• Published 1st May 2021
  • 1,094 Views, 13 Comments

Crooked House - Bandy



After three hundred years in the beautiful simulation of Equestria, architect Teque has finally built his first tesseract house. What he finds inside will change the way he understands his world--but he won’t make it out in one piece.

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Lawns

Euch scrunched up her nose and squinted at the half-finished house. “Doesn’t seem all that stable to me.”

Teque sighed. “That’s because it’s not done yet.”

“It’s... so square.”

Teque shoved the blueprints towards her. Five equal-sized cubes laid out like a cross made up the ground floor. Two more cubes were stacked atop the middle section, with a final one buried in the ground beneath. All together, they formed a double-inverted cross.

“It has to be square. Look,” he pointed. Ceilings collapsed under the weight of his hoof. Walls warped. Paper crinkled. “These rooms will fold into that room.”

“But they’re not next to each other.”

“Yes,” he groaned, “that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”

Euch sauntered up to the exposed wood supports of the house’s entryway. She tapped on them experimentally, her eyes tracing the timber to where it connected with the flat roof. With barely a grunt of effort, she shimmied up the strut and perched atop it like a delicate bird.

Teque wanted to yell at her, tell her to quit climbing all over his magnum opus. But the house would be fine. He’d built it, after all. And she would be fine, too. Playing in construction areas wasn’t dangerous. Nothing in this world was dangerous. It was a perfect world.

“Have you ever considered making a house that looks nice?” she asked, looking down at him with a bored expression.

“Once it’s complete, it’ll fold into a tesseract. It will be an object of unfathomable beauty.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t even give it any windows.”

“I’ve got plans for that.”

“And what about siding? It needs siding. And some cute gutters for when it rains.” She smirked. “You weren’t even going to paint it, were you.”

Teque lit up his horn and teleported next to Euch. From his new vantage point, he could see the slanted roofs of nearby bungalows and duplexes lining the street. Further out, the skyscrapers of the greater Chicoltgo metropolitan area glittered like a mirage. Trees and the triangular tip-tops of endless houses spread out in a perfect graph. Endless suburbia.

“I’ll paint it eventually,” he said in a softer voice. “It’s not what’s on the outside that matters.”

Euch snorted. “No one’s gonna buy this house if it looks like this.”

“It’s an architectural wonder. I could paint it whatever color I want, and ponies will line up to look inside.”

She shrugged. Her copper coin-colored coat glinted in the waning light. She was perfect. She’d been made for him, after all.

“As long as it brings in some bits,” she said. “I don’t want to be the only solvent pony in this relationship.”

He nodded and shifted his gaze to one of the roof’s many unfinished spots. From here, he could see directly into the main block of the building, where the floor had been leveled in preparation to receive marble floor tiles. The centerpiece of his tesseract home would be a gallery of non-Euclidean art. Right now there weren’t a whole lot of four-dimensional artists and sculptors lining up to fill his gallery, though. He’d find a way, though. He’d make it work. Everything had to be just so.

He paused as he noticed the way the light fell into the vacant far corner room. All four of its walls were in place, and the stone floor had spent all day baking in the sun, so it would still be plenty warm.

A skittish feeling shot through his legs. He let out a little shiver of nervous anticipation. “Euch?”

“Yes?”

“That back room looks nice in this light.”

She gave it an appraising gaze. “I suppose.”

“And with all four walls, nopony could see inside... y’know. If...” He paused. “Something happened.”

A blush rose on his cheeks. He’d always been better with theory than practice. Fake numbers. Hypotheticals in his mind. Never action. Never charm. Euch, who was created to love him for all his eccentricities, couldn’t even contain a blithely knowing expression from sliding across her face.

He opened his mouth to dig his grave even deeper, but Euch held up a hoof to shush him. She pulled up her achievement counter and scrolled through the list. “Only four more times until we get the long-term relationship reward.”

“That’s good.”

“It’s very good. It gets us a hundred thousand bits at the end.”

“So...”

She sighed, peered through the gap in the ceiling, gauged her fall, then jumped. In real life, she would have broken her ankles in agony. Here, she hit the ground rolling and came up no worse for wear. Jumping from deadly heights was no longer dangerous. Nothing in this world was dangerous. It was a perfect world.


