• Published 26th Aug 2012
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Twilight: A.E - AuburnFlourish

Ponyville is awoken by a strange sound and an even stranger occurrence

  • ...

The Puddle

Twilight: A.E.

Chapter One - The Puddle

Having now lived in Ponyville for a number of years, and in that time facing the great many problems and crises that often befell that small town, Twilight Sparkle was used to being awoken by the sound of yelling from outside the window of her library home. It had, at points, become a weekly thing, and when that much regularity is achieved so comes with it immunity, so when it began again on a bright morning in mid-summer, as it so often did, Twilight simply rolled over in her bed and pulled the covers up over her head, willing herself into mental preparedness for the inevitable bursting open of her door as Spike dives in to alert her to this week's issue.

What today? She thought and began to sift through the previous weeks' list of "unforeseen calamities". The dragon herd that we dealt with a fortnight ago should still be on the move, so it can't be that, and the tribe of sentient trees from last month are already well-rooted into their own glen in the Everfree Forest. Perhaps Sugar Cube corner is out of flour again due to that weevil infestation last Tuesday, and Pinkie is just freaking out because her daily quota of macaroons cannot be reached... this latter one caused her to poke one ear out from beneath the safety of her blanket cocoon as she began to listen to the trademark fluctuating pitches that only Pinkie Pie was able to create in a single cry (each of which specific fluctuation having its own apparent meaning that even Twilight had grown able of measuring, she kept a list of them on a scroll beside her bed for the very purpose of being able to diagnose the level of terror she was meant to feel as she left the library, in relation to the undulations of the super-hyperactive (a nonsense term, but the only one she could think of that even closely described her) pony and the cause of the problem she was screaming about) and found herself unable to. It was the total absence of Pinkie's involvement in the ensuing hysteria taking place outside that caused Twilight to burst out from beneath her quilt and bolt down and out into the street, without even taking a moment to check her personal condition.

The street on which the library stood was empty, but the hushed cries of fear and surprise sounded nearby, off towards the Town Hall, Twilight judged, and it was in that direction she ran, passing nopony in the street as she went. She quietly noted to herself the desertedness of the street and powered on until she came to a skidding halt at the outskirts of the town centre.

At least she had solved one mystery, the roads were deserted because everypony from town was currently gathered in a tight group around the Town Hall, all staring up at a point just in front of the Town Hall's characteristic balcony. Twilight looked frantically back and forth amongst the crowd in order to see if she could find anypony who might be able to explain what was happening when she heard the familiar sound of her own name being called.

"Twiligh'! Ova here!" she turned towards her right and found Applejack waving at her frantically from across the square. Beside her stood Rarity, who also looked at her warily, and with an inner sigh she made her way around the crowd of astounded ponies until she was with them.

"What is happening here?" she began to ask, but barely made it past the first word.

"The Mayor is lookin' for yah, she was abou' to send out a messenger, but you got here just in tahm" taken aback by the interruption, Twilight began to look around her again, this time for the grey-maned figurehead of Ponyville's democracy.

"What is everypony looking at? And where are the others?" she asked while she looked, hoping to get as much out of Applejack as she could before she was hoisted off on somepony else.

"No one knows!" Rarity replied instead. "I was awoken but this awful racket and when I came out I found this crowd here and I couldn't get a response from anypony!"

"Same here, everypony is either confused by what's goin' on or sat starin' mindlessly up at the balcony. Even Pinkie's doin' it!" she pointed one hoof at the crowd to illustrate this point and Twilight saw something that made her even more uneasy than everything else so far. Sat not far from the inner edge of the crowd was the tell-tale pink madness that was Pinkie Pie's mane. Her head was inclined upwards and her mouth hung open in dumb amazement. This total lack of activity from Ponyville's most active pony was by far the most horrible thing to see.

To make matters worse, although the entire square was drenched in the dark, wailing sound that had awoken her, Twilight could not see a single pony who could be the cause of it. Everypony was silent, or chattering quietly with other ponies, but no one was wailing, or crying. She decided it was time to look up and see what the astounded crowd were looking at.

Looking up over the crowd, she angled her head to see the balcony that ran around Town Hall and she saw...

Nothing. Just the usual wooden railing, a little faded and peeling in places, but otherwise exactly the same as usual. There was nothing wrong with it that she could see, and she turned back to Applejack and Rarity to say as much.

"Don' worry, ah know... There's nothin' there" Applejack said before Twilight could speak. "Neither Rarity nor I could see nothin', neither could any of the folks you see wanderin' around here. It's weird..."

"What could they possibly be looking at that would hold their attentions so tightly?" Rarity asked, her eyes showing as much fear as Twilight was feeling. It was beyond weird.

"I don't know... But I think I'd better go find the Mayor..." Applejack nodded once and attempted a weak smile.

"We'll stay here an' make sure nopony else does that" she waved one hoof to indicate the crowd. "We'll let ya know if anythin' changes, too"

"Thank you" Twilight replied and began to trot away, turning back as she did "And if you see Rainbow Dash, could you send her to find me? I think we'll need her help"

"Not a problem, Darling" Rarity called back in reply and with a satisfied nod, Twilight galloped on.

