• Published 19th Jun 2015
  • 2,004 Views, 20 Comments

Lost - OleGrayMane



Twilight invites Fluttershy to view an unusual artifact, the fossil of an ancient ancestor. But her lesson turns cryptic as Fluttershy's empathy draws her across time, connecting her to somepony she could have never known. ⭐️ EQD Featured

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Lost

How strange, Fluttershy thought. When she’d arrived, the library’s door had been open, so she’d slipped in without a sound and looked about. Finding an empty room was curious, not just because the door was open, but because a short while ago, Rarity had been rather insistent that she stop by the library as soon as possible and see Twilight. And so she had. With a tilt of the head, Fluttershy glanced around one more time. Nopony. How strange that the library’s resident, who must have been there a few minutes earlier, was now missing.

Perhaps Rarity had been mistaken—somehow. No, more likely Fluttershy had been the one who misunderstood. She told herself she’d stop by later, or maybe tomorrow, and was on the verge of leaving when a sound came from upstairs. It was the rustle of a turning page. Nopony was missing; they just had their nose in a book.

Fluttershy giggled, for she should have guessed. Playfully, she called, “Yoo-hoo. Anypony home?”

From the library’s upper story there came a clump, a bang, and then a sort of hollow bonk. A few harsh words followed.

“I’ll be there in a moment,” Twilight called down.

Fluttershy heard grumbling and things being shifted around. All she could do was shake her head. All of Ponyville was enjoying such a lovely spring day, with the trees filled with celebrating birds, and there was Twilight, curled up with her books, exactly as she’d done throughout the winter. How predictable. Well, at least the door was open to let in the delightful breeze.

In a few seconds Twilight came gliding downstairs, her hooves pressed together like a diver plunging into a pool. Despite the graceful entrance, she grimaced upon landing.

“Oh,” exclaimed Fluttershy and winced.

“You’re here! You’re here!” Twilight babbled, repeating herself several more times. “It’s just that—see—I hadn’t expected you so soon.”

“Well, I was on my way to the market to get some strawberries—Angel loves them so much you know, and they’re just in season—and I ran into Rarity, and she told me—”

“Great. Super. Perfect. I knew she’d be the first to see you. Just knew it. Yes-yes-yes.”

“Um, yes, too.” Fluttershy grinned. “Rarity said you had a… surprise of some kind?”

Twilight beamed. “Just over here.” With a hop, she sailed across the room, this time making a perfect landing.

Fluttershy walked over. Twilight stood beside a table with a red velvet cloth draped over… something. The something was large, and while Fluttershy couldn’t guess what it might be, from the way the cloth hung, she could tell it was strangely shaped. Within a moment of their arrival, a magical aura surrounded the cloth, and Twilight lifted it at the corners and a spot precisely in the center. It rose, revealing a slab of yellowish-brown, translucent rock.

“Ta-da!” Twilight said as the cloth dropped to the floor in a heap. “What do you think?”

Fluttershy drew back. “Well…” Politeness dictated one should begin with a compliment, and while determined to find one, she floundered. “It’s quite a nice rock and, um, very big. But wouldn’t Maud be better qualified—”

“Oh, you,” said Twilight with a sliver of a smile. “No, not the rock. There, the fossil right there.” She pointed, her hoof waggling energetically at the skeleton embedded in the slab.

It wasn’t that Fluttershy had missed it the first time; she’d avoided it. Not long ago, the subject of fossils had come up. Twilight had just returned from Canterlot. Yes, it was a museum visit, she recalled. No, it was a lecture—maybe. Anyway, she positively remembered Twilight’s enthusiasm, what she’d said. Puzzles from the past, she called them, each a riddle to be solved, a story to be uncovered. How she’d gone on.