Once upon a time, in a dream he dreamed before he was born, Teque thought he enjoyed being the smartest person in the room. Smugness, like hedonism and proclivities to violence, were not just tolerated in Equestria, but reaffirmed daily in his world’s design. He was a narcissist, and his slice of reality bent to affirm his narcissism.

Or so he thought. After a few hundred years interacting with the code around him, Teque formed a new hypothesis. Perhaps his primary value wasn’t having the sharpest mind--rather, it was the exquisite agony of being the only pony in the world who seemed to care for such a thing at all.

Euch was insatiable, as always. When they were done, they sat belly-up on the warm stone and watched the sky turn purple through the unfinished roof.

He heard the faint synthetic tic-tic-tic of Euch scrolling through her achievement dialog. “You’re obsessed,” he said, his voice barely more than a whisper.

“I wouldn’t talk if I were you,” she replied with a sideways grin.

He went back to staring at the sky. They’d been together so long--ten years, at least. They were on the verge of a great many romance-related achievements, chief among them Long Term Relationship. Only three more to go.

He wondered, what would become of them after the numbers game was won?


Though the building was complete just a week later (and populated with enough obscure surrealist art to make the Canterlot National Gallery blush), the actual tesseractification took another month. Teque spent that time deep in the halls of the Chicoltgo Metropolitan Library, researching the advanced and confounding magic that would be required to add an additional dimension of space into his passion project.

Progress was slow--another numbers game. The science behind extra-dimensional movement had already been mapped out extensively by the unicorn scholar Light Sparks, but was largely restricted to creating three dimensional spaces within other three dimensional spaces.

Light Sparks’ work on adding additional dimensions to the mix had fallen off when he and his marefriend decided to take their shot at the leaderboard record for the longest unbroken generational chain. According to said leaderboards, he was sitting pretty at the top of the list with two great-to-the-fourteenth grandfoals, and a great-to-the-fifteenth well on the way.

Mazel tov to them. Teque had no such ambitions.


With his experimental proofs finalized, he returned at last to the construction site. He brought with him a duffle bag full of runestones, a can of white spray paint, and Euch.

“You can stand over there,” he told Euch as he spray painted the shadow of a hypercube in the dirt. “Please don’t talk while I’m casting the spell.”

“Sure,” she said. He paused a moment to thank Euch for being so understanding only to find she’d already buried her nose in the latest edition of her favorite financial periodical, Wall Street’s Wagers.

Once every corner of the hypercube had been adorned with a runestone, Teque stepped into the middle of the ring. He took a moment to admire the serenity of the morning. A faint breeze rustled his mane. Distant birdsongs echoed through the suburban graph. Rather inauspicious, as far as breaking through to higher dimensions were concerned.

He charged up his magic, pulling focus to his horn. A warm glow enveloped him. He drew power from the runestones, which in turn let off a negative glow that sucked the light right out the morning air. The breeze faded to nothing.

He pushed more energy through his horn. The colors around him shifted to red, then faded completely. The outlines of the hypercube on the ground, the trees, his house, even Euch, were rendered in stark relief as white shadows against a black backdrop.

Once the magical field enveloping him had stabilized, he turned his attention to the double-inverted cross house. For his first step, he reached out with his magic and took hold of the outline of the building. Flexing his aura, he bent the building’s shape like it was a wireframe, collapsing the three dimensional cubes down to a series of two dimensional squares--an X axis and a Y axis.

The squares and their component angles would be his anchor. From here, he measured the length of the squares and created a third line of equal length branching out into an axis of the third dimension--a Z axis. Finally, he joined all the newly created lines together, forming the original cube-shape of the house. This step seemed pointless, but served as a double-check of his original architecture. If he was off by even a fraction of a percent in his real-life architecture (and, given the limitations of his architectural skills, he was almost certain he was), the whole experiment would collapse when he attempted to create perfect right angles based on imperfect shapes.

After iterating through and turning his square house back into a cube, he repeated the process, modifying the parameter slightly so that, where every three lines of the squares of the cubes met, a fourth line branched out at another right angle--a W axis.

A bead of sweat glistened on his brow. The outlines of the outside world around him started to blur. All that remained in focus was his own body, the hypercube on which he stood, and the expanding shape of the house.

