• Published 2nd Aug 2018
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Equestrian Nightmare - Phoenix Quill



An anthology of terrifying stories.

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Should you want some company... OC, Thriller, Slice of Life, Other, Slight Gore

It was late in the year when the events started to happen, that was always true. Legends say that the time of the year from Nightmare Night to Hearths Warming Eve were the Nightmare’s Time, where the sun weakened for the moon to rise in power, and give life to the darkest of dreams.

The sun had only passed out of sight moments ago, and the moon was only just cresting over the horizon when the air was filled with the sigh and heavy panting of a motor carriage. It was a rare sight outside of the bigger cities, something considered a toy for the super rich, the adventurous, or the foolhardy tinkerer to play with. The earthpony behind the tiller was a little of all three.

Turnwrench sat upright in a high bench seat as the motor struggled up a small hill in the dirt road, and tried desperately to keep the fuel flowing, despite what gravity was demanding. He swore under his breath and jammed a hoof down on one of the floor peddles and using his left forehoof to jam on the shift lever. The grinding of gears filled the air before the bang of backfire echoed out, killing the motor with the sense of finality of a canon shot.

“Great, just great,” he said in a bitter tone as he lifted the clear driving goggles off his face. He looked around, hoping that somepony might have set up a shop, or maybe had set up a station of some sort out here on the edge of white tail wood, only to find that of course there was nothing.

He jumped out of the carriage and adjusted his white linen duster, shaking some of the road off while trying to warm himself slightly as the night marched on into darkness. He walked around to the rear of the carriage and examined the glass tube, indicating that he had well over half a tank. He followed the connected brass tube down behind the bonnet into the powerful twin cylinder engine, and saw that it wasn’t leaking as far as he could see.

Turnwrench took off the sheet of red metal and tossed it up and over one of the drive wheels and continued to follow the tube down the split where it went into the two cylinders, not a leak in sight, but here it was, engine stalled anyway.

He grumbled again, and looked the thing over a few more times, touching and adjusting the parts where he suspected there may have been a problem, only to find that there wasn’t one. “I guess it’s just,” he stopped short, not wishing to blame himself for lack of driving skill, which was true, but in all honesty there weren’t that many ponies that knew how to drive a motor carriage in the first place. That being reasoned out, he finished by saying, “Lack of foresight.”

With a shrug he looked over the motor for a few more moments, then casually put the bonnet back into place, and decided that the best course of action would be to simply push the vehicle to the top of the hill before starting it up and heading home. He reared up and placed his hooves on the sides of the bonnet where it met with the frame and gave a hard shove, forgetting that he’d left it in gear.

The motor, not strong enough to carry it’s own weight plus his up the hill, suddenly sprang to life. Now that it wasn’t carrying a little over a hundred kilo’s of pony, decided it could now not only climb the hill, but also left Turnwrench well behind as it shot over the small hill.

“Hey!” Turnwrench shouted as he gave chase to the vehicle, and watched as it slipped away from him just a little too quickly, as it continued to drift slightly to the right, and only stopped when it crashed into a tree.

Again he found a good swear for what had happened, and quickly set out to evaluate the damage, only to find that there was none to be found. He gave a sigh and reached up to grab the gear lever, and pulled it out of gear before pulling the carriage back away from the tree.

He opened up a door under the seat, and pulled out a pack of matches, and quickly lit the gas lamps in the front of the vehicle as the darkness took full hold of the small plateau on the edge of the woods. He then pulled out the starter crank, and stuck it into a hole in the side where it fit into the center of the flywheel.

He bit the crank, then thought about what the pony who made it told him, about how somepony else had broken their jaw by trying to crank the motor that way, and instead used one of his forehooves to spin the crank. The motor panted and wheezed to life instantly, and waited patiently for him to finally climb in and continue the journey.

Turnwrench placed a hoof onto the step to get in, when he heard a soft crunch behind him. He turned to face the trees, only to find absolutely nothing. He shivered, despite the coat he was wearing and climbed the rest of the way into the vehicle, adjusted the timing, pushed down on one of the peddles, jammed the gear lever, and adjusted the throttle before grabbing the tiller and taking off.

The two headlamps mounted on the dashboard worked well on the dark road as it entered the forest, and it wasn’t too far of a drive to get back to his home, there he could take some photographs of the engine and look things over in his study to try and find a way to improve it’s power, or at least the fuel flow into the engine besides letting gravity feed the engine.

