It was the beginning of summer in Ponyville, and the trees and the plants were in full color...
"This is complete bullshit." said Larry, as he read over the first lines of the fan-fiction for what seemed to be the hundredth time. Try as he might, there was absolutely nothing about it that seemed to grab the reader; there was nothing that hooked them, and he wanted a hook.
Looking to his left, Larry noticed that Derrik wasn't stirring from his task at his own lap-top. Instead, he was busy with his stupid character histories.
"Are you having a problem with something?" Derrik said, still not looking up from his keyboard.
"You could say that," Larry said, then letting out a long sigh, he rubbed his knuckles before cracking them in turn against the palms of his hands. "This thing just doesn't have a good opening."
"Let me see," said Derrik, moving his mouse to the tabs on his browser and going to the open Google Docs page which they were both to use.
The two of them had been fans of the popular TV series My Little Pony for most of the time it had been broadcast, and like the other fans of the series, they were both patiently waiting for the next season. Since it was in such a long hiatus, they decided to use their creative energy to write fan-fiction, and make their own mark in the Brony world.
At the present, Larry and Derrik were sitting at a long desk in Derrik's basement/office attempting a collaborative composition.
"Dammit Larry!" he said glaring at the screen, "You haven't written past the first line?"
"I want it to be perfect."
"Seriously dude, it's a fan-fiction, there's no such thing as perfect." said Derrik typing on his keyboard, and adding to the document.
It was the beginning of Summer in Ponyville, and the trees and the plants were in full color. Everywhere a pony looked, the country was green and alive.
Sweetie Belle was oblivious to the greenery or the colors however. Her only goal at the moment seemed to be focused on finding her sister a present, for her birthday.
"Whoa, what the hell man?" Larry said, getting excited as he watched the words appear in the document. "I thought we were going to be writing a clop-fic about Rarity and Rainbow Dash."
"Yeah well, that's too cliche," he said as he paused from his typing. "Everyone writes about Rarity; and the whole candy vag thing has gotten really old."
"Everyone wants to read clop-fiction; it's the thing to write." said Larry as he frowned sternly at Derrik. "What is this going to be?"
"It's a romance."
"For frak's sake man, that's lame!" Larry said pushing himself down in his desk chair in a gesture of defiance.
"Well, it's not that bad." said Derrik, amused with himself for taking charge of the story. "It's about a young colt that wants to ask Sweetie Belle out on a date, and he follows her around, but Sweetie Belle is too dense to gather that the dude is interested in her, and all she can seem to do is talk about getting her cutie mark and such."
Holding his arms up and crossing them in the form of a huge X, Larry said, "Rejected."
"Why? he said as he turned to Larry. "It's a lot better than that faggot crap you want to make the ponies do."
Thinking about it for a moment, Larry nodded to himself, and admitted that Derrik was right. Most of the fans only seemed to be interested in clop-fiction, or human crossovers, or worse, adding to the Cupcakes debauchery.
"What we need to do," said Larry, "is write something that hasn't been written before."
"Like this," he said as he selected the contents of the page and deleted it, and began to write anew at a furious pace.
Call me Rarity. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no bits in my saddlebag, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of Equestria. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul;
"What the hell is that supposed to be?" Derrik asked shaking his head in confusion. "I thought you were going to write something original, not Moby Dick."
"Oh but this is original." said Larry stopping from his writing. "The idea is the same as Moby Dick, but the characters are totally different. Rarity is Ishmael, and get this... Twilight is Captain Ahab."
"It get's better," said Larry. "Twilight is obsessed with hunting down the legendary water dragon, and it's Spike. He's the white whale of the story! Get it?"
"Oh I got it." he said as he looked at Larry with a concerned expression, "I think you've been hitting the Mountain Dew a little too hard."
Rubbing at the tip of his nose, Derrik then snapped his finger. "I've got it."
"What?" said Larry watching in dismay as Derrik erased his Rarity Dick story, and began to type on the new blank page.
I would that sight my only terror be
Of things and words, and lonely dreams of sleep.
That never lets my mind's eye rest, in hope
For another day-in my hour of need
And longing-and desire of that time.
In little flickers of the candle-light
That illumine the walls with shadows dark
And cold; making my heart sink, and ears beat
The drumming of my gloom, in this hellish
library of ill knowledge and ill gain.
"A hero poem?" said Larry with skepticism.
"Blank verse." Derrik said, correcting him.
"Same thing," Larry replied, furrowing his brow as he did. "What's the difference between this and Moby Dick?"
"Iambic pentameter," said Derrik, then smiling at the misdirected answer.
