Lost In The Herd: Three. Letters From Home.
By Jennifer Diane Reitz



Chapter One: Hi StePn!


Hi StePn!

Sory fr th3 Writin. Im vsinG my MoutH its harD. I am in Fetlock. Small twn. All nice to me. I lik HAY!!! Go school. Writ more soon.





Hello Stephen!

I can write much better now. Still a bit hard. It gets easier fast though. I write with my mouth. I ended up an Earth Pony. I go to pony school for the newfoals. There are many here. Fetlock is a nice town and they try to make us feel welcome. I hope you feel better soon. I am glad you were not more hurt. The HLF is scary. I will try to say more next letter.




Hello, Stephen!

Wow, I did not know things were getting so bad out there. I worry about you. Please stay away from the megamall, OK? I'm wish the Human Liberation Front would stop doing things like that. I am glad to know the cast is coming off. I am glad your arm is going to be fine.

Every day I go to pony school. We learn about Equestria, but most of our time we learn how to do basic tasks. At first it was hard, but it gets easy at an amazing rate. Look at how much better I can write already! With my mouth! I have gotten pretty good doing things with my front hooves, too. Here is something odd – I can balance things without trying. All ponies can. We all have perfect balance, or something close. I can spin my bowl on my hoof. I could never do that before – remember basketball? I can even balance my pencil on my nose. Really! Next letter I will tell you much more.





Heya, Stephen!

Writing has finally become easy. I am amazed at how easy. I can even sketch now. It's really kind of incredible. As far as I can tell, Equestrians are naturally agile. These bodies come pre-loaded with hard-wired innate “dexterity” for lack of a better word. In only three weeks, I have gone from barely being able to walk and hold something in my mouth to writing, sketching, galloping all over the place - I can even do a proper canter now! - and yesterday, I baked cupcakes. Yes, cupcakes, dude. Baked goods are a big deal here. I did everything by myself, under the supervision of Glimmerdawn, our instructor.

You were curious about how we can do anything, lacking hands. It's actually surprisingly simple. Cups and jugs and such all have handles, and my neck is really flexible. Don't laugh, but I can look at my own rear end. Seriously. Pony necks are like cranes. I can look almost directly behind me, or down close to my own flank. I can nibble my own flank if it itches. I couldn't move like that when I was human.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. No, I can't bend my neck that direction. Not that I would, either, Stephen.

OK yeah, I tried. For scientific reasons. I mean, come on. No, down and under isn't really possible. Ponies aren't like dogs. Enough said.

I feel really, really strong. Strong as a horse -yes, I went there. Lifting a full pitcher of milk with my teeth is nothing. I just turn my head sideways, take the handle in my teeth, and it's like nothing. When I pour, I don't spill. It's that weird dexterity again, I think, because I wasn't that good with stuff like that back when. Also, my teeth are like iron. It's like I have a power-loader for a jaw.

The tough bit was taking the cupcakes out of the oven. I was afraid of getting my lips burned. But they have these thick mouthpads that you use, and it works just like an oven mitt. Even so, it was kind of scary. I mean, face, oven. But I did it, and I didn't get burned.

By the way, cupcakes are really good. I mean, you should just go get some right now. I never realized. Wow they rock. Or, maybe it's because my sense of taste is really different now. Sweet things rule my world now, which is weird, because I never liked sweets much, before.

Apparently, next week we're working with wood. I'll tell you about that next letter. I am glad that you and Addy are back together. Congrats, my man. I wish you two only the best.





Hi, Stephen -

This week was woodshop, basically. We did all kinds of things with wood. As an Earth Pony, my future career choices do not include weather control or casting spells. What we get to do is all the stuff that actually makes the world work. It's a Man's Life in the Earth Pony Corps.

Want to know how handless ponies make a door? First you get a log. Seriously, we started with a log. It was really huge. I don't know how they got it here, I suppose I'll find out that stuff another time. Anyway, huge log, bunch of ponies, so how?

