This is how the world ends. Not with a bang but with a whimper.
The Valley of the Sun has always been harsh to those who can't handle the heat. When Scott Smith wakes up as a female unicorn, she learns that everything's worse when you're a quadruped alone in a desolate city. As the days heat up and the hunt is on for food, water, and power, even the simplest tasks become impossible. This is how she fares as a unicorn mare.
I’ve gone insane. I don’t even know why I’m writing this. On the off chance that I actually am a horse and if I’m not just hallucinating, I’m the only one that’s ever going to read this. As far as I can tell, there’s nobody else around for miles. I’m not in some farm out in the middle of nowhere, either. This is Phoenix. I can usually hear the sounds of cars four floors below me if I just open a window. Today, though, it was silent. If I remember right, the population was about one and a half million.
It’s just me now.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning of the day. I wanted to get up even less than usual today, because my new job makes me work Saturdays. But after reminding myself that I need money to live, I got up. And then back down as I fell down, face-first, onto the carpeted floor.
The mirror across the room wasn’t at eye level anymore. The dresser that it was above towered over me, and the bed and nightstand that I was closer to had grown. Or, I had shrunk? I needed a mirror. One that I could see myself in. I tried to stand up on two legs and fell again. Bringing myself up on my hands and knees was a bit easier. I looked down at my hands and knees and they were most certainly not hands and knees. The shock of seeing two tan hooves where my hands should be distracted me from balancing and I fell on my side. I could lift my head up and twist it around to a frightening angle to see my body. It was the same color as my hooves and very horse-shaped. A long, dishevelled orange tail poked out from above my butt. Two more tan hooves stood in place of my feet. I screamed in a high-pitched voice that I didn’t recognize either.
My mind raced. If I went out of my apartment to face downtown Phoenix the end result would not be good. Tiny horses don’t belong in big cities. I’d get kidnapped and sold as a pet or tested by the government. And even if I stayed in here, someone would come to check on me and find what I am now. I panicked, trying to run around the room in terror but I could barely even stand, so I stumbled around like a sick horse.
After I calmed down a bit, I limped out of my bedroom to the bathroom. The light switch was out of reach now that I was shorter, so I had to stand up to turn it on. The problem is, of course, that lifting up a hoof to turn on the light shifted my center of balance and made me fall over. Twice. Only after leaning on the wall could I light up the room. Getting up to the mirror, which was above the sink, was a whole different task altogether. I ended up being able to balance my front hooves on the countertop without falling over.
The first thing I noticed was that my head was HUGE. It was way too big for my body and covered in soft, fine tan fur. My ears were in the right place for a horse, but my eyes were large and my muzzle was much smaller than I expected. My eyes were still green, but a much more vivid green. My hair was a weird orange-ish instead of its normal brown.
And I have a horn, too.
So I’m a unicorn? Does that mean I’m going to go on magical quests, granting people wishes and riding on rainbows? Maybe. But what caught my eye was that my eyelashes were really long. Longer than a guy should have. I also looked very feminine, and my voice sounded higher than usual. Fearing the worst, I gritted my teeth, and rolled over on my back to have a look.
Apparently I am a magical unicorn MARE too. And that’s just adding insult to injury. I sat there fuming for several minutes until I realized I didn’t even know who I was yelling at. Nobody I know has the ability to turn people into cute, fluffy unicorns. And, as much as I hate it, it happened and there’s nothing I can do to change that. So I might as well live with it.
My stomach reminded me that, even though I was a horse, I still needed food. Which meant I needed to walk again. My mind repeated the order in my head. Back-left, front-left, back-right, front-right. 1, 2, 3, 4. 1, 2, 3, 4. But my head kept weighing my front down, so when I picked up my front leg I fell. I kept at it, and after more time than I’d like to admit I could walk without stumbling around. I slowly made my way to the kitchen and grabbed an apple from the bowl resting on the counter. I bit into it, and ate almost half of it in one bite. This new mouth was huge!
I finished off the apple and sat down on the couch. That didn’t go well either. First I tried sitting normally, but it bent my back at a painful angle. After fumbling with my hooves I finally found a comfortable position and said goodbye to that part of my humanity. Now, I had to make a decision. Should I stay in here until food runs out, or should I face the outside world? Come to think of it, the outside world was quiet today. I moved over to the window, obscured by Venetian blinds, and grabbed the cord with my mouth. I pulled back and fell off the couch, but when I righted myself again, I looked out of the window. My apartment faces the street, so I could see why there was such a lack of noise without going out.
The city was desolate. No cars, no people. The streets sat empty as far as the eye could see. I opened the front door, pushing the handle down with a hoof, and stepped into the hallway. I knocked on the neighbor’s door and heard nothing. He was usually very loud, and didn’t leave the apartment until the afternoon. He should have answered.
Out of frustration I punched the door with a hoof and recoiled in shock when I saw a dent in the wood. There’s no way that I could be that strong. I turned around and kicked it as hard as I could, and the door flew open. Sorry, Mike. I called his name and didn’t get an answer, so I tried to leave a note explaining what happened. After a few sad tries to write with hooves I gave up, and decided to just tell him when he came back. I carefully walked down the stairs to the lobby and exited the building. I walked around the building towards the skyscrapers of downtown Phoenix and heard nothing. I decided to walk down the street towards the city’s center, and on my way I knocked on every door. Some dogs barked, but besides that there was no answer. I went into a nearby auto repair shop. Nobody. I peeked into restaurants and didn’t hear a sound. As the day started to heat up, I went back to the apartment complex. Still nobody, not even behind the lobby desk. I grabbed my phone from my apartment and called everyone I knew. No answers. All of them went straight to voicemail, even after the fifth time calling. I brought my phone with me as I explored more of the area around downtown. I made it about five streets down before I realized what I was doing. I was trying to walk to my mom’s office. Although it sounded like a good idea, it was too far away to walk in the heat, and it’s not like I could drive as a horse. Although I wanted to at least explore a bit more before the sun went down, I walked back home. Going further would just keep confirming my fears that everyone was gone. Desolate streets for two miles would turn into five, then ten, then the whole city, then the valley, and then everywhere.
I had another apple for dinner. I don’t want to see if I can eat meat. The power’s still on anyways, so it’ll keep for another day. I’m going to try to drive tomorrow, though. Hopefully I won’t crash into anybody or anything. In the meantime, I’m making this. I set up my laptop to record this like my brother showed me to a couple months back, printed it out, and taped it into here. If I’m not dead tomorrow I’ll make another entry.
Yesterday I thought about going to see my parents; more specifically, how I couldn’t. It was too far and too hot to walk, and I couldn’t drive because I am a horse. Yeah, that’s right. A horse. Yesterday morning I woke up and instead of a normal human I was a unicorn mare. And that didn’t change when I woke up today, either. I had fallen asleep on the couch, and I just sat there for a while until I remembered the things I planned to do. After eating my final apple, I went out to my car to see what I’d need to do in order to safely drive it as a quadruped.
After poking around for a bit, I had an idea of what to fix in order to drive the car. I was too short to see above the steering wheel, shift gears, or reach the pedals. That was easy enough. I put some pillows on the seat to see the road and stuck some ski poles I found in Mike’s apartment through the pedals. Yes, ski poles. In Phoenix. He could have gone up north to ski, I guess, but it’s still weird. After a couple minutes, I was on the road! The windows were down, the sunroof was open, and the stereo was blasting music. I was making good time on my way east to Mesa. It was probably because there weren’t any cars on the road and I was running every light.
I stopped by my mom’s place first. It’s the house she raised me and my brother in, a nice house in a quiet, gated neighborhood. Surprisingly, the gates still worked. Guess the grid hasn’t collapsed in Mesa yet either. I used the key she gave me years ago to get in, and was greeted by her two dogs: Marv and Dakota, a Lab and a German Shepherd. When they saw me they were apprehensive at first, but seemed at ease after I talked to them. I went through both floors of the house and didn’t find her. Her car was still in the garage and her phone was on the table, my calls unread. So she disappeared with the rest of the city too. I’ll admit that I cried a little when I realized that. Okay, I collapsed on the floor. But eventually, I calmed down. I put the dogs in the back of my car and grabbed a few sketchbooks and things that were up in my old room. I also took some pictures of family. I’ll probably never go back there.
Anyways, after I left her place I drove a block east out to Dad’s house. It’s much smaller, out on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. He wasn’t there. Same story, his car was in the driveway and his phone was on the counter. I took some stuff from his place, too. A couple of books and pictures, but that’s not why I went there. The thing about my dad is that he’s a doomsday prepper. Kinda ironic, considering that all the stuff he told me that I brushed off and forgot would be really useful about right now. I took some canned food and bottled water, along with a backup generator, water purifier, first aid kit, camping gear, seeds, gun, CB radio, and some other stuff. I also filled up three of those big orange buckets from The Home Depot with water from the tap. You can never have too much water in the desert.
One thing I did see was a couple of coyotes. They were pretty far from the city, near Dad’s house in the sticks, but they’re usually only around during the night. I guess they’re breaking into houses to beat the heat? That was a joke. I hope that’s not actually happening. It did seem like all the animals were out, though. Bobcats, those coyotes, I think I even saw a damn mountain lion on top of a hill by Dad’s place.
When I got home I unloaded all of the crap that I took from there. Surprisingly, the dogs didn’t run away as soon as I opened the door. They followed me back to the apartment and, after sniffing around a bit, made themselves at home.
After all the stuff was put away I took the dogs on a walk. I went into downtown again, but I didn’t just pass through. I poked in office buildings and hotels and meandered around like I never had the time for as a human. I guess I felt kinda embarrassed that, even though I lived in this apartment for three years, I never really explored the area around it. When the sun started to set, I made my way back to my apartment. I fed the dogs with some dog food I got from the store a ways down and ate a granola bar while mulling over all the random thoughts I had while walking. Tomorrow I’ll go and properly raid the Safeway. Yesterday nothing seemed real to me, so I didn’t prepare for anything. Because of that, I’m a day behind, and that could be the biggest mistake I’ve made so far. Time is of the essence right now. The grid will probably fail in the next few days. It’s still running only because of all the solar farms south of the city. Water? It maybe has another day. I need to fill up my bathtub with water. I’ll do that when I’m done recording this.
