Out On The Streets
Joey carefully extracted himself from the fluff pile, trying not to wake any of the other fluffies. The early morning light made the snow glisten as the sun lazily peeked its head up over the horizon. He gobbled up a mouth full of snow before he made his way to the nu-pretty place where he made his morning poopies. Business taken care of, he headed out to the small frozen stream that ran at the edge of the clearing. Joey had been told that the herd drank out of the stream when the ice melted, but for now it was a place where foals played their little slip and slide game. Joey spotted a pile of shit in the stream and chuckled. No matter how many foals had been given sorries for making poopies in the stream, they still kept doing it. Buddy, the Smarty of the herd, had already given up on trying to keep them from playing on the ice, but bad poopies was the one thing he was not lenient about.
It had been a few weeks since he had first came to the burrow, on the day that Buddy had torn off his wings. The herd had been alarmed that the Smarty was brining another fluffy to the herd during winter, when nummies were scarce. But they reluctantly shared their nummies with him, and eventually most had accepted him as part of the herd within the first two weeks. Buddy had taught him the rules of the herd, where to make poopies, how much he could eat from the stockpile on any given day, when he could go out and play and when he had to hide in the burrow, so on and so forth. He also learned things from other fluffies, like how to know when it was getting close to dark time from the colors in the sky, and more importantly, games to play. Joey loved playing so much. He never got to play with other fluffies before… well… except Doyle… Joey pushed the memory out of his mind as quickly as it came.
The clearing began to echo with the sound of giggling as the foals began to stream out of the nests. The older ones went first, grunting as they squeezed out their poopies as quickly as possible so they could get started on their busy day of playing. The bouncing, giggling little fluff balls romped and rolled as they engaged in games of hide and peekies and huggy tag as soon as they had finished their morning poopies. The younger foals who still needed to nurse formed a fluff pile, cooing as they hugged and nuzzled their friends. The youngest foals who had not opened their eyes yet were kept in the den, cheeping hungrily as their mothers went to streach their legs for a while. Joey loved the sight and sounds of happy foals playing. That was the best part of living with the herd. Back when he lived with The Man, he only heard the frantic chirping of newborn foals calling out for their mothers when The Man gathered them up in a box and carted them away, never to be seen again.
Soon enough, all of the fluffies in the herd where out and about. The dams ambled out of the den, the ones closest to popping giving assistance from their special friends. They made their poopies ate the nummies brought to them from the stockpile, then went to back into the den to chattered to each other about their tummy babies. Other mares waddled back towards the foal pile, calling for their babies. They flopped down on their haunches as hungry foals ran, or in the case of the youngest ones, hopped over to them and latched onto their teats, cooing and singing as their babies nursed. Special friends were cooing and smiling and hugging foals when they had finished nursing. Nummies finders set out into the thick woods to seek out better food to bring back to the nursing mares and add to the stockpile. Toughies patrolled around the clearing, ensuring that the other fluffies were all safe and accounted for. Buddy was, as usual, perched on the stump in the center of the clearing where he could overlook the entire herd from a single spot.
Joey spotted a yellow fluffy with a blue mane and tale yawing as he lazily ambled out of the den. He knew those colors anywhere. It was Bolt, a young stallion in the herd. Bolt was the biggest fluffy in the herd, and had been recently made a toughie. Some questioned whether this was a good idea, as Bolt was known for being easily spooked and was a bit of a crybaby. But he seemed to hold the safety of the herd in the highest regard. He and Joey had become friends over the course of the last few weeks, although they didn‘t get much of a chance to talk or play anymore now that Bolt had given the responsibilities of a toughie. Joey smirked and began to creep up on the yellow pony, lowering himself to the ground and nearly crawling. When he got within range, he pounced and knocked the toughie over on his side.
Bolt nearly jumped out of his skin, scrambling to his hooves and hyperventilating, looking at Joey with wide, shocked eyes.
“Bowt, how yu ‘sposed to be a big toughie fwiend if yu such a scawdy fwuffy?”
Joeys giggling was cut off as tears began to flow from Bolt. The big fluffy collapsed to the ground and covered his eyes, sobbing.
“Huuuu huuuu…. Nu am scawdy fwuff…. Huuuu huuuu…”
Joey sighed and wrapped the stallion up in a hug to comfort him.
“Joey sowwy. Nu mean it. Bowt am a big toughie, nu am widdwe scawdy fwuff.”
Bolts sobs began to subside as Joey hugged him. He had finally stopped when another fluffy sauntered over towards them. It was Stormcloud. The grey stallion with the black mane was aptly named, both for his colors and his ability to put a damper on any good mood. At the age of three, he was the oldest fluffy in the herd. Stormcloud was still in his prime, of course, and wouldn’t have been considered old by house fluffy standards, but in the wild three years old was down right ancient. He had been a toughie once, until he lost his eye distracting an alley cat so a mare could escape with her babies. Joey had learned recently that it had been all for naught, as soon as Stormcloud had collapsed sobbing and clutching his bloody face, the cat caught up with the mare and snatched a cheeping foal right off of her back. Joey assumed that Stormclouds foul mood stemmed from his failure that day. He couldn’t blame the stallion for being a prick, but he did wished that Stormcloud would just get over it.
