• Published 27th Feb 2013
  • 7,282 Views, 765 Comments

Fallout: Equestria - The Hooves of Fate - Sprocket Doggingsworth

A young filly in present day Ponyville is cursed with nightmares of post-apocalyptic Equestria. She finds herself influencing the course of future history in ways that she cannot understand.

  • ...


"The present has no rhythm." -Daft Punk

Dogs, dogs, dogs, dogs, dogs. They were are always right there. In my dreams. In the Wasteland. Barking whenever I stood at the threshold of something really big.

But it was just noise. Weird sounds off in the distant hills or something. Never, you know, actual dogs.

Lemme back up a bit. I was laying there in the hospital bed, clutching the get well card that I'd hidden Misty Mountain's nasty old tail hair in. It was an actual for-real relic from the Wasteland. Something I could hold. Something I could touch. Proof that all that crazy shit had actually happened. More importantly, it was a reminder of my Trottica friends.

I clutched that card like it was one of those life saver donuts they huck at ponies who fall out of boats.

Bananas Foster was still behind her curtain. A major relief. I didn’t want anypony to see me freaking out and panicking.

Where did it come from? Why just the hair? What else could I take with me?

I whipped the get well card open to make sure it was still safe. Then slammed it shut just as fast. Then I realized I probably should handle the thing a bit more gingerly. So I freaked out all over again cause I thought I might have screwed it up. A gentle peek confirmed that the hair was fine.

Still, there was a giant question mark made out of fire and nails and acid and snakes bouncing around the inside of my head. Why? Not to mention its twin sister, The-Fuck-How?

I could hear crying behind the curtain. Foster was coming apart back there. She wasn’t whining at nurses. She wasn’t criticizing my friendship skills. She wasn’t making a plea for storytime or any stupid shit like that. Just sobbing to herself in little whispers. For once trying not to be heard.

“Are you okay?”

“Fine,” she coughed.

"Are you sure?"

But she didn't answer after that, so I left her alone. Maybe she was as off-the-wall crazy as Cliff Diver, and she actually believed me. News of the apocalypse might have been a bit too much to take in before bedtime. Or maybe she was just plain crazy in some totally different way I wasn’t prepared to deal with. She was a teenager who acted like she was six-years-old. Who could even tell with her?

The point is that between her whimpers, the chirps of the medical bleep-a-majigs, and the sound of my own panicky heart climbing up into my head and thumping away like a hammer against the inside of my skull, I couldn't hear very much else.
But eventually I grew aware of it. The barking sound.

When I realized what it was, I gripped that get well card so hard I crumpled a corner of it in my hoof.

"Oh, no." I thought. "Not here.”

Why did I send my family away?! What if I dreamt again while in the fucking hospital? Woke up with bizarre injuries? Thrashed in my sleep and said things nopony ought to hear? Sweet Celestia, what if I died that night, and Roseluck and Cliff spent their rest of their lives going "If only, if only, if only!"?

I looked around me. Not a sign or a clue that I might be in a dream. Nothing. Just a boring empty old room with a bunch of useless medical junk in it.

Then I heard a great baying howl. It was getting closer, louder. More articulate. That’s not supposed to happen!
Whatever was making that noise, it was fucking there. In the hospital with me. This Wasteland dogthing. It had actually found my scent somehow, and it was coming.

That or my mind had taken a giant high dive out the window into a swimming pool full of cottage cheese, mane conditioner, and spatulas, and I’d just lost all ability to tell the fucking difference between present and future.

"Bananas!" I whispered.

No reply.

"Hey, Foster, you hear that?"

Again, she said nothing. Just sniffled to herself and ignored me.

"Foster!!” I finally snapped; I couldn’t take her silence anymore.

But still, she gave no reply. Then I heard the barking again. It was close.

“Luna, help me. Luna, help me. Luna, help me.” I chanted to myself.

In my condition, I was pretty sure at that point that nopony else could.

I folded the card up in a hurry, shimmied and wedged the thing safely under my back. Then pasted my eyes to that bucking door. No dog, or shadow, or monster, or pony was going to pry Misty Mountain's nasty old tail hair from me. I gripped the sheets and shook with anger at the mere thought of it.

"No way. I whispered to myself. "No fucking way."