They have these saws, big long ones, with special rigs in the handles at each end of the blade. A pony gets harnessed up to each end, while two or three lift and hold the blade to the end of the log. The blade has a removable cover on the non-serrated side, built for gripping with the teeth. I was on gripping squad. The cover slides smoothly over the back of the blade. We all get in close and hold up the saw, setting the position, while the two harness ponies pull the blade back and forth. Once the blade is well in, we grippers pull the cover off the flat side, and that is that.

Now you would be amazed at how smoothly this goes. It's like magic. Once the two saw-ponies were strapped in, I just found myself trotting in to the saw cover with the others. I didn't even think about it, We just all worked as one. I've never experienced anything like it, not even during my days back at the factory. And it felt good to work together. Nopony complains, or shirks, or causes trouble. Not when it counts.

I mean, we have a few clowns in the class. There's this one colt that just whines all the time, I don't know what kind of parenting he had back when he was human, but it was not very good. But he was there, doing the job, as if he lived to serve. Afterwards, he was a pain in the flank again.

I'm not entirely sure what it all means. It's as if there is some new command, or something in our brains. It overrides all the crap that normally causes fail to happen. When there is a job to do, that a lot of ponies are all doing, suddenly it's like there is nothing more wonderful than helping out. Afterward, everypony is just back to being themselves. It's a little creepy, when I think about it.

Of course, it also means working doesn't suck. I actually had a lot of fun, and throughout the whole week, I had no reason to get mad at anypony. Nobody screwed up, at least not deliberately. There was never a time I felt somepony was being an ass or causing trouble when it counted. I never had a week like that in two-leg land.

When it didn't count, though... I may have to kick one little colt's snotty tail one day. I'll write you from pony prison. If they even have prisons here. I don't know yet.

Once we had cut planks from the log – everything is really low tech here, sometimes I feel like I am living in a perpetual Renaissance festival – We had to muscle them over to sawhorses to cut them down further. That takes six ponies all working together with tooth and hoof, but it isn't as hard as it sounds. We're built really strong, and so mostly it's a matter of everypony working together to push and prod things into just the right position. Once we get going it is like we all have some kind of collective hive mind – things just get done, no fussing.

I saw some ponies with axes. Seriously. In their teeth, chopping wood. If this were earth, their brains would probably be mushed from the constant impact of blade on wood rattling their skulls. But this isn't earth. And these aren't ponies. Not really.

See, before I even went for Conversion, I spent some time looking up horses and stuff. Equestrians only look kind of like ponies. But we're not earthly horses at all. There are a lot of differences. Yes, we can talk and reason. But, did you know that horses can't breath through their mouth? Only through their nostrils. Equestrians can use both nose and throat for breathing, just like humans. We have vocal cords. It's part of the reason we can talk at all.

And food – yes, we eat a lot of hay and alfalfa and such, but we also eat tons of candy, pies, cakes, bread, flowers, vegetables, milk and even eggs. Eggs go into the baked goods. So, I guess Equestrian ponies are just a tiny bit carnivorous. We can't eat meat, it just won't digest, it won't even go down, but we can cope with small amounts of egg. And we eat so many calories, it would kill a normal horse. Probably a human too, come to think of it. Just kill them dead. We don't seem to have issues with insulin at all. Diabetes does not exist here.

Oh, and we can throw up. Terrestrial horses can't, betcha didn't know that!

Also, lots of other things we eat are poison to earth horses. Like peppers, onions and daffodils. I had a daisy and daffodil sandwich for lunch today. On earth, daffodils are poisonous to horses and humans alike. But I was assured that within the borders of Equestria, nothing is poisonous. Nothing.

Outside the border, say, out in the Everfree forest, there is no end of danger. It's one big nightmare out there, apparently. But here, within the actual land of Equestria, if you see something growing, you can pretty much eat it. Maybe you'll throw up, but you cannot die from it. I don't know why. Magic, probably.

