PART I - The Things We Need to Survive
They say that ponies only resort to suicide when they see no other available options. I’d probably agree with them. Colts don’t usually walk to the edge of a cliff when they have a great future planned out ahead of them. Then again, I don’t have that right now, so I don’t really know what else to think. I hate the idea of doing something as cliché as throwing myself into a ravine, but there’s nopony around to judge me anyway. It’s hard to remember what led me to the literal edge, but I try to in those last moments. Maybe there’s something I missed along the way.
My memories begin over a month ago. I didn’t think to count the number of days, but I believe it’s been at least forty or so. I woke up in a forest with absolutely no clue as to how I got there. That startled me, but what scared me to my core was the fact that I didn’t know where to go. I felt like I knew absolutely nothing. I didn’t know where I lived, or even what my name was. The only things I did know were that I was a yellow earth pony with an orange mane, and things were not as they should be. I thought that maybe I could run into a town somewhere and get help. The strange thing about all of this was that I could remember some basic things, like my language and a basic idea of how my life was supposed to be, but any specific details seemed to be gone.
I galloped as fast as I could out of the forest, hoping that there wasn’t anything after me. When I finally emerged, I found myself near the outskirts of a small town. I cried out for help, but nopony answered. As I neared the town, I realized that it was astonishingly quiet. There weren’t any ponies trotting around the streets. No mares stood on the sidewalks chatting with each other about the latest gossip or about how they couldn’t wait for this dreadful heat to be over. No young colts chased fillies around while giggling. Everything was silent.
I went to what looked to be a shop and knocked, but I didn’t get a response. I waited for anything to happen, but it never did. The town remained mute. I gave up on sitting around on my hooves and decided to do something. I went back to the shop and tried the door, which I was extremely surprised to find unlocked. Inside, the room was dim, illuminated only by the light falling in from the large display windows. It was in pristine condition. I guessed that it must have been some sort of dress shop or something to that effect. Hoof-stitched garments hung on mannequins, and large mirrors were set up to one side of the room. What stood out to me the most was that there wasn’t any dust to be found in the entire store.
I tried to figure out why anypony would abandon so much, because they must have made their decision to leave recently. I couldn’t figure anything out, and I didn’t see any reason to stand around looking for answers in pastel-colored dresses. I left the shop and tried to locate any kind of movement in the village. I did see a white cat, and I tried to chase it, though in hindsight I don’t see what that would have done anyway. It got away, and I was left panting and leaning against another building. This one was done up to look like a dessert, and seeing it made me realize how much my body needed food. The excitement of everything had led me to ignore my stomach’s screaming for nourishment, and I was actually starting to feel lightheaded. I entered the sweetshop, this time not as surprised to find that the door wasn’t locked.
There was a case facing the door that contained delicious-looking donuts and cakes, and I started salivating at the sight alone. I rushed behind the display case and started to grab as many pastries as I could. Everything tasted delicious, and it was still fresh too. I tried not to think about my situation so I could focus on the meal, but after a couple of sweets I didn’t feel the need to eat anything more. I didn’t just want to let all of the food go to waste though, so I looked around for something I could carry everything in. I spied a pair of saddlebags hanging on the wall across from me, and I quickly removed them from their hanger and put them on. I loaded myself with as many of the desserts as I could carry, also making sure to grab some bottles of water from the shop’s fridge. That’s when I looked outside and realized that the sun was setting.
That first sunset was surprisingly eerie. It dawned on me right then that I was wholly defenseless at night, and that I had no idea what creatures might come out. I hastily scurried to the shop’s door and bolted it shut, hoping that the measure would be enough to keep me safe overnight. I let out a tentative sigh and walked back to the center of the room. I didn’t have candles or any other form of light, so after the sun fully disappeared over the horizon I was bathed in darkness.
The change from day to night left me with nothing to do but think. This was back before I hated what was in my head, so I was content to sit around and speculate about the nature of my predicament. I hadn’t learned much that day, but I knew that events had come to pass that should not have. I reasoned that the absence of ponies in this town and the absence of memories in my head were not unrelated, and that recovering either of those things would lead to recovering the other. I was still naïve back then. I thought I had the chance to be some sort of hero who could save the land from a terrible situation or something idiotic like that. I thought that the ponies were just missing, and that they could be found if I tried hard enough.