Bang! Crash! Yelling. Screaming just outside my door.

The nurses! They were out there with that thing. The thought of them getting all killed and mutilated and eaten up on my watch was so horrifying that I forget to breathe. I needed to get up. To get help. To get them help. Those nurses never did anything to hurt anypony!

“Argg!” I grunted in frustration.

Why couldn't the fucking dog have come when more goose doctors were on duty? It could eat as many of those jerkface fucks as it wanted to.

I tugged gently on one of the tubes, to see if I could get it out of my hoof. No way.

It's not like in the books you read. You can’t just yank them out and then go trotting along on your merry way, fighting zombies.

Scramble, scramble, scramble, scramble, scramble.

Something zipped down the hallway right past my door. I didn't even hear it coming.

“Buck, buck, buck, buck, buck!” I tried tugging on the wires again, but there was just no way.

That thing hurt like crazy. There's a needle in there!

"Somepony get some rope!" Nurse Stethoscope shouted from just outside my door.


“I got it, I got it!” Called another.

No one shouts for a rope to tie down The Living Embodiment of Their Own Most-Awfulest-of-Fears.
I held up my evil hoof. Tapped it as though it were broken. The damn thing wasn’t even cold.

The barking in my dreams had showed up just before the end, right? Just before I woke up. Each and every time. I mean, the dogs show up right before something big happens. That's what they do.

But that didn’t make them Evil. Not necessarily.

I took a deep breath and silenced the orchestra of rambling voices in my head. I couldn't run or fight. I couldn't even sit up properly, but this was still my problem - my apocalypse to deal with, and this monster dog-a-majig was bothering my fucking nurses. I had only one option, as much as I hated to admit it. And it scared the buck out of me.

I swallowed hard and told the cowardly pirate inside my head to get stuffed.

“Come here boy, come here!” I said in my sweetest voice - raspy and fucked up though it may have been. “Who's a good dog?"

"Are you nuts?" Foster finally spoke up. "Sssshhh!"

"Sure, now you hear me!" I snapped. "You alright?"

"Ssssh!" She replied.

I took that as a yes.

“Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?” I continued.

As I paused to catch my breath, I found that the barking had actually stopped. The clamoring too. It had noticed me.
Either I was a total genius, or I had about fifteen seconds before I got turned into rosemeat.

Before I could think on it any further, the thing bounded right on in - fast as lightning in a hurry - and before I could even flinch, it was already on top of me.


Yes, I literally said eek. It slobbered on my face and pinned me down with its crushing weight. Definitely friendly. But it licked my eye of all places and I still couldn’t see a damn thing. It was actually hurting me.

"Ow stop that!" I squirmed.

The thing had the worst breath I had ever smelt. Like really, really, really, really, really old oatmeal. But it listened.
It stopped licking me the moment I told it to, and when I rubbed my face with my only free hoof, it didn’t give any resistance.
Just looked me square in the eyes. And that's when I finally got a look at hers.

"What the--;"

The damn bark-y thing was a pony! A fucking pony. A crazy blue lady with hair like a birds nest.

"Uh, hi." I said.

She lunged her face at me again, and tried to lick at me some more, but I wouldn’t have it.

"No!" I snapped. “Stop it. Sit!”

Again, she actually listened to me. And sat. Right there on top of my leg.

"Rose, Rose, are you okay?" said Bananas Foster in a panic.

The crazy dogmare turned to face the curtain and growled.

"I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine." I grunted, trying not to let it show that the weight of a full grown pony on my leg actually hurt quite a lot.

Next thing I know the room is full of nurses and orderlies.

The Dog Lady hopped off me in a rush and scurried under my hospital bed.

“Oof!” I oofed as she stepped on my stomach.

Once I caught my breath, I found that the room was totally still. All the grown-ups were staring at me. Frozen in place.

“I’m fine!” I yelled as best as I could through all the coughing. “Don’t hurt her, she’s harmless.”

But Nurse Redheart was stepping closer and closer to me, inching up slowly. The fear in her eyes told me something was terribly wrong. Something I couldn’t see.

“She’s harmless.” I whispered.

