• Published 3rd Feb 2013
  • 5,500 Views, 164 Comments

On the Line - TheBigBob



When Luna inhabits the dreams of a young filly in a coma, she takes it upon herself to save the child's life.

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Fade to Black

Luna stood in the middle of the street as zombies closed in on her from all sides. As they stumbled forward, the horde moaned in anticipation of its next meal. Many of the zombies tripped and fell, soon to be trampled underneath the weight of their brethren. Every possible path on the ground was blocked off. In a few moments, she would be overwhelmed.

Fortunately, she had wings.

Luna jumped several feet up and hovered overhead, watching as the zombies walked into each other. A few of them noticed her floating above the horde and futilely clawed at her from the ground. Luna looked down at the confused mass and sighed, shaking her head.

“Idiots.”

As she floated above the streets, the princess looked around at the tall buildings lining the road. Luna had only been traveling through dreams a few months now, but she had learned some things about the limits dreams had. The fact that she landed on this particular street and not near one of the smoke trails off in the distance meant that Novella had to be nearby. But which building was she in?

Luna noticed a large window surrounded by two fire escapes. When she flew over to it to peer inside, the window shattered as a zombie leaped through it. The princess gasped and narrowly avoided being tackled by the rotting pony. As she watched him fall and splatter against the ground, her heart pounded. Luna quickly turned her attention back to the now-broken window, expecting a second zombie to hurl itself at her. When she saw that the coast was clear, she sighed in relief. Afterwards, she came to a realization.

“What am I doing?” she asked, rolling her eyes. “They can't turn me into a zombie. If they bite me in here, I won't even feel it.”

Luna floated over to one of the fire escapes and stood on the grating. She leaned over the railing in order to survey the street. She looked down at the hungry mass of ponies beneath her as they stumbled and moaned, looking for a meal. As terrifying as they may have appeared, it was a scene that Luna had seen many times before. It seemed like the princess couldn't even go a week without stepping into a zombie dream.

It wasn't hard to figure out why the undead were so common in the dream world, especially among children. They represented the feeling of being overwhelmed, of being the last sane pony in a world gone mad. Zombies might be slow and easily outwitted, but with a single bite, they would turn their victim into one of their own. Sometimes Luna would encounter smarter and more agile versions, where the threat had to be dealt with immediately, with little time to prepare. In one colt's dream, the princess came face to face with crystal zombies, whose hard skin made them impossible to destroy. That child had issues.

Luna heard a groan come from just below her. The princess looked down through the grating and saw a zombie pegasus slowly rising up toward her. With its rotting wings, it was nowhere near fast enough to be a threat, but unlike the other zombies on the ground, it could at least follow Luna. The princess sighed and closed her eyes. With a flash of her horn, the wings were ripped off of the pegasus, who fell to the ground with a splat.

“No point in waiting around here,” Luna mumbled. She hopped off the railing and floated around the street a bit. “Now, if I were a survivor, where would I be hiding?”

Luna looked around at the various buildings. Seeing as how Manehatten had some of the tallest buildings in Equestria, it would be impossible to search every room on each floor. Not to mention that there were likely countless zombies wandering the halls. They were of no danger to the princess, but the flesh eaters would be very real to Novella. If that were the case, then a random room would be a terrible place to stay, considering how populated the living areas were. Even though supplies would be on the ground levels, survivors would be too close to the action to be considered safe. Which meant that there was only one place the filly could be...

Luna flapped her wings and flew up as high as she could. Soon, the zombies on the streets below her became tiny specks. Now that she was up high, the princess could see all of the destruction in the city. The clouds above were dark and filled with smoke. Fires consumed skyscrapers. Somewhere, a pony jumped out of a window on the 20th story.

Luna shook her head. “How in Equestria can a filly like her even imagine such horrors?”

The princess realized she had yet to locate Novella. She scanned the tops of the surrounding buildings. Down the street, she noticed a small group of ponies taking refuge on the roof of an office building. Luna nodded and flew towards them without wasting any time. Before she landed on the roof, she called out to them.

“Hello?”

“Get away from us, you freak!”

