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The Other Side · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Why a Duck?
The knock at the door made Fluttershy look up from her oatmeal. She'd been awake since dawn, of course, seeing her nocturnal friends to bed and her diurnal ones off to start their days, but this early in the morning, she didn't often get actual visitors.

It had to be bad news, then.

Sighing, she stood, her mind spinning into worst-case scenarios. It wasn't that she regretted becoming one of the great heroines of Equestria. It was just that it had forced her imagination to grow wilder, more grandiose, and scarier in its efforts to come up with possible threats to the realm that were worse than the things she'd already faced alongside Twilight and the others.

Plodding across the front room, she took a breath. The return of Tirek? All four princesses vanishing at once? A giant space squid threatening to spray the sun with ink? Pony eating worms boiling up from beneath the ground? At the door, she wrapped the knob in her teeth and pulled it open.

"Hi, Fluttershy!" Pinkie bounced past her. "Told you she'd be up, Cheesy!"

"Well, all right!" a stallion's voice said, and Cheese Sandwich pranced in behind Pinkie, a long white box balanced across his back. "Good thing we brought donuts!"

"Ummm..." Fluttershy watched the two party ponies throw a rainbow patterned tablecloth into the air over her dining room table, then they snatched her bowl of oatmeal, the box of brown sugar, the milk jug, the toast rack, the napkin holder, and everything else off while the tablecloth drifted downward. It settled into place, and they quickly put all the items back exactly where they belonged with the donut box right in the center. "Thank you?" she finally decided to say, though she couldn't keep a question mark from curling up at the end.

"You're welcome!" they both said at once. They burst into giggles, slid into a couple of chairs, and began pulling cups and plates and saucers and gravy boats and serving platters and who-knew-what-all from their manes and tails to set places for about ten ponies at the table.

Swallowing, Fluttershy peered out the front door. "Are we expecting more guests?"

"No, no," Pinkie said, and Fluttershy looked back to see her positioning an already lit candelabra next to the donut box. "It's just that we're here to ask you a really, really big favor, so Cheesy thought we should be all nice and butter you up first."

"You know me!" Cheese Sandwich straightened the little cow-shaped creamer. "I'm all about the dairy products!"

The darkness of her previous terrible thoughts puffed away like fog at sunup, and Fluttershy couldn't stop a giggle. "That's very sweet of you two, really, but there's no need."

"Knead?" Pinkie took the cover off the plate in front of her and began mooshing the lump of dough on it with her front hooves. "She's got you there, Cheesy. 'Cause you can't make a sandwich without baking bread!"

He nodded. "Or make an omelet without breaking eggs." Taking the cover off his own plate revealed four large eggs; he leaned back in his chair, put a hoof to his snout, waggled his eyebrows at Fluttershy, and whispered loudly, "Don't tell anypony, but it's a cheese omelet!"

More giggles popping out of her, Fluttershy almost skipped to her place at the table. "Thank you, but a chocolate-frosted, old-fashioned donut should be just enough for me."

Pinkie flipped the white box open. "Fluttershy likes to nibble the little fringy bits off before eating the rest of the donut."

"Ah." Cheese Sandwich nodded and reached a hoof into the box without even looking. Coming up with a chocolate-frosted, old-fashioned donut, he flicked it across the table to land perfectly on the little plate beside Fluttershy's half-finished bowl of oatmeal. "Obviously a mare of charm and distinction."

"Shhhh!" Pinkie hissed, bending closer to him. "We'll never get her to help if you tell her she's got dis-stink-tion!" She turned a big, obviously phony grin at Fluttershy. "He means you've got dis-nice smelling-tion!"

Cheese Sandwich blinked. "Dis-perfume-tion, maybe?"

"I dunno." Sniffing, Pinkie wrinkled her nose. "She kinda smells like cold, sour oatmeal, really." Her phony grin burst into place again. "Not in a bad way, though!"

Fairly certain her two guests would never get to the point if she left it up to them, Fluttershy took a nibble of the donut's nearest fringy bit and asked, "So what is it you need my help with?"