After I made plans for tomorrow, I laid down on the couch and thought some more. I’ve seen Life After People; I know what’ll happen to Phoenix. And it’s not good. After I’ve gotten all the supplies I need and maybe found some other people, I might leave the city. I’m conflicted on that. It might be stupid to stay in Phoenix, but it’s my hometown. I might be the last person to ever see it.
Yesterday I said I was going to raid the grocery store nearby. Well, I did, but not for one person.
Yeah, that’s right. I found another survivor, which is great, because two is always better than one. Especially when the world has ended.
Despite how game-changing this is, I’ll start from the beginning. Last night I filled up both Mike’s bathtub and mine with water. This morning, water came out of the tap, but it was just a trickle. The pumps were failing, and by the end of the day I knew there wouldn’t be running water. I filled up some bowls and glasses with water with what was left before I ate. If all else fails, the canals should have water for another couple weeks before it all evaporates.
For breakfast, I had half of a head of lettuce and fed the dogs some of their food. I checked my phone and the reception was all over the place. Guess that’s going out too. I called all my contacts one last time, even my parents’. I was about halfway down the list when somebody answered.
It was one of my old friends, Jessica Miller. We met in high school. Dated a little, and even though it didn’t work out, we stayed friends. Her voice was deeper than I expected, but that was probably a result of the failing cell towers. Here’s how the conversation went, to the best of my memory:
“Jessica? Can you hear me?”
“Yeah, but barely. Oh my god, I thought I was alone.”
“So did I. Listen, do you still live in the house on Presidio?”
“Yeah. You’re coming over?”
“I might as well. We need to team up to look for others.”
“Others? Are you sure we’re not the only ones?”
“There’s no way to be sure if we don’t look.”
She paused. “Your voice sounds different.”
“So does yours.”
She paused again. “Get over here.” And then she hung up.
Well, I thought, I know what I’m doing for the rest of the day. I just hoped she wouldn’t freak out when she saw me like this. Would she know it’s me? Maybe. I’m still driving the same car that I was in high school.
I drove over to her house. It didn’t take long. The traffic lights still worked, but I didn’t stop for anything. I got there and could tell just from driving down the street that she was a horse too. All of the other houses had either broken windows or destroyed doors with suspicious hoof marks in them. I stopped the car in front of her house, got out, and knocked on the door. I heard a voice call out. “Scott? Is that you?”
“Yeah.” I waited as she came to the door. Her voice was a lot deeper than I remember. When she opened the door I could tell why. He was a stallion. He had a gray coat and a short brown mane with lighter highlights. And his eyes. They were this deep russet that was so beautiful.
“So,” he said, “You’re a mare.”
“Yeah, it’s been a bit difficult getting used to that and –” I paused for a second “– other things.” I really didn’t want to tell him about my parents yet.
“It was hard getting used to being a stallion too. Doing that and trying to survive is all but impossible.”
We talked for a little while before he showed me his setup. He had pillaged canned food and bottled water from his neighbors and holed up in his house. After I told him about my setup he offered to come live with me. And I don’t know why, but my heart skipped a beat when he said that.
We put some food, water, and other things he didn’t want to leave behind in the car. He was a bit surprised when I got in and started driving, but after I explained how I did it he sat down and enjoyed the ride. We unloaded the supplies together and put them in the closet with the rest of it. With him now safe in my apartment, I could start on the things I had planned to do today. First, I wanted to build a radio broadcast to attract survivors. When I told Jessica about this, he stopped me.
“There’s no room here for survivors,” he said. “This is a one bedroom apartment. It can barely hold two people.”
I agreed with him. With all the things we had to store, this apartment wasn’t cutting it. I suggested we move some things to Mike’s apartment, but he thought it would be better to move now when there was two of us.
The question is which house? There are hundreds within just a few blocks of us. While I didn’t think choosing was a big deal, Jessica did. If there are more survivors, we could set up a colony. So we need to find a house that would make a good colony. We talked about this for quite some time, and decided to go all the way down to Queen Creek. People have just started building houses there, so there would be room to grow and space for a farm. He liked the idea, and so did I.
What followed was the best hour of window shopping ever. We could rule out some neighborhoods that weren’t near farmland, and eventually we found a good one.
The lights in the model homes were still on, which piqued our interest before I remembered that they stay on all the time. The few groups of completed houses around them were all empty too. A smaller number of unfinished ones had materials scattered around, probably put there Friday so that they could use them Saturday. We drove around the newly paved streets a few times. He thought this would be a great place for a colony of survivors. There are some houses to live in, some room to expand along the finished streets, and area for farmland. The houses even had solar panels and everything!
So we had a winner. Since thirty of the houses had solar panels (thank god for the energy-efficiency craze), there were plenty of options. We finally settled on a one-story house with five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a spare room, a huge garage, and an empty backyard that would be a perfect place to plant some of the seeds I had. Somebody lived here; there were family photos on the walls and in the bedrooms. After another two hours of moving things back and forth, we had emptied my apartment of any supplies and moved them to the new house. Even after we had organized the supplies and put all their photos in a closet (they were really creepy considering we were technically breaking and entering), it was still the afternoon.
Instead of sitting around doing nothing, we went and raided the Walmart down the street. We took the canned food, dried fruit, and bottled water back to the house one car trip at a time. It became a game after a bit. We’d run up and down the aisles throwing everything into shopping carts, then racing each other to the car. It sounds stupid and childish, but sometimes the stupid, childish stuff is fun. Eventually we got it all, but we were exhausted. It was fun, though. For the next few hours we just sat on the couch together. We had to sit like animals, though. It’s kinda how a dog lies down. Or the Sphinx. If you’re reading this from the distant future, does the Sphinx still exist?
I rested my head on his back and fell asleep curled up against him for an hour. I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to get enough of him. I always want to be with him for some reason.
After I woke up I realized that I completely forgot about setting up a radio broadcast! The CB radio I took from Dad’s house had a range of seventy-five miles, so from where I was in the Southeast, it should cover the whole city. I just recorded a simple message and set it on a loop. That should be enough to get survivors coming over here. If there are any.
We ate a simple dinner. We split a can of green beans and shared a bottle of water. Fancy, I know. Hopefully we can set up a garden at some point. Even though we filled up an entire room with all the crap we looted from Walmart, it won’t last forever. And with the possibility of new people coming over, we need to get self-sustainable fast. The solar panels are a good start. There’s no way of collecting water other than taking it from the canals, since rainwater is too scarce and the water table’s too far down. And those won’t last either. Our best bet is to go to Saguaro Lake and use the water purifier to clean it. But that takes gas, and it’ll go bad in six months. I could steal a diesel car?
I mean, Jessica and I are much smaller, along with countless other differences. Plus, I’m a unicorn. It kinda reminds me of kids’ toys, like we’re real life ponies. I guess I’m a pony?
I think I’m starting to like it here. This house, although still creepy if you start to think about it for too long, grows on you, even after a day. I’ve set up shop in a front bedroom. The dogs, those lazy things, stay here most of the day, only leaving when we do. I keep my laptop in here. It’s secluded enough that I can use the voice-to-speech program to write these entries instead of typing them out. I can lie down on the bed and talk, and it still picks it up. I’m doing it right now. It’s relaxing. The dogs are at my feet and the bed’s nice.
So, what to say before I get into detail? Power went out today. I’m honestly surprised that it took this long. Hooray for solar farms! The panels on this house do their job. You can only have two lights on at one time, and don’t even think about using any appliances. The kitchen’s really just a preparation area now. Open the can, divide it up, take it to the table. Repeat three times a day.
Toilets are having problems, too. I have no idea how, but they flush fine. You just have to fill it up with water yourself. And the bathtub? We tried to take a bath using some of the water I took in the orange buckets, and it did not work well. Aside from wasting water (even a whole bucket was too little water, but we managed), one of us (me) had to deal with dirty bathwater.
Aside from water problems, the rest of the night went well. After I finished writing my entry we went to sleep. I stayed in the front room I commandeered, and Jessica got the fancy master bedroom. But a bunch of coyotes woke me up in the middle of the night. They were right there on the other side of the wall. I could feel it. Six inches of wood and stucco separating me from animals who would have no qualms with eating me. So, out of primal fear, I cantered into Jessica’s room and calmly informed her that there were coyotes in the courtyard and we were all going to die. I guess he felt sorry for me, so he let me stay. Not one of my proudest moments, but being with him helped me feel better. And I had the best night’s sleep of my life. I woke up and he was right next to me, and that made the whole day a bit better.
I can’t believe I just said that. It’s true, though. It did make the day better. So I’ll guess I’ll leave it. Maybe whoever’s reading this needs tips on sleeping better? Here’s a tip: wake up next to a stallion.
Where was I? Right. Woke up, fed the dogs. Jessica and I each ate a roll that had been sitting in a basket on the counter. They didn’t look moldy, and it has only been a few days since everybody disappeared, so they were fine. Tasted a bit stale, though. Not that I care.
While we ate I told him about a couple things I’ve been planning to do, the biggest one being looking for other survivors. The radio broadcast was a good start, but the only good way to find anyone and everyone is to drive around town. I left with Dakota, leaving Marv to look after Jessica. I stopped after a few minutes to siphon some gas from a gas station. I wonder how long gas will last? When the gas goes bad I’ll ditch my car and steal a diesel one. But that won’t be for a while.
Driving is a lot easier when there’s nobody else on the road. I drove up and down the arterial streets and through all the neighborhoods’ main streets. I went through most of Gilbert looking for the telltale signs of pony inhabitants. Things like doors that have been forced open, broken windows, hoof marks, or even ponies themselves. I saw nothing out of the ordinary except for a few stray dogs here and there. As the sun went down I called off my search in the East Valley until tomorrow.
I got back to the house and Jessica told me he had planted a few seeds in the backyard to see how things would grow. I thought it was a waste of water, but I had faith in him. If it meant we didn’t have to live off canned vegetables for the rest of our lives, by all means.
Wednesday, May 27
Today just changed everything. I thought this stupid horn was decorative. Well, now I know I was wrong. Very wrong.
I mean, wow. I was wrong.
The day started off normal. I ate another roll, siphoned gas from the gas station nearby, and drove around the rest of the East Valley to look for survivors. After three hours I went back home. The search seemed fruitless. I drove back home angry and frustrated. Jessica tried to say something, but I cut her off. “I’m going on a walk,” I turned toward the front door. “Just leave me alone.”