The woods were surprisingly silent, other than the constant wheeze of the engine as it puttered through the woods. It left Turnwrench with a lot of time to think as he navigated the road, a bouncy ride that clearly was meant more for ponies to run through or haul carts with goods through rather than for mechanical engine vehicles to try and navigate. He grumbled slightly to himself, and as his mind wandered, his imagination was just beginning to enter that silent sanctuary of lurid imaginings.

It was the same with him as it was with nearly anypony else’s mind, one moment you think about relaxing at the local pub later, then you think of that one mare from town that might be there, (that imaginary one that every stallion seems to have,) The next thing he realized, he wasn’t thinking of the pint at the pub, but instead of a bawdy barmaid, then he removed the bar, and kept the maid…

The rustle of something moving in the bushes beside the path brought him back to reality with a sudden jolt, and he looked to his left, at first he couldn’t see anything. His muzzle drew down into a frown as he nudged the throttle to go faster. As he sped down the slope, the sounds seemed to quiet, but not stop.

There was a turn up ahead, and he tried to concentrate on the task of keeping control of the vehicle. The sound of rustling stopped, and what sounded like the snapping of a bone split through the air. He held a breath, and looked left. That patch, it’s darker than the rest, he thought to himself, and thought he saw the dark shape of something.

The vehicle roared on, leaving behind whatever it was. Imagination, surely. The shape was only slightly equine looking, and no doubt something from his overactive imaginings. It’s what’s not there…

The road was easing to the left, and the sounds of movement stopped, and despite what he had thought to himself earlier, the quiet was almost worse than the sound. Something else is here, something the animals fear. He shivered the thought away, and continued on down the road, sure that the sound of the engine was what was scaring the animals away, and that whatever was chasing him was either imaginary, or perhaps something like a deer or wild pig that had lost interest.

The road straightened out, and he slowed to a stop as the fork came into sight. A small lamp-lit sign pointed to the left, Forest Trail to Los Pegasus, and to the right, Ponyville/Canterlot Trail. The sign kept his attention for a moment, and he was about to take off when a new sound entered his ears.

It was mournful sounding, a dull roar that wasn’t heard so much as felt. A low vibration, both screaming and silent all at the same time. He shivered in the cold and saw his breath condensate in the air before him as he let go of the brake lever. He looked back at the lit sign, and felt a scream choke in his throat.

There was something under the sign, it looked like a large moving shadow, vaguely equine in shape, sucking in the light around it. Dripping viscous oily substance that it was onto the dirt below, where it killed the grass beneath it’s hooves. The smell of sulfur reached his nostrils as it’s glowing white eyes opened, looking him dead in the face, gleaming white fangs in a hissing maw, larger than anything should be allowed to open.

The image was gone in less than a second, all that was there, was a shadow of the bushes from the small lamp shining down on the sign, and the shape was a pony. Under the sign, a mare was huddled close to the lamplight, tan in color, wearing an all white evening dress that complimented her tone, and showed how striking her mane and tail were in comparison.

She looked at the vehicle in fascination, and stepped forward. Her white dress shimmered in the lamplight of both the sign, and the carriage. For as bright as her dress looked, her hair seemed to actively eat the light around her, reflecting nothing in return. “Pardon me,” she said with a dip of her head. “But is that an auto?”

A thousand thoughts rushed through the brain of Turnwrench. None of them were exactly related to her question, but more related to what he was thinking of her. This wasn’t the first time he’d encountered a mare he’d like to take home for a little company. It wasn’t the first time he’d decided to use the carriage to get things started. He smiled his best at her and nodded.

“Yes miss, this here’s the Wrexil Motor Company’s latest auto-carriage,” he ran a hoof over in a ‘here she is,’ gesture before pressing a button, activating a small electronic bell on the front of the dash board, and it rang in two short peels of rapid hitting hammers.

The mare’s eyes widened as she reached a hoof forward to touch one of the wooden spoked wheels. “It’s beautiful,” she said in a breathy voice before she started walking around the panting carriage. “I’ve never seen an auto before,” she said with a smile.

“Well,” Turnwrench started to say something about how not everypony could exactly afford one, or about how Griffish tech wasn’t exactly popular in Equestria, but stopped himself short. Instead, he found himself asking, “Do you want a ride?”

