• Published 6th May 2014
  • 13,871 Views, 253 Comments

After the End - Door Matt



Jason Wright, bitter after surviving his lowest point, will make a deal with the devil to get the answers he craves. Whether Ponyville is ready for him, or not.

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Wood Shower

Oh...yes.

Gone are the hobo beard and haggard scraps of clothing. So too is the ache from my ankle, allowing me to stand up freely. No longer do I feel the need to hunch down in fear, afraid of the next evil look or hurled object by an angry equine. I reckon this is the straightest I’ve stood since I first arrived in Ponyville. A quick glance at my persona confirms some parts of my memory survived; I’m wearing exactly what I wore when I left Earth.

Physically at least, I am restored.

Applejack’s hat sits limply on the ground underneath the floating pony. I walk over and pick it up, lightly patting a few scrapes of dusty earth off. If it weren’t clearly too small for my head, I’d try it on myself for shits and giggles.

AJ herself remains quietly incredulous. Really I’d expect her to be putting up more of a fight, or a fuss at least.

Has she been told to keep quiet? Tell me nothing? If so, by whom?

Best to get right to the point. I can take more time thinking about my actions once I know more.

“What the hell is your PROBLEM!?” I don’t want to yell, but the anger breaks through anyway. I never gave her a chance to get ahold of me before, so she never physically hurt me, but it’s hard to know exactly what she would’ve done had I not been so quick to escape her charges.

“Ah...ah don’t know what this is, but you let me down first, ya hear? This ain’t funny now.”

It’s not exactly what I was hoping to hear.

“Funny!? You’re expecting funny? Oh well...hold on a sec.”

I lower three of the apples down into my hands and start juggling with them. It was a skill I picked up quickly as a kid and never lost, I’m somewhat surprised it’s as easy as I make it out to be despite having not practised for years. Like riding a bike I guess.

“There, how’s that?” I ask, pulling a daft grin for added effect.

“Stop fooling around and untie me! Ah try ta help ya, and this is the thanks ah get!?” she yelps, wiggling her limbs against the rope’s tension. I imagined the knots to be pretty tight, but certainly not enough to hurt her. Possibly an option for later though.

I stop the act and let the apples fall to earth with light thuds, including the ones still floating. They were getting distracting. Surely she’s aware of how capable I am now anyway.

“Help me?” I say, pouncing on her exact word usage. “Everything you and everyone in this town has been to spite me, hurt me, or drive me away! Even your little stunt just now stopped me from getting outta here. Leaving for good. Isn’t that what you wanted!?”

Before her answer, she stops fidgeting and shoots me the strangest look for just a few seconds, though it’s hard to tell from her upside-down position.

“Nopony in their right minds would let ya go through with what you were planning there. Ah was doing the right thing, darnit!” she replies. Whether or not it rings true, stress is creeping into her voice. She starts struggling against her bonds again too.

This isn’t getting me anywhere.

“Listen Applejack”, I say, hoping the namedrop will add on some more authority. “You have to know what it is I want. I came here from my home, by choice, to find everyone here trying their damn hardest to either ignore me or get me to leave. So how exactly do you ex-”

“Just what do you think you’re doing with my friend?”

Softly sweet like syrup, but firm as a brick wall. The spider’s silk of voices interrupts me, and of course I don’t even have to turn around to know who it is. Her cottage is even in the near distance; would’ve been more surprising had I not seen her before long.

“Getting some answers, Fluttershy,” I say, not bothering to face her. The last time (and everytime in the past) we made eye contact, she fainted on the spot. I never felt anger towards her though, not like towards the others. At least it was behavior that made sense to her character. I’m no small animal she can pet, I’m tall and not cute to look at, so naturally she’d find me intimidating. Didn’t appear to be stopping her now though.

“That’s no reason to be holding my friend like that, you big...thing!” she squeals from behind me.

Bit harsh.

“Afraid so, it’s not like asking anyone before got me anywhere.”

In absolutely no time at all, my vision of Applejack is broken, replaced by pockets of teal and black encased by yellow fur. I’m not sure I’ve seen even Dash move that fast.

“Now you listen to me, what...whatever you are, this is hardly-”
The yellow shrinks as her eyes move closer to my own. I can feel the brushes of air from her beating wings on my hands. It’s already too late when I realise what she’s doing.

Aw crap! This is…

“-the right way to talk to somepony. Especially after you’ve stolen f-food and…and whatnot from ponies around town! So I su...suggest you let-”

The...Stare...!

“-her go!”

I have time to blink just once, before all my thoughts turn to mush.

Wh...where am I?

I’m swimming in a cerulean sea surrounded by yellow sands. It feels like my neck is locked in place. I can’t turn away. I can’t hide. I can’t escape.

What can I do?

Let her go.

