• Published 14th Apr 2017
  • 2,779 Views, 135 Comments

To Outlast - Camolot the Creator

Matt has always wished to visit the world of Equestria. He finally makes it, only to find an empty world barren of life. What happened? Where is everypony?

  • ...

Humanity Crossed

I had always loved the idea of Equestria. Though my familiarity with the source show was limited, mostly second-hand for anything beyond season two, I immersed myself in the fanfiction and the creative talent of those online. I read from many sources, picking up stories and philosophies, and was truly fascinated how many facets the community could find just in this world of ponies whose lives revolved around friendship and harmony. But, there had been another reason I loved that world so, and it had to do with the Cutie marks.

Every pony received their own mark, symbolizing their skills, their talents, their purpose. From the moment they realized that thing they were special for, a pony had their purpose in life: I should be so lucky.

Twenty floors above the streets of Portland, I lived in a small tenement. I was a loner, a thinker, a man of words and literature: I survived on what I could make by serving others as an editor, a proofreader. It was just enough to keep my studio apartment, though I ate ramen more often than I would like to admit: it was not as if freelance work such as mine was anything even closely resembling steady. Still, I felt that my purpose was elsewhere, that there was something missing or unfulfilled: like many, however, I dismissed this, at least for the moment. Later, I reasoned. Later.

But then the offer had come.

I had been dreaming, before: something about monsters or aliens, the typical affair of a brain overexposed to a large variety of media. However, something had shifted, changed, and it had gone from a dream to something... else. Something other. I could not accurately express what it was, exactly: I had felt a shift of sorts, something that I could only compare to the idea of a room suddenly moving several feet to the right. Then there was the fact that the entire image now had a sense of the real about it, as if it were tangible thing that one might reach out and touch. It didn't feel like a dream, to be sure, though neither did it feel like anything I had known. And it began with a darkened room.

I came to full awareness there, lucidity flooding through me in an experience that I had only known one or two times before, and even in those times it had not been this intense. I could feel everything: the grit of sand between shoe and stone beneath my feet, the cool and damp air of a room underground, the faint hint of age and dust in the air. With a start, I realized that I could see, though barely: it was not as if an ambient light was shining, more that the darkness did not hinder my vision overly much. I could make out the intricate circles and symbols inscribed in complex patterns all over the flat, carved floor, and the many etchings on the pair of steel doors that stood in front of me.

I was almost in awe, wondering what this might mean in regards to my state of mind, and I made my way forward, hand extended towards the silvery metal. Before I could make proper contact, however, a voice sounded from behind me.

"Matthias Síðasta Von."

I half turned towards the voice: there, in the back of the chamber, was a clearly quadrapedal figure, surrounded in a cloak of deepest black, which only made the ivory horn stand out even more than it normally would have. The voice that had come from the figure was distinguished, regal: the owner of such a voice would have no difficulty attaining and holding whatever position in life they aimed for. It had not mispronounced my strange name- had not even stumbled over the letters. Some part of me, the writer, railed against the innumerable cliches at work here, but the rest of me was simply curious. It was not every day that one felt a dream so real as this one.

"Yes?" I replied. It had not been a question, but I still felt prompted to answer.

The figured nodded once, in response.

"I have an offer for you, Matthias. An offer, and a warning."

I nearly rolled my eyes in response, but that had simply been the writer once again. The rest of me was still quite curious about the current happenings, and so I decided to play along. Turning around completely to face the figure, I spoke in reply.

"Very well. Let me hear both."

"There are two doors in this room."

Now that she- for it was a she, I was certain- had mentioned it, I saw the other door: this was unlike its sibling in that it was a plainer door, of aged brown wood.

"One-" a foreleg gestured to the door of wood- "leads back to your life. No strings, no attachments, no caveats, you simply wake up in your bed and all is normal. The other, however-" here, the figure shifted to indicate the door behind him, "it leads... onward."


