• Published 16th Feb 2015
  • 8,136 Views, 77 Comments

Safe - Sharp Spark

Apple Bloom has a very important classroom duty, at least according to Miss Cheerilee.

  • ...


Apple Bloom was almost done with her art project when the sirens started their wailing. The other kids immediately began making noise to match: Snips and Snails cheering loudly, others excitedly babbling, one flighty filly in the back of the schoolroom letting out a terrified shriek. Bloom added a groan of her own to the chaos, her pencil falling out of her mouth to clatter against the desk.

More than anything else, it was annoying. She had really been in the zone this time. Halfway through the best apple tree she had ever drawn – and she had drawn a lot of apple trees. She briefly considered taking the paper and pencil with her, but she figured she wouldn’t have the room or light to continue.

Besides, she had a job to do, as dumb as it was. She hopped up, trotting to the back of the room as Miss Cheerilee valiantly tried to get everyone else to calm down. The trapdoor sat in a weird place in the corner of the room. It wasn’t a big deal to push the empty desk out of the way, but it took all her strength to heave the heavy panel open. She peered down into the darkness for a moment before a question from Miss Cheerilee caught her attention and she glanced up to nod that she was ready.

The other ponies pushed and shoved each other as they formed a loose line, more out of natural rambunctiousness than any real worry. Except for Alula in the very front, her wings twitching as she hyperventilated. Alula was always in the front, and it wasn’t because they went in alphabetical order.

Apple Bloom rolled her eyes. “One,” she muttered as Alula dived past her into the darkness of the basement. The next ponies took it slower. “Two. Three. Four.”

Sweetie Belle was number eight, and she and Apple Bloom shared a quick look of exasperation. The colts were all excited about getting out of doing their schoolwork. Most of them were too dumb to realize that recess was in another ten minutes, and that they’d miss most of that instead.

“Twelve. Thirteen. Four— What?”

Silver Spoon planted her hooves right in front of the entrance, her eyes wide. “Where’s DT? Is she inside already? I didn’t see her!”

Apple Bloom exhaled. “Yeah, sure. She’s down there. Just go already.”

Silver Spoon bit her lip, looking back over her shoulder one more time before climbing down.

“Fourteen,” Apple Bloom said, wrinkling her nose. “Fifteen. Sixteen.”

Miss Cheerilee stood at the back of the line, herding the last stragglers past Apple Bloom. “Is that everyone?” she asked.

Apple Bloom frowned. Nineteen. Well, twenty, including herself. There were supposed to be twenty-one. Had she seen Diamond Tiara? She couldn’t recall. She didn’t remember any blank-flank-related insults at any rate, and that was usually the giveaway.

...Come to think of it, she seemed to recall Diamond asking to go to the bathroom earlier. A few minutes before the sirens? And that gave Apple Bloom a certain clever idea.

“Twenty-one,” Bloom said, giving Miss Cheerilee her most innocent smile. “That’s everyone.”

It would serve her right to come back to find everypony gone all of a sudden, to be left alone with the sirens still blaring. Apple Bloom’s only regret was that she wouldn’t be able to see the look on Diamond Tiara’s face when she freaked out. The best she could hope for would be to catch Diamond still sobbing when they came back up after the stupid drill was over, all the better to tease her about for weeks on end. After all, it’s not like she didn’t deserve it.

“Very good,” Miss Cheerilee said, breaking through Bloom’s devious daydreams as she shooed Bloom into the musty dark. Cheerilee followed close behind and the heavy trapdoor slammed shut with a rattling bang, leaving them in total darkness.

At least until the shield spell activated, encasing the tiny chamber in a purple bubble. The wan light revealed a room far smaller than the classroom above in here, hardly enough room for all the kids. It didn’t help that they had lost all sense of order. Everypony knew that with the shield spell they were completely locked in for a good half-hour. Colts were roughhousing and wrestling in the dust, while other ponies tried to stake out their own parts of the room to sit and talk in. Over in one corner, Alula had curled up in a tiny ball.

Apple Bloom peered around. It wasn’t like it was a very big space, but she was still having trouble finding her friends – with so many foals bouncing around, it made it all very confusing. Her eyes narrowed as she caught sight of Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara seated on the floor side-by-side, whispering and giggling with one another. “Huh...”

