It was a beautiful summer day in Ponyland. Megan, Danny, Molly, and Julie were coming up for a weeklong visit. Julie was excited about it. School had just let out, and she couldn't wait to see Medley. She didn't see Medley as often as she wished. The Monkees, Jerry, and Fluey were up in Ponyland as well.
"This is going to be great!" Surprise shouted, as she was doing flips with Micky on her back.
"Yeah," Micky said, smiling. And then he began singing. "And we'll have fun, fun, fun 'til the daddy takes the T-bird away!"
"What's a T-bird?" Baby Cuddles asked.
"It's a type of car," Mike said. "A Thunderbird. It was popular in the fifties and sixties."
Baby Cuddles nodded.
"Hey Julie!" Firefly shouted, doing a flip. "Are you ready for your first long trip in Ponyland?"
"Yes, yes, yes!" Julie shouted, jumping up and down. "Megan, Danny, and Molly have long visits all the time, and they've told me about all of them."
"Oh, we're going to have so much fun this week!" Firefly shouted. "We'll go flying, and do the double inside out loop and . . . . ."
"Forget the loop, Firefly," Peter said.
"Okay, forget the loop," Firefly said. But when Peter wasn't looking, she stuck her tongue out at him. Medley gave her a gentle swat with her tail.
"Come on, Julie," Medley said. "Let's go for a flight."
Julie smiled, and climbed on Medley's back. Then the two of them flew off. They went pretty far from the Estate, just taking in all the sights.
"Look Medley!" Julie shouted, pointing in the distance. "A castle! A pink and gold castle!"
"Oh, isn't it pretty?" Medley asked. "I wonder who lives there?"
"Could it be Majesty?"
"How do you know Majesty?"
"Princess Royal Blue told me once. Masquerade took me to the Royal Paradise to see it once. Majesty put the Princess Ponies in charge of the magic wands."
Medley giggled. She had a feeling Julie would like the Princess Ponies. One of Julie's favorite games was pretending she was a princess.
"That's not Majesty's castle," Medley said. "She lives long across Dream Valley. Far from the Estate."
"Do you know who lives there, Medley?" Julie asked.
"I don't. But maybe we can find out. Hopefully, it won't be too dangerous."
"I hope not, either."
Medley flew close to the castle, until an arrow whooshed by in front of her.
"Oh!" she shouted, startled. Another arrow shot through the air, followed by another.
"What's going on?!" Julie shouted.
"Hang on, Julie!" Medley shouted. "We're going back! We'll worry about the castle later!"
Medley tried to fly through the fleet of arrows, until one hit her left wing, and she went down. She landed in the woods with a loud CRASH! She was flat on her stomach, and an arrow was stuck in her wing.
"MEDLEY!" Julie shrieked. "Medley, Medley! Are you okay?! Medley, please speak to me!"
"Ohhhh," Medley moaned. "My wing . . . . my leg. I can't walk."
"What are we going to do?"
"I need you to go get help. Can you do that, sweetie?"
Julie got up and began to run off. But she didn't know where to start. She didn't know how to get to Paradise Estate from where she was. She'd never be able to find the little ponies. So, she went down the path she was on, hoping she would find someone to help her. As she was walking, she saw a pure white horse run by. He was much bigger than the little ponies. There was a small figure riding her. She was blond, and she wore a fancy English riding habit. And she didn't look any bigger than Julie.
"Hey!" she shouted, running after the horse. "Hey you! I need your help!"
Julie jumped in front of the horse. The horse whinnied and reared, and the rider fell off his back with a scream. Julie cringed.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" she shouted.
"How dare you!" the horse's rider shouted, standing up. She had her back turned to Julie as she brushed herself off.
"I didn't mean to scare your horse," Julie said. "But I need help. My friend, Medley, is in big trouble! She's a Pegasus pony from Dream Valley, and she fell out of the sky. She's got an arrow in her wing, and she hurt her leg. She can't fly or walk."
"Why should I care about something like that?" the blond girl asked. She finally turned around, and gasped. Julie gasped too. It was like looking in a mirror.
This girl looked exactly like Julie!
"Who are you?!" the girl demanded. "You look just like me!"
"I was gonna say the same thing," Julie said. "Umm, I'm Julie. Who are you?"
"Jennifer. Princess Jennifer. I'm ten."
"So am I."
"I live in the palace. My mummy's the queen, and my daddy's the king. Where are you from?"
"Over the rainbow. My mom's a housewife, and my dad's a banker."
"You're an ordinary person, huh?"
"That's what I thought. Only royalty comes here. And only royalty lives here. Except for the servants, who do everything I tell them to, because if they don't, I'll have Daddy chop off their heads."
"That doesn't sound like much fun."
"I should have the guards chop off your head for making me fall off my horse! But I won't. Tell me what you're doing here!"
