• Published 2nd Oct 2014
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Clever Scraps - cleverpun



Story snippets, outlines, short one-shots, and the like.

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Living Bad Dreams

Author's Note:

This was written quite a while ago. You can see from the blunter writing style that I was still experimenting with description ratios and the like. I actually did a preview of this at some point in a blog, but eventually it got away from me.

There is still some good ideas here (Luna having to work with somepony else to fix a mistake she made, questioning her self worth because of how that mistake reminds her of NMM, etc.). Given how much I have evolved as a writer, however, it would need a complete rewrite to be a viable story, and I doubt I am up to that anytime soon.

EDIT: Given the similarity to that one episode, and to the comics, I'm glad I didn't end up pursuing this.

CH 1

Tell me, sister…do you ever have nightmares?

Luna stepped out of the dream and took a deep breath. She hated dealing with the nightmares of adults. She hated nightmares in general, but children had such simple ones; a monster here, a fire there, the occasional implied death. The fears behind them were so banal, so…well, childish. Overcoming them was always so trivial, even relaxing.

Adult fear, on the other hoof, was so much more complex. It was multilayered and intricate and personal. That was what made it so disturbing.

Luna shook her head. No point in dwelling on it, she told herself. I helped them the best I could, and now I must focus on the next one.

She glanced around the night sky for something simple. The stars representing her subjects usually calmed her, the light reassuring her that everypony was safe. Her previous charge’s nightmare still lingered in her thoughts, however, and the effect was dampened. The brisk air did not help.

Perhaps a break is in order, she thought to herself. None of the stars are flickering too severely, so I’m certain none of my subjects need my immediate assistance. She took a deep breath and the night sky wavered. She slowly closed her eyes and took another slow, deep breath.

When she opened her eyes she was back in her room in Canterlot Castle, her body laying in the same fetal position that she had left it in. The furnishings were likewise as she left them. Her few pieces of furniture glowed softly in the moonlight. Her windows and the glass door to her balcony meant it was very bright despite the late hour. Her bedsheets were flat and folded underneath her.

She sat up and worked a crick out of her neck. The crack echoed faintly. She glanced around and sighed. I really must put more furniture in here.

Her ear flicked. She looked across her room more carefully, her eyes sweeping slowly across the area, pausing at every painting and pillow.

Her shoulders relaxed and she sighed.

Her ear flicked again. Her shoulders tensed. She leapt out of her bed, her hooves silent as she landed on the floor.

There was nothing in her room. She continued looking and her gaze fell upon the balcony. The waved glass doors blocked any real view of the castle grounds, but there didn’t seem to be anything there. She stepped cautiously towards it.

You’re just being paranoid. Open the door.

Her horn lit up and she flung the doors open.

There was a pony standing there.

At least, it was pony shaped. It was silhouetted against the moon, its features obscured.

Luna furrowed her brow. “I do not know who you are, but you had best have a good explanation for this intrusion!”

The pony was silent.

Luna took a step forward. “Did you not hear me?”

The pony was silent.

Luna frowned. She still could not make out the pony’s features. She took another step forward. “Hello?”

The pony was silent and immobile.

Luna cast a light spell, and her horn shone a beam of bright blue light across the room. She gasped. Her light spell wavered but did not extinguish. She took several steps backward.

The pony standing before her was no pony. It was a twisted caricature of one at best, a monster at worst.

Its pitch-black coloring had not merely been a trick of the light. Its entire body was a dark, shiny black. Its skin was more reminiscent of rubber or tar than anything else. It had no mouth, at least, not on its face. Its snout was completely smooth, save incredibly thin lips, just discernible enough to reveal a twisted smile. There was instead a horrible caricature of a mouth where its cutie mark should have been; just a jagged, drooling line of fangs. It never opened but the teeth still found a way to snap and drool.

Its mane was a dull gray, but it was closer to stringy flesh than hair. Like rat tails combed into a sickly sheet. Its tail was the same, a bushel of fleshy vines mashed together into the general shape of a tail.

There was smooth, blank skin stretched over where its eyes should have been. There were still slight depressions, implying sockets underneath.

Luna did not move. The light coming from her horn flickered again. She forced it back to full brightness, but her body was still frozen.

The creature did not react to Luna’s light. It merely sat there, silent and unmoving. Its face was pointed at Canterlot’s skyline. It did not waver. It did not even breathe.

Luna finally inhaled. She took a step towards the thing.

