Your name is Travis, and you’re 21.
Lately, life hasn’t been so hot. You graduated from college, but then the economy tanked.
Then, your girlfriend got a job in NYC, so she left you to pursue her dreams on the opposite coast.
Now, you live alone in a tiny apartment, in a bad part of town, and you work in a grocery store instead of an office building.
Awesome. This is definitely where you saw yourself after graduating.
Lately, you’ve been feeling rather lonely in your tiny apartment. Sure, you see your friends when you aren’t working, but lately you’ve just been so exhausted that you don’t get out much. Really, you want some company. When you were younger, your family had a dog. You used to love going on walks, and playing fetch, and just petting the soft and lovable creature. No way you could have a dog now, though. Even if it wasn’t against the terms of the lease, there isn’t room for a dog to live in your apartment, and you can’t even afford one anyway. When did dogs get so expensive?
You did some online research, and you came upon fluffy ponies. They’re friendly, affectionate, they don’t take up much space, and most importantly, they are CHEAP. A fluffy costs nearly nothing from what you can tell, at least compared to a dog or cat. For a few ten-spots, you can have a fuzzy new companion. Affordability is high on your list of needs. You aren’t starving with your wages from the grocery store, but you aren’t exactly living the high life either. From the videos online, it seems obvious that what you want is a “micro” fluffy. These are even cheaper than regular fluffies, and they take up less space as well. Your mind is made up: one micro fluffy it is. In fact, you are on a bus downtown now, on your way to buy one.
The Fluffies ‘R Us has seen better days. You would have gone to Fluff Mart, but they are all the way across town, and besides, the prices here are way lower. The parking lot is filthy, the front door has cracked glass, and there is definitely a crackhead chilling near the front door. You walk briskly past, strenuously avoiding eye contact, but the street goblin only mutters to himself as you cross the threshold of the store.
There is something depressing about this place. The crappy fluorescent lights wink and sputter, the floor tile is scratched and peeling. There is hardly anybody here, and even fewer employees are in evidence. The one cashier in evidence is a gangly teenager with cystic acne, who looks up from his phone just long enough to point vaguely to the right when you ask him where the micro fluffies are, though it is rather obvious. The front of the store, just past the checkout stands, is crammed full of glass pens. Everything is festooned with garish colors and cutesy designs of fluffy ponies playing and laughing. The stock available in the pens is rather more sedate. Every pen has a few fluffies, mostly rather plain in color, though here and there are a few brightly colored colts or fillies. There doesn’t seem to be much selection, as many of the pens lay empty. Walking past signs for “Half off select Fluffies” and “Buy 1 foal, get a second foal for free!’, you arrive at the pens for the so-called micro-fluffies. These pens are considerably smaller, and are stacked like fish tanks, one on top of the other. Inside, under a heat lamp, are about a half-dozen fluffies, each no larger than the foals in the other sections. About the size of a beer can if you include their fluff, the micros walk around and play, talking in their little voices and giggling as they push around a rather battered-looking set of tiny blocks. Here there is more selection than in the other pens. Colts and Fillies are both available, in any of the varieties: Earth, Unicorn or Pegasus. There are alicorns, too, out of the sight of the rest in a separate enclosure. But there are only two of them, and one look at the price tag tells you they are out of the question.
“Can I help you?” The husky voice startles you out of your inspection. You turn to find its source, a tall, slim young woman with black hair. She wears the regulation red vest over a Slayer t-shirt, and her name tag reads ‘Jess.’
“Uh, I was looking to buy a micro.” you stammer, looking at her in what some might call a stare. She might be 25 or so, with a pierced nose and insanely well-shaped eyebrows. Her eyes are just a little bit bloodshot, and she smells faintly of weed, and strongly of some sort of air freshener.
“Well, these are the ones we have. What kind do you want?” She asks, kneeling to pick up one of them. The tiny pink unicorn hugs her hand as she smirks at it, running her hand over its diminutive body.
“Well, I hear that the earth ponies are probably easiest to deal with? At least, that’s what the forums say.” You aren’t the best at talking to people, especially women. She hands you the pink unicorn and goes back to looking in the other cages. The tiny filly clings to your hand, but manages to speak up.
“Hewwo, mistah be nu daddeh? Pwese take fwuffy home, gib wub and huggies?” You stroke the tiny creature’s chin with a finger.
“Well, you could do worse than an Earthie for a first pony. They are…less fragile? Relatively speaking.” She has a sick sort of grin at this. You hand the pink pony back and she returns it to play with her cage-mates. Jess points to another cage at about chest-height.
