Wiley Hooves sat at his work bench, scratching at his head as he went over some of Shining Light’s notes. Several strands of his black mane fell onto the paper and he swept them away absent-mindedly. He was so engrossed in his studies he didn’t hear the lab door open and close as Shining Light strode in.
Shining made his way over to his partner and kept from looking at the prototype—which stood in the center of lab; wires and cables hanging from it like artificial umbilical chords. The suit Shining had designed for the miners now contained a soulless, faceless, mechanical being—a late addition by Wiley.
“Wiley, my friend, can we talk?” Shining asked, tapping on his partner’s shoulder.
“Have you reconsidered?” Wiley asked, closing the notebook and turning to engage the doctor’s request.
The first thing Shining noticed was the bald spot on Wiley’s head had grown larger—an indication he’d been deep in thought, hard at work on a new and greater project. “No,” Shining began, “this isn’t about the project.”
Wiley raised an eyebrow. “Then what is it?” he asked slowly.
“It’s about the company; everything we do, everything we’ve done…it’s—”
“What we’ve done is make the world a better place. Don’t you see? The ponies; they rely on our machines, and so long as we turn the wheels, they will follow anywhere we lead.” Wiley stood up and walked over to the prototype.
“But where are we leading them—a world run by machines?”
“Is that so bad?” Wiley asked, inspecting the prototype’s visor.
“Wiley!” The outburst shocked both of them and Shining took a deep breath to regain his composure. “I started this project to help ponies—not take away their jobs and line my own pockets. It seems that’s where we differ. I’m shutting down the company and taking my work elsewhere.”
“What?! You can’t do that!” Wiley shouted. He quickly approached his partner and cornered him before he could take another step. “You took Everlilly from me, don’t you DARE take this from me too.”
Shining swatted Wiley’s hoof away from his chest and pushed past him. “Goodbye, friend.” Without another word, Shining left the lab, Wiley’s shouts falling on deaf ears. In the morning, Shining would deal with the legal headache and public backlash of closing a company that created a city, but for now he was off to pack. The city would be fine without him, perhaps even better without him. The dream was a warning; his creations would slowly destroy everything he loved.
He would ask Everlilly to come with him, her being the one thing in the city he loved most. She worked the mines with the stallions of the city; working her hooves until they would bleed. Some of the pain that she endured would bring a stallion to his knees. Shining only wanted to help.
The crowds on the streets parted for the doctor as he walked back towards his house. They admired him and wouldn’t understand why he had to leave them. His inventions would no doubt be used for years to come, but they need not be advanced any more.
The door to Shining’s home opened and shut as he entered. He fished around in a drawer for a paper and pencil and set to composing a letter to Everlilly. Words were much easier written than spoken and Shining thought it best to give Everlilly a night to think over her decision. After several failed attempts at explaining the situation and his feelings, at last he thought he had the right combination of words.
Last night I dreamed I climbed to the top of a mountain of metal and for miles I could see the destruction of our land. It was all my fault. It was my machines. I created them. No matter how pure my intentions, Wiley seeks to use our inventions for profit and exploitation. I refuse to pull the trigger of the gun I built; the one he holds in his hoof.
The prototype—the one I told you about—it’s complete. With Wiley’s modifications, it would surely be the machine to make my nightmare a reality.
My darling, Everlilly, everything that I’ve done, I have done for you…but it’s turned out all wrong. Can I take back Can I turn off this machine before it destroys everything that I’ve loved? I will find a way to make this right, I will find a way, Everlilly, and I will not be the father of death!
We must get out of this city, together, start somewhere else, somewhere new. Please. I’ll await your reply.
Your Shining Light
Though it had not come out quite as well as he’d wanted, Shining sealed the letter and caught the mail mare as she was about to depart. With his letter in her bag, the mail mare trotted off up the street.
Hours later, Everlilly arrived home after a day of work. A letter with Shining’s sloppy hoof writing stuck out of the mail slot of her door. She grabbed it with her teeth and let herself in. As she read over the letter she shook her head and felt a knot in her stomach. Words came more easily to her than to Shining and she quickly wrote out her response on stationary of her own.
As she was sealing the envelope a knock came at the door.
Shining paced the floor restlessly. He knew she would go with him but doubt kept forcing its way to the front of his mind. The sun was now sinking below the skyline and the electric lamps in the streets were coming on. Shining threw on his brown over coat and set off to walk the city.
The S&W towers were now lit up and Shining let himself inside. Perhaps Wiley was still there, toiling away at a new project. The lab was dark however and Shining flipped the switch. The lights clicked on and he slowly entered the room. Everything was as he’d left it; algorithms were written out on a chalk board, blue prints and wiring diagrams were scattered on the lab tables, his notebook was still open on Wiley’s desk—the only thing that was different was a sheet now covered the prototype.
Maybe Wiley had given up. The thought was just wishful thinking. Shining approached the sheet and put his hoof to it. Whatever was beneath the sheet didn’t sound or feel metallic and Shining pulled the sheet off with his teeth. Beneath was a wooden model he and Wiley had used to design the exoskeleton of the original suit…but where was the prototype?