"Your feet need work." he said.
"What do you mean?"
"Your iambic feet are wrong, from here out." said Larry pointing at the fourth line of Derrik's verse libre.
"So instead of writing an epic rendition of Moby Dick, you are copying Milton?" said Larry.
"I'm not copying anyone. I'm attempting to write a fan-fiction of My Little Pony in the style of a classic epic poem." Derrik was sounding slightly annoyed. "What's wrong with that?"
"It's gonna be a load of crap. Is what's wrong with it." said Larry getting excited again. "No Brony in their right mind would want to read Ponyville Lost or Dash's Inferno."
"You're right." said Derrik, reluctant to admit so, "What are we going to write about then?"
Staring at his laptop, Larry pondered what it was that made the show so damn good, and he could only come to the same conclusion again, and again. The show was good, because everyone could relate to something about it; and the fan-fictions were good, because they could be morph into things that personalized the characters for each of the Bronies that wrote them.
The question now, was what the characters meant to the two of them, and how they could craft that into a story.
"How about we each come up with some stuff, and then the other one either says yea or nay?" said Derrik as he ran his fingers across the surface of his laptop absentmindedly. "Then when we find one that the other of us likes, we can work on that one."
"That just might work." Larry said.
"We have to first decide on what we aren't going to write though." said Derrik as he gave Larry a stern look. "I don't want to write clop fiction."
"Fine. We don't have to write clop, but can we at least have some shipping?"
"What kind of shipping?" asked Derrik, with a hint of suspicion.
Squeezing his eyes closed and gritting his teeth, Derrik reluctantly agreed after a few seconds. "Alright, but only if it's mild. I don't like writing about horse sex."
"Okay. What about human crossovers?"
"I'll agree, again, as long as there isn't any human and pony relations." said Derrik.
"So how are we going to do this?"
Slowly exhaling, Derrik tapped on his space key a few times, and suggested that they each write anywhere in the story they think would interest the other. It could be ab initio or in media res, and any genre was fair game.
"Excellent." Larry said as he rubbed his hands together, then hastily started a new Docs document titled Stuff.
Nodding his head in approval, Derrik turned to his own laptop and blanked the page he had been writing on, and began once more. It was now down to which of them could impress the other with their original ideas.
To Derrik, it was more about the challenge of being able to write about characters that he had not created, and how he could integrate various techniques into such a lush and vibrant world. He loved being able to expound or contract on the idea of Ponies, and how they could be crafted into a new type of story.
"Hey is any-pony over there?" came the voice of a pony that Rainbow Dash didn't know.
As soon as she opened her eyes to look around, she noticed that the room was dark, pitch black dark, and her eyes couldn't come into focus on anything. In addition to that, she felt cold from her neck down to her tail.
Raising one of her front hooves up, she felt the subtle ebb of liquid, and recognized that she was laying in a tub of water, or worse.
Panicking at the thought of not knowing what was happening, and not being able to see; she thrashed in the water, and ended up sinking the rest of the way, as her head went under and she fought against inhaling a mouthful of water.
As she kicked and struggled, the more panicky she became, until eventually she leapt from the tub and fell over its side onto a hard cold floor.
Frantic, she tried to get away from the tub, but felt a sharp pain in her back hoof as it was suddenly stopped by a chain.
"Oh shit!" she said as her fear began to reach new heights. "Oh shit! Oh Shit!"
"Hey!" came the voice again from the darkness. "It's alright, just try and calm down."
Icy cold fingers of terror finally gripped her, as Rainbow Dash stopped pulling against the chain, and huddled into a ball next to the wall trembling from fright and cold.
"Am I dead?" she finally asked the voice in the darkness.
"You're not dead."
With no warning, the lights in the room suddenly erupted to life, and Rainbow Dash squeezed her eyes closed to block out the sting of their brightness.
After a few moments, with tears in the corners of her eyes, she was able to get a good look around at where she was, and more importantly who the other voice belonged to.
Staring in disbelief, Rainbow Dash could see that she was laying in some sort of abandoned and dilapidated commercial bathroom. Next to her was a tub with water in it, slowly draining, and attached to the back leg of the old tub was the chain that was also attached to her back hoof.
Glancing across the bathroom, Rainbow Dash could see an apricot colored pony likewise chained. Only she was chained to an old wall mounted sink.
She didn't look like any-pony that Rainbow Dash knew, and despite being in the same strange and frightening situation, she seemed resolute and calm.
"What do you think of this?" asked Larry as he showed Derrik the story.
"You're rewriting the movie Saw?"
