The minute that Steph saw them, she knew she had to buy them.
She had owned fluffies before when she was a little girl, but ever since she graduated from college, each apartment she’d owned had been way too small for an animal, especially one as needy as a fluffy.
Steph had always loved fluffies – their childlike view of the world, their ever-positive nature, and their unconditional love for humans made them, in her eyes, the perfect pet.
But here, peeping and chirping before her, in a glass case were three of the cutest little foals she’d ever seen. A baby blue pegasus, a bright pink unicorn, and an all-white earthie. They peeped and wiggled, flopping around in the glass case, sniffing wildly for their mother.
There was nothing like hand-raising a foal. They saw you not just as their human mother, but as their REAL mother, something they’d known since they opened their eyes, a constant source of love and trust. She wanted to be that for these babies.
There was just one problem: each of the foals was pillowed.
It had been an in-house hack job. There were scarred patches of bald flesh where their legs had been, a hasty and crude X of skin that had been folded over and sealed with instaheal gel. The fluff would never grow back around those stumps.
Confused, scared, and in pain the foals wobbled and flailed around as best as they could. Even though they were too young to walk, the loss of their limbs still reduced their mobility.
Steph was inside the store before she knew it.
It wasn’t a pet store or a Fluff-Mart, it was a fishing shop. The foals were inside a large glass terrarium with a sign that said “LIVE BAIT” in big red letters.
She was immediately approached by an employee who clearly picked up on the fact that she didn’t fish.
“ 'Scuse me miss,” The gruff man asked kindly. “Is there somethin’ I can help you with?”
“Oh, uh. I was hoping to buy the three foals in the window?” She pointed to the peeping babies. “How much are they?”
“You mean the live bait? They’re a buck each; you’re in luck. We have about thirty of the little peepers today, those’re the last ones left. They’re all fresh; born a few days ago and plugged today.”
“Oh well, just my luck!” Steph said, forcing a smile.
“Lemme get them for you.” He said.
The man went behind the counter and grabbed the smallest white cardboard box he had and filled it with some green crinkle paper, the kind Easter baskets are filled with, and headed to the foals. He scooped all three up with the same hand and tossed them into the box.
“If you’ll follow me to the register, miss, I can get’cha ringed up.”
“Sure,” Steph said, following the burly man as he carried the box of crying and screaming foals with him to the counter.
“Three live bait, that’ll be 3.50$.” He said. “Did you want some unstopper? We cork the things with a compound to keep them from, er, soiling themselves during transit, but fish do like the smell, so some fishermen prefer it.”
“Oh! Yes please. I’ll uh, need to uncork them before I uh… give them to my dad!” She said, hastily adding the lie. There was no reason for her to lie, she hadn’t be asked or accosted, but she would rather be safe than sorry.
“Oh! Yer buying these for yer old man?” The clerk gave a hearty laugh. “I jus’ figured you’d be more interested in raisin’ them as pets! We get a lot of kids comin’ in here to get a cheap fluffy, but these’uns aren’t fed very well and the amputations tend to be pretty bad for their health.”
“Oh, yeah. No, it’s for my dad’s birthday.” She smiled as best she could, trying to ignore the sounds of terrified distress from the foals. “Do you, uh, do the amputations in-house?”
“Of course!” He leaned in conspiratorially and whispered to her. “The boss is a cheapskate. I do ‘em, since I’m good at breaking down a fish my hands are steady, and I cause the least damage to the merchandise. We used to hire teenagers to do it, but the sickos liked to ‘play with their food’ and we kept losing stock.”
“Ah well, good that they have someone competent now!”
The fisherman laughed again and finished ringing her up.
“Here,” He said, tossing a fresh spool of line in the bag, next to the box with the foals. “For yer old man. Tell him happy birthday.”
Steph smiled again, genuinely this time.
“Thanks so much! I will.”
She practically ran to Fluff-Mart once she was done at the bait store. The foals were peeping in desperation; they needed milk, warmth, and for a vet to take a look at them. Unfortunately, Steph wasn’t exactly loaded. She could probably only afford some basic care until payday.
She quickly dashed to the foal aisle. Here were all the needs for a new owner of foals; autofeeders disguised to look like a real fluffy (she didn’t want to think where they got the ‘genuine fluffy fur’ from); foal-safe balls, blocks, and crayons (none of which her foals could use); and foal ‘discipline’ tools. She didn’t like abusers, for obvious reasons, but there was something especially egregious about those that abused foals.
