Fond Memories

Dec 28th, 2020
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  1. >Your name is Anon Doe.
  2. >You’re all of six years old.
  3. >Right now, you’re pressed against the wall of your home’s vast living room, gazing down the long hallway to the game room, the garage, the workshop, the guest house, and, of course, your dad’s office.
  4. >Just a few months ago, your father, John Doe, brought home a fancy new car called a Packard Caribbean.
  5. >He even let you sit in the driver’s seat!
  6. >You’re pretty sure he built it himself, too; after all, for as long as you can remember, sketches and small clay models of the car have littered your spacious house.
  7. >You asked your mom about it once, and she said he used to work for a man named Lee Iacocca as Chrysler’s “cee-eff-oh”, whatever that means.
  8. >But the company went under and he decided to leave and pursue his dream of resurrecting your grandfather’s favorite automaker.
  9. >You have vague memories of riding in the back of his old, big, lazy car, with seats that felt endless and a powerful burble coming from under the mile-long hood.
  10. >Your dad still keeps it tucked away in the far corner of the garage, and each day, before he leaves for work, he gives it a loving pat.
  11. >And he always tells you how he feels like there’s a piece of your grandfather that’s still somewhere in there.
  12. >Right now, your dad’s talking on the phone, which he does a lot.
  13. >Sometimes he sounds calm, sometimes he’s excited, other times he shouts and bangs on his desk.
  14. >A few times, like right now, he speaks in hushed whispers.
  15. >But you can still barely hear what he’s saying from behind those large doors, only slightly ajar.
  17. >”I’m telling you, we’re in over our heads here. They got John Delorean for this shit, and they’re bound to get me, too.”
  18. >...
  19. >”I know we’re more careful than he is, but it’s still a possibility! Okay, I know this is a different, uh, substance, too. But as soon as this stuff gets on the street it’s gonna spread like wildfire, and then we’re gonna have the Feds on our backs. Look, when I joined in on this crazy shit, I made one thing incredibly clear. You remember what it was?”
  20. >...
  21. >”There you go. Keep this money so far away from the company it’s not even funny. I’m not getting my life’s work shut down because you were careless. Now, let’s get to work on the distribution. Are we gonna start making it in–”
  22. >”Sweetie, what are you doing?”
  23. >You whip around and face your mom, who, although she may be towering over you, doesn’t appear menacing at all.
  24. “Nothing.”
  25. >She laughs and takes your hand, guiding you back into the living room.
  26. >”I’ve told you what your father does before, haven’t I?”
  27. “Mhm.”
  28. >”And I’ve told you how important it is to him?”
  29. >You nod.
  30. >”Nonny, I know you may be curious, but I need you to give your father some privacy while he’s working. You know how much he loves spending time with you, and he’d hate to have to tell you no while he’s busy. Okay? Now let’s do something fun.”
  31. >That’s just one of your many hazy childhood memories, bouncing around in your head.
  32. >You’re still trying to put all the pieces together.
  33. >Another time, a couple years later, you’re sitting on the sofa reading while your mom makes dinner.
  34. >The TV is on in the background, and when you look up, there’s an older woman on the screen.
  35. “Mom, who’s that?”
  36. >”That’s the First Lady, sweetie. Nancy Reagan.”
  37. >Whatever she’s talking about, it’s clearly very important.
  39. >”Our job is never easy because drug criminals are ingenious. They work everyday to plot a new and better way to steal our children's lives, just as they've done by developing these new, dangerous drugs, crack and Pon-E. For every door that we close, they open a new door to death. They prosper on our unwillingness to act. So, we must be–”
  40. >”Jane, turn that off.”
  41. >Your father walks into the room, white as a sheet.
  42. >”John, what’s wrong with you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
  43. >”Oh, it’s nothing, dear. Just tired, that’s all.”
  44. >He swiftly shuts off the television set and walks across the room to the chef’s kitchen, where he wraps your mother in a loving embrace.
  45. >You gag a little and go back to reading.
  46. >Later, he’s on the phone again.
  47. >”Haven’t you heard what’s going on at Toyota? They’re gonna one-up Mercedes with a brand new luxury car.”
  48. >...
  49. >”What do we do? We build the Patrician! We’ve been developing it for an eternity without acting on it, and if we finish the engineering by the end of the year we can present a prototype at the Detroit Auto Show in April.”
  50. >...
  51. >”How are we gonna fund it? We’ll have start another round of investment, maybe try an IPO if things go really well. It’ll be tight, but I can make it work.”
  52. >...
  53. >”No, we’re NOT going to fund it with that. What do I keep fucking telling you? Keep that money out of the company! We’re on a roll here, and I’m not letting you ruin it to make funding this a little bit easier. Got it? Good.”
  55. >A few years later, you’re old enough to go to work with your dad when school’s out.
  56. >He takes you everywhere, from the company’s headquarters to the design studios to the cavernous factory where they build the Packard Caribbean and, now, the Packard Patrician.
  57. >It’s all captivating to you, and he can tell.
  58. >He tells you the company’s plans and projects well before they’re made public, knowing you’ll keep them a secret.
  59. >Even when you’re not with him, you’re still soaking up details about the company, especially after he gives you a copy of the Caribbean’s build sheet.
  60. >You spend hours and hours imaging various combinations of paint colors, engines, and options, trying to pin down the exact specifications of your dream car.
  61. >You were there at the Detroit Auto Show, where your father stood up on the main stage and unveiled the future of the Packard Motor Car Company.
  62. >A summer later, you’re with him at the assembly line the day work starts on the Patrician.
  63. >It’s built on an all-new platform, sharing little with the Caribbean roadster that preceded it, so it’s built in a different wing of the large factory that the business occupies.
  64. >You both watch from a distance as the steel is stamped, cast, and painted until it begins to resemble a sleek, elegant sedan.
  65. >You hold your dad’s hand as you walk down the line, watching as carpet is installed, doors are fitted, and seats are anchored to their tracks.
  66. >As it nears the end of the line, the badges are affixed, and the stately Packard cormorant is placed on its rightful perch at the end of the hood.
  67. >A worker hops in and checks the lights and all the power equipment before he hands the keys to your father, who opens the passenger door.
  68. >”Hop in, son.”
  69. >You dive into the beige leather seat and marvel at every inch of the interior.
  70. >He gets in the driver’s seat and turns the key, and you hear the Packard V8 spring to life under the cherry red hood.
  72. >Your father is absolutely giddy.
  73. >”Smile for the camera, Anon!”
  74. >You look out the windshield and see a group of executives clapping at the end of the line, and you grin as the cameras briefly flash.
  75. >He puts it in drive and rolls it out the open door into the afternoon sky.
  76. >A line of car carriers are waiting for the first batch of vehicles, but he turns the other way.
  77. >”You think it’s time to replace the Caribbean?”
  78. “With this?”
  79. >”You bet. The first genuine Packard sedan off the assembly line since 1956.”
  80. >He guides it onto the freeway and puts his foot down, shooting past the exit that takes you both home.
  81. >”How about we take it for a spin before we head back?”
  82. >For the rest of the day, you rocket through the idyllic back roads of the American countryside, and you quickly use up the meager five gallons of gas in the tank.
  83. >You stop at a small roadside gas station, and your father hops out and starts to fill her up.
  84. >With the sound of the engine, though, the ancient-looking man who you thought was asleep in his rocking chair sits up and looks around?
  85. >”Hey, mister?”
  86. >”Yep?”
  87. >”What kinda car you got there?”
  88. >Your father grins.
  89. >”This is the new Packard Patrician. First one off the assembly line.”
  90. >”Are you serious?”
  91. >”Dead serious. I own the company.”
  92. >The old man laughs.
  93. >”Hell, I used to have a Packard! Built them brand new at the factory, too! I’ve been waiting for this day for a long, long time.”
  94. >”So have I, man. So have I.”
  95. >They both reminisce and make conversation over the car until the tank is full and you’re both ready to leave.
  96. >The old man waves at you both as you hop into the car.
  97. >”You both have a nice day, now. I’d do anything to have a brand new Packard again.”
  98. >Your dad pauses, laughing a little before he responds.
  99. >”What did you say your name was?”
  100. >”Earl. Earl Smith.”
  102. >”Well, Earl, if you can find the time, head down to Bloomfield Hills Packard. I’ll let them know you’re coming, and we’ll see about getting you behind the wheel of one of these.”
  103. >”Heh, I couldn’t afford one if I tried.”
  104. >”Don’t worry about the payments. Consider it a tip for such good service.”
  105. >”Now, I can’t possibly accept–”
  106. >”You don’t have to if you don’t want to. All I’m saying is if you can find the time, so will I.”
  107. >He smiles.
  108. >”It was real nice meeting you.”
  109. >”It was good to meet you, too. Bloomfield Hills Packard. It’s on Woodward. You can’t miss it.”
  110. >”Thank you kindly, sir. Have a nice day.”
  111. >”See you ‘round!”
  112. >He starts the car and drives off, beginning the trip back home.
  113. ”Dad, did you just give that guy a car?”
  114. >”Sure did.”
  115. “Why?”
  116. >”Because some people, Anon, deserve that sort of thing. And in an age where the rich and famous are all stuck-up pricks, it’s important to remember that we’re all human beings just trying to live life.”
  117. “But a car?”
  118. >”Sure. Why not? I’d do the same for you or your mother, or a close friend of mine. It's not that outrageous.”
  119. >You stare out the window at the passing houses and farms, mulling over what he just said.
  120. >”Wanna stop at the Dairy Queen before we get home?”
  121. “Sure thing, dad.”
  122. >As you grow and mature, so does the company.
  123. >A year later, a shortened version of the Patrician, dubbed the Executive, goes on sale.
  124. >After that, the Caribbean roadster is discontinued, and the all-new Pan-American luxury sports car takes its place.
  125. >The Caribbean name is transferred to a large, luxurious grand tourer.
  127. >Another year later, just as you’re beginning high school, in 1992, the Packard Clipper, an entry-level compact sedan, is introduced, rounding out the Packard lineup.
  128. >The Packard name was, almost overnight, transformed from that of a nostalgic, long-dead luxury car to, once more, one of the greats.
  129. >Sure, the one-two punch of Lexus LS and ES in 1990 and their subsequent widespread success was a little sobering, but your father waved them away.
  130. >”Let’s remember that we’ve only been around for a decade now, and we’ve only building mass-market cars for a few years. Lexus can take advantage of Toyota’s dealer network and established image all they want; we don’t have that luxury. We’ve got to work harder for smaller gains, but we’re still slowly catching up.”
  131. >Catching up.
  132. >You remember a lot of catching up around that time.
  133. >You remember getting your mother caught up on the goings-on of the company while she lied in a hospital bed.
  134. >You remember sobbing while you raced to catch up with your father as he ran out of the building after you both watched the light leave her eyes.
  135. >You remember the chauffeur catching up with the black, custom-built Packard Patrician hearse that slowly made its way through town while you consoled your father in the backseat.
  136. >You remember catching up with your distant family at the wake.
  137. >You remember trying to catch up on all the schoolwork you missed during your prolonged periods of grief.
  138. >And you remember catching up with your mother many, many times on her birthday as you sat next to the granite memorial.
  139. >Your father talked a lot about how, once he was gone, he’d have a “real” memorial built for the both of them, something much grander than just a slab of rock.
  140. >It may be a sob story, but it’s still part of the many memories you have of that period of your life.
  142. >Your idea of coping with the loss was to coast through the days lying almost motionless on your bed.
  143. >Your father, on the other hand, threw himself into his work, and it took quite a while for you to find the motivation to make it back to the office and get caught up on the company’s goings-on.
  144. >As usual, he had much bigger plans than just squashing the Acura-Lexus-Infiniti bugs swarming the United States.
  145. >Even before the Clipper and the new Caribbean, a different design was brewing in the back rooms of the Packard headquarters.
  146. >You were there for the first meeting when the idea was introduced.
  147. >Beforehand, the reasoning for the move was explained to you in your father’s office by the man himself, in one of his traditional monologues.
  148. >”Right now, the auto market is divided into a few distinct market segments. If reception to the Clipper looks good, we start to take Packard upmarket. I've given each model five years before a refresh; we can’t afford for them to get stale. We position Packard firmly in the luxury field, and then we start branching out. First, a line of sports sedans to take on the Germans, then a series of family cars to compete with the domestics, and finally a range of economy cars to meet the Japanese head-on. That way, we’ve got competitive offerings on every front.”
  149. “But what if we’re spreading ourselves out too thin? What if the lineups all end up looking the same, like GM’s or Chrysler’s cars? Why not just stick with just Packard?”
  150. >”You’re a good thinker, kid. Keep asking questions like those and you’ll go places. We can’t put all our eggs in one basket, because if anything wipes out demand for luxury cars, Packard is done for. If there’s another oil crisis and gas goes up while we don’t have a compact car besides the Clipper, we’re done for.
  152. >”We can’t expand within the Packard brand because we’ll ruin the image that we’ve worked hard to build. And branching out one make at a time gives us a chance to try something unique. When the market collapsed around GM, they had to just power through it. They couldn’t adapt like we can now. We can start something from the ground up instead of having to roll with what we’ve already got.”
  153. ”But again, what if we’re spreading ourselves out too thin? How quickly are you planning on creating these?”
  154. >”Oh, they won’t just pop up overnight. I’ve got the numbers to back all this up, and they’re all pointing to one conclusion: we can do this. Right now, the best way to move forward is by branching out and offering unique lineups in each field, all riding on common platforms but with distinct characteristics that make them competitive.”
  155. “So like what GM’s doing, but better?”
  156. >”Like what GM’s doing, but right.”
  157. >A knock on the office’s door interrupts your conversation, and a worker pushes a cart with a tarp over it into the room.
  158. >”The model you asked for, sir?”
  159. >”Just leave it right there. Thank you.”
  160. >”No problem, boss.”
  161. >He leaves the room and your dad turns back to you.
  162. >”Wanna see the design I’ve been cooking up?”
  163. “Do I!”
  164. >You leap up and over to the cart, and your father slowly peels off the tarp.
  165. >Sitting atop the cart is a sleek, rakish model of a sports sedan, painted your dad’s favorite cherry red with a white-colored roof.
  166. >The front end looks aggressive, and out back, two thin, canted fins poke out from either side of the trunk lid.
  167. >You circle around the model for a few minutes, taking in every detail, until you muster up the only response you can think of.
  168. “Woah!”
  170. >”I know. Can you guess what it’s called?”
  171. “What it’s called?”
  172. >”Yep. I’m thinking about bringing back another old classic for this one. Take a good look and see if you can guess which one.”
  173. “Hmm… it sorta looks like a late-fifties Chrysler.”
  174. >”Good. And?”
  175. “It’s not a Chrysler though. It’s a… DeSoto?”
  176. >”You bet. I’m thinking we snatch up the trademark for AMC when Chrysler isn’t looking and bring back the Gremlin and the Pacer to shore up the low-price field, too. As for who goes in between, I’m still making up my mind.”
  177. “Well, that’d be quite the orphanage. You might as well bring back the Edsel while you’re at it.”
  178. >”Bring back the- You might be onto something there, kid. But we’ll save that for later. Right now, I’ve gotta sell this car. Wish me luck.”
  179. “Good luck, dad. If anyone can do it, it’s you.”
  180. >”Thanks, kid. Well, in I go.”
  181. >He slides the cover back over the model and prepares to open the double doors to the conference room.
  182. “Hey, dad?”
  183. >”Yeah?”
  184. “Why resurrect a bunch of dead makes instead of just creating unique ones?”
  185. >”Because nostalgia is a powerful tool in today’s world. Fix the mistakes that the other guys made and you have a little piece of the good old days right in your showroom. Plus, retro’s gonna come back soon. Give it time.”
  186. >You’re pretty sure he chose DeSoto mostly because it was your mother’s first car.
  187. >But before you can respond, he throws open the doors and wheels in the covered cart.
  188. >”Ladies and gentlemen, do I have a surprise for you.”
  189. >Two hours later, long after you grew tired of pressing your ear to the door, your father exits the room and slumps down in his office chair, defeated.
  190. >”They didn’t buy it.”
  191. “Seriously? I thought you had the numbers to back it up!”
  192. >”I did.”
  194. >He sighs.
  195. >”I guess the board is a little more skittish after that recession than I expected. I’ll give it a few months and try again. But right now, let’s go home. It’s getting late.”
  196. >You suspected as much, especially after considering the rocky start to the decade that left even giant General Motors dangerously close to bankruptcy.
  197. >But once production figures come out for 1992 that show a very real possibility of 1993 being a fifteen-million-car year for the auto industry, your father starts to get his hopes up.
  198. >And when more and more people are drawn into the showrooms as the 1993 model year kicks into swing, he walks back into the boardroom and emerges triumphant.
  199. >Plans for a revived DeSoto line are quickly drafted.
  200. >You’re there for all of it.
  201. >Every day, after school gets out, you race down to the office, doing your homework on the way there and finishing off whatever’s left in your father’s office before he lets you see what’s new.
  202. >At first, you rely on a chauffeur and his beige Packard Patrician, but on your sixteenth birthday, your father hands you a familiar sheet of paper.
  203. >”Don’t go too crazy, kid.”
  204. >When you look down, you see, in your hands, the build sheet for any Packard car you can possibly think of.
  205. >Sure, you know it’s a test of your modesty or something like that, so you’re not planning on going overboard.
  206. >But the possibilities…
  207. >You settle, after much deliberation, on a silver Packard Clipper with red leather upholstery, a few checks on the option sheet for good measure, and, best of all, the Executive-series V8.
  208. >It doesn’t make the Clipper a speed demon, but it does give it some teeth.
  209. >When you see the car ease its way off the assembly line, you thank every higher power you can think of for your father’s incredibly lenient company car policy.
  211. >Once you’ve got the keys, you spend even more time at the Packard headquarters.
  212. >The first day you arrive, you witness the board meeting that cements Packard’s plans for expansion.
  213. >Another division is added to the mix, giving the Packard Division a sister: the DeSoto Division.
  214. >Work begins on leasing another floor of the building Packard occupies for the division’s offices, and once the staff are hired and settled in, development of the DeSoto line gets a much-deserved shot in the arm.
  215. >That’s not to say, of course, that Packard was neglected during DeSoto’s development.
  216. >Your father would never stand for that.
  217. >The second-generation Patrician and Executive, the latter now riding on its own mid-size platform instead of a shortened Patrician body, only further cement Packard’s role in the luxury field and drive up sales.
  218. >The addition of a luxury SUV, the Packard 400, in 1994 certainly helps, too.
  219. >Because of all the backroom planning, it doesn’t take long to get all the details worked out.
  220. >You help your father with everything, from finalizing the engineering to securing dealers to creating advertisements.
  221. >The process is helped by DeSoto’s inevitable commonalities with Packard vehicles.
  222. >The Packard Clipper will share its dedicated platform, dubbed the X-body, with the compact DeSoto Firesweep, as will the Packard Executive and the W-body with the mid-size DeSoto Fireflite, and, of course, the Packard Patrician and the Y-body that started it all with the full-size DeSoto Firedome.
  223. >The engineers did everything in their power to differentiate the cars as much as possible: DeSotos all receive new sheetmetal, new dashboards, and even a bit of new glass to make them appear more rakish.
  224. >Floorpans are lowered and tracks are widened to give them a sleek, modern stance.
  226. >But the most important step in DeSoto’s development occurs when a team of engineers are provided with three copies of the newly-minted DeSoto test mules, along with their Packard counterparts.
  227. >They tour the country, letting everyday people to test drive both the Packard and the DeSoto and asking them if they feel like the same car.
  228. >The answer is a resounding no.
  229. >Success.
  230. >The first DeSoto rolls off the line in mid-1995, a silver Fireflite sedan.
  231. >Just in time for your eighteenth birthday.
  232. >Just as you were on the first day of Packard sedan production, you walk down the line at Packard’s new factory, which manages production of both the compact and mid-size platforms.
  233. >You both walk down the assembly line together, and once the first DeSoto reaches the end, your father hands you the newly-minted set of keys.
  234. >”How about you drive this one off the line?”
  235. >Grinning, you hop in, turn the key, and are delighted to hear the sound of the DeSoto-engineered V6 coming to life.
  236. >You ease the car out of the building and turn to drive her up onto one of the many waiting car carriers, but your father stops you.
  237. >”And what do you think you’re doing?”
  238. “Just driving it up on the carriers with the other new cars.”
  239. >”But don’t you think it’s about time to replace the Clipper? You’re about to head off to college, you know.”
  240. >You notice that the car’s interior is your favorite shade of red, just like the Clipper’s.
  241. >And many of the same options are here, too…
  242. “Are you serious?”
  243. >”Dead serious. I’ve already got the paperwork filled out. Now come on! Let’s go for a drive.”
  244. >Over the next few weeks, the DeSoto grows on you even more.
  245. >You know how they felt to drive, considering you got behind the wheel of some of the prototypes once or twice, but the production version is so much more refined.
  246. >The major auto reviewers seem to think so, too, once they get their hands on a Fireflite.
  248. >Their glowing review of this “refreshingly competitive American sports sedan”, as they put it, makes its way up to your father’s office, where the page sits pinned to his growing mood board of rave reviews.
  249. >As soon as you entered college, your status as the son of the Packard CEO made you the one to know.
  250. >Your affinity with numbers, along with, most likely, your last name, landed you a spot in Yale, where you come to find that it isn’t quite the stuffy, East Coast institution you’d one thought.
  251. >No, it’s more like a rich kid’s playground, where brilliant minds mix with money old and new.
  252. >But you’re fine with that.
  253. >At Bloomfield Hills High School, there seemed to be an auto executive’s son or daughter in every classroom.
  254. >And at a time when the Ford vs GM vs Chrysler battle was still in full swing, your fourth-party status left you in a rather vulnerable position.
  255. >You ate lunch with the kids of deposed AMC executives most of the time, which didn’t leave you anywhere near the top of the heap.
  256. >But here, the minds have been praising your father’s resourcefulness and ingenuity since the very first Packard Caribbean came off the line.
  257. >You’re certainly not the only person with a brand new DeSoto in the campus parking lot, that’s for sure.
  258. >You have fond memories of your freshman year of college.
  259. >The orientations, the new friends, the campus life…
  260. >And your first time trying Pon-E.
  261. >That story begins with a party being held in a small bungalow that a couple good friends bought and shared in a formerly quiet and peaceful neighborhood sometime during the fall.
  262. >You parked across the street and stepped through the door, looking for one of your friends, whose maroon BMW you spotted parked on the side of the road as you drove by.
  263. “Yo, Josh!”
  264. >You hear a response echo down from up the steep set of stairs, barely audible against the loud music playing in the background.
  265. >”I’m upstairs, man!”
  267. >His voice sounds fucked up, but it’s probably because he’s been drinking like a fish since the minute he got here.
