing is still shallow and panicked, but even that begins to slow as the seconds crawl by
  2559. >your hand trembles as it grips the now empty glass
  2560. >you stare down at her with eyes just as wide as hers
  2561. >besides her heavy breathing, the room is silent
  2563. >eventually, you dare to approach her
  2564. >hearing you take a step, Applejack’s head whips around, and her eyes lock onto you
  2565. >her entire face is streaked red
  2567. >when she sees you standing there, she freezes
  2568. >chest heaving, the individual ribs poking out through the skin of her belly
  2569. >you set the glass down on the blanket, all the while looking at her back
  2571. >unlike before, now, you can see that she is truly seeing you
  2572. >she’s no longer distant, far away
  2574. >Applejack had been in a totally different world
  2575. >The pieces are coming together in your mind
  2576. >she hadn’t been talking to you.
  2577. >she didn’t even know you were there
  2578. >in an instant, her entire world had been consumed with agony
  2579. >and you knew just whose fault it was.
  2581. >you try to smile, but it dies away into a concerned frown
  2582. >then, you break the silence hanging like a noose in the air
  2583. >Applejack looks at you with fear and apprehension in her eyes
  2585. “Applejack… It’s gonna be ok, hon.”
  2587. ...
  2589. >Applejack’s mouth hangs open
  2590. >she hasn’t even attempted to wipe some of the drops of water from her face even though it’s dripping
  2591. >her eyes blink rapidly
  2592. >but encouragingly, her chest isn’t heaving so hard anymore
  2594. >her eyes never leave you
  2595. >shoulders slumping back, she brings her legs closer to her stomach
  2596. >curls up, and partially hides her face
  2597. >she’s shivering, now
  2599. >you inch forward toward her
  2600. >approach from the side so she can fully see you
  2601. >you want no surprises for her
  2602. >this pony is just so fundamentally broken, you aren’t even sure what to do
  2604. “Applejack, hon? Are you going to be ok?”
  2606. >what she just went through scared the hell out of you
  2607. >what if the water hadn’t worked?
  2608. >how would you have been able to get her out of her episode?
  2609. >you were seconds away from calling 911
  2610. >would they even take a pony?
  2612. >you listen intently, hoping that Applejack will answer you
  2613. >your eyes keep drifting back to her flanks and rear
  2614. >all of the words she had screamed
  2615. >pleading, over and over again
  2616. >words barely even decipherable
  2617. >now, you knew what true torture sounded like
  2619. “Applejack? Hon, it’s ok, you’re safe, nothing is gonna happen to y…”
  2621. >Applejack’s voice, barely above a whisper, stops your words dead in their tracks
  2622. >they barely make it through the air
  2623. >she says them with a deep exhale
  2624. >a sigh of defeat
  2626. “I ain’t worth it.”
  2628. >she curls up into a tighter ball
  2629. >tries to cover her head from your view
  2630. >you watch and listen as she wearily speaks sounding completely exhausted
  2632. “I ain’t worth this… your money, y---your time. I ain’t nothing.”
  2634. >the muscles of her legs seem to turn into putty
  2635. >tension melts away
  2636. >you don’t hear any more cries
  2637. >see any more tears
  2638. >not a sob, not a sniffle
  2639. >but the defeat in her voice is total
  2640. >just… absolute
  2642. “I don’t want to live anymore. I can’t… th-there…”
  2644. >Applejack rests her cheek on the blanket
  2645. >still no tears
  2646. >just resoluteness, conviction
  2647. >her whole body is limp
  2648. >like putty
  2649. >all the tension in her legs, all the resistance
  2650. >it’s gone
  2652. “I’m sorry… Don’t waste no more on me, M-Master. Just… kill me, however you want, torture, starve me… lemme die… I won’t be no more trouble. I’m sorry...”
  2654. ...
  2656. >Applejack gently closes her eyes
  2657. >she looks like she’s trying to fall asleep
  2658. >her entire body ceases all movement
  2660. >it’s a display of total submission
  2661. >not to your demands, but to the consequences
  2662. >torture, starvation, it doesn’t matter what you have the power to do to her
  2663. >she’s given up.
  2665. >you stare, blankfaced
  2666. >the stubborn, enthusiastic pony of just this morning, now lifeless in front of you
  2667. >and you can sense a sob rising in your throat
  2669. >right now, you were her last hope.
  2670. >she had none left
  2671. >it’s just hitting you that you are talking to someone who is suicidal
  2672. >someone in a state of mind that warranted hospitalization…
  2674. >but she was a pony.
  2675. >mental issues? Suicidality?
  2676. >they wouldn’t take her
  2677. >whoever her master is, that was their problem to deal with
  2678. >and other masters?
  2679. >they’d just sell her
  2680. >hope to make a quick buck, cut their losses, and pass a broken soul over to the next man unfortunate enough to…
  2681. >to…
  2683. >You were that next man.
  2684. >Those tubby fat fucks in the car the day they’d dropped Applejack off
  2685. >they knew from the start
  2686. >but the only victim here wasn’t you
  2687. >it was the pony in front of you
  2689. >against all odds, she had tried to work
  2690. >tried to endure the pain
  2691. >but now, she was lying down and waiting for you to kill her
  2692. >she hadn’t been able to escape the agony of her past.
  2694. >you don’t know how to answer her
  2695. >it’s all so overwhelming
  2696. >but you have to try.
  2697. >you lick your dry lips, and approach her unresponsive form
  2699. “No, Applejack. You ARE worth it, hon. In so many ways… and you know, I ain’t just talking about the work you’ve done. Which is amazing, by the way.”
  2701. >Your voice is sincere
  2702. >gentle
  2703. >but you don’t even see as much as a twitch of her ear
  2704. >you gulp, and stay focused on your mind’s current track
  2705. >you have to speak calmly and carefully
  2707. “You were… I mean, I know I saw the scars and all, washed them… but tonight, I actually heard the pain from you. Just… hell. It was hell you went through, and you…”
  2709. >you pause, keeping your emotions in check
  2711. “’re still here. Against all odds. And knowing what I know now… I would have spent a fortune to rescue you from where you were. And it would have still been worth it. Hon… you are a wonderful pony.”
