Windcatcher, Chapter 1

May 28th, 2013
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  1. You breathe out through your nostrils as you thoughtfully bite down on the butt-end of your pencil. The force of your breath makes the paper in front of you move, but you've got it pinned down pretty good with your forehooves.
  2. The wood and graphite taste in your mouth is better than the bad taste you keep getting when you think of writing your story down. What for anyway? Who would read it?
  3. A voice to your side offers small solace; "You can do it. I have faith in you."
  4. You close your eyes as another sigh escapes you and the thought crosses your mind that you should not be the one writing it.
  5. "You know I can't manipulate our body."
  6. She's right, and you both know it. Ok, eyes open and your pencil down on the paper. Let's get this story started.
  7. As if you've done so all your life, your pencil starts trailing the curves and straight lines of the Equestrian alphabet. It's far from the alphabet you were used to before you came here, but you instinctively know how to put your too-human thought patterns into sentences that everypony else would be able to make sense of.
  9. "My name is Windcatcher, and I'm one year old.", you start, as if addressing a self-help group.
  10. "I could not have imagined the events that took place last year, nor would I have believed anyone if they told me.
  11. I used to be human. A human girl, at that. My life before the events was quite simple, by human standards. Nothing had ever happened that would be considered abnormal.
  12. I came from a nuclear family; mom, dad, a younger brother, and myself. Our family was relatively close-knit, but not stifling, and we had several uncles and aunts who came to visit from time to time.
  13. I was enrolled in high-school and had a small group of friends with whom I frequently visited the mall or local arcade.
  14. There really is nothing to tell about that life. Nopony would have taken an interest in me. I just wasn't that special."
  16. "Oh, you're too modest," the voice cuts in, and you smirk lightly.
  17. "Who'ff writhing thiff ftory anyway?", you mumble past the pencil and are rewarded by her giggling.
  18. "Fine, fine, I'll back off."
  19. You mull over how to continue for a moment as you stare at the letters on the paper.
  20. "Well, go on?"
  21. "Giff me a moment to think, will you?"
  22. "But if you don't hurry up we'll miss our own birthday party," she whines, and you shake your head at the voice.
  23. "Ok, fine."
  25. "It was a rainy day as I went to the mall that day, and I didn't know that day that the day would have more surprises in store during the day than just the lightning of that day.", your pencil scribbles down, and you know you have overused the word 'day' in that sentence the moment you finish it.
  26. You drop the pencil in favor of the eraser and wipe the letters out one by one before starting over.
  27. "It was raining as I went to the mall one day. The lightning flashed overhead and the thunder was quick to follow. Unbeknownst to me, it would be the last thunderstorm I would see as a human." Yup, much better.
  28. "Most of my friends had taken shelter in various stores already, most of the boys hanging out in the arcade or the comic book store, while the girls were hanging out in the sweets store, clothing store, and the hair salon.
  29. There were exceptions to this division, but they could be counted on a single pony's hooves." Something about that last sentence bothers you, but you shrug it off for now.
  30. "I decided to join Joan and Alex in the comic book store as I had to ask them about the upcoming party the next weekend.
  31. Entering the comic book store, where I got most of my manga from, I spotted them talking about the latest My Little Pony comic book that had been released.
  32. While I had enjoyed watching the series in the past, I had pretty much given up on it by the time I started high-school.
  34. Their agitation was clear, even from a distance, and when I approached I could overhear their discussion:
  35. Joan pointed at a page in the book and stated "They could have left her eyes alone!", to which Alex shrugged.
  36. "Blame the soccermoms," he returned, giving me a wave as he saw me approach them.
  37. I lifted my own hand in return and gave him a questioning gaze, to which he shrugged again. Alex did a lot of shrugging.
  38. "They made Derpy Hooves appear in the comic book, but they straightened out her eyes."
  39. "Dirty who?" I repeated, and Joan spun around to cast an angry glance at me.
  40. "Derpy Hooves!" she all-but shouted, then pointed at the open book in her hand. "They even renamed her Ditzy Doo.."
  41. " we already knew they would.." Alex muttered in the background.