  268. >You head up the stairs and find yourself in a narrow hallway running the length of the house.
  269. >A bunch of blonde college girls are cooing over something lying at the end of the hallway, probably just someone’s dog.
  270. “Josh?”
  271. >”Right here, man.”
  272. >The voice is clearly coming from the end of the hallway, right in the middle of the group of giggling girls.
  273. >And it doesn’t even sound like him, either.
  274. >But you press on, and once you get to the end of the hallway and part the sea of college girls you’re left dumbfounded at what’s lying there.
  275. >On its back, being petted by five different manicured hands, is a bright purple pegasus.
  276. >”Hey Anon. What’s up?”
  277. “Josh? Is that seriously you?”
  278. >”Yeah, man. What? Never seen anyone on Pon-E before?”
  279. >His voice is so adorable, you don’t think you can take it for much longer.
  280. >How can that be your friend?
  281. “Dude?”
  282. >”Yeah?”
  283. “You sound like a girl.”
  284. >”That’s because I am, man. You don’t get to pick what this stuff turns you into. It just sorta happens.”
  285. “I didn’t know you were the type that did Pon-E.”
  286. >He… she laughs.
  287. >”C’mon, Nancy Reagan, lighten up a bit. This stuff is mainstream now. It’s like any drug. First the freaks used it, then the fags, then the party animals, and now the college kids. Seriously, dude. You’re in a house full of rebellious rich kids. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone’s gone full pony by the time you go back downstairs.”
  288. >He gestures over to a nondescript pile of clothes in the corner.
  289. >”If you wanna join me then–ah, right there, keep scratching–I keep my pills in my left pocket. But just take one, if you take two it’s permanent.”
  291. “Josh, I’m not going to do Pon-E with you. Doesn’t it make you hate being human after a while?”
  292. >”If you’re depressed and hate your life, then yeah, of course. It just depends on the type of person you are. But being a pony does feel pretty damn good, though.”
  293. “I think I’m gonna pass this time, man. Have fun getting petted, I guess.”
  294. >”It’s the only time I’d have this many girls on me, that’s for sure. But if you change your mind, you know where to find me.”
  295. >He extends an arm for a fist (hoof?) bump and you reluctantly return the gesture.
  296. >When you go back downstairs, there are a couple ponies scattered among the crowd, but it’s certainly not everyone at the party.
  297. >You don’t stay for much longer.
  298. >Sure, you expected there to be booze and weed there, no self-respecting college kid would throw a party without them.
  299. >But fucking Pon-E?
  300. >That’s a bit much for you.
  301. >At least, it was at the time.
  302. >But as the semester went on, you started to feel the stress of college life.
  303. >A couple parties later, you’re sitting in one of the only unused bedrooms of a historic New England mansion, holding a completely innocent-looking pill.
  304. >Josh has another one in his hand, along with three or four other people sitting in a circle in the center of the room holding pills of their own, and he passes you a small cup of water.
  305. >A lot of these people are your friends, and not one of them except Josh has tried this before.
  306. >You’re pretty sure they’re only here because they heard you were going to do it.
  307. >It seems everyone is just as nervous as you are.
  308. >Except for Josh, of course, who breaks the hesitant silence.
  310. >”Alright, so here are the rules. There aren’t many, but you need to know them all. First, never take it alone. There are six of us here so we’re good. Second, never take more then one pill every 24 hours. If you don’t, it’s permanent, and you’ve all seen how much the Fed loves people-turned-ponies. Third, don't give yourself a name. Everyone got it?”
  311. >You all nod in response.
  312. >”Alright, let’s do this. This should wear off in twelve hours, so you’ll be back to normal by eight tomorrow. Now let’s do this. Whenever you’re ready, take the pill and enjoy.”
  313. >He pops the pill in his mouth and washes it down with a gulp of water.
  314. >After a few tense seconds, with everyone in the room watching him, he lifts up an arm and watches his fingers slowly clump together and turn purple.
  315. “Does it hurt?”
  316. >”Nah, man, it feels really good.”
  317. >You shrug and down the pill, and you notice everyone else quickly join in.
  318. >”The first time I took it, though, it hurt like a bitch.”
  319. “Wait, what?”
  320. >A spasm in your gut puts you on the floor, lying on your back and groaning in pain.
  321. >You feel your bones grinding together and you stare at the ceiling, gritting your teeth.
  322. >You start to hyperventilate, mentally begging the changes to stop and kicking yourself for even trying this.
  323. >When your teeth start to change, too, and you notice your mouth pushing out and growing right in front of you, inch by painful inch, your eyes roll back in your head and you quickly pass out.
  324. >As soon as you come to, the first thing your mind registers is the feeling of fur on hardwood.
  325. >Well, that’s new.
  326. >You open your eyes and notice that colors seem a little more saturated than before.
  327. “How long was I out for?”
  328. >Your voice sounds distinctly feminine, and the chance of having to deal with a sex AND a species change sends shivers down your spine and straight to… your tail?
  329. >Fuck, this is gonna take some getting used to.
  330. >”About fifteen minutes.”
  332. >You slowly rise to a sitting position, but your back lets out a loud protest.
  333. >Fuck, ponies don’t sit that way.
  334. >You assume a much more bestial sitting position and look around the room.
  335. >Well, it’s much bigger, that’s for sure.
  336. >Looks like everyone except you and Josh is still down for the count, all of them having finished their changes.
  337. >Fuck, they all look adorable.
  338. >Do you?
  339. “Mirror. I need a mirror.”
  340. >”There’s one right behind you, Anon.”
  341. >You turn your head around and get a good look at yourself.
  342. >Your fur is a pastel blue, and your mane is a light, minty green.
  343. >You look into your own unfamiliar blue-green eyes and try to determine your gender.
  344. >Long, flowing mane, dainty muzzle, long eyelashes…
  345. “Josh, am I a…”
  346. >”Sure looks like it.”
  347. “I’m gonna run to the bathroom real quick.”
  348. >”There’s one right through the door. Enjoy.”
  349. >A quick check later confirms you are, indeed, still male.
  350. >Just embarrassingly small.
  351. >It’d almost be better if you WERE female, just to avoid the inevitable ribbing you’re gonna get as soon as you open the door.
  352. >When you do, you notice a few other members of the group coming to and examining their new features.
  353. >You turn to Josh, who’s curled up on the bed, and stick your tongue out.
  354. “I’m still a guy.”
  355. >”Seriously? You look like a mare.”
  356. “Well, I’m not. Do you have a pair of scissors? I need to cut this hair so I look like a guy again.”
  357. >”It’s a mane, and no, I don’t have any. It’d just grow back when you take Pon-E again, anyways.”
  358. “If I do it again. Which I probably won’t. Is this always how I’ll look when I’m a pony?”
  359. >”Not necessarily. The cheaper off-brand stuff have a higher chance of switching your gender or giving you a horrible color combination. I’ve seen some unfortunate souls take ten-dollar pills and end up black and red.”
  360. >The thought makes you cringe.
  362. >”But the mainstream stuff that comes out of Detroit? Yeah, it doesn’t really mix things up that much. But hey, you’re still adorable.”
  363. “I guess.”
  364. >”Tell you what. As soon as these guys come to and get used to walking on four hooves–which you’re doing a great job of, by the way–we’ll open the door and see how much we can get petted before we change back.”
  365. “Does it really feel that good?”
  366. >”You’ll see for yourself in a minute.”
  367. >He trots over to the door and pushes it open, gesturing for you to follow.
  368. >Naturally, now that you’re thinking about walking, you’re not too good at it.
  369. >Luckily, this bedroom isn’t upstairs.
  370. >You look down the hallway and see the group of people dancing, drinking, and chatting, and you grow acutely aware of how small you are.
  371. >You’re just a little bit shorter than Josh, and she barely reached up to a person’s waist.
  372. >”You coming?”
  373. >You blow a lock of mint green hair out of your face and head into the party.
  374. >The rest of the night is a blur.
  375. >You remember seeing girls tower over you, all calling you the most adorable thing they’d ever seen while you trembled in fear.
  376. >All it took was one hand on your mane to send tingles of the best feeling you’ve ever known running through you.
  377. >One scratch behind your ear and you were in heaven.
  378. >You rolled over on your back, trying to cover up your crotch with your long tail as hands scritched and petted every inch of you.
  379. >Your eyes rolled back in your head and your tongue lolled out of your mouth.
  380. >For most of the night, you were on cloud nine.
  381. >Sure, there were a couple assholes that, drunk off their asses and upset that all the cartoon ponies had gotten in the way of their chance to score, treated you like shit.
  382. >A couple drinks spilled on your fur and well-timed kicks were all it took to send you trotting away from the party, tears stinging the corners of your eyes.
  384. >Sure, it hurt, but enough to make you cry like this?
  385. >It’s emasculating, and embarrassing, and you should have never done this, and, and–
  386. >You slump down against the wall, openly crying into your hooves.
  387. >It doesn’t look like anyone followed you out, but you do hear some yelling coming from the other room.
  388. >Then, a face appears in the doorway.
  389. >”It’s okay, little pony. I dealt with that asshole. You can come out now.”
  390. >She beckons you over with a hand and you reluctantly get up.
  391. “I’m sorry. That was embarrassing.”
  392. >”No, it’s fine. Ponies always wear their hearts on their sleeves.”
  393. “Have you ever–”
  394. >”Tried it? No. But I know enough people who have to get how it works. Now let’s have some fun before the party dies down.”
  395. >For the rest of the night, she stood by you and rushed to your aid if you needed it.
  396. >And gave you ear scratches.
  397. >You love ear scratches.
  398. >Eventually, after things do die down and people start to trickle out of the house, she stays behind with you, running a hand down your back while you lay down in her lap.
  399. >You make idle conversation once in a while, but you mostly just enjoy the petting.
  401. >That night, you learned that her name was Amber.
  402. >She had an untamed mess of red hair on her head and the most amazing hands you’ve ever felt.
  403. >You’d say you were in love, but you loved everyone that night.
  404. >Guess ponies are just affectionate like that.
  405. >When you came to, it was barely morning and you were close to the bottom of a cuddle pile consisting of you and five other soft, warm, sleeping ponies.
  406. >It was amazingly calming, and you decided to drift off to sleep, content to love and be loved.
  407. >When you woke up again, human and buck naked with someone’s ass in your face, it was much less pleasant.
  408. >And on the drive home, you were left with only the sound of the radio and your thoughts swimming around in your head.
  409. >You liked that much more than you were ever going to admit.
  410. >And you’re not sure if you’re fine with that.
  412. >After you throw your clothes back on, stumble out of the house, and make the short drive back to your dorm, you spend the rest of the day mulling over the events of the previous night.
  413. >You’re still not a hundred percent sure whether or not you enjoyed it.
  414. >Sure, the minor breakdown was a little embarrassing, but it wasn’t like there was anyone at that party to impress.
  415. >Besides Amber.
  416. >You’re still trying to figure out how you feel about her; specifically, whether or not you’d want to see her again.
  417. >You can’t remember if you told her your name or not.
  418. >If you did, it’s still doubtful that she’d connect the small, feminine stallion with, well, you.
  419. >Even though you doubt there are any other people here named Anon.
  420. >Eventually, you come to the conclusion that, regardless of whether or not you want to see her, it’s not gonna happen at all if you just lie in bed.
  421. >You slide out of the twin bed in your single-occupant dorm room and head into the adjacent bathroom to freshen up before heading out to get something to drink.
  422. >And maybe some ibuprofen, too.
  423. >You’ve got a horrible headache.
  424. >You head down to the student union on shaky legs and grab what you need from the small convenience store.
  425. >And, lo and behold, standing right there behind the cash register is none other than Amber herself.
  426. >You plop your stuff down and try to look anywhere else in the room besides her.
  427. >But you can’t be awkward forever.
  428. “Hey, Amber, right? How’s it going?”
  429. >She looks up at you, no hint of surprise or camaraderie anywhere on her freckled face.
  430. >”Anon, right? Anon Doe?”
  431. “In the flesh.”
  432. >The conversation abruptly dies out.
  433. >Well, fuck.
  434. >Time to be a little less subtle.
  435. “Recognize me at the party last night?”
  436. >She cocks her head a little, probably wondering what the hell you’re going on about, until her eyes widen.
  438. >”Wait, that was… you?”
  439. >You grimace and look away.
  440. “Yeah, it wasn’t my proudest moment.”
  441. >”Are you kidding? It was adorable! Definitely not your average college party fare, that’s for sure. Tell you what, I get off work in a couple hours, and if you want, we could grab some food or something. Meet me by the fountain at four.”
  442. “O-Okay.”
  443. >She hands you a plastic bag with your pills and your drink safe inside.
  444. >”Here’s your stuff. See you soon!”
  445. “Later, Amber.”
  446. >You wait until you get back to your dorm to cheer.
  447. >Although you have your doubts about how viable a relationship built off of one night of petting could possibly be, you’re still more than willing to take the chance.
  448. >So what’s holding you back?
  449. >You take two pills, washing them down with a swig of iced tea.
  450. >You’ll cross that bridge when you come to it.
  451. >Unsurprisingly, you don’t immediately start permanently transforming because of sabotaged medicine, necessitating a rescue by your macho, conspiracy theorist friend-turned-lover.
  452. >The big Pon-E medicine scare didn’t happen until 2000, anyways.
  453. >Those were crazy times.
  454. >But on that calm fall day in 1996, it was all you could do not to count the minutes as the clock ticked towards 4 PM.
  455. >After trying to make yourself look presentable, you leave your dorm with time to spare and head down the hallway towards the antiquated elevators.
  456. >”Yo, Anon, where you going?”
  457. “Oh, hey Josh. I’d love to talk right now, but I’ve sorta got a date to get to. Remember the girl from the party?”
  458. >His eyes widen.
  459. >”Her?”
  460. >You give him a triumphant nod.
  461. >”Well, shit, congrats on the catch. Let me know how it goes. I’m cheering you on!”
  463. >He runs off down the hall, and the rest of the trip to the small, flowery park in the middle of campus goes by without any other interruptions.
  464. >And when you turn the corner, she comes into view.
  465. >She’s sitting on the edge of the fountain, twirling a lock of red hair in her hand.
  466. >”Oh, hey! Glad you showed up.”
  467. “Do I really look like the type to stand up a girl like you?”
  468. >Laughing, she gets up and dusts herself off.
  469. >”Of course not.”
  470. >In what has to be an effort to fulfill your hourly quota for awkward moments, you both stand there for a second while you try to figure out what to say to her.
  471. “So, what do you want to do?”
  472. >”I don’t know, I was thinking we could get something to eat and go driving for a while. I’m assuming you’re the pleasure driving type.”
  473. >You grin.
  474. “I am.”
  475. >For about as long as you can remember, too.
  476. >”C’mon, then. We can take my car.”
  477. “Alright, lead the way.”
  478. >You make your way towards one of the campus parking lots, and Amber raises a familiar key fob.
  479. >Now, if there’s one thing you’ve learned over the years, it’s that you can tell a lot about someone just based on the car they drive.
  480. >Josh, who had money to burn but wasn’t quick to show off his father’s business dealings, drove an anonymous-looking Dodge Dynasty for years.
  481. >Your grandfather’s Packard, once a symbol that he had well and truly made it, morphed into a symbol of his likeness more and more as years passed under your father’s ownership.
  482. >Your collection of well-optioned special orders no doubt says quite a bit about you, too, even if not all of it is good.
  483. >Cars are honest like that.
  484. >So when you saw the headlights flash on a royal blue, late-model Packard Caribbean coupe, your heart leapt into your throat.
  485. >”Like it? It was my father’s. He passed it onto me instead of trading it in.”
  486. >You grin.
  487. “Are you trying to impress me or something?”
  489. >She opens the door and, smiling, rolls her eyes.
  490. >”Now why would I ever do that?”
  491. >You hop in the passenger’s seat and marvel at the familiar black leather interior, before nonchalantly taking a look behind you, peering back into the cavernous rear row of seats, the feeling of space only amplified by the long rear hatch.
  492. >”Trying to see if this is the Custom model?”
  493. >You kick yourself.
  494. >You were looking for one very specific option that you hoped she didn’t notice you pining for.
  495. >With a few of the right options, the rear seats folded seamlessly into the floor, providing ample cargo space… or room for two.
  496. >”Your silence is all I need to hear. It is, by the way.”
  497. >You can’t help but laugh.
  498. “Alright, you caught me. I was just curious, that’s all.”
  499. >”Mhm.”
  500. >Thankfully, she’s far more entertained than upset.
  501. >The rest of the night goes by like that.
  502. >You both get along well, making conversation and cracking jokes all throughout dinner.
  503. >And the drive, while uneventful, was still a mix of enjoyable and serene.
  504. >Until, of course, you get back into town, where Saturday night is attracting all walks of life.
  505. >Including one rusty, late-sixties Pontiac, packed to the brim with college kids, of course, that’s stopped right next to you at the light.
  506. >And from the way they’re looking over at you, revving the engine, and grinning like idiots, they want to race.
  507. >What follows next is possibly one of the most romantic moments of your life.
  508. “Looks like they’re trying to impress us.”
  509. >”What kind of car?”
  510. “’66 Poncho. Not a GTO, looks like a Catalina.”
  511. >”What engine?”
  512. >You crack the window and listen to the rumbling for a second.
  513. “Shit, that’s the 455. Do you have the 4.3 or the 5 liter?”
  514. >She revs the engine right back at them after a particularly loud bout of hollering and grins.
  515. >”The 5.”
  517. >On either side of the intersection, oncoming traffic is slowing to a stop at the changing light.
  518. “Here’s hoping we got this one right.”
  519. >The conversation doesn’t last more than ten seconds, but the feeling lingering in the air sticks with you for the rest of the night.
  520. >You may have gotten a C in the class during your sophomore year, but you can still recognize chemistry when you feel it.
  521. >Suddenly, the light turns green, and in a flash of rubber, you’re both off!
  522. >The Pontiac leaps forward in a cloud of smoke, but Amber gives chase.
  523. >And once the Ultramatic transmission shifts into second, they never close the gap again.
  524. >She speeds along as you watch the rusty piece of shit slowly grow smaller behind you.
  525. >At the last minute, she hits the brakes and turns onto a quite side street leading back to the dorms, slowing back down to a normal speed.
  526. >Both of you sit in silence as the car putters along towards the parking lot until Amber lets out a small laugh.
  527. >You start laughing too, and the laughter builds until Amber has to pull over so she can catch her breath.
  528. >”That was awesome!”
  529. “I can’t believe that just happened.”
  530. >She starts driving again, still giggling a little.
  531. >”Guess you bring out my bad side.”
  532. >Once the familiar cluster of buildings that you live in comes into view, she pulls over and stops again.
  533. >“Thanks for a great night out, Anon.”
  534. “Any chance we can do this again sometime?”
  535. >”How does next Friday sound? Same time, same place.”
  536. “Works for me. See you around.”
  537. >”Bye, Anon!”
  538. >You hop out of the car and make your way back into your room, collapsing on your uncomfortable, too-small bed.
  539. >You’re still not sure how you feel about her.
  540. >But, hell, let’s see how long this’ll last.
  542. >The next week passes by painfully slowly.
  543. >And by the time Friday comes around, you’re practically counting down the minutes until you’re due at the fountain again.
  544. >And as you anxiously start making your way through the maze of hallways and stairs, you, of course, run into Josh.
  545. >”Hey, Anon, what’s up, man?”
  546. “Look, I’d love to talk right now, but I’ve got someplace to be.”
  547. >”Amber again?”
  548. “Yeah.”
  549. >”Nice catch, man. I know exactly what’ll make tonight unforgettable, too.”
  550. >You raise an eyebrow.
  551. >Grinning, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a nondescript bottle, carefully selecting 2 pills from inside it.
  552. >”Chicks dig Pon-E, you know. I hear it’s a pretty good way to get to know someone.”
  553. >You sigh.
  554. “Josh, there are many things wrong with that idea. I don’t even know if she’d try it, anyways.”
  555. >”Well, it’s how you two met, so it’s worth giving a shot.”
  556. “But it’s just the second date!”
  557. >”And when has that stopped anybody? Look, if she isn’t up to it, just give them back tomorrow. But I say give it a shot.”
  558. >Wordlessly, you grab the pills and place them in their pocket.
  559. >”That’s the spirit.”
  560. “I’ll give them back to you in the morning.”
  561. >”If you have hands. See you around, man.”
  562. >Now even more nervous, you make your way over to the now-familiar courtyard, where Amber is waiting for you, sitting on the fountain.
  563. >”Looks like you finally made it.”
  564. “Yeah, sorry about that. I ran into a friend.”
  566. >She grins.
  567. >”Well, seeing as you’re only sixteen seconds late, I’ll let it slide.”
  568. >You let out a small laugh, and she stands up.
  569. “So what do you want to do tonight?”
  570. >”I’d be fine with dinner and a drive again.”
  571. “Sounds like a plan. Want to take my car this time?”
  572. >”Sure!”
  573. >You both head over to where your car is parked, and make the short drive to one of the town’s many small, cozy restaurants.
  574. >You make casual conversation over dinner, and when you’re finished you end up sitting in your parked car, trying to decide what to do next.
  575. >First dates are easy, but second dates?
  576. >Those are dangerously close to uncharted territory for you.
  577. “Actually, I have an idea.”
  578. >”Hm?”
  579. “Before I left, Josh–my friend–gave me some stuff he said we could, er, try.”
  580. >”Well, what is it?”
  581. >You scratch the back of your neck.
  582. “It’s, well, Pon-E.”
  583. >You quickly glance over to her, expecting some look of disapproval, shock, or disgust.
  584. >Seriously, illegal drugs on the second date?
  585. >The fuck are you thinking?
  586. >But instead, she’s smiling.
  587. >”Sure, why not?”
  588. >You laugh and start the car.
  589. “You took that a little better than I expected.”
  590. >”Well, who do you think told him to give you the Pon-E?”
  591. >You stop yourself from letting out the parking brake.
  592. “What?”
  593. >”One of my friends has a class with him, so I told her to tell him to tell you to try it. Simple. It’s not like you were gonna try it any other way.”
  594. >You laugh a little.
  595. “I didn’t take you for a Pon-E type of person.”
  596. >She grins and swats your arm.
  597. >”That’s how we met. And I haven’t tried it before, but I’ve wanted to.”
  598. “Your place or mine?”
  599. >”Yours, probably. Unless you have roommates, too.”
  600. “No, I don’t.”
  601. >”Lucky bastard.”
  603. >You back out of the parking lot and make the drive back to campus.
  604. >The walk up to your dorm is uneventful, and when you’re both inside with the door shut and locked you take the pills out of your pocket.
  605. “Twelve hours from now is about nine in the morning. Do you work tomorrow?”
  606. >Amber sits down and crosses her legs, drumming her fingers on the chair.
  607. >”Nope.”
  608. “Then we should be good to go. I’ll get some water to wash it down. Do you know the rules?”
