Pony Horror Anthology

by LoreLove


A Voice in the Night

The planning for the trip had been set in motion weeks ahead before setting out. Applejack was thankful that Rainbow Dash and Rarity seemed more inclined to have plans ready instead of making it spur of the moment. It certainly helped with whatever Rarity was wanting to drag along and make her decisions a bit more final.

If it would be anything like the last trip, they could probably find a nice spot relatively easy. Applejack enjoyed spending time with her little sister, probably as much as Rarity did with Sweetie Belle and Dash with Scootaloo. It was a great feeling bringing family together and just making it a girl’s night out in the woods. Roughing it and just being able to gossip freely or tell stories. Oh, the stories Applejack had ready to tell!

While in Ponyville, she had decided to stop by Rarity’s boutique to ask if she had things ready. Of course, the seamstress was rather busy as usual but did seem to have a bit of a skip in her step. Every trot carried her gracefully around while she spoke and worked on her outfits.

“Oh yes! I haven’t been able to stop thinking of the trip!” she exclaimed with a slightly forced smile.

“Uh-huh,” Applejack replied simply and eyed Sweetie Belle giggling quietly. The filly probably hadn’t let up on reminding her older sister all about it every day.

“Don’t you worry! We’ll be ready to set out be the evening!” Rarity said while giving an affirmative nod.

“Well, all right. Just don’t go dilly dallying when Dash and I are ready,” the orange pony remarked before giving a coy grin. It was always fun to give the seamstress pony a tease to urge her along.

There shouldn’t be nearly as much for Rarity to do since the Canterlot wedding had happened not long ago. Everything went smoothly and all the dresses made were amazing. How she did it, Applejack couldn’t say. Although, she did admire the hard work plenty.

Upon leaving the boutique, there was little else to do other than wait. Rainbow Dash would be ready quicker than any of them and Scootaloo not far behind. Apple Bloom was packing her own things while Applejack had gone to remind Rarity not to hold them up. It did seem like things were all set and only time was the last factor. Nothing wrong with taking a moment to relax and stroll around.

Applejack found the fact she didn’t have to worry about bucking apples or tending to the farm for the next couple of days rather rewarding. Nopony to remind her when it was her shift to start on what side of the farm. No deadline looming over her head. She could just walk around Ponyville for the next couple of hours before heading home to give Apple Bloom the okay.

She knew Dash would be around before then which would give Apple Bloom another filly to talk to with and hang out with. Perhaps her little sister was already hanging out with Scootaloo at their clubhouse. It wouldn’t surprise her and it would honestly be nice not to have Apple Bloom rechecking their gear as Twilight has taught. Applejack was a bit stubborn in that sense, knowing they had what they needed and there was no sense in constantly looking it over again and again.

As she was walking, the country pony passed by the flower stand to see Roseluck and Lilly Valley selling their bouquets. As much as she wasn’t for the prettier side of things, those mares did know how to set up their stand to draw attention. It was something to be admired and possibly take notes on for her next cider sale.

“Hello, Applejack!” Roseluck called, waving a hoof.

“Howdy,” Applejack replied with a nod, walking over and giving the display a closer look.

“Did you have a special somepony you wanted to buy some flowers for?” Lily inquired with a playful bat of her eyelashes.

The ponies all giggled and laughed before AJ shook her head. “Nah, I ain’t got somepony like that yet. I was just admiring your stand while I wait for Rare to get ready.”

“Oh! What’s she getting ready for?” the rose-maned pony asked as she began carefully making another bouquet.

“We’re just going camping for a few days. Kind of a small tradition we wanted to keep going. Dash is coming along with us and the fillies. Going to be a great time!” AJ explained as she nodded.

“That sounds quite relaxing. I wish I could handle camping a bit better though,” Lily said as her eyes drifted down, embarrassed.

“Well, ain’t nothin’ wrong with it not being your thing,” admitted Applejack.

They agreed and continued on before the familiar zip and wind of a speedy, blue pegasus went by. The two flower ponies both gasped and ducked, flowers nearly blowing every which way before the blue streak came back. In a flash, things were set back down and as close to in place as they were before.

“Heh, sorry about that,” Rainbow apologized, hovering in the air and dusting a stray tulip from one of pony’s manes.