"It's my friend, Medley. She was flying and . . . ."
"Yeah, Medley's a Pegasus pony. She lives in Dream Valley at the Paradise Estate."
"Anyway, an arrow got stuck in one of her wings, and she fell out of the sky, and she hurt her leg."
"You're gonna have to shoot her. Every time a horse breaks a leg, you have to shoot it."
I can't do that! Medley's not like a regular horse! She's a little pony! And
she can fly and talk!"
"I will! Come with me."
Before Jennifer would leave, though, she demanded the guards went with the two girls, so they went to get some. Two of them were taking a break when the girls arrived.
"GUARDS!" Jennifer screamed at the top of her lungs. The two guards shot to their feet, and nearly hit the ceiling.
"Yikes!" one yelled.
"Guards, this is Julie," Jennifer said. "We're going to help her pony friend."
"Oh," the guard said, calming down. "For a minute I thought I was seeing double."
"Yeah, just what we need," the second guard mumbled, as he followed the girls outside. "Two Jennifers."
The guards followed the girls into the woods. Medley was waiting patiently for Julie to return.
"I got help, Medley!" she shouted.
"Oh good," Medley breathed of relief. "Thank you, Julie."
"Wow," Jennifer said. "Are there more ponies like her?"
"Yeah at Paradise Estate," Julie replied.
"Take her back to the palace!" Jennifer demanded. "We'll take care of her there, and then you'll escort her and Julie back to Paradise Estate!"
"Yes, your highness," the two guards said, and they picked up Medley as gently as they could, and carried her back to the palace.
Jennifer demanded that the guards call the royal veterinarian to look at Medley, while Julie come to her room and play. Julie wanted to stay with Medley, but the guards urged her to go play with Jennifer.
"Why?" Julie asked.
"BECAUSE I SAID SO!" Jennifer screamed at the top of her lungs. "I'M A PRINCESS AND YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT I SAY BECAUSE WHY MUMMY AND DADDY ARE AWAY I'M IN CHARGE! AND YOU HAVE TO PLAY WITH ME INSTEAD OF STAY WITH THAT SMELLY OLD PONY!"
"Medley is not a smelly old pony!" Julie argued. "And I want to stay with her!"
Jennifer took a deep breath and then began to scream. She threw herself down on the floor, banged her fist, and kicked her legs. The guards groaned. They hated it when Jennifer started to do this, and she did this a lot, especially when she couldn't have her way. Julie held her ears, and finally agreed to go to Jennifer's room with her. Jennifer stopped screaming right away, smiled, and led Julie to her bedroom.
Jennifer's bedroom was more like the largest hotel suite you can imagine. There was a king sized canopy bed, a huge walk-in closet filled with clothes, and everywhere you looked, there were toys. Julie had never seen so many toys in her life. Not even Toys R Us had this many toys!
"Wow," Julie said, looking around.
"I know," Jennifer said smugly. "I can have anything I want. Mummy and Daddy say so. They think that a princess should be treated like one. So I've got the best of the best."
"I've always wondered what it would be like to be a real princess."
"And I've always wondered what it would be like seeing talking ponies. I have an idea! Let's trade places!"
"I don't know. I don't think that's such a good idea, Jennifer."
"Aw come on, it'll be fun! You want to know what it's like to be me, and who wouldn't? Besides, we look exactly like each other. No one will ever know!"
"But . . . . but my cousin and my friends . . . . ."
"Oh don't worry! They won't know the difference."
"But I'm supposed to go back home over the rainbow in a week."
"I'll come back long before then! Come on, it'll be loads of fun!"
Julie thought about it for a little while. Then she finally agreed. Jennifer was very persuasive, even when she wasn't throwing a hissy fit. So within a few minutes, Julie was wearing Jennifer's fancy English riding habit, including her high collared white shirt, red jacket, tan pants, shiny black riding boots, and helmet, and Jennifer was wearing Julie's green shirt, blue jeans, and white sneakers.
"Ugh, I hate green," Jennifer said. "Unfortunately, I have green dresses in my closet, because Mummy doesn't want me to give them away to the commoners."
"Are you sure we'll be able to do this?" Julie asked.
"Of course we will!" Jennifer shouted. "No grown up will know. Grown ups are stupid! Especially ones that aren't royalty."
"I don't know. My friend Mike is pretty smart and he's a grown up."
"Trust me. He won't know the difference. No one will. Come on. It's time to take Medley back to Paradise Estate."
Julie gulped. She wasn't so sure this was a good idea, but she went along with it. She didn't want to hear Jennifer throw another hissy fit. Apparently, the guards didn't know the difference between the two girls with their clothes switched. Julie walked out to the front of the palace, watching Jennifer and the guards leave with Medley towards Paradise Estate.
"Toodles, Jennifer!" Jennifer called out. She wanted the guards to think she was Julie. "See you soon!"
