The sun shone gently into the room through the cracks inside the window shutters, engulfing the room in a warm embrace. James opened his eyes, stretched out his arms and got up out of bed. He opened his bedroom door and made a beeline straight for the kitchen.
“gud bwite time, daddeh!”
“Morning, Rosemary.”, responded James in kind, halfway still asleep, as he passed the entrance to the play room on his way to the kitchen. He reached the coffee machine, checked if there were enough beans inside, and simply hit the button “On” button. As the machine whirred into action, a soft crunching noise emanated from it, time which James used to reach for an empty cup in the cupboard above, placing it beneath the opening of the machine, lest he spilled any of the black nectar.
It was an average morning, all things considered, but nevertheless James was excited for what it held in store. Beneath all the evident averageness lay a series of new experiences with his experiment that had officially begun yesterday. Today was going to be the first day of many where he would have to carefully observe the behavior of Lullaby and her babies in an effort to shed some light on the “Smarty” phenomenon.
Furthermore, he was really curious how well Coffee would be able to handle his new fatherhood, he seemed very receptive of the concept, but babies are hard to care for even for a regular parent, let alone a pillowfluff. But time would soon tell.
He made his way to the playroom, coffee in hand.
“How’s my little sweetheart doing this morning? Did you sleep well?”, inquired James of the mare.
“wosemawy sweep gud! hab’ nice sweepy pictuwe!”
“Yeah? That’s great to hear.” James knelt down, putting his mug to the ground next to him and stroked the fluff on the back of her head, yielding instant cooing from the fluffy who was earnestly enjoying the attention.
“coo… wuv’ scratchies… wuv daddeh…”
“And I love you too, baby.” James’ gaze wandered to her eyes. Or rather, her one remaining eye. It had healed quite nicely, having been quite the grisly sight on the day she’d lost it. An ever painful reminder of what fluffies were capable of, and the reason why James had begun his deeper research into Smarties as a whole.
Jealousy made fluffies do ugly things, in that aspect fluffies were no different from humans. But if you combine said jealousy with an innate sense of entitlement, it amplifies their disgusting behavior to unreal levels.
Rosemary was the second foal James had ever taken in. She had a faintly green coat and a dark green mane. Her colors reminded James of the herb in question, thus leading to her name. Much like her “step-brother” Coffee, she had been abandoned by her mother. Though unlike him, Rosemary had been abandoned for being a “monster”. That is to say, she was an alicorn.
Feral Alicorns didn’t have it much better than poopy babies, depending on their parents, their quality of life varied greatly. The lucky ones often had their wings bitten off in an attempt to have them be accepted by the rest of the herd, feigning them to be mere unicorns. The unlucky ones were just immediately stomped to a pulp right after birth. Though, from the perspective of a fluffy, it’s hard to argue who’s the lucky and who’s the unlucky one.
Coffee was less than happy about Rosemary’s inclusion to the family. “munstah!! daddeh, dat nu fwuffy, munstah twick you!!”, he said on their first encounter. Nevertheless he stopped complaining about her appearance after some time had passed and James had repeatedly informed him of his errors. James can’t fully recall if the severity of his “smartyness” came to light before or after he’d adopted Rosemary, but what he can say for certain is that it was a key factor in the dissonance of their relationship.
Coffee often acted out and misbehaved, Rosemary never acted up and was rewarded for it. In hindsight, James understood that constantly treating one fluffy better than the other isn’t the best way to go about it, but he’d never had pets before and simply didn’t know any better. And then, one day, it all came crashing down.
“daddeh, awe 'ou otay? look saddies…”
James snapped back to reality. He didn’t think he’d look that sad while lost in thought, but Rosemary had always been exceptionally perceptive and sensitive to others emotions.
“It’s okay, sweetie. Daddy was just thinking about… stuff. Is your eye okay? Does it hurt at all?”
“siwwy daddeh, see-pwace nu huwties since many fowebas!”
“I see… that’s good. I’m glad.” James exhaled, he hadn’t realized that he unconsciously tensed up when asking such a sensitive question, but he never stopped blaming himself for her injury. While it was easy to just call Coffee a bad fluffy, he knew that his behavior was a direct result of his inability to care for him.
