• Member Since 11th Apr, 2012
  • offline last seen 14 hours ago

Bad Horse

Beneath the microscope, you contain galaxies.


...or, the season 3 finale, if it had been written by Joss Whedon, only partly in the style of Cormac McCarthy but with more grammar and punctuation.

This is a sad story with no character development and nothing much to say. You should probably read one of my other stories instead. If you read it, read it with dark text on a white background; explanatory spoilers are in white text.

But you shouldn't read it.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 96 )

The premise sounds silly, yet I can't help but notice that 'dark' tag...

Then again, it IS supposed to be emulating Joss "Kill everyone you love" Whedon...:derpytongue2:

The description has me intrigued. :trixieshiftright:

3663044 and Cormac McCarthy. Dark would not even begin to describe HIS work.

Actually I have no idea who that is. :derpyderp1:


The guy responsible for

The Road.

No Country for Old Men
Blood Meridian.

Look up those titles on Wikipedia. Read the plot descriptions. You will understand.

I only have really the faintest idea of exactly what was going on (some sort of loop or Skinner box?), but I do know that it was excellently written and I enjoyed it. Not quite close enough to be mistaken for Cormac McCarthy, but the closest I've yet seen. :moustache:


No Country for Old Men


It's written well--which is just another way of saying it is written by Bad Horse--but I don't like it, I don't think. It's just that--I don't believe you. This is not how it goes.

I can admire it as an exercise but instead of catharsis that something [sad] and [dark] might produce, or the persistent nightmares something [sad] and [dark] written by Bad Horse might produce, all I get is a sense of annoyance and distaste, as if hearing a malicious rumor I know to be false.

So. Um. Sorry.

It's... a little confusing at first. Then you read it again and everything gets clearer. But it's still somewhat fuzzy. I get what you're doing here, and it's beautifully written, but... I don't know, it's just so hard to tell what exactly is happening at any given time.

3663097 3663312 I added commentary in the text, in white font that will show up if you mouse over it.

3663247 Sorry, I should have marked it NSFG.

Azusa #12 · Dec 22nd, 2013 · · 10 ·

I could say that I hate this story. I could say that Twilight Sparkle is a bigger Mary Sue than Bela Swan. I could say that cancelling Firefly was the smartest decision Fox ever made.

But none of those things would be true. I don't hate this story; I just found it boring and disappointing. Twilight certainly isn't as bad as Bela; it's just that most of the people on this site want to have sex with her, so they unintentionally write her as a Possession Sue. Her new pair of wings only make this more obvious. Oh, and Firefly isn't awful or really great either; people only say it's amazing because they have a romanticized idea of the seasons that we never got.

I hate that I'm only now realizing that Twilight becoming super best buddies with her friends isn't relatable to me in the slightest. I hate that there aren't really any fandoms like ours, that every other show like it is just a drop in the bucket compared to FiM. And I hate that Knighty can basically do whatever he darn well pleases, and anything I could suggest to try and change his mind would probably end with me getting banned.

None of those are really your fault, but this story sure didn't help me forget them. If anything it just reminded me, so that's why I decided to downvote it. It put me back in the bad mood I had earlier today.

First you might want to fix:

[color=white]Rarity feels sorry for herself for having to listen to Twilight being raped.

Also, now that I saw the white text...well, I'd say you channeled Cormac McCarthy pretty well, but...goddamn if I don't want to forget this story happened. :unsuresweetie:

3663339 I think you commented on the wrong story. You're looking for something with ponies. There are no ponies here.

I was wondering what that Human tag was for...it was really fishy... :trixieshiftright:

This is actually a pretty great story. Then again, I'm a sucker for these "figure-out-what-it-means" stories, so my opinion might rate with a grain of sand. :rainbowkiss:

I think this has way too much meta that don't really help the story. The whole Whedon angle could have been dropped or ignored, and it tries to emulate Cormac, but there is no apparent point to the darkness, so it falls flat.

Also, I read it first without seeing the hidden text, and thought it involved Twilight being deluded after being witness to a murder (due to the flies around the crime scene). The thing is, the "real" version isn't much more plausible than that, and the intentional obfuscation of details didn't add much to the story, plus I have a thing against stories that require external input to be understood.

Also, the line about Mexican food annoys and intrigues me in equal measures, but was probably the most interesting thing of the fic.

I don't think you actually read this story.

>>Bad Horse
That's pretty helpful. I didn't catch the subtext about how it was a tree and not a building.

Oh, I never downvote a story unless I finish it. Though I suppose there's no way of proving to you that I read it.


