"A detour?" Pepper asked. "From nowhere to some more nowhere?"
Pinkie glared at him. "Just because you can't see anything out here doesn't mean nothing is here."
Pepper snorted. "I think I learned that last night," he said, letting his fingers find his Lucky Thing. He held it gratefully, he dared not imagine what would have happened to him had he not been wearing it.
"What do you mean?" Pinkie asked.
"I mean, when I ran into...It? Or whatever that thing was."
Pinkie laughed. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"You were there!" Pepper said. "You got me away from there, don't you remember?"
She gave him a curious look. "Maybe you were just dreaming it," she said, "because I don't remember anything other than eating and going to bed."
He stared at her, slack-jawed. Was she being serious? How could she forget something like that? The blood? It was all over him...
But it wasn't all over him. He hadn't changed clothes, he hadn't taken a bath, and yet his clothes and hands were completely clean, as if he hadn't fallen into a pool of blood last night.
Maybe it was a trick. She was trying to make him forget, so that she didn't have to deal with the fact that he saw her crying.
Or maybe it DIDN'T really happen. Pepper found himself trying to recall details from the event, and the harder he tried, the more they seemed to slip away, until finally, it could have very well been a dream. This whole thing felt like a dream, so maybe dreams were amplified somehow?
He shook it off. "You did say," he mentioned as off-handedly as he could, "that you would explain things to me today."
"Did I?" Pinkie said distractedly. She had stopped walking in a straight line, and was now pacing out a wide circle around an area of grass.
"Yes," Pepper said. "I believe your exact words were, 'I'll explain everything tomorrow.'"
"And so I shall," Pinkie said. "I'll explain everything tomorrow."
"Now, wait a minute-"
"Pepper," Pinkie said, stopping in front of him and holding that strangely crooked finger up to his lips before he could say another word, "Look around you. You're on an adventure. Plenty of people like you would give their left arm to be on an adventure, and you're right in the middle of one, and ignoring it completely."
Pepper could only stare at her and nod.
"It's best, I think, if you don't worry yourself with the 'why's', when there is so much to be explored. Why," she said, dropping her finger and spreading her arms out on either side, "Just look around at all we can explore!"
Pepper did look. "There's nothing to explore," he said. "It's a big field."
"Ah," Pinkie said, winking at him, "That's because you're not looking hard enough." She gave him a wide grin and stomped her foot three times on the ground...
...and a small circle slid away revealing a hole in the earth.
"Care to go first?"
"First?" Pepper was befuddled. "Go first to where?"
"We're visiting a friend."
"Another friend? Is this friend going to give us another weird book?" Pepper asked indignantly.
"Maybe," Pinkie shrugged. "But if you won't go first, then follow me!" And she jumped in.
Pepper leaned over the hole to see where she went, but the hole seemed to be a tunnel that curved shortly after the initial drop, and he couldn't see a thing.
He stood up, pacing back and forth a few times. He didn't have to stay here. Now that he was out of the woods, and now that it was broad daylight, he had a feeling getting back out of here would be a piece of cake. He could go home, settle in, and being his adventures as a hermit...
And then, as if hit by an atom bomb, Pinkie's words sunk in. He didn't have to wait to go home to start his adventures. He was on an adventure right now. He didn't know what kind, what it was for or where it would lead, but he was exploring a place he was unfamiliar with. He decided that, in the long run, it would be better to just go with it rather than worrying about it.
So in he jumped.
The tunnel curved, as he had seen it would, and he slid along the dirt passageway. He didn't slide for very long, though, and before he knew it he was sitting in the middle of a large, dirt room.
Pinkie was seated in a small, plush chair, sipping what must have been tea. It seemed in a place like this that there would be little else to drink other than tea.
"It took you long enough to show up," she said good-naturedly. "Did you have a hard time finding the way?"
Pepper shot her a Look and stood up, wiping the dirt from his behind.
"It can be tricky if you've never been here before," a new voice said. Pepper looked around, but he couldn't see anyone.
"Who said that?" he asked.
"That was Ferret," Pinkie said. "He's the friend we're visiting."
"Well... that's very nice, but where is this Ferret?" Pepper asked, now looking around near the floor for a small prairie creature.
"He doesn't like to show himself to strangers until he's sure he can trust them," Pinkie explained, "But he's right in here with us."
"So he can see me, but I can't see him?"
"It hardly seems fair, does it?" said the disembodied voice of Ferret. "But I must assure you that it is not quite as Pinkie says it. It isn't me that is making myself invisible to you. It is YOU that refuses to see me."
Pepper walked over to a lumpy chair similar to Pinkie's in the opposite corner. "I'm pretty sure that's not true," he said. "I'm looking pretty hard for you."
Pinkie and Ferret laughed. "He's quite difficult, isn't he?" he heard Ferret say."
"I'm not difficult!" Pepper scowled. "I'd say I've been quite patient with the fact that a strange, field-like place I never even knew about suddenly appeared in the middle of my neighborhood, and I'm being led around it by a not entirely forthcoming murffle."
"A what?" This was said by Pinkie and Ferret simultaneously.
And Pepper realized that he'd never bothered to explain to Pinkie about the whole murffle issue.
"Nothing," Pepper sputtered.
"Well," Pinkie said matter-of-factly, "While it has been nice catching up with you, Ferret, I have to admit that we're here for somewhat more... business-like matters."
"I'm listening," Ferret said.
"Do you know anything about this?" Pinkie pulled The book out of her bag and set it on the table.
"Whoa," Ferret breathed, "Is that... how did you get that?"
"Mr. Morggison gave it to us." Pinkie was staring at a blank spot ahead of her, but then suddenly, she turned to stare at Pepper. Then, she looked back at the air where Ferret supposedly was, and nodded.
"Well," Ferret seemed flustered, "I can't give you any information, unfortunately. The book usually provides its own answers. Have you tried reading it?"
"I have," Pinkie nodded.
"Have you tried letting the boy read it?"
Pepper felt somewhat awkward being discussed by someone he couldn't see as if he weren't there, when clearly HE was the one who was tangible here.
"I don't think he can," Pinkie whispered.
"Excuse me?" Pepper shouted, standing up. "I can read, thank you very much! You never bothered to ask."
"Well, I'm not one to butt into personal matters," Ferret said, "but might I suggest letting the boy have a go?"
"The boy," Pepper said through clenched teeth, "Has a name. His name is Pepper."
Pinkie picked up the book and handed it to him, a strange sort of smile Pepper hadn't seen before. "Well, Pepper, go ahead. Have a go."
Pepper regarded her carefully, then reached over and took the book from her, holding The in his hands for the first time.
Chapter 1: Pepper
Chapter 2: Pinkie
Chapter 3: Dune
Chapter 4: Mugget
Chapter 5: Deltiology
Chapter 6: Umbrella
Chapter 7: The
Chapter 8: Exsanguination
Chapter 9: Oubliette
Full Story at pepperadventure