• Published 19th Nov 2017
  • 2,686 Views, 195 Comments

No One to Remember - WishyWish

Cider season is nigh in Twilight Sparkle's town, and a birthday party for a dear friend is the perfect way to usher in the cold season. When that friend ceases to exist, it wouldn't be the first time things have gone wrong. But it might be the last.

  • ...

2 - Dusty Stacks of Nothing

Spike regarded Mayor Mare.

The chief executive of Ponyville’s relatively quiet executive branch had been in office long before Spike had ever graced the dirt paths of town with his talons. He had never seen her actually do much of anything beyond cutting ribbons, making speeches, and organizing an exodus from the odd monster attack, but her tenure alone made her something of a soul above question - there had never been an election that Spike could remember where she had run opposed. Her spectacles and the gray dye in her mane made her look old beyond her years, but they sent a clear message. The name of this mayor’s game was authority, not beauty.

The mayor of Ponyville held herself with a certain genteel attractiveness; her subtle skill with oratory and poise extended to nearly every move she made. She was kind and fair, but there was no doubt that she was also an accomplished politician, the likes of which most incumbents would do wise to avoid challenging. She had the talent to rise above her position, but Ponyville was her home, and seeing to its administration was as far as she had ever wanted to go.

Clearly, she was doing a fine job.

“Spike?” the mayor tilted her head thoughtfully. “Can I help you?”

“What?” thrown from his reverie, Spike’s first impulse was to blurt out the question he had often wanted to know the answer to the most - had the mayor felt at all diminished by the rise of Princess Twilight Sparkle. He had long suspected that no matter the truth, his answer would come on the wings of a soft smile, as the mayor explained that the day-to-day administration of the town was still her responsibility, thus allowing Princess Twilight a broader focus. It was a rude thing to ask, and the shallow reply likely wouldn’t really tell him anything. Thus he mentally digressed, focusing instead upon his true purpose for being at town hall so early in the morning.

“Oh, uh, no, I’m good.”

“Are you certain?” the mayor offered up her patented smile and bedroomy eyelid flutter. “You were either staring at me as though you wanted my attention, or you were quite lost in a daydream.”

Spike blushed. “Uh...daydreaming,” he admitted. “Sorry.”

“Quite alright,” the mayor replied. Her smile finally wilted a bit, and she gave in to an uncharacteristically public yawn as she turned her head towards the records chamber. “I apologize for the asking, but could you perhaps explain what we’ve been up to since the crack of dawn this morning? I have an engagement in half an hour and while I certainly trust the princess with anything she feels the need to get her hooves into, I don’t believe I’m going to be of use to you for much longer. Furthermore, I’m uncertain what use I’ve been so far at all, beyond unlocking the door at sun up.”

Spike frowned and followed the mayor’s gaze to the stacks of paperwork that were glutting the hallway. They were the contents of the town’s birth records archive, dating back to the very founding of Ponyville itself. Musty, dank-smelling files that had been exhumed from decades of rest sat beside pristine folders bearing the names, pictures, and vital information of foals born to happy couples in recent weeks. The shuffling noises and wiggling purple rump that could be clearly viewed beyond the open door were hints that a certain alicorn had yet to be satisfied.

“I...dunno,” Spike said uselessly. “It’s kind of a long story, but I don’t think Twilight’s feeling well. She’s trying to find a certain birth certificate. That’s what she said, at least.”

The mayor brightened. “Well why did she not say so? I’m well acquainted with the files. Depending on how old it is I could probably recollect it without even looking.”

Spike raised a brow. “Applejack? That ring a bell to you?”

The mayor pondered. “...not precisely. Surely he or she must be a relative of the Ponyville Apples, however. Is it a particularly old record? I admit that the ones which predate me aren’t quite as well committed to memory.”

The little dragon could offer nothing more. “I don’t think so. Not the way Twilight goes on about her. She swears we ought to all know her.”

Mayor Mare touched her chin in thought, but no recollection came to her. She glanced thrice again at the records room, her ear twitching nervously. “She will...put everything back in order when she’s done, won’t she?”

Spike rolled his eyes. “No, but I’m sure I will…”

“Ah ha!” The princess cried triumphantly. “Found it!”

