• Published 31st Jul 2013
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Misunderstandings - The Rogue Wolf



A man finds himself in a colorful world of magic... unable to talk to its residents, thought to be a monster, hunted and desperately seeking a way to return home.

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One Rain-Swept Evening

“Sing us a song, you're the piano man... sing us a song tonight....”

I was in a pretty good mood, all things considered. Sure, third place in the competition wasn't the gold trophy, but considering I was still one of the “new guys” in the competitive-shooting community and I was already facing up well against guys who'd been shooting longer than I'd been alive, I was happy enough. Hell, just getting to stand on a podium with Chip Sunwell and Scotty “Bean” Archer was a thrill in itself, and as soon as I got home I was putting that picture in a frame and hanging it on the wall next to that painting of the Golden Gate Bridge that Mom sent me right after I got my new apartment.

“ 'Cause we're all in the mood for a melody, and you've got us feeling alright....”

As I whistled along with Billy Joel's harmonica, I leaned forward a bit in the car seat to look up at the skies. The forecasts had called for clear weather all during my drive back up the Interstate, but wouldn't you know it- a storm was rolling in from somewhere, probably the northwest, which meant it was going to intercept me well before I got back home. The clouds looked heavy, too, and seemed like they were pissed off about it.

No problem, I thought. If I can't beat the rain and it gets too heavy, I'll pull over to a motel or something and wait it out. Or failing that, I can just pull into the next rest stop.

Sure enough, by the end of the song, thick raindrops were beginning to hit my windshield. I stopped the music player, put both hands on the wheel and leaned forward a bit, just in case. Fortunately there didn't seem to be any other traffic on the road at the moment, so I felt safe in keeping my speed just a bit above the limit in order to cut down the time I spent in the storm.

This had the unfortunate side effect of having me plow right into the thick of it all the more quickly. The skies darkened until it was nearly as black as night, and the rain almost immediately became a downpour, one the wipers had trouble clearing from the windshield even on the fastest setting. I had no choice but to reduce speed just so I could make sure I wouldn't hit anything.

As I drove, now nervously watching the side of the road for any indication of a turnoff or even a decent stretch of shoulder to stop on, I noticed lightning beginning to dance between the clouds. Oddly enough, it was a deep red color rather than the typical blue-white- I'd heard of lightning that color before, but I'd thought it was supposed to be exclusive to extremely high altitudes, not regular storms. “This might be bad,” I murmured to myself; if the storm was so violent as to be producing weird lightning, driving through the middle of it was probably a very bad idea.

I was just contemplating stopping right there in the rightmost lane when the first bolt of lightning hit, literally a hundred feet down the road.

Shit!” Trying to look past the afterimage of the bolt blazed into my retinas- thankfully not nearly as bad as it would've been with a normally-colored strike- I swerved as hard as I dared to miss the sudden pie-sized crater in the road. My tires squealed across the wet road, but I somehow managed to straighten out- only to have a second bolt strike right in front of me; one of the wheels clipped the edge of the hole it made, thankfully not flipping the car but turning my hard maneuver into an uncontrolled spin. As I fought with the wheel and pumped the brakes to come to a stop, something flickered ahead of me, and by the time I could spare it any attention it had grown into a bright white light directly in front of me.

Oncoming car- was all I managed to think before I hit it...

...and went through it.

Suddenly, there were trees everywhere, and my car was pirouetting through them like a drunken ballet dancer. Branches slapped against the windshield, what might have been a bird was pulverized by my driver's side mirror, and dirt flew up from where my tires gouged ruts in the ground. Before I could orient myself, let alone try to steer out of the spin, the car's front left quarter smacked into the trunk of a tree easily as wide as the vehicle itself.

The seat belt and airbag saved me. Careful positioning saved everything else in the car; I'd always been paranoid of a head-on collision turning loose objects in the car into projectiles and made sure to keep everything secured, and it seemed that my caution had proven worthwhile. Still, it took me a moment to collect myself and clear my head before I could get the door open to look at the damage.

