A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan fic
Life On The Edge
I crossed the border of Slumbertania and into Awakeyland. A throbbing inside my head welcomed me to the familiar nation. Doing my best to ignore the unpleasant sensation, I noticed I wasn't on a soft mattress and underneath a comfy blanket. Nor did my head rest on a pillow. I was laying on a soft surface, but it wasn't smooth like a pillow or a mattress. When scents of various flora and damp air began to register in my nostrils, perplexed, I ordered my eyelids to retract. Peering through drowsy slits, my eyes were greeted by a countryside landscape on an overcast day. I found myself resting on a patch of moss on an elevated rocky surface that sloped down to a river.
My subcranial pounding made me question what kind of a party I had been attending and what decadent prankster had alcoholized my beverage. I was a staunch teetotaler, and to become intoxicated, not to mention so severely that I'd pass out in the middle of nowhere, was simply disgraceful and unacceptable! Whoever was responsible for my unfavorable predicament would be the recipient of a proper and acrid chewing out! However, my inebriation must've been extreme since I had no recollection of ever being at a party recently. In that case, good riddance! I didn't want to remember it anyway! Worst. Party. Ever!
To further indignify my situation, a brief gust informed me I was buck naked. Although . . . it didn't feel quite naked, more like I was wearing an encompassing, skintight, warming felt of some kind. Unusually enveloping, in fact, as it seemed to literally cover me from head to toe. As I began to pay more attention to other things than my surmised hangover, I discovered something was off about my arms and legs as well as my posture. Somehow, my legs were parallel with my torso, yet it didn't hurt me one bit, and . . . then my hands . . . Why couldn't I feel my fingers?
In extreme confusion, I glanced at my resting arms and saw two hair-coated somethings in their place; a startled cry launched from my mouth, and I became doubly shocked. My scream had been several octaves above what I'd normally be capable of producing. I became further confused when I placed the hard, fingerless extremity on my throat, displacing a string there.
“Wha-? My voice . . . I . . .” I stammered in disbelief. Then, like a rapid train passing by a stationary observer, the events of my lucid dream flashed through my mind. I drew my limb up to my face and stared at it in agape incredulity. Suspecting the worst, I apprehensively turned my head around to get a look at myself.
“Bu-but, h-how!?” I sputtered in horror, recoiling at the sight of a begrimed ice-white coat and bronze-colored, pink-striped tail. “Th-this shouldn't be possible!”
Motivated by a spontaneous impulse, I shot into an upright stance before I was reminded of the impossibility of maintaining a bipedal posture. I came back down onto all fours in a second, the minor impact sending a small jolt from the ends of the limbs up to the shoulders, and for a split second, I was extremely cognizant of the drastic changes in my physique.
I began to rotate erratically, eyeing my limbs and body in horrified disbelief while barely managing to speak between my frenetic breaths. “No . . . this . . . it can't be . . . I'm a—” I halted when my tail tucked itself between my legs, squeaking at the sight and feel of the involuntary reaction.
Moisture began to seep into my eyes as panic began to strip away my control. It wrapped itself tightly around my heart, commanding my body to quake violently. In a matter of seconds, my mind succumbed to the fright as well. I could feel a horrified scream building up inside me . . . I couldn't let it happen. I couldn't let it win, but if this was real . . . There wouldn't be a failsafe! There would be no way out! I'd be imprisoned! Sealed! Confined! Stuck! No escape at all . . . trapped . . . in a pony . . . a filly . . . female . . .
Oh no . . . I . . . Please no . . . I . . . Wait . . . I think . . .
I got it . . . Yes . . . I got it. I got it! I got it I got it I got it!
“It's a dream!” I exclaimed, a fragile smile creasing my lips, “I'm still inside the lucid dream! It-it makes pe-perfect s-sense! The- it- I . . .” My smile and tone withered rapidly under the powerful assault of emotions, and for a few futile but quiet seconds, I resisted before they finally prevailed over me. Cringing forth a miserable squeak, I dropped my head and granted the fluid in my eyes the liberty to run down my cheeks.
I drew a heavy breath and wiped the tears into my foreleg. “Only a dream . . .” I sighed shakily in relief, gazing at my appendage as I timorously placed it back to the ground.
