Golden Apples

It was a beautiful fall day in Ponyland. Applejack and Peter were picking apples, so Valerie could make her world famous apple pie. Paradise was flying around them with Fluey on her back. She was telling the fourteen-year-old stories again. The one about the time the little ponies faced off with Enchantra, which was the ponies' biggest adventure of them all. Fluey never got tired of hearing about it.

"So all the unicorns put their horns together," she said. "And a star appeared on Ember's side. She flew into the air, and faced Enchantra and Tirac. In a flash of bright rainbow lights, a force much stronger than that of the Rainbow of Light flew from Ember's star, and blew Tirac and Enchantra to kingdom come!"

"Awesome!" Fluey shouted.

"How many times have you heard that story?" Peter asked.

"A million," Fluey said. "But I never get tired of hearing it!"

Peter shook his head. He began picking apples off aimlessly. Paradise landed on the ground, and Fluey picked a bright red one out of the basket. He polished it on his sleeve, and took a bite out of it. He looked up at his uncle and smiled. Peter was his hero. Applejack began counting up each apple that landed in the basket. Most of them were bright, vivid red, Applejack's favorite kind.

"Fifty-six," she counted. "Fifty-seven, fifty-eight . . . . whoa, Peter wait!"

"What?" Peter asked.

"What's a gold apple doing on a red apple tree?"

"Hey, it really is gold!" Fluey shouted. "No kidding, Uncle Pete! It looks like it's solid gold!"

"Whoever heard of a solid gold apple?" Peter asked, climbing down the ladder to take a look. "I may be the dummy, but I'm not stupid enough to believe that!"

Peter got down, and picked up the apple. It looked like an ordinary golden delicious apple to him, except that the peel was indeed solid gold.

"Well, I believe it," he said. "Are they edible, like golden delicious apples?"

"I wonder what it tastes like?" Applejack asked, licking her lips hungrily.

"Help yourself," Peter said, holding the apple down to Applejack.

The orange freckle faced pony was about to take a bite out of it when Paradise zoomed in between her and Peter as fast as she could. She actually knocked Applejack backwards into a basket of apples.

"Applesauce, anyone?" she asked, with a giggle. Fluey covered his mouth with his hand to keep from laughing.

"Applejack, don't eat it!" Paradise shouted. "None of you! Don't take one single bite of that apple!"

"Why not?" Fluey asked. "It's just an apple, isn't it?"

"Golden apples aren't just apples," Paradise said. "They are highly poisonous to humans and ponies!"

"What do you mean poisonous?" Applejack asked.

"Sounds like she's been reading Snow White again," Fluey said.

"I'm serious!" Paradise shouted. "Golden apples are very rare, but a few will pop up every now and again on any kind of apple tree. If anyone takes a bite, just one bite out of one, they'll become very, very sick."

"Is there a cure?" Peter asked.

"That's one thing I'm not sure of," Paradise said with a sigh. "Just keep that apple away from the Estate!"

With that, Applejack climbed out of the basket, and kicked the golden apple away. Then they brought the rest of the apples (the ones that Applejack hadn't squashed) back to the Estate.

As they were walking back to the Estate, Fizzy came running up the bend with Jerry on her back. They were being followed by Julie riding Medley from the air.

"Are you having fun, my sweet little bluebird?" Medley asked.

"Yes!" Julie said with a smile. "I love hanging out with Jerry! He's fun!" 

As Fizzy was running, she tripped over the golden apple Applejack had kicked. She ended up flat on her stomach, and Jerry was catapulted off her back. He ended up flat on his face in the dirt.

"Oh Jerry!" Fizzy shouted. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean for that to happen!"

"No sweat, Fizz," Jerry said, standing up. He began brushing himself off. "No broken bones. I'm okay. How 'bout you? That was some nasty spill there!"

"Are you two all right?" Medley asked, as she landed.

"I just tripped over something," Fizzy said, going back to look for what she fell over. "Oh there it is now!"

"Wow, it's pretty!" Julie shouted as Jerry picked up the apple.

"Yeah, phenomenal," Jerry said. "Come on, let's get back to the Estate."

The group went back to the Estate and walked into the kitchen just then. Megan and Valerie were peeling the apples. Peter and Fluey were slicing them. Cupcake and Gingerbread were putting the apples into the pie pans.

"Fall is the perfect weather for apple pie," Cupcake said.

"Especially Valerie's apple pie," Peter said.

"So did you guys have fun on your ride?" Megan asked.

"We sure did," Fizzy said. "Except I tripped over a weird looking apple."

"Yeah I have it right here," Jerry said, holding it out.

"Oh wow!" Gingerbread shouted. "I've never seen an apple like that before!"

"What?" Peter asked as he and Fluey looked over. But before they could see it, Jerry put the apple into his pocket and walked off. Fizzy, Julie, and Medley went with him. The four of them were going to find Mike and then play some Bubble Catch. It was a perfect day for games, that was for sure.

After about three rounds, Jerry took the apple out of his pocket.

"Give me a sec, guys," he said. "I need a recharge."

"That's okay," Fizzy said. "I need a recharge myself."

"Five minute break!" Mike called.

