• 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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Clear

“No...”

Luna stared out into the darkness surrounding the roof. Between the disappearing city and the incessant beeping, she hadn't even realized that she had let go of Novella. The filly lay on the concrete, panting heavily.

“This can't be happening...” Luna lowered her head, and a tear fell from her eye. Her legs wobbled, barely able to support the weight of it all. “It's supposed to be a dream,” she told herself. “Novella can't actually be dying, right?” Luna forced out a laugh. “This is all just a misunderstanding!”

Luna weakly lifted her head back up to look at the filly. Aside from her breathing, she wasn't moving. The darkness had overtaken the edge of the roof. Novella and she were now on nothing but a concrete plane in the middle of a dark void. The darkness formed an ever-shrinking circle around the two of them. Every second it crept closer and closer.

Luna gritted her teeth. “What do I do, what do I do?!” She stomped her hoof on the ground repeatedly in frustration. “There's got to be something! I can't just let her die!”

Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep...

“And enough with that infernal noise!” Luna shouted into the darkness. Her command was ignored. Luna screamed and held her hooves against her ears in an attempt to drown it out. "If only I could just make it disappear with my magic!" she yelled.

Then, her eyes opened wide. She found the solution.

“My magic! A healing spell!” she exclaimed. “How did I not think of it sooner?”

Luna wasted no time. She turned toward Novella's body and closed her eyes. Her horn glowed brightly, and the magic emanating from it caused her mane to wave in the wind. A bright ball of light swirled around Novella, lifting her into the air. After the filly hovered over the ground for a few moments, the ball exploded with a bright flash. The spell was over.

Luna rubbed her eyes. The light from her magic stung them, but she was okay. A little pain was nothing compared to saving the filly's life. Once her eyes readjusted to the dark, she looked down at Novella.

The filly wasn't moving.

“No...” Luna whimpered, slumping to the ground. “Please... not this...” Tears filled Luna's eyes. “Why...?”

Luna bowed her head and sobbed. The spell was useless here. The body lying in front of her was just a part of the dream. The real Novella had to be lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to all sorts of machines. Luna could change the dream world all she wanted, but she could not help the filly now. The circle of darkness was only feet away from them. In a matter of minutes, Novella would be dead. As Luna cried, she listened to the still-beating heart rate monitor, and the flurry of voices that accompanied it.

Luna's eyes shot open. She hadn't noticed any voices earlier. She couldn't make out what they were saying, but they sounded rushed. One voice seemed to command the others. After a few moments of listening to the voices yell instructions at each other, Luna heard one word stand out among all the others.

“Clear!”

The entire world shook, knocking Luna off of her feet. In an instant, she saw millions of images flash all around her, too fast for her to make out. Afterward, everything was dark again. Luna stood back up and looked around, trying to comprehend what had just happened.

“Clear!”

The world shook again, but this time Luna was ready for it. She held her balance and watched the images flash by, just like they had before. Luna took a close look at the scenes that appeared in the darkness. She saw Novella's mother sitting in the carriage next to her. Her father, exhausted from a hard day of work. Looking through a window at her older, more cynical sister. The school the filly went to. Books. Drawings. Classmates. The hospital. But as quickly as they appeared, they were gone.

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

Luna listened to the heart rate monitor. It was no longer beeping rapidly. It maintained the slow, steady pace she had heard the night before. Before long, the noise faded, and all Luna could hear was silence. The doctors had used a defibrillator. Her magic had failed where modern technology had succeeded. She reminded herself to study up on modern medicine the next time she had a free evening.

Luna looked over at Novella, who was still lying on the ground. The filly's heavy breathing had stopped, and instead, she was breathing normally. As Novella stirred, the circle of darkness that surrounded her edged away. However, instead of a concrete roof, a grassy field emerged from her.

Luna looked around as the world rebuilt itself. Healthy green trees sprung from the ground. A clear sky appeared overhead with white, fluffy clouds. A dirt path formed on the ground, leading off somewhere in the distance. Around them, birds chirped and butterflies flew around. Bees buzzed around batches of colorful flowers. A river flowed nearby with pristine water. However, the world didn't look like the Equestria that Luna knew. The blue of the sky looked as if it was not fully filled in. The tree bark's brown colors were overlapping with the green leaves. The birds were simplified to their most basic features, ignoring all rules of anatomy.

It was as if the world had been drawn with a box of crayons.

