• Published 20th Sep 2019
  • 462 Views, 4 Comments

A Day Beyond The Deathbed - Syke Jr



When it's time to die, magic can make things at least a little bit better.

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Tomorrow

Well, I think, wiping the blood from my mouth, That’s probably game over.

The deer-in-the-headlights look I get from the nurse when I glance over doesn’t fill me with confidence. She hurries out of the door to fetch someone more qualified to deal with the bloody coughing fits of a dying alien monkey, not that such a thing really exists. The ponies here try their best, but really. What could they possibly expect to know about human illnesses? Especially terminal ones?

It’s even harder to breathe now, but the urge to cough has mercifully and inexplicably died down. I’ve been coughing up blood for days now, but that last fit was different. I get the feeling something deep within is bleeding nonstop, now. Definitely not good. I look to my left, see Lyra giving me basically the same look the nurse did.

“Looks… like it’s time,” I whisper.

Her eyes can’t really get any redder, or wetter, but she looks away anyway and tries to hide her frown. “You don’t have to say it.”

I scoff, as much as I can in my state. The fever isn’t as bad as the pain, but it isn’t great. “Just keeping you in the loop.”

“I’m not an idiot,” she snaps. Then she looks guilty. More tears leak out. “I… look, I don’t know what to say.” A pause as she sniffs and wipes her face again. “This happened so fast.”

“Did it, though? The writing’s been on the wall.”

“I guess I tried to ignore it.”

“I know that game.”

Now it’s Lyra’s turn to snort. “Yeah.”

We’re silent another few moments. Then I feel another bubbling cough coming. Immediately Lyra is pushing the disposable bowl over to me. I take it and try to cough, but what comes out is more like a choke and a stream of blood. I spit a few times and wipe with the bedcloth again.

Suddenly I’m very, very tired, and more than a little woozy. I fall back onto the upright mattress.

“Looks like… Bon Bon’s not making it,” I wheeze.

Lyra can’t help it, it seems. She sobs. My heart, as usual, breaks a little at the sight of a little pony crying. I reach out a hand, weakly, and touch her mane. She shudders at the familiar feeling of my fingers running through her minty hair. “This isn’t right,” she chokes out. “Celestia promised she’d make your last day a good one. Where is she?”

On cue, because that’s just how things apparently work in Equestria, the princess of the sun walks into the room. Lyra is caught between an exclamation of happiness and anger. Uncharacteristically for ponies in this world, she points an accusing hoof at the alicorn. “Took you long enough!”

Celestia raises a hoof sadly. “I wasn’t informed,” she says, “that things had progressed to this stage.”

Lyra opens her mouth angrily, but another feeble touch from me stops her. I whisper, “You’re right on time. It’s... game over. Do the thing now, please. Kind of... in pain.”

Celestia nods, knowing I don’t want her to say anything more, not before she casts her spell. Lyra looks confused, but I give her the most reassuring smile I can. It’s probably horrific.

But that doesn’t matter. I close my eyes as the magic takes hold. In another moment, we’re not in that room any more.


***

I take a deep, deep breath as my senses slowly come back. Oh, god. That’s a feeling I missed. I open my eyes to find myself on a bench, looking out over Ponyville from the top of a hill. It’s as silent as the grave, as much as I dislike the thought as it enters my head. To my left, Lyra is blinking in confusion, sitting in her characteristic way, mirroring me.

She gives me a sharp look when she realises I’m there. “This,” she says in an accusatory tone, “seems very much like something you deliberately kept from me.” I grin despite myself. “Where are we?”

“We’re in… an imaginary place, I guess. Like a dream. I didn’t want Celestia to go into much detail when she told me about it. And yeah, it’s my last surprise. So…” I wave my arms a little, waggling my hands. “Surpriiiiise…”

“So it’s not real. You’re still…”

“...dying, yes,” I finish for her, when she seems unwilling to. There’s no evidence, here, of her previous despair, at least until I said that. I see and hear her suppressing a sob as tears spring up again.

I lean over quickly and grab the little pony into a hug. I take a deep, deep breath of her mane— it smells faintly of mint and cream, because of course it does— and give a wide smile even though Lyra can’t see it. I’m thinking more clearly now, too, without the fever.

“We have a whole day,” I say. “And sorry. I wasn’t thinking before. Bon Bon is going to make it. In, probably, a couple hours. Or minutes. I dunno. Doesn’t matter.”

She pushes me away and looks up to my face. “You’re a jerk for making me think it was over,” she says, trying to sound angry. But I can see the pained relief flooding her, now that she knows the end isn’t as… imminent.

“I didn’t intend for it to be so dramatic,” I say sheepishly. “You were right. The deathbed thing was pretty damn sudden. I intended to go to Celestia with some dignity.”

“Your plans never work,” Lyra grumbles.

“Forget it. Look. We don’t have to just sit here talking about reality. The point of this is to have a good time, one last time.” I breathe again. It feels so good. “A better time than ever. Watch.”

I concentrate. The world shifts, somehow, and Lyra and I are forced to blink. When we do, the hilltop before us sports a long table that wasn’t there before. It’s piled high with food. All kinds of food. Everything I’ve wanted from Earth in the nine months since I got here, and probably all of Lyra’s favourites, too.

She looks at it, dumbfounded. “This really is like a dream. But real.”

“Yep,” I say. “And we’ve got all day to enjoy it. Anything we want to do. Sky’s the limit.”

“Can I see some of your world?” As soon as the words leave her mouth she clamps a hoof over it.

I freeze, but simply give a small snort and a smile as she looks guiltily up at me. The pony never could keep things from blurting out at a thought.

“You know what? I don’t see why not,” I say.

“No,” she says quickly, “I’m sorry. That’s not fair.”

“This is your day as much as it is mine,” I say, standing up finally with a stretch and meandering over to the table. Lyra follows.

“That’s not true. If this really is your…” her breath catches a little again, but she pushes on, “...last day, we should do stuff for you.”

She’s putting on a brave face, both figuratively and literally. I smile again. I’m so far past caring about dying that it’s hard to remember how hard this probably is for her. “We’ll wait for Bon Bon,” I say, eliciting a nod. “And look, Lyra… this was always coming. It could be way, way worse. Look where we were a few minutes ago.” I look around at the scenery, the sky. And all of it can be whatever we want. “It’s a good day to die.”

She glares off into the horizon. “Why can’t it be tomorrow?”

I can’t help it. I just laugh. “That’s a great question, Ly. We can ask Celestia when she gets here with Bon Bon.”

But all things considered, to me, tomorrow’s looking fine.

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Author's Note:

I really sort of regret writing this. It's too close to home. But a contest is a contest, and I'm glad I produced something, even if I'm not happy with the execution or the fact that it's yet another shitty self-insert.

Because yeah. It won't be long before that deathbed, that blood, is mine; and Celestia won't be there to make it any better. I have Cystic Fibrosis. My current goal of making it to 2024 to see the moon landing doesn't have great odds. But who knows? Miracles happen. At least, we like to pretend they do.

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Comments ( 4 )

We love you, Syke. Thank you for sharing.

Godspeed Skye. Don't give up just yet.

Ah; I'm sorry to hear about your predicament.
Not dead yet, though, and good luck on being able to keep it that way for a while!

You're not quite done, not yet.

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