The Last Pony on Earth

by Starscribe

Chapter 18: June 14-15

Dear Journal,

So maybe I overestimated my ability to recover overnight. There’s that saying that it always hurts worse on the second day? That saying is true. Particularly when the pain mmediaedications wear off. They could’ve given me more, but I don’t want any. We don’t really know what the long-term consequences might be for these bodies. We aren’t human, and in some ways we don’t even seem to be from Earth. Pretending that we are seems particularly dangerous when it comes to medicine.

I would be home already if Sky had let me. I can walk again, I walked this morning when I had to use the bathroom (any toilet will flush once after the end of the world, and only once). I’m swollen all over, like some kind of pony version of a grape. I’m risking aspirin against the pain, and it helps a little with the swelling.

Made that stuff once during my one semester of community college. Biochemistry. Seemed like fun. Too bad tuition was so expensive.

Joseph wanted Sky to take him back home — he can’t drive yet, obviously — Sky wouldn’t do it. Seemed pretty silly to me, but whatever. She says the swelling should go down tomorrow, and by then it should be safe enough to go home.

Sky has been searching the hospital for supplies to take home with us, and Joe went with her. Lots of stuff didn’t make it. How was I supposed to know that so many medications needed to be refrigerated? Of course, there’s plenty of stuff that should still work fine. Still, it’s a good thing none of us are diabetics. There goes the insulin.

I drew in my free time, when I felt well enough. Nothing on the hospital TV obviously, but I’ve got some shows on the laptop here. Generator at the end of the hall keeps some lights we brought in and my laptop and stuff running, which is cool I guess. Guess I can catch up on the TV shows that will never finish. There’s not even anybody to complain to! How messed up is that. I guess I can just make up the endings when I get there.

I hope Sky is alright alone with Joseph. It’s not that I think he’d do anything, but she’s pretty fragile in more ways than one. I don’t think he knows how to talk to other humans very well. Or… you get the idea.


Addendum: I woke in the middle of the night. I felt much better, enough to take my laptop (gently) in my mouth and go off down the hall into another room. I haven’t been up this late since the Event, and not just because the day is most productive for me and my weaker night senses. I think strange dreams are becoming more the rule than the exception, because I woke up in the middle of one.

This time I saw cars, boats, buses, planes. A train appeared without tracks, tumbling through the jungle, snapping trees and dumping ponies from the windows as it tumbled. An intercontinental military jet soared over a storm with a dozen confused, half-uniformed pegasai. A sailboat appeared suddenly in someone's backyard, surprising a little gathering of ponies there before toppling sideways and making a nice big hole in the roof. I felt like an invisible pair of eyes aboard each one, watching as ponies all struggled to drive things not meant for hooves.

I wonder what it says about me that I'm not even human in my dreams anymore.

The moon was very full, I’m not sure I’ve seen it so big in years. A harvest moon, I think they call it. Dunno; Astronomy was never really my subject. It’s amazing how much more of the sky you can see without all the light pollution. I wonder how many cities in the world still have lights to block out the stars.

I saw the milky way once, during a power outage when I was younger. Rolling blackouts. Though whoever’s reading this might not remember those… or remember power at all. Hard to predict I guess.

I can see the Milky Way. Even with my weaker eyes, it’s almost cloudy up there with how bright it is. I guess this isn’t the only thing that’s shifting back to normal. Insects probably aren’t confusing the position of the moon, or those night-birds and bats and stuff. Hardly seems worth the trade for all we’ve lost.

I feel like the moon is watching me. Every time I look away, I feel like something’s moving from the corner of my eye. But when I turn, it’s exactly where I expect it to be. It’s the same moon, so far as I can tell. I’m sure the Apollo laser reflectors would still be there if I knew where to look.

Whatever, I should probably get back to bed. Tomorrow I should really put together that radio. The parts have been sitting in the garage for too long. Maybe check on the “ranch” too, to see what’s Sky’s been up to.

June 15, 2015

Dear Journal,

Finally got out of the stupid hospital. I don’t look swollen up like a plum either, though you might make the argument for some kind of grape. It’s hard to see bruises through all the fur, but I can definitely feel it. Also, my skin is really pale under all that fur. Good thing I’ve got it, or I’d probably burn walking everywhere. Burn all over the place, since I walk around practically naked everywhere. One day I’ll have the spare time to make real clothes. Put that on the list of a million other things I have to do. I feel like I’ve started going insane again, just in a different way. Can a person work themselves to death?

I took it slower than my usual today. Put together the pieces for a midrange shortwave radio transmitter. Antenna went all the way to the roof. Put together it was like one of those old TV aerials, but bigger. I would’ve climbed up there without thinking not long ago, but that was back when I had a monkey’s coordination. Say what you want about humans, but we were good climbers. Ponies? Not so much. Maybe Sky could’ve done it. If she slipped, she always could try to glide her way down.

Of course she’s afraid of heights, she’s already told me so. I put the thing together with Joseph's help, then he raised it up with his magic and tied it down with stout wire. Fairly sure it could survive a good wind up there now, and he didn’t even have to shade any of the solar panels to do it. That unicorn’s got talent.

Of course he didn’t even know what a shortwave radio was. I had to explain to him how such a small transmitter was going to give us such fantastic range, its waves reflected by the ionosphere to a point somewhere far away on Earth’s surface (even the other side). I’ve only ever been a listener, so I couldn’t say how to do a precision aim like that (and what would be the point?). He didn’t appreciate just how much we could benefit, wanting instead to finish his mesh network project.

