• Published 14th Apr 2017
  • 2,747 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?

  • ...

III: Ruination

I stared out at Ponyville, in clear shock, examining the houses and buildings from afar with something resembling bewilderment. I knew this was, indeed, Ponyville- no one could mistake the crystal castle for anything but Twilight Sparkle's, and the layout of the town itself was identical to maps that I had seen, but... it looked as if the town had been empty of ponies for years.

Here and there, the candy-colored paint shone through the years of wear and tear, but the buildings were covered in plant life of all types and descriptions. Roofs had collapsed inward, filling the spaces below them with rubble and broken, rotted timber. Some houses were gone entirely, just a pile of refuse remaining where a building had once stood. Trees had grown into some of the roads, and grass covered every spare inch of soil, clearly not trodden upon in a long time. And then, there was the largest inconsistency.

On every side, the town was ringed with layered lines, three to be precise. These rings were shadowed in the early morning sun, the bottoms dark as the sides of what appeared to be trenches blocked the light from reaching deeper into the earthen structures. At some points, the ring was imperfect, where the surrounding soil had collapsed into the trench and partially filled it. Great hulking masses, the size of trucks and covered in plant matter, stood just behind the rings themselves.

I took all this in, standing atop that hill, and wondered at it. Most of my mind had locked up, in complete disbelief at the sight I was seeing, but the rest of me was vaguely wondering about it in a detached way. Sure, I'd read plenty of fanfic about humans ending up in Equestria, but to be here myself, then to find it so empty... some desperate part of me hoped beyond hope that this was just an exception, if... if this was even real. But, in most fics, there had been some way that the human had gotten to-

I froze. Of course. The dream that I had had, the previous night, with an equinine figure that had offered me a chance of... some sort. To my consternation and frustration, the dream seemed to have faded around the edges in my memory, weathered like an old sepia photograph. The details had disappeared from my recollection- I could remember the gist of the dream, the general sense of what I and the figure had said to each-other, then the shock of pain that was the rainbow tunnel. Realization flickered across my mind: that must have been how I had gotten here. Rainbow Road.

The bit of levity lightened my spirits by just a fraction, but it was enough to kick-start my thought process. Thus, I began to do what humans do best in a situation that they can't quite believe. Rationalize.

Equestria didn't really exist. It broke my little brony heart to think that, but, logically, I knew that magical pony land didn't exist. That left the question of where I was and what it was. Multiple possible explanations came up and were sub-sequentially dismissed: theme park? No, too old and too exact. Normal human town? The castle immediately put that theory to the sword. Dream? No, too real, too vivid and too logical. Coma ... perhaps.

I shook my head. Regardless of the explanation, I was here now, wherever here actually was. If it was a coma or a dream, then I might as well make the best of it. If it wasn't... well, the same applied. Taking in a shaky breath to steady myself, which I needed, to my surprise, as I had been shaking, I set off down the road to Ponyville.

The buildings were even worse up close than from afar. Eroded and wasted away, they appeared emaciated and sickly when compared to the bright, colourful buildings of his recollection. Here and there a few flecks of paint had survived the weather, but these points were rare, rarer still to find an entire wall still the colour that it had been painted as. Even what paint had survived was often peeling and old.

The roads that snaked their way between the buildings where cracked and eroded, as the asphalt road here had been. However, due to the lack of forest in the town, these roads had survived much better than the previous ones. Power poles threaded their way among the structures, wires sometimes still connected and sometimes hanging to the ground, limp and lifeless without a spark of the electricity that they once had carried.

This last was a bit of a wonder to me. I tried to think back as best I could, reaching into my mind for every bit of reference and trivia about the show- had Equestria had electricity? By all accounts, I recalled that it did not; they had, after all, only just been stepping into Victorian-age tech. Clockwork and steam. And yet, here was evidence of electricity.

I puttered about the entrance to the town proper for a little, wondering what I should do. The road itself had been cut through by the trenches, but a bridge of metal had been laid over the earthenworks, neatly removing the interruption of the road. Carefully, I tested the steel with a foot- it creaked, but held. The paint here had held out much better against the elements, and had obviously protected the steel beneath from a large degree of the environment, though rust and flaking was evident here and there. I tested the metal with my full weight, then nodded to myself, satisfied that it would hold me.

I crossed the metal bridge in its entirety, then shot a sidelong glance at one of the hulking figures covered in plant life. For a moment, I glanced back and forth between the plant-coated mass in indecision, then shrugged. It was not if the town would disappear if I sidetracked myself for a few moments, and, even if I did, then it was merely more evidence that none of this was real. I stepped off what remained of the blacktop and walked towards the green mass, grabbing some of the vines and pulling them away, staring at what was underneath.

It was... a truck. Painted on the door, which had a large, low handle set in it, was a silver moon and a golden sun on a backdrop, which was divided down the middle between a dark blue and a sky blue. The window was shattered, pieces of glass remaining in the frame, but this was clearly a steel door. Carefully, I reached down and grasped the handle, which was more like a low-set bar. The remains of a rubber coating squeaked against my skin as I pushed on it, a click resonating from the door itself, followed by a loud groan as I pulled it open.

