By The Unnamed Pawn
Big Mac sat at a booth in the Wandering Ram bar drinking a bottle of cider and glancing nervously around. It was a simple place with a counter bar and a few booths set up next to each other. A gramophone in the corner played calming music and a green neon sign displayed the bar’s name. The whole thing was barely decorated at all apart from that. There were a couple of weird paintings on the wood panelled walls, but Big Mac never really like the abstract so he paid them no attention.
It was a new bar that had just opened up in Ponyville. It was supposed to be one of those hangouts specifically for gay ponies, the kind you’d usually find in big cities like Canterlot and Manehattan. Being part of the target group, Big Mac had naturally felt obligated to come on opening night. Besides, Caramel and Applejack had been bugging him to get out more.
The place was weirdly empty for an opening night though. He was beginning to regret not bringing Caramel with him. He checked the clock above the bar. It was seven now. Where was everypony?
As if in answer to his question the bell over the bar door chimed less than a second after he’d completed his thought. He looked over to see a cream colored mare with a stylishly curled pink and purple mane and a cutie mark that appeared to be three wrapped candies. Next to her was a light brown stallion with a puffy orange mane wearing a green vest and a green golfer’s hat with a red puffball. He had a fan for his cutie mark.
“That’s weird,” the mare said, ”Nopony’s here.”
“That’s not true,” her friend responded, ”Look there’s a handsome stallion right over there.” He pointed toward the red horse at one of the tables. Big Mac took this as his cue to turn back to his cider.
“Don’t waste your time, Breezy,” he heard the mare say as the pair trotted inside and the door swung closed behind them.
“What you don’t think a stud like that’ll go for me?” The pair walked up to his table, and Breezy tapped a hoof rudely on top of it. Big Mac glanced up calmly. “Mind if we have a seat?” the brown stallion asked confidently.
“Nopony’s stoppin’ ya’,” Big Mac responded. The pair took a seat on the other side of the table and Breezy grinned smugly at his friend. Mac tried not to pay them any mind and turned back to his drink.
“So, Big Mac,” Breezy said, turning his grin toward across the table, ”I didn’t figure you for a colt-cuddler.”
“Eeyup.” Big Mac responded matter of factly. After taking another drink of cider he glanced up again and noted Breezy’s smile. He hadn’t seen the expression often, but it was obvious enough that the stallion was interested. Poor guy. “Me and Caramel have been seein’ one another fer almost a year now,” he finished.
The smile quickly left Breezy’s face to be replaced by a look of embarrassment. Clearly the message had gotten through loud and clear. The mare that had come in with him started laughing. “I told you,” she said between guffaws.
Her friend gave her a playful shove just strong enough to push her out of the booth. “Well you could have told me it was because he was taken, Bon Bon,” Breezy said, glaring at the mare. Once she had climbed comfortably back into the seat beside him he turned back to Big Mac. “I’m sorry about that.”
“S’no problem.” Big Mac nodded and went back to drinking his cider.
“So, if you don’t mind my asking, why are you here if you’ve already got a colt?” Breezy asked.
“He’s probably here for the same reason I am,” a crashing sound at the end of Bon Bon’s statement Brought Mac’s eyes back up to the pair. The mare had gotten her revenge by giving Breezy a shove of her own. “You’re helping out some friend right? Cherilee if my guess is right,” she chuckled, smiling back at Mac.
Big Macintosh shook his head. “Nope. Caramel and my sis have been pesterin’ me to meet some new ponies. Ah’ just thought this might be a good place to do that.”
“Well then congratulations,” the mare said with a smile,” I’m Bon Bon and this here is Breezy Days.” She reached out a hoof and Big Mac gave it a friendly shake.
“Most ponies just call me Breezy. Mr. Breezy if you’re being formal,” the stallion said.
Big Mac and the stallion shook hooves just as the door rang to announce another customer. “Looks like we’ve got another one,” Bon Bon exclaimed.
Breezy and Big Mac turned their heads to the door to see a dark blue mare with a straight light-gray mane and a blue ball for a cutie mark. “Cud,” Breezy mumbled,” Just another filly.”
Another playful shove brought his attention to Bon Bon. “Don’t be so rude Breezy.”
The blue pony nervously approached the group with a weak smile on her face. “Is this seat taken,” she asked the mare at the table.
“Go right ahead sweetie.” The mare took the seat next to Big Mac. “Nice to meet you. I’m Bon Bon, this is Breezy Days, and that red colt next to you is Big Macintosh.”
“Nice to meet all of you. I’m Blueberrie Pie.” The mare smiled at the colts in the booth briefly before turning her gaze back to Bon Bon. “So...do you um come here often?”
This line elicited a short laugh from the booth’s other occupants. Even Big Mac managed a light chuckle. “This is opening night sweetie,” Bon Bon said.
“Oh right!” The filly turned bright red for a moment. ”I’m sorry it’s just I’ve never really done this before.”
“It’s okay,” Breezy said, “I’m sure we all remember those awkward first days, right?”
“Eeyup,” Big Mac responded in the affirmative. In truth, he hadn’t actually had any really awkward times before meeting Caramel, but he felt it was necessary to encourage the filly.
Bon Bon just smiled. “To answer your real question,” she said,” I’m actually taken.”
Blueberrie nodded. “Okay then. Um, I think I’ll be going now.” She made to exit the booth but was stopped by a hoof on her shoulder. Big Mac motioned for her to stay.
Bon Bon and Breezy smiled at the shy mare as she sat back down. “Yeah,” the brown colt said,” There’s no reason we can’t just hang out.” He looked around the bar. “After all, it doesn’t look like there’s anypony else here.”
The rest of the table took a look around the bar. It did indeed seem they were alone. The only other pony was the bartender approaching them. He was an older looking white unicorn with a gray mane wearing a full suit and a pair of large sunglasses. “Would anypony here like a drink?” he asked.
“Ah’ll just have another cider.” Big Mac said.
“I’ll take your most expensive drink.” Bon Bon said with a smug grin toward her friend.
“I’ll just have water,” the brown stallion said a bit sadly.
“And Blueberrie here will have your most expensive drink too.”
“That wasn’t part of the deal!”
“It is now,” the cream mare chuckled,” You sure you don’t want anything else Big Mac? Breezy here’s paying.”
“Thanks, but Ah’ll stick with cider,” the red stallion responded.
“Thank you,” Breezy said sincerely.
The bartender grinned as the notepad and quill in front of him went to work writing everything down. “I’ll get that for you shortly.” He walked to the counter on the other side of the bar and got to work mixing the drinks.
“So why isn’t your filly here today Bon Bon?” Blueberrie asked once the bartender had left.
“She’s not really into the bar scene. Besides, I’m only here to help Breezy here find a colt.” She put her arm around the pony sitting beside her and he hastily removed it.
“Are you and her the only filly-foolers in Ponyville. I don’t see anypony else here.”
“Don’t worry sweetie I’m sure more will show up tomorrow. I mean Rainbow Dash isn’t even here for pony’s sake.”
“Rainbow Dash is a filly-fooler?” Big Mac found himself joining in the conversation.
“I’m almost certain,” Bon Bon said,” But either way I’m sure more ponies will be showing up soon.”
She turned back to Blueberrie. “Don’t you worry. I’ll help you get a filly in no time.”
Blueberrie blushed. “Thanks Ms. Bon Bon.”
“So Big Mac,” Breezy said turning Mac’s attention away from the two mares,” Where is Caramel tonight?”
“He’s hangin’ out with some of his pals tonight.” Big Mac responded.
“I’m surprised he’s letting you come here alone. That’s a very trusting colt you’ve got there.”
“Please Breezy,” Bon Bon interrupted,” Big Mac here probably doesn’t even know the meaning of the word cheating.”
“Still though, Most ponies don’t come to a bar like this just to make friends you know. I used to live in Manehattan, trust me on this.”
“This ain’t Manehattan Breezy,” Big Mac said suddenly angry,” And Ah’ ain’t no cheater.”
“I’m not saying he was wrong to trust you Big Mac,” Breezy said in an attempt to calm the stallion down,” I’m just saying it’s surprising he did. None of my exes would have ever trusted me that much.”
“Maybe that’s why they’re exes,” Blueberrie muttered.
Big Mac calmed back down. “Ah’ just don’t like the implication is all.”
The bartender arrived with their drinks a moment later to a chorus of “thank you” from the table. He just bowed politely and left.
Everypony at the table stared wide eyed at Blueberrie and Bon Bon’s drinks for a few moments after he left. The drinks themselves were pink with glitter rising up from them at a steady pace, and the glasses were shaped like a vortex and decorated with streamers and balloons. Big Mac was half expecting the drinks to start launching fireworks.
“I have got to bring Pinkie here sometime,” Blueberrie mumbled.
“Just how much is this costing me?” Breezy asked, still in shock.
Bon Bon took a cautious sip and her eyes widened with shock and delight. “Whatever it is it’s totally worth it,” she exclaimed,” This thing is delicious.”
Bon Bon passed her glass over to Breezy for a try, and both him and Blueberrie took a similarly cautious drink. Both of them almost immediately spit their drinks out on the table. Moments later Blueberrie was trying to wipe something off of her tongue while Breezy seemed to be having trouble breathing.
“What’s wrong with you two,” Bon Bon said,” This is the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. You’ve got to try it Big Mac.” She slid the strange glass over to him.
After the other ponies’ reactions he was naturally worried. So he just decided to dip his tongue lightly in the concoction. The next second his taste buds were overwhelmed by what could only be called a sort of apocalyptic sweetness. All he knew was that he had to remove his tongue, or perish.
He chugged the rest of his cider to remove the taste from his mouth, and amazingly enough, despite its own sweet taste it actually helped. However he was still left breathing heavy afterwards.
“You guys don’t have any taste,” Bon Bon said as she took the glass back and took a hearty swig of its contents. After her company had recovered they all shared a good laugh over the horrific experience.
“I have definitely got to bring Pinkie down here tomorrow,” Blueberrie said.
The rest of the night flew by quickly as the group talked about weather, and farming, and the antics of a certain insane pony. Big Mac only participated a small amount save for the occasional “Eeyup,” but before he knew it the time was nine-o’clock.
“Ah’ should probably head home,” he said. The rest of his party took a look at the clock and agreed that it was probably time to wrap things up.
“Let’s all meet here again tomorrow okay,” Bon Bon said,” Try and bring Caramel next time okay Mac?”
Big Mac nodded and the party left the bar, although not before a small scene developed when Breezy was forced to pay for the drinks. After that, he waved goodbye to his new friends and went back to the farm.
Applejack was waiting up for him when he entered the farmhouse. “Yer sure late,” she said,” Ah’ take it tonight went better than expected.”
“Eeyup,” Big Mac nodded and smiled. “Ah’ hope ya’ don’t mind me going back tomorrow AJ”
“Course not. Just make sure you don’t head off ‘til the day’s work is done. I just wanted to say goodnight to ya’ before Ah’ went to bed.” She gave her brother a quick hug. “That was from Applebloom,” she said as she headed upstairs. “Night brother.”
Big Mac just nodded and headed upstairs to his own room where he laid down for a quiet nights rest.
However that’s not what he got.
The moment his head hit the pillow and he closed his eyes he found himself in a rather bizarre place. He was standing in the middle of a long hallway with new turns every few steps. It looked like he was in a maze. Suddenly he heard a mare’s voice say,” Hey new guy, you might want to get moving before you fall.”
Big Mac looked behind himself and noticed that the floor a ways behind him was indeed falling. “Just push the walls out of your way if you get stuck,” the voice said,” Apart from that you’ve just got to get moving through this thing. See you on the other side.”
He heard the sound of galloping around a nearby corner and decided to follow it. “Wait,” he shouted,” What’s goin’ on here?”
“I just told you what you need to know,” the voice said. It sounded farther away this time,” If you want we can talk more on the other side okay. Talking much more now just wastes time.”
Big Mac didn’t bother talking anymore and broke into a full gallop through the maze. The path was confusing, but not impossibly so. Plus, whenever he managed to make a wrong turn he could usually just push one of the walls out of the way. Navigating the corridors was tiring but little else.
Eventually he managed to move himself to what looked like the end and ran into a door that didn’t seem to be connected to anything. The floor was busy collapsing behind him so he didn’t waste any time in opening the strange gateway and heading inside.
Once he was in, the door immediately slammed shut and seemed to sink into the floor behind him. He found himself in what looked like a sweet shop. It kind of looked like Sugar Cube Corner, if
the Cakes really liked the color black.
“Hey, I’m glad you made it,” he heard the voice from before say. He turned to see its owner smiling at him. It was a sheep with a pair of ridiculous purple goggles covering its eyes. “For a second there I was worried.”
“So you said would explain what’s goin’ on,” he said.
“I never said such a thing,” the sheep shrugged,” I just said we could talk more when you finished. After all I couldn’t really explain this even if I wanted to.”
“Ya’ mean ya’ don’t know what’s goin’ on?”
The sheep shook her head. “Sorry, not a clue. All I know is that I’ve been coming here for the past few weeks now, and that we don’t want to fall.”
“What’ll happen if we do?”
”I don’t know, but last I heard falling is not fun.”
“Stop talking with her newbie,” a new voice said. This one belonged to a more typical sheep,” She doesn’t know any more than the rest of us.”
The goggled sheep stuck her tongue out at the rude ram. “That may be true, but that’s no reason to go pointing it out.”
“So where do Ah’ go from here?” Big Mac asked.
“Well you can go to the stable if you want to keep running, but if I were you I’d save that for tomorrow night.”
“Yeah. You’ll be here again soon, and that last one was a long one. He probably doesn’t expect us to run more tonight anyway, so you might as well-
Big Macintosh sprang up in his bead in a cold sweat when he heard his sister’s shout. “What’s goin’ on?” He noticed his sister grinning by the edge of the bed. “AJ was that really necessary?”
“Well the first five times didn’t do the trick, so Ah’ thought Ah’d try fer one more.” Applejack punched her brother playfully in the side. “You okay Big Mac? Looked like you were havin’ a nightmare.”
“Did it look that bad?”
“You were thrashin’ around like a hungry Winona. It sure looked bad. What were ya’ dreamin’ about anyway?”
Big Mac tried to think back to his dream. He couldn’t remember any of it. It was pretty scary though come to think of it, but he wasn’t really sure why. “Ah’ don’t rightly know AJ.”
“Well, don’t matter Ah’ suppose,” Applejack said as she made to exit her brother’s room, “Just wash yerself up and git downstairs for breakfast okay. We’ve got a good workload today.”
“Eeyup.” Big Mac nodded, hopped out of bed, and headed to the bathroom to wash his hair before breakfast, just like every other morning.
By The Unnamed Pawn
Big Mac didn’t manage to get very much work done that day. For some reason he was tired. It felt almost like he’d been running all night rather than sleeping.
Applejack noticed almost immediately and insisted that he take the day off. “Ah’ don’t know what’s wrong, but yer not helpin’ anypony by working while you’re this tired,” she said after he had collapsed under one of the trees. “How ‘bout you and Caramel take the day off this once?”
“Me and Caramel?”
“Yeah you two haven’t been on a date in a while right? As long as yer useless here you might as well be doin’ somethin.”
Big Mac didn’t accept the offer right away, but Applejack can be an incredibly persuasive pony when she sets her mind to it. Caramel on the other hand, was much easier to convince. Applejack hardly had to say more than, “Day off,” before he was ready to go. He even made the leap to a date with Big Mac before Applejack said anything.
“Since we’ve both got the day off anyway, we should go to Sugarcube Corner,” he said the second he got the news.
“Eeyup,” Big Mac had responded.
They were on their way to the sweet shop before Caramel noticed anything was wrong. “Are you okay Big Mac?” he asked. “You look tired.”
“Ah’ just had a rough night Caramel. ‘S nothin’ you need to worry ‘bout.”
“That reminds me. How was the new bar? Did you meet any new friends?”
“Eeyup.” Caramel grinned at the word. “Ah’ met somepony name Bon Bon, somepony named Blueberrie, and somepony named Breezy.”
“I don’t think I know a Blueberrie, but I’ve met Bon Bon and Breezy before. You are talking about Mr. Breezy right?”
“Ah’ think he said that’s what some ponies call him.” The pair stopped as they reached the door to Sugarcube Corner. Big Mac held the door open for Caramel before heading in himself. They stopped at the counter and Caramel smiled to the proprietor.
“Two slices of carrot cake please Mrs. Cake. Do you want anything else Big Mac?” Big Mac shook his head tiredly. “Also I think some coffee would probably be good. How much is that?”
“This one’s on the house.” Mrs. Cake smiled at Caramel and turned to his tired date. “I’m sure Pinkie will want to thank you for being so nice to her sister last night.”
Big Mac thought back to the events of the previous night. Blueberrie had mentioned his sister’s friend quite a few times come to think of it. “Tweren’t nothin’,” he said.
“Go ahead and take a seat you two. Pinkie will be out in a minute with your cake.” The couple thanked the baker and headed to a table near the windows. Big Mac caught himself rubbing his eyes and stopped, instead opting to shoot his colt a smile. “No need to worry him just cause yer tired,” he thought.
“That must’ve been one hay of a rough night huh?” The colt across the stable frowned at him.
“’S just a bad dream Caramel. Nothing to get yerself worried over.”
“It’s just that...I’ve never seen you this tired before. Even after harvests you’re usually more energetic.”
Big Mac tried to think of another way to reassure Caramel, but as luck would have it he didn’t have to. Before he could say anything a pair of cake slices and a pair of coffee cups fell from the ceiling and landed on their table. They were followed shortly by a pink pony landing next to their table. “Hey you two,” she shouted.
“Hello Pinkie,” Caramel let out an exasperated sigh. Big Mac just nodded to acknowledge her arrival.
“Blueberrie told me she made a new friend yesterday,” she said putting her arm around Big Mac,” I’m so glad you stopped by today, so I could thank you before tonight.”
“Tonight?” Caramel asked.
“Yeah. Blueberrie invited me to hang out with her and her new friends at that new bar with this super special new drink that I’ve just got to try. Are you coming too Caramel? Apparently you’ve just got to try this thing.” Big Mac wasn’t entirely sure how’d she’d managed it, but the entire time she was speaking he was sure that Pinkie never took a breath.
“I won’t be there tonight Pinkie,” the caramel coated colt responded,” I’ve got an appointment at the Carousel Boutique, and I don’t think Big Mac will be there either.”
“Hold on Caramel, Ah’ promised Ah’d show up.”
“But your exhausted. You need some rest. “
“Don’t matter. Ah’m a pony of my word. “
“No more arguing,” Pinkie said as she stuffed the ponies’ free cake right into their mouths. “Now eat your cake and be happy. I’m sorry I won’t see you tonight Caramel.” After that she simply skipped off.
Caramel washed down his cake with the coffee on the table before Big Mac had even processed what had happened and said,” Alright. If you insist on going please leave early okay. You obviously need to rest.”
Big Mac managed to swallow the rest of his cake and responded with an “Eeyup.” Just as he planned, it drew a big smile from the colt across from him.