Apparently he’s got some simple nodes he thinks he can connect to some satellite network or something.Not sure what he thinks we have to gain, working with such advanced technology. How long are they likely to last up there, anyway? Already the GPS directions I get are whole streets off. Even if there are other satellites up there that keep working for a few years, or a few decades, it’s not sustainable. Without a population of millions, we’re not seeing rocketry again in our lifetimes. At least Sky’s help is focused on the practical. Feeding cows or whatever.

Set up the rest of the radio without glowicorn’s help, just a desk for now. Maybe one day we’ll have a whole broadcast booth up there. Or maybe that’ll have to wait for our new places. Whatever. Recorded a simple message to broadcast on maximum power on the highest bandwidth commonly accessible to receivers. My message was as follows: “If you are hearing this, you are not alone. There are other survivors. We have resources and a growing community. We are presently located in Los Angeles, California at the following street address... We will listen on the following frequency for any replies…message will repeat.”

Short and sweet, not to mention it would make it easy to hear anyone who found a way to return the message. Assuming anyone ever does. If Joseph is any guide, the technology is apparently no longer well known.

So I wanted to test the range (as best I could), and I wanted to see how Sky’s personal farm is doing. I put the two missions together, and tossed a radio into my saddle-bags and set off to visit the park. I didn’t offer Joseph to take him with me. I swear that stallion has got an eye on Sky lately. Can’t say I’m entirely comfortable with that. What were they up to yesterday while they were “looking for supplies?”

Maybe I should ditch the clothes, if that’s what it takes to get attention. Or get attention. Or… No no, focus! I’m not some dumb animal. I’m not going to get involved, I’m not going to get involved, I’m not…

So I went to the ranch. Brought some ice-cold lemonade (not the real kind, unfortunately) from the fridge, since I figure she’s probably pretty thirsty from being out in the hot sun.

I’ve got to say, Sky has done some impressive work. I guess I’m not the only one who’s learned to use their hooves better. Though, since she spends so many of her days here, I guess it would make sense she would get stuff done. I wonder how much she had to bring Joe to do some of the difficult bits.

She’d set up dozens of those pop-up canopies, all around the edge of the lake. A big-ole pump went right into the water, floating on a raft in the center (and probably held on by duct tape). Hose on that thing fed a crazy daisy-chain of garden hoses with those circulating-sprinklers on the end, all spread out (with gradually decreasing water pressure, by the look of it. The lawn was quite brown once you moved more than a few dozen meters from the edge of the lake, except where her sprinklers kept things watered. There, the grass seemed overgrown, and unnaturally healthy. Clearly, the cows weren’t grazing any of that down. Temporary barricades covered every entrance to the park, reinforced by chicken wire kept in place by piling heavy objects behind it. Only one entrance remained clear, the one protected by more barricades crossing the street and straight into the “barn”.

The water level on the lake looked notably lower than I remember. Sprinklers ran, and a single horsepower diesel generator croaked quietly away in the background. The cows lounged under the canopies by the drying lake, mooing contently and not seeming to notice or care that I was there.

Only Sky worked, though I didn’t see her at first. Only with a little searching did I spy her faintly pink form in the “barn”, doing something silly. Yes, she was sweeping. Yes, she had the broom in her mouth. No, it didn’t look comfortable.

She didn’t notice me until I got close to the front door of the old building. The empty dollar store hardly looked recognizable, not with all the shelves completely pulled out (how the heck did she do that?). Hay… yeah, hay, had been spread on the floor, though she was sweeping it out into an empty storm drain. The grate had been removed somehow, letting all the refuse drop down into the darkness beyond.

Told her how impressed I was with her work (particularly considering how little I thought she knew about machines). Guess the pegasus can figure things out when she really needs to. I didn’t bother asking how she had got so much done so fast, though I was curious.

We talked, shared some minute maid, and with a little prompting, she eagerly gave me the tour. Explained how she’d built everything, and the trips she’d made to get around. Said it had been the cows who helped her, at least with all the heavy lifting. A little of Joe, though she sounded frustrated whenever she talked about him.

I turned on the radio for her, demonstrated our little broadcast. She thought it was neat, hoped we’d get “some more nice ponies” to join us here. I did too, though I’d still prefer to call them “nice people.” Are people and person species-specific terms? They don’t seem to be, but I don’t… really know about words and stuff.

I’d meant to turn the radio to the “listening” frequency to see if anybody had replied yet. Didn’t get the chance. It was getting late already, and she asked for my help bringing the cows in. Not really sure why she needed it. Just sorta yelled, and they came back to the “barn”. Weren’t that many, and it’s a pretty big store, though I could see Sky had opened some of the high windows for ventilation. Guess I shouldn’t have second-guessed her farming skills.

I had walked, so I rode in the passenger’s seat of her pickup. Huan wasn’t in attendance; hadn’t been all day. Not really sure what happened to him… but I’m not terribly worried. He’s a smart dog, he’ll be fine.

We really need to bring him a doghouse. Maybe if he had a place that was clearly his own on the property, he’d be more willing to come inside the fence. I keep him fed well enough that I’m sure he wouldn’t attack the chickens, even if he somehow managed to get into the backyard.

Tomorrow, the radio. Listen, scan, hear what we can hear.