My Next Life as a Pony

by Love_Bite

Prologue: The Realm of Potential

Death seems like a far off event when you’re living life to the fullest. It’s been on my mind a lot recently. I’m not young, not anymore. My twenties came and went years ago and my thirties are fading fast.

Some nights I lay back in bed, staring at the ceiling wondering what the hell it is I’m doing; no wife, no children and nothing to leave behind when I die. My job doesn’t need me. My parents are off living out their retirement in some picturesque beach house. Sometimes they’ll even send me a text when they remember my birthday is coming up.

I wake up, go to work, face the scrutiny and criticisms of mid-level managers of mediocrity for eight endless hours, leave work, get home, eat dinner and stare at porn until I fall asleep to do it all over again. Am I even allowed to call this existence a life?

There’s this old memory I have. I’m walking down a forest trail by the house where I grew up. Next to the trail is a small stream and I hike along its bank, jumping back and forth over the running water. At some point I start piling up rocks in the stream to make a dam. The water stops flowing and pools up behind the little rock wall making a small pond. I sit there awhile and watch the water level inch higher and higher when finally, I kick out the dam and race the tiny flood downstream back to my house.

For some reason, I start crying when I remember that. I feel ashamed, like I’ve let that little boy down. When did I stop doing things just for the hell of it? Where has my creativity gone?

“Hey Anthony, make sure you get that invoice to me before you leave today, please.”

I look up from my computer screen. Ralph, my department manager, is leaning up against my cubicle, sipping what looks like iced coffee.

“I will. Thanks for the reminder, Ralph. Going anywhere special tonight? We only get one Friday a week.”

My mouth works itself into some semblance of a smile, trying to sell my absent enthusiasm. I wonder how many times I’ve said that line? The invoice Ralph requested is already queued up as an attachment on my email. I didn’t need the reminder and I’m pretty sure he knew I didn’t need the reminder, but for some reason we do this little song and dance at the end of each week to make it look like we give a damn. I don’t know about Ralph, but I definitely don’t give a damn.

He gives some vague, impersonal answer about his plans for tonight and the rest of the weekend. I catch the words “wife” and “kids” and “baseball practice” but not much else seems notable.

“Sounds like fun. Well, don’t let me keep you. I’ll send the invoice before I leave, don’t worry.”

Ralph gives a small nod and takes another sip of his drink before turning to leave.

“Thanks, have a good weekend. I’ll see you on Monday.”

“See you.”

I wait a minute after he leaves before sending the email. Looking up from the computer, I see that everyone else on the floor is switching off their monitors and heading out as well. Snippets of conversation reach my ears as I start shutting off my PC and gathering my things.

Paul of Cubicle 4 and Rick of Cubicle 5 are heading to the bar down the street. Sounds like there is some sports game tonight. Maureen of Cubicle 6 needs to pick up her prescription before she heads to her sister’s later and Rosa from Cubicle 8 hopes her husband remembers their anniversary tomorrow.

All of their desk lamps flicker off as they leave and I’m left alone in the dim ambient lighting of the office. I grab my keys from my bag.

“Guess I'll lock up then…”

It’s a five floor ride down the elevator to the parking garage and I take it in silence. On Fridays I usually head to Carmine’s to get my regular two slices of meat lovers pizza and a coke to go. Looking down, I notice how tight my shirt has gotten around my stomach lately. Maybe I’ll try a salad tonight.

The garage is pretty sparse. Most everyone in the building has already left for the week. It doesn’t take me long to find my little Kia parked in the corner. I’m walking over, already reaching for my car keys, when I pause.

There’s someone standing by my car. They’re dressed in dark clothes and in the dim corner of the garage I can’t see them clearly, but they’re definitely standing by my driver door. Actually, they’re crouching. They’re crouching by my car door and they’re picking at the lock and…


As soon as I call out, I regret it. My voice echoes around the garage reminding me how alone I am. The figure jolts up, head spinning to face me. They’re wearing a dark ski mask and in their hand is some small metallic tool.

In the back of my mind, a news report on recent car thefts in the area surfaces. The details are murky, but there was definitely something about gang affiliation and armed suspects.

The thief looks me over, sizing me up. I’m wearing one of my silly Marvel comic themed ties. Fucking casual Fridays!