  2713. >you take a chance, and run your hand down the side of her neck
  2714. >she barely even flinches at your contact
  2715. >you grimace, but continue petting
  2717. “I care about you, hon. I do. Not just as a master to his slave, but a man to a living, breathing creature who deserves kindness, dignity… love. And I’m not going to give up on you.”
  2719. >you are taking what feels like a risk
  2720. >but you are going to do it
  2721. >you can’t just reach her with words
  2722. >so, you will try with the only other thing you can
  2724. >you don’t know why you do it
  2725. >but you begin to lift her
  2726. >sliding a hand beneath her shoulders, and another below her tummy
  2727. >her muscles, suddenly and for the first time, tense up
  2728. >and a tiny, surprised gasp escapes her
  2730. >you sit up, against the wall beside the bed
  2731. >and then, you pull her body into yours
  2732. >placing her head on your chest
  2733. >you wrap one arm around her withers
  2734. >and the other, you set gently atop her head
  2736. >Applejack’s eyes flutter as you begin to run your hand through her mane
  2737. >her body, tense as a rock
  2738. >but she isn’t resisting you at all
  2740. >then, as the minutes drag on, and the silence stretches on
  2741. >the tension slowly ebbs away
  2742. >until finally, without a word, Applejack just accepts it
  2743. >and with a long but soft exhale, she relaxes in your hold
  2745. >you stay there with her, petting her head
  2746. >the sun starts to go down, light dimming through the window
  2747. >not a word is uttered by either of you
  2749. >you won’t give up.
  2750. >not now, not ever.
  2751. >you refuse.
  2753. >you stay with her, not even noticing as the two of you fall asleep
  2754. >her body held firmly against yours.
  2757. >your eyes flicker
  2758. >and the room around you is totally dark
  2759. >holy crap, how long have you been asleep in here?
  2761. >that’s when you remember
  2762. >Applejack!
  2763. >you look down, and sigh lightly with relief when you see her there
  2764. >she hasn’t moved one inch
  2765. >in fact, she’s still just as limp
  2766. >but she’s breathing, so you’ll take it…
  2768. >suddenly, the room lights up
  2769. >a bright white flicker through the gaps in the blinds
  2770. >and then, there’s a faint rumble
  2772. >oh noooo
  2773. >what the hell is this?
  2774. >there weren’t supposed to be thunderstorms, were there?
  2776. >this is not good.
  2777. >you are a landscaper and a stone mason.
  2778. >rain is the devil.
  2779. >as if you needed more delays on your project from hell…
  2781. >the next boom of thunder is much, MUCH louder
  2782. >and it rattles the house
  2783. >the flash of lightning is longer, too
  2784. >you can faintly hear the leaves of the trees outside rustling with the rapidly picking up winds
  2786. >greaaat
  2787. >this was almost a guarantee to be a day’s delay if this thing sticks around
  2788. >you don’t know what time it is, either, but if it’s early morning then it’s all but guaranteed to set you back
  2790. >as the sounds of the storm pick up, you find yourself in a pickle
  2791. >Applejack is still breathing softly in your arms, limp
  2792. >the hair of her mane flows down over your arms
  2793. >but you need to check the time
  2795. >another boom, and the wind continues to pick up
  2796. >that’s it, you have to get up
  2797. >sorry, Applejack
  2799. >very slowly, you slip out from underneath her, supporting her head before letting it down onto the blanket
  2800. >she doesn’t seem to wake up
  2801. >good
  2803. >you tiptoe out of the room, the flashes of lightning illuminating your path
  2804. >you go down the hall and take a look at the clock
  2805. >you stop a groan from leaving you
  2806. >4:45
  2807. >that’s early for most people, but not for you
  2808. >you look out the window, seeing the trees swishing back and forth
  2809. >you’re gonna have to phone it in.
  2811. >you walk over to the side table, next to your couch
  2812. >you pick it up and swipe the lockscreen aside, cursing quietly to yourself
  2813. >your workers aren’t going to like not being paid tomorr…
  2815. >You see the exclamation point.
  2816. >a big fat red exclamation point
  2817. >it’s your weather alert app
  2819. TORNADO WARNING: FROM 4:40 PM -- 5:10 PM…
  2821. >you stare at the phone for a few seconds
  2822. >then, you look out the window, hairs raising on your arms
  2823. >the trees are swaying
  2824. >the lightning is picking up
  2825. >you look back down at the screen, and then click on the notification rectangle
  2826. >it brings up the radar
  2828. >you know how to read radar.
  2829. >the little flag indicating your location is right to the northeast of the concentrated blip of yellow, red, and violet
  2830. >and hanging right out the bottom of that blip, you see it
  2831. >almost right beside your location, maybe five minutes away at most
  2832. >a pronounced hook in the doppler, indicating strong tornadic rotation
  2834. >and it’s right to your east
  2836. >your heart stops.
  2838. ...
  2840. >You stuff your phone in your pocket and fumble through the drawer of your end table
  2841. >you pick out the flashlight from inside it and flip it on
  2842. >it is a bright ass flashlight, a 200 dollar one that turns night into day
  2843. >guess it was a good purchase
  2845. >you run sprint down the hall and the turn the corner into the room
  2846. >you have absolutely no time to calmly wake Applejack up
  2847. >sorry, hon
  2849. “Applejack! Come on hon, we need to get moving, wake up!”
  2851. >your loud voice startles her awake
  2852. >Applejack gasps, and her legs flail outward
  2853. >her eyes snap open and flutter open and closed as the light of the flashlight hits her face
  2855. “Ahh, ah, whaa…”
  2857. “Sorry, Applejack, but we need to get up, right now! Come on, come with me!”
  2859. >time is ticking, and the storm is really brewing, now
  2860. >you begin shaking her with one arm on her shoulder
  2861. >Applejack is clearly disoriented, but when you begin to shake her, she starts to scramble
  2862. >vocalizing with loud exhales and emerald eyes wide with sudden fear
  2863. >she gets onto her knees and slides to the edge of the bed while you wave her toward you
  2865. “Wh-whaa, what’s happening, what’s going on! Master!”
