A Nightmare Come To Life

by Alcatraz

03| Adjusting

The book helped Joseph better understand the position he was in, in every sense of the word. He was riveted to the book for about two hours, doing nothing but reading during that time. He read that Nightmare Moon, the being he had become and resides within his mind, had attempted a coup against Princess Celestia after garnering the power from The Miasma. It took over Luna's body and used her as a tool against Celestia.

Celestia used the Elements of Harmony to seal Nightmare Moon away in the moon for a thousand years. 'Is that really how that happened?'

Joseph could hear Nightmare Moon say, even inside his mind.

That's one side of the story, yes.

'What's your side, then? The book has told me she grew dark, and became evil thanks to you.'

I merely gave Luna the means with which she could overthrow Celestia. I did not foresee The Elements. That factor alone cost Luna and myself a millennium's worth or torment on the moon. Not needing to eat, not needing to sleep. Have you any idea what that does to ones mind?

'Cabin fever?' Joseph replied rather cheekily.


There was a pregnant pause between the two's internal monologue.

Joseph broke the internal silence, although the silence in the room was beginning to bother him too. 'So what do we do now? We can't go anywhere, nor is there much to do outside or reading, and I can't write for shit with hooves.'

I need to teach you how to use magic—and before you say anything, yes, magic exists. You saw Celestia use it.

Joseph's incredulity refused to leave him whenever he heard about about, or saw, magic.

We will need to co-operate. Since my only means of survival lay with you, I will need to teach you to use magic.

'You're awfully eager to help me. What's in it for you?'

If two lives are tied together, would it not be in each others best interests if we help each other? I have in-depth working knowledge of this world. You, on the other hoof, do not.

Relenting, Joseph asks; 'So what comes first?'

Levitation, Nightmare Moon replied nonchalantly, as if it sounded second nature to her. It's relatively simple too. Since you are an alicorn, you possess an inordinate amount of magic. Focus your mind on an object. Any object. Picture it in your mind's eye and will it to move.

'I have no idea what that means...'

After an exhaustive sigh, Nightmare Moon continued. It was almost like she would've been pinching her brow in frustration if she had hands at this point.

Picture the book in your mind. Close your eyes and keep the image of the book present. Command it to move; imagine it floating.

Joseph did as he was told; closing his eyes before and after keeping the book pictured in his thoughts. He imagined the book floating in his mind's eye. He was trying to keep himself relaxed, his concentration beginning to waver.

Then Nightmare Moon said; Open your eyes.

Expecting the book to still be on the bed, he opened his eyes and looked down at the covers.

It wasn't there.

His gaze slowly climbed to the book; floating in a rippling magical aura. He stared at the levitating object for several seconds with morbid dumbfoundedness.

"I'm really doing it..." he said. His expression suddenly became concerned, although rather mildly. "How do I, erm, let it go?"

Do just that. Same in reverse; just let it go.

In a different manner than how Joseph pictured picking it up, instead imagined dropping the book as if he was holding it in his hands. The book landed with a dull, soft thud against the bed. An idea clicked in his head, one that he thought would better suit how he could use levitation. Instead of following Nightmare Moon's instruction on levitation, Joseph imagined physically picking up the book with his hands. He thought about scooping the book up off the bed with two hands, and, right before his eyes, the book lit up in a dark purple aura and slowly made its way to Joseph's eye level!

"Ha-hah!" He exclaimed excitedly, and rather loudly too.

A couple seconds passed before a knock came at the door. "Are you ok in there?"

'I must've startled the guard.' "Everything's fine! Sorry for startling you."

No reply came afterwards, which suggested the guard's—what could loosely be called concerns, had been abated. Joseph internally shrugged and turned back to the current task: the book. For the good part of two minutes or so, with a big grin plastered across his face, he repeated the actions of lifting and dropping the book to the direction he thought of; lifting and dropping the book with hands. Not too soon after that, a mildly unpleasant smell began to permeate his nose. It wasn't too noticeable, but with the lack of distractions Joseph's mind was picking up things to keep itself occupied.

'Hey, Moonie whe—'

Call me 'Moonie' one more time and I will end you... Nightmare Moon seethed.

A shit-eating grin appeared on Joseph's face. 'The death of me will also mean the death of you, you realize?' No reply. 'As I was saying, when was the last time you cleaned yourself? Or myself. Whatever. Shutup.'

Nigh a thousand years ago. Then again, this form was recreated. Since you woke up in a dusty old castle, it might be an idea to keep things in check for the time being.