“Da fuck you want, punk?”

My mouth is dry. Sticking out of the waistband of his pants is unmistakably the black handle of a pistol. I try hard to swallow the lump forming in my throat.

“That’s my car. I- you can’t…”

I trail off. His hand reaches down and pulls the pistol free, aiming it at my chest.

“I can’t? Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do, bitch. Whatchu got on you, huh? Let me see!”

By instinct, I hold my bag closer to my side.

“I don’t have anything. I don’t have money on me. No cash. Just my credit card.”

“Bullshit. Gimme the bag.”

A siren sounds from outside the garage. It’s probably just a fire truck heading to some accident, but the noise spooks the thief. He shifts his weight back and forth and glances around the garage. His thumb tightens up and cocks the hammer on the pistol.

“You hear me?! Gimme the fucking bag!”

“Please! Please, it's just papers. I work in accounting, see?”

What the hell am I doing? Papers scatter across the concrete floor as I shake them free of my bag. I grab my wallet out of my pocket and toss it over to his feet.

“Look, you can have it all.”

“Motherfucker, gimme your keys. You dumb fuck! Whatchu doing? Bugging out and shit!”

My keys? Of course, he wants my car! He’s a car thief. Get it together, Anthony. Now’s not the time to freak out. Just give him what he wants and you’ll be okay. Dammit, I still have payments to make on it…

“Here! You can have them. Take the car-“


Both the thief and I turn to see a security guard running over from the elevator door. He reaches for his belt holster and pulls out a taser. The split second of relief I felt vanishes as a simple truth reaches my brain; gun beats taser.

“Hey, what are you doing? Drop that right now! And get on the ground!”

The security guard, Phil, if I remember right, is a twenty-year-retired police officer. Balding and with a gut the size of a beach ball, Phil doesn’t strike an intimidating figure and clearly the thief agrees with me because instead of dropping his gun and submitting to Phil’s order, he trains his pistol on the poor security guard, an air of contempt exuding from him.

“Sit yo fat ass down! You finna get capped, pig!”

Phil, for his part, whether out of bravery, stupidity, or some foolish sense of justice not yet beaten out of him by his retirement, does not heed the thief’s warning and keeps plodding across the garage towards us. The thief is not impressed.

“Heh, I wonder how you’ll squeal!”

The pistol’s trigger pulls back as the thief squeezes his finger.


I don’t remember moving, but the next thing I know I’m diving into the path of the bullet. No, the bullet already hit me. It’s digging through my chest, passing my ribs and drilling through my heart. The pain hasn’t reached my brain yet, but I know I’ve been shot.

Concrete rushes up to meet me and I splay out on the floor. Blood starts pooling up around my chest. I can feel it seep out of the bullet hole with every beat of my heart. Wait, is my heart still beating? No, it’s fading. The bullet did too much damage.

The thief is already running to the exit. Phil is chasing after him the best he’s able. He fires his taser and misses, I think. I don’t know. The pain starts spreading from my wound now. The tips of my fingers and toes feel cold; they’re losing blood. Above me, the pale yellow lights of the garage buzz incessantly, drowning out my thoughts.

My vision is getting hazy. This is too fast, right? I was only shot a second ago. I shouldn’t have lost that much blood yet. It was only a second ago, a minute ago… How long has it been?

Phil’s back now wheezing over top of me. His face is a red sweaty mess. He’s shouting into his little walkie-talkie. Distress colors all of his features.

“You’re gonna be okay. You’re gonna be fine. Ambulance is on its way. Hang on, buddy!”

I try answering him, but the words won’t come. Poor guy sounds like he’s trying to convince himself more than me.

“You’re gonna be fine. I called an ambulance. It’s comin’. Hang on.”

Phil keeps repeating similar phrases like a mantra. His breath comes quick and sharp much like my own.

Minutes pass—I can’t tell how many—before a paramedic arrives and pushes Phil away. I look down and see the papers I dropped earlier are all stained red with blood. How am I going to explain that to Ralph? They are the minutes from our last meeting.

Another paramedic is helping to lift me onto a stretcher. Someone is holding a rag to my chest trying to staunch the blood. I didn’t know it was possible to bleed this much— at least, to bleed this much and still be alive. Am I still alive?