“Golly, Dash. Ya late for something?” Applejack asked, holding her hat with a hoof still firmly on her head.

“I’m just so excited! Why can’t we go early?” Dash said as she began spinning in the air, clearly having too much energy to sit still.

“Rarity still has work to do and will meet us before the trail. I told her a couple weeks ago we won’t be waiting on her more than that. Sweetie Belle seems to have been reminding her as well,” the orange pony told her while helping the flower mares adjust some of their display.

The two talked for a while about what plans there were and who was going to have the most boring story. Dash seemed to like making most things a competition when there wasn’t one but it felt nice to humor her. Applejack didn’t see a reason not to egg her on. Perhaps she might come up with something that wasn’t about her for once.

Time passed slowly as they left the stand and began to head back to Sweet Apple Acres. According to Dash, Scootaloo did indeed meet up with little Bloom and they were having their own exciting plans being concocted in the clubhouse. Probably stories they were going to share or try to spook the grown ponies with. The thought made AJ smile a bit.

As they waited and talked, Dash kept up her boasting while claiming she had the best scary story to tell. It was a bit doubtful considering her past attempts at telling some though she seemed quite sure of herself. If it was anywhere near as good as the pegasus kept trying to claim then maybe AJ could get a fun scare out of it too. Nothing wrong with having a spooky tale to make you get a shiver or two.

“I looked it up while trying to find some fun campfire stories in Twi’s library,” the winged pony announced.

The sudden fact made AJ stop in her tracks before looking up to her floating friend. It was one thing for Dash to hear the story herself but entirely another to go reading for them. Other than Daring Do, it was hard to picture the energetic pony interested in reading too much else.

“You don’t say?” the earth pony mentioned, raising a brow.

“Oh, don’t give me that look! I read!” Dash frowned and crossed her forelegs in front of her.

“Yeah, Daring Do. I didn’t take you one for them campfire stories to read but rather hear and tell,” Applejack explained before continuing to move with her.

“I wanted something good and figured Twi might have something I could use. I already told all my other good stories so I needed ideas,” the pegasus told as she flew lazy circles above her friend.

“All right, all right. I can see you’re as excited as Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle over this trip,” AJ said with a snicker. “I guess Rare and I will be the only mature ones to watch the camp.”

Dash nearly gave a nod before she understood what was implied. Other than a simple ‘HEY’ that was called out, the two laughed and made their way along the path to the farm. It was nice to have a friend to joke with and just relax around. A pony AJ could simply rest her hooves around and not worry about things.

Once they got to the house, the few bags that Dash and Scootaloo had brought along were sitting near the front door. They looked perfectly fine with just the necessities for a few days out and probably a couple other items. It was clear that Dash was eager for the camping trip considering how closely she listened to packing only what she needed, and any spare room and what she could carry was free to her use.

The two ponies kept up their talk about various subjects and jokes for an hour until they noticed the time. It did seem to pass by rather quick when Applejack had somepony else to talk to. They gathered up their items and bags before heading to the clubhouse and calling the fillies. The two giggling fillies hopped out and down as they hurried over while talking a million miles an hour.

The plan was to meet Rarity at the trail start rather than go back into Ponyville and then back out again. Saved them all some time. It would take them all only a bit to reach it so they could wait for the other two until time was up.

Lucky for them, Rarity and Sweetie Belle just came around the bend when they had all sat down to rest their legs for the hike. There was no waiting and, for once, Rarity had packed only a quarter of what she usually did. It was an impressive feat and AJ had to congratulate her on it.

“Thank you, dear. It was a bit troublesome figuring out what to and what not to bring,” the unicorn had said while looking at her bags.

“I’m sure it’s all you need,” Applejack said, hoping to not give her second thoughts.

The fillies rejoiced and hopped around while giggling and squeaking. It filled AJ’s heart with glee seeing her little sister getting so happy for something like their trip and even getting to spend it with her close friends. The girls did their filly gossip before hurrying up to get the hike to the campsite started.

Applejack figured it would be closing in on an hour before they made it to their original spot. It would be a slow hike through the woods but they all knew it would be worth it. So began the light hike into the area as they started on their way.







