• Published 29th Dec 2012
  • 12,566 Views, 1,189 Comments

Mother of Invention - zaponator

Awake and alone, Applejack will find a way to survive.

  • ...

...To The Jungle

Applejack's eyes shot open. Something was wrong. She quickly sat up, slapping her hat onto her head reflexively. For whatever reason, her heart was beating hard in her chest and she had a sheen of sweat over her orange coat, as if she'd just run in a race. Her ears twitched, she could feel something out there watching her, but even more prominent was an inexplicable feeling of wrongness that seemed to seep into her very being. She glanced around frantically, trying to spot anything to explain the strange feeling.

The first thing she noticed was that it was far darker than when she had laid down. Cursing herself for oversleeping, she noted that it was obviously night, and far too dark for her to be out in the open. She could barely see the trees on the other side of the stream, and even though the jungle was just as quiet as it had been earlier, it now seemed infinitely more dangerous and foreboding. As Applejack sat there on the grass between the trees and the stream, she couldn't help but note that the occasional rustling that had been present during her trip from the beach was silent now that night had fallen. While the sound had been slightly disconcerting, the sudden and complete absence of it in the presence of this 'wrong' feeling was much worse.

Her concerns about rustling bushes were immediately shoved out of her mind when a blood-chilling shriek tore apart the nighttime tranquility. The inequine cry was unlike anything Applejack had ever heard before, a high pitched screech that seemed to tear into her very soul, and it terrified her to the point of falling to her belly and pulling her hat down over her head. Her pupils shrunk to tiny dots, and her ears folded against her head as the hideous shriek threatened to rip her eardrums apart. The mare didn't intend to stick around for some creature of nightmares to find her and, in her frightened state, she wasn't exactly thinking things through rationally. This resulted in her springing to her hooves and leaping across the tiny stream, quickly speeding off at a gallop into the pitch black jungle on the other side.

She smashed through the undergrowth as fast as her legs could carry her. Whenever an obstacle would appear in front of her she would either leap over it or slide under it, whatever got her away from there faster. She really had no idea what she was running from, or where she was running to, but instinct told her that anything that produced a sound like that should be placed as far away from her as possible.

After several minutes of frantic running Applejack skidded to a stop, blinking rapidly. The strange feeling was gone. Her heart was still working overtime, and she was out of breath from her nonstop sprint, but that sickeningly wrong feeling that she had felt when she woke up was now completely gone. She wasn't sure why, but this did wonders to calm her down. On top of that, her mind cleared instantly, bringing her to question why she ran off into the jungle in the dark at all. She was usually calm and collected, even under pressure, but back there she had behaved like a scared little filly. While she mentally berated herself for her foalishness, it did seem to have worked, seeing as the strange feeling was gone, which she assumed meant that whatever creature had been out there was gone too, but that didn't mean it couldn't find her.

Knowing just how temporary her respite might be, Applejack started to look for somewhere safe to hunker down for the rest of the night. She had been incredibly tired when she finally found the stream earlier, and sleeping the day away had done surprisingly little to bring her energy back. She noticed that she was standing on a slight incline, and decided that following it upwards was as good a path as any. Her head darted back and forth as she trotted uphill, watching for any sign of movement. For the second time that night, she took note of the eerie silence. All signs pointed to her being the only living thing in the area, but memories of rustling bushes and the horrible shrieking noise proved otherwise.

The only sound was that of her heavy breathing, and her hooves crunching on fallen leaves and undergrowth. Eventually, the canopy disappeared as the land sloped upwards, giving her sight of the moon hanging up above like Luna's own watchful eye. The sight of the familiar satellite was a relief. Applejack knew at least that wherever she had ended up, some things were constant. So distracted was she by the silver disc in the night sky that she almost walked right into a cave before noticing it. She halted and took a few steps back to get a good look. Directly in front of her, the hill she had been walking up became a near-vertical wall of stone. Standing out amidst the solid wall of grey was a pitch-black opening, tall and wide enough for three ponies to walk through abreast.

Applejack would have jumped for joy if she had possessed the energy. This cave was better shelter than she could have ever expected. She glanced back at the sky to thank Luna, only to find that the moon was once again hidden behind the forest canopy, casting the entire jungle into nearly total darkness. The farmer offered a silent thanks to the matriarch of the night anyway, before taking a deep breath and plunging into the blackness of the cave.

As soon as she entered the cave, the adrenaline rush she'd been on since being scared out of her skin by the nightmare-fueling shriek wore off. She yelped as her right foreleg gave out, nearly sending her to the floor of the cave before she caught herself. Setting herself down on her haunches, she set to examining the offending hoof. The darkness in the cave interior made it impossible to see a thing, but she was able to test the movement of the hoof, as well as give it a feel with her left forehoof. What she found was not encouraging. From what she could tell, she might have twisted her hoof in her mad dash through the forest. The adrenaline coursing through her system had prevented her from noticing, but now that she was relatively calm she couldn't even put her full weight on the hoof without extreme pain and risk of further injury.

Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done about it now. Applejack simply sighed, disappointed in herself for making such a foalish mistake. She still planned on finding high ground to get her bearings tomorrow, and though she couldn't see more than a couple of feet outside, she would bet the farm that the rock wall the cave was in led to some very high ground. Still, an injured foreleg was going to complicate things a little bit. Deciding to cross that bridge when she came to it, Applejack began to examine her temporary lodgings.

The air in the cave was cooler than outside, but Applejack considered that a benefit, seeing as the air outside was almost as hot and sticky as it had been all day. The sturdy farm mare was no stranger to working up a sweat on a hard day of apple bucking, but she always had a good long bath before bed. That was a luxury she couldn't afford now. Not that she was overly bothered by it. She had gone a couple days without washing up when camping in the past, this was similar. Just an impromptu camping trip. Except that she was stuck in a strange jungle far from home, and there was a bizarre creature somewhere out there looking for her likely with the intent to kill and eat her, not necessarily in that order. On second thought, the similarities to camping were few and far between.

Applejack felt her way blindly a little deeper into the cave. She went in a good 20 feet without hitting any sort of back wall, but the cave failed to widen by any amount in that whole distance, staying slightly wider and taller than three ponies side by side. With a shake of her head at the strangeness of it all, the earth pony decided to simply lay down where she was. The stone floor was hard and rough, but Applejack was completely spent, so she paid it no mind. She did receive one small blessing; the cave wasn't damp at all. Sleeping on a rock floor was bad enough, but a wet rock floor would just be too much. She made sure to carefully set her hat down next to her when she curled up on the cave floor.

After a few minutes of intense listening, the night remained completely silent. Eventually, Applejack even began to wish for a bush or a tree to rustle, anything to break the maddeningly unnatural silence. The thought that maybe the creature that made that noise had eaten up all the forest animals crossed her half-asleep mind briefly. Finally, she found the sweet embrace of sleep, nursing a sore hoof on the floor of a cave, in a jungle far from home, with thoughts of monsters playing out in her head.

Author's Note:

Edited by Pilate, because he's awesome and stuff.