Cover: Stalin The Stallion
Special thanks to Hawkysu
Let me tell you about a certain pony...
A weak breeze swept over me as I trotted down my routine path on the streets. Occasionally, some ponies greeted me and I politely responded, though I knew beforehoof that not even half of the ponies knew my name and those who knew, didn't use it.
Personally, this didn't bother me, seeing that I had moved into this town only about a month ago. True, somepony had held a 'surprise' party for me but by now I had become part of the general population.
Too bad my job prevents much social contact. Not that it matters.
Honestly, it doesn't! I couldn't be a happier stallion in this fine example of the Equestrian countryside. Of course, it just can’t compare to Trottingham. Still...
I dunno. Maybe I just miss the proper Trottingham breakfast. Oh, and let’s not forget real hoofball, the monarch of sports! And how could I have forgotten about our dear Cadance? Haven't heard any 'rumours' about her misadventures in a long time. Cannot really say that the local paper is that much into anything else but-
Wait... is there a point in this tangent of mine?
"Oh well, bung, bung, bung, bung, bung..."
Who's awake, whenever we're sleeping...
*Tick, tick, ti-, tick*
"Isn't this a peculiar one..."
"Can you fix it?"
I rubbed my chin thoughtfully as my right eye examined the depths of the clockwork mechanisms of this mahogany box.
Then, a certain loose cog caught my attention.
"Aha!" I exclaimed. I took one of the toothpicks from the bottle next to the box. Carefully, I inserted the tiny stick inside, trying my best to avoid any further complications with the constant, delicate flow of movement.
Thankfully, my hoofwork is of the utmost quality!
*Tick, ti-, ti-, tick*
"He he, seems like you're going to need to get this fixed in Canterlot, Big Mac." I laughed nervously and tucked the panel shut.
"Eeyup," replied the crimson red stallion next to me. He didn't lay a gaze on me whilst he grabbed the string bound to the musical box and began to trot away slowly, the box swinging back and forth in his teeth.
Me? I allowed my nervous laughter act to play out until I was absolutely sure he had gotten far away and clear from hearing my distressed breath. It felt sort of bad, not having been able to help out that fine lad get his music box fixed. Not to mention the fact that he also hadn’t been the first one...
This was... wait! Blast, I've totally forgotten! Just some big number; above ten and less than hundred.
Yet as all this went through my head in just a matter of seconds, I couldn't help but to be amused on my own reaction about something as simple as a two digit number.
Oh well, I've seen worse Nightmares than this!
It's an inside joke...
And not even a tiny funny either, so never mind.
"Mm, this egg's yummy!"
The one that keeps watches over for our slumber...
You could say that my current dwelling wasn't anything to bolster with, though the competition wasn't even slightly close to what it's like back at home. Last time I’d heard news, the nobles had started yet another ‘Improve Our Elegant District’ campaign, but at least my family...
Lets just say that the Trottingham nobles love their huge manors, that outshine even the most elegant ones of Canterlot. Not to mention cities like Fillydelphia or Manehattan with their sky-high skyscrapers that block out the starry night sky.
So my home wasn't anything fancy.
No, it was just one cottage in a line with others; same timber-framed with distinct thatched roofs and overhanging upper floors everywhere one's eyes could look.
Though there were a couple of advantages to mine: First, it was located near the largest hub of houses this town had.
And second; it had a very large cellar.
That who's ever so vigilant...
"Okay, let’s check again shall we?" I said as I eyed my reflection in the mirror.
The red-black checkerboard blouse and pants felt warm against my coat.
My tongue ran against the white row, making it brightly shine.
A flush echoed from the depths of the porcelain bowl.
I took the small bottle from inside the medicine cabinet and dropped one purple pill down my throat.
The effect was, like always, almost instant. I was barely able to get the bottle back to its place on the shelf and trot out of the bathroom directly connected to my bedroom.
Ugh, how I hate this feeling!
Yet, it's so... calming-
The only thing I could see was the pillow near me along with the bed.
Then, everything went black.
Without whom there wouldn't be any dreams...
*Beep, Beep, Beep*
"Oh for the love of..."
I rolled over onto my back, watching as the shadows upon the ceiling danced in otherwise dimly lit room.
For a while, I just lay there and followed them before in silence. Then I turned to look at the balcony door. A single strand of light shot through the glass panels, shining through my dark bedroom and breaking apart on the mirror.
Grumpily, I stood up and headed directly into the bathroom. It didn't take me long to get out of the nasty sleep suit of mine, which I honestly only wore out of habit, and walk under the nozzle of the stall shower.
Why does this need to happen every single night? Oh silly me, I'm talking to myself again. Seriously, I've got to lay off those psychology books.
Without thinking, I turned the water valve as far as possible to cold. After a minute of loud screaming and swearing for Celestia's holy mercy, I exited the bathroom fully clean.
But as I turned back to my bedroom, after having had my coat and mane dried of course, I noticed that the light from before had been dissolved and the shadows had ceased their dancing.
My hooves slowly took me to the balcony door, only to make me wonder how I had missed the setting sun. I’d only been gone for a couple of minutes.
Come to think of it, how many times have I actually watched the sun set?
...No, you fool, Trottingham doesn't count.
I gazed out over the rest of this idyllic village through the glass for a while, imagining just how many ponies were about to turn over for this day. Soon all of the of the lights would shimmer until the next day began.
Finally, my stare fell away from the town's lights and now back to the side table, where my alarm clock kept ticking.
