Pleasant Farm (Slave Pony, America, WIP)

Dec 27th, 2015
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  1. >Day Pleasant Farm on Earth.
  2. “Uh, hi. I’m here for the interview.”
  3. >The grey pony in a maid outfit looks you over without bothering to hide her disgust.
  4. >”Is that really the best outfit you had?”
  5. >You unconsciously brush your wrinkled polo.
  6. >No one told you that you needed to dress up for a summer job.
  7. “I was running late,” is all you offer her.
  8. >She frowns at this.
  9. >”And your name?”
  10. “Anon Ymous.”
  11. >She nods and opens the door so you can enter.
  12. >”Mr. Nohtfound. A Mr. Ymous is here to see you.”
  13. >You step forward and hear the door close behind you.
  14. >”Ymous? A voice calls out from the second floor. “I haven’t heard that name in a long time.”
  15. >A man you assume is Mr. Nohtfound steps out on the balcony over the foyer.
  16. >He is wearing a brown sport coat over an unbuttoned blue dress shirt.
  17. >Mr. Nohtfound is younger than you expected.
  18. >He is probably in his late twenties, but that can’t be right.
  19. >Your father said that they served in the war together.
  20. “Hello, Mr. Nohtfound.”
  21. >He gives you a confused look.
  22. >”You aren’t who I was expecting.”
  23. “Uh, my father sent me here. He said-”
  24. >”Your father?” Nohtfound interrupts. “Yes, you do look like him. He served under me for two years, and if I recall correctly he was never fond of my leadership style.”
  25. >Your father never told you that.
  26. >“But why would he send you here? He wasn’t man enough to blackmail me himself?”
  27. “Blackmail?”
  28. >Nohtfound takes two steps down the stairs, and his eyes never leave yours.
  29. >”We once shared a pony whore together. I’ll never forget the sound of her screaming. We swore to never talk about that again. But you already know all about that, don’t you?”
  30. >What the fuck?
  31. “No. I don’t know anything about that.”
  32. >Nohtfound’s face turns to anger.
  33. 1/10
  34. >”What’s this all about then?” He shouts. After an uncomfortable pause he adds, “I see now. Your father always blamed me for that explosion. I tried to tell him I was in the dining facility when it happened.”
  35. >He takes another step down the stairs.
  36. >Two ponies poke their heads out of the door to your right.
  37. “Mr. Nohtfound that’s-”
  38. >”It couldn’t possibly have been my fault, but your father never gave it up. He kept telling everyone in our unit that I caused it.”
  39. >He takes another step down.
  40. >”And now you are here to get revenge for your father, is that right?”
  41. >You take a step back, unsure of what to say.
  42. >The grey maid next to you shifts and you see a knife strapped to her left back leg.
  43. >”That’s right, File,” the maid says, “I told him where you were hiding. For two years I’ve waited for this day.”
  44. >Two years?
  45. >”You too, Melody?” He laughs. “If I had known that I would have dressed for the occasion. Maybe put on a suit.”
  46. >His hand moves his sport coat aside to reveal a pistol.
  47. >He takes another step.
  48. >You try to reach for the door behind you but Melody blocks you.
  49. >A third pony pokes its head out of another door.
  50. “No wait! I’m here for the interview, not for revenge! No one ever told me about those things.”
  51. >Nohtfound presses his lips together.
  52. >”Good, because they never happened,” he smiles.
  53. “What?”
  54. >”Yeah. As if I would invite my enemy’s son into my house,” he shakes his head. “That was part of the interview.”
  55. >He quickly steps down to the main floor.
  56. >”I have to admit it sounded a lot funnier in my head than in real life. I mean just look at you. You should be laughing instead of shaking like a leaf.”
  57. >You squeeze your hands into fists.
  58. >That had to be the stupidest excuse for a prank you’ve ever seen.
  59. >He buttons his jacket and continues.
  60. >”So far... ehhh,” he waves his hand dismissively. “At least you showed some courage instead of trying to run away.”
  61. 2/10
  62. >Coming here was a mistake.
  63. >This guy is crazy.
  64. “What about Melody?” You ask as you step away from her.
  65. >”Melody? You would never hurt me, right?”
  66. >She shrugs.
  67. >”I haven’t decided yet.”
  68. >Nohtfound shakes his head in disappointment.
  69. >”Sometimes I don’t know why I put up with her. Thank you, you may return to your duties.”
  70. >She makes the slightest bow and picks up a feather duster.
  71. >”You have a resume?”
  72. >Now seems like a good time to leave, but you’ve come too far to turn down your first real job opportunity.
  73. “Here,” you say as you hand it toward him.
  74. >He quickly scans over it before putting in on a side table.
  75. >”That’s all fine I’m sure. I liked your Dad’s work, so I am hoping you didn’t fall too far from the tree. You know I put a lot of weight on loyalty.”
  76. >He offers you a chair in the next room.
  77. >Against your better judgement you sit down and decide to hear him out.
  78. >A small orange pony brings in two drinks.
  79. “Thanks,” you say as you take one.
  80. >As she leaves you notice she has wings.
  81. >”Your name is Anon, right?”
  82. “Yes, sir.”
  83. >He takes a sip from his glass.
  84. >”Anon, what do you know about Pleasant Farm?”
  85. “Well, I heard you train ponies for all sorts of work.”
  86. >”We train the best ponies,” he corrects. “Anyone can train a pony with a stick, or a boot. Here we train them to be companions. You see a companion is loyal, and always wants to serve. That’s the key. They want you to be happy, and they will use their minds to help achieve that. You can’t buy that from a man who beats them indiscriminately. Our ponies are the best, so we charge top dollar for them. It serves my purposes as well. I mean, who wants to train a hundred at a time? That’s too much work.”
  87. >He swirls his glass and takes a long drink.
  88. “Why do you call it Pleasant Farm then?”
  89. >He shrugs.
  90. 3/10
  91. >”Well, it started as a hobby farm, and soon word got out that I had good ponies. With a few phone calls I was able to get them wholesale- hmm, fresh ones from Equestria. I prefer those since they usually don’t have any bad habits. Of course we sometimes take in one with a previous owner, but not very often. Farming is no longer the main focus, but they have to eat something, right? Plus a little gardening is a good skill for them to learn. Would you care for a snack? Scoots?”
  92. >The same small pony from earlier bursts out on cue carrying a small tray of treats.
  93. >She places it on the table and takes a step back, waiting for her next order.
  94. “No thank you, Mr. Nohtfound.”
  95. >”Are you sure? They are good.”
  96. “That’s alright. I’m not hungry.”
  97. >”I told them to make some cucumber sandwiches. It hurts their feelings if you refuse their work.”
  98. >You watch as he takes a bite.
  99. >The small pony waits anxiously as he samples it.
  100. >”Hmm. It’s a bit soggy. Maybe a little more butter would help.”
  101. >”I’m sorry Mr. Nohtfound. I’ll try better next time.”
  102. >”It’s alright. You can go now. Go on.”
  103. >The pony trots away dejected.
  104. >“Now, Anon, what makes you think you have what it takes for this line of work?”
  105. ”Well, I work really hard and I’ll do whatever you say.”
  106. >”Whatever I say? Well, I’m looking for someone who uses their mind. Hard work is fine and all, but I am looking for initiative. I don’t want to have to watch and monitor every little thing you do. You have to anticipate my needs. Think of the future. Plan for anything, and always ensure the product we produce is top quality. Do you have that? That spark?”
  107. “I think so?”
  108. >”I think so? C'mon you have to know. Do you have it?”
  109. >You take a deep breath.
  110. “Yes, Mr. Nohtfound.”
  111. >He turns his head slightly as he thinks.
  112. 4/10
  113. >”Alright. I’ll give you a shot, since your father said you were smart. Now this is just a summer job. If you do well we can talk about making it a long term situation. I prefer you stay on Pleasant Farm. I’ll have a furnished room set up for you,” he hesitates for a second before continuing. “Also, this is a salaried position, so there will be no overtime. How does that sound?”
  114. >This is better than you hoped.
  115. >You were getting tired of living at home while going to college.
  116. >It’s doubtful that your father would send you to see a lunatic.
  117. >He is a little eccentric though.
  118. “That sounds great.”
  119. >This makes him smile.
  120. >”Good, we’ll start you at...” he writes a number on a piece of paper and pushes it toward you.
  121. >You lean back to think it over.
  122. >His offer is fair.
  123. >Not much more than you could earn flipping burgers but none of those jobs called you back.
  124. >Plus he is throwing in housing.
  125. >If your father didn’t set this up you probably not be able to find decent work.
  126. >”Before you agree, you understand you will be disciplining ponies. Also, some of our clients want our ponies trained in... hmmm... sexual acts.”
  127. “What do you mean?”
  128. >”Well...” he looks away. “You know... but we don’t accept anything too demeaning like strange fetishes, beatings, bodily functions, torture, that sort of stuff. Some prefer... untouched ponies, and we of course cater to that as well.”
  129. “How can you tell if they’ve never...?”
  130. >He smirks.
  131. >”You can tell.”
  132. “I don’t know how I feel about that.”
  133. >”That’s fine. I’ve had a few employees not want to do that. I have a stallion that is up to the task, though I prefer he just be used for breeding. If you change your mind just let me know.”