I walked around the winding streets of the neighborhood I now lived in, my mind racing. I ended up in front of a row of three houses that had only been framed, materials laid out in front of them. I remembered my time in architecture school. I knew how to finish these. But I couldn’t, because I was a horse. But everything was right there, just too big to move around.
I felt a strange feeling around my horn. Suddenly, a few wooden beams lying on the ground flew over my head, wrapped in a green glow. They moved over to either end of the farthest house, up to the open roof. They arranged themselves perfectly and were nailed down by magic. My head felt dizzy, and I felt a tingling feeling near my butt. I looked over and there was a picture of a small house on my flank. I barely had any time to comprehend it before I passed out.
My eyes shot open. I was lying on my side in the middle of the street. My mind raced as I tried to remember what happened. I came out here, then my horn felt weird, then something put the roof on a house. And apparently I got a tattoo while I blacked out. Wait, no. That appeared when I was awake. Did I do magic? It seemed impossible, but my meter for impossibility was a little off after turning into a pony. It would explain the unicorn horn.
A howling from across the street distracted me from my discovery. Three coyotes were slinking toward me from the next street over, passing through an empty lot as they skulked closer. My pupils shrunk as I tried to think of a way to get back home, but they were blocking the only way into that part of the neighborhood. I decided to scream and gallop. I wove through the open, newly paved streets, but that didn’t shake them. They cut across empty lots and through unfinished houses, starting to gain the upper hand. But I could see the house! It was right there at the end of the block. A light was on in the back of the house, but could I make it? I could feel them right there behind me, and I screamed again when one of them tried to grab my tail. The exterior lights flickered on in the front, and suddenly, two dogs raced from the entrance towards me. I breathed a much-needed sigh of relief as they came closer and closer, but picked up my pace when I felt another grab for my tail.
The dogs leapt at the coyotes, even though they were outnumbered three to two. They writhed around as they fought in a tangle of carnivores. I didn’t stay for long, but I didn’t have to. Two gunshots rang out from down the street. I looked towards the house and saw Jessica standing in the middle of the street firing a pistol into the air. I looked back to see the coyotes running off towards the main road. The dogs didn’t follow them. He threw the gun into the gated courtyard that led to the front door as I got closer. I galloped up to him, threw my arms around his back, and kissed him right on the mouth.
In my defense, I was ecstatic, okay?
I pulled away after a few seconds. “Uh,” he stepped back, “What was that?”
My beige cheeks turned crimson as I turned away and cantered into the house. “I’m so sorry!” I shouted behind me. My mind was racing. Why did I do that? What if I just ruined things forever? What if he packs up and leaves? What if I’m alone again?
Okay, I know that won’t happen, but I’m still dreading breakfast tomorrow. It’s all I can do to make this entry before I go to sleep. Tomorrow will be interesting, that’s for sure.
Today (Yesterday? I’m making this in the morning.) was great. We got some water from Phoenix’s elaborate canal system. This should be enough to last us another week, so that’s good.
But that’s not the reason why it was so great.
I woke up still regretting kissing Jessica and still dreading breakfast. I briefly contemplated staying in my room for a few hours more, but I knew he would still be here. There isn’t much to do here, and I’d have to face him eventually. So I left the comfort of the dogs and my room.
He was sitting at the table in the same spot he always does. Two bowls of dried mangoes sat on either end. It was just a normal breakfast, right? Right? Then why was i so freaked out?
“Hey, Scott, you’re here,” he said. He noticed how nervous I was right off the bat. “I’ve only been sitting here for a couple minutes. You didn’t sleep for that much longer than me.”
“Yeah, sorry about that.” I took a bite of mango.
“Don’t be. It really was only a few minutes more.”
“No, not that.” I facepalmed (facehoofed?). “I’m talking about last night.”
“Oh, that.” He paused. “Yeah, what was that about, anyway?”
I looked up from the bowl of dried fruit. “ Um, well…” I paused as I tried to explain myself, only to find that I couldn’t. I sighed. “I don’t know. I mean, I was happy you saved me from those coyotes, but I don’t know why I kissed you.
“All this is just so confusing and hard! First I wake up as a mare, then everybody disappears, then I go up to my parents’ houses and they’re gone too, and then I meet you! And I should be so happy that I found another survivor, but I’m not.”
I rub an eye and it comes back wet. I realize that I’ve been crying. “Because then I start to get all weird when I’m around you. And what’s supposed to be this great moment becomes just another thing that I don’t understand.” I wasn’t just crying anymore, I was sobbing. What the hell was wrong with me?
“And I can’t live with myself! I can’t. Everyone in the city dies except for me. All my other friends, my family, my parents, they’re gone! They’re gone and will never come back, and I can’t stop thinking about them.”
I got up from the chair and trotted out of the room. “I can’t do this.”
I kept trotting into my room, not even bothering to close the door, and threw myself on the bed, buried my face in the pillow, and cried. I cried for my parents, for my city, and for my humanity. For everyone who was gone, and for everyone who would grow up in a decaying world. I lost track of time.
A knock on the doorframe distracted me from my pity party. I looked up and saw Jessica standing in the doorway. He walked over to the bed and sat down on the floor, resting his head on the comforter. “You know it’s not your fault that any of this happened,” he said.
“I know, but it doesn’t make it any less sad. They’re gone, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
He rubbed my shoulder with a cream-colored hoof. “You shouldn’t beat yourself up about things you can’t control.” He smiled. “That’s something you always say, and it’s true.”
“It’s just so much to take in in so little time.”
“But this is you we’re talking about! You’ve been through so much and always came out on top! This is no different.”
“But I’m a horse, and a girl! Everything about me is different now!”
“But you’re still you where it matters,” He poked my chest with a hoof. “Here,” He poked my forehead. “And here. And that’s the part about you that’s my favorite. Because as long as you have a heart and a brain, you can overcome anything thrown your way.”
My cheeks reddened and I smiled. “Get up here.” He laid down on the bed and I curled up next to him. I rested my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes. His hoof traced circles into my back as I rested on him. It might have been strange, but it felt good.
I must have laid there for an hour. We didn’t say anything or do anything. Eventually an idea made it’s way into my head. “Hey, Jessica,” I said.
“I’m going to go down to the canals and see what water I can find.”
“Go for it.”
I took Marv, the water filter, and the rest of breakfast and set off to the nearby canal. When I got there, I was shocked. Already half the water was gone, and it had only been a few days since everybody disappeared.
I dragged a bucket through the off-colored canal water and dumped it into the top of the water purifier. This thing is the size of a washing machine. Dirty water goes in the top, clean water comes out the bottom. Push a tap to get the water out, and clean the crap off the filter every few uses. After only an hour I had filled up a few Home Depot buckets with water. Those things hold five gallons of water, too. And I filled three in an hour with eight equally large -clean- garbage bins from Walmart waiting. And I filled those up too. I threw some plastic wrap over the tops of them (which is impossible with hooves) and went back home.
I put them in the spare room with the rest of the water. Jessica was thrilled that we had so much water. Apparently the stuff he planted was already starting to peek out from the soil, and he was getting really excited. I was happy, too. Canned food didn’t compare to fresh stuff. Not even canned corn. Why did I even get any of this? It’s not the most delicious thing on its own, but it’s food.
When we finished eating, the sun had set. We took the dogs on a walk with us, and I noticed that they stayed just behind us, one of them on either side. But every time I made an observation or thought of something I was soon distracted by Jessica.
His face was lit up by the moon, and he looked so amazing. I kept sneaking glances over at him, and then those glances became longer. Eventually I just stared at him for the rest of the walk. If you saw him you’d feel the same way.
It was a normal walk. We went by the houses I passed out near and I told him the story of how I got my butt-mark. He seemed thoroughly impressed, and I think he knew the possibilities magic could have. Could you control the weather with magic?
Anyways, the whole time I couldn’t stop staring at him. The way the moon painted his cream-colored face and his messy brown mane was breathtaking. By the time we got back to the house it was almost unbearable. So as we walked up to the small gate I stopped and kissed him.
Even as a pony, he’s an amazing kisser. I mean, wow. It seemed like it lasted forever, and I wanted it to. When we broke the kiss I looked into his eyes and said something that had been swimming in the back of my mind since I saw him.
“I love you.”
We kissed again.
And, well, what happened next I’d like to keep private. But, suffice it to say, ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°).
I woke up in Jessica’s bed, pressed up against his chest. He woke up a few minutes after I did, and we stayed curled up together for a bit longer. Eventually we got up, and Jessica made breakfast. I started eating right away, but he sat down and watched me for a couple seconds, a slight smile on his face. “So, uh, what are we now? Like, as a couple?” he asked.
“I don’t know. We can’t exactly do the whole ‘dating’ thing now that the world has ended. But I do love you, and I want to be with you. I just think we’ll have to do things differently.”
“You’re right.” He smiled. God, I love that smile. “For now let’s focus on surviving before we start living.”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself.”
After that, we discussed what to do for the day. Jessica recommended raiding the ASU library to find books on survival that might be useful. I liked the idea, so we took the dogs and drove to Tempe. The sidewalks were wide enough to drive on at the campus, so we just pulled right up to the entrance to the underground library. The dogs walked around the area before following us underground where we were deciding what information we needed. We had a few categories: large-scale farming, in case Jessica’s lucky streak with plants kept up; electrical engineering and alternative energy to solve the issue of power; biodiesel for when fuel runs out; hydro engineering to solve the issue of water; construction; computer systems so we could automate things; and history. Jessica insisted on history so that we could teach people what the world was like before the Event. I’m making it sound like we planned this out thoroughly. No. The trip mainly consisted of us shouting across the library about if this book or that book would be useful.
When we had taken about half the books we’d end up leaving with, we started breaking into vending machines to get chips and stuff. I first noticed something was off when a machine I knew I hadn’t gotten to yet had a hole in it. I pushed it to the back of my head after taking enough potato chips to defend a small country, and by the time we were back to searching in the vast underground library, I had forgotten altogether. Eventually, the sun went down and we packed up the car. As we left the campus I noticed that one of the dorms across the street had a light on in a room. We parked the car and started knocking on doors. We were halfway through the sixth floor when somebody answered.
He recoiled a bit after seeing us. “Wow. Didn’t expect anyone else to be alive. I’m Levi. Levi Thompson.”