The mare smiled and walked around to the far end of the seat, away from the controls. “Sure,” she quickly tossed in a tall stick attached to a bag, then hopped in and smoothed out her evening dress. “It would be nice to get home early without galloping.” She paused to think about how to phrase the next part before continuing. “Well I shouldn’t gallop in this anyway. My family is hosting a wonderful event tonight, and I would hate to have come a mess.”

As she sat next to him, he noticed immediately that she smelled of jasmine flowers. An intoxicating odor favored for drowning himself in, at least in the olfactory sense. He smiled at how such a subtle thing simply worked for him. “Well, I’m headed in the direction of Ponyville, do you live there?”

“Oh no,” she said with a frown, “I live on the edge of the woods that way,” she pointed in the opposing direction. “If you don’t mind.”

He made a face, and actually had to think about it for a moment before answering, “Alright, let’s go.” He pushed on the throttle, moved the lever into gear and it took off with a stuttering pant.

A few moments into the trip, the mare started leaning out the side and started watching the dark trees pass by. “Thank you,” she said over the engine. “I should be used to these woods at night, but…” she trailed off.

“Yeah, I know,” Turnwrench replied with a smirk. “You never know what’s out there in the wild parts of the country. “Highway-mares, manticores, changelings, cockatrice, and more could be just around any tree or bush.” He nudged the tiller to the right to avoid a large rock in the path, then held out a hoof. “I’m Turnwrench by the way. What’s yours?”

“My what?” The mare said with a frown before it connected with her. “Oh, my name!” She laughed like the tinkle of silvery bells, warm and pleasant as Hearths Warming Eve memories. “I’m Lamplight,” she said as she nudged one of her hooves on the stick she had brought with her. “It’s what I was doing out here, I’m one of the lamp lighters for the public roads between towns.” She blushed slightly and Turnwrench couldn’t help but melt a little.

“So that was your last stop?” He asked curiously. “I thought that you would have more than just one lonely lamp.”

“Usually I do, but I had to go to Ponyville to pick this dress up,” she smoothed out a wrinkle with her hoof as she talked, “So I traded posts with somepony tonight so I could light the lamps on the way back from town.” She pointed up ahead to another lit sign for a split in the path, “See, he did this half for me while I did his half, go left by the way.” He did, and the pair fell into a comfortable silence for a few minutes.

It was a few moments into that silence, that Turnwrench decided to deploy one of his classic moves on the mare. “Hey, wanna see something really scary?”

Lamplight gave a small smile, and the first thing that came to his mind wasn’t how cute she looked, but how scary it was. “Sure, let’s see what you got.”

Turnwrench grinned in return, and turned down the flow of gas to the lamps until they were useless, but not quite out. “Oh no, gravel had broken the lamps!” He said with a laugh.

“Oh, now I’m scared,” Lamplight said sarcastically. “I suppose you want me to huddle closer to you for protection now,” she said with surprising coldness.

Taken aback, Turnwrench blinked and frowned slightly before regaining his composure. “Uh, well.” He mumbled incoherently under his breath and adjusted the flow to the lamps so they could see again. The pair continued down the forest path in silence.

The silence continued for several minutes before Lamplight finally broke it. “It is cold out here though, isn’t it?” She then slid across the bench seat to be slightly closer to him on her own.

“Heh, yeah, it is,” he said with a smile as he wrapped his front leg around her body. “They really ought to add a roof to these things.

She laughed a little, but there seemed to be no joy at all in the sound, only a hollow echo of what the sound of laughter should be. “Yes, but I doubt that anypony is going to do that any time soon.”

A chill ran down Turnwrench’s back as she laughed, but he ignored it, and instead continued down the road. “So,” he said awkwardly, “I take it you’ve seen some things out in these woods.” He internally winced at how completely idiotic he sounded, but put on a brave face and smiled.

Lamplight nodded slightly, “Oh yes,” she said with a genuine grin. Many things around these woods. I remember seeing deer a few times, raccoons are pretty common.”

The vehicle moved on, and Turnwrench placed his foreleg around her shoulders and nodded. “Yeah, I figured you would have seen a few animals now and then. But I meant anything, you know,” he paused to think of the right word. “Interesting.”

“I don’t understand what you mean,” she replied. As she did, Turnwrench noticed that there was a definite drop in temperature. He shivered in the cold wind and took a deep breath, and his nostrils were immediately assaulted by a deep rotting smell.

