• Published 3rd Jun 2021
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All Smoke, No Mirrors - Jinzou



I don't know what I am, where I am, or how I got here. I also have no idea why I keep catching on fire.

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Exordium

The first thing I noticed was the pain. My entire torso and both my arms were throbbing intensely with pain.

The second thing I noticed was the train whistle in the distance, but that couldn’t be right. I lived miles away from any train track.

My eyes snapped open.

Well, there were definitely train tracks right next to me. Beyond them, I could see a dark, unending forest.

Oh shit. I had no idea where I was.

Okay, okay. Don't panic. Panicking solves nothing.

On the rare occasion, I’d have fainting spells and would be confused and disoriented when I woke. That's probably what was going on now. Yeah, I just had to wait a minute and I'd remember what I was doing here.

I was on my stomach, so I reached out to push myself up into a sitting position.

The plan changed when a sudden wave of agony shot through me as soon as my left arm touched the ground.

I tightly squeezed my jaw shut and pushed through the pain, successfully sitting up and instantly feeling over my left arm with my right. I followed the bottom part of the arm up, and there was a space where I felt the bone end, and below that, more bone. I could tell that the bone wasn't sticking out of the skin, so that was good.

Fuck. Closed fracture. At least I think so. I've never broken a bone before.

Taking a moment to brace myself, I took a deep breath and looked down at my arm to see the damage.

It was about then that I realized a broken bone was not my only worry, because staring back at me was an off-white cloven hoof.

I take it back! Definitely time to panic!

My breath quickened as my heart pounded in my ears. A chill ran up my spine and I feel I would have seen goosebumps if my arms weren't covered in fur. I wasn't supposed to have hooves!

A quick look over to my right showed another hoof, and then looking down, two hind legs of the same color.

My right han—er, my right hoof shot over to my face, feeling around. My nose was long and cylindrical. My ears weren't where they were meant to be. My eyes took up what felt like at least a third of my head!

I had a muzzle.

I had giant ears.

Holy fuck, I was a goat!

Wait, no. My ears were too high up on my head to be a goat.

I was a horse!

Oh fuck, okay. Logical explanation for this?

Oh wait. That was a stupid question. I went to facepalm, but a sharp pain washed across my face as I smacked my hoof against it.

Ow. Hooves are hard.

So I was a different species, in a completely unfamiliar environment. I woke up alone and can see no sign of civilization other than the train tracks. I mean, that alone should make clear what’s going on.

I was in a dream. Either that or somebody snuck some powerful drugs into me somehow. And considering I was feeling pain, I was thinking it might have been the latter, but after a moment of consideration, I was leaning toward the former.

I had never taken any hard drugs and had no idea what you felt like on them, but my head felt remarkably clear, and having had much experience drinking, I knew depressants gave you some sort of foggy sensation in your head. Besides, I had no idea if you could actually feel pain in a dream.

So that was a thing. I was either drugged or dreaming. Regardless, I had to figure something out.

I looked down to check out the rest of my new form. Yup, body of a white-ish horse, so that lended credence to the whole "dream" idea. Okay. I was in the body of a cartoonish hor-

Holy shit. I was a pony. As in MLP-style cartoon pony. I had stopped watching the show like four years ago, yet I was having a dream where I was a pony.

Well, I had never tried lucid dreaming, but I tried willing my foreleg to mend itself.

Nothing happened.

Well, shit.

Okay, to hell with it. I needed to find somebody and needed to get out of here while still asleep. My only problems were I had no idea where I was, where to go, or how far I could get with a fucked up leg.

Moments passed before I made up my mind.

Fuck it. Worth a shot.

I put my weight on my forelegs and clambered to my fee—to my hooves. I let out a low hiss as a throb of agony came from my broken leg when I put pressure on it. That made me flex my muscles, which only got worse as the muscles pulled on the broken bone.

I managed to stand up, putting all three good hooves on the ground, cradling my injured leg against my chest.

