Quintilis 6, Year 400 of Our Father
It's strange writing in this diary. I don't think I've even cracked it open in years, let alone written anything in it. But today I've felt like I really need to record my treacherous thoughts, if only to get rid of them.
Just this morning, only a few minutes ago, I had a Thought. A capital-T Thought, yes. It wasn't much really, just a brief two-second reflection as I got up from my incredibly soft bed and stood on the balcony. I was watching the ponies of Canterlot go about their business, doing whatever ponies do. It wasn't exactly easy to see them from five stories up, especially without my glasses, but I can make a pretty good guess or two: strolling about, darting from one appointment to another, and generally not making a nuisance of themselves.
I had a fair view of the market district, where I could see them buying and selling, advertising and haggling. I watched children — no, foals is what they're called here — I watched foals chasing each other under the eyes of disapproving but amused parents. There were mates walking about in the open, as if they deserved to be seen together. I imagined my old schoolmates back in Yugoslothvia watching this scene with me, resisting the urge to jeer at their overt affection.
There was a stallion strolling with a mare from a fancy restaurant, talking and laughing. Laughing, even though Mirth is such an insidious Sin! It was a sickening sight, but somehow I couldn't look away. There was something darkly compelling about the way they chattered, as if eavesdropping on their conversation were something to take pleasure in. Before my very eyes he leaned in towards her and put his lips against her face. Something stirred in me then, though I felt like vomiting; when she giggled and kissed him back, I was horrified to realize that I felt a perverse satisfaction at the sight.
As I watched them, the ponies who are a living mockery to all that our dictatorship stands for, I stood there and Thought, Yugoslothvia should be like this.
The simple phrase shocked me. It took all my willpower not to reach for the capsule of nitroglycerin pills on my nightstand. Thinking about it, though, I probably should have. After that Thought, I don't deserve to have the peace of a stable system. I should strive to struggle through Adversity, one of the greatest Virtues. The commonest of sloths follow that old rule; why should I be exempt?
Because I need to keep a clear head for this job, of course. What a stupid question. Still, it has been an entire two weeks since I first arrived. I should have a steady head on my shoulders by now. Why am I already betraying Yugoslothvian tenets? I can't imagine how many Sins I have committed with that single Thought. I'm sorry. Oh Father, I'm sorry.
Praise Father Folivus, hallowed be His name. Forgive me, for this sorry doe has sinned. Such ideas are heavily punishable at best, and I shouldn't even be mulling it over, never mind writing it down. To do so is to give the Thought power twice more, once in recording it and once in letting it worm its way through my mind again. I'm sorry, Father. I must never indulge in such heresy again. I will not think about it. I'll burn this diary when I have a chance.
I should probably leave. It is nearly time for breakfast, and Sir Indola isn't about to be kept waiting, especially for lowly secretaries. Father Folivus, You have had a chance to strike me dead where I stand, and You have refrained from doing so. I thank You for Your grace and mercy, and vow never to Think such Thoughts so long as eternity reclines. Amen.
I know I promised to burn this, but something has come up. One of the Equestrian princesses is coming here! To the embassy! I can't believe that a false god is appearing in front of me to tempt me to blasphemy. Father Folivus, grant me strength, and I will champion the noble cause.
Sir Indola ordered me to bathe. I guess it's important to look nice for foreign royalty, even if that royalty's very existence is a mockery of Our Father. I'm not sure what the point of it is. It's not as if I'll be in the princess's presence. But out of obedience I have done so. He is the chief ambassador, and through him Our Father's will is done.
As I bathed, I thought of the stallion and the mare: their horns touching, their mouths turned upwards in smiles worthy of hate. I let my claws drift across the bathtub's rim, thinking of my birth parents. They were commanded to have me, and so they did, even though they were strangers. Of course I've never met them; the state adopts all sloths, for we are all His children. The whole process is a simple, clear-cut thing. But at that moment, thinking of those laughing ponies, I wondered what it would have been like to live as an Equestrian. To grow up with one's birth parents, learning things through trial and error rather than simple lessons.
The thought was blasphemous, and so I pushed it away as I emerged from the bathtub. Still, as I stared into the mirror and examined the shaggy creature trapped inside, I thought I could hear far-off laughter of children.
I have seen the princess. She is not what I imagined.
Imagine a pony. A blue pony, with little to physically set her apart aside from jewelry featuring the moon, which she claims belongs to her. Then imagine that the pony happens to have both wings and a horn, not to mention a bizarre temper. That is Princess Luna. She has a presence, certainly, but not one I'd imagine from a ruler of Equestria. Then again, Equestria is a land of blasphemy. I'm not sure what else I was expecting.
The ponies have a myth revolving around Princess Luna. According to them, she took on the persona of a demon and terrorized the land before Princess Celestia banished her to the moon. It's nonsense, of course. Just a thinly veiled allegory about the differences in policies between the two. The fact that Luna has only recently reemerged from self-imposed exile doesn't exactly help stop the myth from going on.
Still, Luna's the one who sloths would prefer to see. Rumor has it that she was interested in becoming a dictator, and while she could never hope to match up to the might of Father Folivus, her willingness to take on all of the ponies' problems on herself isn't exactly something to sniff at.
