• Published 10th Mar 2013
  • 3,369 Views, 136 Comments

Appletheosis - DuncanR



Just your average, garden-variety talking snake. In an apple tree. What could go wrong?

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I’ve seen the world that’s waiting for you

Pinkie Pie hopped down the dirt road, all alone, humming tunelessly. She came to the wooden gate and paused to look at the lovingly hoof-carved sign atop the archway.

Paradise Estates... why does that sound familiar? She pushed the gate open and continued along the path. I guess welcome means welcome!

She approached the end of the road but paused as voices drifted back, angry and shouting. She crept off the beaten path and peered through the wall of shrubs: there in the clearing was a massive tree with a crown shaped like the puffy white clouds that dominated the highest reaches of the sky. The branches were laden with small purple fruit. A great cloth banner hung down from one of the lower branches, displaying a vertical, vaguely-hexagonal grid of ten interconnected circles. Words from an indecipherable language adorned every curve and line: the calligraphy was fine and flowing, yet strict and orderly. Ensconced within each of the ten circles were words of power and majesty.

A fig tree...?

“Don’t you even think of blaming me for any of this!”

Pinkie Pie flinched at the angry, hissing voice. She hunkered down lower and peered through the bushes again, and saw the very same clearing her friends had all described. Hill, tree, snake... two snakes.

“Where the hell did that come from? How is this not your fault?!”

“You’re just a child, aren’t you? Even after all these years, you’re still a selfish, conceited child!”

“Selfish!? You knew from the very beginning that I had responsibilities! How is that childish?”

“What about me!? Don’t you have a responsibility to me? I’m sick and tired of staying in the shadow of that stupid tree of yours!”

“Oh, you did not just insult the tree! Don’t go there!”

“You know what? I will go there! You care more about that stupid plant than you ever did about me! We never go anywhere, we never do anything, we never meet anyone... you expect me to spend my entire life babysitting an overgrown shrub?”

“It’s more than that! You have no idea how important—”

“Oh, would you shut up already? I know it’s more important to you than I am!”

“It’s more important than either of us! Besides, it’s a home for us, isn’t it? I don’t mind being a stay at home type!”

“You call this a home!? A real home is a dry cave under a hot rock, next to a cold river! How am I supposed to live without a river? It’s barbaric!” One of the serpents dropped out of the tree and slithered across the grassy clearing. “That’s it. I’m done. We’re done.”

“What? No-no! You can’t just...” The second snake followed after her. “Just calm down! I didn’t mean any of it, really! You can’t just leave like this! Think of everything we... that we... well, think of everything!”

The female snake slithered out of the clearing and onto the dirt path, passing right by Pinkie Pie’s hiding spot: she was a huge hooded cobra with black and gold scales, except for a single golden scale in the center of her forehead. Her eyes were ringed with dark, sweeping mascara, and fine gold chains hung from piercings along the edges of her hood.

“You’ll be back!” The other serpent roared after her. “You’ll come crawling back before you even—”

She passed through the archway and slammed the gate behind her. The sound was loud, and the silence that followed was absolute. The snake in the tree stared at the dirt road, blank and dull-eyed. After a full minute, he glanced about the clearing.

Pinkie Pie slowly backed away and made her way back to the dirt path. Now’s probably not the best time for this.


The next day, Pinkie Pie made her way down the dirt path and through the gated arch. She paused at the end of the road and looked into the clearing: the serpent was hanging from the tree, just as dazed and blank-faced as yesterday.

Pinkie Pie took deep breath and stepped into the clearing.

The serpent’s head snapped to face her. “Ha! I knew you’d—” He froze as he caught sight of her.

“Hi mister snake,” she said softly.

He looked away.

Pinkie walked up the hill and sat by the tree. “Are you feeling okay?”

“What, me? Of course.” He tossed his head to one side. “I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well, I came to visit you yesterday, and I sort of accidentally overheard—”

“What!? No!” He shook his head. “That wasn’t...! It’s not what you...! I mean, I don’t know what you think you heard, but... really, it’s nothing.”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

“Embarrassed? Me!?” He pointed at himself with the tip of his tail. “What have I got to be embarrassed about? Nothing, that’s what. I’m fine. Everything’s... just fine.”

“So... do you want to talk about it?”

He looked away. “Hmph.”

Pinkie Pie listened to the forest for awhile, watching as the tension bled out of the serpent’s coils.

