Kerri was so excited! She’d wanted to have a fluffy pony ever since she was a little girl, from the very first time she saw them on the news after they’d escaped the Hasbio lab. But her parents had always said no, no, absolutely not. They’d always had an excuse. First they were too expensive. Then, as they became more and more common and breeding operations increased in number, her parents said no because they were such a hassle. They were too messy. They didn’t live as long as a cat or a dog. They were accident prone and fragile. Finally her dad admitted that what it really boiled down to was that they creeped him the hell out.
“Ain’t nothin’ on four legs that should be talkin’ to you like it’s a little kid,” he’d said. “It just ain’t right.” And with that said, that was the end of the discussion. It was never going to happen as long as she lived under their roof.
But now she didn’t live under their roof. Now she was out of college, living in her own apartment, and enjoying her freedom from parents and roommates. She could do whatever she wanted to. She could walk around the apartment in her underwear and nobody would tell her to put pants on. She could spend a weekend binge-watching a series on Netflix and nobody would judge her. And she could take her spare bedroom, turn it into a fluffy safe room, and finally get a fluffy. Maybe two fluffies, if she wanted. Who was going to tell her no?
She considered adopting from one of the shelters in the area, but she had to get all of the supplies to prep the safe room anyway. So why not check out the fluffies at FluffMart? Her friends had adopted fluffies from FluffMart and vouched for the selection and temperament of their fluffies. It wasn’t as wholesome as adopting a stray or an abandoned fluffy, but Kerri wasn’t trying to save the world or win karma points or whatever. She was trying to get a damned fluffy.
So Kerri woke up early one Saturday morning and headed to the nearest FluffMart, hoping to get there soon enough that she wouldn’t have to deal with a bunch of annoyed parents and pleading children. She was delighted when she walked through the sliding glass doors and found a mostly empty store. In fact, the store was eerily quiet. She walked over to an employee who was stocking shelves full of kibble and asked him why everything was so quiet.
“Ah, yeah,” he said. “It’s pretty quiet until about nine. The fluffies are still waking up, so we keep things low-key until they’ve had their breakfast. Makes them happier if we don’t blast them with music first thing.”
“Makes sense,” she said. “Am I going to bother them if I walk around looking at them? I’ve never had a fluffy before and I’m hoping to adopt one today.”
“Oh, no, they love seeing people. They’re still tired, so they’ll be less annoying about trying to guilt you into being their ‘nyu mummah’ and all that.”
“Perfect! Thank you so much.” She turned, then paused. “Oh, uh, I don’t have any supplies. But I’ve got a list. I may need some help locating everything I need.”
“No problem,” he said, smiling a friendly smile. “I’m Jake. Just let me know if you need any help, and I’ll be glad to assist.”
“Hey, I’m Kerri. And thanks.”
She wandered toward the fluffy pens and was surprised to see a much wider selection of fluffies than she’d expected. They had everything here! Earthies, unicorns, pegasi, and even a pen full of alicorns! She glanced at the alicorn prices and laughed to herself. No way in hell am I going to spend that much money on a fluffy. An earthie might be nice for a first fluffy, maybe. Unicorns tended to be a little more bratty from what she’d heard, so not much good for a first fluffy. Then she started seeing the pegasi. They were so cute with their stupid little wings! Too small to be useful for anything, but big enough to be adorable and decorative. Kerri’s eyes wandered to a little orange-fluffed, yellow-maned pegasus who was very much awake. It kept jumping into the air and flapping its wings as hard as it could. Kerri approached the pen, her interest piqued.
“Fwuffy gon fwy!” it muttered to itself as it jumped. Its wings buzzed uselessly and it fell back onto its hooves with a soft “pomf” sound. “Nuuuuu,” it whined. “Why wingies nu wowk? Why nu make fwuffy fwy?”
“You want to fly, huh?” Kerri asked.
The fluffy looked up at her and grinned. “Yus, nice wady. Fwuffy wan fwy!”
“What if you can’t, though?”
The fluffy looked sad for a moment, then smiled. “Am otay! Fwuffy can stiww wun an pway and gif huggies an wuv. An stiww haf pwetty wingies!”
“That’s a good attitude to have.”
“Fankoo, nice wady. Am nice wady wookin fo a fwuffy?”
Kerri smiled. “I sure am. Do you know any nice fluffies who are looking for a home?”
“Yus! Aww fwuffies hewe am wookin fow a nyu housie an a nyu mummah ow daddeh!” It lifted one hoof and pressed it into its chest fluff. “Fwuffy am wookin tu, nice wady!”
“Oh really? Are you a good fluffy?”