Intrigued, her audience hurried into the room. Spike brushed past a pile of files that made up the ‘S’ names and nearly knocked them over, but the mayor hastily righted the stack before it collapsed and let out a relieved breath. There, in the center of the round room, was Twilight Sparkle. She was surrounded by a score of filing cabinets that were almost entirely empty, and though their contents were strewn about the floor, Spike could see that the princess had not broken with her nature - it was among the most orderly clutter he had ever laid eyes upon. In the glow of her magic, Twilight held aloft a file marked ‘A. Apples; Applejack’.

Mayor Mare brightened. “Ah, well then, is that...what you’re looking for?” She swallowed hopefully. “Perhaps we’re done here now?”

Twilight looked like her old, fact-finding self again, much to Spike’s relief. She flipped open the file and began rummaging through the pages. “Just as soon as I confirm that this is all just a big joke everypony’s playing, which I’m sure they mean well by for some reason, but I really can’t just sit idly by and watch them...pretend…Applejack doesn’t...exist…”

Twilight went pale - a feat for her coloring. Spike ventured an inquiry.

“Uh...what’s the matter Twilight?”

“This file is from...eighty-three years ago…” Twilight muttered, her ears drooping in defeat. “It’s for a different Applejack, a stallion, and he wasn’t even born here...he would have already been around fifty years old by the time of the listed local filing date…”

“Oh yes,” Mayor Mare explained, “you’ll find that among the older records. Ponyville wasn’t founded all that long ago - Granny Smith was there for it after all, and she’s still with us. At the time the area was populated mostly by wandering pioneers, and many of them brought their vital records along for the ride. Thus the ‘local’ filing date is merely the date the files were placed in the Ponyville archives, before town hall was built. Eventually they were all transferred here. Most likely you’ll find a different town listed as the birthplace on that record, with a much earlier birthdate.”

Twilight scanned the document, confirmed Mayor Mare’s explanation, and then unceremoniously tossed the folder over her shoulder where it landed back in its drawer. “Ugh...darnit…” she sighed deeply, exhaustion catching up with her, “...neither of you can honestly say you even remember Applejack at all?”

Twilight’s comrades collectively shook their heads.

“In that case,” Twilight mused, “somepony, or something else has gone to great lengths to erase one of the bearers of the Elements of Harmony from existence…”

“Pardon me,” Mayor Mare spoke up. “I realize I’m a laypony on the subject, but isn’t it true that the Elements of Harmony cannot be employed without all of them present?”

“Yes?” Twilight asked, hoping for some new insight.

“Then, are they not all well and accounted for?” The mayor pressed her reasoning, “It’s common knowledge that the five of you used the elements to transform Nightmare Moon back into Princess Luna, banish Discord, and even save us all from the rampage of Tirek. If there were more than five of them...would they not fail to function?”

Twilight rubbed her chin. “That’s what doesn’t make sense. If some villain or evil force were trying to undermine the Elements of Harmony, even if they could warp reality itself, why hasn’t history changed? We never should have been able to defeat Nightmare Moon in the first place.”

“Uh, you did defeat Nightmare Moon,” Spike pointed out. “The five of you did. With the five Elements of Harmony.”

“But history has changed,” Twilight was talking to herself, and without thinking she had begun to float several feet off the ground on her wings. “I know for a fact that Applejack’s birthday is right after harvest time. The Apples love it, because it’s sort of like a wrap-up party for the work season. Apple Bloom’s birthday is at an entirely different point in the year, but I just saw her birth certificate, and the date is printed wrong…”

Mayor Mare raised a brow. “I can assure you that Ponyville town hall prides itself on accurate municipal record-keeping, Your Highness. An incorrect date on a certificate of live birth would be absolutely shocking, especially one so recent in the town’s history.” She glanced at a few piles, looking for something useful to add. “You...did check the letter ‘A’, yes?”

“Of course I checked the letter ‘A’! I checked it five times!” Twilight barked. The moment the words were out, she landed and paused to calm herself. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you. I really appreciate you getting here so early to help Spike and me out--”

“--not that I’ve done anything--” Spike quipped.

“--to help me out,” Twilight appended. “I’m just a little flustered is all. Something is very, very wrong in this town, and nobody seems to be noticing it at all but me. And I have no idea why that is.”

Spike and the Mayor glanced at one another out of the corner of their eyes. Twilight looked down.

“Neither of you thinks anything is wrong,” she concluded. “You all think I’m crazy.”

“Nopony thinks you’re crazy, Twilight,” Spike said gently, approaching the alicorn to touch her shoulder. “We just...don’t know what to say. You’re the Princess of Friendship, and if you say something is wrong then we’ll try to help, but...we don’t know what we can do.”