The lines sprouting from the cubes slowed to a crawl. A splitting pressure, like a headache happening outside his head, forced Teque to his knees. He saw a flash of motion in his periphery. Euch had stood up and was walking towards him.

“No!” he barked. His voice echoed from every direction at once, a tape recording caught in an infinite feedback loop. It swelled and squealed in his ears and degraded into the sound of rushing water, then to the screaming void of space. Then it became the new everything, the new silence.

All the while, the lines continued to sprout from the cubes. As they reached their respective termini, they split into still more lines, reaching towards each other, completing the shape.

Right as they connected, there was a deafening roar, a colossal new sound atop the already deafening silence. Teque cried out. He couldn’t hear himself, couldn’t even feel the air leave his chest. He fought with all his might against the forces threatening to tear his creation apart.

He blinked back tears. When he opened his eyes again, he saw for a split second the complete shadow’s edge of the tesseract rendered in full against the blackness.

Then the whole object buckled.

The sensation ripped through him in a staggering wave, like every disk in his back slipping at once. He let out a gasp of pain.

The world went black.


When he awoke, Euch was at his side, fanning him with her latest edition of Wall Street’s Wagers.

“I’m sorry,” Euch said over and over, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“Mhmm--ow,” he muttered, pressing his hooves against his temples. The pain had migrated from some other dimension back into his own universe. It wasn’t in the slightest bit comfortable, but was at least comprehensible. “What are you sorry about?”

“Your house,” Euch said. She pointed to where the double-inverted cross had once stood. “It’s gone.”

“Gone?”

“Well. Gone-ish.”

Teque rolled over onto his side to get a better look. Euch’s assessment was surprisingly accurate. The house was, in fact, gone-ish. Instead of eight cube-shaped rooms arranged in a double-inverted cross shape, only a single cube-shaped room now remained.

“I’m sorry,” Euch said again. “I know how much time you spent on that.”

Suddenly, the sound of roaring trumpets split the air. Digital confetti rained down on him. His headache came roaring back.

SECRET BADGE GRANTED:

4D CHESS

“Create an additional dimension using magic.”

100,000 bits

Teque leapt to his hooves. “I did it!” The pain in his head split his skull ten directions at once, but that didn’t stop him from pulling up his achievement dialog to show Euch.

“But the house broke,” Euch said. “I watched it fall in on itself.”

“Exactly.” He grabbed her hoof. “Let me show you.”

As they approached the house, Teque noticed the air humming with ambient magical energy. The doorknob pulsed in his hoof. He thought of all the expensive, fragile things inside. All the glass, the porcelain, the clay. His dream. Had it survived the transition?

Only one way to find out.


A bright and bare light, like noonday on an acidified beach, greeted them as they opened the door. The entry room was designed in the style of a Japoneighse rock garden. A single raised set of wood planks formed a bridge over a floor of ornately-raked sand dotted with smooth stones. The off-white walls flickered at the edges with seafoam-blue light cast by hidden bulbs in the ceiling. Beside the door was a bristled mat for guests to clean their hooves.

The room was utterly devoid of sound.

“Wait,” Euch said, and jumped a little at the sound of her own voice. She pointed across the wood bridge to a doorway on the opposite side. “That’s another room?”

“Yes,” Teque said, nodding excitedly.

“But--” Euch’s eyes clouded over in confusion. She turned tail and bolted out the front door. Teque watched gleefully from inside as she ran around the house once, then twice. “That can’t be,” she panted when she returned.

“And yet!” he said, barely containing his joy.


In the crown jewel of the tesseract house, the central art gallery, faint classical music poured from unseen speakers. It was a jarring transition, coming from the utter silence of the entryway. The tune was slow, the string quartet schmaltzy, the echoes oddly spacious for a room of this size.

Teque walked past each of the various art pieces, checking them for noticeable damage. Thankfully, the transition through dimensions hadn’t damaged anything. Everything was in its right place, from the pixelated marble sculpture of an ancient pony goddess to the oil painting of bridge trolls trolling each other while playing bridge.

Euch dashed from piece to piece, scanning a QR code on their placards, raking in cultural epiphanies in her achievement dialogue. “This is kinda broken,” she said to Teque as another five hundred bits appeared in her wallet. “I can’t believe people used to pay to go to museums.”

“Museums are good for more than just making bits.”

“Okay, purist.”

