Applejack had just finished dumping today’s harvest into barrels to be taken to the market the next day. She took a quick look around before letting loose a tremendous yawn. “Hoo-ey! What a day.”
Suddenly, she spotted two familiar colors at the edge of the orchard. It appeared as though Pinkie Pie and Twilight were coming to visit. Applejack was more than ready for a familiar face after a long day of applebucking, but her friends didn’t seem to be approaching the barn. Instead they turned off the path and headed toward a remote corner of the orchard.
“What in tarnation…?” Applejack was tired, but this strange behavior piqued her interest. She wouldn’t put a prank past Pinkie Pie any day of the week, but Twilight’s presence on this late night excursion didn’t make much sense. Applejack made up her mind to check things out – not that she didn’t trust her friends, but what in Equestria were they doing here if not coming to visit? She adjusted her hat and trotted off in the direction her friends were headed.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Twilight had some doubts about Pinkie’s story – very strong doubts, in fact. They ran through her head as she ran behind Pinkie Pie through Sweet Apple Acres, but she elected to keep them to herself for now.
“This way! No…. this way!” Pinkie was taking them on a zigzag path through the trees, and Twilight was losing patience. They were nearly at the edge of the Sweet Apple Acres property. The farmhouse and barn were rather distant and barely visible over the trees and hills.
Pinkie stopped suddenly, skidding to a stop as if at the edge of a cliff. “This is it…!” Pinkie whispered in awe. Her eyes threatened tears again, wide with apprehension as she cautiously approached one of the myriad apple trees. She gave Twilight a very serious look, one that would have been comical on any other occasion. “Please come here, Twilight…”
“Pinkie, you’re kinda creeping me out...” Twilight forced a nervous laugh. “It’s just a tree…”
“Please.” Her voice was barely audible.
Twilight held back a sigh and came to sit next to Pinkie.
A moment later, any ideas she had about this being some elaborate practical joke vanished. Pinkie had tremblingly raised her front left hoof and pressed it to the tree… but it didn’t stop. Her hoof phased through it like it was merely a trick of the light that a tree was there at all. She quickly retracted it and fell backwards, then gave Twilight another serious look. Twilight didn’t see it, however, as her eyes were locked onto the apple tree. She crept toward it, her face a picture of horror and confusion.
The two ponies didn’t hear the rustling behind them. Applejack was hiding behind a tree a few rows back. She couldn’t believe what she had just seen. It had obviously been an illusion, probably caused by the dim moonlight. She had been planning to leap out and catch them in the act of whatever they were up to, but this…
Before she knew what she was doing, Applejack was sprinting back to the farmhouse. “Nope… just been workin’ too hard today, is all. You’re workin’ too hard and seein’ things, Applejack…” Once inside she ran straight to her bedroom and jumped into bed. She forced thoughts of what she had just seen out of her head, convinced herself she hadn’t seen it after all. Before long, blissful sleep found her.
Pinkie Pie and Twilight were still sitting outside. Pinkie had stood up and was now watching Twilight expectantly, who was still focused on the tree. Twilight circled the tree a few times, glaring at it intently, occasionally looking back at Pinkie, who gave her nothing. She used her magic to pull an apple from the tree, and after careful inspection, took a bite. It seemed normal. Twilight eventually grunted and charged the tree, throwing her legs behind her to give it a solid bucking. She sailed right through the tree and was skidding through the grass on her tummy and chin a moment later. After a minute of Pinkie looking at her sadly, Twilight began to cackle crazily. “This isn’t possible! I must be dreaming.”
Twilight suddenly shot up straight and ran to Pinkie. “It’s a dream! You’re a dream! Wake up, Twilight. Wake UP!” She conked herself on the head with her hoof. “OW!”
Pinkie gave her a long, tight hug. At length she whispered, “You’ve always been dreaming, Twilight. Now… you’re awake.”