This time Big Mac was the one to arrive late to the bar. When he arrived around seven he was greeted by his new friends all sitting at the booth they had been sitting at last night. A new addition was there as well. Pinkie Pie was vibrating next to her sister. Big Mac saw the expensive drink in front of her and immediately understood why.
“So what took you so long big guy?” Breezy asked as the red stallion took a seat on the outside of the booth.
“Ah’m sorry. Ah’m just kinda tired today.”
“You sure look it,” Bon Bon said,” I wonder if they have coffee here. Waitress!” A pink pegasus with a curly carnation colored mane approached the table. She was wearing a yellow dress and apron. “Could we please get some coffee over here for the big guy?”
“Of course miss.” The pony nodded and headed to the bar. The coffee was boiling in a pot in the back, so the strange bartender simply gave her a cup and a couple of sugar packets before sending her back. “Here you go sir,” she said putting the cup in front of Big Mac. After that she walked back to the bar and sat down on one of the stools.
“Where was she last night?” Big Mac asked.
“Apparently her boss sent her home before we got here because it was so dead yesterday,” Blueberrie said,“ She’s here today because of how busy it was last night.”
“You like what you see Blueberrie?” Bon Bon prodded the filly playfully.
“She just works here Bon Bon. She probably doesn’t even swing that way.”
“Oh you can’t worry about something like that. If you like her you should ask.”
Pinkie tried to say something encouraging, but it was almost unintelligible through the vibrations. “I-I-I-I th-th-i-i-i-n-n-k-k y-y-y-ou-ou-ou sh-sh-ould-d-d g-g-g-o-o-o fo-rrrr it-t-t-t-t-t.”
Blueberrie blushed. “Maybe some other night okay.”
Big Mac gulped down his coffee as the other ponies talked. It made him feel a little better, but not anymore than the coffee earlier had. “You should probably leave early tonight Big Mac,” Breezy said.
“You guys mind if Ah’ just wander for a bit. Ah’m afraid I might fall asleep if Ah’ just sit here.”
“Go right ahead Mac,” Bon Bon smiled,” Just be sure to come back once you’ve gotten a spring back in your step.”
Big Mac nodded politely and stood up. He decided to check out the bar a bit more than he had last night. He walked to the gramophone player and noticed a small table next to it. He couldn’t see it from where he had been sitting at the booth, but it must’ve been there last night too. Across the top was the word “Labyrinth” printed in block letters. It was a little wooden maze with six metal balls inside of it and a metal rod on the top of it.
A pony approached him from behind and said, “That’s the labyrinth game the boss made.” He turned to see that the waitress pony was now standing next to him. “It’s really hard, but fun. You should try it sometime. That pink pony at your booth got the best time apparently.” She pointed to a timer just under the games title. It was stuck at 30 seconds.
Big Mac just stared at the toy for a moment. “Maybe some other time.” He turned his attention to the gramophone player he had originally come to examine. There was an extensive selection of records next to it, but he didn’t feel like examining them right now. Instead he decided to just check the record that was playing. “PON3’s greatest jams,” he read the title on the case out loud. It was a signed copy. “Come to think of it, this music is a lot more upbeat than last night,” he thought.
There wasn’t much else to look at in the bar, so he decided to head back to the booth with his friends. When he turned around he saw that a new pony had arrived and was sitting at the counter. “Huh, must’ve missed the bell,” he thought. He recognized the pony at the bar as one of his sister’s friends. Rainbow Dash was her name as far as he could remember. He shrugged; maybe he could help out Blueberrie a little by talking with her.
He pulled up a stool next to her and said, “Hello.”
A bright grin lit up her face, but it left the moment she actually looked at him. It was replaced by a smug look. “Hey you’re Applejack’s bro right? Sorry, but I’m not interested.” She turned back to her drink. Big Mac recognized it as the same one that Pinkie and Bon Bon were drinking.
“Ah’m not interested either,” he said,” Ya’ do know what kind of bar this is right?”
Rainbow Dash looked back at him without turning her head.. “Of course I know that. How could I not know that? That’s why I thought that it was weird that you hit on me.”
“Ah’ just said hello.”
Rainbow Dash was about to say something, but stopped mid-word and seemed to be trying to remember their conversation. “Oh right,” she said,” So you weren’t hitting on me then?”
“Nope. Were you expectin’ somepony to hit on you?”
The multicolored pony shook her head. “Of course not. What do you think I’m just sitting here waiting for somepony to start hitting on me? Do I look like I’m desperately lonely or something?”
“Ah’m sorry miss. Ah’ didn’t mean anything by it. Can we start over?”
Rainbow Dashes smug smile left her and she stared down at her drink once more. “I’m sorry. Can you just leave me alone?”
“Okay fine. Ah’ don’t want to impose.” Big Mac left his stool calmly and headed back to the booth. He was disappointed that he didn’t even get a chance to mention Blueberrie to the filly, but he figured he’d get another chance later.
When he got back to the booth he saw that Blueberrie was attempting to drag her unconscious sister out of it. “What in tarnation happened here?” he asked.
“I think Pinkie drank a few too many of these things,” Bon Bon said pointing to her drink,” It’s just a sugar coma. Don’t worry about it.”
Blueberries sister smashed onto the ground. Blueberrie stared at the unconscious filly for a moment and said, “I didn’t think Pinkie could have too much sugar. How much is in those things?”
“Too much to be drinking five of them that’s for sure,” Breezy said as he climbed out of the booth. “I’ll help you get her home Blueberrie. She looks pretty heavy.”
“Thanks Breezy,” the blue filly said as she and the colt heaved her sister onto their backs. “We’ll see you guys tomorrow okay.”
Bon Bon and Big Mac waved the three ponies on as they exited the bar. Rainbow Dash followed them shortly.
“Well if Breezy’s going I should probably get home too.” Bon Bon left some bits on the table and exited the booth. “You want to walk home with me Mac?”
Big Mac Shook his head and took a seat in the booth. “Ah’ think Ah’ll stay here a little longer.” For some reason, he really dreaded the idea of going home right now. Mostly because it would involve him going back to sleep.
“Well okay sweetie. Just don’t stay up too late. You really do look like you could use some sleep.” Bon Bon waved him goodbye and left the bar.
Big Mac sat alone in silence for a while. With only the company of the waitress who refilled his mug. After she left the only pony left in the bar beside him was the bartender. He checked the clock. It was nine, time for him to head home.
He made to leave just as a pony approached the table. “Oh I’m sorry are you leaving?” He glanced up at the voices owner. It was a yellow unicorn stallion with a stylishly gelled caramel mane and an eye shaped cutie mark. “I was hoping I could chat with you.”
Big Mac thought about leaving, but he really didn’t want to go to sleep. Something about it scared him for some reason he couldn’t quite understand. Maybe he could put it off a bit longer if he kept this colt company. “Ah’ was just adjustin’.”
The pony chuckled and took a seat. “That’s a cute accent. Reminds me of home.”
“Come to think of it, Ah’ don’t think Ah’ve seen you around Ponyville before.”
“I actually just came to town yesterday. I’m a world traveler.”
“Yeah. I travel all over Equestria.” The pony extended his arms for emphasis. “I wander around seeing everything I can see and mapping it out when I can. Apart from that I just do odd jobs to keep myself from starving.” The colt chuckled again.
The bartender approached the table. “Would you like anything to drink sir?”
“An appletini please.”
The bartender nodded and turned to Big Mac. “More coffee for you sir?”
“Eeyup.” This elicited another chuckle from the unicorn.
“That’s absolutely adorable. What’s your name big guy?”
“You’re kidding right? Oh that name is just so perfect for you.” The stallion clapped his hoofs together and let loose another chuckle. Big Mac had to admit that it was kind of cute. “My names Karamel by the way.”
“No no you’re saying it wrong. It’s Kerr-a-mell not Kar-a-mul.”
“Umm okay. Ah’m sorry it just sounds like the name of another pony Ah’ know.”
The bartender arrived with their drinks and Karamel quickly downed his appletini before Big Mac could even get his lips around his mug. “Another here please. So, Big Mac,” the colt grinned slyly,” do you live around here?”
Even Big Mac could recognize the implication of this question. Not to mention the grin. “Ah’m sorry, but Ah’ think I should get goin’.” He made to stand, but the colt grabbed his hoof and pulled him back.
“I’m sorry. I’m being too forward aren’t I. C’mon at least stay and finish your coffee.” Big Mac looked down at the cup. It did seem like a waste. He had barely drunk any of it.
The rest of the night went by without Big Mac talking at all. Karamel just described the various places he’d been while they drank. After he finished his last cup of coffee Big Mac took a look up at the clock. It was almost ten now. He’d been out way too late. “Ah’ve really got to get going now,” he said as he threw a few bits on the table. “Ah’ think that’ll cover the drinks.”
Even after the coffee he was too tired to remember the walk home, or even be sure that he made it to bed. The only thing he was sure of was where he was now that he was asleep. He looked around and was sure it was the same sweet shop as last night.
“Hey newbie,” the ewe with the glasses waved to him. She was playing cards with the ram from last night. “We’ve got a few other new arrivals tonight. You should chat with them before moving on. Some of them are pretty freaked out.”
“Shouldn’t you be running now?”
“Maybe later. First I’ve got to finish this game.” She flipped a card up from the deck. “That’s war.”
“We’re playing go fish,” the ram complained.
“I’m still declaring war.”
Big Mac decided that talking more with the ewe would probably be pointless and decided to look at the ‘new arrivals’ that she had mentioned. Seated around the shop were two more sheep. One of them seemed to be wearing a green hat that struck him as familiar for some reason. The other had a much more colorful coat than was typical of a sheep.
The colorful ewe was closer so he decided to approach her first. “Hello,” he said.
The sheep looked to him and waved. “Hey nice to meet ya. Do you know what’s going on here?”
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Oh well it’s no problem. I can beat a silly little maze. I’ll solve this thing in ten seconds flat just you watch.”
“Ah’ wish you luck.” Big Mac nodded and moved on to speak to the other sheep.
The sheep in question was a ram who greeted Big Mac as he approached. “Nice to see somebody willing to talk to me. The sheep over there are to embroiled in their card game, and that rainbow sheep is too focused on pumping herself up to even notice me.”
“Sorry, but Ah’m not much for conversation. Ah’ just wanted to see how all of you were doin’ before Ah’ got movin’.”
“That’s very considerate of you, but I’m actually doing just fine. Sure I’m weirded out, but dreams are weird.”
“Remember, just ‘cuz it’s a dream doesn’t mean you can go easy on yerself. Be sure not to fall alright.”
“Thanks, but I wasn’t planning on falling. I don’t know why but I can tell that it wouldn’t end well, even if this is just a dream.” The sheep paused for a second and rubbed his chin. “Come to think of it, isn’t it a bit weird that I know this is a dream?”
“It don’t matter,” Big Mac said,” Just as long as you know to be safe.”
“I guess you’re right. Still it’s weird.”
Big Mac nodded. “Well if you’ll excuse me, Ah’ve got some runnin’ to do.”
Big Mac waved the ram goodbye and headed into the stable. The stable, as the sheep with the purple glasses had called it, was really nothing more than three wooden walls and a floor. It looked like it was meant for two ponies, but one of the sides was completely boarded off.
When Mac entered the stable he noticed a small grate seemed to connect the two sides. He tried to peer into the next side, but was thrown when a strange voice came from it. “Sit down please,” it said,” Trust me. You won’t want to be standing in the next few seconds.”
“Who are you?” Big Mac asked as he planted his hindquarters on the floor.
“That doesn’t matter. What does matter is what’s coming up next for you.”
“And what’s that?”
“You’ll see. Let’s just say, it going to be a doozy.” The voice laughed eerily. “You might want to hold onto something.”
“Why’s th-“before Big Mac could finish his thought the stable launched itself into the air at a high speed. Surprisingly despite a rough landing at the entrance to the next maze, the cheap looking wooden thing managed to hold itself together. Big Mac was a little dazed, but uninjured. He exited the stable slowly and it crumbled behind him. This dream was getting crazier by the minute.
He looked around briefly and tried to get his bearings. After finding the mazes entrance he stepped inside and got ready to gallop. However, just as he crouched down he felt the ground start to shake beneath him. He looked behind him hoping to see the cause, and there, right behind him, was a set of gigantic caramel colored hooves. He looked up hoping to see their owner, but was disappointed to find them completely shrouded by shadow. The only thing he could see was a set of cake smeared teeth locked in what appeared to be a smile.
“Caramel?” As he spoke the name the set of massive chompers swooped down on him and forced him to leap out of the way. “’S just a dream Macintosh. You’ve got to get runnin’.”
And Big Macintosh did get running. As fast as he could he dashed through the maze. The gigantic pony behind him moved slowly, so he was able to keep ahead of it for the most part. He narrowly avoided a few chomps, but eventually he managed to work his way the end of the maze.
The door in front of him was the same as the one before, but for some reason it seemed to be jammed, and the gigantic set of teeth behind him was gaining. After some time spent fiddling with the door he decided he would have to buck it down. He turned his back to the door and saw that the smile was floating directly in front of him. He was momentarily paralyzed for some reason. For the first time in a long while, he was frightened.
Only when the teeth spread and prepared to crush him did he manage to get his senses back. Just in time he bucked open the door and a bright light poured out. The beastly giant screamed with a voice that reminded him uncomfortably of his coltfriend and seemed to dissolve in front of him. Big Mac didn’t stay to watch though and instead opted to get out of the maze as quickly as possible. He turned around and charged straight through the door to freedom.
Big Mac woke once again in a cold sweat. This time AJ was nowhere near though. He found himself breathing heavily until a reassuring hoof landed on his shoulder and calmed him down. “Thanks Caramel,” he said.
“I told you before big guy,” Big Mac was shocked to hear a voice that sounded altogether wrong, and yet familiar,” It’s pronounced Kerr-a-mell.”
By The Unnamed Pawn
Big Mac leapt out of his bed and stared at the colt under his covers. “How’d you get here?” he asked. He was fairly certain he didn’t betray his panic as he spoke.
“Don’t you remember,” the stallion said as he scooted closer, “You brought me here of course.”
“Ah’ don’t know what yer talkin’ about.”
The stallion feigned shock. “Oh my! Are you saying you don’t remember?” He reached out and wrapped an arm around Big Mac’s neck. “Maybe you could use a little reminder then hmm?’
Big Mac backed away. “This don’t make any sense. I’m not usually this forgetful.”
“Wait a minute are you serious?” The colt asked confusedly as he climbed off of Big Mac’s bed.
Big Mac tried to gather his thoughts and remember what had happened last night, but despite his best efforts he couldn’t recall what happened after he left the bar. He was about to say something to the confused colt staring at him, but he was interrupted by the unmistakable sound of his sister trudging up the stairs. “Oh cud,” he mumbled,” You have ta’ get out of here.” He looked around frantically until his eyes settled on the window in his room. “Go out through there.”
The colt looked at where he was pointing and sighed. “Alright fine, but meet me at the bar later okay? I think we should really talk about this.” As he climbed down the side of the house Big Mac heard him mumble, “Next time I’ll make sure they’re out.”
Big Mac turned to the door just in time to see his sister throw it open. “Where were you last night Macintosh?” she asked angrily.
“Ah’m sorry AJ. Ah’ just lost track of time at the bar that’s all.”
“Well make sure it doesn’t happen again. Ah’ was up worried sick about you all night. Ah’ wasn’t even sure you were safe ‘til just now.” She shook her head. “At least tell me next time yer gonna be out that late.”
“Ah’m sorry AJ.”
“Ah’ don’t want ta’ hear it. Just get yerself downstairs fer breakfast.” After that she left, still in a huff. Big Mac sighed and went to wash his hair as always.
Big Mac was just as tired as the day before, but this time his sister didn’t cut him any slack. In fact, she was so angry about his late arrival that she had him working the plow, despite the fact that they didn’t even have any apple seeds on hand.
After a grueling morning he headed in for lunch to see Caramel waiting for him at the front of the barn. “Hey Big Mac,” the colt said as he trotted over to the exhausted workhorse. “I convinced Applejack to let me take you out today.” He then leaned in and whispered,” I don’t think you should go in there.”
Big Mac nodded. “Thanks Caramel. Ah’ wasn’t lookin’ forward ta’ lunch with her today.”
“She wasn’t really looking forward to it either. I think that’s why it was so easy to convince her. C’mon.” Caramel started walking and Big Mac followed.
“So where’re we goin’?” Big Mac asked.
“Just that little outdoor restaurant. I can never remember it’s name.” Caramel shrugged. “So anyway, Applejack tells me you were out really late last night. What kept you?”
Big Mac felt his stomach flip. He thought about telling him about the stallion he’d woken up next to this morning but decided against it. There was no reason to trouble Caramel yet. Not before he knew what had happened himself. “Ah’ think Ah’ drank too much coffee. Ah’ lost track of time.”
“How long were you out anyway? You look like you didn’t get any sleep last night.”
“Ah’ actually got home around ten Ah’ think. Ah’ don’t know why Ah’m so tired. Maybe it was that nightmare.”
“You had it again?”
“Ah’ think so. Ah’ don’t really remember. All Ah’ know is Ah’ woke up tired again.”
“Maybe you should talk to somepony besides me about it. I don’t really know how to help...Wait!” Suddenly a burst of insight seemed to strike Caramel. He stopped mid trot and his eyes widened. “I’ve got it. You’re just drinking too much at that bar. I heard somewhere that too much eating or drinking before bed can cause nightmares.”
Big Mac thought back to the previous nights. He had drank quite a lot both nights. “Ah’ll have to try that. Thanks Caramel.”
“I hope it helps.” Caramel smiled wide at him and went back to walking.
“That reminds me. You gonna come tonight?”
Caramel shook his head. “I’m sorry, but there was a problem yesterday at the boutique and I have to go back and sort it out. I’ll probably be busy all night.”
“Now that you mention it, what are ya’ doing goin’ to a boutique anyway?”
Suddenly Caramel stopped. “Uhh...” he stalled clearly looking for a way to change the subject. “Oh look we’re here,” he said pointing to the nearby restaurant,” Let’s hurry and get a seat.” Big Mac looked confusedly at the nervous colt as he galloped ahead of him.
Big Mac arrived with Bon Bon and Breezy at the bar this night. They had come to pick him up shortly after he had eaten a rather uncomfortable dinner with his family. Applejack had told them to make sure he got home by nine thirty tonight, at the absolute latest, and assured him that she’d be up when he got home.
The group shared a good laugh once they had left. “I thought it was the older sibling’s job to be overprotective,” Breezy had said.
When they actually arrived they found Blueberrie waiting for them at the usual booth. “Where’s Pinkie?” Bon Bon asked as they all sat down.
“She’s still got a headache from yesterday,” Blueberrie giggled. She glanced from Big Mac to Breezy and back.”Why do you two look so tired?”
“Apparently Breezy here had a bad dream last night,” Bon Bon said as she put her arm around her friend.
Breezy removed the arm and said, “It was a really bad nightmare okay. I woke up in a cold sweat for pony’s sake.”
“Ya’ probably just drank too much last night,” Big Mac said,” Ah’ had some pretty bad nightmares for the past couple days too.”
“Speaking of drinks,” the waitress approached their table, “What can I get you guys tonight?”
“The usual for me,” Bon Bon said, “That means just water for Breezy here.”
