The Memoirs Of A Reality Jumper by techogre
It all started when I was the wrong person in the right place. I've never understood the magical-physics behind it, but apparently if a sentient being is at the exact centre of the umbra of an eclipse and on a ley line, strange things can happen. In my case, I jumped. I had been going from one reality to the next for about sixty years. I didn't seem to get older, but I sure as hell didn't get younger. I also had no control over when or where I jumped.
Things started out fairly tame, with worlds that had relatively minor changes. As I continued jumping my destinations grew increasingly strange and my time in each world was getting longer.
I've been jumping for sixty years and I should have been dead of old age by now, if nothing else. I didn't know it, but there was a reason for all of this. A reason that would mean the lives of countless innocents if I failed. I would build a new life in Equestria and lose more than I could imagine.
My name is Alex Roberts and this is a memoir of my time in Equestria.
I stumbled through the dark snowy woods, the silver moon my only light. With each breath my lungs replied with fire and my body was numb from the cold. The branches scraping at my face and pulling at my clothes were meaningless. I heard the dogs and their handlers getting closer. I just had to keep ahead of them for a few more minutes.
I saw a stream up ahead. A glimmer of hope inspiring me to run just a little faster. My legs burned as I waded upstream into freezing fast running water. I pushed myself as long as I could. About a hundred meters would have to do. I scrambled up the bank. The dogs were getting louder. My soaked canvas leggings dragged against my legs, quickly caking in snow.
In the distance I could hear the barking of the dogs; they suddenly seemed confused. 'Thank God, those mutts lost me at the stream.'I took a moment to gulp burning cold air. This respite was cut short when the dogs changed the tone of their bark. They'd found my trail again.
I could feel it in my gut, just a few moments before the jump. It took me many years to learn all the signs, but now I knew them by heart. A vague sense of unease, a curious shifting not quite centred in my chest, and just a general, indescribable increase in discomfort. I'd even learned to estimate how long my stay will be once I had arrived in the new world. 'Who knows?' I thought, 'I might even jump back home this time.'It goes without saying that sometimes I'm an optimist to the point of idiocy.
I turned my head and for a moment and looked into the eyes of one of the handlers. I realized in that moment they had spotted me as well. I wasted some precious breath to swear as they unleashed their dogs. The sensation I recognized as the preamble to a jump quickly grew stronger. I stumbled and fell, disoriented and unable to run. The world around me became brighter. The jump had to be coming any second now. I felt sick when I could see the dog's foam flecked teeth clearly.
Time slowed as the lead hound leaped at me, the dog moving closer and never quite reaching me. The edge of my vision dissolved into silvery white and slowly covered my field of view. I was unable to tell if this took seconds or days, my sense of self disappearing as the whiteness grew. And as my vision was superseded by that pure light, so the silence deafened me. Before I lost all sense of self, I knew something was different and what was left of me cried out in fear.
I had never blacked out after a jump before. My vision was a wall of white, whether my eyes were open or closed, and the vertigo was nauseating. I felt warmth on my back and icy wet cold on my front. I slowly clenched my hands into the snow, getting life back into them. The world was still indistinct, and I tried to get up, only to fall back down, the dizziness causing me to vomit. My face landed half on the edge of the snow and half on the wet warm grass. I was grateful, 'At least it didn't seem to be winter here.'
This was the first time I had been this disabled after a jump. At most it was a few moments, a head shake, and I would start seeing again. After that everything was completely clear after no more than a minute or two. I had learned that the longer I was dazed, the longer I would be staying and it looked like I was in for a long one. 'This may be the last jump then,' I thought. 'This is where I'll die, in whatever final hell I've been dumped in.'
I slowly crawled on my belly to the edge of the disk, dragging vomit on my chest. Whenever I jumped I brought a sphere of whatever was around me, in this case snow, frozen earth, and a few branches, replacing what ever was there when I landed. Dragging myself slowly, my hand slipped several times on the quickly melting ice and snow, but I continued until I moved off the freezing ground. I simply dropped to the ground from fatigue, glad of the wet warmth underneath me. I could feel the short cropped grass on my cheek and I knew that usually meant a yard or field. 'And that means people,'I worriedly thought.
My eyesight was slowly returning, the world moving from a white wall of haze to one of more defined fields of colour. I heard a very gentle, very feminine voice speaking from a distance, "How strange, a round patch of snow in mid summer?" It then exclaimed, "Oh my, you poor creature. I've never seen anything like you before." Remembering the hard lessons of the past, I couldn't be a threat - if I'm not a threat, they'll leave me alone. That same, sweet voice continued, "Are you hurt? Are you sick? Here, let me see," and something hard touched my shoulder.
