On rainy days, it doesn’t get very busy. It gives me a nice moment to myself to watch the world from the window behind the cashiers table. People walking in the cold as car exhaust fills the air. It all feels so serene. My name is Ian Carlington, and I am the proud owner of Carlington Guitar Emporium. I inherited the store from my now deceased dad who inherited it from his deceased dad. I absolutely love working at the shop; I like to make pleasantries to the people who know more or less about music and instruments as I do, I like watching other people play the countless guitars and basses that line the walls of the store, and I also love it when people see me play a guitar as I’m tuning it. Mostly though, I enjoy nice little moments like this. I can just let my mind wander off and forget about things for a while.
I hear the bell ring to the entrance and immediately shoot up and give the usual greetings that I give to every customer that walks in. I’ve seen this customer several times before. She’s a young woman around my age (23). She wears a zipped-up black Nightwish hoodie with the Imaginaerum cover art on the back, along with black jeans and black shoes. Her hair is a jet black ponytail that’s draped over her shoulder. She also never wears makeup, but she seems like the kind of girl where no one would care if she did anyways. Usually, she walks in, fiddles with a few of the bass guitars (and from what I’ve seen, she’s really good), looks at the small rack of CD’s of other musical artists and then she leaves, always with me saying the usual, “Have a good day,” followed by, “Yep.”
I see this girl very often in my store and I always think about getting to know her, but I’ve never been quite skillful when talking to someone of the opposite gender, so it always ends up as a usual exchange of pleasantries. I check my watch: 9:13. It’s about 45 minutes until closing, but with the rain as bad as it is, mounted with the fact that the weatherman said that it would get worse from here, I decide to close shop early. I grab my coat and keys, lock the doors, and slip out the back of the building to my car, a Kia Forte coupe.
As predicted, it begins pouring harder, which makes my certainty of returning home seem slimmer. I live in a nice house at the top of the hill about 20 minutes from the town where I work. With the rain pouring like this, the road to my house could get rather slippery, making my ascent next to impossible. I plug in my iPod and crank out some tunes. With the rain this hard, I like to listen to harder music, so I play Demon of the Fall by Opeth. I can’t remember the last time it rained this badly. It really makes me apprehensive about driving my car in this weather. As I finally get to the fated hill of my drive, my Genius playlist changes from the Opeth song to Scaretale by Nightwish. I suddenly think about the girl. Did she get home safely? I hope she had a car like me. I carefully make my way up the hill to try and make good traction with the ground. With the fast pace of the Nightwish song, pushing a little too hard on the accelerator becomes common, so I turn off the iPod to keep from stranding myself.
After what feels like eternity, I finally make it up the hill. In just a couple of minutes, I would finally be in my nice warm house and snuggle into my nice warm bed. However, life likes to screw around with you that way…
As I’m pulling up to my garage, my headlights pick up a couple of bodies on the doorstep. I put the car into reverse and position my headlights towards my doorstep. Sure enough, there are two bodies there, lying unconscious. I get out of my car to see who they are. I become shocked that the bodies can’t be referred to as who, but as what. They both looked like horses, but they were unlike any of which I have ever seen. Judging from the eyes of both creatures, I could tell their genders. One of them was white with a blue mane. He had a strange tattoo on his rear that looked like a royal blue shield with a six-pronged star in the center. What freaks me out a little more is that the horse has a horn on its head. A unicorn? That’s impossible.
That’s nothing compared to the other horse next to it. She is pink in color with a long cream, magenta, and purple striped mane and tail. Her muzzle is a lot smaller and narrower than the other horse. She has a similar tattoo on her rear, but it’s a teal heart with a golden lace around it. Not only does this one also have a horn, but she has wings folded to her body with faded purple tips. I must be seeing things, right?
I touch one of the wings, to see if it was attached on, but I’m shocked to feel every real muscle inside the wing shiver with the cold. I then place my hand on its chest. I can feel the chest moving up and down, indicating that she is alive. I check the same thing with the stallion, and he’s breathing too. I can’t comprehend this. I have two living unicorns on my doorstep. I know I can’t leave them out here, but moving their massive bodies would be impossible for me. I knew that “help” would involve a bunch of people who would want to experiment on them, so I knew I was the only one who could do anything.