My hopes came crashing down after I fell asleep.
My transition from the real world to the dream one was seamless. I honestly felt like I was still awake. I was standing on top of a building, on top of a roof of some sort, but I didn’t know how or why I was there. This seemed to be the recurring theme for the day, so I didn’t question it. Instead I looked down beneath me, and I saw that there was a mass of ponies. I was excited at first, thinking that I wouldn’t have to be alone anymore. That’s when I noticed their faces.
Everypony looked furious. Colts shouted obscenities and mares angrily chimed in with their own comments. I didn’t know what was going on, so I tried to calm them down. The dream took over and filled my mouth with the words I needed to say.
“This is your redemption day, everypony!” I screamed in a voice that hardly reminded me of my own. I was shocked, because that wasn’t what I had meant to say at all. I tried to stop myself from continuing, but the dream had full possession of me. I commanded them to go away, sounding increasingly delirious as my voice went on. I didn’t know what was happening, and I was scared out of my mind. They were trying to break down the door of the house I was standing on. My dream self had no fear, however. He taunted the mass below him; beckoning for them to try to stop him. I felt my hoof rise up, and when I looked there was a small device in it. It was metal, and the only noticeable aspect of it was raised blue circle on its face.
“You see this button here?” I asked while displaying the artifact in my hand. The demeanor of the crowd changed instantly. They stopped jeering, and now their expressions had changed to shock.
“I’m gonna’ press it,” I yelled. The crowd below screamed in unison, fillies’ and colts’ voices mixing with those of the mares and stallions. I pushed my hoof onto the raised button without thinking.
Immediately my dreamscape became searing red, and the desperate shrieks from below me intensified.
I shot awake, the screaming I had heard just moments before still ringing in my ears. I was drenched with sweat, my coat wet to the touch in many places, and I was gasping for air as well. Light was already showing through the windows of the shop, and I quickly remembered where I was, and that I had surely only been dreaming a few minutes ago. I had a hard time convincing myself of that fact, given the undeniable feeling of reality that the dream had possessed, but eventually I agreed that I was now in the “real” world.
It had felt good knowing that I could remember the day before this one. It certainly was an improvement. The dream had cast a sour mood over the morning, however. I had just begun to read into it, and it was making sense to me in a way. What if there was a reason why this town didn’t have any ponies it? I kept thinking about the button, and what the implication of pressing it was, but I couldn’t make a real connection between it and the red aura that succeeded it.
The growling of my stomach was what eventually brought me fully back to the real world. I went back to the sweetshop’s counter and ate another pastry to serve as my breakfast before putting on my saddlebags and unbolting the store’s door. I turned around to take a final look at my overnight shelter, then I stepped out into the radiance of the day.
Looking around quickly revealed to me that this hadn’t been the town I had dreamt of. The buildings were laid out differently, and it just didn’t have the same feel about it. Regardless, I felt like I had to keep moving. I had known that staying in the town wasn’t going to get me any closer to a resolution, and that if I was ever going to discover anything, it would be in the town that I had seen in my mind’s eye during the night.
Unfortunately, I had no idea where that town was. I didn’t even have an idea of where I was at the time either, so finding a single city with next-to-nothing to go on seemed like a nearly insurmountable task. I felt like I could do it, though. I was inspired to get to the root of everything back then. I was a different pony.
I had set out of town on the main road, not sure where I was headed but hoping that it was in the right direction. I mustn’t have been thinking straight, because I had done absolutely no planning. By the time the sun was beginning its descent to the horizon, I had gone far enough on the path to make a return to the last city improbable, but I also hadn’t reached any sign of civilization. I looked as far as I could into the distance but only assorted trees and plants dotted the landscape.
I was stuck with no options. I had to continue trotting forward on the road and hoping that I would reach somewhere to stay before nightfall or else I’d be roughing it outdoors for the night. I picked up my pace, but it was of no use. The sun was nearly set and no city or town lay ahead. I don’t know why the idea of night scared me so much, but the thought of being out there without anypony else was terrifying. I didn’t have a choice in the matter though, so I looked for somewhere where there were enough trees to keep me covered if it rained during the night. It made perfect sense to me, until I realized that there wouldn’t be any weather if there weren’t any Pegasi to make it.