"Well, it has some great thrill aspects to it, and it's got a real claustrophobic feel about it." said Larry with eagerness.
"I don't think that's going to work." said Derrik. "And besides, you totally left out Chekhov's Gun."
"What? No I didn't." Larry said somewhat defensive of his story.
"Yes you did. You didn't even mention that the key to the lock on her chain, fell into the drain of the tub."
"Dammit." said Larry, as he realized his mistake.
"Why don't you write about something a little more in-depth, if you're going to do a movie/pony adaptation." suggested Derrik.
"How about Tron? I don't know of anything being written for that yet." said Derrik as he paused only briefly to take a drink of his lukewarm soda.
"Are you kidding me?" Larry said with a scoff. "What nerd besides you even knows enough about Tron to write a fan-fiction? No thanks." Craning his head toward Derrik's laptop, Larry struggled to see what he had been writing.
"You want to see?" asked Derrik. "Here."
It's eleven-forty in the morning when you open your eyes, and notice that, once again, she's standing there watching you. It isn't enough that you have to contend with this sort of thing during the hours you are awake, but knowing that you are being watched while you sleep unnerves you.
Like always, she's respectful, and waits patiently in the corner of the room. Never disturbing you, never angry at the long hours she spends waiting. She's not her usual self this morning, and as you prop yourself up to look at her image, you are aware that she is sad again.
She doesn't speak, in fact she rarely speaks anymore. Though this morning, she looks very downcast.
"What?" you say to her. "Don't feel like talking about it again this morning?"
She slowly lifts her head, and meets your gaze, and gently shakes her head. You notice that her pastel main is drooping down the sides of her white body, and no longer floating with the life of its own.
"Thinking about your death again huh?" though, you already know the answer.
"Stop!" said Larry.
"This is second-person narration." he said pointing at the screen.
"Yeah. You're point is?"
"Dude. I hate second-person narration." said Larry with a look of disgust. "I hate reading it, I hate that it exists, and I sure as hell know that I would hate writing it."
"Seriously dude, don't be such a pussy." Derrik said, irritated that his story was being shot down on perspective alone.
"Can't you rewrite it into third-person?"
"Screw you. I like it." said Derrik meeting Larry's firm gaze.
"Yeah well, rejected!"
"Fine." Derrik said pressing ctrl+A and Del on his keyboard.
It's a very small bolt. It's threaded in reverse to hold down the fly-wheel, and aside from it being ridiculously tiny, I am still wondering why it keeps coming loose from the assembly.
I can't help but frown as I peer through the thick magnifying glass, turning the bolt on a rotating cast iron plate so that I can see every side and angle.
"You are just determined to give me grief aren't you." I tell the minuscule inanimate object.
If it was a matter of it being worked loose by the movements, then I could always use a sink-bolt to hold the fly-wheel in place, though that would make the piece unserviceable, if future repairs were needed.
The whole idea, was practicality, and efficiency. This device needed to last for decades, and under various conditions and loads.
I really didn't see as I had any choice. Flicking the bolt into a container on the work-bench, I retrieve a specially threaded bolt of equal size and place it over the fly-wheel of the clock-works.
Taking a very small eight-ounce hammer, I tap the bolt in place and set if firmly, thus ensuring that the fly-wheel won't come off during normal usage, and likewise ensuring that servicing the part would be a huge headache later.
Setting the hammer down, I take notice of a framed picture of my father on the wall next to the bench. It's an old photograph, from when he and my mother first came to this town. He was a jeweler by trade, but his real passion was in watch-making.
He used to tell me that making the movements of clocks on such a small scale, was similar to what God must feel when he is playing with the universe.
That was almost thirty years ago.
Ponyville is a lot different now. The ponies are different. What used to be so abundant among us, has disappeared, leaving us in a world without magic, and a harsh reality of the necessity of industry.
Gently closing the cover of the clock-works, I take a screwdriver and secure the large hex shaped screw, and take a final step back to observe my creation.
She is not the most attractive thing in the world, but to me, she is beautiful. A true work of art, and a masterpiece of my last ten years.
She is resting on her side, unmoving and covered with a thin work-cloth. Her legs and hooves folded neatly, almost like a child sleeping, waiting for her father to nudge her from a deep peaceful slumber.
I can't help but smile to myself a little as I pick up the high-pressure hose from its resting hook, and securely insert it into the valve where her navel would be located.
Once securely in place, I turn the handle on the steam well, and watch as the pressure gauges rise to incredible numbers.
"Rejected!" said Derrik, startling Larry as he did.
