Veil of Thoughts
Twilight was dreaming. She knew she was dreaming. It was plain as day that this couldn’t be real. It was that special kind of dream where she was both awake and asleep at the same time. She knew this was a dream because she could fly.
The warm, endless blue sky stretched out around her as she soared through it. Small fluffy white clouds dotted the otherwise empty sky and a bright yellow sun hovered lazily above her. Glancing back she saw there were no wings on her body holding her aloft. She was flying through magic, through the powers of the dream.
Twilight glanced down. Below were the rolling hills, bubbling rivers and small forests of Equestria. Dirt roads stretched out from town to town in a crisscrossing network of lines. It was all like she remembered it, except, something was missing, something that she couldn’t quite place. It didn’t seem important that it was missing, but still, the thought bothered her.
Off in the distance was Canterlot, resting on its mountain side perch. The white towers gleamed in the afternoon sun, a sparkling reminder of the home she had left behind. Twilight smiled. Canterlot had been her home for all her life, yet it wasn’t until she moved to Ponyville that she really felt like she had come home.
Twilight glanced down again. As if she had conjured it up — which she very well might have — Ponyville had suddenly come into view. It was a small simple town, with little shops and earth colored houses. Nothing fancy like Canterlot but Twilight liked it just the way it was.
She circled the town, staying high above, her wingless flight taking her in a path she wasn’t entirely sure she was controlling. Her eyes moved over the town, once, twice, a third time. Here too, something was missing. Something wasn’t what it should be. Twilight just couldn’t figure out what was odd.
The town was getting larger as Twilight descended towards it. A final banking ring and the ground came up to Twilight’s hooves. She landed gently, taking a few running strides to disperse her momentum. For a moment, she wondered if she had actually been flying and come to land in Ponyville, or if she hadn’t moved at all and Ponyville had come up to meet her. She supposed it didn’t really matter.
Twilight noticed that her landing happened to bring her down right next to her library tree house. A slight smile spread across her face. It truly had become the perfect home for her. She had settled in as the town librarian and was enjoying the job immensely. She was glad this was where she had landed. Yet, that strange feeling that something wasn’t as it should be, was still nagging her.
She took a step closer to the tree house. It loomed above her, suddenly growing much taller than it should have been. The air seemed to darken, like night had come early. Taking another step she reached out a hoof towards the door. She was shaking, why was she shaking?
“You don’t want to go in there,” said a small voice. Twilight dropped her hoof, startled by the sound. She took a step back and the light returned to normal. At the same time the tree house shrunk back to its regular size, like it had always been that way and she had just been pretending it was anything different.
Looking around for the source of the sound she could locate nopony else. Her eyes swept across the buildings. Ponyville was exactly how she remembered it, which wasn’t at all strange because this was her dream and she was currently remembering it. Except, again, something about it was wrong. What was wrong?
Spinning around on the spot Twilight’s eyes searched over everything. Buildings, square shaped with occasional rounded edges, painted in mostly earth colored browns, tans and yellows. Dirt roads stretched from house to house, they were well used with many hoofprints impressed into the flat hard-pact surface. Carts in the street, piled high with wares to be sold, with small signs on them exclaiming clever names of each tiny mobile shop. No, it was exactly like it should be. Still, something… something was missing.
“Ponies,” said the same small voice from Twilight’s side. The voice didn’t startle her this time. In fact, part of her had somehow expected to hear it, how strange that felt.
She turned her head and looked down at the small sky-blue filly standing along side her.
“Oh, hello!” said Twilight politely. “I’m sorry but, ‘Ponies’ what?”
“That’s what’s missing,” said the filly. “This is Ponyville but where are all the ponies?”
Twilight looked over the newcomer as she talked. There was something oddly familiar about her that Twilight simply couldn’t place. It was the same strange feeling she’d been having ever since this dream had started. No matter how hard Twilight tried to wrap her thoughts around it, the answer always escaped her.
Twilight refocused on the young filly standing next to her. She was a pegasus, that wasn’t too uncommon, after all, Twilight knew plenty of pegasi. She had a light blue coat, again, that wasn’t strange either. Her mane was all the colors of the rainbow, well that seemed normal enough. No, nothing unusual about this filly at all.