They both went completely still, something Fluttershy had never seen either pony do before. "Well," Cheese Sandwich said, "y'see, back before the dawn of recorded history—"

Pinkie snatched a powdered-sugar coated donut and mooshed it between Cheese Sandwich's lips, translucent yellow goo oozing from the corners of his mouth and scenting the air with lemon. "Lemme just fast-forward a couple quajillion years to last night," Pinkie said. "'Cause that's when Cheesy stopped by Sugar Cube Corner on his way back from a big party in Hoofington. And we got to talking, him and me and Boneless and Boneless 2 and Gummy and the fireflies from my sitting room lantern and the moths who were swooping around outside my sitting room lantern and the lizards who were—"

Swallowing his mouthful, Cheese Sandwich scooped up a white-frosted donut with green and red sprinkles and slid it in among Pinkie's teeth. "We began discussing ancient philosophy," he said while Pinkie frantically chewed, "like you do when you've each eaten a couple dozen éclairs and you can't tell anymore where your brain ends and the custard begins." Licking his lips, he reached into the box and pulled out an éclair. "Custard's a dairy product, too, y'know." He chomped the end off the donut, the chocolate glaze crinkling.

"I do know!" Pinkie picked up the little ceramic cow, poured about half the cream down her throat, and smacked her lips. "Along about midnight, we got to debating one of the foundational elements of epistemological thought, and just after sunrise, it occurred to me that you would be the perfect pony to settle the question once and for, well, not all, I suppose." She gave a real grin this time, a few of the green and red sprinkles showing here and there between her teeth. "But for most at least."

"Exactly!" Cheese Sandwich's grin was just as real, but it had yellow and off-white streaks criss-crossing it. "So! Whaddaya say?"

Fluttershy looked from one to the other. "Remind me again?" she finally ventured to ask. "What are we talking about exactly?"

Cheese Sandwich waved his hooves in the air. "The fundamental question at the basis of all comedy!"

And both he and Pinkie recited together: "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Not sure she'd heard correctly, Fluttershy couldn't stop her brow from wrinkling. "Isn't the answer 'to get to the other—'"

"Yes, yes, yes!" With a back flip, Pinkie left her chair and landed solidly on the floor. "We've been through all that over and over again for the past six hours!"

A soft bell started clanging, and Cheese Sandwich raised a front leg to squint at a miniature grandfather clock strapped to his pastern. "Seven hours," he said.

"Seven hours!" Pinkie started pacing up and down beside the table. "And the only conclusion we've reached is that theoretical discussion just plain breaks down once the jelly donuts run out."

"What?" Cheese Sandwich sprawled onto the table, forks and cups and long-stemmed drinking glasses scattering before him. "The jelly donuts!" He grabbed the white box, spun it upside down, and shook it empty, donuts of every shape, size, and color bouncing and flopping across the rainbow tablecloth. Well, every shape, size, and color, Fluttershy couldn't help noticing, except— "We're out of jelly donuts!" Cheese Sandwich wailed.

"Cheesy!" Leaping to the edge of the table, Pinkie clapped her forehooves to the sides of Cheese Sandwich's face, his cheeks squishing till his lips bulged forward like a fish's. "We talked about this, remember? That's the reason we came to see Fluttershy!"

His lips flexed. "She has jelly donuts?" he asked, his voice muffled.

"She has chickens." Pinkie's head swiveled slowly till she was facing Fluttershy, her grin like something carved by a first-time jack-o-lantern carver. "And you can talk to them, can't you?"

"Oh, yeah!" Cheese Sandwich slipped from between Pinkie's hooves and turned an equally jagged grin in Fluttershy's direction.

The oatmeal Fluttershy had eaten seemed to congeal and turn to stone in her stomach. "You want me to ask Elizabeak...why she crosses roads?"

"Please!" With a cotton candy colored whoosh, Pinkie appeared on her knees beside Fluttershy's chair. "It's for science!"

"Science?"

"No!" An orange whoosh brought Cheese Sandwich to Fluttershy's other side. "It's for the spirit of philosophical inquiry!"

Pinkie made a rude noise with her lips. "Not as catchy..."

