Hey! It looks like you're new here. You might want to check out the introduction.

Nightmare After Nightmare Night · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Starlight over the Bridge
“Do you, Sunburst, take Starlight Glimmer to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

The stallion at the altar, his mane like autumn, his nose a streak of white lightning, stood with one hoof-tip poised on the carpet. He had traded his in cape for a suit and a bowtie. His mane was combed. He had no glasses, for his eyesight was perfect.

He flicked his mane. “I do,” he replied, his voice like Haymes Bond’s.

“And do you, Starlight Glimmer, take Sunburst to be your lawfully wedded husband?”

The mare in the white dress had already dropped her bouquet. Her mane was in a bun so tight that it pulled on her scalp from all sides. Her tail was hidden under a veil that stretched from her forehead all the way down to the floor. Lilac ribbons assaulted her ensemble.

“I dunno, Twilight,” Starlight replied to the minister. “That’s a good question. I’m gonna go with…”

She tapped her chin thoughtfully.

“…Fartnozzle.”

She waited for the collective gasp of the crowd. It came about three seconds too late.

“I’m gonna say,” she continued, “lick a cactus top-to-bottom and back up again, Sunburst. Jump in a boiling tub of acid, set your tail on fire, poopy-poopy, lemon-loopy, with gumdrops and sprinkles on top.”

She capped off her speech with a smile. “Not the answer you were looking for?” she asked Twilight.

The minister was silent and expressionless. She blinked twice and turned back to Sunburst.

“Do you still want to kiss her?”

Starlight shoved her bouquet in Twilight’s mouth and walked off, shaking her head and muttering to herself.

“I should have never taken up lucid dreaming.”

“Why are you so upset?” she heard Twilight say flatly.

Starlight just laughed. She gestured to one of the ponies in the pews—blue coat, white mane, and completely lacking a face—to scooch over. He promptly did so, and she took her seat with her hindlegs folded under the dress.

“Good old Twilight Sparkle,” she said. “The mare who questions everything. Or as my subconsciousness sees it, the mare who speaks only in questions.”

“Twilight Sparkle!” came a condescending voice from a couple rows back. “I heard she wets the bed.”

“And that’ll be Trixie!” Starlight continued. “The girl who I met years after I went to magic school, yet speaks only in magic school gossip.”

Starlight pulled a bottle of apple cider from out of nowhere, cracked the cap onto the floor, and took a swig. “Hmm,” she said as it went down. “Like water, but with less flavor.”

The two ponies still at the altar shifted uncomfortably in their suits. The groom tugged on his collar, while he, for some reason, still stared romantically at the spot where Starlight had been beside him.

“I’ll admit, you’ve really improved,” she addressed Twilight’s stand-in. “It’s a huge step up from the white room with the two chairs, a table, and a game of mahjong. But this!” She gestured with the bottleneck at the autumn stallion, splashing him with cider. “This is where I draw the line. Who the hay is he supposed to be?”

Twilight looked the groom up and down. “You don’t recognize him?”

“It’s not Sunburst if that’s what you’re insinuating. This is…” she waved her hoof around for the right name, and she found it. “This is his dashing twin brother, Studburst.”

Twilight had no answer. Studburst had no denial. Silence stifled everything.

Taking another drink, Starlight sighed and growled in one breath. “As far as dreams go, this one stinks.”

“Why do you think this is a dream?” Twilight asked.

Starlight scoffed. “Well. Let’s review the clues.” She cleared her throat. “We seem to be in a room with stained glass windows, much like Canterlot, except they’re all depicting parts of my life for some reason.”

She was right. Everything from pictures of her as a baby, growing up with her dad, a couple scenes from her lengthy stint with villainy, and everything wonderful and awful afterwards, lined the two walls.

“Meanwhile, this audience of fifty ponies seems to have about, I don’t know, six faces to share between them?”

Twilight tilted her head. “…And?”

“And?! And… what is with this thing?!”

Starlight pointed the room’s attention up at the chandelier dangling overhead, swaying slightly. Everypony looked up.

“Steel frame and glass crystal?! That’s so modern! It clashes horribly with the rustic theme you were going for with the stone and the wood! No interior designer would let this thing within a seventy mile reach of this room. And no wedding planner would ever pick this venue!”