With a grunt, I turned myself over on my side, and reached my evil hoof over the edge of the bed. I was just feeling my way around for the dogmare. But one tiny motion, and the whole room gasped at once. It sounded like steam escaping.

“Don’t move.” Said Redheart. “Please, just hold still.”

I did as I was told. It was no easy position to hold, leaning over my own IV, dangling my other hoof over the edge, but I didn’t dare move. I wasn't stupid.

“What’s going on?” I whispered.

Before the nurse could answer, my hoof brushed up against the mane of the crazy dog lady. She licked my hoof in reply.

“Its gonna be okay, girl.” I patted her head. “Shh.”

Then I felt something else down there and realized why everypony was so tense.

"Listen," said Nurse Redheart. "Were not gonna hurt her. You're right.”

She tip-hooved closer. “She's harmless. But she’s very close to a lot of machinery and important stuff running into your hoof."

I knew that. I could feel it. I glanced over at the tubes and wires that I'd tried to get free from just a minute ago.

“If she knocks into them, you could get hurt," said Redheart both calm and cautious-like. "Do you understand?"
I nodded.

The dog lady looked up at me from underneath the bed. She knew damn well that playtime was over. But she didn't run. She just sat there looking at me with these fragile lunatic eyes. They screamed at me for help. Threw a trust at my hooves so complete - so unconditional - that it actually frightened me a little.

My own eyes started to water in reply.

Nurse Stethoscope and the Nursedoctor inched closer, but the dogmare tensed and growled at them.

“Shh!” I said quickly. “I’m gonna call you Queenie. Do you like that name?”
It was literally the first thing to pop into my head.

She looked up at me from under the bed with such elation and joy that I almost forgot to breathe.

“Actually.” Nursedoctor said. “Her name is Screw Loose.”

"Do you mind?" I snapped. "I'm trying to--;"

Queenie thrust her head all the way out from under my bed to growl at him. It tugged on the tube so hard I could actually feel it.

“Ow,” I winced meekly.

Stethoscope smacked Nursedoctor in the shoulder.

Nursedoctor smacked him right back. “You got some nerve. You’re the one who started this whole stupid thing. I told you to quit teasing the dog.”

“Oh come on, it was just--;”
“Out, everypony out.” Said Redheart.


“Too many chefs.” She snapped. “Out. Now.”



They did as they were told and tiphooved out the door.

“It’s gonna be okay, Queenie.” I said.

I pet her till she stopped growling.

“Why do you even keep that crazy dog around?” Whined Bananas Foster.

That got Queenie all revved up and barking again.

“Ow,” I winced. My eyes watered up some more, this time just because of the pain in my hoof.

“Bananas, quiet!” Said Nurse Redheart, never taking her eye off of me. “Stethoscope!”

He came galloping back.

“Keep the kid occupied until Rose is safe.”

Nurse Stethescope nodded.

“Hey, but--;” Bananas’ started to protest being dismissed, but her whining kinda trailed off when Stethoscope pulled up a stool beside her. After that point, all I could make out over there was a bunch of murmuring. I guess Bananas Foster got her storytime after all.

Meanwhile, I pet the dog lady’s head frantically. My good hoof - the one with the tubes in it - was starting to hurt.

“Please, calm down.” I whimpered at her. “Please.”

Queenie watched me carefully with great big soulful eyes. She saw the pain I was in. But all she could do was look at me sadly. Then, out of nowhere, this little flicker ran across her face. I could see it. It was a weird moment, where she just sorta looked around. At me. At the nurses. At the tubes.

And that was when the poor thing went pale with horror. Queenie realized that she was the cause of my pain.

“It’s okay,” I whispered, petting her as best I could, but damnit, my hoof really fucking hurt. “It’s okay.”

I was short of breath. It was getting harder to talk.

Nurse Redheart spoke up again. “Listen, I need you both to stay calm, and--;”

Her voice trailed off, not out of fear, but amazement.

Screw Loose was calmly disentangling herself from my tubes and wires. Her movements seemed less dog-like - just for an instant. And then, just like that, she was out from under the bed. She looked over her shoulder at me. She wanted so bad to say she was sorry. I could tell. But she couldn’t even muster a whine.