  134. >You’re unsure about this.
  135. >Does he really want you to have sex with these things?
  136. 5/10
  137. >The small orange pony again enters the room and interrupts your thoughts.
  138. >”Mr. Nohtfound?” Scoots asks tentatively. “Ms. Melody says the new ponies are ready.”
  139. >”Has it been a week already? Fine, tell her I’ll be right over.”
  140. >”Yes, sir,” Scoots says before bowing slightly and exiting the room.
  141. >Your curiosity gets the better of you.
  142. >”Alright. I’ll take the job,” you say as you hold out your hand.
  143. >His own hand moves forward to shake yours.
  144. >”Great. Melody will handle all the forms and such. When do you want to get started? Next week?”
  145. “Anytime is fine, Mr. Nohtfound.”
  146. >”File is fine, Anon. It’s not like we’re in the military,” he rubs his chin. “How about right now? I’ve got a new batch outside just waiting to meet us.”
  147. “Now sounds fine.”
  148. >”I was hoping you’d say that. Let’s go check out the new ones.”
  149. >He finishes his drink and sets the now empty glass down.
  150. >You follow as he walks through the house.
  151. >”It’s important to remember that these are thinking creatures. Once they have accepted their place in life they should be given some respect. For those that behave well I allow extra privileges, and even some spending money for the best. That way they always have something to look forward to. Something even as small as privacy means the world to them. I think you’ll find that goes a long way.”
  152. >That seems pretty reasonable.
  153. >He opens a door and you are on a porch overlooking a field.
  154. “What about before they learn their place?”
  155. >He starts walking toward a concrete building, that isn’t much bigger than a shed or a garage.
  156. >Melody, and Scoots are waiting next to the door with a basket.
  157. 6/10
  158. >”Well, you’re about to find out. For new ones I like to give only hay and water for the first week. This breaks them down and makes sure they understand that they aren’t in Equestria anymore. The first time they meet me is a week after they are purchased. If they behave, I give them an apple.” He stops in front of the building. “You won’t believe how happy they are for that. This way they know the only way to improve their situation is to be docile and subservient.”
  159. >You’ve never had a pony slave before.
  160. >Only letting them eat hay seems cruel.
  161. “Do any ponies refuse to behave?”
  162. >”Sometimes we get... hmm, a wild one, but they usually fall in line fairly quickly. When we go in,” he shakes a fist, “you have to be firm. Don’t say anything, and don’t show any emotions. Just stand behind me and watch. Now hold that basket.”
  163. >You look down and grab it.
  164. >Inside are several apples.
  165. “Alright.”
  166. >”Melody, is there anything I should know before we go in?”
  167. >”The pink one is called Cheerilee. I believe she was the teacher of the filly, and a friend of the pony who is still very angry. That one’s name is Sweetie Drops, and her talent is some sort of cooking. She is in the third cell. The grey filly is Silver Spoon. She has been very docile the last few days.”
  168. >”I know Silver Spoon and Cheerilee.” Scoots perks up. “Cheerilee was my teacher, and Silver was in my class. She was kind of mean though.”
  169. >”Ponies always have such fanciful names. Ready, Anon?”
  170. >You nod, and he opens the door.
  171. >Scoots stays outside as you, File, and Melody enter.
  172. >Inside you see three filthy ponies.
  173. >They are all very thin and tired looking.
  174. >The one in the second to last cell starts yelling, “Let us out! We shouldn’t be here!”
  175. >She starts kicking at the bars without any results.
  176. >File walks in slowly and deliberately.
  177. >He gives each a dismissive look.
  178. >The small grey pony shies away from the glance.
  179. >”Ponies.”
  180. 7/10
  181. >Sweetie Drops continues yelling.
  182. >File gives her an icy glare.
  183. >She sneers in response, but shuts up.
  184. >”Ponies. My name is File Nohtfound, and you are in Pleasant Farm. Here you will be trained in all manner of domestic duties. Whatever you did before, doesn’t matter anymore. This is your new life. If you behave, you will be treated well. If you act up you will be punished. The only thing I require is loyalty, and respect. If you swear you will behave, then you will be allowed to bathe, and will be able to sleep in a soft bed tonight. That sounds nice doesn’t it?”
  185. >None of the ponies respond.
  186. >”No? You would prefer to stay here?”
  187. >Again, none of them say anything.
  188. >File grabs an apple from your basket and examines it.
  189. >”This looks tasty, doesn’t it?”
  190. >This gets the filly’s attention, and she steps toward the cell door to get a closer look.
  191. >File notices and shows her the apple.
  192. >”What about you? Will you behave?”
  193. >Silver looks at the others before bowing her head in shame.
  194. >She says something but you can’t quite hear.
  195. >”What was that?” File asks.
  196. >”Yes, sir.”
  197. >”Good.”
  198. >He makes a motion and Melody opens the first cell.
  199. >Silver takes a step back in fear.
  200. >”It’s alright. Here, you can have this, Silver Spoon.”
  201. >She hesitates for a moment before lunging forward to grab the apple.
  202. >Silver quickly gobbles it down.
  203. >”That’s a good pony,” File says as he holds out another apple.
  204. >This time she takes it slowly, but doesn’t move away.
  205. >File pets her mane lightly before turning his attention to the next mare.
  206. >”What about you... uhh...”
  207. >”Cheerilee,” Melody finishes for him.
  208. >The pony’s ears perk up at her name, but for some reason she keeps looking at the ground.
  209. >After a moment she makes the slightest nod.
  210. >Melody opens the second cell, and File puts the apple in front of her.
  211. >Cheerilee shamefully pulls it toward her and eats it slowly.
  212. 8/10
  213. >”What about you, Sweetie Drops?”
  214. >”Never!” She shouts and goes back to kicking the door. “Let me out!”
  215. >File frowns at this.
  216. >”Maybe a few more days will help her change her mind?” Melody asks.
  217. >”Yeah. This one isn’t ripe yet.”
  218. >Melody nods and motions for the other two to follow her.
  219. “What if you gave her an apple anyway?”
  220. >File gives you a confused look.
  221. >”She doesn’t deserve one...”
  222. “But it would be a nice gesture,” you say sheepishly.
  223. >”I thought I told you not to speak,” File whispers. He then raises his voice so everyone can hear. “Fine. I am feeling generous today.”
  224. >He places an apple within reach of the cage, and the pony greedily grabs it.
  225. >She stares File down as she eats the treat.
  226. >”When you change your mind there will be many more of those.”
  227. >Sweetie Drops just keeps nibbling the apple.
  228. >”Melody, please have Scoots clean up these ponies and let them have a hot meal.”
  229. >”Yes, Mr. Nohtfound.”
  230. >The five of you leave, and Melody closes the door behind her.
  231. >”Hello,” Scoots says quietly.
  232. >”Scootaloo?” Cheerilee asks.
  233. >Silver Spoon seems to recognize her as well.
  234. >Scoots waves a hoof to tell them to be quiet.
  235. >”Yeah it’s me. C’mon, I’ll show you around.”
  236. >The two follow the Pegasus toward the house.
  237. >File waits until they are out of earshot before turning to you.
  238. >”Anon, next time do not question me in front of ponies.”
  239. “I’m sorry, File. She just looked...”
  240. >”It undermines my authority when someone questions me in front of others,” he presses his lips together. “That’s alright this time. It’s your first day after all.”
  241. 9/10
  242. >Melody steps toward you both.
  243. >”Should I show Mr. Ymous to his room?”
  244. >”That’s fine. Give him the paperwork, and then tomorrow have one of the ponies give him the tour.”
  245. >Melody nods and starts trotting off.
  246. >”Oh, and Anon. I’d like for you to train one of these ponies personally. I think it’d be a good learning experience.”
  247. ”Which one?”
  248. >He shrugs.
  249. >”Whichever. Let me know tomorrow. I’m going to check out the gardens.”
  250. >You watch for a moment as he walks toward some ponies arguing over vegetables.
  251. >As you turn you notice Melody is waiting for you impatiently.
  252. >You wonder why File lets her have an attitude like that.
  253. >Ignoring those thoughts you quickly catch up to her.
  254. "Does he always make that speech when he meets new ponies?"
  255. >She starts moving toward the house again.
  256. >"Sometimes he puts a little more flair into it, but the basics are always the same."
  257. "Alright..."
  258. >You're not sure what to say, so you just follow her in silence.
  259. >Her hooves click on the wooden floor as she shows you down a hallway.
  260. >"And, this will be your room. "
  261. >She opens a door and you see a modestly furnished room.
  262. >"The papers are on your desk. Fill them out as best you can and I'll look over them tomorrow."
  263. "Thanks, Melody. Uh, what should I do now?"
  264. >She frowns at this question.
  265. >"Do you really think you have what it takes for this job?"
  266. "Are all the ponies like you?" You scoff.
  267. >"I don't think are a good fit, and I'm going to tell File that."
  268. >What is wrong with this mare?
  269. "You could at least give me a chance."
  270. >Melody clears her throat.
  271. >"I'll send a servant over to check on you. Dinner is at six. After that, you can either go home to pick up your things, or stay here. I don't care either way."