As expected, it did take them the greater part of an hour before finding at least close to their original camping spot. It wasn’t the exact same but it was good enough for sure. They all had agreed it would certainly make do and knew Celestia only had a bit of daylight left to give. Couldn’t find a better time and place to rest.

Tents were pitched as rocks and wood were gathered. From the simple to the extravagant, the tents were all different. Dash had her own cutie mark sewn a bit crudely into the top of hers. Rarity had such special frills and bright colors all over her own tent, decorating it completely. AJ seemed more on the simple side of things with just a plain tent to rest her head in.

While Dash was getting the firewood, the fillies seemed eager to help get rocks as Rarity spruced up the area a little. Even a pea would be too much for her to lay on. The fillies had come trotting back and forth with rocks held in their muzzles or floating outstretched to Applejack. The campfire had a secure area to set up and soon after came the wood to start it.

Rarity had brought along a small book of recipes for outdoor cooking and took it upon herself to make the first meal for them. It was nice to see her take a bit of initiative. Probably ever since last time she wanted to show she wouldn’t be a burden to her sister or the others.

Once the fire got started and roaring, night had come and the sky above the treetops had been poked in its black veil to let the stars shine through. A small stew was cooking over the fire as they waited and sat on some logs Dash had managed to bring over. When the bag of marshmallows came out, the light jokes directed at Rarity came and she giggled them off casually. AJ could only guess she had got used to it.

Sticks with the treats held out near the fire were their snack before the meal. They talked about their days of training, work, and all the things between. Catching up between various crises happening in Equestria was hard to plan but it paid off well enough. Every second was an enjoyable experience for them.

The stew turned out incredibly tasty. They all helped themselves to seconds and a couple even got thirds before the pot was empty. If that didn’t give them something great to help them sleep then Applejack wouldn’t know what could. The only thing to make it better would have been some cornbread if she had brought any along.

The night grew darker the further it went. It seemed as if no signs of life were around at times other than them. They had heard birds and other critters before but maybe they scared them away a little with how loud they got from time to time. Whatever the reason, the country pony saw no reason to think long on it.

“Okay, guys!” Dash spoke up after resting off her food, “Time for some stories!”

All the fillies clopped their little hooves in excitement and cheered. Rarity gave a light sigh and eye roll but smiled. She seemed far more complacent about her outing this time around. The crackling of the fire even sounded like it approved.

“Can I go first?!” Scootaloo asked, one of her hooves waving in the air as if in school trying to be called on.

“Heh, alright then, Scoots. Show us what you got. Anything scary?” Dash asked, settling down and listening.

It was a story of a pony who checked into some hotel and told to avoid a room near their own. At first, it seemed a little strange with how they had been told not to spy on the occupants in the room through the keyhole but the pony did. They saw a pony with a pure white coat sitting on the bed and facing away the first couple nights.

On the third night, they looked through and only saw red in place. Figuring they had put up a sign on other side or something, the pony went to bed. Upon checking out, the hotel clerk asked if he had looked in the keyhole. When he gave his honest answer, the clerk sighed and told him a tragedy had struck in that room but the details are hazy at best. The only detail she could remember was what they looked like.

“They were a pure white pony but had red eyes,” Scootaloo ended her tale.

“Whoa!” Dash said as she was clearly amazed at the disturbing story the filly had. “Where did you hear that one?”

“I can’t remember. Just been kind of saving it for a time like now,” the filly pegasus replied and smiled up at her blue guardian.

Applejack felt she could guess the rest of the group’s reaction judging from their faces. It was a mix of unease with slight interest. It did leave her wanting more but she had no idea a filly could find such stories to tell in the first place. Dash probably had a hoof in getting her to go find such a thing but at least it was a fun few minutes.

“That was great! Though, I got to say, mine might scare you enough to keep you up all night,” the fast flier declared.

Sweetie Belle made a noticeable scoot closer to her sister as Rarity put a foreleg around her. Scootaloo even showed a bit of regret for starting off with her story at that statement. Apple Bloom seemed a bit curious and leaned in a little. If anything, Applejack figured if the earlier gloating Dash had been doing held any weight then now they would see for sure.