Instead, Queenie slunk away, tail between her legs, toward Nurse Redheart, who sorta stood there speechless. The poor thing didn’t even flinch or try to run when Nurse Stethoscope reached for his rope. Just sat meekly at Redheart’s heel, crying.

“No ropes.” Said the head nurse.


“No ropes.”

Redheart patted Queenie on the head. Queenie was sobbing now. Heaving. It was one of the most unnerving things I’d ever seen. A grown mare. Coming apart like that.

“Check the injection site.” Redheart said to the other nurse.

Next thing I knew, he was all over my hoof, checking the machines. Prodding at the tubes. Tapping gauges.

“She’s okay.” Stehtescope gave the hooves up.

“Keep an eye on her.” Said Redheart. “I’ll be right back.”

She turned to the dog lady, and said. “Come on, let’s get you home.”

Queenie followed without protest, head hung low. Too ashamed to even look my way. She knew what had almost happened.

It was truly tragic. Just pony enough to understand. Still too much of a dog to really cope. Screw Loose whined with each dragging hoofstep. Just listening to it tore my soul into pieces.

“Queenie,” I called to her with effort.

Nurse Redheart stopped and stood in the doorway. The dog turned vaguely in my direction to face me, but still averted her eyes in shame.

“You’re a very, very good dog.” I said.

Bam! A thousand pounds lifted from the crevices in her face. All at once. She literally leapt with joy and bounced up and down, looking up to Nurse Redheart as if to say, “Did you hear that? Did you hear that? Didya? Didya? Didya?

They trotted out the door together. Queenie with held her head up high. She was a good dog. I’d told her so!

“Be right back,” Redheart called to us, already in the hallway.

I was left alone with Nurse Stethoscope. At first he didn’t say anything. Didn’t make eye contact. Nothing. The bleep-a-majig just chirp-chirp-chirp-ed away, and that was that.

It was so quiet, I heard every little hook and ring on Bananas Foster’s curtain as it dragged across the rack. She was watching. Kinda timid. Kinda hopeful. That girl was strangely obsessed with Nurse Stethoscope and his stupid story time. It was sad in its own way.

I just ignored them both and waited for Redheart to get back. I needed to hear that Queenie had made it back okay. That she wasn’t scraping away at the door of whatever room they kept her in. That she wasn’t howling to be let out and see me again.
She was a fragile dog.

“You're very lucky there,” said Good Old Stethoscope with a smile as he tapped the machine.

I just stared him down in reply. That bastard had messed with my friend. And I wanted him dead.

Luckily, he backed off. Stumbled backwards in a hurry like I was some kind of poisonous snake.




Stethoscope and I were alone together for a little while. And he looked at everything in the whole damn room, so long as it wasn’t me. The ceiling. The floor. The meters on the machines. Any excuse to avoid eye contact.

Somehow he reminded me of tunnel number two back in the Trottica mines. The stampede. Kids who were all about unity, and togetherness, and fighting the good fight until the lights went off and nopony was watching. Then they dropped their druggos like sacks of moldy pears. Just 'cause they could. 'Cause nopony would ever know.

Nurse Stethoscope was like that. He was all "Hey, kids," one second, and, “Let me tell you a story,” and acted super friendly and nice. ‘Till you got him alone with somepony who couldn't tattle on him. Then he was a druggo-dropper. Which makes him worse than a fucking shadow thing if you ask me, cause at least with them, you know exactly what kind of evil you’re dealing with.

I watched him closely. He was way more tired than he had been just a few minutes before. What did that druggo-dropping fuck do to Queenie? I thought.

I would’ve asked, but if this guy’d babbled some dumb excuse about how all he’d done is tease her a little bit. How it was just some good fun. How he didn't mean any harm by it. Or any of that shit, I would have ripped that stupid needle out of my hoof, lunged across the room and stabbed him in the eye with it.

The only thing keeping me from doing it that very second was the knowledge that, at the very least, Queenie seemed to be physically alright.

In any case, Nurse Stethoscope was smart enough to shut the hell up, and quit trying to win me over, but the second that Redheart came back, he was out of there. That swell guy persona is hard to keep up when there's a broken-hearted, furious little kid staring you down, and he couldn't wait to get away. Didn't even stop to say goodbye to Bananas Foster who actually kinda needed him in a weird messed-up way that I couldn't quite put my hoof on.

