• 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 7: May 30
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Dear Journal,

Sorry about not writing yesterday. I was otherwise engaged. Just wanted to say that things have changed. Everything is different now, and not in a bad way. If you’ve been reading these entries straight through, you can probably guess what I’m going to talk about. I’ll just assume you have been and offer minimal background details here as I go. Lots to talk about, and not too terribly long to talk about it. Staying awake remains a challenge, and it’s already night.

But if I don’t take the time to finish this, I’ll probably get out of the habit. Even given the changes to my situation, I fully intend to keep writing these as best I can for the foreseeable future. I'm sure they'll probably get shorter once I get into a routine. Flipping back to some of my older entries (before I was abandoned all alone), Some days I just wrote a few lines. It wouldn't be that bad to end up like that, once all the biggest problems of survival have been worked out.

Two days ago I heard the voice of someone broadcasting. While a human voice might very well have come from a recording (as the loop I set to broadcasting over the CB), the person speaking was in clear and severe distress, expressing thoughts of loneliness and abandonment just like my own. It wasn't a HAM radio broadcast, or anything over shortwave, just the sort of transmission you might hear over any handheld radio you could buy at a Best Buy or whatever.

I made finding this person my top priority, putting it before even my urgent unmet survival needs. The night before, I put together a quick device I could use to monitor the strength of the signal, and a map I could use to mark all my observations. Early in the morning I set out with the map in my wagon along with the radio, a big rechargeable speaker, and enough supplies to spend the night somewhere if I needed to. Wore my best pair of athletic shorts for the occasion, along with a necklace I used to wear before everybody vanished. Huan of course wouldn't have missed the trip for the world, though I'm not really sure what he does with his time. I'm starting to think maybe I should do more to get him to at least come inside the fence. It's got to be safer sleeping on the property (maybe in the garage or something) than out in the middle of nowhere.

I wanted to make it extra clear to the stranger, if she was human, that I was human too. Well… not physically obviously. I could only wish.

Describing the process is boring. I knew the city well enough not to need the map to navigate, only to mark my observation. When divided into tiny grids, I filled each square I traveled through with my observations. She was transmitting all day, though most of it came through as patchy static at best. She needs a new radio.

Only when I got close to where I’d been “shopping” for clothes the other day did I begin to hear her again. She wasn’t talking about anything in particular, just reminiscing about family and the people she missed and wishing they were with her. Talking about how she thought she’d probably starve before winter, because “let’s face it, I’m helpless enough to starve in a city full of food.” She said some worrying things, at least for the mental health of someone who has only been alone a week.

I was racing against the clock, though. If she signed out again, she might not ever sign on. Since I didn’t have a car, each step came dreadfully slowly, and it ended up being more a game of hot and cold than triangulation based on discrete points.

As the day wore on, my hooves got sorer and the sky got darker, and even as the signal grew stronger there was no sign of anywhere lived in.

I thought about turning around. The dog-barking and other generally disconcerting noises were getting louder, and I knew that the longer I waited the less likely I would be to make it back to my new home before it got truly dark and I lost the ability to see anything clearly. Huan would do his best to keep me safe, but there was no way we could fight off a large pack by ourselves.

I was walking through tall, regular apartment buildings. They all looked the same, a dozen stories each with no obvious signs of present occupation. I decided to chance my safety on an assumption: even somebody who wasn’t doing everything I was probably cared enough to keep electricity going somehow. Generators, extra batteries, something. The radio might be handheld, but I was willing to bet if they went to the trouble to do that they would also keep some lights burning.

The only problem with using this assumption in my favor is that my night vision is now much worse than it used to be. While I seem to also be able to see colors in a much more vivid way during the day, it’d be tough work not to trip over my own hooves, even if nothing wild and dangerous tried to run me down.

Nothing did, obviously. As sunset came and the cloudy California sky turned scarlet, I saw a glow from within one of the apartments, one of the few to have a window open. I saw no motion from inside, but there was no mistaking the orange radiance as anything natural. With the power dead for several days, I didn’t think there was any chance it was happenstance.

The window was open. I had a speaker and a cell phone with plenty of music. I picked the loudest, most grating pop song from my library, angled the speaker upwards towards the window, and turned the volume up loud enough to blow the speaker.

When she came to the window to investigate, I learned I wasn’t alone, in more ways than one. I wouldn’t wish my suffering on anyone. I wouldn’t wish anyone else experience the awful loneliness of an apparently empty planet. I wouldn’t wish anyone lose their body, and be given an alien one instead. I wouldn’t wish that anyone have to hate the foods they crave and lose access to their skills because they lack the limbs to use them properly. Worse things.

When she came to the window, I saw a face that wasn’t human. Maybe I should be ashamed to say that I felt relief, but it would be a lie not to say so. I am not alone. Whatever strange magic changed me, I was not its only target. I’m not going insane.

Well, maybe I am. But it’s slow.

