"So that was you! What happened? Why didn’t you get ponified?”
Isaac took another long sip from his steaming cup of tea. The sweet aroma of raspberries soothed his mind like almost nothing else could, bringing a fond smile to his face.
"Well, to be perfectly honest, I really wanted to. Really, really wanted to. Everything pointed to a better future after ponification, and I was miserable. So I looked up the times for the tours your staff hosts for apprehensive patients. Unfortunately, I scheduled my tour on the day of the HLF riot.”
"Oh... There were so many people hurt that day... Were you one of them?"
Isaac shrugged. "You could say that."
Isaac sat on the spongy seat on the train, sinking into the material. He started out the window at the surroundings as they whipped by. The train was packed, many people standing at the back of the car holding onto railings for support. He wasn’t sure why the train was more packed than usual, but he was sure they weren’t headed to the same place he was judging by how the vast majority of them sported foul and angry expressions.
Isaac was going back to the Newark Conversion Bureau.
He had been following the opening of them very closely, ever since his meeting with the unicorn before the bureaus opened. Many of the interviews that started surfacing of humans who had undergone ponification were more than willing to spread the joy of how they felt. Every single one of them said they were happy, and all of them wore such bright smiles. They all said that the most difficult thing right off the bat was learning how to walk again, and how to live without thumbs.
What intrigued Isaac most of all was the fact that in all of the photos, press releases, interviews, and television specials, every single new pony was smiling. No frowns, no regret, no misery. They were all convinced that it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to them in their entire lives, and it made Isaac a bit envious. He wanted to finally be truly happy, and he knew full well that he would be able to achieve it living the life he was currently in. So Isaac decided to take one of the tours offered to the more apprehensive humans to help them be at ease with the process.
Isaac was convinced that if he liked what he saw today, he would go home, pack up, and enroll the very next day and never look back. He knew Will would be disappointed, being against the process himself. But Isaac believed that the benefits outweighed the consequences. It all was sprung forth from a recent interview he saw on the news:
<Hello, I’m Gabby Fitzsimons, and welcome to the nightly news at 8. If you haven’t heard already, ponification is all the rage! But, some of you may be asking yourselves ”what happens to me after the whole ordeal?” Tonight I have a special guest, here to explain to everyone his team’s most recent research. Welcome, Professor Edwin Valmir.>
<Pleasure to be here, Gabby.>
<Pleasure to have you. So you claim that your team has been researching the physiology of humans that underwent ponification. Is this true?>
<Yes it is. And we discovered some remarkable things. Most people have been hearing rumors from countries around the world of miracles occurring after ponification to people who suffered from various medical conditions being cured after the conversion.>
<Do go on.>
<Well, upon following up these testimonials, we requested access to patient files and records. Most of the first to enroll were the poor and the homeless. Without anything in the human world, they had nothing to lose by undergoing ponification. Many of them were in poor health, and upon ponification, most if not all of these conditions were nowhere to be seen within their new bodies.>
<Fascinating! What conditions are you referring to?>
<Well, this may come as a bit of a shocker. Many of the patients we looked at suffered from various forms of cancer from the poor environments they had been living in. Upon taking medical scans for their new bodies, no tumors or abnormal growths were detected. They were cured.>
<Are you saying that ponification cures cancer?>
<As much as I hate to admit it, yes it does. After decades of fruitless human research into trying to obliterate the horrid condition, along come the ponies and they cure it through sheer coincidence. Puts all of our effort to waste.>
<Was there anything else you and your team discovered? Any other conditions that are cured by ponification?>
<Yes. Viral and bacterial infections were eliminated; mental disorders corrected, amputees and paraplegics having control over their bodies again, so much suffering gone with that one process. Limbs growing back, even. Even the fatal Red Plague has been cured through this process.>
<Anything else to add before we wrap up? That is some pretty heavy weight for the Bureaus to any skeptics out there.>
<Yes, two more things. We discovered heightened serotonin production within the brains of pony-kind. Serotonin is known to have a very strong connection with the mood of a person. While humans produce it, the brain of a pony produces as much as three times more, supporting the transmission of signals within the brain, generating the natural euphoria and positive feelings that ponified humans claim to feel so much of. The second being that ponies are capable of similar lifetimes to humans, sometimes even passing them. Quite remarkable.>
<Thank you very much for your time, Professor. After the break: the HLF issues more threats against the Bureaus. What could this mean to you? Find out when we return.>
Isaac walked further down the road towards the bureau, trying desperately to navigate through the ever-growing crowds of the city. It seemed that the crowds were getting thicker the closer he got to the bureau. He started to hear shouts, screams, and angry yelling grow over the normal chaos of the usual city soundtrack, and his mind tried to tell him what was happening, even if he didn't want to believe it. He had to pick this day of all days.