  609. >”Yep.”
  610. >You quickly grab two small plastic cups from your bathroom and fill them with lukewarm tap water, handing a cup and a pill to Amber before you position your dorm’s full-length mirror to reflect both your wary visages.
  611. “You ready? If this is your first time, it’s gonna hurt a little.”
  612. >She grins.
  613. >”I can take it. Trust me.”
  614. “Alright, here goes nothing.”
  615. >You down the innocent-looking pill, and watch as Amber does the same.
  616. >Almost immediately, a tingling feeling washes over you, and you see familiar light blue fur spreading across your body.
  617. >You raise one hand and watch as your fingers start to clump together and turn the same shade of blue as your new fur.
  618. “Fuck, this feels weird.”
  619. >In front of you, Amber groans and slides out of her chair, and you look up in shock.
  620. >”I’m good.”
  621. >She groans and you watch as her jaw pushes out, lavender fur covering her face as her hair starts to shorten and change color.
  622. >Her eyes slide shut right as they start to grow in her head.
  623. >You wince in sympathy before looking in the mirror and taking stock of your own changes so far.
  624. >Your hair is longer, your ears have travelled up your head and changed shape, and– yep, time for the muzzle now.
  625. >You grit your teeth as your face pushes out in front of you.
  626. >Luckily, the feeling of your bones grinding together is nowhere near as pronounced or painful as it was before.
  628. >You watch as your feet go the way of your hands and your legs change shape.
  629. >Then you almost fall out of the chair as you feel yourself start to shrink.
  630. >The room starts to grow larger, and larger, and larger still.
  631. >You look over at Amber’s unconscious form and watch as she starts to shrink too.
  632. >She stops far sooner than you did, though.
  633. >A tail slowly pushes its way out from her tailbone, and you grit your now-flattened teeth as the same happens to you.
  634. >After your long mint green tail finally stops growing, you’re hit with a powerful wave of nausea as your organs shift inside of you.
  635. >When it’s finished, you slowly untangle yourself from your loose-fitting clothes and stand on four shaky hooves, surveying the room around you.
  636. >Well, you’re certainly a small pony, that’s for sure.
  637. >You look over to Amber, who’s still passed out on the floor, her changes now finished.
  638. >Her lavender fur goes surprisingly well with her short pepper-gray mane and tail, although her broad muzzle does make her look a little bit masculine.
  639. >You glance at the clock on your nightstand, impatiently tapping a hoof.
  640. >How long were you passed out for the first time you transformed?
  641. >Fifteen minutes?
  642. >You plop down on your haunches and continue to study her large form.
  643. >After a few more minutes, you realize just how creepy it’d look if she wakes up to you staring at her, and you look out the window.
  644. >Fuck, you should probably close that.
  645. >You crane your neck to grab the string in your teeth, and yank it a little until the Venetian blinds cover the window.
  646. >Mission accomplished.
  648. >You turn around just as Amber starts to stir, cracking open one eye.
  649. >”How long was I out for?”
  650. “Not long. Just a few minutes.”
  651. >She responds with a grunt as she slowly tries to bring herself to four hooves, shaking her clothes off her frame.
  652. >She’s definitely very well-built, that’s for sure, her toned frame standing a full head over yours, just as you predicted.
  653. >And even though “toned” for a pony is slightly less marshmallow-shaped, it’s still clear that she’s more masculine than your petite form.
  654. >Having found her new center of balance, she turns around to face the mirror.
  655. >After studying herself for a while, she looks back at you and grins.
  656. >”Looks like– fuck, is that seriously my voice?”
  657. >It’s deep and rich, sending shivers down your spine.
  658. “I guess so.”
  659. >Your own, much lighter voice is on the completely opposite end of the spectrum.
  660. >You look away from her head, and your eyes wander all the way down her body to her tail.
  661. >Its pepper-colored hairs are too short to cover the clearly male anatomy resting beneath her… his legs.
  662. >Your eyes shrink to pinpricks.
  663. >You did sort of expect it, considering how, well, how masculine Amber looks now.
  664. >But it is not exactly a welcome discovery.
  665. “Uh, Amber? I think you’re a guy now.”
  666. >He lowers his head to look underneath his belly, and his breath catches in his throat.
  667. >”Well, damn. You’re right.”
  668. >He turns around and hesitantly takes a few steps toward you.
  669. >”You’re pretty small, you know.”
  670. >Your head cranes up to meet his gaze once he reaches you, and your heart starts pounding in your chest.
  671. “I think you’re just pretty big.”
  673. >He grins a familiar grin, and you let out a breath that you didn’t know you were holding in.
  674. >It’s still the same Amber.
  675. >He has no control over what he turns into.
  676. >It’s not his fault he’s so big, and strong, and hand–
  677. >He lowers his head until his lips touch yours, and your eyes roll back in your head.
  678. >Your shaky legs push you forward, pressing your lips against his even harder.
  679. >Sparks fly and electricity runs through your body for an eternity before he breaks the kiss.
  680. >He looks into your eyes and grins again.
  681. >You just kissed a guy.
  682. >Not only that, but you just kissed a stallion.
  683. >It’s not your fault, right?
  684. >Ponies are just more affectionate than humans are, that’s all.
  685. >It doesn’t mean you’re attracted to him.
  686. >Nope, not at all.
  687. >You silently beg your hard-on to go away before he notices.
  688. >”You’re still pretty damn cute, you know.”
  689. >You blush.
  690. >Since when did you blush?
  691. “Y-You are, too.”
  692. >He smiles.
  693. >”You think so?”
  694. >You look away and quickly nod.
  695. >He leans in for a peck on the cheek, and you start blushing even harder.
  696. >”So what do you want to do for the next eleven-and-a-half hours?”
  697. >Your eyes dart around the room, looking for something to pass the time.
  698. “There isn’t really much to do here. What do people normally do when they’re ponies?”
  699. >”I don’t know. Watch TV? Cuddle? Who knows?”
  700. >You don’t have a TV in your dorm.
  701. >So you just pretend he didn’t say another option.
  702. >An option that you don’t want to admit sounds amazing.
  703. “I don’t know what ponies like to do, either. Besides being petted, and neither of us have hands anymore.”
  705. >You both try to look anywhere in the room besides each other.
  706. >”Do you want to…?”
  707. “Y-Yeah, I do.”
  708. >Wordlessly, he climbs up on your bed, now big enough for both of you.
  709. >You hop up, and he gives you a peck on the cheek before rolling on his back.
  710. >”Do you want to be the big spoon?”
  711. “Yeah, sure.”
  712. >He rolls on his side and you try to wrap your hooves around him.
  713. >It doesn’t go very well.
  714. >If you try to rest your head in the crook of his neck, your legs can’t even make it all the way to his tail.
  715. >But you press on.
  716. >This has to work eventually.
  717. >Minutes pass as both of you shift uncomfortably on the bed, before you roll on your back and huff.
  718. “This isn’t working.”
  719. >”Maybe you’d rather be the little spoon?”
  720. >You just stare up at the ceiling.
  721. >”I mean, you are the smaller pony here.”
  722. >You don’t know why you’re so apprehensive.
  723. “S-Sure.”
  724. >You roll back onto your side and your eyes meet his.
  725. >You scoot closer to him until the soft fur of your belly is pressed against his and your head is nestled in your neck.
  726. >”Or this works, too.”
  727. >You look up at him and plant a small kiss on his chin, and he responds with a much deeper kiss on the lips.
  728. >Your eyes flutter shut and he wraps a foreleg around you, drawing you even closer to him.
  729. >The kiss continues as you lose yourself in the sheer bliss of it all.
  730. >Until you feel something soft and warm start rubbing against your underbelly and your sheath.
  731. >Your eyes snap open and he meets your gaze with a wink.
  732. >You try to bring yourself to break the kiss and pull away from him, but you can’t.
  733. >Soon, your own cock starts to poke out of your sheath, rubbing against his length.
  734. >You can’t bring yourself to look down, but you already know who’s bigger by far.
  736. >When you feel his broad, flat tongue prod at your lips, the trance is broken.
  737. “A-Amber, I don’t think I can do this.”
  738. >He smiles.
  739. >It isn’t a hungry smile, thank God, but a forgiving one.
  740. >”That’s alright. I don’t know what came over me either.”
  741. >He goes to sit up, but you quickly try to stop him.
  742. “That doesn’t mean I don’t want to cuddle! I just don’t want to go any, um, farther.”
  743. >He smiles again.
  744. >”That’s fine. Do you still want to be the little spoon?”
  745. “S-Sure.”
  746. >You roll over onto your other side, so your back is against his belly, and you feel his strong hooves wrap around you and pull you closer to him.
  747. >He starts planting small kisses on the back of your head, and you feel yourself starting to melt into the sheets.
  748. >Fuck, this feels so good.
  749. >Until you start to feel something poking you in the back again.
  750. >Amber feels you tense up, and he sighs.
  751. >”I-I’m sorry, Anon, I just can’t get it to go back down.”
  752. “It’s fine.”
  753. >It isn’t fine.
  754. >But he seems to be enjoying himself, and if you shut your eyes you can almost block the feeling of his cock slowly grinding against you, coaxing your own dick out of your sheath.
  755. >Instead you try to focus on Amber’s soft, loving kisses.
  756. >You both relax like that for ages, until you slowly drift off to a calm, peaceful sleep.
  758. >When you wake up the next morning, you’re both human again.
  759. >Amber is still asleep, so you try your best to slip out of bed and throw on some clothes unnoticed.
  760. >Behind you, you hear her stir.
  761. >”What time is it?”
  762. “Almost ten. We slept for a long time.”
  763. >”Damn. It would have been nice to wake up as a pony.”
  764. “Yeah, last night was…”
  765. >You don’t know how to describe it, really.
  766. >Sure, you liked it, but you’re still opposed to the concept.
  767. >So the sentence just trails off.
  768. >”Yeah, I know. It was interesting, though. I’d say I enjoyed it.”
  769. >You just nod.
  770. “Want to grab some coffee or something?”
  771. >”Sure.”
  772. >She throws on last night’s clothing and you both head down to the nearest coffee house.
  773. >You make conversation for a little while before you go your separate ways, with plans for a third date next Friday.
  774. >She tells you to get more Pon-E.
  775. >You hesitantly agree.
  776. >On your way back to your dorm, you run into Josh again.
  777. >”So do you have any pills to give back?”
  778. >You rub the back of your neck.
  779. “I do not.”
  780. >He grins.
  781. >”I knew you’d enjoy them. So what’s she like as a pony? Is she just as hot?”
  782. “You could say that.”
  783. >”I still have no idea how a dumbass like you can find a girl like her.”
  784. “If I knew, I’d tell you.”
  785. >”Well, tell me when you figure it out. I’ve gotta go.”
  786. “Later, man.”
  787. >Once you’re back in your room, you habitually go to your desktop computer and check your e-mail.
  788. >Over the past few years, students and college groups alike have embraced the technology.
  789. >Countless interest groups and bulletin boards have popped up online, and you’re a member of quite a few.
  790. >But you still had to jump through endless hoops just to get Internet access in your dorm room.
  792. >Ever since your father gave into your push for a company-wide deal with AOL, it’s how you’ve monitored the company’s activities, too.
  793. >It feels good to be alive during the Information Age.
  794. >Looks like you’ve got a new message from your father himself, which is a little strange, considering how little he cares about the technology.
  795. >The title simple reads “New Plans”.
  796. >This should be good.
  797. >”Dear Anon, I know you’ve got a good sense of how the company’s doing from our calls. DeSoto sales are steadily climbing and Packard is booming. Considering how the Big Three have been shooting themselves in the foot with their low-priced cars (I seriously doubt Plymouth will last for much longer), I think it’s time to tackle the Japanese head-on. Because both DeSoto and Packard are luxury brands, adding economy cars to their lineups would be suicide. I think it’s time we try expanding one more time.
  798. >”I thought long and hard about whether or not we should start a new brand from scratch or revive one more. A little bit of market research, though, and our marketing staff decided that resurrection would lead to a more familiar result than trying to create a brand out of nothing. There will be no Eagle or Merkur imitators here. I’m thinking of something more American. American Motors, to be precise.
  799. >”A few months ago, we snatched all the trademarks we need from right out of Chrysler’s grubby little hands, and we’ve got modern enough platforms that it won’t be hard to develop a revived, competitive AMC. Our current plans call for production to begin in 2000, with a full lineup ready by 2002. Attached are all the numbers about our planned lineup that you could ever want. Feel free to write back with any questions; it’s been too long since we talked cars.”
  801. >You open the attached files and spend the better part of the day poring over them.
  802. >The plan calls for an array of automobiles competing on all fronts of the low-price field.
  803. >The AMC Gremlin will be the economical subcompact, and the Pacer will be the quirky compact hatchback.
  804. >The Hornet will go up against the likes of the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Dodge Neon, and the Matador will face off against the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Ford Taurus.
  805. >The AMC Ambassador will be the lineup’s flagship full-size sedan, and the Eagle will be AMC’s token SUV.
  806. >And, most interestingly, the plans also call for a revived AMC Javelin to enter a pony car market in the beginnings of a renaissance.
  807. >Company top brass have been studying low-priced Japanese cars for the past few years in order to analyze what to do, just as they’ve been poring over offerings from Ford and Chevrolet to figure out what not to do.
  808. >But you’ve spent all your life listening to auto executives promising the masses that their newest cars will finally beat back the imports, and the simple reality that every single one of them failed is enough to put you on edge.
  809. >But if there’s anyone why can do it right, it’s your father.
  810. >On the other hand, though, what if his success is solely constrained to luxury cars?
  811. >You quickly type up a reply.
  812. >”To be honest, Dad, I think it’s risky as hell, but I’m still confident that you can do it right. The numbers all look promising. Just don’t forget about what I said about spreading out too thin and don’t be afraid to pull the plug if the market changes. I’ll call you later so we can talk about this a little more.”
  813. >You hit send and lean back in your chair.
  815. >You spend the better part of the next day talking with your father, discussing everything from your time in college so far to how your dad’s been managing living on his own to, of course, AMC.
  816. >To succeed in such a competitive market, it’s important to make sure each and every offering can pull its weight.
  817. >A delicate balance of low price and minimal cost-cutting must be found in order to avoid ending up dead in the water like the other domestics.
  818. >But it’s also important to make sure that there’s no overlap between AMC and DeSoto or Packard.
  819. >Although the cheapest car either offers is the $25,000 DeSoto Firesweep compact, there’s still a very real danger of competition between brands if they start to step out of line.
  820. >You delve into every little detail, even discussing frivolities like trim levels, before the call ends.
  821. >Your father walks into the boardroom on Monday confident in the success of the new make.
  822. >And the rest is history.
  823. >An AMC division is formally created in 1997, ten years to the day after Chrysler bought American Motors from Renault.
  824. >Then development begins in earnest.
  825. >Lots of AMC’s old staff comes out of the woodwork, lured away from the DaimlerChrysler disaster unfolding in Auburn Hills.
  826. >You wish you could tell each car’s story and every obstacle that was overcome in order for them to reach showrooms.
  827. >But you were in college while all this was happening, and your father’s calls didn’t go nearly as in-depth as you had wished.
  828. >But, hey, you were lucky enough to witness the revival of two other classic American brands so far; you can take some time off to study.
  829. >And go on a date or two.
  830. >Because long before the first AMC-badged car rolls off the line in mid-1999, you had much bigger fish to fry than the plans of a company headquartered several states away from you.
  831. >Namely, how far you wanted to go down the Pon-E rabbit hole.
  833. >When Friday comes around, you hand Josh a fifty-dollar bill and receive two pills in return.
  834. >”Try not to go too crazy tonight.”
  835. >The plan is pretty much the same as before: dinner, a short drive around town, and, then, Pon-E time.
  836. >When you meet Amber at the fountain, she jokes a little about how nervous you look, and you laugh it off.
  837. >But it doesn’t make you dread taking the pill any less.
  838. >By the time you finish a good meal together and make it back to your dorm, though, you’re much less apprehensive.
  839. >Amber didn’t try to make you do anything you weren’t comfortable with before, and it’s doubtful she’ll try to this time.
  840. >In an effort to avoid getting tangled up in your clothes again, you both get undressed before you take the innocent-looking pills.
  841. >She gives you a playful swat when she catches you staring before she washes down her pill with a small cup of water.
  842. >As she starts to change, lavender fur covering her body as her red hair shortens and turns gray, you start to regret suggesting that you both get naked.
  843. >Because even as her breasts shrink away, replaced with a toned, equine barrel, you can’t help but get a little but turned on at the sight.
  844. >You lean back as you watch a tail sprout from above her ass and her legs shift and change, enjoying the view.
  845. >Amber groans and presses a hand-turned-hoof to her nethers as they start to transform, too.
  846. >You watch as her clit grows into a furry sheath, two large balls dropping underneath it.
  847. >He grins and licks his lips as the rest of the changes finish, getting to four hooves and looking over at you.
  848. >”Are you going to take yours, or what?”
  849. >You kick yourself.
  850. “Sorry, I just got distracted by–”
  851. >”It’s fine, I’m sure I put on quite a show. But before you get up, would you mind putting those hands to good use?”
  853. >Before you can ask him to clarify, he’s already closed the gap between you, plopping himself down in front of you with his head on your lap.
  854. >You run a hand down his mane and smile as his expression changes to a soft, dopey grin, and you send the other hand behind his ear, giving him a few light scratches.
  855. >His tongue lolls out of his mouth and he lets out a peaceful sigh.
  856. >”Oh, that feels so good. Keep going.”
  857. >You can’t help but smile as you continue to pet him, enjoying his reaction to the treatment.
  858. “You know, this wouldn’t be nearly as weird if I was wearing clothes.”
  859. >He looks up at you and grins.
  860. “What are you–”
  861. >He gets up and closes the gap between you with a kiss, pressing his furry underbelly against your chest as you lazily run a hand down his back.
  862. >His furry lips feel much better than they have any right to.
  863. >When he breaks the kiss, you quickly draw him back in, and he happily reciprocates.
  864. >Once you’re both more than a little hot under the collar, you take your own nondescript pill, with Amber still on top of you.
  865. >”Oh, I’m gonna enjoy watching this.”
  866. >You blush (since when do you blush?) as you feel the fur start to sweep over you, watching your hands become hooves.
  867. >Your hair grows and turns mint green, and you shift as you feel a tail pushing itself out from above your rear, which feels like it’s plumping up a little.
  868. >Amber grins as you start to shrink, and you watch as the room, along with Amber, grows larger.
  869. >He plants a kiss on your muzzle when the changes finally finish, which you gladly draw out.
  870. >Once he pulls back, he wastes no time in hopping up on your bed.
  871. >You follow him up and he meets you with another kiss, this one much deeper, more passionate, and hungrier.
  872. >”You make a beautiful pony, you know that?”
  873. “You’re pretty good looking too, you know.”
  875. >He starts softly planting kisses on your neck, and you feel yourself start to tense up.
  876. >Of course, he notices right away, and he pulls back, trying to meet your gaze.
  877. >”What’s wrong, Anon?”
  878. “Um, Amber, if it isn’t a waste of two pills, can we maybe not go all the way tonight?”
  879. >He responds with a much gentler kiss on your muzzle, relaxing instead of needy.
  880. >”That’s fine. But I have to say, a guy like you turning down sex? Color me surprised.”
  881. >You let out a little embarrassed laughter.
  882. “I guess it’s different when you’re the one on the bottom.”
  883. >Amber gives you a sheepish grin and tries to hide his raging hard-on with a foreleg, which, because of both its size and proximity, doesn’t work.
  884. >”We really need to prepare more when we take these. I don’t want to waste two pills because there’s nothing to do in this dorm.”
  885. “I know what you mean. But at least we have each other’s company, right?”
  886. >Amber laughs and gives you a soft kiss on the lips.
  887. >”Of course. Do you want to cuddle like we did last week?”
  888. “S-Sure, I guess.”
  889. >With all the approval he needs, Amber lies on his side and gives the bed a pat.
  890. >You slide in between his forelegs and press your belly against his, wrapping your hooves around his neck as he gives you a tender kiss.
  891. >Your heartbeat slows down to more reasonable levels as the comforting warmth of his body sends you into a state of bliss.
  892. >You try to press as much of yourself against him as you can, even burying your head in the crook of his neck.
  893. >He peppers you with a few more kisses before you feel him drifting off to sleep.
  894. >Looks like you were going to waste most of those twelve hours asleep after all.
  895. >Still, his loving embrace quickly lures you to sleep as well, and, as you slowly drift off, you barely notice your girlfriend-turned-stallion grinding against you in his sleep.
  897. >You wake up to the first thin rays of sunlight streaming in through the half-open blinds.
  898. >You’re still a pony, and so is Amber, which, considering how late you took Pon-E, means it’s pretty early in the morning.
  899. >Amber’s forelegs are wrapped around you and his head is resting on your neck, his soft breaths tickling your ear.
  900. >You don’t want to untangle yourself from his embrace and wake him up, but as you shift around in his hooves, one part of him does begin to stir.
  901. “Fuck, not this again.”
  902. >Amber is still sleeping peacefully, but now Little Amber’s presence is making itself known.
  903. >You decide to get up once you start to feel your own member stir too.
  904. >It takes a few minutes of slow, cautious movement to free yourself from his embrace, but you eventually manage to hop out of bed safe and sound.
  905. >Behind you, Amber, still half-asleep but disturbed by your movements, murmurs to you.
  906. >”Come back to bed, Anon.”
  907. “I’m just using the bathroom. I’ll be back in a minute.”
  908. >You softly shut the door to the en-suite bathroom and try to figure out how to use the too-large toilet.
  909. >Eventually, you manage, but it’s difficult.
  910. >You hear the bed creak and groan as Amber presumably gets up, and once you open the door, you find him in the middle of changing back.
  911. >He, now female again, gives you a small smile as you watch her mane change color and her fur recede back into her skin.
  912. >Sweet Jesus, that’s creepy to watch.
  913. >You both watch in silence until the changes finish, when she lets out a grin.
  914. >”Changing back doesn’t feel nearly as good as becoming a pony.”
  915. >You laugh.
  917. >”Looks like you still have a few minutes left as a pony. Wanna see how good it feels to be petted?”
  918. >You hesitate for a moment, but eventually you nod your head.
  919. “Sure, why not?”
  920. >Amber smiles and pats the bed.
  921. >”Hop up.”
  922. >When you do get up onto the mattress, you lie down and rest your head in her lap.
  923. >When you feel her hand make contact with your soft, fluffy mane, you let out a soft gasp.
  924. “This feels really good.”
  925. >”Oh, just wait.”
  926. >Her hands travels down your mane and onto the fur of your back, where her long, slot pets become short, tender scritches.
  927. >Your eyes roll back into your head as she continues petting you, and when her other hand reaches behind one of your ears, you feel every muscle in your body relax.