"Ha!" Cheese Sandwich sprang onto his hind legs and pointed a forehoof at Pinkie. "You nuts-n-bolts types are all the same!" His hoof flicked, and a floppy, button-eyed puppet of Pinkie Pie appeared over it. "'I'm Pinkie Pie!'" Cheese Sandwich said in a high-pitched voice. "'If the angles of my pratfalls aren't calculated out to the nearest arcsecond, I don't consider them worth taking! Because I'm looking to provide the ultimate comedic experience!'"

"That's a lie!" Bounding onto her hind legs as well, Pinkie aimed a shaking hoof at him. "Those buttons are brown, and my eyes are blue! Besides, you're the one who keeps yammering on about the one proper method of comedy!"

"That's right!" He nodded his head so sharply, Fluttershy thought she heard his chin swish through the air. "The tried and true!"

"Fiddle faddle!" When Pinkie flicked her hoof this time, peanuts and caramel popcorn spattered into Fluttershy's lap. "'Trying' means 'experimenting!' Or are you actually informing the world that you're against improvisation?"

"Even improv has rules!"

"I agree!"

"No, I agree!"

With all the jabbing going on, Fluttershy thought she maybe understood what it was like to be a pincushion. A leap of her own brought her into a hover above the table, and she was just considering making a dive for the window when Pinkie suddenly sprouted a black-and-white striped cap between her ears and blew a steamship-loud blast on a whistle that appeared on a lanyard around her neck. "Stop!" she shouted.

Cheese Sandwich froze, his face contorted and his mouth partway open. Fluttershy looked from Pinkie's wavering eyes to the window and back again before sighing and drifting down into her chair again.

"See?" Pinkie took off her hat and pressed it to her chest. "That's why we need your help, Fluttershy. 'Cause Cheesy and me, we always agree and never got shouty or cross. And then we discuss the basics and fuss and feud and get thrown for a loss."

Another whistle blew, and Fluttershy started around to see Cheese Sandwich, now also wearing and black-and-white striped hat, throw a yellow piece of cloth into the air. "Five yard penalty!" he announced, his voice somehow distorted and echoing. "Rhyming without a poetic license!"

Clearing her throat, Pinkie arched an eyebrow and held up a card with her picture on it and some writing too small for Fluttershy to make out. Cheese Sandwich leaned over, squinted at it, and pursed his lips. "How do I know this isn't a forgery?" he asked.

Pinkie pulled another card from her mane. "My forger's license," she said. "You'll notice it's expired?"

"Hmmm..." Cheese Sandwich rubbed his chin, then broke into a giant grin. "All right! Case dismissed! Donuts for everypony!"

The two flung themselves onto the table and started gobbling the donuts lying everywhere. Fluttershy drew her legs up against her chest and wished she'd slept in that morning.

Not that it would've helped, she was sure. All this would just be taking place upstairs in her bedroom instead of down here. But as much as Fluttershy enjoyed Pinkie's antics, both party ponies together seemed to create an atmosphere that was much more than twice as loud and confusing; she found herself picturing one little rock nudging another little rock and another and another and another till the whole mountainside they'd been sitting on began tumbling and crashing down directly toward the lovely meadow where Fluttershy saw herself admiring some edelweiss blossoms.

Shaking the image away, Fluttershy came to the reluctant realization that the only way to survive whatever was going on here would be to ride it out, keep her focus, and push through to the end. "So. You need me to talk to my chickens?"

"Yes!" Pinkie whirled, and Fluttershy felt something plop onto her head; a glance upward showed that it was the black-and-white hat. "You're the referee now! It's up to you to make the ruling that decides the fate of all comedy everywhere forever!"

"What?" The back of Fluttershy's neck went hot, then cold, then hot again. "But I don't know anything about comedy!"

"Nonetheless." Cheese Sandwich rolled off the table onto all fours. "We at least need a rule of thumb. Or, I mean, well, you know..." He held up a hoof and sort of waggled it.

Silence settled over the room like a nervous sparrow, ready to bolt at the slightest provocation. "Ummm," Fluttershy said, sending an apologetic thought toward the tailfeathers of the imaginary fleeing sparrow. "I guess we'll go out into the yard, then."