“There are these creatures out in the woods, deep like we are. They don’t ever bother ponies unless you venture near them,” Rainbow started, speaking a bit lower than usual. “They have no voice of their own and nopony knows what they really look like. They’re called changelings and they’ll take the form of any lone pony that gets in their path!”

Rarity gave a visible look of confusion. Applejack couldn’t help but copy it.

“Hogwash,” Apple Bloom said as she looked a bit upset. “Ain’t nopony able to do that.”

“That’s why there aren’t many stories about them. Nopony’s sure what all they can and can’t do,” Dash continued. “They feed on you and take your cutie mark to become you! When they do that, they only have to use your voice and blend in. Of course, sometimes they can learn your voice just by what you say if they’re close enough. To try and lure others out for them.”

They all stayed silent as Dash got up and moved around the fire. She seemed to really get into what she was explaining. As disturbing as it was, AJ was curious to hear more about these creatures. In all her life on the farm she had never heard such a thing existing.

“These things, the changelings, take you when you least expect it. Some say they’re thin and tall while others claim they’re the size of a pony, only dark with glowing eyes,” said the pegasus. “You can scream for help but the woods will take your voice away quicker than it can reach your friends. ‘Help!’ you might cry, ‘Help me! My wing is broken!’ Nopony will hear you before it’s too late.”

“Too late?” Sweetie Belle asked, curling her forelegs up to hide behind.

“Yeah, too late for them to save you. If you know a pony that’s a changeling then, well…,” Dash trailed off. Her wing lifted and made a slow, horizontal drag across her neck.

Applejack gave a grunt of disapproval but stayed quiet to let the story finish. It did sound like hogwash with how no other pony had heard of such things. Just to scare the fillies didn’t seem like Dash’s style anyway. She probably thought it would had unsettled Rarity or AJ but both seemed to just wait out the tale.

“So, they’re gone?” Scootaloo asked curious and glanced behind her into the dense woods. “For good?”

“Yeah, for good. Twi had a book that mentioned them. Creatures of Old Equestria, I think it was called,” the blue pegasus said, looking up in thought. “They said that the whole forest is dead quiet when one is around too. You don’t notice it until it’s too late. Only a few stories really talked about encountering them. They had been impervious to most magic and the only real description is what I told you already. Just shows how hidden they are.

“Or how utterly tripe the stories are,” Rarity chimed in then gave a sigh.

“What? They were in a book Twilight had! How is that tripe?” Dash asked, stomping a hoof.

“Just make-believe. It’s a story to scare fillies and I think you’re doing that a bit too much,” the unicorn claimed, looking between all the small ponies.

The two of them argued a bit before finally letting it go. The fillies seemed to be adjusting a bit back to being comfortable. At least that was something. The whole idea behind these changelings did make Applejack a bit uneasy. She didn’t know why but something about them didn’t sit right with her.

“Well, I think that’s enough stories for tonight. Don’t need to be frightening the fillies enough to keep them up all night,” the earth pony stated, giving a grunt as she hopped off the log.

“I agree. We can have a good rest and more stories tomorrow,” Rarity complied while she urged Sweetie Belle to the tent despite the protest of the filly to hear more. Even the other fillies mumbled a bit about the sudden mention of sleep.

“Yeah, yeah. You’re all just spooked!” Dash taunted and held her wings up high near her head while sticking her tongue out.

“Best be putting that back in before I kick it in,” AJ commented without turning around and lifting the tent flap for Apple Bloom

Rainbow promptly sucked her tongue back into her muzzle before she huffed and rolled her eyes. Her wings went back along her sides while she smiled to Scootaloo who looked near the verge of screaming. The filly gave a light gasp when she was nudged before smiling nervously and walking to the tent.

Applejack could only hope Dash didn’t scare the poor girl too much. She guessed she would find out in the morning. With heavy eyes, AJ crawled under the blankets and nestled in as her hat tilted over her head. A good rest would get them ready for the day to come.







Something made Applejack wake up in the middle of the night. Nothing seemed exactly wrong but her body didn’t let her rest. After a moment of laying in the tent she heard a noise. Somepony was walking around outside.