It turned its head to look at her, and she froze again. Its haunch mouth opened, and Luna caught a glimpse of a colorless void before it snapped shut.

The creature turned back to look at the buildings, and then took a step towards the balcony railing. As its hoof struck the stone there was a distinct snap of teeth. Luna looked at the floor and there were wet teeth marks where it had removed its hoof.

It took another step, and the same snap escaped as its hoof landed. Suddenly it leapt off the balcony.

It’s a seven-story fall. It won’t survive that.

Luna waited. The night was silent.

She ran forward, sidestepping the hoofprints and shoving her neck past the railing. The lawn below was empty, with no sign of the creature anywhere in sight.

CH 2

Every pony has nightmares, sister.

She had been searching for at least an hour. Despite the creature’s bizarre hoofprints in the castle, there was no signs of it anywhere in the grounds. It was like it had never been there.

Luna slumped on the wet grass. She glanced up at the sky. Dawn is approaching slowly, but it will arrive eventually. She put a hoof to her chin. I do not know how that creature interacts with daylight, but best to find it sooner than later.

She glanced around the patch of grass she was on. No sign of the creature anywhere, magical, physical or spiritual. She had scoured the grounds with all six of her senses and turned up nothing.

Her eyes widened. Of course, how could I be so foolish! She stood up and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath, slowly sucking in a huge lungful of air, and releasing it just as slowly. She repeated the action, slightly slower than before.

When she opened her eyes she was still standing on a grassy plain, though it was considerably larger than the one in the physical world. Canterlot Castle was no longer to her far right; a forest instead stood far in the distance.

She looked up at the sky. Normally the abundance of stars would calm her. The sky was practically packed with them, almost as if there was not enough room for them all. But tonight is not a normal night, she noted as she scanned the expanse of glittering lights. Tonight I see victims instead of subjects.

She had nearly turned a full circle examining everything, and none of the stars flickered too severely. Then she froze. One of the stars was red. Not flickering or shifting, merely a bright, blood red. She ran towards it, bracing herself to enter the dream, her horn glowing softly and her muscles tensing.

It was only a few steps before she stopped, the air a few feet in front of her shimmering and waving violently. She stepped back, and seconds later the creature materialized in front of her, its not-eyes fixed on her motionlessly.

She was prepared this time. She fired a spell, the blue glow of her horn pulsing brightly as a wave of magic rushed towards the creature.

It won’t be able to dodge such a large spell. Moments before the energy hit the creature, it vanished, the air quivering as it left. The spell passed harmlessly across the field. Seconds later the air grew still and it was as if nothing had ever been there.

Luna’s eyes widened. She scrunched her eyes shut, drawing in breaths, trying to force the air in and back out as fast as possible.

Her eyes snapped open. She hadn’t shifted back. Of course not. She shook her head, her mane rippling violently behind her. Relax, properly this time. She closed her eyes again, forcing herself to breathe slowly, gently, calmly.

When she opened her eyes she was back on the castle grounds. A series of bites had been taken out of the ground, an unmistakable trail leading towards the garden.

Figures. Her horn glowed and the marks began to glow in unison. The points of light gradually grew brighter and faded into the distance. She examined their path briefly and then closed her eyes.

She vanished in a flash of light, reappearing a few yards away from the castle garden. The unorthodox hoofprints snaked their way across the pathways and into the hedge maze.

Luna grit her teeth. Magic flared around her horn. “Damnit, show yourself!” she shouted. She swung her head downward and her horn flashed brightly.

She looked up just in time to see the spell slash into the garden. Every bush in front of her shuddered as it split in half, and a huge cut shot across the ground in the same direction. The line of damage in front of her spread clear across the castle grounds. She could see a small nick in the outer walls. Yet there was no sign of the creature.

There was a flash of movement to her left. She turned just in time to see the creature vanish in a shimmer of light. Her laser did nothing but scorch a few bushes.

I needn’t guess where it went. It can shift faster than I can, this is getting me nowhere.

She glanced at the damage to garden. The staff will not say anything if I order them not to. She looked at the ground. The creature’s hoofprints had vanished. And it took its trail with it.

Luna let out a deep sigh. There were exactly eighty-three minutes and thirty-four seconds before her moon finished its journey across the sky and dawn arrived.

Chasing it is futile. Her ear twitched. At least, with a single party.

She looked at the castle. Sister has other things to worry about. But who else would be up to the task?

Her ear flicked again.

I suppose I had best inform the staff before I leave.

In a flash of blue light, she vanished.