Try reading it AGAIN.
This time catch the subtext and watch your mind implode.

Like a detailed photography exhibit of a famine, this is not what I wanted.

I can't criticsize the writing itself; you craft is flawless. I won't critique the theme; it's a valid theme.

But I will note that I'm left with no sense of your purpose? I wonder, 'why did you bother telling me this story?'

I could say that you wanted me to feel something, but I'm left unsure of what I'm supposed to feel. It's tragic. Fine. But it's not unexpectedly tragic. It's just a snippet of someone's life that has no meaning. I... oddly, as I'm fairly forgiving... left with no care or concern for these people. Even though I can feel sympathy for them, I cannot create space in my heart for them, as they are yet strangers to me.

Maybe that's it? These are not the ponies (or even people) I know, so who are they? What do these events mean, to me? You, as the writer, did not answer that. I, the reader, did not either.

So is this a story that failed to engage me, or a story meant to engage someone else?

I don't think it was a bad story, but I sort of have to agree with 3663772 in that I don't really get why it exists. It is a thing, but I've read other stories about it all being imaginary.

It isn't downvote worthy, but I didn't really feel like I cared enough for it to upvote it either. It just kind of is. *shrugs*

I did like the cover image, though.

My tendency to randomly highlight text as I read served me well here though.

And then it turns out the whole thing is being imagined by an autistic boy looking into a snowglobe.

And then Bob Newhart wakes up.

i use dark theme

... this may have ruined it for me

3664096 Rats. I was afraid of that.


Am I a pony dreaming I am a snowglobe, or am I a snowglobe dreaming I'm a plate of sashimi?

3664391 Just stay asleep until I can finish this sashimi. Mmm.

And so, my habit of highlighting the words I'm reading comes back to bite me.

I didn't understand it without reading the clues, then going back to read the tags and look at the picture again (because I am incapable of doing things in order and a lot of times I don't read the description/look at the picture anyways) and then fully reading the plot for Normal Again. Even then, I was still confused by some parts (of course, I'm hardly the most discerning reader). It took a good 10/15 minutes longer for all the clues to sink in.

The revelation was worth the effort though. I'm not going to complain about the perceived pointlessness of the story because sometimes that's just how life works out.

EDIT: if there's one thing this story really succeeds in, it's that I was much more deliberate in my decision to upvote and favorite this story in comparison to almost all of your other stories.

I wrote a story like this once (Gharry Pony), so I feel ya. Sometimes an idea demands the exorcism of life and won't be suppressed by normal means. Mine was less of a subversion, though: for all that it was more gruesome, it had more hope and more justice in a sense.

Here's your trouble—too many veiled specifics. The whole REAL story here is made up of tangible details that are specifically hidden from the reader. There's too many of them and they're all hidden, so the story becomes a puzzle with each discovery both unpleasant and only loosely related to the next. I appreciate the artistry of the new alicorn actually being a human Tragedy Sue with a series of hints highlighting how every detail is a new horror or despair, but there's no justice for anyone or anypony here, including the reader.

And that's not a picture of the world, even a world like Twilight's. It's a picture from INSIDE Twilight's human world, and as an author you can do more, and you didn't. Particularly with the white asides you've made it plain that you buy Twilight's side of all this completely, and that's what's so heartbreaking about Fluttershy's love here. It really does mean something but Twilight has it mean nothing. Maybe that's why Shy has wings that she doesn't use, though of COURSE then Twilight has to have wings too which she amusingly isn't good at using except when she is…

Maybe Shy is the only real one. Maybe it's Shy and Rarity with Rarity about to abandon RL!Twilight in frustration, and Rarity busts the fantasy wide open with an out of context meltdown, suddenly referencing human things but stubbornly still viewed (by the narration) as a unicorn getting in misadventures that it's Twilight's job to fix as the Pony Sue? That was a big opportunity to telegraph the underlying concept while denying it.

Hell, you could've capped it off with Twi napping under Fluttershy's wing (Shy behaving fearfully) and then brushing Twi's mane out of her eyes with a gentle 'hand' for a gutshot on the last word, and had it work out more complicated than that because the gesture of love tells a conflicting story. I don't think you really reached for it here. To some extent this story is low hanging fruit because you did not explore the validity or meaning of Shy's feelings, even in the absence of her ability to help. :ajbemused:

I realize I'm calling this low hanging fruit on FIMfiction, and I'm ashamed of myself for not contextualizing it better—I guess I just expect much more from your thoughtful self :ajsleepy:

I got it right around the first misplaced hand/hoof the tags helped. The only questions I had was whether Twilight was Pony Twilight or Human Twilight-- not that it matters-- and why are Pinkie and Rainbow dead-- not that it matters.. Of course those questions may be answered in the white text... I'll have to go back and see.