And if it wasn't bad enough, I had less than a quarter of a hour left. My stomach grumbled loud and clear.
"Looks like trash food it is then," I mumbled and headed out of the room.
Yet few have seen the guardian itself...
"There, that will be thirty bits," recounted the orange coated unicorn at the door, reading from the receipt floating just at her eye level.
I gave her a couple notes, which seemed to totally amaze her
"Wow,I haven't seen paper bits, like, ever!" she exclaimed while putting them away in a small satchel and walking off in a hurry, her courier hat almost falling off her bright yellow mane that...
That mane... did it actually drip down her? All... cheesy, eww!
I just closed the door and placed the three pizza cartons on top of my head, carefully balancing them. Slowly, I made my way past the meager living room, which only had a sofa that had been there since I'd moved in, and through the narrow corridor which led back inside the kitchen.
"Aaa! By Celestia, these boxes are burning hot!"
The three pizzas fell down to the kitchen table. I proceeded to open the top one. After having confirmed that it was indeed a 'Midnight Blue' variant, I took the knife from the side and cut it down to perfect slices.
Next, I did same to the two other pizzas. Then, I threw all of the slices into the same carton tray to carry them around easier.
After all, I'd hate go up and down every couple of minutes...
As the two boxes fell into the kitchen bin, I took the kind of heavy one in my mouth and turned round back to the narrow corridor. From there, I moved to the right, where the corridor went on for a little before coming to a dead end.
This would have been the place where normally, at least according to the real estate agent, the door to the back yard would be, but that wasn't the case here.
Instead, there was a bulky hatch, which descended underground.
But everypony knows that he’s there somewhere, keeping an eye out for us...
A single light bulb shone upon the top of the stairs, descending down and onwards to the endless depths of the basement. Actually, this wasn’t completely true; the way to the bottom was quite a short one, but the shadows and the straightness of the stairs created an illusion of continuum.
The only thing that filled the deafening silence was the lingering hoof steps I shakily took. The carton tray waved in my mouth while I attempted to function past the pressing sleep deficit, though it had been already some fifteen min-
I quickened my pace , jumping two steps at once and nearing the bottom. It was actually a pretty careless thing to do, as one slice fell off from the tray and down to the steps, but I knew I couldn't be late, not even a minute or...
Then, the walls disappeared. Not that it was a bad thing or something that caught me off guard. I've done it every night since having moved in. Although I later had needed couple bandages for the bruises.
I stopped at the end of the steps, at the compact frame between the light and dark, before leering at the depths of the room ahead.
"Ffflights pfease," I mumbled out.
Instantly, a small source of light above came to life.
He who looks that our dreams stay clean from horrors...
The carton tray dropped down to the free space on top of the metal machine. Incidentally, I sat down on my chair and gave it a good spin round before finally turning to stare at the front.
"Evening," I greeted out loud.
A static hiss filled the air as the large monitor in the front went bright white in colour, some grey flickering or waving up and down in irregular pattern. But soon enough, the monitor settled and black text formed on the upper left corner.
A deep chuckle came from the deep in my lungs.
"Can you give me tonight's statistics?"
/Please Stand By*/
Long rows of numbers and equations filled the screen from the bottom to the top, passing by at immense speed and making me feel a bit dizzy and sick whilst I leaned my back on the padding.
/Current Stand In*/
/86.38 % Dreaming Or In A State Of Sleep*/
"Hmm, well isn't that an oddity?" I questioned while eagerly gulping down the pizza slice.
/Do You Request For A Re-Check*/
"Nah, what’s there to gain? If that's what your perimeters tell, then that's the fact," I responded, making a large check mark appear on the screen tagged with an affirmative ping sound.
"So, has the bureau sent any new reports?"
/0 New Reports For The Past 30 Days*/
A sigh echoed around the room as I finished off my slice and reached out for another one.
"Isn't this just odd?"
"You know it's been... Never mind"
"Oh, that reminds me. 'It' happened once again today."
The screen flickered for a bit, making me feel even sicker.
/The Times Confused To Being A Watchmaker*/
I grinned at the sight of my 'Indicator' doing the humour for me and actually not objecting a bit.
"What would I do without you, my friend?" I joked while taking a sip from the half-full soda bottle that happened to lie on the side, probably remainders from the last night's shift, and taking a random book from the stack besides my office chair.
For centuries he has been alive...
Defeating the Nightmares lurking for our dreams with his sparkling dust...
So whenever you're afraid and cannot get a sleep...
Close your eyes, whisper out his name and he'll come; no matter what.
Oh Whooves, you silly pony, pretending to act like everything is fine even when the reality is clear to everyone. He thinks he's so fine and so clever with his joyful act, but that's already starting to show signs of cracking.
Dreams... something so simple, yet so magnificent.
Every one of you know perfectly well know what I'm talking about.
So in a sense, Whooves has a very important position in society, even if very few know about him . It's through the work of these ponies like him, that the land of Equestria became what it is today.
And moreover, stays like that in future.
But life has such an awful tendency to throw the cookie jar down on the floor...
Who am I, you ask?
Why, I’m the one who'll tell you this story.
This story of a simple stallion, whose life is hidden out of plain sight. His only companion, the black words on the screen that come from a thing that isn't alive. Spending the few hours of light trotting down the streets of his town, his territory, apart from everypony else.
Hardly a life of glory and fame, one could say...
After all, this is his choice...
Or is it?