“I mean,” he started, only to have his own body force him to stop, the smell combined with the cold outside was doing his nostrils no favors, and he broke into a coughing fit.

“Oh my,” Lamplight said with a frown. “Are you alright?”

“Yes, quite,” he said through the coughing fit. “I think we passed up a skunk or something.” Sure enough, the smell was leaving the two of them, and they carried on down the road.

They passed another lamp before Lamplight spoke up. “So, you wanted to know if I had ever seen anything truly interesting,” she said with a serious look. I did see something once, if you would like to hear it.”

Turnwrench slowed the auto-carriage down as he navigated past the softly glowing lamp, and let his eyes adjust to the change in lighting before speeding up again down the path. “Well, I think that there’s only a few more marking lamps to go,” he said with a small grin.

“Well,” Lamplight said as she looked at the dashboard somberly. “I think that we’ll have plenty of time to have this one out.” She gave a small, soft and somehow sad smile. Turnwrench looked at her, and felt a small twinge of guilt for how his first reaction to seeing her was one of lust. She continued to look dead on at the dashboard for a few more moments of silence before finally speaking. “There was once a mare, who lived at the edge of these woods.”

She paused, looking unsure of how to continue, as if this were painful for her. “Go on,” Turnwrench said with a sense of urgency, as they came upon another lamp. “If you can, that is.”

“Well,” she said as she began to tap her hooves together. “One night, this was quite some time ago I think, maybe three or four years ago, she had gone out to a party with her friends. I recall being there, but I don’t remember what the reason was for the celebration. Anyway,” she took a breath before going on. “I remember her, she had left earlier than I had, saying she needed to get home for some reason. But the point is, that I had left a few moments later to catch up with her.”

Turnwrench nodded as he swerved to avoid a rather large branch in the road, and saw that another lamp was just a few feet ahead. He knew that the woods were almost through with, and that they would soon be back in civilization again. He wasn’t sure why, but he suddenly felt like he needed to stop, or to get off the seat of his auto, he saw a fork in the road and slowed to look them over.

Lamplight pointed to the left, and he went and picked up speed as they went. “Well,” Lamplight continued, “There we were, heading out of the woods from our friends house, and headed back to the town. That’s when I noticed she was crying.”

Turnwrench nodded as he drove, but now he was definitely sure that the sense of unease that he felt earlier had come back, and the smell. He didn’t know why, but the smell was stronger than ever now, and he felt as though he were going to be sick at any moment. “What happened?” He asked as he was still trying to be polite while looking for the source of the smell.

“She ran off, far ahead of me on the dark path. There were no lamps then you see,at least not like there are now. Back then, we only had lamps at forks in the road, not every few meters apart from each other,” she said with what sounded like sorrow. “Anyway, I soon lost sight of her, and that’s when I heard it.”

Suddenly, and without warning Lamplight, who had been up until now looking at the dashboard and the tiller and throttle with what was assumed to be a deep and quiet study, screamed in a high and piercing tone like that of some sort of creature of immense size and age. Neither anything living or dead should be able to make such a call, but the mare beside him did, and it rattled the stallion to his very core as he felt his insides lurch and the skin crawl.

As soon as she had given the scream, Lamplight had grabbed the tiller in one hoof, while slamming the speed throttle with the other, her face before him as she continued to give that unearthly cry that seemed to bring forth the very image of every demon and devil that ever walked to tempt any living thing. Turnwrench gave a cry of surprise, as his rear hoof fell jumped from the clutch on it’s own accord, letting the engine rev higher, now free from the strain of moving the weight of the wheels pushing the carriage and ponies forward.

The vehicle swerved under Lamplight’s control, and as he looked for the brake lever, Turnwrench glanced a look at Lamplight and saw that she was now laughing. Not with joy, but some sort of madness. Her eyes looked as if they were all aglow with a fire of their own, as smoke poured out of her nostrils and mouth with every hearty laugh in his face.

Turnwrench screamed as he used his right front hoof to pull the brake lever, bringing the auto to a quick and jerky halt. He looked at her at first with fear still lingering, his heart beat making his throat and what felt like his brain swelling with each pound of the organ. Lamplight, for her part looked as if she were enjoying herself immensely. Not some sort of demonic mare of the after world, but a lovely young mare who seemed as excited and thrilled as if she had just got off a ride at the fair. “You,” she started but had to stop because of her laughter. “You should see the look on your face!”