  272. >She doesn't wait for you to respond, and closes the door behind her.
  273. "It was nice to meet you too."
  274. End of Chapter 1
  275. 10/10
  277. >Day Pleasant Farm continued.
  278. >Your room is larger than you expected.
  279. >There is a full sized bed, a television, and other trappings of a moderately furnished room.
  280. >What surprises you more than anything is the attached bathroom.
  281. >It seems strange that this farm would have suites for their employees, but File does seem like an eccentric person.
  282. >Speaking of strange, what is Melody’s deal?
  283. >Going back to the desk, you see a stack of papers beside a small pamphlet.
  284. >The papers are half filled in with tax information and similar details.
  285. >It only takes a few minutes to fill in your particulars such as your driver’s license and social security number.
  286. >The liability release form seemed to be a bit much, but you imagine it’s just for legal reasons.
  287. >Satisfied that they are complete, you turn to the leaflet.
  288. >The paper is glossy, and explains the history of the farm.
  289. >Turning to the first page you see a girl cuddling a filly, while other ponies jump for joy around her.
  290. >The next few pages explain what to expect from a Pleasant Farm pony.
  291. >They can cook, clean, garden, and perform other domestic tasks like caring for small children.
  292. >Each page has a picture of a different pony happily at work.
  293. >The last sheet shows File and Melody looking at the sun rising just behind Pleasant Farm.
  294. >You decide it’s just a sales pamphlet and put it back on the desk.
  295. >A knock at the door makes you look up suddenly.
  296. “Yes?”
  297. >The door opens, and a Unicorn bows as she enters.
  298. >She has a yellow mane and a greenish blue coat.
  299. >Her maid uniform is much simpler than Melody’s ornate one.
  300. “Mr. Ymous, dinner is ready.”
  301. >So quickly?
  302. >A quick glance at the clock shows that it is nearly six.
  303. >The papers must have taken longer than you thought.
  304. “Alright, let’s go.”
  305. >The Unicorn starts trotting forward, and you follow close behind.
  306. “What is your name?”
  307. 1/29
  308. >“Sea Spray.”
  309. “What do you think of Melody?”
  310. >Her ears pin down, and she increases her pace.
  311. >”She is a good pony, and is very helpful to Mr. Nohtfound.”
  312. “No. I mean, what is she like? Why does she have an attitude?”
  313. >”Attitude? I don’t know what you mean,” she says too quickly.
  314. >Right.
  315. >These ponies probably aren’t allowed to talk poorly about the staff.
  316. >Still, it would be better if you got to know about all of them to make this job easier.
  317. >When you arrive in the dining room, File, Melody, and a Griffon are seated, while maybe three dozen ponies and one Griffon are waiting patiently.
  318. >They all wear some sort of uniform, either a maid outfit, or that of a gardener.
  319. >The table is overflowing with a mix of dishes, pans and even a tureen.
  320. >Melody makes the slightest sneer as you approach, but the look quickly fades.
  321. >Her knife is out, and being used to clean her hoof.
  322. >She is still wearing her maid uniform, but File has taken off his sport coat, revealing the pistol at his hip.
  323. >”Anon, please come and join us,” he waves to an open chair. “Gerald, this is Anon Ymous. He will be helping me for the summer.”
  324. >”Pleased to meet you.”
  325. “Likewise.”
  326. >”Did you have a chance to look through the pamphlet?”
  327. “I did. It looks like you run a good operation. I might need to get a pony of my own.”
  328. >File claps his hands together and rubs them.
  329. >”Perfect. I thought the sunrise picture was a bit much, but you know how it is... hmm... My marketing consultant thought it would be a nice touch. Anyway, now, is my favorite part. As I’m sure you’re aware, ponies have to be taught everything about running a house. About half of them have prepared a small dish which we will judge.” He turns to Gerald. “Who do we have first?”
  330. >Gerald looks at his notes.
  331. >”Let’s go with Scootaloo and her-“
  332. >”I made a chicken noodle soup. I hope you like it.”
  333. 2/29
  334. >Melody stops picking at her hoof with her knife and glares at Scoots for interrupting the staff.
  335. >She shies away from the look, but after a moment regains her composure and tries to stand tall.
  336. >Gerald scoops some for File, himself, and finally you, while Melody takes a smaller bowl that has already been prepared for her.
  337. >It looks good enough.
  338. >Throwing caution to the wind you take a spoonful.
  339. >You cringe as your taste it.
  340. >It’s so salty.
  341. >File has a similar reaction, and Scoots starts pleading.
  342. >“I know it’s a little saltier than normal, but I accidentally dropped the shaker. I hoped it wouldn’t be too bad.”
  343. >File pushes the bowl away and wipes his lips with his cloth napkin.
  344. >”Scoots, you knew this wouldn’t be acceptable. Why didn’t you make a new one?”
  345. >She bows her head in shame.
  346. >”I’m sorry. After showing the new ponies around I didn’t have time to make another batch.”
  347. >File shakes his head in disappointment.
  348. >”You know what to do.”
  349. >”Yes, Mr. Nohtfound.”
  350. >She turns and slowly walks to the far wall.
  351. >After a few steps, she touches the ground with her nose.
  352. >Some of the ponies snicker, but not loud enough for you to figure out which ones.
  353. >You notice the two new ponies are huddled in the back row.
  354. >What were their names?
  355. >Cheer something and Silver?
  356. >”Ponies are of course, social animals. When they mess up, you need to lower their… hmm… social standing. Hitting them is a short term solution, but, ah, getting in their mind.” He taps his temple before raising his voice. “And it’s such a disappointment too. You’re almost done with your training. You’re better than this. How am I supposed to find you a good home if you can’t even take care of simple tasks?”
  357. >She makes a barely audible whimper before pressing her nose down harder on the floor.
  358. >Time out seems like a simple enough punishment.
  359. >But why is she so upset?
  360. >You choose to ignore this for now.
  361. 3/29
  362. “Are all meals like this? So elaborate?”
  363. >”Just dinner. Most ponies can easily make sandwiches and other simple meals, so we don’t waste our time with this production. Besides, a family isn’t going to judge every meal so harshly. When there is no pressure, I think they actually enjoy cooking. You like cooking for me, don’t you Melody?”
  364. >She wipes her knife on her apron before putting it back in the sheath on her back leg.
  365. >”You won’t like my answer.”
  366. >An uncomfortable silence descends on the room.
  367. >”Uh… Maybe we should pick another.” Gerald looks again at his notes. “How about, Sea Spray and her muffins?”
  368. >The Unicorn steps forward and make a bow.
  369. >”I used strawberries from the garden to make them taste extra special.”
  370. >”More sweets? You should be expanding your repertoire, not always going back to your specialty. What if your new family doesn’t like cake, or bread? Or maybe they can only eat gluten free.” File takes a bite. “It is tasty though. Definitely would be good for breakfast. This is fine for today, but if you make more muffins I’m going to have to discipline you. You’re dismissed.”
  371. >Sea Spray makes a little jump before exiting.
  372. >”Ponies are allowed to rest after dinner,” Melody explains.
  373. >The rest of the meal goes the same.
  374. >Most ponies satisfy the judges, while others are told to push their noses against the wood floor.
  375. >When the meal is finished, five ponies are in time out, and the ponies who aren't being judged are allowed to leave.
  376. >The two new ponies are waiting awkwardly for direction.
  377. >”What did you think about that, uh…” File furrows his brow as he tries to remember their names.
  378. >”Cheerilee and Silver Spoon,” Melody finishes for him.
  379. >”Right. I realize this must seem strange to you, but this is a proven method.”
  380. >The pink one steps forward and other follows, nearly clinging to her.
  381. 4/29
  382. >”It’s good that you are teaching them skills,” Cheerilee says tentatively. “And it was nice having a real meal. Thank you.”
  383. >This makes File smile.
  384. >The week locked away with only hay and water must have actually worked.
  385. >”I understand you were a teacher of some sort back home. I could always use help around here. If you prove yourself, you might even be considered. And Silver, what did you think about this?”
  386. >”I don’t know. It was fine I guess. I couldn’t see it very well without my glasses.”
  387. >File glances at Melody, who only offers him a shrug.
  388. >Turning back to them he says, “Well, it should be more than fine. Like I said earlier, if you are good, you can have rewards. Right now you are in our community housing, but you could easily earn a room of your own one day. As for your glasses, Gerald, can you set up an appointment for her?”
  389. >”Not a problem,” he says while jotting down a note.
  390. >”How is this going to work?” Cheerilee asks. “We just do whatever you want until you are satisfied?”
  391. >”You make it sound like this is a death camp or something. No. I aim for two to three months of training. Then if you’re ready, I’ll find you a good home. I want you to be happy, so you can be a companion to a family. Wild ponies are sold off. I don’t have the time or patience to work with ponies that are unwilling. Melody, how many ponies are ready?”
  392. >”Seven. We have some clients visiting tomorrow around noon.”
  393. >”Perfect. We’ll need the space so we can get more ponies.”
  394. >With that File stands up and both Melody and Gerald immediately rise.
  395. >Unsure of what to do, you just imitate them and step away as well.
  396. >”So, Anon. How's your room?”
  397. “It’s pretty good. I guess I was expecting a closet in the basement.”
