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Tomorrow on the Critique Review... · 2:01pm Aug 4th, 2015

The darkness above, provided by clouds grown ugly with threat of rain, threw carpets of shadow over everything. Rotting grass shivered in the cold as the trees stood in silent sorrow, the winds whispering through their withered branches and becoming mournful songs. Critique’s ear flicked at the creak of a wagon wheel, loosely and desperately hanging onto the remains of a carriage tenanted by crabgrass and insects.

Critique checked the street address again, then looked back down to the address on the letter he’d brought. They matched. Just above the address on the paper was a message:

“Hi there! Howdy! Hi and howdy and greetings! Ha, ha! I was told by somepony I don’t know that you were into crumpets! Like major into crumpets! And trains. And complaining about things. I can only help you with the crumpets though! So come on over and we can have crumpets like crazy!!! Signed, Somepony.”

The letter made no sense. It might have been a trap. Critique considered himself important enough to have made enemies. Most of the time, however, it seemed that the enemies he faced were out to kill him for no good reason. Whatever the hell they were after he wasn’t even close to figuring it out.

He glanced from the letter, back up, readjusting his glasses. There, past all the rot and grass and forgotten things, under the darkened clouds above, was a mansion.

Its windows were like eerie eyes gleaming out from the bottom of an ancient well. Its architecture was of almost an alien design, spiraling into strange and reckless directions. The way the darkness paints the whole mansion makes it appear even more twisted and sick.

Critique sniffed as a crow flew above, cackling in its own song. “Reminds me of my Nana’s summer home,” he said to no one. The memories of said summer home came back, bringing with them afternoons of hiding in the cupboards from his Nana’s pet, whatever it was supposed to be. He shivered, half from the chill in the air, half from the tragic memories of the darkness inside the cupboards and the sound of nine feet pattering just outside.

He neared the house, his hoofsteps becoming quieter the closer he got. Crows watched him from their perches on the branches, likely gossiping amongst themselves as to how long this guy would last. Critique glanced in their direction, silencing them. He returned his eyes forward, and the crows took this opportunity to return to their conversations, adding now that the new guy might make it a few minutes but no more.

The stairs screamed under Critique’s weight, the wood threatening to break under his hooves. As he ascended the stairs, he caught a shadow suddenly dash by the window, the curtains shuddering as it passed. Had someone been watching? Might not need to ring the doorbell if they already know I’m here, Critique thought nonchalantly.

He trotted to the door, the ancient wood going from screaming to tired groaning as he walked the length of the porch. He knocked on the door. He waited, and received no response.

While he waited, and before he realized nopony was going to answer the door, Critique sniffed again, this time taking in a strange scent. It wasn’t so strange in that he’d never smelled it before, but rather how out of place it felt here. It was the scent of something rich and alive sitting nonchalantly among the wet and forgotten. Like… like roses.

He glanced aside, in the general direction of the scent and took in the sight of the blood-red beauties. They sat there, their heads raised resplendently like treasures sparkling in shadows. Critique, despite not being a romantic of any kind, could not resist the temptation to nip one right from its bed and tuck it into his scarf. Why? Because.

Finally, once he realized nopony was going to answer the door, Critique knocked again. And again. And again. He would have knocked a fifth time, had it not been boring for me to write “again” again and again and again.

Critique thought to shout, simply to let the occupants of the house know he existed, but the thought that nopony was home paid a visit to him, and he agreed, that, yes, there may be nopony at home, but then what was that thing that ran by the windows and my, my, my, what is that next to the door?

Next to the door was a small silver thing, a buzzer. With a shrug, Critique gave it a good bonk, expecting a bell to chime inside the house. Instead he was met with a bloodcurdling scream from just behind him.

He yelped, stumbling, and turned around. He was relieved to find nothing behind him. He was not however relieved to find nothing underneath him either, as a trap door had sprung open. Down he went, and the door closed with a clap, swallowing the Critique and his screams whole.

He fell for hours—and during this descent, Critique caught sight of many things staring at him, and like his Nana’s pet, they were merely things instead of anything recognizable. All he knew at this point that whatever was watching him fall was very scary and the ground below was coming up alarmingly fast.

Just as suddenly as waking up from a horrible dream, the Critique’s fall ended with the catch of a pillow. Rather, a pile of them. He crawled, sputtering and confused, from this comfortable tomb, pushing away pillows with ducks and rainbows on them, pushing his way out and into an even more worrisome scene.