Upon entering the colossal parking lot for the bureau, the entire place was filled with people. There was a chain link fence creating a tunnel towards the front doors to the building, but was constantly being rattled and shaken by the angry protesters. It didn't seem like it was terribly violent yet, but Isaac didn't want to be anywhere nearby when it did. Isaac was too busy observing the scene before him to notice the small group of thugs approach him from behind.
"Hey buddy. You here to protest too?" asked one of the guys, his breath rank with alcohol. Isaac looked up at the men towering over him, too petrified to speak. "Cause... We don't take too kindly to those damn pony-lovers, you catch my drift?" he asked, pulling out a savagely long knife from his jacket. Isaac slowly nodded in agreement. Seeing the fear in Isaac's eyes, the lead brute gestured to one of his lackeys behind him. In his hand was a red brick, outstretched in front of Isaac.
"Take this, and show us you're no pony-lover. Huck it at that damn hell-hole." The rest of them shouted various cheers and expletives. The ‘leader’ started eyeing his glinting knife, then back to Isaac. His insinuations were as clear as pure water.
Isaac took the brick into his hand, gazing at it. He knew that he wouldn't be able to get away from these guys and least of all fight them off. Most of the people around them were too busy shouting and yelling to care enough to help someone as insignificant as himself, and if he didn't do something with that brick, he would be in the wrong side of that knife. No matter how he looked at it, Isaac was in a lose-lose situation. He had no choice but to comply.
His body acted before he could stop it. His mind, caught in the brief moment of confusion, only saw his hand empty and outstretched in front of him. He heard the sharp sound of shattering glass before him, and the cheers of the troublemakers behind him. While they were distracted, Isaac sunk into the layers of the crowd, desperate to get as far away as he could before his cowardice cost him his freedom.
Sirens began to wail in the distance, the screams and yells from the crowd growing in response. Other objects began flying towards the bureau, likely inspired by his act of fear and coercion. He stood up straight to get another look at the surroundings, and saw that his efforts had placed him towards the back of the angry mob, much to his relief. Keeping his head low, he passed by the thinning crowds until he reached the streets of Newark, away from the chaos in front of the Bureau.
Looking back to make sure nobody was following him, Isaac sprinted towards the train station, eager to get back home and seclude himself in his room, hoping nobody saw him and his stunt. Rushing up the stairs onto the platform, he flashed his ID to the ticket terminal and jumped onto the earliest train headed back home.
Planting himself onto one of the seats, he slumped down, dread and regret filling his body. He thought to himself that it couldn’t possibly get any worse.
"You explain yourself this instant!” the voice yelled from beyond the doorway. Isaac hadn't even set foot inside his own home before being accosted by his father. Upon seeing him, Isaac only beheld a visage of anger and hate, his father's face beet red.
"What are you talking about? What's going on?" Isaac asked, thoroughly confused.
His mother stumbled over, her face hidden behind her hands, resting them on his father's shoulder. After a few moments, she regained her composure. Her face was slick with tears and puffy from her sobbing.
"Why? Just tell me why... they didn't do anything bad to you... so why do you hate them so much?" She couldn't stand it anymore and returned to her sobbing.
"I thought we raised a tolerant son, but it seems that I was SORELY mistaken!" his father bellowed, bleeding sarcasm. Isaac winced at the harsh accusation.