"Since when do you say toodles?" Medley asked confused.
"Since always," Jennifer said. "You've just never heard me before."
"Well, I guess you're right."
Medley sighed. She wanted to fly, but her wing had been bandaged as well as her leg. She definitely broke it, and had to stay off it for three weeks. That meant she couldn't take Julie on any rides the week she was visiting. Strangely, Julie didn't seem very upset about it. Medley wondered about that. But she didn't wonder for long. She was tired. She just gave the guards directions back to Paradise Estate. Firefly and Fluey had been on a flight, and they were surprised to see the state Medley was in.
"Medley, what happened?!" Firefly shouted, horrified.
"No need for alarm, ma'am," one of Jennifer's guards said. "We come from a kingdom on the other side of the woods. Some hunters were shooting at this little pony."
"They fired an arrow into my wing," Medley said. "And then I crash landed and broke my leg. I have to stay off it for three weeks."
"We'll take her into your house for you," one of the guards said.
Firefly nodded. Fluey got off her back, and led them into the Estate. Firefly watched them go and turned to Jennifer.
"Wow, tough break, huh, Jules?" she said. "You must be disappointed!"
"Whatever," Jennifer said, shrugging. "Since I can't ride her, I'll ride you! Let's go!"
"Whoa, easy there. I've never seen you like this before, Julie."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just shut up and fly!"
"Excuse me, what did you just say to me?"
"I said SHUT UP AND FLY! NOW!"
Jennifer gave Firefly a kick, which sent her into the air. Jennifer smiled and laughed. She had a feeling she was going to love it in Ponyland.
Firefly continued to fly around a little.
"Hey Jules," she said. "How about the double inside out loop?"
Julie wasn't too fond of the double inside out loop. She had done it once or twice, but she didn't like it as much as Fluey did. Jennifer didn't know that. She thought the double inside out loop was something Julie would do all the time. And if Julie could do it, so could she.
"Go for it!" she shouted.
"Yeeehaaaa!" Firefly cheered. Never in her life had she heard Julie say that (and she still hasn't). She built up the speed, and did the double inside out loop. Of course, it scared Jennifer out of her mind, and she screamed the minute Firefly landed, and scrambled off her back.
"What in the world?" Firefly asked. "Come on, Jules, relax a little."
"I could have fallen off!" Jennifer shouted. "I could have broken my neck, and it would have been all your fault!"
"What did you do, Firefly?" Mike asked, as he and Megan came out of the Estate.
"She did this stupid flying trick and I almost fell off!" Jennifer shouted. "We should chop her head off!"
"Julie!" Megan scolded. "I'm surprised at you!"
"Yeah, you don't normally say things like that," Mike said. "What's gotten into you, Julie-baby?"
"How dare you speak to me like that!" Jennifer shouted, and she gave Mike a good kick in the shin. She kicked Firefly in the leg as well.
"Yeeeoouuuccchhh!" Firefly shouted.
"Oooh!" Mike groaned.
"Okay, that's it," Megan said. She took Jennifer's arm, and led her into the room Julie was going to be using at the Estate.
"I want you to sit in here and think about what you did for ten minutes," she said.
"You can't treat me like this!" Jennifer shouted. "You'll be sorry!"
"I'm sorry, Jules, but Megan can treat you like this, and she will," Mike said, limping over. "Besides, you've seen me get angry, and I know you don't like it, so you'd better watch your back, little missy!"
Megan shut the door, and she and Mike waked off. Jennifer sulked. Never in her life had she been punished.
"What's the deal?" she asked herself. "I'm a princess. Everyone is supposed to do what I say and I'm not supposed to get punished!"
Meanwhile, back at Jennifer's castle, Julie was sitting in Jennifer's room, looking at all her toys. She wished Molly was there. She couldn't play with all these toys by herself, she knew that. She didn't even know where to start! She wondered what Jennifer was doing at Paradise Estate, too. Was she being mean to the other little ponies? If she was, Julie would be in a heck of a lot trouble when she and Jennifer switched back. She wished she could call the Estate, but the little ponies didn't have a phone, and the Monkees, Jerry, and Fluey didn't have cell phones. Neither did Megan. She thought Jennifer might have had a cell phone, but she didn't know the number. All she could do was wait until Jennifer got tired of Paradise Estate.
As Julie sat there, she picked up one of Jennifer's dolls, and the door opened. It surprised Julie so much, she nearly dropped the doll on the ground.
"Dinner is served, your highness," the guard said.
"Oh," Julie said. "Umm, thanks."
Julie walked out of the room, and followed the guard into the dining hall. The table was huge, and stacked with food. This wasn't dinner. This was a feast! And most of it was either really expensive delicacies, and rich pastries. Desserts Cupcake couldn't even try to bake. It was all a little much for Julie.
"Now then," the guard said, setting a plate of steak in front of Julie. "Bon appetite."