Have I ever really been alive? I died, didn’t I? Not in that garage. I died when I joined this company. I died when I gave up on my art major. I died when I told Miranda Gorley we should just stay friends. I’m dying and I’ve always been dying, day by day, bit by bit.

My vision is flooded with the bright lights of the ER as the doctors wheel me in. They’re talking too fast. With their masks on, I can’t hear very well. I think they’re asking if I’m awake, if I’m still with them.

But they are fading. Everything is fading. I can hear the stream. I can hear the rocks splashing into the water. I’m kicking the dam open. I’m racing the water back home. I’m alive!

And then it’s black. Everything, everywhere. Totally black. I must be floating in the blackness, or maybe I’m falling? It’s impossible to tell. There’s nothing. All around is nothing against nothingness.

Time passes. Or perhaps time stops. The nothingness is so complete that any change, any movement, any increase of entropy is imperceptible. I think back to my high school physics class. This must be some place beyond space and time. I’ve traveled to some point unaffected by the Big Bang. That’s the only explanation my fragile psyche can come up with to cope with this darkness.

Maybe I’ve come to the end of the universe? Or the beginning? Will I just remain here, a single speck of consciousness suspended in everlasting darkness, until I too become part of the void? I try to speak. I want to scream. Not because I’m in pain, I don’t really feel at all, but I just want to hear something—anything. But no noise can be heard. Is this really death?

“You are not dead yet, Anthony Grimm.”

The voice catches me by surprise. It surrounds me, wrapping me in warmth. The tone is gentle and feminine.

“Who are you? Where am I?”

“I suppose you could call me God. But I prefer Faust if you don’t mind. Less formal, I think.”

I turn, or at least I try to. The concept of turning, of rotation itself, doesn’t exist in the void. Still, I vainly search for the owner of the voice.

“God? Where are you?”

“I am here with you. Please, it’s just Faust.”

“Faust, then. Where are you? I can’t see you. I can’t see anything.”

“Of course you can’t. You are simply a consciousness now. Your body is back on Earth in Wilken’s General Hospital. The doctors there are still trying to revive you. Their efforts, though valiant, are in vain.”

Her words take a moment to sink in.

“So I’m dead? That’s it?”

“You are not dead. Not yet.”

“But you said my body is gone. That the doctors can’t revive me.”

“I did say that. But that is your body. Bodies are temporary things, they come and go. Your soul however, is still whole and healthy. A bit undernourished for my liking, but I hope to help with that.”

“My soul… I don’t get it. Isn’t this just death then? Your body dies and your soul continues on to the afterlife. I go to heaven or hell, right?”

For a moment, I try to take stock of all the actions of my life—all the good deeds and bad deeds—trying to weigh them against each other. I was a good person, wasn’t I? Boring and inoffensive, but more or less good, right? I hope I go to heaven or just remain here. Burning for eternity does not sound like a better option.

“You will go to neither. It’s true that something like the afterlife you describe is real, but only for fully mature souls. Yours is still underdeveloped.”

Underdeveloped? Guess I can’t argue with that. I can’t say I really lived life to its fullest. On a scale of experience and activity, I’m probably only a little past a sloth.

“So where do I go? Do I just stay here? Where even is here?”

“Right now, you are in a space between universes. Others of my kind sometimes refer to it as the Realm of Potential. In this space anything is possible. A new soul may come into existence or even a new universe. But those events happen very seldom. Mostly, this space is filled with passing souls such as yourself.”

“I don’t see anything here.”

“As I said, you have no body, no eyes, to see with.”

“But I don’t have any ears either, so how come I can hear you?”

“You are not hearing my voice, but rather my thoughts.”

“I’m reading your mind?”

Faust giggled. I felt it in some way, but it was definitely a laugh.

“In a manner of speaking, yes. At least, you’re reading the thoughts I send to you. If you stay here long enough you too may learn to project your thoughts. You’d then be able to see all of the potentiality around us.”

“I see…”

I really don’t get it at all, but who am I to argue with God?

“But you said if I stay here. So if I’m not staying, where am I going?”

“Well, that is up to you. I am here to give you a choice and you are here to choose. But first, let me do this so you’re not left in total darkness. I know how uncomfortable that can be.”