She let a silence fall, for the effect. She wondered who she was trying to impress.

“And Twilight isn’t even ordained,” she finished. “Face it, me. I’ve crossed the Bridge of Amnesia.”

Twilight squinted, turning her head. “The what?”

Starlight sighed. If this was the real Twilight, or literally anyone else Starlight knew, it would make sense for them to ask what the Bridge of Amnesia was. But she coined the term herself, so everyone in the room should know—especially the smart one. But even then, she thought, it was pretty self explanatory. Just like you couldn’t remember your dreams when you woke up, you couldn’t remember going to bed when you started dreaming. Clearly there was some kind of transition that made you forget. It might as well be a bridge, and it might as well have a name.

Starlight set her bottle down on the floor, then waltzed to the back of the room. “I’m outta here,” she announced. “But I guess you can already tell.”

Approaching the giant double-doors, Starlight raised a hoof. There wasn’t any hardware available so she elected to push.

But what if it’s locked? she thought.

The doors rattled in place against her hoof. She slammed her forehead into them. There was noise, but no pain.

“I hate it when I do that.”

“Do what?” Twilight asked, suddenly standing behind her.

“Oh, nothing. Excuse me.”

Starlight brushed passed the minister and made her way back to the altar, refusing any and all eye contact from the ponies in the crowd (the ones who had eyes, anyway). She reached the front and flashed a coat of magic over one of the pews.

“Up,” she said to the seated ponies, who only turned and looked. “I said… up, up, UP, c’mon!”

The ponies scattered, emotionless, away from the pew. With a mighty swing, Starlight lifted it up and brought its edge right down onto a stained glass window—the one depicting her sneering self with her staff—smashing it open, and giving her a nice ramp up to the ledge. Everypony shuddered, suddenly exposed to the elements.

Not that the temperature changed, or that there was a draft. That would take a talented dream sculptor, which, as Starlight had long since accepted, her subconsciousness was not.

What it did let in was a thick, almost solid chunk of moonlight, highlighting the pew, and bouncing off the remaining pieces of the window. The light blinked at a steady pace. On. Off. On. Off.

Starlight paid it no mind. “If it’s all the same to you,” she told Twilight, “I’m gonna go jump out of this window, and hope it’s a long way down. Then I’ll wake up, get myself a glass of water, and we can try again. Sound good?”

“Baby, no!” Studburst exclaimed, devoid of emotion.

“Quiet, you.”

Starlight jabbed each of her forelegs into the jagged pieces of glass lining the window frame—for support.

“Welp! This has been fun. Try harder next time, and no weddings, okay?”

She hoisted herself up and looked down. Ignoring the interior of the building, the exterior was definitely Canterlot Castle, and the mountain face several leagues below looked anything but receiving. The moon continued to blink over everything.

Starlight’s heart leapt into her throat. She gasped for air. She fell back inside and scrambled as far from the window as she could. Everypony watched her, but only one moved to help her up.

It was Twilight.

“Don’t touch me!” Starlight yelled, fumbling around her chest for her heart. “What… What is going on?”

“What’s wrong?” asked Twilight.

Starlight, still breathing fast, shot her friend a dirty look. As if she doesn’t know. But, she realized, speaking out loud might just help her figure things out.

“I’ve never had to jump,” she explained. “I always just have to look down and… then I freak out and jerk awake.”

Everypony turned to look at the window.

“This is a dream, right?” Starlight asked the room. Nopony answered.

She spat on the floor, shook herself, stood back up.

“Yes,” she said. “Way too much evidence. This is a dream. Alright.” She eyed the length of the pew, took a stance, snorted, then hesitated.

“You sure you don’t want to get married?” Twilight asked.

Studburst stretched out a hoof, though he had yet to turn in the right direction. “I love you, Starlight Glimmer.”

She took off at a sprint—no need to accelerate in the dreamworld. She felt stone, then carpet, then wood sound beneath her hooves. She pushed off, and relaxed her whole body, letting the night sky tumble around her. She wondered, when she met the ground, would it feel like her bed?




Metal struck metal. Close, then far away, then halfway between. The three piercing notes—sounding the same except for the distance, punctured the air as if following a pattern. Thinking was a trial.