I begin shaking the stallion by pushing it’s stomach and telling it to wake up. Thankfully, only after a few pushes, the unicorn regains consciousness. Upon looking at me, it freaks out. “What in the hay are you?” he says, trying to back up. Did my ears deceive me? Did this horse just speak English to me? “Wait,” it says, ignoring my shocked expression, “do you live here?” Still shocked over the talking horse in front of me, I manage to pull a slight nod. “Please sir,” it asks, “my wife and I are lost and it’s very cold out. Will you please let us spend the night?” My shock begins to dissipate, allowing me to have enough basic motor skills to grab my keys from my pocket and unlock and open the door. “Thank you so much,” it says before picking up his wife psychically with its glowing horn and runs inside. Wait, what? Horn? These things are magical too?
The shock comes back, leaving me standing like a statue and still holding the door open as the horse carries his “wife” to my living room. “We need some towels and blankets,” says the unicorn. Nothing from me. “Please!” it barks. I then run to the living room, turn on the lights, and go to the fireplace. I place 3 fresh logs inside with some dryer lint (which is easily combustable) on the bottom. I take a match from the tinderbox and strike it, throwing the match on the lint. I then run upstairs and grab as many towels as my two arms will carry from my linen closet. I rush down with them and put them next to the two horses. I then say that while they dried off, I would grab some comforters and start some tea, which the stallion promptly thanks me for. I go back up to my bedroom and pull two backup comforters from under my bed. I come downstairs and hand the comforters to the stallion. “Thank you so much,” he says, still drying the both of them off. I go to the kitchen and begin heating a kettle of water. I put 3 strainers from my cabinet into a mug each and put a heaping teaspoon of loose leaf tea in the strainers. I then go to see how my guests are doing.
“How is she doing?” I ask, sitting with my back the side of the fireplace. “She’s very cold,” he says, “but she’ll be better once we warm her up. Thank you for everything.” The pink horse then opens her eyes and looks at me for the first time. Her eyes are enormous, which bugs me out a little (no pun intended). “I have to know,” I say, “where are you from. There’s no way that a couple of unicorns just appear on my doorstep like that.” “That’s ridiculous,” he angrily states. “This is Equestria; there are unicorn and pegasi ponies everywhere.” “I’m sorry. What is Equestria?” “Are you joking? It’s the land we all live on… right?” “No, this is America.” “I’ve never heard of that either? Are you making stuff up?” “I was going to ask you the same question.” The mare breaks up the argument. “Please, honey, let’s not fight. It’s safe to say that we were sent to a different world.” “That helps,” I say not sarcastically.
“In fact, before we continue, let’s get to know each other. I’m Ian.” I extend my hand to the two, what did he call themselves, ponies? Shining Armor reached his large hoof and let me shake it. “Hi, Ian. I’m Shining Armor.” Interesting name. I shake the mare’s hoof next. “I’m Cadance. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ian.” “So,” I say, “you said you come from a place called Equestria. Are there others like you there?” The kettle began to whistle. “Give me a minute,” I say, walking to the kitchen. I pour the tea into the mugs and leave to let them steep. “Sorry about that. Please continue.”
“Well,” says Shining Armor, “there are many ponies of different colors and types. My sister and I, Twilight Sparkle, are unicorns. We can use magic.” “Like what you did to lift Cadance?” “Exactly. There are pegasi, who have wings to fly, and they control the weather.” “Control the weather?” I ask. “Weather doesn’t operate on its own?” “You mean it does that for you?” I nod. “Wow, that must be interesting.” Thunder crashes. “Mmhm,” I say. “Lastly, there are the earth ponies. They don’t have horns or wings, but they have a special connection to the earth, making them the farmers and agriculturalists of our world.” “What about her?” “Excuse me?” “She has wings and a horn. What’s that all about?” “She’s an alicorn, which is a winged unicorn.” “Got it. What do they do?” “They are considered royalty. Our rulers, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna are her aunts.” “Cool. Who’s your queen?” “Queen? We don’t have a queen.” “Then wouldn’t that make your princesses queens?” “I don’t follow.” “A king or a queen is the supreme ruler of a monarchist government, with princes and princesses being the heirs to the throne. If a king or a queen happens to be absent, then the prince or princess takes the throne as king or queen.” “Really? Is that how it works in your world?” “Touché.”