  2867. >you help her to her hooves, your hands shaking
  2868. >the wind swirls the leaves of the trees, and a boom of thunder rattles the whole house
  2869. >you swiftly pull her forward alongside you, gritting your teeth
  2871. >You have no basement.
  2872. >the most central room in your house without any doors or windows was the next best option
  2873. >and that means…
  2875. >you talk down to the frightened pony as you move
  2877. “We need to get to the bathtub, ok? Come with me Applejack, come on!”
  2879. >you don’t shout, but your voice is urgent
  2880. >you are having a lot of trouble staying calm
  2881. >even if you hadn’t seen radar, there was just something different about this storm
  2882. >it was sinister
  2884. >Applejack is so confused, and her worry is compounding
  2885. >but she does what you say, letting herself be moved along
  2886. >she speaks with a crack in her voice
  2888. “Y-Yes, Anon, b-but I don’t understand…”
  2890. >you book it down to the bathroom
  2891. >you don’t have time to feel bad as you pull Applejack into the bathroom with some force behind it
  2892. >she yelps, but doesn’t pull back
  2893. >you flip on the light and set the flashlight down on the toilet seat
  2894. >then, you reach under her shoulders
  2895. >Applejack freezes, eyes widening
  2897. “Wh-what did I do, M-Mas…”
  2899. “No no, you’re ok, Applejack! You did nothing wrong, but you need to get into the tub right now, ok? Here…”
  2901. >You lift her up with a grunt
  2902. >is she slightly heavier? You don’t know
  2903. >wouldn’t be a bad thing for the skinny pony
  2904. >but you don’t have time to reflect
  2906. >Applejack shakes as you set her down inside
  2907. >it would be deja vu of your first night, if it weren’t for the current situation
  2908. >picking up the flashlight, you take the phone out of your pocket, kneeling down by the tub
  2909. >you open the screen of the weather app and put your hand over Applejack’s shoulders
  2910. >she’s quiet, but clearly unsettled, eyes darting all around
  2911. >you don’t want to tell her what’s going on
  2912. >poor thing is such a nervous wreck already, but telling her about a tornado?
  2913. >hell, does she even know what those are?
  2914. >if she had another panic attack, you wouldn’t even know what to do
  2916. “Good, hon, just sit tight for a little while, ok? Just relax, you’re not in trouble…”
  2918. >a massive boom of thunder, so loud it shakes the bathroom in the middle of your house
  2919. >Applejack yelps, and her legs go rigid
  2920. >you open the radar
  2921. >shit
  2922. >the storm is right on top of you
  2923. >another exclamation point goes across the banner on top of the screen
  2925. >TORNADO EMERGENCY: FROM 4:50 AM -- 5:00 AM…
  2927. >your stomach flips
  2928. >that is literally the worst notification possible
  2929. >that means a tornado is imminent
  2931. >it’s time to take action.
  2932. >you stick your phone back into your pocket, drop the flashlight into the tub, and put your leg inside
  2933. >Applejack backs up, pressing her rump against the other tub wall as you climb in
  2935. “Master, what’s going on? I’m gettin’ real scared…”
  2937. >you are, too
  2938. >but you can’t show that to her openly
  2939. >you get down on your knees, and motion for her to lay down
  2941. “Applejack, I know you’re confused, but do what I say. Turn yourself around, and lay down. I’m gonna climb over you. It’s gonna be uncomfortable, but you need to stay still, hon. Trust me.”
  2943. >Applejack stares intently at you, eyes locking in as soon as you tell her to do what you say
  2944. >she hesitates, but nods her head when you’re finished speaking, looking nervous
  2945. >but she turns around, tail pressed very tightly against her legs, and lays down with knees trembling
  2946. >you know she’s probably thinking the worst of your motivations right now, but she has to deal with it
  2947. >as soon as she gets down, you climb on top of her and put your knees down on either side of her covering her body without smashing her down into the porcelain
  2948. >Applejack is crying a little
  2950. >that’s it, you have to tell her what’s happening.
  2951. >she thinks you’re setting her up
  2952. >keeping her in the dark is not going to help anything
  2953. >you make sure your head is below the rim of the tub
  2955. “Applejack, hon… there’s a tornado coming. That’s why we’re here. We’ll be ok, but stay real quiet.”
  2957. >you lower yourself down further until your body is lying right against hers
  2958. >from your position, you’ve rendered her motionless
  2959. >you feel Applejack stiffen up beneath you, the muscles hardening to rock
  2960. >she nods, very faintly in the confined space so she doesn’t headbutt your chin
  2962. “Torna...Oh, oh no, noo…”
  2964. >she understood you.
  2965. >and now, her head shrinks back, and she huddles in closer to you, getting as underneath you as she is able to do
  2966. >she breaths in an irregular rhythm, shuts her eyes tight and shrivels up into the tightest ball she can
  2967. >well, she definitely knows what a tornado is, it seems
  2969. >you wouldn’t admit it to her
  2970. >but you are just as afraid as she is.
  2972. >the bathroom light is still on
  2973. >it’ll give you a bit of warning if it goes out
  2974. >as it stands, Applejack, despite being obviously terrified, obeys you totally
  2975. >she isn’t uttering one peep
  2976. >the room is deathly quiet, even though the sounds of your breathing echo off the hard bathtub walls
  2977. >the thunder is constant, lightly vibrating the house…
  2979. >You feel Applejack’s ears spring up to attention
  2980. >and a light whimper escapes her
  2981. >she shivers, and covers her head with her hooves
  2982. >the thunder gets a little louder…
  2984. >That’s not thunder.
  2986. ...
  2988. >the hairs stand straight up on your arms and legs
  2989. >you’ve always heard that tornadoes sounded like trains as they approached
  2990. >and right now, you’re imagining a set of train tracks, with a tornado funnel rushing toward you down the rails
  2992. >you consider yourself a calm guy, but right now, you are terrified.