Jerry polished the apple on his sleeve, and took a bite out of it. The minute he swallowed, he got a sick look on his face, like he had taken a drink of sour milk. He immediately dropped the apple to the ground.

"Eeeeeyeeeccchhh!" he shouted. "Oooh, that tastes terrible!"

"Maybe it ain't ripe yet," Mike said with a shrug.

"Isn't," Julie corrected.

"Sugar drop, that was cute the first time, but now it's startin' to get on my nerves," Mike said.

"Well, it wouldn't hurt you to go back to English class," Medley replied.

Mike shrugged. Fizzy blew a bubble and sent it to Mike, who sent it to Medley, who sent it to Julie, who sent it to Jerry. But Jerry didn't catch it. He was about to, when he suddenly clutched his stomach, and screamed.

"Oooohhhh!" he moaned. "Oh my stomach!"

"Jerry, are you okay?" Fizzy asked.

"I don't know," Jerry said. He tried to stand up, and doubled over, grabbing his stomach. "Ohhh! Oh, man!"

Before anything else could happen, a wave of nausea overcame the DJ, and he brought up the contents of his stomach. The others looked on, shocked.

"You were right, Mike," Fizzy said. "That apple must not have been ripe."

Mike didn't say anything. He held his fingers to his right temple. Something was throbbing there. It was his trouble sensors. Something wasn't right. This wasn't a normal stomach ache.

"Fizzy," he said. "Get Jerry back to the Estate now! I need to find Galaxy!"

"Is something wrong?" Fizzy asked, as Medley and Julie helped the DJ onto her back.

"Yes," Mike said, picking up the apple. "And if my hunch is right, this is gonna be serious."

Within minutes, Fizzy, Medley, and Julie got Jerry to the Estate.  He looked deathly ill, and felt very nauseous.

"What happened?"  Cupcake asked with worry in her voice.

"Jerry ate a golden apple,"  Fizzy replied.  "And it made him sick."

"Quick,"  Cupcake said, taking charge of the situation,  "get him to a bed.  Julie you fill a bucket of cold water, and dunk some washcloths in it.  Fizzy, you find a thermometer.  I'll meet you in the bedroom."

"Right,"  Medley, Fizzy, and Julie replied in unison, then they set off to do the tasks Cupcake ordered them to do.  She, in the meantime, went to gather some of the other ponies, Megan, the rest of the Monkees, Fluey, and Valerie into the Estate.

Mike returned with Galaxy to the Estate, where he met Megan.

"How is he?"  he asked her.

"Not so good,"  she replied,  "at least that's what Cupcake told me.  She kind of took charge of the situation in there."   Mike nodded.

"Okay, Galaxy-Baby,"  the Texan said as he held up the apple that Jerry took a bite of.  "What do your sensors say about this apple?"

"Hmm,"  Galaxy said as she looked at it,  "I think I remember hearing about this apple before."

"What about that apple?"  Mike asked.

"Well, I'm not sure, but I heard that whoever took a bite out of that apple would become deathly ill."

"I was afraid of that,"  Mike sighed. 

"Is there a cure?"  Megan asked.

"Yes, but I'm not entirely sure what it is.  Paradise would know better than I do, maybe we should go find her."

"Now why didn't I think of going to her first?"

"I don't know,"  Galaxy replied.  And with that, Mike and Galaxy went to find Paradise with Megan following them.

Back in the bedroom, Cupcake saw that Jerry was running a fever. 

"Cupcake,"  he moaned,  "I think I'm gonna . . ."   before he could finish his sentence,  Cupcake pushed a bucket over, allowing him to hurl into it.  

"How's he doing?"  Julie asked as Cupcake shook her head.

"Not so good, honey,"  she replied.  "I hope Mike comes back with a cure.  I don't know how long this illness is going to progress."

"He ate the apple?"  Paradise asked when Mike and Megan had finally found Paradise, who had been playing air tag with Masquerade and Wind Whistler.

"Yeah,"  Mike replied,  "and we need to find a cure pretty darn quick."

"Well, the only cure I know of is a special plum.  A plum that will cure the effects of the apple.  Or, actually, the juice of the plum is what's needed to cure the effects of the golden apple."

"Great,"  Mike said in relief,  "that's perfect.  So where do we find this plum?"

"Um . . . I don't remember."


"I only know of the plum, I have no clue how to find it."

"Why I oughta . . ."  Mike then reached out to strangle Paradise, but Megan held him back before he could get a chance.

"Easy, Mike,"  she said,  "I think I know who can tell us where that plum is."

"Who?"  Paradise asked.

"The Moochick."  She then hopped on Wind Whistler, who quickly flew her to the Mushromp."

"Oh, swell,"  Mike said in a sarcastic way,  "the Moochick.  Just the guy I've been wanting to see."

"Hop on, Mike,"  Masquerade said,  "I'll give you a lift."

"Thanks, Mask,"  Mike said as he hopped on the Twinkle Eyed Pegasus.  She then flew after Megan and Wind Whistler, while Paradise followed them.

Once they were at the Mushromp, they found the Moochick looking for something.

"Oh, my, my, my,"  he muttered as he threw assorted junk away.  "Now let's see, where can that book be?"

