"Uh Flam, is everything okay?" Flim turned to his brother as they sat on the chaise lounge of the smoking machine. Flam's face, normally stuck in a permanent grin, was contorted with an ugly scowl. Flim flattened his ears, turning away from the mustachioed stallion. "You don't have to give me the silent treatment." In fact, his brother had been giving him the "silent treatment" ever since the last town two days ago. A loud clinking of the fast failing machine was all that broke the morning stillness.
The Super Speedy Cider Squeesy 6000 more closely resembled a jumbled pile of mechanical refuse than the slick machine it began its life as. Flim had constructed the technical marvel himself, with the help of Flam of course. It had been his idea, and the young stallion had poured his heart and soul into the project. But now, it was the source of purest frustration and the hammer driving a wedge between Flam and himself.
Days of driving the magically powered device had worn the young unicorns out considerably, but Flam appeared to take no notice. Ever since they had been run out of Vaneighla, they had hardly stopped for a rest. Flim's magic was every bit as powerful as Flam's, but he had never been able to meet his twin's stamina. Finally, he could not keep the spell up any longer, and the aura dropped away from his horn.
A grating, mechanical whine filled the tree lined roadway, and echoed into the surrounding countryside. Slowly, the great contraption rolled to a stop. Flam stood, glowering at his panting brother. Then, he sighed, ceasing his own magic. With an ear splitting clunk, the machine settled to the earth, loose parts tumbling in all directions. He kicked Flim hard in the ribs and gestured to the ground. "Come on."
Flim smirked in his typical knowing fashion. "Well, you going to talk to me now?" His brother's icy glare sent a chill up Flim's spine and he quickly leapt off of the platform to the ground. He watched as his twin examined the smoking wreck, slowly curling his mustache. Flim knew that sign anywhere. Flam was furious.
Gesturing grandly to the mess, Flam glowered at his clean shaven brother. "Do you know what this is Flim?"
He rolled his green eyes. Good for nothing know it all. "Our machine."
"No brother of mine, it's your machine." He raised a tan hoof and stomped it hard into the dirt. "Your machine, your idea, your screw up Flim!"
Oh boy, here it comes. "Yeah so what?"
Flam raised a shaking hoof. Before he knew what happened, Flim was sprawled on the ground from the force of his brother's strike. "What the? What'd you do that for?"
"What I'd do that for?" Flam stood over his twin, eyes flashing with panic now. "1,000 bits Flim. 1,000 bits." His eyes misted over, and his voice was unnaturally high pitched. "How in Equestria are we going to pay back that kind of money Flim?"
Flim frowned, staring hard at the dirt. Flam's right. They were penniless and in debt all because of his stupid idea. Tears filled his own eyes now, falling down his muzzle. "I'm sorry."
Flam's voice rose ever higher. "Sorry? Sorry doesn't cut it Flim!" He kicked a gear skyward snorting in frustration. "We should have taken my idea from the start. But no, I let you talk me into this crazy stunt of yours. Now look at us!"
"I didn't mean-"
"-You didn't mean to eh? Well tuff love kid. You screwed us over big time!" Flam's sides huffed with rage, and he nudged his brother in the chest. "Get up, we've got to move this heap of junk so we can sell it for scrap."
It's not junk! Idiot. Still, he's right. It's not going to do us any good in the state it's in. Shakily, he rose and walked over to Flam. He lit his horn with his magic, attempting to raise the pieces enough to move the great contraption. It worked for a time, then a familiar strain began to fill his chest. Blast. Not now! He panted, struggling to keep up with Flam's magic, but to no avail.
With a crash louder than the first, the entirety of the pieces fell to the ground. This time the wooden structure shattered, splinters and metal flying in all directions. Flam turned red faced, to his brother. "You idiot! Look what you've-" A cold chill filled his chest when he saw his brother lying on the ground, coughing uncontrollably. Flam you numskull.
