Anon Alone

Feb 4th, 2016
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  1. >You are Cheerilee, and school is out.
  2. >You have to check the spring in your step as a few straggler fillys press by you on their way home. You can't help but share some of their enthusiasm.
  3. >You're a bit thirsty, so you decide to head to your friends Juice Bar for some sweet gossip and drinks.
  4. >Berry is already pouring a couple glasses at your usual table as you walk in, seems she was expecting you. Do you really come here that often?
  5. >The two of you smile as you see each other, and you're relieved to see the bottle she's holding isn't that foul tasting stuff that makes you feel funny.
  6. >You can understand why that stuff isn't very popular, though Berry insists there are a few ponies that love it.
  7. >"Hey there Cheerilee! How's things? You said school was finished today, right?"
  8. >You nod and grin
  9. "Yup! No more grading work for me! I even selflessly decided to spare a few filly's some summer homework. You know, for their sake."
  10. >Berry giggles, setting the bottle down on the bar and leisurely stepping back over to the prepared table.
  11. >You seat yourself with a sigh. Teaching tends to have you on your hooves a lot more than you'd expect.
  12. >Berry slides in across from you, still wearing that sleepy smile of hers.
  13. >"Long day?" The both of you ask, then laugh.
  14. >The two of you take a swig, as is your custom when you have one of those twin moments. Berry gestures for you to answer first.
  15. "Not really different than the usual, but it certainly seems like it on the last day. Plus it's basically impossible to get anyone to listen when freedom is only hours away."
  16. >Berry nods "I remember that. I was the same way."
  17. "I don't think anyone was any different. Except Twilight maybe, but she's crazy."
  18. >"Hear hear!" Berry grins and downs the rest of her juice.
  19. "They're all crazy, really. Elements of Harmony is practically an oxymoron when referring to them."
  20. >"True, but you have to admit things are a lot more interesting when they're around."
  21. >You roll your eyes.
  22. "I guess you 'could' call their hijinks interesting. Usually I'd say "dangerous" is more apt."
  23. >Berry chuckles and opens her mouth to respond, then pauses as her eyes track something outside the bar.
  24. >You follow her gaze, spotting what she's looking at instantly.
  25. >Anon is outside, aimlessly trundling around in the square.
  26. "Speaking of hijinks," you mutter.
  27. >"Yyyeah. He's certainly one of the weirder ones," Berry agrees.
  28. "At least he can't manipulate reality or anything."
  29. >"That IS a plus!"
  30. >The two of you sit in silence for a moment in contemplation before Berry breaks it.
  31. >"He's always alone."
  32. "Hm?"
  33. >You return you attention to Berry, who seems to have grown a bit serious all of a sudden.
  34. >"I said he's always alone," she repeats. "He walks by here a lot, and I don't think I've ever seen him with anyone before."
  35. >You turn you gaze back to the strange being, now sitting on a bench by himself. Sure enough, the other passersby seem to be giving him a wide berth.
  36. "Wull, He's just so odd looking. Like a really lanky minotaur or freakishly tall diamond dog. Neither of which are noted as particularly friendly."
  37. >"Yeah, but he doesn't 'act' like either of those. And have you noticed he ALWAYS wears clothes?"
  38. >You frown, trying to remember if you'd ever seen him without them, and failing.
  39. >"It gives him such a..." Berry waves a hoof in a circle trying to think of the right word. "'Conservative' air."
  40. "Hm," you ehxale, lost in thought.
  41. >The more you think on it the more you agree. In fact you've had a lot of practice identifying young ponies who have trouble fitting in.
  42. >It's part of your job to make sure everyone in your class gets along, and Anon puts out almost ALL the warning signs.
  43. >"Then again if I didn't have fur I'd probably wear clothes too."
  44. >You look back at Berry as she pours herself another drink. You wrinkle your nose as you recognize the smell of her drink.
  45. "What is it you call that stuff again?"
  46. >"Hm? Oh, I haven't decided yet. For now I call it the House Special." She smirks and sets the bottle down on the table.
  47. "Are you sure that it's even safe to drink?" You ask, a touch of concern in your voice.
  48. >"Well, no. But Twilight seemed to think it was okay as long as I don't drink too much of it."
  49. "Well, that's good. I think."
  50. >"Yes," Berry agrees, bringing the glass to her nose and inhaling before sipping it.
  51. >You shake your head and sip your own drink, savoring the sweetness as the cool liquid slides down your throat.
  52. >"He bought a whole bottle the other day."
  53. >You raise your brow, looking at the bottle on the table before looking back at Berry.
  54. "A whole bottle? Don't you charge several bits a glass?"
  55. >"Yup. He seemed dumbfounded too. He would come in here and order some juice every now and then, and one night I offered him the special." She pauses to take another drink as you listen.