"Mr. Moochick?"  Megan asked as she, Mike, and the three Pegasi walked in.

"Who is it?"  the Moochick asked as he turned around,  "Oh, Megan.  Let me guess, you need my help again, right?"

"Good guess,"  Mike sighed.  "Listen, we don't have time to beat around the bush.  Where is the plum that'll cure the effects of the golden apple."

"Who ate it?" the Moochick asked in alarm,  "one of the little ponies?"

"No,"  Megan replied,  "Jerry."

"Jerry?  Oh, that DJ friend of yours.  Well, this is very serious, yes indeed."

"So, where's the plum?"  Mike asked.

"The plum.  Oh yes, the Plums of Wellness.  Those can only be found in the Valley of the Rainbows.  However, you must leave quickly.  If you don't get one of them back by sunset, the poor boy may be done for."

"You mean, he could die?"  Masquerade asked in shock.

"Yes."  The Moochick then handed Mike a rolled up map.  "This map shall guide you.  I must warn you that there may be many obstacles along the way.  But there's no time to waste.  You must leave quickly in order to make it back before sunset."

"Yes, right away,"  Megan said as she hopped on Wind Whistler again, and Mike hopped on Masquerade.  "Thank you, Mr. Moochick."

"Do you two think you can get us there relatively quickly?"  Mike asked both Pegasi.

"Of course,"  Wind Whistler said.  "Hold on."  And with that she and Masquerade flew at a relatively fast pace toward Rainbow Valley. 

"I hope they make it back soon,"  Paradise said.

"Yes,"  the Moochick replied.  He then hopped on the white Pegasus.  "In the meantime, take me back to the Estate.  There may be something I can do to help him."   Paradise nodded, and headed back to the Estate.

"How's his fever?"  Gingerbread asked as Cupcake removed a thermometer from Jerry's mouth.

"Not so good,"  she replied,  "it's one hundred and one, and climbing."

"I brought some more compresses,"  Valerie said as she and Fluey walked into the room.

"Cupcake,"  Jerry started,  "where's the bucket?"

"Right here,"  Cupcake said as she kicked it over to him.  Jerry rolled over on his side, and once again, heaved into it.  Then he moaned, and rolled over onto his back.

A few moments later, Paradise flew into the window, with the Moochick on her back.

"I thought you went with Megan and Mike," Valerie said as she wrung out a washcloth.

"I was," Paradise replied. "But I thought I'd be more help here. I brought the Moochick. He wants to have a look at this for himself."

"Kind of like how he did with Mimic and her horseshoes, right?" Cupcake asked, as she and Julie came into the room.

"Yes indeed," the Moochick said. "I might be able to cook up something, yes. At least until Megan and Michael return."

"I told you not to eat that apple, Jerry," Paradise said.

"No you didn't," Fluey said. "You only told me, Uncle Peter, and Applejack. Jerry wasn't there, remember?"

"Oh," Paradise said, as realization hit. Her face turned almost as red as her hair! She shrank down to the floor, slowly, embarrassed as anything.

"Sorry," she said. "I didn't think . . . . okay, never mind. What can I do to help?"

"I guess try and keep Jerry's fever down," Valerie said. "And keep him awake."

"Why, Mr. Moochick?" Fizzy asked.

"Yes, there is a very good reason for that," the Moochick said. "It could make matters worse if he falls asleep."

"Oh man," Jerry groaned. "I can't take it. I just want to sleep!"

"I'm sorry, Jerry, but you can't go to sleep," Paradise said.

"But I'm so tired," Jerry said. "I don't know if I can keep my eyes open."

Valerie sighed. This was obviously going to be harder than it looked.

In the meantime, Mike, Megan, Wind Whistler, and Masquerade were flying over the jeweled desert, looking for where to go.

"I don't know how we're gonna do this," Mike said. "We've only got until sunset to find that darn piece of fruit."

"I'll admit it might be difficult, but it won't be impossible," Wind Whistler said. "We have plenty of time before the sun sets. We should be able to locate the plum and get back within a wink of an eye."

"At least you're sort of speaking English," Masquerade said. "I wonder what the Moochick meant by obstacles?"

"We'll just have to keep our eyes open, I guess," Megan said with a shrug. "Do you see anything on the map, Mike?"

"Yeah," Mike nodded. "There's the river on the map down there. Accordin' to the map, we follow the river down stream for a bit."

"Well, then let's go!" Masquerade shouted.

The foursome started to follow the river, until a large spout flew out of it, and soaked the two Pegasus ponies.

"What's going on?!" Masquerade shouted, as she and Wind Whistler struggled to maintain altitude.

"I believe we're going down!" Wind Whistler shouted. "Pegasus ponies can't fly when their wings are wet!"

Everyone screamed as the two Pegasi fell from the sky and landed in the river. It began sweeping them downstream.

"Well, at least we didn't crash on the ground," Mike said with a shrug.

"No," Masquerade said. "But I wouldn't count your chickens before they hatch, Mike."

"What do you mean?"

"Take a look."

The others looked where Masquerade was indicating, and saw a waterfall right ahead of them. And they were heading straight for it.

"Oh no, a waterfall!" Megan shouted.

"Swim for it!" Mike yelled, as he, Megan, and the other ponies tried to outswim the current.