“Wait I’m paying again?”
“Well you skipped out on me last night and I had to pay for Pinkie. I need to make my money back.”
The waitress smiled and turned to the other side of the table. “And for you two?”
“Nothin’ fer me,” Big Mac said.
The waitress turned to Blueberrie who kept her face firmly facing the table. “Umm...Cider for me please.”
“Okay then. I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
After their server had left Bon Bon gave Blueberrie a friendly smack on the head. “What was that about? I thought you were going to ask her out.”
“I chickened out,” Blueberrie mumbled.
“Well be sure to do it when she comes back, or else.”
Blueberrie looked up at Bon Bon with a confused gaze. “Or else...what?’
“Trust me on this one Blueberrie,” Breezy chimed in,” You don’t want to leave this in Bon Bon’s hands.”
“So tell us about this nightmare of yours Big Mac,” Bon Bon said in an attempt to change the subject.
“Ah’ can’t really remember anythin’ specific,” he said,” Just that it was a bad dream.”
“It’s the same for me,” Breezy added,” Weird isn’t it? Usually I can remember my dreams pretty well when they’re that scary.”
“Is it really that weird to forget a dream?” Blueberrie asked. ”I never seem to remember mine after I wake up.”
“Breezy’s just weird like that,” Bon Bon chimed in,” He always remembers his dreams.” She then turned to the colt by her side. “Of course, that doesn’t mean something’s wrong just because you forget one dream you big worrywart.”
The waitress arrived with their drinks and the table suddenly went silent. Bon Bon held a steady glare on Blueberrie while the drinks were being placed. When the server placed the last drink and started to walk away Bon Bon finally spoke up. “Hold on just a minute miss.”
She turned around and asked,” Did you need something else?”
“Blueberrie,” Bon Bon waved to the blushing pony across from her.
“Oh umm...” Blueberrie turned to the waitress, “W-would you like to um g-go o-out some time?”
She smiled nervously as the pink pegasus looked her up and down. “Hey boss,” she shouted to the unicorn at the bar,” Could I get out early tonight?”
“What are you talking about? This is our busiest night yet.” He waved to the two ponies at the bar in front of him.
“You can handle those guys yourself boss.”
“Well what about that booth over there?”
The waitress looked at the other three ponies seated at the table. “You guys are good right?” Everypony nodded. “They say they’re good boss.”
The unicorn sighed. “Fine, but this is the last one for the month okay.”
The pegasus nodded and turned back to Blueberrie, who was sitting in stunned silence. “Okay babe let’s go. I know a place way nicer than this dump not far from here.” After that she walked to the door and hung up her apron. “You coming or not?”
Big Mac pulled Blueberrie out of the booth and shoved her gently toward the door. The jolt seemed like all that was needed for her to get her bearings back, and she waved goodbye to her friends. “See you guys later,” she said still a little dazed.
After the new couple left the bar Bon Bon and Breezy burst out laughing. “Did you see the look on her face?” Breezy said.
“I know, priceless,” Bon Bon responded. After a few more guffaws she managed to get control of herself back. “Ah...I hope she has a nice time.”
“It’s her first date right?” Breezy said as Big Mac once again took his seat.
“First with a filly Ah’ think,” Big Mac said,” Ah’ don’t know about first though.”
“Either way I propose a toast,” Bon Bon raised her glass. “Big Mac, grab her cider.” Big Mac and Breezy grabbed their respective drinks and smacked them together with Bon Bon’s bizarre glass. “To Blueberrie’s first filly.”
Breezy and Bon Bon both took a good swig of their drinks, but Big Mac decided to just put the cider down. “You guys mind if Ah’ take another walk ‘round the bar?”
“Still worried you’ll fall asleep?” Bon Bon asked.
“Eeyup.” Big Mac stood up. In truth he wanted to take some time to clear his head. Karamel had somehow wandered back into his thoughts.
“Just try not to lose track of time tonight okay,” Breezy said. Big Mac nodded to his friends and started walking.
Once again he found that there wasn’t really much room in the bar for walking around, so he decided to try and talk to some of the ponies at the counter to clear his head instead. Rainbow Dash was there again, although she was drinking a much more ordinary drink tonight. A glass of what looked like cherry juice sat on the counter in front of her. “Hello,” he greeted the pegasus.
Ranbow Dash turned from her drink and smiled at Big Mac. “Oh hey Applejack’s brother. Good to see you again. Sorry about that whole thing yesterday.”
“Don’t worry yerself over it.”
“It’s just I was kind of upset you know. Things didn’t really go like I’d hoped they would.”
“Hopin’ you’d meet some more fillies?”
The colorful pony turned back to her drink. “Something like that.”
“Well Ah’m sure you’ll do better tonight.”
Rainbow looked around the bar for a moment. “Um... you did notice that there aren’t any more available mares right?”
Big Mac glanced at the other pony at the counter with them. “What ‘bout her?” he asked. The pony was a light yellow earth pony with a long messy orange mane and tail and a reel of film cutie mark. They were wearing a large black hat and staring with a look of horror at the bars ‘most expensive drink. At least that was true until Big Macintosh spoke.
The pony turned to him with a frown on their face and said,” Actually, I’m a colt.”
The pegasus next to him fell onto the floor laughing. “Ah’m sorry,” he said,” Ya don’t look much like a colt.”
The colt stared at him angrily for a moment before letting out a sigh. “You know what just forget it. You’re not the first pony to make that mistake.” The pony turned away for a moment before his ears suddenly perked up and he turned back to Big Mac with a new smile on his face. “Hey as an apology would you mind giving me an interview?”
“An interview.” The colt reached into his hat and pulled out a tape recorder and a camera. “I really need to spice up this review, and a chat with one of the customers might be just what I need.”
“Ah’ really don’t think you’ve got the right pony.”
“Why not? You’re a customer here ain’tcha?”
“No save it for the tape.” The colt tapped a button on the recorder and it started rolling. “This is Film Reel interviewing...” The colt stared up at the red stallion in front of him.
“Big Macintosh. So Mac, mind if I call you Mac?” Big Mac was about to say something, but didn’t get a chance as Film Reel continued talking. “Of course you don’t. So, Mac, you’re a colt cuddler right?’
“That’s a funny way to say yes. So do you like this place?”
“What do you like about it?”
Big Mac tried to think of something, but all he could say was,” It’s nice.”
The smile slowly faded from the colt’s face. “...Uh huh. So you just come here to meet colts than?”
“Nope. Ah’ve already got a colt.”
“Okay than why do you come here?”
“Ta’ spend time with my friends.”
“...Okay that’s something. What do your friends think of this place then?”
“Ah’ don’t know really. Ah’ think they like it.”
The reporter just stared at him for a moment. “Let’s try something else. What do you think of the drinks here?”
“You’ve got to give me something here Mac. Is there anything you really like, or maybe hate about this place?”
Big Mac paused to think. “The music’s nice.”
Film Reel smacked the button on his recorder. “Okay we’re done here. I’m starting to think I should’ve minded your warning.”
“Ah’m sorry.” Big Mac lowered his head.
“It’s fine,” he said as he prepared his camera,” Will you at least give me a picture. I figure a handsome stallion like yourself is bound to get the story at least a couple of views.”
“Okay lean on the bar.” Big Mac leaned forward and the camera flashed. “That’ll work. Thanks Mac.”
By now Rainbow had righted herself and had a huge grin on her face. Film Reel turned to her and smiled. “Could I get a sound bite from you Miss?”
Rainbow Dashes smile faded a bit as she turned to the door and said, “Well I’d love to but you see, I’ve got something else to do.” Without much warning the filly dashed straight out of the bar door, spilling her drink and leaving Film’s hat in disarray.
“Well that’s worth investigating,” the reporter said as he straightened his hat and hopped off of his bench. “Seeya in the papers Mac.” The pony galloped after the runaway filly, completely forgetting his recorder. It was bound to be a fruitless chase, but his enthusiasm was inspiring.
Bon Bon and Breezy, who had no doubt watched the entire scene, trotted out of their booth and approached the stallion. “That was quite a show Big Mac,” Breezy said as he patted him on the back. Big Mac noticed him casually pocket the recorder on the counter.
“What do you plan to do with that Breezy?” the cream colored mare next to him asked.
“I just need to make sure that nopony tries to steal it that’s all. I’m sure that he’ll be back looking for it after all.”
“We have a lost and found,” the bartender interrupted.
“Oh let’s let him keep it for now Mr. Bartender,” Bon Bon smirked,” After all I’ll have nothing to torment him about tomorrow if he doesn’t try and use it to meet that pretty boy.”
“Hey who said that’s what I was going to do?”
“Please Breezy, even Big Mac can see that.”
The red stallion smiled and patted his friend on the back. “Eeyup.”
“Ow,” Breezy complained. “Now you guys are just being mean.”
“Oh, you know I’m just teasing.” Bon Bon nudged him in the side and glanced up at the clock. “You’ll have to wait until tomorrow though. We have to get Big Mac home soon.”
Big Mac looked up at the clock himself. It was eight-thirty. He didn’t want to be home late when Applejack was this mad at him. “We should get goin’ Ah’ suppose.”
The trio was headed for the door when Big Mac noticed a familiar unicorn sitting at one of the booths and stopped. “You two go on without me. Ah’ need to sort out the bill,” he said.
“Wait a minute,” Bon Bon said as she came to a stop,” Breezy you were supposed to handle the bill.”
Breezy didn’t waste any time in running out the door, and Bon Bon immediately gave chase. Big Mac was admittedly surprised that his lie had paid off so well. He had forgotten Breezy was paying. He stopped by the group’s booth and threw a dozen or so bits onto it before taking a seat across from the unicorn.
“Hello my big closeted stud,” Karamel chuckled.
“What’s a closet got to do with this?”
“You’re joking right?” Karamel smirked and shook his head. “I’m talking about how you rushed me out of your room because you were afraid your mother or whatever would find us.”
“Ah’ still don’t know what the closet’s about.”
The stallion chuckled again. “Just forget it okay. I don’t mind. I’m only in town for the week anyway. I can be discreet.” He inched his hoof closer to the red pony across from him.
“About that,” Big Mac said, as he pushed the hoof away,” Ah’ don’t remember much of what happened last night. Ah’ was hopin’ you could fill in the blanks.”
Karamel sighed and leaned back in his seat. “I still don’t know how you forgot. After all it was quite a night.” The unicorn grinned. “Don’t worry though; tonight I’ll make sure to give you something to remember.” He licked his lips and leaned forward on the table.
Big Mac shook his head and exited the booth. “Ah’m sorry for misleadin’ you Karamel. Ah’ don’t know how it happened the first time, but Ah’ can’t let it happen again.”
Karamel frowned at the stallion as he left the bar and mumbled,” Man you’re in deep aren’t you?”
Big Mac arrived at Sweet Apple Acres to see Applejack waiting for him. “Welcome back Big Mac,” she said. She was significantly more calm than she had been a few hours before. It seemed her anger had faded almost completely. “Ah’m sorry ‘bout that scene earlier. Glad you got home okay.” She waved him goodnight and headed up the stairs.
Big Mac was naturally confused. “Wait a minute AJ. Are you really gonna forgive me just like that?”
Applejack sighed and turned to Big Mac. “Ah’ overreacted okay. We can talk ‘bout it tomorrow if ya’ want, but Ah’ need to get ta’ bed now and so do you.” With that she headed to her room.
This night, when Big Mac fell asleep he found himself in a bedroom. Not like the kind you sleep in, more like a room literally made of beds. The walls and floor were made entirely of mattresses and bed frames were scattered everywhere. Most of the sheep from the previous night were seated on those bed frames.
“Hey newbie,” he heard the sheep with purple glasses call him. She seemed a bit less joyous than before, and when Big Mac saw her it became clear why. The ewe was alone, playing solitaire.
“Where’s that ram from before?”
The ewe sighed. “He fell I think. He was the last one from before you and those other newbies showed up.” She casually removed a row. “I wonder if he’s okay.”
“Ah’ think he is.” Big Mac said encouragingly. He had no idea what happened when a sheep fell, but it probably wasn’t good. Still it was worth a shot to cheer his guide up.
The ewe managed to smile. “Well I doubt it, but thanks for trying to cheer me up. You should try that with some of these other guys. They could use it a lot more than me.”
Big Mac took a look around the odd room. It did seem like the two sheep from the previous night were in low spirits. He also noticed that a couple of new sheep had joined the ranks. Both of them looked, unsurprisingly, confused.
The first for him to approach was a new ewe with a pink and purple swirl on the top of her head. “Hey,” she said,” sheep with the straw in his mouth, do you know what’s going on?”
Big Mac looked at his hoof for a moment. It didn’t look like a sheep’s hoof. “Are you talking to me?”
“Do you see any other sheep with straw around here? Of course I’m talking to you sweetie.” The ewe hopped off of her bed frame and approached him. “So do you know what’s going on?”
“Nope. Sorry.” In fact he was even more confused than before. “Just be sure not to fall okay.”
The ewe punched him playfully. “I already figured that out, but thanks anyway.”
Big Mac nodded to the ewe and moved on to the next sheep. The nearest one was the rainbow colored ewe from the previous night. She was looking a good deal more shaken up than before. “Hello,” he said.
The sheep didn’t even acknowledge him. Instead she started mumbling to herself. “Why was she laughing? What’s so funny? Was she laughing at me?”
The sheep looked up at him. “Oh sorry. I was just thinking about yesterday. I’m fine though. Don’t worry.”
“Ya’ don’t seem as confident as before.”
The ewe suddenly stood up and raised a hoof in defiance. “What are you talking about,” she shouted,” It’s just a silly maze right. I can handle this just fine. Look if you want to give some sheep a pep talk why don’t you go talk to that hat wearing guy over there.” She pointed to the ram from the previous night. “He could use it way more than me.”
Big Mac nodded and waved goodbye to the ewe. The second he started moving, she planted herself back on her bed frame.
The ram was lying on the floor pulling out bits of thread when Big Mac approached. “Hey, nice to see you again,” he said,” How are you holding up?”
“Ah’m doin’ alright considerin’. What about you?”
The ram sighed. “I-I really didn’t expect last night you know. I thought we’d just be running. I didn’t think we’d be chased.”
“Ah’ was pretty surprised too. That giant pony nearly chewed me up.”
“Giant pony? You saw something different.”
Big Mac paused and shrugged. “Ah’ guess. What was it you saw?”
The ram shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. We’ve just got to keep running right?”
Big Mac nodded “Eeyup.”
The sheep stared at him for a moment. “Eeyup?...Yeah we just need to keep going.”
“Well if yer good here then Ah’ need to go say hi ta' the new sheep over there.”
“Sure.” The sheep still seemed mildly confused. As Big Mac walked away he added. “Umm... good luck out there tonight.”
“You too.” Big Mac nodded and headed to see the new arrival.
This new arrival was a ram with a big black hat and little else distinguishing. He was looking around with a mix of wonder, confusion, and annoyance. “Where’s a camera when you need one,” he kept mumbling.
“Hello,” Big Mac greeted him.
“Oh hi,” the ram waved at Big Mac, but didn’t even turn his head in the pony’s direction. “Say do you happen to know where we are. I need to call this place something.”
“All Ah’ know is that it’s a dream.”
“This’ll make a great story if I can just think up a name. What do you think of ‘The Labyrinth Nightmare’?”
“Do ya’ really need to call it anythin’?”
“Supernatural stuff only gets reads if the article has an awesome name. What about ‘The Dreamer’s Doom’?”
Big Mac just shook his head and decided to move on. It didn’t seem like this sheep needed any encouraging anyway. He turned away from the ram and headed to the stable.
Once again, when he entered he tried to look through the grate. “Sit down,” the voice said. “I’m sure you remember last night.”
After he realized how fruitless attempting to see through the grate was, Big Mac took a seat. “Will you tell me who you are now?”
“I told you before that it wasn’t important. Are you ready for the next challenge?”
“Why are you doin’ this?”
“I’m not. Someone else put you here. I’m just evening the playing field is all.”
“What are you talking about?”
“That’s all the time we have for now. We’ll talk later if you don’t fall.”
Big Mac tried to say wait, but was interrupted by the launch before he could even open his mouth. The landing this time was much smoother, allowing Big Mac to exit the stable and find the maze entrance quickly. He was going to start moving before he was frightened by a loud hissing sound from behind him.
Despite his common sense’s best effort, Big Mac turned around to see what was making the noise. In the distance he could see what looked like a gigantic caramel colored serpent slithering towards him. Not wanting to get a closer look, Big Mac started running.
The serpent gained quickly and began spitting large wads of acidic venom at him. It was helpful for clearing the walls out of the way, but Big Mac came dangerously close to being melted himself several times. The serpent was faster than him, but for some reason it couldn’t move the walls like he could.
With carefully placed walls and a good deal of well timed dodges Big Mac managed to find his way once more to the door at the end of the maze. He didn’t waste any time trying to open it like he did with the first one and instead went straight to bucking it down. The serpent reared into view just as the light burst forth from the doorway.
The noises it made after being struck made Big Mac pause for a moment. They weren’t the sort of noises somepony would expect to hear from something in pain. Still frightened, and slightly perplexed, Big Mac backed into the door.
Big Mac woke again in a cold sweat. He was starting to get tired of this. He sighed and looked at the clock on his nightstand. He still had a few minutes before Applejack came to get him.
He turned over to get a bit more sleep, and found himself face to face with a familiar smiling unicorn.
By The Unnamed Pawn
“What’re you doin’ here?” Big Mac asked the stallion in his bed.
Karamel chuckled. “You weren’t complaining last night,” he said as he rolled himself out of the bed,” In fact, you seemed pretty excited when I climbed in here.”
“Climbed in?” Big Mac pulled himself out from under the covers and met the stallion on the other side of the bed.
“Yeah through the window remember.” The unicorn gestured to the window he had left through the previous morning. “It wasn’t easy I’ll have you know. I hope you appreciate my efforts to keep your silly little secret.”
Big Mac couldn’t remember the colt climbing in. He was pretty sure he had gone straight to sleep last night. “What secret are ya’ talkin’ ‘bout,” he asked.
The colt sighed. “This is getting really annoying. I’m talking about the whole ‘secret colt-cuddler’ thing of course. Did you forget our talk last night or something?”
Big Mac thought back to the pair’s conversation at the bar. “’S that’ what you were talkin’ ‘bout when ya’ brought up that closet?”
The stallion chuckled again as he headed toward the window. “So that’s why you were confused,” he said with a smile. “Anyway I’ve got to get going, and I’m sure you don’t want me to stay for much longer.”
“Wait.” Big Mac grabbed Karamel as he put his hind legs out the window. “Ah’ need to talk to ya’ about what happened last night.”
The stallion rolled his eyes and said,” I’m sure you’ll be able to sort it out, but if you need me I’ll be at the bar tonight.” With that he hopped out of the window the rest of the way and landed, surprisingly gracefully, on the ground outside. He waved up to the stallion in the window and said “Seeya later big guy,” before trotting off.
After the colt left Big Mac decided he definitely wasn’t going to get back to sleep, so he decided to get the day started early. He went out to wash his hair and go help his sister with cooking breakfast.