Did they know? How on earth could they have found out... unless...
Isaac looked behind his parents at the lit television set, its face lit with a news story covering the earlier riot at the Conversion Bureau. From the aerial view, the crowd was massive. The screen flashed to more highlights: men getting beat over the head with police batons, fist-fighting, other people throwing things at the police and the bureau... and then the screen flashed to the one thing he prayed nobody else had seen. It was himself, throwing the brick at the bureau, breaking the glass window, the kindling that led to the full ferocity of the riot to bear.
Isaac felt himself lose his mind to panic. "I-It wasn't my fault! Some drunken thugs were threatening me! They pulled a knife on me! I was too scared to do try and get away from them!" he cried out.
"WELL WHY THE HELL WERE YOU THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?!" His mother's face was now a similar color as his father's. Isaac saw the rage burning in both sets of eyes.
"I... I was going to take a tour of the bureau..."
"Bullshit. We know you've been recording all of those interviews. Stewing your damn racist hatred. Well..." his father looked over to his mother, who nodded in agreement. "We're leaving for the bureau. Right now. And you're not coming. Dear, tell Erika to get her things."
Isaac stood frozen as his parents, the very people who raised him, walked off. They truly were too blinded by their rage to see Isaac's innocent intentions. He heard the clinking of zippers coming from the living room, and didn't even respond as his father shoved him to the side, walking out the door to the car.
A few voices were heard from upstairs, one of which was louder, and somehow filled with joy. All too soon, that joy died as Isaac figured her mother told Erika that he wasn't coming with them. His mother and sister both walked downstairs, solemn looks as they too walked to the door.
Isaac began to tear up. The only family he had... the only people he was close to were abandoning him. All because of some stupid misunderstanding. And he couldn't even defend himself. He was too scared. Erika stopped before Isaac and embraced him.
She whispered in his ear. "I believe you. I'm sorry that it had to come to this." And then she too walked to the car. The electric engine buzzed from the garage. Isaac turned around to see his parents backing out of the driveway, not even giving him another glance. The car peeled down the street, towards their future, leaving Isaac behind. Erika looked out from the back window, waving her brother goodbye.
Isaac stood frozen in the door. The ponies had taken everything from him. He was completely alone in the world. He had absolutely nothing left.
"What's all the hubbub?" a voice called from down the street. Isaac shifted his gaze to the figure, which appeared to be carrying several bags, walking in his direction. As the figure approached, Isaac made it out to be the only thing left in the world he was familiar with.
"Sorry you had to see that, Will."
"Lemme guess. The Bureau Riot? That was you, right?"
Isaac sighed. "Yep. Crazy things some people do under the coercion from a drunk with a knife."
"Don't worry, I would've done the same. Not much you can do in a situation like that." Will stood before Isaac now, apparently carrying all of his possessions with him. Will noticed Isaac's gaze, and gave a small chuckle. "Yeah, the folks decided to get ponified too. Sold the house before I told them I wasn't interested. Mind if I crash here for a bit?"
Isaac smiled. Maybe the end of his world would be put off a while yet.
"Yeah, sure. Come inside."
Twilight’s pen kept whizzing away at her clipboard, the scratching filling the silent room. The pen ceased its movements, and Twilight finally relaxed after her marathon of an interview.
"Goodness! We sure lost track of time! I still have so many reports to finish for the Princesses... I hope you don't mind if we put our little interview on hold until tomorrow." The purple unicorn began tucking her tall stack of notes into her saddlebags along with her clipboard, pen, and recorder. Isaac lifted himself up and helped Twilight with the bags.
"Not at all, Ms. Sparkle. If it would be okay with you, I would like to continue tomorrow in another setting, perhaps over lunch."
She brought her purple hoof to her chin, trying to organize her itinerary for the next day around it. A small spark in her eyes brought a soft smile to her face. "That sounds delightful, Mr. Hamilton. Daisy's at 11:30?"
"Never been before, but sounds perfect. I'll see you then."