  398. 5/29
  399. >”No, no. I wouldn’t do that to my staff. Officers deserve decent accommodations.” He hesitates for a moment. “What I mean to say is that I consider you to be like a junior officer, green but trainable. Just like back in the Army. I suppose you could consider Gerald and Melody to be sort of like sergeants.”
  400. >Your dad had a full career in the military, so this makes perfect sense to you.
  401. >As you understand it, rank has its privileges.
  402. >The longer you are in, the more freedom you are allowed.
  403. >”Mr. Nohtfound, can I have a word with you?” Melody chimes in.
  404. >”Is it about work?”
  405. >She glances at you and you have a sinking feeling.
  406. >”Yes.”
  407. >”You know I don’t like talking about that after dinner. We can discuss it at breakfast.”
  408. >Melody looks annoyed, but doesn’t disagree with File.
  409. >”Fine.”
  410. >”Anyway, Anon, I imagine you will want to pick up your things. Breakfast starts at eight, and we are open to the public at nine. There should be a few keys in your desk. One is to your room, the other is for the house. Please make yourself at home.”
  411. “What should I wear?”
  412. >”Jeans and a polo should be fine. Grab a couple from the gift shop.”
  413. >Then why did Melody give you shit for wearing that here?
  414. >When you look to find her, she is already gone.
  415. >“My wing is private, of course, but you are free to look around.”
  416. ”Thanks.”
  417. >He gives a wave behind him as he starts walking off.
  418. “What about the ponies?”
  419. >”Hmm?”
  420. >You look back and the ponies are still waiting with their noses touching the ground.
  421. >”Right. Ponies, please clean up and then you are dismissed.”
  422. >”Thank you, Master,” they say in unison.
  423. >File doesn’t wait for more questions and leaves.
  424. >The drive home is quick and you gather everything you need to work at Pleasant Farm.
  425. >Your dad isn’t around, so you text him to thank him for arranging the job.
  426. >He replies with a thumbs up emoji.
  427. 6/29
  428. >The ride back is a little more difficult as the sun is starting to set.
  429. >There are very few lights through the country roads, so you have to use your brights.
  430. >The farm has a white board fence around the perimeter, but it doesn’t look like it would be enough to stop a pony from escaping.
  431. >If anything it just looks like it is there for the aesthetic.
  432. >Other than that sort of prison, what keeps these ponies here?
  433. >You’ll have to ask one of them later.
  434. >As you arrive, you notice a bonfire in the backyard with ponies sitting around playing instruments.
  435. >They seem happy enough.
  436. >You remember to grab two polos from the gift shop before going to your room.
  437. >It felt like a long day, so you decide to just call it an early night.
  438. >
  439. >
  440. >A fucking rooster!
  441. >Who the fuck has a rooster!?
  442. >Then you remember where you are.
  443. >Of course a farm would have chickens.
  444. >You look at your phone, and see that it’s still really early, so you go back to sleep.
  445. >When you wake up again, it is about seven, so you get ready for the day.
  446. >It only takes a few minutes to make yourself look presentable.
  447. >Sitting in your room doesn’t seem like much fun, so you decide to go to the kitchen.
  448. >Even though it isn’t quite eight, File and Gerald are sitting at the dining table.
  449. >File is reading a newspaper, while Gerald plays with his phone.
  450. “Good morning,” you say as you sit down.
  451. >”Ah, Anon, good morning. Would you care for some coffee?”
  452. “Sure.”
  453. >File waves to a pony you don’t know, and she brings out a cup for you.
  454. >After serving you, the mare just stands there, looking at you awkwardly.
  455. >Are you supposed to dismiss her?
  456. >”Use your words, Lemon,” Gerald says without looking up from his phone. “Ask him if he wants breakfast.”
  457. >”Oh, yes. Of course. Uh… would you like anything?”
  458. >The pony looks very nervous, but she tries to fake a smile.
  459. “I’ll have an omelet and some bacon please.”
  460. 7/29
  461. >”A good choice, Master,” she bows before running off.
  462. >File puts his paper aside and drinks from his cup before speaking.
  463. >”Anon, did you consider which pony you would like to train?”
  464. >Shit.
  465. >You knew you forgot something.
  466. >What were your choices again?
  467. >That teacher, the silver pony, and the crazy one that’s still locked up.
  468. “I guess Silver Spoon will be fine.”
  469. >He raises an eyebrow.
  470. >”You have a thing for grey mares? Does that mean that Melody strikes your fancy as well?”
  471. “What? No,” you say too quickly. “It’s not like that.”
  472. >“I’ll have you know that she is a valued member of the team, and I don’t appreciate employees getting ideas about her.”
  473. >He stares at you for several seconds.
  474. >Is he about to fight you?
  475. >What did Melody say to him?
  476. >You feel your hands clench into fists.
  477. >After a moment his mood passes, and he smiles.
  478. >”Relax, I was just playing with you.”
  479. >”File, not everyone gets your sense of humor,” Gerald says.
  480. >”Maybe you’re right,” he turns back to you. “It’s too early for jokes. You haven’t even had your first cup of coffee.”
  481. “I just thought she was as good as choice as any.”
  482. >Your employer leans back and considers what you said.
  483. >”Cheerilee would have been the easiest pony. She’s been a teacher so I imagine she would be easy to train. Silver Spoon is still young, so she might, hmm… get ideas about being free. But she shouldn’t give you too much trouble.”
  484. >You notice that he doesn’t mention Sweetie Drops.
  485. >She’s still locked up in that prison like building.
  486. >Lemon brings out your meal on two separate plates.
  487. >The omelet is slightly burned, and the bacon looks undercooked.
  488. >”Here you are, Master. Would you like anything else?”
  489. >Gerald shakes his head when he looks up from his phone and to your meal.
  490. >This sets her off, and she suddenly looks more nervous than before.
  491. >Why didn’t she make another one?
  492. 8/29
  493. >”Oh my God, Lemon. That should have been an easy order.”
  494. >”I’m sorry, Mr. Nohtfound. I can make another.”
  495. “I don’t mind,” you lie. “It looks fine.”
  496. >”That’s not really the point. You’re supposed to train them, and discipline them when they are wrong. I mean, just look at that!”
  497. >Lemon pins her ears down and bows quickly.
  498. >”I’m sorry. I’ll make another.”
  499. >She takes the dishes before you can stop her.
  500. >”Lemon!”
  501. >She freezes.
  502. >”Did Mr. Ymous ask you to take that back?”
  503. >She takes a deep breath to calm herself.
  504. >”No,” Lemon says just over a whisper.
  505. >She looks at you, with the plates still balanced on her back, like she isn’t sure what to do.
  506. >The bacon is borderline uncooked, but you’ve had worse before.
  507. >As for the omelet, it’s burned, sure, but your mom always burned your eggs.
  508. “I’ll eat it. Thank you.”
  509. >”Yes, master.”
  510. >Lemon places the plates back down and scurries off before File can discipline her.
  511. >”Anon, back in the Army it made sense to correct things immediately. If you let bad behaviors fester, they will just get worse. For example, take Lemon and her burned omelet. Would a family have accepted that?” He bobs his head from side to side. “Probably, yes. But they shouldn’t have to deal with simple mistakes like that. Do you understand?”
  512. “Yes. Sorry, I’ll, uh… try better next time,” you say lamely.
  513. >Maybe Melody was right.
  514. >You’re too nice to these ponies.
  515. >Satisfied, File takes a long drink from his coffee before turning to the Griffon.
  516. >”Gerald, please take Anon on a tour of the farm. After that have him take Silver to the optometrist. I’ll be riding my horses.”
  517. >”Sure thing.”
  518. >File gets up and you start to stand like last night, but he waves his hand dismissively.
  519. >With him gone, you enjoy your meal.
  520. >The eggs are rubbery, and the bacon is way too chewy.
  521. >Just like mom used to make.
  522. “Where is Melody by the way?”
  523. 9/29
  524. >”Probably taking ponies to daycare.”
  525. “Daycare?”
  526. >”Sure.” He puts his phone in his pocket. “They have to learn how to take care of children, and File doesn’t have anywhere for that yet.”
  527. >He gets up and motions for you to follow him.
  528. >Unlike him, you grab your plate.
  529. >”Lemon will take care of that. Let’s go.”
  530. >The moment you get up, Lemon rushes out and bows before cleaning the table.
  531. >Gerald ignores her and walks out a side door.
  532. >The sun is already high, and you can see ponies working in the gardens.
  533. >”So, obviously this is a hobby farm.” He points to the buildings. “We have the staff building, the two barracks, that’s for new ponies, then the dorms for ponies who are good. Over there is our holding facility and tool shed. You can’t really see them from here, but on the edge of the property are the farm buildings. You know, for horses, and chickens and such. Let’s start with the barracks.”
  534. >He flies slowly to allow you to follow him.
  535. “I didn’t realize the farm was this big.”
  536. >”Ponies need a lot of room to grow,” he laughs, “since it’s a farm.”
  537. >Was that supposed to be a joke?
  538. >Is it a requirement to work here to have poor comedic timing?
  539. ”Uh, yeah…”
  540. >”Anyway… here we are.”
  541. >He opens the door and lets you in.
