• Published 23rd May 2015
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The Last Pony on Earth - Starscribe


One day, Earth. The next, everyone is gone and I'm a pony. What the heck is going on?

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Chapter 12: June 4
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Can you please explain to me what this is? Probably doesn't look like much to you; it didn't look like much of anything to me except some graffiti. I guess it still looks like that, except for the way the paint looked so fresh.

It clearly isn't English or any other language I've ever seen before. Granted, I haven't been exposed to that many. Maybe it's Hindi or something. If the internet was still up, I would take a picture and post it to Reddit and see if anyone there can recognize it. Probably they'd say it was from a video game or something. God I wish it it was from a video game.

It isn't though. I'm digressing. Let me start from the beginning.

Dogs are getting bad. I can hear them barking and fighting every single day.

I wonder if we’re like, the children of this race. Could that even be? I'm not sure. I probably wouldn't be very happy if it was true. Being a stupid, awful, disgusting, weak…

Okay, focus. Nothing came to bother us. Maybe there's plenty of easier prey to hunt without trying to get over our fence. Thank goodness for walls and houses. I'm not sure what we would do otherwise. Living out there with them. Like if we just had a tent or something... I'm not sure if feral dogs hunt humans. Probably not. We spent all those years domesticating them and all. But if they don't, we're not human anyway, so...

Spent much of the day doing boring stuff not really worth writing about. Finished Sky's shoes and helped her fit them. She wasn't entirely thrilled about the idea, but she was still kind at least. Helpful. Once we got them fitted, they seemed to be working, but she didn't want to go anywhere, so she didn't wear them. She's concerned about the stray dogs now too, finally. I guess she can think about things practically if you give her enough time.

Where does that leave us now, though? We can't use guns to scare them off. We don't have any way of shooting them. Sky had a good idea, probably one of the best possible under the circumstances. Bear mace. They make it in these huge cans, and it sprays out a whole cloud of stuff in the general direction of danger. It would be fairly easy to spray it from a harness or even from your mouth. So long as it didn't get fired into a headwind, it could cover a wide area in deterrent without breaking teeth when we tried to shoot it. If you used it in a headwind, you might end up with an eyeful of the stuff and end up just as disabled as the dogs we were shooting at.

Whatever. I haven't thought of anything better yet, so it's a good start. It will have to do until I can think of a good hand substitute. I hope something like that is possible. I've thought about it. No amount of ideas have brought anything forward, though.

Hardly the first thing on my mind. I wanted to finish my shoes (and start them). Sky was eager for a little revenge after wrapping her hooves in plastic and leaving them in tubs for a long time, so she was actually quite helpful here. In the future, maybe not make whole tubs. It's a waste of latex and foam. So much material that we don't need. Not to mention there's some instinct being triggered here. It's horrifying. I've never felt so trapped in all my life.

It was evening when I was done, though the other steps were much quicker than making Sky's, now that I had perfected the process and could anticipate everything I needed to do.

Unlike Sky, I wanted to give them a try right away. How was I supposed to put those shoes to the test without some serious walking? No other way to see if they work.

I got outside the fence and started walking. Didn't bring anything but my journal and a pencil, in case I saw something worth sketching. Practice, right? Just because I've got the double-hand... uh-... something... disability... doesn't mean I can't learn to be functional again. If Stephen Hawking can keep living and contributing to society with just a little face twitching, then I can’t complain with a basically functioning body, even if it's weird and strange and small and weak...

Huan still never seems to want to come inside, though in truth I wouldn't have wanted him to. Inside and outside animals. Separation. Whatever. At least he comes with me when I go alone into the city. Even when I go at the worst times of day to keep away from the animals. That dog's a real trooper. I've stopped changing his bandages. The skin has scabbed over well enough I don't think he needs them anymore. Here's hoping he won't get any new injuries anytime soon.

That's when I found the thing I tried to draw. I did my best to sketch it. I'll probably go out to take a picture tomorrow, if I can find it. I'm not sure what would happen to it.