“I’m Scott,” I replied.
“And I’m Jessica.” He came over from the door he was trying.
“Scott? Jessica? Isn’t Scott a guy’s name and Jessica a girl’s?”
“Yeah. We, um, didn’t just change species.” I told him. It was a bit awkward after that, but after a couple seconds of standing around, he invited us in. Levi had a light blue coat, a short, spiky yellow mane and tail, and blue eyes. And wings. Yeah, he was a pegasus. I guess there’s three types of ponies: normal, unicorn, and pegasus. He also had a picture of a yellow lightning bolt on either side of his flanks. Is that a tattoo? It looked real.
“So, how did you get here?” I asked. “What’s your story?”
“It’s not much,” he replied. “I started college a few years late, going in to become an electrical engineer. After I woke up like this, I broke into this dorm room once I noticed the solar panels. I raided some rooms nearby and the vending machines to get food and water.”
So that explained the broken machine. “What about your wings? Can you fly?”
“I tried a couple of times but I never managed to get off the ground. I want to, though.”
We told him our story and our plans of creating a colony, and invited him back to our place. He accepted, and we gave him a minute to gather up some food and personal stuff. He got in the backseat next to the dogs and we were off!
When we got back home we showed him around the house and he set up in the bedroom right by mine. If there are more survivors, will I have to give up my room and share with Jessica? Not that I mind.
Saturday, May 30
Today was the day we started our biggest mission yet. It started during breakfast, when most of our plans are made. Jessica passed around three bowls of dried apricots and sat down. “So,” he said. “I have an idea.”
“Well, what is it?” I stopped eating to listen to his reply.
“I was thinking that if I thought I was alone, even though you were twenty miles away, and Levi was even closer but he thought he was alone for almost a week, what if there are other ponies scattered throughout the area? We should drive out and look for them.”
Levi looked up. “But what about gas? It doesn’t last forever.”
“That’s why we should go and get some diesel cars from the dealership nearby. There’s fuel preservation stuff at the air force base that we can use. After that we could make biodiesel.” Jessica replied.
I realized the extent of his plan. “So we’d be driving around the city looking for survivors and preserving the fuel.”
“Exactly. And we’d also be raiding the grocery stores. Canned food, bottled water, and dried fruit. All the nonperishables. Basically large-scale preparation.”
It sounded brilliant. Levi and I agreed to his plan, and when we finished eating we climbed into my car and drove a few blocks to the dealership, stopping at a nearby chain store for the disabled to get the things we needed for our new cars. They had padding to put on the seats so you could see over the steering wheel and poles so you could control pedals with hooves. Well, I’m sure they weren’t made for hooves, but they worked!
And then I realized that if we were switching to diesel, then I couldn’t keep my car. So I tried my best to get one last good ride out of the car, tearing around corners and flooring it, just like I did in college when Sam made a rally track around the desert. Man, that was awesome. In the end we got a bit too close to somebody’s ranch and the cops came. It was still fun.
I bid my old hatchback goodbye. It served me well, through three levels of education, six girlfriends, two species, two genders, and too many close calls to count. I parked her in the shade right under the building’s covered entrance, up on the sidewalk. A fitting resting place.
Thanks to the sprawling complex with multiple dealerships, we had quite the choice. We made the choice to get cars that were fancy, but not bad on gas. And they had to be white because of the desert heat. After the new best hour of window shopping ever, we had made our decisions. Jessica got an Audi A6, I got a 5 Series, and Levi got a Golf. They had a bit of trouble with driving at first, but by the time we got back home they learned how.
When we got home, we parked our cars in the garage. I got out a map of Phoenix and laid it on the coffee table, and went through the desk in my room to find a pencil. We divided up the whole metro area into over thirty sections. We were going to start on Section 1 until Levi asked how we’d fit so many supplies in our cars.
We had to push everything back a day because he kept pointing out how much we needed to prepare. And then there was the problem of going down and taking three SUVs back up. We could all drive down in my new car, but we’d have to make two trips. We went back to the dealership and came back with three identical white BMW X6s. These weren’t personal cars, they were only for the expedition. Jessica went to the air force base across town to get those awesome diesel-saving pellets as soon as we got all the cars back home, which left me and Levi to prepare the other eight houses on this block for the influx of supplies. There was a house next door to us on the corner that was completed but not occupied. We stole the keys from the garage-converted-office in a model home and went in.
It was a smaller house than ours, but only by one room. It had four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a three car garage, and a spare room. It also had solar panels, so we could air condition the food we would store in it. There wasn’t much to do to it, so we were left to wait for Jessica.
Levi suggested we each practice our respective abilities. He started to run up and down the street trying to fly, while I left the group of houses for another one in this neighborhood. Let’s see here, I thought, How did I use magic the first time? I guess I was just frustrated with all the things I couldn’t do as a pony, so my horn tried to do things for me? That would mean that this is based on emotion. So if I get mad enough, it’ll happen? That sounds stupid.
Maybe I could try meditating. I’ve done it once or twice, and magic might work with concentration. So I went in the corner house, sat down on the carpet, and meditated.
/After what seemed like an hour, I started to feel something. It was like an energy swimming through me. No, I’m not a hippie. Yes, it’s magic. I don’t know why I’m so certain about that. It just feels like magic. Right when that happened, Jessica got back. I’ll have to try meditating again tomorrow.
I went back in the main house where Jessica was sticking the diesel pellets in a closet. That’s a horrible name for them. It’s not diesel, it’s diesel preservation. Oh well. Levi told me about his attempts at flight. He quickly abandoned running down the street, and tried instead to flap his wings, which meant getting used to two new limbs. He could unfurl and flap them one at a time, but not in unison. Guess we both have something to practice.
Dinner was normal. When we finished eating we sat down in the living room and planned. We were all in favor of forming a colony here in this neighborhood. If we found enough people we would spread out into the other three groups of houses and use the empty lots for farmland. And there are a lot of empty lots here. At least another two hundred acres with nothing except dirt, so there’s plenty of room to grow. Jessica said he’d do the farming if his streak of luck continues. Apparently, his garden is doing really well. It hasn’t been a week and they’re already four-inch tall green sprouts. Do vegetables grow that fast? Maybe it’s magic.
After that, Levi went to bed. We’d been talking for about an hour. Wow, time flies when you’re preparing for the future in a post-apocalyptic world. But with Levi gone, Jessica and I could plan, too. But not about a colony.
“So, are you free tomorrow?” he asked me, putting on his best flashy grin.
I laughed. “You’re unbelieveable. And besides,” I said, “What would we even do for a date? Everything’s closed.”
“Yeah, closed.” He thought for a second. “But there’s still one thing we can do.”
“Oh? And what’s that?”
“There’s a park down the street by the model homes. We could have a picnic.”
“Sounds great.” I kissed him and cuddled up right on his chest. That stallion was made for cuddling. So soft and plush, but with just enough muscle. I laid my head on his neck and shut my eyes.
“Hey, Scott? Shouldn’t we go to bed?”
“Oh, yeah. Right. Sleep.” I felt sad that I couldn’t stay with him for longer. He seemed to notice, and kissed me right before we parted ways.
It’s a bit weird how easily I’m taking to being a mare. I guess it’s just hormones.
Today was the start of our expedition through all of Phoenix. We ate breakfast quickly and put some snacks, water, diesel saving pellets, and CB radios in the SUVs (which I'm calling Pony PD).
We searched a relatively small area of town around my house. I think it was about thirty or forty blocks. It sounds like a lot, but we had the whole day to do everything. And most of that area was just wilting farmland and dirt roads.
It was relatively simple. If one of us saw a grocery store we’d raid it. If our cars got full, we’d drive back home and drop the stuff off. By the end of the day we had filled up two rooms: one for food and one for water.
Everything else was pretty uneventful. I’m looking forward to my date with Jessica in a couple days. That’ll be the best thing to happen so far.
Monday, June 1
Today we searched the area north of the base. We didn’t find anybody, but we did fill up more rooms with supplies.
Other than that? My date with Jessica is tomorrow. I’m so excited! It’s going to be so great. Just the two of us in the park, alone together. I can’t wait.
Tuesday, June 2
Didn’t find anyone today. Filled up more space with supplies. Not what I want to talk about.
I’d rather talk about my date. I’d been looking forward to it since the day we planned it, and it was amazing. Sitting in the park, alone with Jessica, talking and cracking jokes was the best date I had ever been on. Halfway through it I moved right next to him. He wrapped a foreleg around me and we ate together. I couldn’t stop staring at him.
When there was a lull in the conversation, Jessica looked up. “Look at that.”
“The sky. The whole city’s dark and you can see everything.” I looked up and it was true. The whole night sky was lit up by the stars. When all the lights in Phoenix were on, you couldn’t see any of them. But now, the only lights on are ours. We laid down on the grass and watched the stars, only moving to get closer to each other.
Jessica checked the time. “We should go back inside.”
“Alright. But don’t think I want our date to end so soon.” We kissed, and then walked back to the house together.
Monday, June 8
I haven’t made any entries for almost a week, I know. But nothing interesting really happened. We’ve searched almost all of the East Valley, and we still haven’t found anyone else. The storage building (Yes, storage building. Makes it sound like we actually know what we’re doing.) is filling up. We packed the bedrooms, study, and a bit of the garage full of food. That’s a lot.
Yesterday Jessica and I went on another date. Through some redneck engineering we were able to get on the roof of a house across the street and watch the stars. The tiles were a bit shaky, but when I curled up next to him, all my frustration with the search melted away. I can’t get enough of him.
Saturday, June 18
Today we finally found another survivor! We made it all the way up to north Scottsdale and searched around. After a few hours, Levi found some suspiciously broken windows. Jessica and I came over and we could see them from the street. It was clear that there was someone nearby.
We forced the gate open. It was a nice, well-maintained enclave of some small but nice Spanish-style homes. After making noise for a few minutes, nobody emerged. But all the houses on one cul-de-sac were broken into except for one. The three of us parked the cars and knocked on the door.
“Hello? Is there anyone in there?” Jessica asked. No answer.
“We can get you food and water. There’s a colony starting in Queen Creek.” I said, even though I’d hardly call it a colony. Still no answer. I put an ear to the door and heard the distinctive sound of a hoof on tile.