“Listen, honey,” interrupts Cadance, “I think he has a pretty good understanding of ourselves. I’d really like to know about your, Ian.” “Excuse me,” I say, getting up again. I go to the kitchen and remove the strainers from the mugs. “Sugar, Cadance?” “No thank you, it’s too late for sugar.” “Fair enough. Armor?” “Maybe just 1 lump,” he says. I pour half a teaspoon of sugar from a jar and stir it in a mug. I hold 1 mug with my left and two (including the sweetened one) in the other. I hand the ponies their mugs while I sit back down with mine. “Thank you,” she says. They take a sip. “Oh my. This is delicious. Where do you get it?” “There’s a tea shop that I visit frequently in the nearby town.” “That’s fantastic. Now please, Ian, tell me about yourself.”
“Well, my full name is Ian Carlington, but please stick to calling me Ian. This is my home that you are in right now. I own the Carlington Guitar Emporium downtown.” “You own your own store? That’s amazing! Do you know how to play guitar?” “Yes. Along with bass, drums, and keyboards.” “You’ll have to perform for us sometime.” My cheeks turn red, eliciting chuckles from the mare. Once one gets used to her large eyes, she’s actually looks quite adorable. “Where did you learn to play all of those instruments?” “My dad was the previous owner of the shop. It’s been a family business since my grandfather, so in order to properly run the store, I had to learn to play and handle all the instruments so I could relate better to customers.” “Interesting. Where is your dad now?” My face becomes somber. “My dad died of an unexplained heart attack about a year ago.” “Oh, I’m so sorry.” “Yeah, losing him was a real pain. But you know what they say, ‘Time heals all wounds.’” Cadance then walks up to me and gives me a hug. It seems weird that she would do this to a stranger, but I’m grateful that she does it, and I rub her back. “Wow,” I whisper. “What?” “Your fur is so smooth. I could stroke it for hours.” “Aw, thanks.” She let go of me and sat back down with her husband.
“That reminds me,” I say, “you two are married?” “Yes,” said Shining Armor. “Is marriage something foreign to your world too?” “No actually. But that’s beside the point. It’s just I never thought of a marriage between two ponies. Do you love each other?” “Very much so.” “That’s good.” I think of the one question that I wanted to ask this whole time. “How did you even get here? To my world that is.”
Shining Armor told the story. “In Equestria, a country of the world we live in, a bunch of our friends in the capital city of Canterlot were outside watching a solar eclipse. As the moon passed over the sun, me and my wife began getting dizzy. I then noticed that we were floating in the air. The last sight I remember seeing in Equestria was seeing our friends’ look of worry.” “Jeez,” I say, finishing the rest of my tea.
“The next thing we know, we’re in the middle of a forest. Neither me or my wife recognized the patterns of the trees that grow in the forests around Canterlot. We just galloped around and called for help, hoping that someone would answer us. We continued moving until it began to rain. As the rain got harder and harder, we found your house. We knocked on the door hoping for an answer, but when none came, and realizing that other civilization wouldn’t be around for many more miles to just continue on foot, we waited at your door for someone, anyone to come. After we fainted from the cold, you found us, and let us into your home. For that we are very grateful.” Cadance walks back up and gives me another hug. “I would never leave a suffering creature alone,” I said. “I also wanted to ask,” says Cadance, “your house is marvelous. How did you afford it?” “When my grandfather ran the store, during the 60’s and 70’s, the store gained a massive boom of business due to the popularity of many rock artists at the time: The Who, Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. When Grandpa passed, he left a massive inheritance to my dad, which he used to buy this house.” “Wow,” says Cadance wearily about her surroundings. “Business continued to thrive in the metal periods of the 80’s and grunge and alternative eras of the 90’s when my dad took over the store after Grandpa retired. These profits he used to furnish this house to what you see.”
I then notice that Cadance and Shining Armor are asleep while sitting. I gently shake Armor’s shoulder, which wakes him up. “I think we should get to bed,” I say. I direct him to my parents’ old bedroom where I say they can sleep. I lift the covers up so Shining Armor can magically put his wife down on the bed. He then crawls into the bed with Cadance. Shining Armor tries to pull the covers over him and his wife, but passes out before he can do so. I smile as I pull the covers over the two and watch them sleep. I then go back down to put the mugs in the dishwasher and turn off all of the lights. I then head to my room and lay down on the bed. I begin to fall asleep while smiling, content that I did something good today.