“daddeh gon’ go downsies fow workies?”
“Yeah, that’s right. Daddy made a lot of progress last night, and with a little luck, someday I might finally find a way to make sure fluffies don’t become smarties.”
“daddeh gon’ cuwe fwuffies of smartie sickies! daddeh am su smart!”
Rosemary giggled and smiled cheerfully. James had told her of his experiments in an effort to better understand that which plagued most fluffies. He had opted to call it “smarty sickness”, syndrome being too difficult a word for her to understand. She always encouraged his endeavors and was one of his greatest motivations.
He got up, making sure to pick his mug back up and promptly took a sip of coffee. He then walked over to the empty food dish, placing his mug on the floor once more, and filled it back up with some Premium kibble. He then made sure that there was enough water available and emptied the litterbox. Having done all that, he grabbed his cup again, exited his apartment and headed downstairs.
On his way downstairs, James passed his clinic. It was closed today, he didn’t open on weekends unless it was an emergency, and today being Sunday was no exception. He got most of his experimentation done on weekends, though he also found some time on less busy days in the week. He peered inside the clinic and through the window outside into the street, merely being driven out of curiosity. The sun was still shining brightly and it was a nice day outside. He took another sip of his beverage and then finally turned around to head downstairs to his basement.
“Good morn-”, he pushed open the door, and before he was able to speak, was immediately interrupted by nervous stammering originating from Lullaby.
“d-daddeh! wuwwaby wose babbeh! nu can fin’ bwowny babbeh!”
Dammit. James had expected her to be shocked about losing the foal, but being a less “pretty” color, he’d sort of hoped the regular fluffy instinct might make the dam forgetful enough that she’d just not think about it.
He had a couple ways to play it, really. Feign ignorance, hoping that after some time had passed, she’d simply give up on the baby. Alternatively, he could also guilt-trip her for his own amusement. Tell her that the “baby ran away” because she was either a bad mommy or he was a “'splorin baby”, a term given to foals that like to explore and endanger themselves.
But then, he could also just tell her the truth. He could tell her that he gave Epsilon to Coffee to offer him a chance at redemption, considering he’d been punished enough already and might, at last, deserve a second chance. But that may just make Lullaby cause a hissy-fit. She was well behaved, for sure, and never once had she given him much of a reason to doubt her good behavior. But that’s also because James, to her knowledge, was never actively involved in the disappearance of her babies.
The last litter wasn’t useful to James, having been mostly earthies, and since it was important for the experiment that all test subjects were from the same mother, he couldn’t simply mix-and-match them with other foals to achieve the right balance. So, upon realizing that, when Lullaby had given birth to her babies, James lied to her, claiming that her foals were all “forever sleepy babies”, stillborn. In order to spare her the sight of dead babies, James promised her to send them to “sketti land”, the fluffy equivalent of heaven. In reality, however, James simply scooped them up and took them to his clinic.
He wasn’t a monster, he was aware he could’ve simply killed the whole litter and call it a day, but instead he opted to give the foals away for free to customers that visited the next week. Most of the foals had nice colors, so they were swiftly grabbed after hearing he told him a sob story of their “mommy going forever sleepies”, so they needed a new home.
“huu huu… wuwwaby am wowstes’ mummah! nu can take cawe of babbehs! huu huu…”
Nevertheless, he had to make a decision now. He walked to the nearby table to put down his coffee and was lost in thought, all the while the wails of the mother who lost her child reverberating in his ears. After some thought, he opted for a combination of his options instead. Feigning ignorance whilst instilling into her a sense of fear of losing any more babies. James hoped that this would furthermore aid in the fact of hiding the surgery he’d carried out, since she’d be more focused on simply caring for her babies than to wonder about their appearance.
“What, are you sure you lost a baby? I’m sorry, Lullaby, I don’t think you had more babies than this. I’m counting all four of your babies, are you sure?” James played his part perfectly, one would think that in an alternate reality, he’d easily won an Oscar for his performance.