I felt a surge of desperate, manic energy. Terror flooded my veins with adrenaline. My arms strained as I threw myself off the ground and away. I heard a surprised high-pitch squeak, but ignored it. The impact was sharp and sudden. I had hit something far harder than the ground. My breath was cut from me as I tumbled to the ground. 'So much for an escape.'I wasn't going to be going anywhere soon.
My vision was starting to clear, and I saw what I assumed was their mount. I thought it was a tiny thing for a horse, even for a pony. With my blurred vision, I assumed it was decorated with some kind of bright yellow body covering and had it's mane and tail dyed pink. A pink like that doesn't happen in nature. I looked around and saw bold, bright colours, with very few gradients. Even my arms were looking like this. I wondered if my vision was failing in some new strange way, colours are never this pure in nature. Between gasps, "Sorry... to... startle... you... ma'am... I just... landed from... a... long trip, and I'll be off... your property... in a few minutes."
If it was possible, her voice was even more meek, "Oh my, you can talk." My vision was getting clearer and I could have sworn the voice was coming from the mount. She must be behind it, keeping the pony between her and me.
My breath was returning, letting me speak a little more normally. "I didn't mean to scare you, miss. My name is Alex Roberts. You don't have to hide behind your horse, I don't mean you any harm." Things were getting clearer, and all I saw was that ridiculously coloured pony. I was still confused by the bright, unnatural colours.
"Oh, that's alright. I'm Fluttershy. I'm so sorry I touched you. I realize it was rather rude." Incredibly, her voice was even softer than before. I strained my eyes, trying to see around the mount. She must be quite small. By now I could see the mount quite well, and it was a very odd-looking animal. She had a tone of curiosity in her voice, "Now, what do you mean by hiding behind a horse? I'm not hiding behind anyone," she continued, "Anyway, I'm a pegasus pony." I could see something expand a little from the pony's side, the collapse back in.
"I'm very sorry, miss... Fluttershy? My vision and hearing are both a little out of whack right now. Did you say you're a pegasus? As in a flying hor... pony?" That name made something tick in my mind, but I decided it could wait.
"Well, of course. What else would I be? Here, let me clean up those cuts and scrapes."
As she came closer, I could see what looked like a cloth in its mouth and those white patches were stylized eyes should be. I could see that they were far too big for her head to be eyes. Suddenly, what I thought were some kind of decoration blinked, startling me.
"Holy shit!" My exclamation made her scamper back. 'Idiot, don't alienate the one thing trying to help you,' I cursed myself quietly. "Ha ha, sorry about that. My vision is still sort of bad and I didn't expect you so close. How about this, I'll put my hand out, and you put the cloth in my hand. I would really appreciate that." I heard a high pitched squeak in response. I slowly pushed myself up, leaning against what I assumed was a tree. "Just... just let me get my vision back, and we'll start again." I saw she had moved away from me, out of sight, and I cursed myself, 'way to push away the one thing who was willing to help.'
The warmth was getting oppressive and I slowly removed my coat and wet leggings. I sat back down and closed my eyes. Every few minutes I would open them, and each time things were clearer. It felt like about fifteen or twenty minutes before my vision was fully cleared. I was still dizzy, but I could stand and look at the surrounding landscape. If my vision was failing in new and exciting ways, it was doing so in a very consistent fashion. In this place, lines were unnaturally smooth and colours were bright and almost free of gradation. Even my hands almost looked stylized, unreal, even though when I touched them together, they felt as they always have, rough, calloused, scarred.
I looked at the circle of quickly melting snow and noticed on the far edge a black, bloody thing. I looked closely and realize it was the tip of a dog's nose, likely the one attacking me. 'Damn, that was close.'I was thankful the field had caught it there and not higher up. That would have been a real mess.
The hairs on the back of my neck rose, I could feel someone watching me. I turned slowly, and hiding behind a tree was what I assume called itself Fluttershy. I sat back down and called out, "Fluttershy. It's ok, I won't hurt you." I raised my hands, fingers open, palms out, "See, no weapons in my hands. I'm sorry I frightened you," I chuckled, "I was just a little panicked myself."
Very timidly, she fully stepped out from behind the tree and for the briefest instant I saw my daughter, 'Lily'. Fluttershy looked like a shy child with her fore hoof tracing a little pattern in the grass. For a moment I was lost in recollection, but quickly tore my attention back to the reality at hand.
Very timidly, she fully stepped out from behind the tree and for the briefest instant I saw my daughter standing there. 'Lily', I thought, and nearly said aloud, but then the vision dissolved and once again I saw a shy alien creature standing before me, its hoof tracing a nervous pattern in the grass.