He ran a hoof across one of the several deep maroon curtains draped along the off-white wall, hung there to dampen noise and make the room sound more intimate. “The house is the most important work of art here. They’ll come for that. Those QR codes are just lunch money.”

“But did you know this sculpture thingy’s worth six hundred bits?”

“Yeah, once.”

She tried scanning the same art piece twice. An error message flashed in her face. “Ah, there’s always a catch. How much did you pay for these altogether?”

“Eight million bits.”

A dark shadow moved across her face. She tried scanning the piece a third time. The same error message flashed in her face. “Rats,” she muttered. Another numbers game lost.


In the back of the gallery was a gold-plated spiral staircase leading to the second and third floor floors. It led them through a vintage study complete with a Victorian-era work desk and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lined with more maroon velvet curtains.

Further up, the staircase let them out in one corner of the master bedroom, a spacious but neutrally-decorated room with a single double-king bed in the middle of the room, flanked by twin nightstands and a half-sized dresser at the foot of the bed.

The furniture, however, was not what sucked the air out of Euch’s lungs.

Floor to ceiling windows dominated every square inch of the bedroom walls. Each one contained a panorama of dazzling proportions. Euch’s eyes were wide as she walked to the closest window, which contained a top-down view of Neigh York City.

“Open the window,” Teque said.

As she pushed the frame open, the faint sounds of cars, planes, and millions of ponies filled the room. She drew closer to the glass, and as she did she noticed her hair began to fall in a strange way, pulled by a new center of gravity towards the new “down” below.

She jumped back and let out a startled little, “Eep! What? How does it--”

“The closer you get to the window, the closer to that world you get. If you jumped through, you’d fall all the way down to the street.”

“That’s...” She inched closer to the window. “All that’s real?”

“As real as you and me.”

The next window looked out on a scene not from this planet, an oceanic world perpetually locked in sunset. Teque threw the windows open and took in a breath of salty air. “This planet’s atmosphere is slightly more oxygen-rich than Equestria. Stand here for a few minutes and you’ll feel clear-headed.”

“Wow,” Euch repeated. She ran to the next window and threw them wide open, taking in a deep breath of the endless field of hock-high grass and wildflowers swaying in a soft breeze.

“It smells so real,” she said.

“It is real. The house is connected to these places through the fourth dimension. All these different places are really just a four-dimensional corner away. Until now, we haven’t been able to look around that corner.” He smiled. “Now we can.”

The final window looked out into the airless void of space. Even with the lights on inside, the stars twinkled as they must have in ancient times, back when human beings still roamed a primordial version of earth. Before Equestria. Before heaven.

“Those windows don’t open,” Teque said. “Better safe than sorry.”

Euch moved to the center of the room and stood up on the bed, turning slowly to look at each window one after another. Teque’s heart swelled. Euch loved to be tall, to gaze down on the world from a comfortable height. She’d been designed with a love of climbing to get her up to those heights. She was also nerfed to be half a head shorter than most ponies. Probably to keep her humble.

“I don’t...” Her jaw worked slowly, chewing on a few thoughts, ultimately swallowing them. “This is unreal.” She looked up towards the ceiling and noticed a small skylight placed directly above the bed. “Where does that one lead to?” she asked Teque.

“Outside. Our outside. I thought it would be disorienting to wake up and not be able to see the real world.”

She nodded slowly. Then she pointed to the window looking out on Neigh York City. “Can they see us?”

“To them, we’re still around the fourth dimensional corner. They could fly right through us without even noticing.”

The thoughtful look on her face morphed into something more devious. “How many more times until we get it, Teque?”

“Times? I--oh.” A bright blush burst across his cheeks. “Uh. Three more times.”

“C’mere, then,” she breathed. He moved as if magnetized, as if caught in a new center of gravity. She was a force greater than all the others, complete in her benevolent domination. He who bent time and space was powerless but to surrender.

She reached out her hoof, beckoning him closer. Her eyes flickered with life, with electricity, a dense sparkling city laid out beneath him. His mane fell in front of his face, and all he could see was her, and all the fantastic sights surrounding them were once again made imaginary. Out of sight, out of mind.


Now their number was two.

They laid there in the master bed for who-knows how long. With all boundaries between them erased, their eyes wandered from each others’ bodies to the windows’ views at random.