But Twilight spoke as if nothing was amiss.

“Do you, Sunburst, take—”

“Cut the crap,” Starlight blurted, “And help me find out where we are.”

She was in a bright orange vest with reflective yellow strips. So were Studburst and Twilight. She wore a hardhat on her head, and it fit snugly, despite the horn that should have been in the way. The same could be said about Studburst and Twilight, but they took their positions dutifully and continued the procedure.

Starlight broke from the pack, her mouth hanging open in disbelief. She tried to concentrate through the clanging.

They were in a factory of some kind—a double-height warehouse filled with conveyor belts, tool benches, and rusty red columns. The walls had large, foggy windows, through which shone the moon, blinking again.

The three of them were the only ponies in sight. And yet the clanging continued, metal on metal, refusing to stop for a break.

Starlight winced with every clang. “Have I even been to a place like this in my life?” she wondered, but of course she knew the answer. She must have, at some point, and it must have looked something like this.

She turned her attention to the ceiling. Isolated half-dome lights hung from above, all of them swaying in a nonexistent breeze. Starlight analyzed the shadows, and found them all wrong. But the worst were the ones below her—four peaks stretching out in what might have been the cardinal directions. She looked up and regretted it.

“Ah!” she yelped, backing away from where she stood, for the light hanging above her was more than just a light. It was surrounded by a steel frame, from which hung a vast number of crystal prisms.

“Seriously?” Starlight groaned. “You kept the clashing chandelier?”

“Starlight, baby,” Studburst said. “Come back to the altar.”

But there was no altar. Twilight stood in front of the mouth of a great metal beast, which Starlight only knew from textbook drawings to be a furnace. It reached all the way to the ceiling, and had two openings. Steam escaped from a pipe sticking out the top, its flap opening and closing, but nothing escaped from the second opening, a circular gate just behind Twilight’s tail, shut tight with a hundred screws.

Studburst held out a hoof, but it was to Twilight. “Please, Starlight? Like we always wanted?”

Twilight gently nudged Studburst so he faced the right direction.

“Studburst,” Starlight said with false calmness. “I meant what I said earlier. Cactus, acid, tail on fire, all in that order. Leave me alone.

“But Starlight. I love you.”

Starlight received the words and shuddered from her tail up to her head. “Don’t say that.”

“But don’t you recognize him?” Twilight asked.

The noises clanged on.

Starlight got up in Twilight’s face.

“I get that you think this is some sort of fantasy for me, but you need… to drop it and help me find a way to wake up.”

“A fantasy?” Twilight repeated.

“Don’t play dumb. You think it’s my fantasy, but it’s not. And you would know that if you paid any attention to the fact that you had to change—”

Starlight pointed to Studburst’s mane.

“—every—”

She pointed to his chin.

“—part of him!”

She pointed to his tuxedo.

“…in order to make him ‘husband material.’”

Twilight had backed off. She didn’t seem to understand, and she didn’t seem to be able to verbalize it.

“It’s pathetic,” Starlight seethed in her friend’s face. “And it’s frankly insulting. To me and Sunburst. Got it? Now help. Me. Wake. Up.”

With a flick of her tail, she stormed off. Poor Studburst was in her way, and she pushed him to the ground.

“Why are you so upset?” Twilight asked.

Starlight spoke while searching the area. “Because the only way I can cope with having a subconsciousness that sucks at dreams, is by being able to wake myself up and reset! And now you aren’t letting me!”

There came no reply, other than the silent confusion of two blank stares. Starlight, meanwhile, had noticed that there were no doors.

Starlight crumpled to the floor, curling up into a ball. She remembered when Luna and Twilight had suggested lucid dreaming. They had sold it as ‘free therapy’. A direct link to the subconsciousness, the birthplace and caretaker of all your insecurities.

And yet Starlight could never get a clear answer out of herself. She could ask the actors in her dreams what day it was, and they wouldn’t be able to tell her.

But it was time to move. Standing up, Starlight trotted towards the nearest conveyor belt, hoisting herself up. It didn’t carry anything, and it wasn’t moving, but it was at least further away from Twilight and Studburst, who were starting to become more annoying than that ghostly, incessant clanging.

But what if it was louder?

Starlight winced at the thought.