“Are you a pony too?” I asked. After a few agonizing seconds of waiting, the large door opened. Behind it was a chubby pegasus stallion who stood a bit taller than Jessica. He had an olive green coat, a disheveled brown mane, and cyan eyes. On his flank was the image of a car’s engine.
“Guess so,” said Levi. The pegasus invited us into the house. We passed through the entrance to the large living room. This place was fancy. Small, but fancy. Family photos hung on the walls, and everything was in earthy, neutral colors. He seated us on a large leather couch in the bright room and pulled up a similarly colored armchair.
“Hi,” he said. “My name’s Al, and I’m a pony.”
I laughed. “I’m Scott. The stallion to my left is Jessica, and the pegasus to my right is Levi. We’re starting a colony in Queen Creek, and in order to get enough supplies and to find other ponies, we’ve been driving around the city for the past two weeks collecting what we can find.”
I let Jessica continue. “You can come with us if you want. We have plenty of room, so don’t worry about being a burden. All you’d have to do is help us with collecting supplies.”
He didn’t respond, his head drooping as he thought. He looked up and gave a sad smile. “No, I won’t be.”
Levi leaned forward. “If you don’t mind me asking, why not? We have plenty of food, and electricity, and cars. It’s not like the movies.”
“I have to wait here.”
“Al, I have some bad news. Your fam–”
I cut him off. “Is that them?” I pointed to a picture, a smiling couple arm in arm with two beaming blonde teenage daughters beside them, above the fireplace with a hoof.
“Yes,” he said. “My wife and my two beautiful daughters, the best family anyone could ask for. I woke up like this and they were gone. Their cars were still in the garage, and the whole street was empty. But I know they’ll come back. I can feel it.”
“Al, the same thing happened to all of us. As far as we know, all across the city. Maybe even the world. Everyone was gone when we woke up on May twenty-third, and we were ponies. We don’t know who did this or why, but we’ll put every ounce of effort into getting our family back that we can.”
He wiped his eyes with a fetlock. “I’ll go. But we have to come back.”
I helped him up from the chair. “We will.”
Thankfully, we had almost finished with today’s section, so Levi could take Al straight to the base while Jessica helped me finish up. Before he left his house, he went upstairs and came down with a puppy and a kitten in tow. “These were my daughters’,” he said.
He took down the photo above the fireplace after a bit of effort and brought that, along with the animals, with him to my car. I turned on the car and put it in drive and he shouted “Wait!”.
Al grabbed my radio in his mouth and galloped into the house with it. He came out a couple minutes later and got back in the car. “For when they come back,” he said. He shed a tear when we pulled away.
Levi took Al down to the dealership to get another car, leaving Jessica with me. After tending to his garden, we spent some time together, mostly just curling up on his bed. By the time they got home from choosing and outfitting a personal car (I think it was a Lexus) and an SUV, even with the heavy post-apocalyptic traffic, it was late in the evening. Al set up in another bedroom, and Marv and Dakota had a brief greeting with Tommy, the Golden Retriever, and Lynx, the kitten.
Let me be clear on one thing. Lynx is adorable. I never had much of a thing for cats, but this kitten is changing that. I wish there was a way to put a photo of her in here. Oh well. Just another thing you have to sacrifice when you turn into a magical unicorn mare: cat pictures.
Tomorrow, we’re back on the expedition. It’ll probably be another month before we finish with the whole city. And then there’s all the towns and cities in the state. Tuscon, Yuma, Flagstaff. What about the people there?
We’re not doing that. We can barely secure the city, let alone the state.
Levi smells like horse. Al smells like horse. Jessica smells like horse. I smell like horse. Our cars smell like horse. The houses smell like horse. This whole damn city smells like horse.
Yes, Jessica, I am aware that we are horses. Go away. I’m writing an entry.
Yes, I know it’s your room too.
Yep, we’re sharing a room now. The house is bursting at the seams. We found two new ponies so far: Ben Hill and Miranda Alvarado. Ben we found in the far, far north end of town, fortifying his house to protect himself from the wild animals. He has teal fur, a darker teal mane, and light blue eyes. His butt mark is a faucet with a drop of water, and he doesn’t have a horn or wings. I asked him about the mark, and he said that the only thing he knew about it was that he was a plumber before he was a pony.
Miranda has a bit of a story behind her. We found her in a not-so-great part of town, trying to break into a house to get food. She had been staying in a church, only leaving to scavenge. She doesn’t like to talk about her human life. She’s also a normal pony, and she has a lavender coat, a short, bubbly gray mane, and light lavender eyes. She has an interesting butt mark (I really don’t know what to call them): three metal chains, two silver and the middle one gold, with a heart on top of them. She’s got my old room now, and I’m sharing with Jessica.
Today, being the Fourth of July, we got a day off from the crazy search. Granted, there’s still a ton of stuff we need to do before we can live comfortably in this wasteland, but the search is getting tedious. At least we’re actually finding others.
In the spirit of the day, Levi’s going to find some fireworks. Real fireworks, not the kind that shoot a few sparks in the air and then do nothing. The ones you can only get in Mexico.
So, before Levi got back, we stuck to our respective rooms, fans whirring. In the bright, sunny days we get enough power to turn on some luxuries. It’s hot, but we can manage.
Jessica kept talking about the garden. “They’re almost ready to be harvested, you know. Corn, peas, tomatoes, even some lettuce. It’ll be better than the canned food, that’s for sure.”
I stopped him. “It’s a waste of water,” I grumbled.
“What? It’s fresh vegetables! I know you’re sick of canned food!”
“It’s stupid.” I rolled over on the bed. “We have enough food.”
“Yeah, but it won’t last forever. We need to plan, Scott. And this is the first step to a farm large enough to support all of us.” He put a hoof on my shoulder. “The colony’s growing. Just like you wanted it to.”
I pushed him away. “I’m sick of this. And this is Phoenix. It’s probably 105 degrees today. How the hell are you growing food out here?”
“No idea.” He laughed a bit, but I was too pissed to laugh back. I don’t know why. He was right. I know he was right. I was happy before he started talking about the garden, so why did I change so fast? What’s wrong with me?
Anyways, a few hours later, Levi came back with the fireworks. We planned for a dinner on the picnic tables in the same park where Jessica and I had our first date. Levi would launch them in the empty lots across the street, where nothing would catch fire. I couldn’t wait. Eventually, the sun began to set, and we went out to the covered tables. Levi and Jessica had set up a large dinner, as elaborate as you can get with only dried fruit, nuts, and canned food. We ate slowly, talking and getting to know each other better. We told jokes and stories, laughing and having a good time.
Eventually, we finished, and laid down on the dying grass, waiting as Levi galloped out of sight, barely visible in the newly dark streets. After a few minutes of waiting, the first burst of light rocketed into the air. I leaned into Jessica as the rockets of color and sound flew up into the air, one after another. How many of these things did Levi have? Not enough. The two of us laid together as the show played out above us. Flash after flash, until the grand finale, a brilliant burst of gold and purple sparks, rocketed into the air.
Levi trotted back to us, beaming, a bit of soot in his mane. We all walked to the house and slept, sans Levi, who was scrubbing himself off in the backyard for upwards of an hour.
Saturday, July 11
I must have had some bad food or something, because for the past few days I’ve been throwing up like crazy. I still went on the searches, though. We can cover so much space with seven ponies. Yes, seven. Me, Jessica, Levi, Al, Ben, Miranda, and now, Nina. Nina’s another normal pony, with a light blue coat, a mint green mane, and blue-green eyes. Her butt mark is a paintbrush. From what she says, she was taking care of her grandparents in their Sun City home until the day they disappeared. She saw the fireworks and we found her coming our way on the Interstate. We didn’t hit her, but it was still scary.
And today, on the last day of our search, we found another pony! Dana was wandering around looking for food, and we took her in. She is a very pink unicorn. Pink body, pink mane. She has light blue eyes, and a radio antenna on her butt. She told us she worked for a local radio station. So the marks are what you did for a job? But Levi was an engineer, not anything to do with lightning. And Al wasn’t a mechanic. And Jessica doesn’t have one. And Miranda didn’t make chain fences. And what about mine randomly appearing? Every time I try to think about this stuff it only raises more questions.
But if she’s as good at radio broadcasting as she says she is, that would be great. None of the people we met so far had a CB radio. If we could hook it up to a radio station’s broadcast then anybody with a radio could hear it. I’ll have to talk to her about that.
So yeah, eight people here now. Since there’s only five bedrooms, we had to rearrange things a bit. Jessica and I are in the master bedroom, Miranda and Dana are in the room right next to my old one, Nina, who wanted privacy, is in my old room, Levi and Ben are sharing a room, and Al gets his own. We moved some crap out of the spare room (I think it was a study before we came in) and will use that to hold some electronic stuff.
We held a little celebration for combing through all of the valley. It took a month and a half, but we finally did it. There was food. Not good food, but food. I had to watch out, though, because I kept throwing up. We need to find a doctor somewhere if everybody else gets it.
But it was fun. We got to know each other even more. Nina didn’t say much. Levi passed out on the couch, and Ben had to drag him to their room. And Jessica wouldn’t stop coming on to me. He wasn’t even that drunk, either.
So, yeah. That was fun, but I’m not looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. It’s not a milestone year or anything, but it’s going to be tough getting through the day. I’m sure I’ll manage somehow. After all, the world’s already ended. You can’t get much worse than that.
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! I’m so stupid! Of course this stupid mare body would fall head over heels for the first stallion it sees! I’m an idiot! I’m an idiot! I’m an idiot!
Ah! What the hell? My horn just fired off another burst of magic and all the lights surged for a second. Jessica, I’m fine. Stop worrying. I’m not made of glass.
Okay. Today started like normal. I threw up for a few minutes, then went out to breakfast (after washing out my mouth five times, of course). Jessica was already up, along with Levi and Dana.
I sat down. “Good morning,” Jessica said.
I glared. I am not a morning person. “It’s never a good morning.”
“Not even when–”
“Okay, maybe then. But not when I can’t stop throwing up.”
“Yeah, what’s up with that, anyways?” Levi leaned forward in his chair.
“No idea. Probably just something I picked up while we were searching.”
We ate in silence for a minute, then Dana turned her attention to Jessica. “So, what’s the plan for today?”
“I’m no leader. I’m barely even a stallion. Just do whatever, as long as you don’t blow up the house.”
