The funeral for Gerard was attended by numerous former businesses collogues and friends, although as many noted, very few family. The inverse however, was found during the will reading.
A half dozen adults, with nearly double that in kids waiting outside, crowded into Donald’s office to hear the reading of their fathers will.
Some of the ‘cried’ at the loss of their father, others argued with each other over how much the other was promised or sat in silence waiting for the reading to be over so they could get on with other things.
When Donald read revised will, that’s when things got out of hand. Any façade of grief fell away and everything devolved into shouting, threats and one of the younger members of the household being carted off by the police for trying to take a swing at Donald before the next hour was up.
“To my children who were always so involved in my life, whenever there was something in it for them; I leave the sum of $25000 to help ease the ‘pain’ of my departure. Furthermore, I leave the sum of $50000 to each of my grandchildren, to be held in trust by my lawyer, Donald K. Labernez, until such time when they are old enough to made the decision on their own on what to spend it on.
The remainder of my fortune will be placed in numerous investments, savings and trusts to be accessed by the executor of my will, Donald K. Labernez, for the purposes outlined in the portion of my will which is addressed to him which shall be kept in confidence and will not be detailed again here.”
Gerard had adapted to his new ‘holiday living’ quite well, all things considered.
He was living the life most men his age could only dream of. With some of the remaining money from the sale of his house and the majority of his liquid assets remaining technically his after his ‘death’, he had managed to carve out a particularly good living for himself.
While mansions, self driving drone cars and other luxuries for humans were expensive and generally frivolous play toys for humans, their fluffy equivalents ran much, MUCH, cheaper.
He had learned that through his own independent research and by browsing through designer fluff forms for ideas.
Finding a contractor willing to build a fully functioning underground house sized and suited for a creature that stood a little less than three foot at the head was… challenging.
But once one was found it was only a small matter to convince them to keep quiet about the location and nature of the project.
The ‘nest’ that he had built for himself had all the amenities of one of his dream homes designs, but wrought smaller and built for a fluffy pony’s usage. From the shower to the coffee machine, everything was something he could operate with his new body.
He hadn’t ever realized that they made fluffy sized and adapted coffee cups, but then again, he’d never really been big enough into fluffies to know.
And now, forever separated from the stress and misery his family had brought on him lately, he had time to pick up on his old hobbies.
He read more, he took long walks through the forest, traveled to nearby scenic locales in a delivery drone he had rebuilt into something akin to a self flying car.
He’d even taken up painting again, which was admittedly harder to do now with his distinctly undexterous hooves, but the learning was fun!
He’d even picked up gardening, flowers and vegetables mostly. Particularly tomatoes, he had developed the strangest craving for spaghetti in the last few months and he was looking forward to scratching that itch once the garden came in.
Since he had taken this final step, he had all the time in the world to indulge himself in his hobbies and enjoying life, even with the somewhat limiting nature of his now debatably quadrupedal form.
…but it still wasn’t enough.
Some days, Gerard would find himself overwhelmed with the oddest sense of ennui that would pop up out of nowhere.
He wasn’t quite sure what brought it on, he had his books, he could walk under his own power again. Why did he feel like he was just wasting time again…?
It was during one of these bouts of ennui that Gerard decided to take the chance of wandering into the small town at the foot of the forested hill where his ‘nest’ was hidden.
For the most part people ignored him, although a few of the local teens had gotten a very malicious look toward him as he passed by. They had approached, but the chiming of his ‘pet tag’ in their neural links probably scared them off of whatever ideas they were coming up with.
That, or the fact the tag was registered to Donald who made sure to include his profession and practices address as part of the tag.
One young lady asked if her kids could pet him and he reluctantly agreed. He loved kids, that’s why his wife and him had so many of them. He huffed at the though of his own children now, especially after how they acted at his will reading.
How could he have failed them all that badly? What did he do to them that they would treat him so poorly in his final years? Was he just a bad father?
He rounded a corner in his misery and realized quickly that he had taken a turn far away from his original objective of the deli and ended up in a different part of town. He looked around and spotted something he hadn’t seen in a long time.
Standing along the curb, right in front of a small locally owned franchise pizza joint calling itself 2-4-1 Pizza, was a large vending machine with a brightly colored saccharine picture of a couple of fluffy foals frolicking in a playpen.
A Foal-in-a-Can machine.
He hadn’t seen one of these in decades. They’d been everywhere in his mid thirties but they had slowly gone out of fashion as more and more cities had outlawed their presence to cut down on the number of unneutered fluffies appearing on city streets.