Twilight gave a light nod of her head, and left the room, closing the door with her magic. As soon as the mare left, Isaac closed his eyes and recalled what that packet had said.
"SyRE. What’s the progress on the data retrieval from the Kremlin?" A few moments of silence was followed by the synthesized voice coming from the room’s speakers.
"Four hours until completion. On my schedule next are The White House and The Pentagon."
"And how much of your processing power are you using towards this?"
"Approximately .01%, as you requested. Decommission should not be accelerated should I retain these limits. I fear that retrieval of the Pentagon documents alone will take months, however." Isaac almost felt the intonation of fear and worry in the AI's voice.
"Alright, we don't have that much time in that case. Remove the limiter I put in, and devote all of your processing power to the retrieval. How long will it take to retrieve everything?"
SyRE responded only with a simple "Please define 'everything’."
"Everything. All recorded information. Human history, recorded documentation, media, creative works, absolutely everything. How long would that take if you devoted 100% of your processing power to it and weeding out redundant copies?"
Nothing came from the speakers for a moment as Isaac felt the humming and buzzing from SyRE’s processor core in the basement. "Approximately 3 days. However, decommissioning will occur a few hours afterwards as a side-effect of handling the information." Isaac knew that SyRE wouldn't display its emotions, but he knew his old AI would sound concerned if it was assigned a suicide mission.
"Forward all documentation, research notes, and guidelines to AI salvage and reintegration to my personal station. Top priority. Put everything else on the holographic drives downstairs. Don't worry old friend, I won’t let you won’t die under my watch." If SyRE had a shoulder, Isaac would have given a reassuring pat.
"I have no worries, sir. I trust your methods and reasoning completely. The requested documentation is now on your private terminal. Once I begin the retrieval, I will be unable to communicate or make any other actions. Please confirm directive: Archival of all human knowledge."
Isaac took a great breath. "Confirm."
"Acknowledged. Processing directive. Estimated time until completion: three days, fourteen hours, thirty seven minutes."
"Best of luck, buddy." Isaac gave a light sigh, realizing he was going to have to cook for himself for a few days. He hoped he still knew how. Isaac sat back down in his chair and took another long sip of his now cold tea. The vapor trails had settled, and now didn't give off the soothing scent as well as it did before. Reveling in the silence that had now befallen his home, Isaac closed his eyes.
The only thing he heard was the fans that were working tirelessly to keep the central computing unit for SyRE cooled while he trudged along with his mission. The droning hums were so relaxing to Isaac, that his consciousness began to melt away, the surroundings beginning to drift from his recognition, his mind beginning to wind down. Isaac welcomed the sweet embrace of sleep. It had eluded him so often in the past; he treasured each minute of it he got.
The peace that was surrounding Isaac was swept away by the crashing noises that came from his office.
“Owwww...” a young voice moaned from down the hallway. The soft steps were barely audible on the carpet.
"I was hoping she would leave soon. You guys talked forever! I was getting so cramped in that overstuffed closet... I might have broken some stuff... sorry..." a gentle voice called from behind Isaac.
"Ahh... don't worry too much. I have too much junk in that closet. And sorry about that... I wasn't expecting any guests today, let alone the Princess’s closest advisor."
“What? If I had known she was here... If she even tried anything on you, I woulda beat the stuffing out of her! Wham, pow!” the squeaky voice yelled out.
Isaac opened his eyes to see a blurry figure standing next to the arm of the chair. As he wiped the small bit of sleep from his eyes, he reaffirmed his gaze.
Next to his chair stood an aqua blue pegasus colt. Not even three feet tall, he was still fairly young by both human and pony standards. He sported a silver-white windswept mane and tail, glowing bright in the lamplight. His blue wings were perked up, a sign of excitement by his kind. His tail flicked and jumped in joy as the pegasus's bright green eyes locked onto Isaac's, and they both shared a bright smile. Isaac lifted himself from the chair and kneeled down to embrace the young colt. The colt wrapped his neck around Isaac's, and dug his snout into Isaac's hair.
“Your bravery is positively infectious. I wish I was like you when I was your age, Windchaser.”