Julie sort of made a face. The guard looked at her, and prepared himself for a temper tantrum. He knew Jennifer usually liked to start with dessert first, unless her mother and father were around. But they weren't around, and the guard was afraid he was going to have his head chopped off for trying to serve steak first instead of dessert.
"Umm," Julie said. "Do you think that I could have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead?"
"Say what?" the guard asked.
"Please?" Julie asked, timidly.
The guard stared at her, not knowing what to think. But he didn't push it. If she wasn't going to throw a temper tantrum, he was glad for that!
"Uhh, okay," the guard said, taking the steak away. "Sure. Creamy or chunky?"
"Creamy," Julie said. "With raspberry jelly, and a glass of milk, please."
"Of course. Right away, your highness!"
The guard ran into the kitchen as fast as he could.
"Pierre, you're not going to believe this," he said.
"What ees zat, monsieur?" Pierre, the French chef, asked.
"Jennifer wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk. And she actually said 'please.' Now doesn't that beat all?"
"Mon dieu! Sacre bleu! Zee world, she ees going to end!"
"Better make her that sandwich before her polite streak wears off and she throws a temper tantrum."
"Oui, oui! I will make zee peanut butter and jelly sandwich tout suite!"
Pierre then prepared the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, complete with glass of milk, and some potato chips, as a side dish, and the guard brought it out to Julie.
"Thank you," Julie said. She picked up her sandwich and took a bite out of it. The guard glanced at Pierre, like he couldn't believe it.
"And how ees zee dinner, mon petite princess?" Pierre asked, and he prepared to take it back. If Jennifer didn't like what she was eating, she would scream, throw a fit, and send it back to the kitchen. Pierre wasn't taking any chances.
"It's good," Julie said. "Thanks."
"Mon dieu," Pierre muttered. "Eet ees zee end of zee world as we know it!"
"I hear ya," the guard replied. But they didn't push it. When Julie was done with her sandwich, Pierre took the plate and glass away.
"And what would you like for dessert?" he asked. "Chocolate mousse, perhaps? Or maybe a nice crepe Suzette . . . . ."
"Do you have chocolate chip cookies?" Julie asked.
"Chocolate cheep cookies?!" Pierre shouted. "Chocolate cheep cookies?!"
"Please?" Julie asked, a bit timidly.
Pierre was shocked beyond words. He went back into the kitchen, and brought out a giant silver platter filled high with chocolate chip cookies. Julie took three of them, and smiled.
"Thank you," she said.
"That ees eet?" Pierre asked. "You do not want a whole platter full?"
"I can't eat that many," Julie said. "Can I have some more milk, please?"
Pierre nodded aimlessly, and went into the kitchen. The guard followed him.
"Mon dieu, I do not know what has gotten eento her," Pierre said, as he poured a glass of milk.
"I don't know, either," the guard said. "But I like it!"
"Oui, I must admit. I do too."
Back at Paradise Estate, Cupcake, Micky, and Fluey had been making the kitchen into the Ponyland Fiesta Central. They had cooked tacos, nachos, and Spanish rice. Julie loved Mexican food. The entire Mexican feast was in honor of her first week long visit to Ponyland. Micky was wearing a giant sombrero and dancing the Mexican hat dance.
"La cucaracha, la cucaracha," he sang. "La cucaracha, la cucaracha!"
"Micky, cut it out," Jerry said.
Micky stuck his tongue out at Jerry, and began singing "La Bamba." He picked up Davy's maracas and began shaking them around. Jennifer rolled her eyes.
"Oh brother," she groaned. She picked up a taco and made a face.
"What is this crud?" she asked.
"Tacos," Danny said. "Your favorite."
"It's no favorite of mine," Jennifer said. "It's messy!"
"That's why you like it," Molly said, as she bit into her taco.
"Yeah, Julie, you like messy food," Surprise said. "You told me yourself."
"I said nothing of the sort!" Jennifer said, haughtily. "Get this . . . . . this . . . . . this thing out of my sight and bring me some cake at once!"
"Sorry, Julie-baby," Mike said. "You know the rules."
"That's right, honey," Cupcake said. "No dessert until you clean your plate."
"Aunt Diane and Uncle Paul say the same thing," Molly said, referring to Julie's parents.
"I want cake and I want it now!" Jennifer shouted.
"Not until you eat your dinner," Megan said, firmly.
Jennifer took a deep breath, and really let loose with an ear shattering scream. Everyone dropped what they were doing and held their ears. Well, the humans did. The little ponies couldn't really do much.
"Make her stop, Mama!" Baby Gusty shouted.
Gusty glared at Jennifer and began shouting at the top of her lungs to be heard.
"JULIE STOP IT RIGHT NOW!" she shouted, over all the noise. Jennifer was silent. No one had ever spoken to her in that tone of voice before.