Big Mac looked around the farm all day for Caramel, but was unable to find him. He needed to talk to the colt about what had happened the past two nights. When he finished with his small workload of gathering apple seeds, he headed to the barn for lunch. Applejack and Granny Smith were both at the table, but Caramel was nowhere to be found.
“Hey AJ, do you know where Caramel is?” he asked.
“He’s on vacation. He’ll be gone fer the next couple a’ days.”
Big Mac sighed. He didn’t want to have to wait to talk to Caramel, but he didn’t have much of a choice. He took a seat and grabbed his plate. “Do ya’ know where he’s goin’?”
“Why would Ah’ know where he’s goin’,” Applejack said hastily. “’Ah’m not his keeper. Why are ya’ askin’ me?”
Big Mac was thrown by his sister’s strange reaction and decided not to continue pressing. Instead he decided to just quietly eat his lunch. For the most part the apple family was silent during the meal; which struck Big Mac as a little strange.
It only got stranger at dinner when Applebloom was thrown into the mix. Even the previous night, after Big Mac and Applejacks fight, she had been talkative. Tonight it wasn’t until Big Mac stood up to leave for the bar that she said anything. “Hey Big Mac,” she said.
“What is it Applebloom?”
“Yer comin’ back right?”
Big Mac raised an eyebrow in confusion. He had been coming home kind of late recently. Maybe he was worrying Applebloom. “Eeyup,” he said,” Ah’ll try to be back early tonight okay.”
Applebloom smiled. “Okay. Ah’ll be here when ya’ get home then.”
Big Mac nodded and bid his family goodbye as he headed to his hangout.
He ran into Breezy and Bon Bon on the way to the bar this time. “We were going to pick you up earlier,” Breezy said after the meet up, “But Bon Bon’s wife refused to let her leave the house.”
Bon Bon pushed the door open to the bar and smiled. “She’s just worried that’s all. Apparently I had a pretty bad nightmare last night. I was thrashing around in my sleep and everything.”
The trio took a seat at their booth as usual. Blueberrie hadn’t arrived yet, but the waitress approached the table anyway. “What are you guys drinking tonight?”
“The usual for me,” Bon Bon said with a glare toward Breezy,” And give Big Mac your second most expensive drink. One for Blueberrie too.”
Breezy sighed. “Water for me.”
The pink pony laughed and walked off. “I’ll have those for you in a minute,” she shouted over her shoulder.
“So how was your night Big Mac?” Breezy asked,” Anymore nightmares?”
“Eeyup,” The stallion sighed. “Still can’t remember what it was ‘bout though.”
Breezy seemed to be deep in thought. “Now that I think of it, I think I remember seeing you in my dream Big Mac.”
The brown colt was surprised by a jab to the ribs from the mare next to him. “No dreaming about Big Mac,” Bon Bon joked,” He’s taken remember?”
“It wasn’t that kind of dream Bon Bon,” he said playfully smacking the filly’s hand away.
Blueberrie entered the bar just as the waitress approached the table with the drinks. “Hey babe,” she said as the blue pony took her seat.
“I told you before Heart Throb. Please call me Blueberrie.”
“And I told you we need nicknames if we’re going to date.” The pink pegasus handed out the drinks. “Blue is way too masculine for you, so until you think of something better, you’re babe.”
Blueberrie couldn’t seem to help smiling. “Fine.” She looked down at the drink in front of her. “So what’s this?”
Big Mac took a look at his drink as well. It was a red bubbling concoction in what looked like a miniature cauldron. “That’s our second most expensive drink,” Heart Throb said,” I’m not entirely sure what it is. The boss heard about it from some zebra.”
Breezy smiled. “I just might get my money’s worth tonight. Go on you two take a drink.”
Blueberrie looked nervously at Big Mac and he shrugged. “Bottom’s up,” he said as he dipped his face into the cauldron and took a drink. It was actually quite good. It had a sweet yet salty taste and a bit of a spicy kick to it.
Big Mac lifted his head from the cauldron and Blueberrie, after seeing that he probably wasn’t about to be sick, took a drink herself. “Wow that’s good, “she said noticeably surprised. “What is this?”
“Hey Boss,” the waitress shouted,” What's in that cauldron thing.”
“Don’t ask,“ the bartender yelled back.
“I don’t think you guys want to know.” She laughed lightly and took a seat on the end of the booth.
“Don’t you have ponies to serve miss...Heart was it?” Breezy asked.
“Not really. You guys are the only ponies who come here and don’t spend all night at the counter. Beside’s I want to stay with babe here.” She grinned at the now blushing earth pony to her right.
“So you’re just going to hang out with us all night?”
“Unless somepony else comes in or one of you leaves, yes.”
“Oh yeah that reminds me. Bon Bon get out, I need to go talk to that colt at the counter.”
Bon Bon moved to let the colt out. “You go with him Big Mac,” she said,” I want a full report on everything that happens.”
“Why don’t ya’ just go yerself,” Big Mac asked.
Bon Bon took her seat again. “I need to stay here and chat with Blueberrie and Heart Throb. Beside’s it’s going to be filly chat. You wouldn’t be interested.”
Big Mac nodded as Blueberrie let him out. “Alright. Ah’ll be back in a few minutes than.”
He followed the brown stallion to the counter where the colt from the previous night was now staring in horror at a new drink. It was the one Big Mac had just tried in fact. “Ya’ can drink it,” he said as he took a seat,”’S nothin’ like the pink one.”
“Thanks but I think I’ll just pass.” He glanced up at the pair that had just taken their seats. “Oh Mac it’s you. Nice to see you again pal. Is this your colt?”
“I’m actually just a friend,” Breezy said. He pulled the tape recorder out of his vest and passed it to the reporter. “I noticed you left this here last night, so I thought I’d bring it back to you.”
Film Reel examined the recorder for a moment and placed it in his hat. “Thanks. I was looking all over for this.”
“So how’s your night been going?”
“Meh. I still have nothing for this stupid review. The bartender won’t even talk to me.” Film Reel shook his hoof at the unicorn in sunglasses.
“I told you already. I don’t talk to reporters. You’re lucky I let you in here.”
“Apparently he’s got some big problem with the paparazzi. I’m guessing it has something to do with his old place in Manehattan, but I’ve got nothing to go on.”
“Ah’m sorry Ah’ can’t help.”
“It’s not your problem Mac. Thanks though.”
“Maybe I could help,” Breezy chimed in.
The reporter smiled at the colt next to Big Mac. “Okay bud, I’m gonna be frank and nip this in the bud. Not interested.”
Breezy smiled nervously and said,” Well that’s a little harsh don’t you think.”
“Look I’m thankful for the offer and all, but seriously, you’re a fan salespony. Your cutie marks a fan for pony’s sake. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t work out.”
Breezy sighed and dejectedly walked off. “I’ll see you back at the booth Big Mac,” he said as he moved away.
“That was a bit hash,” Big Mac said.
“What do you think I should’ve led him on? I’m not that sort of pony Mac.”
“Ya’ could’ve tried bein’ gentle.”
“I’m not the gentle sort Mac. I’m a reporter.” The colt pounded his hoof against the table. He then glanced up at the clock. “Speaking of which I need to get going. Like it or not I’ve got to get writing this review.” He hopped off of his bench and headed toward the exit. “Seeya in the papers Mac.”
Just as the reporter left the bar, a pony with a rainbow colored mane in a trench coat and black glasses entered. Once she sat down at the counter, Rainbow Dash removed her glasses and smiled at the bartender. “Cherry juice please.” She then turned to the stallion next to her. “Hey Applejack’s brother.”
“What’s with the getup?”
“I was worried that crazy paparazzi pony might recognize me.”
Big Mac didn’t bother pointing out how ineffective the disguise was. “Glad to see ya’ came back. Hopin’ to do a bit better tonight?”
“Not really, just hanging out. I was actually hoping to run into you.”
“I just needed somepony to talk to you know, and I can’t talk to my usual pals.”
“I have my reasons okay. I just need to know if you can keep a secret.”
“Ah’ can if it needs ta’ be kept.”
“I just don’t want you telling your sister okay.”
Big Mac nodded. “Ah’ promise Ah’ won’t tell Applejack.”
Rainbow Dash smiled and took a drink. “Good. Could I get you something as long as your helping me out?”
“Okay then,” Rainbow Dash took a deep breath,” You see there’s this pony I like.” The colorful pony punctuated her sentence with a drink and another deep breath. “But you see I’m pretty sure she’s not a filly fooler.” Another drink. “It wasn’t bad before, but now I can’t even be around her without getting all flustered.” The pegasus finished her glass and turned to Big Mac. “What do you think I should do?”
“Have ya’ tried talkin’ to her ‘bout it?”
Rainbow dash looked back down at the counter. “But then she’d know. This isn’t just some random pony Big Macintosh; she’s a really close friend.”
Big Mac put a friendly hoof on the pony’s shoulder. “If she’s a friend, it won’t matter.”
Rainbow Dash sighed. “Maybe you’re right...I’ll talk to her tomorrow.” She stood up and left a bit on the counter. “Thanks Applejack’s brother.” She smiled and winked at the stallion before exiting the bar.
Big Mac took a look at the clock. It was now eight. He had to get leaving soon. He stood up and approached the booth to bid his friends goodbye. When he approached, the faces of all three mares were positively glowing with the size of their smiles. Even Breezy had a smile on his face, which struck Big Mac as odd considering the recent rejection. “What’re ya’ll so happy about?” he asked.
“Oh umm...” Bon Bon rubbed her chin for a moment,” Oh, Heart Throb here just told us this great story. You really have to hear it.”
The smile softened a bit on the pink pegasus as Big Mac turned in her direction. “Okay, but make it quick. Ah’ need to head out soon.”
“Hold on. Let me remember what it was about.” The pegasus seemed to be racking her brain for the information. It was good to see that he wasn’t the only pony with poor memory lately. “Oh I’ve got it. I heard from this reporter that was in here earlier about some pony in Manehattan named Card Sharp. Apparently he’s in a coma.”
The entire booth just stared at her quietly. Bon Bon seemed to have a look akin to disgust on her face.
“Wait that’s not the good part,” Heart Throb continued nervously,” You see, Card Sharp was a regular at the bosses old bar. And he wasn’t the first pony this happened to either. Like two of bosses other regulars fell into comas too all in the last couple weeks. That’s why he had to move the bar to Ponyville.”
The booth once again was silent.
“There’s this weird rumor going around Manehattan that its some curse targeting colt cuddlers and filly foolers. Isn’t that interesting?”
The rest of the booth was still quiet, but their smiles had managed to come back. “Ah’ don’t get why ya’ll are so happy ‘bout this,” Big Mac said.
“Well it’s some awesome new gossip,” Bon Bon said,” Plus, I can’t wait to see Lyra’s face when I tell her about this.”
Big Mac took a quick glance around the table. The entire group remained silently smiling at him. “Ah’ guess Ah’ just don’t get it,” he said. He began walking to the door and waved his friends goodbye. “Ah’ll see ya’ll tomorrow.” He glanced briefly at the booth where he and Karamel had been sitting the previous night. He would have to talk to the unicorn tomorrow.
Big Mac arrived home early as he had hoped and was greeted by a tackle and hug from his youngest sibling. “Big Macintosh,” she shouted as she hopped and up and down beside him,” I was so worried.”
Applejack smiled and approached the pair. “Applebloom here was convinced that you weren’t comin’ home.”
Big Mac smiled down to his now blushing sister. “Why were ya’ worried ‘bout that Applebloom. Ah’ve come home every night so far.”
The foal shuffled her hooves and looked down at the floor. “’S just...Silver Spoon said-“
Suddenly Applebloom was cut off by an orange hoof in her mouth. “We already talked ‘bout this Applebloom,” Applejack said as she removed the hoof,” ‘S nothing ya’ need to get worrying Big Macintosh about. Now get upstairs to bed.” She pushed the little filly toward the staircase.
“Night Big Mac,” the foal said on her way up.
Big Mac turned to his other sister. “So what was that all about? Have Ah’ been out too late the past couple nights or somethin’?”
Applejack shook her head. “’S nothin’ like that Big Mac. She’s just upset ‘bout somethin’ she heard at school today. Don’t worry yerself ‘bout it.” Applejack turned and headed to the stairs. “Well we should probably get ta’ bed. Seeya in the mornin’ Big Macintosh.”
“Night Applejack.” Big Mac waited for his sister to climb the stairs and enter her room before heading upstairs himself. He then stopped briefly by his other sister’s room. He pried open the door ever so slightly and said,”G’night Applebloom.”
“Big Macintosh,” Applebloom rolled over in her bed,” Please don’t leave.”
Big Mac entered the room. “Ah’ll sleep here for tonight if ya’ want.”
“That’s not what Ah’ meant.” The foal rolled away from him and covered herself in her sheets. “Ah’ can sleep by myself. Ah’ don’t need my big brother with me.”
Big Mac smiled. “Alright, but just remember Ah’m right across the hall if ya’ need me.” When the pile of blankets on the bed didn’t respond, Big Mac closed his sister’s door and headed to bed.
Big Mac found himself once again amongst sheep. This time it looked like they were in a classroom. It was distinctly less bizarre than the last two stops had been. It was just a classroom, complete with desks and a chalkboard. The only thing odd about it was how incredibly messy it was. The desks were in disarray with the various sheep from the prior nights scattered around them.
“Hey again newbie,” the purple glasses wearing sheep waved to him as usual. She was a bit more happy than she had been the previous night, or maybe she was just pretending. Big Mac couldn’t tell. “Looks like everyone made it last night.”
Big Mac took a look around the classroom. Every sheep from the last night was indeed there; along with one more new ewe. “I think they could use some more pep talking if you don’t mind,” his guide said.
“Why don’t you help out?” he asked.
“I’m not much for cheering sheep up. Trust me I’ve tried. Besides I’ve got solitaire to play.” She pulled a deck of cards out of her fur and placed it on the nearest desk.
Big Mac just shook his head dismissively and decided to move on to the other sheep. The first one he ran into tonight was the sheep with the green hat sitting at a nearby desk. “Oh, hey,” the ram said unenthusiastically.
“Hey. So how’re you doin’ tonight?”
The ram sighed. “Not so good man. I’m just tired of running you know.”
“Eeyup, but we gotta keep going.”
“Do we though? I mean this is a dream after all. Is falling in a dream really that bad?”
“Ah’ don’t want ta’ find out.”
“I guess you’re right. Still it’s just so tiring. Night after night.” The ram sighed once more. “Thanks for stopping to talk. Go cheer some other sheep up now. I think I’m good.”
“Are ya’ sure?”
“Yeah. This is as cheery as I’m gonna get for tonight I think.”
Big Mac nodded and moved on to the next sheep. He approached the rainbow colored sheep at another nearby desk. “Hello,” he greeted the ewe.
“Hey. Nice to see you’re still here,” the ewe said.
“How’re you holdin’ up?”
“As good as ever.” The ewe pumped her arm. “This maze doesn’t stand a chance against me.”
“Ya’ look like yer doin’ better than yesterday.”
The ewe calmed down and laid back in her seat. “So you noticed huh? Yeah I guess I am feeling better. Thanks to some guy I talked to.”
“So are ya’ ready to take on this maze?”
“You bet. Don’t you fall behind either.”
“Good luck.” Big Mac waved goodbye to the colorful ewe and went to check on the ewe with the odd hair.
The sheep was busy sorting through the contents of one of the desk. Big Mac took a peek inside. It was typical school fair. “Hey strawman,” she said drawing his attention back to her.
“Just thinking.” The ewe closed the desk and looked at Big Mac, although her head didn’t turn. “Hey strawman, mind if I ask you a question?”
“Well to start do you have a filly-er I mean a ewefriend?”
“Actually Ah’ have a coltfriend.”
The ewe briefly turned to him with a confused look on her face “Huh?” After a moment though she simply shrugged and turned away again. “Okay I guess that explains a couple of things. Anyway back to my question. What would you do if your colt cheated on you?”
Big Mac paused and looked down at the ground ashamed. “Ah don’t know, but Ah’ think I’d just have to talk to him ya’ know.”
“What if you’d already talked to them? What if they’d explained everything already? Would you forgive them?”
Big Mac looked back up at the ewe. “It depends, but Ah’ think Ah’ would.”
“But would it really be that easy? Could you just forgive them right away? I mean you could say you did, but is that the same thing?”
Big Mac looked back down at the ground. He had really messed up. “Ah’ don’t know,” he said.
The ewe turned to him and smiled sweetly. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t expect you to have an answer should I? I’m sure you’ve got a lovely colt.”
“He really is great.” Big Mac sighed.
“I’m sorry for bugging you. Why don’t you go talk to someone else? That ram by the chalkboard looks like he could cheer you up.”
Big Mac headed solemnly over to the chalkboard to see the ram that the ewe had mentioned was none other than the enthusiastic ram from the previous night in a black hat. He was busy cheering up a new arrival when Big Mac approached.
The new arrival in question was a ewe and had a distinctly longer and straighter coat than the other sheep. The most distinguishing thing about her though was the tears covering her face. “I-I can’t do it,” she cried,” I’m no runner. I barely made it here before the floor collapsed.”
“Calm down you crazy sheep,” the ram next to her ordered. He turned to Big Mac and a relieved appearance took hold of him. “Hey you, you’re pretty good with this stuff right. Help me out here.”
Big Mac approached the ewe and put a reassuring hoof on her shoulder. “Hey,” he said,” You’re gonna be okay.”
The ewe looked up at him through tear-stained eyes. “No I’m not. I-I can’t keep running, and the sheep have told me it just gets worse. I’m going to be chased this time right.”
“That don’t matter. Ya’ made it here alright. You can outrun whatever this place throws at you.”
“B-but what if it’s too terrifying for me to run. This guy here was just telling me how scary it is.”
“I also told you it doesn’t matter,” the ram said as he put a hoof on the ewe’s other shoulder. “They’re scary, but nothing else. Apart from all the razzle dazzle they’re no worse than the falling floor.”
“But the falling floor almost caught me before.”
“Listen,” Big Mac said sternly,” You can do this. You’ve just got ta’ run alright. If ya’ made it here, ya’ can get past whatever’s next.”
The tearful ewe simply stared at Big Mac for a moment. It was almost as if she was shocked. However, a small smile slowly appeared on her face. “You know what, you remind me of my sister,” she said. After a deep breath she stood up. ”And you’re right. Maybe I can do this.”
“That’s what I’ve been saying this whole time,” the ram said exasperated.
The ewe turned her smile at him. “Thank you both. I’ll keep running. Maybe I’ll even make it. No. I will make it.”
The ram in the black hat sighed. “Thanks guy. I wasn’t sure how much more I could do. This crazy sheep just wouldn’t calm down.”
“’S no trouble.” Big Mac smiled at the pair. “Ah’ll see you two tomorrow. Ah’ve got to get goin’ now.”
“Good luck,” the sheep said in unison as he headed to the stable.
“Hello again,” Big Mac said into the grate as he entered.
“Am I going to have to tell you to sit every time?”
Big Mac took a seat as usual. “So could you explain what you were talkin’ ‘bout last night?”
“You mean that ‘evening the playing field’ line?”