  2993. >the roar in the distance picks up in volume
  2994. >the fact you can hear it from inside the tub is a bad, bad sign
  2995. >at least, you think so
  2996. >it also hits you that it’s very early in the morning, yet there aren’t any tornado sirens that you know of in your city
  2997. >you’d only been able to prepare because you’d gotten lucky…
  2999. >Applejack’s barely contained sob jerks you out of your ruminations
  3000. >she shivers, gritting her teeth
  3001. >the muscles in her neck bulge with tension
  3003. >from your place right over her, it’s just hitting you
  3004. >in the face of terror, you realize that Applejack, despite all the horror that transpired last night, is afraid
  3005. >afraid of death
  3006. >perhaps it’s just instinct…
  3008. >but it doesn’t matter to you.
  3009. >even if you don’t survive, you’re going to make sure she does
  3010. >if she wants to live, you’ll do what you can
  3011. >at least, you’ll try
  3012. >this pony deserves it.
  3014. >As the roar becomes more pronounced, you lower yourself as you as you can go
  3015. >then, you gently wrap your arm around her neck and shoulders
  3016. >she tightens up, inhales sharply and whimpers through clenched teeth
  3017. >you whisper, closing your eyes tight
  3019. “We’ll be ok, Applejack. I got you.”
  3021. >She doesn’t reply.
  3022. >but feeling your arm wrapped around her, she leans into your hold
  3023. >you smile sadly, and try to relax
  3025. >this might be the end, but at least you have somebody you care about there with you.
  3027. >the walls begin to shake
  3028. >your heart thumps wildly against the pony underneath you
  3029. >Applejack isn’t just shivering right now, she’s trembling like a leaf
  3030. >she can’t stop herself, and she begins to cry
  3031. >you aren’t going to stop her
  3032. >you just squeeze a little tighter, trying to provide her just a little comfort
  3034. >you wait for it...
  3036. >the lights suddenly cut off
  3037. >You flinch, and let out a hiss in surprise
  3038. >Applejack, on the other hand, lets out a heart rending cry
  3039. >in the pitch blackness, you can only hear the rapidly increasing volume of the tornado’s roar, the air conditioning vents having totally shut off
  3041. >you hug Applejack close, and focus on the warmth of her body below you
  3042. >and you wait for your house to rip apart.
  3044. >the wind whistles against the roof, and you can hear something scraping against the tiles
  3045. >the sound of dust or debris hitting the sides of your house, scraping against the brick, nearly gives you a panic attack
  3046. >the roar never lets up, neither increasing or decreasing in volume
  3047. >you hear loud strikes against the roof and walls, and the air around you seems to fall away
  3048. >this is it
  3049. >you hold your breath…
  3051. >the clattering against the sides of your house is accompanied by the shattering of a window
  3052. >you hear a crackling sound from above and behind you
  3053. >Applejack hears it, and her cry of distress only slightly reaches over the roar of the tornado
  3054. >it’s right there, you can literally feel it
  3055. >the air pressure drops, popping your ears
  3057. >the house, even through your tub, vibrates like a plane caught in turbulence
  3058. >you hold onto Applejack for dear life
  3059. >hoping the sound of her cries and the roar of the tornado isn’t the last thing you’ll ever hear.
  3061. --------
  3063. >the depth of the tornado’s roar makes every hair on your body stand rigid
  3064. >a sound like a pressure washer blasting sheet metal scrapes against your eardrums
  3065. >the wall of your house, right to your left, is getting blasted with what sounds like sand
  3066. >Despite being in the background, the terror in Applejack’s wavering scream will never leave your memory
  3067. >objects pelt the roof
  3068. >the ground beneath you trembles even more than you are
  3070. >then, for a split second, the roar seems to fall away completely
  3071. >the air around you feels like it falls, leaving you unable to draw a breath
  3072. >but it only lasts an instant
  3073. >the roar shifts into something like a tidal wave colliding with a brick wall
  3074. >the rushing sound is concentrated to your left
  3075. >the roof above you rattles like it’s being pelted with rocks
  3076. >with an involuntary shout, you close your eyes and lay your head beside Applejack’s, her soft mane touching your face
  3078. >you shut out everything else, and you make a conscious decision
  3079. >you’re not going to focus on the mayhem
  3080. >if your last thoughts are going to be about something, you want them to about something else
  3081. >something other than fear
  3082. >something good
  3083. >something warm
  3084. >something, someone, worth protecting…
  3086. >you stray out of time
  3087. >embrace the darkness
  3088. >surrender, and go limp...
  3090. >once your thoughts drift away, it takes a long while for them to come back
  3091. >and the first thing that enters your awareness is the arms you have wrapped around the pony beneath you
  3092. >hugging around her belly and neck
  3093. >you suddenly notice the ringing in your ears, but the constant whine begins to recede
  3094. >and when it does, you hear heavy breathing
  3095. >the push against your stomach as Applejack’s ribs rise and fall rapidly
  3097. >You open your eyes
  3098. >at first, nothing but murky blackness seeps into your vision
  3099. >but they quickly adjust, and you can see the white bathtub below you
  3101. >it takes a moment
  3102. >but it slowly occurs to you that, lying hunched over, you aren’t dead.
  3103. >unless, that is, your spirit was sent to the afterlife in a bathtub…
  3104. >you gingerly lift your head up, hearing the constant gasps of the poor mare lying underneath you
  3105. >it takes a minute for you to feel like you have voluntary control of your own lungs
  3106. >Applejack moves, sliding her head out from under her forelegs
  3107. >her hooves make little clops when they hit the bathtub
  3108. >she shudders, and feeling you move above her, she whispers
  3110. “M-Master, Master *hic!* Anon… Is it over? Is...”
  3112. >Applejack sniffles, giving a little sob
  3113. >your mouth hangs open, your shock addled brain taking forever to process such a basic question
  3114. >but eventually, you raise yourself up, and peek out over the tub, facing your left
  3116. >you don’t know what you expect
  3117. >perhaps, you expected nothing to be there
  3118. >or see a mass of destruction and debris strewn about where your house once was
  3119. >but weirdly, it’s the fact that you see neither of those things that shocks you the most
  3121. >the room is totally intact.