"You need another time out, young lady?" Mike asked.
"I don't get time outs!" Jennifer retorted. "I get what I want, AND I WANT CAKE!"
"After that fit you just threw, you're not getting any dessert!" Cupcake shouted. "Little girls who throw temper tantrums don't get any of my special cupcakes. And that goes for little boys, and baby ponies, too."
"Now eat your dinner, Julie," Megan said.
"No!" Jennifer shouted. "Send it back! I don't want it!"
"Julie!" Megan scolded.
"I don't like it, and I won't eat it, and you can't make me!" Jennifer shouted. She threw her taco at Megan. It hit the front of her jumpsuit, splattering it with ground beef, sauce, lettuce, and cheese.
"I can't believe you did that," Molly said.
Jennifer glared at Molly and poured milk over her head.
"Ew!" Molly shouted. "What did you do that for?!"
"Yeah, it's my job to pick on Molly!" Danny shouted.
"Shut up!" Jennifer shouted. "None of you can tell me what to do!"
"Oh yes we can," Mike said. "And you, young lady, are goin' to bed without any dinner!"
"But that's not fair!" Jennifer shouted.
"I think it's very fair," Wind Whistler said. "Your behavior tonight is simply unacceptable, and therefore, punishment must be in order."
"Get to your room now, Julie," Megan said, wiping the worse of the mess off her jumpsuit.
"Hmph!" Jennifer shouted, turning her nose in the air, and she walked off.
"Sorry, you guys," Megan apologized once Jennifer was gone. "I don't know what's gotten into her."
"Children like to push their limits," Wind Whistler replied. "Perhaps she picked it this bad behavior from television or other children at school."
"Well, whatever the case," Mike said. "I hope she doesn't act this way tomorrow!"
The others agreed to that, and continued eating their dinner.
The next morning wasn't much better. It started out with Jennifer demanding breakfast in bed, which the little ponies wouldn't do.
"I always have breakfast in bed!" Jennifer said.
"No you don't," Danny said. "We've been to your house plenty of times."
"I'm not getting up without my breakfast in bed!" Jennifer yelled. "I WANT BREAKFAST IN BED!"
Mike was beginning to get a headache. At first, he thought Jennifer was bringing it on. But this wasn't a normal, tension headache. He had learned to tell his normal tension headaches from his Trouble's Brewing tension headaches. This was one of his TB headaches. In the back of his mind, he was beginning to think that this little girl wasn't Julie. He didn't know Julie all that well, but he did know that Julie was a quiet, shy, sweet little girl. This girl was a loud, obnoxious brat! Not like Julie at all!
Mike massaged his head. There was only one way to find out. He needed to go over the rainbow to retrieve his magic wand. The magic wand was given to him by the Moochick, who told Mike that the wand was once owned by Mike's great-great-great-great grandfather, Claudius Nesmith, the most powerful sorcerer in Ponyland. Mike found it hard to believe he was related to Claudius, since he wasn't very good at magic, but Mike and Claudius looked exactly alike, so there was no doubt, at least to the Moochick, that Mike was a descendant of Claudius Nesmith.
In any case, Mike walked into the living room of the Estate. A lot of the little ponies were trying to figure out what to do about Julie, or whom they thought was Julie. Baby Cuddles, who loved Julie to pieces, was staying away from her, avoiding the little girl as if she were the plague.
"Mask," Mike said. And that was all he said. Masquerade, knowing Mike meant her, flew over to the Texan Monkee.
"What do you need, Mike?" she asked.
"A ride over the rainbow," Mike said, climbing on the yellow Pegasus's back. "I need Claudius's magic wand, and I left it at the Pad."
"What do you need that for?"
Masquerade shrugged, and took off over the rainbow.
Meanwhile, back in the castle across the woods. Julie was out taking a walk in the garden. The guards were watching her from the palace windows, thinking this was all very strange. Jennifer never walked in the garden. She detested nature. This was something new. After a few minutes, Julie went back into the castle, and went over to the guards.
"Can I go walk in the woods and pick wildflowers, please?" she asked.
"Uhh, okay, I guess," the guard said. "We'll go with you."
"Thanks, but I'd like to go myself," Julie said.
"You don't want us to protect you from flying insects and other creepy crawlies?"
"I can handle creepy crawlies like bugs and stuff. Thanks, anyway. I've walked in the woods lots of times and never was scared. Except when it's dark. I don't like the woods in the dark. It's scary."
The guards looked at each other, and just let Julie go on a walk in the woods. But if they had the same psyches as Mike did, they wouldn't have allowed her to go out in the woods that day.
Julie walked down the trail she followed two days ago, when she had met Jennifer, while looking for help for Medley. She was planning on going back to Paradise Estate, and persuade Jennifer to switch back. She had a feeling Jennifer was causing trouble, and she missed Megan, Molly, and Medley. She picked a few flowers along the way, as sort of a peace offering for Megan when she found out Julie had switched places with Jennifer. She was going to be in trouble for this, she knew that!