  928. “It feels so good…”
  929. >Amber laughs at your dopey, blissful grin, and she sneaks a small peck on your muzzle.
  930. >”You make a pretty cute pony.”
  931. “I’d say the same thing about yo– ooh, right there, keep scratching there.”
  932. >Your back leg thumps against the bed as she focuses in on a particularly sensitive spot, and she doesn’t let up until she notices your mane starting to shorten and change back to its normal color.
  933. >”Looks like your time is up, too.”
  934. >She gets off the bed and you roll over onto your belly, watching the changes progress.
  935. >You really wish you didn’t.
  936. >It feels weird to watch your cute, furry arms and legs change back into normal human limbs.
  937. >It’s almost sad.
  938. >But you tell yourself that there’s always next week, and that being a human is better, and more legal, than being a pony.
  939. >You don’t want to get addicted or anything.
  941. >Once the changes finish, you sit up and stretch, before putting on some clothes.
  942. >Amber is already dressed, and she gives you a small kiss on your cheek before you both walk out of the building to grab a small breakfast.
  943. >The small on-campus coffee house is busy, bustling with hungover students looking to kill their headaches.
  944. >But it’s still as good a place as any to sit and talk.
  945. >You kill about an hour or two chatting before making plans for your next date and going your separate ways.
  946. >Aside from the usual dinner and a drive together, Amber asked if you could spend that Saturday using Pon-E instead of just Friday night.
  947. >In the heat of the moment, you said yes, but as you walk back to your dorm, you start having second thoughts.
  948. >If she could barely control herself after just thirty minutes as a pony, what’ll she be like after eight hours?
  949. >You don’t want that horsecock anywhere near you.
  950. >Sure, Amber makes a cute pony, but that’s only because she’s a cute human, too.
  951. >The fact that she changes genders when she uses Pon-E doesn’t affect that at all.
  952. >But actually doing it?
  953. >Sex with a stallion?
  954. >That’s where you’re gonna draw the line.
  955. >Of course, that still doesn’t change the fact that you already said yes to her.
  956. >You’ll wait until you’re both under the influence to shut her down.
  957. >You’d much rather put your hoof down when you’re both ponies instead of putting your foot down now.
  958. >When you get to your dorm room, your brand-new, fancy Motorola StarTAC mobile phone starts to ring.
  959. >It’s your father.
  960. >”Anon! I’ve got some news for you. We’re starting pilot production of our new DeSoto SUV in a few weeks. Want to fly up here and help us wring them out at the proving grounds when college lets out for the winter?”
  961. “Sure. What are you calling it?”
  962. >”The car? Coronado. Nice, huh?”
  963. “Yep. Got any other cool projects in the works?”
  965. >”Aside from product development for AMC? Nothing out of the ordinary. I assume you’ll want to make a visit to the headquarters and see what we’ve got cooking up?”
  966. “Of course.”
  967. >”I figured as much. I’ve got to go, but I’ll talk to you again soon.”
  968. “Bye, Dad.”
  969. >He hangs up and you’re back to doing nothing in your room.
  970. >Of course, the next week crawls by at a glacial pace.
  971. >Your dread only builds with each passing day.
  972. >That Friday, you get two plain-looking pills from Josh and slip them into your pocket before heading out.
  973. >When you meet Amber at your usual spot, she makes another joke about how damn nervous you look.
  974. >”Shouldn’t you be used to this by now?”
  975. “I guess I’m not. Every date is another opportunity to me to mess something up.”
  976. >She laughs and holds your hand as you walk out to your car.
  977. >The rest of your time together that night goes by as usual: wonderfully.
  978. >You make a little more idle conversation and get to know her better over dinner, and afterwards, you make the drive out to East Haven and walk along a moonlit Connecticut beach.
  979. >Both of you get your feet wet in the cool, refreshing surf before you head back to campus.
  980. >And when you finally park, Amber asks you the one question that every college kid would kill to hear.
  981. >”Can I stay at your place tonight?”
  982. >You wake up the next morning with Amber in your arms, as opposed to the other way around.
  983. >Her long hair covers most of your face, and you don’t hesitate to roll over onto your back and stare up at the ceiling.
  984. >Beside you, Amber slowly wakes up, shifting onto her back as well.
  985. >The small dorm bed doesn’t quite hold both of you, so you’re in very close quarters.
  986. >But you don’t really care about that.
  988. >”Last night was great, Anon.”
  989. “Yeah, I think so, too.”
  990. >You lean over and give her a small kiss, and she lets out a small laugh.
  991. >”Anon, you’re such a lovebug.”
  992. “You flatter me.”
  993. >You spend the next few minutes lying there together, silently willing each other to get up and start the day.
  994. >It’s Amber that finally rises to her feet, naked as the day she was born.
  995. “You know the window’s open, right?”
  996. >She sticks her tongue out at you before turning to face the window, the parted blinds giving the whole campus a view of the room inside.
  997. >”Fuck!”
  998. >She rushes to close the blinds, and you can’t help but laugh at the sight.
  999. >”Oh, shut up.”
  1000. >She starts gathering her discarded clothes, strewn around the floor from the night before, and starts to dress herself.
  1001. >”Want to grab something to eat before we take the Pon-E?”
  1002. >You’d completely forgotten about that.
  1003. >You sheepishly rub the back of your neck while trying to look for your own clothes among the mess.
  1004. “I was meaning to talk to you about that, actually.”
  1005. >”Yeah?”
  1006. “I was thinking that it’d be a bad idea for us to take it if we’ll be up for the full twelve hours.”
  1007. >”Why’s that? That’s how everyone else uses it.”
  1008. “I’m just thinking about how, uh, horny we both get when we’re ponies. I just don’t want to do anything that we’d, um, regret later while we’re under the influence.”
  1009. >She stops in her tracks and you wait for her inevitable response.
  1011. “Anon, you realize that nobody here cares what people do when they’re on Pon-E, right?
  1012. “What?”
  1013. >”Dude, I know you’re a little hesitant about having sex on Pon-E, and I can guess that it’s because we’re both stallions, too.”
  1014. >You muster a weak, uncomfortable smile.
  1015. >”But come on! It’s 1996! People don’t care about what you do when you’re a pony. You think that party we met at was pure cuddles? I’m pretty sure half the freshman that went to the petting party upstairs ended up getting eaten out by a horse before they left. Shit like that just sorta happens when you’re on Pon-E.”
  1016. “And how the hell do you know that?”
  1017. >”Because I was friends with, like, half of them, and they were all talking about how crazy it got the next morning.”
  1018. >You get up and absentmindedly look for your wallet among all the papers and detritus on your desk.
  1019. “I guess you’re right. Still, I’d like to take things slow today, if you don’t mind.”
  1020. >”That’s fine. I still think you’re the only college kid in the world who’d turn down sex, though.”
  1021. “It’s a little different when you’re on the receiving end.”
  1022. >Amber snorts and throws open the door, revealing the dingy dorm hallway.
  1023. >”Well, let’s see what today brings us.”
  1024. >You hesitantly follow her outside, shutting the door behind you.
  1026. >The campus this morning is almost unusually mundane.
  1027. >You don’t waste much time eating, and you walk back to your dorm at a brisk pace.
  1028. >When you get back, Amber almost immediately starts taking off her clothes.
  1029. >”Do you have the pills?”
  1030. >You wordlessly dig them out of your pocket, placing them on your desk as you start undressing yourself.
  1031. >Amber grins at the sight of them, and you grab two small cups of water, handing her both a cup and a pill.
  1032. >She wastes no time in tossing the pill in her mouth and washing it down, grinning as she flops down onto your bed.
  1033. >You take your own pill and sit down at the foot of your bed, watching your fingers start to twitch and shift together, growing pastel blue fur in the process.
  1034. >Amber lets out a groan as her features shift and change, and you find yourself slowly leaning forward as your changing joints protest a more bipedal sitting position.
  1035. >You waste no time in getting down on all fours, running a broad, flat tongue around your new muzzle as a tail grows out from your ass.
  1036. >You can’t help but laugh as the changes finish up and you happily swish your tail around behind you.
  1037. >”F-Fuck.”
  1038. >You turn your head and watch as Amber places both hooves on her nethers to ease the pressure.
  1039. >He massages his growing sheath as his tongue lolling out of his muzzle and a furry ear starts to twitch.
  1040. >”I forgot how good being a stallion feels.”
  1041. >He looks over in your direction and you notice that all that playing with your new tail left you in a very submissive position, with your head down, your ass up, and your tail to the side.
  1042. >You ignore the way Amber licks his lips and the desire beginning to creep through you, quickly returning to a less eager stance.
  1044. >Amber wiggles his eyebrows and gestures for you to hop up onto the bed, and you waste no time in getting comfortable.
  1045. >“How are you feeling?”
  1046. >He leans over until his head fills your field of vision, his gorgeous eyes glittering as he gives you a loving smile.
  1047. “Fine, really.”
  1048. >You’re much more than fine.
  1049. >He gives you a small peck on the tip of your muzzle, and you cross your eyes as it scrunches up in response.
  1050. >”You’re so cute, you know that?”
  1051. >You just blush, and he gives you a small laugh before wrapping his forelegs around you.
  1052. >You bury your face in his soft, warm chest fluff and let out a blissful sigh.
  1053. >For what feels like an eternity, you both remain peacefully still in each other’s embrace.
  1054. >The way his warmth draws you in and practically begs you to press yourself closer to him keeps you from getting up.
  1055. >Not like you’d ever want to, anyway.
  1056. >Eventually, though, as the minutes drag on, you start to notice the familiar signs that Amber’s getting all the more comfortable with his new body.
  1057. >His breaths grow sharper and more excited and his soft nuzzles and kisses grow more dominant as you pass the time together.
  1058. >You feel his stallionhood slowly peek out of its sheath just as he gives your furry ear a small tug.
  1059. >A wave of pleasure travels down your spine, and you feel your own member stir.
  1060. >The room grows hotter still as both of you feel your arousal grow, neither you nor Amber ever daring to make the first move.
  1061. >But when he slowly starts to grind his hips against yours, you can’t help but dive into his lips and give him a hungry kiss, your arousal reaching a fever pitch.
  1062. >He eagerly returns the kiss, pressing his lips against yours and ever-so-slowly shifting his body so he’s almost entirely above you.
  1064. >His hind legs are splayed out on either side of yours, keeping him on top of you without crushing you under his much larger frame, his forelegs wrapped around yours as he draws out the kiss even further.
  1065. >The room grows hotter with each passing second as his lips play with yours, both of your warm, throbbing stallionhoods, now fully erect, pressed together.
  1066. >He slowly grinds his hips again, rubbing his cock against your own, smaller member, and you moan into his passionate kiss.
  1067. >When he does break the embrace, he doesn’t stop grinding his length against yours, and you feel a soft moan escape you.
  1068. >The feeling of being pinned beneath him and teased almost mercilessly makes you all the more hot and bothered.
  1069. >He gives you a grin, savoring the lustful look on your face, before he stops his thrusts and shifts onto his side, now lying beside you.
  1070. >You take a moment to catch your breath before he gives you another small kiss.
  1071. >”So, how do you want to do this?”
  1072. “What do you mean?”
  1073. >He lets out a small snort before lowering a hoof gown to your shaft, tracing lazy circles around the head as you bite back a moan of pleasure.
  1074. >”I mean, how do you want to do this? Do you want to top, or should I?”
  1075. >If you’re being entirely honest, the latter is sounding more and more appealing with each shape that his hoof makes along your shaft.
  1076. >You open your mouth, and you almost beg him to take you.
  1077. >But you don’t think you’d be able to go that far right now.
  1078. “I– mmh, I’ll stick to the top for now.”
  1079. >He smiles and gives you another kiss before slowly moving his head farther and farther down your exposed form.
  1080. >”Well, if that’s the case, then let’s get right to it.”
  1081. >He moves his hoof away and the tip of his broad, flat tongue makes contact with the head of your twitching cock just a moment later.
  1083. >You lean back and let out a sigh, and he takes it as an invitation to take the whole head into his mouth, running his tongue along the edge and lightly sucking on it as he bobs his head further and further down your length.
  1084. “Fuck, this feels so good. Don’t stop.”
  1085. >He looks up at you and gives you a wink, before, in one fluid motion, he slides the rest of your length into his mouth.
  1086. >You barely hold back a moan as he goes to town on you, and you feel an orgasm fast approaching.
  1087. “Ah! Fuck!”
  1088. >Stars dot your vision and you buck your hips as you fire off a load right into Amber’s mouth.
  1089. >He eagerly swallows each drop, before pulling your cock out of his mouth and giving the tip one final lick.
  1090. >”That was fast.”
  1091. “Shut up!”
  1092. >The grin he gave you meant you knew he was kidding.
  1093. >But still!
  1094. >You don’t focus on it for long once Amber gets on all four hooves and starts swishing his short little tail around.
  1095. >He looks back at you and gives you a wink.
  1096. >”Ready whenever you are, Anon~”
  1097. >You scramble to your hooves and, acting on instinct, hop up on his back.
  1098. >Well, you try to, at least.
  1099. >But the modest but ever-present size difference between you two means that you don’t reach as high as you were hoping.
  1100. >With a grin, he lowers his back legs a little, and you feel your member prod at his tailhole.
  1101. “Ready?”
  1102. >He gives you a nod, and you slowly slip in.
  1103. >Amber lets out a small groan as you try your best to be gentle.
  1104. >And, before too long, you’ve bottomed out inside him.
  1105. >You start thrusting in and out, the rhythmic sound of your hips slapping together almost lulling you into a trance.
  1106. >Amber lets out a moan, and–
  1107. >With a small squeak, you feel a few small spurts of seed rush out of you, and you see stars once more.
  1108. >Suddenly drained of energy, you roll off him and plop down on the bed.
  1109. >Amber looks back at you, a small but noticeable frown on his face.
  1111. >”Did you have fun back there?”
  1112. >You manage a nod, and he laughs.
  1113. >”Well, I’m glad you’re happy, then.”
  1114. >He slowly moves over to you and sits down right behind you, sliding into a more cuddle-friendly position.
  1115. >Soon, you’re back to being the little spoon.
  1116. >And a very familiar member is making itself known.
  1117. >Amber starts grinding against you and letting out slow breaths of hot air into your ear.
  1118. >”You know, I didn’t even cum once during all that fun.”
  1119. >You blush.
  1120. “I-I know I wasn’t the quickest, but something about this–”
  1121. >”Shh, I’m not saying that. But, you know, if you’re up for it, I wouldn’t mind if you returned the favor~”
  1122. >You look back at him and he waggles his eyebrows.
  1123. “Amber, I don’t think I could actually, um–”
  1124. >”Suck my dick?”
  1125. >Embarrassed, you nod, and he runs a hoof through your mane.
  1126. >”I won’t force you to. But do you remember what I said earlier? Nobody cares what you do while you’re a pony. It isn’t really you. There’s different biology, different hormones involved.”
  1127. >His shaft slips between your flanks, hugging you tight as he keeps slowly grinding against you, his broad, flat head teasing your balls with each slow movement.
  1128. >”We’re animals. We can’t help it.”
  1129. >He’s right.
  1130. >You know he’s right.
  1131. >You turn around and give him a deep, passionate kiss, and you let out a soft moan as you feel his tongue slip past your lips.
  1132. >When he breaks the kiss, he gives you a wink and a peck on the muzzle before he points down with a hoof.
  1133. >Standing at full mast, pressed between you, is Amber’s cock.
  1134. >The feeling of his length pressed against your own is enough to make you quiver in anticipation.
  1135. >And there’s no contest as to whose is bigger.
  1137. >You hesitantly lean your head down until your muzzle is only inches away from his twitching head.
  1138. >A small bead of pre forms at the tip, and you waste no time in licking it off.
  1139. >When that dollop is gone, another quickly forms, and soon you’re hungrily lapping at his entire shaft.
  1140. >”Oh, fuck.”
  1141. >Your flat equine tongue travels up and down his cock, from the base all the way up to his twitching tip.
  1142. >But you want more.
  1143. >You slowly slip the head into your mouth, and your eyes roll back in your head.
  1144. >The pheromones coming off this stallion…
  1145. >It makes you feel incredible.
  1146. >You eagerly try to fit more into your mouth, and, soon enough, you feel the tip of his cock bumping against the back of your throat.
  1147. >You look up at him, and he gives you a wordless smile through his heavy panting.
  1148. >Back to being cautious, you slowly shift into a better position to let him better fit down your throat.
  1149. >You take a deep breath and bob your head down, slipping more of him inside you.
  1150. >After the first few inches find their place, the rest of his shaft slips into your throat with ease.
  1151. >Before long, you’ve bottomed out completely.
  1152. >You steady yourself before pulling enough of his length out of your throat to take a deep breath, before bobbing back down on his cock.
  1153. >Soon enough, you fall into a rhythm, bobbing up and down slowly but eagerly as your tongue dances around his juicy shaft.
  1154. >”Fuck, Anon, I’m getting close!”
  1155. >You feel his head start to flare up inside your throat, and you quickly pull back so you don’t choke.
  1156. >You’re rewarded with rope after rope of hot cum flowing into your mouth like a fire hose.
  1157. >Your mouth quickly reaches its limit and, barely thinking, you swallow his seed in one big gulp.
  1158. >Still, more keeps coming.
  1159. >Three mouthfuls later, his orgasm dies down and you swallow the last few drops of cum before slipping the still-flared tip out of your mouth with a lewd pop.
  1161. >”Fuck, that was incredible.”
  1162. >You blush.
  1163. >What is it with you and blushing when you’re a pony?
  1164. “I-It was better than I thought it would be.”
  1165. >Amber leans over to give you a quick kiss, and you don’t hesitate to draw it out.
  1166. >When he breaks the kiss, he leans over and whispers into your ear.
  1167. >”Do you want to try and bottom for me?”
  1168. >Almost instinctively, you feel your tail raise up, exposing your ass for all to see.
  1169. >But nerves quickly overwhelm you.
  1170. “I don’t know, Amber. That seems like a big step, a-and you’re so big, too, so–”
  1171. >He cuts you off with another kiss.
  1172. >”You’re so cute, Anon.”
  1173. >You roll on your back, burying your head in your hooves, blushing like a tomato.
  1174. >Amber grins when he sees how worked up you’ve gotten.
  1175. >”If you don’t want to, we can go back to cuddling. I don’t want you to do anything you’re not comfortable with.”
  1176. “N-No, I want it.”
  1177. >It comes out so low it’s almost a whisper.
  1178. >Amber looks over to you, only barely catching what you said.
  1179. >”What was that?”
  1180. “I– I want to do it.”
  1181. >”Are you sure, Anon?”
  1182. >You bury your head in your hooves again and nod.
  1183. >Amber runs a hoof down your back and plants kiss after delicate kiss on your neck.
  1184. >It only fans the flame of your arousal even further.
  1185. >You wordlessly get to all four hooves, raising your tail and swaying your ass seductively back and forth.
  1186. >Fuck, you’re so embarrassed!
  1187. >But there’s something else there, too.
  1188. >Your heart is racing in anticipation, and you find yourself spreading your hind legs even further apart and lowering your front legs to a crouching position.
  1189. >You look back and Amber is completely captivated by the display.
  1190. >”God damn…”
  1191. “Well? W-What are you waiting for?”
  1193. >He snaps out of his trance and rushes over to plant his big, strong hooves on your back.
  1194. >You feel his cock poke at your tailhole and you clench up.
  1195. >But you take a deep breath and try your best to relax.
  1196. “P-Put it in, Amber.”
  1197. >Wordlessly, you feel his head slide inside you, and you can’t help but let out a too-feminine moan.
  1198. >Amber doesn’t stop, though, still slowly pushing inch after inch inside you.
  1199. >By the time the medial ring is approaching your quivering entrance, you’re a horny, panting mess.
  1200. “It f-feels so good…”
  1201. >Amber clamps down on your ear with his teeth, nibbling on it and thrusting the last few inches in.
  1202. >And if being gentle felt good, going rougher is even better.
  1203. >You can’t help but cry out as he hilts inside you, pausing for just a moment before starting to thrust in and out of your tight ass.
  1204. >Stars dance in your vision as he picks up the pace, your head buried in your pillow to soften the volume of the countless girly squeaks and moans escaping your lips.
  1205. >He keeps up the pace, sometimes slowing down until his thrusts are deliberate and drawn-out in an effort to reduce you to even more of a quivering mess.
  1206. >You can’t help it.
  1207. >He switches between fast and slow until your legs turn to jelly and you feel his head flare up inside your rear.
  1208. >”Fuck, I’m gonna–”
  1209. >He buries himself inside you and lets out a cry as he fires off rope after rope of hot cum deep inside you.
  1210. >You can feel every drop of it fill your insides, and you give him one last long, lustful moan before he pulls out and gives you a passionate kiss.
  1211. >You eagerly invite him to start spooning you again while you catch your breath.
  1212. >Thankfully, he doesn’t start humping your leg again.
  1213. >Looks like it’s all out of his system.
  1215. >”Well?”
  1216. “Hm?”
  1217. >You twist your head to look back at him and he rewards you with a kiss on the muzzle.
  1218. >You’d never have expected it, but muzzle kisses are the greatest kisses ever.
  1219. >”How was I?”
  1220. >In response, you simply sigh.
  1221. “Incredible. I don’t have words to describe it.”
  1222. >He grins.
  1223. >”Didn’t I tell you you had nothing to be afraid of?”
  1224. >You laugh and give him another kiss.
  1225. “Fine, you were right. Just keep cuddling me like this.”
  1226. >”If you insist.”
  1227. >He draws you closer into his embrace, and your eyes roll back into your head.
  1228. >This is heaven.
  1229. >It doesn’t take long for the comforting warmth of Amber’s fur to draw you into a deep and comfortable sleep.
  1230. >You wake up the next morning still wrapped in her arms from the night before.
  1231. >As usual, you try not to wake her up while you perform the complex maneuvers necessary to slip out of bed.
  1232. >While you stand up, though, you feel an unfamiliar sloshing inside your belly that makes you freeze in your tracks.
  1233. >Is… is it all still inside you?
  1234. >It didn’t leak out or anything?
  1235. >You let out a sigh and make your way into the small bathroom to try and figure out a way to get stallion seed out of your ass.
  1236. >Many, many shameful minutes later, you’ve finished doing something you never thought you’d ever have to do in your life.
  1237. >Oh, the things we do for love.
  1238. >Once Amber wakes up, the two of you take a quick shower together before heading out.
  1239. >When you do open the door and step out into the long, dingy hallway, you’re greeted with the sight of the douchebag in the dorm next to yours.
  1240. >”Anon, bro. What’s up?”
  1241. >You silently motion for Amber to keep going while you talk to him.
  1242. >Guilt by association and all that.
  1243. “Nothing much, just heading out to get some coffee. How about you?”
