My Little Pony Monthly Issue 34
(January 1, 2000)
My Little Pony Monthly
Established June 1997
This Newsletter is Safe for All Ages
If you would like to be removed from the My Little Pony Monthly mailing list,
simply e-mail me your request to [email protected], and you will be taken off.
Letters to the Editor
[email protected] Hey, Tabby! I just got through the newsletter. I think it's
great! I love all the stories, quizzes, poems, and everything else that you put together. I know
that it must take you a long time, and I admire what you do to make this thing happen. I would
never have the patience to do that. I don't think I'd be able to write that much without screwing
up or something. I absolutely love your Christmas story for the December 1999 issue. Even
though it was long, it was terribly good. ^.^ You're a true friend, Tabby! Keep up the great
[email protected] Hi, Tabby! You do such a good job on the newsletter. I
remember how small it was in 1997; and now it's so nice and long, and everyone's writing has
come a long way! Keep up the awesome work. :)
[email protected] I have read many of your newsletter issues and I have to
disagree with something you state-- that you stories are for all ages. There are a great deal of
stories involving ponies getting killed; hit by cars and so on. There are many little kids out there
that actually believe what they read. Therefore, I would like to see less killing and violence in the
stories that you allow in your newsletter. I am not in any way trying to tell you how to run your
newsletter; I know you put a great deal of work into it; I am simply pointing out that the stories in
your newsletters do have violence that is not always acceptable to the younger crowd.
[email protected] All of the stories are cute and good.
[email protected] Regarding "The Christmas Guest (Retold)-- Well, well
done! Kudos and applause! :-)
[email protected] I really loved reading the story by Shining in
the December issue. All of her stories have been great, and I hope I'll see more. I also enjoyed
the story "The Lost Prince", and the series about Barnacle. Will those storylines be
New Year's Resolutions
complied by Tabby and Sugarberry
Baby Noddins: I resolve to get married to somebody with a last name so I'll have a last
name of my own.
Barnacle: I be resolvin' to finish the chroniclin' of my adventures.
Butch: I resolve to clean-up my shack some and to become the biggest country music
Chocolate Chip: I resolve to pick out a major field of study.
Clever Clover: I resolve to think up a New Year's resolution by 2001.
Friendly: My resolution is 800 by 600 this year, yeah, yeah.
Merry Moments: I resolve to get one of my pictures published in a professional
Quarterback: I resolve to lose some weight.
Spike: I resolve to make the world a better place by taking it over. Or maybe I'll resolve not to
watch so much Pinky and the Brain.
Sugarberry: I resolve to finish my Hood story.
Tabby: I resolve to be less lenient with baby ponies' mothers.
Tamara: I resolve to become the most well-known, respected, and glamorous show-cat
breeder in all of Ponyland.
Tex: I resolve to make the hottest salsa ever in the history of the world.
Thomas: I resolve to get the recipe for the magic injections from Tabby.
Tiffany: I resolve to get a diamond engagement ring from Toby.
Toby: I resolve to improve my bedside manner with baby ponies.
Vanguard: I resolve to be married to Sugarberry by the end of the year.
The Ghost of Box Five
This story was inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, written by Gaston
Windsong-- a light golden yellow pony with purple sparkles in her hair. Her
symbol is musical notes blowing in the wind.
Madame Moondancer-- white unicorn with raspberry hair
Young Moondancer-- white unicorn with raspberry hair
Monsieur Blackberry-- a mauve pegasus with dark purple hair. His symbol is a
Monsieur Concerto-- a mint green unicorn with dark red and blue hair. His symbol
is a musical note and conductor's baton. (pronounced Con-chair-toe)
La Coloratura-- a pink pegasus with a bright orange hair with deep blue streak.
Her symbol is a purple song bird. ("La" was used as a high-up title at operas.)
Prince Blizzard-- a white stallion with white hair with silver streaks. His symbol is
Windsong left the opera in a depressed mood. She'd been there for three years and
still wasn't able to please the management. She'd moved to the opera to make a new life for
herself, although so far it hadn't been a good one.
Windsong had dreamed of being a famous dancer and singer. Yet, that dream
remained elusive no matter how hard she worked. She'd spent five hours that day on ballet
exercises and all she got for her efforts were a couple of sharp remarks from one of her
instructors, and hooves covered in blisters.
Upon arriving at her small home, Windsong collapsed onto her bed in exhaustion
and began crying. "I'm never going to amount to anything!"