At the end of the aisle was foalcare – formula, stuffy toys, music boxes, and toys. She grabbed a few packets of instant formula, a small easy-wash bed, “no-moaw-huu-huu’s” foal-safe soap; and a small litter box with litter, so she could litter train them later.
Hurrying to the checkout, she practically tossed the items at the poor cashier.
“Sorry, sorry!” She said, digging in her purse for her wallet. “Do you guys have a vet here?”
“No miss, sorry. We are partnered with a few local vets and I can give you their cards if you want?”
“Yeah, that would be great! Thank you!”
He passed her a few business cards as he rang the rest of her purchases up. Steph shoved the cards in her purse and checked on the foals.
The foals had been horribly jostled by Steph’s running, and she took a moment to gently grab each one and place them in a little fluff-pile. The first foal she grabbed was the little white one, who immediately began to screech in fear.
The only thing it had ever felt when a human hand had gripped it was agony and the loss of its limbs. Steph recoiled before continuing. Even though the foals all feared her hand, she needed to get them more comfortable in the box.
She looked up with an apologetic smile as the cashier eyed her warily.
“Sorry, new foals. They’re a little frightened.” She explained. She hoped she wouldn’t have to explain why they were all pillowed; that would sound like an elaborate lie.
“I get it. New foals are always so loud. Afraid of everything, even more than a normal fluffy.” The cashier laughed.
Steph nodded. She paid quickly and headed home, going as fast as she could without jostling the foals any more than necessary.
Once upstairs, she headed into her office. It was small but neat and had enough floor space to satisfy her brood. The first thing that had to happen, however, was removing the plugs.
She put everything she bought into the office and set the bed down, prepping it for the foals once they were unplugged. She carried the box into the bathroom and gently placed the box on the closed toilet lid. The foals, distressed and confused for the umpteenth time this day, were all peeping and whining.
She gently lifted the first foal, the blue pegasus, and took the chance to examine it. Or, as it turned out, him. The little colt peeped in distress as soon as he was lifted, and she felt his stomach strain and gurgle as he attempted to void his bowels. The plug, of course, got in the way, but he did succeed in pissing all over her hand.
She gently carried him to the sink, which she turned on to very gently warm water and placed him rump-first under it. The sensation of water immediately caused him to wildly flail and scream in fear. Eventually, though, the instinctual fear of water was superseded by the warmth. He cooed softly for the first time, and Steph’s heart melted.
She readied the dissolver for the plug and watched in absolute horror as, once the plug melted away, a torrent of foul-smelling shit escaped the foal. It quickly washed down the drain, but it was fucking gross.
She took some of the soap and gently began to clean the foal, cleaning away the shit and grime that had burrowed into the foal’s thin fluff.
The first thing she realized was that the foal was not nearly as chubby as she’d assumed; he was very skinny actually. What looked like healthy chub was actually just bloating from being full of shit.
Once he was clean, the foal was actually peeping quite happily. The warm water, the nice smells of the soap, and the gentle touches made him feel safe and warm. She grabbed one of her hand towels and gently dried him off before wrapping him like a burrito. He cooed at the sensation of a hug, but peeped as Steph walked away to grab the next foal.
She needed to get them cleaned up quickly so she could feed them.
Next was the pink foal; this one was, appropriately, a filly. Her little horn was just a visible nub, and unfortunately for her the plugging gel had been rather sloppily applied to her vagina as well. This little foal had had no release.
Steph repeated the process of cleaning, getting the foal slowly wet around her rump, letting her get accustomed to the warmth, before applying the dissolving gel. The foal tensed up for a moment before she simultaneously shat and pissed herself at once. It was a vile torrent, but once she was done, she shivered intensely and let out the most satisfied “peep” that Steph had ever heard.
Unfortunately, the foal was the same degree of skinny as her blue companion. It was clear that, even though they’d had enough milk to survive being sold, it had been just enough to survive being sold.
Once all clean, the pink foal was similarly wrapped into a foal-burrito in the hand towel and placed next to the blue foal. It was the last foal’s turn.
Steph lifted the white foal out of the box and her heart sank. He was limp in her hand.
“Oh no, please don’t die on me little guy.” She pleaded, quickly dissolving the plug, and unleashing the shit torrent into the sink. He didn’t move, but she could feel a very weak heartbeat.
He wasn’t breathing, however, and she quickly began giving him very slight chest compressions, being delicate so as to not break his fragile ribs.
There was a hacking and the foal gasped, peeping wildly and wiggling in Steph’s hands. She sighed out the breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding, and finished cleaning the white foal.