But as much as Twilight found fossils fascinating, Fluttershy found them unnerving. Nothing more than rock, she’d tell herself, but she couldn’t shake the restless feeling. They might be rock now, but once they’d been real, living animals. And she preferred animals that way: alive, not all bones, even if the bones were rock or whatever Twilight said they were. And, no matter how much she tried to avoid thinking about them once being alive, the more she did, the worse she felt.

So, instead of looking at the fossil, she glanced at Twilight. Oh, how eager she looked, her face bursting with anticipation. How could she disappoint that face? Fluttershy scrunched up her lips and thought for a second, at last forcing a shy smile.

Twilight’s look was at first total bafflement. Then she blushed.

“Oh, Fluttershy, I’m so sorry,” she said and looked down. “I really didn’t mean to, but… Well, you know me, how I get all excited and forget everypony isn’t—well—like me. I guess I still need to work on that, don’t I?” Her ears drooped, and she scuffed at the floor. “Please forgive me for being insensitive.” Twilight started to replace the cloth, but before she could, there was a light touch on her shoulder. She looked up.

“No. I…” began Fluttershy. “It’s all right. I want to see.” While looking straight into Twilight’s eyes, she grinned. Even so, her lips trembled.

Twilight let the cloth drop, saying, “You’re positive?”

Fluttershy nodded. “Not everypony is like you, Twilight, but you know, you’re not the only one who needs to—well—work on things.” Her grin transformed into a comforting smile.

In an instant, Twilight matched it. “Okay, but only when you’re ready.” She took a half step back.

Following a gulp, Fluttershy started, looking only at the slab’s edge, preparing herself for one more second. Then two. Just rock, she told herself and tried hard to believe it. Slowly and deliberately, she eased her eyes towards the fossilized remains, and when she saw feet, she halted. There were three tiny, bony toes, familiar looking, yet at the same time, not. Although interesting, in a way, it left her jittery, and she went no further.

“Tell me—” Twilight’s voice, while soft and low, was animated “—what do you think it is?”

A quick glance at the rest, that’s all. It’s just rock. Nothing dangerous. Nothing scary. Not long; just a peek. She did, but went right back to staring at those delicate, almost familiar feet. From her peek, she could tell it was—well, had been—small, small enough she’d have been able to hold it. Her wings quivered. Just a rock, she told herself. Luckily, Twilight wasn’t rushing her. Oh, but how eager she’d sounded, and Fluttershy wanted to provide an answer, really, a good one. As she searched, the side of her mouth got scrunched up, so much so that it almost forced her left eye completely shut.

“It’s not—a doggie, is it?”

“Well… no. Right size, but no. See. Look here. Look at the teeth.”

Teeth. That meant she’d have to look at the poor thing’s skull. Skulls were the worst part, for her mind wanted there to be soft eyes and a happy little smile. Then she’d look, finding empty sockets and a grimace. Her whole body squirmed, but Fluttershy would persevere; she would look, because she’d said she would. It wouldn’t take more than a glimpse anyway.

Then, once she had, she turned to Twilight. Practically racing, she said, “Sorry. I don’t see anything—in particular.”

“Oh, if you look, I think you’ll find them quite familiar,” Twilight said in rising tones of encouragement. She finished with a wide grin, yet a second later her demeanor grew serious, and she cleared her throat. “But please, take all the time you need.”

Fluttershy nodded. To steady herself for another look, she placed a hoof on the rock’s edge.

“Oooh, no-no-no. Please, don’t. It’s been stabilized, but something this old, this fragile…”

“Sorry.” Fluttershy flinched and put her hoof down. Once back on the floor, it started tapping away, and quieting it proved problematic. While doing so, she realized she had been biting her lip, something Rarity told her she mustn’t do. It was un-ladylike and the source of unsightly wrinkles. She stopped that, too.

Fluttershy closed her eyes, and after a fitful breath, she arrived at a conclusion: she was as ready as she would ever be. So, with head canted, she began at the rock’s edge, creeping towards the fossil’s feet. From there, she followed the legs to the jumble of brown bones that, she supposed, made up the body, and from there to the skull and teeth. This time she gave it more than a glance, a real, good, solid look. Now she knew why the creature’s feet seemed familiar.