  3122. >in fact, nothing appears out of order
  3123. >the sink, the tile floor, the walls, even the hallway outside
  3124. >it looks just like how you left it
  3126. >there is no roar.
  3127. >there is no wind, no leaves rustling
  3128. >no sound other than the distant rumble of thunder and the flickering of lightning in the hall
  3130. >Applejack raises her head
  3131. >you feel her smooth mane against your neck, brushing against your skin
  3132. >the feeling jolts you out of your stunned state
  3133. >you inhale sharply
  3134. >Applejack’s frightened voice is amplified by the hard tub again
  3136. “Master, a-are we gonna be ok? Is it gone?”
  3138. >you feel her body squirm
  3139. >blinking doesn’t make the incredible sight of your intact bathroom go away
  3140. >the near silence hanging like a cloud over your heads is a wordless answer to Applejack’s fearful question
  3142. >eventually, you nod your head
  3144. “I… think so. It’s gone, hon…”
  3146. >using our hand, you push yourself up and inch your way off of Applejack’s back
  3147. >you feel the cold metal of the flashlight you brought with, and grab that
  3148. >your shirt sticks to her from the sweat on your body, and it peels away
  3149. >all the while, you stare at the room
  3151. >it takes you a minute to get out, your limbs stiff as can be
  3152. >but you do
  3153. >once you get off of her Applejack sits up, her joints popping
  3154. >you set your hand on top of her head, and coo gently to the shivering pony
  3156. “Hold on, ok, hon? Stay here, I’m gonna go look around. Ok?”
  3158. >Applejack’s shiny eyes drip tears, and she nods
  3159. >you nod back, pet her head, and stand up, creeping out the door with Applejack obediently staying behind
  3161. >the shock continues
  3162. >you look right and left, and see that none of your house is gone
  3163. >the flicker of lightning confirms it
  3164. >breathing quietly, you inch down the hallway until you enter the living room, then you turn on the flashlight
  3166. >then finally, you see the first bit of damage
  3167. >the two windows on the opposite wall are shattered, and small pieces of debris, dust, dirt, and all kinds of other shit are all over the carpet and furniture
  3168. >a bitch to clean up, but… honestly, your truck is probably messier
  3169. >and other than that, as you look around, even up at the ceiling… you see nothing else.
  3171. >you flick off the light, standing in the middle of the room in thoughtful silence.
  3173. >Could this have been it?
  3174. >there’s no way, you think
  3175. >the roar had been deafening, the shaking of your whole house, the long approach
  3176. >surely this couldn’t have been it!
  3177. >surely…
  3179. >no. This can’t be.
  3180. >it must’ve missed you
  3181. >it simply cannot be…
  3183. >you turn to the sliding glass door.
  3184. >the curtain is only partly closed
  3185. >your eyes hover on it for a second, until a flash of lightning pierces through into the room
  3187. >your legs move automatically toward the door
  3188. >you latch onto the handle, flick the lock, and slide it open
  3189. >the humidity of the air hits you, feeling like a spider web hitting you in the face
  3190. >thumb trembling, you tense up, take a deep breath, and then, you turn on the extremely bright flashlight, shining it into the distance of your fenced in backyard…
  3192. “Oh my god.”
  3194. >The flashlight falls from your hand.
  3196. -----------
  3198. >fragments of debris, pieces of wood and metal and stone, lay scattered all over your yard
  3199. >but it’s what lies beyond your yard that chills you to the bone
  3201. >Your “fenced in” backyard?
  3202. >the whole fence along the back and sides of two thirds of your property is gone
  3203. >your shed, normally located in the upper left portion of your yard, just a little across the way?
  3204. >no sign of it.
  3205. >but that was nothing, as your flashlight comes to rest on the wreckage of the house behind yours
  3207. >the roof is gone, and the outside walls have caved in
  3208. >split boards, crumbled brick and drywall, twisted metal pipes
  3209. >there is no roof to speak of
  3211. >cold shivers traveling up your spine, you pan the flashlight left to right, the column of light reaching very far
  3212. >all of the houses behind yours are on a different street, a different block
  3213. >there’s a good bit of land between you and them, perhaps just outside of comfortable shouting distance
  3215. >and they’re all destroyed.
  3217. >roofs, walls, trees, it’s all obliterated
  3218. >your light reveals a tall tree, bent sharply and stripped of its bark, next to one of the houses
  3219. >wrapped around the base of it is what looks like strips of metal, bent all the way around the trunk
  3221. >there isn’t even that much wreckage to sort through, the destruction looks so bad
  3222. >the only thing remaining of one of the houses is a pile of dust and debris
  3223. >tears are pouring down your face, and you feel sick
  3225. “Oh my fucking god, oh my…”
  3227. >this thing just missed you
  3228. >it would have killed you, too
  3229. >that bathtub wouldn’t have saved you or Applejack
  3230. >and these people living in these houses…
  3232. >you had to help.
  3233. >it takes you a minute to jerk yourself out of your trance, but when you do, you race back into the house
  3234. >the you shine the light down the hall and make sure to pace yourself, not wanting to startle Applejack
  3235. >although you want to sprint
  3237. >you turn the corner and enter the restroom
  3238. >Applejack is still standing in the tub, shoulders hunched over and shivering with her tail tightly tucked between her legs
  3239. >you get down in front of her on the other side of the tub
  3240. >she gazes at you with intense focus
  3241. >you gulp, and keep your voice from shaking as you speak
  3243. “Applejack, the… the tornado missed us, b-but… it hit the houses behind us, and it’s really bad, hon.”