  42. "..instead of keeping the name the fanbase came up with!" Joan continued unabated.
  44. I stared at the booklet in Joan's hands, and especially at the grey-coated pegasus standing amidst a total mess, her yellow eyes looking down a bit while a speech bubble stated "I just don't know what went wrong."
  45. "Ok?", I shrugged at my friends, much to Joan's chagrin.
  46. "It's NOT ok! They say Derpy makes fun of disabled people, but she's just an adorable ditz.."
  47. "..hence the namechange.." Alex couldn't help but mutter at that.
  48. "..who tries to help others but constantly fuddles things up. She can't help it!" Joan finished.
  49. I decided to nod at that, not really knowing what else to do.
  50. "You knew Hasbro was going to do this, Joan. Do you still want the book or not?", Alex wondered, looking behind him at the store clerk who was raising an eyebrow at the way Joan was flailing her arm around while she held on to only a few of the comic book's pages.
  51. "Of course I want the book!" Joan decried, storming past Alex towards the register.
  53. "So," I started, left behind with Alex, "Any news on the party coming Saturday?"
  54. Alex shook his head at that. "We're still waiting for Christine to get back to us about whether she's managed to trick a DJ or not. She said she knew someone.."
  55. "Christine says a lot of things."
  56. "Yeah, which is why I'm downloading a tracklist myself just in case."
  57. "Good call."
  58. "Thanks."
  59. Alex cringed visibly as Joan shouted at the employee behind the counter that she should get a discount for false representation of her precious pony, and he made a few inaudible excuses towards me before moving to join her.
  61. I shook my head at Joan's anger issues and idly let my eyes wander over the comics in this section. A bunch of brightly colored children's comics were lined up on the lower shelves, with the colors darkening and the books' subjects getting more adult the higher up I looked.
  62. Nothing really struck my fancy, and I wandered over to the manga section over in the back of the store, near the fire exit and the door into the storeroom.
  63. They still didn't have a new issue of my favorite manga, so I leafed through some older ones but looked up abruptly as I heard the sound of something heavy falling over. It came from the storeroom.
  64. The employee didn't seem to have noticed, but as a soft voice started to whine in pain, I waved my hand at him to try and get his attention.
  65. "Hey! Hey, I think someone got hurt in there!", I called out, but Joan's voice was too loud and I doubt any of them heard me.
  66. Now I know it's bad to go and enter a storeroom of a place you don't work at, but someone was clearly in pain and nopony else seemed to have noticed.
  67. What was I to do? Walk away?
  68. Of course not!
  70. So I pushed the door open and walked into the storeroom behind the storefront. It wasn't that big a place, really, and the books were all stacked up in boxes as far as the eye could see.
  71. A pathway had been made in-between all the irregularly shaped boxes, and I made my way through it until I rounded a corner and"
  72. You have to stop a moment as the recollection of that shared memory, seen from two individual points of observation, hits you.
  73. "It hurt," she says, and you nod in silence.
  74. What you saw was.. well.. you really should write this down.
  75. I made my way through it until I rounded a corner and "saw a small form trapped under a stack of boxes that had fallen over on top of it.
  76. I drew nearer and could not believe my eyes as I saw more of her form.
  78. A grey-coated pony, yellow mane, yellow tail, pegasus wings..
  79. She looked like that Derpy Hooves pony from the comic Joan had shown me!
  80. I backed away as the realization hit that what I was looking at could not exist on Earth, was something so fantastical that it would have camera crews come running if they ever found out, and was, horribly, hopelessly, trapped with one of her wings stuck underneath a heavy box.
  81. She looked at me with those yellow eyes of hers, as bewildered as I was at seeing her, but then looked down and I thought I could spot a soft blush underneath the fur on her cheeks.
  82. She didn't speak, but instead just tried to tug her wing out from under the box, failing miserably at it.
  83. "Hey," I finally started, and we both winced at how loud my voice sounded in the small room. "Er.. do you need help with that?"
  85. What else was I to say? She was clearly in pain and was pinned down by several pounds of books about some superhero who was annoyingly absent in this situation.
  86. She nodded at my question and I moved to clear the books and other boxes from around her before turning to the main problem.