“Do what?”

Before me a light appears. It is distant like a star, but any light in the void feels like the Sun. From out of the light, walks a figure. At first, it looks like two people, but as it approaches I realize it’s one figure with four legs.

The person is not a person at all. If I had to pick a creature to compare them to, the closest I can picture is a horse. Their body is covered in white fur. On their head is a mane of dark red hair matching their tail and their eyes are a deep emerald green.

But this horse is definitely not a horse. Their proportions are too different; the head is much bigger and rounder, the body is more compact, and the face is too humanoid. But overall, they don’t appear to be real, more like a character from a cartoon. All of their colors pop too vividly.

“Good to meet you, Anthony. I am Faust.”

She offers one of her hooves as if going for a handshake. I reach out, fully aware I have nothing to reach with and shake her hoof. I don’t know how, but I definitely felt contact. Her hoof is very soft.

“Yeah… Same to you.”

Faust smiles a warm, motherly smile, beaming at me like I was her favorite son. I honestly don’t know where to go from here.

“Uh… don’t take this the wrong way, but what are you?”

“Hmm? What am I?”

She looks down at herself, studying her body.

“I am myself. What do you think I am?”

“You kind of look like a horse. But not really? I don’t know.”

“A horse? Interesting… I am never sure what form I will take when I appear before a soul like this. As I said, bodies are temporary things. But you see me as a horse, or what you surmise is a horse. Curious.”

“Yeah. Um, what do I look like to you?”

Faust stares at me with her emerald eyes. They are deep like the ocean, perhaps deeper.

“You look like you. To me, you look like Anthony.”

“Huh, cool, I guess.”

I really have no idea what that means. Again, I’m not going to question the cartoon horse god.

“So you said I had a choice. You were going to give me a choice on where to go?”

“I am. Walk with me.”

We start walking through the void. It feels much less cosmically terrifying than it did before when I was on my own. Instead of total darkness, there are now vague hints of color and shape. It makes me picture a very dim lava lamp.

“Do you live here, Faust? In this Realm of Potential or whatever you called it?”

“You could say I’m a frequent visitor, but no I don’t live here.”

“Yeah, I guess it’s not exactly beachside property…”

Faust giggles again. It’s a very warm sound.

“So where do you come from?”

“Oh, beyond.”

The word has a certain weight to it the way she says it. I keep my silence, expecting her to elaborate, but she simply continues walking. Actually, I think I hear her humming something like a song.

“So, where are we going now?”

“Nowhere in particular. It just seems a shame to not enjoy another’s company for a bit. You agree, don’t you?”

“I- yeah, I guess that’s true. I haven’t been for a good walk in a while. And I can't even remember the last time I had company when I did.”

“You see?”

Faust smiles at me and we share a laugh. It really does feel nice to be with someone. To share a moment with them. For some time now it’s mostly just been me and my ever darkening thoughts.

The comfortable silence continues as we stroll through the void. The colors and shapes are definitely getting more vivid now. I see points of light, triangles, squares and other geometric forms in every size and color. They spin and slide and flip past us like a laser light show. Maybe this was always here and my mind is just now starting to expand enough to appreciate it.

Distantly, I can hear voices. At least, they sound like voices. At the moment they are just mumbles and murmurs, too indistinct to make out proper words. Imagine hearing music in a passing car where you only get a vague impression of the bassline and drums. That’s what it sounds like to me.

This place gives a different feeling now. I’m filled with a sense of wonder and awe. Things that felt impossible before seem very possible, even probable now.

“Hmm, I think we’ll stop here for now.”

I turn to see Faust still smiling, but there is a hint of sadness—a sort of melancholy there too.

“This is as far as we can go. It always seems to come so fast…”

“What does?”

“Your awakening. But you are still too young for that, too immature.”

“I mean, I can go to the bar now and hardly ever get carded. I even have a 401k.”

Faust fully faces me, one last giggle escaping before she speaks.

“Anthony, you are a funny one. I hope you keep that with you when you go.”

“So it’s time to choose then.”

“Yes. When I send you on you may return to Earth. When you return you will be reborn. All of your memories of your previous life will be erased. You will be an infant human and you will live out your days just as any other human.”