"Yes!" It was Cheese Sandwich saying it this time; he reached into his shirt, pulled out a giant rubber cockscomb, and snapped it on over his mane. "Will we need costumes?"

"No!" Fluttershy had to force herself not to follow the sparrow. "You'll just scare the chickens!"

Pinkie's grin spread over her face like spilled ink. "Scare them into crossing some nearby road?"

Unsure how to explain, Fluttershy still felt she had to try. "Chickens aren't like ponies. They prefer things to be calm and regular. Peculiar things make them skittish, and then they run away and hide."

"Huh." Pinkie poked an elbow into Fluttershy's ribs. "That does sound like a pony I know, actually."

Fluttershy blinked at her, and Pinkie reached across to tap Cheese Sandwich on the shoulder. "Hear that?" she asked. "That was way ruder than when you called her stinky, don't you think?"

"Let's find out." Cheese Sandwich pulled a small notebook from his shirt, flipped it open, and gave Fluttershy another of those phony grins. "Ma'am, I'm taking a survey. Do you feel more insulted now, or did you feel more insulted then?"

Her face heating up, Fluttershy slid out of her chair and started for the back door. "Hmmm," she heard Cheese Sandwich say behind her. "I'll just put down 'declined to state.'"

"I'm sorry, Fluttershy." Pinkie peered around the edge of Fluttershy's peripheral vision, her blackberry bramble mane a little droopy. "I know I can get a little silly sometimes—especially after my fifth box of éclairs and my second day without sleep. But you know I love having you as a friend, right? Right?"

Most of the upset in Fluttershy's middle evaporated, and she blew the invisible steam of it out with a sigh. "I guess," she said. And that was as far as she meant to go, not wanting to say aloud what she was thinking. But the words came trickling out anyway. "I just don't know why."

"Why?" Pinkie's right eye blinked, then her left one, then both of them together. "Why the chicken crossed the road?"

With a swallow, Fluttershy turned to face her. "Why we're friends," she could barely whisper. "You're so peppy and outgoing and alive, and I'm...not." The heat in her face increasing, she looked away and pushed out into the back yard.

The spring morning was barely an hour old at this point, the clouds drifting through the blue above still as fluffy and clean as freshly laundered pillowcases. Which just made Fluttershy think of her bed and how much she'd like to be in it—or under it, maybe...

But instead, she kept going to the gate in the fence around the chicken coop. "Ummm," Cheese Sandwich said behind her. "Do we need some laughter here to cut the tension? 'Cause I can probably pick some up in town if the stores are open yet."

"Cheesy..." Pinkie's voice had a hardness in it that Fluttershy rarely heard there.

Realizing that that was also her fault, Fluttershy let go of all her upset, turned around, and showed the two of them a smile. "It's okay," she told them. "Because we're going to get some answers straight from the chicken's beak."

Cheese Sandwich raised a hoof. "You'll be getting them straight from the chicken's beak, Fluttershy. But since we'll have to wait till you translate them, Pinkie and I will be getting them..." He looked over at Pinkie and waggled his eyebrows.

Pinkie shot him a glare, but then her wrinkled brow smoothed, her eyes widening. "Straight from the horse's mouth!" she shouted, lifting her knees in a quick, high-stepping little dance. "Fluttershy! You made a funny!"

Fluttershy giggled, undid the twist of wire that held the chicken yard gate closed, and pushed inside. "Everypoultry? We have some visitors!"

Elizabeak and the others blinked up at them, but Fluttershy could tell they weren't upset. "I already fed them," she said, scooting around behind Pinkie and Cheese Sandwich to close and fasten the gate. "So they should be in a nice, relaxed state of mind to answer your question."

"All right!" Pinkie was glancing all around the chicken yard. "I'm guessing you won't let us take some of them out to the actual road just to see how they respond in their natural state?" She gave a hopeful look over her shoulder.

And as much as Fluttershy didn't want to bring down the mood again... "I'm sorry, Pinkie, but that's just too dangerous."

"Hmmm." Cheese Sandwich, a bright yellow hardhat now pushed down over the curls of his mane, rubbed his chin. "We could put in a petition to the zoning commission and get this all designated as a public thoroughfare." He glanced at his pastern, no grandfather clock there this time. "That should only take eight or nine months."