It was clear from first sight that I wouldn't be driving out of here. The front left side of the car had been crushed; the headlight was broken, the tire had exploded, and the wheel itself was bent upwards at an angle that screamed “expensive repair job”. The engine was still running, though, the remaining headlight was still shining, and aside from a thin crack running roughly along the middle, the windshield was even intact.

A gentle rain pattered down on my head as I contemplated my next step. I climbed back into the car, shut off the engine and grabbed my phone and my flashlight, then brought up the number for the auto club and dialed while I clicked the light on and tried to trace my way back to the Interstate. I was deep enough in the trees so that towing would be a nightmare, but I could at least get a ride to somewhere more civilized for the night, and figure out what to do in the morning-

beep beep beep

My phone made a sound I'd never heard before. I looked down at the display to see the message “No Signal”; sure enough, there weren't any connection bars in the corner of the screen. Figures, I thought, I'd crash somewhere out of range of the cell towers. I pocketed the phone and focused on getting back to the Interstate; now that the storm seemed to be dying down, maybe I could flag down a car and get a ride to a gas station or something.

That was the plan, anyway. But after an hour of careful searching, being sure not to lose track of the car itself, I came to an extremely disturbing realization:

I couldn't find the highway.

I hadn't been going all that fast when the lightning bolts had hit, and if that oncoming car had hit me hard enough to knock me that far off the road, it probably would've folded my car in half like cardboard. I found myself fighting off a rising sense of panic at being stranded. Okay, I told myself, stay calm. Obviously I've gotten myself turned around and lost track of where the highway is, and I can't find it in this darkness. The worst thing I can do is get lost in these woods. Hole up, wait until daybreak and then you'll have a much easier time finding your way back.

A '97 Ford Escort wasn't the most comfortable place to spend the night, but with my jacket rolled up for a pillow and my feet propped up on the window ledge, it was better than nothing.

(-)

“Strange....”

She set her book down on the floor of her balcony and stared out towards the southeast, where the darkest, most menacing-looking clouds she'd ever seen gathered over the Everfree. She was used to odd weather occurring there- Rainbow Dash certainly complained enough about its effects on the Ponyville area- but this was extreme even for that place; dull-red lightning crackled between clouds, but the thunder seemed strangely muted even for the distance.

Then she physically winced as some kind of thaumatic shockwave hit her like a train. She just caught sight of a bright discharge of lightning somewhere deep in the woods; as quick as thought, she summoned a compass, a piece of parchment and her ink and quill, then- judging solely by the delay between light and sound- reckoned heading and distance.

It was much too late in the day to go tromping through the Everfree to investigate, but that didn't mean she had to sit idle. “Spike!” she shouted. “Gather every book we have on strange phenomenon in the Everfree forest!”

While she waited for her number-one assistant to complete her request, she summoned yet another piece of parchment, as well as a map of the area. The quill dipped itself into the inkpot and began to scratch across the blank page as she scrutinized the map.

Dear Princess Celestia,

This letter is to report a strange thaumatic and meteorological disturbance that occurred within the Everfree Forest at roughly 7:39PM tonight. I witnessed a severe storm discharge red lightning between clouds and into the ground, and shortly after felt a strange magical disturbance that coincided with an exceptionally powerful electric discharge. My best reckoning is that this phenomenon occurred in map grid 7A2, 4B1 of the Standard Ponyville Region Topographical Map, Cartographic Society catalog number 281, 9th edition.

My intentions are to spend the night researching any similar occurrences, then to consult with Rainbow Dash about the weather effects in the morning. Once we have enough actionable data, my friends and I will ask Zecora to lead us to the area within the Everfree where this took place, and we'll investigate whatever may have occurred I'll report to you whatever we learn.

Still your faithful student,
Princess Twilight Sparkle