• Published 9th Mar 2018
  • 2,533 Views, 56 Comments

Ouija - Knackerman

Apple Bloom reaches out to her parents across the gulf of eternity. Something else reaches back.

  • ...

Chapter 10

Applejack knocked softly at the door to Apple Bloom's room. It was clear from the puffiness around her eyes that she had been crying, but the farm pony had done her best to put on a brave face before she said, "Apple Bloom, sweetie, is it alright if Ah come in?"

There was no answer.

She stood there for some time, listening to the old farm house settle. She couldn't really fathom what her little sister had been through, but she didn't think sitting alone in her room was the best thing for her right now. Even so, she hesitated to just barge in on her.

What she wanted to tell Apple Bloom, what she was about to say, those were things she hoped she would never have to tell her. Or at the very least Applejack hoped that it would be saved for a conversation she had with her kid sister once she had become an adult. Maybe when she was sixty or so. Yeah...

The truth was a part of her didn't want Apple Bloom to come to the door. Or even better, she wanted her little sister to just tell her to go away. Then she could keep putting off the conversation and at least say that she had tried.

Who am Ah kidding? Applejack thought to herself. The family had put it off for so long that in the end it seemed that it had done real harm. If she didn't tell Apple Bloom the truth now then there was every chance it was only going to get worse. Steeling her resolve, the Element of Honesty reached to turn the knob on the bedroom door...

And froze.

Just beyond the cracked wood, Applejack thought she could just make out quiet voices whispering. It was low and hushed, but at least one voice was clearly that of Apple Bloom. Fearing the worst, Applejack quickly opened the door. She strode into the room both dreading what she might find, but also readying herself to deal with whatever it might be.

Instead she found Apple Bloom, simply sitting on the floor and staring at her in alarm.

"Is everything okay sis?" asked Apple Bloom, her eyes wide with surprise.

"Er... Yeah," replied Applejack, deflating somewhat as the adrenaline in her system abated. "Were you uh, talkin' ta somepony just now?"

Apple Bloom shook her head. "No Applejack, Ah wasn't talkin' ta anypony. Ah wasn't talkin' ta anypony at all."

Applejack breathed a sigh of relief. "Sorry, with everythin' that's happened Ah was worried ya might have been chattin' with spooks again with a ouija board."

"Nah sis, Ah don't need one of those things anymore," Apple Bloom said firmly. "Ah've learned mah lesson. Ah ain't gonna be usin' that thing ta reach out to anypony anymore. Not after all the trouble Ah've caused."

Applejack felt her heart shrivel in her chest at her little sisters downcast look. It was clear that she was miserable over everything that had happened, and she clearly blamed herself for it all. "About that sugarcube. Ah got somethin' Ah've been meanin' ta tell ya, but Ah..." the farm pony struggled for words. She took a moment to compose herself and sat down on the edge of Apple Bloom's bed. "Well, me and the rest of the family were sort of waiting for the right time ta tell ya and well... Given the circumstances, Ah reckon now is as good a time as any."

"Oh, what's that?" asked Apple Bloom getting up from the floor and coming to sit next to her big sister on the bed.

"It's about mom and pop. Bright Mac and Pear Butter. Ah now that we lost them when ya were still practically just a foal so ya probably don't remember things too well. Truthfully speaking we had kind of hoped that ya had forgotten and ya wouldn't have to remember but... "Applejack wrapped one forelimb around Apple Bloom's shoulders. "I want ya to know we never meant to hurt ya by not tellin' ya. Quite the opposite in fact. We wanted to protect ya."

"Applejack," Apple Bloom suddenly looked older and wiser beyond her years. "Quit beatin' around the bush. If ya got somethin' ya want to tell me, just spit it out already."

"Right, right. Yer right Apple Bloom. Here Ah am still tryin' ta put it off." Applejack removed her hat and took a deep breath before plunging ahead. "Mom was a strong pony. She'd had Big Mac and me, no problem, and Big Mac... well he was big even as a foal. That was how they picked his name! That was why it was a bit of a shock when the pregnancy went wrong. One afternoon Ah had laid down with mama for a nap, and when Ah woke up ah was all alone. Big Mac, Granny, mama and papa had all gone."