The only thought she could muster was Dash still having energy and trying to walk it off. There was a moment where she thought about telling her to just lay down but waking up the others wouldn’t be worth it. Grunting, AJ turned over and let out a soft breath to relax.

That was when the walking stopped. If that darn pegasus was going to try and scare them in their sleep she would get a face full of hoof. The wait to hear something became painfully long and drawn out. It was so quiet too. Almost every sound was amplified more than usual because it seemed there were no crickets or anything.

After a few more minutes, the earth pony opened her eyes and sat up. Apple Bloom was thankfully sound asleep so no sense in ruining her good night. Scooting over to the entrance of the tent, AJ used a hoof to lightly shift a flap and peek out.

Nothing.

There wasn’t a soul outside. The whole instance made her furrow her brow in thought before she rolled her eyes. Silly pony. It was probably just some critter having smelled their stew from earlier. The campfire was low and almost out so it would be impossible to see much anyway.

With that, she moved back over to her cozy spot and curled back up while tugging her blanket back up with her mouth. Just a silly pony for worrying over nothing. Just before she went back to sleep she could almost swear she heard the flap to the tent shift as if a pony had looked in. Just Dash, she was sure.







The morning came and slowly but surely they all rose near the same time. It seemed as if everypony had slept well. They took the time to clean up a bit more from last night and work on getting things ready for the evening. More wood, some food, and a simple hike seemed to be in order.

As the first few things got supplied and ready, Rarity took a moment to don her ensemble of her casual camping outfit. The group got everything set up and quickly began to head out so as not to waste any daylight Celestia had blessed them with. The idea was to sight see for the most part and just enjoy the scenery.

Each of the fillies bounded around and let out playful giggles as they played. Flowers not seen near Ponyville had caught a few of their eyes. Some of them almost looked exotic. AJ could only think how the flower mares would absolutely love them.

In the far distance they could hear the very faint noise of water. A stream or possibly a waterfall further along. While the trek might be a bit much, they agreed to see how close they could reach it. It was then that the orange pony remembered her midnight wake.

“Dash, next time you got a lot of energy, can you walk around without waking me?” Applejack suggested.

“What?” the pegasus asked, clearly confused.

“I said, if you ain’t tired then don’t be peeping on us sleeping ponies and making noise so much around the camp.

Rainbow Dash floated in place for a bit as her wings flapped. The look on her face was one of bewilderment and slight irritation. For all AJ knew, she had called Dash out on her attempt to set up a scare for them.

“I didn’t do any of that last night. I was asleep,” the pegasus claimed as she shook her head. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

Instead of continually accusing her, Applejack stayed silent as they continued on. Dash would deny being called out on a prank early on just to try and get them later, but something seemed off. It seemed genuine that she had no idea about the noises and all last night. Whatever the case, Applejack was ready for her just in case.

The rest of the day went without complaints as they did find a stream and let the fillies play around it for a while. The sun could hardly pierce the leaves and trees with how dense it was. At least the shade was calming and cool.

One of them had spotted some berries on the way back and they all picked plenty to suffice for some treat or another later. As they tasted them, their tongues turned blue and they joked about having to wash their mouth for a week to get it back to normal. Rarity wasn’t a fan of the tease.

When they got back to the camp they noticed something amiss immediately. The rocks for the fire had been knocked askew and one of the tents, Applejack’s, had one corner pulled up from its grounding and knocked inward. The ponies all stood in place as they surveyed the area a bit to take it in.

Without a word, Applejack moved into the campsite and set down the small satchel of berries before grabbing the tent pole with her mouth. The others quickly went to help and set things back in place, making sure the rocks would keep the fire relatively in control. After a bit, they all began to talk and speculate. It seemed nothing was rummaged through so they could only guess one of them had accidentally knocked a hoof against the rocks without noticing. As for the tent, it just wasn’t set up as well as it could have been was all.

As the rest of the day went on and slowly moved into the night, the ponies did seldom talking. Not much was to be said that hadn’t been already. The camp issue seemed to have set them all on edge a little. While they ate, there was a small mention of stories but none of them agreed on it. Perhaps Dash’s story last night really did unnerve them.

“I mean, if you’re all scaredy cats then that’s fine,” Dash stated but none of them bothered to say otherwise.