  87. Rather than hurt my back trying to move the rather big thing, I opened it up and started pulling out stacks of books to make it lighter, until I noticed it started to slide a bit as the pony tried to pull her wing out from under it.
  88. I helped lift it from the floor just enough for her to be able to pull her wing out, and then let it drop down on the ground again as the pony tended to her clearly broken extremity.
  89. I'm no veterinarian. But even I could see it was broken simply by the way it hung limply down her left side.
  90. She tugged at it a bit with her mouth, but it didn't do much good.
  92. "Can I have a look at it?", I wondered, and her head snapped back to face me, fear and confusion fighting over which should show more prominently on her features.
  93. After taking a deep breath, she sighed out with a soft voice and nodded at the same time. "Yeah, sure.. why not?"
  94. She turned her left side towards me and I carefully leaned in to look, making sure to keep my hands to myself in the hopes that it would help her relax.
  95. "It doesn't look like you're bleeding. But it does look broken," I offered, and the pony snorted as if to say she had figured that out herself as well.
  96. I moved a hand up in clear view of her and looked at her face. "Mind if I lift it a bit? I'll be careful?"
  97. At her nod, I carefully took hold of her broken wing, marvelling at the soft feel of her feathers, and gently lifted it so I could look underneath it.
  98. She winced, and one of her forehooves lifted only to hit the ground a moment after as she tried to deal with the pain, but she did not appear to be bleeding there either.
  100. "No blood there either," I offered, gently letting her wing droop down again. I fell back to rest my butt on the floor, leaning into one of the stacks of boxes that, thankfully, did not fall over as I rested my back against them.
  101. "What," I started, trying to get my thoughts in order, "What are you exactly?"
  102. The pony looked around like a lost lamb trying to figure out how to get home, turning to face me properly again. Her tail flicked nervously behind her, and she mostly looked down at the ground while she seemed to be thinking about my question.
  103. Her eyes met mine when she finally spoke, and I saw in them how far away from home she must've felt. A look of total dejectedness, a hint of fear, and a slight glimmer of tears not yet ready to form.
  104. "A pony," she said, and I was so lost in her eyes that I didn't catch my own incredulous chuckle at it. "Well, I am," she huffed, her face suddenly hardening as if I had offended her.
  106. Her move broke the spell and I quickly blinked my eyes a few times, then shook my head at her. "No, I mean.. I can see you're a pony! That's not what I was.. er.. asking,"
  107. ..her wings..
  108. "But you're a pegasus? And.. you're.. your colors.. you don't look like the ponies we have here.. and it's," my mind lost track of where it was going and I just shut my mouth as I felt my cheeks start to burn brightly.
  109. She looked up at me as if I'd said something stupid, and nodded slowly. "Yes, I am a pegasus. And of course I don't look like the ponies you got here!" she decried, then quickly shut her mouth again as we heard a door open and close.
  110. "Anyone in here?", the store clerk wondered to the twilight of the storeroom, but both me and the pony in front of me held our breaths until we heard the door creak again and footsteps moving away from us.
  112. "That was close," the pony breathed, and I realized she had not meant for anyone, including me, to see her.
  113. "You're not supposed to be here, are you?", I asked, and she smirked up at my question.
  114. "Neither are you. Didn't anypony tell you this was an employee-only area?", she snapped back with a gleam of amusement in her eyes, and we both giggled a bit at her joke.
  115. "What I meant, was," I started again, but she shook her head at me before I could continue.
  116. "No, I'm not."
  117. I nodded at her answer and looked around a bit, not knowing what else to say.
  118. We sat/stood there in silence for a few breaths, until the pony finally spoke up again, "I'm Windcatcher. What's your name?""
  120. You think it over in your head a little. What was your old name anyway?
  121. Every time you could remember your friends, or family, having called you by name, it had been Windcatcher.
  122. You wrote Windcatcher as your name on all your school books.
  123. The wooden sign your grandfather had made for your bedroom door, said Windcatcher in faded pink letters caught in-between some half-disappeared figures that had once resembled some Disney princesses.