She let those words hang in the air for a moment. There was only the sound of the wind in the night outside Apple Bloom's window, shaking the glass ever so slightly. Applejack's hooves were shaking too.

Applejack took another deep breath to steady herself. "The bed was soaked in blood. So was I, come to that. There was actually a trail of it leading ta the bathroom. The towels were soaked too and there was a red ring around the bathtub. Ah had no clue what was going on until Auntie Applesauce came by ta pick me up. She got me cleaned up and took me to her house. Ah kept askin' her where everypony was, where mama and papa were, but she'd just change the subject and try to distract me with puzzles and colorin' books."

Apple Bloom reached over and placed her hoof on top of Applejack's own shaking hoof. "Go on."

"Right. It wasn't until some time later that she took me up ta the hospital and Ah found out Ah had a new baby sister. Ya were just the tiniest little thing. It was still a good two or three months before ya were supposed ta be born, so we couldn't hold ya or nothin'. They had ya hooked up ta so many tubes and wires and things that if they had offered ta let me hold ya Ah think Ah woulda been too afraid to," Applejack smiled slightly when she said that, but the grin quickly faded. "Ah knew somethin' was wrong when Ah noticed no one was happy. Ah'd been to enough birthin's even at that age ta know that the Apple clan celebrated big when a new member was born into the family. Everypony Ah saw that day was ashen faced and grim. Big Mac and Granny Smith were both bawlin, and papa... well papa just held onto mama's hoof fer dear life. She was hooked up ta even more machines than you were."

"So Ah'm the reason mama died," Apple Bloom said flatly.

"No!" Applejack said forcefully, grabbing her little sister by the shoulders and shaking her. "No! see that is exactly why we didn't tell ya. We was worried ya would come ta that conclusion. Buttercup was strong and always had been. She survived the pregnancy but... but she never was the same after that." Applejack let her sister go gently and looked down at her hooves. "She grew weaker and weaker as the years went by. One mornin' we went in ta wake her up and she just... she just couldn't open her eyes. She had fought hard and given everything she could, but in the end they said it was some kind of blood poisoning that took her. Some kind of an infection that just went unnoticed and untreated for years. It had been so long since she had you, since she was sick, that it really stumped the doctors. The sad fact was that with helping out on the farm and raising three children, she just hadn't had the time to take care of herself."

"But there's more, isn't there?" asked Apple Bloom quietly.

Applejack set her jaw firmly. "Yeah, there is. Losin' mama hit dad hard. He turned ta the cider barrel more and more. We tried ta make him stop, but mama had been his whole world, and his sun and moon too. From the time that they had been kids themselves, his life had revolved around her. There was no way for him ta deal with her loss without dullin' the edges of his pain a bit." Applejack stopped, as if she wasn't sure how to continue. She looked up to the ceiling. "They say he probably didn't even notice when he stepped onto the tracks. They figure it was too dark and he was too drunk to realize what he was doin'. There were rumors o'course. Plenty of folks said it was a broken heart what drove him ta step in front of the Friendship Express, but our daddy weren't no coward like that. He may have been a bit of a fool, and he certainly was tryin' ta avoid his problems, but Ah can't see him as the sort of stallion that would leave behind three children of his own intentionally like that."

She'd done her best, but remembering what had happened to her father and all of the nasty rumors folks had spread about him was too much for Applejack. The tears came fast and hard, streaming down her face, though she struggled to contain the sobs that wracked her small frame. She whimpered and hiccuped a little, but she refused to lose it completely in front of Apple Bloom.

To her surprise she felt herself wrapped up suddenly in a warm hug. Little Apple Bloom was squeezing her tight. That only made her cry harder, burying her face in the top of her sisters head and making a mess of the filly's mane.

"There, there Applejack, shh," Apple Bloom hushed her older sister, rocking her gently back and forth on the edge of her bed. Applejack could feel wetness as the tears of her little sister soaked her front. Her voice was soft and sad as she said "It's going to be okay. Everything is gonna be fine."

Applejack snorted loudly. She needed a tissue. She tried to pull away from her little sister but Apple Bloom held her firmly. "Hey... uh. Could ya let me go fer a second Apple Bloom?"