But that didn’t add up. I had seen clouds throughout the day without making a fuss about it. And, come to think of it, the sun and the moon were still going through their normal cycles. I did remember that the princesses took care of the days and nights, and all of these thoughts joined together in my head to give me hope. I imagined a big group of ponies, all living in one city. The princesses were still there, the Pegasi still made weather, and everything continued on as if nothing had happened. The notion comforted me enough to ease my mind. I fell asleep quickly as I was exhausted from walking all day.
I had the dream again that night. I was more conscious that it was happening this time, but not enough to actually make an attempt to do anything. Everything was the same; eerily so. I spat my insane lines at the same time I had before, and the mob of ponies beneath me reacted in the same way. I knew in the dream that I had seen it all before, but I had no way of stopping it. I frantically looked around for something to help me break the automation, and in looking to my right, I noticed something odd. When I had looked, I saw a word floating in the air, illuminated green.
The sight shocked me. It was so out of place to see the word, and I felt like my mind was trying to tell me something.
I didn’t have time to think about it, though. I felt myself holding the device in my hand with the blue button, and the ponies below had all started screaming again. They were louder this time. Their voices reverberated inside of me, and I felt sick. My dream self pressed the button, and the redness engulfed me again.
When I snapped out of the dream I was vomiting. My stomach and mouth were on fire, and I was coughing and sputtering up bits of cake and fluid. I felt sorry for myself, which was stupid, but I really did. I finished puking and rolled onto my back, holding my stomach tightly with my front hooves.
I felt moisture build up in my eyes as I stared up at the moon hanging high above me, until finally a few drops flowed out and onto my muzzle. That was the first time I cried. The tears came for a number of reasons, mostly because the loneliness had just started to set in. I wanted to talk to somepony about what I was seeing in my mind. I wanted somepony to be there and ask me if I was ok, and I wanted somepony to tell me that I was all right. That wasn’t going to happen though. I had to survive on my own.
I started getting aggravated at myself for actually crying. That just made my eyes water even more. I took my hooves off of my stomach and put them over my eyes, trying to physically hold back any more manifestations of my emotions. I stayed like that for a good while until I gave up and got to my hooves.
I didn’t care what time of night it was; I wanted to keep moving. If I was moving, I didn’t have to think about anything. All I had to do was focus on putting one hoof in front of the other.
That’s how I got to the next city. It was bigger than and just as lifeless as the one that had preceded it. I went throughout the streets yelling for anypony to come out, but there never were any answers. I was able to find another shop, this one dedicated to sandwiches. I was grateful about being able to trade in my desserts for something with more substance, and I quickly refilled my water bottles and swapped out my pastries for sandwiches and bread. The loaves hadn’t gone stale yet, which I thought was a miracle. It only reinforced in my mind how little time had actually passed, though the three days I could remember felt like years.
So I settled down again that night. I didn’t have to sit around and think like the first night, as after two days of nonstop walking, I barely needed an excuse to nod off. I ended up using what seemed to be a schoolhouse as a shelter, and I didn’t feel any need to lock the door.
I had the same dream. It’s always the same. The ponies seemed to be louder this time. Does my voice really sound like that?
Waking up sweating gets tiring after three nights. I was sick of my dreams, and sick of walking around everywhere looking for answers that might not even exist. Why did I need to know why everypony else was gone anyway? I could probably survive by scavenging and live out my days in this one city. It certainly seemed big enough. If everypony really was gone, there was no point in trying to find out why.
I didn’t truly believe that though. I guess my reason for continuing on was to try and get rid of the emptiness I had started feeling. It seemed like the vomiting in the woods had made me lose more than what was in my stomach. I stopped feeling like a pony that night. I stopped feeling anything. Looking back, it really surprises me how quickly I went from optimistically looking for answers to looking for a reason not to lie down and never wake up.
I managed to get myself going again, and I made my way out of the city and into the next. I barely looked at anything. Once I knew it wasn’t the one I was looking for, I stopped caring about it. During my walk, my mind started racing, no matter how much I tried to stop it. It kept going back to the word September. I could still see it the way I did in my dream, and I knew that if I could figure out what it meant, I would be that much closer to finding out the truth.