“Bowt, don’t you haf somewhewe tu be?” The grey pony called as he got near.
Bolt glanced up in surprise.
“Yu know, smawties nu can howd dere poopies untiw dawk tiem.”
The old stallion jerked his head towards Buddy on the stump, who was beginning to shift his weight from one hoof to the other, obviously trying to hold his poopies in.
Bolt scrambled off, making a dash for Buddies stump as fast as his legs would carry him. Joey sighed. He was hoping to at least have a chat with his friend, but once again Bolts duties as a toughie prevented it. Maybe he’d catch up with him when Bolt was patrolling the safe place, but he‘d have to wait until Stormcloud was taking a nap. The grey stallion yelled at him for distracting a toughie when he was supposed to be looking for monsters the last time he tried to talk to Bolt when he was on patrol. It would make for a boring morning. All the other fluffies would be busy tending to their foals, and it didn’t leave Joey anyone to play with. He watched as Bolt tried to scramble up onto the stump, falling over twice before finally getting to the top. Buddy made a dash to the no-pretty place. Joey sighed and glanced towards the grey stallion.
“Mmph.” Stormcloud only spared him a grunt as bit into a mouthful of snow.
Joey sighed and sauntered off toward the middle of the clearing. He would just watch the babies play until someone was free to play with him. Joey loved watching the little foals scamper around and hug and giggle. That was the best thing about not living with The Man anymore. The Man took away all the babies before they could grow up to be old enough to play. Sometimes he took them away so quick that their mommahs didn’t even have time to give them a single huggy or drop of milk. He never even saw the babies, he just heard the cries of the anguished mares and saw The Man walking out the door with a box full of scared, cheeping foals. But here, there were all kinds of foals. Big foals who could eat grass from the stockpile, little foals who had to hop instead of walk, and tiny little chirpy babies who still had their eyes closed. Joey loved watching them romp around.
But it wasn’t always happy, since sometimes accidents and other bad things happened to the babies. Just last week, when a mare flopped over and called her baby over to her to nurse, a bird swooped down from the sky and carried the foal off. It happened so fast that Joey couldn’t even believe it at first. One minute, the baby was giggling happily as he ran as fast as his tiny little legs would carry him towards his cooing mother, and the next, there was a cloud of snow and a blood curdling shriek and the baby was no more. It was always sad when a baby took forever sleepies, and Joey hoped that nothing bad would happen today.
But his wish was not to be granted. It didn’t take long for the first mishap to strike. Joey was watching a few bigger foals playing a game of huggy tag. One, a foal who was nearly half the size of a full grown fluffy, was looking over his shoulder and calling to his friends behind him, unknowingly running dangerously close to the fluff pile of younger babies. Joeys breath caught as younger foal, eager to play the exciting game, hopped out of the pile and directly into the path of the foal looking over his shoulder. The two collided, and the big foal rolled over nearly half the pile, leaving shocked and chirping foals his wake. Joey ran over to assist, along with a large portion of the nearby herd. He and a few mares were quickly set to scooping up the newborns and checking for any injuries as they hugged and tried to comfort them. Several had been knocked over onto their backs, and were waving their tiny little hooves in the air as they cheeped in distress. One foal, the first one that had hopped into the path of the big foal, was screeching loudly.
Joey picked up the foal as other fluffies rushed in and began to try to comfort the newborns before their chirping could attract any monsters. The baby looked fine at first glance, but the shrieking and flailing told Joey that something was wrong. The other foals had just been given a shock and were settling down, but no huggies would calm this foal. It was then that Joey had noticed the white bone sticking out of the foals hindquarters. Upon closer inspecting, he saw that the pelvis was completely misshapen. Joey felt tears begin to form as Buddy ambled up to him.
“Joey? Dat babbeh haf hewties?”
Joey couldn’t manage to get words around the lump in his throat, so he instead just handed to the foal to Buddy. The smarty inspected the foal, then heaved a sigh and carried the baby off towards the edge of the clearing. Seconds later, the screeching stopped. Joey started to cry as Buddy walked back solemnly, a red streak on one of his hooves. The weanling who had caused the incident was on his back, making no-hurties leggies as his father scolded him and bit his ears. Buddy picked the foal up by the scruff without a word and carried him to the tree line, the father in tow. He set the weanling down and pointed into the woods. The foal stood up shakily, peered into the edge of the forest, and howled in anguish.
“Yu bad babbeh!” The father continued his disciplinary assault, cuffing the foal on the head with his hoof every time he said the word ‘bad’. “Bad, bad BAD babbeh!”