“Oh, dear,” she exclaimed. “It’s… a… a—”

“Yes!” Twilight’s entire body quivered. “It’s the most amazingly preserved specimen of an ancient equine found to date. A completely intact pre-pony pony! And you were right, Fluttershy. She was no bigger than a dog.”

“She?” Fluttershy’s eyes were drawn back to the fossil. Strange. Nothing had changed, not really, but she was able to look at it now, all of it. The rock remained a rock, and the bones, the teeth, those tiny hooves, they were rock too. And Fluttershy wondered if knowing it was a she made a difference.

“Yes, yes, of course.” Twilight, for a very brief moment, pranced in place. “That’s the most fantastic, amazing thing ever. I knew you’d be interested in this part. Just knew it. See, look here.” Twilight pointed to a particular spot in the dark, fossilized bones. “See, that’s her pelvis, or what’s left of it, our first clue she was a she. Now—” unable to contain herself, Twilight giggled in a wholly undignified manner “—look at these fragments. Can you see them?”

Although difficult to make out, Fluttershy saw what Twilight pointed at: a clump of tinier twig-like things, a tangled ball, separate from the rest. Bones of some type, of course, but she wouldn’t hazard a guess anything more than that. She didn’t need to. At times like this, when Twilight was oh-so-excited, a noncommittal answer would suffice. It was a considerate thing to do, because it allowed her to jump straight into an explanation.

“Mmmm,” Fluttershy said and, glancing sideways, caught Twilight’s look. She’d appeared exuberant a moment ago. Now she had uneasy eyes and a faltering grin. While embarrassed, Fluttershy knew what to do.

“Yes, Twilight, I do. Please, go on.”

Twilight’s face brightened. “It’s difficult to discern, isn’t it?” she continued, slower now, a bit reserved, but not sounding too scholarly. “This is the portion which makes the find so special, so rare.” She took a breath and announced, “It’s a fetus, late term. She was about to foal.”

Fluttershy looked back at the rock. She couldn’t pull herself away, and she stared like she and the fossil were the only things in the room. It wasn’t like being frozen by fright, where you were so scared you couldn’t look away. She wasn’t frightened in the slightest. And those gloomy, unnerving thoughts she got when looking at bones and skulls, why, they’d vanished. Even curiouser, she felt a certain inexplicable need to stand there and just stare and stare and stare.

As she did, a stillness descended over the library. Twilight still talked, Fluttershy could hear her explaining something, but what she said… How strange; it was as if she’d forgotten the meaning of the words. It wasn’t long before she sensed her right foreleg moving, weighing heavy, slowly rising. She wasn’t doing it; something else was coaxing her, calling. Undisturbed, Fluttershy watched her hoof rise and edge forward. The invisible force guided her until her hoof rested on the slab’s edge; a biting, metallic cold seeped in and spread. Even so, she didn’t pull back.

Somepony kept calling out. Twilight. It had to be her, but she sounded far, far away, like she wasn’t in the library anymore, but in an immense hall, one too vast for echoes. The urgent cries became muffled and, in a short while, faded away completely.

Fluttershy’s vision blurred. A sort of fog engulfed her, blooms of dove-gray, churning and swirling. It swept her away. For a while, it felt like she was falling without end, faster and faster, and then it came a sudden stop. Only darkness and silence remained. And there, in nothingness, she was alone.

The tiny horse jumped, kicking out her hind legs as she gamboled to the next patch of plants. In no time, the little mare devoured them as she’d done with the last. Everything tasted so good, covered in the springtime rain. A gray day still, but sunlight burst through on rare occasions, for what remained of this morning’s storm now thrashed against the distant mountains.