"What's the matter?" came a voice from around the corner. It was Glider, a friend
that shared the home with Windsong. She came over to her friend and put a consoling hoof on
Windsong's shoulder. Windsong didn't look up from her pillow but pointed to her painful
hooves. "Ah. A bad day at the opera, was it? How about I get a warm bath ready for you? It'll
help the blisters heal. I hate it when you cry like this, Windsong," Glider said.
"I'm sorry. I'm just so tired of being such a failure. Look at you-- you're thin,
pretty, and a wonderful dancer. You'll probably be getting the lead in a show any day now and
you've only been here two years longer than me," Windsong sighed.
"Your day will come. You'll see. But in the meantime, worrying and getting
yourself depressed like this won't help you at all," Glider said consolingly.
Windsong finally looked up and smiled through her tears. "I guess you're right.
Things will get better," she said.
"Right! Now, dry off those tears while I get your bath ready," Glider said.
When Windsong stepped into the bath, she could already feel her worries floating
away. She filled her mind instead with happy memories of her past. She'd had so much fun on
travels to different countries, and had loved getting to know so many ponies. For awhile,
Windsong had even lived in a palace while her father played music for the King of Taj. She'd
made a lot of friends there, especially with the king's son, Little Flurry. The two were just young
foals at the time and would spend their days playing hide-and-seek around the palace gardens.
Windsong sat back in the tub and smiled as she remembered those days and soon
she was feeling a whole lot better than when she'd arrived home earlier.
* * *
That night, Windsong had a restful sleep and awoke the next morning feeling like a
whole new pony. She was determined that things would get better for her; and as the next few
weeks went by, they did. She wasn't so clumsy and the blisters weren't so bad at the end of the
day. She even managed to get a small part in the ballet chorus in the upcoming production of
Sleeping Beauty. Windsong was thrilled beyond imagination and couldn't wait for Glider to find
out. She was supposed to meet her friend for dinner that night and would be able to tell her
When dinner finally came, Windsong noticed the Glider didn't seem to be quite
herself. Windsong was so thrilled with her part, though, that she didn't pay much attention to
Glider's behavior at first. "I've been dying to tell you all day, Glider! I got a part in Sleeping
"Really? That's just wonderful. See! I told you you'd get better at things," Glider
said. Windsong's friend seemed genuinely pleased, and yet she still seemed rather distant.
"Is something wrong, Glider? You haven't eaten much of your salad," Windsong
"Well..." Glider began. "I got some news today as well. I'm not so sure how
you'll feel about it, though."
"What? Did you get the lead part?" Windsong asked.
"Something like that," her friend answered. "Actually, I got the lead role in Swan
Windsong sat, puzzled, for a moment. The opera wasn't doing Swan Lake this
season. "Huh?" she asked.
"I was asked by the Royal Ballet to play the lead in their production of Swan Lake.
After that, they want me to stay on in their company."
"What? That means you'll move away," Windsong said.
"Yes, it's a four day journey from here. I'd hate to leave you, though. You've
been such a good friend these past few years," Glider said.
"That's alright. I have lots of other friends. This is very important; I don't want
you to miss this opportunity!" Windsong said. It wasn't exactly true about her friends, though.
She had many acquaintances, but no one that she considered a close friend like Glider. A lot of
the other ballet fillies made fun of Windsong because of her troubles in her dancing; so she never
hung around much with that crowd. She still put on a smile for the sake of her friend and
encouraged Glider to take on the new role at the Royal Ballet. "So, when do you have to
"In three days," Glider said as she played with a piece of lettuce on her plate.
"Oh. Well, you'd better start packing tonight, then," Windsong said, trying to
sound as cheerful as possible.
"Yes, I guess you're right," Glider answered.
* * *
For the next two months, Windsong was able to keep Glider's departure out of her
mind by concentrating on her part in Sleeping Beauty. Once that show was over, though, she
started to get lonesome for her friend. During rehearsals, she'd usually be so tired when she got
home that she'd go right to bed. Then she'd lie awake, staring at the ceiling into the wee hours of
Also, with Glider gone, the ballet girls teased Windsong more than ever.
Windsong had started taking training in singing, since she figured that she'd spend less time near
the ballet fillies by doing so. It didn't exactly help, though; because once she was done with her
singing lessons, the others would go and run off mimicking her voice exercises. "I can't stand
this!" Windsong shrieked one day.
"Don't worry so much about it," said Madam Moondancer. She was a wonderful
unicorn who was the head of the ballet.
"Why shouldn't I?" Windsong asked.
"They're just jealous of you. That's all," Madam Moondancer answered.
