Stevie Cochrane was an eight year old at Queens Road Elementary School. He was small for a third-grader, and not particularly athletic. He did well academically, even beating out fourth- and fifth-graders to win the school spelling bee. None of these things served him well when it came to facing Eric White.
Eric was a ten year old third-grader, but what he lacked in smarts he made up for in size. He beat the shit out of Stevie at least once a week—twice during exam weeks—and no teachers would do a goddamn thing about it. What made it worse was that every time Stevie came home with a new black eye or bloody nose, his mom told him to tough it out, and that most bullies eventually grew out of it—either that, or they ended up in prison.
Thirty years later, Stevie (now called Steve) didn’t find it hard to picture the small creature in front of him as a purple, horned Eric White. The voice was pretty similar. The little fucker even had the fat, puffed out cheeks.
“Dummeh hoomin! Smawty nu am stuttewew! Gif nummies NAO, an gu ‘way!”
Cheeky little bastard. Steve looked at the “herd” behind the smarty—two fluffies flanked the “smarty”, and both of them had puffed out there cheeks to provide a united front. Behind them stood about four other fluffies. None but the smarty appeared well fed.
“Ok, smarty. You win. Come right this way for nummies.”
Steve walked over to the fenced garden and opened the gate. The garden was just dirt, as it was too early in the year to bother planting. The fluffies followed him, and Steve closed the gate as the last one walked through.
The smarty turned to face Steve. “Dewe am nu nummies hewe! Dummeh hoomin gif nummies, ow smawty gif sowwy poopies!”
Steve chuckled. “Be patient, smarty! I have to go in the house to get your nummies! You all just wait here, and I’ll be right back.”
“Dis bettah nu be twick!”
Steve let himself out of the garden, careful to latch the gate behind him. He didn’t want any of the fluffies to get out. There was some idle chatter behind him, and he noticed one of the fluffies had started chewing on a dried up bit of grass. Probably damn near starved to death, Steve thought. That smarty doesn’t seem to be hurting, though. Steve had read on the online forums about smarties who kept all of the herd’s food and all of the breeding mares for themselves. It wasn’t a Hasbio invention, though, as Hasbio hadn’t foreseen feral herds. Steve wondered to himself whether Hasbio would have invented fluffies if they had any idea the devastation they would cause.
Steve usually carried a concealed 9mm pistol when he went out. He wasn’t an activist or anything—just a guy who believed in taking precautions. This was the first time he would use it for anything besides practice.
The garden was silent, except for the smarty barking orders at his herd. Rationing food, Steve thought. Giving himself as much as the rest of the herd combined. This will be fun.
“’bout time, dummeh! Whewe am smawty’s nummies?”
“They’re in the magic tube, smarty! Come over here and look.” Steve held the gun over the side of the fence.
“Smawty nu see nummies dewe!”
“Look closer, smarty. You have to look reeealy close inside the magic tube, and wish reeeealy hard, and the nummies will appear.”
The smarty approached Steve’s pistol and put his right eye up against the barrel. “Smawty stiww nu see nuffin’ in dummeh magic too-”BOOM!
Every fluffy in the herd shit itself before the smarty hit the ground, including the smarty itself. That’ll be good for the garden, Steve thought.
“Any other smarties in this herd?” Steve asked. The fluffies just kept screaming.
Steve could only take so much of the wailing. Ugh. It’s enough to make your ears bleed. He decided to let them scream it out in the garden while he hopped over the fence and wandered to the barn.
Candy was finishing her bowl of kibble when Steve walked in. “What am woud noisie, daddeh? Candee am scawedy!”
“Nothing to be afraid of, Candy. Daddy wouldn’t let anything bad happen to you.” His answer seemed to placate the bright pink mare, and she went back to munching her kibble. Steve stepped into the utility closet and grabbed a food bowl. He scooped a whole bowl of the regular kibble he had bought earlier that afternoon, and grabbed another handful for Candy. She thanked him and flapped her wings happily as he dropped the food into her bowl.
The herd were still huu huuing and giving each other hugs when Steve got back to the garden. Steve opened the gate, and the fluffies released their hugs and started scrambling against the back wall.
Sigh. This may take a little while. The sun was going down, and Steve hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Still, he was playing a long game here. He set the kibble bowl down near the terrified fluffies. One of the fluffies who stood with the smarty earlier, a dark gray pegasus, stood in front of the rest of the herd and puffed out his cheeks.
“Munsta hoomin nu huwt fwuffies! Tuffy wiww pwotect hewd!”
Steve was taken aback. When the pegasus first stepped in front of the herd, he thought he was going to have to kill another smarty. Many of the forums he had read that dealt with ferals had said that killing one smarty friend would just create a new one. But this fluffy seemed like he was only interested in saving his friends. Great colors and a manageable demeanor, Steve thought. I’ve got to get this one on my side. The rest are sure to follow.
Steve grabbed a handful of kibble from the bowl and knelt down in front of the leader. “I’m not a monster. In fact, I want to be your friend.”
The fluffy let the air out of his cheeks and cocked his head. “Nyu fwend? Den why gif smawty foweva sweepies?”
“What did that smarty ever do for you? Did he take all of the food for himself?”
“Yus. Smawty awways num nummies befowe gif hewd nummies. Hewd haf wowsest tummie owwies.”
Steve looked around at the small herd. “I don’t see any babies or pregnant fluffies. Did smarty ever let you make babies.”