Her herd had set out upon waking, moving into their usual grazing areas just after dawn. Then, before too long, darkness returned with stinging raindrops, booming noises, and frightening flashes in a black sky. Along with other from her family she scampered away, seeking shelter under low bushes, hugging the ground. For a time, she had felt safe.

A simultaneous flash and boom. A crashing tree. She ran and ran and hid. And when the storm had moved on by mid morning, she had ventured forth from her hiding place. Her family, the other families of the herd, were nowhere to be seen. Anxious at first, she wandered and looked for them, but not for long. There were things to eat, and she did not mind being alone.

She kicked with joy again and snorted. How fresh and alive everything tasted here, so much better than where the herd usually grazed. Nopony else had found the new growth, and there was nopony to nudge her away. Her teeth cropped the luscious leaves all the way to the ground. On the flats, beside the tall grass, she could eat her fill, unbothered. And she was very hungry, for soon she would foal. That made her happy, and she remembered.

While time was an ill formed concept for the little mare, she knew it was farther back than last summer. Image, smell, sound too, all were obscured, like when there was fog. Feelings she did remember, although distant and vague. Even so, she felt those things again. It had been springtime, too.

Mares brushing against her. Others her size, her age, pushed together, happy, loved, cared for. Mother’s smell—she could never forget that—and the sweetness of her milk, sweeter than any grass.

The little horse’s jaws moved furiously as her teeth clipped more of the plants that sprouted on the fertile flats. Her lips and tongue pulled in every last bit for her to consume, for her hunger was great. Thunder roiled in the distant storm. Red and orange flashes in black clouds. She looked up, jaws grinding away. No danger. Far away noise could not hurt her, so she resumed eating.

This part of the flats was not foreign to her or the rest of the herd. The families came here to drink when everything else was dry. Fast moving water cut channels through the land in winding paths, leaving small pools behind them, but the streams themselves appeared and disappeared within a day. This was a good place, because one could always find water here, and while muddy and bitter, it was water. Many memories she had of this place, coming here with her herd. Remembering was easy, for the herd’s scent remained, although months had passed since they’d last drank here. With their faint scent in her nostrils, a strange, lonely feeling came. The herd had always been nearby. She could see them, hear them, smell them, all the time. Never far. She’d find them—when she wanted.

There was a time when she’d been separate from the herd, but it had been short. In the time before the cold winds, when she’d moved off, too old to be with the young, it had happened. She’d liked mother’s new foal at first, but soon lost interest. Other feelings guided her. New feelings. Strange feelings.

She and the other young mares joined the family of the family-less, one outside the herd. Even then, nopony strayed too far from the others. In her new, uneasy family, each had a place. Hers was at the bottom. Bites and little kicks chased her off when she ate or drank, and she was always unhappy, until the stallion came.

Bolder than the rest, he’d moved her off from the other mares. At first, frightening, but he was kind, with gentle rubs against her neck. He invited her to join him, to be part of a family again, a real one. There were other mares in the family, and they showed kindness too, even if she was the newest and the lowest. A small family, good and strong, growing. She would help it grow.

Inside her body, she felt it growing each day, stronger, knowing as all mothers know. A foal of her own soon, one all the family would love and protect. Her family would see she made it strong. They would be proud. She would be proud. Things would be good with a little one.

But right now, the little one inside made her hungry, hungrier than she’d felt wandering winter’s bleak fields. There was little left to the patch she was eating, so she lifted her head and looked around. Dead grasses from last season formed a grey-brown wall a way off. To the other side, the flats and its twisting gullies. There she might find more freshly sprouted grass, if she dared.

Deep in her mind, a thought, an uneasy cry in a primal language. Stay with the herd, it urged. Find them. Her body tensed; her ears stiffened, twitched. Where was her family, the herd? Holding her head high, she breathed in. Their old smell persisted, but the air carried no new sign. She whinnied, listened. Again.