“Huh, you have a good point,” said Twilight. Her thoughts moved back to what the filly had said. “Where are all the ponies anyhow?” That seemed like a big part of the town to be missing.
The filly shrugged. “I don’t know, that’s your problem, not mine.”
Twilight raised an eyebrow in confusion. Her problem? What did that mean?
“Yeah, it’s probably really important, but it doesn’t matter,” said the filly before Twilight could question her further. A dull pain started to pulse in Twilights temple; she put her hoof to her forehead as the colors of the dream world bled into each other.
“What?” asked Twilight feeling confused. “My head, why does it hurt? Why does everything look funny?”
Again, the filly shrugged. The colors snapped back into place but the throb in Twilight’s temple remained.
“Yeah, that’s probably really important too, but it doesn’t matter either. At least you made it, unlike some other ponies. I totally thought you would be here sooner, but I guess this works.”
“Uh-huh,” said Twilight with a nod, she had no idea what this little pony was talking about.
“Do you know where you are?” asked the filly, taking a step closer to Twilight.
“Ponyville, of course,” said Twilight. The filly shook her head.
“No.” The filly took another step closer to Twilight. “I asked, do you know where you are?”
“Uh, not… in… Ponyville?” said Twilight, her voice carrying a note of uncertainty between her halting words. Again, the filly shook her head.
“You’re out of your mind,” said the filly calmly, her bright pink eyes locked on Twilight.
“Wait, do I know you from somewhere? You look really familiar,” said Twilight, the answer to her question just out of reach. The filly ignored the question, instead pressing on the explanation that didn’t really seem to be explaining anything.
“Already the ground is cracking, the cities are getting closer and the sky is filling up,” continued the filly.
“You’re me!” exclaimed Twilight with sudden realization. The filly put a hoof to her face in frustration. “No, wait, I’m you? Aren’t we?” The pain she had been feeling redoubled its effort, like something was trying to explode out of her head.
Around them the edges of the dream began to tear slightly, like old film run through a projector too many times. Neither of the ponies seemed to notice this.
“But if you’re me?” Twilight rubbed the side of her head Why was it so hard to focus? “Why don’t you look like me? That doesn’t make any sense.” Twilight felt like her question was the most important thing in the world and yet, at the same time, it didn’t really seem to matter.
The filly gave her no answer. Twilight massaged her head, as if this would make the pain fade away. It didn’t.
Twilight looked away from the filly in frustration, turning back towards the building behind her. This was where she had landed, at her house. Why had the filly not wanted her to go in there? Why did she have such a strange feeling when she looked at it?
It felt like her house didn’t belong. That was silly, of course it did, it was right where it should be, exactly as it should be, yet… Twilight’s eyes moved from top to bottom and back again… yet it was wrong. Just like the filly was wrong.
“Why shouldn’t I go in there?” asked Twilight, not turning to look at the filly.
“It’s not yours,” answered the sky-blue filly as if this explained everything. Twilight turned back to look at the younger pony in confusion.
“What? It’s my house how can it not be mine?” asked Twilight. “Well, I mean, ok, technically I’m just staying here, I don’t own it, I’m not even renting it… But it feels like its mine. It feels like the first real home I’ve ever had that wasn’t my parent’s house.
“Actually,” Twilight glanced at the town around her. “Ponyville feels like the first real home I’ve ever thought of as home. Canterlot is great and all, but… I don’t know… I can’t really explain it. I feel like I fit in here, like I belong here.”
Neither Twilight nor the filly noticed as in the distance the city of Canterlot, up on its mountain side, moved ever so slightly towards them. The mountain moved with it, growing just a little larger on the horizon. It finally stopped moving towards Ponyville just before Twilight turned her head to look at it.
“Did… did that mountain just move?” asked Twilight. “I could have sworn… Isn’t Canterlot supposed to be further away?” She looked back towards the filly, who shrugged. “Right, not your problem I suppose.”