All I really got out of it was a general sense of ennui (which only makes me sound pretentious). My only real thought is that you could have strengthened the contrast between the beginning and end, making the former feel more pony and the latter more obviously human.

Edit: And that solved those questions.
Final thoughts: Things were pretty ambiguous-- not that I'm one who can complain about such things-- but it all worked out in the end. I don't see why everyone else is so negative about it.

sadly everything has a reason

Well, this is...


It's uh...


Anyways, my only problem is the assertion that Twilight 'made up' these characters and places. That's not how these kinds of mental illnesses work. It's not a question of making something up, that implies an action on their part. I mean, it obviously does come from their mind, but not in the sense of 'I'm here to fill a role that you can't.' I mean, people are known to escape into fantasy to escape from a trauma, but you've heavily implied that this isn't new, so one can assume that Twilight has a mental illness, which, again, this is not how they work.

I can respect the art, but given the current cultural perspective on mental illness, I feel like art must be used to inform the subject.


Uh? The Road is not that dark...

I mean, it's post-apocalyptic, and many, many people die, but the note it ends on is more hopeful than I've seen in just about any other post-apocalypse movie for a while. If The Road is dark, I'd hate to see what you think of Fallout. The raiders must have you in conniptions! Nevermind the Pitt...

Excellently written sadfic you have here. Kinda proves that featured one-shots come about through the authors current followers liking a certain genre. Regardless,a unique well written idea that elicits actual sympathy, fantastic. More of these please?

There is a special place in hell for those who suck all the wonder out of Peter Pan, Harry Potter and MLP and explain it away with "it's just a confused (read "mad") person trying to escape into a magical place". Now please excuse me, I'll re-watch "Sucker Punch". At least that movie had a dragon.

"When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself." -- Oscar Wilde :moustache:

Hang in there, Horse!

3664927 That's not a bad idea, focusing the end on Fluttershy. I think I still don't know what this story is about. I thought it was about dealing with mental illness, but it isn't really, because I'm more interested in Twilight's feelings than in Fluttershy's. And it isn't a realistic portrayal of mental illness.

Now I think I may have been more drawn in by the notion of Twilight having so many reasons to pity herself, but being more concerned about everyone else. She might be a metaphor for my mother. My mom is very religious, and this governs her life and warps the way she sees everything, and keeps interfering in her relationship with me. Nonetheless, her religious fanaticism seems to make her happier, and a nicer person, than I am.


Likewise, but I still liked it. Didn't get why people were confused at first though.

Something can be unsettling without having to ahhe any great resolution, reminds me of some of Neil Gaimans very short fiction.


Hm. Given what you've said, perhaps an alternate title might be "Those Who do not Hear the Music" as in "Those who do not hear the music think the dancers mad." It's Nietzsche--a bit of a misquote, but still, Nietzsche, man! :coolphoto:

Comment posted by equestrian.sen deleted Dec 23rd, 2013

Hm. I like it as a story, in that the subtlety of the human reality is masterfully kept to an undertone, keeping a lightness in narrative despite the very obviously dark underpinings of the tone. I also like that it wasn't about forcing Twilight to accept reality as a human, in that I feel that it would have detracted from the sadness of it all. :fluttershysad:

It made me squirm to read it, but that's not a fault, considering the rating and genre. Well done, sir.

I had a lot to say about this before, but I don't know anymore...

I will say that I was sincerely frightened when I realized what was going on in this story.

I was confused the first time I read it, but the second time I read it you had added those highlighted tags that make the story still subtle, but now comprehensible. I really liked it, the story has a feeling of quiet desperation that really draws you in, and makes you wonder what else that Twilight's world is like.

I figured out what was going on, with the picture, Fluttershy not flying, and

who would break a horse

. But I'm glad I read the white text, the white text is written like i did not get any of it at all. Seriously Hasbro:rainbowlaugh:
Also I'm very concerned about your confession about some-one wanting to rape her and putting a spin on it, that's not a 'meta Christian' thing. I hope you simply don't know the whole story since that is not healthy in any way. I can't say too much else constructive, not my cup of tea but this wasn't hald bad. Keep it up.


I think I still don't know what this story is about.