Some events in my past had scared me, but never had I been this terrified. Few things could compare—the pure fear that takes hold and never wants to let go, it was so close to . . . I couldn't ideate how I'd . . . If this wasn't . . . If I were . . . permanently . . . No, I didn't even want to consider it. I didn't want to stress myself any further. If I hadn't remembered to tell myself I was sojourning in a vivid fantasy produced by my own subconscious . . . I didn't understand how I hadn't thought of it immediately. Maybe the very convincing waking-up experience was the reason. Would I have awoken for real if I had been overwhelmed by fear and thus changed the dream to a nightmare? It didn't make a difference; I was past the terror now.
Or so I thought.
As my cool returned to me, so did my awareness of the persistent headache. My recently acquired peace strained like a flimsy garment as panic's dark dominion threatened to expand into me again.
“It's . . . it's . . .” I stuttered in consternation. “It's . . . it's just a minor discomfort!” I conjured a plausible explanation, trading my terrified grimace for an uneasy but wide grin. “It's not pain, not pain at all! Only discomfort! And this is still a dream!” I was so flustered I couldn't help but laugh. Nervously. Was that how fear worked on me now? How funny! Not. Then why did it make me laugh? Fear and joy crashing into each other and short-circuiting my brain? The recent stress warping my emotions? Yes! Right! The headache! I had to refute it!
“It's the dream's doing! It must be! It's playing a prank on me! But I know this isn't real! Nope! Nuh-uh! Not reality! Negativo! Njet! It's not reality! Only a dream! It's the only possible explanation! Pain makes the dream stop! Discomfort doesn't!”
I coughed suddenly; my saliva had heard enough of my hysterical rambling and slipped down into my windpipe. It was good saliva, for it brought immediate sanity back to my head.
“Oh . . . kay . . . I got . . . the point,” I managed to say between my coughing.
Once I had cleared the uninvited substance from my throat, I resumed gently sailing to tranquility island, noticing as I did so that I had fallen on my haunches in my panic-stricken state. From personal experience, I knew excessive stress would disrupt my rationality, effectively turning me crazy. Luckily, experience also told me I would recover from them. Sometimes it took a few minutes, other times a few hours, but eventually I'd conquer my madness. All I had to do was relax, during which I'd evaluate my conduct from a near impartial standpoint if possible. I didn't trust myself too highly on that, but striving for it was at least a noble goal.
I had suffered two highly stressful incidents. It's not far-fetched to postulate that the incidents, combined with my momentary relief and joy of overcoming the first anxiety attack, sent my emotions and mind on the fritz. Thankfully, with that bout of cerebral incoherency a thing of the past, all was well again.
The headache was becoming tolerable, though I yearned for a pill of ibuprofen to dull its edge completely. What a cruel and crazy dream I had, burdening me with an all-too-authentic headache, as if it wanted me to believe this was real and not a wry fantasy. I wasn't so easily tricked, however. My impossible transformation, the sighting of the pegasus, the interaction with the man—they were indisputable evidence. I was at peace. In a dream. Cease thinking. Take a break.
I sat silent with my eyes closed, head inclined and mind void of troubling thoughts. With every drift of air passing over and out from me, I was reacquainted with my form. I clapped my forehooves lightly on the ground, tossed my tail, turned my ears, waited for a gust to gently pass through my hairs, and finally . . . “This is my voice,” I stated calmly in my unmistakably female voice. It was a pleasant voice when spoken with a collected and relaxed attitude.
“And my dream isn't over yet,” I continued as I drew my eyes open and examined the circle of sunken rock I had been relocated to.
I studied the vertical crescent of rocky slopes behind and next to me with scrunched brows: eighty-degree angle, three to four meters tall, laced with copious amounts of moss and lichen, but also covered with indents and protrusions.
“I could climb my way out of here,” I said optimistically, then with emerging frustration glanced at the soiled undersides of my forehooves. “If it weren't for these.”
Sighing away my light sourness, I got up on my hooves with little effort and began to stroll leisurely towards the river.
‘Well, I suppose I can just go down this little incline to the river emb—’
“Holy horse apples!”
In a blink of an eye, I had frantically backpedaled by a few body lengths and stumbled clumsily—and without injury—onto my haunches. The innocuous incline was deceiving until I stood at its edge and the steep slope to a ten-meter drop was revealed to my eyes.
I swallowed, tasting a trace of pineapples, mixed with enzymes and other unappetizing flavors, at the back of my tongue. Gathering my spinning mind, I observed that my dream liked to be consistent in regards to what I had eaten previously.