Yet I had no clue what the word was trying to tell me. Was September the month that everything happened? That seemed likely to me. If I could find a calendar in the next town, I might be able to start making some connections. I tucked that thought away as night began to fall. I had to spend the night outdoors again, but that didn’t bother me so much anymore. I didn’t even try to find somewhere sheltered, instead electing to lie down on the edge of the road before dozing off.
Why can’t I stop the screaming?
I got up the next morning and fixed a tomato sandwich for breakfast. I don’t remember what it tasted like, but I guess it was good enough for me to make another. After finishing off the water I had remaining in my saddlebags, I got back to walking.
I couldn’t stop thinking that day. I kept trying to focus on the road ahead, but my mind drifted all over the place. I finally started to wonder about the one thing I’d been trying to ignore since the first night I could remember:
Did I really do this?
I didn’t feel like I did, but how could I really be sure? The dream was becoming more real every time I had it. Last night I hadn’t even tried to fight what was happening; I let myself press the button. And for the matter, what was the button for? My mind kept darting around, and I was in no position to get it under control. I started accusing myself. What other possibility was there? If I didn’t get rid of all of the ponies, then who did, and why did I survive?
The sun’s heat had been oppressive. I hadn’t reached another town or city by the time night was on, so I had to sleep on the road again.
Save me from this nightmare.
The days were all running together now. I was starting to get delirious because I hadn’t had any water in over twenty-four hours, or at least that was the reason I gave myself. Sometimes I heard the screaming during the day. I knew it wasn’t real, but that didn’t make it any easier to listen to.
The next town I reached was tiny. There were only a few houses, and what looked to be a single general store. I went inside and was relieved to find an ample supply of water along with some dried food. I also spied a calendar on the wall, and I went to check the date to see if my suspicions had been correct.
They were wrong. The calendar was on the month of May; not even close to September. That broke me. The only clue I had to go on, the only shred of my past that my mind had held on to… it didn’t mean anything. Why September? What did that even mean? The emptiness grew inside of me. I didn’t have a purpose. I could spend the rest of my life walking around and never find anything, and then what?
I started crying again. I tried to ward of the tears with a mental image of the city with the princesses and the Pegasi all doing their jobs as if nothing had changed. I still sort of believed that they were all out there, somehow controlling the world and yet never revealing themselves to me. I didn’t know what else to think. I needed something to hold onto before everything else slipped away.
I slept in one of the houses in the town that night. The bed a nice change from the dirt road.
Get out of my head.
I went on like this for a long time. Sometimes I’d stay in the same town for a few days before convincing myself that I’d be better off moving on. I was able to survive on dried foods and things of that nature, the other types of food having spoiled or gone stale by now. It got tiring. I felt like I was living the same day over and over again, and each night I did relive the same scene.
I eventually came to realize that the dream was a memory and not just a fabrication of my subconscious. I could feel it after a while. My “real” life during the day never felt as real as what I experienced every night.
What now bothered me was the simple question of motivation. I couldn’t fathom what would have driven me to do this. I didn’t care what had happened anymore, as I had at first. The only thing I wanted to know now was
It must not have bothered me enough, because I never did try to figure out why. I gave up after the sixth town. I couldn’t have gone on like that; losing my grip on reality more and more every day and becoming angrier at myself more and more every night. I guess I started hating myself enough to actually consider suicide. I didn’t see any other options.
It actually seemed relieving, not having to worry about the dreams anymore, and not having to wander aimlessly looking for imaginary answers. I think I smiled when the thought crossed my mind, but I honestly can’t remember. I do recall going to sleep at peace for the first time in a while the night before I planned to end it. I knew that all I had to do the next day was get up, walk to the cliff, and be free. I felt like I might be able to sleep soundly for the first time.
If it wasn’t for that damn screaming.
And now I’m looking over the edge of the cliff. I can barely see the bottom from up here, and I don’t see any way I’ll make it down there safely. I guess this is the moment of truth. No more screaming; no more button-pressing; no more sleeping on the side of the road; no more anything.
I’m looking forward to all of that, and yet I’m finding it really hard to take the last few steps forward. It seemed really easy in my head last night, but the actual act is a lot harder in practice. I swallow and close my eyes, believing that It’ll be easier if I don’t have to see anything. I raise one of my front hooves and place it in front of the other, extremely glad to feel ground underneath it. I open my eyes again and see that I’ve run out of rock; all that’s left is the chasm.