  124. As far back as you could recall, you had been Windcatcher.
  125. "Must be a side-effect of the spell?", the voice in your mind wonders, and you nod at it.
  126. Neither of you understands much about that magic stuff.
  128. "I spoke my name," you continue the story on a new sheet of paper, "and the pony smiled at me.
  129. "That's a nice name," she said, and took a careful step closer to me as she did. "You wouldn't be able to help me, would you?"
  130. I shrugged at her as she took another step closer, and tried to figure out what it was she was asking of me. "Help you? With what?"
  131. Windcatcher shuffled a forehoof over the ground a bit as she stopped moving forwards, instead looking away with a soft blush again.
  132. "Well, see.. there's these books.. You call them comet books?"
  133. "Comic books."
  134. "Right, those. And there's a new one out. And we saw that it had a picture of me in it!"
  136. I blinked as my mind linked two and two together. "Wait, you're saying that you're Detzy.. dervy.. er.. that pony from the book?"
  137. Windcatcher blinked and tilted her head at me. "Derpy Hooves? No, I'm not Derpy Hooves.. I'm Windcatcher. I just told you. But she looks a bit like me, I suppose. Just with her eyes going everywhere all at once."
  138. I stared at her as her voice trailed off near the end of that last sentence, but she quickly snapped back again.
  139. "But that book, yes! It's why I got here! Triple Lightning sent me over with a really really old spell she found in some dusty library, but I haven't been able to find it yet."
  140. "Sent you over?"
  141. "From Equestria! Now, look, you're familiar with this place, right? Can you help me find that book?"
  143. I stared at her for a moment, then nodded and pushed up from the ground. "Sure. One moment."
  144. If that was all that that pony wanted, why not?
  145. I started to walk off in the direction of the store, then realized the clerk might catch me either as I moved back into the store, or back into the storeroom.
  146. "Er.. they should have a bunch of them back here, shouldn't they?", I asked myself, looking around.
  147. "I don't know. Should they?", Windcatcher asked, following behind me with the feathers of her broken wing dragging along over the floor.
  148. "Should be in one of these boxes," I mused, looking over the different labels.
  149. "As long as none of them fall on me again, I'm ok with boxes," the pony responded.
  151. None of the boxes looked to be sorted by alphabetical order, and it took us some time to find the right section, a whole bunch of My Little Pony comic books all stacked around what looked like a makeshift reading corner.
  152. A couple of cans of soda were strewn around the place, and an ashtray was filled with.. joint buds and a filled condom.
  153. Both Windcatcher and I stared at it for far too long, then backed up away from it almost simultaneously.
  154. "Ok, whatever sliver of respect I had for the guy that works here," I started, and the pony nodded.
  155. "I don't know what I'm seeing, but it smells really really wrong," Windcatcher whimpered.
  156. "Ok, let me find that book and let's get out of here," I decided, carefully lifting a comic from a nearby stack and holding it between thumb and indexfinger while I examined it.
  158. It looked in pristine condition, so I moved it to a stack of boxes just away from the "reading area" and leafed through it. No grey pony. Well, there were.. but not like Windcatcher or Derpy Ditzy or whatever.
  159. "That's not the one," I muttered, and Windcatcher's ears fell flat.
  160. "Careful," she offered, as I moved to another stack of comics and pulled the cleanest from it, repeating the process of inspecting it for any sign of lewd actions having been performed on it, then leafing through it.
  161. Again, no pony like Windcatcher. Plenty of colorful ponies, plenty of pegasi, but no Dorky thing.
  162. "Ok, let's hope this one is it," I meeped, returning for the fourth time from the den of evil, carrying with me the spoils of war. The longer I stayed near that place, the dirtier I felt.
  163. I leafed through the book until a familiar scene revealed itself. I quickly held the book up in front of Windcatcher's face and she lit up in excitement!
  164. "That's it!", she shouted a little too loud, and we could hear the door open and close again.
  166. "Whomever's in here, you're tresspassing! I got a right to defend myself, you know?", the voice of the store clerk sounded, and the pony and I looked around for a place to hide.
