• Published 25th Feb 2021
  • 92 Views, 3 Comments

Stay Seventeen - nagoluckywriting



Photo Finish recalls her days at summer camp with Blueblood.

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Running From Lions

"I told you the Everfree Forest was dangerous!" shouted Blueblood, who was several paces in front of Photo Finish. For someone who didn't run, he sure moved quick. One could even say that he moved gracefully. "By the way, I have no idea where I'm going, or what we're even running from!"

The growling continued to grow closer, despite their efforts to escape it. Photo looked for pockets of light in the canopy of trees. Failed to find any. So they kept running.

Blueblood dodged a branch. "Watch out for the—" The branch scratched Photo's left cheek as she ran directly into it, the thorns pricking her skin. Brushing it aside, she continued on. A few droplets of blood dripped down onto her hoof. It didn't matter. All that mattered was escaping the monster behind them.

Blueblood skidded to a halt. "Oh no."

Photo stopped beside him. "What is it?"

Blueblood pointed a shaky hoof at the stream before them, about as wide as a buckball field. The water was still and dark in color. A few bubbles made their way to the surface, followed by an unnerving fizzling sound.

"We're going to have to cross," said Photo Finish.

"No way. Absolutely not."

The animal noises were still distant, but continued to grow closer with each passing moment that they stood beside the stream bank. They were wasting time.

"Would you rather get eaten alive?"

"Frankly, I am indifferent between crossing this stream and facing whatever monster is chasing us."

"It's just some mud!"

Blueblood scoffed, and prepared to counter Photo's statement, but froze when he heard the growling. The monster that chased them was near. Photo turned, and saw a black shadow.

Without another word, she began to wade through the murky stream, the water seeping into her coat. It was cold. It was uncomfortable. But it was certainly better than dying.

"C'mon!" she shouted. Blueblood had one hoof outstretched, hovering over the stream. There was a mighty roar, and Blueblood leaped in. Together, they waded across the stream and pulled themselves out on the other side.

"See? Like a nice mud bath," Photo joked.

"Maybe for a Ponyville pony," replied Blueblood, shaking his coat. Mud splattered onto Photo Finish.

"You can shake yourself out later. We should keep running."

"Good idea."

Their backs to the stream, they continued to push through endless vegetation.

In the distance, Photo could see it. The light of the world outside of the Everfree Forest. "Go left up ahead," she said.

"What? We should go right."

"The clearing is up ahead."

"You said you knew how to get out of here last time, and look and where it got us!"

"Trust me."

Blueblood slowed his pace and looked at Photo Finish. Looked at her magenta eyes. Her expression was pleading. With a sigh, Blueblood followed her to the left. After a few paces, he let out a laugh. He could see the exit too. "We made it!"

Suddenly, a figure leaped out in front of them and roared, blowing their manes back. It extended its wings, casting an eerie shadow against the forest floor.

Blueblood looked at Photo Finish in shock. "Wings?" he said, gesturing at the creature before them.

"It's called a manticore. Didn't they teach you that in school?"

"Homeschooled."

"Ah. Right." A scorpion's tail swept around the manticore's body. "—LOOK OUT!"

Blueblood sidestepped just in time to avoid the stinger, but tripped over the stalk of the tail and fell, his back on the dirty forest floor. She heard him grimace. The manticore flared its sharp teeth, eyeing Blueblood's body with a voracious hunger.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING? MOVE!" shouted Photo Finish, eyes wide. But Blueblood just lay there. The manticore's mouth opened wide, preparing for a meal of royal horse flank. Photo listlessly reached out a hoof, and as she did so, her camera dangled against her neck.

In a single moment, Photo reached for the camera and flicked a dial on the top of it. The forest around them was drowned in white light for a brief instance.

The manticore turned its head from side to side, confused by the flash of the camera. Photo took the opportunity to dash to Blueblood and help him to his feet. The light of the forest clearing grew brighter as she ran by his side, adrenaline providing a surge of strength and endurance.

Photo breathed a sigh of relief as she tilted her chin up towards the blue sky, dotted by a few scattered clouds. Blueblood brushed dirt off of his white coat, no longer pristine.

"Well then," he said. "That was quite the adventure." He looked around. "If only we knew where we were now."

He was right. Hills extended for miles around them, not another pony in sight. Photo shrugged. "Might as well start walking."

Together, they trotted through the hills, their backs to the Everfree Forest. Looking ahead, they could see a patch of land that looked familiar. "I think that's the bird watching site," said Blueblood. Photo agreed. They changed course and headed towards the low hill surrounded by trees. If they could make it there, Photo knew how to get back to camp. For a while, it was silent.

"How's that cut, by the way?" Blueblood asked.

