One Saturday afternoon, Tabby heard frantic pounding on the front door. “Don’t they know there’s a doorbell?” she said irritably as she dropped her book and went to see who it was.
“Okay, okay, calm down!” she shouted as she neared the door. The pounding hadn’t stopped. The door might not hold up much longer. She swung it open and before her stood a large, shaggy, short-of-breath Bigfoot.
“Tiny!” Tabby greeted him cheerfully. “What a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting you.”
“He’s on my tail! You’ve got to help me!” the Bigfoot gasped for breath, dashing over the threshold without waiting for an invitation. He cowered, as much as he could, behind the unicorn.
“Oh, Tiny, you don’t have a tail,” Tabby reminded him. “What do you need help for?”
“I need to hide,” Tiny said, desperately searching around him for a better hiding place. “He was right behind me. He’ll catch up any minute.”
“I dunno. Just some pony. But he keeps chasing me around.”
“Ooh! You mean a Bigfoot hunter?” Tabby clapped her hooves together. “All right. You run down into the basement and take cover; I’ll deal with this guy.”
Tiny gratefully took her up on her suggestion, and took off running after Tabby pointed out the direction of the stairs. Tabby closed the door and awaited another visitor.
In a few minutes someone else started pounding on the door. Tabby was annoyed that no one bothered with the doorbell anymore. She yanked the door open. “There is a door bell,” she stated vindictively, glancing at the young stallion pointedly.
“Sorry, I was in a rush,” he apologized, also rather breathless. “Where did the Bigfoot go?”
“Umm... the Bigfoot?” Tabby feigned puzzlement. “What Bigfoot?”
“But I saw him break in this house,” the stallion argued. “I’d better find him for you before he causes trouble.” He held up a tranquilizer gun and pushed his way past Tabby.
“Hey!” Tabby called after him as he peered cautiously into the various doorways that pointed off the hallway. This wasn’t turning out well at all. “You can’t just come in here uninvited!”
“I’m not sure you understand the danger, ma’am,” the Bigfoot hunter said seriously, peering at the ground. “Hair! I found his track. I’ll get him out of here in no time. Have no fears.” Luckily it was only cat hair that he had spotted, and it took him in the opposite direction of the basement entrance.
“I’ll check the other rooms,” Tabby called after him and made her way down to the basement. She spotted him easily cowering under an old cobweb-infested table. “Tiny,” she hissed, “he’s here. I don’t know what else to do if he finds you. You’ll just have to put up a fight or something.”
Tiny whimpered and peered out at her. “I can’t fight.”
“Well... at least look intimidating and growl menacingly,” Tabby suggested. “It might let his guard down and buy you some time to escape.”
“I dunno,” Tiny said doubtfully. “I’m not sure I can do that.”
“Oh, what kind of a Bigfoot are you?” Tabby was about to chastise him some more for being a wimp (like she was one to talk) when a shadow appeared at the top of the stairs. Hurried hoofsteps could be heard coming down the steps.
“Don’t worry, ma’am, just stay calm!” the Bigfoot hunter cried out, seeing the two of them together. “Step slowly away and try not to startle him. Then I’ll take care of him.”
“What are you going to do?” Tabby eyed him suspiciously.
“This tranquilizer dart will put him out long enough that I’ll be able to get him to the lab and under proper restraints.
Tiny grunted and sat up, his arms held high into the air. “No, don’t shoot!” he said nervously. “I-” But it was too late. Seeing Tiny’s sudden movement as a threat, the hunter had aimed his gun and the dart hit Tiny. The Bigfoot immediately slumped over onto the ground, senseless.
“Tiny!” Tabby cried, darting forward and dragging him out into the open. “Say something!”
“He’ll be out for awhile,” the hunter stated, stooping over the Bigfoot’s inert form and binding his legs together. “Wow, this is incredible! I can’t believe I finally caught a Bigfoot!”
“How could you?” Tabby shot back vehemently. “You can’t just take him away from his home!”
“He’ll be given a completely natural environment when I get him to the lab,” he assured her.
“But someone will have to go lock up his place for him, and his bills will go unpaid if he’s not here; his employers might fire him when he doesn’t show up for work, and he could wind up losing everything!” Tabby said adamantly.
“He has a job?” the hunter echoed incredulously.
“Yes, part-time for the Mysterious Cloaked Flower Deliverers,” Tabby clarified. “And the forest animals won’t be able to get their medicines from him, and...”
“Wow! I never believed the Bigfeet were this advanced!” he exclaimed excitedly. “I can’t wait to study him more!”
“Well, you could have just asked his permission,” Tabby said crossly. “You didn’t have to shoot him down.”
“But they’re wild beasts... and hazardous if they’re not subdued.”
“Oh, come on! You don’t know the first thing about Bigfeet! He came to me for sanctuary; he didn’t break in!” Tabby glanced at Tiny as his eyes started to flutter open. Hoping he got the message, she discreetly pointed her hoof behind her.