“Those are earth-ponies right there. Probably easiest to choose a boy fluffy, honestly.” You browse the indicated cage. Several tiny colts frolick or nap. They are all pretty plain looking, their fur rather drab in appearance. There is a yellow, a few greens, even a brown one, but a blue one catches your eye. He is a bright blue, with a white mane and tail. His coat is noticeably shiner than the others, and he runs around spiritedly, chasing a tiny ball. At Jess’s urging, you reach out and pick him up carefully.
“Wuuu, fwuffy hab uppsies?” He is unsure of himself as you lift him up to examine him.
“Hi. What’s your name?” You ask. The fluffy tilts his head to the side quizzically.
“Fwuffy nu hab name, siwwy mistah.” He giggles, then suddenly sobers up.
“Mistah be nyu daddeh, gib fwuffy name?” It asks, doing its best impression of a puppy.
“Yeah, we don’t give them names, dude. That’s for their owners.” Jess explains.
“I’ll take him.” you say, deciding in a split second that this is the right tiny animal for you. What the hell.
“Okay, sounds good. I’ll…” Jess is interrupted by the fluffy cheering as loudly as its tiny lungs possibly can.
“Bestest babbeh am going with daddeh? Hab nyu housie?!” You nod in response to his interrogation.
“Yayyyy, fwuffy wub nyu daddeh!” He is almost beside himself with joy. Kinda cute, having something love you that much, you think to yourself. Jess gets your attention.
“Since you’re new to this, you are going to need a few things.” She walks you down to the isles of fluffy care products.
“I’m not exactly flush with cash at the moment.” You admit.
“Nah, don’t worry about it. The stuff is really cheap, and honestly, you don’t need half the shit we sell. Just the basics are fine. For instance, this plastic cage here is pretty cheap, but it will work.” She gestures to what appears to be nothing more than a standard insect terrarium.
“You could even use a cardboard box, at first. The little things can’t climb for shit.” She chuckles. You bring your new buddy down to look at the plastic cage.
“What do you think? Do you like it?” The fluffy looks at you unsure.
“Dis fwuffy nyu housie? Nu bewwy pwetty.” It sniffs. You frown and pick the plastic cage off the shelf, and place the little blue fluffy inside. You grab a foal blanket from a display across the aisle. Basically a handkerchief, covered in little rainbows and clouds. Setting the cage down for a second, you lift the pouting fluffy and smooth the blanket out along the bottom of the cage. You set the little thing down to examine the changes to his new home.
“Fwuffy tink housie okay naow, daddeh.” Well, he is easily satisfied, you guess. There is obviously plenty of room for the little guy, so you let Jess show you the rest of the essentials, carrying your little friend along in his new ‘house.’ Along the way, the tiny creature sings.
“Bestest babbeh get bestest movie-housie, get nu daddeh and sketties!”
You set down your burdens on the kitchen counter, and lock the apartment door behind you. Your apartment is nothing special, just a tiny studio. The front door opens into a small entryway, and you hand your coat on a hook before grabbing your new pet’s carrier and setting it on your coffee table. Past the entry, the door to the bathroom, and the small kitchen, your studio opens up into a living space. You click a light on, and your tiny new friend examines his new home.
“Dis fwuffy nyu home?” the stallion asks. You nod, lifting him from the box. He explores the coffee table, sniffing at a bag of half-eaten Doritos.
“Deese nummies? Smeww gud!” He sniffs at the Cool Ranch chips.
“Sure, help yourself.” The fluffy busies himself munching on the stale chips as you prepare his new abode.
The bottom of the tank gets lined with the cedar shavings you bought, and the tiny litter box goes in the far corner. On the opposite end of the plastic tub, you place a small kibble dispenser, and a water bottle that you swear was made for a gerbil. You fish a tissue box from the recycling bin and hack it in half with your pocket knife. Stuffed with the blanket you bought, it makes a fairly convincing ‘nest’ for your little buddy to sleep in. Not too shabby, you think to yourself, admiring your work. The fluffy burps loudly and you snicker.
“Tank yu fow nummies, daddeh.” the blue colt smiles up at you.
“No problem, dude.” Shit. You didn’t give him a name. How much of an idiot are you?
“What am ‘shit’? Is shit nummies?” You didn’t realize you’d said that out loud.
“No. It definitely isn’t nummies. I just realized I didn’t give you a name yet. Let me think.” His little eyes light up, and you stroke his tiny head as you ponder.
“Lets call you ‘Ace.’” Ace’s excitement was uncontrollable. He wiggled uncontrollably and barely managed to make his way over to hug your hand with his tiny little hooves.
“Yayyyy daddeh, Ace am bestest name fo fwuffy! Wub nyu daddeh!” Ace curled up in your lap, and drifted off to sleep, his snout dotted with Dorito crumbs.
This seems to be going well, you think to yourself, stroking your little friend softly.
Part 2 is Here