The sea speaks to me inside my own head. If I ignore it, it feels like I’ll drown. Dark clouds threaten the sky from horizon to horizon, and the water around me feels choppier.

Let her...go...but…no! I need this...who are you to-

Free her. Do it now.

Yes…yes...I’m letting go...this is the right thing...I must…

Without warning, the ocean and sky starts melting away. The haze clouding my thoughts clear up, and feeling returns to my entire body. I know where I am again, which happens to be kneeling on all fours, like a dog.

Why is it so cold?

“Oh, are you alright Applejack?”

“Ah’m fine. Don’t be goin’ nearing him again though. He’s using some kinda magic that he didn’t have before.”

My mouth is dry, and my head feels extremely odd, like all of the individual thoughts have been shuffled around like a deck of cards.

“I wasn’t too hard on him I hope. Oooh...he’s even shivering!”

“Don’t even think about it. Last time ah got close to try ta help ‘im...well...you saw what happened! Ah swear that there stare of yers will never stop being useful though.”

“Hmm...but it’s strange. He seems so familiar…and I’ve never had to force it so much to get it to work. Oh, there was that one time-”

“I’m right here you know.” I interrupt, lifting one of my hands into the air.

It took around a minute, but my mind feels as though it can think clearly again. Not as gingerly as before, I rise again from the ground, facing the duo. Applejack is free and back on level ground, hat returned to skull n’all. I notice she’s wisely collected her rope back too. Slightly behind her stands Fluttershy, very hesitantly flicking a few glances my way. This is the first time she’s remained conscious in my direct presence. Not that it means much now though.

“Ah could care less where you are. Y’all need to-”

“What I need is the same as before!” I cut her off, hoping to quell my growing irritation at her attitude. “You will tell me what I want to know before-”

“We ain’t the ponies to be askin’!” she yells, severing my rant in turn. “Ah gave you a chance jus’ now cause I din’t want you to be hurtin’! But using your whatever magic to trick me like that? That’s slimier than a snake in an oil barrel!”

My patience finally runs out. Sure, Applejack did try to help me, and Fluttershy never technically did me any wrong, but I’ve gotten literally no closer to understanding my entire predicament here. Frankly, it’s time to demonstrate who’s the strongest around here. Pure and simple.

I run a multitude of images through my head. The nearest trees move first. Groans and twitching, before one-by-one they slowly begin pulling from the ground. When their roots rip and tear away from the soil - creating sickening noises as they do - I look to the sky. The day had been somewhat overcast to begin with, but now the last vestiges of direct sunlight blotted out, adding a strange shadow filter to the world below. Then the colour shifted - the whites and greys of the underside of the veil lurched into a more sickening green, what you’d find on any standard camouflage gear. And still the trees rise, almost ten of them, until they stop a good six metres above our heads, slowly spinning in the ether. And again, I am amazed at how little effort that took. Was there a limit to this ability? At all?

Fluttershy looks absolutely petrified - almost ready to turn tail and flee I’d say - and I’m certain Applejack has taken a few steps back, eyes glued to the trees. If fear won’t make them answer, nothing will.

“This magic isn’t about tricks. And if you think that’s the most I can do, think again,” I say, making a ton of effort to keep my voice as calm as possible. “The more you hold out on telling me, the worse this gets. Why does everyone here hate me?”

I’m not sure if it’s courage or foolishness, but Applejack finds the nerve to close our gap by a bit and face me dead on. Behind her still, it looks like Fluttershy is mouthing some words to her.

“Ah don’t wish to fight yer, but if ya threaten me and my kind like this, then yer leaving me no choice then aren’t ya? Whatever magic you have be damned-”

“...”

Applejack stops and turns her head to Fluttershy.

“I said I don’t hate you!” the pegasus cries, apparently loud enough for me to hear this time. She too then finds the inner strength to look me in the eyes, reminding me to keep a clear distance from her from now on, lest she try her stare again. “I mean, I know what the others said, but I’ve never seen you act that badly before-”

“Woah woah woah,” I say weightily. “Others?”

Applejack tells Fluttershy something that’s too quiet for me to hear, but I’m sure it started with a murmur of “shhh”. Then she turns back to me.

“We get it. You can move things around with your fancy mind. But ah’ve seen more unicorns do that than you’ve had hot dinners. And in case ya didn’t know, we’re pretty special too, havin’ saved Equestria more times than-”

“Shut up. Who are these others?” I break in, sensing I’m almost at the point of learning everything.

I’m so close!

She hesitates; far too long for me to be comfortable with. Getting the hunch that I need to step things up once again, I glance up at the closest hovering tree. It stops moving around so much as my control over it takes full hold. I imagine usual telekinesis to be like you can feel the object’s weight and form in your mind, but this is the total opposite - complete relative detachment. The closest similarity I can think of to explain it is controlling a video game character. Even though there’s no physical or mental link between you, you know they will obey your next input regardless. Just like I know this tree will be heading straight towards them in the next five seconds if one of them doesn’t speak up.