A faint rustle of grass and then silence. A mouse racing into its burrow? Birds? She did not hear birds. They’d sung after the rain. Nothing now. Still as a stone she waited. No scent, no noise. She dropped her head to finish off one more patch of grass. After that, she’d rejoin the herd.

Through the chewing, the sound of dead grass moving reached her, this time longer, louder. Somepony from the herd? Lifting her head, she snorted a greeting, announcing I am here, asking who are you? No reply and no rustle. She studied the grass and the flats, finding nothing.

The far off storm rumbled as it spent the last of its anger upon the mountains.

She gauged the direction of the confounding sound, as well as the faint breeze, and trotted to get a better smell of what moved in the grass. In place, she held her nose high and drew a breath.

Fear seized her, for she knew the smell hidden amongst the grass. It came from those with sharp teeth and claws, the ones the stallions kept from little ones and their mares. But nopony was here. She was alone. The grass began to make noise again.

Head up, she searched the air for the herd’s smell. Why had she not found them? If they were near, she would run, making cries of warning. The ones with sharp teeth might be fast, but they did not like to run far, and given enough of a lead, she could stay ahead until they gave up. If only she knew which way to go.

She moved off, tail held high. The noise in the grass moved with her. Another joined it, this one in front. She froze.

Two stalked her from the grass, but they did not charge. Why? They were waiting. For her to bolt? Or—

With a quick snap, she turned her head towards the flats. Keen eyes caught movement. There, by a fallen tree, he sat, grey fur, his black eyes fixed on her. Hidden well, he crouched beside a log with his head down, but his haunches twitched in anticipation of the chase and gave him away.

He was the dangerous one, the fastest, the one the others would drive her towards. Their role was to be obvious, noisy, using sound and scent to edge her closer to the fast one. He would make the kill.

Racing thoughts. Run? No, remain still, but not for long. The herd. The families would provide safety, a jumble of legs to confuse pursuers. Alone, there was danger. She had to escape and find them. She had to get to the herd.

Run between the two in the grass? Impossible. Run into the flats and the fast one would take her. While they had the advantage, they were not impatient in their hunt. She might be able to improve her chances, but she must not panic.

With disguised caution, she returned to where she’d been eating. Without the herd, she needed distance for protection. Creating it would not be easy. One stalker was close by. The other by the tree was now far away, but moving closer, openly. Ambling to a fresh patch of grass, she kept watch and listened to their approach.

She ate, a mouthful swallowed in haste. The grass was without taste.

Moving farther away, she put all three hunters behind. Her eyes vaguely sensed them creeping closer. With their plan upset, they moved quietly now. She drifted, carefully, and listened with ears turned back so as to gather the faintest of sounds.

At a puddle, as if unaware, she put her head down to drink. Her lips hovered over the water. A break in the clouds let sunlight fall upon the water’s surface. Reflected, she saw a face, translucent and distance, a reddish-brown coat, a muzzle of white, much like any other in the herd. Then, the twitch of an ear, the clouds closed, and the face faded. Yet she continued to gaze upon the water’s surface with small, dark eyes that were not her own.

Stalks of dry grass breaking—they’d begun.

Running blind, she plunged headlong across the flats. Wet soil: a bad start. The two from the grass were out, to her left, moving as one, excited and leaping. On the right, the one hiding by the tree closed quickly.

She’d been right—fast.

But she was ahead, and soon their stamina would wane. The tall grass would tire them, and she would use it to her advantage. It may be theirs for stalking, but it was hers for the chase. Veering left, she crashed through the wall of brown, the way ahead impossible to see. It didn’t matter, for her pursuers were more hindered than she. From behind came yips as they urged each other on. She wouldn’t slow.

An open patch ahead, a chance to lose them. She raced through, turning right and plowing into thicker cover, woodier than grass. Sticks gouged. Snapping branches stung. Thorns ripped. Pure fear drove her, and she careened on.

Surprise and confusion. Legs flailing in the air. The world was all sky, then a chaos of colors, a thump, a flash of light. All was darkness.