Okay, so I was a quadruped now; I had to walk differently. If I recall correctly, it was one leg, opposing hind leg, then the same side, but the foreleg, then the last leg. Which was great in theory, but one of my legs was out. So much for that idea.

I limped forward a couple steps by just throwing the front of my body out, then stepping forward with my hind legs. It felt awkward, and there was probably a way more efficient way to do it, but oh well. I was used to just two legs.

And then a sudden thought struck me.

There were a lot of fanfictions about humans being transported to Equestria, but they were aged down, the opposite gender, and, well, poofed into ponies.

Holding my breath and fearing the worst, I peered between my hind legs.

No dick.

Oh thank god; at least that part stayed the same. My dream was a little creative.

As for changing age?

"Uhm, test."

I winced as my voice came out extremely high-pitched. Okay, so I sounded like a child. That’s new.

I limped over to the train tracks, a constant throb coming from my injured leg, and tried gauging my size based on that.

Yep, I was small.

So I was a filly. Based on how high my voice was, I was also pre-pubescent. I wonder what my dream was trying to tell me with that.

I paused for a moment to take in my surroundings. Off to my right, there was a cliff. A jagged rock outcropping on my side pointing in the direction I was facing caught my attention first. I limped over to it, my broken leg sending out waves of pain every time my other foreleg hit the ground.

I made it over to the edge of the cliff and saw another cliff, facing the opposite way, maybe thirty feet away. Below me was a drop of at least two hundred feet. Large holes dotted the rocky side of the other cliff. Wasn’t this area featured in an episode before? Something about Rainbow Dash trying to get a pet. Ghastly Gorge, I think it was called. That meant I was close to Ponyville. And if I was close to Ponyville, then that forest-y area now off to my left must be the Everfree Forest. Which meant danger.

I didn't want to deal with timberwolves or Poison Joke or… whatever else the show had put in that death trap.

Following the train tracks it was. I had no idea how far it was from the nearest town, and it was going to suck limping that far, but hell, what other choice did I have?

Oh man, I could use a drink.


Turns out I wasn’t nearly as close as I thought. I’d been limping around for what must’ve been hours before I started thinking that maybe I wasn’t dreaming.

I rolled my neck to relieve some tension from my shoulders and looked up. The sun was in basically the same place as it had been when I last checked, which was probably about half an hour ago.

I didn’t know if this rule worked for dreams, but I do know that in dreams, clocks never show the same time twice. I’d figure in the absence of clocks, this was the next best test.

Which meant that so far, this was real.

I was really in Equestria.

As a pony.

A short laugh escaped my lips as I marveled at the ludicrous situation I was in. In what I perceived as my reality, I was in a cartoon. The weirdest part was that the world I saw looked pretty damn similar to real life, not with the show’s cartoony qualities. I sank to my haunches and lifted my good forehoof to my gaze. Like with the show, it was one solid color, minus an almost orange hoof, which wasn’t the design I remembered. The fur on the leg was a solid color, and you could make out individual hairs just by looking at it. It was about the same as it would be looking at a golden retriever. That meant there was a certain level of realism going on in this cartoon world.

Besides that, the environment lacked the same animated look. Other than the forest off to my side, the world had a vibrant, colorful appearance. Looking at the forest, everything was kind of dark. If I peered at the trees, I could make out individual knots and roots sticking out of the ground. They weren’t just one solid color with some cartoonish differences like in the show.

Peering deeper into the forest, I noticed something else. Far off into the distance, things weren’t as blurry as I was used to unaided, which was nice, as I was used to wearing contacts due to my vision being shit. I placed a hoof over each eye and peered into the distance. My vision was just as clear in each eye. This meant that my current body wasn’t just my old body in a pony form. I had a new body with noticeably better vision.

This also meant I was totally off my rocker. I thought I was in the televised world of a cartoon. Either that or I was seeing things. I do remember hearing that psychosis includes vivid hallucinations. I wasn’t sure how accurate that was, but that made more sense than me being in a cartoon world.

First things first, my priority was finding some other creatures. If not just to prove I’m dreaming, it’d be to find some enjoyment in this utopia while I still could.