The river's current, unfortunately, was too strong for them. They were swept over the waterfall, and they would have been plastered to the jagged rocks at the bottom of it, if it weren't for what the group heard.

"Shoop-ee-doo, shoop-shoop-ee-doo! Shoop-ee-doo, shoop-shoop-ee-doo!"

The group landed onto half of a giant clamshell, and were brought back up the waterfall, and to the shoreline, courtesy of the Sea Ponies. Masquerade and Wind Whistler shook themselves dry, while Megan squeezed water out of her ponytail, and Mike wrung out his wool hat.

"Thanks, Sea Ponies," Mike said, waving at the Sea Ponies.

"No problem," Seawinkle said.

"See you later!" Sea Light shouted.

The Sea Ponies dove into the water and swam off. Mike, Megan, Masquerade, and Wind Whistler continued to walk along, with Mike in the lead, since he was holding the map.

"At least we're goin' the right way," Mike said.

"Now we know what the Moochick meant by obstacles," Megan said.

"Too bad we don't know what that plum looks like," Masquerade said.

"Too bad Paradise isn't with us," Wind Whistler said. "I'm positive she would distinguish what the produce's appearance is."

"Huh?" Masquerade asked.

"She said Paradise would know what that stupid plum looks like," Mike said.

"Uh oh," Masquerade said. "Mike's already in a bad mood. Everyone watch their step."

"Very funny," Mike said, sarcastically. He sighed, and continued to look at the map, while walking ahead.

Fifteen minutes later, the group was away from the river. Mike kept his eyes glued to the map, as opposed to watching where he was going.

"Accordin' to this," he said. "There's a hazard comin' up soon. And we want to avoid it at all costs. It's a pit of . . . . ."

"QUICKSAND!" Megan, Masquerade, and Wind Whistler shouted, suddenly.

"How'd you guys know?" Mike asked, turning to look at his friends.

"Because you just stepped in it!" Megan shouted.

"I did?" Mike asked. He looked down, and realized that indeed, he had stepped into the quicksand pit, and was sinking rapidly. The quicksand was up to his waist in just a few minutes!

"I've seen quicksand work, but this is a little fast, isn't it?" Masquerade asked.

"Indeed," Wind Whistler replied. "That's no ordinary quicksand."

"Guys, I need serious help here!" Mike shouted. "I can't get to my wand, and I'm sinkin'!"

"Hang on, Mike!" Megan shouted. She was about to go in, but Wind Whistler flew in front of her to block her off.

"No, Megan!" she shouted. "You'll get stuck too, if you go in! We'd better use the Rainbow of Light!"

"Good thinking, Wind Whistler," Megan said. She opened the heart shaped locket, and the Rainbow of Light soared out of it. "Okay, Rainbow. Do your stuff!"

The Rainbow of Light flew towards the quicksand pit. Mike reached up and grabbed it, but it slipped out of his fingers, and he completely went under the quicksand. Megan, Masquerade, and Wind Whistler gasped.

"Mike!" Masquerade shouted, fearfully.

The Rainbow didn't waste a second. It dove into the quicksand pit immediately. The others just stood there, anxiously waiting for it. Finally, the Rainbow flew out of the quicksand pit, wrapped around Mike's waist, like a belt. The Rainbow gently deposited Mike on the ground, flew in circles to clean off, and went back into the locket.

"Good work, Rainbow," Megan said.

"Mike, are you all right?" Wind Whistler asked.

Mike coughed, and spat sand out of his mouth, practically gasping for breath. He shook his head out, stood up, and began brushing sand off him. Masquerade and Wind Whistler used their tails to help him.

"I'm fine," Mike answered Wind Whistler's question. "I've got sand in places I didn't even know I had, but I'm fine. Come on, let's keep goin'. We don't have time to waste!"

"I think we should fly the rest of the way to the Valley of Rainbows," Megan said, climbing on Wind Whistler's back. "That way, we can avoid any more quicksand pits."

"Good idea," Wind Whistler said.

Mike agreed, and climbed on Masquerade. The two Pegasi flew off. After flying for what seemed like forever, the group made it to a mountain region. Mike opened the map and looked at it.

"Well, we're nearly there," he said with a smile. "On the other side of the tallest mountain is the Valley of Rainbows, and there, we'll find the special plum trees! Accordin' to the map, they'll be plums as far as the eye can see!"

"Well, what are we remaining here for?" Wind Whistler asked. "Onward!"

Wind Whistler and Masquerade began flying. They were about halfway up when they started to tire out.

"The air is getting awfully thin," Wind Whistler said.

"I don't think I can fly anymore," Masquerade said, breathlessly. "I'm pooped!"

"Don't stop now, guys!" Megan encouraged. "We're almost there!"

"I might be able to fly the rest of the way," Masquerade said. "But not with any passengers. You're heavier than you look, Mike."

"No sweat," Mike said. "I can climb this easy. I was in the Eagle Scouts!"

"How about you, Wind Whistler?" Megan asked.

"Don't be concerned about me, Megan," Wind Whistler said. "I can still carry you up."