"Plan C!" Pinkie's head shook so quickly, it became nothing but a pink blur, ten or twelve little toy trucks and tractors plopping out into the dirt. "We construct a scale model!" When her head stopped shaking, she was also wearing a hardhat, and she spread what looked like blueprints out on the ground. "We can follow the gradient here to get the proper drainage, and—"

"Enough!" a strange voice, deep but still somehow squeaky, announced.

Snapping her head around, Fluttershy saw something swirling in the air at the far corner of the yard: a little black whirlpool, tiny lightning bolts flashing from the center. As she watched, the whirlpool spiraled larger, opening to show dark storm clouds behind it.

Beside Fluttershy, Cheese Sandwich pulled a book from his shirt, the words The Friendly Planet Guide to Ponyville written across the cover. "That's just the Ponyville Vortex, right? The famous local atmospheric phenomenon?"

Before Fluttershy could do more than shake her head, the whirlpool had grown to about pony size. A shadow loomed on the other side, and out of the roiling clouds stepped—

"A duck?" she heard Pinkie ask behind her.

"Not just any duck!" the duck said, and Fluttershy had to agree with that. It was nearly twice as large as any duck she'd ever seen before, and its black feathers bristled with the pale light of certain fungi she'd seen swaying out in the Everfree Forest even when there wasn't any wind. The glowing red eyes weren't usual, either, to say nothing of the dozen or so scaly green tentacles flailing away where its beak should've been. "I am Duck'thulhu, mortals, and I am your doom!"

"Huh." Cheese Sandwich was still squinting at the guidebook. "No, I'm not finding anything about that. Is it part of the Ponyville Penguin Museum?"

Pinkie popped up beside him, her attention also on the book. "We should go there," she said. "It's both a nice place and an ice place at the same time."

"Ummm, hello?" The duck waved its wings. "Doom over here."

"A room?" Pinkie started riffling through to the back of the book. "We'd need the hotel section for that."

"That's at the front." Cheese Sandwich turned the book upside down. "There you go." He looked over at the duck. "How much are you planning to spend per night?"

"Spend? Spend?" The duck's little tentacles, Fluttershy noted, twitched and writhed in the same rhythm as the words it was saying. "Duck'thulhu doesn't spend! Duck'thulhu earns! Specifically, she's earned her reputation as the doom of mortals!"

"Oooo!" Looking away from the book, Pinkie gave the duck a nod. "Nice wordplay!"

"Thank you." Duck'thulhu gave a little bow, and Fluttershy thought maybe she blushed—ducks didn't normally blush, of course, but since this was such an unusual duck, Fluttershy was willing to consider the idea. "Still, you're making inquiries into forbidden matters, and it's therefore my duty to—"

"Have some breakfast!" Fluttershy blurted out, finally realizing what it was about the duck that looked so odd—other than the tentacles and the glowing eyes and everything. "You just look like you haven't had any yet this morning, and, well, it is the most important meal of the day."

"Breakfast?" Duck'thulhu blinked. "I feast upon the souls of those unfortunate enough to attract my attention after I've flayed them for a century in my dungeon of torment!"

Sitting back, Fluttershy folded her forelegs across her chest. "And when did you last do that?"

A gurgling noise rose from Duck'thulhu's midsection. "It...has been a while," the duck admitted. "Five, six hundred millennia, maybe?"

"My goodness!" Fluttershy sprang back onto her hooves and spun toward the two party ponies, busily making paper hats out of the pages of the guidebook. "Pinkie? We need a stove top right now!"

"Huh?" Pinkie blinked, at least four paper hats sticking out from various parts of her mane. "And where am I supposed to get a stove top way out here?"

Fluttershy just raised an eyebrow.

Pinkie rolled her eyes, slunk over to the chicken coop, and dragged a large camp stove out from underneath. "But it's only for cooking emergencies!" she said, shooting a purse-lipped glare over her shoulder.

Leaning toward her, Cheese Sandwich put a hoof to his snout and said in a loud whisper, "I'm thinking this might qualify."