The grime was even more evident on his fluff because as soon as he was cleaned, he practically sparkled white. She wrapped him up as well and gently carried all three clean foals into the office, where their bed awaited.
“Okay babies,” She said, “I’m going to get you some milkies. Be good while mummah is gone!”
She knew that, of course, the foals didn’t understand her yet. The words that Hasbio had genetically programmed into their brain, however, they would understand. Words like “mummah” and “milkies” would immediately register in their little minds and she hoped that they would associate her voice with those words.
In the kitchen, she headed some milk up in the microwave to mix with the formula. For the first time since she’d gotten the foals, she relaxed. The foals were clean, she was making them food, and she was exhausted. It had been running from one end of town to another for them, and now they were home safe.
She had, of course, considered giving them away to a no-kill shelter. Three foals required a lot of work and she would have to use some of her time off from work to be there for them for the next few days. Still, no-kill shelters weren’t truly no-kill; sufficiently injured, damaged, or depressed fluffies would be euthanized as that was the less cruel option. Three pillowed foals were most certainly high on the list.
Still, they were so cute. She was horrified that they had been abused in the short time that they’d been alive, but she didn’t think that meant they should die. Surely, she could give them a good life, if not of the same quality they could have had with legs.
The beeping of the microwave brought her out of her thoughts. She mixed the milk and formula together in the bottle that came with the formula and tested its temperature. It wasn’t too hot but was warm enough to help rehydrate and heat the foals.
She hurried back to the office to find all the foals peeping for food, the word “milkies” clearly having piqued their interest.
She picked the white foal up first, since he’d scared her and was worried that, without milk he might try to die again.
He greedily drank, and she frowned as she saw his shoulders moving slightly. He was clearly trying to knead the teat of the bottle, but with no limbs his body just reacted instinctively.
Once his belly was round and full, she gently detached him and put him in the soft fluff of the bed. It was warm and cozy, and he immediately relaxed into it.
Pink was next, the poor filly having been filled with urine meant she needed as much liquid as she could get. She too drank greedily while ‘kneading’ with her shoulders, her stubby little tail was happily wagging as she drank. Once again, when she was fat with milk, Steph took her off of the teat.
The foal peeped in annoyance at her meal being interrupted.
“Sorry little girl.” Steph said, gently kissing the foal on the head. “But if you drink too much you’ll pop! Now, lets get you to sleepies.”
She placed the pink foal next to her white companion and watched as she sniffed the air, recognized his smell, and wiggled her way over to him before clumsily flopping into a fluff pile with him.
Last, but not least, was the pegasus. He was peeping loudly now, having smelled the delicious milk but having been deprived it for too long.
“Sorry buddy,” Steph said, lifting him up and putting the nipple in his mouth. “Here you go, delicious milkies from mummah. Drink up, you’ve had a rough day.”
The foal cooed and wiggled happily as warm milk flooded his belly. She gently stroked his back as he drank, earning more coos. His little wings flapped happily.
She smiled down at him. They really were some of the most adorable fluffies she’d seen.
Steph had owned a few fluffies, mostly as a child. Strawberry was her first; a lovely pink and green mare that was a birthday present when she was five. Strawberry lived to be four years old, dying rather tragically when her parents installed a pool. Strawberry had loved baths and the “bigges’ baff-tubbie!” had been irresistible. Unfortunately, fluffies don’t float.
Second had been Princess. That fluffy was a present from her uncle for Christmas. Steph had love to play dress-up with her and play princesses. It always made her laugh when Steph called herself “Princess Steph” and Princess didn’t understand the difference between her name and the title.
One morning, Princess was gone. Her father blamed ‘baby fever’ and claimed she’d run away. She learned later that she had followed him outside as he went to work, and he’d accidentally run over her. In retrospect, the brown stain on the driveway should have been a dead giveaway.
Her last fluffy; Butterscotch, a lovely orange and brown mare, had lived a full life of nearly thirteen. She got her from a shelter as a foal at thirteen. She was mild-mannered, smarter than most fluffies, and loved to cuddle. Once Steph left for college, Butterscotch basically became her parent’s fluffy, but she talked to her on the phone every now and again and was always happy to see her during the holidays.
After Butterscotch passed, she never got another fluffy. The awkward in-between period between graduation and landing a job prevented her from being able to afford her own place for a while, and even when she could they were very small. This two-bedroom was the first time she had lived alone in anything larger than a studio, and the second bedroom being an office was fantastic.
For now, it looked as though it would double as a saferoom. She was okay with that, though. The one thing about living with roommates for so long was that coming home to no one was a little lonely.