Isaac stood back up, ruffling the young one's mane amidst a light bit of laughing. "I'm going to be going out tomorrow to meet with that mare again. She asked me to continue that interview we were working on earlier. SyRE is off working on a job I assigned to him using all of his attention, so you'll have the house to yourself. Try not to break anything else, okay?"
"Sure thing, papa!"
Isaac gave his son such a wide smile that he almost brought himself to tears, as the pegasus jumped onto the couch to spread his legs out after his afternoon of confinement. Isaac walked into the kitchen and leaned onto the counter as his smile began to fade into a frown.
I can’t risk him hearing in.
“So what would you like for dinner?” Isaac asked cheerfully. Opening the refrigerator, he peeked in between the shelves and drawers of fresh produce. “We have some leftover rice, some eggs, onions, bean sprouts... How about I make you something I loved when I was younger?”
The pegasus bounced in and out of view beneath the counter. “That... sounds... awesome!” he cheered with each bounce.
Isaac pulled out a steel frying pan from the cabinet and set it on the stove, starting the electric burner with the turn of a knob.
At least it’s harder to mess up fried rice than it is to cook it. If only all decisions were as easy as picking what to have for dinner.
Isaac strolled down the street at a slow, relaxed pace. He waved at some of the familiar ponies he shared the small area of town with, giving them warm smiles and waving his hand. Each one of them responded with smiles lighting up their faces as well. The town was alive and bustling, ponies out enjoying the morning sunlight. It was very pleasant out, warm with a light, cool breeze. The pegasi had done a wonderful job with keeping the smog away from town. The Earth was still polluted, but the efforts of the unicorns and pegasi kept the countless towns around the world pleasant and livable. He walked along the roads, weaving around the ponies he shared the sidewalk with towards his destination.
When he finally made it to Daisy’s Diner, he saw a very flustered Twilight Sparkle waiting for him. She was tapping her hoof, and pulling a pocket watch out from her saddlebag every few seconds to check to see how late Isaac was. Calling her punctual would have been the understatement of the year.
“You kept me waiting here for thirteen minutes! Now my schedule is all ruined… I’ll never get all those files sorted tonight…” she bemoaned.
“You need to take some time for yourself, Miss Sparkle. Taking the scenic route does wonders for one’s nerves.”
“Yeah, yeah. Let’s find ourselves a table, shall we?”
“Why don’t we get ourselves one out on the patio? The day is simply too marvelous to be put to waste,” Isaac asked. He relished the sweet air around the diner. Twilight had made a great decision coming here.
“That… sounds good, I suppose.”
Isaac opened the door, and held it open for Twilight as she trotted inside. She gave him a nod of appreciation, and continued on to the waiters to find them a table.
“Table for 2, please. And out on the deck, if it isn’t too much to ask,” Twilight said.
The blue unicorn behind the desk took a peek at her documents, and levitated two big menus in front of her.
“Right this way, darlings!” she said, leading the duo between the tables, towards the back.
She opened the doors to the patio outside, and flipped open the umbrella for the table, offering some shade from the noon sun. Twilight and Isaac took their seats and menus, both thanking the waitress.
"My name is Morning Roast, and I’m your waitress this wonderful day! Now what can I get you two to drink?”
Twilight thought for a moment. “Do you happen to have apple cider?” The waitress gave a smile and a nod. “That, then. Thank you.”
“And you, sir?”
Isaac thought to himself. It was a long shot, but what did he have to lose?
“Do you happen to have a bottle of Coke? I know they’re really rare, but if you don’t, it’s alright.”
“Hmm… As a matter of fact… I think we do have a bottle or two somewhere in the back. We held onto it just in case we had another human patron. Haven’t seen one in almost fifteen years now, until you showed up! So today’s your lucky day, sonny!”
“Terrific. I’ll take that please. And a glass of ice.”
“Comin’ right up!”
Isaac leaned back on the back legs of his seat. The idea that some ponies haven’t even seen a human in so long was a little disheartening to him.
“You okay, Isaac?” Twilight asked.