“No… I need to focus, brain, stop doing that.”

It was too late. The close, the middle-distance, and the far away all came closer, to right next to her ear. Each strike felt like a nail puncturing her ear drum.

She forced her eyes open to look around for something, any information at all, and she found she was drawn to the light. Not the fixtures dotting the factory, but the moonlight shining in from the windows. The flickering had changed. Every so often, the blink was longer, about three times so, by Starlight’s estimate. The fourth blink, she realized. No, she didn’t actually know which was which. But it was certainly longer.

“…Is that horse code?” she whispered.

Her concentration couldn’t stand the clanging anymore, and she shut her eyes again. There was no way it could be more annoying.

But what if it got even louder?

“Go away,” she growled.

The noise elevated. Starlight covered her ears, which of course, did nothing. She reached out for any sound, anything other than the clangs, but all she she heard were the calls of a minister and a groom.

“Come back!”

“Where are you going?”

“That’s IT!” Starlight screamed. She leapt off the belt and charged after the two of them, unsure of what she would do, only sure she had to attack. This was her dream, they were her subconsciousness, and they had to be destroyed.

But then she skid to a halt at the last second.

“What’s the matter?” Twilight asked. She followed Starlight’s gaze to the furnace behind.

The gate at the base, with the hundred screws, now had ninety-nine. In the distance, metal plinked onto concrete.

The furnace rumbled, it grumbled, it roared. It put the clangs to shame. Plink, plink, the screws rocketed off the gate, flying in whichever direction they chose.

Starlight relaxed and closed her eyes, feeling the whip of the screws fly by, some even flicking her hardhat. She sat and counted down from a hundred.

“Anything but the altar this time,” she pleaded.

When Starlight was a filly, she heard her first and only explosion. She and her father had taken a vacation to Haywaii. They were just in time for a volcano eruption, just a few short miles from where they were staying. She could barely remember the evacuation, or what the volcano even looked like, only that it sounded like the world was coming to an end.

The furnace blasted open, making the exact same sound.




Starlight stared at the stallion in front of her. Her jaw was almost on the floor, and she squinted until she could barely see.

This time it was a classroom. Fifth Grade, Mrs. Persnickety’s Communicative Magic class.

But that wasn’t quite true. The room was the same, but the layout was all wrong. Starlight knew right away—Mrs. Persnickety’s class was being used as a front for the real operation.

The small desks were lined up like pews, and the large desk at the front had been gussied up like an altar. And everypony was back—that was, the random strangers and smattering of actual friends that Starlight always met in her dreams—staring up at her as if they had no idea where they were, but didn’t want to let anypony know.

Twilight sat behind the teacher’s desk, her hair tied up in a ponytail, and her eyes covered by half-moon glasses, tied together at the back of her neck. She cleared her throat to speak to the two ponies facing each other, dressed for a Celestia-forsaken wedding.

The bride was Starlight, but the stallion wasn’t Studburst.

His coat was the color of mildew. His mane could only be described as ‘salami-slice dreadlocks,’ parted vertically at the center of his head. His tongue stuck out of his lips—there was simply no room in his mouth. And he was only up to Starlight’s shoulders.

“Uh…” She turned to Twilight. “What gives? What happened to Studburst?”

Twilight paid Starlight five seconds of eye contact. Then said carefully, “Should anyone here present know of any reason that this couple should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

The doors at the end of the classroom slammed open, and Studburst strutted right in, flicking his mane and puffing out his chest. “I object!” he boomed.

Starlight hid behind her bouquet. “That is such lazy writing.”

“Who are you?!” Twilight yelled, still lacking any emotion in her face or her voice.

With a flying kick, Studburst flew towards the groom, and, Starlight noticed, passed right in front of him. But regardless, the disgusting stallion threw himself on the floor and wailed.

He passed right through it and disappeared. Starlight assumed she wasn’t supposed to see that part.

All in all, the scene didn’t accomplish its goals. But Starlight didn’t blame the actors. She had simply never seen a good play in her life.

“If you two are finished?” she asked, and she pretended they responded. “Somepony is trying to communicate with me, and you’ve brought me right where I need to be.”