Back when their love was still new and dangerous, catching Euch’s eyes made Teque seize up with fright. She was so commanding. So dominant. He feared her as much as he loved her.

Now, when his eyes met hers, they barely paused. Somewhere along the line, he’d grown accustomed to the intensity. It was a wonder worn down by weather, a panoramic view of many worlds dulled by sexual stimulus and time.

“What are we gonna do with this house?” she asked.

“This one’s ours. I’m never selling it. We can give tours of it to generate funding and interest, at least until the commissions start rolling in.”

“That’s not all you want to do with it, though. Right?”

“Now that I’ve proved tesseract houses are feasible, I can finally start my own architectural firm. Build houses for celebrities. Charge out the wazoo for the best views in the universe.”

She turned on her side to face him. “Why stop there? If you stacked these things on top of each other, you could fit whole city blocks into a few buildings. We could solve overcrowding. And if we could turn four-dimensional corners from one distribution center to another, we could revolutionize the world’s supply chain.”

“Where’s the beauty in chaining factories together?”

“I dunno. But I do I know where the money is.”

He shrugged. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe I’ll hire someone else to do that. I don’t want to make factories though.”

“As long as you don’t sit on this.”

“I won’t.” He glanced back at her. She was giving him the same incredulous look she wore when reading the “Questionable Calls Quarterly” section of Wall Street’s Wagers. A frown wormed its way onto his face. “What?”

“Are you sure you’ll do something with this?”

“Yes, very sure.”

“Okay.” She rolled over to look at the ceiling and the single small skylight. A moment passed. “Cuz the last time you said that--”

“I’ll do whatever I want with this, okay?”

“I’m just saying--”

“It’s my invention.”

“I don’t want you to waste a good thing. Get what you can out of this. It’s important.”

“I know it’s important. No one’s gonna duplicate this for another hundred years.”

“Even if it took them a thousand years to catch up...” she trailed off. “Forever’s a long time, Teque.”

Teque, instead of answering, rolled over and put his back to Euch. An eternity away, forever out of reach behind welded-shut windows, endless stars twinkled in the void.


They stayed in bed, locked in their own separate worlds, until the sun passed over its zenith and began its descent. A pale box of light let in from above ticked across the room until they could ignore it, and each other, no longer.

They rolled out of the master bed in a single well-rehearsed motion. They’d had fights before. Fights satisfied Teque’s desire to be right and dominate other ponies in intellectual sparring. He needed fights. Euch satisfied that value.

Even after hundreds of years in Equestria, he still didn’t know how to feel about that.

Together they made their way back to the main floor, through the gallery, to the other three ground-floor rooms. One was a kitchen, decked out with all the most modern appliances in sleek chrome finishing. Its purpose was purely functional. They barely bothered to look around. Same for the other two rooms, an outdoor three seasons room looking out on a detailed approximation of the great smoky mountains, and a lavish dining room complete with ornate pewter and a real honest-to-goodness set of knight’s armor guarding the corner. They passed through all three rooms without a word.

The final room, the basement, was a man-cave of sorts. Dart boards and televisions and a fully-stocked bar and a billiards table and a massive drawing board with reams of blueprint paper lined the room.

“This is where I’ll be doing all my architectural work. It’ll be good for entertaining guests, too.”

He waited for Euch to say something, but she let the silence speak in her place. She wandered around the room, sniffing out the bar, and found the stash of beer Teque had left in the fridge.

“None of these rooms match,” she finally said. “The design is unstable.”

“It’s a proof of concept.”

“But it’s also gonna be our house?” She cracked the bottle cap off a beer and took a swig. “Run that bit by me again. I’m not following you there.”

“What’s there not to get?”

“Well, if you move in here, that means I have to move in here too. I don’t think I wanna do that.”

He made his way to the other side of the bar and nodded towards the fridge. An annoyed look flashed across her face, but she relented and hoofed him a beer.

“Why don’t you want to move in?” he asked. “Is it the decoration? We can redecorate. I’d like the art gallery to stay the way it is, and I can’t really reprogram the view from the master bedroom, but--”

“I can’t live in this house,” she said again, more firmly.

“Why not?”

She gestured to the ceiling. “Where are we, Teque?”

“Uh, the basement?”