But she was in trouble long before she reached the Estate. As she plucked a purple flower out of the ground, a shadow lurked behind her. Julie didn't like being in the shadows, so she stood up, and turned around. She saw two men standing there. One was tall and muscular, and the other was short and skinny.
"Hello, little princess," the skinny man said. He had somewhat of a New York accent. "Out here all by yourself?"
"Ummm . . . . ." Julie started to say. She wanted to run, but there was nowhere to run to.
"Ya shouldn't be out here all by yourself," the man said. "Somethin' bad might happen to ya. Ya never know whatcha gonna find out here in dese woods. What you need is an escort. Bruno and me would be happy to take ya home."
Bruno just laughed, and took Julie by the arm. Julie managed to pull herself away, and tried to run, but the skinny man caught her and picked her up.
"Hold it dere, Missy!" he shouted. "You ain't goin' no place. At least not until your royal mom and pop pay us what we want. And dat's a million smackers, plus Bruno's weight in gold. He's worth a good mill, wouldn't you say?"
Julie pushed against this man, squirming to be let down. She was about to let out a scream, when the man covered her mouth with his hand.
"Hold it," he said. "No loud noises. I've got sensitive ears, and Bruno . . . . well, Bruno don't like loud noises, dontcha, Bruno? Hey, show her what you did to the guy who made loud noises at ya."
Bruno laughed, and grabbed a tree stump, firmly planted into the ground. Julie watched as he ripped it out of the ground. Then she gulped. The skinny man laughed, and removed his hand. Julie didn't make one sound.
"Thatta girl," he said. "Come on, Bruno. Let's split. Now listen up, Missy. We call da shots. You do exactly what we say, and ya don't get hurt. You get me, Missy?"
"Yes," Julie said, quietly.
"Good. Let's go."
The two men then proceeded to carry Julie deep into the woods, farther away from Paradise Estate. They reached a small cottage as deep into the woods as they could go, and walked inside of it. The skinny man opened a door in the floor, and practically threw Julie inside of it.
"Now remember, Missy," he said, trying to sound, threatening. It worked pretty well. "I don't wanna hear no sound outta ya. You keep quiet, and everything's sure to be all right. You get me?"
Julie nodded. The skinny man laughed, shut the door, and locked it. Then he sat down in a chair, and propped his feet up on the table.
"I tell ya Bruno," he said. "We got it made in the shade. This royal brat is worth a fortune."
"Duh, but Lenny," Bruno said. "How are we gonna pull dis off? Won't the guards catch us?"
"We lucked out dat the kid was alone. We left da note before we found da kid. We're gonna get away wit dis wit a million bucks! Even more when dey weigh ya. More loot dan we ever dreamed of, pal!"
Lenny and Bruno began to laugh. Julie heard every word they were saying. She leaned against the wall, and pulled her knees up to her chest. It was dark in this cellar. Julie didn't like the dark. She was cold, alone, and scared. She began to cry, silently. She didn't want Lenny or Bruno to hear her. She wondered what she was going to do now.
Meanwhile, Masquerade and Mike had returned to Paradise Estate with Mike's magic wand. The two of them found Jennifer having a fight with Megan and Cupcake.
"I will not clean up the mess!" Jennifer shouted. "That's not my job!"
"Julie, you made the mess, now you clean it up," Cupcake said. "It's as simple as that!"
"How dare you!" Jennifer shouted. "How dare you force me to do menial labor! I'll have your pretty pony head for this!"
"What happened?" Masquerade asked.
"Megan and I were baking cookies," Cupcake explained, patiently. "So Julie came in, and we asked her to help, because we knew that she likes to bake cookies."
"Especially with Cupcake," Megan said.
"Cooking is a servant's job!" Jennifer shouted, sticking her nose in the air.
"That's what she told us," Cupcake said. "So we let it slide. Until she took the bowl and dropped it."
Mike looked down by his feet and saw a broken glass bowl, and chocolate chip cookie dough all over the floor.
"We asked her to clean it up, but she refused," Megan said.
"I don't do servants work!" Jennifer shouted. "I don't do any kind of work! How dare you try and make me?! I'll have all your heads for trying to make me work!"
"Julia Catherine Olsen, what has gotten into you?!" Megan shouted.
"I think I know what," Mike said. He gripped his magic wand, and practically hit Jennifer in the face with it. The crystal ball on the wand glowed bright orange for a minute, and then subsided. Mike stood up, and folded his arms across his chest.
"Okay, Jenny, where's Julie?" he asked.
"Jenny?!" Megan, Masquerade, and Cupcake shouted at once.
"DON'T EVER CALL ME JENNY!" Jennifer shrieked.