"No..." the filly replied in a hollow voice.

If anything, Apple Bloom squeezed her tighter. "Apple Bloom!," Applejack struggled but she couldn't break her little sisters grip. "Apple Bloom yer hurtin' me!"

"Ah can never let you go again," whispered the filly sadly. "But don't worry... Like Ah said, everythin' is gonna be fine. Pretty soon yer gonna see yer parents again. We'll all be together again. Just one big, happy Apple family. All you have to do... is stay with us."

Apple Bloom looked up at Applejack and smiled. In the candle-light, her wide sad smile sent a chill down the spine of her older sibling. The smile was so wide, in fact, that Applejack could see that Apple Bloom's skin just barely hung on her face. Raw, red, and angry looking flesh peeked out at the corners of her mouth and beneath her sagging eyelids.

The tears that streamed from Apple Bloom's dead eyes were black and filthy.

"Stay with us forever."

Comments ( 19 )

There we go. Thanks for the story sir! It was a good reading creepy read!

Good ending. I was honestly expecting a bad ending like "SStB," and you didn't disappoint. Great job on ending.

Well, that was depressing...

That good sir was a delightfully traumatizing read! Have a mustache! :moustache:

This is one of my favorite scary stories now, from start to finish this story was very well written! And it honestly kinda spooked me. Keep up the good work! :pinkiehappy:

And so Twilight's 'adults are idiots' trope slipped in at the end by not making sure Apple Bloom was alright then :trollestia:

Well, that didn't really define any new boundaries for pony horrorfics or anything, but that was still a fun read

So is that an alternate AB in the last chapter or did they.... Skin her and wear her skin?:pinkiesick:

Which do you prefer?

Then it is that one.

Well then, this was a roller coaster of a tale.

Before I begin with what I can only imagine appears to be a wall of text, I want to say very plainly that I liked the whole story. That being said, some of what I have written below is critique. Said critique is meant to evoke thought and to shed insight on how an overly verbose person such as myself might view your story. Under no circumstances would I ever demand a change in your views or writing style.

And with that:

I especially enjoyed the slow burn terror of the beginning chapters. They were an excellent example of the creeping dread that is common to the better works of Lovecraftian horror out there. It was gripping to watch Apple Bloom wrestle with the possibility that she might actually just be going crazy. The parts where she started to see realities bleed together after having believed that she’d rid herself of the Ouija board are superbly done, right up to the very end of her trying to explain everything to Twilight and Starlight.

What made the early chapters so compelling was that regardless of whether she thought she was making progress or not, Apple Bloom was alone. Her family is who she is at odds with, she’s alienated her friends, and when she goes to Twilight and Starlight for help, her tale is deemed fantastical, and Twilight laughs at it. Even Starlight, who seems more sympathetic and understanding, doesn’t seem to wholly believe Apple Bloom’s telling 100%. The isolation made the terror all the more poignant for Apple Bloom, and for us, the reader.

Now, you switched gears hardcore when the board changed the cutie map, and the scenes directly afterward actually made me feel as if that particular scene hadn’t originally been part of the story. A big example is that at the farm, Twilight and Starlight dismissed Apple Bloom, which would be gross negligence after seeing the cutie map display a shadow hellscape with Sweet Apple Acres as its epicenter. Twilight’s sudden exclamation that something supernatural might indeed have been going on after all also felt out of place because of that map incident. I’d be interested to know if that particular bit was a later addition during your writing process.

It is at this point that I believe the story tries to switch genres, from “mystery dark horror” to “action pulp horror.”

To be more clear about why I said these two genres:

Mystery Dark Horror: At first Apple Bloom is the sole perspective character. The beginning chapters emphasize her thoughts and feelings as she struggles to understand the horrible things what are happening to her. All the while, she is confronted and thwarted by her own powerlessness and lack of agency. Apple Bloom’s primary villain is an undefined quantity that pits her against her own family and friends, isolating her from those that could actually help once she realizes that she actually needs it.