"Jealous? Of what?" Windsong asked.
"You have talent. You just haven't realized that yet," Madam Moondancer
"Well, if I have talent I'd like to know where it is. I'm getting rather tired of
tripping over my hooves when I do a pirouette," Windsong said.
"Look, you've only been here four years. These fillies have been here almost since
they learned to trot. I think that for you to get to the point your at after only four years is quite
an accomplishment. Stardom doesn't just get handed down to you," Madam Moondancer
"I never thought of it that way," Windsong said to the ballet mistress as she turned
Right then, Windsong felt like a yo-yo. She was forever going from feeling high-spirited
to feeling like she'd hit rock bottom. She decided to go talk to the ballet girls and see if
maybe she could make them see that she wasn't so bad.
Windsong came near their warm-up area when she turned a corner and slammed
right into a Spanish pony named Coloratura, which was a big mistake. Coloratura was the Prima
Donna at the opera and acted like she owned the place. "Ah! Why don't you watch a where you
are a going!" she said in her thick accent.
"I'm terribly sorry, Coloratura," Windsong said.
"That's La Coloratura to you!" Coloratura said in a haughty tone. Then with a
big, melodramatic toss of her head, she left.
Windsong pressed up against the wall and sighed. Then she heard faint giggles and
saw that the entire Corps de Ballet had seen her run-in with Coloratura. "Oh, as if something like
that's never happened to you!" she snapped at them. So much for making friends with
them, Windsong thought to herself as she turned to go.
A few days later during rehearsal for a new show, Windsong made the mistake of
blocking Coloratura's entrance onto the stage. "It's you again!" she shrieked. "Get her out of
here," she commanded.
Mr. Blackberry, the stage manager, obliged Coloratura and motioned for
Windsong to leave. Eyes brimming with tears, she ran off stage. Windsong made her way
through the hallways and heard someone calling after her.
"Windsong! Windsong! What's wrong?" called the young voice.
Windsong turned to see young Moondancer, the daughter of Madam Moondancer.
"What's wrong? Coloratura! I made her mad and she had Mr. Blackberry make me leave."
"Ah, she'll calm down in a day or two. Mr. Blackberry always does whatever
Coloratura asks. He has to keep his Prima Donna happy or she might leave. You'll see, she'll
forget all about whatever you did," Moondancer said.
Windsong smiled at the little filly. After Glider had left, she'd managed to make
friends with Moondancer, who was not snobbish like a lot of the other dancers.
The two went to Windsong's dressing room to get away from everything for
awhile. They decided to talk about what their hopes and dreams were for the future. "I'm going
to be a Prima Ballerina someday!" Moondancer announced.
"I wanted to do that, too, but now I'm getting to enjoy singing more and more!"
"You know, I've never heard you sing before, Windsong. Can you sing something
for me?" Moondancer asked.
Windsong thought for a moment for a song to do, and then got up in front of the
huge mirror in the room. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and began an aria from a
favorite opera of hers.
"Bravo! Bravo!" clapped Moondancer at the end. "That was wonderful!" she
Windsong smiled, and then suddenly swung around to face the mirror with an odd
look on her face. "What's wrong?" Moondancer asked.
"Did you hear something, Moondancer?"
"I thought I heard something behind me," Windsong said.
"Well, there's nothing there. If there was-- well, then it must have been the ghost,"
"The ghost? What are you talking about, Moondancer?"
"You mean you've been here for three years and haven't heard about the Opera
Ghost? Well, the opera house has about five levels that go below the ground. It's said that
somewhere in those subterranean levels is where the ghost makes his home. He sometimes comes
above ground and has been seen by workers here. He doesn't usually cause any trouble, though,
as long as the managers give him a certain amount of money each month. He also demands that
opera box five in the theater remains empty."
Windsong almost started laughing. "Okay, so if he's a ghost, then what does he
need money for?"
"I don't know. He just does," Moondancer said.
"Really, Moondancer, your stories are pretty farfetched sometimes."
"But it's true, Windsong. Some of the dancers have seen him. We can go see
Skydancer; she's one of them."
"Maybe another time. Right now, I think I'm going to get some rest. Thanks for
cheering me up, though," Windsong said.
Moondancer shook her head and got up to leave. As she passed by the mirror, she
stopped and stared at it.
"Moondancer!" Windsong exclaimed.
"Okay, okay. I'm leaving," Moondancer said.
Windsong sat alone at her boudoir and thought about Moondancer's silliness.