“Incredible persuasive powers as well,” the hunter marveled.
“Oh, get off it,” Tabby snapped in order to buy more time. “He’s my friend, and you can’t just take him!”
“What? You mean you know him?”
“Duh! Isn’t that what I’ve been telling you? We go way back!”
“Well, if you say so... I can give you the lab’s direction if you’d like to come for a visit sometime.”
“No, no, no! Why can’t you just ask him if he’d help you, no kidnaping involved?”
“He’s already out cold; it would be the practical thing to take him away now.” He pointed towards the spot where Tiny laid, but gaped when he realized the creature was no longer there.
“Hah,” said Tabby smugly. “He climbed out the window when you weren’t looking.”
* * *
The Bigfoot hunter and Tabby parted on rather bad terms, but they continued to see each other frequently as the hunter had not given up his pursuit of Tiny and had set up a crude base on the outskirts of the Dark Forest. Tabby, after their first encounter, decided that Tiny needed to learn some self-defense. She called up her friend, Clever Clover.
“Hey, Cleve Clove! I have a friend who wants some lessons in sword fighting. Interested?”
“Cool!” Clever Clover had been seeking a sparring partner for a long time. “Who is he?”
“Tiny the Bigfoot,” Tabby said.
“A Bigfoot? Well, that’s kind of unusual, but it’ll work. He has his own sword, right?”
“Well, actually, no. And he hasn’t actually expressed an interest in learning to use one, either.”
“What?! Then why are you calling me?”
“You have to admit he needs to learn some self-defense, and he won’t take the prerogative himself! So if I get him there, will you train him?”
“Um, sure, whatever.”
* * *
When she had the chance, Tabby headed into the Dark Forest to share her plan with Tiny. She found him at the entrance of his cave, sitting with hands over his face.
“Tiny! What’s up?” Tabby greeted him.
“Shh,” Tiny said. “He’s watching us.”
“Who, the Bigfoot hunter? Where?”
“There.” Tiny pointed to a pile of rocks on the opposite side of the clearing. Sure enough, Tabby noticed a video camera perched on top.
“Well, that’s fine.” Tabby turned around and waved at the camera. “Hiiii!” Giving her attention to Tiny again, she questioned, “Has he still been trying to capture you?”
“He keeps setting traps in the forest, so I’m stuck here; but that camera is always pointed at me,” Tiny sighed.
“Tiny, that’s a blatant invasion of your privacy! You’ve got to learn to stand up for yourself. And I’ve got just the thing to help.”
“What?” Tiny said skeptically.
“Clever Clover is going to teach you sword-fighting!” Tabby beamed.
“That sounds hard,” Tiny said.
“Yeah, but you have nothing better to do; and if it could get rid of mister Bigfoot hunter, it’d be worth it, right?”
“Okay, then follow me! You are able to pick out the traps, aren’t you?...”
* * *
After a precarious walk through the Dark Forest avoiding all the Bigfoot traps, Tiny and Tabby finally arrived at Clever Clover’s house in Friendship Gardens. Clever Clover was ecstatic to have a new student (well, his first and only student, if truth be told).
“Tiny!” he exclaimed, pumping the Bigfoot’s hand enthusiastically. “First, we have to pick out a sword suited to your build. I’m thinking the one over here might work, but then there’s the possibility...” Clever Clover started spouting off tedious technical data on swords and Tabby got bored, though she did want to stick around and see how Tiny did at his first lesson.
Tabby got the feeling someone was watching them, though. Turning around, she gasped. “What are you doing here?!” The Bigfoot hunter was right beside her, filming the entire lesson.
“Keeping tabs on the Bigfoot, of course,” he said.
“You haven’t given up on him yet?”
“No, of course not! None of the traps have worked yet, but I’m getting plenty of footage of him in the meantime.”
“Couldn’t you just ask him for his cooperation or something?”
“What would the point of tracking down wild beasts be if you just had to ask for their permission?”
Tabby raised an eyebrow while watching Tiny drop his sword for the fifth time. “You do this often?”
“Sure, my hobby is researching little-known creatures of Ponyland. This is my first big expedition, though. With a Bigfoot in my portfolio, everyone will take notice of me!”
“Hmm,” Tabby said, her attention being more focused on the fight between Tiny and Clever Clover at the moment. “Wow, he’s a pretty fast learner! He didn’t drop the sword this move!” The Bigfoot hunter gave his full attention to the camera to get some really good shots.
“Say, what’s your name, anyway?” Tabby asked suddenly as it occurred to her that she didn’t know what to refer to him as besides “the Bigfoot hunter”.
“Hmm...” Tabby narrowed her eyes. “Acceptable, I guess. I’m Tabby.”
The two fell into silence and for the next hour watched Tiny’s practice progress. Clever Clover finally announced that was enough for one day
“Great job, Tiny!” he said. “You’re a real natural at this. Can you be back tomorrow?”
Tiny shrugged. “Sure.”
“Cool! See you then.”