Having a fluffy, or in her case fluffies, would certainly alleviate the loneliness she’d started to feel these past few months.
The blue foal finished drinking, his tummy fat with milk, and she gently placed him with the others and covered them in a soft blanket.
The foals wiggled, cooed, and passed out almost immediately. They really were the sweetest things.
She left the lights on. Despite the foal’s eyes being closed, she knew that they would still be aware and afraid of darkness. She’d have to wake up consistently to feed them every four hours, but she’d texted her boss and he’d been okay with her working from home anyway.
Setting her alarm, Steph headed off to bed. Tomorrow would be when the real work began.
Steph was groggy. She’d woken up earlier than usual. The foals had been hungry and scared last night, and she’d been awoken more than once by their peeping to feed them and clean their shit up.
She didn’t mind, of course. It wasn’t the foal’s fault that they were unable to take care of themselves. Now that she was up proper, she made a large cup of coffee and sat on the floor next to the foals. They were wobbling their heads and sniffing around.
Steph had never really raised fluffies before. Especially not ones this young. She’d seen some at the pet store, though. Chirpy foals usually couldn’t move too well due to their big heads and still-developing legs and motor skills. These foals, of course, were missing their legs entirely.
Still, it wasn’t clear if the foals would actually be moving any better if they hadn’t been pillowed. She absentmindedly stroked the back of the little blue pegasus, his wings weakly flapping happily as he cooed.
The other foals chirped at the sounds of their companion’s happy coos, clearly also wanting whatever attention he was getting.
“Okay, okay.” Steph laughed, “C’mon you little rascals. Let’s get you fed.”
She lifted the pegasus up, turning him onto his back in her hand and gently tickling his belly. He wiggled and made a giggling noise, his little stumps wiggling as he was tickled.
She had already heated the milk up and separated it into three bottles so all the foals could drink at once. She placed the bottles next to each other in the little bed and gently placed each foal at one teat.
“Hmm, I think I’m going to name you guys…” Steph said.
The little blue foal was a bright shade, not a deep navy but more of a sky blue. That, plus his wings, made her think of flying.
“You,” She said, gently stroking his mane. “Will be Bluejay.”
The foal kept suckling on the bottle, but his wings flapped happily at her touch.
Next was the pretty pink unicorn. Her coat was also a bright color. It dawned on Steph that the reason these usually good-colored foals were being used as bait was because of the bright colors. It must attract the fish.
That hurt her; the very reason these foals would usually do better than worse-colored fluffies in a pet store was actually what doomed them to be pillowed.
She shuddered, remembering the tubs of chum that were “made in-house” at the bait shop. Clearly these foals weren’t the only ones used by the store; just the ones that got to live.
“Well, don’t worry. I won’t let anything bad happen to you, girl.” Steph stroked the back of the unicorn. “Well… anything worse, anyway.”
The foal cooed and suckled. Steph hoped that, even if the words themselves didn’t comfort the foals, her voice did.
“I’m going to call you… Aurora.” Steph said.
Finally, it was the little white one’s turn. This one was also a colt, and his cottony white fluff and the lack of legs reminded Steph of a puffy cloud.
“And you’ll be Cumulus.” She smiled, stroking his curly fluff. The foal wiggled his stumps and detached from the nipple of the bottle, peeping loudly and happily.
“Wow! Loud little guy!” Steph said, gently lifting all three of them up and placing them in her lap. She would wait for them to process the milk and poop before they headed out.
Steph had made an appointment with the local fluffy vet – it was really important that the vet look at the foals and see if, besides the pillowing, there were any physical issues. She was sure they were malnourished and probably a bit underdeveloped because of that, but hopefully they’d still be in okay shape.
The foul smell of milky shit hit her nose and interrupted her thoughts. She looked down and saw that Cumulus had relived himself into the towel she’d placed on her lap.
“Uh oh! Time for licky-cleanies!” She said. Everything she’d read online said that, when hand-raising foals, it helped to use the same terms fluffy mothers used to help encourage a bond.
She carried all three of the foals into the bathroom and wetted a washcloth with warm water and some soap, gently cleaning the white foal’s bottom and gently drying him off while the other two foals went to the bathroom in the sink and were then cleaned.
The foals, content that they were now full of milk and empty of shit, fell asleep in a little pile. Steph gently lifted them into a small carrier; really, just a cardboard box that had some soft fabric and some paper towels in it. She would have used the carrier from the bait shop, but she was worried the scent of that box would freak out the foals.
She called her uber and headed out the door.