  1245. >”Man, I was up all night listening to you two go at it!”
  1246. >You cross your arms, waiting for a confrontation.
  1247. >But he just laughs.
  1248. >”I’m not mad, dude. If anything, I’m impressed. That girl’s got some pipes! The whole floor probably heard her.”
  1249. >Oh fuck, he’s talking about you.
  1250. >You rub the back of your neck and search for the right thing to say.
  1251. “Hopefully not, if I ever want to see her again. See you round.”
  1252. >”Later, dude.”
  1253. >You turn around and try everything you can to hide the bright red blush on your face.
  1254. >Since when did you blush?
  1255. >You catch up to Amber as she holds the almost certainly unsafe elevator at your floor.
  1256. >”What was that about?”
  1257. >You laugh.
  1258. “Oh, it was nothing. Apparently we were a little loud last night.”
  1259. >She gives you a playful swat on the arm.
  1260. >”Don’t rope me into this. You were the loud one.”
  1261. >You laugh again and she responds with a playful grin.
  1262. “Oh, stop it, you.”
  1263. >The two of you spend the rest of your Sunday together walking around scenic New Haven.
  1264. >Neither of you talk about what happened yesterday night for ages, but when you do, Amber’s the one who brings it up.
  1265. >”So…”
  1266. “So?”
  1267. >”I know I already asked you this last night, but how was yesterday?”
  1268. >You hesitate for a moment, but the verdict is clear.
  1269. “I’m not gonna lie, it was a lot better than I expected.”
  1270. >That earns you a small peck on the cheek.
  1271. >”Told you you’d love it. That was some of the most fun I’ve ever had, too.”
  1272. >You smile.
  1273. “Clear your schedule Saturday, then, because I’ll get some more pills.”
  1274. >She grins, and the rest of the week passes by in a blur.
  1275. >As does the rest of college.
  1276. >You can count the number of people who stayed in a relationship with the same person for all four years of college on one hand, yourself included.
  1278. >Save for a very select few weekends where one of you has unshirkable responsibilities, every Saturday you’d both hole up in your dorm and spend the whole day cuddling together.
  1279. >Once the nights grew colder, having what amounts to a big furry blanket was invaluable when the university decided to cut back on the heat and keep the dorms ice cold around the clock.
  1280. >But with the way Amber’s strong, rugged frame held onto you as he showered you with soft, affectionate kisses, you didn’t care about the cold anyways.
  1281. >Hell, he’s the coziest, warmest blanket you’ve ever had by far.
  1282. >After your freshman year, you find a small apartment close to campus and move out of the dingy old dorms, which opens up an infinite number of possibilities for your lazy Saturdays.
  1283. >And things certainly never get boring.
  1284. >Each weekend is a new adventure filled with enjoying the sound of trotting on hardwood floors, curling up on the couch together, and finding new ways to satisfy Amber’s near-insatiable lust.
  1285. >Not that you mind any of that.
  1286. >You love pony Amber’s company just as much as you enjoy human Amber’s.
  1287. >College itself is a breeze, even if you do spend most of your time looking forward to the weekend.
  1288. >Your father drives down from Detroit to attend your graduation in the spring of 2000, and, while he’s there, you take the time to sit him down and introduce him to Amber.
  1289. >You thank every higher power you can think of that they hit it off.
  1290. >Afterwards, when Amber is out of earshot, your father pulls you aside.
  1291. >”Son, you know I’ve always wanted you on board at the company. The head of Product Development is moving up to another position on the board, and I want you to take his place. It’s an exciting time to be in that position right now.”
  1293. “What’s going on?”
  1294. >”Well, we’ve got alternative fuels and hybrids of all kinds in the works, along with some other interesting plans that I’m sure you’ll love. You’d be in the catbird seat to watch us crack open the European and Chinese markets, too.”
  1295. >You honestly can’t fully believe what you’re hearing.
  1296. >A position on the board straight out of college?
  1297. >You swore your father was better than nepotism.
  1298. >”I know what you’re thinking, and, no, this isn’t nepotism.”
  1299. >He knows you too well.
  1300. >”You’ve been almost as involved in the company as I have since the day you learned how to walk. You’re qualified for this, trust me. I know it’s a lot to consider, but give me a call when you make up your mind.”
  1301. “I will, dad.”
  1302. >”And see about bringing that girl of yours with you, too. There aren’t many women on this Earth quite like that.”
  1303. >He lets out a sigh.
  1304. >”You know, she reminds me of your mother.”
  1305. >You look away, and so does he.
  1306. >At the edge of your field of vision, you see him rub at the corners of his eyes.
  1307. “Let me think it over for a little bit.”
  1309. >Your father doesn’t linger for long afterwards.
  1310. >He knows you’ve got a lot to think over right now.
  1311. >And think over you do, until, that night, you’re staring off into the distance instead of eating like a normal human being.
  1312. >”Anon?”
  1313. >You look up and meet Amber’s concerned gaze.
  1314. >”Are you alright?”
  1315. >You give her a quick nod.
  1316. “Yep. I’m just thinking.”
  1317. >”About?”
  1318. >You take a deep breath.
  1319. ”My father wants me to come back to Detroit and work for him.”
  1320. >You wince.
  1321. ”Want is too strong a word. He’s given me the opportunity, and I think I want to take it.”
  1322. >”Then take it.”
  1323. “I’d love to, but I want to know what you think about it first.”
  1324. >She laughs.
  1325. >”Anon, go for it. The company’s, like, half of what you talk about, I know it means a lot to you. Hell, I’m more surprised that you asked me at all.”
  1326. “Ah, but that’s not what’s eating me.”
  1327. >”What is it, then?”
  1328. >You look up and meet her gaze again.
  1329. “I was wondering is, well…”
  1330. >Might as well say it.
  1331. “Wanna move back with me?”
  1332. >She catches you off guard with a laugh.
  1333. >”Anon, you’re such a dumbass. Of course I’ll come with you.”
  1334. >You let out a sigh of relief.
  1335. “Alright, let’s do this then. I’m ready to get out of here as soon as you are.”
  1336. >”The lease is up at the end of the month. Think you can find a place in Michigan before than?”
  1337. >You give her a grin.
  1338. “Watch me.”
  1339. >It takes a few weeks and you barely have any free time, but you manage to arrange something just in time to leave the east coast for good and load up your cars–and, after some deliberation, moving trailers–with all the crap you’re taking with you.
  1340. >Including a fair bit of Pon-E, just so you don’t run out.
  1342. >On your way, you take a quick detour to Niagara Falls, where you propose under the light of the silvery moon.
  1343. >Just to make things official.
  1344. >The modest, brand-new house in the suburbs is waiting for you when you drive up just a few days later.
  1345. >Once you’re done unpacking, you both settle down in the living room and let out a long sign at the same time.
  1346. >”Fuck, I’m exhausted.”
  1347. “Me too.”
  1348. >You meet each others’ eyes, but she asks the question first.
  1349. >”Where’d you put that Pon-E?”
  1350. >You hop up, and she quickly follows.
  1351. >It takes a minute to locate the small bottle in all your luggage, but, soon enough, you both have a pill and a small cup of water.
  1352. >You both unceremoniously take the small pills and lean back as familiar fur spreads to cover the both of you.
  1353. >You’re used to the once-unfamiliar sensations by now.
  1354. >Legs shift, hair grows out, and tails make their presence known.
  1355. >Soon enough, you’re both sitting on the floor, completely transformed.
  1356. >Amber gives you a hungry grin, and you quickly close the distance and crane your neck to give him a kiss.
  1357. >”God, I’ve missed this.”
  1358. “Mmm, me to–eep!”
  1359. >You let out a squeak when you feel one of Amber’s probing hooves press into your plump rear.
  1360. “Y-You’re pretty eager tonight.”
  1361. >He responds with another kiss and a firm squeeze, while his other forehoof makes its way to your sheath.
  1362. >You let out another squeak when you feel his hoof start rubbing, coaxing your length out of its hiding place.
  1363. >You spare a glance down and, sure enough, he’s almost at full mast.
  1364. >Another kiss draws you back under his spell, and you soon find yourself leaning into his big, sturdy frame.
  1365. >”Wanna take this upstairs?”
  1366. >You respond with a feminine moan, which is quickly followed by another squeak as you feel him wiggle his way underneath you.
  1367. >He stand up, and just like that, he’s carrying you up the stairs on his back.
  1369. >When you reach your bedroom, he plops you down on the bed and almost immediately assumes his position on top of you.
  1370. >It feels so good to be dominated again.
  1371. >You give your stallion a look of pure lust when you feel his length grind against yours.
  1372. >With a hoof, he angles your head down so you can see the action for yourself.
  1373. >His long, thick cock dwarfs your own small, feminine one.
  1374. >He gives you a grin and leans over to whisper in your ear.
  1375. >”I’m the stallion around here. Isn’t that right?”
  1376. >You give him a nod and a moan, and he responds with a firm slap on your rear.
  1377. >He’s getting rough tonight.
  1378. >”I want you to say it.”
  1379. “Mmm, you’re my stallion.”
  1380. >He pushes you even deeper in the bed and nips your neck.
  1381. >”You are mine tonight.”
  1382. >You spread your legs apart and tickle his dock with your tail.
  1383. “I’m all yours, you big sexy stallion.”
  1384. >He gives you a grin that sends a rush of emotion running through you and only fuels the fire burning inside you.
  1385. >Until he stops grinding.
  1386. >He gets up, leaving you lying on the bed, leaking small drops of pre onto your belly.
  1387. “What are you doing?”
  1388. >He doesn’t respond, instead digging into one of the boxes piles in the corner until he finds what he’s looking for.
  1389. >”I’ve been waiting to give these to you for a while, but we haven’t been ponies in ages.”
  1390. >He’s right.
  1391. >With how busy you’ve been, spending a whole day on four legs wasn’t in the cards.
  1392. >Which is probably why he’s so pent-up right now.
  1393. >He trots back over to you and lays out his gift on the bed beside you.
  1394. “Socks?”
  1395. >He grins.
  1396. >”That’s right, a pair of nice lavender socks. It took me ages to find someone who made this stuff for ponies, but I did it.”
  1397. >He picks one up in his mouth and drags it over to a foreleg.
  1398. >”I’ll even help you put them on.”
  1400. >You eagerly comply as he slides all four socks over all four of your legs.
  1401. >They fit comfortably, reaching all the way up to your thighs and your shoulders.
  1402. >Once they’re all on, he steps back to admire his handiwork, before coming back over and giving you a long, deep kiss as a reward.
  1403. >”They’re the same color as my fur, so you always know you’re mine.”
  1404. >With that, he gets back on top of you and starts grinding again, pausing every few seconds to whisper lustfully in your ear.
  1405. >”If you’re a good colt tonight, I have more for you to wear for me.”
  1406. “Mmh, I–ah–can’t wait~”
  1407. >The feeling of fabric on fur only serves to heighten your arousal, and you feel yourself getting close to orgasm just from his grinding alone.
  1408. “Amber, stop, I’m gonna–”
  1409. >Just like that, he gets up, instead sitting up right next to you.
  1410. >You let out a small whine.
  1411. >God, you need to cum.
  1412. >Amber notices your struggle and gives you a small nip on your ear.
  1413. >”Anon? Don’t cum until I let you tonight.”
  1414. >He sits back up and, with a hoof, lays his erect, throbbing cock over your muzzle with a lewd slap.
  1415. >”You want to suck it, don’t you?”
  1416. >You barely manage a nod.
  1417. >”Go right ahead, you pretty little pony.”
  1418. >You eagerly leap up and start rubbing his sheath with both forehooves as you lap at the tip, desperate to taste his cum.
  1419. >”You’re eager tonight, aren’t you?”
  1420. >In response, you take the tip in your mouth and start sucking, giving him a look that conveys just how horny he’s making you.
  1421. >”Good colt.”
  1422. >You eagerly bob your head up and down his length, making sure to use your hooves to play with his soft sheath and his plump, juicy balls.
  1423. >God, he’s so hot.
  1424. >You feel two hooves on the back of your head as his head flares up in your mouth, and before you know it, Amber is emptying his balls in your mouth.
  1426. >The taste alone almost sends you over the edge, and you swallow every drop.
  1427. >He pulls his length out of your mouth and you quickly get on all fours and list your tail.
  1428. >”Oh, you want it bad, don’t you?”
  1429. “Fuck, I need it. Fuck me hard tonight.”
  1430. >”You asked for it.”
  1431. >He mounts you and presses the tip of his cock against your eager tailhole before you know it.
  1432. >You let out a moan as he pushes himself inside you, bottoming out on the first thrust.
  1433. >He makes good on his promise to give it to you rough, thrusting in and out of your tight ass quickly and hard, his balls slapping against your dock.
  1434. >He rails you faster than he ever has before, bottoming out deep inside you and pulling out just as fast, leaving only the head inside you until he thrusts again.
  1435. >It leaves you in heaven, and your shaky legs don’t last long before you fall down onto the bed, moaning and begging for more.
  1436. >He doesn’t let up until you feel his head flare up and rope after rope of cum fills you more than you’ve ever felt.
  1437. >His last thrust sends you so close to release, but his orgasm subsides and he dismounts before you can cum lying down next to you and patting the bed softly.
  1438. >You get the message and sidle up against him, pressing the fur of your belly against his.
  1439. >And rubbing his cock against yours.
  1440. >You reach a hoof down to bring yourself over the edge, but he stops you.
  1441. >”Remember what I said? You’re not allowed to cum until I let you.”
  1442. >You let out a whine as you feel his hoof take your place, softly stroking against your length.
  1443. >”I bet you need to cum so badly.”
  1444. >And he’s back to whispering in your ear.
  1445. >”Do you want to cum?”
  1446. >You give him another whine.
  1447. “Please let me cum, you know I need it.”
  1449. >He keeps stroking, pushing you right up against the edge and keeping you there, rubbing and teasing your tiny, dripping cock.
  1450. “I’m so close!”
  1451. >”Not yet, Anon. Not until I let you.”
  1452. “Amber, I need to cum so badly~”
  1453. >”Good colts don’t cum until they’re allowed to. Are you a good little colt?”
  1454. “I’m a good little colt~”
  1455. >”Are you /my/ colt?”
  1456. “I’m your colt! I’m your pretty little colt, just, please, let me cum!”
  1457. >He leans in close until you can feel his hot breath against your ear.
  1458. >”Cum for your stallion, Anon~”
  1459. >With a cry, you let out your pent-up seed as you finally reach a powerful orgasm.
  1460. >Cum lands everywhere: on the bed, on Amber, and on you.
  1461. >But it doesn’t take long for you to release your tiny load, and once you do, Amber’s back to playing with your floppy little cock as it drips out your last few drops of cum.
  1462. >”You’re so cute, Anon~”
  1463. “Y-You too.”
  1464. >He pulls you in close, wrapping his forelegs around you as he draws you into a soft, warm embrace.
  1465. >”Such a cute little colt…”
  1466. >You give him a small kiss and a soft, content smile before you both drift off to sleep.
  1468. >The next morning, once you lose your tail, you make the drive down to Packard headquarters and start your first day of real work for the company.
  1469. >What used to be a dinky little suburb had been completely transformed by Packard’s meteoric growth, and the brand-new Packard World Headquarters building, a massive ten-story glass tower strategically positioned just across the freeway from Ford’s own world headquarters, only cements it further.
  1470. >The Product Development Division has the entire sixth floor of the glass tower to itself, with the company’s styling and marketing teams on one side of the lobby and engineering on the other.
  1471. >Your own office is on the tenth floor, with the rest of the executives, but you’ve already made plans to commandeer a small conference room and make it your home away from home.
  1472. >Once your car is in the hands of the executive parking garage staff, you waste no time in taking the elevator up to the sixth floor.
  1473. >You pass through the calm, clean, and wholly inoffensive vestibule and enter an equally calm and inoffensive open office space filled with rows of unassuming cubicles.
  1474. >It’s like something out of fucking Office Space.
  1475. >This isn’t where you spent your time before and it’s not where you’ll spend your time now.
  1476. >Already, as you approach the double doors at the end of the room, you can hear the din of the company’s resident lunatics through the wall.
  1477. >Most of the people in Product Development have been with the company since day one, and they all still have the cavalier, fuck-you attitude that it took for them to leave their cushy office jobs and work for a nobody startup in its infancy.
  1478. >And it means that, once they have a good idea, they’ll stop at nothing to see it through.
  1479. >Almost unceremoniously, you pass through the doors and enter an office in absolute fucking chaos.
  1481. >Papers are piled atop rows of desks, and everyone who isn’t typing furiously is screaming on the phone.
  1482. >”Tell those fucks in Engineering to get their heads out of their asses! DeSoto gets unique door handles or I’ll fucking start a riot!”
  1483. >”Add another shift, then, because we’re selling Hornets as fast as we can fucking build them!”
  1484. >”I’m holding the fucking drawing in my hand, and I’m telling you it looks like a fucking Kia! Fire whatever fucktard shat this out.”
  1485. >”What do you mean who named it Vixen? I don’t fucking know who, god damnit! Well, I don’t care if God himself told you it was a stupid name, we already started building them, so you can fuck right off.”
  1486. >You take a deep breath and smile.
  1487. >It’s good to be back.
  1488. >Across the room, your second in command, a short, balding man who everyone calls Ed, spots you and waves you over.
  1489. “What’d I miss?”
  1490. >”Loads. Do you know how hard it is to build a fucking sports car in an office building?”
  1491. “I keep telling you to move out to the proving grounds in Phoenix, or at least the research center upstate. Hell, if the press doesn’t let up, you might have to.”
  1492. >One of the last actions that the previous Vice President of Product Development made before he moved up the ladder was greenlighting the engineering of an AMC-built sports car: the AMX.
  1493. >The cheeky bastard dropped a couple hints, and now every journalist in the state has been hounding your team relentlessly for weeks, desperate for any scrap of information you throw at them.
  1494. >”I’m considering it. But you know I’d never be able to leave the team like that.”
  1495. >You nod in agreement before he ushers you through another set of double doors.
  1496. >”Here, check some of this shit out.”
  1497. >As seamlessly as you transitioned from calm to chaos, you’re back to a calmer atmosphere.
  1499. >The last third of the floor was split up into an assortment of styling studios connected by a maze of hallways designed to confuse the uninitiated.
  1500. >All the windows have been blacked out to keep out both the sun and any wandering eyes.
  1501. >In some rooms, teams of designers hammer out sketch after sketch; in others, sculptors create clay models based on digital ones.
  1502. >There are no windows into these rooms, just small plaques on the doors identifying each studio.
  1503. >There’s Packard 1, Packard 2, DeSoto 1, and so on.
  1504. >Closer to the end of the maze lie the Research studios, which can only be accessed through one door that very few people have a key card to unlock.
  1505. >The designers in these studios are completely isolated from the other staff.
  1506. >They have their own bathrooms, their own break rooms, and the like.
  1507. >Even their lunch breaks are staggered so they’ll never go out to eat at the same time more than twice a week, to keep others from learning their schedule and grilling them for questions.
  1508. >It all sounds ridiculously paranoid, but at a company that’s attracted international attention by designing cars that no one else would even dream of selling, secrecy matters.
  1509. >Behind the door to the Research 3 studio lies the AMX design team, and you spend the next half hour or so familiarizing yourself with the specifics of the project.
  1510. >Much of it is a collaborative effort between designers and engineers, even more so than usual.
  1511. >From there, it’s over to Research 2, which is putting the finishing touches on the next-generation Packard Pan-American sports car, then to Research 1, which is just barely beginning work on the next-generation Packard Caribbean, then, finally, to Research 4A, 4B, and 4C, all of which are tasked with designing one brand’s iteration of the compact sport utility vehicle platform that was cooked up on the other side of the floor in the Engineering labs.
  1513. >When you go to unlock the door for Research 5, however, you’re met with the shrill beep of the keycard reader denying you access.
  1514. “What the hell? Fucking thing must be broken.”
  1515. >Beside you, Ed shakes his head.
  1516. >”There’s nothing going on in there anyways, just a couple of our guys playing around with an idea that upper management passed down.”
  1517. “Who in upper management?”
  1518. >”Your father.”
  1519. >You laugh.
  1520. >Whatever it is, he’s probably waiting to show you himself, in his usual showman style.
  1521. >So you push the locked room to the back of your mind and continue on with your day.
  1522. >As far as first days go, it isn’t that bad.
  1523. >You spend most of your time on the front lines, so to speak, familiarizing yourself with the projects currently underway.
  1524. >The last hour of your day is spent working on a report outlining how these projects fall in line with the company’s latest “short-term product assessment forecast”, or, to any normal human being, the most recent five-year plan.
  1525. >You end up getting home far later and much more exhausted than you expected.
  1526. >Amber is waiting for you when you do, and she greets you with a kiss.
  1527. >”How was your first day back?”
  1528. >You smile.
  1529. “It was perfect. Hopefully most days will be like this one.”
  1530. >And they were.
  1531. >In a few weeks, though, you had started to eat your words.
  1532. >As work continues on your Research projects, the stress begins to mount.
  1533. >When the first press leak makes it to the automotive magazines, you damn near snap.
  1534. >You assemble a meeting of all your product staff and, over the course of a few minutes, demand to know who the hell had the audacity to go through with a leak, whether or not they understand how important it is that they keep their damn mouths shut, and if that would have ever happened with anyone else in charge.
  1536. >As it turns out, some of your father’s old friends, a few of the original guys on the Product Development team, didn’t like being told what to do by someone younger than them.
  1537. >And so they decided to make you look like you couldn’t control your own department.
  1538. >It’s your first taste of the resistance within the company that you’d soon be facing regularly, and it quickly teaches you that the corporation’s insiders didn’t hold the same respect for you as they did for your father.
  1539. >After the meeting, you act on autopilot for the rest of the day, staying put in your office on the tenth floor and even leaving early.
  1540. >Once you finally make it home, you collapse on your bed and stare up at the ceiling.
  1541. >You sulk for a minute or two before you hear footsteps in the hall.
  1542. >”Anon? Are you okay?”
  1543. >You sigh.
  1544. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
  1545. >You’re not fine, and she knows it.
  1546. >She wastes no time in curling up next to you on the bed in a futile attempt to cheer you up.
  1547. >”Long day?”
  1548. “You have no idea. I just don’t know what I can do to get the old timers to respect me.”
  1549. >You sit in silence for a moment before Amber sits up.
  1550. >”You know what? I think I know what’ll make you forget all about it.”
  1551. >She opens the drawer in her nightstand and pulls out a nondescript bottle of pills.
  1552. >”Let’s take some of these and see how the night does.”
  1553. >You smile.
  1554. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
  1555. >In response, April downs a pill and hands you one of your own.
  1556. >”It sure has.”
  1557. >Already her voice is deeper and more rugged, the first sign of the changes to come.
