• 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 20: June 17-19
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June 17, 2015

Dear Journal,

Had fun with Sky. Went on a tour of the houses using a map from a store. Couldn’t get past lots of the fences, still locked. Brought home a projector, speakers, and all the best movies we could get on DVD. Set them up downstairs. New movie room? Needs theater seats. Will go with Joseph when we can get him away from his computer. Nice to spend time with Sky. Think we might have an actual friendship going. First steps, right?

—A

Had another strange dream, worse than last time. This time I was floating through space, no ship or suit or anything. Still a stupid pony, because life sucks. Floating towards the moon. Kicking and screaming, fighting. Freezing, choking, dying. Hundreds of others just like me, maybe thousands, all dying too. All had butt-marks, all except me.

There was a face on the moon, not a man. She saw me, reached out. I died anyway. No more accidentally falling asleep while watching creepy movies. Think I’ll go tuck in Cloudy Skies, then head up to my real bed.

June 18, 2015

Dear Journal,

Found an LED searchlight (who knew?), one almost as bright that won’t take a dedicated 5 to 10 kilowatts to run. Runs on 2, which is nice. Put it a few houses away, where it doesn’t face any of the bedroom windows but is still close to the house. Drew some arrows on the ground next to it, and hooked it up to a single-stroke diesel. Little generator should run all night easy without refueling, it burns so slow. Good start. No return signals on the radio.

Been eating canned produce for weeks. Salvaged plenty of boxed food from grocery stores, but the animals have caught on. Plenty of food is just rotting away in the heat. Good news is that the cans should survive well enough, and we can get those out at our leisure. Dog packs seem less plentiful, but they also seem less transitory. I’m afraid they’re settling into territories now. Those still alive are the ones that can hunt enough food to feed their members.

Frightening detail: many of them have set up shop indoors, even though almost every building is intact. Maybe some got left open, automatic ones or whatever, but plenty more seem to have clearly been pushed open somehow. Either somebody’s done it for them, or they’ve figured out somewhere to shelter from ambush and the elements. Makes scavenging into interiors difficult.

Sky is a really good cook. Her meals are wonderful, when she gets the chance to make them. Fresh breads seem to be a particular talent of hers. Good thing too. White flour apparently stores for longer than many other goods. If we can’t get agriculture going again, we may be eating white flour for many years to come. Assuming we don’t die of scurvy first.

Brushing your teeth as a pony is incredibly inconvenient, by the way. My solution? Velcro. Few days ago I made these Velcro “socks” for hooves, with a strap to keep them on real tight. Wrap a little Velcro on something you need to hold onto (like a toothbrush), and it will stick real snug. Works for tools too, so long as I don’t need to use too much force at once.

Solar shower: a silver plastic bag with a tiny tube on the end. Hang it in the sun (scorching) and you get a trickle of warm water to bathe with. Easier to use when you have hands to control the flow. We have a stick it’s taped to, so the flow is in one place, and you can move yourself under it. Privacy shade of some blankets around it, which I’m very thankful for. Sky brags about how much sense it makes not to wear clothes, how freeing it is and how not-sweaty she gets. Can’t say she’s wrong about that part. But we’re talking about the mare I sometimes catch running and flapping her wings about like a goose about to take off (she never does).

Sick of this, and for once Joseph is on-board. Tomorrow we’re going to get those water-producing machines and set them up on the roof, pouring drinkable water right into the cistern. We’ll use generators at first, but a few of our neighbors have solar units of their own. Will use sturdy cable and connect those too for total zero-maintenance. Very dry here (~30-40% humidity), so it will take several machines and much effort to get anything like enough for our needs. Cattle lake is draining. Living in this city is not sustainable long-term. Shame to leave it behind one day.

—A

June 19, 2015

Dear Diary,

Thought I’d mix things up today. Is there any difference between a journal and a diary? Never heard of a stallion — sorry, a man — who kept a diary. Probably shouldn’t mess with success. Managed to keep daily entries through injuries and magic and worse. Never a dull day in Los Angeles.

Dogs are getting increasingly territorial. Pack tried to scare us away from the Home Depot where we had to pick up the atmospheric water generators. We scared them off instead with a cloud of bear-mace and some air horns. Take that, animals! See what we’ve done with our opposable thumbs and science? Wait, we don’t have either of those anymore.

Well, Joseph makes claims to the last one, but I’m not so sure. We haven’t got a translated code yet. Haven’t got replies either, but I digress. The code did change today. Joseph's research has put a name to what the thing is called: a number station. Apparently they’ve been going almost as long as radio itself. Really mysterious stuff, mostly for spies (there’s a wikipedia article about them on the Kimballnet). Ugh, I just called it that.

So the voice on this station didn’t change, but the numbers did. There’s a pause between each repeat, so I’m pretty sure the transmission is: “17-8-1-21-3-9-5-21-20-1-16-0-4-13-0-0-13-17-16-0-5-13-16-5-2-17-0-5-1-16-11-2-3-0-6-5-13-2-2-5-13-16-23-3-0-21-13-11-1-21-3-5-1-16-9-5-20-3-18-17-20-21-6-5-22-11-3-16-3” Now call me crazy, but I swear there was less static this time, and the voice was a little louder. Getting closer? Is that even possible? Wouldn’t the angling change or something? I might not actually know how to do this shortwave stuff. For all I know I might be sending our signal straight into the pacific ocean.