She didn't need to search for it—which was good, because she didn’t want to accidentally look up. She knew steel and crystal would be there, clashing like never before. She turned immediately to the east wall, right next to where she sat as a child. Right where the horse code cheat sheet poster hung on the wall, coated with laminate. Mrs. Persnickety had forgotten to take it down during the test, and the final exam.

At first, she couldn’t read it. Circles and lines and symbols floated around like those particles that float in your vision, unable to land anywhere, and changing position every time you shift your eyes.

“C’mon, cmon, remember…! I’ll do anything, please, remember!”

Gradually, shapes took form. The circles and lines became dots and dashes. The symbols morphed themselves into letters. She found she could only read them one at a time, and she took five seconds on each letter. But she was patient, and she had a secret weapon. The only thing she could consciously remember from horse code—S.O.S. Three dots, three dashes, three dots.

At the altar, the moon had only blinked. It was three dots, over and over. What ever she was being told, it started with the letter ‘S’.

“F!” she shouted next, a few lines down the page. Dot-dot-dash-dot. The factory.

She threw her attention to the windows. The blinking had changed again. One blink. Then a long, long pause without any light. Then a blink again. Just one dot.

“I just saw that!” Starlight elated. “E! I’m getting somewhere! S-F-E…! Uh.”

She cocked her head to one side. Twilight came up beside her and peered at the page. Starlight wondered if it was all perfectly clear for her.

“Are you sure it’s an F?” Twilight asked.

Starlight gasped. “Twilight,” she said, “were you just… dare I say it… helpful?”

“Was I?”

“There’s gotta be another letter! Three dots, one dash, three dots, one… L! That’s—!”

Starlight’s smile up and died right on her face. She dropped the cheat sheet to the floor and moaned. “I should have known.”

“What does it spell?” Twilight asked.

“S-L-E,” Starlight said. “Unless I’m being warned about inclement weather, I’m being told to sleep.”

“Oh?”

Starlight shook her head. “That was mean, Twilight. Here I thought Luna might be trying to communicate with me or something. But it’s just—freaking—you.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you! You want me to stop trying to wake up so that you can keep screwing with me. Punishing me!”

“Is that what I’m doing?”

Starlight grabbed Twilight by her sweater vest and shook her as hard as she could. “Enough of this!” she said. “Let’s go to Our Town or something! Or let’s visit all those awful timelines I created when I tried to ruin your friendships. Won’t it be nice to see all my shortcomings again? Really make me think about how awful I was! Like a good subconsciousness!”

“Aren’t you over all of that?”

“That… That’s not the point. The point is that I’ll do anything else, so long as it doesn’t involve marrying that abomination you keep calling Sunburst.”

“Sunburst!” came a voice. “I heard he dropped out of magic school.”

“Thanks, Trixie,” Starlight replied, still clutching her friend. “Always appreciated.”

“Trixie!” Trixie shouted. “I heard that she’s an amazing magician.”

Starlight almost laughed, but she was cut short. The earth had suddenly cracked.

“Whoa!” she jumped, staring at the black, jagged line running through the tiles. “What was that?” She looked to Twilight for an answer, but of course, she only got a question.

“What was what?”

A second crack, right through the last one, putting it to shame. It was so big that Starlight could see the soil beneath it, spilling onto the floor.

“Mrs Persnickety was on the second floor,” she pointed out, but she knew it was no use.

The third crack opened up the world and swallowed it whole.




Wind, ice, hail, sun, and miles of open sky. It pounded her from all sides. It swept her, pushed her, lifted her and brought her back down. She dug her hooves into the snow and slid down to her stomach. She was freezing on all sides. She could scarcely see.

She heard somepony screaming.

“DO YOU! SUNBURST! TAKE STARLIGHT GLIMMER!”

“SHUT UP!” Starlight hollered at Twilight’s hooves in front of her. “AND HOW ARE YOU STANDING IN THIS?!”

Trembling, she got to her hooves and faced the two ponies in front of her. They were atop a mountain ridge, miles above the clouds. The snow fell on one side of the ridge and flew up the other, right into her face. Without warning, it would reverse.

But it wasn’t the mountain or the wind that frightened her, but the sky. The sun was there, and then it wasn’t, and then it was, revolving, rolling, turning under and rising above the clouds, shrouding the world in darkness, then brightening it to blinding. Stars appeared, spun around a single point, then disappeared again.