The voice let out another eerie laugh. “Well you see, I make these little sanctuaries for you poor foals trapped here.”
“Sorry mister inquisitive, but that’s all the time we have again. Proceed with speed and caution.”
Big Mac was no longer surprised by jarring feeling of the stable launching upward, nor was he shaken by the landing. He stepped out of the stable and immediately took off running. He was sure that something had appeared behind him, but this time he had no plans to stop and see what it was.
However, when the gigantic blade nearly sliced him in half, he couldn’t help himself. He paused for a moment to glance behind himself, and saw none other than his youngest sister, Applebloom, holding a tremendous scythe.
Big Mac dived out of the way of another swing from the scythe and started once more at a full gallop. The gigantic foal pursued him quickly and relentlessly through the maze; only pausing to swing the tremendous gardening tool. After a few close calls with the blade Big Mac managed to make it to the door.
He got into his usual position to buck down the door and stopped. He was caught by surprise when he got a good look at the face of his pursuer. His sister was crying as she approached. The tears in her eyes caused him to hesitate for just a moment. It was only when the foal turned her head in preparation for another swing that he felt he could move again.
Without thinking he bucked down the door behind him. The screams from the pony in front of him as it disintegrated were horrifically familiar. He actually found himself covering his ears as he backed into the doorway.
Big Mac woke in a cold sweat as usual. The first thing he did was glance around the room looking for a certain unicorn. He released a relieved sigh when he found that the stallion was nowhere in sight.
However he did find an unexpected guest in his bed nonetheless. He smiled down at the yellow foal snoring under his covers and wrapped his arms around her in a brotherly embrace.
By The Unnamed Pawn
Big Mac slowly inched his way out of bed without waking his little sister and went through his usual morning routine, although it was once again much earlier in the day than he’d prefer.
Barring the embarrassed little sister at the breakfast table and the unnecessary planting Big Macintosh was forced to do; the day was standard up until around lunchtime. Unfortunately, the change in routine was not a welcome one.
While Big Mac and his family were eating a peaceful and, for the first time in a while, normal lunch they were interrupted by a knock on the door. Applejack was, of course, the pony to answer the door, but surprisingly enough the visitor had come for Big Macintosh.
Applejack approached the table with a light gray pony with a long straight dark grey mane in tow. “Big Macintosh,” his sister said,” Do you know this pony?”
Big Mac couldn’t help but feel that she looked familiar, but he was almost certain he had never met her before. “Nope,” he said.
“I don’t think we’ve met before,” the mare spoke,” I’m Grayamina Pie. I believe you know my sister, Blueberrie. You are Big Macintosh correct?”
“Eeyup. What’s this visit about?”
“Blueberrie is in the hospital.” The pony said this with a cold tone that almost seemed to coat the room. Big Mac was almost certain he actually froze for a moment, but he wasn’t sure whether it was the news or the tone of voice that caused it.
“’S she okay?” he asked with a straight face not drastically dissimilar to the one of the pony he was talking to.
“I came to take you to see her for yourself. If you are finished with your meal I would appreciate it if you came with me.”
Big Mac nodded and sat up. “Ah’ hope you don’t mind AJ, but Ah’ don’t think Ah’ll be able ta’ help with the rest of the work today.”
Applejack shook her head. “Don’t fret so much ‘bout it. Go check on yer pal and Ah’ll handle the rest of the plantin’.”
Big Mac smiled and headed out the door with Grayamina. “Thanks AJ.”
The hospital was packed considering the fact that only one pony was actually in it at the moment. Gathered around a hospital bed were Bon Bon, Breezy, and Pinkie Pie. Big Mac couldn’t help but notice Pinkie Pie was wearing her mane oddly today. It was completely straight instead of puffy like he had seen it before.
“Wake up soon okay Blueberrie,” the pink pony said sadly, “I promise I’ll throw you a huge party when you wake up okay. Pretty please wake up.”
Big Mac and his guide approached the bed to see Blueberrie writhing in her sleep. It was almost as if she was running from something. Grayamina sat down next to the pink pony and put an arm around her. She silently stroked her sister’s mane.
“She’s not looking good Grayie,” Pinkie said, “She looks really scared.”
“Ah’m sure she’s just fine Pinkie,” Big Mac said as he took a seat next to the mare,” What’s wrong with her anyway? Looks to me like she’s just having a nightmare.”
“The problem is that she won’t wake up,” the nurse pony said as she approached. “She’s been like this for at least fifteen hours now.” The nurse pony placed a hoof on the unconscious pony’s head and Big Mac noticed a faint glow coming from underneath her hat. “She’s just fine physically, but she’s stuck in sleep. I think it’s some sort of spell, but I don’t know how to dispel it.”
“So it’s a curse?” Grayamina asked.
“You could call it that if you want. It’s a powerful one too. I’ve had to call in Twilight Sparkle to come in and look at it. “
“I wonder what she’s dreaming about,” Bon Bon said solemnly,” I hope it’s not as terrifying as it looks.”
Big Mac put a hoof on the blue pony’s shoulder. It seemed to calm her down a bit. “Mind if Ah’ stay here fer a while nurse?”
The nurse looked at the pony on the bed and smiled. “You all can stay for now, but I’ll have to ask you to leave when Ms. Sparkle arrives. I don’t want her distracted during the examination.”
The pink pony turned from her sister to Big Mac and smiled. “Thanks Big Macintosh.” It was the gray sibling that spoke. Despite her cold expression, her appreciation showed in her voice.
Breezy sighed. “I think we’re gonna be here a while. What do you guys want for dinner?”
The group was forced to leave at around seven when Twilight Sparkle had finally arrived to examine Blueberrie. Together the group agreed to head to the Wandering Ram if only because a good drink would help cheer Pinkie up.
When the waitress arrived Bon Bon ordered a round of the bars most expensive drink for everyone, although Big Mac and Breezy both opted for the second most expensive drink.
The drink did have its intended effect on the pink pony. The moment her lips hit the sugary concoction her hair managed to regain its usual curls and a burst of excitement jumped back into her voice. “Wow I forgot how good this was,” she shouted.
The entirety of the table managed to grin. Even Grayamina managed to curl her lips slightly.
“So where’s Blueberrie tonight?” the waitress asked.
The smiles faded from the table’s occupants. All except for Pinkie Pie of course who was too busy chugging her drink to even hear what the waitress had said. “She’s in the hospital,” Big Mac said.
“Did she hurt herself?” the waitress asked clearly concerned.
“She’s been cursed,” Grayamina said as she took a swig from her bizarre glass. For a moment the entire table stared wide eyed at her, prompting an understandable, “What?”
“It’s nothing,” Heart Throb said quickly,” What do you mean by cursed?”
“She won’t wake up. The nurse said that she was under the influence of a spell of some kind.”
The pink pegasus leapt upward and shouted,” Boss!”
“No!” The unicorn at the bar shouted back.
The Pegasus sighed. “I guess I’ll have to visit her tomorrow then.”
“Why are you so concerned?” Grayamina asked as she finished her drink.
Heart Throb smiled. “I guess I haven’t introduced myself have I. I’m Heart Throb, Blueberries fillyfriend.”
The surrounding area quickly went cold as Grayamina turned to the filly. “Please leave Ms. Throb.” The pegasus complied and backed slowly away from the table.
“What was that about?” Bon Bon asked after the chill faded.
Without answering, Grayamina hopped out of the booth and turned to Big Mac. “Please come with me Big Macintosh,” she said and headed to the corner of the bar.
The entire group stared silently at the mare as she walked to the corner. “I think you should probably go check that out Big Mac,” Breezy said to the colt on the outside of the booth.
“Be sure to tell us what’s going on when you get back okay,” Bon Bon said as she reached for her drink. She was disappointed to find that it was now in the hands of Pinkie Pie.
Big Mac stood up and started heading cautiously toward the corner. “Ah’ll be back in a minute,” he said over his shoulder.
When he reached Grayamina he found her busy examining the labyrinth game. “What is this Big Macintosh?”
“That’s just a game that the owner made. Pinkie’s got the high score.”
Grayamina gazed at the time for a moment. “It will have to wait until later.” She turned to Big Mac. “I’m sorry for springing this on you so soon Big Macintosh, but I’m afraid I’d forgotten where we were until that waitress mentioned Blueberrie.”
“What’re you talkin’ about?”
“I need your help for my investigation. Together, we are going to take a look around this place and figure out what happened to my sister.”
Big Mac nodded. “Okay Ah’ see what yer getting’ at now, but why do ya’ want my help?”
“You’re the only pony I can trust who knows his way around here.” Grayamina closed her eyes for a moment and sighed. “The way Blueberrie reacted to you at the hospital earlier shows that I can trust you...I think anyway. At least I can trust you more than anypony else here.”
“Okay, but Ah’m not sure how much help Ah’ can be.”
“I just need you to ask around the bar okay. I understand that you know most of the ponies in here personally. If you could just interrogate them a little I might be able to glean some information from them.”
Big Mac sighed. “Okay, but Ah’ don’t think you should expect much.”
“Thank you Big Macintosh.” The gray pony tried to curl her lips in a thankful smile but failed and quickly reverted to her previous expression. “To start, would you please interrogate the waitress? I remember seeing her with Blueberrie last night when she came home.”
“Eeyup.” Big Mac nodded and headed to the other side of the bar where Heart Throb stood. She was still clearly confused by what had just happened.
“What was that all about Big Mac,” she asked.
“Ah’ don’t really know,” he said,” Ah’ think she’s just concerned ‘bout her sister. Do ya’ mind if Ah’ ask you ‘bout what happened with you and Blueberrie last night?”
Suddenly Heart Throb’s face filled with understanding. “Oh now I get it. She thinks I did this doesn’t she?”
“Ah’ don’t know.”
“Well you tell that witch,” she said pointing angrily toward the gray pony in the corner,” That I had nothing to do with this. I would never hurt Blueberrie!”
“Ah’ll tell her,” Big Mac said as he backed calmly away from the angry mare. Heart Throb payed no attention to the colt and trotted angrily back to the booth where Bon Bon, Breezy, and Pinkie sat. “Sorry fer wastin’ yer time,” Big Mac said mostly to himself.
On his way back to Grayamina Big Mac decided to investigate the counter. The only pony there right now apart from the bartender was Film Reel. Big Mac pulled up a stool and greeted the journalist. “Hello,” he said.
Film reel looked up from a pile of paper in front of him. “Hey Mac,” he said. He was smiling wider than ever. “Good to see you again. Could I buy you a drink? I’m feeling really good tonight.”
“Why’re you so happy?”
The pale yellow pony clapped his hooves together. “I just landed a big story that's why. To think I was stuck reviewing this crummy little place, and them Bam! A huge story falls right into my lap.”
“What’re you talkin’ about?”
“Haven’t you heard? One of the regulars here has been hospitalized, just like that colt in Manehattan. And I’m the lucky stallion who landed the story, because those jerks at the Weekly Ponyville News stuck me here.” The colt was practically giddy as he spoke.
“Hey,” Big Mac slammed his hoof on the counter,” That filly is my friend.”
The joy in Film Reel’s demeanor calmed slightly at the sight of the angry stallion in front of him. “I’m sorry Mac. I didn’t mean to sound rude or anything.” He shrugged. “I mean it’s not like I’m happy she’s in trouble or anything, but you can’t argue that it makes for good news.”
“Is that all you care about,” the bartender chimed in, angrily slamming a glass on the counter,” A filly has been hospitalized and all you care about is your story.” He glared at the colt from behind his glasses. “I knew I shouldn’t have let you in here. Get out of my bar.”
“Hey I have just as much right to be here as anypony else. Besides, if I leave how do you expect me to write this story?”
“I don’t. Get out.”
Film Reel glared angrily at the bartender for a moment before walking off in a huff. “Seeya in the papers Mac,” he said as he walked off.
Big Mac turned to the bartender. “Ya’ didn’t need to kick him out ya’ know.”
“He was lucky I let him in in the first place. I can’t stand reporters.” He picked the glass back up and started shining it.
A moment later Grayamina approached the counter. “It really wasn’t necessary,” she said to the bartender, “It is his job. It’s to be expected.”
“You’re right miss. That’s why I kicked him out. I’m sure you heard me before if you saw all that. I can’t stand reporters.”
“Right.” Grayamina paused and looked the bartender up and down for a moment. “As long as I’m here, could I get one of your pink drinks?”
“Alright miss.” The bartender leaned down under the bar and began mixing the drink. Big Mac thought about peering over, but decided he really didn’t want to know what was put into the painfully sweet concoction.
As the unicorn mixed the drink Big Mac noticed a familiar multicolored Pegasus approach the counter. “Hey Applejack’s brother,” she greeted the stallion.
Grayamina seemed to take notice of the pegasus as she approached as well. “Ms. Dash, nice to see you again.” Big Mac noted the lack of change in her speech, despite the kind wording of her sentence.
Rainbow looked perplexedly at the pony for a moment. “Oh now I recognize you. You’re that big shot prosecutor right. Good to see you again too I guess.” The pair shook hooves in front of Big Mac and he found himself briefly blinded by a flash he couldn’t place the origin of.
“So Applejack’s brother,” Rainbow said turning back to Big Mac,” I just wanted to thank you again for that advice earlier. I haven’t gotten to use it yet, but it’s really helped me think you know. Would you like me to buy you a drink?”
“No thank you.”
“So Ms. Dash,” Grayamina said, “I wasn’t aware you were a filly-fooler. Are you seeing anypony?”
Rainbow Dash blushed. “Hold on. Are you asking me out?”
Grayamina shook her head. “I apologize. I was just making conversation. I prefer stallions myself.”
“Oh o-of course. I didn’t mean anything I was just joking.” The colorful filly laughed nervously.
“You don’t need to lie Ms. Dash. My sister’s a filly fooler after all.”
“Wait, say that again.”
“My sister’s a filly fooler,” Grayamina said without missing a beat.
“E-excuse me I have to go take care of something.” Rainbow Dash hopped off of the stool. “I’ll see you later Applejack’s brother. You too Pinkie’s sister.” She waved goodbye to the ponies and all but skipped out of the bar.
“Ah’ wonder what that was about,” Big Mac said as he stared at the door.
“I’m not sure, but I have a bad feeling it won’t end well.” Grayamina took a drink from her newly filled glass. “You should probably head back to the booth Big Macintosh. I’m going to stay here and have a couple more drinks.”
Big Mac nodded and hopped off of his stool. “Okay. Sorry Ah’ didn’t help so much with the investigation.”
“You helped me a good deal actually,” the gray pony said,” Thank you Big Macintosh.”
Big Mac headed back to the booth to see only Bon Bon and Heart Throb. “Where’re Breezy and Pinkie,” he asked.
Bon Bon laughed lightly. “Pinkie overdid it again and Breezy carried her home.”
“I guess I should have cut her off around the fourth drink.“ Heart Throb chuckled.
Despite the laughter from both ponies, Big Mac couldn’t help but notice the somber feeling around the table. “Maybe you should go visit Blueberrie, Heart Throb,” he said.
The pink pegasus glanced up at the clock. “Maybe he won’t notice if I leave early,” she muttered. “Do either of you want another drink before I head out.”
Big Mac shook his head and Bon Bon smiled. “I’m fine. Just go visit your filly,” she said.
“Thanks guys.” The waitress smiled at the pair and headed toward the door. Either the bartender didn’t notice, or he simply didn’t care as she managed to leave without a hassle.
Big Mac turned to Bon Bon after the mare had left. “Now what’s wrong with you Bon Bon?” he asked.
Bon Bon just smiled. “What do you mean Big Mac? Apart from this whole fiasco with Blueberrie I’m doing just fine.”
“Alright,” Big Mac said, “But just so ya’ know Ah’m here if ya’ want to talk.”
Bon Bon’s smile dimmed slightly. “Thanks, but you know what, I think I’m going to leave a bit early tonight.” She moved out of the booth. “See you tomorrow I guess Big Mac.” She waved him goodbye and left the bar.
Seeing no reason to stay, Big Mac made to leave as well. He didn’t even think about Karamel as he headed home. His mind was too occupied with thoughts of Blueberrie, and the curse that Heart Throb had mentioned the previous night. As he headed home various thoughts assaulted his mind. One repeated itself constantly.
What if we’re all in danger?
Big Mac found himself in an empty room tonight. At least he thought it was empty until he moved forward and tripped over what appeared to be a chair. In truth the room was just completely black, which explained why he could clearly see the sheep that helped him up.
“Hey newbie,” the ewe said as she lifted him. “Glad to see you’re back. I was afraid we’d lost our pep squad for a moment there.”
Big Mac smiled at the ewe. “Glad ta’ see yer still here too.”
The ewe let go of his hoof and turned to face the rest of the room. Big Mac saw most of the sheep from the previous night, save for the straight haired ewe. “This is the first loss for most of them,” the ewe in purple glasses said somberly,” I’d be willing to bet they could all use some cheering up.”
“And Ah’ guess Ah’m the pony who has to do that?”
“Well no one else is going to do it. Tell you what if you need some cheering up afterword, you can come chat with me.”
“Thanks, but Ah’ think Ah’ll be fine.” Big Mac smiled at the ewe and went to go talk with the other sheep.
Big Mac first approached the nearby ram in the green hat. The sheep was lying on the ground and staring blankly at a wall. He waved half-heartedly as Big Mac approached. “Hello,” Big Mac greeted the ram,” You feelin’ okay?”
“Of course I’m not,” the ram said without even turning his gaze. After a brief pause he sighed and spoke again. “That ewe that fell last night, she was brimming with confidence when she left. Yet here I am. How ridiculous is that?”
The ram seemed to be talking mostly to himself, but Big Mac decided to chime in anyway. “What do you mean?”
The ram turned to Big Mac for a second before looking away again. “You saw me yesterday,” he said, “I was actually thinking of jumping just for a break for pony’s sake. But I’m here and that little ewe, who was so confident, fell. It’s not fair.”
Big Mac put a friendly hoof on the sheep’s shoulder. “Ah’m sure she’s just fine. Don’t worry ‘bout her. What’s important is that you’re still here, and you need to keep runnin’.”
The sheep glanced sadly upward at Big Mac. “You and I both know that’s a load of horse-apples Big Mac,” he said, ”but thanks.” He pushed the hoof off of his shoulder and stood up. “It’s just hard to think that I’ve made it this far you know. Everyone else here has something to run for. All I’ve got is what I’m running from.”
“That’s still a reason to run.”
The ram sighed again. “I know. And I’m going to keep running. It just-“
This time Big Mac cut the sheep off before he could finish,” Whatever it is, it don’t matter. Just remember to keep runnin’.”
The ram stared at him for a moment. “You’re right. Forget it.” The ram smiled lightly. “Thanks for the pep talk.”
“’S no trouble,” Big Mac patted the sheep on the back and moved on. The next sheep he needed to talk to was a depressed looking ewe with an odd swirl on her head. “Hello miss,” he said as he approached.
“Hello strawman,” the ewe attempted to smile at the approaching colt. “How’re you doing?”
“Just fine. What about you?”
The ewe sighed and her smile grew a bit dimmer. “Worse than last night I’m afraid. I’ve tried not thinking about the lost sheep, but then all I can think about is my other problem.”