“. . . horse apples?” I wondered bedazzled, my mind performing a few more revolutions before halting.
Once my queasiness had faded entirely, I analyzed my situation. ‘So . . . I can't climb out from here, and I don't dare to jump down . . .’ My brows lowered as I absorbed that.
“So, what now?” I pondered irately. “Simply wait here until I'm miraculously lifted out?” The sarcastic remark instigated me to cast an inquisitive look at the grassy lips above me. ‘Hmm . . . Maybe somepony's nearby!?’ I hoped, followed by a delayed flinch. “Someone, someone, someone,” I muttered in irritation as I tapped a hoof at my forehead.
“Aaanywaaay,” I said as I resigned from my annoyance, ‘the likelihood of some dream character being here is slim; I should nevertheless try to call for help.’
I shouted for assistance for a complete minute, trying to draw the attention of anypony—or any human—in the vicinity. I didn't drop into despair when I realized there was no reply to my shouts. If anything, I became annoyed when my calls went unanswered.
“Oh joy,” I grouched and sat down, my complaint breaking out from the confines of my mind. “It appears I've been deposited into this solitary confinement to await my awakening from this imaginary world!”
With my burst over, I began to glare at the scenery beyond the river. The rural landscape was picturesque at least, and it would've been soothing . . . if it had been a sunny summer day! Accursed autumn cloud cover! I inhaled deeply and evacuated the majority of my irritation with the outbound breath.
“Maybe if I were to. . . ?” I murmured, focusing a fearful yet contemplative look towards the concealed riverside precipice. I had assumed it was narrower and farther out from the cliff, but it was rather wide and close to the cliff. The gradient of the slope had fooled me into perceiving that the ground was a gentle slope into the river instead of the steep cliff that it was.
“Nah,” I dismissed the idea after a moment, slashing my hoof through the air. “I'm not ready to wake up yet.” In the dreams where I plunged into water, I never "survived" it. Those incidents were how I met my end in a recurring nightmare, where I was in an out-of-control car as it soared off a pier at high speed; I always woke up the instant the car struck the water. I held no doubt the same would apply to me now, sans the car of course. I was too afraid of water to take that route. However, the point stood clear: if I were to leap down, I'd bring an immediate closure to my most extraordinary dream upon piercing the river surface.
Left with nothing else to do, I gauged the appearance of the illusory world in front of me. A placid wide brown river separated my elevated rocky location from a vast yellow field of plants. I didn't know enough about agriculture to recognize what plants were growing there. It would've been nice if a combine harvester was on the field to liven the view. The wide band of yellow was flanked by a green meadow on one side and a plowed field on the other. All three met a horizon-spanning pine forest in the distance. The sky itself was nothing but a gray and featureless canvas. A typical autumn afternoon, I estimated. It wasn't a warm day, either, but my coat did a remarkable job at denying my body warmth to the cold air. A number of birds chirped merrily somewhere nearby. Good for them. I wasn't sharing their enthusiasm.
With my boredom increasing every passing minute, I began to trudge around on the four by six meter semicircular zone. Jogging my legs and mind at the same time, I endeavored to remember what I had done before "waking up." My immediate recollection was of myself consuming the canned food I had taken for myself after its owner forgot to retrieve it. Following my delicious pineapple meal, everything became a disjointed blur. Riding the elevator down, being extremely euphoric, and conversing with another individual were my only memories from the foggy episode. To whom—or what—I had spoken to was lost into the shroud. The entire post-meal episode might've been a lapse into a "normal" dream, though my fading headache/hangover made me consider that the canned food was another prank set up by the dream overlord. Dreams are intrinsically nonsensical, after all.
I appreciated being fully aware again, though I was disheartened that my trapped status was wasting my unique and limited dream-time in this uninteresting location. Desiring to ward off such a sad thought, I began to scrutinize my own locomotion. Since the previous attempt at figuring out my four-legged walk had only bewildered me, I decided to investigate the "quattro coreografia" with firmer determination this time. ‘Heh, look at me, creating pseudo-Italian terms for four-legged locomotion.’
I mentally denoted each leg with an abbreviation: FR, FL, HR, and HL. My plan was to slow down my gait to a near stand-still, taking one step at a time while speaking the moniker I had given to my legs as I raised them. It seemed to be so simple, yet when I lifted my front-right leg, or FR, my immediate reaction was stupefying indecision. I gently lowered my leg, my mind vacant for a spell.