After she got out of her rehearsal clothes, she decided to go home for the evening. She stepped
outside the door but ducked her head back in for a moment. "Good night, ghost," Windsong said
For the next week, Windsong did her best to keep out of Coloratura's way, and it
seemed to work pretty well. That was about the only thing that was going well, though. There
was a new dance sequence that Windsong had to learn, and she was having a terrible time getting
the steps right. Moondancer did her best to help and Windsong started to get it, but then she
turned on her ankle and hurt herself.
Windsong sat on the stage, flustered at herself. Almost everyone else was gone for
the day, so most of the lights in the auditorium were off. "You try too hard, Windsong. You
concentrate so hard that you make yourself mess up," Moondancer said.
"I think you're right. I just want so badly to be good at this."
"You need to relax yourself, Windsong. Your muscles are all tensed up when you
dance. Why don't we do something to take your mind off everything, and then try it again?"
"You know, you might be younger than a lot of the dancers, but I think you know
a lot more about dance than them," Windsong smiled.
"Thanks! I suppose having my mom as the Ballet Mistress helps sometimes. She's
always teaching me something. Anyway, you want to try my suggestion now?" Moondancer
"Okay, but what do I do?"
"Hmm... you seemed pretty relaxed when you sang for me last week. Try
"Here?" Windsong asked, wide-eyed.
"Well, it is a stage, after all. Anyway, no one's here... except maybe the opera
"Oh, here we go again!" Windsong said as she rolled her eyes. Then she got up
and stood center stage. She did a quick run-through on her vocal scales and then sang the song
her teacher had taught her a few days ago.
As Windsong sang, she imagined that she was in the middle of an opera in full
costume. The audience was packed and it was a sold-out show. Everyone had come to see her,
she pretended. Then she looked up at box five and saw the curtain rustling. She suddenly
stopped in midsong and stared up into the box.
"Keep going, Windsong," Moondancer urged.
"Did you see the curtain move in box five?" Windsong asked.
Moondancer shook her head "no."
"You've got to stop telling me these stories, Moondancer. You're starting to
make me paranoid! I think I must be more tired than I feel. I'm beginning to imagine things,"
"Ah, rest! That should make you feel better. You have looked kind of tired
lately!" Moondancer said.
"Alright, then. Perhaps we can practice together tomorrow evening instead?"
"Sure. And by the way, Windsong, you sounded wonderful when you sang.
Coloratura had better watch out from now on!" Moondancer joked.
What the two didn't know was that there was at least one pony who had seen and
heard them. Coloratura had come to fetch her fur stole from her dressing room. She heard
something on stage and came across the two fillies. She didn't like what she heard, especially
Moondancer's last comment. "We'll see about that." Coloratura wickedly whispered to
* * *
A few days later, the full effect of Coloratura's words were felt. She'd contacted
Windsong's singing teacher and forced her to stop the lessons or else she'd have her fired. That
day, when Windsong had arrived for her voice lessons, she found her teacher at her desk with a
long, sad face.
"What's wrong, Miss Medley?" Windsong asked when she saw her teacher.
"I'm terribly sorry, Windsong, but I cannot teach you anymore."
"What? Why? Is my voice that bad?"
"No, no. You have a lovely voice," Miss Medley sighed. "La Coloratura told me
that I must discontinue my lessons to you or lose my job. I have a young son and daughter. I
must be able to provide for them. My husband isn't well, so it's up to me to work."
"I understand," Windsong said. For the sake of her teacher, she tried to smile.
"That's alright," she added. Then she bid Miss Medley goodbye.
Windsong closed the door behind her and, for awhile, just stood there in the hall.
Once again she heard the ballet ponies coming her way and knew she had to get away. There was
no way that she wanted them to see her in such a state. She cantered to her dressing room and
landed on the hardwood floor in a sobbing heap. This was the last straw. She'd put up with so
much for the past few years and could no longer take it. Since her father died, things just seemed
to continually get worse.
Windsong lay there, crying harder than she had in all her life. Then she heard a
male voice. "Why are you crying, my child?"
Windsong's head shot up at the sound of the voice. She looked around the room,
but there wasn't anyone there. "Who are you?" she tearfully asked.
"A friend," answered the voice.
Windsong figured that young Moondancer's stories had finally gotten to her, and
she was now going a little loony. "Why am I crying? Because my entire life is falling apart. I had
one thing left that brought me joy, and now even that's been taken away," she said, letting all her
"And what was that?" asked the voice.
"Singing," Windsong said.
"Singing? Then you mustn't cry any longer, my dear."
"Why not?" Windsong asked.