Luna only had a moment to react before an older stallion on the roof hurled a brick at her. She instinctively moved just fast enough to avoid it slamming into her face. Dream or not, Luna didn't like being hit with blunt objects. She saw the pony ready another brick.

“Stop!” Luna yelled. “I'm not one of them!”

“You moron!” An older mare whacked the stallion on the back of his head.

“Ow!” the stallion yelled, turning toward his aggressor and rubbing his hoof where he had been hit. “What was that for?”

“You almost killed the only living pony we've seen for hours!” The mare looked him straight in the eye. “What in Equestria were you thinking?”

“Well, excuse me for being on edge!” The stallion pointed his hoof toward Luna as he yelled at his companion. “The last thing I want is another one of those undead fliers sneaking up on us!”

As the two ponies argued with each other, Luna hovered onto the roof and observed their conversation. Had this been real life, the two would have immediately recognized her, considering she was one of the most famous ponies in Equestria. However, dreams had no need for such logic.

Luna took a look at them as they argued. The stallion had blue fur and a messy, dark blonde mane, both of which were graying, and bore a picture of a briefcase on his flank. The mare, on the other hoof, had green fur and a long, red mane. Her hair was a tangled mess. It looked like it would have been carefully styled hours ago, but all that work had been ruined in the wake of the zombie apocalypse. Her flank had a picture of a pearl necklace.

“Ahem,” Luna said, standing beside them. The two ponies broke out of their argument and looked at her.

The mare addressed her. “Please forgive my ex-husband,” she said. “We just have a bit of a... problem at the moment, and we're all on edge.”

Luna raised an eyebrow, looking at her quizzically. “What's the matter?”

The stallion rolled his eyes. “You mean, aside from the fact that the city's destroyed and we're trapped here on this roof waiting for a rescue team while those... things attack us from all sides?”

The mare slapped him on the back of his head again. “Will you drop the sarcasm for just a second and let me explain the situation to her?”

The stallion grumbled and looked away from the two of them. “I'm gonna go watch the perimeter.” He glanced at his ex-wife. “And before you say anything, this time I'll make sure they're dead first before I try to kill them.” The stallion walked away and shook his head, muttering, “That doesn't even make sense.”

The mare sighed and looked back toward Luna. “Sorry about that,” she apologized again. “He can be so insensitive. Even before the city was destroyed, he was still a pain in the flank.”

Before the mare could go on any further, Luna decided she should get back on topic. “So, what happened here?”

“Well,” the mare explained, frowning. “We had an incident earlier.”

“What kind of incident?”

“Maybe it would be better to just show you.” The mare looked toward an air conditioning unit where two ponies were.

Luna noticed a filly leaning against the unit, breathing heavily. When she saw the filly's dark blonde hair and green fur, she realized that it was Novella. Luna rushed past the mare she met on the roof and ran straight toward the child. After dodging zombies and searching the streets, it was nice to finally see the source of the nightmare.

“I wouldn't get too close if I were you.” A teenage mare stepped between Luna and Novella, holding a baseball bat over her shoulder with her hoof. “She's been bit.”

Luna looked at the mare blocking her path. She bore the same dark blonde hair and green fur that Novella had, but the resemblance ended there. Her hair was spiky and stood up straight, as opposed to Novella's neatly-trimmed mane. Her ears were pierced both high and low, and her tail was cut extremely short.

“What're you starin' at?” the mare asked, squinting her eyes at Luna.

The princess blinked a few times, then shook her head. “Sorry.” She looked back at the older mare, who had just now caught up with her. “How long ago was she bit?”

“About an hour ago.” The mare frowned. “I don't think it'll be long now before she turns into one of them.”

“L... Luna?” The group turned toward Novella, who had become aware of their conversation. “Is that you?”

The princess walked around the teenage mare and knelt beside Novella. “Yes child, it's me.”

The two of them jumped as the stallion in the group yelled from the other side of the roof. They glanced over and saw him leaning over the edge, holding a crowbar.

“And tell your friends to leave us alone while you're down there!”