Before Luna had a moment to think about the implications of this new world, Novella woke up. The filly yawned, stood up, and stretched her legs. When she opened her eyes and spotted Luna, a big smile appeared on her face.

“Hiya, Luna!” she said, walking over to her friend. “Want to go for a walk?”

Luna's mouth hung open. Moments ago, this filly was on the verge of death. Now, she was more cheerful than Luna had ever seen her.

“What's wrong?” Novella asked, tilting her head. “Somethin' on your mind?”

Luna blinked a few times before shaking her head. “No... everything's fine, child.”

“Great!” Novella smiled brightly and started down the dirt path. As she walked, she turned her head toward Luna. “C'mon, let's go!”

“Oh!” Luna trotted a bit to catch up with Novella, then kept the same pace as her.

Luna watched the filly hum to herself as they walked. If Luna hadn't witnessed it herself, she would never have guessed that Novella just experienced a zombie apocalypse and a shrinking circle of death. Then again, they were walking through what looked like a picture book. Even if Novella couldn't consciously remember her traumatic experience, she must be happy to at least be alive.

Luna turned toward Novella as they walked. “If you don't mind me asking,” she said, “where are we headed?”

Novella's eyes shot wide open. “You don't know?!”

“Well... err...” Luna found it hard to match the filly's enthusiasm. “I've never been down this road before.”

Novella laughed. “We're heading over to Doggieville! It'll be the cutest place you've ever seen!”

Luna raised an eyebrow. “Doggieville?” The name sounded silly – the kind of name that would only appear in a story intended for children.

“Yeah!” Novella happily trotted along, completely unaware of Luna's skepticism. “I can't wait to introduce you to everydoggie!”

Luna closed her eyes for a moment and sighed. Zombies would be easy to handle compared to the saccharine world she was now a part of. Still, Novella was happy. It didn't matter that Luna was uncomfortable as long as the filly was safe.

Except that Novella wasn't safe. The doctors may have saved her life, but she was still asleep. Who knew when that heart rate monitor would start up again? Then again, the last time it happened, Novella was dreaming of dying. As long as the world was this colorful and carefree, the filly would be okay.

“We're here!” Novella exclaimed.

Luna snapped out of her daydream and saw that they had arrived in Doggieville. It was arranged like an ordinary town in Equestria, with various houses, shops, and places of interest scattered about, but every building was shaped like a doghouse. They were of different sizes, shapes, and colors, but each of them had the large hole in the front as an entrance. Luna stood there with a blank look on her face. She wasn't sure whether to roll her eyes, gag, or cover her forehead with her hoof.

A German Shepherd walked up and greeted them. “Good to see you, Novella! Who's your friend?”

Novella giggled. “This is my pal Luna!” The filly turned to look at Luna. “Luna, this is my friend German!”

Luna quickly put away the notion of a talking dog and greeted the stranger. “Nice meet you, German.”

“You too!” the dog said. “Well, I can't stick around and chat! My bakery is having a sale today, so I have to get moving before things get too ruff!”

“Bye!” Novella waved to the dog as he ran off toward town.

Ruff. Luna sighed at the pun. Then she realized that the German Shepherd was named German. That's uninspired. How much more of this would she have to put up with?

Novella tugged on Luna's shoulder. “C'mon! Lemme show you around town!”

Before long, Luna was being dragged by Novella all over the place. Everywhere they went, dogs went about their day, completely unaware that two ponies were walking around their town. Luna put this down as part of Novella's fantasy. The dream would hardly feel fun if she was treated as a stranger, would it? Instead, she's everyone's best friend, even though she's never met them.

“And that's the hat shop, and there's the collar shop, and they have a bunch of cute dog toys over here!” Novella went on and on about this world she was so familiar with that Luna couldn't help feeling overwhelmed. The filly eventually stopped in front of a building with a picture of a dog bowl above the door. “Let's go in and get something to eat!”

Luna didn't have a choice. Novella dragged her inside and sat her down at one of the tables. Apparently, in this world, dogs sat and ate at tables just like ponies did. While Novella was looking over the menu, practically drooling, Luna looked very concerned over all of her options, which seemed to be variations on dog food. When she told Novella she wasn't sure what to order, the filly recommended a dish instead.