Fluttershy flared her wings. "I should say so! Imagine! Not eating a proper breakfast for that long!" She leaped into the air. "Now, Pinkie and Cheese, if you could please get the stove fired up, I'll fetch the basic ingredient." Clearing the top of the fence, she angled her wings and landed next to the marigold bed. She hadn't had many duck visitors lately, so she was able to pluck quite a nice crop from the plants before flapping her way back into the chicken yard.

During her absence, Cheese Sandwich had produced a small magnifying glass from his shirt and was focusing the sunlight through it onto a page from the guidebook while Duck'thulhu watched with evident interest. "To think," Duck'thulhu was saying in that quacky-but-not-at-all-quacky voice, "that the hated sun, symbol of all that's good and pure, can also be harnessed as a destructive force."

Pumping away at the gas can on the stove, Pinkie blew air through her lips. "That's nothing! You should see Princess Celestia go after a seven layer cake!"

That was when the guidebook page started smoking, and Fluttershy landed with her precious cargo cupped between her forehooves just as Cheese Sandwich and Pinkie were connecting the fire and the gas, a blue flame springing merrily to life around the stove's burner.

Duck'thulhu's head came up, and even though she didn't seem to have a nose, Fluttershy was sure she heard sniffing. "Do I detect the succulent aroma of—?"

"You do!" Holding out her hooves, Fluttershy beamed at the duck. "Snails!"

"Oh, my!" Duck'thulhu's fiery eyes went very wide. "I...I've not devoured the living flesh of a mollusk in...in— I can't even recall how long!" She took a step forward.

"Now, now." Fluttershy hopped into the air to land closer to the stove. "You let us get them all fixed up for you." She looked at the two party ponies. "I think a little escargot gratinés will be just the thing."

They both whipped out big white poofy chef's hats, and Fluttershy shook the dozen or so snails from her hooves into theirs. Marigolds were pretty enough all on their own, but the way snails headed straight for them and didn't bother her other plants so much made them indispensable. And then, when her duck friends came by, she had snacks all ready for them.

Duck'thulhu's little tentacles had begun dripping a brownish liquid. "Will...will they have garlic butter?"

"But of course!" Cheese Sandwich already had a pan sizzling on the stovetop. "They'll also have mozzarella, Parmesan, and Gruyere cheeses!"

The big black duck squished when she sat down in front of the stove, and Fluttershy took the opportunity to make sure none of her chickens had wandered into the vortex, still swirling stormily at the far end of the yard. Fortunately, Elizabeak had shooed the others into the coop before hopping in and closing the door behind herself, so Fluttershy was able to get a count through the window and see that they were all there.

A lovely oily, cheesy smell began drifting over from the stove. This was followed by slightly horrible slurping noises, and Fluttershy trotted back to see Duck'thulhu somehow sucking down both snails and shells even though she didn't appear to have any openings in her face below her eyes. Still, Fluttershy wasn't about to look too closely at whatever those tentacles were up to...

"Such flavor!" Duck'thulhu nearly sang the words. "Such bouquet! Such viscosity!"

The grins on Pinkie and Cheese Sandwich's faces looked a little strained, but Fluttershy felt a very real grin on her own snout. "Now, Duck'thulhu," she said. "If you ever get that peckish again, I want you to promise me you'll stop by. I won't always have such wonderful chefs visiting, but I'm sure we can whip up something nice for you."

"I...I will." Something that may have been a tear boiled to steam at the corner of Duck'thulhu's eye. "Thank you." She blew out a brimstone-scented breath, hopped back up onto her webbed feet, and brushed at her oily chest feathers. "Seriously, though, you guys. Quit poking around with the whole chicken crossing the road thing, okay? There's some things ponykind wasn't meant to know, and oddly enough, that's one of them." She aimed several tentacles at Pinkie and Cheese Sandwich. "Promise me?"

Cheese Sandwich looked at Pinkie, and Pinkie looked back at him. "Oh, all right," they said.

Duck'thulhu leaned forward. "Pinkie promise, I mean."

Both ponies sighed and went through the familiar ritual.