  3245. >Applejack’s eyes widen, and you see her body tense up
  3246. >the muscles bulge
  3247. >her jaw drops, and she inhales sharply
  3249. “I-It… oh Celestia, we gotta go help ‘em! We gotta…”
  3251. >She starts forward, setting her hoof on the tub wall and suddenly springs forward
  3252. >You lean back as she sort of falls into your chest
  3253. >A cry of surprise leaves you in as she clumsily topples out of the tub
  3254. >you react by wrapping your arms around her
  3255. >her rump falls to the tile with a thud, her upper body in your hands
  3256. >you have to respond quickly, as Applejack is now thrashing in your hold
  3258. “Wait, wait, hold on Applejack! Hold on, calm down, just a second! Calm down, calm down…”
  3260. >Applejack is standing up, now, but you maintain your firm grip around her
  3261. >You really have to speak firmly with her, but she fortunately does go still and heeds your command
  3262. >you can’t have her just running out there right away
  3263. >she’s going to hurt herself
  3264. >She still breathes shallowly, however, and her muscles are like rock
  3265. >In all honesty, she’s probably strong enough to bowl you over, but she’s very submissive to you
  3266. >you step back and hold her face between your hands
  3268. “Listen, ok? We’re gonna go and help. I’m gonna call 911, and we’re going to go out there and help anyone we can. But I can’t have you running out there all by yourself when we don’t know what’s out there, you could get hurt. Ok? So stay with me, hon.”
  3270. >Applejack’s intense gaze gradually softens the more you talk
  3271. >what you’re saying is getting through to her
  3272. >she takes a moment or two to breathe, and she nods her head
  3273. >but the tension in her muscles show she’s far from relaxed
  3274. >she’s itching for action
  3276. “Yes, Master, I will. But we gotta hurry, right?”
  3278. >You nod, standing up
  3279. >Her eagerness to go out and help…
  3280. >it’s the only thing that manages to give some warmth to your heart in the midst of this horrible time
  3281. >you point at your side, and hold the flashlight in your other hand
  3283. “Be careful, and don’t leave my side, hon. Let’s go.”
  3285. --------
  3287. >Applejack takes the “don’t leave my side” command very seriously
  3288. >as usual
  3289. >the instant the pony sees the damage illuminated by your flashlight, you hear her gasp
  3290. >Getting closer to the wreckage, you begin to shine the light all around
  3291. >and you notice that even the ground you’re walking on requires careful treading
  3292. >sharp objects lying around, a bolt the size of your foot…
  3294. “Watch your step, Applejack, ok?”
  3296. >Applejack says “yes, Anon” in hushed tones
  3297. >She’s already being careful
  3298. >all around you, the distant flicker of lightning in the distance, from the storm that carried all of this with it, illuminates
  3299. >you’re within shouting distance of the destroyed houses, so you call out over the gusty winds
  3301. “Anybody need help!? Anybody there!?”
  3303. >You pause, listen, and when you don’t hear anything, you do it again, even louder this time
  3304. >your voice seems to dissolve into the air
  3305. >The rumble of thunder and flashes of lightning are constant, but distant
  3306. >Applejack’s ears are sticking straight up, high on alert
  3307. >they swivel back and forth, twitching whenever a boom of thunder sounds
  3309. >but then, she stands stiff at attention, inhaling a sharp breath of air
  3310. >then she points to your right, her big eyes fixed on a specific location
  3312. “Master, I can hear someone! I can hear them, over there!”
  3314. >She trots forward, but suddenly stops herself, folding her ears down and staying in place before backing up to your side again
  3315. >You would have taken a moment to admire just how closely she follows your every command, but there’s no room in your mind for that
  3316. >You shine your flashlight over in the direction she pointed, and it falls upon the shattered ruins of one of the houses, the outer walls caved completely in
  3317. >then, you pat Applejack on her shoulders, and take a jogging step forward
  3319. “Ok, let’s go. I’m gonna let you take the lead, Applejack!”
  3321. >You shine the light to illuminate the way, listening closely but not hearing anything
  3322. >but Applejack was adamant, so you trust her
  3323. >her ears must be more sensitive than yours.
  3325. >Applejack canters ahead of you, hopping over a sharp piece of plywood sticking out of the ground
  3326. >Her ears point straight forward, and she’s intensely focused
  3327. >you still don’t hear anyth…
  3329. >That’s when a wavering moan sounds faintly through the air
  3330. >as soon as you hear it, you clench your teeth together
  3331. >you whisper
  3333. “Oh, shit…”
  3335. >Applejack hears it, too
  3336. >She goes from a canter to a full gallop, and you struggle to stay right behind her
  3338. “We’re coming! Hold on, help’s coming!”
  3340. >you struggle to stay behind her, running at the max speed you can, considering all of the debris
  3341. >Applejack runs onto the rubble and steps onto the wobbly, unstable rubble which is sitting atop the foundation
  3342. >she stares down at the ground, and that’s when you hear the low, agonized moan
  3343. >Applejack gasps, and clambers over to the source of the sound
  3345. >you can hear the strangled cry from underneath a pile of 2x4s and crumbled drywall, toward the center
  3346. >You lower the flashlight and go to help
  3347. >But Applejack beats you there, and you freeze when she does something that stuns you
  3348. >She lowers her head and shoulders, and with a roar, she slams into a large plank of wood, sitting beneath the majority of the debris that’s actually there
  3350. >she uses it like a lever, digging in her hooves and pushing forward like a football player to a practice pad
  3351. >You hear loud crunching of powdered drywall and the creaking of the wide plank, and you leap forward with your arms held out, gesticulating like you’re about to help her
  3352. >But in a matter of seconds, Applejack ferociously shoves the pile away, where it lands with a loud crunch on the other side
  3353. >You step back in startled response
  3355. >Applejack gasps, and you see her get down onto her knees
  3356. >and then you see her, curled up on what used to be the floor
  3358. >a girl of maybe 8 years of age comes into view from the cloud of dust
  3359. >or rather, her body does, lying on its side
  3360. >The curled up little girl is shuddering, and you hear her moan in pain
  3361. >Applejack gasps, and scampers forward with her head held low
  3362. >she looks up at you, and you meet her eyes while she points to the child’s torso
  3364. “Oh my gosh, she’s… she’s got something in her chest!”