  167. No such luck.
  168. All the boxes in this area were stacked too close together for anyone, or anypony, to wurm themselves in-between, too low for anyone to hide behind, and we couldn't climb up on them to then climb up on the wobbly stacks closer to the clerk.
  169. "Ok, this is it. I'm going to jail," I sighed, dropping down to the floor beside Windcatcher.
  170. "There is one way out," Windcatcher revealed, shuffling her hooves a bit nervously.
  171. "No, there's not," I sighed, pointing around us. "Look at it. No way out."
  173. "You know, the spell that brought me here," Windcatcher continued, "I can return to Equestria at any point in time."
  174. "Ok, so you're at least not going to be dissected by the government," I smiled weakly, holding out the comic book towards the pony so she could take it with her.
  175. Windcatcher frowned at me and almost launched herself into my lap, headbutting me in the chest in the process.
  176. "You're not that quick to catch on, are you? Hold onto me!" she exclaimed, while the storeclerk's footsteps drew ever nearer.
  177. "I.. what?", I started, but moved my arms around her smaller form as instructed.
  178. "Take me back to Equestria, my mission's done! Take me back to Equestria, where I belong!", Windcatcher cried out, just as the clerk rounded the last corner.
  180. There was a bright flash and a sharp pain in my wing as the world changed in an instant from the dusty twilight of the storeroom to the dusty twilight of a library.
  181. The comic book fell to the floor, as no hand or hoof was holding onto it, disturbing the otherwise dead silence in the room I found myself in.
  182. "Er," I started, but my voice sounded different than what I was used to and I reached for my mouth.. only to fall down with my face hitting the wooden floor.
  183. "Ouch," I said, and "Ouch," a voice in my head said.
  184. We both blinked, although only one pair of eyes physically moved.
  185. I carefully moved one of my hands in front of my eyes, and heard the voice of Windcatcher in my head going "Oh no.. oh no, this is wrong. Oh this is so very wrong!" as Windcatcher's forehoof came into view instead.
  187. Still laying with my face smooshed against the woodgrain of the floorboards, I turned my head to follow the hoof in front of me up towards its shoulder joint. Oh yes, it was connected to my body.
  188. "My body!", Windcatcher cried out in my head, and I tried to ignore her as I continued my exploration.
  189. Past my/her/our shoulder, a perfectly fine feathery wing was folded up against my side. I stared at it and felt it twitch even before I realized it was really, physically, stuck to me and a part of me.
  190. My tail flicked while I tried to come to terms with what I was seeing, what I was feeling, what I was hearing.. and I carefully put the hoof I had been staring at before on the floor beside my head.
  191. I turned my head to look in the other direction and, well, there was a hoof just like it right there. Trying to ignore my thoughts about what it all meant, I decided to put that hoof on the floor as well.
  193. Even without standing, I already felt better with those two hooves planted on the floor on either side of my head. So all I would need to do was to push up. Right? Like normal pushups back home.
  194. As I pushed our body up in a standing position again, I felt my broken wing droop beside my body as gravity took hold of it, the sharp stings of pain shooting through it making us both wince.
  195. "Windcatcher?", I started, turning my head to look back at my pony body and broken wing.
  196. "Yeah?", Windcatcher said in my head, sounding as if she was standing just a little behind me and to the right.
  197. "I think I'm going to faint," I decided, and lost consciousness not a moment after."
  199. "We collapsed pretty heavily into the ground, you know?", Windcatcher mutters as you move the freshly written page onto the growing stack.
  200. "I know. I felt the pain when I woke up again," you reply after having put your pencil down, "In a hospital, no less."
  201. "Triple Lightning found us shortly after you collapsed," Windcatcher explains for the millionth time since you woke up after the event, "It was really scary to hear them move around and find I could not move my own body to respond to the questions they gave."
  202. You sigh out and gently hug your forehooves to yourself. "I'm sorry I couldn't handle it. You know I'd give you your body back in a heartbeat if I could."
  203. "Are you sure? A good body like this?"
  204. "Well, I'd want to stay a pony, of course," you chuckle. "I don't want to give this up for anything else this world or the other has to offer."
  205. You can't help but smile as you feel Windcatcher's flaky mental presence hug you in return.
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