“But where are we, exactly? This part of the house used to be in the ground. Now it’s not. Where are we?”

“We’re still in the house. It’s just that, now the house doesn’t conform to a conventional geometry.”

“I hate that,” she snapped. “And I hate this house.”

Teque tried to keep his voice even. “You don’t hate it. You just don’t understand it.”

Euch took another glug of her beer. The bottle was fast approaching empty. Teque wondered nervously if she would throw it at him when she was done. She’d done it before. “I’m not living in a science experiment.”

“But this is my life’s work.”

She leaned across the bartop, her face twisted in a sneer. “All this time, you’ve been making this stupid house, but you never once asked me how I felt about being dragged along for the ride. Did you ever even think to ask if I wanted to move out of the house we’re in now? I like that house. The rooms match. There’s no art gallery in my living room.”

“You can learn to like this house too, if you’d just keep an open mind--”

“I’m three hundred years old. I’m done opening my mind. What kind of long term relationship is this if you don’t care about how I feel?”

“A pretty good one, apparently. We’re two ticks away from winning.”

Her lips drew back. The sneer snapped into rage. She lashed out and slapped him hard across the face. He let out a yelp of pain and shirked away. She reached forward, grabbed him by his shoulder, and yanked him halfway across the bartop.

She pressed her lips to his. Teeth collided. They tumbled backwards, head over hooves, onto the tiled floor. Pain flashed in Teque’s head as his head grazed the floor.

She wasn’t gentle. She never was. Every move was a motion to dominate, to ensnare, to collapse him. She wanted it to hurt. But so did he. He was through trying to make her understand how ignorant she was being. This was his dream, he thought, as the wild back-and-forth began, a spiteful debate between hips and lips. Why couldn’t she just be happy? Why couldn’t she see how badly he wanted this?

Faster. Harder. Everything smelled of her, of oleander and sage and copper coins. She pulled her face back and pressed her lips together in a tight line. Was it so she wouldn’t cry out? He wanted to hear her scream. He dove in and pried her lips apart with his tongue.

She let out a startled gasp. Victory.

But what he gave, she returned in kind. She got to her hooves suddenly and pulled him by the mane out from behind the bar, dragged him over to the billiards table and splayed him out on top of it. The dance resumed. Harder. Faster. She pinned him beneath her. The balance of power swung all the way over to her.

Her weight shifted. His back cracked. Her scent suffocated him--he couldn’t breathe. He held out as long as he could, but as with every argument he had endured with Euch, there came a point where he could hold no longer. His surrender came out as a pitiful wheeze, one she recognized instantly. She flashed a smirk. Nine hundred and ninety eight previous repetitions. Nine hundred and ninety nine wins.


When they were done, Teque’s lips were bitten and bruised. A line of welts ran up Euch’s neck. Scratches and rugburn marked both of their forelegs. The fuzzy baize surface of the pool table had torn in two places and was ruined with sweat and stains. Nine hundred and ninety nine repetitions. Teque wondered if he’d survive another.

She grabbed his hoof and dragged him towards the stairs. “The stupid table hurts my back. Let’s go back to the bedroom and get this over with.”

She glanced up the spiral staircase and screamed.

She flung herself backwards and into Teque. The two ponies collapsed in a heap at the foot of the stairs.

“What was that for?” Teque barked.

“There’s someone else in the house.” Euch pointed up the stairs. Her voice trembled with fear. Just a moment ago, she’d been biting his lips off and choking him. The emotional whiplash made Teque’s blood run cold.

He looked up the stairs. There, past the entrance to the master bedroom three floors up, he saw a stallion’s head peering up.

“Oh.” He paused, then let out another, “Oh.

“Oh?”

“That wasn’t another pony, Euch. That was you.”

She risked another glance up. She saw the figure on the upper floors do the same, and ducked back into the safety of the basement. “That can’t be me, dummy. I’m right here.”

“Yes. But you’re also up there. The stairwell is part of the tesseract. It loops around on itself. That way, instead of having to go up three floors to get to the bedroom, you could just go down one floor instead.” He smiled weakly. “Pretty cool, right?”

Euch digested this information at a glacial pace. Her tongue prodded a torn spot on her lip where a miniscule rivulet of blood beaded. Then she stared up the stairs again. Stared intently at the back of her own head.