“What was her name?”

“Renenutet,” he said. “Or Wadjet, or whatever the hell she’s calling herself now. I didn’t want her to change it, but she wouldn’t listen.”

“I think it’s a beautiful name.”

“Try telling her that. These days all she cares about is her career.” He rolled his eyes. “Irresponsible? Hah.”

“So... what are your responsibilities?”

“I guard the tree. What else would I be doing here?”

“So you stop people from eating the fruit? Is that it?”

“Stop them?” He glowered at her. “You just don’t have a clue, do you?”

Pinkie Pie looked up at him, serenely.

“Sorry,” he said. “I’m kind of in a bad... sorry. That was unfair of me.”

Pinkie Pie cleared her throat. “I’ll never find anyone else, and nobody will ever love me.”

The serpent stared at her. “What?”

“It’s what you’re thinking right now. It’s what everybody thinks at a time like this.” She stood up and touched his cheek. “It’s okay to be hurt. But it’s not okay to give up all hope for the future. And it’s definitely not okay to blame yourself for everything.”

“Blame... myself?”

“Well yeah!” Pinkie Pie said, smiling. “Nothing is ever entirely your fault. Sometimes these things just happen. Sometimes people blame you, and sometimes you deserve it, but you can’t let it ruin your whole life.”

The serpent darted forward and leaned against her neck, sobbing uncontrollably. Pinkie Pie flinched, but managed to keep from running away.

“You have no idea... how much I’ve wanted to hear that! You... you wouldn’t believe the things I’ve done... all the things I’ve been blamed for! So... so much...!”

“There there,” she said and patted the back of his neck. “Let it all out. There ya go.”

After a minute or so he pulled back and blew his nose. “Okay. Now I’m embarrassed.”

“That’s okay,” she said. “It’s allowed.”

He wiped his tear-streaked cheek against the side of one of his coils. “She’s really not coming back, is she? It’s really over.”

“That’s the wrong thing to worry about. You need to get ahold of yourself, whether she comes back or not. You need to take control of your life.”

“Control? Hah!” He pointed at the clearing. “When have I ever had any control over anything that happens to me? I’ve been a slave to this garden. Always have been, always will be. How am I supposed to change that?”

“You could leave.”

“Leave!? Are you insane? This is my entire purpose in life! It’s the reason for my existence!”

“Really? Says who?”

“God!” The snake shouted. “God Almighty Himself created me to watch over this tree, and I’ll be damned—literally and figuratively—if I shirk my one and only God-given responsibility!”

Pinkie Pie stared at the snake, blankly.

The serpent sighed, exasperated. “You don’t have the slightest clue who God is, do you?”

She tilted her head. “Do you?”

“What?”

“Do you know who God is? He seems pretty important to you, but do you really understand him?”

“Well no, of course not. He’s utterly unknowable.”

“Then do you think, maybe, it might be just a little... ” Pinkie Pie wobbled her head back and forth. “I dunno... arrogant to say you know exactly what he’s thinkin’?”

The snake stared at her for a moment. His eyes flitted about, ever so slightly.

“Well tie me in a sheepshank,” he muttered. “Putting your own words in the big guy’s mouth is one of the biggest no-no’s there is, and I didn’t even... oh wow. I didn’t even realize I was doing it.”

“This God fellow... what’s he like?”

“Well, I don’t know. Nobody does. He’s unknowable.” He frowned. “Well that’s not exactly true... he’s like any artist: you can learn about him by studying his works. And he does give us a few hints now and then, when he thinks we need it.”

“Is he the angry sort? Will he be mad at you if you make a mistake?”

“Oh, heavens no. He’ll forgive anything. At all. He has a rep for being a real old-testament fire-and-brimstone sort, but it all just a misconcep... hey, wait a second. Why are you so curious about this all of a sudden?”

“Come with me!” Pinkie Pie stood up and nodded to the dirt path. “I know a place that has the best milkshakes ever. You’d love ’em!”

“Milkshakes? Don’t be silly. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Why not?”

“I must guard the tree. It’s my duty.”

“Is that really what he said? Were those his exact words?”

“Yes.” He frowned. “Well... no. But—”

“Let’s be honest,” Pinkie Pie said. “It’s not your job to prevent people from eating the fruit, is it?”

“What? No! Yes! I mean...” He shook his head. “It’s not that simple. Nothing is ever that simple.”