I got a good hard look at her and found it difficult to understand what I was seeing. Her teal eyes were unnaturally large. If they were spheres they would be half inside each other and outside her head. And her coat was a perfectly smooth yellow, not even the best dyes could make it look that consistent. Her hair was a bright pink with darker pink highlights. The wings on her side were just an outline.
She squeaked something so softly that I couldn't understand what she said. I asked her to repeat herself, but her reply was even quieter and higher pitched. 'Is there is something wrong with her?'I wondered to myself. 'I've never met anything this shy. How the hell do I interact with her now?' Not knowing what to do, I recited the mantra that had kept me alive through so many encounters, 'Apologize, be meek, don't be a threat.'
"Miss Fluttershy? I want to apologize for my earlier reaction. I've never met a talking pony before. You startled me, to be honest." I thought desperately, 'Be meek, be humble, do NOT be a god damn threat.'
"Oh, you've never met a talking pony?" Her voice was questioning and still timid, but getting stronger.
"No, this is the first time. And, I get scared when I can't see, but now that I can, we can reintroduce ourselves. Hi, my name is Alex Roberts and you seem to be a lovely person called Fluttershy." 'Not too bad, Alex, just don't over do it and hope she has a kind heart.'
I could see her raise her hoof to mouth and titter, "I can understand being upset when you're blinded and lost. I'll be glad to forgive and forget what just happened. Let's start again. I'm Fluttershy and you seem to be a person trying to make amends."
I chuckled, "That I am, Miss Fluttershy, that I am." I thought bitterly, 'You have no damn idea.'
My clothing was still wet and I needed to warm up, fast. I could get sick if I was like this for too long. Even though it was warm, a summer afternoon, it wasn't warm enough to dry me off quickly. I needed a fire. "Miss Fluttershy, with your permission, may I please make a fire to dry off. These clothes are wet, and I don't want to catch a cold. I'll be happy to chop wood or do some other tasks in exchange."
She looked confused, "Well then, why not remove them until they're dry?" I wondered if I read her expression correctly, and her tone of voice. 'At worst,' I thought, 'she'll think I'm some kind of idiot or simpleton.'
I sighed, deciding to just tell her a simpler version of the truth. "I have some scars I'm self-conscious of," and added to myself, 'among other things.'
She seemed to accept that answer, "Well, you're welcome to use the fire pit. There's plenty of cut firewood by the back shed. And I would really appreciate some cut wood, it's so hard for me to do it. Follow me, please." Her voice was now almost normal, assuming the way she spoke before the misunderstanding was normal.
"Yes Miss Fluttershy. Thank you very much again, Ma'am." I repeated the mantra that had served me so well, 'Stay meek. Stay humble. Stay safe.'
I spend the afternoon drying by the fire, then, as agreed, I started getting to work chopping wood. I saw she had a rusty old pull saw and no axe. "Miss Fluttershy, if it's alright with you, I'll use my own tool to get the job done." I slowly pulled my knife out and held it by the blade. 'Don't be a threat, Alex, don't be a threat. Better explain before changing the shape.' "Miss Fluttershy, can I ask you a silly question?" She nodded. "Do you have, magic in this, country?" A look of curiosity crossed her face, but she slowly nodded. "This is Imperial Pattern One Two Seven Nine C... Knife with Mental Controls and Polymorphic Enhancement." 'Best to skip the Combat part.' "In short, it allows me to give it commands and it will change it's shape based on my needs." I gave her a friendly smile.
I was rewarded by a smile. "My, what a, useful device. It must be very rare."
I chuckled, "Actually Ma'am, this is a fairly common device where I got it." 'She seems to be relaxing, that means I can relax. Seems like a decent person too.' I was feeling good about this situation and decided to take a chance. 'CHILD. MODE.'As much as I want to establish trust, I was not going to risk my life. I flipped the knife, holding it by the blade. "Here, touch your, um, hoof to the handle. Think the word 'PICKUP' clearly. It will shape itself to your needs."
Fluttershy gingerly put her fore hoof out and touched the blade. The brass handle and knuckle guard flowed like water around her hoof producing a very pretty gilding pattern and the blade remained in the centre. What started as a startled flinch grew into a panicked shaking of her foreleg as she desperately tried to shake it off.
I yelled, "Think 'DROP KNIFE.'." I snarled at myself, 'Good going, idiot. And things were going so well. Christ, I hope I can salvage this.'
Her face scrunched up in concentration for a moment and the knife dropped off her hoof. She looked in terror at it as if it were some poisonous insect.
I rubbed my eyes, "Miss Fluttershy, I'm really sorry about that. I should have warned you it gets a little, clingy. Please, let me just chop some wood for you and I'll get out of your hair." I bent down to get the knife, and she started to speak.