"Because I am going to give you voice lessons."
Windsong looked around the room again. This time she got up off the floor to
check in her closet. She found no one, and yet the voice sounded like it was right in the room
with her. "Teach me? You're a singer?" she asked.
"Yes, among other things," came the answer.
"Have I heard you at the opera before?" Windsong asked. There was no answer.
"Well, how do I know you can sing?" she asked again.
Windsong now heard the voice again, but this time it was singing for her. She'd
been pacing around the room, but as soon as she heard the music, she stopped dead in her tracks.
She'd never heard anything so beautiful in her life.
"Now do you trust me?" asked the voice at the end of the song.
"Oh, yes, indeed! But sir, I really must know who you are," Windsong
There was a long pause before the answer. "You, my dear, may call me your
Angel of Music." With that, the voice disappeared and Windsong was left alone again.
Windsong sat wide-eyed, thinking of what she'd just heard. "Angel of Music," she
repeated over and over again. Her thoughts drifted back to her days as a little filly. Her father
used to tell her all kinds of tales about different countries he'd been to, and Windsong's favorite
was about the Angel of Music. Her father told her that one day when he was no longer with her,
he would send the Angel of Music to look after her. Now had he really come?
Sparkler stared down at the diamond rings in the glass display case. They didn't
seem to sparkle as much as they had when she'd gotten them in at her jewelry shop about a year
ago. How many diamond engagement rings had she sold since then? Two, perhaps, or maybe it
was only one.
The pale blue unicorn grimaced as she turned away from the case. "All the
stallions in town are being so obstinate about proposing," she muttered under her breath. "And
I'm sick of it."
"Hello, are you open for business?" a voice queried.
Sparkler looked up at the slim periwinkle-colored stallion who had entered the
shop. "Oh! Yes!" she exclaimed brightly.
"I'm looking for a special present for Princess Dawn," the stallion explained,
coming up to the counter.
"Princess Dawn? Then aren't you that new lawyer from Friendship Gardens?"
Sparkler asked in awe.
"That's right; my name is Winkle. Perry Winkle," the stallion introduced himself.
"I'm taking over the family business in Friendship Gardens."
"That's so wonderful," Sparkler gushed. "I bet it's exciting to be a lawyer."
"Well, yes, it has its moments-- but do you have any gift suggestions for Dawn?"
Perry gestured toward the glass cases.
Sparkler straightened up. "Of course! I have some lovely engagement rings to
choose from," she suggested.
"Uh... not quite that special," Perry said, raising an eyebrow.
"I'll give you a good deal on one," Sparkle went on. Maybe she could finally make
a sale if she was clever enough.
"I was thinking more of a tennis bracelet," Perry said after a pause. "Do you carry
any of those?"
Sparkler sighed to herself, but tried to keep up her cheerful manner as Perry
inspected the tennis bracelets that were available. Something had to be done about this lack of
marriages in the Dream Valley and Friendship Gardens area!
Perry finally made his selection, a dainty diamond and amethyst bracelet. "Be sure
to see me if you change your mind on the engagement ring!" Sparkler added as he walked out the
door with his wrapped package.
Sparkler was suddenly seized with inspiration. If the stallions wouldn't come to
her, she'd go to them-- or to their phone lines, at least. She glanced up at the clock. It was early
evening; she might be able to catch them at home.
"Why, hello, Toby," Sparkler said sweetly into her phone receiver. "How are you
on this fine evening?"
"Who is this?" asked a bewildered voice from the other end of the line.
"Sparkler. I run Sparkler's Jewelry Shop at the mall," Sparkler said briskly.
"Oh," Toby recalled. "That's... nice."
"I thought you might be interested in knowing that I'm having a sale on all
engagement rings in stock right now," Sparkler continued. "I have in a lovely selection at low,
"Engagement rings?" Toby echoed.
"Yes, engagement rings," Sparkler went on. "I thought I'd announce the sale to all the...
"--to all the eligible bachelors?" Toby supplied.
"Exactly!" Sparkler said smoothly. "I'm announcing the sale to all the eligible
bachelors in town."
"How long is this sale on?" Toby questioned.
"It's a month-long deal," Sparkler said. Certainly she could sell some rings at
reduced prices in a month's time.
"I might drop in sometime," Toby said distantly. "Goodbye." And then he hung
"They are so hard to convince," Sparkler seethed. "They'll come to their senses
someday-- they had better! But for now... I'll just call Tex."
Tex's reply was basically the same as Toby's after Sparkler had gone through her
speel again. "Tamara might not like something I pick out, if I did pick any out," he worried.