He trotted quickly over to his brother. Flim's sides were now lathered in sweat, eyes filled with pain and panic. The cough grew worse, and the young stallion began gasping for breath. Flam lay down next to his twin, placing a hoof gently on his back. "Breathe Flim. Just try to breath."
For what felt like hours, Flam watched as Flim struggled to control the fit. Eventually, the coughing ebbed, and Flim stared weakly into Flam's eyes. "Sorry."
Flam gave his twin a big hug, nuzzling him gently. "I'm sorry too Flim. It's not your fault." He stared around at their surroundings. They appeared to be stuck in some back road, lined with mature peach trees. From the maps he had studied, he knew there was a town fairly close by. "I'm going to go to town, see if there's anypony to buy these scraps."
Flim struggled to join his brother, but fell back to earth in the attempt. Flam sighed and forced him to lie still. "You stay here Flim. I'll be back." His face broke into his first real smile in weeks. "Won't take long. Promise."
Flim stared until the familiar shape faded out of sight. It was already very warm outside, and the promised to be hotter than the last. Overhead, cicadas could be heard chirping away, and a pair of blue jays flew through the clear sky. It really was a beautiful day. Sighing, he struggled to his feet and moved to the shade of the trees, coughing occasionally. He found a particularly large peach tree to rest under, and lay down.
He moaned from the pain now filling his sides, he always felt terrible after an attack. Curling his red and white striped tail around himself, he tried to ignore the sharp sting coming with every breath. First the machine, now this. Blast it all. I really am useless. Wouldn't be surprised if Flam just up and left. His heart clenched at the very thought of his brother leaving for good. They were twins, and as twins, did everything together. Flim could not remember the last time he had been alone, but it did not feel right. "Come back soon Flam."
Somehow, he had managed to drift off to sleep. A strange, high pitched noise jarred him awake. Turing bleary eyed, he regarded the source.What the? There standing on a ladder of a nearby peach tree was a small auburn earth pony filly, squeaking in frustration. She was wobbling back and forth on the ladder, trying to reach the peaches clinging to the tree. Flim watched as she swung for a nearby peach and missed completely. He gave a soft chuckle. Stupid kid. She's never going to reach it.
A soft summer breeze blew up through the meadow and the ladder began to shake even more violently. The filly gasped, and tumbled from her perch. Flim shot upright, catching the filly in his green magic. He chucked as the mare started to flail in all directions, and tread the air like water. Slowly he set her back down to earth.
She glowered at Flim with her amber eyes. "Why'd you do that?"
His own eyes went wide with surprise. Ingrate! "Oh, I don't know. Perhaps to prevent your untimely demise."
The filly cocked her head to the side. "De-demise? What in the hay is that?"
Flim slapped a hoof to his forehead. His show persona was so deeply imbedded in him, that he used the language even outside of their gigs. Rolling his eyes, he gestured to the ground. "I stopped you from getting your head split open kid."
"Oh. I didn't need your help." The filly flicked her long golden tail, and started to readjust the ladder. It swayed back and forth until it toppled to the grass once again. She kicked it with her tiny hoof and glowered at it. "Stupid ladder!"
Striding forward, Flim picked the ladder up with his magic, and adjusted it against the tree trunk. "There. Happy?"
The filly gave Flim a dirty look, and puffed her chest out. "I could have done that." She clambered up the rungs, and once again struggled to reach even the closest peach.
She's pretty bent on this. Flim walked to the bottom of the ladder and looked up. "Come down before you hurt yourself."
The filly kept reaching for the peach, eyes filled with determination. "No! I'm going to pick these peaches today."
I've had just about enough of her. "Listen kid, I'm going to leave. You'll be on your own got it?" He turned back to the road, when a large gust of wind blew through the orchard. Once again the ladder began to wobble uncontrollably. The filly squeaked in fright, clutching the rungs. Flim stabilized it one again, and glowered up at the young pony. "Come down now."