  1558. >You plant a kiss on her lips just as she becomes a he, and your kissing quickly devolves into tangling yourselves up in each other on the bed while both of you change.
  1559. >The feeling of fur covering your body and your face pushing out to form a cute, kissable muzzle barely registers as you drink in the changes happening to your lover.
  1561. >With each new change, April gets more strong, more masculine, more handsome–no, stunning…
  1562. >You snap out of it just in time to meet his gaze as he plants himself on top of you, the feeling of both your tails swishing together signaling the end of your changes.
  1563. >He leaves a long, deep kiss on your lips, and you drink up the feeling of being dominated.
  1564. >Already, you can feel your libido soar, but before you can act on it you find yourself pulled to one side as Amber rolls onto his side and takes you with him.
  1565. >You find yourself buried in his chest fluff, arms wrapped around his firm body as you breathe in his intoxicating scent.
  1566. >You could stay like this forever.
  1567. >When you come up for air, you rest your head in the crook of your stallion’s neck and let his eager hooves roam all over you, making you feel safe and secure as they wrap around you and pull you even closer together.
  1568. >The warmth radiating from his core draws you closer and closer to a blissful sleep, but you try to keep from succumbing for as long as possible.
  1569. >Amber notices you trying your best to stay awake and lets out a small laugh.
  1570. >”You okay?”
  1571. >You groan in response.
  1572. “I don’t wanna sleep, but you’re just so big and warm…”
  1573. >You feel his hoof play with your mane and your eyes roll back in your head.
  1574. “Amberrrr…”
  1575. >He laughs again, and plants a kiss on your forehead.
  1576. >”It’s okay, Anon, you can go to sleep now. Just relax and drift off, you little cutie.”
  1577. >You smile and give him a small kiss, content with your permission to sleep so quickly.
  1578. >And as you drift off, Amber whispers one last thing into your ear.
  1579. >”I love you so much, Anon.”
  1580. >You let out a content sigh in response as your big, strong stallion helps you slip into the most blissful sleep of your life.
  1582. >The next morning, you go about your daily routine preoccupied with the ball of stress lodged firmly inside of you.
  1583. >As well as quite a bit of fluid.
  1584. >A long, hot shower may wash away whatever stallion cum was still dried on you with ease, but the semen sloshing around inside you is much harder to clean out.
  1585. >Fur may be nice and all, but it’d be a bitch to clean in the same circumstances.
  1586. >You spend the long drive to the office try your damndest to figure out a way to diffuse the situation as best you can.
  1587. >But you soon realize that there’s only one way to show you mean business.
  1588. >As soon as the elevator deposits you on the sixth floor, you act on a tip that a few employees within the department gave you.
  1589. >You know that the only people who could be behind the leaks have to be on the AMX team, and with only 15 people having access to the research lab, it wouldn’t be hard to narrow down the list.
  1590. >But now you have names.
  1591. >And those names are incredibly familiar to everyone within the company.
  1592. >Under your watch, the four most seasoned members of the department are all told to gather their things and leave the building.
  1593. >And you make a show of it, too.
  1594. >You need to make it clear that nobody, not even the company’s best and brightest, within the division is above you.
  1595. >The whole floor watches in silence as they walk out the doors, shuffling along in a single fine line.
  1596. >Nobody says a word, and when the doors to the lobby finally close, everyone turns to you.
  1597. >Stone-faced, you decide to make your message clear.
  1598. ”Don’t do stupid shit.”
  1599. >And, just like that, people stop doing stupid shit.
  1600. >It actually worked.
  1602. >That afternoon, your father finally drops in to satiate one of your most burning curiosities.
  1603. >Thankfully, he doesn’t comment on the events of that morning, and you make idle conversation as you weave through the hallways of the design studios until you finally get to the doors of Research 5.
  1604. >”I’ll update your permissions by the end of the day. I hope you don’t mind a little bit of showmanship on my part.”
  1605. >You smile.
  1606. “It’s perfectly fine.”
  1607. >He unlocks the nondescript gray door and you pass through quickly and quietly.
  1608. >Once you make it inside, you stop in your tracks.
  1609. >A partition separates you from the actual designers, intended to keep wandering eyes from peeking in the room when people enter.
  1610. >But covering the walls are the usual “heritage” inspiration boards, plastered with professional-grade images of the brand-to-emulate’s decades-old styling cues.
  1611. >But instead of the stately Packards, swoopy DeSotos or rugged little AMCs you’ve grown used to, a menagerie of late-fifties kitsch greets you when you walk in.
  1612. >At the center of it all, there’s the logo of a white E surrounded by a green circle.
  1613. ”Dad?”
  1614. >“Yeah?”
  1615. “Do I want to know what’s behind this divider?”
  1616. >”I think you already do.”
  1617. >You peek into the main room and see a small team of designers drafting concepts on paper, still the industry norm.
  1618. >Some are working on computer models, and others still are conversing amongst themselves and comparing designs.
  1619. >You get just enough peeks at their work to confirm your suspicions.
  1620. “Can you exp-”
  1621. >”Hold on, son. I’ll explain everything once you see the clay models.”
  1622. >You pass another divider and find yourself in the largest section of the room.
  1623. >Four clay models sit on small pedestals, and a group of sculptors are scattered around them, studying the designs and making small changes.
  1625. >Three are family sedans and one is a station wagon, but all share the same defined styling cues: boomerang tail lights (except for the wagon, which has arrow-shaped lights), deeply indented sides, a downward-arching character line above the front wheels, and a prominent vertical grille.
  1626. >The four wide-eyed, open-mouthed faces staring back at you leave you completely speechless.
  1627. >Of everything you could have possibly expected to be in this room, of every wild idea that you had ever considered...
  1628. “Dad…”
  1629. >”Brilliant, isn’t it?”
  1630. >You turn to face him, taking a moment to collect your thoughts.
  1631. >But before you can say anything, he’s off again.
  1632. >”We designed AMC to court the so-called ‘youth market’: 18-to-35 year olds who want the unattainable combination of comfort, economy, and fun. I truly think that there’s nothing else like it on the market. But where does that put us within the low-price field?”
  1633. “I don’t follow.”
  1634. >”I’m sure you’ve noticed that the beachhead the Koreans are making in the ultra-low-price market. Hyundais and Kias, they’re penalty boxes, but people are buying them. They, in effect, split the economy market into two halves. The Koreans, Chevrolet, and Nissan are in a different league entirely than Ford, Honda, and Dodge.”
  1635. “So we target AMC to one half of the market, and this to the other half.”
  1636. >”Exactly. There are two very different types of people that buy low-cost cars, and neither would be satisfied with the other’s choice. We need two brands.”
  1637. “Alright, then. AMC goes after people my age and these target conservative buyers. Won’t the, uh, unusual styling turn many of them off?”
  1639. >”Not necessarily. I still stand by my belief that people, no matter how geriatric, don’t truly want dull cars. Just look at what Dodge is making right now; I’m guessing they have some pretty wild stuff on the way. Or how about Oldsmobile: their boring cars were what dragged them down. Your car makes a statement about you, and nobody wants to broadcast to the whole world that they’re dull and boring.”
  1640. >You shake your head.
  1641. “But these? Really? I just think that, compared to our AMCs, DeSotos, and Packards, these are just a little bit out there.”
  1642. >Your father just laughs.
  1643. >”Anon, you should be the first to know that concepts rarely see the light of day. And, now, it’s up to you to optimize these for production. Tone down the character lines, make the front end less angry, and you should have some damn good family sedans.”
  1644. “Family sedans with crazy-ass front ends.”
  1645. >”Well, DeSotos are selling and they’re hardly staid and conservative.”
  1646. >You shrug your shoulders.
  1647. “I’ll get a marketing team on this once the designs are refined further. We’ve gotta make these cars look less… odd.”
  1648. >”They’re Edsels, Anon. They’re going to look odd no matter what.”
  1649. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
  1650. >You sigh.
  1651. “I hope to God you have market research to back this up.”
  1652. >”Trust me on this one, I do. I’ll send the studies to your office the minute I get back to the tenth floor.”
  1653. >Your father doesn’t stick around for much longer, but you spend the next hour or so poring over the various sketches that the team has churned out.
  1654. >The drawings are a marked difference from the overwrought, fussy concepts that the clay modelers are working on, and you approach the project leader to find out why they’re not going down a more attractive path.
  1655. >The response you get is worrying.
  1657. >”It was your father’s request, if you can believe it. He kept saying that retro was going to come back and, by 2005, this would be in style. These models are, thankfully, just thought experiments; were seeing how well classic Edsel styling cues can translate to our platforms.”
  1658. >You pinch the bridge of your nose and sigh.
  1659. >Your father was right that retro styling would make a comeback–the new Beetle and Chrysler PT Cruiser exemplified the trend–but these hardly look like “thought experiments” to you.
  1660. >Could he possibly be starting to lose his touch?
  1661. >Not a chance: fifty-nine may not be all that youthful, but some executives at the Big Three are pushing seventy.
  1662. >And he never intended for these to make production.
  1663. >Of course not.
  1664. >Like he said, they’re just thought experiments, that’s all.
  1665. >You single out a few of the more attractive designs out of the pile you’ve been sifting through and hand them to the head of the project.
  1666. “Try to clean these up a little, see how they look. I think we both agree that these are a little excessive.”
  1667. >He gives you a hesitant laugh.
  1668. “Don’t worry, John Doe can’t hear you in here. I’ll go more in-depth on our new corporate design philosophy after the meeting Tuesday and we can go from there.”
  1669. >He gives you a nod and you quickly part ways.
  1670. >As is custom, the entire department meets together on the first of every month.
  1671. >It’s much less ordinary business meeting and more pep rally.
  1672. >And, as this will be your first monthly meeting as head of the department, it’s bound to be a special one.
  1673. >In the entire history of the company, there have only been two other heads of Product Development, and this is your first real interaction with much of the ordinary staff.
  1674. >From the windows in your conference room-turned-private-office, you can already see the department’s seasoned staff pouring out of the depths of the building to mix with the greenhorns in the cubicles.
  1676. >The room is buzzing with anticipation.
  1677. >Everyone can feel it.
  1678. >When you step into the offices, the din stops, and the crowd parts as you walk through.
  1679. >Well, time to make this memorable.
  1680. >Once you find yourself in the center of the room, you jump up on one of the desks and do a full 360 degree turn, taking in the sight of the massive group of people.
  1681. >Time to go insane.
  1682. “Alright, let’s get this started!”
  1683. >The room erupts into cheers as you begin.
  1684. “I’m going to be completely honest with you guys, I couldn’t do half the shit you do. But I can still tell you what looks like sex and goes like hell, and we’re leading the industry in both!”
  1685. >More cheering.
  1686. “My design philosophy is simple. Don’t be different for the sake of being different. Never, in the history of automobiles, has that ever worked. Our cars don’t look different because some fuckwit with a toupee and a Cadillac wanted a design that looked cool. They look different because they are!
  1687. “You all went to art school. You know what looks good and what doesn’t. You know what drives well and what doesn’t. You all came here from other companies, where fucking accountants run the whole damn show, didn’t you?”
  1688. >A collective yes.
  1689. “Well here there’s nothing stopping you from going batshit insane, least of all me! So while I’m in charge I’ll keep it simple: your only job is to design the best damn cars on the road!”
  1690. >The crowd whoops and hollers.
  1691. >Time to go in for the kill.
  1692. “Who are we?”
  1693. >”Packard!”
  1694. “What do we do?”
  1695. >”Whatever we want!”
  1696. “You’re goddamn right!”
  1697. >The crowd descends into chaos as you hop off the desk, making a lap around the room before the collective adrenaline wears off and the department returns to business as usual.
  1698. >You’re bound to get a noise complaint from the AMC Division upstairs eventually.
  1699. >Even though they certainly knew what they were getting into when they moved in.
  1701. >You go through the rest of the day cementing what would become your new routine.
  1702. >In the morning, you spend an hour or so in executive meetings on the tenth floor; after that, you wander through the various Research studios in both the Design and Engineering halves of the sixth floor.
  1703. >Then, you take a short break for lunch, and, when you get back, you spend an hour or two in Research 5 to oversee the Edsel project.
  1704. >The last few hours of your day are spent in one of your two offices, usually coordinating new car launches with the marketing people.
  1705. >The marketing offices are by far the most active places in the building that aren’t restricted.
  1706. >At almost every desk, someone is playing some classic advertisement and looking for ways to adapt it to the modern day.
  1707. >It covers the floor in a buzzing din, peppered by one-liners and decades-old marketing slogans.
  1708. >And you love every second of the day and every task you encounter.
  1709. >There’s no question about it.
  1710. >You have more flexibility at Packard than the CEOs at other auto companies, and the projects you’re working on would never see the light of day elsewhere.
  1711. >As other automakers experimented with offering hybrid engines across their lineups, Packard charges in and manages to keep up with car companies ten times their size.
  1712. >Under your leadership, the aging Executive V6 that dates back to the original Packard Executive is replaced by the redesigned E-Line V6, which is set to phase out the Executive in 2003.
  1713. >Likewise with the aging Panama V8 and its successor.
  1714. >In fact, every single existing Packard, DeSoto, and AMC model is given a thorough redesign during your tenure; because of long lead times, these cars don’t end up going on sale until the mid-to-late 2000s.
  1715. >And then there are the clean sheet designs.
  1716. >Where do you even start with those?
  1718. >There’s the much-publicized AMC AMX, to start, along with a menagerie of compact, mid-size, and full size crossover utility vehicles, designed to plug a very visible hole in the marketplace lying between passenger cars and “true” SUVs.
  1719. >Foreign automakers had began to sell jacked-up versions of their passenger cars in the early 2000s to compete with the domestics and inadvertently stumbled on a whole new, completely untapped market.
  1720. >And when sales took off, you took notice.
  1721. >And then there are your significant inroads into the international market, which was generally more accepting of your more niche models, like the subcompact Gremlin or the small-wide Pacer, than the United States.
  1722. >Politicians praise the company’s high level of exports, as opposed to your competitors’ frequent imports.
  1723. >The company holds an initial public offering in 2004, raising obscene amounts of money: sixty-five million shares at $17 a share nets over a billion dollars.
  1724. >After the market opens on June 23, the opening price jumps to $21 a share: Packard’s value increases by $1.6 billion in an instant.
  1725. >How can a company that hasn’t even managed to sell a million cars a year end up being valued at eight-and-a-half billion dollars?
  1726. >You don’t fucking know, you just design the cars.
  1727. >But, up in the executive offices, the CFO is ecstatic now that the company is drowning in money.
  1728. >You hang onto two percent of the company; your father gets sixteen.
  1729. >That makes you a multimillionaire at twenty-six, and you celebrate by finally moving a notch up the ladder and buying a genuine mansion in the country’s de facto enclave for auto executives: Bloomfield Hills.
  1730. >Needless to say, you’re very, very busy, and the stress of the job quickly gets to you.
  1731. >In order to keep some semblance of your sanity, you do Pon-E once a week.
  1732. >And each weekend goes about the same.
  1734. >One night in particular stands out in your mind’s eye, though.
  1735. >This had to have been around late 2004 or so.
  1736. >As soon as you got home late Friday night, you prepared yourself for whatever was in store for you.
  1737. >Tonight, based on the dim candlelight and the slow music playing from each room, you’re prepared for a nice, romantic evening.
  1738. >You slowly make your way up to the large master bedroom, walking on a bed of rose petals as you go.
  1739. >The double doors at the end of the hallway are cracked ever so slightly, and you can barely make out a silhouette inside the room.
  1740. >You push the doors open and grin.
  1741. “You really went all out tonight, huh?”
  1742. >The lavender-furred stallion lying on the bed gives you a wink.
  1743. >”Anything for you, my love. I know how hard this week’s been.”
  1744. >You notice the pill lying on the table closest to you, and Amber gives you a nod.
  1745. >”Go ahead. I took mine when I heard the garage door open, so we have plenty of time.”
  1746. >The pill slides down your throat with ease, and you quickly undress right as you feel your limbs start to reshape.
  1747. “Thank God the changes get easier–ngh, each time.”
  1748. >Amber laughs.
  1749. >”I love watching you change, you know.”
  1750. >You laugh in a familiar, feminine voice.
  1751. “Oh, I know. That’s why I put on such a show for you each time~”
  1752. >You drop to all fours and shake your ass just as it starts to plump up, a newly-formed tail swishing along with you.
  1753. >Once you’re certain you’re completely a pony, you happily trot over to the bed and lean into the kiss you were anticipating.
  1754. >The feeling washes away all the stress you built up over the past week, and you savor every moment of it.
  1755. >”I got something special for tonight, you know.”
  1756. “Oh?”
  1758. >He reaches underneath the bed to grab a small, nondescript package, which he opens in front of you.
  1759. >Inside the box are two pairs of long, pony-sized socks, one with lavender and gray stripes and the other with pastel blue and mint green stripes.
  1760. “Oh, they match both our colors!”
  1761. >He gives you a happy nod.
  1762. >”Yep! It took me ages to get the colors right, but there’s a place that makes pony clothes in whatever color you want.”
  1763. >Amber tosses you the lavender-and-gray pair with his mouth and he helps you slide them up all four legs.
  1764. >When you’re done, you help him put on the blue-and-green pair.
  1765. >The two of you stand in front of the bedroom’s full-length mirror and laugh together for a moment.
  1766. >”You look beautiful, you know.”
  1767. >You smile.
  1768. “We’re even matching, too~”
  1769. >”That was the idea. I’m very happy with how they turned out.”
  1770. >It didn’t take you that much time in front of the mirror to reveal the best part about the new addition to your sock collection: his socks match your colors, and your socks match his colors.
  1771. >In a way, it’s romantic.
  1772. >You can feel him running over you with his eyes, and the growing grin on his face is all too clear.
  1773. >With a speed that makes you gasp in surprise, he leans over and gives you a light nibble on your ear.
  1774. >The room feels ten degrees hotter afterwards, and you fight back the urge to press yourself against him.
  1775. “A-Amber…”
  1776. >”I have something else for you, too.”
  1777. “You do?”
  1778. >”I do. C’mere.”
  1779. >He leads you over to the bed and rifles through the open package until he finds what he’s looking for.
  1780. >Your eyes widen in surprise at the many articles of clothing hidden under a few layers of tissue paper.
  1781. >”I figured it’s time to dress you up in more than just socks, don’t you think?”
  1782. “Y-Yeah.”
  1783. >”Which pair do you want to try on first?”
  1784. “How about the pair that match my socks?”
  1785. >He grins.
  1786. >”I was hoping you’d say that.”
  1788. >He takes out the soft panties and wastes no time in sliding them up your legs, giving the elastic one good snap against your ass.
  1789. >You let out a sharp breath as he runs a hoof along the fabric covering your ass.
  1790. >”God, you’re beautiful.”
  1791. >You can feel yourself turning red from your stallion’s relentless affection as he brushes against you, his hoof giving your ass a firm slap.
  1792. “Ah!”
  1793. >”I’ve been waiting for this for the whole damn week.”
  1794. >You turn around and give him an innocent, pouty look.
  1795. “Am I really that pretty?”
  1796. >He bites his lip, and you make out the sound of his rock-hard cock slapping against his belly.
  1797. “You’re really pent up, aren’t you?”
  1798. >He lets out a sigh.
  1799. >”God, yes.”
  1800. “Then let’s get started, then.”
  1801. >You break away from Amber’s warm coat and slowly walk over to the bed, your back arched and your tail raised high.
  1802. >Effortlessly, you slip under the covers and give the pony a seductive grin.
  1803. “Come and get me, you big sexy stallion~”
  1804. >He leaps onto the bed and slides under the covers, pressing himself against you and planting kiss after kiss onto your dainty muzzle.
  1805. “Excited, aren’t we?”
  1806. >The room feels like a sauna with all the energy in the air.
  1807. >Amber looks about ready to pounce on you and ravage you until you can’t walk, and it’s driving you both crazy.
  1808. >”I have something else for you, you know.”
  1809. “Yeah?”
  1810. >He shifts around under the covers until he finds what he’s looking for, giving you a seductive smile as he pulls back the covers and shows you the DVD release of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
  1811. “No way! I was just about to pick up a copy of that, like, today!”
  1812. >”Figured you’d like it. Here, I’ll pop it in and we can order some Chinese or something. There’s a place a ways away with some great pony-friendly stuff that delivers.”
  1813. “I’ll call them. What do you want?”
  1814. >”Just order a little of everything. I trust your judgement.”
  1816. >You laugh and dial the number, and before you know it, you’re curled up under the covers, watching one of your favorite movies with the stallion of your dreams.
  1817. >The food comes soon enough, and after a brief break to slide a fifty through the mail slot and watch to make sure the pimply teenager in a Geo Metro is long gone, you hurriedly grab the bag of food and slip back inside.
  1818. >You eat together on the large, soft couch in your bedroom, having long since mastered the delicate art of eating without fingers.
  1819. >The trick, of course, is to stop worrying about doing it right or looking stupid and just fucking eat.
  1820. >Somewhere during all this, Amber lights a fire in the large marble fireplace in one corner of the suite as the night grows colder.
  1821. >Soon after, you’ve migrated back to the bed.
  1822. >Although the movie’s still playing, you’re not really paying attention to it much anymore.
  1823. >Instead, you’re preoccupied with twirling a sock-covered hoof in circles around your husband’s lavender chest fluff.
  1824. >The rhythmic motion draws you closer and closer to him until you’re pressed against his side, with one of his arms wrapped around your feminine frame.
  1825. >”You’re such a cutie, Anon.”
  1826. >You blush in response, your ears folding back onto the top of your head.
  1827. >He moves in to kiss the tip of your muzzle, but you lean forward to plant a long, drawn-out kiss on his lips.
  1828. >Already, you can feel him leaning into you, and he puts another hoof around your side so he’s straddling you.
  1829. >One of his forehooves slowly snakes down under the covers, and you let out a gasp as Amber starts to rub at your panty-covered sheath.
  1830. >It doesn’t take much to coax your small pony pecker out of its sheath, and you close your eyes and lean into your stallion’s soft, warm fur as he strokes your cock with a socked hoof.
  1832. >You look down and blush at the sight of the tip of your dick peeking out of your purple panties, and Amber gives you another kiss to get you even more turned on.
  1833. >He anchors you in place as you writhe in his grip, your back hooves kicking and your torst twisting back and forth as the pleasure builds.
  1834. >He smiles at the first small moan, but doesn’t pick up the pace, still stroking you slowly and rhythmically despite how badly you want him to pick up the pace.
  1835. >Amber plants kisses all along your face and your neck as you feel yourself already coming so close to your peak, until–
  1836. >He stops.
  1837. >You let out a whine as his hoof leaves your cock, and he gives you a kiss in response.
  1838. >”If you want to cum tonight, I need you to do something for me~”
  1839. “What’s that, sexy?”
  1840. >He lifts up the covers to reveal his own thick, dripping horsecock, leaking pre onto his belly and twitching with every heartbeat.