Finding the Mayor was a little easier than Twilight had thought, as she was standing on the podium they kept set up outside of the Town Hall for similarly constructed gatherings as the one that was currently taking place, and fortunately, unlike the ponies in the crowd, the Mayor was staring sadly into the crowd, rather than up at the mysterious nothing that had so powerfully caught their attention.

"Mayor Mare!" Twilight called as she approached the steps to the podium. The Mayor turned to her and her saddened expression softened a little.

"Twilight Sparkle, thank Celestia you are here!"

"What is going on here? What's happened to everypony?" Twilight asked as she ascended the steps and alighted upon the podium. From here she had a good view of the crowd and could see in each one of the faces below her a look of bewildered fear and terrifying awe. It hurt her heart to see it, for a reason she could not define, but she understood the look she had seen upon the Mayor's face as she approached.

"I thought perhaps you could tell us that, Twilight, it is utterly beyond anything my staff or I could fathom!" she shook her head helplessly and sighed deeply. Being unable to help her entrusted townsponies clearly upset her.

"Then please, start at the beginning and tell me everything you do know" The Mayor gave a brief thoughtful look before nudging her glasses up her nose with one hoof.

"Well, much like everypony here, I was awoken by that strange sound, that horrible sound, and when I came out of my house I found everypony standing here, like this, just staring up at nothing. I had a few moments where I tried to get their attention, but nothing could draw them away, so I gave up, and that's when I happened to look past the stationary store... The drains on the roof had been leaking again, and it seems no matter how often they fix it, water always ends up pooling down by the alleyway, it's a problem they ought to look in to... Anyway, I happened to look past when something caught my eye in the puddle there and, well, I don't know what I saw, but I knew then that whatever it is that is causing this, this... stillness was nothing I could deal with, so I knew the best the to do was to find you. That's when I spoke to your friends and..."

"Thank you, Mayor, but I think you can stop there" Twilight interrupted the clearly distraught pony. "I will go and have a look at this myself, and I think you'd better go find a way to calm yourself, if this is as beyond your power as you think, you'd better not get yourself too caught up in it, we'll probably need you in your best shape soon" The Mayor nodded and let out a sigh of relief.

"Thank you... thank you Twilight Sparkle, I'll go and gather up anypony not caught up in this and try to calm them down while you look into this, I'm sure they'll all be reassured knowing it's in your hooves" she gave a weak smile and together she and Twilight headed down from the podium again, The Mayor heading towards a loose group of unaffected ponies and Twilight off towards the stationers.

The leak had continued and would clearly be a problem (in the long run of things, at this time, Twilight thought, a puddle was the least of their concerns) but the large puddle at the end of the alleyway beside the stationary store was exactly as the mayor had said.

Twilight approached it cautiously, her mind torn between intrigue and fear at what she might see reflected in its muddy surface. As she approached from the direction of the crowd, all she could see was a faint outline of the alleyway: boxes and piles of litter awaiting collection shimmered gently in the slight breeze that was whirling its way through the square and causing tiny waves in its dully, glassy surface, all as it would have been on any other day.

She continued forward, until she could see first the tip of her horn, then her mane, and finally her whole face as she looked into it from directly above. Still she could see nothing out of the ordinary, just a muddy mirror image of her own bedraggled face (complete with a bird's nest of a hair style, all the rage in the world of quilts and pillows, but not exactly going-out hair, she realised she had left the house in far too much of a hurry to have done anything about it, but, like the leak, it was a problem that paled in comparison to the one she was trying to work through at present). She turned her head back at the crowd to see if anything had changed, and indeed it was all as it had been when she arrived: just a crowd of mindlessly-staring ponies and the Town Hall looking like it always did.

Looking back into the puddle she again saw only her face, except...

If she looked low enough, down by her own shoulders, she could see something sitting right at the periphery of the puddle. It was too indistinct to make out, but it was not part of the usual scenery that would have framed her face. Twilight frowned, trying to make sense of what she was seeing, before realising that if she changed her own perspective, she would see better.

Raising her head again, she moved around the puddle until she was standing on the opposite side, parallel to the alleyway and now facing the Town Hall dead on. Whatever the Mayor had seen in the puddle, and whatever had captivated the minds of so many of Ponyville's residents, would be visible from here. With a loud gulp, she slowly lowered he head and looked into the puddle.

As her view shifted, she began to make out a shape similar to the one she had seen at the edge of the puddle when looking from the wrong direction, only this time it got bigger and more distinct. A strange shifting colour began to appear in the water, moving and flowing in counter synch to the tiny waves, flowing in and out of the place just in front of the balcony of the Hall. It was still only in the edge of the puddle, and not enough to make out. Taking a few steps back, Twilight looked again, and this time could see it for what it was.

Floating just outside of the second floor of the Hall, bathed in a corona of shifting colours, was a massive tear - a tear in the very fabric of the universe.