Sugarberry's Scare
written by Sugarberry

Thomas was reviewing his latest veterinarian magazines in his office before the first patient of the day arrived when he was startled to hear a piercing scream from the receptionist's area of the clinic. "That sounded a lot like Sugarberry!" Thomas jumped to his hooves as still another scream echoed off the walls, and rushed to the front room where he found Sugarberry cowering at her desk with her forelegs raised protectively over her head.

"What's wrong, Sugarberry?"

"A black, furry thing," was all Sugarberry's scared voice would squeak out.

"You saw a mouse?" queried Thomas amusedly.

Sugarberry peeked out from between her forelegs and shook her head emphatically. "No! No! Not a mouse! It was flying and..." Again she screamed as a dark winged shape swooped down low over her head and disappeared behind the computer monitor. Sugarberry pushed back in her rollered chair to get as much distance as possible between her and the unwelcome visitor.

"That was just a bat," observed Thomas practically.

"Just a bat?" squealed Sugarberry, her voice rising. She got off the chair and backed across the room toward the door, still covering her head as best as she could with her forelegs. "I hate bats!" She had just reached the door when it opened and Tex entered the office with Emilio riding on his back. The rose-haired tarantula was nesting comfortably in Tex's mane.

Sugarberry's retreat thus thwarted by Tex, she scurried behind him to take advantage of his body as a shield from any further bat attacks. "Something wrong?" questioned Tex as he looked from Sugarberry to Thomas.

With a twinkle in his eye, Thomas filled Tex in. "Sugarberry had an unexpected client come in today."

"There's a stupid bat behind my computer," Sugarberry's frazzled voice blustered. She shuddered and edged closer to Tex.

Tex chuckled and drew Sugarberry into a protective embrace. "I'll protect the lady while you rescue the bat," he offered.

"Big help!" muttered Thomas as he went to the supply room to grab a small holding cage. Returning quietly to the computer monitor, he peered over the top until he caught sight of the frightened creature hanging onto the vent holes at the back of the unit. Slowly at first, he positioned the cage, then with a sudden movement, he trapped the confused bat within. Throughout the procedure, Sugarberry had stood weak and trembling at Tex's side with her hooves over her eyes. "Got him!" Thomas' voice rang out victoriously.

"It's safe now, Sugarberry," consoled Tex as he gently guided Sugarberry to the center of the room where Thomas stared intently into the cage at the now confined creature.

Sugarberry, still not fully comfortable with the situation, sidled around Tex and ended-up face-to-face with Emilio. Due to the excitement of the morning, her nerves responded with yet another scream, ending with an embarrassed, "Oh, it's you, Emilio." She looked sheepishly at the stallions, who were grinning amusedly.

"I'm surprised at you, Sugarberry," reprimanded Thomas. "I thought you liked animals."

"Nice, cute, harmless animals," clarified Sugarberry.

"Well, let's discuss this," Thomas replied in his professional veterinarian tone. "Nice... bats consume many of the pesky mosquitos you and Tabby are constantly complaining about."

"Maybe they do," demurred Sugarberry, "but they aren't cute."

Here, Tex put in his two jinglets worth. "If I remember correctly, you said the same thing about Emilio when I first brought him in. You said he was icky with all those eyes. But once you got to know him, you liked him a lot." Tex retrieved the happy tarantula off his back and held him up to Sugarberry.

She looked into Emilio's cute, beady eyes and wavered. "Yes, some animals do kind of grow on you, but..." Sugarberry looked suspiciously at the caged bat. "What about those things getting in manes and tails? That's nasty."

"But bats don't do that," explained Thomas patiently. "They fly using a unique radar system that alerts them to everything around them. They fly fast and close in, but they wouldn't purposely fly in your mane."

Sugarberry hesitated a moment as Tex and Thomas watched her face. Slowly, she stepped closer to the cage which Thomas still held. She tentatively looked through the bars at the shivering critter inside and her heart melted. She took the cage from Thomas' hoof and turned it until she could see into the bat's eyes. "You're scared, aren't you, little fella?" she murmured comfortingly. "Poor baby!"

Looking at Thomas, Sugarberry asked calmly, "When and where can we release him?"

"How about after Emilio's examination, we walk over to the park, and let him loose?"

"Okay." Sugarberry carried the cage to her desk, and set it down front and center. Tex recovered her chair from where it had been abandoned, and pushed it to her before following Thomas to an examination room, Emilio still perched comfortably on his back.

Sugarberry sat down and studied the bat closely. She talked to him soothingly about how neat his leathery wings were, and how shiny his brown fur was. She had the satisfaction to see him settle down and stop shaking, even cleaning his fur with his little tongue.

Before she knew it, Thomas and Tex returned. "Emilio is in perfect health," Thomas was saying, "even if he did bite me." Thomas frowned as he rubbed a spot on his foreleg.

"He never bit Tabby," heckled Tex. "I guess he still resents her leaving the clinic."

"Yeah, I know how he feels," admitted Thomas as an elusive image of a pink unicorn flashed across his thoughts.

"Mind if I join you two in releasing your pet?" Tex asked as Sugarberry stood-up with the caged bat.

"Come along," Sugarberry invited. "BB's getting anxious to be on his way."

"BB?" Thomas questioned with a smile on his lips.

"We talked," admitted Sugarberry, "and I figured he needed a name."

Thomas stuck a "Will Be Back Soon" sign in the door, and they were off. Sugarberry held the cage steady, and reassured BB often that he would soon be free. Shortly, they were in the flower and tree filled park.

"Pretty place for a home," Tex commented to BB.

Thomas opened the lid of the cage, and glanced at Sugarberry. "Do you want the honor of liberating this new friend?"

Sugarberry wavered only for a second, and then reached in and gently removed the bat. She held her hoof up before her face and BB seemed to look her in the eye a moment before he unfurled his wings and rose easily into the warm summer air. He joyously flew high before returning to circle each of the ponies in turn. Sugarberry stood enchanted as BB swooped by her so closely that she could feel the breeze on her cheeks from the movement of his wings.

"Goodbye, BB," she whispered softly as BB looped one last time and headed off to continue his life in the wild. Thomas, Tex and Emilio, and Sugarberry stared into the sky until the black dot that was BB disappeared completely.

As they turned to leave, a single tear rolled down Sugarberry's cheek. Be safe, little friend, her thoughts transmitted across the airwaves. And in the depths of her heart, she felt BB's identical message.

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