“Hey, Apple Bloom,” Sweetie said, sidling up to her.

“There you are! Boy, I’m sure sick of all these emergency drills, aren’t you?”

Sweetie nodded. “For sure. But… Didn’t we have one of these last week?” Sweetie frowned, a hint of worry entering her voice. “I thought they only tested the alarms like once a month.”

Apple Bloom blinked. “Did we?”

“Last Thursday.” Sweetie Belle craned her head, looking around the room. “Have you seen Scootaloo? I couldn’t find her anywhere.”

Apple Bloom’s eyes slowly trailed up to look at the ceiling, at the glow of the impenetrable shielding spell and the thick trapdoor right past it. The two together blocked out all sound from above. She couldn’t even hear the sirens anymore, much less anything else.

When she looked down again, she noticed her teacher staring upwards as well, face pale and drawn. Their eyes met for an instant, and then Miss Cheerilee put on her best reassuring smile.

“Don’t worry,” Miss Cheerilee said. “Everypony in here is perfectly safe.”

Comments ( 77 )


Alula was always in the front, and it wasn’t because they went in alphabetical order.


One of my top contenders in the writeoffs, and good here. Smoothly scaled up to 1000 words.

Only one and it wasn't a hard job but you failed and now one of your friend could die

As somebody old enough to remember Duck And Cover drills, this is really good.

Teachers job to do the head count. . 3...2...1...->) BooM (<-

Scootaloo looked down at the direct hit the shelter took :scootangel: Tough luck . Better them than me ! :unsuresweetie::applecry:

What with the various magical supervillain attacks and being right next to a forest inhabited by things like dragons and Ursa Majors, this actually seems to be a sensible precaution.

(Cheer up folks - Scootaloo gets her Eldritch Abomination cutie mark! Pity she can't show it off without driving Ponies mad.)

5635614 But what about Pinkie.... nevermind I just remember who I brought up.

I love how you left it open to chance. Was it just another drill? Maybe a fluke of scheduling? Or maybe, just maybe...

Great job. :ajsmug:

This is still great.

I wrote a review of this story.

And I really need to start making badges.

wow, earned its dark tag. Well done writing.

I kinda figured it might be who it ended up being, but still well done and nicely ambiguous as to the ultimate outcome.

This is one of those stories that really benefits from being how short it is. It felt like just the right amount to give me a sense of dread. This was really, really good for a little over 1k words. Well done. :twilightsmile:




*Faves and thumbs up*


William Shatner Pony: There's... something... out there... on... the... trap...... door!


That reference is more evil then the story. (No it's not)

I read this story, knew what you were gonna do halfway through the story, you didn't do that, and then you did.

You motherfucker.

Totally flipped me with that ending nice job.

I have no idea what happened, and that scares me. Could someone please explain it to me?

5642478 i meant to scootaloo

5641905 I can tell you what I think happened, if that's any help;

There's some sort of war going on, involving air raids (due to the multiple implications that there hasn't been a real attack yet, but multiple drills, I'm guessing that it's a nuclear war rather than a WWII type blitzkrieg). To prepare for the air raids, there are bomb shelters underneath certain buildings, which is the room under the hatch (Probably some sort of converted basement); the shelters have built in shield generators, which lock out anyone outside the shelter for half an hour.

Apple Bloom is in charge of getting the entire class into the shelter when the sirens go off, but she's got used to the sirens being a drill; she doesn't consider that it might be real. When she's counting ponies in the shelter, she notices Diamond Tiara isn't there; she remembers that she went to the toilet, and reasoning that she's still in there, she decides to pull a revenge prank on her. She's going to leave her up there, so she panics when she can't get into the shelter, as revenge for all the 'blank flanks' comments. She lies to Cheerilee that everyone's in the shelter, and they seal the door, locking Diamond Tiara out. When she's down there, Sweetie Belle reminds her that there was a drill last week, when drills only come once a month; I.E, this is a real attack, and she's just condemned Diamond to death. Then she sees that Diamond is in the shelter, safe, and realises that Scootaloo isn't in the shelter; she's still outside. Scootaloo is now locked out and doomed, because of Bloom' s attempt at revenge.

TL;DR - Apple Bloom thinks she left Diamond Tiara outside the shelter during an air raid drill as a prank. It turns out that the raid is real, and Diamond Tiara is safe, but she's accidentally left Scootaloo out there instead, probably dooming her.