We need a beach day. Joseph hasn’t ever seen the ocean (God’s honest truth, at least according to him), and Sky’s never actually been in it. Weather’s been so nice lately I figure we ought to take the time to enjoy ourselves. Drive out there, have a nice fire, camp one night. Can’t go more than that, since there are a few cows that need milking and the chickens need feeding and such.

Set up water machines on the roof. Have to run our power generator constantly to keep them on. On the plus side the tap works again and there’s hot water and I feel wonderful and clean. A pity we can’t count on technology like this long-term, or else we might be able to stay in southern California. We’re going to have to move eventually. Not sure if we’ll go north or Midwest yet, though. Maybe another colony will show up and answer that question for us.

Maybe this signal is another colony, somewhere not too far away. Hear how I say another like there’s already one, and we’re them. We’re not them. We’re not a colony, though I think we’re friends. Even Joseph, insufferable as he is sometimes. It’s hard not to be drawn together by a shared difficulty.

Okay, he’s not really going through it the same way I am. That dumb smart stallion couldn’t even imagine how much worse it is to be me. Doesn’t have to be helpless. Doesn’t have to feel helpless. Joseph has to worry about blasting a hole in the wall (he keeps away from most magic inside the house to avoid wrecking the place like his shelter from before we found him).

Nobody new flocked to our searchlight yet. But with the total darkness of the city, I’m sure it can be seen for tens or even a hundred miles around. It might take time to get here. Assuming someone who saw it even wants to find other survivors. I would.

I wonder what other ways I haven’t thought of there might be to get in touch with other survivors. Maybe we could play constant rock music from the house during the day (not at night, shoot me). Shoot signal flares at night? God no, what if one of them started a fire? A fire could take everything away from us.

We’re in the middle of fire season now. If there’s still a god somewhere, maybe the lack of humans around will help us make it through the year without any. That’s no guarantee, since so many start spontaneously. No more water planes or trained wilderness fire experts. Maybe one day there will be pones who wear small water tanks on their back and carry little hoses in their mouth. That actually sounds pretty cute! Maybe they’d look like…

Like that? Needs a name. If Sky named her, she’d probably be called… Fiery Courage. Or… Water… something… her idea of names make no sense.

Went to watch her try and “fly” again today. It’s actually the running that’s most impressive to watch. No, not running, galloping. Joseph is still as coordinated as a safe rolling down the stairs, but the two of us have been practicing.

I think I may’ve done it right (without tripping) for the first time ever. Without the shoes, since wearing them makes everything a little harder. I can barely even describe how awesome it felt. The park is only a few blocks across, but that’s plenty of time to appreciate just how fantastic it feels.

Galloping isn’t like running the way I used to. I don’t think I was ever really built for it before. Swimming, maybe, but not running. But I spend every day on my legs these days, and they’re the only muscles I have. I probably couldn’t have even done it when I first changed.

Now, though? Now’s different. It’s hard to remember the feeling of feet, those tiny toes and that soft skin that you could tear on stuff. Human running is like oscillating on two springs, bouncing back and forth constantly from step to step. It’s obviously worked for us, but…

It never felt magic like this does. It takes some doing to get into the movement (that’s why I practice around the lake, a face-full of grass isn’t nearly as bad as a face full of concrete). Once you can shift into the pattern. Back-back front-front, fly… back-back front-front, fly…

I’ve seriously never felt anything quite like this. The ground is just blasting past you like you stuck your head out a moving car, and you know if you trip you’re going to go tumbling and probably break something. The air is rushing past you, mane’s blasting back, tail must look like some sorta freaking flag.

I wish it hadn’t taken me this long to learn. It’s gonna be awhile before I dare it when not on the grass (though the sand at the beach will probably work okay. So many videos of “real” horses seem to be at the beach for some reason).

It’s not fair. Just like eating healthy, running was never this fun when I was still human. It sucks that there were a handful of awesome things that came along with the horrible awfulness of getting my body stolen. It’s hard to say absolutely that being a pony is a bad thing.

Sky can gallop too, and I think she’s less likely to fall than I am. There was no contest when we ran, though. So long as I didn’t trip, she had about as much chance of keeping up with me as the cows. I would’ve paid to see Joesph try it. Let the cows laugh at him while he practices.

Maybe we’ll be able to get him to try at the beach tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to swimming again, though I’m not sure I’ll take Sky’s advice and swim without my clothes. Humans did that all the time, didn’t they? I wouldn’t be an animal if I enjoyed the water without slimy salty fabric making my coat all sweaty and crusty. Warm showers or no.

We picked out an RV to take with us to the beach (diesel, because that’s how I roll). Used the usual handicapped bars and connectors and such to make it drivable. Fun thing about RVs is they’re like smaller versions of what we’re trying to make our house, and we don’t have to do any work to get them that way! They already have water storage, efficient appliances, a generator, and so on.

Sky and I packed it tight with supplies for the trip, including my toolbox in case anything goes wrong. I would worry more about leaving the house unattended, but there’s still no sign of other survivors nearby. Even if some dogs have managed to open doors, I doubt they’ll be getting into the tall, locked gates. Generator and lights will all still be working, so it’ll probably look like we’re home.

Whatever, we can always mace them out if we need to. Worked well enough last time. Even smarter, we haven’t seen any sign of the dogs using tools.

The day stray dogs start breaking into gun shops, God have mercy on us all.

—A

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