* * *

Nurse Redheart trotted up to me and asked to examine my leg. I nodded.

“You alright?" She said, trying to be all reassuring.

“I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine!” I said. “Is Queenie okay?”

Redheart bit back a smile. “Screw Loose has had a long night, but yes, she's doing just fine now.”

I sighed relief.


“She’s sleeping.” Redheart chuckled. “I’ve never seen her so content.”


She nodded with a smile.

Content. What kinda dog is content after getting her escape thwarted? After getting locked up all over again? What kinda pony even?

Nurse Redheart put her hoof on my shoulder and whispered, “Can I let you in on a little secret?”


“I think you're the best thing that ever happened to that mare.”

Holy Celestia, way to stab me right in the heart with a fork made out of sunshine and happiness. I smiled so hard it squeaked.

“I need you to do me a favor, though.” She leaned in and whispered even more quiet-like.

Not even Bananas Foster could hear us.

“What is it?”

“I need you to be totally quiet about this.”

Before I could even ask why, Nurse Redheart explained that she was going to have to write up a whole bunch of stupid paperwork about what had happened that night, and while she didn't know what she was going to say, she was damn sure it wasn't going to be the truth.

I zipped my lip and mimed putting the zipper in my pocket, even tho I didn't actually have any pockets. Then we got some more of that hospital silence. Not the awkward kind. Just a quiet understanding.





Queenie was off sleeping tight somewhere. Content. Thinking about me. I was so happy to hear that - you have no idea - but at the same time I had to wonder. What the buck? Had the evening actually turned out better for her than she’d planned? The more I thought about it - the sadder it all seemed. She never expected to get away at all.

Queenie wasn’t a dog. She knew exactly how fucked she was. Her mind was way too smart - way too pony for carefree romps through the hallways at the end of a broken leash, or mad dashes for escape. But she still couldn’t hatch a real plan. The way she’d allowed herself to be lead away at the end? She never really dreamed of what it might be like to ever get the buck out of there. She was just stealing a moment.

Maybe I’m putting words in her mouth that she wouldn’t actually say, and thoughts in her head that had never actually crossed her mind. But to me, it seemed that Queenie was stuck where she was. And all she could ever hope for was a moment of power - a tiny little protest - a song of freedom. Like I had back in Trottica.

It broke my heart and confused the hell out of me just to think about it.

“Nurse?” I said at last, disrupting our little silence.


“Why is she like that?”

Redheart just sighed. “Some ponies. Sometimes their brains just don't play by the rules.”

“Was she always like that?” I pressed the issue tenaciously the way only a child can. “I mean did she just wake up one day, and snap, and decide she was sick of being a pony or something?”

I wouldn’t blame her if she had. After mistaking the howls of a pony for an interdimensional monster traveling from the future to try and kill me, I had to wonder if before all this bomb drama was up, I might just end up barking mad myself.

“That, I can't say.” Redheart replied. “Somepony found her wandering the Everfree Forest lost and confused a couple of years ago.”

Poor thing.

“Ooh!” I exclaimed. “When can I see her again?”

Nurse Redheart took her hat off and ran her hoof through her hair. Looked away from my eyes. Not good.

“But you can't!” I squeaked.

She shoved her hoof against my mouth and shushed me. She didn’t remove it till I stopped squeaking, which was an admittedly long time.

“Mm hmmm eeeeeeeem! Ennnggggm mm mmmm mmm mnnngggh! Unnn mmmm meeemmuuu mummmm!”

“Rose,” she said at last. “You can’t just check her out of here, take her home with you, drop a water dish on the floor, and expect everything to be okay. You do understand that, sweetie, don’t you?”




“Well, when you put it like that…”

I closed my eyes. It sounded so stupid when you said it out loud. But it was also what I was kinda hoping might happen. I knew Screw Loose wasn't exactly a real dog, but I also knew that getting to live like one is what she would want most. Look at how instantly she fell in love with me. All for a kind voice and a couple of pets.

“She is a very sick pony,” said Redheart. “And there is no doctor in Equestria who’s gonna let a kid leap head first into the life of somepony who is sick like that, especially if you start telling her that she actually is a dog.”