“I think it’s best if we just turn in early tonight. We can get a full day of things done tomorrow,” Applejack mentioned while she looked to the pegasus. For a moment, she thought she saw something within the trees behind her but it was gone the moment she blinked.

“What?” Rainbow asked cautiously, giving a glance behind her. “What was it? Is there a bear back there?”

“Nothing,” AJ said while waving a hoof around. “Just tired and seeing things.”

She must have made a strange face while looking past Dash. Her ears gave a flick as she hopped down to all fours and slowly made her way to the tent. Perhaps the story did end up bothering her a little. No shame in that, but she couldn’t help but feel something was off.

“Apple Bloom? You going to stay up a bit or hang out with your friends?” Applejack asked while standing in the opening of the tent.

“Can I stay out here a bit longer?” her little sister asked, the filly about to give puppy dog eyes.

“Sure, but be mindful of Rare and Dash. You hear me?” AJ said with a smile before slipping into the tent and plopping down. She must have been more tired than she let on because within minutes she was out like a light.




AJ stirred from her slumber once again. A look to the side showed Apple Bloom had laid down to rest sometime in the night. There was a strange sound coming from outside that she couldn’t quite make out. Her ears perked up a bit as she inched closer to the entrance.

The second she tried to peer out to the campsite there were a set of hooves swiftly moving away, snapping twigs and hitting brush. Somepony or something had certainly been there. There was a sinking feeling in her stomach but she pushed through and stepped out of the tent to look around.

One of the satchels that had held some berries had been torn open. The colorful fruit lay spilled along the ground in the dwindling firelight as she tried to reason with herself. It was foalish to even consider that something like Dash’s story existed. Just a hungry animal that knew where to find food. Maybe it even knocked the tent down and the rocks around.

A voice called out within the treeline. That was no animal. It was unmistakably a voice but it was hard to make out what was said. Had somepony come out this far and found their camp?

“H… H-heeeelp meee,” the scratchy voice called out from a distance.

For a bit, Applejack stood there, frozen in place from the sudden fear washing over her. It did sit right. There was no reason for another pony to be out where they were. Not to mention the voice sounded vaguely familiar to her.

“Help… m-eee,” the voice trailed on, dragging on each word and doing its best to pronounce them.

AJ didn’t move. Her ears were out to the sides from fear and trying to listen at the same time. They had faced Nightmare Moon but this was something else. It didn’t seem real. It wasn’t until she heard the voice a third time that she could place it.

“Dash… Come on back out here. I ain’t falling for your dang tricks,” the orange pony said, trying not to be too loud to wake the others.

“My win-g… broooke,” the voice almost bellowed. The more it spoke the more it began sounding like Dash.

“I ain’t falling for it. Come on back and just get some sleep,” Applejack said, starting to get a bit irritated now that it actually sounded more like Rainbow.

Silence. Nothing but silence after the last statement. It was almost deafening and starting to make Applejack uneasy again. She could hear her heart beating heavily and found herself staring in the treeline longer than she wished.

Two eyes blinked back at her before swiftly darting behind a tree. They seemed to glow from what she could tell in that split second. Maybe it was just the reflection of the light from the fire. Instead of chasing after her, AJ turned to Dash’s tent. Scootaloo would probably be able to draw her out easier.

A few steps to the tent and AJ poked her head into the flaps. Her hat pushed back as she let her eyes adjust to the darkened interior before speaking.

“Scoots,” Applejack called quietly. “I need your help. Rainbow thinks it’s funny to pull a prank in the middle of the night.”

“What?” came a groggy voice. A voice from the other side of the tent.

“… Dash?” the country pony almost whispered.

“Yeah, what’s going on? I heard my name,” Dash said, using a foreleg to rub her eyes.

There was a moment where they all stayed quiet and she nearly thought the pegasus had gone back to sleep. Somepony was certainly out there if her friend was in her tent. A hoof lightly batted at AJ’s face.

“You there? What’s going on?” the rainbow-maned pony asked, still sounding very tired.

“Hold on. Don’t get out of your tent,” Applejack said and pulled her head back.

The campsite was getting colder while the fire died down more. If there was anything else she could think of then Rarity might have known a spell to alter her voice. The problem with that was she couldn't see her unicorn friend playing such a prank like this.