  56. >"He hadn't even taken a sip before staring at me like he'd found buried treasure or something. He muttered something about "Wine" and asked me how much of it I had."
  57. "And he bought a whole bottle?"
  58. >"He tried to buy more than that, actually. I had to tell him the special was for everyone and it takes time to make."
  59. >The both of you stare into your glasses for a few seconds.
  60. >"He seemed really disappointed," Berry murmurs, quietly.
  61. >You glance outside again, but Anon is nowhere to be seen.
  64. >You are Applejack, and the day is almost done.
  65. >You sigh and wipe some of the sweat from your brow with with a kerchief before putting it away, making a point not to think about where you got it from or where you're putting it.
  66. >You marvel at how that just works. Neat trick you learned from Pinkie, though you were never quite able to accomplish it with something actually heavy.
  67. >How fine it would be to be able to that with a bale of hay or something.
  68. >Though if the world took substitutes for hard work, you'd be out of a job.
  69. >A lot more relaxed probably, but still out of a job.
  70. >You heft your load back into a comfortable position and set out walking again with renewed purpose. The cow's dinner isn't going to deliver itself.
  71. >The Ranch always seems so much larger near the end of the day, and you wonder if it's just because you're tired.
  72. >You know the exact distance from the barn to the cattle land. You've even counted the steps a few times, but that just seemed to make the trip longer.
  73. "Only a couple miles," you say to yourself between deep, deliberate breaths.
  74. >Only a couple more miles, and then a couple more after that, and you'd be home.
  75. >You smile, thinking about what's probably waiting for you back home.
  76. >Applebloom got out of school today. She'll probably be hyper enough to set fire to the floor.
  77. >Today was the last of the weekdays, so Granny would be making stew. She always had a way of turning the weeks leftovers into something delicious and unique.
  78. >Big Mac... Well. You still aren't really sure what he does after work.
  79. >Thoughts of your family begin to be pushed aside as you begin the uphill part of the trip.
  80. >You start sinking into a rhythmic pattern as you press forward, focusing in on your body's aching muscles, hot with exertion.
  81. >One hoof in front of the other, you start covering ground more quickly as trivial thoughts are replaced with a trance of determination.
  82. >You measure the length of each breath, instinctively monitoring the flow of oxygen in your chest.
  83. >The cool breeze feels good as it flows through your fur, banishing some of the cloying moisture from your body.
  84. >You can hear the pale grass on either side of the trail rustle as it similarly parts for the wind,
  85. >It's only after a solid mile of trekking that an odd profile snaps you from your meditation.
  86. >You raise your head, momentarily startled by its stark contrast from the familiar.
  87. "Oh, It's Anon," you say to yourself.
  88. >He is a strange fellow. Where did Twilight say he was from? Some sort of "alternate human world"?
  89. >Frankly you're not even sure you know what a "human world" is. But Twilight said she's been to one.
  90. >He's far out of earshot, standing atop a nearby hill with one arm out and against a tree he's using for support.
  91. >He's facing away from you, staring up at the cloudy sky in the direction of Canterlot. You follow his gaze.
  92. >Your brow raises as the clouds seem to glow with an approaching aurora of pastel colors.
  93. >As you watch, the colors separate themselves from the clouds, and quickly twirl down from the sky, coalescing in front of Anon into a swirling shape that solidifies into a pony.
  94. >A royal pony.
  95. >You instinctively remove your hat in the presence of Princess Celestia, despite the distance.
  96. >Anon though, does nothing of the sort. He seems to greet her candidly, leaning his back into the tree and folding his arms across his chest.
  97. >You watch in puzzlement as the two of them talk. It seems friendly at first, but as the exchange progresses Anon seems to grow agitated.
  98. >He steps away from the tree and gestures more emphatically as he speaks, even raising his voice to the point where you can hear him, though the wind carries his words away.
  99. >You feel a growing annoyance in your gut as you watch him being so disrespectful to your regent. What could he possibly be so upset about? And what is so important it involves on of the Princesses?
  100. >All the while during his tirade Celestia remains as calm and still as a statue, with only her mouth moving as she responds to whatever Anon is shouting.
  101. >There is a pause in their conversation, and Anon takes on what you suspect is an expectant stance.
  102. >Celestia slowly shakes her head.
  103. >Anon's response is immediate. He whirls around and strikes the tree he was leaning against, causing you to jump a little in indignation.
  104. >You're about to march up there to give him a piece of your mind, when you freeze.
  105. >Celestia is staring directly at you, actually meeting your gaze from this distance.
  106. >Somehow from her look alone, you understand this is a private conversation.
  107. >You blush, shaking your head as you realize how long you've been standing here, rudely staring.
  108. >You huff, deliberately averting your eyes from the scene as Anon begins pacing.