"What in the hell for?"
"It's gonna be too complicated to write." he said sniffing indignantly.
"How so?" Larry said re-reading the last few paragraphs.
"Steam-punk stories are a nightmare, and it takes a real sense of mechanics to pull off." Derrik was scrolling through the page as well on his laptop. "I can't write industrial."
"Well what have you written?" said Larry slightly pissed that such an original idea was being killed. "More ghost stories?"
"Actually no." said Derrik pleased at his work. "I think you'll like this one."
Applejack was afraid what she had been told was a lie. As she watched the last of the life drain from the pony in front of her, she just couldn't for the life of her accept that his dying words were some of the most powerful she would ever hear.
He had said he was a retired guard, though his ragged appearance didn't hint at that at all. In fact he seemed more like a scoundrel than a once respected member of Celestia's elite.
As his eyes closed their last time, Applejack took a few steps back. She felt numb and dizzy; her hooves didn't seem to want to co-operate with her, and everything around her seemed to make strange noises.
Of all the things she could ever hear in her life, treasure and three million were not the words she expected.
She hadn't been in Appleloosa for more than a day when she got a case of the fidgets, and went out to explore the town, and the places just past the new orchards.
A old crazy pony with an arrow sticking out of his side, was as unexpected to see, as it was to hear about.
Most of the areas beyond Appleloosa was still frontier territory, but as far as folks knew, the outlaws and bandits had all but been killed out.
Staring down at the now dead pony, Applejack recounted his words in vivid detail.
It had been a train robbery. Taxation money the Princess had levied for her efforts at bringing new roadways to the outer regions. Three million bits worth, secured in five chests, and safeguarded by thirty of the most skilled guards Canterlot had to offer.
It was impossible to accept. No one could pull off a robbery like that, not without it making the news around the globe.
The last survivor, is what he called himself. Which meant that he was in on it. A trusted guard, and servant of the crown had betrayed his princess for greed.
"I don't like it." said Larry.
"Oh come on already!" said Derrik rubbing at his eyes. "You're just mad that I didn't want to do your little steam-engine pony story."
Larry just sat there with his arms folded, obviously pouting.
"Okay, we don't have to write a western. How about... I know. How about a story about a Brony that gets teleported to Equestria by Twilight, and develops this awesome power to transform into a cool-ass pony at will. We can even ship him with several of the characters."
"No." said Larry being stubborn.
"Well, then what?"
"We could do one, set in the universe of Fallout." Larry said mentally grasping at straws.
"I don't think there's enough to work with, to make a "Fallout: Equestria" story. And besides, that last Vegas game sucked." Derrik was shaking his head as he thought about it.
"What about this." said Derrik before finishing off the last of his soda. "What about a planet, say, Earth, and the government decrees that for whatever reason, everyone has to be converted to ponies to survive or something. Then we could tell about how the conversion people go about changing every last man woman and child to ponies, and that's where Equestria got its start."
"I don't know." said Larry, "That sounds pretty detailed. Besides, it's really stretching the credibility of My Little Pony. Suppose it fails after the first installment, and no one wants anything to do with it?"
"You know what I'm thinking?" said Derrik.
"I have no clue."
"Let's just write a horror fic. Let's do a Zombie Apocalypse story, and have it set in Ponyville, but after the town has already went to shit."
"Dude, To quote Scootaloo; 'I am liking this idea.'" said Larry turning to his computer and jotting down info.
"Yeah, and this lone pony comes into town right, and he's like a zombie slayer, and he encounters a spaced out Apple Bloom at the edge of town." Derrik was really into it at this point, and was making gestures with his hands.
"So then the town is like a big giant hunk of burning shit and ruin. Everyone is missing, and this pony finds only a couple of survivors huddled in a cellar, and then boom!" Derrik clapped his hands together loudly at this point, "The zombies returns, and this pony and Apple Bloom, and the survivors have to face off against a migrating horde of the undead."
"Dude. That is like the most beautiful thing I think I've ever heard." said Larry.
"So what say you and me get this mother under way?" Derrik said, then smiled a little smirk.
It was a dark and cold night, and the moon was big and bright in the sky. The harsh winds whipped at the sands, scattering them to parts unknown.
He was completely alone, as he walked. He had a ragged coat over his back, and well worn boots over his hooves. Under him in a make-shift holster was a repeating shot-gun with three shells loaded into the barrel, and in the left pocket of his coat was an old picture of a filly.
He was no one, he was a wanderer without a name, a shadow without a shape, and a pony with no memory of his past. He was the perfect executioner of the damned.