The figure nodded again. "Onward. Into what are possibly the best, and most terribly trying, experiences and tests that you will ever face. You will experience joy, anger, fulfillment, sadness, and many others besides. You will fight, and you may die, but such is the price of such decisions, the cost of such gains." The foreleg returned to the ground. "So, what is your decision? If you wish, the offer may be made again tomorrow night, when you have made up your mind-"

I shook my head emphatically. "No, that won't do. I'm not sure I'll even remember this, and even if I do, there's not even the remotest guarantee that any of this is real." Lowering my voice, I muttered "I'm still dreaming, so I may as well go along for the ride." The figure, however, appeared to have missed the whispered comment, and visibly perked up.

"Excellent. If you are certain of the path you wish to take, do so." The cloak shifted slightly. "Be forewarned, however: if you leave through the wooden door, this offer shall not come again. Do you understand?"

"I understand." Such little admissions were pointless in any case, as I had already decided on which route to take. Without hesitation, I turned to the door of silvery steel, hand extended.

The metal was cool to the touch, smooth and polished underneath my palm. The surface shone, almost seeming to glow from within the metal itself, reflecting some unknown light source, and the surface was completely devoid of scratches or blemishes. If this had been an actual door, there would no doubt be at least one person who's job it was to ensure that this door was as beautiful as possible at all times. Given the state of the door in question, this person had perfected the job into an art.

There was no sound, not even a squeak, as I pushed the barrier gently, the door swinging silently on well-oiled hinges. I was, in part, impressed: this dream was quite possibly the most detailed musing that I had had in quite a while, though I wished that it had been a dream of rolling hills or a moonlit vista, something that I could truly savor. Still, one does not question a dream, and perhaps there were some of those vistas at the end of it all, if I was patient enough to search for them.

A tunnel stretched out into the distance, all light and confusion and kaleidoscope colors, shifting and changing in patterns that made absolutely no sense to the naked eye, or to my slightly addled mind. Vaguely, I wondered if this was comparable to the experience of having a drug trip, and vowed not to even harbor the temptation to partake in the more illicit of substances. To another, the patterns might be comforting: for my part, they just made me slightly sick. With a deep breath, and a slight steadying motion, I took the first step into the tunnel... and let out a completely manly scream as I was, suddenly and without warning, sucked into the tunnel proper.

The sensation was one of being ripped apart and reassembled every single second, on an atomic level. The pain was...

I have no comparison.

Once, my hand had caught fire: the scarring was minimal, skin grafts healed the wound completely, and little evidence remains of the mishap. Previously, it had been the worst experience of my life, the worst pain that I had ever experienced. I had been completely sure that it was the worst and most agonizing event that I would ever undergo, short of something that would kill me, and until now I had been entirely correct.

This tunnel topped that accident by orders of magnitude. It was a mercy when the darkness swallowed me, and my awareness of anything winked out.

The doors closed with nary a whisper of sound, sliding shut and blocking out the dazzling array of colors that formed the flume to Equestria. In the absence of the sudden light, the small rune-laden room darkened considerably, the light leaving the single quadrupedal figure alone in her corner.

Now that the human was gone, she flicked back the hood of the cloak, shaking her red mane out of the confines of the rough material as she shed it, revealing a white coat and alabaster wings, in addition to the horn. Sighing, she stretched slightly: she had been standing relatively still for quite some time, waiting for him and ensuring that the gate was stable, and was now greatly relieved to be able to move freely again.

"The final game piece has been set," she said, her joints popping faintly as she moved them, the hum of runes and magical arrays building for another spell. "Let's see if you herald the death or rebirth of Equestria, dear Matthias. And let the proper game begin."

A grin cracked the alicorn mare's face: it had been too long since she had played on this grand a scale, so many little pieces and cogs that would have to come together. And then the grin faded as she remembered why she was making this move.

No, she thought, this is a necessity. I do not have a choice. She would need the Seven, all of them, or everything was for naught. She nodded once to herself, her resolve steadied and her confidence bolstered, her horn engulfed in an aura of green light.

With that she cast the spell and, with a crack and a small shower of magical sparks, the stone room was empty.

Author's Note:

If you caught the reference, a cookie for you.