The inside of the cab was in better shape than the outside. Threadbare and slightly rotted cushions remained, but the dials and controls for the vehicle were still in relatively good shape. Instead of a driver's seat, there was a low bench, pedals on either side of it where hooves could reach them in a quadruped. The steering wheel was replaced with a bar that could obviously be operated by gripping it with teeth and turning it with the jaw, and the entire thing was raised so that the driver could see both the gauges and out the front windshield, which remained intact. In fact, it reminded me of military humvees, with two plates of glass separated by a strip of steel.

I hesitated a moment, then hefted myself inside and over the bench that stood in place of the passenger side, which was identical to the driver's minus the pedals. A glance at the gauges revealed something slightly new: the speedometer was replaced with something that was labelled with KtPH, and the fuel gauge with a label that looked something like a crystal. Engine temperature, rotations per minute... despite the two differently-labelled gauges, the panel resembled contemporary vehicles to a surprising degree.

I glanced into the back, through a door-shaped opening, and observed a closed space, a small metal cave. Doors at the back would obviously open to the outside, but were sealed. A number of boxes of various types and sizes littered the space, all steel and sealed tight. I frowned and brought my eyebrows together. This was... conflicting, with my view of Equestria. These inconsistencies were yet more evidence that none of this was real, and was instead some mash-up of different elements from a number of different medias in a coma of some sort.

I slid myself over the bench that I had been sitting on and through the low door opening, into the sealed back space. It was tall enough that I could stand, though my hair brushed the roof, and plenty wide, with benches on either side of the space folded up against the walls. I went to the first box, a long affair, but was unable to pry the lid open- it appeared that something between the lid and the box proper was sealed with some sort of crust that glued them together. Casting about, I found a crowbar lying among the detritus, picking it up and stuffing the wedged end between the lid and the box. A heave cracked the seal, and the lid came off and open, revealing the interior of the box. The space was dark, but I could make out something long and shining slightly, the seal on the box keeping some sort of oil caking the thing in pristine condition. I gently grabbed the object and pulled it out of its packing, then stared at it in surprise.

This was, very clearly, an assault rifle. Designed with a grip made for something with three fingers, yes, but a rifle all the same. A large box magazine was placed in the weapon, circular grooves stamped into the metal sides. An oversized charging handle that stuck far out of the side of the weapon itself, and a small inscription on its side, indecipherable in the low light. Careful not to trip over any boxes in the darkness, I stepped back to the opening and held the rifle in the light, eyes sliding over the words printed into the steel.

Sister Arms Rifle M34 - Cartridge .75L comp. - Forge Serial # B33429

Below that was stamped the same symbol on the outside of the truck, the moon and the sun. I traced a finger over the steel, following the edges and ridges of the small sign, then shook my head and stepped back into the compartment, dropping the rifle back into its box and swinging it shut again. Odd, interesting, but it didn't give me much in the way of information. I glanced around at a few more of the boxes, many of which were either the same long, thin boxes as the one that I had opened, or a thicker, wider box that resembled ammunition containers that I had seen back on... Earth. I frowned at that thought, then shook it off. The rest of this could be investigated later, I supposed. For now, there was the matter of the trenches, which were like something out of a WWII movie, though lacking their opposite enemy trenches.

I jumped down from the vehicle, landing in the soft dirt with a... clink? Gently I reached down and sifted through the dirt, coming up with a hollow tube that was contracted near one end and sealed at the other, only lightly tarnished. I stared at the object for a moment before it clicked: I was looking at spent brass, an empty cartridge. Poking around through the dirt unveiled a small pile of them, and a rusted and broken version of the rifle that I had found in near-pristine condition inside the truck. I turned one of the cartridges over to reveal the bottom, reading the stamped letters.

Sister Arms Cartridge .75L

Hm... so, this must be the cartridges that the rifle used. Given by the small pile of them, and their location next to the door, as well as the shattered window, the passenger must have broken the window for some reason and leaned out the window, firing at something for an extended period of time before dropping and abandoning the weapon for some unknown reason. I dropped the spent cartridge, and it clinked lightly against its tarnished fellows. Wiping my hands of the small amount of dirt that I had picked up, I looked towards the trenches, which looked slightly ominous as the early morning sun cast shadows in their depths.

I walked away from the truck, towards the lip of the opening in the earth, carefully stepping around some rusted wire that appeared to either be barbed or razor wire- it was so oxidized and rotted that it was impossible to tell. Glancing up and down the embankment, I noticed that it was slightly raised, providing a small amount of cover for a series of other vehicles, which ranged from tall mounds like the truck that I had just left to smaller, squatter mounds that had a very fine raised portion on top attached to a rounded center bulge- tanks, perhaps? I shook my head and turned my attention back to stepping around and over the wire, to the edge of the pit, leaning out over the opening and looking down.

My eyes widened in shock and horror, and I began back-peddling, only to trip over the wire that I had avoided previously. Heedless of the dirt, I crawled backwards until my back was firmly planted against the truck that I had just left, my hand flying up to cover my mouth.

Bones. The trench had been filled with bones.

Author's Note:

Surprise! Another chapter. My main gaming PC is out, so I suddenly have a lot of free time on my hands.