"It's alright Alex Roberts. We can't think of everything, especially if you've been using it for a very long time. I was just surprised as how perfectly it fit. And I can be a little silly and skittish sometimes." As she was talking, her expression became one of angelic kindness and forgiveness. 'This is crazy. I've known her for less than an hour and I trust her completely. I never trust anyone. I must have a concussion or something. What if its some kind of mind control magic or something?'
"Well Miss Fluttershy, you were kind enough to let me use some wood, I'll split some as promised." She led me to a felled tree. It was about 5m in length and still had all the branches attached. There was an old rusty, and no doubt dull, wood frame saw. With my knife if only took three hours to clean all the branches off the trunk, cut everything into lengths, and split the larger pieces. The garrote came in handy to cut the wood into lengths.
Once completed, it was getting near dusk and I put a small log on the remains of the fire. "I want to thank you for your kindness." I played with the ashes of the fire, "You didn't have to help me, you know." I gave her a sidelong glance, "I really mean it. Everywhere else I've been it's been every one for himself."
"Don't be silly. You needed help and I was there to give it."
We sat quietly together by the fire, while I processed my day. The sky was darkening and I saw the first star. I smiled, glad that the sky was as consistent as ever over all the realities I've been at. I softly said in a sing song voice the same thing I've said almost every night:
Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight
I wished the same wish I have for as long as I remember, 'I want to go home.'
Fluttershy, in a wondering tone, "That's a lovely little poem. Is it from where you come from?"
"I know this will seem silly for a full grown man to do but yes, it's a child's poem." I continued looking at the stars coming out, the constellations forming quickly. "You know Fluttershy, they," I pointed at the stars, "have been one of the few constants in all my travels." I pointed them out, "Orion, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia, Scorpius, Leo, there are more, but you get the idea. They tie me back home Fluttershy, and for that I've very thankful."
"Princess Luna has been making the stars and the moon much more vibrant these days. It's her you should thank."
I usually don't pray to the local gods, but, the quiet sincerity with which she believed was hard to dismiss. I smiled as I would to my own daughter, "So, how does one thank Princess Luna?"
"It's very easy to thank her. All you do is look at the most beautiful part of the sky and give her your letter of thanks.
I grew thoughtful for a moment, "So, Fluttershy, how do I send a letter of thanks to Princess Luna, exactly? I'm afraid I don't have any paper to write on. And what part of the sky is considered the most beautiful?"
She looked at my with such kindness, such joy at a chance to teach, "Silly, you don't need paper, you just write the letter in your heart, and speak it with your mouth. And, the most beautiful part is the one that means the most to you." She smiled wistfully.
I looked at Fluttershy for a long moment and resigned myself, 'I may as well do it, I have nothing to lose. Anyway, if feels good to believe, even if I really don't.'After thinking for a moment to gather my thoughts, I compose my prayer. Once it was ready, I looked at the North Star, the one that has guided me so many times, and cleared my throat:
Dear Princess Luna,
I'm new to your world and I don't know if you'll listen to me. However, I ask for nothing. I only want to thank you for your gift of the night sky. You arrange your constellations in the same way as they are back home. A home I lost so many years ago. Please accept this as my deepest thanks to you.
Fluttershy smiled warmly at me, "That was a... nice letter. I know Luna will be pleased."
Much to my surprise, even as skeptical as I was, I felt better after that little supplication. I muttered to myself, 'I hope you're real, Princess Luna. I really do.'
As the warm summer evening wore on, I started dwelling on a nagging thought, 'Why did my mind tick at her name? How could I have possibly heard that name before?'She must have seen the pensive expression on my face as I absentmindedly stirred the embers.
"What's wrong Alex?" I flinched as she put her, hoof on my arm. I've developed a very strong sense of personal space over the years and I found it hard to ignore any kind of physical contact, even from such a lovely and sweet person.
"Sorry, just... well, it doesn't matter I guess. I've just been noodling why you seem familiar, like I had heard of you before. It's been bothering me, like a song suck in your head. But, please don't take this in a bad way, I doubt I've heard of you before today. Please understand it's just some ramblings from an old man."
"It's alright, it happens to all of us." I was struck again by the fierceness of her gentle kindness. I almost felt overwhelmed. She smiled sweetly at me again, and started humming a wordless tune. I started picturing my little Lily singing something to that tune.
"That tune. Are there any words to it?"
"Not really. But it's called 'My Little Pony'."
"Huh." I pondered this for a moment. "Doesn't ring a bell."
A/N: This chapter is a complete rewrite of the original. The next chapter may not sync quite perfectly, but it is also in the process of being rewritten, so stay tuned and thanks for reading.
Also, special thanks to my pre-readers and editors (in random order) : Makkelulu, taz2723, KitsuneNoYomeiri, Poisonkash, earthrise
Without their hard work and help, my writing would still be sub-par. Thanks guys!