It was settled. Wind Whistler would still carry Megan, Mike would climb the rest of the way, and Masquerade would fly up solo. They were thankful Mike could climb as fast as they could fly. They just continued thinking about the task at hand. On the other side of that tall, steep mountain would be the Valley of Rainbows, covered with plum trees.

"I'll bet it's a beautiful valley," Masquerade said, as she and the others reached the top. "Lush and green and full of . . . . ."

"What in the wide world of sports is this?!" Mike yelled, once he reached the top.

The others looked on, and gasped. The Valley of Rainbows looked like a vast desert. The ground was brown and cracking. The trees were bare. No leaves on them at all. Hardly any of them had fruit on them. The remaining plums on the trees had shriveled up to prunes.

"Oh no!" Megan shouted.

"This is terrible!" Wind Whistler shouted. "This can't be the Valley of Rainbows! It just can't be!"

Mike jumped on Masquerade, and she and Wind Whistler flew down to the ground. He double checked the map, sighed, and nodded.

"This is definitely the Valley of Rainbows," he said.

"But the plums!" Megan shouted. "What do we do now?"

"Well," Masquerade said. "There are some prunes on the trees. And prunes are just dried up plums. Maybe we can take one of those, squeeze the juice out of it, and. . . ."

"I'm afraid that won't work," Wind Whistler sighed. "It has to be the juice of the plum. And not a dried up one. I'm afraid we're at a dead end, Mike."

Mike clenched his fists in anger. Out of sheer frustration, he kicked the trunk of the tree. Then he sat down and sighed. This whole thing was beginning to give him a headache.

"There must be another place to look for these plums," Megan said. "Come on. Let's keep looking."

Mike sighed, and climbed onto Masquerade's back. They followed Megan and Wind Whistler down a path. Mike hoped they would find some more plums, and fast. They didn't have much time before the sun set.

Meanwhile at Paradise Estate, the others had their hands full. Poor Jerry was about ready to fall asleep. He hadn't improved any since the others left. Buttons, Ribbon, and Gusty had come in, wanting to help. All Jerry wanted to do was sleep.

"How about a story?" Paradise asked. "I know a great one!"

"What's it about?" Molly asked.

"Well, it's about a big giant that goes boom! Boom! Boom!"

With each "boom," Paradise stomped her foot as hard as she could, making a terrible noise. Jerry let out a scream, and held his hands to his head.

"Stop! Please stop!" he begged. "Oooh my head!"

"Okay, bad idea," Paradise said.

"I have one," Buttons said. "Let's play Pony Bubble Pop."

"What's Pony Bubble Pop?" Fizzy asked.

"You blow the bubbles, and Jerry reaches up and pops them," Buttons said. "Sound like fun, Jerry?"

"Buttons, I can't!" Jerry moaned. "I don't have the strength to even move!"

"Aw, sure you can!" Buttons shouted. "I'll get you started!"

"Please, I just want to sleep!"

Buttons and Fizzy lit up their horns. Small bubbles came out. Buttons concentrated, and lifted Jerry's hand, and moved it so he was popping the bubbles.

"See isn't this fun?" Buttons asked. "Now you do it yourself, Jerry!"

Buttons deactivated her horn. But Jerry lacked the strength to keep his arm up in midair, and it plopped down. Valerie shook her head.

"He's too weak for games, Buttons," she said. Then she sighed. "Gusty, blow some wind in his face. That might keep him awake."

"It's a good way to keep his fever down, too," Ribbon replied.

"It's worth a shot," Gusty said. She lit up her horn and blew a gently breeze in Jerry's face. Jerry let out a moan.

"I just want to go to sleep," he begged. "Please, I can't take it. I gotta get some sleep!"

"You can't sleep," Gusty said. "You've got to try and stay awake, Jerry! It's for your own good! You just can't sleep!"

"Mama!" Baby Gusty shouted from the doorway. Everyone turned around and looked at her.

"Yes, baby?" Gusty asked. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"

"You mean to Jerry!" Baby Gusty shouted, tears filling her eyes.

"Mean? I'm not being . . . ."

"Are too! You no let Jerry sleep! Jerry sick! Need sleep! You no let him!"

And with that, Baby Gusty ran from the room in tears. The others were a little shocked.

"I don't think I was being mean," Gusty said.

"You weren't," Valerie said. "You were just being firm with Jerry. Baby Gusty doesn't understand that if he goes to sleep, he could be in serious trouble."

"Please, Valerie!" Jerry begged. "I gotta get some sleep. I can't stay awake! I just can't!"

"How long until we can let him fall asleep, Mr. Moochick?" Ribbon asked.

"Soon," the Moochick said. "We need to keep him awake a little longer. Then he can fall asleep."

"Why can't he go to sleep now, Mr. Moochick?" Fizzy asked. She glanced over at Jerry, who looked absolutely miserable.

"If he falls asleep too soon, the poison from the apple will spread faster," The Moochick explained. "We need to keep him awake for at least another hour, to make sure the poison has settled. Then he can sleep."

"I'm not gonna last an hour," Jerry moaned. "I'm not. I can't! I can't! I ca—"

Jerry was cut off in midsentence. He tried to hold back the nauseas feeling he was getting but it didn't work. He didn't even have the strength to pull himself up to grab the bucket. Valerie and Fluey were on him like a shot. Fluey grabbed the bucket, and Valerie pulled Jerry into a sitting position, just in time. Jerry threw up repeatedly just then.