He brought his chair back down with a deep thud on the wooden deck. “Yeah. I’m just glad they have a bottle of coke back there. Haven’t had one in so long. I just hope it’s not flat…” Isaac gave a soft chuckle.
Twilight’s horn began to glow once more, her bags opening up bearing the voice recorder, clipboard, and pen from yesterday.
“I was hoping we could continue your interview if you don’t mind…”
“Oh, right. Of course. I’m actually going to skip ahead a bit, if you don’t mind.”
“Well, we left off when Will came to stay at my house, right?”
Twilight flipped through her notes from their last meeting. “Yes, that’s where we ended.”
“Things got... dull for a while. Will and I would search around town for jobs to keep ourselves active, and to get some sort of income flowing in. The jobs were nothing extraordinary. We were cashiers, truck drivers, even tried my hand at working in a local police station. But as the population steadily funneled it’s way in through the bureaus, we lost our jobs faster than we could find new ones.
“As dreary as things seemed, we were able to reap the benefits of what was happening. We would frequently make trips around, looking for abandoned shops and houses, seeing if they had anything we could, well, use. I suppose you could have called the two of us looters, really. After a while, we had accumulated quite the wealthy sum of toys and gadgets. Food was also somewhat easy to come by, since most food then was made with so much preservatives that they could last for decades.
“So then everything kind of became slow. We stayed in the house, mostly because the AIs that ran the utilities and other services knew we were still there. They had began shutting down grids that humans had abandoned, leaving them to slowly decay along with the rest of the world. We had running water, electricity, heat, gas, everything we needed to stay there indefinitely so long as we had food.”
“So how long did you two live like this?” Twilight was scribbling down on her notepad, while also staring right at Isaac.
“I think it ended up being almost ten years actually. Work died out after seven, then three just minding our own business. We had plenty of things to keep our minds preoccupied. We had most of the entire media library known to man available at a moment’s notice, and we would go out to some remaining human run markets for food. But for me, things were getting pretty dull. There was a deep sense of purpose begging to be filled in me. I began to think those big questions: What am I supposed to do in this world? Where is my place? I was sure it wasn’t doing crap jobs for my dying species. So, I decided to go out for a walk down on the beach.”
Isaac walked along the boardwalk lining the beach. The sky was a faded grey, lines and streaks in the clouds, painting a picture that some would find beautiful. Isaac was one of them. He enjoyed weather like this: overcast, clear, with a cool, refreshing breeze. Looking out over the ocean, he stared at the waves crashing on the sandy shore and the rock jetties. He leaned on the railing, breathing in the salty air. Faint peals of thunder could be heard overhead.
The beach never appealed to him when he was younger. He always put up a fuss whenever his parents dragged him and his sister there, whereas Erika would always have a blast regardless of how much of a grump Isaac was being. She would always talk him into helping her build mammoth sand castles, dig big holes, and look for seashells along the water. Her enthusiasm and cheer would spread to him, and he would end up enjoying himself no matter how sour of a mood he had been in before.
His thoughts immediately shifted entirely to his sister. She was the only one to say goodbye to him when she and his parents left. She was the only one who gave him a hug, the only one to wave goodbye. Even ten years hadn't helped the ache in his heart watching his family abandon him like that. Even though Will showed up immediately after asking to move in, he still missed the company of his old family, especially Erika.
Isaac took his socks and shoes off, leaving them on the old wooden boardwalk, stepping into the soft beach sand. The tiny grains filling in between his toes felt refreshing and welcome, even the mild itching that accompanied it. He had been cooped up with Will back home for so incredibly long; he began to forget how fresh air smelled. Not that his friend was getting on his nerves; Will was perfectly content with the lives they were living at the time sitting at home, chatting online, doing shady intel work for companies still around for good money.