Action Pulp Horror: Twilight becomes a secondary perspective character after Apple Bloom is separated from her and Starlight. Her scenes are almost exclusively visceral action sequences, where both she and Starlight have a fair degree of agency even if the odds are unfairly stacked against them. There is blatant expository dialogue, usually while characters are running or somehow while fighting. The villains are all well-defined, monstrous, all up in their faces, and hammier than William Shatner. I get the strong feeling that you may have realized how hammy things had gotten, because you started dropping exclamation points at the end of narration sentences in these scenes.

Now, there is nothing wrong with either genre. I like both, to be honest, which is one of the reasons I love the story. But I said “tries to switch” because as the story hopped back and forth between scenes featuring either Twilight or Apple Bloom, the genre also flipped back and forth. It was a bit jarring, to say the least, and led to a little mood whiplash as we went further underground and into the shadow temple.

I felt that the showdown with the Pony of Shadows was, unfortunately, a missed opportunity. When Starlight inexplicably pulled off a last minute blast of magic while in a plot-established dead magic zone, I do have to say that I was disappointed. It seemed unfair that Starlight was the one to somehow overcome this final obstacle, when from the very beginning this had been Apple Bloom’s story.

Now, the epilogue was very well done, and more in line with what you wrote towards the beginning of the story. It had all the right hints of everyone thinking that victory was a sure thing, and punctuated it with that final reversal.

All be told, I think the story is very well written and as many good elements. I think that you have a superb talent for writing horror, something which has me eyeing the other stories in your library.

Thanks for your comments, and the criticism, it is appreciated. Honestly this is a story that I wrote more or less on a whim. It ended up going places I didn’t expect myself and kind of revolved into its own beast as it ticked along. There are some stories I write and I am satisfied with them just as stories, just as they are, and then there are other stories I sometimes wish could be told in a more visual format (like a comic or an animation). This story is one of those latter.

If you do decide to peruse some of my other writing then if you want more like this I’d suggest Just Beyond the Surface or Zephyr’s Job Interview. Although if you haven’t read it yet, I’d highly recommend reading at least the first story in the Something Sweet to Bite series - which also has some of that ‘slow burn’ horror you mentioned.

Yeah, I tracked the Something Sweet to Bite back to some of your earliest works. I’m gonna have to schedule them back to back so I get the full experience without switching to something else between each one.

Apologies again for the wall ‘o text, but I typically only write so much if something really hooks my interest.

What a nice story and what a nice ending! I would have liked if it had a happy ending, but an open and sad/grim ending is also fantastic!
It's currently 22h48PM where i live. I read through this all in an hour or so and i have to say, this kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time!
The story took a turn i didn't think it would when starlight and twilight appeared, but it was a nice turn and i really liked it!
I saw a few red flags when applejack saw applebloom whispering alone, but the deal was closed when i read that applebloom sounded "wiser and older". I got chills. Sigh.. they almost escaped. Almost. I loved this !

I usually don’t read horror stuff, so I hope you’ll forgive my disappointment in the lack of a happy ending :twilightsheepish:

That being said, what a fun read! Breezed through it at work, damn this was pretty spooky. I was just expecting some demon shenanigans. Still, great job!


Thanks! The main point of most of my writing is to be entertaining, so I’m glad you had a good time even with the downer ending. I kind of consider a good down-note to be the hallmark of a classic horror story, but I hope that won’t keep you from reading some of my other works. They don’t all have happy endings either, however, I think you might still enjoy the ride along the way!

"No..." the filly replied in a hollow voice.

If anything, Apple Bloom squeezed her tighter. "Apple Bloom!," Applejack struggled but she couldn't break her little sisters grip. "Apple Bloom yer hurtin' me!"

"Ah can never let you go again," whispered the filly sadly. "But don't worry... Like Ah said, everythin' is gonna be fine. Pretty soon yer gonna see yer parents again. We'll all be together again. Just one big, happy Apple family. All you have to do... is stay with us."

Apple Bloom looked up at Applejack and smiled. In the candle-light, her wide sad smile sent a chill down the spine of her older sibling. The smile was so wide, in fact, that Applejack could see that Apple Bloom's skin just barely hung on her face. Raw, red, and angry looking flesh peeked out at the corners of her mouth and beneath her sagging eyelids.

The tears that streamed from Apple Bloom's dead eyes were black and filthy.

"Stay with us forever."

w e l l s h i t

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