“This have somethin’ to do with what ya’ asked me last night?”
“Yeah. Hey you mind if I ask you another question?”
“Go right ahead.”
The ewe turned away and closed her eyes for a moment before looking back to him. “Remember when I asked you about that whole cheating thing? Well I’ve been thinking, what if you couldn’t forgive the cheater? What would you do then?”
Big Mac paused to think for a moment. “Well the only thing to do would be to leave.”
The sheep looked down at the floor. “But what if you still loved them?”
“Then you forgive them.”
For a moment the ewe looked confusedly at the stallion in front of her. She started to say something, but stopped and paused. “Is it really that simple?” she finally said after a few moments in thought, “Leave or forgive. Are those the only options?...I’ll have to think about that.” She smiled up at Big Mac. “Thanks strawman.”
Big Mac just smiled and nodded before moving on to the next sheep. The colorful ewe was the next nearest one. She looked noticeably less depressed than the rest of the sheep. Still she wasn’t looking quite as confident as the previous night. “Hey,” she greeted Big Mac as he approached.
“Hello,” he said,” How’re you holdin’ up?”
“Pretty good I guess.” The ewe shrugged. “I guess it didn’t hit me until just now what’s going on you know. That poor ewe didn’t even last one night.”
“Ah’ know.” Big Mac sighed. “Ah guess now Ah’ really know what's at stake.”
“Still it’s not like it’s the first time,” the ewe said,” That one ram from before fell too after all. Maybe they’re just somewhere else. They could be fine for all we know.” The colorful sheep shrugged. “No way to be sure I guess. Just gotta keep running right?” She jabbed Big Mac playfully.
Big Mac smiled. “Eeyup. Now if you’ll s’cuse me. Ah’ need to go see how one last sheep’s doin’.”
The ewe pumped an arm. “We can handle this no problem. See you tomorrow night.”
Big Mac smiled and waved her goodbye as he approached the final sheep. The last one was of course the ram in the black hat. He was busily rolling his hat back and forth in his hooves when Big Mac greeted him. “Hello,” he said.
“Hey,” the ram said as he put his hat back on his head. “How do you like this huh? That ewe fell off even after that whole thing last night.” He chuckled.
“What’s so funny about that,” he said.
The ram sighed and looked up at him. “It’s just funny is all. I’m pretty sure I know who that ewe was and what happened to her, but when I wake up in a bit I’ll just forget it all again.” He sighed. “This would make a great story, but it’s impossible to write. How do you like that?”
“Don’t you even care about the ewe?”
The ram smiled. “Of course I do,” he said,” That poor filly will never have her story told properly because of all this nonsense. Not to mention everything she’s had to go through.” He sighed again and fell onto his back. “We’ll only know what’s going on in here. What good does that do anypony?” The ram covered his face with his hat and Big Mac stared at him for a few moments. “Sorry to bother you with all this, pal. We just need to run right? That’s what you’re always saying.”
“Eeyup.” Big Mac nodded.
“Huh. That’s a funny way of saying yes. “ The ram grinned as Big Mac headed off to the stable.
“Good evenin’,” Big Mac said as he stepped inside.
“Good evening. Take a seat.” Big Mac sat down. “So anymore questions for me tonight?” the voice asked.
“Eeyup. Ah’ was wonderin’, do you know what happens to the sheep who fall?”
The voice took a moment to respond. “I thought you were going to ask me more about why I was doing this.”
“Ah’ only get one answer a night right?”
“Something like that. Sorry, but I don’t really know what happens to the sheep who fall. As far as I’m concerned they just disappear.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well they fall out of my reach. They don’t show up in the sanctuaries I create anymore. They might be dead, or maybe they’re just trapped. For all I know they could have gotten out.”
“So ya’ really don’t know.”
The voice paused once more. “No. I’m sorry.”
Before anything more could be said, Big Mac was surprised by the stable’s launch. This time he was not quite as well prepared as he should have been and almost ended up falling out of the strange vehicle.
He hobbled out of the stable and took a look behind him too see it dissolve. He decided after the previous night that it was probably better to get a look at what was chasing him rather than be surprised later. He was surprised to see that nothing approached from the darkness but a single piece of hay, floating silently in midair.
Unfortunately the silence didn’t last long. A disturbing laugh assaulted Big Mac’s ear no more than a few moments after the straw appeared, and a shadowy hoof reached out to him. Without even thinking Big Mac turned away from the hoof and began running.
His full gallop didn’t last long however. He was slowed to no more than a trot when the creature behind him began speaking in a familiar voice. “Why bother running,” the creature said in his voice, “After all, don’t you deserve to fall.”
Big Mac stopped for a moment to shout back at the specter, but was almost crushed once more by its shadowy hoof. Realizing his mistake, Big Mac took off running once again. “You’re a traitor,” the shadow taunted as he ran,”He’ll never trust you again you know. Why not just give up?” Big Mac ignored it as best as he could, but his pace slowed significantly as he headed through the maze.
“Blueberrie could use the company,” the shadow commented once more. It was followed by the same cackle as before. “I’m sure she’s okay,” it said in a voice and tone absolutely identical to Big Mac’s own,” Down in that nightmare.”
For some reason the red stallion felt more tired than ever as he reached out for the door at the mazes end. The door wasn’t locked this time, but for some reason he had trouble opening it. “You know you deserve to fall,” the shadow behind him said coldly,” Just give in already. You won’t have to worry about that colt of yours anymore.”
Big Mac wasn’t entirely sure why, but this last line seemed to awaken him. The feeling of depression faded and he pushed open the door just as a shadowy hoof reached out for the final blow.
The scream that emanated from the beast definitely wasn’t pony. Big Mac was thankful for that. He had expected to hear himself screaming in pain as the light struck it. He let out a sigh and trotted slowly into the doorway.
Big Mac was thankful to wake up alone in his bed for once. It gave him some time to breath. Just to be sure, he decided to look around the room for signs that Karamel had been there. He was disappointed to find a scroll from the stallion.
“Thanks for another lovely night,” he could almost hear the stallion chuckle as he read,” Sorry I couldn’t stay for one of our great chats. Tonight’s my last night in town, so be sure to come see me at the bar okay. There’s something I need to talk to you about.”
After the note was read it vanished in a puff of smoke. Big Mac sighed. He had never been a fan of magic. His mind was loaded with thoughts about what he would say to the colt that night as he trotted downstairs.
By The Unnamed Pawn
Upon heading downstairs Big Mac caught his sister eating a muffin and reading a scroll. “Looks like Caramel’s comin’ back tomorrow,” she said as she passed the scroll across the table.
Big Mac glanced at the paper. “I’m sorry for leaving without telling you,” it read,” I just had a few things to sort out. I’ll be home tomorrow morning assuming this reaches you today. It’ll be good to see you again.
With Love, Caramel”
Big Mac set the paper aside. He didn’t even want to think about Caramel right now. On top of everything else he definitely wasn’t looking forward to that talk.
“Well aren’t ya’ excited?” his sister asked.
“Eeyup,” Big Mac said with a forced smile.
“Good to hear it.” Applejack stuffed the rest of the muffin into her mouth and stood up. “Now eat some breakfast. We’re cleanin’ the barn today and you’ll need all the energy you can muster.”
As his sister left the room Big Mac moved to prepare a large breakfast for himself in preparation for what was apparently a hefty workload.
In truth, cleaning the barn was actually a much smaller job then Applejack made it out to be. Together they were pretty much finished before lunch. Applejack couldn’t think of anything else for him to do, so she ordered him to go to the hospital and see Blueberrie.
Without even getting a meal in, Big Mac was rushed out of the house. He didn’t question it though. Applejack probably just thought he was more worried about his friend than he was letting on. She was right of course, but he wasn’t sure he was as worried as she thought he was.
The hospital was a bit more full than the day before. Three closely grouped beds were taken up by a trio of similar looking fillies. Apart from them the only ponies in the hospital were the nurses and a multicolored pegasus who sat above the bed of the pinkest of the trio. “Hey applejacks brother,” she gestured for him to come sit beside her.
Big Mac examined the other two ponies on the beds for a moment. They were asleep, but they weren’t squirming like their sister. “What’s wrong with these two?” he asked.
The nurse pony approached the bed with a pair of icepacks. “It’s just some migraines that’s all,” she said as she placed the packs on the sleeping pair. “They insisted on staying with their sister, so I’m taking care of them today.”
“How’s Blueberrie doin’?”
The nurse pony frowned as she glanced at the mare in the center. She was thrashing about just like she had been the previous day. “She’s alive.” The nurse sighed and glanced up to Big Mac. “Twilight Sparkle wasn’t able to dispel the spell, but she’s doing some more research today. Maybe she’ll have a breakthrough.” She stared at the mare for a moment more before leaving the trio alone.
“So that’s why you’re here.” Rainbow Dash said as she looked at the squirming mare. “I thought you were visiting Pinkie’s other sister.” She pointed to the gray pony on the other side of the beds.
“Nope.” Big Mac shook his head. “Ah’m here visitin’ Blueberrie. Is that why you’re here?” As he spoke he noticed a new pony enter the hospital carrying a bouquet of flowers.
Rainbow Dash shook her head. “I came to see Pinkie actually. Looks like she’s out though.”
The pink pegasus who had just arrived set her flowers down on Blueberrie’s bed and took a seat next to Big Mac. “Hey Big Mac,” she said. She then turned and smiled at Rainbow Dash. “Nice to see another of our regular’s here,” she said,” Are you visiting Blueberrie too?”
“Pinkie actually,” she said as she shook her fellow pegasus’s hand. “So why are you visiting? I didn’t think most ponies knew Pinkie’s sisters.”
“Actually,” she said gazing somberly at the blue earth pony on the hospital bed,” Blueberrie there is my fillyfriend.”
Rainbow Dash smiled and nodded for a moment. “So Blueberrie’s a filly-fooler huh?” She glanced downward at the pink pony in front of her. “I guess that does explain a lot,” she mumbled.
The group glanced upward at the sound of an opening door to see that Bon Bon and Breezy had arrived with a couple bags of sandwiches in tow. “I told you they’d be here,” Bon Bon said to her companion.
“Glad I didn’t waste the bits,” he said as they approached. “Who’s this filly,” he said looking at Rainbo Dash.
“You know Rainbow Dash, Breezy.” Bon Bon and Breezy took a seat next to Heart Throb. “The real question is why she’s here.”
“She’s visitin’ Pinkie Pie,” Big Mac said.
It was obvious that until now the mare and stallion had not noticed the occupants of the other two beds. “I guess drinking too much runs in the family.” Bon Bon giggled.
“Well at least that means we have an extra sandwich for Rainbow Dash.” Breezy scrounged through the bag. “Do you want rose petal on rye, or daffodil on wheat?”
The sandwiches were passed around and the group shared a comfortable lunch together. At least, it was as comfortable as things could get in a hospital. The group remained around the beds until about six when Heart Throb was forced to leave for work. Together the group decided to make their usual trip to the bar a little early.
Big Mac, Bon Bon, and Breezy took their usual booth upon entering the bar. Despite Bon Bon’s offer to join them, Rainbow Dash said, she’d prefer to drink at the counter and headed there. Heart Throb took the groups orders and headed to the bathroom to change into her uniform.
Breezy chose to stop by the bathroom himself, leaving Bon Bon and Big Mac alone. The mare smiled brightly at the stallion across from her. “So, Big Mac, are you excited? I hear Caramel’s coming home tomorrow.”
“How d’you know that?”
“Never mind how I know. Just answer the question. Are you happy he’s coming home?”
“Eeyup,” Big Mac said unenthusiastically. He was happy to see Caramel again, but in truth excited wasn’t quite the word he would use. He couldn’t help but be worried about the talk he would have to have with the colt when he got home.
“Glad to see it,” Bon Bon said. Obviously she failed to notice the lack of enthusiasm. “You two are such an adorable couple.” Bon Bon sighed.
“You okay Bon Bon?” Big Mac asked.
“I’m fine,” she said turning away from Big Mac and facing the door. ”It’s just that this whole thing with you two has gotten me thinking a lot about Lyra.”
“Whole thing?” Some panic edged into Big Mac’s voice. Did Bon Bon know about Karamel?
“Oh right I’m not supposed to talk about it.” The cream mare sighed and turned to face him once more. “Can I tell you a secret Big Mac?”
“What is it?”
Bon Bon paused and her smile grew a bit wider as she stared at the stallion. “Never mind,” she said,” I shouldn’t bother you with it.” Once again she turned to look at nothing in particular. “Besides it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s just ancient history.”
The table was silent until Heart Throb and Breezy returned with their drinks. “You two sure took your time,” Bon Bon punched Breezy playfully as he took his seat.
“I’m sorry your majesty,” the colt joked,” I promise next time I’ll stay while we wait for our drinks.”
Heart Throb let loose a laugh. “Since you guys are here so early would you like something to eat? We don’t have much, but I could get you some pretzels or something.”
Big Mac noticed his stomach growling and said,”That’d be great.”
“Alright. I’ll be back with those in a jiffy.” The waitress smiled and headed to the counter.
Big Mac barely got a drink of his cider before Breezy started talking to him. “So, Big Mac, are you excited for Caramel coming home tomorrow?”
Big Mac stared at him silently for a moment. “I already asked him that Breezy,” Bon Bon said.
“Without me?” The colt looked surprised. “You couldn’t wait for five minutes?”
“You didn’t miss anything. All he said was ‘Eeyup’.” Bon Bon did a rather horrible impression of the stallion on the last word that caused him to smile.
Breezy turned his attention back to the red colt across from him. “Is that true Big Mac?”
“Eeyup,” he said eliciting a laugh from the pair across from him.
Heart Throb returned a minute later with a large bowl of pretzels and set it down in the middle of the table. “Nopony ever orders these things, so I convinced boss to give you the whole bowl at a huge discount. It’s only one bit.”
“One bit fer a bowl this big?” Big Mac commented. “Might as well be givin’ ‘em away.”
The bowl went quickly and proved to be surprisingly filling. By the time it was finished with Big Mac almost felt like he had eaten a real dinner. When it was finished Bon Bon and Breezy stepped out. “I hope you don’t mind us leaving early Big Mac, but Lyra’s been worried about me lately and Breezy here has some work to do.”
“A shipment of new fans is supposed to arrive at the store today,” Breezy smiled.
“Now now Breezy don’t get too excited. It’s just fans after all.” Bon Bon punctuated her sentence with yet another playful punch to Breezy’s stomach. “See you later Big Mac.” The pair waved goodbye to the colt as they left.
“Ah’ guess Ah’ll just walk ‘round the bar fer awhile then.” Big Mac moved out of the booth.
Heart Throb nodded. “Okay. I’ll be in the corner if you need anything.” With that she trotted off.
Big Mac headed to the counter to see Rainbow Dash talking with a mare in a pair of ridiculous looking purple glasses. For some reason they struck him as incredibly familiar. The mare behind the glasses was a white pony with a wild blue mane. “I’m telling you Dash you’ve got to try one of these things,” she said,” I think it’s called a Mojito and it’s the most delicious drink ever.”
Rainbow Dash just laughed before noticing Big Mac pull up a stool. “Oh hey Applejack’s brother. Vinyl this is Big Macintosh. Big Mac, this is Vinyl Scratch.”
“Nice to meet ya’.” The filly and Big Mac exchanged a quick hoof-shake.
“Vinyl here just got back from a big gig in Manehattan,” Rainbow Dash said after the introductions were finished.
“Yeah. Then I heard that the Wandering Ram had moved to Ponyville and I had to check it out. I’ll admit that I was surprised to see Dash here though.” The mare gave her friend a jab in the shoulder.
Rainbow Dash laughed and returned the favor before turning back to Big Mac. “Me and her were going to head out, but I wanted to talk to you before we left.”
“Why would ya’ wanna talk to me?” the red colt asked.
Rainbow Dash blushed and leaned in close. “I just wanted to say thanks again,” she whispered. After that she hopped off her bench and waved to him on the way out. “See you later Big Mac.”
Vinyl smiled as the filly headed out and hopped off of her own stool. “I don’t know where she thinks she’s going alone,” she said. After a brief laugh she turned to Big Mac. “By the way, somepony outside said he was looking for you. Unless there’s another big red stallion in here somewhere that I’m not seeing.” With a wave and a “Seeya,” the mare headed out the door.
Big Mac took a quick look around the bar to see if Karamel had arrived without him noticing. After deciding that it was safe to leave, he headed outside to see Film Reel sitting just out of sight of the bartender and busily punching a typewriter. Big Mac watched perplexed for a moment by the dexterity of the colt as he somehow managed to pound the keys with his hooves.
“You wanted to see me,” he said after he managed to regain his train of thought.
The colt slid the typewriter back to its standard position with an audible click and looked up. “Hey Mac. I see you got my message.”
“What was it ya’ wanted?”
“I just needed to know what was going on in the bar. I figured you’re always in there, so I told the first pony I saw to go get you.” The colt slid his typewriter aside and stood up. “So, have you learned anything interesting?”
“Nope. And to be frank, Ah’ don’t even know what it is yer lookin’ for.”
Film Reel sighed. “I knew a layman wouldn’t be able to spot it. I’m looking for everything Mac. Anything could blow this story wide open.” The colt stood on his hind legs and spread his arms wide to emphasize this point. After he landed he just glared at Big Mac. “I’m surprised you haven’t been looking into this more. I thought you and that gray pony from yesterday were investigating this.”
“Nope. That was just her.”
Film Reel just sighed. “I’m never gonna be able to get this thing written at this point,” he grumbled and heaved his typewriter onto his back. “You’re sure you don’t know anything? Last night you said she was a friend of yours.”
“Sorry. Ah’ don’t know anythin’ but how she’s doin’. You can see that at yerself the hospital.”
Film Reel shrugged. “I guess I’ll head to the hospital then. Maybe I can interview the family or something.” He trotted off. “Seeya in the papers Mac,” he said as he headed toward the hospital.
Confident he was finished with Film Reel, Big Mac headed back inside to wait for Karamel. On his way in he was passed by Heart Throb on her way out early again. The unicorn at the bar glanced up at him as he entered. “Cud. I knew I shouldn’t have let her go,” he mumbled. “Do you want anything to drink?”
“Ah’m good thanks. Ah’ve still got some cider Ah’ think.” Big Mac took a seat at the booth and drank his cider while he waited. It was around eight-thirty when the unicorn finally entered the bar and sat down.
“Glad to see you got my note,” he said. “An appletini here bartender.”
Big Mac took in a deep breath. “Karamel, Ah’ need to talk to you ‘bout somethin’.”
“Okay, but let me go first. I’m the one who left a note after all.”
Big Mac nodded. He didn’t want to be here long than he had too, but he was still having trouble thinking of what to say. This would at least buy him some time to figure out the words.
The bartender arrived with Karamel’s drink and he gulped it down before starting. “I told you in the note that tonight was my last night in town right?” Big Mac nodded. “What do you think of coming with me?”
Big Mac’s eyes popped open wider than they had been all week. “W-what?”
“I know it’s kind of sudden, but I really like you big guy.” The unicorn chuckled. “Besides, it’s not like you’ve got anything holding you back after all.”