Isaac, however, was not. He felt a void in his being that had been growing since his family left. One could call it wanderlust, or even say that Isaac was tired of sitting on the sidelines, watching the world decay. He wanted to do something with his life. He wanted to help humanity, or what was left of it. It reached a bit of a crisis point that day, when he was forwarded a note from one of his friends online he had worked with. It read in plain letters:
[New census results: less than 1m humans left]
He walked out towards the frothing surf, feeling the icy waves lap at his feet. There was a time not too long ago where the beaches around were too polluted and dangerous to play on, garbage washing up every day. With the dwindling population of humans, less and less garbage found its way into the ocean, which had begun to try and clean itself, slowly restoring the azure hue it held so long ago. The trash would accumulate in bays and along belts of stagnant currents out in the ocean, away from the beaches.
As the waves kept washing over his feet, Isaac felt the stress draining away from his body. Looking back inland, he saw the ruins of humanity, slowly crumbling from neglect. This town was one of the first to be abandoned. It wasn't the most glamorous town around, but so many people saw the bliss and happiness that waited for them within Equestria and just left. Now, it was nothing more than a silent ghost town, cars left alone in parking lots, stores empty, and most homes devoid of all life. Looters could be seen every so often, trying to nip at the bones of the dead town, looking for any more treasures left over after the countless others before them.
Ponies had begun to repopulate some towns around the world, slowly spreading back out from Equestria. Not many towns were picked for repopulation, but the ones that were quickly became small hamlets similar to the ones back in their homeland. The ponies didn't seem partial to the idea of cities or huge metropolises, and only chose smaller towns, the least touched by modern technology. Most humans flocked to the giant cities, hoping to achieve some sort of extravagant life before the ponies had come.
Isaac walked back up the beach a bit and sat down, sinking slightly into the sand. He looked to the north, seeing the faint silhouettes of the skyscrapers of New York City clawing at the horizon, begging to be remembered by their creators. The city was just about abandoned during the second great ponification surge, when humanity realized that their numbers had dropped below three billion. Not wanting to be a part of a dying species, they sought out ponification in such numbers that humanity’s fate was just about sealed. Nobody wanted to ride a sinking ship into the depths of the ocean.
Isaac leaned back into the sand and began to think about what he wanted to do with himself. He wanted to do something for humanity, but it just seemed to be impossible. With so few people left, they were sure to be too spread out to attempt a concerted effort at anything. Isaac let out a heavy sigh.
"WHOAOAH! INCOMING!! AAAAAAAHHH!!" screamed a voice overhead.
Isaac had no time to register it, and felt the ground below him shake, and a plume of sand shooting overhead. On his feet, he brushed off the sand that had managed to make it into his clothes, then to see who or what caused that crash. There was a small crater barely a foot away from where he had been resting, with a bright yellow pegasus sporting a blond mane and tail struggling to her feet inside.
"Owwww... Those gusts up there sure are tricky... I’m sorry I almost… Oh..." she gasped, her eyes resting on Isaac. She brought her hooves up to her mouth, as if she had seen a monster out of a horror movie. She climbed up and out from the crater, not breaking her stare.
"What? What's wrong?" Isaac asked.
"I... I never thought I'd see..." she began.
"What? A human?" Isaac said, sighing.
The few days he had ventured out from his house he had been stared at as if he was some sort of circus freak. Colts and fillies would point asking what he was to their parents, before being hushed up. Others would just stare, either in wonder, or asking themselves ‘Huh, I wonder why that poor sap didn’t bother getting ponified.’ Fitting, since he was one of the only humans in a world filled with ponies. But every time it happened, he felt like they thought it was bad that he was still a human.
The pegasus's eyes drifted down to the sand, her expression darkening. "Y-yeah... a human… I'm sorry... I almost hurt you there. My name is Sunny Days."
Isaac chuckled. "Kind of ironic, no? Flying out when it's such a dark and dreary day?"
Sunny formed a small smile. "Any dark day can get brighter if you find what you were looking for," she said, staring up at Isaac through her messy blond mane. "And what are you doing out here all by yourself?"
Isaac planted himself back into the sand, staring back out at the ocean. "I suppose I just needed some time to think. I feel… empty. I feel like I should be doing something more than just sitting idly by as my species fades away. I just want to do something for humanity."