She awoke, laying in a strange and uncomfortable place filled with sharp rocks and fresh, silty mud. The watery mud covered her coat. A snort forced thick water from her nostrils, only to have more pour in. Slow, dark waters pushed against her back and moved around her sides. Cold, so cold. Struggling to raise her head, she scrabbled in the muddy stream bed. Her front legs gouged into the thick muck. Her back legs did not move.

With her head thrown back, she snorted again. Now she could see it, the drop, the edge of a gully. She hadn’t fallen far, no more than a few times her height, but she’d landed on her back, on rocks. A deep hurt was burning in her side. No pain came from farther back, no feeling at all. Where once she’d felt life inside her, it was now cold and heavy.

The water deepened.

She tried to stand again. If she could stand, she could run. She could find the herd. There she’d be safe. The attempt only splattered her with mud. Rising waters washed it away. She lay still, struggling to hold her head above the cold blackness, her side heaving with each breath.

Animal thoughts were all that remained. Pain. Fear. Another failed attempt to stand. No more struggling, only breathing, keep breathing. Frightened eyes searched the gray, empty sky. Her mind stumbled into darkness. Numbness. Nothingness.

And the cold mountain waters cascaded over her body.

Fluttershy heard somepony calling her name quite clearly. The fog was gone now, all of it, and there was light. She could see once again, but the change, so sudden, left her disoriented, unsure of where she was. Then she saw the fossil and knew. This was Ponyville, the library, and she was in the library, with her hoof on the rock Twilight had been showing her.

Somepony gave her shoulder a firm poke. She heard her name.

“Fluttershy?” Twilight’s voice trembled.

“Yes?” She blinked.

“Oh, thank the stars.” Twilight sighed and stopped her prodding. Just above a whisper, close to Fluttershy’s ear, she asked, “Are you feeling all right?”

Fluttershy stared ahead. The last vestige of cold coming from the slab was gone. It was a rock now, just a rock, so she eased her hoof to the floor, as it seemed like she’d been standing for a very long time. Her legs felt weak. She sat.

“I’m… fine.”

Tired, perhaps, but she felt all right. No, she was… better than all right. Content, serene. Underlying the calm, there was a tinge of sadness to it all, a kind of longing. Whatever had happened, whatever she’d been given, it was over. And like a dream that on awakening seems profound, so utterly real, its clarity would slip away. Certainty would turn to doubt. And, oh how she wanted to savor the moment, but she knew it wouldn’t last. It couldn’t. While the memories might grow vague, no matter how faint they might become, she’s safeguard the feeling. Grateful, she smiled.

“I’m fine,” Fluttershy repeated, not remembering she’d said it a moment before.

“Okay…” began Twilight. “If you’re fine, then explain what just happened here.”

There was so much to tell her, but Fluttershy didn’t know where to start. Or how. And right now, she didn’t want to try. Explanations would have to wait; something else was more important. Before the feeling left, she had to be sure, for herself and for Twilight. Yes, Twilight—her question. Fluttershy turned and saw the look on her face. The distress she found there pained her.

“You needn’t worry about me.”

“Worry? Worry? What’s there to worry about? Oh, I don’t know, maybe the part where you didn’t blink for five minutes straight. Or how about not saying anything when I called your name, or not responding the slightest when I poked you? No, I see—”

“Twilight…”

“—absolutely nothing to worry about here. Fluttershy, you can’t—”

“Twilight…”

“—sit there and tell me not to worry—”

“Twilight…”

“—when you… Yes?”

“I’m all right. Please, don’t worry.”

“…Okay,” Twilight said, although her lips were pulled taut.

Moment by moment, things were slipping away, growing ever more distant. Fluttershy could feel it. She looked at the rock; she had to.

“Tell me about the fossil, Twilight.” She paused. “I want to know.”

A cautious silence seized the room.

“Fluttershy… Are you really sure you’re all right?”