“Karamel Ah’ can’t-“
“Think about it. You could be free from all that silly farm work and that judgmental family of yours. Not to mention,” the colt slid his hoof across the table,” We could be together.”
Big Mac closed his eyes and lowered his head. Things were just getting worse. This poor colt actually cared for him.
“I’m not really used to travelling with company,” the colt continued,”But it can’t be all bad. Especially when you have such nice company,” he chuckled.
“Ah’m sorry Karamel.”
The smile refused to leave the colts face. “You don’t have to answer right away. I’ll be here until tomorrow afternoon. We can talk then once you’ve had more time to,” the colt inched ever closer,” think.”
“Ah’m sorry fer what Ah’ have to tell you.”
A look of concern finally started to show. “Like I said. It can wait until tomorrow.”
“Let me talk Karamel.” The colt backed away. “To start ya’ need to know that Ah’m not a secret colt cuddler.”
“Then why were you so eager to have me jump out the window?” The unicorn chuckled nervously.
“The truth is, Ah’ already have a colt.” The smile on Karamel’s face faded instantly. “His name is Caramel.”
Suddenly the smile jumped back. “Oh I see. You’re joking. You had me going there for a minute. That poker face of yours is pretty impressive.”
“It’s the truth.” The smile once more disappeared. “Ah’ never meant to lead you on, or to cheat on him. To be honest Ah’m still not sure how any of this happened.” Big Mac sighed. “But it did anyway. Ah’m sorry.”
“I don’t like the idea of being the other stallion big guy.” Karamel angrily rose from the booth. “But my offer still stands.” Big Mac looked up to see an almost frightening smile on the colt’s face. “Just be sure to drop the dead weight before you come see me okay.” With that the stallion strode calmly out of the bar leaving Big Mac to his thoughts.
Somehow, despite the turmoil of the previous night and the new turmoil that was bound to ensue in the morning, Big Mac actually got through the night in peace for the first time in almost a week. He awoke in his room to the sound of knocking.
The first thing he did was check to make sure that Karamel hadn’t snuck in the previous night and he was pleased to find the room empty. “Come in,” he said as he climbed out of bed.
He was surprised to see the pony to open the door was not his sister, but his colt Caramel. “Good morning Big Mac,” the stallion said as he entered the room. Before Big Mac could even say hello the brown colt trapped him in an embrace. “It’s good to see you again,” he said warmly.
“Caramel,” Big Mac mumbled sadly. He couldn’t bring himself to return the embrace.
“Are you okay?” Caramel asked. After releasing Big Mac from the hug and examining him for a moment, the colt’s expression dimmed. “Are you still having nightmares?”
Big Mac shook his head. “That’s not it.”
“Then what’s wrong? Are you sick?” Caramel placed a hoof on the stallion’s forehead, and Big Mac reflexively backed away.
“Caramel-“ he began to speak, but was cut off by a sound coming from the window. Both colts turned to see a yellow unicorn climb into the room.
“Hey big guy,” Karamel said as he heaved himself into the room. “Good morning,” he chuckled.
“Big Mac who is this?” Caramel asked. Big Mac was too stunned to answer. All he could do was stare at the grinning unicorn in front of the window.
“You must be Caramel,” the unicorn said as he extended his hoof for a shake. “I’m a friend of Big Mac’s from the bar. I’ve was hoping to meet you.”
Caramel was clearly confused, but he approached the strange unicorn nonetheless. “Okay,” he said as he approached,” Why did you climb in through the window?” He reached out to shake the yellow colt’s hoof, but was surprised to find himself flung towards the open window.
Big Mac was snapped out of his stupor by the scream as his colt flew out of the room. Without thinking he leapt for the window and managed to catch Caramel before he fell too far. He was barely hanging on by his hind legs. Big Mac managed to heave them both back into the room. When they both managed to stand they found themselves looking at an angry yellow unicorn.
“Didn’t I tell you to drop the dead weight big guy?” Despite the anger in his expression, Karamel spoke with a frightening calm.
“What the hay was that about,” Caramel shouted.
Karamel glared at the caramel colt next to Big Mac for a moment before lowering his head. “You’re in the way Caramel. So I’m going to have to move you.” Without another word the unicorn charges straight at the confused stallion.
Caramel was clearly too frightened and confused to move, but Big Mac once again reacted without thinking and pushed his lover out of the way towards the door. He heard a crash behind him and turned to see that the unicorn had managed to lodge himself in the wall. “Hey big guy,” he chuckled nervously,” Could you help me out a little here. I seem to be stuck.”
“Let’s get out of here Caramel,” Big Mac said as he helped the colt to his feet.
“Hey big guy don’t run,” the colt chuckled nervously as the pair headed out the door.
Big Mac and Caramel stopped dead as soon as they left the room. Big Mac stared in terror and Caramel stared in confusion, at the labyrinth laid out before them. “Get back here!” A voice screamed from behind them. They turned to see that the apple home had vanished and instead behind them was a gigantic half-demonic unicorn.
One half of the creature looked just like the Karamel Big Mac had seen many nights over the course of the week, but the other half was a blackened soulless husk of a pony with nothing but a distorted black hide and a clear eye.
“W-what’s going on Big Macintosh?” the colt beside him asked.
Big Mac grabbed the colt’s hoof and started galloping as best as he could. “Ah’ll explain later just run.”
He charged through the maze with his colt in tow and the unicorn behind in pursuit. “Just let him go big guy,” the demon said in its horrifically happy voice as it threw bolts of lightning at the pair. “He’s just dragging you down.”
The maze was the most complicated Big Mac had seen yet, but Caramel proved surprisingly helpful considering his confusion. He pointed out several turns that Big Mac would have normally missed allowing to keep pace just ahead of the monster. “Stop running,” the specter cooed,” I just want to kill the pony with the stupid mullet. You’ll be fine.”
Big Mac wasn’t even listening to the voice as he charged. The only thing in his head was that Caramel needed protection. Nothing else ran through his mind.
Eventually the couple managed to reach the all too familiar doorway and without even a moment of thought Big Mac bucked it down with all his force. The monster behind them screamed in pain as the light shined through the portal.
Caramel stared in horror as the beast dissolved behind them. “B-Big Macintosh,” he said,” What just happened?”
“It don’t matter Caramel.” Big Mac reached to embrace the colt but he backed away.
“What are you saying? Of course it matters,” Caramel shouted in a panic. “Why was that crazy unicorn trying to kill me? A-and what is this place? What was that thing? What in Celestia’s name is going on?”
Big Mac reached out his hoof to turn the colt’s gaze back to him. He gazed calmly into Caramels eyes and said,” What’s important is you’re safe.”
Tears came to the colt’s eyes as he leapt into the stallions arms, and together they traveled through the doorway.
Big Mac sprung up in his bed and looked around his room. He had awoken once more alone, and in a cold sweat.
By The Unnamed Pawn
Big Mac pulled himself out of bed and managed to gather his breath just as his sister came knocking. “Come in,” Big Mac shouted.
The pony to enter the room, however, was not the sister he expected. Instead a caramel colored stallion with a brown mullet walked through the door. “Hey Big Mac,’ he said.
Without a word Big Mac embraced the new arrival. “Ah’m so glad yer safe,” he whispered more to himself then to the colt in his arms
“I was only gone for three days,” Caramel said as he returned the hug,” And it’s not like I went to a warzone or anything.”
Big Mac paused for a moment. Now that he thought about it, he wasn’t entirely sure why he thought Caramel might have been in danger. He released the stallion from the embrace and shot him a smile. “Now that ya’ mention it, where were you?”
Caramel sighed. “I just had something I needed to sort out. Don’t worry about it.” He waved his hoof dismissively. “So how have you been without me?”
The smile faded from Big Mac’s face. “About that,” he said,” Ah’ve been meanin’ to talk to you since ya’ left.”
Caramel nodded. “Applejack told me about Blueberrie. Don’t worry too much about her okay. I’m sure Twilight Sparkle has it under control.” He put a comforting hoof on Big Mac’s shoulder.
“That’s not it.”
A concerned look appeared on the colt’s face. “What is it Big Mac?”
Big Mac stared silently at Caramel for a moment. “Ya’ know what. Ya’ just got home. Ah’ won’t bother ya’ with it,” he said as he plastered a smile on his face. He couldn’t quite bring himself to mention Karamel yet. He couldn’t even think of the words to use.
Caramel frowned. “Alright. We’ll talk later then.” He gave Big Mac a kiss and headed to the window. “I’ll see you at dinner.”
“What’re you doin’?” Big Mac stared perplexedly at the colt as he climbed out the window.
“I’ve got something I need to take care of at Carousel Boutique today. If Applejack asks I’m still in your room okay.” Caramel waved as he hopped to the ground below and Big Mac waved him on.
“Ah’ see you there Caramel!” He heard his sister yell as he went to go wash his hair.
Caramel managed to escape Applejack by the time Big Mac had gone downstairs and prepared his breakfast. “That lazy colt thinks just cause he’s datin’ my brother he can skip out on a day’s work,” his sister grumbled as she reentered the house.
“He said he’s got somethin’ to do at yer friend’s store,” Big Mac said.
“He hasn’t gotten that finished with already?” Applejack asked angrily. “What was he doin’ before he left? Sortin’ dresses?” The mare shook her head. “Ah’ guess Ah’ll let it slide this once,” she turned to Big Mac, “But you’re gonna have to cover for him.”
Big Mac didn’t complain. He simply stood up and asked, “What is it ya’ need AJ.” Covering for Caramel was the least he could do.
Despite Applejack’s complaints there really wasn’t much work that needed to be done on the farm. She did what she could to keep him busy with planting, but he had planted every seed they had by the time lunch rolled around. Luckily she had calmed down by then.
“Ah’ guess Ah’ shouldn’t keep ya’ any longer,” she said as she ate,” Why don’t ya’ go visit that filly in the hospital or somethin’? Ah’ll send Caramel to the bar once I find him. You can look fer him there.” She finished her meal and stood up. Big Mac noticed her grab a lasso as she headed out the door.
Big Mac managed to reach the hospital, but never quite managed to get inside. He was intercepted by a certain gray mare before he could even open the front door. “Come with me Big Macintosh,” Grayamina said as she walked past him.
He turned his head to follow the filly, but apart from that didn’t move. “What’s this ‘bout?”
“Blueberrie of course.” Grayamina simply continued walking as she spoke, prompting Big Mac to follow.
“Are ya’ askin’ me to help you investigate again?” he asked once he’d caught up.
“Yes. I thought you would be interested.”
“Ah’ve got nothin’ else to do Ah’ suppose. Still do ya’ really need me for this?”
“I can always use an assistant.”
“What about Pinkie, or Blueberrie’s filly? Couldn’t ya’ get one of them to help out?”
“Pinkamina is too chaotic for something like this and Heart Throb doesn’t seem to care for me.”
“Ya’ did accuse her of causin’ this.”
“Yes, but she shouldn’t hold that against me. That night I thought anypony could have been behind it and she was with Blueberrie the previous night.”
“Was that really all you had to go on?”
“It’s not as if I arrested her. All I did was glare at her a little.”
Before long the pair came to the entrance of the Wandering Ram. “Ah’ thought you already investigated this place.”
Grayamina nodded. “Yes, but during my coma I had an epiphany,” she said as she pushed open the door and let Big Mac in. “I’m ashamed to say that it was obvious in truth.”
Together the pair approached the counter of the bar. Big Mac took a quick look around. The place was completely dead save for the unicorn polishing glasses at the counter. There wasn’t even any music running. “Huh, this is the first time I’ve gotten customers so early. Could I get you two some drinks?”
Grayamina and Big Mac both took a seat at the counter. “No thank you Mr...”
“Mutton.” The unicorn placed the glass on the counter and grabbed a new one. “You’re that blue filly fooler’s sister right? How’s she doing?”
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t pretend to care Mr. Mutton. I find it insulting.”
“Upon reflection it occurred to me that you were the only unicorn in the bar the night I came to investigate.”
“Now hold on a minute,” Mutton once again grabbed a new glass. “I see where you’re going here. Just because magic was involved doesn’t mean it was me.”
The mare slammed a hoof on the counter. “Mr. Mutton, I would appreciate it if you stop lying and tell me why you put my sister in a coma.”
The unicorn shook his head and turned to Big Mac. “Hey big guy, could you tell your friend here to calm down.”
Big Mac felt his ears twitch as the unicorn spoke. He hadn’t noticed it before, but something was awfully familiar about his voice. “Pardon?”
“I said could you please calm this crazy filly down.”
“Not that. What was it ya’ called me?”
The bartender stared silently at Big Mac for a few moments before releasing an all too familiar chuckle. “I thought he sounded a bit too much like me. I’ll have to fix that later.”
“Who are you two talking about?” Grayamina asked.
Mutton didn’t pay her any mind and continued talking. “So was it convincing? I couldn’t see much from here, but your refusals had me worried that you were seeing through it.” Big Mac could clearly recognize the voice now. The humor in it was unmistakable.
“Seein’ through what?” Big Mac asked.
The bartender’s smile grew. “Good so the illusion held up then. Was he just not attractive enough? I’m afraid I don’t know much about the taste of colt cuddlers?”
“So Karamel was fake?”
“Yes, yes we’ve already settled that,” the colt waved dismissively,” What’s important is whether or not he was attractive. You see this is a new spell and I need to determine why it was failing.”
“Yes failing. Despite my best efforts you persistently refused his advances.” The bartender shrugged. “It’s a good thing you were too dense to question the colt just appearing in your room. Otherwise this whole thing would have been a complete waste of time. So tell me. What was it that kept you from taking him there yourself?”
Anger began to well up inside of Big Mac as the smug stallion spoke. “Are you tellin’ me this whole time you’ve been trying to break up me and Caramel? Why would you do somethin’ like that?”
Another short laugh from mutton followed Big Mac’s question. “Are you telling me it was all because you already had a colt?” The unicorn lowered his head and shook it slowly back and forth. “All this time it was failing because I happened upon the one faithful colt cuddler in Equestria?”
Big Mac slammed a hoof on the counter. “Ya’ didn’t answer me. Why would ya’ do somethin’ so crazy?”
The smile once again lit up the stallion’s face as he looked back up at Big Mac. “Well the maze wasn’t working as well as I hoped. I guess that’s what I get for being so hands off about it though.” He shrugged. “Anyway, I thought that luring somepony to their doom was worth a try, so I created Karamel.”
Grayamina glanced perplexedly from one colt to another as the conversation progressed. “Somepony needs to explain this to me right now,” she said coldly. “What’s this maze you’re talking about? And who’s this Karamel?”
“Why don’t you tell her big guy? I could use a drink after all this exposition.” The bartender’s horn flashed and Big Mac found his mind assailed with images. Suddenly he remembered every dream from the past week, and not a single one was pleasant.
“Why would ya’ create something like that?” He asked after he managed to catch his breath. The bartender simply pointed to Grayamina as he took a drink from a glass of water. The gray filly stared expectantly at Big Mac. “This colt forced me to have horrible nightmares every night,” he said pointing at the bartender,” And Ah’ think he did it to other ponies too. Ah’ think Blueberrie might have been one of ‘em.” Together the pair turned once again to the bartender. “What Ah’ can’t understand is why?”
The unicorn finished his drink with a rather loud breath. “C’mon big guy, surely you’ve figured that out already.” The colt let out another chuckle. “It was supposed to be a torture chamber.” He shook his head. “I’m still not sure what went wrong though. It was supposed to be permanent from the start. I’ve only managed to capture a few so far.”
“So it was your doing then,” Grayamina said as she leaned forward on the counter, a touch of anger beginning to show in her voice,” You are going to pay for your crimes against ponykind you-“
Grayamina didn’t get a chance to finish as a glass flew towards her and forced her to duck. When she rose again she was met by a cold stare from over the bartender’s sunglasses. “How dare you accuse me of such a thing,” he said coldly,” I’m doing this for the good of ponykind you unappreciative witch.”
“How is torturin’ innocent ponies good fer ponykind,” Big Mac chimed in.
The glare turned to aim at Big Mac. “Of course you wouldn’t understand. You filthy colt cuddler.” After a moment he turned back to Grayamina. “But you, how can you not see it. Is it because of your sister, or are you really just that blind.” The unicorn sighed and shook his head. “Let me ask you, what is the purpose of sexual intercourse?”
“Sexual intercourse is used most commonly in order to produce foals. However-“Grayamina was cut off before she could finish by another flying glass.
“No! There is no however,” the unicorn said calmly as he adjusted his glasses. “Sexual intercourse is used in order to produce foals. That is the natural way of things. And yet here we have filly foolers and colt cuddlers,” he pointed to Big Mac,” Who flout this natural law.”
But what about love,” Big Mac interrupted,” Doesn’t that mean anythin’ to you?”
“I won’t deny the importance or beauty of love,” the bartender said as he turned to the colt cuddler,” But in the end its purpose is to provide a happy and protective home for foals.” The cruel smile once again worked its way onto the colt’s face. “Only mares and stallions together can have foals, so only their love actually matters.”
Anger overwhelmed Big Mac as he threw himself onto the counter. He was stopped only by an intercepting hoof from the gray filly beside him. “That isn’t how it works Big Macintosh,” she said,” This will go to court before Princess Celestia. Then this monster will receive his punishment.” She bowed politely to the bartender. “Thank you for being so forthcoming. We’ll be leaving now.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what gave you that impression.” The unicorn’s horn began to glow and the light slowly engulfed the room. “I understand that my methods may not be looked upon kindly by the princess. I can’t just allow you to go blabbing to her.” Big Mac started to feel tired. He looked over to see that Grayamina was struggling to keep her eyes open. “I never wanted to drag an innocent normal pony into this, but I’m afraid I have no choice.” Once again the colt chuckled. “Oh well, at least you’ll be with that cursed sister of yours.
That was the last thing he heard before he passed out.
Big Mac found himself at the entrance to a golden labyrinth. “I take it this is the maze he was talking about?” Big Mac turned to see a gray ewe with straight hair sitting next to him. “So we just need to navigate it right?”
“Eeyup. But we need to move fast. C’mon.” Big Mac took off in a gallop and the ewe kept pace with him easily.
“Why do we need to move so quickly?”
“The ground’s probably fallin’ behind us.”
“Why would it be falling? Where could it possibly fall to?”
“Ah’ don’t know fer sure, but Ah’ don’t plan on checkin’.”
The ewe nodded and the pair continued their gallop. It wasn’t long before they reached their first dead end. Without a thought Big Mac shoved it out of the way. “So that’s how you’ve been doing it,” a familiar cruel voice was heard from above the pair. Together they looked up to see a white alicorn with a gray mane and a pair of blood red eyes with black stars in place of pupils. “I thought I made them too complicated for foals like you to solve them.” The alicorn clapped his hands. “Well now that I’m here there will be no more cheating. You two had better get moving. That’s the only hole you’re allowed.”
Grayamina stopped for a moment to glare up at Mutton before the two resumed their gallop. “Did you see that pretentious foal?” she asked the stallion galloping beside her,” He thinks of himself as a god. “
“That’s not surprisin’,” Big Mac said as they turned a new corner,” Nopony with a good head on their shoulders would do somethin’ like this.”