Running over to the fancy tent, Applejack poked her head in and narrowed her eyes. It took a second to adjust but she saw Sweetie Belle in a cozy swathe of blankets. To her side, Rarity with her sleeping mask on and just as many blankets over herself. It wasn’t the answer she was hoping to get.

“Help,” that voice called out again, much closer to their campsite than before.

Applejack nearly tripped over herself as she stumbled back out. Her hat dropped to the ground as she looked around in a panic while trying to figure out which way the voice had come from. Some strange pony was stalking them and possibly dangerous if they were trying to lure her out alone.

“What the hay is going on?” Dash called from her tent before starting to step out.

“I said get your hide in there and stay!” AJ yelled. “There’s somepony out in the woods messing with us.”

That seemed to wake up her friend fully. Despite the messy bed mane, Dash looked more alert than ever as she ran out of the tent and looked around. Seemed she wouldn’t heed the warning given to her. Not that Applejack was against having a friend look out with her.

“Where are they?” the pegasus asked, flying around their tiny camp and looking in the growing darkness of the trees.

“I don’t know. I didn’t see a thing other than their eyes, I think,” the earth pony answered, looking in all directions at once as best as she could.

The two of them scouted the area without venturing into the woods before sitting down near the dying fire. It was hard to tell where the pony had gone or was. Every sound had them instantly checking again and again.

Eventually, time passed enough to where Applejack started feeling her body fatigue. She had woken up and had a good scare. Not something to just be fine with after such little sleep. It must have shown while she dipped her head once or twice while trying to stay up.

“Hey, you should get some rest,” Dash suggested and nodded her head to the tents. “I can stay on lookout duty here to make sure the creep doesn’t try anything. I can wake you to take over in a few hours. How about it?”

Tempting as it was, AJ didn’t want to take the offer. Sadly, her body refused to let her defy it. Her vision was getting blurry and unfocused as every blink nearly lasted minutes. There was no denying she needed some rest. How long had they been looking for the pony around their camp? Three hours? Four?

“I don’t like it but I can’t argue with you. Be sure and wake me up or call for help if anything happens, ya hear?” Applejack stated before getting a confirming nod from her friend.

Into the tent she went and collapsed quickly onto her now cold spot. Apple Bloom stirred for a second then relaxed back into her slumber. Soon after, Applejack joined her.







Applejack could see the sun through the tent’s fabric shining through. She must have slept pretty hard. When she looked around, she saw Apple Bloom gone from her side and heard soft voices outside the tent. Slowly, she got up and walked outside.

Rarity and the fillies were all talking but being a bit quiet about whatever it was. The moment they saw Applejack they all hushed up and stared before looking between her and Rainbow’s tent. Before she could ask what was going on, they all motioned her over with a hoof.

“What in tarnation is going on?” AJ asked, afraid to raise her voice in case she missed something.

“It’s Rainbow Dash,” Scootaloo said quietly, giving another look to the tent. “She’s…”

“Gone?” Applejack asked, a little skeptical.

“No, she’s been in the tent all night, I guess. Just that she’s been… making noises. Some weird noises that scared me,” the filly said as she lowered her ears. “I woke up to them and she was just sitting in the tent, staring at where the fire is. Or was.”

The statement made them all inch away from the area a bit more before they continued.

“Scootaloo woke me up and I asked why she didn’t get Rainbow to come out,” Apple Bloom mentioned.

“She just sat there and stared. I called her name but she didn’t respond,” the little pegasus told her and lowered her head. “Rainbow Dash is scaring me.”

Applejack sighed in frustration at the idea of Dash playing a prank on Scootaloo of all ponies. It was unlike her to pull such a thing and keep going. Maybe she learned to throw her voice last night. Whatever the case, she was going to get a stern talking to.

“All right. Pack up. We ain’t going to let Dash ruin this trip anymore,” AJ stated before glancing to Scootaloo. “I’ll talk to Rainbow. You just help Apple Bloom, okay?”

The filly nodded and eventually went to help pack up as Applejack moved over to the tent. She waited until they had all moved inside the other tents to pack up the contents before shifting the opening flap over.