My vision wandered back to the forest. Just looking at it gave me the eerie sensation I was being watched.

I wasn't sure it was the Everfree Forest, and even if it was, I don't remember anybody actually being injured in it when I watched the show. It'd make my journey far shorter.

I could find civilization faster. Find out if there were more ponies faster. I could work on maybe getting back to my old life faster.

Exhaling slowly, I took a tentative footstep toward the forest. Then another. Then a third.

And that's when my body locked into place. I started shaking as I found my legs unwilling to obey my commands to move. It was as if I'd lost complete control over my body.

“Move!” I commanded myself.

“No, I’m scared!” argued a voice in the back of my mind pitifully.

“Oh for the love of… this is a hallucination! Either that or a really weird dream. I’m in somebody’s room, probably my own as it’s Friday night, and I’ll be fine when I wake up.”

“I’m too scared to go into the forest,” replied the pathetic voice.

One part of me wanted to sack up and travel through the forest, but the other, more wimpy side of me just wanted to find some sympathetic adult and cry into their chest. Great. The stupid child body came with a stupid child brain and stupid child emotions.

Well, when stuck by fear, there’s always one viable solution.

Not giving myself any time to second-guess my decision, I sank to my haunches and lifted my injured leg, then smacked it to the ground as hard as I could. Tears instantly flooded in my eyes as I instantly doubled over in pain and my muzzle hit the dirt.

Temporarily distracted by the pain and the crying inside my head, I stumbled to my three good legs and limped into the forest.

The trek was long. It was boring, and a couple minutes in, I realized it may be futile. Sure, Ghastly Gorge was near Ponyville, but what if the forest I was in right now wasn't Everfree Forest, and I had gone in the complete opposite direction?

Fuck! I'm so stupid! I don't even know if there was a town this way!

A chill ran up my spine as I froze in my tracks. I could either continue the way I was going, risk traveling away from civilization, and throw myself into even more danger—or I could turn around and risk the same. What if I got lost or couldn't find somebody else in time?

I forced myself to keep moving.

Did kids starve faster than adults? Was that a thing? How long could I viably be lost before I couldn't move or fight back anymore? Could I eat grass? Real-life horses can, and I know humans can't because of some enzyme we don't have, but I'd never seen a pony do it in the show.

I could try hunting, but even if this weak filly body could hunt, I'm pretty sure horses can't digest meat. There's always the local flora, but I had no idea which ones were poisonous. If I ate poison I could just be helpless to a predator.

I saw a collection of ravens about ten feet ahead, clustered around something I couldn't make out. There were flies flying around them.

That wasn't a good sign. Ravens congregating like that either meant trash… or a carcass.

What about predators? What if I ran into a starving bear or hungry wolf? I had no tools to defend myself, I didn't even—

My hoof shot up to my forehead.

I had a horn.

Oh thank god.

My heart dropped when I made it to the ravens. As they flew away, I noticed something red on the ground. One closer look told me all I needed to know.

I could tell it was an animal. Probably a little under half my size. But now it was just some bloodstained bones, almost picked clean by the birds.

I was in a hunting ground.

And right then, since of course the universe wasn't done fucking with me, I heard the last noise I wanted to hear:

The very growl of a wolf behind me.

Oh shit.

Author's Note:

Yup, ol' Jinzou finally caved and made a HiE. And don't worry, it's not a self insert or wish fufillment, I'm still highly allergic to those.

Anyway, this is going to have a different release schedule than my last story. I'm thinking a chapter a week because I've had a very serious writing slump since Spring Bloom Withers came out. Like, a six month one.

So yeah, I'm publishing this now because I need the pressure and the people who actually like my story to push me to keep writing it. I hope you'll stick it out with me, because I do have some very good, cute chapters coming up that will absolute grab at your heart.

I'd like to thank Boopy Doopy's Mind Over Matter and Greenhorne's Trust Once Lost for inspiration for this story, they're awesome people with awesome stories, and you should totally check them out if you like the "HiE, but as a pony" theme.