"I know the feeling. When I'm cooped up without getting to fly for too long, it hurts... But not just in the regular way. It hurts deep down because you aren't able to do what you were born to do. I think you can find what flying is to me if you look hard enough! It’s sure to be out there," Sunny said, cheerfully.
Isaac smiled, looked back over to the smiling pegasus. A smile crept its way onto his face as well. "You remind me of someone I knew once."
She lifted her head up, whipping her mane out of her eyes. "Really? Who?"
"My sister. She was always such an idealist, seeing the bright side of any situation no matter how dark and gloomy it looked. She was the only one to say goodbye to me when my parents took her to get ponified together years ago. I just wished I had said goodbye to her too. The whole situation was so screwed up; I just stood there in shock and let it all happen. I'm sure they have forgotten all about me by now. Living it up in Equestria, not a care in the world." Isaac’s heart sank, thinking about how alone he truly felt.
"I-I'm sure they haven't forgotten you, especially your sister! She still loves you, regardless of your decisions!"
"Yeah... I hope so."
A silence hung over the two. Isaac really did hope that his family remembered him, at the very least, Erika. "So what do you plan to do now? You said you wanted to do something to help humanity, right? Find some people who want to do the same and start something special!" Sunny chimed.
"You know… you're right. I shouldn't be sitting around while everything I know fades away. I need to go out and help bring my people together! Thank you so much for talking me through this, Sunny Days. You were a fantastic help." Isaac scooted over to give the smiling pegasus a hug, which she returned with a nuzzle to his hair.
Isaac jumped up and started running back to the boardwalk to retrieve his shoes. He spun around to wave and shouted back the pegasus, "Goodbye Sunny! Thank you again!"
"Good luck, Isaac!" she yelled, waving him goodbye. Sitting alone on the beach, the yellow pegasus felt tears welling up in her eyes, and a smile a mile wide growing on her face. She looked out to the sea, the first rays of light punching through the cloud cover over the water.
Isaac burst through the door to the old house, almost tripping over the piles of trash that had been forming in the living room. He stumbled up the stairs to his room, mumbling to himself. “I know I saw it the other day… Where was it… HAH!” he shouted, pulling out an old AM/FM radio out from his closet. He frantically began turning the dials, twisting volume up to the top. Will poked his head into the room, a wearing a confused look.
“Dude… what’s going on? You left without a word, and now you’re running all over the place, playing with antiques, and shouting everywhere,” Will said from the doorway. He was dressed in an old t-shirt and jeans, the same style he had retained since he moved in. The two of them worked in separate rooms, Isaac keeping his old one, and Will using Erika’s.
Isaac said nothing, still fumbling with the frequency dial, until a message began playing. “This!” he shouted.
<…ware, we welcome any and all humans still willing to help keep our species alive and well during these dark times. Free housing, free meals, and guaranteed work are all the benefits we offer. Safe from looters and gangs, we are an independent community free from the corrupting propaganda the ponies put forth. United with the other fifteen stations around the world, we will begin a new civilization for humanity to flourish within.>
<The International Human Survival Association wants you! Located in Fort Stillwater, Delaware, we welcome any and all humans still willing to help…>
“It just repeats after that. One of the guys online found it the other day, but I didn’t think too much of it and forgot all about it. It’s on most of the major radio bands, broadcast all over the country. So? What do you think?” Isaac said, his heart elated. He had finally found what he needed all this time, working to help humanity prosper.
“I don’t know. It sounds a little fishy, but what the hell. What isn’t nowadays? Fort Stillwater, eh? Kind of far way, if you ask me.” Will said. Isaac didn’t see the desire he felt in his friend’s eyes, but hoped for the best. “Well, let’s give it a shot. Better than sitting around this dump for much longer. No offense, heh.”
Isaac almost jumped for joy. He was finally the one deciding where his life was heading. “Let’s pack up. We have no idea what’ll be waiting for us there.” Isaac grabbed a bag from his closet, tossing some of his clothes in along with his computer’s external holographic drive.
“Alright. I’ll toss some stuff together then get us a car. Be outside in half an hour.”