And of course, the clashing chandelier stood swinging in the sky, hanging on a steel chain a million miles long, fixed to some impossible point in the atmosphere.

“I DO!” Studburst yelled, his mane changing directions twice every second.

The sun flew on, looping from one edge of the sky to the other. Cycles repeating, always and forever. It needed to stop. She had to stop it. Even if it meant flying up to space and pushing it in the other direction herself.

She could do that. It was her dream. She could stop the sun.

But what if it got faster?

“NO!”

Starlight took cover under her forelegs, but she couldn’t help but watch. Twilight’s and Studburst’s shadows appeared on one side of the mountain, narrowed to nothing, widened to the other side, enveloped everything, and appeared again on the other side, all in less than a second. The planet spun faster, the stars revolved like clothes in a washer.

“DO YOU! STARLIGHT GLIMMER! TAKE SUNBURST!”

She screamed like she hadn’t in ages. I’m sorry! Make it stop! Why is this happening? Nothing changed, except the world going faster. Time getting shorter.

A single thought appeared in her mind, and it exploded to every fiber in her body. She stood up and screamed it inside and out.

“WHAT IF EVERYTHING JUST STOPPED!”

She heard the sound of slowing. A tone falling eerily to something lower. The sun whipped, flew, moved, crawled, and rose at its ordinary pace to its apex. It stopped to the sound of a tremendous gate closing shut. The mountain rumbled, and avalanches started below.

Starlight shakily got to her hooves. She noticed the wind was gone. She whimpered and laughed. “It worked,” she said. “I did it. I made it better.”

But what if I made it worse?

“Please, no.”

Starlight heard a book close. Twilight and Studburst stared upwards at the sky, their mouths open wide in dumb fascination.

The sun fell, perpendicular to its previous path.

The three ponies watched it go. The sky went with it, from blue, orange, purple, to black. The stars stayed hidden, and so did the world.

“T—Twilight?” Starlight searched. “Are you still there?”

The ground had turned into nothing—no sound, no slope, just the feeling of a flat surface.

“Sunburst? Where did you guys go?! Why isn’t it resetting?”

No answer.

Starlight began to calm down, but only because she had no choice. There was nothing to excite her now—nothing all of everywhere.

She huffed. She took a deep breath. Just a dream, after all. And she’d made the spinning stop. If she could do that, what else could she do?

Then she heard the creaking of a metal chain.

The clashing chandelier was still there, right above her. It hadn’t disappeared. In fact, it was the only illuminated thing in sight. The base looked like an eye, tracking her even as it swayed and squeaked.

“Leave me alone.”

The chandelier didn’t answer.

“Go AWAY!” she stamped her hooves on the emptiness. “SCREW you! Why are you following me around in every single—?!”

The last thing she heard was the snap, and a collective gasp. From whom, she didn’t know.

The chandelier fell.

She had no time to move.

Not even to take cover under her hooves.

“No.”

It smashed against her eyes, but she didn’t feel it. She only watched it bounce off and crash to the floor.

Crystals flew in every direction.

The frame bounced and sagged, leaving her untouched in the wreckage. She watched the crystals continue to skid away forever.

It never made a sound.




Starlight kept silent. Twilight didn’t say a word. Studburst was gone.

They were back at the altar. Starlight felt the tug of her mane and the delicate warmth of her dress. There was a single ribbon in her hair, trailing down her shoulder.

“I think I know why I can’t wake up,” she said.

Twilight stood in her suit, idly sniffing at the air.

The rock walls dripped with water. The stained glass windows waved like portals to the past. Starlight looked through each one, and decided there wasn’t anything she particularly wanted to revisit.

The clashing chandelier remained in pieces on the floor, its frame unbent and tilted to one side, and its crystals scattered about the rows of empty pews. It looked like a great dead thing—an exposed and slain monster.

“Where is everyone?” Starlight asked.

Twilight responded, “Who do you want to see?”

Starlight closed her eyes. A few ponies came to mind. She thought harder, and a few more showed up, walking out of the darkness to join the rest.

Twilight was in front, with Spike waving beside her. Behind them, Applejack, Pinkie and Rarity sat, while above them flapped Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash.