Turnwrench now pulled the throttle back down to an easy idle speed with a quick jerk of his hoof, and gave a look to the mare as if hoping to set her mane ablaze for what she had just done. “Get out, he said in a dark tone.

The mare’s laughter slowed to a stop, “I’m sorry, what?”

“Get out,” Turnwrench said, a little louder but with just as much intensity behind his voice. “You could have killed us with that little stunt of yours!”

“Oh don’t be like that!” She snapped at him. “After all, we’re nearly to my place and,”

“If you are so near, you can hoof it,” he said as he pointed to her exit on her left. “Just go.”

“If you insist, oh mighty master of the machine,” she said as she bowed her head and grabbed her stick with the bag tied to it. She slid her way across the bench seat, facing him the entire time, a smirk still on her lips curled around the stick She then took to the ground, and used a hoof to balance the stick over her shoulder. “But if you should want some company, in the future, you’ll find me just over that hill,” she nodded with her head to the path just ahead of them, where the road crested over a hill, leaving what was beyond a mystery.

Turnwrench didn’t acknowledge her offer in any way as she walked to the front of the vehicle, instead giving her a look that clearly said, Not if you were the last mare in the world or off it. She continued to give off her little smirk as she watched him, walking at an odd angle to keep eye contact with Turnwrench.

“Well, thanks for the ride.” She said as she reached the front of the auto, he looked at her in the lamplight and saw that her tan coat wasn’t nearly as perfect as he had thought at first. And that rather than a spotless white dress, it was stained in something, but he couldn’t quite tell. She turned her back to him, and what he saw, made his blood run cold.

Where before he had seen she had a backless evening dress, he saw that now she was in fact, backless. The skin of her back was flayed open, revealing in the lamplight, that he could see her spine very clearly, packed with decaying flesh, oozing with a black ichor where worms crawled in and out, undoubtedly enjoying their feast.

Turnwrench didn’t scream, he was beyond that. The smell assaulted him once more as he turned and looked to his left where she had sat moments ago. There, the worms were, squirming around in the black liquid that she’d left behind. As he turned to look back at the mare, he saw that she was gone, leaving no trace behind but the smell, and the sound of laughter echoing off the trees.

He looked back at the seat and saw that it was now clean, nothing there anymore. Despite his first instinct to want to flee from the scene, the auto simply didn’t allow for such a thing. He needed to go back, and saw that where he had stopped, there was no room for him to turn without running between trees on either side of him. Leaving him with two choices, either pick up the whole thing by the rear and turning it around himself, or look ahead for a turnabout space.

He looked around, and saw that, yes, he really was alone now, but felt unsure. He hopped down from his seat and looked under it for his emergency supplies. There, he found another lamp, snuggled in among the tools that he had thrown in earlier with the matches. He grabbed it and quickly struck a match, lighting the lamp and holding it out before him with a hoof.

He felt better once the lamp was lit, and looked into the woods. Nothing, no sign or sound of the laughing mare, if it were a mare at all. He looked on for a moment in all directions before a loud noise made him jump.

He almost dropped the lamp in shock, but was relieved when he realized that this latest scare was only an owl hooting in some tree. He cleared his throat, and did an awkward three legged walk up the hill to look at the other side where the mare had gone off in, hoping more to see that she was truly gone, rather than for a turnabout now, having mostly resolved that he’d rather just pick it up and move it himself.

No, now he felt as he made step after step to the top of the small hill in the road, that he wanted to make sure that the mare was indeed well and truly gone. It’s better to find that she’s gone at least far enough that she won’t attack me while I work, yes, he reasoned in his mind.

When he crested the hill, he looked on, and felt his jaw drop. Thereafter, just a short distance away from the crest of the hill, the road ended in a sharply diving cliff. He felt dizziness come upon him as he looked down and saw, there on the bottom, among the sharp rocks, was the skeleton of a pony, wrapped in the shredded remains of what at one time, must have been a beautiful evening dress.

Author's Note:

This story, was started, around April of 2017, in hopes of being ready for October of that year.
Since then, my life as you may know has gone through many changes.
This particular story, was inspired from my Oma, a tale that she told me from when I was very young, and she had heard from Indonesia in her youth.

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