"Answer the question! Where's Julie?!" Mike yelled. If someone was rude with him, he was rude right back, no matter how old the person was. He didn't tolerate rudeness, especially to his face.
"She's at my castle," Jennifer mumbled.
"What do you mean castle?" Cupcake asked. "And what is going on here, anyway?"
"My name's Jennifer, and I'm a princess," Jennifer said, sourly. "I met Julie when she was running around looking for help for your stupid flying friend."
"Don't you dare call Medley stupid!" Firefly shouted, coming into the room. She had heard all the yelling, and she wanted to know what in the world was going on.
"We found out that we looked like each other," Jennifer continued. "So we decided to switch places. She wanted to know what it was like to be a princess, and I wanted to know what it was like living with flying talking ponies. And it's terrible! All you ever do is work! And you make me work, and I'm not supposed to work!"
"Okay, Jennifer," Mike said. He picked her up, and put her on Cupcake's back. He got on Masquerade, and Megan climbed on Firefly.
"Take us back to your castle so we can un-switch you guys," Mike said.
"That's right," Cupcake said.
"Good," Jennifer replied. "I can't wait to get out of this dump!"
Cupcake was off. Firefly and Masquerade were going to follow in the air. Mike groaned, and began massaging your head.
"I don't blame you for that headache, Mike," Masquerade said. "Jennifer probably causes them at this castle of hers, too."
"It's not a tension headache," Mike said, shaking his head. "It's a TB headache."
"TB?" Firefly asked. "Trouble's Brewing headache?"
"Yep," Mike said. "But I don't know what could be causin' it."
"I guess we'll find out when we go switch the girls," Megan replied.
Mike nodded. He could only hope.
When the group got to the castle, they could hear celebrating and cheering inside.
"Sounds like someone's having a party," Cupcake said.
"Oooh, that darn Julie!" Jennifer grumbled. "Having a party at my castle!"
"Come on," Mike said. The little ponies went forward, and knocked on the door of the castle. One of the guards answered it.
"Yeah?" he asked.
"Hi," Mike said. "Uhh, I think we have somethin' that belongs to you."
The guard looked down, saw Jennifer, and then looked back at Mike.
"Keep her," he said. "We don't want her back!"
"Hold it a minute!" Firefly shouted. "You have to take her back. See, what happened was . . . . ."
"Hey, little pony, it doesn't work that way," the guard said. "You've got her, you keep her. She's your problem now."
"No, you don't understand . . . . ."
"Hey, you kidnappers couldn't pay the king and queen to take this little brat back!" the guard shouted.
"Whattaya kidnappers?!" Mike shouted. Then a surge of pain went through his temple. He cringed, massaged it for a minute, and turned back to the guards.
"We're just tryin' to switch back the girls!" he shouted.
"That's right," Megan said. "My cousin, Julie, looks exactly like Jennifer, and the girls switched places on us."
"Uhh, when did they switch?" the guard asked, a little nervously.
"Two days ago," Masquerade replied. "Why?"
"Ooohhhh boy," the guard said. "Umm, I think there's something you need to see."
The guard let Mike, Megan, Jennifer, and the three ponies into the castle. Once inside, the guard returned with a piece of paper. Mike read it, and nearly had a heart attack.
"Holy motherapearl!" he shouted.
"What?" Firefly asked. "What's wrong?"
"Plenty," Mike said. "Apparently, some kidnappers came along and thought Julie was Jennifer. They want a million dollars for her."
"What?!" Cupcake shouted.
"And there's this big guy, Bruno," Mike said. "At least accordin' to the letter. And they want his weight in gold. It also says Bruno weighs about two tons."
"What are we going to do?" Masquerade asked.
"We're going to find these kidnappers and get Julie back," Megan said. "Come on!"
"Do you need any help?" the guard asked.
"No," Mike replied, shaking his head. He climbed on Masquerade. "We can handle this ourselves!"
"What kind of idiots would let a little girl go in these woods alone anyway?!" Firefly shouted.
"Well, she asked us nicely, and we thought she was gonna throw a temper tantrum like she always does and . . . . ."
"Never mind! You guards make me sick!"
Firefly rolled her eyes, and flew off. She had more important things on her mind right now.
In the meantime, Bruno was down in the cellar, keeping Julie company. Lenny was out, watching for palace guards to deliver the ransom. Julie wasn't too scared anymore, since she found out Bruno was a nice guy. He was telling Julie stories.
"And I coulda been a contendah," he said, making a couple of boxing moves. "But I didn't. Dat's all right. Boxing is too violent anyway. I don't get what's with you, kid. Everybody says you're a brat! Or so I've heard. But you're not a brat. You're a good kid."
Julie didn't say anything. She just played with the chain of her heart-shaped locket. Inside her locket was a rainbow, but she never let it out. It wasn't as powerful as the Rainbow of Light, but it was her own special rainbow. Bruno saw the locket and smiled.