The toughie shook his head. “Smawty nu wet fwuffies haf speshuw huggies. Smawty teww hewd dat mawes onwy fow smawty. Bu Smawty nevah gif mawes tummie babbehs. Hewd fin soon-mummahs an mummahs wif babbehs, bu Smawty say aww babbehs am ‘enfie-babbehs’, an aww soon-mummahs am foweva sweepies when hewd num fwowas. Hoomin ova dewe nu wan hewd num fwowas.” The fluffy pointed off in the direction of Mr. Polk’s farm. Old Man Polk always was anal about his roses.
“So, he wouldn’t let you have any food, he wouldn’t let you have any mares, he killed the herd’s babies, and he got most of the herd killed eating a human’s flowers. He doesn’t sound very smart at all.”
The toughie thought for a minute. “Nu, smawty am dummeh fwuffy.”
Steve stuck his hand out, revealing the kibble in his palm. “I’ll tell you what. How about you stay here and live with me, and I’ll give you all the nummies you need. You’ll be safe here.”
The pegasus’ eyes widened. “Hewd…haf nyu daddeh? Hewd am safe hewe? Haf nummies an nu sweep unda sky-wawas?”
Steve grinned. Perfect. “Only if you want to. You see that house over there?” Steve pointed to the barn. “There’s a place for all of you over there. I’ll even give you all names.”
He looked the all-black pegasus in his red eyes. He looks like some kind of angel of death, Steve thought. If he passes that color on to some foals, and if he stays well behaved, I could really make some money off of this deal. “How about we call you…Seraph.”
“Fwuffy am Sewaf? Fankoo daddeh! Sewaf wuv nyu name!” The newly christened Seraph danced on his hind legs and jumped in the air. The other toughie stepped up and sniffed Steve’s hand. He then started nibbling a piece of kibble. He was a blue unicorn with a white mane. Oddly enough, his horn was the same color as his mane rather than his coat—Steve had never seen that before.
“I think I’ll call you…wizard.”
“Fankoo fo nyu name, daddeh. Fwuffy am Wizawd.” The blue unicorn had beautiful colors, but seemed much more reserved than Seraph. I’ll bet the smarty was especially hard on this one. Probably thought he would turn smarty himself because of his horn.
Seraph signaled the other four fluffies forward to the kibble. Each of the four was a mare. Steve named the yellow unicorn with the light green mane “Pineapple”. The red earthie with the dark green mane he named “Cherry”. The monochrome purple earthie became “Orchid”. The orange pegasus with the pink mane already had a name: “Grapefruit”. The four mares happily munched the kibble and quickly emptied the bowl. Guess I’d better show them the new digs so I can eat something myself.
“Ok, fluffies--who’s ready to meet a new fluffy friend and go see your new house?” The fluffies all cheered. “Here’s what we’re going to do: I’ll take two of you at a time and put you in your new rooms. Then we’ll all talk about daddy’s rules, and how good fluffies make daddy happy.”
Steve picked up Grapefruit and Pineapple first. Grapefruit jabbered nonstop about “wuv upsies”, and Pineapple happily nodded her head and grunted in the affirmative to everything that her friend said. Steve opened the barn door and saw that Candy was still playing with her blocks. “Candy,” Steve called, “I have some new friends for you.”
Startled at the sound of Steve’s voice, Candy jumped to attention—at least as quickly as a pregnant mare can jump—and said, “Nyu fwends?”
Pineapple gasped. “Nyu fwend am SOON-MUMMAH?!? Yay! Nyu fwend haf babbehs fo wuv an huggies! Fwuffy am Pineappuw. How time tiww babbehs?”
Candy flapped her wings happily. “Candee nu kno. Candee neva haf babbehs befow. Nyu pointy-fwend Pineappuw an nyu wingie-fwend am su pwetty!”
Pineapple and Grapefruit both thanked Candy profusely and told her that she was pretty, too, and Grapefruit and Candy introduced themselves. When the fluffy formalities were done—or rather, when Steve interrupted them, as there was work yet to be done—Steve set the two mares down in the largest pen, across the walkway from Candy’s pen. Grapefruit already knew how to use the litterbox, and made use of it soon after Steve had set her down. He filled the two bowls full of kibble, and topped off the water bottles.
The other two mares chatted all the way to the barn, seemingly happy about their new circumstances. Steve placed them in the big pen with Pineapple and Grapefruit, who waddled over to give them both hugs and squeal happily.
And now for the stallions, Steve thought. He knew he couldn’t have gotten much luckier. He now had five mares and two stallions—a decent ratio for starting out—and the stallions had desirable colors. Not only that, but they seemed to be good fluffies. Steve knew that behavior was key when it came to producing sellable foals—no one wanted a fluffy that shat all over the house or demanded things (and then shat all over the house when it was denied).
Seraph maintained his enthusiasm through both the introduction to Candy and his introduction to his new pen. Wizard was polite, but seemed almost reticent towards his new surroundings. Definitely the beta male in this herd. Steve decided to house them both together in their own pen so they would have company.
Wizard had eaten what little kibble Steve had in his hand before, and Seraph hadn’t eaten at all, so Steve had to fill their bowl three times to satisfy their hunger. All of the fluffies fell asleep soon after, except for Seraph. Steve gave him a ball from the closet to tire him out.
Steve said good night to the fluffies, turned all of the lights off except for the emergency runners, and closed the barn door. It was still only 8pm, so he had enough time to eat dinner and do a little writing before bed.
Eric White tormented Stevie Cochrane through the fifth grade. Stevie’s parents put him in Catholic school starting in sixth grade; that’s when he started going by “Stephen”. Eric’s dad—Charlotte’s DA at the time—got him in to the most prestigious private school in the city. He went to Duke on a lacrosse scholarship, and the last Steve heard of Eric White, he was a personal injury lawyer considered a shoo-in as his district’s next Congressman.
Sometimes the bullies don’t get what they deserve. Fuck you, mom.