Twilight smiled and reached out to touch the arm that touched her. “I know Spike. I can always count on you, even when I’m off on a real wild goose chase, which this is not. I honestly don’t know what I would do without you.” Sparing her mind of her woes for a few moments, she glanced about the room. “Gee, I tore the whole room apart. I guess I’m not going to find what I’m looking for here, but I’ll be sure to put it all back before I go. Although,” She glanced at the mayor, “Why were there three different places in the cabinets for each letter of the alphabet?”

Mayor Mare checked the clock. Grateful beyond measure that the princess confirmed her intention to clean up after herself, she was only too happy to explain. “Ah, that. We reorganize the birth records when a pony changes their residence to a different town, or is deceased. It’s a bit easier on the census bureau, both local and national, if we can compare the current population with the files containing active citizens.”

Twilight considered the piles. The older looking ones most likely belonged to the absent or deceased, but the size of the stacks didn’t add up. “Really? Are you sure something didn’t get mixed up? There aren’t very many active records.”

Mayor Mare had, over time, honed her ability to count faces in crowds quickly and add up numbers of potential voters at an event or the ballot box. She scanned the piles and shrugged. “It looks correct to me. There are one hundred and fifty-four active records.”

Twilight’s eyes widened in shock. “Wh-what…? What are you saying…?”

“I’m saying that according to the birth records, there are one hundred and fifty-four ponies alive and actively residing in Ponyville,” Mayor Mare replied. “And I suspect that to be quite accurate, given that in the case of ponies who change residence to here from other cities, we place a file in the records for them anyway as a placeholder if we don’t actually have their certificate. Is there something the matter?”

“I-is something the...a-are you kidding me!?” Twilight was back on high alert. She wrenched away from her assistant to beat her wings and hover again, as was sometimes her wont when agitated. “There were more than four hundred at the last winter wrap-up, if you count the outliers! I ought to know since I organized the entire thing!

Mayor Mare adjusted her glasses and cleared her throat loudly, hoping the gesture would be infectious enough to calm the princess. “Princess Twilight, I’m sure I could be off by a few considering I counted them in haste, but as you can see,” she gestured at the newer piles, “there are most certainly not four hundred records here.”

Twilight wasn’t having it. “How many Cakes are there!?” she demanded.

“Four, counting their lovely foals. Why?”

“How many Pies are there!?”

Mayor Mare held fast under the interrogation. “Two, now anyway. We do have a placeholder record for Miss Maud Pie, since she recently moved here.”

“How many Hooves’s are there!?”

“Two as I recall...though I don’t know for certain if they’re related--”

“How many App--”

Twilight cut herself off. She was high enough to get a good view out of the only window in the room, which in turn was practically a skylight. There, under a tree across the street, stood the pony in the trench coat and wide fedora. The pony had been careful to pick dark patches of shade that perfectly concealed their features; aside from his or her blue eyes, Twilight could make out nothing. Ponies were walking right by the ominous figure without pause, and even though Twilight had been concealed within Ponyville Town Hall for hours, the being was staring straight at her. As if it had been waiting all morning long for the princess to stare back.

“You!” Twilight flew to the window. “You were there at the party! Who are you?? Are you responsible for over two hundred ponies going missing!?”

Twilight’s horn came to fiery life. She was about to teleport herself straight through the wall and into the lap of the motionless figure, but a tug on her dangling tail stayed her.

“Twilight! What’s wrong!? Who are you talking about?”

Spike was there; his face a mask of worry. “Twilight please come down, you’re really starting to worry me!”

“But he’s back, Spike!” Twilight shouted. “Or she is, I don’t know! I have to--”


The figure was simply not there anymore, but it was worse than that - in his or her place, there was a bench with two ponies sitting upon it, engaged in merry chatting. The late-season ivy that still clung relentlessly to the legs of the iron bench suggested it had been sitting there for a long time. Twilight let out a growl and plopped back down on her hooves, her eyes shut in frustration.

“Mayor Mare, have you seen any suspicious looking characters around town lately?”

When there was no reply, Twilight looked up. Spike was standing there, looking only slightly less concerned as he wrung the tip of his tail in his claws.

“Spike? Where’s Mayor Mare?”

Spike blinked. “Uh...who?”

“Mayor Mare,” Twilight pointed at the last spot she had seen the chief executive standing. “She was looking at the clock before. Did she have to leave?”

Spike said nothing. Twilight narrowed her brow.