Rainbow’s face was immediately before her, blank and unblinking. If she hadn’t prepared herself any she might have yelped. Instead, a stifled grunt escaped the earth pony before she stood there and held the fabric up with a hoof. Slowly, Dash’s eyes moved from straight ahead up to AJ’s face.

Something about them felt different. It didn’t seem like Dash was recognizing her but trying hard to study her. Her wide eyes and small pupils were beyond unsettling.

“Rainbow Dash, you know better than to scare that precious Scootaloo so bad!” Applejack berated the expressionless pegasus. “We’re packing up and you better be happy with yourself for ruining our trip!”

“Dash,” she replied with. It was quiet and almost missed in AJ’s anger.

“What?” the orange earth pony asked, afraid to lean in towards that unblinking face.

“… Dash,” repeated the blue pony. It was clear something was incredibly wrong upon hearing it the second time.

It wouldn’t have startled AJ so bad if it wasn’t that one detail. Applejack’s heart sank and her stomach turned. Slowly, she lowered the fabric back in place to cover up that strange, surreal stare. It took all her might not to let any tears show as she hurried back to her tent and started throwing things together as fast as possible.

“What’s wrong? Why are you going so fast?” Apple Bloom asked, her ears pinned back as she looked around. “What did Rainbow have to say?”

Instead of answering, AJ tugged the fillies out of the tent and stared at Dash’s for a moment before calling to Rarity. Her eyes never left the tent, seeing just the hint of a blue coat here and there in the thin gap. She could even see those staring magenta eyes watching her. She knew.

“RARE! Get your tail out here now!” Applejack yelled, feeling every joint in her legs want to run and move but finding it hard to until she had everypony with her.

“What is all the yelling for? I mean, really,” Rarity called back, magically carrying a half-packed bag with Sweetie Belle trotting behind.

“We’re leaving. Now,” the freckled earth pony stated matter-of-factly. Her Green eyes making sure that tent didn’t open.

“Now? We didn’t pack half our things,” Rarity protested, nearly about to turn back around until Applejack yelled again.

“NOW!” she called, just about to bite the unicorn’s tail and drag her if she had to.

They group exchanged looks all around before looking at their pegasus friend’s tent. She knew what they all wanted to ask. To be fair, she wanted to ask it herself. She didn’t know the answer but she had to make something up.

“What about Rainbow?” Scootaloo asked softly.

“She’s… staying back for a bit,” Applejack answered hesitantly before quickly starting to push them along and in the opposite direction of the pony in question.

Quietly, they all moved along and around the campsite with AJ staying back to make sure and stay between them and whatever she was so afraid of. She wished she had an answer to whatever it was but nothing made sense.

They were nearly out of the campsite when she saw the entrance of the tent lightly press out one of those eyes watching them leave. The sight made her shiver as she urged them to hurry while trying to play it off like a game of sorts. It clearly didn’t work but she kept on, hoping to at least distract her mind from things.

It was almost record time for them making it back from their camp. Almost nearly half the time it took them to get there. Things went in a rush once they got back. Questions of Rainbow Dash became frequent and she had no answers to give.

Things slowly fell apart here and there around Ponyville. Nights became unbearable and days felt empty. Ponies asked where Dash had gone when she didn’t show up anywhere for the next few days. No training or hanging out with Scootaloo. No word on her coming to meet up with the others. She was never even seen at home.

As the nights came and went, Applejack often heard that voice out in the fields. Her hooves would pull the pillow over her head as she tried to keep from hearing it. It cried out in help and asked for her by name. Her tears stained the pillowcase most nights as she grieved.

One night when hearing the voice she had to look out her window. It wasn’t Rainbow in the field but some creature, thin and lanky, stalking along the crops. The details were too far away to make out but it was staying low to the ground and silently trying to move over fences and equipment that it came across. It stopped and looked at the house at one point, surely seeing Applejack staring out the window through the moonlight.

The calling to her never stopped and seemed to always draw closer to her window each night. Nopony would believe her story. She hadn’t believed it when she heard it. It still frightened her to think about that last day at camp. How she had tried to talk sense into Dash and got only a word in reply. Just one word.

In Applejack’s own voice.