Then may I suggest:

Taking the metaphor even further? Maybe in Twilight's eyes, it was Discord who attacked her the night before. She'd been hoping that he would settle down when he started hanging out with Fluttershy, but since that isn't the case, she's now got no choice but to round up the other Elements of Harmony, track him down, and reseal him in stone.

'Cause structurally, I'd call what you've got here just short of half a story. And it's nowhere near as devastating as it could be if you wanted to follow the concept all the way out as far as it might go.

And thanks for the grammar and punctuation: I've never managed more than a few pages of any Cormac McCarthy book 'cause I feel like I'm back in college trying to translate something out of Greek... :eeyup:


This still makes no sense to me, even with the white text. What is it even about? I just don't get it.

I'll give this story a look and review. The comments suggest that this will be interesting.

God, this is fantastic. Need to be working on stats, but I wanted to take a quick break for a story and this was on my mind for some reason.

I've never read Cormac McCarthy, and I don't know that I'd particularly tag Joss Whedon on this. And I'll admit, I didn't catch everything you were doing. Took me about halfway to pick up on the human side of it (at the point where, IMO, it becomes painfully obvious – with "Fluttershy" making the error and everyone suddenly using their forehooves for things). At that point, it all became pretty clear, including the situation with Rainbow and Pinkie, which I can see readers missing, because it's particularly subtle and I think you really have to be paying attention to their use in characterization for Twilight. A bit like painting with whitespace, in that their absence from other perspectives isn't glaring. I think I figured that one out about when you first mentioned "Fluttershy" never flying.

What I never caught was the role "Fluttershy" played in all this, and the implication of what happened the night before the story. Though I never properly connected the dots on Twilight living in an actual, honest-to-goodness tree since it was narratively distant by the time I figured out what you were doing.

So, there's a response to your question about how the reading went. Now for my own commentary.

The first thing that really jumped out to me with this story was the detail at the start: the cicadas, the hard-baked earth, etc. I'm usually not a fan of heavy detail (I'm kind of in awe of Skywriter's ability to do it well, without detracting from the story), but here it did a lot for setting the mood in my mind. Having lived a long time in Albuquerque, my brain processes this sort of summerish imagery very naturally. And I hate summer.

I also really liked how you closed it out. I was desperately hoping that you wouldn't end it on some cheap punch line (like I so often feel compelled to do), and you didn't. Of course you didn't—you're a better writer than that. The Princess Fluttershy beat serves an analogous role, but it's unexpected enough that it felt more organic and less authorially intrusive. And it doesn't have a proper ending; and it shouldn't. It's not a story that ends—or begins, really.

Finally, I want to say that I'm very glad for the white-text annotations. I'd actually considered mentioning to you that the paragraph spacing on your story was screwed up, until finding out that there was a reason for it. But getting the extra layer relative to what I missed about "Fluttershy" and the attackers was good. That's really kind of the heart of the whole thing, but I think it's also probably the hardest bit to catch in a first reading (or then again, maybe I'm prejudiced because it's just what I happened to miss).

I feel like I should really comment at greater length. There are so many things about this story I loved. The bit about who breaks horses. The fact that so much of the pathos is played so subtly (really nice in the mawkish realm of fanfiction). I suspect this is second only to Skywriter's "Heretical Fictions" in making me feel so uncomfortably inadequate about my own writing—but I don't particularly mind today. This was too pretty for me to get worked up about something like that.

As for this being unworthy of you, I've got to disagree with Ghost on this one, though we've got different tolerances for stuff like this. I really need to spend time working through your back catalog, but this is definitely one of my favorites among what I've read. I don't particularly care that there's not much point to it all (in much the same way that I didn't care too much about the lack of narrative direction in bits of Obiter Dicta). This piece is beautiful, and deserves to be read on the strength of that alone.

So twilight I'm assuming had gone through some trauma and now she's made up this ponies to cope with life?


Poor Twilight

When I first saw the pic I thought it was Twilight being an alicorn and outliving all her friends. I've read one like that before. It was really sad. Then I started reading and the erm hooves thing I'm just like ohhhhh
Then ib rag the white stuff and everything cane into focus.
Great story!

I regret to say this Mr. Horse, but you are a monster.

A literary monster

A bona fide literary monster.

Toodles ^.~

3744780 Did you read it twice? I guess you're a glutton for punishment. :derpyderp2:


I guess you're a glutton for punishment.

Mmm... yummy nummy.

Did you read it twice?

On the day it was posted.

Third time was far less traumatic, yet still agonizingly far from mundane.

Login or register to comment