"She'd have to pick something out. I'll think about it. Thanks for calling."
Sparkler mumbled something that couldn't be made out and then stomped her hoof
on the ground. "This is so pathetic," she hissed. "I have to sell some of these year-old diamond
"I reckon I could help you out there, Sparkler," a voice carried from the door.
Butch trotted calmly into the shop.
"Do you need an engagement ring?" Sparkler asked anxiously.
"No, no," Butch chuckled. "I was just watching for-- I mean, I couldn't help but
overhear your dilemma."
"Oh." Sparkler's face fell.
"I think you need a different advertising strategy," Butch said critically.
"What do you mean?" Sparkler asked curiously.
"You scare the stallions off by calling them engagement rings, and the mares
wouldn't buy an engagement ring for themselves," Butch said matter-of-factly. "Just advertise
them as straight diamond rings."
Sparkler's face lit up. "Brilliant, Butch! Brilliant!" she cried out. "That's so--
perfect! Why, I--"
"All in a day's work," Butch said modestly. "Hey, are you busy tomorrow
"Tomorrow night?" Sparkler mentally made plans to close up early the next
evening. "Oh, no, nothing at all. Why do you ask?"
"Why not come to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe with me then?" Butch
suggested. "My treat."
"That would be wonderful," Sparkler beamed. "You're so nice, Butch."
"I'm always nice to jewl-- I can't help but invite a beautiful mare like yourself out,"
Butch corrected himself quickly.
"I'm sure I'll make tons of sales tomorrow, thanks to your advice," Sparkler
gushed. "You're simply so clever."
"Aw, stop the compliments," Butch laughed, putting his hooves up in the air. "Just
don't forget our date."
"Oh, I definitely won't!" Sparkler promised.
* * *
"I had no idea you were selling such glorious diamond rings," Powder cooed the
next day as she stared at the merchandise under an attractive sign. "And they're on sale?"
Sparkler nodded happily. "Twenty-five percent off the marked price." Butch's
theory had been correct. The interest in her diamond rings was certainly soaring today.
"That one's just what I need for my New Year's Eve party," Powder declared,
pointing at the centrally-located ring. "May I purchase it?"
Due to her shop's prominent placement in the mall and the catchy sign out front,
Sparkler was able to drawn in many of the affluent mares in Dream Valley-- and some of the
affluent stallions, but these were few and far between. But, she had already sold three of the rings
she had so tired of.
"I can't wait for tonight with Butch," Sparkler sighed blissfully during a lull when
the shop was empty of customers. "He'll be so happy to know how well his suggestion worked.
And he's actually pretty cute."
By the end of the day, Sparkler was overjoyed by how sales had gone up. A young
stallion she had never seen before had even purchased one of the glittering rings. "At least there
should be one wedding in this town after all this time," Sparkler reflected.
And finally it was time to close up for the day. Sparkler hurried to meet Butch,
and the two were soon together at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.
"This is so nice of you," Sparkler bubbled over enthusiastically. "And that idea
you gave me last night really did work. I'm so excited."
"Oh, it's no problem at all to help the occasional damsel in distress," Butch said
"You wouldn't believe how well sales went today," Sparkler continued. "You
should make a career of advertising."
"Well, now, I'd never thought of that before," Butch pondered.
"Maybe you could even take a little job from me to plan advertising campaigns for
the shop," Sparkler suggested.
Butch frowned in thought. "Why, Sparkler, that's awfully kind of you to be
offering. But what would this job involve?"
"Designing fliers and posters, coming up with slogans, taking the finished layouts
to the print shop," Sparkler explained. "And I'm sure you could do most of it from home."
"Home?" Butch looked a bit crestfallen as if the last word had just broken a dream
of his; but he quickly recovered, taking note of Sparkler's sweet smile. "Sparkler, I think that'd
be just great."
"You'll have fun with it, I'm sure," Sparkler beamed.
"If I'm working for you, Sparkler, it certainly will be."
Sparkler blushed at the compliment. "Well, we can get off that topic for awhile.
How's that duck of yours doing? It is a duck you have, isn't it?"
"Yep, my Quackers. He's doing mighty fine. He even found himself a nice little
mate in the woods one day."
"That's so sweet! I think ducks are so cute."
"I'd never thought about them either way until I ended up with Quackers. How
about you-- do you have any animals?"
"Oh, yes, there's--"
And so their conversation continued. It appeared that they were getting to know
each other quite well by the end of the evening. And, perhaps, the engagement rings were directly
responsible for getting them together.