The foal was now hunkered down, covering his eyes with his hooves and wailing, distressed more from the realization of what he had done than from his fathers beating. The father turned his back and covered the weanling with a gout of sorry poopies before following Buddy back to the center of the clearing, tears in his own eyes. Several fluffies were crying, but when Buddy walked over to foals mother and broke the bad news, her wails made Joey collapse to the ground and cover his ears. Suddenly, a hoof nudged into his shoulder and made him jump. Started, he glanced up at the fluffy who nudged him. It was Stormcloud, who was staring at the mare with a worried look.
“Joey?” Stormcloud said in a voice that was almost a whisper. “Get up. Stowmcwoud need yu hewp.”
Joey got to his legs a bit shakily. Stormcloud had never asked him for help before. The grey stallion rarely ever spoke to him. Joey was surprised that he even remembered his name.
“Stowmcwoud gonna go an distwact dat mawe. Yu go an gwab dat babbeh and take him away.”
Joey looked at Stormcloud confused, and then he saw the mare suddenly glance down at the shit covered foal and suddenly stop wailing. When she began to shake, Joey realized why Stormcloud was asking him to do this. The grey stallion was already moving towards the mare, and Joey followed closely behind. The dead foal suddenly dropped from the mares hooves, and she stood up and started walking over towards the crying foal.
“Oh poopies… Joey, go! Wun! Get dat babbeh away fwom hew nao!”
Joey took off towards the foal as fast as he could run, but the mare also began to run for it, letting out a bloodcurdling cry of pure rage. Joey may have been fast, but the mare was closer. The foal looked up at the sound in shock, and that shock turned to sheer terror as he saw the angry mare barreling down on him.
“NU!” Called Stormcloud, hot on Joeys heels.
The foal didn’t even have time to scream before the mare reared up and brought down both hooves on top of the foals spine with a sickening crack. The foal shrieked in shock and pain. The mare reared up again, and a split second later, Stormcloud barreled into her side, knocking her down. The old grey stallion flung himself onto of the mare, pinning her down as she thrashed and snapped her teeth at him in a blind rage. Joey scooped up the little foal. The foal looked up at him with wide eyes, and it was then that Joey realized that his rear legs were facing the wrong direction.
“W-w-weg *kaf* w-weggies nu *kaf* w-w-wowk…”
The foals eyes rolled back in his head and his breathing stopped a moment later. Joey felt a chill down his spine as he let the foal fall from his hooves. He glanced at one dead foal, then the other, and then at the raging mare, and for the first time, he wished that The Man would come striding into the clearing, grab him by the scruff, and throw him back in his old cage. He just wasn’t cut out for this.
Prancer squealed as her hooves slipped and she fell flat onto the ice. Her sister, Giggles, was living up to her namesake as she jumped onto the ice and slid several feet before rolling to a stop. The pink filly with the wisps of a newly growing white manes tried to get up again, but once again her legs slid out from under her. Giggles let out more laughs at the onslaught as she flopped over and rolled around, getting snow and chuncks of ice mixed into her powder blue fluff. Prancer laughed at the spectacle and began to roll around on the cold ice as well.
The slidey game had been the favorite of the two sisters since they learned how to walk. Their mother had all but given up on trying to stop them. Stormcloud had earned their collective ire from the sheer amount of times he had given them sorries for making poopies in the drinking place. But still, the two fillies made off to the frozen stream to slid and slide around. However, the game came to a sudden halt when the shriek of a newborn foal echoed around the clearing. The two froze in their tracks, ears perked. The twins climbed out of the stream to see the majority of the herd, including Stormcloud, flock to the center of the clearing where the rest of the foals were.
“Wha dat?” Prancer asked her sister, her ears drooping down with worry.
“Dun know,” Giggles answered with a shrug and a worried look. The worry on her face soon faded and turned into her usual misbehaviors smirk. “But wook… aww da hewd obah dere, eben meanie Stowmcwoud… an nu wan wookin dis way.”
Giggles turned around and walked back into the stream and promptly fell onto the ice. Prancer followed her, assuming that she was going to start the slidey game up again, but the blue filly crawled over the other side and kept walking. Prancer began to get nervous.
“W-whewe goin, sissy?”
Giggles looked back, her usual grin plastered all over her face.
“Goin to pway expwowe game!”
Prancer gasped. Babies weren’t allowed to leave the clearing, even big fluffies had to have permission from the Smarty.
“Wait! Nu sposed to weave safe pwace pwace! Stowmcwoud gun gif us sowwies again if we twy to weave!”
Giggles turned. hopped onto her sister and gave her a big hug.
“Stowmcwoud nu hewe! He obew dewe, nu see us! We be back befowe hewd eben knows we nu hewe nu mowe!” Giggles began to walk towards the tree line again. “Yu comin?”
Prancer took one look back at the herd, then gulped and followed her sister out of the clearing and into the forest.