"I'm getting sick just watching him get sick," Fluey said. Peter gave him his famous pouty look.

Jerry moaned, as Valerie laid him back down. She rubbed a wet washcloth over his forehead.

"Just another hour, Jerry," she said, soothingly. "Just another hour. Then you'll be able to sleep."

Jerry sort of whimpered. The others threw each other concerned glanced. Never in their lives had they seen Jerry look so sick.

Back in the nursery, Baby Gusty was laying on her bed, crying. The other baby ponies just looked at her.

"What wrong, Baby Gusty?" Baby Shady asked.

"My mama being mean!" Baby Gusty wailed.

"She be mean to Fizzy?" Baby Lofty asked.

"No," Baby Gusty said.

"She be mean to my mama?" Baby Shady asked.

"No," Baby Gusty said, tearfully. "She be mean to Jerry! Jerry real sick. Mama no let him sleep. He need sleep."

"Jerry still sick?" Baby Cuddles asked.

"He no better yet?" Baby Shady asked.

"He get better if Mama let him sleep," Baby Gusty sniffled. "But Mama no let him! She no want Jerry to get better!"

"That's not true, Baby Gusty,"  Paradise said as she entered the nursery.  "We can't let Jerry sleep, because he'll get worse if he does."

"But Megan say sleep make people get better,"   Baby Half Note said.

"In some cases yes, but in this case, we just can't do that.  And Baby Gusty, your Mama wasn't being mean.  She was being firm.  There's a big difference between the two.  But don't worry.  Mike, Megan, Masquerade, and Wind Whistler are still out there, trying to make things better."

"Will Jerry get better soon?"  Ember asked.   Paradise gazed out the window to look at the sun.  It wasn't quite sunset yet, but she had no idea how much time was left either.

"I surely hope so, Ember.  I really hope so."

Back at the estate,  Ribbon was dunking another washcloth in the cold water with her hooves. 

"How's his temperature, Mick?"  Fluey asked as Valerie took the washcloth from the blue unicorn?"

"Not good,"  Micky replied as he shook the thermometer out,  "now it's up to a hundred and four."

"Ribbon, better dunk another washcloth,"  Cupcake said.

"Right away."

"Where ah they!?"  Davy shouted.  Everyone gave him an odd look.

"Why, Davy Jones,"  Valerie said after putting another cold compress on Jerry's feverish forehead.  "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you actually cared for Jerry."

"No,"  he denied.  "I just 'ate being in suspense, that's all."

"Soon,"  Ribbon said,  "I hope."

"That's about all we can do at this point,"  Gusty sighed.  Fizzy then noticed that Jerry was trying to go to sleep again.

"Sleep,"  he muttered.

"No you don't,"  she and Buttons said in unison. 

"Sorry,"  Fizzy said as she blew some bubbles in his face,  "but you can't go to sleep.  It's for your own good, you know."

"Right,"  Buttons added.  "When Mike returns with the plum, then you can sleep."

"If he returns with that plum,"  Fluey pessimistically said.

"Now, now,"  Cupcake admonished the teenager,  "that kind of thinking isn't going to help anybody.  We just need to be patient.  Mike and Megan will be here.  We just can't give up hope."

"He's gonna hurl again!"  Micky shouted as Gusty quickly pushed the bucket in Jerry's direction.  Sure enough, he heaved into it yet again.

"Sometimes it's hard not to give up hope,"  Fizzy sighed sadly.

Meanwhile, back in the Valley of Rainbows,  Mike, Megan, Masquerade, and Wind Whistler were searching for more plum trees.

"Guys,"  Mike started,  "could ya land for a moment."

"What for?"  Masquerade asked curiously.

"I wanna check the Moochick's map again to make sure we're heading in the right direction."

"Certainly,"  Wind Whistler said as both pegasi landed beside a large tree.  Mike and Megan then hopped off the ponies as Mike unfolded the map.  He gave it an odd look.

"Mm, the Moochick must be writing in sand script now.  Can't make heads or tails of this thing."

"Uh, Mike,"  Megan started,  "I think it's upside down."

"Huh?"  It was then he realized what the blonde girl had said.  "Oh."  He then put the map in the right direction.  "I gotta quit hangin' around Peter so much.  He's beginning to rub off on me.  Now, let's see where we are."  As the humans were looking over the map, neither they, nor the ponies realized that from atop the tree was a giant python, and it was eyeing both pegasi hungrily.  In fact Wind Whistler didn't have time to blink before the snake snuck up on her and wrapped her in it's coils, her mouth included.  She did scream, but it came out muffled.

"Wind Whistler!"  Masquerade shouted, which drew the attention of Mike and Megan.  When Mike saw the python lift the light blue pony up the tree, he froze.

"SNAKES!"  he shouted as Masquerade flew herself up in an attempt to save her friend.  "Why does it have to be snakes!  I hate snakes!"   He then pulled out his magic wand, and charged for the green scaled reptile. 

Wind Whistler, in the meantime was finding it difficult to breathe.  Especially since the snake was choking her to death.