I'll finish with a little statement about magic. Unicorns suck. I don't like their attitude. They don't know what real work is, and they prance around like that horn makes them more special than everypony. I don't have that feeling around the pegasai, they're cool. But I get annoyed at the unicorns. They're all loners, or so it seems, and because they can magic things, they don't seem to have that work-together spirit I described earlier. I wouldn't trust one in any sawmill I ran, that's all I'm saying.





Heya, Stephen!

Re your statement about where 'all those calories' go, I can answer that. Straight into my rippling muscles, that's where. But I know what you really mean. I'll give you the scoop on Equestrian poop.

Yeah, we make a lot of it. Can't help it the way we eat. The system for dealing with it all is pretty clever though.

We have outhouses. But they aren't like the kind humans used to make, back in the ancient days. Let me see if I can describe it well enough for you.

Imagine a kind of small barn, tiny, maybe room for one or two ponies. There is a stall, and in the back a big wide rectangular opening on the floor. That is where you do your business. You kind of back up into the stall – there is a board on the floor that lets you know how far, if you don't want to look. You just let rip.

What you do goes down the hole in the floor and right into a cart underneath. A dung cart. Pony poop isn't like human poop. It's pretty dry, comparatively, and has a lot of fiber holding it together (hay is our primary staple, after all). The system back there seems to be pretty efficient and tidy – wiping isn't an issue. It just isn't. Well, as long as you hold your tail up. I learned that one my first day, and well, you don't want to make that mistake. Oh flank, you do Not. Want. To.

Yeah, laugh it up ape-boy. I've never had the kind of digestive problems I had as a human. I feel like a 20 year old again. I can eat whatever I want, and I never get reflux, or cramps, or anything. Remember those vegans from university? I don't have that problem either. Much. I guess being built for vegetarianism makes all the difference.

The dung carts fill up, and when one part is too full, there is a kind of wooden rail you can push against in the outhouse that ratchets the cart below forward a few inches. This allows the carts to fill evenly. It's considered good manners to occasionally check how close the level is to the floor. You get used to it.

When the carts are full, they are pulled away and new, empty carts put in. The dung carts are taken to the compost center. Every town has one, some towns share a single, big one. I don't know what they do there, but the end result is fertilizer, and all I can say is that we grow some of the best stuff around. Apparently our poop isn't as toxic and hazardous as human waste. Maybe it's different bacteria, maybe it's what we eat or how we digest. I don't know such things. But, I do know that it isn't the same big deal human waste is.

Wow, I bet you loved hearing all about that, huh? Well, you DID ask me to tell you how we do things here. That's how we do it. We just don't need flush toilets and treatment plants in Equestria.

On a different topic, I wanted to ask you about Addy's touch of cancer. Everybody gets it of course, it isn't like you can avoid cesium, water is life. I hope the nanopurge isn't too uncomfortable this time. That's one thing I am glad to be done with, I have to say. Cancer isn't even known here. Along with almost any other kind of sickness. We get something like a cold, sometimes, but it isn't too bad. There are diseases beyond our borders, but that is something I intend to avoid.

Oh, about your question – I don't know where Equestria is. The night sky is almost the same, which is very weird. I recognize certain constellations, I am sure of it – I don't know many, but I know Orion and the Big Dipper, and I am sure they are up there. There is some kind of a connection with earth, but it isn't clear what it is or how it could be. They really believe that the princesses raise their sun and moon, and as we've seen on the media, their day and night do not correspond with the world outside the barrier. So, I don't know.

Maybe Equestria is a pocket universe, or subspace, or some alternate reflection of earth. This isn't something I can understand, so, sorry. I know you are all up in that stuff, but I'm just a simple working pony. Next time I'll tell you about how complicated stuff gets made here. And how I got one over on a certain  annoying unicorn.



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