“Oh, come on!” I complained as my faculties came back online. “How hard can it be to comprehend walking?” I pursed my lips as I thought deeply on how to solve this astonishingly complicated issue. Maybe I was being too slow? Over-analyzing each step? I took a moment to relax a little.
“Time to retry,” I declared flatly and set my eyes on my hind-legs. In order to teach my brain a lesson, I resumed my walking with a mind void of thoughts. I watched the quadrupedal performance under the role of a perceptive camcorder rather than a contemplative researcher.
After a solid minute of walking, I stopped, my eyes locked on my legs as I lifted them in sync. “I started with . . . Ef-El. Then came Aitch-Ar, and then . . . Ef-Ar and then Aitch-El . . . Ah-ha! Eureka!” I exclaimed in glee. With a pleased smile on my lips, I observed my legs do their part as I resumed my gait.
“Ef-El, Aitch-Ar, Ef-Ar, Aitch-El, Ef-El, Aitch-Ar, Ef-Ar, Aitch-El, Ef-El, Aitch-Ar, Ef-Ar, Aitch-El~” I chanted in a four-beat tempo, tracing an oval on the rock. Once I got the pattern down, my sporadic movement escalated to a continuous gait, my seamless chanting decreasing until it had become voiceless.
I gradually raised my pace until my unhurried gait couldn't keep up and launched into a new, two-beat rhythm. Too curious to hold my thoughts at bay, I fumbled on my legs almost immediately and came to a halt on an astride stance. I gazed blankly ahead, an embarrassed smile arriving after a delay.
“Oops,” I chuckled abashedly, returning to a normal stance. ‘Glad nopony was around to see my blunder.’ I glanced around to affirm I was right. Collecting my composure and normalizing my expression, I reinitiated my activity with a clear mind and keen eyes.
After a few laps, I had calculated the rhythm: when HR lifted, so did FL. When those were returning to the ground, it was HL and FR's turn to reproduce the previous pair's motions. With my legs now moving as synchronized diagonal pairs, I bounced along merrily in the joy of having learned a new lesson in the art of quadruped locomotion. Not only did I have a pleased smile on my face, but my tail seemed to signal my excitement as well, swinging lively like a banner caught in a breeze. I wasn't sure why exactly, but I was feeling extraordinarily good. A desire to rear up to a jubilant cheer was begging earnestly for permission to express itself. I could imagine a filly commencing with the frivolous display shamelessly, but not me; I had strict gender-specific standards to adhere to.
A craving to progress to a gallop emerged. Sadly, my current location was pitifully inadequate for anything more than a short sprint. Feeling lamentably confined again, I approached a random section of the near-vertical slope, where I then lunged upright and landed my forehooves on the steep rock. Gazing at the tantalizing grassy lips above, I opened my mouth to beseech the ruler of my dream.
“Hey, uh, me,” I awkwardly addressed my subconscious. “Can you, I mean, me . . . uh, you . . . ? Never mind.” I discarded my confusion and got to the point. “Can I humbly ask to be granted a human form for five minutes please?” I voiced my wish with politeness.
“How about half of that?” I bargained.
“No? One minute then?” I waited for a while, gazing around impatiently. “You expect me to climb out of here in thirty seconds?” I half-hinted, scowling. “Male or female, I don't care, just give me a chance to ascend from this miserable location!” When nothing occurred, I cleared my throat and gathered a bucketful of courage.
Inclining my head down, I brought forth a pout and rolled my eyes skywards. “Pweease?” I beseeched innocently, hopefully allocating an adorable shimmer into my eyes. Somewhere inside my head, my masculinity was protesting.
No response. Again. With my request left unfulfilled despite my very atypical performance, I disengaged from my pose with a long, exasperated groan, then shot a stern glare at the clouds above me.
“You insensitive jerk!” I snapped shrilly, declaring the fruitless one-way conversation to be over.
Underneath my displeased exterior, I brimmed with bemusement. My attempt at persuasion with "myself" was unorthodox, however, I couldn't possibly associate myself with the sadistic being who operated this world, denying me my freedom and frustrating me at every opportunity.