“Hm, okay. I kinda want to see the CB radio you set up. See how it runs, maybe tweak it a bit if you want me to.”
“Oh, that was Scott’s doing. Talk to her.”
I held up a hoof. “I’m going out today. I need to stop by somewhere. Somewhere personal.”
Jessica turned to me with a knowing look. “Your?”
Dana leaned back in her chair. “So, what’s going on?”
Jessica turned to her. “Oh, Scott’s just going out to check on something. Nothing too important; one person is enough to take care of it.”
I got up. “Yeah, I should be going anyways.”
Jessica waved. “Goodbye.”
I left. I took the 5 Series, the one we got before we decided to search the whole city, when it was just three of us. I went north until I got to the gate into her neighborhood. I had to force it open, and there wasn’t enough room to fit the car through, but I still made it.
The front door was still unlocked from my last visit over a month ago. I went in to find that the place was still in good condition, although a bit dusty. The food in the fridge was rotten, and I could smell it even with the fridge closed. The heat was stifling, even more so on the second floor. But I found what I was looking for in the living room: a picture.
“Happy birthday, Mom.”
I remembered all the birthdays, the holidays, the weekends; all the arguments and the adventures. I laid on the carpet next to the picture crying for what seemed like hours. A knock on the door brought me back to my senses. “Scott? You in there? This is your mom’s house, right?”
“Yeah, come in.”
He opened the door with his mouth. “Ah! Ah! Hot! Hot!”
I laughed. “It’s metal, you dumbass.” I sighed and laid down on the carpet. “I’m just thinking.”
He laid down next to me and put a hoof on my shoulder. “We’ve all lost people we love because of this. You don’t have to feel alone.”
“I know. I know there are people who have lost more than I have, but I still feel terrible.”
I sighed and rolled over on my back, staring up at the ceiling. “The last time she called me was two days before it happened. I should have stayed on the phone with her. I should have talked to her. But I was busy, and I had a bunch of work to do. And now the project I put together is meaningless, and I’d do anything to have stayed on the phone with her for five more minutes.”
Jessica wrapped me into a comforting hug. “You had no idea about what was going to happen. Nobody did. And a wise mare once told me that what happens happens, and you can’t change that.”
I moved even closer to him. “You’re right.”
We laid like that for a while, close together. I’m glad I didn’t screw this up like I did in high school. But I have him now, although it’s a bit different than what I’d hoped for.
Jessica stood up. “Want to head back? It looks like it’s getting dark.” He helped me up and we left the house.
We walked back to the cars sitting just down the street, outside the gate. Jessica opened the door to his white Audi A6 and paled. “Crap, we’ve been here for over an hour. This was supposed to take five minutes.”
“Oh?” I brushed up against his soft gray fur. “And you’re complaining?”
A transmission on the radio interrupted us. A scared voice came over to us. It was Levi. “Jessica? Scott? Can you hear me? Get back home, now!”
Jessica picked up the microphone and pressed the button to talk. “Levi, what is it?”
“There’s a giant damn dust storm heading right for us!”
We looked to the west towards the city, and there it was.
If you’ve never seen a haboob, they’re terrifying. Picture a mile-high wall of reddish brown dust that covers miles upon miles with gritty dirt. You can’t see out your windows. It seeps through the cracks and under doors, and anyone unlucky enough to be outside gets assaulted with countless particles of sandy dust. And now that the world’s ended and all the water dried up, there’s probably a lot of dry dirt to be kicked up here. That’s probably why the cloud was so huge, stretching from the southern mountains up to the north, easily twenty-five miles wide.
And it was heading right for us.
We galloped into the cars and floored it back home. It was a straight shot; we just had to go a few blocks east and then all the way south. But as we got closer, so did the storm. It was probably only three or four miles away now, and it was advancing fast. I saw the dead traffic lights whiz past, street after street going by as we neared home. But we were too far away.
Jessica’s voice came on the radio. “Scott! I’m pulling over! I’m out of gas!” I saw his car go from speeding to coasting in a second, and he slammed on the brakes and pulled off. The wall was right there, closing the gap fast. I made a quick decision and stopped too, galloping over to his car and getting in.
The dust hit the car with a thunk. Jessica cried out, “What the hell are you doing!”
“I’m keeping you company. If I’d kept going I’d only be alone.”
We looked out the window and saw only redness. “This one’s harsh. Usually they’re not this bad.” Jessica laughed. “Is this stupid city trying to kill us?”
Levi’s voice came over the radio again. “Scott? Jessica? Are you safe?”
I pressed the button. “We’re fine. We holed up in Jessica’s car and are gonna wait it out.”
He paused. “You kids have fun.”
“Oh, shut up.”
Jessica moved to the back seat, and I curled up next to him. “At least I’m here with you.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.” We kissed.
“So what exactly do you plan for us to do in here?” He wiggled his eyebrows.
“You’re such a guy.”
“Hey, I’ve only been one for a month or so. Am I doing a good job?”
I smiled. “You’re perfect.” We kissed again, and stayed together as the car was bombarded by the storm outside.
Jessica laid beside me, wrapping me in a tight embrace. I kissed him every so often, enough to make him blush. I felt content to stay like this forever. But there was a quick twinge in my gut. “Jessica. I’m going to throw up.”
“Was I that bad?”
“Shut up! Find a bucket or something.”
He rummaged through the car. “I can’t find anything.”
“I’m going outside.”
“You’re an idiot.”
“What do you want covered in horse vomit, then? I’m going outside. Cover your eyes.” I threw open the car door and a wave of dust flew into the car. While I could have braved the winds as a human, the tiny pony mare I was now could barely stand. I braced myself, made sure the wind was blowing the right way, and hurled.
I got in the car. Jessica held out a bottle. “Water?” Without saying a word, I took a swig of it and washed out the horrible taste. After enough of this, I closed the bottle and kissed him.
“You still taste a bit like it.”
“I’m quite aware of that.”
“Yeah, what’s up with all the vomit and the craziness?” he asked. I sat back in the new leather seat coated in a fine layer of dust and thought. Suddenly, it dawned on me. The vomit, the anger, the sadness, the attachment to him, it all made perfect sense.
He swore softly. “Scott, we had sex. Many times. How did we not see this coming?”
“Because I was in heat?”
“Wait, what? Ponies go in heat?”
“Yeah. There was a book on equine anatomy in the pile we took from ASU, and it matched what I was like during the first week or so.”
“This can’t be happening. We need some real food, not this canned crap. We need to make sure you’re okay and deal with one less pony that can work, and we need to find a doctor!”
I put a hoof over his mouth. “Jessica, you’re overreacting. The garden’s almost ready, and it’s not like we have a plan about who’s doing what. Plus, there could be a doctor pony that shows up tomorrow!”
He started to think. “We do need a plan though, now that you’re going to have a baby.”
“A foal,” I corrected him.
“Is it a foal? Are you going to give birth to a horse?”
“I assume so, since we’re both horses. But if it isn’t…” I trailed off. Just another thing we didn’t know. I rubbed against him. “But we’re here together.”
“And I’m going to be a father after only a month as a guy.”
“And I’m pregnant even though I was a guy for my whole life.”
“Fine, you win.” He kissed my head. “I still love you.”
“I love you too.”
We fell asleep together for a few hours, and when we woke up, the sky was clear. We drove separately the rest of the way, and collapsed on the bed together when we got back.
The day started off with a simple idea. “So, from what I understand, none of you heard the radio message we’ve been sending,” Jessica said. “So what if we could broadcast it on a few local radio stations?”
“That could work,” Dana thought. I’d have to see the radio you’ve set up, and maybe drive out and find an antenna, but it’s not impossible. I’ll need someone to help me, though.”
“I can do it,” I volunteered, but Jessica stopped me.
“Scott, you shouldn’t be going out or working. What if something happens?” he said.
“Jessica, I’ll be okay. I’m not made of glass.”
“Is there some reason why Scott can’t do it?” Levi asked. Crap. Now I’d have to give some reason. I don’t look sick, and an injury wouldn’t be convincing enough. What if they don’t react well to my news? What if they run me out of town? I was overreacting again. I decided to just say it.
“Uh, well, I’m kinda pregnant.” The room fell silent.
“And he’s the father?” Levi asked.
The whole room erupted in cheers as everybody congratulated me at the same time. “Well, that would be reason enough,” Levi said.
“Yeah. But that means that the two of us are going to have to stay here for the time being.” Jessica said. “It’ll be tricky, but we can manage.”
“I can help you with the radio project, Dana,” Levi said. They left the room, and everyone split off and did their own thing. Al checked out our current cars (we had already got a private car and a work car for each of them), Levi tried to fly when Dana didn’t need his help, and everyone else explored. Not Jessica or me, though. He kept me laying on the couch all day with him right by me. It was fine for the first hour, but tedious after that.
“Remind me why I can’t get up again,” I said.
“Because something could go wrong, and we don’t have a doctor,” Jessica replied.
“Something could go wrong with anybody else here, too. We don’t have a doctor for them, either. Should they stay in, too?”
“They’re not pregnant.”
“I’m only a month pregnant. Six weeks at the most. That’s not very far along. I don’t even look pregnant!”
He sighed. “Fine. You win. I won’t make you rest all day, but when it starts getting more serious, I’m cracking down.”
“Alright.” We kissed.
For the rest of the day, I went back to meditating to try and control magic. I still remembered my session over a month ago, and I did the same thing. After a while, I felt a weird pressure at the base of my horn along with a tingling along it. I opened my eyes and saw a pen floating in the air in front of me, surrounded by an emerald green glow. I fell asleep for an hour after that, and when I woke up, Jessica was tending to the garden.
Since I had nothing else to do, and it was only three in the afternoon, I meditated again. This time, when the pen floated, I could feel it. I could feel every inch of the pen and the room around it. I concentrated more and tried to visualise the pen in a different location, to see and feel it moving, and it floated a few inches to the right. I was so excited I broke my concentration, and the pen fell to the carpeted ground.
But I can use magic! Yay! Now to see if I can turn it on and off at will. I visualized picking up the pen, and saw the full outline of the pen and where it sat. I tried to copy what I did and get to what I felt, and it worked. I could, after a lot of practice, float the pen behind me while I walked.
I trotted out to the garden, with the pen in my magic grasp. “Hey, Jessica! Want to see something amazing?” I asked. He turned around and his eyes widened.