She stuck her tongue out, and clutched the rungs ever tighter. That's it kid. Using his magic, he pried the filly from her death grip, and lifted her once more into the air. This time, he let her hang suspended. She flailed and screamed at him, but could not break free. "Calm down. Geeze. What's wrong with you?"
She huffed, and folded her hooves. "I'm working unlike you. Freeloader."
"Freeloader?" Flim hated that word more than anything else. He shook the little filly with his magic. "I am not a freeloader! I'm an honest salespony."
The filly burst into a fit of giggles. "You a salespony? What do you sell? That pile of junk on the road there?"
Flim felt his tan face turn a nasty shade of red. "The Super Speedy Cider Squeesy 6000 is not junk." The effort of keeping the filly up started to aggravate his lungs once more. He dropped the filly unceremoniously to the ground, a new fit of coughing starting up.
She cocked her head, regarding the rasping stallion. "What's wrong with you mister?"
Slowly, the coughing ebbed, and Flim stared at the mare. "I've got a condition. Okay?" He snorted in frustration. Why'd she have to see that?"Go on home kid."
Grinning wickedly, the filly puffed her chest out. "No."
Once again, Flim slapped a hoof to his forehead. "Ugh why not?"
"Pa threw out his back, and can't work. Ma's going to another foal soon, so she needs to rest." She pawed at the grass nervously, eyes sparkling with worry. "But, I've got to get these peaches picked by tonight. Otherwise, they'll go bad, and we'll lose a lot of money."
Flim felt his heart lurch at the filly's words. He was not one for charity, but was a special case. Wasn't it? Gulping he walked forward and put a hoof on the filly's back. "I'll help you out kid."
She burst into a fit of giggles. "How in the hay is a unicorn with a condition going to help pick all this fruit?"
"Lookie here kid." Flim gestured grandly to his cutie mark, a small apple slice. "See this? I've got plenty of experience working with apples." He gave the blank flanked pony a gentle noogie. "Peaches can't be much harder can they?"
Silently, the filly contemplated his offer. She knew she should not accept help from strangers. But, it would be a big help. It can't hurt. Can it? Cautiously she lifted a hoof. "You've got yourself a deal scrawny. In exchange I'll give you the unsellable peaches."
Flim took the hoof, and shook on it. "Fair enough." Striding forward to the nearest tree, he lifted the peaches from the tree with his magic and to the ground.
The filly gasped, galloping forward to stand in front of Flim. "No! You can't pick them that way."
"Peaches are a lot more delicate than apples. They'll bruise." She trotted over to the pile, smelling the ripened fruit and carefully examining the specimens. "They aren't bruised at all. How?"
Flim winked knowingly. "Come now, you can't expect a salespony like myself to damage the final product." He smiled up at the orchard around them. "Especially fine peaches like these." He nudged the filly with his hoof and gestured to the pile of fruit. "Where do you want them?"
"Pa keeps the crates at the end of the orchard." She trotted off, then paused, remembering. "Say what's your name mister? Mine's Peach Blossom, but you can call me Blossom."
Blossom burst into a fit of laughter. "And I thought my name was silly!" She started forward. "Let's get the crates Flim."
Moving the wooden crates proved to be a more difficult task then he thought. Normally, it would not have taken long, but the strain from his latest fit was taking its toll. After an hour of stopping and starting up again, the pair managed to move every crate into position under the trees.
One by one, they filled the boxes with peaches. Flim would pick them, while Peach Blossom stacked the boxes. She was surprisingly strong for a filly, and Flim could not help but be impressed. "You sure know your stuff Blossom."
The little filly flushed. He's so weird. "Duh. Stupid old man."
Flim chuckled and started back to work. She's a lot like we were at her age. As he worked, he began to hum their latest show tune, Opportunity. Flam had thought of the music, and he made up the lyrics. Sure it was cheesy, and obnoxious, but it was catchy. Before long, Blossom was humming right alongside him.