Joseph thought it might be a good idea to try out the amenities, so he dropped the book back on the bed and sauntered over to the en-suite. The glass wall separating the shower portion from the rest of the bathroom had a rod at the centre point, and a handle closest to the entrance Joseph stood at. Through the barrier, he spied two concave, almost circular, metal-looking, what could be deemed knobs set into the wall.

Trying the method with the book on the door handle, he imagined a physical hand grasping the handle and pulling it open. Surprisingly, it slid open with the rod as its hinge. He walked into the stall, and closed the door behind him. The knobs, which had a red and blue circle in each of them presented a different problem to him now.

The recessed portions resembled the shape of hooves. "So I just... Put a hoof in there and turn?" Joseph didn't get an answer from Moonie, so he went ahead and did just that. He stuck his right hoof into the section with the red circle and turned it to the right sharply, and almost immediately uncomfortably hot water began pouring out of the shower head.

His hoof slipped out of the 'knob' as he was jumping all over the place trying to get out of the almost scalding water. Normally this temperature would have been rather pleasant on Earth had he acclimatised to the heat first. It was hurting; the heat seeping into his skin under the coat of fur covering his body. He quickly stuck his left hoof in the cold 'knob', and turned it half the direction of the hot one. Two seconds later the water cooled considerably, giving Joseph the time to rotate the colder knob to allow more hot water to pour over him.

Joseph relaxed, letting a smile creep on his face at the relaxing water. If anything, he felt more secure; almost like he was back in his own house, showering in his own shower. He just stood there and let the water cascade over himself, letting the faux sense of security wedge itself into his mind. He couldn't quite put a finger on it, but there was always something relaxing about showers, one that made him feel more at peace than anything else. Given the current circumstances, it did wonders for his morale.

Joseph just stood there for at least ten minutes, letting the offending odor get washed off. When it was time to get out, he put both hooves into the knobs, one at a time, and turned them off at the same time so he didn't get nailed with either hot or cold water as he turned the opposite off.

'Where are the towels kept?' Joseph asked internally, directing the question at Nightmare Moon.

Don't ask me, I was stuck in exile on the moon for a thousand years. Ask the guard to go fetch a maid and have her bring back some amenities too. If there's no towel, I suspect the staff haven't had the chance to restock them in this room.

Sopping wet and trailing water everywhere, Joseph gingerly trotted over to the door being careful not to make too much of a mess by trailing water all over the stone. He got to the door, and used his magic to open it slightly, keeping a hoof a few inches back against the door to keep it from opening too far.

"Morning?" Joseph asked.

"Yes, ma'am?" The guard replied indignantly.

"I've no towels in here. Could you please go and get a maid to bring back a few, and some amenities too?"

The guard looked back at Joseph and raised an eyebrow. "I don't know, could I?"

Joseph's brow furrowed at the guard's cheeky response. "Yes, you could do so. I might add that colloquial infrequencies occur frequently in any language, seeing is how I'm from a different world and such. Since we both know what I meant perfectly well, being particular about the distinction between synonymous words is pedantic and arguably pretentious. I shall say this again. Go and fetch a maid with provisions for the bathroom; it has not been properly stocked yet."

The guard seemed rather taken aback at Joseph's choice of words. Electing not to say anything, which was probably for the best, the guard cantered off down the longer corridor of the hall and rounded the corner.

You most certainly put him in his place. Commented Nightmare Moon.

That statement stuck with Joseph. Was he too harsh to the guard? Maybe he was just being unpleasant because guarding Joseph wasn't exactly something that was on his daily schedule, so being bitter was just one way of coping. 'Maybe he shouldn't have been so difficult...' He said internally, to no one in particular.

You weren't wrong to speak to him like that. You're right to say he was being difficult too. Ponies will fear you for your outward appearance. Treat them how they treat you.

That last thought lingered in Joseph's mind. He is essentially the living incarnation of something born of evil intent. Even though his mind is sound, he couldn't help but wonder if the Miasma's consciousness could taint his at any stage.

Ten minutes after the guard left, there came three abrupt knocks at the door. "The provisions you requested," came a rather sweet-sounding voice.

Joseph went over to the door and opened it, letting in the unicorn maid. She was carrying two towels, a bar of soap, and a bottle of something that he didn't immediately recognise. The maid levitated the items in Joe's direction, as if she expected him to take them.

"Uhm..." Joseph said with uncertainty.

"OH!" Exclaimed the maid. "You must want me to put these away and towel you off!" She rushed past the black alicorn and into the bathroom, putting the items down just inside the doorway and unfolding a towel, bringing it over to Joe and leaving the other one behind.