“Fwuffy am twy tu be bestest fwuffy fow nyu mummah ow daddeh, yus! Nu make bad poopies ow peepees EVAH, onwy make poopies an peepees in wittahbox. Fwuffy fowwow da wuwes an onwy ask fo huggies an wuv. Nu nee wots of toysies ow sketties. Jus wan huggies an wuv an nyu mummah ow daddeh!”
“That sounds really good. Well, I hope you find a nice new human!”
“Fankoo, nice wady! Nice wady haf da bestest bwight-time, otay?”
“I’ll try, thank you!” Kerri watched as the fluffy wandered back to the middle of the pen and started jumping around again. It was friendly, well-behaved, not demanding, and wasn’t begging her to take it home. It checked all of the boxes on her list, and she couldn’t get over how adorable its wings were. She walked back over to Jake and informed him that she wanted to adopt the foal.
“Oh yeah, that’s a good one. Very good choice. You’ll want to get all of your stuff picked out first, get it loaded in your car. Then pick the fluffy up last. Otherwise it’s going to see a bunch of stuff it wants and it’ll try to get you to buy everything.”
Kerri laughed. “Aren’t you supposed to try to sell me everything?”
Jake chuckled. “Fuck that. If they wanted me to oversell then they ought to pay me commission. Here, let’s grab a cart and we’ll get you set up.”
Twenty minutes later she was standing at the fluffy’s pen, watching it as it continued to jump and try to fly. “Hey, buddy,” she called out.
The fluffy stopped and waddled over to her. “Hewwo again, nice wady!”
“I’ve got a question for you. Are you a boy or a girl?”
“Fwuffy am cowt, gon gwow up an be bigges’ stawwion!”
“Good, because I want to name you Sunshine, and that’s a fine name for a stallion. Don’t you think so?”
The fluffy’s mouth fell open. “Nice wady…gif fwuffy namesie?”
“Do you like it?”
“Sunsine WUV nyu namesie! Am…am nice wady nyu mummah fo Sunsine?”
“I sure am!” Kerri reached down and picked Sunshine up, cradling the colt in the crook of her arm. “Do you want to go to your new home now?”
“YUS!” Sunshine shouted excitedly. “Sunsine am wan see nyu housie! Wuv nyu mummah! Am su happies!”
A few minutes later they were both in the car, with Sunshine sitting in a low-walled box with a pee pad on the bottom to catch any scaredy poopies or peepees. He could see over the edge, so he didn’t feel like he was in a sorry box. But he was still worried.
“Fwuffy nu wike metaw munstah,” he whined.
“It’s not a monster. It’s going to take you to your new home, where you’ll have a nice warm bed to sleep in and a lot of sketti-flavored kibble. There are going to be so many great things for you there! Don’t worry, you’re safe.”
“Sunsine nu wike, buh wiww twust nyu mummah.” He kept pacing in the little box, and Kerri could hear him tapping his hooves nervously against the pad.
“You know what might help?” she asked. “How about some music?” She already had Spotify open and had been listening to a 90’s playlist on the way to FluffMart. She pressed play and turned the volume up a little.
“Dis am otay,” Sunshine said quietly. But he still didn’t seem happy.
“Interstate Love Song” ended, and Kerri was happy to hear her favorite TLC song come on. But as soon as the word “waterfalls” was mentioned, Sunshine got even more antsy.
“Nuuuuuu, mummah!” he shouted. “Wawa am bad fo fwuffies!”
“It’s okay!” Kerri said. “It’s just a song! There’s no water here. Nothing to worry about!”
“Buh wawa am SU BAD fo fwuffies!” he insisted.
“I know, but there’s no water here. You’re safe.”
She looked back at the road, singing along as Sunshine stopped trying to complain. She’d heard that fluffies hated water, but getting upset at just hearing about water seemed a little absurd. Oh, well. He had to learn not to be afraid of everything anyway, so he could suck it up and deal with listening to one song about…
Kerri stopped singing and turned the volume down. Sunshine was making weird noises, loud enough that she could hear them over the music. She glanced over and saw him thrashing in the box, his legs in the air. Freaking out, she pulled into a strip mall parking lot and parked, then grabbed the fluffy from the box.
“What’s wrong?” she asked. “Sunshine, what are you…” She paused, stunned.
Sunshine was dead.
Water was trickling from his mouth.
Sunshine had drowned.
Kerri stared at his corpse, at the water, unable to process what the fuck was going on. Finally she got out of the car and, dazed, wandered over to a trash can. She tossed Sunshine’s limp, lifeless body in and slowly walked back to her car. As she started the car back up, she left the volume down. Suddenly she didn’t really feel like listening to TLC. Suddenly she didn’t know what the hell to do. She had a trunk full of fluffy supplies, and she wasn’t sure what FluffMart’s return policy was. Besides, she was determined to have a damn fluffy.
“I, uh,” she muttered to herself aloud in the now-empty car. “I guess maybe I’ll stop by the shelter on the way home.”