  542. >Inside resembles a cross between a barn and a military barracks.
  543. >There are maybe a dozen bunk beds, each with a locker and laundry bag.
  544. >In the center is a cast iron stove, but it isn't lit right now.
  545. >A few pieces of wood are stacked beside it.
  546. >The walls are mostly bare except for inspirational posters.
  547. >Gerald tugs at a few locks as he shows you the beds.
  548. >”We’re supposed to make sure they are locked. Not that theft is a problem, but,” he shrugs. “Ponies feel better if they have some privacy.”
  549. >One lock opens when he tugs at it.
  550. >With a quick twist he takes it off and opens the container.
  551. 10/29
  552. >Inside is candy, a few uniforms, what looks like play money, and a picture of two Pegasi.
  553. >”Oh, Scoots. When will you learn?”
  554. >Gerald closes and locks it before jotting down Scootaloo’s name on his notepad.
  555. “What happens if it’s unlocked.”
  556. >”Just the usual, unless it’s a reoccurring problem.”
  557. >At the far end he knocks on a door, and calls out, “Is anyone in there?”
  558. >”I’m here!” A voice responds.
  559. >”That’s the bathroom. We’re not allowed in there unless it’s empty.”
  560. >Finally he opens a utility room.
  561. >It looks pretty standard, with brooms and cleaning supplies, except the boiler looks odd.
  562. >Wood is stacked next to it just like the iron stove.
  563. >”The other barracks is the same, except it’s for stallions, so we don’t need to see it.”
  564. >Instead he walks to a building that looks more like a ranch than a barn.
  565. >It keeps some farm elements, but mostly it looks like a standard country home.
  566. >”Here are the dorms.”
  567. >Inside is much nicer than the barracks.
  568. >There is a decently sized kitchen, a living room complete with television and couches, and a long row of doors.
  569. >A few personal items like pictures and decorations are spread around.
  570. “This almost looks like a home.”
  571. >”Ponies are supposed to feel welcome if they do well. Likely they will live in their own room when they are purchased, so we try to imitate that feel.”
  572. >Gerald examines a clipboard before choosing a room to enter.
  573. >Inside is a single bed, a radio, and a dresser.
  574. >He sniffs loudly before groaning.
  575. “What is it?”
  576. >”Ponies have been fooling around in here.”
  577. >He pulls the corner of the sheets and unmakes the bed.
  578. ”Are they not allowed to do that?”
  579. >”No. File doesn’t mind, but this means that two of the new ponies sneaked in here to do their business. Empty rooms are supposed to be locked.”
  580. >Gerald props open the door with a small chair.
  581. >That’s probably so they know to wash the sheets.
  582. 11/29
  583. >”And now, the staff quarters.”
  584. >He takes you to another building that shares the same look and feel as the farm house.
  585. >There is a hallway with just six doors.
  586. >He opens one and inside is a private suite.
  587. >In the living room is lounge chair and a loveseat, with a desk pushed to the corner.
  588. >The television is larger than the one in the dorm’s community room.
  589. >There is an oil painting of four ponies smiling.
  590. >Unlike the ones you have seen before, they have both wings and a horn.
  591. >Very strange.
  592. >”We all have our own kitchens, and private bathrooms.”
  593. >He lowers the thermostat before showing you the rest of the suite.
  594. >The bedroom has either a queen or double sized bed, you aren’t sure.
  595. >Either way this is debatably better than what you have.
  596. >But then again, you have full access to the main building.
  597. “So how many people are on staff?”
  598. >”Just you, me, and Octavia right now. Rosie was great at gardening, but a company a few towns over made a big offer on her. That’s why I’m glad you came on board. It will make things easier on all of us.”
  599. “File mentioned something about a stallion he uses for breeding.”
  600. >”Oh yeah. There’s this Unicorn that comes around every now and then. Sometimes ponies get really weird about having sex for the first time, so File hires him to rut them. Apparently he was royalty or something. Either way he’s kind of an asshole, so I don’t talk with him much.”
  601. “He can’t find a nicer stallion?”
  602. >”Probably if he wanted to, but it hasn’t been an issue so far.”
  603. >Gerald locks the door and climbs into what you would describe as a cross between an All-Terrain Vehicle, and a golf cart.
  604. >The wheels are much larger than normal, and are knobbed.
  605. >You notice that the pedals are extended slightly, which allows him to reach them.
  606. >The cart moves forward and he makes a loop around the perimeter.
  607. 12/29
  608. >”Those are the out buildings I was talking about. It’s just barn stuff, so I won’t bore you with it.”
  609. >In the distance you see File riding a horse.
  610. >The horse goes into a full gallop before leaping over a low fence.
  611. >”This creek marks the edge of the property.” He points at the forest. “That is public land. We’re allowed to pick up or chop up deadfall, but don’t touch any of the live trees. Over there is another farm.”
  612. >A chestnut horse looks at you blankly over the fence.
  613. >”Hi, horsie,” Gerald says before speeding off. “And of course the fields.”
  614. >He slows down when he sees that Griffon from yesterday.
  615. >”How’s it going Gilda? Having fun?”
  616. >She just rolls her eyes and goes back to work.
  617. >”I think she likes me.”
  618. “I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”
  619. >”She’s just playing hard to get. It’s a Griffon thing. You wouldn’t understand.”
  620. >A short drive more and you are nearly back at the farm house.
  621. >”Hey, Silver Spoon?”
  622. >”Yes, um, Master?”
  623. >”Hop in, we need to get you to your appointment.”
  624. >”But Miss Melody told me I had to stay out here.”
  625. >”While I appreciate that, it doesn’t change when I set your appointment.”
  626. >Silver Spoon nervously looks back at the other ponies.
  627. >”Are you seriously ignoring a direct order from the staff, or do you just not know what to do?”
  628. >One of them waves a hoof urging her to get in the cart.
  629. >”Sorry. I don’t know what to do.”
  630. >Gerald looks annoyed, and you’re sure he’s about to yell at her.
  631. “Silver, please get in the cart. You can finish working here later.”
  632. >”Um… okay.”
  633. >She puts down her tools and climbs in the backseat.
  634. >”Ponies. I don’t get them sometimes,” Gerald says under his breath. Still he continues driving. “And last but not least, the tool shed and detaining facility.”
  635. >There are four vehicles parked in front of it.
  636. >A van, a work truck, another cart, and a car that looks like it got the hell beaten out of it.
  637. 13/29
  638. >He pulls up to the entrance of the farm house.
  639. >”And that’s pretty much it.”
  640. >All three of you dismount and go inside the house.
  641. >The living room is alive with ponies, all of them are cleaning or mopping.
  642. >One is very awkwardly trying to push a vacuum.
  643. >Sea Spray is in front of Melody, with her nose touching the ground.
  644. >Both of them are wearing maid outfits as opposed to Silver who is wearing overalls.
  645. >”Anon’s going to take Silver into town. Did you need anything?”
  646. >”I thought I asked you to make the appointment after lunch, so she could get the whole morning to garden.”
  647. >”Yeah, well, that’s all they had available today, so what do you want me to do?”
  648. >Melody frowns at this, but she suddenly smiles widely.
  649. >”Anon,” she says sweetly. “If you’re going in to town, can you let Sea Spray drive? She needs the practice.”
  650. >Why is she so nice all of a sudden?
  651. >Gerald shakes his head violently.
  652. >He tries to mouth something to you, but you can’t read beaks.
  653. “I don’t think that will be an issue.”
  654. >”Great. The keys to the sedan are in the kitchen.”
  655. >She wants you to drive around in that junk?
  656. >You’re about to offer up your car, but think better of it.
  657. >”I don’t know if she is ready to drive on the road yet.”
  658. >”She has to learn some time.” Melody reaches into one of her pockets and pulls out a credit card. ”You can use this, just remember to bring back any receipts.”
  659. >”I can get the keys if you want,” Sea says while still touching the floor.
  660. ”Please do. Thanks.”
  661. >She rushes off and quickly brings back the keys along with a notebook.
  662. >Sea Spray doesn’t stop and runs out the door, so you and Silver have to hurry to keep up with her.
  663. >Ponies always seem to get excited over simple things.
  664. >Then again, when you were a teenager driving to the store for errands felt amazing.
  665. >If only young Anon knew that driving in traffic wasn’t that fun.
  666. 14/29
  667. ”So how much experience do you have?”
  668. >”I took a class to get my permit, and Gerald let me drive around a bit. He says once I’m better they will let me take proper driving lessons.”
  669. >That doesn’t sound so bad.
  670. >You all climb into the vehicle.
  671. >Hopefully all the bumps and dings aren’t foreshadowing a death ride.
  672. >She has a very serious look to her as she mechanically checks and adjusts the mirrors.
  673. >”Thanks again. It’s my first time driving a real car.”
  674. ”What?”
  675. >”Alright, I’m ready. Buckle up everypony.”
  676. >She switches gears and immediately plows into a garbage can.
  677. >“Sorry, sorry, sorry!”
  678. “Jesus Christ! Do you even know how to drive?!”
  679. >She presses her nose against the steering wheel and the car makes a loud honk.
  680. >”Only with a cart and Gerald didn’t let me leave the property.”
  681. >”Are we going to die?”