“The mayor of Ponyville, Spike! I don’t even care what her name is at this point, where is the mayor of Ponyville? Whomever you know them to be!”

“Ponyville...doesn’t have a mayor,” Spike meeped.

Twilight applied pressure to the bridge of her muzzle, where another headache had begun to collect. “Spike, I really don’t want to play this game again...Ponyville has to have a mayor…”

Spike shrugged. “We never needed a mayor before.”

“Then who runs this town?” Twilight shot back.

“You do,” Spike said simply. “What do we need a mayor for when we have a princess?”

“Alright, then who ran this town before I became a princess?” Twilight asked. “You and I weren’t born here. Who ran it before we came here?”

Spike put a talon to his chin in thought. “As far as I know, it was the same before we got here as it was up until you got your wings. The town was run communally, just like the Apples ran it way back when. Everypony pitched in. You getting promoted sure made all that easier on everypony, though.”

Twilight ceased the pointless interrogation. Feeling suddenly quite tired, she glanced at the overwhelming piles of paperwork. “I need to figure this out...it’s getting worse…every hour might count for something…” She looked to Spike. “We’re going to have to leave this mess here for the staff to clean up. There’s no time to lose.”

Spike blinked again. “What staff?”

“The administrative staff,” Twilight replied. “All the ponies who help the mayor--me--run the town.”

Spike blinked thrice.

“You’re kidding,” Twilight gaped.

“We don’t have a sta--”

“You and I run this town all by ourselves?” Twilight asked, exasperated. “That’s ridiculous! There are at least twenty ponies meandering around here at all times!” She began to rattle off names, but Spike showed no recognition to any of them.

“It’s like I said Twilight,” Spike ventured cautiously, “You’re the boss. We just haven’t needed a staff.”

Deflated, Twilight fell upon her rump and stared dumbly at a few papers that were scattered by the movement. She repeated the question she had originally broached to the mayor:

“Spike, how many Apples are there in Ponyville?”

“Liiiike pony Apples? Or just like, apple-apples? Because I have no idea how many actual apples are all over the pl--”

“Ponies, Spike.”

“Oh, that’s easy. One.”

Twilight winced. “...only one?”

“Sure. Granny Smith. She’s been here forever.”

Twilight didn’t want to have this conversation, but she forced herself to go on. “...Big McIntosh? Apple Bloom?”


“The Cutie Mark Crusaders?”

Spike tilted his head quizzically. “They’re both fine? Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo.”

“...a-and the book of potions that I apparently gave as a birthday present yesterday, for the filly who brews them in the Everfree with Zecora?”

“It was an advanced knitting book,” Spike corrected. “You gave it to Granny Smith for her birthday yesterday.” He raised a brow curiously. “What are you getting at, Twilight? I watched you buy it in town last week, and I even helped you wrap it two days ago, when we were trying to figure out just how old Granny Smith is, heh.”

Twilight couldn’t speak. She felt like curling up into a catatonic ball and rocking in place.

“It was a pretty neat party,” Spike went on. “The hired hooves had a great time.”


“Sure,” Spike elaborated. “Granny Smith can’t run a whole farm by herself at her age. Heck, anypony would have a hard time doing something like that all by their lonesome.”

Twilight’s head shot up. “Oh no no no, now that one I’m not buying. There’s no way Granny Smith would ever hire hooves to work on her farm. I don’t believe it.”

“Well, believe it, because--”

“No!” Twilight stood and slapped the floor with a hoof. “I have had enough of this, and I’m going to put a stop to it right here and now! Come on!”

Spike nearly choked as a raspberry magical aura enveloped him and yanked him onto Twilight’s back. “Wh-where are we going!?”

Twilight was already galloping out the door. The moment she struck bare earth, she kicked off of it and spread her wings, launching into determined flight. “Sweet Apple Acres! Granny Smith would never hire hooves and take herself out of the quality and care equation. I may not be able to find birth certificates, but that I can be sure of!”

The short flight was abbreviated further by the adrenaline coursing through the purple princess. Spike was just about able to hold on, and he slid off to gratefully strike terra firma the instant Twilight touched down. Wasting not a moment, the princess went right up to the front door of the Apple family home and began to savagely beat upon it with one hoof.

“Granny Smith! Granny Smith, are you here? I need to speak with you - it’s important!”

“Huhwha?” A decrepit voice cracked. “Awright, awright, don’t git yer knickers all inna bunch. Y’all’re gonna huff’n puff’n blow this here whole house down before’n I git across the room, so just hold on there…interruptin’ mah beauty nap, consarnit...”