I raise my eyes to get one last look at the world I’m leaving behind; my solitary prison. It doesn’t seem so bad, right here. All of the second thoughts I’m having tear me up inside even more. I thought that this is what I wanted last night, but I just can’t tell. I start to wonder what happens when I reach the bottom of the cliff. Am I going to feel anything? If I land head-first I think I’ll be fine in that regard, but what happens after the impact?
The same thing that happened to all of the ponies you killed.
My mind is split. I can feel the last dregs of my sanity trying to pull me away; trying to focus on how lovely the day is, or how great the world looks around me. Then the thoughts come racing back. I start to hear the screaming again, at first distant and echoing, but quickly reaching a din in my ears. I know that it will be a lot easier if I give in to the voices than to the logic, but I have no idea what to trust. I look over to the other side of the gorge and realize that the clouds above it are releasing rain. It comes down pretty heavily, and I see the image of the city with the princesses and the Pegasi, all still working to ensure that the world continues on as normal.
I don’t see any ponies kicking the clouds, though. It’s as if the clouds are so laden with water that they give up on trying to hold it in. Seeing the uncontrolled rain has me fixated. I’ve never heard of clouds raining on their own, and the oddity is enough to make me forget where I am, or what I’ve been planning. I watch as the mist descends from the blanket of nimbostratus across from me. The sun’s rays behind me hit the water perfectly, and slowly I begin to perceive a rainbow forming.
That’s when I really start to be astonished. I definitely can’t see any weather ponies creating the polychrome picture before me. I feel like the world itself is trying to speak to me. If not, then what’s creating this light show? I look down at my hooves and remember what had drawn me out to the cliff, slowly becoming ashamed as the plan runs through my head again. The voices telling me to jump have silenced themselves, and the entirety of my mind is consumed with hope again. If there’s one thing more cliché than throwing yourself off of a cliff, it’s being saved by a rainbow. My eyes start to mimic the clouds, releasing their own precipitation. It isn’t like all of the times before, though. I remember the hope I felt on that first day, thinking that I could be a hero to the world. Maybe it’s not too late.
I slowly step backwards, trying to inch away from the cliff as slowly as possible. After I’m a few feet from the edge, I turn and begin to trot back to the city I had stayed in the night before. I move quickly, not wanting to get caught in the rain. After a short trot I’m back inside the same building I was in last night. I don’t have anything to do but sit around and think as the storm begins to pound the roof, and I look for something to keep me warm as the air inside the room chills. There is a fireplace, and the wood inside of it looks dry. I see some matches on top of the mantle, and I manage to get a small blaze going after a few minutes of effort.
I start to recognize that my mind still isn’t the same as it was at first. I don’t think that a pony can be alone for as long as I have without their psychology changing in some way or another. I don’t have any desire to go back to the cliff, however. I can feel clarity around the edges of my perception, and I believe that I’ve probably hit rock bottom. My situation hopefully won’t get any worse.
I would start looking for answers again the next morning. I don’t feel the apathy that had amassed inside of me during the last few weeks. I could spend the rest of my days searching futilely, and even if I never learned anything, at least it wouldn’t be for lack of trying.
At first I thought that the rainbow had changed me in some sort of fundamental way, but now, pondering it more deeply, it hadn’t really put any new ideas inside of me, or done anything truly miraculous. What it had done was call me out of the trance that the dreams had put me in. It made me feel like I was back in the real world for the first time in many days. I know that if I can differentiate between the dreams and my life, I’ll be able to survive. I hold onto that notion as I begin to nod off in front of the warmth of the fire.
I try to focus when the dream starts up tonight. I’ve been dreading it in the back of my mind all day, and now it’s finally time to use my memory to my advantage. The lucidity is, as always, intense. I tune out my own voice as I shout the same few lines from my perch. I look for anything that could lead me to know where I am, but the best I can do is make a mental catalogue of the town spread out beneath me. I’ve seen it enough during the nights that I think I would recognize it if I ever encountered it in reality. To my right, the word SEPTEMBER still glows brightly.
As I reveal the device in my hoof to the ponies below me in the same way I have so many times before, I try to study every detail of it. It still only has the lone blue button on its face, but there is an inscription on the side that is almost imperceptible. I try to read it, but the panicked noise of the ponies snaps me out of my fixation with it. My dream grows blaring red before fizzling out.