That brought my attention to my insult: "Insensitive jerk" didn't seem like something I'd normally say when I'm scornful at somepony. I associated that utterance more with a . . . No, my female structure was deceiving me. Or maybe I had become so alienated from myself that the roleplay had inadvertently lasted longer than I had intended . . . although since this was a dream, I wouldn't have to worry about inconsistencies in my conduct.
No matter how good or bad dreams are, they're finite. Nightmares are conjured by a sleeping mind, too, and those are undeniably horrible. This extraordinary lucid dream was simply riddled with a number of unpleasant moments. Most of those negative moments, however, were made much worse by my stressing over every minutia. The interaction I had with my imaginary neighbor resulted in a humiliating disaster due to my losing my head and blowing up on him. In hindsight, there were many things I did wrong.
I should've been straightforward and asked without leaving any room for misinterpretation. I should've ignored the paranoid notion of a psychosis. I should've said that I had no time to chat and prevented the debacle from ever taking place. I should've been rational and not viewed the man as a malicious jester. The entire ordeal happened because I had made one mistake after another until I received the full brunt of the indignifying repercussions.
Why couldn't I just be carefree and positive? I had been when I was trotting about recently, but I had suppressed the urge to release my joy. Could it be that all the negative emotions made my happiness more potent in turn? I had limited it, though, put dampers on it. Was I afraid of something? Of course I was.
I looked over at my two-toned tail and arbitrarily wiggled it once. “Temporarily, I'm a pony . . .” I muttered, and my eyes rolled to the side in thought. Since I was an avid fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I presumed my form was a semi-conscious wish that my sleeping mind had granted. Now, I was stuck to expend that wish on this lousy cliffside.
Birds warbled beyond eyesight and the sky had become slightly darker since I last bothered to pay attention to it. My mood withered further as the incredibly boring view dug itself into my conscience, myself tapping my forehoof idly as minutes passed and my mind drew blanks on what to do. Eventually, I stopped the leg-tapping and looked down at my limb, the grace of its shape more evident in my eyes now than before. My bored brows were afflicted when I contemplated a serious question: “Why a female pony?”
‘Am I so practical-minded,’ I postulated as I shifted my sights from my hoof to my flank, ‘that I consider housing my reproductive organs inside me to be such an advantage over the obvious alternative that I've manifested myself as a mare?’ Half-closing my eyes, I glanced sidelong at nothing specific. “Or as a filly, whichever way it is,” I said, trying to sound indifferent in spite of the uneasy topic and attempting to reconcile myself with my new Andrea Libmanesque voice.
“Regardless of the terminology,” I returned to the present issue, inspecting my pink-striped bronze tail and white body, “why these colors, then? They're . . . feminine.” It took effort to speak that word, even if I only managed a whimper. I drifted my gaze over the irregular ground before my forelegs.
“I'm thankful I don't have a princess pink coat, but . . . these colors . . . don't belong on a stallion . . .” I paused as I collected an unnerving thought and peeked at my tail. “But is . . . is this how I would envision myself if I . . . were a female pony?” I bowed my head and hushed my voice even further. Truth be told, I wasn't sure what colors I would've picked, but this selection didn't fit with me. Maybe this was the representation of my inner gi— No, the colors were purely random.
An inner warmth radiated up to my skin and pushed out wet beads. I felt slightly queasy, too. I guess it was either due to embarrassment or humiliation. Or both.
This unnerving self-inspection was as disconcerting as it was fascinating, and it made me wish I had studied psychology with dedication. Nevertheless, I paused shortly to retrieve some composure before I continued my introspection.
‘Every female has an underlying masculine side, just as every male has his feminine counterpart. The animus and anima, if I'm not mistaken,’ I thought sagely, recalling the little psychology I had researched. “So, this, uh, may then be my femininity personalized . . . Eh-heh, ponified, I mean,” I corrected my deduction, the lighthearted remark lacking the potency to reduce my nervousness.
“So, uh . . .” My mind halted—or rather my mouth halted—and I cast a cursory glance at my rocky containment walls for courage to press on. “Since I'm . . . um, a female for the time being . . . maybe, uh . . .” I had gradually slouched as I spoke and was now completely prone, and if possible, I would've continued into the stone as well. “Because this . . . is, uhm . . . a unique situation, I could . . . could try to . . . try to . . . do something . . . something, um . . .” I was practically enveloped in a film of sweat at this point.
“. . . something different.”