  3366. >Her voice breaks, and she points to the object in question
  3367. >you run forward and step beside her, next to the poor girl
  3368. >when you see it, you gasp, and put a hand over your mouth
  3369. >It’s a fragment of wood, and it’s driven straight through the right side of her chest
  3370. >straight through, all the way
  3371. >she’s shaking, and holding her right side with a white knuckled grip
  3372. >tears stream out of her eyes, and she sobs
  3373. >your mouth hangs open
  3375. >Applejack gets down on her knees and lays her hoof over her chest
  3376. >She walks around the injured girl’s body and lays down in front of her
  3377. >The kid’s head bends forward and she looks to the pony now lying in front of her
  3379. “It’s ok, it’s ok! We’re gonna help you, just stay still, it’s gonna be ok! Oh, Celestia…”
  3381. >You aren’t even sure what to do
  3382. >the little girl has been basically impaled
  3383. >you’re still in shock
  3384. >But as your senses come back to you, your hand shoots to your pocket
  3385. >you pull out your phone and dial 911
  3386. >Applejack is speaking softly to the girl, who’s crying much louder than before
  3387. >you hear the child’s weak voice sob out
  3389. “I can’t… take it... h-hurts! Hurts...”
  3391. >her head jerks to the side rapidly, twice in a row
  3392. >it’s the kind of movement one makes when they’re overcome with pain
  3393. >chills raise the hairs on your entire body
  3395. “911, what is your emergency?”
  3397. >The droning female voice on the other end of the phone forces you out of the state of newfound despair you’re feeling from looking at this girl
  3398. >you stammer, then take a deep breath, and then manage to talk more calmly
  3400. “Yes, I-I got a little girl with me who’s hurt, real bad… got a piece of wood impaled through her, she’s crying, sh-she’s… we’re on Teal Circle Road, uhh… either 12 or 15 Teal Circle Road...”
  3402. >The voice on the other end of the line speaks at the same time that you’re just starting to hear sirens
  3403. >it’s a hell of a coincidence
  3405. “Yes, sir, we’ve already received reports from your area, help is on the way. Is the girl still conscious?”
  3407. >You look down at Applejack, who is lying beside the little girl and nuzzling her head
  3408. >telling her it’s going to be alright
  3409. >you see the little girl grab Applejack’s mane with her left hand
  3410. >the sounds of crying are still chilling your blood
  3412. “Yes, she’s still conscious! She’s got a piece of a plank or something going right through her chest, u-up on the right…”
  3414. “Alright, sir, do not attempt to remove the object. Is she losing blood?”
  3416. >You look back down, breathing shallow
  3417. >You go over and get down on one knee, next to the shivering child
  3419. “Hold on, hold on, just…”
  3421. >there’s a crimson streak of blood going down vertically from the exit of the wound, and when you check the other side, it’s the same story
  3422. >it’s like it went clean through, like a spear
  3423. >You look at the ground, and you see a small trickle of blood, but it isn’t growing
  3424. >you look worriedly at Applejack, who is able to do little more than comfort the child, who is holding onto her blonde mane with a death grip
  3425. >You nod
  3427. “Y-yes, she is, but it’s k-kinda slow, at least for now…”
  3429. “Ok, sir. I’m gonna ask you to just stay on the line with me, an ambulance has been sent to your address. Stay with her until help arrives.”
  3431. >You hear the ambulance sirens in the far distance
  3432. >You wipe a tear from your cheek and then stare down at the girl
  3433. >she is gasping, sobbing, and gritting her teeth with tears pouring down
  3434. >Applejack kisses her forehead, and scoots in further
  3435. >She’s extremely careful not to touch the wooden plank shard
  3436. >the little girl moans pitifully in agony, and holds onto Applejack for dear life
  3437. >The pony rests her hoof on top of the girl’s head and cradles it
  3439. “Hold on, Sugarcube… I know it hurts, but you’re gonna be ok… just hang onto me, it’s ok…”
  3441. >You stay at a slight distance, continuing to speak with the operator, telling her more details and just paying close attention
  3442. >but as you watch the scene in front of you, Applejack and the little girl lying down beside one another on the cold slab of where the house used to be, a tiny little sentiment enters your brain
  3443. >you think it to yourself, whispering it even though it’s in your own mind
  3445. >“Good girl, Applejack. Good girl.”
  3447. ---------------
  3449. >You applaud how quickly emergency personnel arrive on the scene.
  3450. >they may have been forewarned, you don’t know
  3451. >all you know is that the little girl’s life is now out of your hands and into the ones of people far more capable.
  3453. >Applejack watches in solemn silence as the girl is loaded onto a stretcher and lifted into the back of the ambulance
  3454. >It’s not the only medical vehicle here. The whole block is covered in flashing lights, and sirens are still all around
  3455. >It’s a rather populated suburban area, so you think there’s personnel from all over the county
  3456. >firefighters, police, paramedics…
  3458. >You were reassured by paramedics that these sorts of incidents, that is to say, the girl’s IMPALEMENT, were actually treatable
  3459. >you don’t know if you should trust him, but you decide that you will
  3460. >even though it seems unbelievable to you
  3462. >Applejack cries silently
  3463. >You remember how tightly the girl held onto her mane as she was transported on the stretcher to the ambulance
  3464. >Applejack followed by her side the whole distance
  3465. >now, she was watching her being worked on in the back of the vehicle, bandages and casts and things you have no idea what they are being fastened around her torso, around the piece of plank
  3466. >you put your hand on her neck and pull her against your side, in a little hug
  3467. >Applejack continues to stare as they close the back door, and within ten seconds, they’re on the way out
  3468. >She wipes a hoof across her nose
  3470. “I don’t wanna leave her…”
  3472. >Your eyes water, and you stroke the side of her neck
  3474. “I know, hon. But she’s in good hands, now. I think she’ll make it.”
  3476. >Applejack swallows, you can feel it since your hand is on her neck
  3477. >She nods her head, and leans into you
  3479. “I hope so, Master. She… was in so much pain, I just…”
  3481. “It’s ok now, Applejack. You were there for her, you helped her. You dug her out, and if it weren’t for you hearing her…”
  3483. >You trail off.