"Well, then!" Duck'thulhu flapped her wings against her sides. "I'd say my work here is done." She turned to Fluttershy. "Thank you again for the lovely time. And if you ever need anypony flayed, you know who to call." With a little wink, she spun and waddled back to the vortex. Stepping through, she vanished, the cloud whirling tighter and tighter till the whole thing made a popping sound like the cork from a bottle of sparkling apple cider.

"And that," Pinkie said into the silence that followed, "is why we're friends." A whoosh behind her, and Fluttershy couldn't stop a giggle at being enveloped in one of Pinkie's giant hugs.

"I suppose so." Shifting as much as she could, Fluttershy managed to squeeze Pinkie in return. "I'm sorry you didn't get the answer to your question, though."

"No biggie." With another whoosh, Pinkie was back on the other side of the stove and helping Cheese Sandwich push it under the chicken coop again. "There's plenty of other mysteries in the comedy world. We'll just contemplate those instead."

"Yeah!" Cheese Sandwich whirled around. "You wouldn't happen to know where we could find any woodchucks, would you?"

Giggling, Fluttershy shook her head and opened the gate, closing and fastening it once the party ponies had stepped out and started across the grass.

"Ooo!" Pinkie gave a little hop. "I've got a good one! Why a duck? Why-a no chicken?"

Cheese Sandwich gave a shrug. "I'm a stranger here myself." And they walked through the doorway into the house.

Fluttershy felt like prancing a little as she followed. It was always so nice making a new friend, especially after all the awful things she'd been imagining earlier about what today might hold. And she still had most of her donut to finish, too!
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#1 · 2
· · >>Miller Minus >>Baal Bunny
I will admit that there are definitely some pretty clever turns of phrases here. But as a whole, I'm not quite digging it. The back and forth pun-ery honestly started getting a little stale for me even a quarter of the way through. I think the biggest issue is that it's really hard to get a sense of pace; we don't get introduced to the central conflict/premise (Pinkie and Cheesy needing Flutters to talk to the chickens) until about 30% of the way through our wordcount, and then there's another 30% before they actually say a word to the hens.

At that point, I admit I just wanted to know the darn answer to the question, so when Duck'thulhu showed up and her hunger became the new main focus of the story, I was pretty frustrated.

I think the biggest issue you have is managing your reader's expectations and the payoff they get. I this would seem like odd advice, given that comedy is all about defying expectations, but the core of comedy is about getting that satisfying ending--hearing the punchline after the curiosity that the set-up and the build-up bring.

I think you certainly show comedic cleverness with all of the quips you've managed to squeeze in. But personally, I kind of wished the whole thing was closer to being a story with a developed arc. rather than feeling like just a vehicle for puns.

I hope this makes sense, and I hope I'm not just blowing smoke out my orifices. Please do take this all with a grain of salt, because historically I've often not agreed with the consensus when it comes to comedy in the Writeoffs. So I'll be very eager to see what anyone else has to say. Thanks for writing!
#2 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
>>Bachiavellian
I agree with all of this. This story definitely feels like an exercise in practicing comedy, and puns in general, but that doesn't really a story make. And again, what you've done occasionally brought a laugh, but it can't carry a reader to satisfaction like an arc or a fulfilled idea or a powerful setting can.

I'm wondering if you realized the lack of any arc at the end, and added in the "why are we friends?" concept, but it's so out of place after all the tomfoolery (which picks right back up again unhindered). And if that character conflict came out of left field, then the conclusion to it was out of right field. I didn't see a connection backwards.

But yes! You are talented at boisterous wit. Just don't do so much of it!
#3 · 1
· · >>Cold in Gardez >>Baal Bunny
Good Stuff: I'm more forgiving of the no-story structure. The comedy is a lot of fun even when some of the jokes don't land, because there's always more, and that kind of rapid-fire comedy is my thing. Duck'thulhu was off-putting at first, though once it tied in to the "why did the chicken?" question, I forgave it and even liked it a bit more. I really liked how Fluttershy got in on the madness near the end, since she is someone who handles Discord and would probably get into the spirit of this nuthouse.