"Dat's nice, kid," he said. "Can I see it?"
"Promise you'll give it back?" Julie asked.
"I promise. I don't take nothin' that don't belong to me. Lenny, on the other hand . . . ."
Julie took off her locket, and gave it to Bruno. Bruno didn't open it, but he looked on the front of it.
"What's dis say?" he asked. "J-U-L-I-E. What's dat spell?"
"It spells my name," Julie said. "My name's Julie."
"Julie? It ain't Jennifer? I always thought da princess's name was Jennifer."
"It is. But we look alike, and we switched places."
"We got da wrong kid?"
Bruno thought for a minute. He might not have been the brightest in the bunch, but he wasn't really a bad guy. He was just a little mixed up. He opened the cellar door, took Julie's hand, and started out of the house.
"Come on," he said. "I'll take you back to where you belong."
Julie smiled. Finally, she was going back to Ponyland. Just as she and Bruno were about to leave the house, they met up with Lenny.
"And just where do you think you're goin'?" he asked.
"Listen, Lenny," Bruno said. "We goofed! We got da wrong kid!"
"Whattaya mean da wrong kid?!" Lenny shouted. "I'd stake my life on it!"
"But look at dis!"
Bruno gave Lenny Julie's locket, and he got a good look at it.
"Julie, huh?" he asked. Then he turned to Julie. "You mean to tell me you ain't no princess?"
"Yes," Julie said, timidly. "Jennifer and I met in the woods and we switched places because we looked like each other."
"I shoulda guessed," Lenny groaned. "I heard Jennifer was a real brat, and you ain't no brat, kid."
"I was just gonna take her home," Bruno said.
"You can't take her home! She knows what we're up to! We can't let her spoil everyting by lettin' her go!"
"But what are you gonna do?"
"I'll take care of dis myself. And as for you, Bruno, get into da cellar, you traitor. I'll take care of you later. Right now, I'm gonna take care of dis little brat."
Bruno gulped, and went into the cellar. Lenny grumbled and locked the door. Then he turned to Julie.
"I've always hated kids," he said. "You're all snot-nosed little weasels!"
"Pl-please don't hurt me," Julie said, quietly.
"Aw, I'm not gonna hurt ya," Lenny said. He grabbed Julie by the arms and picked her up. "What makes you tink I'm gonna hurt ya!"
Julie let out a scream. She couldn't help it. Lenny just laughed, and let her scream. No one was going to hear her. At least that's what he thought. Until the door burst open.
"Okay, you jerk, put her down!" Firefly shouted.
"A talkin' pony?!" he shouted.
"I can fly, too," Firefly said. "And I know lots of tricks! So if you don't want to see the double inside out loop, put the little girl down and leave her alone!"
"Who's gonna make me?" Lenny asked.
"We are!" Megan and Mike shouted in unison. Megan opened the Rainbow of Light, and it shot out of it's locket and smacked Lenny in the face.
Lenny stumbled backwards and dropped Julie. Julie burst into tears and ran for Megan. Megan scooped her little cousin into her arms and gave her a hug.
"It's okay now, Julie," she said. "It's all right."
"You're safe now, honey," Cupcake said, nuzzling Julie's leg. "Safe and sound, where you belong."
"Why you little . . . . ." Lenny said, coming at the group. Before he could do anything, Mike punched him in the jaw.
"Don't you go messin' around with kids again," he growled. "Or you might be sorry. Where's your two ton friend?"
"Cellar," Lenny said.
Mike walked over to the cellar door, and blasted it open with Claudius's wand. Bruno climbed out.
"Thanks, pal," he said.
"I ain't your pal," Mike said.
"Easy, buddy, I'm on your side!" Bruno shouted. "I was on Lenny's, but den I found out the kid wasn't who we thought she was, and I was gonna bring her back."
"He was," Julie said, nodding.
"Okay, then," Mike said. Then he turned to Lenny. "And as for you, don't let me catch you around here again, you got me, fella?"
"Eeeeuuuuhhhhhh," Lenny groaned. Mike had smacked him silly. So he took that as a conformation, climbed on Masquerade, and went off to Paradise Estate with Megan, Firefly, Julie, and Cupcake.
Everyone gathered around when they got back to the Estate. And they all cheered when they saw Julie.
"Am I in trouble?" she asked.
"No," Cupcake said. "Jennifer might have caused trouble while she was pretending to be you, but you're not in trouble in the least."
"Come on, Julie," Molly said, taking her cousin's hand. "Tell us what it was like living in the castle!"
The other baby ponies began cheering, and urged Julie to tell them what had happened in the past two days. Julie followed them all into the nursery to tell them about it.
"Well, looks like all's well that ends well," Mike said.
Cupcake nodded in agreement. She was glad this story had a happy ending.