That's my interpretation, anyway. Hope it helps.

This was certainly interesting...
I'd love to see it get some kind of sequel detailing Scootaloo's and Diamond Tiara's reactions to what's going on.

5644859 Why Diamond Tiara? She was safe in the bunker.


Exactly the punch line was that she actually left scoots up there.... And that it might not be a drill...

5644984 I actually missed the line where Apple Bloom noticed Diamond Tiara.
But either way, I'd still like to see a sequel where we find out what happens to Scootaloo


Good light story. Feels like a good start to a series.


You may want to clarify that the "sirens" are not three villains. I was switching from imagining the Sirens in their pony forms as fillies, and then imagining that it is the human world, to finally realizing that it's like an air-raid bomb drill with that kind of sirens blaring loudly.

oh snap. you wrote this one? NICE!

I don't recall if I ever commented on the story, but it really had that pre-Fallout look to what would happen if such a bad thing happened to Equestria like that.

Glad you got 2nd place, it was certainly my top two. I was a bit disappointed with the winning entry, this was better by comparison imho. Thanks for posting it on Fimfic, now I can properly fav this one! xD

This has everything I want in a dark fic. The kind where the last little bit justifies the dark tag and makes the reader shudder with uneasiness.

I cannot recommend this story enough. Easily one of the best Dark fics on the site, and a smashing, tense read all around.
Dearly hoping it gets featured.

This is a good story, but I wish it was a bit longer.

I love when people pull off dark without resorting to extreme gore or anything like that. Chilling. What makes it scarier is that this can totally happen.


I disagree. I feel like what actually happened isn't important to the story, and it would feel a little bit like Sharp Spark were just milking this story's success if he/she did write that.

5650537 I agree that finding out why they had to go into the bunker isn't important, but that's not what I was talking about


Well, finding out what happens to Scootaloo would naturally lead to us finding out what happened to make them enter the bunker, would it not? Besides, I even think that finding out what horrific thing happened to Scootaloo would defeat the purpose. The power of the ambiguity of the ending is that our minds fill in what happened to her, because it isn't said, and whatever we can think of will always be better—for us—than whatever the author could come up with.

The fact that we don't know is what makes it so scary of a thought. If we knew that, say, Scootaloo was stomped on by a dragon, that takes the fun out of it.

5650767 Well the events could be kept vague, and a sequel could be styled so that it takes place after the event is finally over.


I suppose we can agree to disagree. I will submit to one point- a story about what happened to Scootaloo would be interesting, even though I feel like it would detract from the original story too much for it to be worth it.

5650909 All right then.


From the mention of sirens, I'm assuming it's something like what they used during WWI or something to signify that there was to be a bombing and everyone should rush for the nearest shelter. And since Sweetie Belle says that they tested it once a month and this was the second one in the month, that means that this wasn't a drill and something was definitely happening. Apple Bloom counted twenty ponies but didn't remember seeing Diamond Tiara, so she just wanted to have some fun and leave DT locked out and freaking out about the sirens. Turns out she left Scootaloo locked outside, possibly facing death of some sort. Maybe.


No problem! :moustache:

And then Scootaloo was a Bandit, and a rather pissed one at that.

So... Did this story win? Have you ever considered submitting this story to Equestria Daily? You can find out how to do so here.

5664713 What are you talking about?

Basically, Scootaloo becomes a typical Post-Apocalyptic Raider type who isn't terribly pleased with Applebloom forgetting about her.

I remember this.
I'll review it properly soon enough. :twilightsmile:

565306 Oh no, no, no... :starts shaking: well, it DID have a Dark tag... This is amazing. This was w was amazing. Chilling.

5634730 Why was she? So... they could make sure she got in? 'Cause she was scared or something? Or absentminded AND scared? yeah, I read too fast.

The comment you responded to was actually a little private joke. In my review of the first draft in the Writeoffs, I mentioned how weird it was that "A"lula went first, but "D"iamond Tiara wasn't in line before "S"weetie Belle and "S"cootaloo. So the line I quoted was Sharp Spark poking some good-natured fun at my alphabetic interpretation. :twilightsmile:

Oh, wow. That's brutal in how ambiguous it is. When it comes to horror, this is a proof of how less is so, so much more.

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