Bad Stuff: It really isn't doing much except making jokes, which is fine and I admire it for that, but all in all it does feel light and fluffy because of that. And some of the jokes felt too much like you were being random on purpose. I preferred the ones which made a kind of sense, because the humor came from having that twisted up by Pinkie and Cheese. I also don't see Fluttershy cooking snails. Sorry, that's too OOC for me.

Verdict: Solid Entry. Although it's weak and not doing much except making random jokes that don't all work, it made a lot of fun ones and went for its anarchy with pride. I came away smiling, and that's worth something.
#4 · 5
· · >>Baal Bunny
Everypoultry

I'm dead.

Cute and funny, with a thread of nonsensical really keeping things together. Pinkie, Cheese, and Flutters all feel very much in character, and their subversion of possibly apocalyptic events is equally fitting. The setup runs a little long early on, but it's not an unpleasant push.
#5 · 7
·
>>HiTime

I also don't see Fluttershy cooking snails. Sorry, that's too OOC for me.


We've seen her feeding fish to ferrets in the show. She seems comfortable with predators and their diets.
#6 · 4
· · >>Baal Bunny
Okay, but seriously, a review.

Pinkie and Cheese show up uninvited in Fluttershy's house, then proceed to do Pinkie and Cheese things. For 2800 words.

Like.

Man. I was ready to shoot those two after 1000 words. But it just kept going.

Obviously the Pinkie and Cheese thing isn't my jam. You'll notice I never write either of those characters if I can avoid it.

So yeah, as far as Pinkie and Cheese things go, this was a well-written example. The author has a good grasp on how to translate their wacky visual humor into the written word, which is extremely difficult. It's one of the things that makes Pinkie so difficult to write as a character.

But then we get to the duck, and... well, yeah. That happened. Why a duck indeed.

I try to provide useful feedback with my reviews, author, but I'm having trouble coming up with a critique that doesn't boil down to "This kind of Pinkie Pie annoys the hell out of me, and somehow you wrote two of her." That's not really valid or useful. Instead I'll focus on the duck part, and just say that I never felt the absurd premise had the justification or payoff it needed to work.

Sorry. Sometimes you just get a reader who isn't into what you're putting out. If this goes to finals I'll probably abstain rather than voting on it.
#7 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
Okay, while this story encapsulated what I'd expect a Pinkie and Cheese conversation to be like if someone like Twilight wasn't around to cut them off - and poor Fluttershy is really the perfect doormat victim for this to work - the problem is that conversations like that actually stop being funny after a while, no matter how ridiculous they are, because it stops being able to surprise the audience with how ridiculous it is. The conversation felt far longer than it actually was, and the duck felt like it was just... kind of a nonsensical thing to appear. Yeah, the idea that "Why did the chicken cross the road?" is some sort of SUPER DARK SECRET is actually kind of amusing, but this story didn't really sell me on it; it just felt kind of arbitrary, like it just kind of happened.

This story needed more variation, or to be shorter. There's such a thing as too much Pinkie being Pinkie, and I think this story crossed that line fairly early on and then kept on going. And it needed to do more to sell the duck.

The thing is, there's a lot of funny little jabs in here, and just general weirdness, and Fluttershy thinking about how she shouldn't have gotten up but then it would have just happened upstairs helped to break up the rest of the humor by inserting Fluttershy humor into the mix (and thus, was the most memorable joke in the story for me), but it all ends up kind of mushing together.
#8 · 4
·
>>Bachiavellian
>>Miller Minus
>>HiTime
>>Rao
>>Cold in Gardez
>>TitaniumDragon

Thanks for the comments, folks!

Yeah, I was so busy working out the Pinkie and Cheese stuff--comedy is not my strong suit--that I kinda forgot the Fluttershy stuff. She needs to start getting annoyed at the same time the reader does so her question "Why are we friends?" is the natural culmination of the first third of the story. Pinkie and Fluttershy should be a lot more upset by the question during the middle third, and finally see how they can work together in the last third in their efforts to help Duck'thulhu. Or something: I've been focused on getting "Such Sweet Poison" posted to FimFiction the past week, but I'll get to revising this one once I get that one finished.

Mike