“Oh no,” said the filly with a shake of her head. “That’s a huge problem. When it reaches Ponyville…” she tossed her tiny forelegs into the air, toppling backwards and miming a huge explosion. “Well, really, I don’t have any idea what it’s going to do when it gets here. But that’s…
“…My problem, not yours,” said Twilight at the same time as the filly. They looked at each other for a long moment, the pale blue filly laying on her back, blinking up at Twilight with bright pink eyes.
At last Twilight looked away, her head turning back towards Canterlot. She watched the distant mountain city for a long moment, as if expecting to catch it in the act of moving. It stayed right where it was. At last, she returned her attention to the tree house library that she called home.
Taking a deep breath she trotted towards the door. She was going to see whatever was in there!
“You can’t!” cried the filly. With a rapid beat of wings the filly raced past Twilight to hover in front of her. She held out her tiny arms, trying to block the way. “It’s not for you!”
“What isn’t for me?” demanded Twilight starting to feel frustrated. “Just tell me what’s in there!” The filly looked away. “Fine. If you won’t tell me, I’ll just have to find out!”
Using her foreleg Twilight moved the filly aside with a gentle push and trotted past. She reached out a hoof for the door and took hold of the latch. It wouldn’t move. Twilight put more force into trying to open it, yet that seemed to do little good.
“Locked? This shouldn’t be locked,” Twilight said aloud to herself. “But nothing some simple magic can’t fix.”
Twilight’s magical unicorn horn began to glow with purple energy. The door handle shimmered with the same purple light. Tiny sparks of magic arced off Twilight’s horn as she cast her spell to open the door. Despite her best efforts however, the door remained solidly closed.
Twilight’s face tensed with concentration. She pushed harder, her magic glowing more intensely. Still, the door did not budge. The magical field grew larger, enveloping the whole door. If the handle wouldn’t budge then she would just tear the darn thing from its hinges!
The wood creaked under the strain. The door bulged slightly. She was doing it, she was going to get it open.
“Stop!” cried the filly. Twilight wasn’t listening; she was pouring everything she had into this spell. “I told you, it’s not for you!” the filly repeated desperately.
One of the metal rivets shot out of the door like a cork from a bottle. From the small hole a stream of bright light poured out. The filly raced past Twilight, shoving the rivet back into place and blocking the light.
“Stop!” shouted the filly, her small hoof keeping the gap closed. Twilight was almost there. She could feel it. She was just about to get through.
That hadn’t been the filly’s voice that time. The ground shook beneath Twilight’s hooves and between the new voice and the shaking, her concentration was broken. The ground shook again and Twilight took a step back in surprise and alarm. What had she done?
Where her hooves had been a crack had appeared in the ground. It was no larger than a few inches, but it was several hooves long. Like the door, blazing light streamed from the crack.
Cautiously Twilight approached the broken ground. She lowered her head so that she could get a closer look. There was something beneath the crack, something other than light, something that was moving. She lowered her head even more, turning her face to the side so that her eye was only inches from the break in the world. There was something down there.
It took Twilight a moment to realize what she was seeing. An eye, a bright pink eye, was looking back at her through the crack. Twilight leapt backwards in surprise.
“Great, look what you did!” said the filly angrily. Flapping her wings she moved over to the crack in the ground. She landed softly then placed her hooves on either side. Her face straining a little she pulled on the ground and to Twilight’s surprise, the crack closed.
“I think you should leave,” said the filly, looking up at Twilight with disappointment.
“Leave? But I just got here!” said Twilight. “I’m sorry about the ground, I won’t do that again.” But the filly was shaking her head, her rainbow colored mane swishing back and forth.
“No. You have to leave.”
Everything seemed to become very far away, like Twilight was looking through a long black tunnel, with the filly standing at the very end watching her.
“Wait! I’m sorry! Please let me stay! I don’t want to go back! I’m so afraid!” shouted Twilight reaching out a hoof to the distant filly that was long out of reach.
“I know, we’re afraid too,” whispered the filly. Then she was gone, swallowed up by the end of the dream as it washed over her. Twilight was carried away into spinning memories and thoughts that weren’t entirely hers.