“If you really wanted to keep people out, you’d take down the sign and lock the gate.”

The snake stared at her. “There’s a gate?”

“Right over there. Come on! Don’t you deserve to live a little? To have your own life?”

“It’s not my choice. It’s as simple as that.”

Pinkie Pie turned to give him her full and undivided attention. “What does God want for you?”

“I’m... not comfortable answering that question. Can we please talk about something else?”

Pinkie Pie pursed her lips.

“Fine, fine. As far as I know, the purpose of mortal life is to... well... worship God and sing of his praises.”

Pinkie Pie arched an eyebrow.

“No-no-no, it’s not like that! I know it makes him seem incredibly self centered and arrogant and narcissistic and it’s nothing like that at all and people are always getting confused about that sort of thing and I can’t believe I’m telling you all this! Can we please just change the subject? It’s not my job to impart divine wisdom! There’s a reason I leave that sort of thing to the professionals!”

“So he wants you to know about him?” Pinkie tilted her head. “How can you do that if he’s unknowable?”

“Well, as I said: by studying his works. And through the teachings of his divine messengers.”

“Well I don’t see any divine messengers here.” She nodded back to the dirt path. “Why don’t we go study his works for a while?”

The serpent bit his lip, then glanced at the tree. “But what about—”

“Ut-ut-ut!” She waggled a hoof at him. “If you’re going to play the what-if game, then play it all the way through to the end. What’s the worst that could happen?”

“Somebody could wander into the garden while I’m gone.”

“And?”

“And I wouldn’t be here to... well, to...”

“Is it your job to stop them from eating the fruit?”

“No, actually. But I do end up turning most folks away.”

“And if somepony really, truly wanted to eat it—if they’re totally determined—is there anything you can really do to stop them?”

He worked his jaw. “I suppose not. I mean, I guess I could stop them physically... but that would totally defeat the purpose. It’s supposed to be a moral conundrum. Not a wrestling match.”

“And if somebody does eat the fruit, will God be angry at you?”

“God doesn’t get angry. Not as you know it, at least. He’s above such petty things. There is vengeance, yes, and justice... but not anger.”

“Will he forgive you?”

“Of course he will. God forgives all, without exception. Well, with one exception... but that’s one of those funny catch-twenty-twos. It’s hardly his fault.”

Pinkie Pie walked over and gave his head a gentle tug. “Come on! There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored, all full of wonderful and amazing things! Why would God put you in the world if he didn’t want you to experience it? You deserve to learn and grow, don’t you?”

He followed after her, glancing at the tree. “But... but...!”

“If he gave you this job, he must trust you to do it well. Would you rather blindly obey, or use your own judgment?”

“Well... it is important to obey the spirit of the law, instead of just the letter... and actions are more important than words...”

“There you go! You need to stop making decisions based on what you’re afraid of. It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. It’s much worse to do nothing at all, forever and ever!”

“I guess... yeah. Slothfulness is pretty bad.”

The serpent’s body snapped taut, yanking Pinkie Pie back a step. She looked back at the very tip of his tail, still coiled around the base of the tree.

“I can’t carry you all the way,” she said. “You have to take the first step yourself.”

“Step? I don’t have feet. Or legs.”

She rolled her eyes. “Don’t be so dang literal minded.”

He wriggled in place for a moment. “Look, I don’t think this is such a good idea after all.”

“That’s the catch,” she said. “You won’t know if something will work out until you go ahead and try it. There’s no other way.” She set a hoof under his chin and tilted his head up. “But I have been there, and I’ve seen the world that’s waiting for you... and baby, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!”

“Really?”

“You have no idea how amazing and wonderful it is out there! And if you stay in this little clearing forever, you’ll never know.” She took a step backwards. “But that’s your decision. I can’t make it for you.”

“A whole world, huh?”

“Yup!”

“Amazing, huh?”

“Oh, yeah. Big time. If this God fellow really did make the whole world, He definitely knew what he was doing.”

The serpent reared its head up. After a moment, he slithered forward. He looked back at the tip of his tail, no longer touching the tree.

“Whoa.”

“The road is this-a-way. Come on!” Pinkie Pie hopped to the edge of the clearing. “You won’t regret it, I promise!”

“I hope not.” The serpent slithered after her, eyes darting about. “Something about this just seems... I dunno. Wrong, somehow.”