  3484. >it doesn’t really need to be said, you both understand
  3485. >Applejack sniffles
  3486. >rubbing her neck all the way up and down one more time, you pull your hand away…
  3488. >You see red.
  3489. >Immediately your eyes shoot down to your hand, and you suddenly notice the sticky red blood on your fingertips
  3490. >You stop breathing, and then you look over Applejack’s shoulder
  3492. >Low on her side, and down on her belly from front to close to her flanks, there’s a thick, wet smear of blood
  3493. >At first, you feel your heartbeat quicken as you think your pony is now injured, too
  3494. >but then, the realization hits you
  3495. >that’s not her blood…
  3497. >you feel sick.
  3498. >you gag, and and look away from your hand
  3499. >you don’t wipe your hand on your clothes, or anywhere else
  3500. >it just sits limply by your side
  3502. >Applejack stays next to you
  3503. >she still remembers your order
  3504. >but she’s looking all around, taking everything in with an anxious demeanor
  3505. >her eyes bug out, and she points to where two paramedics are carrying a stretcher
  3507. “I-Is… is that…”
  3509. >you look over
  3510. >and your face blanches
  3511. >it’s a white sheet covered stretcher…
  3512. >coming from the far corner of the same house where you found the girl.
  3514. >the two of you stand, slackjawed.
  3515. >And that’s when Applejack starts to cry aloud.
  3516. >shivering sobs wrack her body, and she lowers her weepy face to the road.
  3518. >you’re more in shock than she is, so you don’t cry
  3519. >but the knowledge of who that must be isn’t lost on you.
  3521. >you feel a horrendous, splitting headache all of a sudden
  3522. >you put your bloody hand up to your forehead out of habit, but before you can remember, it’s too late
  3523. >you yank your hand away, but it leaves a smear on your skin that you can feel
  3524. >your eyes roll back, and you feel faint, but you fight it
  3525. >eventually, you do win, but you’re done.
  3526. >you can’t do this…
  3528. >You pet Applejack’s head, and start slowly walking away from the scene, back to the safety of your home
  3529. >She looks up at you, bloodshot eyes fixing you questioningly
  3530. >you shake your head, ignoring your throbbing head
  3532. “Let’s… come on, hon, let’s go. We gotta get home and get you cleaned up…”
  3534. >You feel like the ground beneath your feet is shaking
  3535. >but it’s probably just you
  3536. >Applejack opens her mouth, about to say something, but she closes it quickly
  3537. >lowering her head, she nods
  3539. “Yes, Master… but what about other people, what if they need…”
  3541. >Your head is killing you, but your heart melts
  3542. >but you just can’t do it right now, and you can’t just let Applejack go off by herself
  3543. >it’s actually against the law, too
  3544. >you shake your head and cradle hers as you walk
  3546. “No, Applejack… I don’t think there’s any more we can do now. We just have to, just have to…”
  3548. >You swoon, and stumble while you walk
  3549. >Applejack sees it, and then gets in front of you with her whole body
  3550. >You thankfully don’t fall, but you place your hands on your back, pushing down with your weight
  3551. >the points of her vertebrae can be felt under your fingertips
  3552. >Applejack pushes back against your weight, supporting you quite well
  3553. >she speaks with worry in her voice
  3555. “Master, are you alright?”
  3557. >You nod, pushing yourself back onto your feet
  3558. >the shock of seeing all of this is getting to you, badly
  3559. >When you look back down, you see the bloody fingerprints on Applejack’s back
  3561. >Fuck this.
  3562. >You start forward, gently pulling her forward by her shoulder
  3564. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine… We gotta get home…”
  3566. >Applejack stays to your side, but she’s angled inwards
  3567. >watching your every move
  3568. >you just want to get home…
  3570. >then, the thought of the little girl’s blood enters your mind again
  3571. >on the ground, on Applejack, on your hands…
  3572. >the wooden stake driven through her chest...
  3574. >you don’t remember doing it, but your legs give out from under you
  3575. >your body slumps forward, and you crumple toward the earth
  3576. >your eyes falling closed.
  3578. ----------
  3580. >you feel the soft surface under you before you open your eyes
  3581. >you feel it before you see anything
  3582. >you groan, and slowly, open your eyes
  3584. >despite that the room is still dark, you can see well since your eyes have been closed
  3585. >but as soon as you do open them, you hear a gasp
  3587. “Oh, land’s sakes, Anon! I was worried sick, you just fainted and fell down onto me and I had to carry you in!”
  3589. >turning your head, you see Applejack get up from where she was laying on the floor beside you
  3590. >You can now see you’re on the sofa
  3591. >groaning, you put your hand on your head
  3593. “Ughh… hey, hon... H-How long… how long I’ve been out?”
  3595. >Applejack walks over to you
  3596. >her eyes glimmer with concern
  3597. >she pushes her snout under your chin and nuzzles you
  3599. “Only a minute or two, Master. I was about to splash some water on your face, but…”
  3601. >she points down at the floor, where a full glass of water lies
  3602. >you look down, and you groan again
  3603. >you have a weird, light-headed throb in your skull
  3604. >honestly, you can’t even remember fainting at all
  3606. “So… I fell on you?”
  3608. “Yes, Anon. I caught you just before you hit, but you still, uhh, hit the ground a little bit. But I got your head.”
  3610. >She sidesteps over to the water glass and picks it up before placing it next to your lips
  3611. >you grunt, and push your body upright so you’re sitting up against the couch arm
  3612. >you take the glass and bring it to your lips
  3613. >seeing the clear, cold liquid in the cup you suddenly realize how parched you actually are
  3614. >you down the whole thing in less than ten seconds flat
  3615. >the glass sort of rolls out of your hand, onto the sofa cushion
  3616. >Applejack picks up the glass with her teeth and sets it back down on the floor
  3617. >she still looks worried
  3619. “Anon, you ok? You drank that real fast.”