  109. >This is clearly none of your business.
  110. >And besides. The cow's dinner isn't going to deliver itself.
  113. >You are Sweetie Belle, and this is clearly one of your best ideas ever.
  114. >"Ow! Ow! Hey! Watch where you're stepping! ...And Get your butt out of my face!" Scootaloo mutters from beneath you.
  115. >"Really not much better down here," Applebloom grunts from under her.
  116. "Sshhh! You guys! we're supposed to be quiet! How are we gonna spy on anyone when you're making so much noise?"
  117. >"We're not spies! We're detectives," Scootaloo corrects.
  118. >"Who're we spyin' for again?" Applebloom says, trying to look up and setting everyone off-balance.
  119. "That's not important right now. We have to- Woah, stay still! -have to establish that we can actually DO spying before we get any clients, right?"
  120. >"We're NOT Spies!" Scootaloo pipes up, indignantly.
  121. >"Isn't this kinda' like what we did with the whole Cutie Mark Crusaders Journalist thing? You know, where we got the whole town to hate us?" Applebloom asks.
  122. "Of COURSE not!" You respond, your voice cracking a little.
  123. >"Yeah Applebloom, we're PRIVATE detectives. We only tell secrets to ONE pony, not the whole town. It's totally different."
  124. >"Huh. I guess it is different when you put it like that. But what if-"
  125. "Shhh! Sshhh! I see him! I see him!"
  126. >Everyone quickly shuts up as you press your nose against the window pane, trying to get a good view through the shutters.
  127. "Anon has a nice house." You marvel.
  128. >"Yeah! It used to belong to that old couple from-"
  129. >"Shh! You guys! You're supposed to be spying on Anon, not his house!" Applebloom spouts, wobbling a little from the strain of supporting the other two.
  130. >"Oh right, yeah. What's he up to, Sweetie Belle?"
  131. "I can't see, hold on."
  132. >"I AM holding on."
  133. "Shush."
  134. >You peer in through the window, moving your head around to get a better angle.
  135. >Anon is inside, walking back and forth from one end of the room to the other. You can't really read his facial expression, but the muscles in his jaw keep tensing and relaxing.
  136. >You tilt you head, puzzled as to what he's trying to do in there.
  137. >"What do you see, Sweetie?"
  138. "I don't know. He's just pacing back and forth," you respond, glancing down at Scootaloo's curious expression.
  139. >"Pacing? Huh. That's not very interesting," She says, looking disappointed.
  140. >"What did you expect him to be doing, Scoots?"
  141. >"I don't know. Some sort of freaky alien experiment! I was picturing weird bottles and potions and stuff. Tubes. That sort of thing. And don't call me that."
  142. "Sounds like something you'd see at Zecora's house."
  143. >"Or Twilight's basement," Applebloom adds.
  144. >The three of you giggle quietly, the tower of filly's wobbling for a moment before the convulsions subside.
  145. >"What else's he doing in there?" Applebloom asks.
  146. >"Yeah! He's got to be doing SOMETHING strange, right? He's not even from this world!"
  147. >You shake your head and look inside again. Anon has stopped pacing, and is now standing facing one of the walls.
  148. "He's just standing there. Wait-"
  149. >Anon raises his arms and puts them on his head. As you watch, he slowly begins gripping his hair and pulling, slowly, almost reluctantly.
  150. >You wince, your smile fading as he turns around and slams his back into the painted bricks behind him. You can see his chest heaving as he slowly slides along the wall and presses himself into a corner.
  151. >"Applebloom! Hey! Give us an update!"
  152. "Yeah, sorry. He's just standing in the corner now. He's..." You trail off, watching Anon with a growing sense of guilt in your stomach. You really shouldn't be watching this.
  153. >He clasps his hands together and begins wringing them so hard you can see them turning white. He shakes his head, and you can see his lips moving as if he's talking to himself.
  154. >He starts sliding to the floor, chest trembling as he raises his hands again and presses them against his face.
  155. >You watch his cupping fingers curve into an aggressive position as he starts slowly dragging his fingernails down his face, leaving ragged white lines of torn skin behind them.
  156. >You catch a glimpse of his watery eyes, red and puffy looking, And the sight of his agonized expression makes you turn away.
  157. >Somehow you know it wasn't the scratches that caused him to make that face.
  158. >You hop down from you seat atop Scootaloo and Applebloom, both of whom are staring at you with excited, expectant eyes as you turn back to them.
  159. >Their expressions fade, turning to concern as they look at yours. Scootaloo hops off of Applebloom and comes closer.
  160. >"Hey, what's wrong? What did you see?"
  161. >You shake your head as Applebloom follows suit, approaching you and looking puzzled.
  162. "I don't want to play spies anymore."
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