Plunk. She shushed me again. Hoof in mouth and all.

When I was quiet, she leaned in real close and whispered in my ear, “But no doctor in Equestria saw what I just saw either.”

I had to jerk my head away just to get a look at her face to make sure she wasn’t teasing me. What was she getting at? Could I actually see Queenie again?!

“That mare made more progress tonight than in all the years she’s been here combined. I can’t ignore that.” Redheart shut her eyes and took a deep breath. “Just give me some time to figure this out, okay? Can you do that for me please?”

I nodded sadly.

She didn’t say anything else on the subject, but she didn’t really have to. Hospitals aren't these places that you just wander into whenever you're sick, or hurt, or something, and they whistle a little tune and take care of you, and it’s all just hunky dory. Everything is paperwork, and forms, and big fat goose-ministrators telling everypony else what to do. It’s a bunch of stupid crap that everypony hates cause it makes everypony's life more difficult - doctors, nurses, patients - everypony. But for some stupid grown-up reason, they all just keep on doing it that way anyhow.

Redheart went back to messing with my tubes and wires. Acting all casual, like we hadn’t just had a great big secret conversation about Screw Loose. It was only when she finally got out of the chair that I realized that she had actually been holding my hoof the whole time. I suddenly wished she hadn’t let go.

“It was the tape coming loose,” said Redheart all of a sudden - a bit too loud, a bit too clear.

She’d have made a lousy spy.

“You're very lucky.”

“Tape?” I said.

“That's what hurt you so much.”

“Oh,” I rubbed my hoof.

It didn’t feel like luck.

“That stuff’ll rip your flesh off,” she said, surprisingly blunt.

“You got some rest now, child. The sooner you get better, the sooner you can get out of here.”

I sighed.

“And the sooner,” Redheart brushed my mane from my face and lifted my chin, “That you and your sister can start filling out visitors forms.”

When she whispered those last two words, they hit me like a shovel to the face. I could see my dog again! Getting out of bed - getting better - suddenly became the most important thing that I could ever hope to do.

I vowed then and there never to fail Screw Loose. And if I was gonna live up to that vow, I had a lot of work to do.

* * *

Roseluck. Cliff Diver. The ponies closest to me in the whole wide world. They couldn’t get me to stop moping. Even the memory of Twinkle Eyes, armed though she was, could only smack me when I was being a jerk to myself. None of them could light a proper fire under my flank.

But I had a goal to work towards now - one that wasn’t tainted by death, or slavery, or whiny piratetry. And this grown mare. This dog. She was counting on me.

Nurse Redheart straightened out her hat, gave a final glance at the bleep-a-majig, and kissed my forehead. Totally the last thing in the world I was expecting her to do, but I needed that. I mean really needed it. I didn’t even realize how badly I'd needed a forehead kiss until she went and did it. And when it was over I looked up at her and smiled, wondering how in the world she knew.

After a long and tranquil moment of smiling right back at me, she finally turned to leave.

Please…” I called out, holding back the tears in my eyes.

She stopped. Cocked her head in concern.

"What's wrong?" She asked.

“Please, um…” I took a deep breath, and a deep sigh. “Tell her I love her, okay?”
I felt kinda stupid for saying it, but Redheart didn't seem to think so.

“You have a good heart,” she said to me. “Just like your mother.”

* * *

I lay there for a long, long, long, long while. Just like your mother.

Nurse Redheart had taken care of Mom in her dying days. It was Redheart who’d come running when the bleep-a-majig stopped and I was left crying in my mother’s bed - Redheart who’d held me whenever Mom couldn’t.

They may not have known each other for very long, but you can get awfully close to someone in an awfully short time when they are dying. So I wondered what it was that Nurse Redheart saw in me that was worthy of my mother.

I couldn’t begin to imagine.

All my life, I thought of Mom as this perfect being. This vague memory of warmth and solace and comfort. But who was she really? What did she do all day? What did she like to talk about? What would it be like to just sit down and talk to her?

No matter how many stories Roseluck told, I would never really know. Never really understand. Because to me, Mom was a feeling. An abstract. Something as awe-inspiring and earth-shatteringly amazing as a great big starry sky. In my mind, she was a deep and perfect mystery.

The idea that I might in some way be like her?


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