“… wha… buh wuwwaby hab’ five pwetty babbehs… wuwwaby am sure… huu huu…”
“Hm, that’s strange. Maybe it’s just your motherly instinct!”
“Yeah. Maybe you just think you lost a baby because you love your babies so much that you cannot stand to lose them. Maybe your thinkie-place is playing a trick on you to make sure you don’t lose any babies!”
This sort of rhetoric almost overloaded her mental capacities. Fluffies weren’t particularly smart animals, but when it came to logical concepts, they were especially terrible at it. One had to really dumb down their speech to make sure that the fluffy could follow what was being said.
“wuwwaby thinkie-pwace make wuwwaby think dewe am wost babbeh?”
Though, what fluffies lacked in intelligence, the made up in gullibility. You could make a fluffy think whatever you’d like and with enough assurance, the fluffy’s mind would simply accept what you told them. The more confident the assertions being made, the easier it was to convince a fluffy.
“Exactly! You’re not a bad mommy, you’re a great mommy! It means you care for your babies and don’t want to lose them. Keep it up, Lullaby.”
More than merely convincing her, James also didn’t want her worries to stress out the other babies. The foals had been cheeping in panic for quite a while during her earlier crying, not consciously being aware of what was going on, but sensing the distress in their mother’s voice.
“wuwwaby am gud mummah… am gud fwuffy…”
The distressed mare had begun calming down, focusing her attention back to her panicked children in an attempt to relieve them of their anxiety.
“it am otay, babbehs… mummah was jus’ bein’ siwwy… wuv 'ou babbehs…”
She shoved all her foals as close into her fur as possible, nuzzling them into a loving embrace, as she began singing her song. Her actions yielded almost immediate results, the babies quickly stopped chirping and began reciprocate the nuzzling of their mother.
James was astounded by the effectiveness of the song. He’d heard stories about it before, but has never been in a situation where he was able to witness it. Perhaps he could use that sort of song to calm foals in the future when the mother was unable to do so, he thought to himself.
The crisis having been averted, James took another sip of his now almost-cold coffee. He made his steps to Coffee’s chamber to check up on both him and his new child. He flicked on the light switch as per usual, but was surprised when he didn’t hear any complaints this time.
“gud bwite time, daddeh”
“Hey, buddy.” James felt so awkward that he instinctively referred to him not by his name, but by “buddy” instead. It was the way he used to refer to him, back when he hadn’t considered him a smartie.
There was a faint cheeping echoing through the chamber. For a couple seconds, James had forgotten that there was a baby in the cage alongside Coffee, having been so entranced by his greeting.
“You taking good care of the baby, Coffee?”
“yus! coffee am gon’ be bestes’ daddeh fow wid-”
Coffee stopped abruptly mid-sentence. James approached the cage, wondering what was going on. As he came closer to it, the stallion suddenly looked at him with wide eyes, an expression that was devoid of any happiness, filled with pure dread and fear.
“COFFEE AM SOWWY! COFFEE WAS SWEEPIES AND NU SEE, COFFEE GON’ BE GUD DADDEH PWEASE NU HUWT FWUFFY!!”
James was absolutely perplexed by the fluffy’s behavior, almost attempting to calm him down, though before he could he saw what had sent the fluffy into such a state of panic. There was a big streak of poop leading from the litter place to the milk bottle. The baby likely had little to no control over when it relieved itself. Even though foals of that age couldn’t see yet, they were still aware of the general brightness of their surroundings. The darkness of the room must’ve sent the little guy into a panic. Since they oriented themselves largely by smell, it was probably trying to sniff out its mother, but a stallion smelled different from a mare, and thusly it started defecating itself in fear.
“AM GUD FWUFFY DADDEH!! COFFEE PWOMISE!! BABBEH NU MEAN TU MAKE SCAWEDY POOPIES, PWEASE NU HUWT FWUFFY”
James was a man of his word. He knew that not enacting punishment when fluffies broke a rule led to them being more and more careless. Though he wasn’t going to enjoy the punishment that was about to follow, he knew he had to follow through with it, lest he risk Coffee relapsing.
“I’m sorry, Coffee. I’m going to have to punish you.”