  682. ”No, nobody is dying today. But you’d better prove to me that you can handle being on the road.”
  683. >For the next fifteen minutes or so you make her explain what every knob, dial, and lever does in the car.
  684. >Surprisingly she understands most of it, but she has no real road practice.
  685. >You have her drive up and down the long driveway until you feel you might have the slightest glimmer of hope of surviving.
  686. >And for good measure, you make sure she actually has a driving permit.
  687. “Alright, Sea Spray. Just go really slow. You don’t need to impress me.”
  688. >”Okay,” she says with a determined look.
  689. >Now you know why your father hated teaching you how to drive.
  690. >The next half hour is filled with cursing, holding on to every handle, and slamming on your imaginary brake.
  691. ”Use your brakes!”
  692. >”I am!” She accelerates.
  693. ”Your other brakes!”
  694. >Sea Spray never once lets the car coast.
  695. >She just switches from full acceleration to full braking.
  696. >Hopefully you won’t get whiplash from this.
  697. >Finally, it’s over and she somehow manages to take four spots when she parks.
  698. “I’m alive! Jesus.”
  699. 15/29
  700. >”It wasn’t that bad, was it?”
  701. “Fuck me! Not that bad? I almost had a heart attack. Look at Silver. She’s been making that face the entire ride.”
  702. >You look back and Silver is frozen in fear, with hooves tightly clenching your seat.
  703. >”But we did make it…”
  704. >You ignore her and step back on solid ground.
  705. >The strip mall is fairly standard.
  706. >It has your typical grocery store, a few restaurants, and other random businesses.
  707. ”Com’n Silver. Let’s get your glasses.” She very shakily gets out of the car. “Sea Spray, this will be boring, so you can just walk around. It should only take an hour.”
  708. >”I didn’t bring any money.”
  709. >Annoyed, you hand her ten dollars.
  710. “Go buy yourself ice cream. We’ll meet you there.”
  711. >The Unicorn leaves and you and Silver Spoon walk to the one hour glasses shop.
  712. “Exactly how bad is your vision?”
  713. >”Your face is a little blurry.”
  714. “But I’m right next to you.”
  715. >”Yeah, that’s why the car ride was so scary. I could barely see what she was doing.”
  716. >The shop is moderately busy, but since you have an appointment Silver doesn’t have to wait.
  717. >She goes into a back room while you look at a pamphlet describing all the options.
  718. >A plastic frame and real glass is of course the cheapest.
  719. >Then you can choose various plastic options with different coats to block reflection and such.
  720. >But the prices jump way more than they should for simple changes.
  721. >That’s probably how they get people.
  722. >Lure them in with cheap glasses, and then up sell.
  723. >Melody didn’t mention how much you were allowed to spend.
  724. >Should you go with the cheapest option?
  725. >The magazines are pretty boring, so you play with your phone for the next twenty minutes.
  726. >”Mr. Ymous, how are you?” A stallion asks as he hands you her prescription. “Silver Spoon is all done with her examination. Are you interested in purchasing lenses today?”
  727. “That’s why we came here.”
  728. >”Right this way then.”
  729. 16/29
  730. >He leads you to a low counter meant for ponies with rows of frames next to it.
  731. >”Here are our frame options. These are the inexpensive one, but if you’re feeling fancy, we do have a few designer models as well over there. Frames by Coco is very popular right now.”
  732. >She tries on several options before settling on blue designer frames.
  733. >”These are almost like the ones I had back home,” she says while looking at a small mirror.
  734. “You haven’t really earned expensive ones yet, have you?”
  735. >”Oh, sorry. I never had to worry about money before.”
  736. >She starts leaning forward to put her nose to the ground, but you stop her.
  737. >You can’t have people thinking you punish ponies over nothing.
  738. “Get up. You can have them, just… you had better behave.”
  739. >”I will. Thanks.”
  740. >You pass the frames to the stallion and he puts it aside.
  741. >”Silver’s prescription is right on the line between recommending our entry level plastic and our lightweight lenses. You could go either way, but most owners choose lightweights.”
  742. >He brings out three different glasses so you can feel the weight between glass, plastic, and the lightweights.
  743. >You pass them over to Silver so she can hold them as well.
  744. >File said that his ponies are supposed to be the best, therefore they should get the best.
  745. >Besides, you’re already spending too much on those Coco frames.
  746. “The lightweights are fine.”
  747. >”An excellent choice. Next are the coatings. These come with anti-glare, but you can also get ones that darken in the sun.”
  748. >This is starting to get a bit ridiculous so you just wave a hand.
  749. “Just the way there are is fine. Thanks.”
  750. >”We’re ahead of schedule so they will be ready in,” he looks at the clock. “about forty minutes.”
  751. >Both of you find Sea Spray enjoying her ice cream.
  752. >She suggests going for another drive while you wait, but the lunch rush is going to start soon, and you don’t want her on the road for that.
  753. 17/29
  754. >The look on Silver’s face also helped you make up your mind.
  755. >Instead you buy the grey earth pony some treats and let them talk amongst themselves.
  756. >Soon enough, time is up and you pick up the glasses.
  757. >”It feels so good to have glasses again. I can finally see.”
  758. Your curiosity gets the better of you, and you say, “let me try them.”
  759. >The moment you put them on your vision goes blurry and you almost feel sick.
  760. “Those things are strong.”
  761. >She looks away in embarrassment.
  762. >”The doctor said it was about average for corrective lenses.”
  763. “I guess I wouldn’t be a good judge for that. Let’s go back to the farm.”
  764. >Traffic is a little heavier than before, so you drive instead.
  765. >You let Silver ride shotgun.
  766. >With her vision restored she becomes very curious and constantly looks out the window.
  767. >You take the time to explain to them how you’re supposed to drive, and what to look for.
  768. >When you arrive at Pleasant Farm, you see a few more cars parked out front.
  769. >Customers shouldn’t see the banged up sedan, so you park with the other work vehicles.
  770. >Sea Spray says she has to help prepare lunch and runs off before you can give her notepad.
  771. >”That pony is way too excited to be here.”
  772. “I think that’s the point. Ponies should want to be sold.”
  773. >”But why? I was happy back in Ponyville. I was about to go to college in Canterlot.”
  774. “What makes you think you can’t go to college now?”
  775. >”That’s not something that slaves are allowed to do.”
  776. “Why not? I’ve seen ponies on campus before.”
  777. >This gives her pause, and she turns her head like the idea is completely foreign to her.
  778. >Still, she follows you into the main building.
  779. >Inside is a family sitting in front of a row of ponies.
  780. >A man you don’t know is playing with his phone to give them some privacy as he waits.
  781. >Melody is sitting submissively, while File explains the finer details of each one.
  782. >She notices you and waves for you to take your place behind her.
  783. 18/29
  784. >”Watch, and don’t say anything,” she whispers.
  785. >A small girl pets one pony, and when she is happy enough, moves to pet the next.
  786. >They all lean into her touch.
  787. >”I want this one, Mommy,” the girl says as she jumps up and down next to Lemon, tugging her ears.
  788. >Lemon winces a bit, but doesn’t otherwise move.
  789. >”She’s a good choice. She has her driver’s license, is certified in child care, but her cooking still needs some work.”
  790. >”I don’t know. She seems expensive.”
  791. >”You said I could have a pony, and I want this one!”
  792. >She stamps her foot and crosses her arms.
  793. >It almost looks like she’s about to have a tantrum.
  794. >”Now, now,” Lemon says softly. “That’s no way to talk to your mother.”
  795. >”But I want you.”
  796. >”You will get what you want by being nice, not by acting up.”
  797. >Lemon reaches out a hoof, and hugs the girl.
  798. >She puts both arms around the pony and nuzzles into her neck.
  799. >”We’ll take her. If Lemon can get Jenny to calm down once in a while, then she will be worth every penny.”
  800. >File claps his hands together at the sale.
  801. >”Perfect! Melody will take care of the details.”
  802. >On cue, she moves forward with a clipboard and sits beside Jenny’s parents.
  803. >The man standing in the corner senses that it’s his turn, and he puts away his phone.
  804. >”How may I help you?” File asks.
  805. >”I am looking for an assistant for my business. They would have to be good at paperwork and able to perform light cleaning.”
  806. >File considers for a moment as he looks at the remaining ponies.
  807. 19/29
  808. >”If you don’t care about gender, then Balanced Scales would be a good option. He can drive and enjoys things like taxes and general accounting. He’s not good with small children, but doesn’t seem to mind older ones.” The Pegasus steps forward and bows. “But if you prefer a mare, then Ink Blot might be appropriate. She is certified in child care, has her learners permit, and loves writing stories. You would have to train her for the position, but that’s normal for any business venture.”
  809. >”I’d like to speak with them for a while if you don’t mind.”
  810. >”Take your time.”
  811. >They walk off to a separate seating area to talk.
  812. >With all his clients busy, File walks toward you.
  813. >”Melody told me you volunteered to take out Sea Spray for a drive. You’re a brave man.”
  814. “Actually I think she tricked me into it.”
  815. >”That sounds like her. She hates teaching ponies to drive. Gerald usually handles it since he has nerves of steel. Anyway I always like this part of this job. If you can match a pony with a good family, or work that matches their talent they will be happy. And a happy pony, is a hard working pony.”