Anyway, when she arrived Sir Indola received her with open claws. I was told to file papers in the office outside, the way I usually do. It was hard to concentrate on the work, though. As her words reached my ears, something in her voice made me pause more than once, glancing upwards to hear without distractions. Her voice was boisterous, but there was something in it I couldn't quite put my claw on. It might have been tentativeness. Yes, that's it. She was walking on eggshells without even realizing it; that was how caught up in her self-righteousness she was.
I could imagine why she was here. Surely she understood the importance of approaching Father Folivus' servants after hiding herself away for so long. We would have a lot to offer each other. Perhaps, once Our Father takes his place at the Throne of the World, she could be his right-hand mare. That might fix her insistence that she owns the moon.
Lost in thought as I was, it took me a while to realize I was reading the same file over and over again. I sighed and put it in its correct place, shuffling slightly in my chair. In the other room, Sir Indola and Luna made more small talk about how the world had changed over the last thousand years. I tried not to listen, but my mind continued to wander.
The next file caught my eye with its bold photo. It showed hundreds of sloths stalking around a nitroglycerin mine, wielding scuffed pickaxes. The title revealed their concerns about the latest policies that the Father's Council had instituted; further reading described how many were even refusing to take their daily nitroglycerin pills. Hundreds had already been arrested, but protests still hung heavy in the air. Over and over again, I saw the same word quoted throughout the file. Hopelessness.
I stared. Why hadn't I heard about this before? Then I Thought: Why hasn't this happened before?
Somewhere, just within the range of hearing, I could hear the laughter of children.
This was wrong. I needed to stop Thinking. Father Folivus, forgive me my transgressions. I decided I had to bring this to Sir Indola's attention. Princess or no princess, the wellbeing of Yugoslothvia came first.
Not daring to think twice, I seized the file and burst out of the office, brandishing the papers as if I'd gone mad. Maybe I had. These kinds of ideas had never occurred to me before. The ambassador and the princess sat there, staring at me in surprise. Didn't they realize this was nearly an emergency?
I gestured wildly, though I kept hold of the file in my claws. It wouldn't do to distract them then with my clumsiness. "Sir!" I exclaimed. The words rushed out of my mouth before I could stop them. "Things are getting worse in the mines. If we're wise, we should turn our attention to strictly national business before Yugoslothvia undermines itself once and for all!"
There was stillness for a moment. I think I could feel their eyes burning holes into me, trying to incinerate me on the spot. I shook slightly, but did not budge. This was something he needed to know.
His eyes narrowed. His claws tightened. The princess simply looked bemused.
At last, Sir Indola raised his voice. "You are mistaken. Leave us be."
I froze. I nodded. I swallowed the saliva gathering in my throat, and I took my leave. I heard him sigh behind me, resuming his conversation by apologizing on my behalf. I didn't realize that trying to preserve the stability of Yugoslothvia required an apology.
I'm sitting here in the office now, listening to them go on about nitroglycerin. I can't believe I did that. What have these Thoughts driven me to? What have the ponies done to me? Is it heresy to defend the land of sloths if such defense is brought on by a Thought? I'm not sure what to think anymore. Or whether to think at all.
I'm exhausted. Would anyone notice if I slipped out of this office? It seems likely, especially since I've already stupidly brought attention to myself. Am I indulging in Pride? Dear Father, what Sin haven't I committed today?
I need to think. When working hours end, I am going to my room to think. There I'll decide whether or not this cursed diary should go up in flames.
Father Folivus, praise to His name, may yet grant me mercy.
I'm afraid. My door is locked, but the knob is rattling. I think it's Sir Indola. He hasn't been very happy today since the file incident. Protect me, my Father, if that is Your will.
I should have kept my mouth shut. What good did I think I would do, speaking up like that? It's Pride again. It's always been Pride. Thinking I could change things where not even the Father's Council can.
I can hear laughter again. The door and windows are shut, and we aren't allowed to play records, but there's laughter anyway. Children's. I want to tell them to shut up, but I doubt that will do any good. How would I start? Speak to the world in general? Speaking is what put me into this mess.
He's pounding on the door now. I'm in the bathroom, trying to hide between two locked doors, but I don't think it will hold him out forever. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure I should be trying to avoid him at all. Don't I deserve punishment for what I've done? Perhaps I am too far gone in Father Folivus' eyes. I have become different, other. What sane sloth lets herself get sucked into the alluring Sins of another race? But these Sins are strange. I feel more awake than I've ever been, and it's driving me insane. I'm scared. All I can hear is laughter.
Sir Indola's gotten through the first door! Now he's tearing apart the room trying to find me. Foolish creature. I'll be in the last place you look. When you find me, I'll fight! What's assault on a public official on top of all my other crimes?
I think there's another Sin. A new Sin, one that our kind hasn't discovered before, even though there are hundreds already. It's ignorance and laziness, a failure to look within ourselves and see the monsters we're becoming. It's called Sloth. Suddenly I understand these ponies through this simple derogatory word they insist on using. We were the problem. We've been the problem all along, insisting on shoving explosives down each other's throats. Everything is a lie, a horrible lie, and that is a greater Sin in action. The worst part is, I can't tell whether Sins are to be shunned or not. Good is bad. Bad is good. Black is white, and night is day. Father Folivus, forgive me.
He knows I'm in here. His claws are scraping against the door. There is no way out. Why am I laughing? Maybe I can pl