First Class, the supervisor for the Ponyville hub of the Equestrian Mail Service, looked up as his missing mailpony staggered into the room. "Parcel! Where have you..." He trailed off in disbelief.
Parcel Post, the dedicated and serious mailpony that Class had always been able to assign his toughest jobs to, had apparently had an extreme makeover. Instead of his mail services uniform, he was wearing a suspiciously royal-looking tiara with a diaphanous iridescent veil trailing down the sides of his head. He had numerous glittering earrings in each ear. His face was exposed, revealing eye makeup, lipstick, mascara, and white foundation makeup pancaked all over what ought to have been his gray coat, except it wasn't gray anymore. His coat had been dyed a light shade of purple, with a veritable cutie pox's worth of hearts, flowers and rainbow symbols plastered all over his body. His curly mane had been dyed at least seventeen different colors, each one tied with a sparkly ribbon or mane clip, and each of those were in a different color that matched neither each other nor the hair it was tying. His tail had obvious extensions, had been straightened, and was dragging on the ground, and had been dyed to look like peacock feathers. He was wearing sparkling gem-covered horseshoes that were uneven in shape, higher in the back than the front, forcing him to prance with careful, mincing steps.
He staggered to his stunned supervisor's desk and collapsed halfway onto it, propping his forelegs across the desk. "Help me," he pleaded weakly. "Please."
First Class sprang into action. "What's wrong, man? Do you need a hospital? A stylist? A stiff drink?"
"I'll take the last one," Parcel moaned. "But please help me get this stuff off..."
As the two stallions worked together to remove the jewelry, horseshoes and veil, Parcel told First Class of his ordeal. "It was horrible," he panted. "I went to deliver a ticket to the Lord of Chaos. At first it was going reasonably well, aside from the fact that I got lost and it was taking me several days to even find the house... had to escape some flying badgers, a rolling stone that was gathering moss, and a swarm of paper clips-"
"A swarm of paper clips?"
"Yeah. They were on the ground, like ants, but when I accidentally stepped on their paper clip hill, they swarmed all over me and started pinching me. I had to jump in a lake of warm, flat lemon-lime soda to escape." He shuddered violently. "But then I finally found the resident to deliver the mail, and he was mad I was late, so he tossed me into some kind of floating space with no gravity. Then I got captured by this - this, I don't even know what it was, this monster with more teeth than I've ever seen. I thought I was a goner, boss."
"How did you get away?"
"I didn't." Parcel took a swig of the apple cider his boss had given him. "Turned out it was a mom looking for a present for its foals. It brought me back to its nest and gave me to its young... a pack of female hatchlings who all started cooing over me and saying 'oh, look, a pony, look how cute she is', and I kept trying to tell them I was a stallion, and also, not a pet, but they didn't care." He shivered again as First Class helped him remove the mane clips and ties. "They told me they'd make me the most bee-you-tiful pony princess ever. That's how they pronounced it. Bee-you-tiful. And I told them I wasn't a princess, or even a prince, I was just a stallion who carries the mail, but they didn't care. They... they dyed me, and covered me with, with, permanent stickers-" He pulled at one of the cutie-mark-like symbols on his body, demonstrating that it would not pull off. "And put makeup all over me, and pierced my ears, and i can't even tell you how many times they washed and brushed my mane..."
"Dear Celestia, that sounds horrible."
"If it hadn't been for this horrible green blob that the little critters called Uncle Smooze showing up to play with the kids, I'd have been a goner. As it was, they didn't want me to get any of the creature's ooze on my bee-you-tiful dress, so I managed to escape. I got rid of the dress in the forest of Pocky Sticks, and I managed to get rid of the crown-"
"There was a crown?" First Class gasped.
"I know, who wears a tiara and a crown? So I managed to get a giant bee to take the crown off me - he was saying that if he brought it to the princess she was sure to accept him as one of the drones allowed to go on her coronation flight with her, and then he'd be a Prince Consort to the queen of a new hive. I tried to get him to take the tiara off too, but he said that the princess couldn't wear both a tiara and a crown, and I had to admit he had a point."
"Why couldn't you get any of these things off yourself, though?"
Parcel Post pointed at the horseshoes, which were now on the floor near the wall, having been flung there with great force. "Those things. They had them strapped so tight I couldn't kick them off - I was lucky at that, they were talking about using nails to fasten them on, but then one of them hit her flipper with the hammer and started crying so they all decided not to play with their mom's hammer - and with them on I couldn't use my hooves to grab anything at all." He shuddered again. "As it was I barely got away from the gnots-"
"They tie them. Lots of them."
"The gnots. With a g. They're flying insects that tie knots in your everything, that's why they're gnots. They managed to knot up some of my mane even worse than the little monster fillies did, but I found a bunch of birbs-"
"No, birbs. They're... you know what, I cannot even describe the difference between birds and birbs. Birbs are just crazy. They ate the gnots and drove them off. They got pretty tangled in my tailfeathers-"
"Yeah, after they dyed my tail to look like a peacock, the girls added peacock feather extensions on top of the tail extensions they'd already given me to give me the most bee-you-tiful tail, but the birbs all wanted to look like peacocks so they ripped out the tailfeathers, and after that I made a lot better time. I'd have gotten out a day earlier if it weren't for my run-in with the binjas-"
"Yeah, they're storage containers trained in deadly martial arts. But then Discord caught up with them because apparently he put his cane for the Gala in one of them and he didn't want to make a new one, and while he was immobilizing and searching through the binjas, he asked why I was still here. So I started to tell him the story, and he said he didn't care and I was boring him, and teleported me to Cloudsdale."
"But you're an earth pony."
"I know, so I had to get somepony to give me a ride here. Fortunately Derpy was visiting her mom, so she offered to give me a ride, but, well..."
"She dropped you?"
"Four times. Also ran me into a tree. After that I was down on the ground so I said I'd just make my way in from there on my own."
"But you didn't ask her to help you get the horseshoes off?"
"Would you ask Derpy to help you pull anything off any part of your body?"
By now they had gotten the extra accoutrements and most of the makeup off Parcel, though nothing could be done about the mane dye or the cutie stickers yet. "Boss, I have to tell you... I have been working this job 27 years, and I love being a mailpony, but if I have to deliver one more thing to Discord's house, I'm gonna resign. I know we're not supposed to discriminate against anyone because of where they live, but I can't handle trying to make my way through his pocket dimension again, I just can't."
First Class opened a drawer and flipped through it. "Diamond, Dinky, Dipper... right, here it is. Discord, Lord of Chaos. Says here in the file that all mail for him should be delivered care of Fluttershy at 37 Woodsbound Lane, and she'll get it to him. Apparently she's got a direct magical transfer system."
Parcel's eye twitched. "And no one told me this before?!"
"Well, you could have checked the file," First Class said.
Parcel grabbed the jug of apple cider. "Boss, I am taking this, and I am going home, before I do something that both of us will regret."
"Go on. I'll note on your timesheet that you're getting hazard pay for this."
As Parcel left, carrying the jug in a spare saddlebag First Class gave him, he was heard to say, "They don't make enough hazard pay to make this worth it..."
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