This is segment of the first chapter of The Uncanny Adventures of Lyra the Large (working title).
We begin our story during the nighttime, in a dark alley. Quite dank, too. The recent downpour upon the grimy city had filled the air with moisture and sent the gutters running with foul water, disturbing the inebriated bums who made their perch there. They stirred and gripped their paper-bag-wrapped bottles tighter, pulling their ragged garments closer to their bodies, away from the unforgiving cold of the concrete jungle. In the distance, sirens sounded. To a resident, this sound was not uncommon. In fact, it would be quite jarring to go at least an hour through the night and not hear one. Their far-off wail was like a lullaby, a nocturnal birdsong for the resting populace; a soothing ambiance for the waking. The smell of motor vehicles hung thick in the air. Fetid. Choking. Unbearable. Yet, not one seemed to mind. They were born breathing the stink. They lived in it. They died in it. Even as it coated one’s skin and left an uncomfortable, unwashable feeling crawling over one’s flesh, it was just another thing they bore without a thought. Clouds, both natural and of smog, listed over the night sky. They glazed over the tall skyscrapers of the city’s center, where all the beautiful people lived and worked and partied and partook in every hedonistic venture under the moon. The people on the ground, the gutter scrapers, the bottom feeders, the jobless, the homeless, the hopeless... they are left to look up and dream while writhing in their needles, their powders, their own malodorous pleasures.
There was flash within the aforementioned alley. Not a particularly bright or blinding flash, though. A blip, like someone flipped a switch and a light bulb went dead in a more-brilliant-than-usual flair of white, leaving only a darkened room. No loud sounds were heard. No crack of discharging energy, no gunshot of deafening power. Just a small, strange whistle, accompanied by a low buzz. No one witnessed it. No one considered the perplexing image of a small, young woman suddenly in a place where she was not before. Nobody saw her stagger on all fours through the empty alley in a severely out-of-place yellow sundress. The garment itself looked homemade: nice enough to look good and function as clothing, but carried telltale signs of hand-stitching and, in some places, poor foresight and tailoring skills. The dress was probably not the best choice for the weather, either. Summer was quickly turning into Autumn. The air was getting colder, the wind harsher. Soon, rain would turn to snow and the citizens would don whatever winter clothing they have as they went about their business. If witnesses were present, one could also note the strange color of this girl’s hair as she shakily rose to her soft, bare feet. Mint, with a stripe of white across the top. Its stylization was nearly immaculate, firm without a hint of hair product, as if it was tediously cared for every morning and subjected to unknown maintenance rituals that the average fashionista would do questionable things to obtain. The girl stumbled backwards a bit, her arms stretched in an attempt to balance herself or, at the very least, catch something to hold onto. She did; her grasping fingers found purchase on the side of a dumpster. She breathed heavily. Then, the girl sniffed the air, made a face, and concluded that this object she was leaning on was not something she wanted to be around. After backing up, she seemed to have gotten a feel for standing upright and paused for a moment of silence.
Lyra Heartstrings looked down at her hands. Her hands! A smile crept on her new face. The spell had worked! It had turned her into one of them! Exactly the way she had envisioned it. She brought them up to her flat, human face, drawing a mental image of what she looked like with her fingers. She brought them down, tracing the curves of the rest of her body, down to her exposed shins. Her new, hairless skin was light, soft, tingly to the touch. In fact, she felt tingly all over. Weird. Must be the aftereffect of the magic. It had, after all, simultaneously transformed her into a human and transported her to the human world. Quite a magically taxing accomplishment. Speaking of which, she twisted around, fumbling her footing a bit, taking in the sights and smells and sounds of this grand new place.
It was... not what she expected. The place looked a lot like Manehattan, but it was somehow... darker. Perpetually darker. And smellier. The acrid smoke that wafted into her nostrils made her want to sneeze and gag at the same time. There was a constant blanket of noise going on beyond the surrounding walls. Rumbles, honks, and squealing of unknown origin... it put her on edge.
But that was not going to deter her. Even as her bare, smooth feet were suffering from the cold and the jagged surface of the wet alleyway, she kept her head level. There was no turning back now. Her hand drifted to her forehead, where her horn was a moment ago. It was no longer there. She was no longer capable of performing magic, no longer capable of returning to Ponyville with Bon-Bon and Twilight and Derpy and all the rest of her friends-
She bit her thoughts back and shoved them out of her mind. She was no longer Lyra the unicorn, no longer a citizen of Equestria. She was Lyra the human, ready to make her way in this human-filled world! She would be brave, stalwart. She would find her place in this city without the use of magic! She would...
Where was she, anyway?
Her arms shot out, perpendicular to her body, as she gracelessly tried to keep herself from falling on her face. Back bent and flat footed, she walked down the narrow alleyway. She needed to get this walking upright thing down before somepony--correction: someone--saw her. What a sight to other humans she must have been, she thought. Staggering around like a newborn foal. Not a pony foal, those can usually walk seconds after birth. A human foal. She learned that they need to develop that skill over a year or so. She couldn’t blame them! This was hard! How they ever found out how to do this is a mystery to her. But, after a few more step down the frigid corridor, she was able to establish a sort-of rhythm. Lyra tried stopping. She bent forward a bit, her arms circling in wide strokes while she attempted to catch the air and prevent an unwanted faceplant. Fortunately, she succeeded, and stood upright. Next she tried walking again. It was easier than last time and she didn’t have to hold her arms out too much for balance. She stopped. Again, it was easier. Euphoric from her progress so far, she tried walking backwards.