Tiny lumbered back towards Tabby, and Cazador hid from view. “How was that?” he asked her.
“Very good,” Tabby assured him. “You’ll be able to challenge Cazador to a duel sooner than you think!”
“He’s following us,” Tiny observed, glancing over his shoulder quickly as they headed back in the direction of Dream Valley.
“Yeah, I know. He’s getting as much footage of you as he can until he can capture you. But, of course, you’ll kick his tail before that can happen.”
“What does he want, anyway?”
“Well, I guess to make a name for himself in the field of finding out about unusual animals.”
“That’s a weird occupation,” Tiny said. “I don’t trust him.”
“Aw, don’t worry about it, Tiny. You’ll have him out of your fur in no time.”
* * *
For the next few weeks, Tabby and Cazador showed up daily at Clever Clover’s house to watch Tiny’s sword-fighting techniques progress. Baby Faline came along, too, and greatly enjoyed the show. “Ooooo, fight!” she said gleefully. Tabby continued harping on Cazador’s methods; but as arguing with persons was what she enjoyed best in life, a bizarre form of friendship sprang up between the two.
Tiny gradually became more bold and aggressive. His expression now turned grim in the face of conflict, instead of just wimping out. He yelled confidently every time he rushed at his teacher and didn’t simply stand and look helpless. Clever Clover was extremely impressed at how quickly and well the Bigfoot’s sword fighting abilities had developed.
“I’m getting really sick of being following everywhere,” Tiny confided to Tabby as they headed home one night.
“Well, don’t you think it’s about time to challenge him to a fight? Clever Clover says you’re really great.”
“A fight? Like a duel? Yeah, it is time! I’ll finally be able to get him out of my hair!”
“Go, Tiny!” Tabby cheered.
* * *
“A duel, huh?” Cazador eyed the Bigfoot skeptically the next day after his lesson. Tiny had managed to speak to him before he disappeared to follow him home.
“A duel,” Tiny verified. “If I win, you leave me alone and let me live in peace.”
“And if I win, I get to keep you for my studies?”
“That won’t happen,” Tiny grinned confidently, “but if it makes you feel better, those are the odds. We’ll meet here tomorrow, same time as always.”
“You’re on,” Cazador said confidently.
* * *
The next day, Tabby, Faline, and Clever Clover were assembled at the sidelines while Tiny and Cazador took their places in Clever Clover’s yard. They were expecting an easy win for Tiny, as Cazador didn’t seem to know anything about swordplay; in fact, when Clever Clover had offered to lend him one for the fight, he had refused. However, he had said his dart gun would not be part of the battle. Tabby thought it would be interesting to see him get creamed. These young stallions were too confident.
They stood facing each other on the battlefield, Tiny with his sword drawn and Cazador across from him with seemingly no weapons. However, all of a sudden, he tossed back his cape and withdrew a really awesome sword!
Tabby gasped. “He’s pulled a Richie!”
“What a sword!” Clever Clover said in awe. “I’ve got to get a better look at it afterwards.”
“Okay, guys, fight!” Tabby cried out.
The two rushed at each other with amazing force. Clever Clover kept exclaiming over the superior moves made by both of them, but to Tabby it just looked like a bunch of tangled steps involving a frequent impact of steel-on-steel. “I had no idea Cazador actually knew anything about sword fighting,” Tabby confided to Clever Clover. “What are Tiny’s chances?”
“I don’t know; they appear to be pretty evenly matched. What a fight!!!”
Tabby was beginning to feel rather bored of the whole affair when a shout from Clever Clover moved her from her lethargy. “Yeah, Tiny!! You did it!!”
Tabby looked up suddenly, and realized that Cazador’s sword lay sprawled on the lawn. Tiny stood before him, looking superior. “Ha-ha-ha! That was a good fight, but apparently you were still no match for me. Now you must leave me in peace!”
“Oh well,” Cazador said good-naturedly. “I was getting a little rusty, I must admit. After a bit of practice I could have beaten you easy. But, hey, you won it fair, and a deal’s a deal. You won’t have to see me again, but it’s been great working with you anyway.” Besides, even if I can’t catch a live specimen, all the video footage I filmed is bound to get me a lot of fame... he thought to himself.
Tiny extended his hand, and the two shook in good sportsmanship. Cazador then took his leave of Tabby and Clever Clover (only after Clever Clover had marveled at his sword for some time). Bags packed, he stopped and waved before heading off into the sunset to his next adventure.
“He wasn’t so bad, really,” Tabby mused. “But aren’t you proud of yourself, Tiny? Isn’t it good to be able to stand up for yourself?”
“Yeah, it’s better than cowering in the corner,” Tiny said, scratching his head. “I owe you guys a lot. You were really great help.”
“Hey, Tiny, you’re not going to give up sword fighting now that’s the duel’s over, are you?” Clever Clover asked eagerly. “If you’re still up to it I’d be glad to have someone to work with...”
Tabby rolled her eyes. Clever Clover would always be talking about swords no matter what happened.