She summoned a deep breath, then started up the stairs.

“Euch, wait,” he said. “We should go down the stairs. We’ll get to the bedroom quicker.”

But Euch wasn’t going back to the bedroom. When she made it to the first floor, she stepped out of the staircase and disappeared into the art gallery.


Teque found her outside, sitting on the lawn, her back to the house. The day was drawing to a close. The faint smell of cut grass and wood fires lingered in the air.

Her ears perked as Teque approached, but she didn’t turn around. “This...” she gestured in his general direction. Or maybe it was the house. He couldn’t tell. “This isn’t working.”

“What do you mean?”

“Us. We’re not working.”

“That’s not possible.”

“I know. Maybe my values have changed, but yours haven’t.” She shrugged. “Maybe our values demand we split up now. I don’t really know. It is what it is.”

Teque reached for something intelligent to say, but all the words went slipping through his hooves like so much digital sand on an ASCII beach. “But... Long Term Relationship,” he finally bumbled out. “We’re so close.”

“Don’t be upset. We’re in here forever, right? We’ll get to it eventually.”

“If we’re in here forever, then you’ll eventually have to stay with me forever.” Teque took a step closer. She held her ground. Still in control, even on her haunches. “You have to. Don’t you get it?”

“If we’re in here forever, then there’s a forever where we’re apart, too.”

The way she spoke, so utterly calm and self-assured, sent needles up Teque’s forelegs. A bristling frown crossed his face. “Oh yeah?” Before Euch could respond, Teque lit up his horn. A plastic folding chair popped into being. Teque deftly unfolded it and plopped it down facing up the street, away from Euch.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

Teque settled into the folding chair with a long sigh. "Waiting for you to prove me right," he replied. "Take your time. Take all of time. I'll be here.”

As the sun set on his dream house, Teque summoned a pair of circular sunglasses, some over-ear headphones, and a beer for good measure. As the drone of ambient music cocooned him, he looked over his shoulder to see what Euch would do.

The road was empty, an endless graph lined with endless green lawns.

Comments ( 13 )

This is fantastic.

Every part of this is well-conceived. Well-paced, well-visualised... the interactions are realistic, the emotions real... there's something incredible about surreal settings throwing the realities into sharper relief. Not only is this a brilliant FiO story, leveraging the unique aspects of that setting to drive both the characters' motives and their beliefs, but it's a plain and simple perfect depiction of how complicated (and sometimes self-contradictory) long relationships can be.

I wish my own writing about post-upload relationships came anywhere close to this, though I do love how you share my opinion that the natives should understand Equestria and treat it exactly the same way emigrants do. Stories that don't do that make the setting so much blander; it might as well be bog standard HiE if the natives aren't fully aware of the nature of the world.

This is my #1 fave so far. Absolutely stellar.

He who bent time and space was powerless but to surrender.

D'awwwww

“And he built a crooked house.”

A very chilling story, i loved it. Heaven is terrifying.
Also, super-props for your handling of the 4D architecture, a nitpick of mine that you passed with flying colours.

I too, love Robert A. Heinlein. Great job!

God dammit I wish I'd written this story. That was fantastic.

10817465 10796464 Aww thanks guys, I'm glad you like it! :twilightsmile::heart:

10796596 10797800 Heinlein is a new favorite of mine. I actually found one of his short story collections on the street outside my apartment. The muse needed me to find that book and lead me to this story.

This is a heck of a story packed into one chapter...Much like the house itself, I suppose. Bravo!

I can finally favorite and upvote this story, now that the results are published. Outstanding work -- the kind of story I wish I had in my own portfolio. Be on the lookout for a deeper review when I get some free time!

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Dude I friggin love your writing. I'm really glad you enjoyed my fic!

Mazel tov to them. Teque had no such ambitions.

I'm suddenly imagining Larry David as a pony.

The road was empty, an endless graph lined with endless green lawns.

Well. He's going to be there a long, long time.

oil painting of bridge trolls trolling each other while playing bridge.

I like those wordplays.

The meta stuff always gets you. Most FiO characters can't be happy with knowing they're in some approximation of heaven, because they can't help but think about where that heaven came from and why. Teque could've just ignored the fact that Euch was made for him and treated the relationship like any other. He probably would've been happier for it. But he couldn't.

Loved this story. :heart:

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