  816. >”Mr. Nohtfound, should I go somewhere?”
  817. >”Aren’t your glasses precious? How many fingers am I holding up?”
  818. >He lifts a fist.
  819. >”None.”
  820. >”Very good. Here have some candy.”
  821. >He pulls out a fun sized bar of chocolate and gives it to her.
  822. >Her eyes open wide at the thought of having two treats in a single day.
  823. >”Why don’t you two help out Gerald? He should be starting on lunch now.”
  824. >The kitchen has five ponies scrambling around to make dishes.
  825. >Scootaloo is trying to lift a tub of potatoes, and nearly drops it.
  826. ”Silver, help out your friend please.”
  827. >”Okay.”
  828. >Silver must be much stronger than Scootaloo, since she is easily able to lift it so they can peel the tubors.
  829. >Gerald is sitting on a side chair playing with his phone again.
  830. “File asked me to help you out.”
  831. 20/29
  832. >”This job is pretty easy. We plan out meals a week in advance, and then the ponies make them. Nothing to it really.”
  833. “But File said that only dinners were a full meal.”
  834. >”What about the others? They need to eat three times a day just like us.”
  835. >You hadn’t considered that.
  836. >How did they manage to run this place with only three workers?
  837. >”So a day is typically like this.” He puts down his phone and starts writing on his notepad. “Ponies have breakfast, then they have their morning job. Daycare, preschool, gardening, cleaning, that sort of stuff. Then we all have lunch. After that they get training. Driving, child care, etiquette, history, math, and so on. Then we have flex time until dinner. That’s when ponies teach each other, or watch videos like documentaries. This gives us a bit of a break. We just check up on them from time to time. After dinner we leave them alone.”
  838. >He rips off the sheet and passes it to you.
  839. >”Oh yeah, on Mondays and Fridays we open up the shoppette for half an hour after dinner. It’s really just a couple of closets in the gift shop, but ponies are allowed to buy small items there. We take special orders sometimes, but it’s a hassle. On Sundays we take them into town for a few hours so they can relax in the park, see a movie, or do some shopping.”
  840. “I thought only the best ponies get spending money.”
  841. >”Everyone gets paid, but only the experienced ponies get actual money. Everyone else just gets scrip they can use in the shoppette. After dinner tonight, File will pay everyone, and then we’ll open the store.”
  842. >Lunch was uneventful, and the rest of the day is spent taking ponies to various appointments, or picking them up from daycare.
  843. >It was strange driving a van, but you got used to it after an hour or so.
  844. >Dinner only resulted in a few ponies getting punished.
  845. >One made a particularly bad dish and he had to lay on the ground and show his belly.
  846. 21/29
  847. >A few ponies laughed until he covered himself with his tail.
  848. >After dinner they all lined up, and File passed sealed envelopes to nearly all of them.
  849. >Hearing a parade of, “thank you, Master,” was strange.
  850. >Both Cheerilee and Silver Spoon didn’t get an envelope, but he still gave them a single piece of paper.
  851. >You don’t wait for all of them to get paid, and go to help out Melody and Gerald.
  852. >The gift shop is filled with ponies, and you have to push your way through.
  853. >”Over here,” Melody waves to get your attention.
  854. “Alright. What do you want me to do?”
  855. >”Just take orders and give them what they ask for.”
  856. “How do I know how much to charge?”
  857. >She gives you a confused look.
  858. >”All the prices are clearly written below each item. You can add and subtract, right?”
  859. >This fucking pony.
  860. “I hope so, or calculus is really going to suck next semester.”
  861. >She smiles at this, but goes back to work.
  862. >Before you can get your bearings, a pony approaches.
  863. >”Mr. Ymous, can I have the lavender shampoo?”
  864. >You look back and see an array of travel size packages.
  865. >They all look the same to you.
  866. “This one?”
  867. >”No, the one with the smiling mare.”
  868. >They all have smiling ponies.
  869. “This one?” You point to the one to its right.
  870. >”Just over one more. The one with the purple flowers.”
  871. >You take it and put it on the counter.
  872. >She hoofs over what looks like play money.
  873. >You put it in the cardboard box at your station.
  874. >Most of the orders are for cider, candy, or personal items.
  875. >One stallion asks to make a special order, and you tell him to see Gerald or Melody.
  876. >Eventually it’s Silver Spoon’s turn.
  877. “Um, can I have shampoo and a chocolate bar?”
  878. >She puts her single piece of scrip on the counter.
  879. “You’re going to need two dollars for that.”
  880. >She slumps slightly.
  881. >”But, Mr. Nohtfound only gave me this.”
  882. >Do ponies only make one dollar a day?
  883. >Even for a slave that seems really low.
  884. 22/29
  885. >She senses your hesitation and makes a pained expression.
  886. >How can you say no to her?
  887. >You reach for your back pocket and pull out your wallet.
  888. >A dollar is practically nothing.
  889. >”No. Ponies have to earn their rewards,” Melody says harshly.
  890. >She takes the scrip and candy and leaves only the shampoo.
  891. >You watch as Silver’s heart sinks.
  892. “I really don’t mind.”
  893. >”You just don’t get it, Anon.” Melody turns back to Silver. “Come with me.”
  894. >Silver Spoon glances back at you before following Melody.
  895. >After a few more ponies, sales are done for the night, and Gerald has you close up shop.
  896. >With the cabinets locked, and scrip put away, you step out to the enclosed patio where the rest of the staff is relaxing.
  897. >”Ah, the day is finally over.”
  898. >File is leaning back in his wicker chair.
  899. >Melody is sitting on a couch, while Gerald is in the remaining chair.
  900. >All of them have a bottled drink of some sort.
  901. >”There’s beer in the fridge. Help yourself,” Gerald says when he notices you.
  902. >Sure enough, there is a small refrigerator tucked under a side table in the corner.
  903. >The selection is decent, and you grab a Belgian style beer.
  904. >You sit next to Melody, since that’s the only open space.
  905. >She scoots as far as possible from you, which isn’t much considering it’s just a love seat.
  906. >”What did you think of your first day?”
  907. >You shrug.
  908. “I didn’t like showing Sea Spray how to drive, but other than that it was fine.”
  909. >”I don’t think any of us enjoy teaching ponies driving, but it certainly sets us apart from other independent trainers. As our newest employee you’re going to have to grin and bear it for a while.”
  910. >”I tried to warn Anon, but Melody used her charm on him.”
  911. >“He looked like lost Diamond Dog and I went for it,” she says while smiling behind her drink.
  912. >”Our little fox.”
  913. >She swishes her tail before bowing her head graciously.
  914. >Gerald’s phone buzzes a few times and he taps on the screen.
  915. 23/29
  916. >”Do I have night duties? If not then I think I’m going to meet up with my friends.”
  917. >”The new mares will have to be broken in. Scoots could also use some training, unless you wanted to keep her pure for now.”
  918. >”No stallions?” File smiles, ignoring her second point.
  919. >Melody rolls her eyes.
  920. >”I’m not Rosie. She didn’t mind helping them. Can’t you add another mare to the staff?”
  921. >”Once a good one shows up, sure.”
  922. >They must be talking about training ponies for bed warming.
  923. ”What about a contractor? Or just letting one of the recruits do it?”
  924. >”That’s an option.”
  925. >”Just make a game of it,” the Griffon says.
  926. >”How?”
  927. >”I don’t know. Maybe drop the dominant act once in a while.”
  928. >Melody scoffs.
  929. >”What makes you think I act like that with them? Don’t answer that.”
  930. >Gerald imitates Melody’s voice, “Lick my hooves, slave.”
  931. >”I don’t say that!” She says as she crosses her forelegs.
  932. >”Who gave you permission to jizz on the floor? Now clean it up!”
  933. >Her face flushes bright red and both File and Gerald laugh.
  934. >”Don’t listen to them, Anon. They're just acting stupid.”
  935. >They keep laughing and she slams her beer down on the wicker table.
  936. >”If you’re going to be like this then I’m going to go to my room.”
  937. >She starts to get up.
  938. >”Alright, alright. We were just having some fun.”
  939. >”For the record, they don’t need encouragement. I show them the collector and they take care of it themselves, in private. If Rosie Cheeks fooled around with them then that was her business.”
  940. >She takes a long swig from her drink.
  941. >”We know you don’t sleep with the recruits, I just miss Rosie. You could always tell after she trained a new pony. She would always have that goofy smile on her face.” Gerald types something out on his phone. “Anyway, since it sounds like I’m off, I’m going to meet some friends at the bar later. You can tag along if you like.”
  942. 24/29
  943. >File turns to you, “He means the pony bar. And yes, Rosie did enjoy her not so quiet time.”
  944. >”Celestia, some nights I thought she would never stop. I mean, come on! You don’t need to moan that loud.”
  945. >”So, bar? Yes or no.”
  946. >”I want to get some practice in first. If it’s after nine, then I’ll go.”
  947. >”Yeah, around nine thirty. I’ll take a shower and watch TV for a bit.”
  948. >Gerald and Melody get up to leave, but before she closes the door she suddenly remembers something.
  949. >”I asked the new ponies to come back at eight.”