I know I’m awake now, but I don’t open my eyes. I try to hold on to the image of the box in my hand, desperately attempting to remember what the inscription looked like, though the more I try to recall the detail, the further it gets from my memory. I give up and remain lying down, my eyes still closed. The sound of rain is fainter on the roof now. I’ll probably be able to leave in the morning without any trouble. I turn onto my side and try to rest for a few more minutes before I get up for the day. The rain stops altogether, and I’m happy that the house will now be silent. I feel like the room should be noiseless, yet I can still hear something. It’s soft and rhythmic, almost like breathing.
My eyes shoot open and I get to my hooves in an instant. In front of me there’s nothing but ash left in the fireplace. I turn around and try to discover the source of the sound. My gaze falls on a figure by the door. The dim light of dawn spills in through a window and falls on the creature, which I immediately recognize as another pony.
All of my legs lock up. I hardly breathe as I stare at what might be another remnant of the past. At first I think that I must still be asleep, but I haven’t had any dreams besides the recurring one, so I brush that notion off. My next guess is that I’ve finally lost what was left of my mind, but I wouldn’t be thinking that if I truly had gone insane, so I let that thought go too. I’m left with no other choice but to accept that another pony just appeared overnight, but that really does sound crazy. I have to find out. I force my legs to bring me closer to the new pony, making sure to make as little noise as possible.
As I get closer, I see that the pony is a full-grown earth pony, and a mare. She’s sleeping soundly, her tongue lolling out of her mouth slightly. Her coat and mane are wet, and there’s a small puddle of water around where she’s laying. I also notice that she’s shivering slightly. I need to know if she’s real or not, but I don’t feel that startling her awake would be the best thing for her given her condition. I quietly step away and look for a blanket or something to cover the mare with. I find a quilt in a cabinet, and I take it over to her. I make sure to spread it out over the pony lightly so as not to wake her up and it seems like she doesn’t notice. I back away from her and sit down, content to simply watch the mare sleep.
Waking up to find another pony after all that I’ve been through is a surreal experience. I’m still not entirely convinced that she’s actually there, but I think I’ll find out in due time. I start to wonder how she got here. She must have seen the light from the fire I lit the night before, but how did she know it was safe to come in here? On that note, I don’t know what her purpose in coming here is either. Maybe she’s from a city of survivors or something like that. I can’t wait for her to wake up so I can find out.
I study what I can about her as she sleeps. Her brown mane is straight and long, but not altogether untidy. She has a tan coat, and I remember seeing her cutie mark, but not understanding what it symbolized. I’d have to ask her eventually. Thinking about her mark reminds me that I too must have one. I hadn’t thought to look at it, not remembering that it meant anything until now. I crane my neck around, but all I can make out is a weird series of lines. Fantastic. I don’t even know what my cutie mark means.
The mare starts to stir and I immediately turn to focus on her. Her eyelids flick open, and I’m staring directly at her large brown eyes. They dilate when she realizes I’m watching, and she tries to get to her hooves. She throws off the blanket, and I get up to stop her.
“Wait, don’t go!” I yell out, my voice harsh and abrasive from disuse. I run to block the doorway before she can escape. She looks fearful, and I wonder if she recognizes who I am. “I’m not going to hurt you,” I assure, my words coming out more evenly this time. She doesn’t say anything; she just pants and looks around the room hastily.
I can see that she’s exhausted. The chill from the night before had taken a lot out of her, I guess. She sits back on her haunches and looks up at me. Her eyes bore into mine, and I’m frozen in time. I’ve been dying to find another pony, but now that there’s one here, I have no idea how to proceed. She takes care of that for me.
“Who are you?” she asks, softly. Her fearful look is disappearing, being replaced with curiosity. I don’t really know how to answer her.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” I say, trying to lighten the mood a little. I have a good feeling around the mare; I’m not worried about talking to her. “I don’t really know who I am,” I explain. She giggles a bit, and I feel my heart speed up at the sound. It’s so refreshing to hear something other than cries of help. She smiles at me before speaking again.
“Me neither,” she replies. It’s my turn to laugh now, and I feel so happy to actually be engaged in some kind of conversation.