  1841. >”Take care of that, you little cutie.”
  1842. >You slide under the covers until the tip of his dick boops your muzzle, and you lap up the bead of pre already leaking out.
  1843. >Amber takes a deep breath as you slowly run your tongue up his thick shaft, before taking the head into your mouth and running your tongue along the puffy flare.
  1844. >He’s already so turned on that it won’t wake much to get him to blow his load.
  1845. >You bob your head up and down, slowly taking more and more of his length in your mouth until you make it all the way to his medial ring.
  1846. >You reposition yourself to take the rest of it, slowly guiding his horsecock into your throat as you rub the base of his stallionhood with both hands.
  1847. >Even before you’re able to deepthroat him, though, you can feel the tip of his cock starting to flare up.
  1849. >He places both hooves on the back of your head and, without warning, presses you further down onto his length as he lets out the first few spurts of a powerful orgasm.
  1850. >Your eyes roll back in your head as you feel rope after rope of hot cum shoot down your throat as he empties his pent up balls inside you.
  1851. >You grope with a hoof until you feel his plump balls, throbbing with every load they release, and you rub them lustfully to coax out every last drop.
  1852. >In response, he lets out a groan and shoves your head even further down on his stallionhood until your muzzle is pressed against the pre-soaked fur of his belly.
  1853. >He holds you down as he rides out the longest orgasm you’ve ever been on the receiving end of until you’re both breathless and panting.
  1854. >You slide off his cock and ease the last drops of cum out of his shaft with a hoof, lapping that up and swallowing before emerging from under the covers and curling up next to your stallion.
  1855. >”That was incredible, Anon.”
  1856. >You grin and give him a kiss on the cheek.
  1857. “You were really worked up, weren’t you?”
  1858. >”And you call me the tease. I’m not the one that gets all dressed up like a pretty little mare just to cuddle for two hours.”
  1859. “Oh, hush. You love it.”
  1860. >”I do.”
  1861. >He gives you another kiss, which you gladly draw out for as long as you can.
  1862. “I think you owe me something, don’t you?”
  1863. >He gives you a grin and, in an instant, is right back on top of you, holding you down with his much larger frame and rubbing your small stallionhood ever so slightly faster.
  1864. >He keeps it up just long enough to reduce you to a whimpering, panting mess before he goes in for the kill.
  1865. >”You’re been a good little mare tonight, haven’t you?”
  1866. “M-Mare?”
  1867. >”That’s right, you’re my mare now. And you’re a good one. A very good girl.”
  1868. “Ahh~”
  1869. >”How close are you?”
  1870. “V-Very!”
  1872. >He leans in close to you until you can feel his hot breath against your ear, just like he knows will drive you wild.
  1873. >”Then cum for me.”
  1874. >You let out a moan as your cock twitches and fires off a few small ropes of stallion cum, landing on the fur of your belly.
  1875. >Waves of bliss wash over you as you ride out your own immensely powerful orgasm, and you barely register Amber sitting up before you feel him grinding his own floppy, soft stallionhood against your still-throbbing member.
  1876. >Even at half mast, his dick is larger than yours, and the feeling of his warm cock covering yours sends you over the edge again.
  1877. >This time, Amber leans down and licks up the cum splattered on your belly, giving you a grin before he flops back down onto the bed.
  1878. >You barely register the movie playing in the background as you inch closer to your stallion and slide under the covers with him.
  1879. >He assumes his role as the big spoon and draws you close into his embrace, making you shiver with pleasure.
  1880. >You can never get enough of the intoxicating warmth radiating from his body; to you, it’s a more powerful drug than Pon-E.
  1881. >It doesn’t take much for you to drift off to sleep in his embrace.
  1882. >It never does.
  1883. >Your routine for the better part of a decade rarely deviates very far from that, and it suits your lifestyle very well.
  1884. >You ride the intoxicating high of the 2000s for all it’s worth, never taking a day off and never slowing down.
  1885. >Sure, the stress was hell, but you practically live off stress.
  1886. >Every second of it was heaven, and you were making money hand over fist.
  1887. >Until, of course, it all came crashing down.
  1889. >You didn’t know it yet, but the cracks had already begun to form when your father greenlighted the Edsel project.
  1890. >Although you remain skeptical at first, a bit of well-put together market research wins you over, and you begin a detailed study of the wants and needs of your target niche.
  1891. >As was the case with the creation of DeSoto and AMC, your father plays a very large role in the brand’s development and evolution from concept to reality.
  1892. >The three sedans stay relatively static in their objective: the purpose of the compact Ranger, mid-size Pacer, and full-size Citation is to provide a blend of economy and comfort, just as AMC mixes economy and driving dynamics.
  1893. >The station wagon concept, though, moves down a size class; its name remains Corsair.
  1894. >Late additions to the lineup are the brand’s three “crossover” sport utility vehicles: the compact Comet, mid-size Villager, and full size Bermuda, all planned to debut over the course of three years in the midst of the company’s largest push into the growing market segment.
  1895. >Because they’re thrown in close to the eleventh hour, their development time is far shorter than the rapid pace you’ve grown used to, and your team works around the clock to properly refine them.
  1896. >Now all you need is a sufficient hype-builder.
  1897. >At the 2003 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Edsel Ranger Revival concept is shown to the public in order to gauge mainstream reactions to the design.
  1898. >It’s… less than promising.
  1899. >Although most agree that the retro styling was as well-integrated as it could have been, there’s still doubt about whether or not such a strange design will find success among the clientele you’re shooting for.
  1900. >An Alfa Romeo it is not.
  1902. >After the auto show, you beeline to your father’s office to discuss the project.
  1903. >”What do you need?”
  1904. “I just have one question.”
  1905. >”Go ahead, then.”
  1906. “Why Edsel? Of all the dead marques out there, why the one that’s universally joked about? Why the one that professors teach about in business schools?”
  1907. >Your father smiles.
  1908. >”Anon, do you remember the day you were sitting in my office right before I pitched the DeSoto?”
  1909. “Of course.”
  1910. >”And you you remember what you said to me?”
  1911. “Something about bringing back another dead company?”
  1912. >”You told me, in the midst of plans to launch DeSoto and AMC, that I might as well bring back the Edsel, too.”
  1913. >The memory hits you like a ton of bricks.
  1914. “You’re fucking kidding.”
  1915. >”Now, hold on there, I didn’t sink billions into this program because of an offhand comment. You should know by now that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. All the critics are going to drive one to see if it’s as bad as they expect, and when they come away surprised, they’ll all give us free advertising.”
  1916. “Is ‘it’s not as bad as I expected’ really going to be a good ad campaign?”
  1917. >”That’s not the message that they’d be sending, Anon. It’s more along the lines of, I don’t know, ‘I was wrong about the Edsel. I was wrong to judge.’”
  1918. “What about the people that don’t know shit about the old Edsel and just don’t like the new one?”
  1919. >”Well, I’m sure those types would be more than happy in an AMC.”
  1920. >You rub your temples and collect your thoughts.
  1921. >You’re not at all satisfied with the answers you’ve received, but you’ll make it work.
  1922. >You have to.
  1923. >When you get home that night, you immediately go through your usual routine: a quick dinner with Amber and then a lazy night in the expansive living room doing whatever the hell you can to lower your stress levels.
  1924. >Tonight, though, seems profoundly worse than even the most stressful night on memory.
  1925. >So you find yourself staring up at the nearest clock.
  1926. “Hey, Amber?”
  1927. >”Yeah?”
  1929. “It’s 8 right now, and I don’t have to leave for work until 8 tomorrow. How about we bust out the Pon-E and do something special tonight?”
  1930. >She gives you a familiar grin and leaps up to grab the pills.
  1931. >You lean back and start to slowly undress, not bothering to close the blinds over the room’s massive windows: there’s no point given the yard’s inherent privacy.
  1932. >Amber doesn’t take long, coming back with a pill and a cup of water; the fuzzy lavender ears atop her head make it clear where her pill went.
  1933. >You throw off your pants and down the pill as she leaps on top of you, running your hands up and down each others’ bodies even once they’ve completely changed to hooves.
  1934. >The night itself is unremarkable: you were in this exact same position two Saturdays ago, your head thrown back on the sofa as your stallion fucks you like there’s no tomorrow.
  1935. >But this is the first time that you risked using Pon-E the night before you were expected to show up to work the next morning.
  1936. >And when you wake up still sprawled out on the couch, sun streaming in through the tall windows, you immediately regret it.
  1937. >”Oh my god, Anon!”
  1938. >You slowly sit up, rubbing one eye with a hand.
  1939. “Huh? What is it?”
  1940. >”Your eyes! Your fucking eyes!”
  1941. >You race to the nearest bathroom and peer into the vanity mirror: the face you see is yours, but your eyes are another matter entirely.
  1942. >Instead of your unremarkable brown eyes, they’re colored a familiar iridescent blue-green.
  1943. “Fuck!”
  1944. >You heard about this shit happening before but you never expected it to happen to you.
  1945. >Sometimes the cheap Mexican Pon-E flooding the streets made its way into the higher-tier stuff you were buying, and the formula sometimes left users with small lingering changes.
  1946. “Amber, where did you get those fucking pills from!”
  1947. >”Same guy as always!”
  1948. “How long am I stuck like this?”
  1949. >Amber appears in the doorway to hand you a glass of water.
  1951. >From the looks of it, she’s struggling to maintain composure.
  1952. >”Shit. Uh, from what I’ve heard, it takes maybe twelve hours for anything to change back to normal”
  1953. “Well I don’t have twelve fucking hours!”
  1954. >From outside the bathroom, you hear Amber’s footsteps racing up the stairs and into your bedroom.
  1955. >She returns with a pair of oversize fake wood sunglasses she bought about a month ago.
  1956. >Fucking 2003.
  1957. >”Here. These will cover up your eyes until they change back.”
  1958. >You grudgingly take the pair and put them on.
  1959. >Although you hate to admit it, they work pretty damn well.
  1960. >You spend the drive to work worrying constantly about being pulled over, but your nerves simmer once you pull into the executive parking garage at Packard headquarters.
  1961. >Few notice you on the trip up to your office, and those that do choose not to comment on your choice of eyewear.
  1962. >They probably just assume you did a shitton of coke the night before or something.
  1963. >And although that should have stopped you from using on weeknights, the truth is that it really didn’t.
  1964. >Sure, you worried like hell the next time you tried it, but by then Amber had found another friend that was selling the pills on the side.
  1965. >From then, you used the drug with little hesitation at every chance you get.
  1966. >And it kills you that you can barely remember what turned out to be such an important night.
  1967. >Back at work, development continues on the new Edsel cars until they’re finally ready for release through a three-year-long rollout starting in 2005.
  1968. >The designs have come a long way since the over-styled concepts you started out with: instead of looking like wide-eyed catfish, the production models pull off a sort of elegance that you almost didn’t think possible.
  1969. >After the negative reactions to the cars’ styling in ‘03, you were effectively given a blank check to make whatever alterations possible in order to avoid a sales disaster.
  1971. >The first two models to hit the showrooms are the full-size Citation sedan and the Corsair wagon.
  1972. >Advertisements tout their unique, attractive take on low cost luxury, and the press is generally kind in their reviews.
  1973. >But people don’t buy them.
  1974. >In future years, you’d try your best to figure out just what went wrong: was it a lack of SUVs to start out with, a pushy ad campaign, or just shitty dealerships?
  1975. >But, soon enough, you realize that there was just no rhyme or reason to what people were buying.
  1976. >In many ways, 2005 was a run on the bank for most of the country, the last hurrah before things went to shit.
  1977. >And poor Edsel just got caught up in the madness.
  1978. >People were trading in all sorts of cars for new Edsels: Toyotas, Saabs, Lincolns, and even some AMCs.
  1979. >Nobody knew what the fuck was going on until it was all over.
  1980. >The braver, more perceptive journalists, however, pick up on a concerning trend.
  1981. >Edsel was the first Packard division without its own purpose-built engine family.
  1982. >And, unlike AMC, DeSoto, and Packard, there was no new factory to spearhead production: although two new plants were opened in the past two years, to say nothing of your sideways glances towards production in Europe, neither have the same relationship with the Edsel brand as Saltillo had for AMC or Huron had for DeSoto.
  1983. >It shows a worrying lack of brand identity that makes your best efforts at brand management seem almost laughably pointless.
  1984. >Senior executives, however, finds reassuring ways to manipulate the statistics, and the rollout is still on schedule and running smoothly.
  1985. >Although the mood in the newly-created Edsel Division is tense, everyone seems confident they can power through the rough times.
  1986. >And they’re counting on you to finish the launch.
  1987. >In 2006, the Pacer mid-size sedan and the Bermuda three-row crossover are both released.
  1988. >They don’t sell well either.
  1990. >Neither does the Ranger compact sedan or the Villager mid-size crossover SUV that debut in 2007.
  1991. >By the time the Comet compact crossover (reviewers laugh: say that five times fast!) arrives in 2008 to equally hopeless sales figures, the division is bleeding red ink.
  1992. >But by then, of course, you had even bigger problems to worry about, and some of them inevitably make their way back home.
  1993. >The stress of the company’s constant expansion is starting to get to you.
  1994. >Thankfully, you have an excellent outlet for all your woes.
  1995. >It’s small, blue, and comes in plastic sandwich bags.
  1996. >Most weekends that you don’t spend at work are wholly unremarkable–except for one.
  1997. >This had to have been late in the year, although you can’t remember exactly when.
  1998. >You had taken up your nightly perch tangled in the bedsheets with your favorite large ball of fluff, trying your hardest to ignore all the fluid leaking out of your rear.
  1999. >Although you usually draw the curtains when you’re on Pon-E, this time you’d left the large picture windows of your master bedroom uncovered.
  2000. >The two of you stayed in that position for almost the entire night.
  2001. >From your window, you could look out onto your quiet backyard, with its pool and manicured lawn, and past the rows of trees out to the steadily blinking lights ringing the cool Michigan lake.
  2002. >In the distance, you can barely register the light pollution from the rest of the city, but here, it’s clear and dark.
  2003. >You squirm and groan as Amber wiggles his way out of the bed, striding across the room and stepping outside onto the deck.
  2004. >Grumbling, you trot out to find him leaning over the railing, taking in the stillness of the air surrounding you.
  2005. >As much as you want to be back inside, you have to admit that it sure is nice out.
  2006. >You sidle up next to the stallion and feel a foreleg wrap around your shoulders as you lean into him.
  2007. >”God, you’re beautiful.”
  2009. >You let out a small laugh and feel his foreleg tighten around you as a result.
  2010. “I love you so much.”
  2011. >You feel him pull back and he gives you a small peck on the cheek.
  2012. >But when you try and lean back into his warm, comforting fluff, he pulls away again.
  2013. “What’s wrong?”
  2014. >“Anon, what if we, I don’t know–“
  2015. “What is it?”
  2016. >“What if we stayed like this?”
  2017. >The question takes you off guard, and you take a deep breath.
  2018. “Amber, what do you mean?”
  2019. >“Like, as ponies. What if we stayed like this? Took another pill and ran off somewhere.”
  2020. “What on Earth are you talking about? You know that’s an awful idea. I don’t want to end up like the ponies you hear about on the news. And I’ve got my father to worry about. He needs me at work right now.”
  2021. >Amber tries to act like he saw it coming, but a sigh gives away how he really feels.
  2022. >“I know. Everything’s just so beautiful right now, and I never want it to end.”
  2023. >His soft, quiet voice makes your heart melt.
  2024. >You dive in for a tight hug and bury yourself in his soft chest.
  2025. >Usually that’s enough to calm him down.
  2026. >But not tonight.
  2027. >”Anon?”
  2028. “Yeah?”
  2029. >”What about after you retire?”
  2030. “Amber, honey, I don’t know what’s gotten in your head. We can’t just abandon our lives.”
  2031. >”I know we can’t right now, but maybe when we’re older it’ll be easier to do.”
  2032. >He lets out another sigh.
  2033. >”I’m sorry.”
  2034. >You give him a small smile and another hug.
  2035. “What are you sorry about, hun? It’s a wonderful idea to think about, but it just doesn’t work for us. Now let’s get back inside, it’s getting cold out.”
  2036. >You lead the way indoors, with Amber close behind you.
  2037. >And you never saw the look on his face as you both drifted off to sleep.
  2038. >You don’t dwell on that night at all.
  2039. >At least, not until much later.
  2041. >In early 2006, your American competitors–General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler–begin losing money.
  2042. >Company outsiders scratch their heads; sure, they didn’t build the best cars, but sales were strong and the economy had never been better.
  2043. >As it turns out, it was a perfect storm of all sorts of things: bad product ranges, atrocious quality control, and shit labor relations all ate into their profits.
  2044. >Their reliance on obnoxious SUVs meant that, when gas prices rose, they had effectively nothing else worth buying.
  2045. >And the industry couldn’t have picked a worse time to confront these problems, either.
  2046. >Because, although any one of these issues would have been damning, they all had to rear their ugly heads right as the world economy collapsed.
  2047. >Isn’t it funny how things work out sometimes?
  2048. >Ford begins desperately searching for new, innovative leadership; meanwhile, General Motors and Chrysler choose to put off significant reform and keep moving at full speed ahead.
  2049. >Those poor sons of bitches didn’t even see it coming.
  2050. >You did.
  2051. >Practically everyone with a fucking brain did, too.
  2052. >The first quarter of 2006 is the clear start to an abysmal future, but that’s a very hard message to get across to some of the more “traditional” members of the board, who haven’t been on the front lines in years.
  2053. >But the crisis gets even worse as the year goes on.
  2054. >And then one of the largest parts suppliers in the United States, Delphi Automotive, goes bankrupt.
  2055. >In April, you call an emergency meeting of the company’s board of directors.
  2056. >It’s a gloomy, overcast day in Allen Park as the line of executives shuffles into the boardroom.
  2057. >Your father takes his customary seat at the head of the table, directly across from you.
  2059. >You’re going to have to choose your words very carefully.
  2060. “Good morning everyone, it’s good to see you all here.”
  2061. >Well that’s a good start.
  2062. “Acknowledging a problem is the first step in solving it, and, despite the very clear indicators that the market is heading for a major paradigm shift, executives at General Motors and Chrysler don’t seem to realize it. They build more cars than they can sell and expect dealers to unload them. The unions practically own them, and they’re doing nothing to cut costs. Conversations about the American auto industry range from how bad it is to how bad it’s going to get. Now, Ford’s saying that a General Motors bankruptcy would effectively kill them.
  2063. “Where does that leave us? We get our parts from the same suppliers; we’re all interconnected. If suppliers start going bust, which they are, we’ll end up with severe production delays that we can’t afford. Even if we don’t do anything wrong, we could end up dragged down with them if this gets worse.”
  2064. >Somewhere in there, you stood up, so you take a moment to collect your thoughts and sit back down.
  2065. >The CFO is the first to speak up.
  2066. >”So things are getting bad. We know. What do you propose we do?”
  2067. “I say we need a line of credit to tap into if things go south. But, if nothing else, we need to cut ties with suppliers that are most likely to enter receivership and bring production in-house.”
  2068. >The head of Manufacturing speaks up.
  2069. >”Our factories are already running at full capacity. I don’t see a way to cram any more assembly lines into our plants as is, and I’m not comfortable with putting up the capital to expand our facilities in this market.”
  2070. “Well, we might have to. We need to be able to adapt to dramatic changes in the economy. Nobody knows just how bad this is going to get, so make it work.”
  2071. >The conversation dies just as abruptly as it started.
  2073. >You don’t know why you thought the board would be moved: you can’t be a trailblazer if you don’t have his position.
  2074. >Even your own father seems to turn a blind eye to the situation, reassuring you that the company has been through worse.
  2075. >The crisis continues.
  2076. >In order to clear excess inventory during the summer, General Motors and Chrysler slash prices to the bone in a desperate attempt to attract buyers.
  2077. >AMC, Edsel, DeSoto, and Packard all see falling sales, the first time the company has lost ground in the marketplace.
  2078. >Ever.
  2079. >2007 was already forecast to be an off year well before the crisis started: because of varied product life cycles, there aren’t many mainstream, traffic-building models scheduled for a ground-up redesign.
  2080. >And for a company that’s relied on a constant tidal wave of new product to draw customers into dealerships, that’s a dangerous stumble at precisely the wrong time.
  2081. >Even one off year can harm the company’s image, especially when the perceived value of American cars is so low.
  2082. >Packard’s not going down with the ship, but it’s being pulled under by the suction.
  2083. >And that’s somehow even worse.
  2084. >The problems are only compounded by your father’s… eccentricity.
  2085. >Your father’s most recent obsession, as the thirtieth anniversary of his company’s founding approaches, has been tracking down cars with low serial numbers: the first of every car he’s made.
  2086. >He tells you it’s for a museum and that every automaker has a collection of historically relevant cars.
  2087. >You overlook the immense cost of maintaining every car in running condition, as per his demands, and just go along with it.
  2088. >The latest development occurs on a cold winter day in your office.
  2090. >The Finance department caught an unusual purchase coming from the top floor, and once they pinned it to your father, they immediately came to you.
  2091. >It’s easy to see why: of all the people on this Earth, you’re the most likely to get the full story.
  2092. >You call him over to your top floor office and you both take a seat next to the wall of windows.
  2093. >”Alright, what do you need? I can tell you’re worried about something.”
  2094. “Finance found a large purchase order that came from your office.”
  2095. >He laughs.
  2096. “I’m guessing it’s just something you’ve been cooking up yourself, but I would like to know what it is.”
  2097. >Your father turns away from you and looks out the window.
  2098. >You follow his gaze to just north of the dilapidated Art Deco skyscrapers of downtown Detroit.
  2099. >He raises his finger and you follow it to a squat complex made of red brick, weathered concrete, and broken glass.
  2100. >Oh fuck no.
  2101. “Please don’t tell me–”
  2102. >”Now, hear me out for just a second.”
  2103. “Alright, then, what’s going on?”
  2104. >”I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we need more space. This building’s only five years old and we’re already bursting at the seams. Now, that complex is absolutely massive, so if we bought it we’d have more than enough room.”
  2105. “But the place is falling apart.”
  2106. >”So we renovate it. And, sure, it’d cost a bit of money…”
  2107. >You decide, for now, to overlook the fact that you don’t have any money to spend.
  2108. >”But the publicity would be more than enough. Think about it for a second: not only are we helping Detroit’s economy–”
  2109. “What economy?”
  2110. >”But we’re bringing back a piece of America’s past. We’re rebuilding an eyesore that’s gained international fame.”
  2112. “This is insane. We can’t be talking about the same place.”
  2113. >”Alright, then. We’ll each say it at the same time. On three: one, two, three–”
  2114. “The Packard plant.”
  2115. >”The Packard plant.”
  2116. >You bury your head in your hands and groan.