The maid dropped the towel over Joseph's new body, and he flinched away at the touch. "Woah now, I don't want you to dry me! I just wanted you to bring me a few things, I didn't expect you to wait on me hand and foot!"

The maid gave Joseph a peculiar look, most likely at the mention of 'hand'. "The maids are trained to provide some basic grooming services for some of the more higher profile ponies, Princess."

Being called princess really didn't sit right with Joe. It was almost like the school bully was calling him out on being effeminate. "What... What kind of services, exactly?"

The unicorn didn't look up to Joe, she kept her gaze down. He thought that was part of the training; not to look up at the more VIP guests. "Mane and coat grooming, largely. Since your mane is ethereal, a coat brushing would suffice after getting dried."

As odd as it sounded, Joseph actually liked the idea for some perturbed reason. "Pardon my apprehension..."

"Sunny days."

"...Sunny Days. I've not been, how shall I say, treated like that before. While the gesture isn't entirely unwelcome, it's apprehension that is apparent, nonetheless."

"The royals would often get a maid to comb their coats from time to time. It ensures they're kept well groomed. Prince Blueblood seems to have an affinity for getting groomed, now that I think about it..."

He didn't know whom 'Prince Blueblood' is, but, against his better judgement, he relented. "Fine, you may... Ugh, brush me." Joseph Stood stock still as the maid began to run the towel over him, fluffing up the fur covering his body. After much vigorous rubbing and an... uncomfortably close call in one area, the maid picked up a large hairbrush and began smoothing out Joseph's coat. It felt... nice. Almost like getting a light massage from a masseur.

About five minutes later the maid had finished combing his coat, and Joe turned his head around in both directions and looked at the much shinier fur. He turned back to the maid. "Thank you, Sunny."

"You're welcome, Princess," she said with a courteous bow.

Joseph's eyebrow twitched, and not in a good way. "Please don't call me that, it really doesn't sit right with me."

The unicorn became flustered before blurting out; "Yes, of course! I'm sorry ma'am."

"That's another thing," Joseph seethed. "You may not know who I am exactly, but I was a male before I came to exist on your world."

The color completely drained from Sunny's face. "I-, I..." she stammered. "I think I'll be going now!" After that, she dashed out of the room.

'Somehow I get the feeling I'm not going to like it here for an extended period of time.'

You're telling me. I spent a thousand years on the moon.

'Don't expect me to pity you; so did the individual whom you were possessing.'

...Point taken.

Joseph, all clean and groomed—much to the ironic nature of having somewhat enjoying it—sauntered over to the bed and got back on it, opening the book back up to where he left off. A few minutes later, during reading about the history prior to Nightmare Moon, another knock came from the door.

"Who is it?" Joseph called.

The door cracked open and Celestia poked her head through. "Pardon me for interrupting, but in light of your... appearance, I had to call a meeting with a few ponies and my sister. I explained to them–to the best of my ability–what transpired, and they all agreed that it would be best if they too judged your character for themselves instead of going off of my word alone."

"Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"Would you rather them make decisions based off of ambiguity, or would you rather show up and dissuade any negative thoughts they might have?"

Joseph agreeably cocked his head. "Understood." He got off the bed, but not in the same comical manner as before. He slid his rear hooves off the end of the bed, and gracefully planted his front hooves on the ground, one after the other. He walked over to Celestia, who opened the door wider for him. Joseph gave a rather dry "thanks" in response, then followed the regal white ruler down the hall.

His mind wandered to the possible outcomes of of his outward appearance negatively influencing Celestia's officials decision. One wrong move could completely tip the scales in the opposite direction of how Joseph wanted them to tip. Having said that, he could give every reason under the sun as to why the officials should trust him, but that is a problem unto itself. In either case, he only had his word to prove himself at this point.

Proving himself would be rather difficult. Going into a room with creatures he'd never met before to decide whether or not he'd be a threat to the nation; one wrong move on his behalf or any antagonizing of any kind can make everything go down the drain very quickly. He elected to let Celestia do the talking for the most part, only chiming in when questions started to get directed at him.

The door they arrived at was rather large in comparison to Joseph's door. Taller and wider by twice as much as his door, the two hinged door swung open to reveal six ponies seated, three seated on one side of a table with the other three opposite. Two pegasi, two unicorns, and two earth ponies, and each sat across from their respective race so one earth, one unicorn, and one pegasus sat on one side.

All eyes turned to the black mare with the flowing ethereal mane.

"Those eyes..." One of the pegasi commented rather audibly, although he didn't expect it to be that loud.