“Yes.” The faintest of smiles flashed across her lips. “I want to know.”

“Well…” Twilight took a long breath and was prepared to start. Then she froze, her mouth agape. After a weighty sigh, and taking a moment to rub her temples, she began again, this time in earnest.

“Well, it’s an excellent example of permineralization, and although we have no record of soft tissue, the skeleton is, as you can see, remarkably preserved. Now, for a preservation of this quality to take place, it would have undergone a rapid burial, one most likely taking place on the edge of a lake or in a sediment-laden river.”

“A stream,” Fluttershy said in a monotone.

“Yes”—Twilight drew the word out— “or a stream.” She held back for a moment. “As such, we—”

“How?”

“How what?”

“How did she die, Twilight?”

“You want to—” Twilight waited, appearing like she expected a response, a look, a few words, anything. Yet, in spite of the opportunity offered, Fluttershy remained silent and still, her gaze fixed on the remains of the tiny horse. Sounding puzzled, Twilight finished the question. “You want to know… how she died?”

“Yes. I want to know.”

“Well… That’s hard to say.” Twilight’s pace was measured. “We can speculate, but there appears to be some injuries. Broken fibula, a few ribs, displaced lumbar vertebrae. Nopony can be sure how much of the damage might have taken place post-mortem.” She stopped and watched.

Fluttershy, wholly immersed, at first took no notice of the silence, but when she realized Twilight wasn’t talking, she said, “Yes.” Her voice carried little emotion.

With a slow nod, Twilight resumed. “Her body must have been covered quickly since we see no evidence of predation.”

“They left…” Fluttershy whispered in a voice so low that Twilight didn’t hear.

“Maybe there was a mudslide or flood. To some extent, the rock bed containing the fossil indicates that. You see, early last summer, they were digging a foundation in the Bad Lands, going rather deep. The construction crew was happy when they ran into something solid to build on, but then fossils started popping up, more and more of them, and they were required to halt their work. The Royal University was called in, and while at first they didn’t find anything special, just common specimens, they weren’t deterred.” Twilight stopped and licked her lips. “You know how we scientists are, eh? Eh?”

Fluttershy blinked.

“Okay then… Well, they’d gone down another seven feet and they found her—”

“Found.” The word leapt out, loud and urgent. Fluttershy stared at Twilight. “You found her.”

“Well, they did, the university’s paleontology team, not me personally. I’m indebted to them for lending her to me for a little while, for research, but, to be honest, so I could show it to anypony who’d look. But I didn’t—”

“She’s back with the herd,” Fluttershy stated, calm and plain, and resumed gazing at the fossil.

Following a short, breathy laugh, Twilight said, “Well, a little poetic perhaps, but you could say that.”

“Safe now,” she said quite gently, and once again rested her hoof on the rock’s edge.

While Twilight’s first reaction was to stop Fluttershy, to remind her of the specimen’s fragility, she pulled back.

“Safe with the herd.” Fluttershy smiled, and her eyes met Twilight’s. “With the herd again, Twilight. She’d take great comfort in that.”

Comments ( 20 )

Hmmm...a very interesting story. It was quite an intriguing take on Fluttershy's enormous empathy, having her being able to "experience" somewhat a specimen's past.
Or, you know, she could have been hallucinating. But where's the fun in that?

Interesting expression of her talent. Her asking questions of Twilight to confirm what she had experienced and receiving that confirmation.

This was very moving. I loved how Fluttershy's empathy is so strong that, once she was able to get past her discomfort, she could form a connection with the fossil.

The last line was my favorite.

6108429

Or, you know, she could have been hallucinating. But where's the fun in that?

Yes. Where would the fun be in that? :twilightblush:

6108467
I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

6108512

The last line was my favorite.

:yay:

Thank you all for stopping by, reading, and commenting.

6108717

Hmm, you also wrote pioneer. 2 consecutive good oneshots = a follow. Heh already am following...