"Cut? What cut?" Photo reached a hoof up to her face and felt the dried blood. "Oh. Yeah. It's fine I guess." Photo felt no pain from it. Perhaps she was still experiencing the adrenaline rush.

"When we crossed the stream together, you had blood trickling down your face. It made you look badass."

Badass? Photo thought to herself. It wasn't a word that she'd heard often. She smiled. Blueblood thinks I'm cool. I think he's cool too. She frowned. Wait what?

"Everything alright?"

"Yes."

They were almost at the site now, and could hear the birds singing bird songs from the trees.

"Our team is probably so mad at us right now," said Blueblood. "I mean, we kind of abandoned them to have an 'adventure' in one of the most dangerous areas of Equestria instead of helping them find the scavenger hunt objects, which, by the way, are super dumb." Blueblood stepped on something rubbery. The object made an odd squeaking sound. He retracted his leg.

Photo and Blueblood stared at it. Looked at each other. "The rubber chicken?" they said at the same time. Maybe there was still hope for repairing their relationship with their team. Blueblood looked down at it, then looked at Photo Finish expectantly.

"You carry it," she said.

"No. It looks ridiculous. There's no way I'm going to trot around with a foals' toy in my mouth."

"Who's around to see you? Me? What if I told you I'd like it very much if you put that toy in your mouth?" She batted her eyes in an effort to look flirtatious.

Blueblood's ears perked up, and his face began to redden. "I—er—uh..." Photo batted her eyes again.

"Ugh. Fine," Blueblood stooped down and picked up the rubber chicken gingerly between his teeth.

"Camp is thataway," Photo pointed to her left, and Blueblood turned without looking at her.

When they arrived back at camp, many of the groups had returned. Ponies were chatting excitedly. Photo looked for the marker that signified group six and saw that there was nopony there.

"Our group isn't back yet," said Blueblood.

"I can see that."

Behind them, a voice yelled, "Where the hay have you been?" They turned around. The rest of group six walked underneath the wooden arch that signified the entrance to the camp. The blue stallion who had taken the lead earlier looked angry.

"We thought you died or whatever," said a pink mare with a bouncy voice. Blueblood dropped the rubber chicken. "Wait, is that—"

"You guys found the rubber chicken?" said the blue stallion. "We'd been looking everywhere for it. It wasn't in the Everfree Forest, right?" Photo shook her head. A blue hoof picked up the rubber chicken. He stared at it, then said, "Still mad that you two abandoned us."

"Are you going to need a manicure?" said the pink mare to Blueblood. She smiled, as if that countered the malice behind her comment. Blueblood's mouth pulled into a frown. "They don't have those at camp. Guess you'll just have to wait until your mommy picks you up and takes you back to Canterlot." The members of group six laughed.

Before Photo could stop him, Blueblood pounced on the mare, knocking her to the ground. A hundred pairs of eyes were now directed towards the group six flagpole. "You think I don't know that? My hooves feel terrible, disgusting even, but that's not going to stop me from—"

"HEY!" Joe, who rushed over immediately after the scuffle started, moved towards the two ponies, still on the ground. Before Joe could reach Blueblood, he delivered a strong blow to the pink mare's cheek, then promptly stood up. He looked at Joe. "I'll walk myself to the camp master's office, thank you very much."

What just happened? Photo wondered to herself. In shock, she could only stare at Blueblood's back as he walked away from everyone, headed for the large cabin that stood outside of the main arc.

"What an asshole," she heard someone say. "Yeah. Why is he even here? I think we'd all be better off if he stayed in Canterlot," said another pony.

Photo looked at the ground. Were these... tears that were welling up in her eyes? No. They couldn't be. Not for Blueblood. Because while what the ponies were saying was mean, Blueblood wasn't exactly Photo's idea of a fun pony to be around. Right?

She headed for her room, where she could be alone with her thoughts. She ignored the intercom broadcast about the scavenger hunt awards. It didn't matter. Her team lost anyways.

Was Blueblood getting yelled at right now? She imagined him, replying snootily to the camp master's accusations. The thought made her smile as she pushed open the cabin door.

"Photo? What are you doing here? Is everything okay?"

Photo was surprised to see Berryshine in the room. Berryshine's hooves were behind her back, certainly hiding something. Photo arced an eyebrow.

"Ugh. Fine. Promise not to tell?" Photo nodded. From behind her, Berryshine procured a bottle of wine. "I had someone bring it to camp. I snuck away during the scavenger hunt to meet him."

Photo's eyebrow remained arced. "Really? Not impressed?" Berryshine pulled up the comforter from her bed, revealing more alcohol. Beer. Wine. Vodka.

"Wow. It's uh..." Photo began.

"You're coming to the party tomorrow night." It wasn't a question so much as a command. Photo stared blankly at Berryshine. Parties were not her forte.