Celestia cleared her throat both to draw attention to her so she had the attention of the six of them. "I've briefed you about the transpired events, and I've brought the mare—"

"I'm not a mare..." Joseph deadpanned.

Attention very quickly turned back to Joseph as one of the earth ponies said; “You're not a what now?"

"I may be feminine in body, but back in my world I was previously a male in his respective body."

Almost as if there was some kind of color-syringe, one by one the color drained out of each of their faces, most notably Celestia's.

"Forgive my erroneous assumptions, I just assumed—"

"That because I had lady bits I was a girl? Regardless, You brought me here for a reason. Pray tell, which reason was that?"

The collective stupor at Joseph's mistaken identity lingered in the air for several moments before one of the pegasi spoke.

"We were just concerned that you would enact the same deeds as Nightmare Moon did. I'm not sure how aware you are of Equestria's history over the last thousand years and up until that stage, but the reappearance of Nightmare Moon—to the general populace—would cause havoc, thinking they were going to suffer eternal darkness."

If Joseph had hands, he would be pinching his brow in frustration. Instead, he elected to do the next best thing: rub the area between the base of his horn between and above his eyebrows. "There seems to be some loose wires somewhere. I am not the same individual that would impose something like that. I am a man from another world trapped in this body."

"Yes, but you are—"

"I know who I am!" He barked. Everyone jumped in response to his outburst. 'Fucking great, just what I didn't want to happen...' He paused for a breath as everyone shifted uncomfortably. "It is my understanding that this, "Miasma", if that's what you call it, possessed the one called Luna after her descent into darkness. In the book I read while in the room, it was her desire to impose eternal night that factored into her becoming Nightmare Moon, of which I am not. We are not the same person; we are completely different in body and mind. It is extremely prejudicial and judgemental to think that someone you've never met will perform to such abhorrent expectations!" He finished his rant with an affirmative stomp of a hoof, earning shell shocked expressions from everyone in the room. Even Celestia looked at him rather dumbfounded.

Joseph continued, although more calmly, dissipating the silence. "People might not like the way I look, but you, Celestia, could make a public announcement or whatever to the effect explaining that 'Nightmare Moon' has returned or whatever."

She sighed defeatedly. "This is a delicate situation. Announcing that Nightmare Moon has returned would not bode well. It is likely the populace would panic en masse. But... I think you are right."

"Surely you're not saying..." One of the officials spoke up, trailing off.

"My sister will want to meet you beforehoof too, before this event takes place. You shall do so while I make preparations. It shouldn't take more than a couple hours at most."

Joseph nodded in agreement as he followed Celestia out of the door, leaving the officials to mutter against themselves about god knows what. He followed Celestia back to his room where she nodded to the door, wordlessly telling him to go inside. She then began walking back the way she came down the corridor, making an opposite turn from the one they had taken into the corridor.

Joseph knew she was going to get Luna, and he began to play out scenarios in his head as to what will happen.

From what he knew, Nightmare Moon was the embodiment of Luna's negative emotions that got the best of her, but brought to life courtesy of The Miasma. Another way of looking at it would be to imagine every mistake you made literally staring you in the face; in every sense of the word.

He began to grow increasingly nervous as these scenarios played out; minutes felt like hours because of his apprehension. Some time later, he heard a knock at the door.

"Who is it?" he called.

The door inched open and a soft voice came from the other side. "It is I, Luna. May I enter?"

Joseph simply replied; "Come in."

The gorgeous night-blue alicorn strode majestically into the room. Joseph could tell by the way she unintentionally presented herself up on entrance that she felt a considerable weight on her shoulders.

An uncomfortable silence permeated the room, both unsure of what to say.

Joseph decided to break the silence, although unsure of his words would put to ease any concerns the Princess would have. He spoke with a soft voice to hopefully keep her calm.

"You have to believe me when I say I'm not here to harm you or anyone else."

Luna only gave a curt nod in agreement. "I... know that much. It's just that every mistake I made..."

That statement confirmed Joseph's suspicions, and the silence imbued itself in the room again.

"How did you... get here?" Luna finally asked. "You are not of this planet, so where do you hail from?"

'Finally something else to talk about.' Josephs ears perked up as his demeanour lightened slightly. "I come from a planet called Earth. I am not entirely sure how, but it's got something to do with those 'Elements of Harmony' or whatever they're called."

"Yes, The Elements." Luna repeated. "The magic responsible of ridding me of The Miasma's influence. With the greatest of respect, I am sorry it has become your burden."

Joseph waved a dismissive hoof, grinning slightly. "I am not under the influence of anything. All you see is the body, but up here," Joseph said, tapping a hoof to his head. "I am still the human I once was."