“You, don’t remember anything either?” I ask her, cutting directly to the point. I feel like I already know the answer before she opens her mouth.
“Not a thing,” she answers simply. She tries to get back on her hooves, but one of her legs buckles beneath her as she stands. She lets out a small sigh and lies down. “I’m sorry to intrude and all, but last night was freezing, and,” she pauses for a moment, “it looked really warm in here.”
“I’m not mad that you’re here!” I say quickly. I try to form a reassuring smile before continuing. “You have no idea what a relief it is to find another pony, I’ve been alone for too long,” I explain. She grins at me knowingly. I feel warm inside for the first time since that first day. I walk beside her and sit down.
“This is a weird question, but do you mind if I touch you? Just to know that you’re there?” I ask the mare. She laughs slightly.
“Go ahead,” she says. I nervously reach out a hoof and place it on her side. Her coat is soft, and I can feel her breathing. My heart is racing again. She’s really there. I don’t have to be alone anymore. I run my hoof over her side, fully engrossed in how she feels, until a slight cough brings me back to reality.
“So, what’s your verdict, Mr.?” the mare asks. I pull my hoof away immediately, but she speaks up. “No it’s ok, that felt really nice. I’m definitely convinced that you’re real,” she says. I put my hoof back on her and smile.
“And I, you,” I reply. I sit there stroking her side for a long while. Every now and then the mare coughs, but she mostly just lays there with her eyes closed, still shivering slightly. The physical contact with her softens me. I would give anything to just sit there with her forever. After what feels like hours, she eventually speaks up.
“Do you want to talk about anything?” she asks. Her voice startles me at first, but not to the point it had before. I think about her question for a good minute before responding.
“Not really,” I answer truthfully. I don’t care about anything at the moment except that she is there with me. I welcome the silence. “Is there anything you want to talk about?”
“Well,” she begins, “what’s your story? I mean, how did you get here, if you don’t mind me asking?” I don’t mind, but I’m not sure how to explain what I’ve been through.
“Do you want the long story or the short one?” I ask.
“The long one, silly. It’s not like we have anywhere to go,” she says, looking at me and beaming broadly. My heart is melting.
I retell her my past from when I woke up in the woods to now, leaving out selective details. I talk about the loneliness I’ve been experiencing, but I don’t mention the dreams, or the drag on my sanity, and I definitely don’t mention the suicide attempt. The story is really quite boring without those aspects of it. I finish up after a good while and look at her.
“So that’s what I’ve been doing. Do you want to tell me about what’s happened to you?” I ask as politely as possible.
“Sure,” she begins, rolling over so she’s sitting on her hooves as opposed to lying down. She starts to give a detailed account that’s very similar to mine. She woke up without any memories and has been wandering as itinerantly as I had been, looking for some sort of sign as to what has happened. It sounds like she had been to a number of different cities, none of which seem familiar to me. She doesn't mention any dreams or suicidal thoughts either, but that doesn’t mean anything. She too expresses her feelings of isolation.
Then she gets to the night before. She had been trotting all day trying to get to the next city, having run out of food the night before. She was caught in the rain, and had to hoof it as fast as she could into the city, where she desperately looked for somewhere to stay. The downpour was blinding, and she couldn’t make anything out except for a light in the distance. She galloped towards it, eventually coming to the house we were both in now. She had seen me, but she didn’t care about what might come of her in the morning. She collapsed inside the room and fell asleep.
“And that’s a brief history of me,” she says cheerfully. She’s not shaking anymore, and I’m glad to see her get to her hooves and stretch for a moment. She doesn’t stand for long, but seeing her get up is reassuring. The mare sits down next to me, our sides touching. I can feel each of her breaths against my side. I offer her some food that I have packed up, and she gladly accepts. We both eat in silence for a few minutes, and when we finish, I decide to speak up.
“How are you feeling?” I ask simply. She startles me by nuzzling my neck. I try to hide my blushing, but she notices and smiles slyly.
“Happy,” she answers my question. “I hope you don’t think I’m weird or anything; I’ve just been waiting for something like this for a long time.” I respond by nuzzling her myself, which makes her laugh. She falls asleep before I do, and I put a hoof around her, not out of love or anything of that nature, but because I’m afraid she won’t be there when I wake up.
The dream wasn’t so bad that night.