The Nightmare Procession

by Dashie04

Welcome to The Nightmare Procession

I dreamt in that state
It started out small
Nothing but darkness— that’s all.

Soon I heard the pounding of drums
The clicking of claws on the street.
Suddenly; there rang a loud chord progression
And a voice that said “Welcome to the Nightmare Procession.

Dreams can be wild. Sometimes it’s often that you know you dreamt, but don’t remember the dream at all. Sometimes it’s unclear whether you dreamt in the first place.

However, there are times when the dream rings out loud and clear in your memory, the dream has burnt itself into your head, and you can never forget it.

If you skipped over all that diatribe, what I’m trying to say here is that what happened when I passed out still is incredibly clear to this day. I’m dead, naturally, but I still can recall it. In some ways, it felt like more than a dream, more like a premonition.

The dream gets a little fuzzy in places, but here’s the play-by-play:

I awoke, fully conscious yet not. Ahead of me, a endless void of black carried on beyond the realms of my vision, the same no matter where I looked.

Suddenly, I found myself on a street, a nondescript street, somewhere in Griffonstone. I was a chick again, and I heard the chatting of other chicks and their parents around me— as few as there were.

Around me, there materialized some normal Griffonstone buildings, the normal ramshackle, stone buildings you’d expect.

I looked around, my dad was next to me, though his face was basically a blur, that was when I knew where I was. I was on my dad’s rare day off, when I was a little chick. This was a play-by-play of the memory I remembered most. He took me to see a military marching band, and as the band came past us, he told me a few things.

My blurry-faced dad turned to me, and repeated almost the exact same words I recalled him saying in the memory.

I heard him directly state,”You know, Geode, when you grow up, I want you to be in the military, and be a savior for all the griffons in need. You know, I’m not going to be around forever for you to look up to. I want you to be that griffon. The griffon you see me as.” The memory I was familiar with saw him smile after that, but of course, he was blurry-faced, and I couldn’t make out any details.

I heard a faint music of a marching band. Far away, but getting closer rather quickly.

Rat-ta-ta-tat rat-ta-ta-tat rat-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-tat.

The snare was clearly audible in this dream. Same thing with the memory, I felt like I was there.

My father blathered on, “One summer, Geode, I’m going to have to leave you for good. I won’t be able to use my feeble days off. I’ll go and join the Nightmare Procession.”

To little chick me, that was absolute nonsense. So, I just had to ask him, “Dad, what do you mean by ‘The Nightmare Procession’?”

The crash cymbals now joined into the military march, the band was getting closer still.

My dad laughed and responded, “Well, ponies might call it the Mare of Death, but The Nightmare Procession is an entire marching band led by the said Mare of Death. Every dead soul joins the procession and plays on, they say you get a vision of it when your soul is about to leave your body but is still holding on. After your soul leaves, you either go to Heaven or Hell.”

To little chick me, that was absolutely mind-blowing. I still like the idea of a marching band of souls, it’s a nice abstract way to think about things. It made it easier to understand.

The dream was still spot on with the memory I knew, because directly after that, my dad whispered, “Now listen! The band’s about to come by!”

Right he was, the music was almost deafening now, a full ensemble of snares and toms and crashes, as well as horns and various other percussion instruments.

The band came marching up along the street my dad and I were watching. However, this band looked a little different, the pony at the front was no ordinary pony. She looked like she was a skeleton, her face being reduced to bones. She was decked in basic marching gear, black, as it was. A unicorn, she was, she was holding a baton aloft with her magic, the baton radiating with a sickly red glow. She was waving it just like a bandleader.

It was certain, she was the Mare of Death.

As she entered my field of vision, I noticed that the ponies trailing behind her were all faces I recognized.

I saw Goldflower’s golden pelt, she was smiling at me.

I saw Grainy’s incredibly untamed mane, the stray hairs traveling far down their back. It was a style at this point.

The I saw Granite, his grey coat and piercing blue eyes.

I saw my dad, the glint in his eyes reflecting the sunlight that was all over the place in my dream.

I saw my mom with her soft brown eyes, looking at me sadly.

Finally, struggling to keep up with the pace and nearly dropping his cymbals, there was me. I was barely holding on.

Before me, the scene changed.

I was in school. I recoiled slightly, remembering another stowed away memory.

For those asking who hurt me...

In front of me were two griffons, at least three times my size. Their claws were razor sharp, and their eyes looked at me with a hungry glare. Their voices jeered at me, laughed at me.

“A little third grader griffon wanting to make a difference! Imagine that! Whoever listens to him must have stones for brains!”

“I—“ I began, but they laughed at me still.

“As if anyone wants to listen to the voice of a little pipsqueak who hasn’t even gotten the ceremonial claw scratch!”

For those wondering what the bullies meant by that exactly, they meant nothing, it was something they made up to ridicule me more. But, little chick me didn’t know better. With every insult, they seemed to tower over me ever more.

I remember yelling at the bullies for trying to pick on a third grader, but that wasn’t the next thing I was shown. The next thing I was shown was an image of me as a sixth grader, a knife in my claw, and the bullies laying on the ground.

The Mare of Death silently marched past me again, she looked at me directly in the eyes, and her empty eye sockets glowed a menacing red. The Nightmare Procession marched past me again. The bullies weren’t part of it, their souls had already left.

I was a terrible griffon...

After the Nightmare Procession marched past, the next scene was shown, me in school, and my friends at the time looking absolutely disgusted at me. We were talking over lunch, stale bread and some decent cuts of meat.

“You don’t mean to tell me that you actually did that? How did you not get caught?!” one, having a blurry face, interrogated.

They all had blurry faces, but the scene didn’t hurt any less. I knew what I had done, and it was absolutely despicable in every facet of the word. They were right.

“...Yes,” I muttered weakly.

Another one slammed their claws on the table, “Geode! You should’ve known better!”

I looked down at the ground.

“If you’re going to do things like that, we’re going to have to go,” the first one stated.

“They said my ideals wouldn’t get anywhere,” I countered weakly.

“Maybe they won’t, griffons tend to like griffons doing good things,” that was the last thing they said to me before they left for good.

A choice selection of other memories flew past. Little snippets of the good I had done of the years. None of it outweighed the bad. I hoped that when I reformed Griffonstone, I could turn myself in. The little charity I had donated to give chicks better housing, the park I had kept clean, the griffons I tried to comfort, it meant nothing with the dirt on my claws.

I knew I had screwed up. I couldn’t change my past. I had done too much bad, and all the good I had done was basically symbolic. What griffon would actually listen to me?

The Mare of Death once again marched ahead of me. This time, she looked directly in my eyes again, and her jaw slowly opened up. Then, in a raspy, snakelike voice, she hissed.

“Geode, the time is coming soon. You’ve done some good, but also committed great sin. You will be judged. Until then, The Nightmare Procession will march on.”

Then, she left me, alone in my head.

—Where I broke down crying.

I cried for what felt like hours in the darkness, not knowing where to go nor what I was doing. The amount of griffons who’d actually listen to me were negligible at best.

I wanted to relive my past, relive it better. Relieve myself of all this pain.

But I couldn’t.

My concentration was broken, and I woke up.