"Hang on, Wind Whistler!"  Masquerade said as she flew around the python's head in an attempt to make him so dizzy he would drop Wind Whistler pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, that tactic didn't work.  Some how another part of the snake also got her wrapped as well.  Masquerade was about to shout "Help!", until her circulation got cut off as well.  Wind Whistler was also turning blue from lack of oxygen.

"All right you refuge from a Tarzan movie!"  Mike hollered as he up the tree, until he reached the branch below the snake,  "either you let them go, or I'm gonna turn you into something you ain't gonna like."   The snake didn't appear to be listening.  He thought that the Texan Monkee would make a nice appetizer, and stretched down his very long coils in attempt to wrap the Monkee up in them like his two pony friends.  However, Mike was too quick to be caught up in the snake's body.  As soon as those coils approached him, he hit it with his wand.  The snake soon found himself shrinking into an earth worm, thusly freeing Wind Whistler and Masquerade from being squeezed to death, and eaten.  The earth worm grumbled some things that only Mike could understand before he wriggled away from the branch.  Both Ponies were taking gasping lungfulls of air in an attempt to start breathing again.

"Thank you, Mike,"  Wind Whistler gratefully said as soon as she found her voice,  "without your magic to aid us we surely would have suffocated."

"No sweat,"  Mike said as he hopped on Masquerade, who gave him a safe lift back to the ground.   Once the two ponies had landed, Megan ran up to them.

"Are you okay?"  she asked all three of them.

"We're fine, babe,"  Mike replied.  "That snake is nothin' but a little ol' earthworm now."

"But let's keep our eyes open just in case,"  Masquerade added.  "After all, I don't want to end up as Snake Chow again."  The others nodded as Megan got on Wind Whistler, before both ponies took flight to find a tree with ripe plums on it.  They had to move quickly, for time was slowly running out on them.

Wind Whistler and Masquerade had decided to stick to flying as far overhead as they could. That way they could avoid pythons, quicksand pits, and anything else that could have been lurking around. Mike was still glancing at the map.

"Accordin' to this thing, we should be gettin' pretty close to a plum tree," Mike said. Then he felt something in the side of his head. He reached up, and put his fingers on his temples.

"What's wrong, Mike?" Masquerade asked.

"I'm gettin' a sorta . . . . . tingly feelin' in my temple," Mike said. "What could it mean?"

"That doesn't surprise me," Wind Whistler said. "Your ancestor was a great, and powerful wizard. In all the stories I've heard about Claudius Nesmith, he could sense things, and he always felt it in his right temple."

Mike shrugged. He probably figured he inherited Claudius Nesmith's sensor system. When the Witch Trio had attacked Ponyland with Gloob, his right temple had began to hurt. This time, it wasn't hurting, but it was tingling. It was trying to tell him something. As the two Pegasus ponies flew on, it began to get colder. Mike had to wave his magic wand to change the group's attire. They were all now wearing snow gear, and that was a good thing. They had just come to a mountain that was covered with snow.

"Whoa baby," Masquerade said, looking up.

"I'm getting a stiff neck," Megan said, as she bent backwards a little to try to get a good look at the top of the mountain.

"Can you guys fly up there?" Mike asked. Wind Whistler took a good look at the mountain and made a face.

"In theory maybe," she said. "In practicality, heh heh . . . no way, Jose!"

"Yeah, Mike, it's too high up!" Masquerade shouted.

"We'll have to find some other way around it," Megan said.

"No!" Mike yelled. "Somethin's tellin' me what we're lookin' for is at the top of this mountain! And I'm gonna go up and get it, even if I have to climb this sucker!"

"Are you crazy?!" Masquerade shouted.

"You'll never make it!" Wind Whistler shouted. "It's dangerous, it's suicide, it's windy, it's snowing, it's icy, it's freezing cold, it's . . . . ."

"Almost sunset!" Mike shouted. And he began climbing. "If we don't get back before then, Jerry's a goner, and I don't want to see that happen. You stay here. I'll climb the mountain, get the plum, and throw it down to you. Once you have it, get to the Estate as fast as you can! We don't have time to fool around!"

Wind Whistler said nothing. Sometimes, Mike's stubbornness and bossiness could come in handy. Megan and the two ponies just watched nervously as Mike began climbing up the mountain, which was easier said than done. The mountain was extremely high, and on the steep side. It was also icy, and practically smooth as glass. But the snow around it provided good traction.

Finally, Mike made it to the top of the mountain. There was a small tree, bearing tiny purple plums. Mike's tingling temple began to tingle even more when he plucked a plum.

"I've got it!" he yelled. "I'VE GOT IT!"

"He's got it," Masquerade said. "MIKE! I'LL FLY UP AS FAR AS I CAN GO AND YOU THROW ME THE PLUM!"

Masquerade flapped her wings as hard as she could. She flew about halfway up the mountain. There was no way she could go any higher than that. The wind already made it nearly impossible to fly. Mike threw the plum as hard as he could, and Masquerade caught it.

"Go back to the Estate now!" he shouted.

"What about you?" Masquerade asked, plum still in her teeth.

"Don't worry, just go!"

"But Mike!"