  2117. >But, in the end, the deal goes through.
  2118. >The company now owns a dilapidated, century-old factory in the center of the most dangerous cities in the country for no apparent reason.
  2119. >The minute you make it back to your office, you open a discreetly-installed cabinet and pour yourself a glass of the hardest scotch you can find and laugh.
  2120. >If only your mother could see you now.
  2122. >The problems you brought up, of course, continue to grow until they seem insurmountable.
  2123. >Although top executives constantly reassure you that the big boys have it covered, you can’t help but notice that the cash flowing to the constant improvements vital to any car’s success has slowly leveled off.
  2124. >At times, it seems like all you can do in your department is make sure that engineering and production are as efficient as possible.
  2125. >It’s not an easy feat–countless other companies are in trouble for being too cheap–but if you can trim the fat in hard to reach places, then you can pad your profit margins enough to protect against a drop in sales.
  2126. >But that’s easier said than done.
  2127. >You spend more and more of your time at 1 Packard Place, showing up early and working late in order to meet your self-imposed goals.
  2128. >And then it happens.
  2129. >December 26, 2006.
  2130. >The day after fucking Christmas.
  2131. >Your father had spent the holiday with some distant relatives upstate; you and Amber spent a quiet morning together at home.
  2132. >On Pon-E, naturally.
  2133. >Christmas Day passes in the glow of a crackling fire, the soothing warmth of fur pressed against fur, and the steadily twinkling lights of the fifteen-foot Christmas tree in your living room.
  2134. >In the morning, of course, you exchange gifts and open the piles of cards from relatives and coworkers, but as soon as all that’s over with both of you throw back a pill and curl up under a blanket as snowflakes dot the expansive glass windows.
  2135. >It’s an uneventful day, just like the rest of the time you spend at home.
  2136. >Sometimes you wonder what Amber does with all her free time.
  2137. >The next day, you spend a quiet, uneventful morning at work, preparing your department for the 2006 sales reports.
  2139. >The building is all but empty; most people were heavily encouraged to take the day off with their families.
  2140. >Only a few janitors and some overzealous interns bother to show up.
  2141. >You leave after lunch and prepare to spend the rest of the day relaxing at home with the fire roaring.
  2142. >Damn, you wish the 24-hour period was up, because cold weather like this is only fully appreciated with a blanket of warm fur.
  2143. >But you digress.
  2144. >Your route back home is complemented by a light dusting of snow; it looks like you left just in time.
  2145. >By the time you make it across town, the peppering of snowflakes has begun to come down a bit harder.
  2146. >Amber is already curled up on the plush sofa in the living room, and she wordlessly invites you to sit down beside her.
  2147. >You oblige, and you spend the rest of the afternoon sipping on hot chocolate and enjoying each other’s company.
  2148. >Amber lazily half-watches something on TV, while you steadily type away on your laptop.
  2149. >As day turns to night, you begin to debate whether to get food delivered or cave and get up to make something.
  2150. >After a few quick calls confirm that the snow shut down most places in town, you get up and slowly make your way into the ornate chef’s kitchen, a small cup of coffee in hand.
  2151. >But before you can even think about what to make, there’s a knock at the large front door.
  2152. >”Can you get that?”
  2153. “Yeah, sure.”
  2154. >You walk across the house to the foyer and open the door a crack.
  2155. >Two police officers greet you, faces stoic in the dim porchlight.
  2156. >”Anonymous Doe?”
  2157. “That’s me. Can I help you?”
  2158. >”There’s been an accident.”
  2159. >You faintly register the sound of ceramic shattering against tile.
  2160. >On his way home from your distant family’s property upstate, speeding–but not excessively–on a snow-covered back road, your father caught a patch of black ice in his Pan-American sports car.
  2161. >He flew off the highway and wrapped the car around a tree.
  2163. >According to the investigators, he had then exited his car, disoriented and bleeding profusely, and, instead of heading back to the road, made his way deeper into the forest.
  2164. >A large-scale search can’t be conducted until after the snow lets up, but their reassurance that several people live near the scene of the accident does little to put your fears to rest.
  2165. >Losing control of his car like that just isn’t like him.
  2166. >You barely sleep.
  2167. >Amber does her best to console you, but it just isn’t enough.
  2168. >You show up to work the next day with a grim expression that reflects the mood on every floor of the building.
  2169. >Word spread fast.
  2170. >The board holds an emergency meeting, resolving to continue normal, albeit limited, functions until your father returns safely.
  2171. >Around noon, you receive word that the snowfall has ceased upstate, and you make a short announcement over the building’s intercom.
  2172. >Anyone able and willing to participate in the search party should meet in the lobby.
  2173. >The ensuing crowd almost completely fills the expansive space in the short time it takes you to collect your thoughts and make the trip downstairs.
  2174. >You all drive together upstate to the woods, packing staff cars with as many people as they can fit.
  2175. >After a quick phone call, Amber drives up to join you, too.
  2176. >You don’t return until the bitter chill of midnight draws you back.
  2177. >Nearby residents are interviewed and practically the entire county is searched with a fine-toothed comb.
  2178. >You find nothing except more blood and scraps of a navy blue suit.
  2179. >The suit confirms the investigators’ suspicions: since there’s no way someone could have survived the night with even a scrap of skin left uncovered, your father likely died of exposure sometime early yesterday morning, while you were tossing and turning in bed.
  2181. >They tell you matter-of-factly that wolves or other animals likely ran off with his body, but that they’ll do their best to find whatever’s left.
  2182. >You wait to break down until you’re driving home, away from the prying eyes of your coworkers.
  2183. >The next morning, the 28th, your father is pronounced legally dead.
  2184. >The funeral is held on a dreary Saturday afternoon.
  2185. >Friends, family, and colleagues all trickle into the small church to pay their respects, and you give a heartfelt eulogy celebrating the life of the man who raised you.
  2186. >You bury an empty coffin within the gates of the family cemetery, a tradition started by your great-grandfather.
  2187. >His final resting place lies with your mother, beneath a granite sculpture of a cormorant with wings spread and slender beak pointed to the sky.
  2188. >It was the memorial that your father had always wanted for her.
  2189. >The day after the funeral, you meet with the executor of your father’s estate, joined by an assortment of relatives.
  2190. >His will leaves almost everything to you.
  2191. >Even, if you understand the legalese correctly, the company.
  2192. >When you return to work the Monday after the funeral, the board meets to confirm the vote.
  2193. >There’s significant opposition from the Chief Financial Officer, who sees no reason why a twenty-eight-year-old who doesn’t even have an MBA should be put in control of a publicly-owned company instead of one of the more experienced members on the board.
  2194. >But the terms of your father’s contract clearly stated that he alone could choose his successor, and it was always meant to be you.
  2195. >And the CFO’s definition of “more experienced” means him and only him.
  2196. >The vote, when cast, ends up in your favor by a comfortable margin.
  2197. >On January 15, 2007, you are officially named president, chairman of the board, and CEO: assuming all your father’s roles within the company.
  2199. >But, for now, with a long road ahead of you before you return to work, you have other things to busy your mind than the prospect of reaching the pinnacle of your career before you turn thirty.
  2200. >Instead, you spend the afternoon sifting through your father’s belongings in his expansive home and tracing the origin of one of the more unusual things your father left you: the key to a safe deposit box.
  2201. >There isn’t much of note in your childhood home besides old family mementos–and the key is eating at you far too much to ever be able to clean well–so you take a break at around noon and drive down to the Detroit bank that the key belongs to.
  2202. >There’s a brief moment of anticipation as the small box opens, but all you find is a letter, which you take back to his house to open.
  2203. >”Anon, if you’re reading this, then I’m no longer of this Earth. I can only guess the cause, but I am certain that, no matter my age, I left with unresolved conflicts. I’ve borne a heavy burden over my life that only now am I free to tell you.
  2204. >”I hope you’re reading this alone and someplace safe. Sitting down will probably help, too.”
  2205. >You settle onto the well-used sofa before continuing.
  2206. >”Back in the 80s, I had a friend who worked for a private research lab that had just discovered a revolutionary new substance. During some back-room fucking around, they stumbled upon the formula for a fine blue powder with effects unlike anything else on this planet. My friend, the lab’s most experienced chemist, felt it would only be used for the greater good if the patents were under his control. He’d discovered a couple high-profile medications before, you see, and the corporation he worked for had stolen the patents right out from under him. This drug, he said, needed to be available to the common man. And, after all, it was created accidentally; no one would miss it, right?
  2208. >”He carefully replicated the steps he had taken by accident until he had it once again. Now he knew how to make it and what to make it with, but the project stalled once he started on creating a private lab in the basement of his house. He didn’t have enough money to get some of the rarer equipment in the quantities he needed to synthesize the stuff, so he started pitching the project as a business investment to a couple of his friends. One of them happened to be me.
  2209. >”At the time, I was desperate for cash to keep Packard afloat; it was the early 80s, and we were developing a car without any money to actually build it. He told me that, if I bought him the lab equipment he needed, I’d get a cut of the money he earned selling the drug. I was ready to throw myself behind his work, but then came the news about John DeLorean’s namesake car company shutting down completely after he was entrapped by the FBI in a plot to sell cocaine. It was a risk that I wasn’t willing to take anymore.
  2210. >”But my friend was still very, very desperate. There simply wasn’t anyone else that had the capital to invest except me, and I was too skittish to go through with it. A mutual friend, however, had the financial know-how to offer his help in moving the money around–for a cut of the pay, of course. I finally relented, so after a little bit of clever accounting, the money changed hands. I watched my back for a full month, scared totally shitless, but after a while I realized that not even a cocaine bust could get the feds to care about the auto industry. They were all going after investment bankers and stockbrokers, not nobodies like me. I turned my on-again-off-again support into a part-time gig.
  2212. >”By then, my friend had already synthesized it in small amounts and sent it off to dealers across the country. Some of the most powerful drug kingpins in the United States were tripping over themselves for large amounts to sell, and it was only a matter of time before they reverse-engineered the chemical as well. So he recruited a couple people to transport the drug from his basement lab to cities across the country, and, after a while, the money started pouring in. He was selling those tiny blue pills as fast as he could make them. First he hired a few lab assistants to help him make it in larger quantities, then he set up shop in an old warehouse, and before he knew it, he was running a drug cartel that I had a twenty percent stake in.
  2213. >”With all the cash we were making, we couldn’t launder it fast enough. Our mutual friend was the one who first proposed running it through Packard. But I remained adamant that none of this dirty money was to go anywhere near the company I had worked so hard to keep afloat. It held us back at first, but eventually we found a workaround. Sure, they were pissed that I was stubborn about it, but a man has to stick to his principles.
  2214. >”The drug spread like wildfire. We started labs in cities across the country, and by the end of the decade, it was a household name. First Ladies gave speeches about it. The FBI started investigating it. Things had spiraled out of control, and I no longer wanted anything to do with it. I sold my stake back to the chemist and the accountant and wiped my hands clean of it all. The vast amounts of money that I raked in over those few years is currently spread out in bank accounts across the world. As far as I know, none of them have been frozen yet. It is my full intention for the accounts to die with me, known only to the person that created them.
  2215. >”I will not let my name go down in history as just another Pon-E dealer.”
  2216. >You stare at the words in disbelief for a solid minute.
  2217. >He was right.
  2219. >You are very, very glad that you’re sitting down.
  2220. >”I’m writing this to get this off my chest once and for all. You deserve to know what happened so I have some credibility when I warn you about its effects. The drug that hit the streets was very different from the one dreamt up in a sterile lab. It’s extremely addictive, much more so than any of us expected. Pon-E makes the world feel absolutely perfect. Coming off a high that strong is like being hit by a bus. By the time I washed my hands of it, a particularly nasty spike of overdoses was sending the press scrambling to document the drug. I can only imagine how much worse it must have gotten since then.”
  2221. >You feel a lump forming in your throat.
  2222. >Over the past few years, the overdose rate has slowly yet steadily climbed upwards.
  2223. >But it’s almost taboo to discuss, even as more and more people turn to the drug as an alternative to prescription painkillers and the like.
  2224. >You let out a breath you didn’t know you were holding in and keep reading.
  2225. >”I only used it once, thank God, and it was with my two business partners to test a batch. The world seemed so colorless and gray afterwards that I swore off it altogether. It doesn’t just change your body: it changes your mind, too.
  2226. >”I know how crazy things can get in college–trust me, Anon, I lived through the sixties. But I hope with all my heart that you never tried that awful drug, and if you did, I’m sure you had the smarts to recognize the effects it was having on you. This must be a lot to take in, but I needed to warn my only son about this epidemic before it gets you too. You need to know just how bad things really are. Burn this letter after you’ve finished reading it, and don’t tell a soul about its contents.
  2227. >”And, please, don’t let this change the way you remember me. This isn’t who I wanted to be; I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  2229. >”I’m sure there’s a lot going through your mind right now, and you have every right to judge me. Just know that I’m with your mother now, and that’s all I’ve wanted for years.
  2230. >”With love, Dad.”
  2231. >Wordlessly, you sit and process the letter, before quietly starting a fire in the living room fireplace and tossing the paper inside.
  2232. >With that done, you collapse on the floor and sob like you’ve never sobbed before.
  2233. >You feel so, so small, and every second of thought drags up even more horror at what you’ve done to yourself and the woman you love.
  2234. >By the time you can get back on both feet and safely drive home, the sun is far below the horizon.
  2235. >Amber is probably worried sick.
  2236. >Although you decide not to dwell on it much, you still feel like shit because of it.
  2237. >To say that the drive across town was tense would be the understatement of the century.
  2238. >You still have no idea how to describe what you were feeling that night, even after giving it countless hours of thought.
  2239. >What your father wrote to you has shaken you to your very core.
  2240. >When you do make it home, Amber greets you with a familiar bottle of pills.
  2241. >”Hey, you’re back just in time. I know you haven’t been yourself lately, so I figured that–”
  2242. “Amber.”
  2243. >”Yeah?”
  2244. >You let out a long, painful sigh, feeling your breath try its best to catch in your throat.
  2245. >Your wife looks at you with an expression of pure concern and love.
  2246. “Take those pills and flush them all down the toilet.”
  2247. >She stares at you for a second before you bury your head in your hands..
  2248. “I know this is out of nowhere, but my father–”
  2249. >You pause and collect your thoughts.
  2250. “He wrote me a letter. Apparently he played a role in creating Pon-E in the eighties.”
  2251. >”You’re kidding.”
  2252. “I’m not. He says it’s so addictive it’s unnatural. And as I was driving home, I realized the effect that it’s had on our lives.”
  2253. >”It’s made them better, hasn’t it?”
  2255. “It’s made being human–being normal–feel worse. I don’t want one of us to… to go too far one day. It’s too dangerous.”
  2256. >Amber rubs your shoulder, and, for a brief second, you truly believe that she’s on your side.
  2257. >But it doesn’t last long.
  2258. >”Anon, don’t you think you’re overreacting a little? Millions of people have used this stuff, and, yeah, some have overdosed, but it’s not happening everywhere. We’re smart. We’ll be fine.”
  2259. >You push her hand away and take a few steps back.
  2260. >The look on her face is one of shock and, beneath it, genuine hurt.
  2261. “I believe my father. He’s never been wrong before.”
  2262. >You turn around and make your way into your private study, calling out to her as you go.
  2263. “I’m swearing off Pon-E for good. And, for the sake of our marriage, I hope you do too.”
  2264. >You spend the rest of the day in your office, trying to find reasons to avoid leaving for as long as you can.
  2265. >Eventually, you get food delivered; you both eat in near total silence.
  2266. >You both lie on the very edges of your king-size bed in an attempt to put some distance between you.
  2267. >But you know she’ll come around someday.
  2268. >You’re sure of it.
  2269. >You do leave for work early the next morning, just to avoid a confrontation: you’ll save the arguments for the board.
  2270. >The mood at Packard Headquarters is solemn.
  2271. >Another brutal understatement.
  2272. >Your first full day of CEO is dominated by a conference held in the building’s expansive first floor press room.
  2274. >With all the comparisons being made between your father’s–stop that, it’s your company now–enterprise and Henry Ford’s own rise and fall almost a century ago, you desperately need to make some public statements, and fast.
  2275. >The mood in the room is just as tense as that of your own home.
  2276. >Your still-small company hardly justifies sending the best journalists out there, so the sparse crowd mainly consists of interns and local newspapers.
  2277. >You take your place at the front of the room and take a deep breath.
  2278. “Good morning, everyone. Let’s jump right into this.”
  2279. >For the next four hours, you’re grilled by squeaky-voiced interns and overweight auto columnists as you desperately try to maintain some semblance of stability.
  2280. >But, much like the rapidly shifting world around you, the company you find yourself overseeing has ever-so-slightly changed.
  2281. >A business’s first true transition of power is always a nightmare, but here it’s twinged with a prevailing sense of mourning.
  2282. >The fact of the matter is that you simply don’t have the charisma that your father used to his advantage so often.
  2283. >And, considering how often the phrase “cult of personality” has been used to describe the company’s atmosphere, that’s an issue.
  2284. >The drive through metro Detroit on the way home that evening is one of introspection and time-consuming thought.
  2285. >But, soon enough, you know what you’re going to do to smooth things over.
  2286. >If your father was inimitable, then you shouldn’t try.
  2287. >This is your company now.
  2288. >You’re in charge.
  2289. >And it’s time you act on that.
  2290. >The next day, the board appoints your replacement for the Vice President of Product Development.
  2291. >He’s not all that interesting, really: just another company loyalist that started off as a factory worker building the very first cars that came off the line, slowly working his way up the ranks as time went on.
  2293. >Under his command, work progresses on the company’s far-off 2010 and 2011 models, including two small projects that you began in an attempt to chase greater fuel efficiency: the cynically-named Project Compromise, tasked with developing a plug-in hybrid to slot above the Vixen, and Project Better EV1, a small team working on a fully electric small car.
  2294. >Part of the reason you chose him is because of his support of hybrid cars, which gives you the peace of mind to avoid micromanaging the entire department.
  2295. >It’s time to focus on the big picture now.
  2296. >And it really, really isn’t looking good.
  2297. >By March, the board is beginning to murmur.
  2298. >The housing market is in free fall.
  2299. >General Motors stands a chance of losing their status as the world’s largest automaker to Toyota, a massive blow to public confidence in your industry; on April 24, it actually happens.
  2300. >Mercedes and Chrysler continue to fight tooth and nail, despite being part of the same damn company.
  2301. >Ford’s turnaround begins to stagnate as well as shareholders lose faith in the executives.
  2302. >And then there’s Packard, the perpetual underdog; you’ve never experienced a downturn of this magnitude, and you’re woefully ill-equipped to handle it.
  2303. >Many of the executives who expressed skepticism towards your forecasts of a dreary automotive future start jumping ship–except, though, the CFO, who remains firmly entrenched in his position and uses his financial prowess to justify such longevity.
  2304. >In March, The General announces another wave of price cuts to clear away excess inventory.
  2305. >They keep factories open, of course, because they no longer have the money to idle plants for even a month.
  2306. >It’s almost impossible to convey the vertigo you felt during those trying months.
  2308. >Most days, it feels like the physical building you’re occupying is collapsing beneath your feet, and your only warning before you hit the ground is the feeling of falling itself.
  2309. >You have countless nightmares where you’re trapped in your clean, gleaming office, watching in suspense as the ground grows larger and larger before you.
  2310. >You pound on the walls and scream as loud as you can, but the secretaries keep chattering and the interns keep typing until the very moment the top floor slams into the ground, glass shattering and columns collapsing like the statistics you consume almost desperately.
  2311. >Other times, the building disappears entirely, and you’re left frantically waving your arms as you fall and fall until you slam into whatever car you were discussing in a meeting that day.
  2312. >It’s funny, you rarely had any dreams before this nightmare started, and now it seems like your brain will never shut off.
  2313. >In May, amid an industry-wide sense of urgency, the board calls an emergency meeting of all corporate Vice Presidents, from the CFO all the way down to the division heads.
  2314. >The mood in the glassy conference room is one of near total chaos.
  2315. >You stand up from your seat at the head of the table once everyone’s arrived, and a grim silence overtakes the room.
  2316. “Ladies and gentlemen, I stood here just a few short months ago ranting and raving about the end of the automotive world. I won’t say that I was the only one who saw it coming or any nonsense like that, because that just isn’t true. But the fact of the matter is that we have to do something, and in order to do that, we need to all be on the same page.”
  2318. >Well that’s a good start.
  2319. >”I’ve gathered you all here so we can communicate face-to-face. No memos, no emails, nothing. If we’re gonna turn this around, we need to do it together. Be brutally honest with me.”
  2320. >The VP of Manufacturing, one of the board’s old guard, sits up in his chair and clears his throat.
  2321. >”Well, I’ve cut all the shifts that I possibly can to keep the lights on.”
  2322. “As our suppliers are starting to raise costs to offset losses from doing business with GM and Chrysler. We just opened two new factories: you have the space to bring more small parts production in house.”
  2323. >The head of Product Development nods his head.
  2324. >”It’s certainly possible. I can get an engineering team on identifying the most commonly shared parts across our lineup and we can go from there.”
  2325. >You give him the go-ahead before turning to the woman running Packard Financial, the company’s lending arm.
  2326. “How are things looking?”
  2327. >”Not good, but we’re managing. I’m very thankful we don’t have a mortgage division right now.”
  2328. >That elicits the only murmuring laughter of the meeting, which continues until the lights of the boardroom are the only fixtures still on in the entire building.
  2329. >Midway through, the Chief Operating Officer leaves to procure a dizzying array of statistics for the board to peruse.
  2330. >And, as the sun dips below the horizon and all you’ve managed to accomplish is juggling factories and arguing about numbers, a pit begins to lodge itself in your stomach.
  2332. >You catch yourself mid-yawn more than once, and by seven, the CFO’s had enough.
  2333. >“Okay. So we consolidate production, throw ourselves behind fuel efficiency, and trim costs across the board. We were already doing all those things! This isn’t going to keep us afloat if things get worse, and we all agree they will.”
  2334. >A hush falls over the room.
  2335. >He’s right, and you all know it.
  2336. >He leans back in his chair and gives you an annoyingly smug smile.
  2337. >”Mr. Doe, this is when your father would have revealed his master plan. I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with.”
  2338. >You rub the bridge of your nose and survey the room.
  2339. >There’s not a lot of confidence to be found here.
  2340. >”What should we really do?”
  2341. >You let out a sigh and give him as solemn a look as you can.
  2342. “Have you been to an AMC dealership recently? It’s a ghost town. People see the bad news coming out of General Motors, or Ford, or Chrysler, and they write off all American cars. They just go straight to Toyota. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s a chance we’ll be pulled under even if we do everything right. Last quarter we had less than half Ford’s market share with even more dealer channels. I guess, at this point, there’s only one thing we can do. We’re going to keep a steady course and just hang on.”
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