That option didn’t sound too bad. Reincarnation. I guess religion got something right there.

“You may also choose to be reborn in another part of your own universe. You may be a Martian living before the Great Cataclysm. Or as a €£¥^€ living on a small world in the Andromeda galaxy.”

“A what? You mean I could be reborn as an alien? You can send me back in time?!”

Faust nods.


“Of course, your situation will be similar to being reborn as a human. Your memories of your previous life will be erased and you will live out your life the same as any other creature on that planet would.”

Becoming an alien sounds pretty amazing. Though, I suppose I won’t have the memories to appreciate just how cool that would be.

“So in either scenario I’m a blank slate it seems.”

“That is accurate.”

“So why give me a choice at all? I mean, I won’t remember I even had a choice to begin with.”

“Because choosing is very important. It defines who we are. You are Anthony, you are you because of your choices.”

“That makes a sort of sense, I guess.”

“But you did not let me finish. You see, recently, though perhaps not very recently from your perspective, I have created a separate universe. One I am quite fond of to be honest.”

“You created a whole universe?”

“I have. It’s nothing too special. Most of my kind have created one or two universes in their time. This is actually my first one. I want to make sure it turns out well.”

“You really are God.”

“Just Faust, please. You see, I have another option for you. I can send you to my own universe. And since it is my own universe, I can do something special for you.”

“Which is?”

“You will be reborn with all the memories you have now.”

“Wow. But why would you do this for me? It seems like a pretty special gig. I’m no one important.”

“You are a good person, Anthony. You even took a bullet for a perfect stranger.”

“Well, that was just in the heat of the moment.”

Faust shook her head.

“No, you are a good man and I am quite selfish, you see. I wish for my universe to be full of good people. By sending you there, I hope that you will act as a sort of guide for everyone. I hope that you will improve the world just that much more.”

“Geez, it feels like I’m gonna be the messiah.”

“I am not sending you there to be a savior. Just to live your life fully with all the experiences that you’ve gained so far. How you want to live your life there will be up to you and you alone. That is, if you take my offer. The choice is yours.”

Standing there in the shifting space of eternity, I weigh my options. Being reborn as a human sounds pretty standard, but also pretty comfortable. It will be a familiar existence even if I don’t remember the last time I was there. Of course, my last time there wasn’t anything to write home about.

If I’m reborn as an alien on some distant planet in some far away galaxy that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be all Star Trek and laser beams from then on out. I could end up as some worm parasite living out my days in the intestines of a space whale for all I know.

I look at Faust. Her form; the form that appears to me as some cartoon horse.

“Faust, can you tell me where I’ll end up in your universe? What are the beings like there?”

Faust seems to consider whether or not to tell me for a moment. She puts a hoof to her chin, thinking.

“I will send you to a land called Equestria. The beings there, well, I suppose they’ll be much like I appear to you now.”

“They’re all strange horse things? Er… no offense.”

“Some of them. They are good and kind beings, maybe a bit too naive.”


I look around at the shapes once more. Now they are starting to gain form and solidity. They tumble over one another endlessly. Looking down at where my body should be I start to see the faintest trace of an outline of a figure. My figure.

“And staying here with you isn’t an option?”

“Technically it is. But I will not allow it and neither will the rest of my kind. It is too soon for you.”

“I see…. I’ve made up my mind. Send me to your world, Faust.”

“You are certain?”

“I am. I’ve had my time as a human. And being an alien sounds cool, but I’d hate to end up in a scary place. Plus, I want to thank you.”

“Thank me? How is that?”

“Well, it sounds like you don’t hand out this deal to every soul who passes through here. I don’t know, it makes me feel kind of special. Like somebody wants me. Like I matter. I haven’t felt that in a long time. Maybe, like you said, I can do some good there.”

I face Faust, smiling.

“And who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?”

Faust laughs and raises a hoof up. I feel myself being lifted. Far away, but approaching quickly is the light where Faust emerged from earlier. The light shines brighter and brighter as it nears until it fills all of my senses.

“Thank you, Anthony. Please, live a good life and come back to me. I want to hear all about it when you do! Goodbye for now!”

My last thought is that I never asked her if we’ve met before. Oh well, guess that can wait until next time.

The light engulfs me and finally, I lose consciousness.