But then the world turns bright, like the world has been opened upon a brilliant electric sun.

Before I can react, the blinding light has passed, then followed by a deep, booming roar. Possibly the worst sound I could have heard right now, as as soon as it ends, I can’t stop my hands from clutching my head and shaking.

Thunder.

Crackles and mighty smashes follow. I manage to tilt my head up just in time to see three of my trees collapsing back to earth - punctured by huge gaping holes in their trunks. One of them had been the one I was controlling directly. Bits of wood shrapnel the size of dinner plates speck the ground around me, before the trees crunch back to earth, collapsing under the weight of impact. I thank my luck they landed behind me, because I’m not sure I have the capacity to dodge anything at the moment.

When the impacts and supporting racket finally die down, my nerves have nothing more to distract them from the sheer dread that steals my senses away.

Terrified, my legs buckle, bringing my body to the floor. I am scared again. I know who it is. She tormented me the most, out of all of them. I can count the number of small scars on my body where her lightning strikes singed my skin. And what made it infinitely worse was that she was once my favourite.

“Yo! You guys alright?”

Rainbow Dash.

I try to blot out her throaty greeting, to no avail. Towards the end of the three years here, I had started wishing her thunderbolts acted more like Earth lightning, lethality-wise.

“Ah swear, did ya have to use lightning? You and yer grand entrances…”

“Hey! Is that any way to greet your amazing rescuer? I didn’t have to fly into this weird random cloud formation and check out what was what.”

“Um…”

“T’aint random RD. There’s the varmint, over there. He did it, somehow.”

Desperately I look away, anywhere but in her direction in case she tries to strike me once again, but instead I’m greeted with the view of the chaos magic fading. The cloud cover melts away, leaving the patchy precedent sky back on show. I know why. I’m physically shaking so much that I can’t hang on to any coherent thoughts in my head. Going through the Stare before, everything else before that, and now this...it’s too much for my unsteady mind to handle.

Fear broke me before, and I’m failing to stop it happening again.

“Ugh, him? You guys told me he was harmless.”

“I don’t-”

“Well he ain’t so harmless now! We’re gonna have a situation on our hooves unless somepony talks some damn sense into him. Ah already tried but he’s not one for listening to me right now.”

A derisory snort escapes Dash’s mouth.

“You serious? This guy’s a total freakin’ wuss. I don’t know what Twilight was so afraid of. I mean, he fell for the ol’ lightning trick every single time. Watch, I bet it works again!”

“No, DON’T!”

In an instant, my mind is clear. My entire thought process is dumped, driven down and replaced by the one emotion I impulsively know is going to get me through this.

Anger.

“GET AWAY FROM ME!”

Everyone seems to shout at once, but the loudest voice is mine. I don’t think at all. It all happens so fast, it’s like pure rage controls me much like I control Discord’s magic. I lean up and channel everything I have in making sure Rainbow Dash does not let off another strike. The result is her lightweight frame being cannoned upwards - as if propelled by a huge gust of air - through the tree layer and into the sky, so rapidly that she doesn’t even have time to let off even a squeal of shock.

I’m breathing heavily, as if held down by weights. Ignoring the other two completely, not to mention their reactions to their friend shooting off into the air, I turn completely away. I hate them. I hate this damn forest. And I despise that I am still no closer to the truth.

Get away.

I’m not too far from where bark ends and open fields begin. I can even see some outlying buildings in the distance. Realising now that searching for answers out here was pointless to begin with, a new plan makes its way through the rage, to the forefront of my mind.

Ponyville. Where it all went wrong. Somehow I just know, everything will make sense there. In between flashes of rage, my thoughts process the fact that Fluttershy’s “others” are almost guaranteed residents here.

But they won’t listen. Not until I prove to them too that I’m different than I was before. No longer the pathetic human. But a master of this chaos magic. Hope Discord’s impressed if he’s watching.

The light is harsh out here, a far cry from the shades of the forest. I hold up my hand out to block it from my eyes, and wonder for a brief moment. I seriously doubt there’s much I can do about the celestial object directly, fun as that would be.The stakes are far too high for me to attempt to do something on a cosmic scale, only to fail cataclysmically. Instead, I create something else. A twin orb of fire. Much much smaller albeit than the original, and consisting of regular burning material than magic, but it looks practically the same, and that’s good enough for me.

Sparking into existence, alongside the original from my perspective, it looks stunning. Truly, almost as if there were a second sun. With all that I’ve put into this, it has to be around the size of a small house. Perfect for grabbing the attention of say...the population of a small town.

So I launch the fireball directly at the heart of Ponyville.

Author's Note:

Man do I love writing battle scenes!