• Published 25th Aug 2013
  • 11,943 Views, 243 Comments

An Apple A Day - Esle Ynopemos



A collection of thirthy-minute short stories about the rootinest, tootinest farm-filly this side of the Everfree. There'll be a chapter a day for thirty days. I ain't no fancy arithmeticker, but that adds up to a whole month of good, health

  • ...
2
 243
 11,943

Bonus #1: The Parable of Single Hoof [Dark]

((Prompt: What fires stir in this lonely hearth?))

Winters were always tough out at the farm. The farmhouse was cold and drafty, and the roof always creaked and groaned under the snow. All the trees were silent and stripped of their leaves, lying dormant until Winter Wrap-Up brought the sun out again. A trip into town meant trudging through the cold wet drifts the whole way down the old country road that led out of Ponyville. They had to be careful about using too much firewood, or else make a dangerous trek into the Everfree to collect more, and they had to be more careful still with the food they'd saved, lest they run out before spring came.

But despite its perils, the Apple family loved winter, because those long nights were when Granny Smith always shared her stories. The lot of them would pile in close together, sharing blankets or scooting close to the fire. Warm apple cider would be passed around the room as Granny rested in her rocking chair, eyes half closed as she recounted everything from myths to folk tales to fairy tales to anecdotes from her own long and interesting life.

“Gather 'round, younguns,” she said, and her grandchildren knew it was time to listen.

Three pairs of eyes turned to their elder, expectation flickering alongside the wood stove's glow.

“I reckon y'all know the story of Hearth's Warmin',” she said, leaning forward in her chair.

“'Course we do, Granny,” said Applejack. “I played Smart Cookie in last year's play, remember?”

Granny Smith nodded. “That you did, hon. That you did.” She leaned back into her chair and built a slow rhythm. “But did you know that there was a pony who got left behind when the unicorns, pegasi, and earth ponies set out for Equestria?”

Apple Bloom blinked. “You mean they forgot somepony, Granny?”

Granny Smith shook her head. “If anypony got forgotten about, I don't reckon there'd be a story about them. No, this pony meant to stay behind.”

*

Single Hoof was what ponies called him. Some ponies think he was a unicorn. Others say he was a pegasus. Still others think he was an earth pony, and there's a few out there who'll tell you he was all three. The truth is, it doesn't matter what he was. He was a pony, one who gets cold and hungry just like any of us.

Anyway, while all the others couldn't make heads or tails of all the snow that was making life miserable for everypony, Single Hoof knew right away what was going on. He knew about the Windigos, and he knew that if the pony tribes kept bickering, they'd all turn into pony popsicles.

When the pony tribes started moving out, he could see that they were all still bitter at each other, and he knew the Windigos would keep following them so long as they kept fighting.

So he stayed behind. He figured he had a better chance of making it on his own than by following the tribes and getting frozen on the road somewhere or in some far-off land. Once the Windigos left to chase after the others, he could work on rebuilding where he was.

So he stayed in his home, and he waited. He kept his fire stoked and he waited. “Soon,” he told himself, “soon the winter will be gone and I'll rebuild.” So he waited.

And he waited.

And he waited...

His pile of firewood shrank by the day, but the Windigos' big blizzard clouds showed no sign of clearing. His cellar grew emptier and emptier, but the drifts of snow outside just kept getting bigger.

Finally the day came when he no longer had any wood to feed his fire. Winter still howled outside his home, but the coals in his hearth just sputtered and threatened to go out. Single Hoof realized he needed to go outside and gather more wood for himself. He pulled on his warmest cloak and boots and pushed his door against the freezing swirls of snow.

He didn't get more than a couple steps from his house before it came for him. The Windigo. Its eyes blazed like the light of the moon on a frozen lake. Standing next to the thing, Single Hoof's jacket may as well have been a sheet of rainwater, because the wind whipped through it like it wasn't even there.

“Why are you here?” he cried. “There is nopony for me to argue with. Nopony for me to fight with. I have nopony to hate!”

The Windigo let out a whinny that would chill your bones just to hear. It reached out one long, icy hoof and tapped Single Hoof on the chest, right above his heart. In a snap, he froze to solid ice. They say he's still like that, out there somewhere, a frosted statue of a pony.

*

“The lesson,” Granny Smith finished, “is that it ain't lack of hate that drives the monsters away. It's lack of love that draws them in.”

Wide-eyed, the Apples held each other just a little closer. Big Mac passed a piece of wood to Applejack, who put it in the fire.

They all eventually fell asleep, piled together in front of the hearth. No Windigos came for them that night.