This story is something. It is very good. I would try submitting it to Equestria Daily.

Just as spectacular now as it was before.

Glad to see you're still writing. :ajsmug:

6110425
Yes, I continue to do so. I hope to keep to a more regular schedule, perhaps something every three to four months.

The world would certainly be nice if it was as we wished it

This is a lovely story. It reminds me a bit of a work from the great naturalist Loren Eiseley, describing a small mammal skull he encounters in the wilds of the great plains:
The skull lay tilted in such a manner that it stared, sightless, up at me as though I, too, were already caught a few feet above him in the strata and, in my turn, were staring upward at that strip of sky which the ages were carrying farther away from me beneath the tumbling debris of falling mountains. The creature had never lived to see a man, and I, what was it I was never going to see?
Eiseley adds The truth is that we are all potential fossils still carrying within our bodies the crudities of former existences, the marks of a world in which living creatures flow with little more consistency than clouds from age to age.

Something your Fluttershy knows. I commend your work.

Saw this on EQD yesterday. This was chilling. I get the idea they lured her there and ran, using her as a sacrifice to distract predators, or just abandoning her because she was with foal.

This has a delightfully creepy element to it, but maybe that's just me.

8863022
Figures. Everybody says I'm creepy... right before they mace me. (not really)

The story has received criticism for omitting an explanation of what happened, and perhaps the lack of an unambiguous answer is a source of the creepiness. But I like ambiguity and mystery; in that way a story doesn't have to end when it stops.

This turned out to be a ghost story, I guess, which wasn't my intent. The little pony's traumatic death leaves some type of psychic impression on her remains, her spirit, for lack of a better word, is trapped, desiring to return to the safety of other ponies. Fluttershy's unique sensitivity to living things is keen enough to detect its presence, to be mesmerized by it, and her touch releases the trapped energy, playing back the loop of the little pony's last moments. Once released, the stone is just a stone, the spirit freed from limbo to, presumably, join those of its long dead companions.

Does my explanation make it more or less creepy? Does it agree with yours? Does authorial interpretation matter, for once readers get a chance at a story, what it means, if anything at all, is up to them. Perhaps I am the one channeling the story of some long dead creature, even though its cause of death doesn't match my description at all. But hey, there's a reason the story has Fluttershy and Twilight, emotion and reason, in it. Sometimes the two cannot be reconciled, although I'm sure Fluttershy will try.

Anywho... rambling over. As always, thanks for reading.

8863608
Rambling was cool! What you explained made it sound very ghost-y with the vision being brought out via possession.

I had guessed that it was a sort of magical vision brought about by something of a more spiritual nature and some kind of ancestral enchantment or connection.

Or perhaps empathetic Fluttershy has a vivid and disturbing imagination sometimes, leading her to recognize little clues about what might have happened.

8863625
The hint at possession or even displacement in time was supposed to be: Yet she continued to gaze upon the water’s surface with small, dark eyes that were not her own. That is, Fluttershy's mind is inside looking out; she's there, experiencing everything, sharing it with the little mare, including her death.

All those interpretations are fantastic, and it is bad for me to talk about my intent because it could end up dulling rather than stimulating somebody's imagination. I mean, that's how we ending up reading or writing fanfics, because we are handed an unbounded world for our imaginations to roam. Circumscribed by a complete explanation, a world risks becoming mundane.

8863697
The original possession interpretation does have the most textual clues though.

That was a cute ending :pinkiesad2:

Hopefully this story won't have the same ending Lost the series did. Please respond to this comment.

10640279
I don't know how to really answer that, as I've never watched an episode of "Lost". In reading spoiler-filled critiques, I think there's no real similarity, and the existence of the series, being unknown to me then, didn't influence the writing: everything came from the picture I used for the story.

As to interpretation, my reply to Ice Star 8863697 (from way back in 2018!) remains unchanged, however, if you get something else out of the story, I'd love to hear it!

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