It looks fresh, but it didn't look like paint, exactly. Just patterns. Patterns burned or stained or marked somehow. I have no idea how they're supposed to be read or interpreted. I'm not sure if they even are words.

I haven't been on this street, but I can't imagine the city of LA would have let such a pattern remain in the center of one of their streets, obstructing the lane markings and distracting drivers. It wouldn't be hard to sand-blast it off, right? I have to think these marks were made after the disaster somehow. By who, I can't say. There isn't anyone left in the city besides us, right?

Maybe someone else is here. That would be wonderful. It would be best if the whole population was still here, but... if everyone was here, we could keep living. One city would be enough to preserve civilization eventually. We could repair it. Fix it. Buttress it. Whatever. Repurpose all those rusting machines. Granted, if there were millions of people in a city and nowhere else we would probably mostly starve...

Sky could make nothing of the markings, except to say they felt "familiar somehow". Not sure what that means. Of course, I'm not sure about lots of things Sky does. She seems to adjust faster to all of this stuff than I do. I'm not really sure if I ought to be jealous about it or what.

It feels a little more normal to be walking with shoes on my... hooves. Like a regular day in the city. Maybe I'll have time to make some real clothes soon. Athletic shorts chafe when you wear them on fur, I've learned. The elastic is too tight and the legs are too loose. Even a hole for my tail isn't enough, it feels like it's going to tear at any moment and show it all to the world.

How does Sky deal with it? I feel like less changed for her than changed for me. I'm too afraid to ask. I don't want to. She seems to know more about animals in general than I do. Maybe living on a farm her whole life might've made her more ready to be a farm animal. I don't know if her butt-mark is purely cosmetic or if maybe it indicates something else, though I'm not sure what the something else would be.

At least we don't have any proper horses. I'm not sure what I would've done if she had wanted to take those with us. There wouldn't have been a reason to keep them around in any case, when we can do everything they can to a lesser and weaker degree.

It hasn't rained once since everyone vanished. There's nothing new about this, it's actually what one would expect for California weather. I wonder what it would take to keep the grass growing in the park at least. I know it can hibernate to survive a drought, but that probably won't be enough to keep the supply intact with a tiny herd of cows eating it. Do cows even like grass? How do you ask them?

Actually forget I asked. I don't want to know. I want to go back to a world where people are people and cows are cows. Let’s stop riding the road in-between. Before I go completely insane. Wish the world was the sort that cared what anyone thought about it.

Sky couldn’t make anything more of the markings than I could. So far as I’m concerned, they don’t have to mean anything except that there is probably someone else in the city we haven’t found yet. They were further south in the city than I usually venture; I’ll have to make a habit of going in that direction more. Maybe I can find a flare gun or something. If there was one, there are bound to be more, right? We can still have ourselves a colony. The last dregs in the chalice of humanity. Rot away.

Tomorrow I'll go out and investigate that whole area. Maybe if there's one sign of life there will be more, and I can follow them to whomever made them. Could they be friendly? Well, they're certainly weirder than Sky is, even, if they're spending their days painting weird marks on the street.

Childhood’s end, right here. Too bad it wasn’t a nuke.

Oh, and the shoes work pretty good. They’re really tight on the legs, so I worry if they’re restricting blood flow or anything, but they felt comfortable enough. They didn’t feel like they were slipping off, though I was a little concerned that the welds were going to come undone if I twisted. Somehow I don’t think I could pass any safety standards. Maybe with a few weeks instead of a single day I could do better. They feel more like costume shoes than real ones.

—A

Author's Note:

In case anybody's wondering, every code/message in this story contains real text. I don't promise the stories themselves will include ways to get at them, but they can be translated if you care. If not, feel free to enjoy the story from the same perspective the characters do.

Note for spinoff writers: Please, don't use rune circles like this in your stories. We don't even know what they are yet, and take it from me that it would be an unwise decision to include them at this point.

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