How did I get here? The shackles chafed my fetlocks, reminding me every minute of my coming fate. What set me down the slope?
Daddy? Why are there guard ponies at the door?
I'd already had my fill of food for the day. A bit of a feast, that final meal. They let you have all the food you want, be it cheap or fancy.
We're sorry to inform you that...
Daddy, where's mommy?
She's gone on a very long trip, baby.
When is mommy coming back?
I can feel my bottom lip quivering, fighting to hold back the tears delayed for years.
Why can't mommy come back?
She just can't, baby...
No! That's not true! She can!
The memories come flooding through in waves, as my outer defenses give in to the sadness gripping my heart.
Sweetie, how many times do I have to remind you?
It's not your fault...
I don't care!
What was wrong with me? All those years, wasted on a lie.
But sweetie, if you'll just--
No! I'm sick of your naive 'It's nobody's fault' crap!
You're not my father anymore...
I put a fettered hoof to my chest, where my locket would have been, were I allowed to keep it.
My hope that you will forgive me.
A necklace? Yeah, sure dad. Whatever you say.
Why couldn't I forgive him?
What's that around your neck, babe?
Oh, this? It's... nothing. Just a little souvenir.
The lie I chose to live? It seemed so stupid now. How could I ever hope to change the reality of life and death?
My father? Dead? Pah, good riddance!
Why did I hide him away, forget about him? It was only then I could see how very mistaken I was.
The last will and testament of...
And to my daughter, I leave...
That's all I get? A stupid stuffed animal? I stopped caring about that thing when I got my cutie mark!
I wish I had that teddy bear, now.
You what? I thought we'd gone over this before...
DON'T TALK BACK TO ME, WHORE!
I don't want to look at you anymore...
I'll go find someone else to call my marefriend. You're not worth it.
Hot tears warmed my cheeks. Outside, I could hear the howling of a cold wind in the morning air.
Past the bars of my cell, I hear voices. Two, none familiar. Who would visit a criminal like me? I don't even have anyone to call 'friend' as it is, because...
Because I'm always screwing up! No matter what I do. I've never been able to hold down a job for longer than a month. Same with keeping friends, I always push them away! I don't know what's wrong with me, I don't, but I hate it! It's a curse. A Luna-damned curse! I can't even walk down the street without ponies staring at me like I'm some freak in the circus.
Because... I am a freak. I don't know how, or why, but since the day my mother died, I was a different pony. I think, maybe, I never got over her. Maybe I was piling up my frustrations, my angers, my problems.
There are ponies out there who say no pony is a freak. Everyone is just... different from every other. Even them—even they give me a wide berth. They don't consider how I feel, what's happened to me, even that I'm a pony, too. All they see is what I've done. What I'm liable to do.
I didn't mean to murder. I really didn't. It just... happened.
I'll show you disturbed!
Wait—no! What are you doing?!
You left me for that slut!
I'm going to teach you a valuable lesson.
Oh Luna... he... he's dead! I—I killed him...
The door to my cell creaked open, breaking me out of my reverie.
"Come, it's time."
Time. I knew what for, how couldn't I? The question was never 'if'—it was always "what comes after?" Where would I go? I hope it's someplace nice. I've always been told that ponies go to a better place than this after death. But then, what could Tartarus be? If I remember right, it's a place of punishment. Bad ponies go there. Am I a bad pony? What makes a pony bad? Murder? Or is it, perhaps, dependent on circumstance?
I stood. I walked. I thought.
I'd like to turn myself in.
For what, my little pony?
What was the afterlife like, exactly? I imagined fields upon fields of simple wheat, the occasional tree to hang out and relax under. Ponies being happy all over the place, for no particular reason than that all of life's troubles were over. Dad would be there, waiting for me. Nay, not only him. Mother would be there. Ready to embrace me, to hold me. It'd be a happy ending to a sad life.
But what if my thoughts were wrong? Perhaps the afterlife didn't even exist, and death was simply the end of everything. In that case, still, I suppose it would be preferable to living on. The thought nonetheless scared me. Oblivion? No more mother... ever. No anypony.
Murder? I do not believe I have heard of a pony turning themselves in for murder in the last six hundred years.
Please, Your Highness... my parents are dead. I have nothing left. I just want to see them again.
I curse myself for not asking assurance to what lay beyond death. What if she hid from me that I would never be able to see my family again? What if life had simply had its fun and decided to inflict the ultimate curse—eternity without love?
The door to my fate was heavy, a thick construction of old that had clearly stood as many years at the city itself. Its aesthetics were that of an earlier age, a darker age, when ponies were more often put to the noose. Inside, there were only a few ponies gathered; the family of my victim. A few ponies eager to see justice in action. Surprising, the Goddess herself was here to see me off. Why should she be here? A look of concern, hers was. For me? For the ones I hurt?
It no longer mattered. I was going to hang, nothing could change that. Pled guilty to murder is a guaranteed ticket to the afterlife.
There it was: hanging from a hook in the high ceiling of the small viewing chamber, the noose. Once, I'd worn a small locket to remind me how much I hated my father for failing me. Now, I'd wear another necklace, a sturdier one. One symbolic of the ending of life. For me, a symbol of hope for thing beyond.
Just like that, I realized it was already around my neck. I looked at my audience. The family affected glared daggers at me, hate radiating from even the filly at the side. Oh, how I wished to beg forgiveness! The various others looked quite eager to see another pony hang—didn't happen often, you know. Celestia? She continued to watch me with... loving concern. Did she actually care for me? Our eyes met. And spoke.
Everything would be fine now.
The floor came out from under me. My gaze remained on Celestia as I fell, as I seemed to float mid-fall. It felt as though time had slowed.
I will accept your confession as truth, and provide you a clean, equine death.
Where would I go? In these last moments as I fell, I felt unimaginable fear. Whatever lay beyond would last forever. Forever. Difficult concept to grasp—it never ends. Ever. Perhaps, ten thousand years from now, I'll be in the same situation I'm about to be in. I hope it's somewhere nice, where I can see my family again. I really do.
The ropes tightened. My body, my arms began to struggle about, but, in my pondering, they'd been bound. My neck burned like fire, eyes threatening to fall out of their sockets. The last thing I saw as the world faded to black was Celestia's sympathetic gaze...
The next thing I saw was...