  950. >You look at your phone.
  951. >That’s right now.
  952. >”And here they come. Have fun boys,” she smiles widely while looking at File.
  953. >The smile vanishes the moment her eyes meet yours.
  954. >The door closes behind her.
  955. >Shit.
  956. >You didn’t think about this part.
  957. >Sensing your hesitation, File speaks up.
  958. >”You don’t have to do this if you don’t want, but it is very is important for these ponies to be broken in early.”
  959. “But aren’t virgins more expensive?”
  960. >”I wasn’t talking about that just yet, but you’d be surprised. From my experience, most ponies are, hmm… small enough to pass for virgins. Buyers usually can’t tell the difference, or don’t care about it. Therefore there is only a small premium for untouched ponies. Melody would know the numbers better than I do, but I think we have around five that- Hello ponies. Please help yourself to a drink and then wait over there for a second.”
  961. >Cheerilee and Silver Spoon nervously enter.
  962. >No doubt they have already been warned about what is going to happen.
  963. >”Thank you, Mr. Nohtfound,” they say before going to the fridge.
  964. >File leans in conspiratorially to whisper, though by the way the ponies’ ears move, they might still be able to hear.
  965. 25/29
  966. >”What is most important here is making sure they get used to a human’s touch. Being captured can sometimes be traumatic, and, hmm… let’s just say they aren’t always treated like ladies. So we have to weed out the ones that will freak out or attack their owners. Yes, that sometimes means we have to have to be intimate with them, but it’s a small sacrifice to make sure that our product is top quality.”
  967. >The two ponies are huddled together, and are clearly trying to listen intently.
  968. “I don’t know, File. It seems like a bit much.”
  969. >”Anon, this is a safety issue. Besides, our clients expect ponies to be willing participants. But, like I said before, it’s fine if you don’t want to. Gerald or I can handle it, and if it’s too much for the mare, then we bring in our contractor.” He raises his voice to his normal volume. “Though I understand he can be rough at times. Anyway, what say you? Can you handle it?”
  970. >You take a deep breath.
  971. >Have sex with a pony?
  972. >They are cute in their own way, but…
  973. >File interrupts your thoughts.
  974. >”Com’n, there’s a first time for everything. Trust me, you’ll be volunteering for extra duty in no time.”
  975. >You don’t want to let him down.
  976. >Plus it seems like a hassle to bring a third party into this.
  977. >How hard could it be?
  978. >A mixed answer seems like the safest solution.
  979. “I’ll play it by ear.”
  980. >He claps his hands together.
  981. >”Good man.” He returns to a whisper. “Just remember, if she is scared, don’t back her into a corner. Let her leave and I’ll take care of it tomorrow. The last thing I need is an injured employee. Be polite, but firm.” He raises his voice. “This is Pleasant Farm after all. Cheerilee, would you care to join me in the living room?”
  982. >She swallows before replying, “that would be nice, Master.”
  983. >File leaves with a spring in his step, and Cheerilee follows close behind.
  984. >Silver’s eyes flick between you and the now open seats.
  985. 26/29
  986. >She takes a long drink of cider before sitting where File sat only moments ago.
  987. >What are you supposed to say?
  988. >Why don’t you come over here so we can snuggle?
  989. >You swirl your bottle a few times to delay.
  990. >Silver breaks the uncomfortable silence.
  991. >”You wanted to see me, Mr. Ymous?”
  992. “Uh, yes…” Now what? “How are your glasses?”
  993. >A hoof adjusts them slightly.
  994. >”They’re fine, thank you.”
  995. >Again you go for a drink, but this time the bottle is empty.
  996. >Well, at least now you have an excuse to give her an order.
  997. ”Silver, please get me another beer, and then join me here.”
  998. >You pat the seat beside you for emphasis.
  999. >She visible tenses.
  1000. >After a moment she gets up and slowly makes her way to the small fridge.
  1001. >You assume she grabs one at random, since she doesn’t ask you what you want.
  1002. >Luckily File has a good selection, so you don’t complain when she passes it to you.
  1003. >She lets out the slightest sigh before sitting down.
  1004. ”Thank you.”
  1005. >With a quick twist of the cap, the bottle is open and you taste the sweet nectar.
  1006. >”Are you going to rape me?”
  1007. >You nearly choke on the drink, and some spills on your polo.
  1008. >Right out the fucking gate.
  1009. >She didn’t even give you time to come up with something clever.
  1010. “Jesus Christ, who told you that!?”
  1011. >She looks at the door, then back to you.
  1012. >”The other ponies.”
  1013. >It makes sense that they would warn the new trainees.
  1014. “What else did they say?”
  1015. >”Just that all the new mares get their turn, and that I should accept it since that would make it easier. But I don’t care. I’m not going to make it easy for you.”
  1016. >She has a determined look, almost like she has been thinking about this for the last thirty minutes.
  1017. “File told me it’s supposed to be willing.”
  1018. >”And what happens if I don’t want it? I’m not going to throw away my first time to a human.”
  1019. >Well, she’s got you there.
  1020. >Would File force her, or just sell her off?
  1021. 27/29
  1022. >You turn and put your arm over the sofa so you can face her.
  1023. >She recoils and looks like she is about to run.
  1024. >The bottle in her hoof moves to a good position to be used as a club.
  1025. ”Relax. Nothing is going to happen to you. I’m not even sure I want to be with a pony.” Especially not for your first time. “Just put the bottle down, and we’ll talk about it.”
  1026. >She ignores you and keeps her glass ready for action.
  1027. >”Why don’t you tell your boss that we did it? Then everything will be fine.”
  1028. >You shake your head.
  1029. “Lie to File? Never.”
  1030. >If there’s one thing your father taught you, it’s that honesty is the best policy.
  1031. >The Army can overlook incompetence, but not lying.
  1032. >File used to be an officer, so he would value that as well.
  1033. >”Then I guess we have nothing else to talk about.”
  1034. >You both stare at each other for several seconds, neither daring to break the impasse.
  1035. >Finally, you relent and speak.
  1036. “There are other options.”
  1037. >”Like what?”
  1038. “You’re just supposed to get used to the idea of being intimate with a human, but that doesn’t mean we have to have sex.”
  1039. >”How would that even work?”
  1040. “I don’t know. Jesus, it’s just my first full day here. I don’t have all the answers. This was supposed to be an easy summer job.”
  1041. >She considers for a moment before replying, ”I’m not going to cuddle with you either, Master.”
  1042. >She isn’t giving you a lot of options.
  1043. >Should you punish her for talking back to you?
  1044. >You think back to middle school.
  1045. >The first time you held a girl’s hand felt amazing.
  1046. >Would that be too much?
  1047. “What if I just held your hoof? That’s not so bad, right?”
  1048. >You nervously smile.
  1049. >Why do you feel like a scared kid again?
  1050. >She’s a pony, she can’t refuse.
  1051. >Or can she?
  1052. >”My hoof?”
  1053. >How can you explain that you have to get something to tell File, or he will handle it personally?
  1054. “Yeah. We can just sit here, and enjoy each other's company."
  1055. 28/29
  1056. "That’s not such a big concession, is it?”
  1057. >You smile hopefully at her.
  1058. >She wrinkles her nose as she thinks it over.
  1059. >Her glasses shift out of place and she has to push them back.
  1060. “I’ll even stay over here. Nothing else will happen, I promise.”
  1061. >You rest your hand between both of you and she tries to move away again.
  1062. >”You’re not going to try anything?”
  1063. “I won’t.”
  1064. >Silver presses her lips together before looking away and taking a long drink.
  1065. >You take a deep breath.
  1066. >She’s not going to do it.
  1067. >You wait there for what seems like forever, and just as you are about to give up, her foreleg moves.
  1068. >Slowly, her hoof slides toward you, but she doesn’t dare look.
  1069. >The instant her hoof touches your thumb, she pulls away.
  1070. >A second later she regains her composure and places it firmly on your palm.
  1071. >It feels so different.
  1072. >Warm, and soft.
  1073. >The edge is hard, but you don’t mind that much.
  1074. >If you close your eyes it might even feel like you’re holding a real girl’s hand.
  1075. >On their own, a few fingers move to explore.
  1076. >She pulls away at the sudden movement.
  1077. >”What the hay? You said you wouldn’t do anything.”
  1078. >Fuck.
  1079. >You screwed up again.
  1080. “Sorry… I’ve never touched a hoof before.”
  1081. >You shift and wipe your hand on your shirt, before you let it fall back in your lap.
  1082. >At least you tried.
  1083. >”You’re not very good at your job,” she says in annoyance, but her cheeks are red under her grey coat.
  1084. “Yeah. It’s my first day,” you say lamely. “I wasn’t expecting to do this yet.”
  1085. >She huffs loudly.
  1086. >This isn’t working out.
  1087. >Better throw in the towel while you still have some dignity.
  1088. “I think-”
  1089. >”Since it’s your first day, I’ll give you another chance,” she interrupts. “But no funny business.”
  1090. >Once again she offers you her hoof.
  1091. >Outside, ponies have lit a small campfire and are starting to sing.
  1092. “Thanks.”
  1093. >She puts her hoof in your hand, and you sit there watching the other ponies relax.
  1094. 29/29
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