“That… shouldn’t be possible,” he said.
“We’re cute, fluffy ponies, and I’m pregnant. What was that about impossible?”
“So, you can use magic. This is a game-changer.”
“I know! There’s so much I could do with this!” I tried to visualize the trowel, embedded in the dirt beside him, and lifted it up, dumping the soil off it. He clapped.
The next few hours consisted of me lifting up various things and then resting. So far, the largest thing I can move around with me as I do other things is this laptop. The largest thing I can lift more than a foot off the ground is a bicycle.
Jessica started making food as the others trickled back in. Al and Ben were talking a bit, Levi and Dana cracked some jokes as they came back into the house, and the others chatted in groups, too. I decided to show off before dinner.
I stood up. “So, today, I learned how to control magic. This defies all laws of physics, but it’s awesome. Check this out.” I grabbed an unopened can of food from the counter and floated it over with magic, waved it around a bit, and then put it back and slumped in my chair.
Dana was fascinated. “You can do all that with your horn? And you learned this in one day?”
“I used it before now, and tried some things earlier, but I can control it now, yeah. It helps that I practiced a bit on slow search days, but I didn’t make any major accomplishments until today.” I meditated about twice a week during the expedition. It helped break up the boredom of fruitless searches. Nothing else had happened, and I didn’t do magic then, so I didn’t write it down. I really should have, but all it would be is a bunch of short entries about that.
I really should have done that. Anyways, after dinner we all sat in the living room. “So, with the house packed and Scott pregnant, we need a plan. I want you guys to think of things we need to do to make this a permanent home base. Scott, can you use the voice-to-text thing on your laptop to get down all the ideas?”
I floated over my laptop and pressed a few keys. “Sure thing. All set up.”
And so we planned. We made a list of some of the most important things to survive in Phoenix. It took a while to flesh out everything, and some of them are a bit up there, but if all of it gets done, then everything will be so much better.
We did a thing! A very good thing! We have power now!
Yes, there are solar panels on this house, but you can only have two rooms’ worth of lights on at a time. To open the garage door, you have to unplug everything. We should be glad for even that much electricity, but now we have a whole lot more.
We started on the first and most important item on our list: securing the area. Al and Miranda drove out to find fences, and the rest of us worked on getting power. Levi, Ben, Nina, and Dana drove out to grab as many solar panels as possible. After five minutes, they radioed in. “Guys, drive out a block east. There’s something you need to see.” Levi told us.
“What is it?” Jessica asked.
“Just get out here,” Dana said. We drove out and saw a massive solar array. It was easily a quarter of a square mile large, perfectly intact, just shut off.
Levi walked over to the gated entrance. “I know about electrical stuff. If we can get in here I might be able to get it back up.” We forced the gate open, and all the doors were unlocked, and old coffee sat in cups on the control panels.
After a few minutes of looking around, Levi spoke again. “I can definitely get this running. After everybody disappeared, the thing went into emergency mode because nothing was being used. It shut off after a few days. It won’t take much to turn it back on. Is there an emergency generator somewhere?”
Dana trotted off to look for one, and returned a few minutes later. “Yeah. It runs on gas.”
“Great. Can someone siphon some from the cars in the parking lot?”
“Wait, our cars?”
“No, Jessica, the other ones. I’m not being sarcastic, there are two or three sitting there. The gas might still be good.” Ben went to get it and after a while he filled up the generator and brought it to life. The lights flickered on in the dusty buildings, and the computer systems came to life.
Levi went over to the main control panel. A few warnings were flashing on the screens. “I can fix this,” he said. It took half the day, but he finally pulled the lever and sent power to the grid. “It’s working! This thing can power anything we want it to. It’s wired to control about ten blocks or so on its own if there’s no feedback from other stations in case of a blackout, and because no other plant is running, that’s what it’s doing right now. Ladies and gentlemen, we have power.”
We sped back home and spent the next hour flipping lights on and off. We changed the times on the appliances, and turned on the air. The house cooled down instantly. Before, we only ran it at the hottest part of the day because it took up all of the solar panels’ output, but now we can have it on all the time. Al and Miranda came home to a nice, cool house, and were more than surprised. After we told them what we did, we all sat down and relaxed.
But then Jessica had an idea. “What if we put a searchlight in front of the house so people could find us easier?”
“That’s… actually a great idea. I can go out and grab one.” Dana said. Levi went with her, and they were back by the time the sun set. We set it up in the backyard, and promptly moved it a street over because it was way too bright. This thing will make sure anyone can find us.
After dinner, I drove out with Jessica to grab a few DVDs and some popcorn from the store nearby. We had an awesome late-night movie party to celebrate the leap forward. It was so good to see humans again, even if it wasn just on a screen. At least we’re managing as ponies.
Wednesday, July 15
Today we put up the fences Al and Miranda grabbed yesterday. We only needed to block the streets, though, because the backyards all have these huge cinder block walls. Put a few gates in, and it was perfect! Secure the colony? Check.
That brought us to the next item: water. We all sat in the living room as we discussed what to do. Rainwater was out, and the canals had run dry. But there was still the Salt River.
“What I’m thinking is that we use the drainage canal nearby. We hook it up to a working one and go from there.” Jessica said. “We’d have to move the water main, but it’d be worth it.”
“The problem is that there are five systems that are blocking the water from the river,” Ben said. “There are four dams and a series of filtration systems under every street designed to purify the water and send it through the mains. All of those shut off without human regulation. If we want water, we’ll have to bring all of those back and regularly maintain them. And we’d need an engineer.”
Jessica sighed. “So we don’t have the manpower for running water yet.”
“Yet. Maybe things will change.”
After that, we split off to do various things. I decided to try magic again; specifically, construction. There was something about those houses sitting unfinished that called to me. It sounds crazy, yeah. Maybe it has something to do with this picture of a house that appeared on me?
I walked over to a nearby group of them, my mind racing. How was I going to do this? What was I going to do? I had no idea except that this just felt like what I was meant to do. There was a set of plans close by. I levitated that over to me and matched up the walls that were there with the ones that I’d try to build. I picked up a few beams one at a time and arranged them in the dirt. I measured them and somehow all the spaces were exact, even though I was using a method so imperfect.
After a few more hours I had framed most of the house and was exhausted. I walked the short distance home and fell asleep.
Today was uneventful. After breakfast, we shared our thoughts on the next few items on the list. We’ll have to wait and see how the garden goes before we start an actual farm. Apparently Al tried to grow some stuff too, but nothing survived the heat, so it’s still Jessica’s job.
His garden will be ready very, very soon (I’ve been saying that for the past month). We need storage for the crops he’ll harvest, so Ben and Nina drove out to grab a few containers from a store nearby. Dana was busy searching for things to set up the radio station, so I walked off to go build things again. But since I was out of materials, Jessica and I drove down to the Home Depot to grab more.
When we finished bringing a few trips’ worth of stuff back, I started testing what I could do. My telekinesis has a range of about thirty feet, and even if I’m on the other side of a room it’s pretty accurate. But it’s much easier and less tiring to stay close by what I’m moving. For some reason, it’s really relaxing to build stuff. Jessica’s going to put his foot (hoof?) down eventually, though. Hopefully I can finish at least this one house before that happens. I’m making good progress, too. I’m almost done with framing the roof, and with all the stores in the Valley, I won’t run out of materials anytime soon.
I stopped after about two hours of working. I think I’m getting better at using magic, or at least building up stamina. At the same time, I can’t help but feel bad. It’s a nice hobby, and it calls to me, but will I ever help the colony with it? The others do what they want, but it’s all really helpful. Levi brought us power, Dana helps with the radio broadcast, Jessica farms, and Al works on the cars. There are almost fifty houses in the neighborhood we’re in, and there’s only eight of us. I highly doubt the colony will ever be big enough to warrant any crazy construction.
Friday, July 17
I didn’t practice any magic today. I guess it’s for the better, because it screwed up my sleep schedule. I woke up late today, and when I came out of the room, Miranda was talking with Jessica about what cleaning stuff we had. It wasn’t much, and he told her that she could go grab some if she wanted. She drove off to the Walmart, and I ate breakfast (more like lunch) and went on a quick walk.
It was a nice day, and I was looking forward to exploring a nearby neighborhood a bit. Halfway down the street I was stopped by Nina.
“Hey, Scott! Can you help me with something?” she asked.
I was going to say I was busy, but then it occurred to me just how little I saw of her. She was usually in her room drawing something, be it the view outside or a dog that curiously wandered into her room. “Yeah, sure. What do you need?”
She fidgeted a bit. “Um, well, I kinda want to draw everybody in the colony. I’ve been trying to learn how to draw ponies, and I need somebody besides myself. Could you please help me?”
“Oh, sure!” I told her, and we walked back to her room. After setting up a folding table near her desk and placing her sketchbook on it, Nina walked over to her desk and sat down on the chair, spinning it around to face me.
“You can stand or sit if you want, Scott.” I sat down on the floor and she flipped open the sketchbook, placed a pencil in her mouth, and started drawing me. How does she draw with her mouth? Maybe it just takes practice. I wonder if I could write with my mouth.
I sat there for about fifteen minutes making the same pose. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but I couldn’t move much. Finally, she looked up and put down her pencil.
“I’m finished! Want to see it?” I went over to the open sketchbook. Now, there are mirrors in this house, and I know what I look like, which makes it even more uncanny. It was just a simple sketch, nothing special, but it looked real. And she only had a month to practice pony anatomy, too. Art must be her special talent or something.
After a few seconds of silence as I examined the drawing, Nina spoke up. “Do you like it?”
I smiled. “It’s great! If you want to do more I’d love to keep helping you.”
“Oh, thank you, but I’m sure you have other things to do. Maybe tomorrow?”
“Sure. Tomorrow sounds great.”
The rest of the day went by pretty slowly. I went over to the house I was working on only to be hit by another wave of nausea so I stayed inside with Jessica, who was writing frantically in a notebook. Has everybody but me learned how to write?
“Well, somebody looks professional,” I said.
“You’re hilarious. I’m not doing my taxes, just putting all our plans on paper. You have the transcript from our meeting on the computer?”
“Yeah. Do you want me to get it?”
“I can grab it.” He walked into our room, and came back after a few minutes. After I directed him to the file, he copied it over to a page in his notebook. He leafed through the pages for a few minutes, reviewing all the scribbles. “Well,” he said, “I have good news and I have bad news.”