That didn’t work, she thought to herself, cautiously pushing herself off the ground while rubbing her tender rump. She wasn’t going to try that again for a while.
Something on the wall caught her eye. It wasn’t hard to notice, as it took up a good space upon the wall. Sheets of paper plastered over one another. She stepped closer. They were all the same: weathered, slightly soggy, all containing the same... unnerving collection of things. Robots, a tentacle, fur-covered bipeds, some regular humans (one with a beard and a really tall black hat), a... decapitated head with snakes for hair, a scaly large-eyed thing... was that a minotaur on the left? How strange. Each of them had large, stylized lettering that took up a large portion of the poster, as if it wanted to shout it to all passerbyers.
“CLUTCH: Live in Gotham”
What was a “Clutch”, she wondered, and “Gotham”? What were they? Then, it dawned on her. She felt like kicking herself for not drawing the conclusion. The human world was a lot like her world. Either inhabitant could point out that this was a concert poster! A live performance by Clutch in Gotham. Was that where she was? Gotham... she kinda liked the name. It sounded... fitting for the impression she was provided so far.
Her brow furrowed as she realized that the tingling sensation all over her skin was still there. Like countless needles lightly poking her, leaving no mark. She would be lying if she said it wasn’t bothering her, but she forced herself to ignore it. It’ll go away in time. She was sure of it.
Now that she had an idea of where she was, Lyra decided to press onward. The alley she appeared in didn’t seem to have a clear exit into the open, so she picked a direction and--falteringly--began to march. The scenery didn’t change much. The tall brick walls still loomed over her, the ever-present racket beyond was still drilling into her eardrums. She caught something new. A soft, thumping beat somewhere close-by. It sounded like... music? It reminded her of what Vinyl Scratch would play in her home. Loud, blaring electronic melodies that would shake her whole body and rattle her lungs. As she inched closer to the sharp, 90 degree turn where it seemed to be emanating from, she started to catch some of the treble. It was talking. Lyrics. Sounded... entrancing. Catchy. The deep, husky voice projected itself over the looping beats, rhyming, sometimes saying words she didn’t understand. Before long, she caught herself tapping her foot, bobbing her head with the tempo of the song. Another thought hit her: where there’s music, there must be people listening to it! Yes! She could hear regular voices talking above the bassy noise, but couldn’t make out exactly what they were saying. Lyra smiled and walked towards the bend some more...
She stopped herself, causing her to nearly lose the balance she had worked so hard to obtain. She creeped up to the corner and flattened her back to the wall. She couldn’t just go running up to the nearest human like a bumbling idiot! “Hi, my name’s Lyra Heartstrings! I used to be a magical unicorn pony from another world who got here via an ancient, possibly forbidden spell!” Nu-uh. She needed to think this through. She needed to find a way to approach them with tact and dignity. She...
She was scared. Heart-poundingly terrified. The constant tingling seemed to grow slightly more intense. What if they can tell she was not originally human? What if they don’t accept her? What if she insults them unknowingly through a bad greeting or an unintentional gesture? Lyra didn’t know what to do. She mentally slapped herself. Get it together! You’ve gotten this far, and there’s no turning back! Take the first step! She knew that, from this this point, there would be some trial-and-error. So what? That’s how we all learn! She’d blunder through their customs, but she’ll learn them, too. Before long, it would be as if she was born here! With this new perspective, she felt a little better, but not much. Her limbs were still paralyzed with anxiety.
This tingling. Celestia, this tingling! She realized her hands were up, scratching both of her arms furiously. She forced herself to stop, but her face began to twitch with discomfort. It just wouldn’t go away! Why won’t it go away? Was it something in the air that was causing this? Did all humans feel it, but were just used to it? Dear Celestia, she hoped not. She’d go crazy from this constant sensation, this aggravating pins-and-needles horseapples! It felt itchy beneath her skin! She just wish there was a bunch of hands all over her body, scratching every place at the same time. So many writhing digits caressing her soft flesh all at once-
No! Dirty thoughts, begone! Lyra needed a clear head to go and make first contact with these people. First, she was dying to know what they looked like. The young woman tentatively tilted her head around the corner, gingerly peeking over the brick-and-mortar surface to catch a quick glimpse of whoever was out there, listening to that catchy music...
Her head whipped back into hiding. Her chest was thumping wildly, threatening to burst. She saw them. She actually saw them! Well, not much of them, but she now knew there was more than one of them. Lyra caught some of their features, mostly their clothing. Quite a lot considering the nighttime darkness. They were dressed in mostly dark colors, with strange flairs of bright ones, like on a hat or shoes or an arm-band. And wow, they wore a lot of clothing. Jackets, shirts, pants, pants under their pants, belts, gloves, sunglasses... Why all the clothes? Maybe it was a status thing, how much clothing you had on. If that was the case, she was staggeringly underdressed. Only a simple dress and that was it. Lyra was beginning to feel inadequate.
Well, that can’t be helped, she thought. She thought about rearing around for another look, but she decided she was done hiding. She had to confront other humans, eventually. She had to, so she might as well do it now. It probably wasn’t too much different from meeting a pony. Oh, what will they say to her? What will they think of her? These thoughts and more filled her with both excitement and trepidation. She regulated her breathing and pushed the doubts from her mind, along with the cold and the tingling on her skin. She bit her fears down and stuck her leg forward, past the sanctuary of the wall. One bare foot after another, she rigidly forced herself out into the open, out where she could be seen by all. She stopped, turned, opened her clenched eyes, and spoke.
Like I said, a segment. You'll have to wait a to see the rest after I finish Name's Ellis in a couple thousand years or so. Har har har...