The group sighed and turned its attention back to Novella. The filly tried her best to keep her eyes open, but it seemed like she could barely focus. She was panting hard and sweating profusely. Dream or not, it was hard for Luna to watch the child suffer like this.

“You know my daughter?” the older mare asked.

Luna stood back up and addressed her. “We've met once before. Not too long ago, actually.”

The mare gave her a weak smile. “Well, I'm glad. She got to see a friend one last time before... you know...”

As the mare trailed off, Luna thought about what she said. If the mare was Novella's mother, then the stallion patrolling the roof must have been her father. Which made the spiky-haired teen her sister. With a strict mother and a surly father, it was no wonder that the child felt so alone. Luna brushed Novella's hair with her hoof.

“You're getting awfully close there,” the teenage pony warned, pointing the baseball bat toward them. “You know what'll happen when she turns, right?”

Luna closed her eyes for a moment and nodded. “I'm not worr-”

As Luna said that, the whole world flashed to black for just a moment. In the blink of an eye, everything except for Novella and her disappeared. But as soon as it happened, it was back. Neither Novella's sister nor her mother noticed the flash.

“That was... strange,” Luna muttered to herself. In the months that she had been traveling through dreams, nothing like that had ever happened. Dreams had a tendency to be random, but they never just stopped, even for a second. Before the princess could dwell on it, Novella's sister stepped close.

“She's not going to last much longer.” She held the baseball bat over her shoulder. “We need to bash her brains in right now before she becomes a threat.”

Luna's eyes opened wide as she turned to face her. “You want to kill her just like that? Your own sister?”

Novella's sister squinted her eyes. “Don't give me that. She's nothing but a liability. Even if she wasn't bitten, she still couldn't fight. She can't do anything. All she ever did was sit around and mope.”

Luna thought about what she had just heard. Was Novella's sister just as dismissive in the real world? It was no wonder that the child spent so much time reading books. It was a safe escape from a family that likely fought just as often as they did here.

“Now step aside,” Novella's sister commanded, raising the bat over her head. “Let's just get this over with.”

“No!” Luna yelled, holding Novella close to her. “I won't let you hurt her!”

Novella's sister stared intensely at Luna. “If you don't move soon, I'm going to swing.”

“Back off!” Luna yelled.

“Get away from her!” Novella's sister readied her bat.

“I said BACK OFF!”

With a glow of Luna's horn, Novella's sister flew backwards. She dropped the bat as she skidded across the roof. Luna turned back toward Novella, and held the filly closely. Novella's eyes were shut tight, and she was panting and breathing heavily.

“Stay with me, child,” Luna said to her. “You're going to be fine.”

Just then, the world flashed to black again. Luna looked around and saw that Novella's family had disappeared. The two of them were the only ones on the rooftop.

“What's going on?” Luna wondered aloud.

Novella's pants became quicker and quicker. As Luna held the filly, she noticed that the air conditioning unit Novella was leaning on was also fading. The princess looked up at the world. The world was slowly disappearing. The fires off in the distance disappeared, as well as the buildings that housed them. The smoked-filled sky was getting darker as well. Was Novella waking up? If she was, then this didn't make any sense. When the dream ends, the world always faded to white, not black. What was going on?

Beep... beep... beep...

Luna's eyes opened wide. It was the sound she had heard the previous night. Celestia had convinced her that it was just an alarm clock going off, but listening to it again, there was no way that could be right. The sound wasn't noisy. It was steady. Luna swore that she had heard the noise before, but she couldn't remember from where. She continued to look around, watching the landscape disappear before her. Not only that, but the roof became distorted. There was another flash of black, this one lasting longer than before.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

The beeping became faster than before. Luna panicked. She looked down at Novella, whose breathing became more and more erratic. The door on the roof that led back into the building had disappeared as well. Another flash of darkness.

Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep!

Luna gasped. She finally recognized the sound: a heart rate monitor. It was a machine ponies used in hospitals to watch the condition of sick patients. When a pony's heart rate increased, it meant that the pony was under a lot of physical stress. If Luna could hear the monitor here, it must mean that Novella was hooked up to one of those machines in the real world. It was going off like crazy.

Novella was about to die.