Out here, in the country though, maybe some of them still stuck around. Like the old pay phones that his grandfather used to tell him about when he was just a kid.
Gerard trotted up to the machine, standing far enough back that even with his diminished size he could still read and see the small details, but mindful that he didn’t step onto the road. He had become especially aware that most motorists wouldn’t swerve to not hit a fluffy, pet tags or no.
As he looked at the machine for a few moments. He remembered articles he’d read about how notoriously bratty and needy fuffies were to raise, and as he remembered a thought occurred.
Maybe, just maybe, if he could raise such a creature to be decent, maybe that would prove that he wasn’t as bad of a father as he feared.
He eyed the large red led number 1 on the outside of the machine, sitting just beneath the ‘Remaining Toys!’ sign at the top of the machine.
But just as soon as that thought occurred, he noticed two flaws in his plan. The first of which was that in his current body, he was about a half a foot too short to be able to reach the button to dispense the can.
The second of which was that this machine, much like most older machines that hadn’t been reclaimed yet, took analog credits instead of transfers.
As he pondered weather or not a bank would allow a fluffy to make a cash withdrawal in his name, he heard a light jingle from the door to the pizza joint behind him.
A girl in her mid to late teens wearing a gaudy green, yellow and red uniform walked out of the door with a frustrated scowl on her face and an enormous thermal box stuffed with cheap pizzas.
Gerard pondered over her for a moment, he remembered the warnings the biohackers had given him about interacting with humans. It was risky, but…
“Scuse meh miss…” He said, tasting the oddness of his new ‘accent’ as he addressed her.
The young lady looked around for a few moments, before looking down at him, and rolling her eyes upon seeing him.
“I don’t have any ‘nummies’ for you, I’m not giving you anything from the box, GO AWAY!”
“Nu wan nummies, wan make deaw wif yu.”
The pizza girl looked down at the strangely well spoken fluffy, half debating weather to kick it across the street or to listen to its idea of a deal. The former seemed to win out, she placed the pizza boxes on the trunk of her car and knelt down to his level, regarding him with a curious expression.
“Just what kind of deal are we talking about, shitrat?”
Gerard pointed to the Foal-in-a-Can machine sitting beside her place of work.
“Wan foaw-in-cansie, if yu buy foaw fow meh fow fibe dowwaws, Ah wiww pay yu one-hundwed and fibe fow yu twoubwe.”
“Pah! And you expect me to believe that some smelly feral has that kind of scratch, are you kidding me?!” The girl smirked at the absurdity of the ‘deal’ before her, but decided to at least mock the little shitrat before she left.
“Tell you what buddy, you pay half up front, and I’ll buy you your ‘widdwe foaw-in-a-cansie’, but till that happens, I got work to do! Piss off you little pest!”
She turned and began to load the pizzas into the back of her car when suddenly her phone pinged. ‘Ugh, not more fucking overtime requests’ she though to herself as she flipped out her phone to check on the message.
Deposit: Payment for services rendered. Balance: $52.50. [Accept] [Decline]
She paused for a moment, looking down at the amount, before looking over her shoulder at the slate grey pegasus with the salt and pepper mane.
She cautiously tapped the accept button, half expecting this to be some clever hacker’s idea of a phishing scam, but to her surprise the amount cleared and her balance ticked out of overdraft for the first time in a month.
Regarding him with a bemused expression, the pizza girl walked over to the foal in a can machine and retrieved her wallet, pulling a five-dollar bill from within and sliding it into the machines bill intake.
With a whirring click, the machine sprang to life and after the sounds of internal machinery working and a somewhat earwormy jingle playing in the background. With a resounding ‘THUNK’ the machine dispensed a single opaque plastic tube bathed in a thin cloud of chemical mist.
“Please enjoy your new bio-toy! From Has-bi-o!”
The pizza girl reached down and picked up the can, holding it just in front of Gerard so he could reach it. Gerard reached out with his hooves and grabbed the can, hearing a faint groggy chirping coming from within.
“And the other half?” The pizza girl inquired, folding her arms and looking down at the big grey fluffy before her.
Gerard tilted his head up toward her and closed his eyes, within a moment, a second ping sounded from her phone and the remainder of the money deposited itself in her online wallet.
“Well, there you go… pleasure doing business with you mister, uh… fluffy…”
“Gerard? Weird name for a fluffy, but who am I to judge…”
Gerard reached down and picked up the can in his mouth, nodding to the pizza girl who mimicked the gesture, before trotting back out of town toward his nest with a renewed sense of purpose as the pizza girl hopped into the car and drove off into the afternoon with a smile on her face.
“Heh, I wonder if the fluffies are hiring…”