The bricks that made up the floor and walls and ceiling were the color of sad things. Roaches scattered across oak coffins that had been arranged in a circle, illuminated only by a milky light cast from a lonely candelabra set upon an altar in the middle of the circle. The coffins themselves were of simple wood, but carefully polished and with gold handles and name plaques right on the top.

“This is worse than that summer home I stayed in,” Critique said to the walls.

Critique adjusted his glasses, looking solemnly and fearfully at the coffins, reading their names as he walked by them. “Twilight Sparkle and the Witch Baby”, read one, and upon another, “Twilight Sparkle Gets a Pimple on Her Ass.” At this point, Critique would be correct in assuming that whatever was in these coffins probably weren’t ponies, but at the same time, he wasn’t brave enough to peek.

One read “Tiger and Demon,” and looked one of the most recent of the coffins. Less scuffed. Thinner layer of dust. Another, however, had its lid broken off, hinges and all, and lay to the side. The lid claimed the coffin belonged to “No More Ponies”, a name alarming all by itself. Had the coffin been broken into… or out of? Critique left before he could come up with an answer.

Further along, there was a staircase. Walking up its steps made Critique dizzy. Then he looked around and realized why: the steps were going up and sideways and upside down and sideways again and then back up. A sound, dirty and loud, clapped at what would have been the base of the stairs. Critique wisely fled up the rest of the way.

At the top (or the bottom, or the sideways, or the whatever) of the staircase was a door, ornamented with gold trim and, upon its crimson visage, the image of an angel holding a noose that held the neck of a weeping pony. The bottom part of the door read, “SINNER AND SAVIOR.”

Worst. Family Circus cartoon. Ever, thought Critique wryly.

Nevertheless, he found a courage within himself (the kind whose true identity is none other than ignorance of imminent dangers) and pressed his head against the door, pushing it open slowly. It pressed back against his head, being heavy and made of iron, but headache or no, Critique managed to force the door open.

What he found on the other side caught him off-guard. While everything outside and underground were foreboding and eerie, the inside of the house (for that is all it could be, thought Critique) was a totally different story. Light shone down from a healthy sun, whose face had been drawn on like a cartoon character’s, its bulbous red nose bobbling as it giggled at the new visitor. The plants that sat around were of alien design, but at least none of them had eyes or bulbous noses or giggled at him.

Cautiously, Critique trekked through this bizarre garden, talking in the sights and sounds. Here, a nest of flowers blossomed into a pack of wolves that danced around a fire. There, pixies would be caught by the lashing tongues of trapper plants, who licked their chops once their meals were in their mouths. And there, far, far still for Critique to see, was a sight that made his blood turn colder than leftover spaghetti. Some form of morbid curiosity got the better of him and drew him closer, and upon entering this scene he began to regret it.

It was a fence, a fence that stretched across a brick wall for whatever reason; and on this gate was a sort of vine, and on this vine sat fat and colorful flowers, and in the middle of these flowers where buds should sit, sat instead the heads of infant foals. For now, they dozed soundly, their pink cheeks plump and their manes colored in ways that complimented the colors of their flower petals. It was like something from a Nirvana music video. As if that couldn’t be strange enough, a loud shriek rocked Critique and forced his attention to the left.

She was beautiful and terrifying. Slender, elegant, and dressed in a black-upon-red-upon-black ensemble that wouldn’t look out of place on gypsies. Her pelt glittered like pure silver, and her mane and tail were long, silky pieces of midnight. She must have five pounds of makeup on her face, but it was used effectively: a velvety pink tongue ran through her full blood-red lips and her intense, deep-gold eyes shimmered from behind fluttering black eyelashes, like butterflies working their wings after having landed on pirate treasure.

If all red and black ponies looked like that, I probably wouldn’t mind them as much,” Critique thought to himself, his heart raping his ribcage.

She also held a watering hose in her telekinetic grasp, as she was a unicorn; and from this watering hose came, unsurprisingly, water, which crashed into each flower-child, one by one, waking them up and making them squall. Their combined shrieks were loud enough to peel the enamel from your teeth.

The beautiful gypsy unicorn glanced in Critique’s direction suddenly, and her gold-coin eyes suddenly took a different color. Red, to be exact, and a certain shade of it that disturbed Critique more than the flower-children. Her lips parted into a hideous grimace, displaying rows of teeth yellowed and bent and just as ancient as anything outside. A plume of something black climbed from her snout as she pawed at the ground, preparing for a charge.