“I can hear you two,” the alicorn above them chuckled. “You don’t want to try my patience. Even I can get bored of colt cuddlers running for their lives.”
“You can’t do more than this, madman,” the ewe beside Big Mac said,” If you could we certainly wouldn’t be running like this. I’m sure a twisted mind like yours could think of better forms of torture.”
Within moments, Big Macintosh found that he was running alone. “You’re so very wrong Ms. Pie,” the colt above them said,” I just do this because it’s entertaining. I can do much worse.”
Big Mac turned to see the ewe stopped in her tracks by a pair of ponies holding butcher knives. “For instance, how about an eternal fall with those lovely sisters of yours?” the alicorn cackled.
“They’re not real,” Big Mac yelled,” Just keep runnin’.”
However his warning came far too late as the floor collapsed beneath Grayamina and her sisters. She glanced towards Big Mac for a second before plummeting, and he was sure he could see a glint of fear in her eyes.
The alicorn sighed. “It’s almost a shame to do something like this to a perfectly normal mare. But I suppose she was asking for it.” The stallion laughed once more. “Better get running big guy. Trust me, it’s much nicer than the fall.”
Knowing he didn’t have much of a choice, Big Mac took off galloping once again. It seemed like he was galloping for a small eternity under the maniacal laughter of Mutton before he reached the door. Once it was within sight the laughter stopped.
“What is that?” The alicorn shouted. “That’s not supposed to be there!”
Big Mac charged toward the door. New reserves of energy seemed to flood into him at the sight of it. Mutton tried to place new walls in the way, but he found he could once again move them. With little effort Big Mac reached the door and placed a hoof on the knob.
“Don’t you dare open that,” the alicorn shouted. He was keeping his distance, and Big Mac knew why. Without a second thought, he threw the door open and let the light shine into the maze.
Mutton’s scream was almost deafening as it echoed through the halls of the maze. Big Mac felt the world crumble around him as it succumbed to the light from the doorway. For a moment he felt himself falling.
“Wake up,” Big Mac heard a familiar voice say weakly above him. He glanced up to see the tear stained face of his long-time coltfriend Caramel. After a moment he realized the stallion was cradling him in his arms.
“Ah’m alright Caramel.”
The caramel coated colt opened his eyes. Without a word he wrapped Big Mac in a powerful embrace. Big Mac was only too happy to return the favor.
The couple remained locked together until Big Mac heard a gasp not far away. He turned his head to see Grayamina Pie spring up from the floor of the Wandering Ram bar.
Without thinking Big Mac let go of Caramel and started looking around the bar rapidly. His eyes briefly settled on a white unicorn in broken sunglasses passed out with his eyes open on the counter, but they continued moving until he noticed a bizarre new guest in the bar. Standing beside Twilight Sparkle and his sister Applejack was none other than Princess Luna.
“I’m glad to see that you two are okay,” the alicorn said.
“What’s goin’ on Caramel?” he asked the colt beside him.
Caramel simply shrugged and pointed to Applejack. “When me and Applejack showed up, you were out cold and Twilight was trying to wake you up. The princess just showed up a minute ago.”
“I was looking for Grayamina.” Twilight Sparkle said,” When I came to the bar, you three were all unconscious . I tried to wake you up, but I think you guys were cursed. I was trying to snap you guys out of it for an hour before Luna showed up.”
“Ah’m still confused.” Big Mac said.
“As am I,” the gray pony took up a position beside him. “Princess, What are you doing here?”
The alicorn smiled. “Twilight Sparkle sent a letter to my sister a couple of days ago. I came here to help the sick filly.”
“Then what are you doing in the Wandering Ram?”
“I-I was trying to find Twilight,” the princess seemed cowed by the gray pony’s cold expression,”S-somepony in a black hat in the hospital told me she was headed here.”
“So which one of ya’ll do we have to thank fer the help?” Big Mac asked.
“Well Luna woke you two up,” Twilight said causing the alicorn to blush. “But I think this other colt is still in pretty bad shape.” She turned a sympathetic glance to the stallion in the broken sunglasses. “If she can’t help him then I don’t know what I can do.”
“Don’t waste your pity on him Ms. Sparkle,” Grayamina said, “He was the one who caused all of this after all. Allow me to explain.”
Grayamina explained what had happened to Twilight, Applejack, and Caramel; but Big Mac paid them no attention. Instead he turned his to face the princess. “Thank ya’ very much ma’am,” he said with a bow.
Luna blushed.” I-it really wasn’t anything. I was just helping somepony in trouble.”
“Not just fer this,” he said,” Thanks fer everythin’.”
The alicorn turned away and spoke with a more regal tone. “Like I said, I was just helping somepony in trouble.” She sounded a bit more familiar once the confidence had entered her voice. “Maybe tonight you can have some sweet dreams.”
“Ah’ think Ah’ll be stayin’ up late tonight.”
Suddenly the blush returned and the confidence fled. “Th-thank you.”
The rest of the ponies in the bar seemed to be enthralled as Grayamina told the story of Mutton’s activities. However the story stopped around the point where she and Big Mac had fallen asleep as a pink blur rushed into the room and she disappeared. The group was momentarily stunned before Twilight and Applejack turned knowingly to eachother. “Pinkie,” they said in unison.
“I think I know where Grayamina is,” Twilight said,” Anypony want to go see how Blueberrie’s doing?”
“Ah’ should probably move Mutton to the dungeon first,” Big Mac said,” Ah’ll catch up though.”
“Nonsense Big Macintosh,” he heard his sister say as she jabbed him in the stomach,” You go see yer friend. Ah’ll carry this jerk ta’ the dungeon.” Before Big Mac could argue, his sister had already slung the unconscious unicorn over her back and headed out the door.
“Would you like to come too princess?” Twilight asked.
“Ah’m sure she’d appreciate it,” Big Mac added.
The princess nodded and the group headed to the hospital. Caramel refused to leave Big Mac’s side the entirety of the trip.
The hospital was unsurprisingly in a state of jovial chaos when the group arrived. Everypony in the hospital was celebrating the fact that Blueberrie had woken up. Blueberrie herself was dancing with heartthrob, and her sisters were simply dancing. It was difficult to see between the flashes of the hooves of Grayamina’s hooves and the flashes of a nearby journalist’s camera.
The flashes stopped shortly after Big Mac and company entered the room and the two sources approached him. “Hey Mac,” Film Reel shouted,” Good news. Looks like your pal has made a miraculous recovery.”
“I think the curse wore off when Mutton was defeated,” Grayamina said. It was downright bizarre to hear the joy in her voice.
The next thing he knew, Big Mac found himself under the arm of a pink pony and face to face with Princess Luna. “Grayie told me what you two did to that jerky-hooves.” She let go of the pair and started giddily bouncing. “Can you stay for another day princess? I didn’t have time to put a real party together. Tomorrow’s will be much nicer.”
Luna looked around the room to see nothing but the faces of thankful ponies staring at her. “Maybe I can stay one more day,” she mumbled.
A cheer from the pink pony followed and the party officially got started. It went on much longer than a party in a hospital probably should have, but luckily there were no other patients that day. The part finally died out around six when Luna was forced to leave, for obvious reasons.
Together Big Mac, Caramel, Heart Throb, Twilight, and the Pie sisters watched the moon rise from outside of the hospital. What should have been a romantic moment for four of the seven was ruined by the cheering of the resident maniac in the group. Nopony blamed her for it though, and in fact everypony but the purple unicorn and gray earth pony joined in.
After the small celebration the group split and headed in their separate directions. Caramel and Big Mac headed towards Sweet Apple Acres of course.
Along the way Carmel leaned towards Big Mac and asked,” So what was it you wanted to talk to me about earlier?”
Big Mac couldn’t help but smile. “’S been settled Caramel. Nothin’ ya’ need to worry about now.”
“It was about the nightmares wasn’t it?”
Big Mac nodded. “Eeyup. Somethin’ related anyway. Like Ah’ said, ya’ don’t need to worry about it now. It’s all sorted out.”
The stallion beside him stopped mid trot. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here,” he said sadly.
Big Mac stopped and turned to face the colt. “What’re you talkin’ about?”
“I shouldn’t have left you alone. I knew you were having really bad nightmares, and I just left.”
“Ah’m sure it was important. ‘Sides,” he put an arm around Caramel’s neck,” How were you supposed ta’ know what was goin’ on? Ah’ sure didn’t.”
The stallion smiled at him. “Still I feel like I should have been here you know. To help you somehow.”
“Everythin’ turned out okay Caramel. You need to quit fussin’ over what’s already finished with.” He gave the colt a kiss on the cheek. “C’mon, yer stayin’ at the farm tonight okay.”
Caramel didn’t argue as the pair continued their walk. Eventually they made it to the farm and, after a short scolding from Applejack, to bed. For the first night in a week, Big Mac slept peacefully in the arms of the stallion he loved.
By The Unnamed Pawn
Big Mac awoke alone in his bed once more. He looked around rapidly for the colt he was positive he had fallen asleep with the previous night. Unfortunately the search was both short and fruitless as his sister threw the door to his room open.
“Get down fer breakfast Big Mac. We’ve got ta’ clean the barn today, and you’ll need all the energy you can get.” Big Mac stared confusedly at the mare as she left. He was sure they had already cleaned the barn. Regardless he pulled himself out of bed and went downstairs.
Strangely, when he made it down he found that his sister wasn’t there. The remnants of a muffin were laid on the table, but nothing else confirmed that anypony had even been there this morning. A certain amount of panic began to form in Big Mac’s stomach as he recalled the dream from a few nights ago.
He decided that he would skip breakfast this morning and head straight to the barn. That was doubtlessly where his sister would be if she finished her breakfast after all. He made his way there quickly and pushed open the door with more force than was likely necessary.
All he could see inside of the barn was a single caramel colored colt with a brown mullet. The colt seemed surprised as he approached, and he could swear he heard whispers in the background.”What’s goin’ on Caramel,” he said trying to retain his usual air of calm.
“Y-you’re early,” the colt stuttered.
“Early for what?”
The stallion in front of him took a deep breath. “Well I guess it doesn’t matter,” he muttered and turned away from Big Mac for a moment. When he turned back he was holding a black bow in his hoof. “I was going to do it in a minute anyway. It just would have been nice to have more prep-time.”
Big Mac stared at the box for a moment. “What’s that Caramel?”
Caramel cleared his throat loudly. “B-Big Macintosh, you and I-I have b-been together for a year now.” He took another deep breath to clear his stutter. “And I th-think it’s time we took the next step.”
“Oh get on with it already,” a giddy voice was heard from the background.
“Big Macintosh,” the colt said as he placed the box on the ground and pushed down on its top. The bow flew open to reveal a bronze bracelet with an apple shaped ruby embedded in it. “Will you marry me?”
The red stallion simply smiled. He didn’t even have to think about the answer. “Eeyup,” he said.
The next thing he knew, the barn suddenly filled with light and an army of excited ponies leapt out of the woodwork as Caramel placed the bracelet on his leg. The two shared a tender, but brief kiss before they were pulled away by their respective friends and family.
Big Mac found himself in front of his sister and grandmother before he could put together what had happened. “Congratulations”, his sister said with a big, and somewhat painful, hug, “Ah’ told him he had nothin’ to worry about, but you know how Caramel is.”
The next hug came from Granny Smith and was significantly less back breaking. Big Mac looked around for the final member of his family, but was disappointed to see that she was missing. “’S Applebloom still sleepin’?” he asked.
Applejack sighed. “Naw, she’s just protestin’ up in her room. She’s none too happy about this whole thing.”
“She’s just upset that you’ll be leavin’ the farm is all. Somehow she got it in her head that she’d never seeya again.” The mare shrugged. “Ah’m sure she’ll come to her senses soon enough though. Don’t worry ‘bout her.”
“Hold on,” Big Mac said,” Why would Ah’ be leavin’ the farm.”
“Because yer movin’ in with Caramel of course.” Granny Smith said matter-of-factly, “There’s no more room on the farm fer more foals.” Granny smith glared menacingly at the stallion. “And you two are goin’ to get some foals soon right?”
Big Mac stared in terror at the old mare before his sister pulled him away. “Now don’t go frightenin’ him Granny Smith.” She leaned closer and whispered in his ear,” You go talk with yer friends. Ah’ll try ta’ calm her down.” With that she pushed him away and pulled the old mare to a nearby punchbowl.
Big Mac found himself quickly swarmed by a trio of ponies. Bon Bon, Breezy, and a mint colored unicorn surrounded him and assaulted him with congratulations.
“So when’s the wedding,” Bon Bon asked.
“He just got engaged Bon Bon,” the filly beside her said,” Stop pestering him with stupid questions.”
“Alright then how about a good question,” the cream mare giggled giddily. “Are you excited?”
“Eeyup,” the stallion said with a grin.
“I wish I could get so lucky,” Breezy chimed in. “Hey does Caramel have a brother.”
“Crème Brulee like mares, Breezy,” Bon Bon said, punctuating her sentence with a playful jab.
The mint mare laughed and extended a hoof towards Big Mac, which he shook politely. “I’m Lyra by the way,” she said,” I don’t think we’ve been introduced yet.”
“So yer Bon Bon’s wife?” he asked.
Lyra nodded. “Good to know that she’s at least mentioned me. She can’t seem to stop talking about you.” She turned and smiled at the filly busily exchanging blows with Breezy. “She’s really been feeling a lot better since she met you.
“Was she depressed before or somethin’? Ah’ can’t imagine her not chipper.”
“It’s nothing you need to worry about,” Lyra said with a smile. “I just wanted to say thank you in addition to my congratulations.”
“Thank ya’ very much ma’am.”
“Now you might want to get moving if you want to see your fiancé. Once Bon Bon’s finished with Breezy she’ll be coming after you you know.”
Big Mac nodded and moved away from the trio. However before he could get far he was stopped by a marshmallow colored pony with a stylish purple mane. He recognized her as one of his sister’s friends, but couldn’t manage to remember her name. “Congratulations Big Macintosh,” she said.
Big Mac bowed his head and said,” Thank ya’,” before trying to push past her to no avail.
“So what did you think of the ring,” she asked.
Big Mac glanced at the bracelet on his right leg. “It’s nice, he said,” Why do ya’ ask?”
The mare frowned. “Nice?” The mare paused. “Did you even notice the etching?”
Big Mac once again looked at the bracelet. There was etching around the ring he hadn’t noticed before. It made it look kind of like tree bark. “Ah’ didn’t notice that,” he said,” It’s nice.”
“Still just nice,” she said,” That slave driver of yours had me working all week on that thing and it’s just nice?”
Big Mac backed nervously away from the mare. “Umm Ah’m sorry Ah’ meant...it’s really nice.” The filly walked away in a huff without even hearing him. He was confused, but glad to be rid of her. Maybe now he could get to Caramel.
Not more than two steps later he was blinded by a flash of light and forced to stop. He blinked his eyes a few times and found his path blocked by a familiar paparazzi pony. “Good to seeya Mac. How about a sound bite,” he said as he pulled the stallion aside and removed the tape recorder from his hat. Before long, Big Mac found himself seated at a table in the corner of the barn. “So how’s it feel to be the part of the first colt cuddler pair in Ponyville to get married?”
“It’s nice Ah’ guess,” Big Mac said once he’d regained his composure. “Ah’ didn’t know we were the first.”
“The first in Ponyville anyway. So do you have anything to say about the stallion who proposed?”
“Ah’ love him,” Big Mac paused to think of something else to say but failed,” That’s all Ah’ think.”
Film Reel nodded and turned the recorder off. “Well it’s more than I expected. I don’t think I’m going to push my luck.” He placed the recorder back under his hat and grinned. “Congrats by the way Mac.”
“Thank ya’ very much,” Big Mac said. He attempted to stand up, but the photographer pulled him back down.
“By the way, could I get an invite to the wedding? It’s not the sort of thing I usually cover, but I think it deserves a spot in the Weekly Ponyville News.” Big Mac nodded. “Glad to hear it. By the way that's my gift just so you know.” The colt hopped up. “Now if you’ll excuse me I have another story to look into. Seeya in the papers Mac.” Big Mac waved as the colt headed toward a table in the center of the barn that seated three similar looking mares and a pink pegasus.
Big Mac made to stand up, but was once again brought down by a hoof on his shoulder, although this time he couldn’t see the owner. “Congratulations,” he heard a timid voice say. A moment later, Princess Luna walked around him and took a seat across the table. “I hope you two are happy together.”
“Thanks ma’am.” Big Mac nodded his head politely. The pair sat in silence for a few moments before Big Mac broke the silence. “Ah’ know it’s kind of a mood killer, but Ah’ve gotta know. What’re ya’ gonna do about Mutton?”
Luna sighed. “Once he’s found guilty, his horn will be removed and he will be banished,” the alicorn’s voice took on the tone from the dreams as she spoke. “Don’t worry, he won’t be hurting anypony anymore.”
“That's good to know.” Big Mac laid a lingering glance on the Pie sisters in the center of the barn.
“But shouldn’t we talk about happier things right now,” the timid tone returned once more. “Like you and Caramel. What are your plans now?”
“Ah’ll figure it out as we go.” Big Mac stood up. “Speakin’ of which, Ah’ was plannin’ to go talk to him. Thanks fer your company princess.” Big Mac bowed again and the alicorn politely returned the gesture.
Finally Big Mac managed to reach the stallion who had just proposed to him. Caramel was currently talking to his siblings Toffee, his twin sister, and Crème Brulee, a larger stallion with colors and a cutie mark identical to that of his little brother. Big Mac arrived just in time to catch the tail end of their conversation.
“Ah’m telling you bro. As soon as you two get a couple of foals in the house Ma and Pa won’t care either way,” Toffee said.
“Still I wish they’d come.” Caramel responded.
“Don’t worry bro. Ah’ll make sure they’re here for the weddin’.” The caramel colored filly pumped her arm. “Ah’ll tie ‘em up and force ‘em if Ah’ have ta’.”
“I’m sure they won’t be necessary,” Crème Brulee interrupted. “They’ll be there bro. Don’t worry.”
It was then that Caramel noticed Big Mac approaching. “Oh umm...Hey,” he said,” How much of that did you catch?”
Big Mac responded with a kiss. “Don’t matter,” he said afterwards. “Fer now let’s just enjoy the party.”
Caramel smiled and nodded.
“Oh so suddenly Big Mac here says it and it make sense? Ah swear-“ Toffee was cut off by her eldest brother grabbing her and covering her mouth.
“I’m sorry,” he said,” We’ll leave you two alone for now.” The stallion dragged his sister off and Caramel couldn’t help but laugh.
For a short time the couple simply sat together in their corner watching the party unfold. Over the course of the party Breezy was turned down yet again by Film Reel, a multicolored pegasus managed to get a dance with an obviously oblivious pink filly, two couples of filly foolers exchanged dating tips, and a small yellow foal snuck in to give her brother a quick “Congrats” before making a hasty exit.
Later on the DJ began to play a slow song and spoke into the mike. “I think now it’s time for the engaged couple’s first romantic dance. This one goes out to the stallions in the corner refusing to enjoy their own party. Come on out you two and have a go on the dance floor.”
Caramel smiled up at Big Mac. “May I have this dance good sir?”