The waiter, a Chihuahua, took their orders, along with bringing dog bowls for them to drink water out of. Luna frowned when Novella started lapping up water like a common pet. Instead, Luna used her magic to float the water out of the bowl and into her mouth, being careful to make sure that none of the dogs in the room noticed. A short while later, the Chihuahua came back balancing two large dog bowls filled with chow on his back. The sight of the tiny dog carrying the bowls with little effort made Luna chuckle. Perhaps the cuteness of the world was finally getting to her.

“Thank you, Chipper!” Novella said as the dog placed her food in front of her.

“But of course, m'lady.” The dog bowed after setting their food down. “Please enjoy what the chefs have cooked up.”

After the chihuahua walked away, Novella wasted no time in digging in. Luna grimaced as the filly plowed her face into the slop in front of her, making a huge mess.

Novella looked up at Luna. “Aren't you going to eat, too?” A piece of dog food dripped from her face.

Luna looked down at the bowl in front of her. It didn't look like any food she had ever eaten – just a big brown mess. “I don't think I have much of an appetite right now.”

“Aw, that's too bad!” Novella said before burying her face in the bowl again.

At this point, Luna would normally have been poking at her food with a fork or spoon, but utensils apparently did not exist in the dog world. Instead, she glanced around the room as Novella scarfed down her food. The restaurant looked exactly like the kind of place she was used to in Equestria, aside from the crayon-inspired art décor and paintings portraying dogs instead of ponies. There were canine couples out on dates, dogs wearing ridiculous-looking business outfits while sharing stories with each other, and even a few dogs eating by themselves, their noses buried in books.

Novella rested her head on the table with a big grin on her face. “Soo good...”

Luna was still surprised at Novella's table manners. She didn't think that a pony so shy would be able to let loose like that.

Novella looked back up at Luna and laughed. “It's so nice here. I wish I could live in Doggieville. Then I wouldn't have anything to worry about.”

Luna's ears perked up. “Er... what do you mean?”

Novella sighed. “Everydoggie is just so nice here. They're a lot friendlier than the ponies I know back home.” The filly's expression soured. “None of the dogs here would make fun of me for always carrying a book around. And if I was alone, I could go anywhere and make a new friend!” Novella looked away from Luna, and her voice quieted. “I wish it was that easy in real life...”

Luna picked up on those last two words. Real life. Novella was starting to realize that the world she was in now was nothing more than a work of fiction. In that sense, many good dreams were far worse than nightmares. Nopony enjoyed waking up to face the harsh world they lived in. If Novella didn't want to wake up, then she could force herself to stay in the dream world. The longer she stayed here to avoid the troubles in her real life, the harder it would be to wake up.

“Hey Luna, the carnival's in town! We should go!”

Luna snapped out of her daydream to see the filly tugging on her shoulder. She should really start paying more attention to the world around her. Novella's dim mood had disappeared, and she was cheerful once more.

“Let's go, let's go!” she said, hopping up and down. “I don't want to miss anything!”

Novella practically dragged her out of the restaurant. Luna sighed as she tried to keep pace with the filly. There had been no indication that there was a carnival in town earlier. How could they have possibly missed it?

Oh wait, they were in a dream. Of course it would show up out of nowhere.

Luna and Novella walked outside the restaurant to find the street covered with all sorts of booths. There were games they could play to win prizes, places to buy popcorn or cotton candy, and some of the buildings in town had been transformed into tourist traps. In the middle of the street, a Beagle in clown makeup juggled knives while standing on a beach ball. A crowd watched him intently. Novella's eyes opened wide at all the events in town. Luna, on the other hoof, sighed at the ridiculousness of it all.

“What should we do first, Luna?” Novella looked up at her friend and smiled brightly. “Let's play the dunking booth! I wanna see a dog get wet! It's so cute watching them shake the water off!” Novella frowned. “Luna?”

Luna's attention had shifted away from the carnival in town to a massive wave of water about to hit Doggieville. The wave looked like it was a mile high, and moved with the speed of a coursing river. Despite the wave looming over town, the dogs paid it no attention.

Something wasn't right. The two of them had just walked into a carnival. If the wave was part of the dream, why would it appear so suddenly? Whatever the reason, Luna didn't have time to think. The wave moved through Doggieville as if it wasn't even there. Dogs and buildings disappeared under its mass.

Novella followed Luna's gaze toward the wave, then looked back at her. “Are you okay?” The filly waved her hoof in front of Luna's face. “Hello?”

When the wave of water swept over Luna, the world disappeared.