Before Mike could say anything more, a large gust of wind blew. Masquerade was blown down to Megan and Wind Whistler, and Mike lost his balance and fell off the mountain completely.

"MIKE!" Megan and the two ponies shouted at once.

Masquerade and Wind Whistler flew into the air and searched every place they could, but they couldn't find Mike anywhere.

"Mike! Where are you?!" Megan shouted.

"He's gone," Wind Whistler said. "He's nowhere to be found."

"We don't have time to look for him," Masquerade said. "We gotta get back to the Estate! It's almost sunset!"

"I'm predicting we only have an hour left," Wind Whistler said. "We must hurry!"

Wind Whistler and Masquerade flapped their wings as hard as they could, flying faster than they had ever flown before. They made it back to Paradise Estate with fifteen minutes to spare.

"You guys came not a second too soon!" Magic Star shouted.

"Please tell me you have the plum," Valerie said.

"Right here," Megan said, giving the plum to Valerie.

"Hallelujah!" Applejack shouted, gratefully. "But, uhhh, where's Mike?"

"He fell off the mountain we got the plum from," Masquerade said. "But we'll explain later! Stick that sucker in a blender and let's get this show on the road!"

Valerie nodded, and darted for the kitchen. She threw the plum into the blender, and liquefied it. Then she poured it into a glass, just as the door burst open.

"Did I miss anythin'?!" a thick, Texan drawl shouted, breathlessly. Everyone turned around and saw Mike standing there. He was dripping wet.

"Mike!" Masquerade shouted. "But didn't you . . . . what happened?"

"I landed in a river, and the Sea Ponies gave me a lift," Mike explained. "Forget about explanations and let's hurry! We don't have too much time!"

The others happened to agree with him there. They ran into the room. The others were practically on pins and needles. Once Gusty saw them, she practically collapsed from exhaustion.

"Whew!" she shouted. "About time you guys got back! I was nearly out of wind!"

"Do you have the plum?" The Moochick asked.

"Signed, sealed, and delivered," Mike said. "And juiced."

Mike took the glass from Valerie, and pulled Jerry into a reclining position. He put his hand behind the DJ's neck, and raised the glass of plum juice to his lips.

"Okay, Jer," he said. "This should help."

Jerry sort of groaned. Mike poured the plum juice down his throat. Jerry sort of gagged, and it almost came back upstream, but it managed to stay where it was.

"Yuck!" he shouted. "Eeehhh, that tasted worse than the apple did!"

"Can he go to sleep now?" Fizzy asked.

"Yes indeed," the Moochick said.

Jerry breathed of relief, and fell asleep almost immediately after he closed his eyes.

"Did it work?" Gusty asked. "It doesn't seem like it worked."

"We must give it time," the Moochick said. "We'll know by tomorrow."

When night fell, everyone thought that they would never get to sleep in anticipation for Jerry to wake up.  When morning came, Mike was the first one up.   He also saw that Jerry was sound asleep.

"Jer,"  he said as he shook his best friend's shoulder,  "Jerry?"   But the DJ did not stir.  Needless to say Mike was downtrodden.  "Oh no."

"What's wrong?"  Megan asked after she woke up as well.  The look on Mike's face told her all she needed to know.  She bowed her head in sadness as Mike buried his face in his hand.

"We were too late,"  he moaned.

"No,"  Wind Whistler said sadly.  "I believe we did everything possible."

"Maybe the Moochick was wrong for once,"  Masquerade added.

"No!"  Ember cried.  "Jerry can't be dead.  She then ran for his bed.  "Jerry, wake up!  Please wake up!"

"Oh, Ember,"  Twilight said sorrowfully, close to tears herself.

"You can't leave us,"  Ember continued as tears from her eyes fell on Jerry's face.  "Please wake up."

"He's gone, Ember,"  Buttons said as she ushered the baby pony away from the lifeless Geator.  "There's nothing any of us can do now."

"NO!"  Ember cried.  "Go to the Moochick!  Please! There's got to be another way to wake him up."

"I wish there were,"  Mike sighed sadly.  "But . . ."  before the Monkee could finish a familiar voice interrupted him.

"Say, would you mind keeping it down?  I'm trying to get some sleep."   Mike, Megan, and the other ponies quickly turned their heads around and gasped.  By some miraculous incident, Jerry had woken up.

"Jer, you're awake!"  Mike exclaimed.

"But how?"  Wind Whistler asked, confused.  "According to the Moochick the only way to waken him was with the juice of the plum."

"Not necessarily,"  Paradise replied.  "I remember something else.  If the plum juice should fail, then the tears of a baby pony could also cure him.  I guess in all the rush I forgot to mention that part."

"Oh Paradise!" Gusty shouted, somewhat exasperated.

"Ember!"  Mike shouted in joy as he hugged the baby pony,  "you're a life saver!"

"Thanks, Ember,"  Jerry said as Ember walked over to the bed so he could give her a hug.  "You saved my life."

"I'm just glad you're better."

"Well, he won't be completely well until he gets his rest,"  Cupcake said,  "come on every body.  Out of the room."

"Better do as she says,"  Mike said.  And with that everyone walked out of the room, knowing that Jerry was on the road to recovery.


The End