Twilight relented, and at length the top half of the sectioned door swung open. Granny Smith was largely unchanged from the last time Twilight had seen her, save that the bags under her eyes were even deeper and more of her gray-white hairs were out of place. She looked tired - moreso than the princess had ever seen her before.

“What’cha hollerin’ abo--oh, yer Highness. Y’all ain’t gonna beat on mah door like that. What kin ah do fer ya? Y’all wanna come in an’ sit a spell?”

“No thank you Granny Smith,” Twilight said politely. “I’ve just come to ask about your grandson and granddaughter.”

Granny Smith made a sour face. “Princess Twilight, beggin’ yer pardon, but this weren’t funny yesterday at mah party - lord knows ah had enough of them - and it ain’t much funny now, neither. Y’all know very well ah ain’t got no grandfoals.”

“What about your son?” Twilight persisted.

Granny Smith’s expression broke, and she looked away to hide her reaction. “...he ain’t with us no more. Done got taken up t’be with the stars before his time, before he ever had any younguns, and before y’all were even th’ apple of yer parents’ eyes. And ah’ll thank you very much not to go an’ remind me.”

Twilight looked around, and took notice of a stallion in a ten-gallon hat mending a cart wheel. There were a number of others, mares and stallions alike, in various stages of maintenance or harvest wrap-up work. The banner for the party was still aloft, plainly wishing happy birthday to Granny Smith.

“These ponies aren’t Apples?”

“Sure’n they ain’t,” Granny Smith confirmed. “Us Apples’re all over Equestria, and we each got our farms to mind. Cain’t very well ask mah kin to drop everything t’help me out all the time.”

Twilight could scarce believe what she was hearing. “But...what about Sweet Apple Acres staying in the family…?”

“Ah’m th’ family,” Granny Smith spat. “S’been that way since mah ol’ pappy passed on. Ah ain’t got no giddy in mah up nomore, and a nag’s gotta do what a nag’s gotta do to keep apples on the trees.” She nodded at a few of the workers, “Some of em’s just here fer the season, a’couple others just passin’ through. Then there’s a few that’s been here for years now, what’s just about worth trustin’. It...ain’t so bad.”

Twilight detected the lack of conviction in the Apple matriarch’s words. The fire that kept the old nag on top of her game wasn’t there, and it felt downright bizarre. Cowed, Twilight watched the workers at their uninspired toil.

“But...but the Apple family...Ponyville was built on the Apple family…”

“That was a long time ago, Princess,” Granny Smith said, her weatherbeaten in keeping with her years for once. “Ain’t got no heirs and ain’t got no kin what’s gonna wanna make a life here. Ah guess that means it’ll be on you someday, as th’princess, to figure out what’s gonna become of this here farm.”

Twilight didn’t know what to say. Granny Smith opened the door the rest of the way and stepped through, brushing past Twilight with a triangle. “Y’all better ‘scuse me. Ah got lunch t’slop out.” With that, she turned to the fields and began to clang on the triangle by batting it with a hoof. “Come ‘n git it! Lunch call! Come ‘n get it!”

Twilight slumped her shoulders and met the eyes of Spike, who looked upon her mournfully.

“Are you...alright, Twilight?”

“Has it always been this way?” she asked simply.

“Afraid so,” Spike confirmed as he watched Granny Smith go through her motions. “It’s kinda sad really.”

Twilight shook her head and turned away. “Oh Spike...it hasn’t always been this way, and nopony even remembers the ones who are gone. They all deserve better than that…”

Spike held his tongue until the silence became unbearable. “What...do you wanna do now? Go check more records?”

“I don’t think that’s going to help,” Twilight admitted. A thought struck her, and her eyes went wide as a light bulb sparked to life in her mind. “Spike, I sat a few birth certificates on the table by themselves, where you were standing when you walked in. Did you see them?”

Spike thought about it. “Yeah. Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, uh...some of them were placeholder ones, you know, the ones we set aside for ponies who weren’t born here…”

“What about Fluttershy?”

Spike said nothing.

“Oh no…” Twilight choked. She was off again at a gallop, and Spike struggled to keep up.

“Wait! Where are we going now!?”

Twilight spared her assistant the lack of extra legs and nabbed him up in her magic, settling him again on her back as she took wing. “To Fluttershy’s cottage! Before it’s too late!”

Princess Twilight Sparkle hit the skyline at speed, trying with all her heart to outfly reality.