“What’s the good news?”
“We have all the materials to do everything on the list we made.”
“And the bad news?”
“All we need is people who know how to do them.”
“That is a problem, yeah. Well, people have woken up later than the 23rd before, right? Who’s to say it’ll stop?”
“You really think that all of Phoenix is going to come back?”
P.S. Apparently this printer can scan, too! So here’s the picture Nina drew of me. Not bad, right?
It’s a crappy scanner, but it works. Not like I can go out and get a new one.
Wait, that’s exactly what I can do. I’ll go out tomorrow. It’s late. Goodnight.
We found another person! His name’s Dan, and he’s the youngest out of all of us so far. He showed up at the gate one morning in a truck filled with servers. From what he’s told us, he just woke up on the twenty-eighth. He had a few websites backed up before the Internet as part of a college research project. Now that there’s nine of us, we’ve ran out of room. Half of us are staying in the house next door.
Dana got us these long range walkie-talkies she pieced together. I think the range is five or ten miles. But, sorry Dana, now we know the satellite phones work. And that’s thanks to this guy named Adrian. Adrian is part of a convoy of several people and some cattle that are staying in Indian School Park for the time being. They’re ponies like us. I guess everyone’s a pony now, except for some crazy secret organization that managed to avoid the transformation.
I have a hell of a story to tell.
A few days after he showed up, Dan told us that, to keep all our stuff running, he needs spare parts. So we started raiding downtown Phoenix’s office towers for technology. There were a surprising amount of stray dogs, but they didn’t bother us much. Marv barked at any of them that got close and they turned around. And that was creepy. They didn’t bark once, but in a series with varied pitch and length. It was like they were talking to each other in another language.
We repeated the process for two days, looting a few buildings and filling up a few rooms with computers and servers. Today we drove north, up Central to Indian School. Jessica, who was at the front of the convoy, slammed on the brakes. Levi responded over the radio first. “What the hell was that for?”
“There are a bunch of RVs in the middle of that park,” Jessica said. “Follow me.” He turned around and pulled into a parking lot behind a tall bank building. We followed him, parked our cars, and met under a covered area. We immediately decided to go over there, and everyone was guessing as to who they were. Maybe they were from another city. Maybe they were still human.
We broke into the tower, which bordered the park, and took the stairwell to the top floor. From there we could see their setup. There was a cluster of a few RVs in a circle and a herd of cattle grazing on whatever grass was left. After a quick vote, Jessica, Levi, and I went in the park to the closest RV and knocked on the door.
An off-white pegasus mare opened the door. She stared at us wide-eyed for a few seconds, and then kicked the door closed with a hoof.
“Nice talking to you,” Levi muttered under his breath. I couldn’t help but laugh at that.
After a few seconds, the door opened again, and behind it were two ponies: the pegasus and an orange unicorn. What followed was the most awkward conversation ever. The ponies, named Joseph and Cloudy Skies, are in a group of six coming from Los Angeles.
Joseph invited us inside while Sky went to get the other people in her group. While she was gone we learned something else: that L.A. burned to the ground. I could tell that the gears in Jessica’s head were spinning the whole time. If something like that happened to Phoenix, we’d be toast.
Sky came back with a doctor, Oliver, and a jackass, Moriah. Almost immediately she asked if we were from L.A. We told her we weren’t, but I don’t think she believed us that much. She, apparently, also got her gender switched too.
Hang on, I need to think. There’s so much information to process from this whole thing. We have a name for what happened, the Event, we know that there are other settlements out there, and we know that there are people who are still human. It’s crazy how much has changed in just one day.
After Oliver and Moriah came in, they started talking about this group they met. Some of the things Joseph was saying about them seemed to jog Levi’s memory, because it reminded him of something Dana had told him about when she first got here. He ran and got her, and she told them her story. Apparently she saw them raiding all the fuel from the nuclear power plant. Yep, same guys, and from what they told us about them they have some crazy technology, namely, something that cuts off magic. I didn’t know why they’d need something like that, magic’s pretty cool, but they told us humans can’t survive around it. They even have a name for it: thaumic radiation.
Then someone else bursts into the RV. His name was Adrian, and once he saw us he gave us a phone. It’s just a satellite phone, but it has the numbers of some other colonies. I could see Jessica’s face light up. There were others! Many more people than just our two groups. He started thinking, and didn’t stop until we got home.
They told us just before we left that they were heading to Chicago to find a place better suited for farming. Moriah thought it was crazy for us to stay here in Phoenix, but I, for one, don’t want to leave the city I was born and raised in. Besides, we can farm here. There’s farmland all around our base.
We said our goodbyes and went back home. During the drive Jessica, Levi, and I told the rest of the colony what happened and what we learned. When we were done, Al asked us, “What happens now?”
We thought for a minute, and Jessica said, “We rebuild.” As soon as we got home, he went into our room. When I asked what he was doing, he said he was planning.
I’m pretty sure this is the latest I’ve stayed up since the Event. I’m not going to wait until the morning to write this, though, because tomorrow’s going to be even busier. And what happened today is really important.
We’re about to do something crazy.
By around noon he had come out of our room. I was relaxing on the couch when he came out and waved me over. The desk was cluttered with countless papers, even though it was spotless yesterday. I sat down on the bed as he started to speak.
“So, we have everything here that we need. The power’s running, there are more ponies here than ever, and we’re going to start a farm soon. The only thing we need is water. Bottled water won’t last long with all the new arrivals. What we need is to get the plumbing to work again, and I think I found out how.”
I raised an eyebrow, and he continued. “There are four dams along the Salt River. They generate power for most of the city north of here. The river is then funnelled into canals and sent across the valley. The dams have all shut off because of safety procedures, and the filters for the canal have shut off too. Now, if we can get those working again the whole city will have water. But we don’t need the whole city to have water, just this neighborhood. So we only reopen these filters along here.” He pointed to marks on a map. “And then it’s just a matter of sealing off the parts of the city we want to have water.”
I frowned. It seemed pretty risky to work on things we hardly know anything about. “How much work will this take?”
“I’m not sure. We can automate all this so it doesn’t need to be staffed constantly. It might take some time, though. Definitely a couple months. But this is the only way to get running water.”
Well, I was still skeptical, considering he wasn’t an engineer, so we drove down to the offices for the company that owned the dams and the canals. Luckily for us, it only took a little while to find their archives. I was pretty surprised to find that the actual drawings for the plumbing mains were fairly close to the map Jessica had found. Looking over the shutoff stations and the canal maps, I realized this could work. So we drove back home and went straight into our room to revise the plan. Later in the afternoon I had to leave to stock the other house with water. Then, I made dinner. Jessica came out for a little while, made some small talk, and then went back to work. I could tell that he really thought this could work. As far as plans go, this was the best one we had yet.
As soon as the sun set, I could tell Jessica was getting tired. He had stayed up all of last night to plan and it was starting to take its toll. So I made him go to sleep while I kept planning. Eventually, though, I finished. And I have to say that I’m pretty happy with it. I checked and double-checked and there really isn’t any better option. Any portable tanks or trucks would have to be filled up twenty miles north of here at the river, and there isn’t enough bottled water nearby to be dependent on without having to scavenge. This isn’t the easiest option, but it’s the one that will last the longest. So I think we should do it.
I went to bed at about three in the morning yesterday, and when I woke up, Jessica was just rising too. We brought breakfast back into our room to talk about how to present it.
“So I don’t think this will go over well,” I said between bites of canned food. “It just seems complicated.”
“And we’ll need a unanimous vote. Everybody is going to have to work on this, and I don’t want to force anyone to do this if they don’t want to.” Jessica replied.
“I think you need to give a speech.”
Jessica groaned. “No, I can’t give speeches.”
“Yes, you can. Like it or not, everybody here looks up to you. You’re our leader.”
He paused. “Okay, I’ll do it.”
I moved up close to him. “Great.” After we shared a small kiss, I went out to start breakfast for everyone. Levi came out and wordlessly helped me, still exhausted from a long night. Nothing interesting happened during breakfast. Afterwards, though, I gathered everyone in the main room to hear Jessica’s plan. Everyone sat down, some on the sofas, some at the table in the open dining room. Jessica came out of our room, walked over to the center of the room and started speaking.
“I need to talk to you about something very important. This could be a game-changer. So far, we’ve done some great things in the past month. We have power, we have food, and we have a secured area. But the most important thing we need is water. Right now we’re rationing bottled water, but that won’t last forever. What I want to tell you is that I’ve found a way to get running water again.
“I talked with Ben last month about this. He told me that the canals had filters that shut off with nobody to maintain them and, farther upstream, there are four dams that went offline. If we can get the dams running again and the canals’ filters working then we’ll have running water. Then it’s a matter of shutting off water mains to the rest of the city so we don’t waste anything. What I’m trying to say is that it’s possible, but it won’t be easy. We’d all be working hard to get this done, and I don’t know how long it would take. It could be a month, or two, or more. But it’ll be worth it.
“We need to start to prepare. We have everything we need to keep ourselves alive, but it’s time to look ahead. There’s going to be a new generation coming soon, and we need to do this for them. We need to do this to rebuild the city. Without water, we’re not going to last long. Doing this would mean that we can start a permanent colony and that we can handle however many new ponies show up at our gates. Water means that we will be here for a long time.
“But, like I said, this is going to be difficult, and everyone is going to have to work to do this. When we vote on this, it has to be unanimous. If we do this, it will require all of us to work together. And I think we can.”
When he stopped speaking, the room changed. It was like every emotion he had ever felt was ingrained into the air for us to feel. A light shone on Jessica’s flanks, and when it faded away, he had the image of a red quill on both flanks. He looked at them, confused, before turning back to the rest of the group. “Well, that happened,” he said. A few people laughed, but the mood still lingered from his speech. “We still need to vote, though. Who says yes to the project?”
Everybody raised a hoof.
The rest of the day was mostly Jessica planning the project even more while I laid on the bed, thinking about the future. I’m still in a bit of shock about being pregnant after being a guy for twenty-eight years. And people, or ponies now, are showing up out of nowhere, so we’ll keep growing. I just wonder what the city will look like in twenty, even fifty years. I wonder how much we’ll grow. I wonder how much we’ll save.
The future’s going to be crazy, that’s for sure, but I’ll make it through.