• 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 21: June 20

Dear Journal,

Holy crap what a day. Out of the freakin’ sky. Who does that pony think she is? Does she have any idea how much damage she could’ve caused? The injury or death of one of the last few survivors could guarantee no colony ever succeeds! Particularly when the success of a colony depends far more on having a large number of females than on males.

Not that it matters, since for all I know we’re all only going to live another decade or so. Even if we start breeding like rabbits (God no), ten years and we’re dead and our children couldn’t possibly have learned enough to preserve much of human culture. A few more short generations later and the huge structures and ruins rusting and crumbling will seem like the monuments of forgotten gods, wrought by no hooves at all.

Well, that last part is still true. No hooves did make any of it. Of course, I’m feeling a little (maybe a lot) like a hypocrite just now. Joe may’ve warned me about that spell, and I might’ve ignored that threat to my own safety (and enabled Sky to do the same). Aren’t we necessary too?

Well, we’ve been here longer.

I feel like when I have more to talk about, writing in order keeps me on task (and stops me rambling on and on about how fun it is to gallop. Just looked back at that, yuck. Was I trying to write a pony infomercial?) So, I think I’ll try to boil everything down so I stop wasting ink.

I could probably switch to mouth-writing if I really wanted to, but I see no reason since I’ve gotten so good at dictating everything. There’s a pattern to speaking that makes it work right, not to mention that the program trains on your voice. The day I first changed I had to go back and change all kinds of things, correct mistakes and such. Now it generally gets things right, even when I say something about our glowicorn and his stupid cheating face. Guess I’ll need to come up for another name for him now.

I was talking about focusing, wasn’t I? So today was supposed to be a day to relax. To spend an afternoon pretending the whole world hasn’t fallen apart and try to cut back on the stress tearing all of us apart. I can tell the others are feeling it, even if they show it differently. A short vacation was the answer.

Everything was going exactly according to plan. Sky had packed us brown-bag lunches (store bread is stale by now, but she can make bread from scratch so it’s no big deal), I packed an RV with everything I thought we might need, and Joseph had done nothing practical to contribute as usual. We planned on an overnight trip, and being back by early afternoon the next day (the longest Cloudy Skies was willing to let the cows and chickens go unattended). Huan came too, because he’s my buddy.

The traffic was the best I’ve ever seen, big surprise there. Made it to my favorite beach (Zuma, one of the lesser known Malibu beaches). Had to use bolt cutters on the gate, but then we just parked the RV less than two hundred feet from the surf. Beautiful.

Turns out my surfing ability has suffered tremendously for this transformation. Nah, I didn’t bother bringing a board. No point even trying. I don’t think even Joe and his cheating could’ve made that possible (and he was scared of the water anyway, so whatever). No, jellyfish aren’t that common. No, there was no reason not to have fun. Yeah, he found a way. We had fun. Swam, ran for what felt like miles over the sand (the key is to focus on the wet part, but not too wet. The area past the waves but before it starts to dry is the most stable for hooves).

Fires aren’t legal on this beach. When it started getting dark we had a bonfire like something out of Backdraft. Four cords of wood, tepee style and Girl Scout water. Like all “stallions” who haven’t had fun with fire, Joseph wanted to play with it, so I let him start it. Good thing too, since there was this fireball when he brought the lighter over there, and a huge plume of black smoke. Probably would’ve got some serious flash burns from that much gasoline otherwise. His levitation magic is apparently not susceptible to burns.

Got a grill going too, though that was terribly lackluster. Veggie kabobs could’ve been okay if we hadn’t got the veggie out of cans and dehydrated packets. It’s just not the same. Coke still tastes the same though. Vanilla, since it was a special occasion. Always saved the vanilla for special occasions. Apparently Joe loves tacos, and he’d found a taco MRE somewhere (first mistake). No, that flavor is not vegetarian. He ate it anyway. Or he tried, I should say. He couldn’t get it down. Man did he try though. Should’ve seen the look on his face, trying to put on a brave face for us about how strong he was and how he wasn’t going to let the transformation take his favorite food away. That unicorn won some points in my book for his efforts today.

It wasn’t long after sunset, when the sky is still purple and blue and you can see without too much trouble. All of us have been getting better about having more human schedules, or at least not having to fight as hard to stay up in the dark. Sky usually doesn’t bother, but I think being around me fighting the schedule has worn on her a little. Joseph, of course, had conquered it even before we met him, so no fairness there either. Maybe the horn goes back far enough into his brain that some of the magic shoots back that way by mistake whenever he floats something around.

As fun as all this was, the day might not have been that significant if that had been all we did. Obviously if I’m writing this it means that wasn’t everything. You’re right, it wasn’t.

We were thinking about turning in for the night when we heard it: an engine. Pony hearing is pretty good, and we could all tell it was coming from above (it would have to be, since there are these cliffs just behind the beach that would block it off from the sound of the county beyond). It wasn’t terribly loud, obviously it wasn’t a jet engine or anything. Looked up in what was left of the light, and we could see it coming towards us along the beach, flying very very low.