If I’m a little crazy, this new — mare — is downright insane. She wouldn’t give me her name, at least, not her real one. She said that she hated that person, and it’d be better for everybody if she had “died with the rest of them”. She wanted me to call her “Cloudy Skies” instead, after the pair of depressingly gray clouds on her butt.

Yes, she has a mark on the sides of her… whatever you call it on a horse. Butt isn’t right. I should find a horse anatomy book to read. Whatever.

They’re not tattoos. It’s right there in the fur. She’s closer to a natural color than I am, gray instead of this stupid aquamarine like me. I think there’s a drop or two of red in her fur, but it’s so spread out it’s more like a pastel twinge than anything else.

Of course, the weirdest thing about “Cloudy Skies” is that she’s got wings. Honest to god wings, coming right out of her side like she’s some sort of chimera. Only it doesn’t even look all that unnatural. They match her coat perfectly, feathers and all. They don’t seem particularly useful; they’re way too small to lift something as big as we are. You call that a Pegasus, right? Like the one that dude tried to ride up to Olympus even though he knew no mortal could go there.

I feel like finding another survivor is a little like that. I've kinda just accepted that I wasn't going to have anyone (dog not withstanding). What does it say about me that I was content with that after only a week?

Of course, Cloudy Skies is playing several different flavors of strange. She also didn’t bother to wear anything, saying “animals don’t bother, and that’s all we are now.” I can’t deny how uncomfortable clothes are against a coat, but I still reject her logic. Whatever. It’s not like I’ll ever care if a horse is naked near me or not.

So she’s a little eccentric. Well, more than a little eccentric. There are some signs of serious distress and a history of abuse here. Figures that at the end of the world I couldn’t find anyone stable for a partner. Well, I guess she does belong in — See, find just one other person to spend some time with and I've sunken to making puns.

I’m not sure if Cloudy Skies has always been unhinged, or if it’s a recent development. I can’t say I know the first thing about treating anything. All I can do is be kind, understanding, and patient. Given she is (at present) apparently the only other person in the world, you can bet I will try. My friends would say that I’m pretty lousy about being loving and understanding. My friends are all gone. Still, I can’t help but agree. I’m probably going to screw this up somehow.

She’s not particularly attached to the place — it isn’t her home from before. She wouldn’t tell me where she had come from, only “hopefully it burns down when the summer fires come.” I talked about all the nice things my home base has going for it, and she seemed to get convinced pretty quick. Of course, it might've been that she was convinced to not having to live all by herself. I can't say I cared for the lifestyle much.

She offered me her bed, but I took the couch of course. She didn't have generators or anything, just a bunch of flashlights and a huge box of batteries. No water either, just cases of water bottles she was using for everything. Super annoying, since you need fingers to open the tops on those. Had to punch a hole in each one to get the water out. Whatever, it was fine. I'm sure that was part of why she was so willing to relocate. As I had thought, her radio looked old and broken and she didn't really know how to use it. Doesn't matter though, really. It was good enough to lead me here.

Today, we loaded up her possessions (leaving behind the map and the blown out speaker to save space) into the wagon for the return trip across the city. Sky (if I just call her that it doesn’t seem so silly) wanted to help, and my neck and sides were grateful to have the awful nylon not rubbing on them during some of the walk.

Mostly she wanted to know about all the things I had learned and done. Mostly I had bad news for her, since I haven’t learned anything about what caused this or why. I told her that I wasn’t sure we would ever know that part, and that my first priority was survival. She agreed, and actually didn't mention being human or anything about the world before during our long walk back. My questions were met with obfuscation or simple confusion, though she wanted to know all about my work at the garage and my plans for the house here in town.

I do have plans. I’ve got a little prepper in my blood on my father’s side. Pity it didn’t manifest in me until after everything was already over. Now that I've got a reason to put in the effort besides my own simple survival, I have a feeling I'll work harder. I'm not the only one at risk if we run out of food or water now. Of course, I also don't have to do it all myself. Now I've got someone who will hopefully turn into a friend eventually to help pull the wagon. Plus, it's a she. Feels a little selfish to be thinking something like that now, but given what happened I can't help but be thankful for that. I'm not sure how I would've handled the alternative.

The headquarters has four bedrooms. With the new arrival, I’ve transferred all my crap to the master bedroom, leaving the others free for the others I’m sure we’ll find soon. When there was one, everything was awful and I was alone. If there are two, there are bound to be more. Whether dozens, hundreds, or thousands, that I don’t know. We will find them.

I haven't decided yet whether I want this to succeed. Is it better to let a handful of "humans" live on, or just let ourselves go gently into that good night. I'm not sure yet. I KNOW it shouldn't be my decision to make. I feel like there are billions of people who should get a say, but who have been silenced.

Next priority: simplify transportation. Maybe together we can make a real harness for pulling the wagon, or pad and reinforce the toy. It would be smart of us to start a garden too. I wonder if horses can operate rototillers.

Not forever alone after all,

—A

I did my best to capture Cloudy Skies, though I didn't have her pose or anything. I think I'm getting better. Guess it is possible to adapt to using just your mouth after awhile.

Author's Note:

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