Critique, no longer lovestruck by the sight of this stranger, regained his senses and ran. The garden became a confusing place then, all of it smudged by the velocity of Critique’s escape. He turned here, turned there, so certain he heard the thunder of another’s hooves just behind him, until finally the floor up and vanished.

Down he tumbled, until finally his back met a staircase. It wasn’t a pleasant introduction, nor was the next step or the brick floor that followed. He’d landed on his belly, all four of his legs shooting into different directions, as if he decided he’d be a throw rug. Reaching out a hoof, he felt for his glasses and upon finding them, reset them on the bridge of his muzzle and stood up. One half the world he saw was blurry since one of the lenses fell out, while the other half was yet another crazy sight.

Critique had grown used to all these absurd things by this point, but one thing stood out the most, more than the swirly design of this brick floor and the shadows that wormed through each crevice and the merry chimes that sounded with every step Critique took. There, under a tree where headless bodies hung from nooses, was a clown having tea.

His face was white as death, his lips just as red as the previous stranger’s. His mane and tail were both a bright baby blue, his head crowned by a red hat with many flowers sticking out one side, and his dark eyes leaked stars as blue as his mane. His attire consisted mainly of a Where’s Waldo-styled shirt, the kind that reminded Critique of candy canes or barber poles, and a pair of large, dark blue pantaloons with pockets decorated with yellow stars where his cutie marks would be. He looked up at Critique from behind his tea cup and smiled, his painted face warping strangely as he did so; and he unfurled his pegasus wings and revealed they were as pale as his face and each feathertip had a blue star like each side of his face.

Critique had never liked clowns very much, ever since that unfortunate evening he spent playing a game he shouldn’t have. An adult game with a psycho clown that made Five Nights at Freddy’s look like… Well, that game was still scary as shit. But it was a close second. It took every ounce of restraint he had not to faint as he stared about the colorful figure, slightly dimmed by the shroud of the tree.

The clown waved Critique over as he set his teacup down on a picnic blanket, and the teapot spat out another teacup, this one full as well. “Come in, come in,” the clown said in a fluty voice. “Sit down for a spell! You’ve come a long way if you’ve found li’l old me.”

Nothing could surprise Critique anymore at this point, so he told himself what the hell and sat down and drank some of the tea without a second thought. If he died now from poison or something, he could die saying he’d seen it all. The tea was delicious by the way. English Breakfast.

The clown took another sip from his tea, then set it back down gently and stuck out his hoof. “My name’s Fife,” he said. Critique gave him a hoof bump, only for Fife’s whole foreleg to shatter like glass. Critique nearly choked on his tea. “Oh, don’t worry,” he continued cheerfully as though nothing had happened. “It does that sometimes.”

After a hideous period of stunned silence, Critique ventured to ask a question. It was probably the most obvious one to ask. “What, uh… what IS this place?”

“Mine,” Fife answered blithely.

“No, like… like, where ARE we?”

“Under my thinking tree.”

Critique glanced up at the headless bodies and suddenly lost his appetite for the tea. “This, uh… this is where you go to think?”

Fife shrugged. “Kinda. It’s where I go to decide whether to keep ideas or kill them. Like, the ones I know I’ll use later, I keep in a box. It’s a secret box, you know, and nopony knows where it is, not even me—that’s how secret it is. But my best ideas go there, and my worst ideas, the ones that I planted in this garden and just didn’t grow into what I’d hoped, I went and took them and chopped off their heads and hung the bodies so that I can remind myself I’m not perfect.”

Critique wanted to ask about the flower-children, but dreaded the answer. He opened his mouth to ask something else, but was interrupted by something fluttering nearby. He looked up and saw a giant bat. It landed on the ground and suddenly it was a pony—in fact, the gypsy unicorn from before.

“Daddy!” she cried, looking at Fife.

“Yes, Equestrylvania?”

“Have you seen a—”

She stopped short when she saw Critique. They shared, again, another bout of awkward silence. Critique adjusted his scarf, and decided he’d go first. Whatever came out of his mouth was merely a sound. Any idea it may have demonstrated was reduced to a single, breathy mangling of his tongue.

“You!” Equestrylvania cried, taking a few steps forward. “Intruder! He’s an intruder, Daddy! We’ve got to mince him!”