Rena & Friends
The Black Jack Syndrome
Chapter Two: A Huge Black Question Mark
by Cinnamon Sugar
"So, what do we do?" asked Cocktail, overhearing what Cola had said. "Find out
if it's just somebody who looks like Black Jack?" She leaned over the back seat.
"Nah, let's just watch where he goes," said Rena. As the pickup driven by the
mysterious black stallion turned around a bend to drive down a dirt road, Rena followed him.
Twinkle Hearts was trying hard not to look scared.
"Uh-oh! He saw you!" said Cocktail.
"Oops," said Rena. It was true-- the driver had spotted her, and was driving
"Let's forget about this and go to the zoo. How about we go there and then come
down this road on the way back?" asked Cola.
"I'm for it!" said Cocktail. Twinkle Hearts nodded slowly.
"I-- I guess I'll do it, though I don't think there'll be any clues to find later," said
Rena. She turned around and started back. Cocktail smirked.
Soon the car was pulling into the parking lot in the zoo. There were several
seagulls around, feeding on scraps of food that picnickers at the zoo had left. Cocktail liked gulls.
"Um, do we have any bread?" she asked. No one answered.
"Oh, fine," said Cocktail. The four ponies went into the zoo. "Gee, noisy place,"
remarked Cocktail as a parrot squawked.
Soon the ponies found themselves driving home after three hours of walking,
buying candy, and eating lollipops. All but Rena had forgotten about the pickup incident.
"Where're we going?" asked Cocktail as they drove onto the dirt road.
"To see where that pickup went," said Rena.
"Oh, right, I'm sleepy," said Cocktail.
They drove up and down, but saw nothing. Finally, they started home again.
Cocktail pretended to go to sleep in the car, but when they stopped at Rena's house she "woke
up" with a jerk and a yawn.
"Oh, gimme my blankie, Mommy..." Cocktail murmured. Then she burst out
Twinkle Hearts gave her sister a little look of disgust. "You couldn't scare me,"
"Yes, I could!" Cocktail shot back. She held up her arms and front hooves and
snarled, stepping towards Twinkle Hearts. "GRRR! I'm a monster, and I'll eat you!" Twinkle
Hearts screamed. Cocktail slapped her hooves against her sides and laughed.
Soon the ponies were sipping strawberry milkshake in the living room-- all except
Cocktail, that is, who was listening to her walkman. "Oh, YEA-A-AH," she sang.
"Oh, stop it!" said Rena playfully. Cocktail yelled "YE-E-EA-A-AH!" even
louder. Rena gave Cocktail a playful whack. Cocktail gave her an elbow back. Soon the two
were in a play-fight, while Twinkle Hearts nervously sipped her milkshake and Cola read the
"Girls," said Cola, "Black Jack apparently broke into other homes besides ours."
This made Rena stop fighting with Cocktail, and Cocktail turned to look at Cola.
"Huh?" asked Cocktail.
"He robbed two other houses in this neighborhood," said Cola. "He got in one
house by going down the chimney."
Cocktail burst out laughing. Rena looked at Cocktail curiously. "You know,
‘Black Jack' is supposed to be black... and soot from the chimney is black. Perhaps... he goes
down chimneys to get black, and to disguise his real color; and then goes out, after taking a few
things," said Rena.
"Yup. ‘Oh, I'm sorry, but I was cleaning your chimney, madam,' " kidded
Cocktail. She giggled at her own joke.
"Uh... somebody is watching us through the window," said Twinkle Hearts. Three
other heads turned to look. They barely had time to make out the figure of a running black
To be continued...
Tabby stared out the glass doors of the Pokèmon Center. Her gaze wasn't
centered on Tarquin, who was just coming up the steps; or on the well-worn path to the Satin
Slipper Sweet Shoppe; or even on the soft snowflakes that had just begun to fall. It was on the
mansion directly across from her current place of employment.
How Tabby thought she'd left that place behind forever! It was the place of her
old dreams, hopes, and aspirations; of her old heart-breaking incidents; of her old life-- and now it
stood out to her as clear as anything. She wondered why she hadn't paid more attention to it in
Yes, the mansion across from the Pokèmon Center had been Tabby's home in
days-gone-by-- the home of Tabby and her mother, that is. All the occurrences from her
schooldays that Tabby was now recalling were nearly overwhelming. The stately manor had
blended into the scenery since Tabby had left it behind after graduating from college-- until a
comment from her mother the previous week before she returned to Italy unlocked a flood of
"You know, Tabitha," Agatha had remarked to her daughter one morning, "I'm
looking into getting the old mansion fixed up."