It was an airplane, a two-seater prop plane flying slower than most cars drive, getting lower and lower along the sand. The landing gears were not extended. My first thought was to scream and panic, there was a plane coming right at us! Sky and Joe did just that, but I took a deep breath and rose to my hooves calmly instead.

Actually, the plane didn’t come right at us. It was too close to the water, right at the boundary where it’s easiest to gallop. It was maybe thirty feet up, coming down in a very gradual arc. I couldn’t see the pilot very clearly, even with as slow as she was moving.

Everything happened in just a few seconds. Plane touched down about thirty feet from our campfire, sliding along the belly. The ground shook when it touched down, and I almost fell over. Water and sand went spraying everywhere, splashing us even with as far away as we were. Blasted past us, listing to one side. Fiberglass on one wing shattered and the thing wobbled, almost flipped into a spin. Nose was too high off the ground, or else the prop digging into the sand probably would’ve torn it to pieces right there.

I felt it more than I saw it. Joseph dug his hooves into the ground, and there was this pink glow from beside me, almost as bright as the campfire. I saw it on the plane too, not exactly coordinated, just a pressure forcing it down along the top, stabilizing it for just a split second. It didn’t roll, but rapidly lost momentum as its belly slid along the ground. Needless to say, I don’t think it’s ever going to fly again.

The engine sputtered and finally died, and then the whole thing started to smoke. I’m not sure what happened to Sky, but Joseph and I ran right over as fast as we can. Should’ve seen that unicorn go: ripped the door of the plane clean off. Wasn’t far off the ground anymore, so I shielded my face as best I could and ran right in.

There was a pony inside. I didn’t get a good look at her then, just wrapped a hoof around her and tugged her free of the restraints. She’d been buckled in, and there were clothes on the floor of the cockpit (though she wasn’t wearing any). Once I got her clear Joseph helped me haul her away. Good thing too, because that little plane turned into a fireball about a minute later. We were far enough away that none of the shrapnel got us, though the explosion sent my ears to ringing. I have to wonder if Joe’s magic didn’t protect us somehow. Like I said, that pony earned mad props today. I take back every bad thing I ever said about him.

Maybe not take back. He’s still lazy. He’s just not a coward.

Sky had calmed down when we got to the RV. She’d cleared a space for us, turned on all the lights, so we could lay out the pony. She wasn’t in good shape: there were numerous lacerations, some of them deep and bleeding badly. I almost retched when I realized how bloody I was.

We had medical supplies this time, and Sky had a trauma kit ready. Sky isn’t a real doctor, but there’s a chemical coagulate that’s fairly easy to use. We laid out the pony in the shower, and cleaned her up as best we could, they dried her and sprayed the cuts. A few were definitely deep enough to need stitches, but the worst by far was on her head.

The pony had been a unicorn. I said had, because some terrible impact had shattered her horn. Looking at it was worse than any of the cuts, and coagulate would do nothing for a wound like that. Sky didn’t have the stomach (and we didn’t have the gear) to treat the pony on the beach. I sped us home as fast I could, riding on caffeine and adrenaline to stay up. She was still bleeding a little when we made it home.

Thank merciful god that pony wasn’t conscious. Joseph took care of stitching her up (using Sky’s instructions), and I performed the first ever partial horn amputation. Got it down to about two inches… there was no saving the rest. Had to cauterize it. Stopped bleeding after that.

It’s later than I’ve ever stayed up. It’ll probably be morning soon. I thought talking about this would make me feel better. The shower did… God, the water was so red. It feels wrong for such a great vacation to end like this. We were having fun! Bonding! All the stuff friends do.

On the other hand, this pony wouldn’t have stood a chance if we hadn’t been there (was it the smoke from our huge fire that showed her where to land? Was she even conscious for any of it? I can’t imagine touching down that well just by chance). We have her in the third bedroom, and someone is going to watch her round-the-clock. I’ll take my turn in another hour or so, when Sky’s done. She’s breathing, believe it or not. Guess all those things I thought about Joseph's body being light and weak might’ve been premature. Sky says there’s no guarantee she’ll ever wake up. We don’t think anything’s broken, but there might be internal damage. She lost a lot of blood, and we have no idea what kind of stress losing most of a horn might be for a unicorn.

Joseph had planned on doing the amputation too, since I’d been so squeamish around the blood. He started retching and I had to step in anyway. I found him later clutching at his horn with both hooves and shaking like a leaf. Brought him some hot chocolate and a little something more to take the edge off, and he’s sleeping now. He can do third shift.

She still hasn’t woken up. It’s my shift now. She’s in bed, and she’s breathing, and she’s safe. We’ll see about helping her take food tomorrow. I think I’ll try to draw her healthy. A little scotch couldn’t help me feel better, so maybe art will. Couldn't fit the mark in on the drawing, so I put it next to her so you can see.


Author's Note:

Huge thanks to the pros at http://flighttraining.aopa.org/students/flighttestprep/skills/emergency.html for their help with this entry.

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