As they worked, Flim began to realize how much he had missed everyday labor. Traveling around the country was fun, but it took a toll on his health and on his soul. Simple work like this had a charm their get rich quick schemes never could hold. The sun was dropping low in the sky, when he triumphantly stacked the last crate in the pile.
Blossom grinned up at the tall stallion, eyes sparkling with excitement. "We did it Flim!" She pranced around the crates, head held high and chest puffed out. "We did it! Pa's going to be so excited."
Flim opened his mouth to respond, when the sound of galloping hooves greeted them. Coming up the road was none other than a harried looking Flam. He skidded to a halt in front of his brother, panting for air. "There you are Flim! So sorry I'm late. It took longer than I thought to find a buyer." He looked around at the crates of peaches and the now empty trees. His eyes filled with concern. "You've been picking peaches Flim? Geeze, you'll aggravate your lungs doing stuff like that!"
Flim held a hoof up sheepishly. "I was being really careful. Besides, I didn't have anything better to do. Right Blossom?" He gave the filly a good natured wink.
Blossom was not listening to Flim, she stared wide eyed at Flam, opening and closing her mouth like a fish. She swung her head to Flim. "You cloned yourself!"
The pair burst out laughing. Flam smiled kindly at the filly. "We're twins."
"Oh." Blossom flushed at her own misunderstanding. "That makes sense."
Flim gestured to the stack of crates. "Should we help carry these to your house?"
Blossom shook her head. "No, they'll be easier to take to town this way. I'll go and let Ma and Pa know." She started to trot back through the orchard then paused. Cantering back, she gave Flim's leg a big hug. "Thanks for your help." She quickly made her way towards home and out of sight.
Flam frowned as the filly ran off. "She seems to like you."
Flim chuckled. "Yeah. Guess we got along." Waking around the pile of crates, he picked out a small one and carried it in his magic. "We going Flam?"
"Huh?" Flam stared skeptically at the crate Flim was holding. "You going to steal from that cute Filly."
"Of course not! We agreed on my payment." He gestured to the inside of the crate, and Flam looked at the contents. It was full to the brim with bruised or damaged peaches.
Chuckling he smiled at his clean shaven brother. "Idiot." They strode over to the broken machine, and Flam sighed. "It took all day, but I finally found somepony to buy it."
"Really? For how much?"
The face under the mustache grew tight. "50 bits."
Flim stared at his brother, green eyes wide. "50 bits? Flam that means we'll still have 950 bits to pay back!"
Flam pawed at the dirt uncomfortably, avoiding his brother's stare. "I know. But, nopony else would take the darn thing." He sighed again, moving the pieces of bent metal with his hoof. "I've got an idea for our next gig Flim."
The thought of his brother's idea made Flim's stomach churn. "You really want to become snake oil salesmen?"
Flam's face grew hard, and his eyes determined. Slowly, he nodded. "Yeah."
"But we've always told ourselves we'd be honest about our work. The machine wasn't perfect, but it worked, and we were selling them descent cider." Flim's voice took on a high pitched, desperate tone. "But to rob them of their hard earned bits?" He frowned, looking at the ground. "It's not honest."
His brother huffed, snorting in exasperation. "Nopony ever gets ahead in life by being honest! Deal with it Flim." He started to walk forward, lifting the box of peaches. "Come on."
"But what about the machine?"
"The pony's coming to pick it up in the morning. He said just to leave it here." Flam smiled weakly at his twin. "Come on Flim. It'll be okay."
Slowly, Flim walked over to join Flam and smiled sadly. "Ready." The pair strode down the road towards the next town. As he left the orchard, Flim found himself wondering if someday he'd have just as honest a life as Blossom. He sighed and shook his head. Not likely.
So I hoped you enjoyed my little project. I had a lot of fun writing it. Flim and Flam are some of my favorite antagonists in the show, mostly because there's just so much to discover about them. As always, I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts on my work. Thanks for reading!