"Mm," Tabby had nodded absentmindedly.
"It's only right that you should inherit it, of course," Agatha had continued.
"Ah, yes, of course."
"And it would be a wonderful place to raise a family."
"Quite fascinating indeed," Tabby had murmured in an uninterested tone.
"You'll be very anxious to get your hooves on it after you see the old place fixed
up, I'm sure," Agatha had said knowingly.
Tabby was brought out of her reverie and back into the present. But still, had her
mother been serious when she had brought up the mansion that morning? Knowing her mother,
she probably was. Agatha Fershund always had plenty of money to throw around. More
importantly still, was Agatha really going to sign it over to her daughter?
Tabby's mind wandered over past events, such as impossible English tests, worm-filled
lunchboxes, gifts of My Little People on Christmas...
"Tabby? Were you listening?" Tarquin jumped up on the desk in front of Tabby's
head and peered intently into her eyes.
Tabby blinked several times in succession. "Eh... no, not particularly."
"It's fifteen minutes after you technically got off work," Tarquin pointed out,
"which you've spent staring off into space."
"I did? It is? Oh! I was just... that is... thinking," Tabby said falteringly, pushing
back her chair and standing up.
"Let's get home," Tarquin urged, jumping down onto the ground. "Tess said she
"Yes, yes, of course. Chansey, make sure that all the doors are locked securely,"
Tabby instructed her other staff member.
"Chan-sey!" the pink egg-shaped Pokèmon said responsibly as Tabby and Tarquin
exited the center.
"I still can't believe we treated two Mews today," Tarquin commented. "They're
supposed to be rare, but they keep popping-up."
"Yes, that is strange, isn't it?" Tabby said distractedly, and was silent for several
moments more before continuing. "You go on home, Tarquin. I've got something to do. I'll
catch up to you in a bit."
Tarquin looked at her questioningly, but didn't say anything. With a quick wave of
his paw, he was soon dashing off and out of sight.
Seeing that no one else was around now, Tabby scurried across the path to the
mansion grounds. She simply couldn't resist the opportunity. She had to see the place again and
relive old memories.
Agatha had never sold the property after she had moved to Italy and Tabby was
settled on her own. Perhaps she had always meant for her daughter to inherit it, or the memory of
her lost husband kept her from parting with it. Whatever the case, however, the front door was
still locked when Tabby tried opening it.
"If they think that's going to keep me out..." Tabby sniffed, promptly walking
around to the back where a thick, bushy patch of shrubbery grew. She swiftly pushed several
branches aside (there was quite a bit more to push through than the last time she had done this) to
reveal the well-hidden back door. In the days of her youth, this door had always been kept
unlocked; even back then, it had been well-camouflaged by the vegetation and only Tabby and her
mother knew about this way in the event that they should get locked out by all other means.
Luck was with Tabby, for the creaky door was still unlocked. She stepped inside
and securely closed it behind her, hastily checking again that no one else was in the vicinity. Now
she stood at the end of a dark, musty hallway; but she still knew her way around.
The house remained fully furnished, but everything showed signs of wear. Tabby
paused in a doorway for several moments, looking intently at the old but familiar
And then she crept up the stairway, the flowered wallpaper on the walls peeling
and the varnish on the banister faded. There was one room in particular that she wanted to see on
this excursion. The route was familiar to her after all these years. Upon reaching the second
floor, she turned to the right and opened the first door she came to.
"It is still here," Tabby breathed, spellbound, as she bounced down on the
mattressed bed. "My room! It really is still here."
Indeed, it was Tabby's old bedroom. Her personal belongings had all been long
ago taken out, but some things still remained, such as her bed, desk, wardrobe, and her favorite
feature of all-- her windowseat.
Squealing softly, Tabby rushed to seat herself in the old beloved windowseat. It
had been such a quiet and serene place to think, and still was. She stared out over the town with
wide, curious eyes. How fascinating it was to be here again!
Tabby was not entirely sure what she wanted to accomplish on this venture, if she
wanted to accomplish anything at all. She couldn't tell how long she sat there in her old
windowseat in silence. How eerie it was to be alone in her old house, now empty and devoid of
life. Impulsively, she pushed up against the purple velvet pillows trimming the windowseat.
Upon hearing something crinkle as she did so, Tabby was naturally curious. She
lifted one of the pillows from behind her. Firmly pressed down over the years, a yellow piece of
paper was revealed under the pillow.