Fife, gently taking control of the situation in a way that only a father could, got up and stuck out a hoof—in fact, the same hoof that shattered like glass before, now done up as if it never happened—and stopped Equestrylvania just as her eyes became red and her teeth grew sharp. “Cool it,” he said. “This pony is our guest.”

The fires in her eyes died suddenly. “A guest?”

“I invited him here.”

Equestrylvania glanced about awkwardly before fidgeting adorably, a dumb look hanging on her face as she searched for something to say. “I’ll, uh, I’m gonna… go. Yes. Go. I’m gonna go. Now. Yes.” And shyly, she trotted away, ducking as if thinking she could sneak away.

Fife shook his head and giggled, looking back at Critique. “She likes you, dude. She’s totally into you.”

Critique cleared his throat. “So! You’re her father, huh?”

“Her author, yes.” Fife took his seat and drew another sip of tea.

“She’s not your daughter?”

Fife giggled. It sounded more like a sparrow chirping Chopsticks. “No, silly! She’s my story. Just like No More Ponies—I’m not sure you’ve met him, he’s somewhere around here, and—”

Critique wisely decided to guide the conversation a bit before his host went on another tangent. “Well, look, I’m afraid you invited me here at a bad time. I, uh, I actually had other business to attend to later, so maybe we could make this transaction quick?”

Fife nodded. “Right.”

A pause.

It was long.

Very long.

Critique coughed. “So, how’re those crumpets?”

Fife looked at him as if he’d sprouted a third head.

“You know, what you invited me over here for.”

Fife’s face did not change.

Critique, at a loss for anything else to do, simply knocked back the last of his tea. Finally, Fife shouted, “YOU’LL NEVER TAKE MY CRUMPETS ALIVE!!” which shocked Critique so much that the picnic blanket discovered what English Breakfast tasted like.

Fife suddenly spread his wings and with a dangerous look in his eyes shot off. Critique looked around, trying to find where he’d sped off to, but to no avail. He’d gone.

“Hey,” came a voice behind Critique.

Critique jumped, and turned to find Fife with a book under his wing. He shyly kicked at the ground. “I’m sorry I lost my temper. I just get touchy when it comes to crumpets. So I went and got you this book.” He unfurled a wing, revealing the book itself.

It was ornate, but worn, with half the book almost spilling out of its binding. The gold trim had long since turned brown and dust had eaten away at what might have been either royal blue or royal purple at one point. But the title was still readable: The Secret Life of Rarity, it said.

Critique felt the English Breakfast climb up his throat, and after forcing it back down nearly exploded in rage. “Are you serious?! You’re giving me this book?! THIS one?!”

“But it’s a popular read,” Fife said, almost sarcastically.

Critique perked an eyebrow at Fife’s tone.

Fife shrugged. “Yeah, I’m not a fan, either. But you’re a critic and I’m an entertainer. This is a matter of whether or not good taste can still prevail in Internet literature, and it’s our job to preserve talent wherever we find it and point out the mistakes others make so other authors won’t repeat them. Don’t you agree, Equestrylvania?”

Critique glanced behind himself. Equestrylvania stood with an axe caught in a blood red glow, which, upon being sighted, hid behind her flanks as she resumed being shy. “Y-Yes, Daddy,” she said, glancing up at him, then away. “I agree.”

Fife elbowed Critique. “See? She likes you.”

“I can still see the axe,” Critique glowered.

After a second, the axe lowered slowly behind Equestrylvania until it was completely out of sight.

“Actually, we may need it,” Critique said, turning his attention back to the story. “I’ve read this book before. It’s bad enough that everypony has these silly ideas of peaceful ponies being serial killers, but this one takes the cake for not even trying very hard. And yet, somehow, the story gets more likes than it actually deserves.”

“Is this where we get to start the review?” Fife asked, excitedly. Equestrylvania shared his enthusiasm, leaning forward with an adorable, open-wide smile on her face.

Critique thought for a moment. He shrugged. “Fuck it. Might as well.”

Fife and Equestrylvania leapt in the air and cheered.


Tomorrow the review of The Secret Life of Rarity. Featuring guest reviewer Brony Fife. Be there! Before we realize we're there!

Comments ( 3 )

Love this intro, and can't wait for tomorrow:pinkiehappy:

Tomorrow at last, this comes to an end...

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