Her father was beside them, wearing his usual red vest. But instead of the tie, he had her childhood blanket wrapped around his neck. He read from an old book.

Trixie was there, hat and cape on, a pile of cards and ribbons at her hooves. She was probably pretending she hadn’t dropped them.

Maud stood at the back, a kite floating up above her, tied down at her hoof. A simple two-color diamond, purple and blue. Hey, look at that, Starlight thought. That’s one facial expression you actually got right.

She noticed Sunburst near the back. He had traded his tuxedo in for that over-sized blue cape. His mane was frazzled, his goatee returned. He adjusted his glasses for no apparent reason.

Starlight giggled. That’s better.

She forced their images into the pews, opened her eyes, and there they were. Staring blankly, yet expectantly.

“I’m gonna, um…” She cleared the catch in her throat. “I’ll skip the goodbyes since you aren’t really… you know.”

Everypony looked down guiltily.

“But I just wanted to see you. And maybe… you can… walk with me. Wherever it is I’m going. How’s that sound?”

They parted. As they shuffled back into the pews and watched each other’s hooves politely, the carpet reappeared, as well as the double doors at the end of the hall.

Starlight realized that the chandelier was gone, but a few larger pieces of crystal still remained here and there. As she walked up the aisle, she watched tiny versions of herself walk the other way.

With Twilight on her left and Sunburst on her right, she approached the doors. She remembered them being locked, but she didn’t think it.

Open Sesame, thought Starlight instead, and the latch clicked in response. The left door creaked open—just wide enough for a pony to squeeze through—out into a world of silence and darkness.

But not complete darkness, she realized. There was gravel, white and chalky and hard, to walk on.

And it wasn’t silent either. There was a rumble of thunder in the distance, but no rain. The wind whistled like it did on the mountain, but quieter. It bristled Starlight’s fur and urged her forward.

The gravel crunched under her hooves, reminding her of a childhood playground back in Sire’s Hollow, a ten-minute walk from the school. But there was no slide out in the darkness. No see-saw, whirligig, monkeybars or swings.

It didn’t matter. The gravel was her favorite part anyways.

Everypony followed. Hooves upon hooves trod noisily behind her, smashing the silence away. A collage of color followed in Starlight’s wake, weakening the darkness.

She came to a wooden platform. She paused and she continued. It thumped under her hooves like a pier.

The crunching started to disappear behind her. Quieter and quieter, until she could hear the thunder rumbling again. Or maybe it was ocean waves. It sounded halfway between.

She snuck a look behind her. Only Twilight and Sunburst were left. The wood ended up ahead, swallowed by the dark.

“I think this is my stop,” Starlight murmured, turning around. She chewed on her lip, and wondered what was stopping her from standing there forever.

“I hope Equestria is better for me,” she said. “I hope I was, uh… What I mean to say is…”

She scuffed the wood like she was putting out a fire.

“This is Starlight Glimmer… signing off.”

Before she could turn around, a voice came out of nowhere.

“Starlight Glimmer.” It was Trixie, reappearing.

“…What?”

Trixie bumped an elbow against Twilight’s shoulder, a prideful smile on her face.

I heard that she’s never been kissed before.”

It brought Starlight down to her seat. It brought her hoof to her mouth. She stared accusingly at Twilight and Sunburst.

“Is that what this was about?” she asked them.

They were gazing down at their hooves. Trixie was gone again.

“All this time…” Her shoulders relaxed, and she laughed a full, long laugh. “All this time you were just trying to do something nice for me?”

Starlight blinked away a few tears.

The wind continued to whistle.

“Alright, L-Loverboy,” Starlight said. “Step right up and… Let’s get this over with.”

Sunburst trotted over, and Starlight realized it was the first time any part of her subconsciousness had done that. He actually trotted, a smile on his face, as he approached her. Like he was a colt again. It was enough to make her laugh.

He was close now, looking exactly like himself, and Starlight wondered.

What if he pushed his glasses up his nose?

And then he did it, and her heart was fluttering. She never realized how much she loved that.

But then she wondered about something else. She wondered about the altar, the factory, the classroom, and the peak. She wondered what was about to happen. One last time, she thought about something that might go wrong, but this time, she knew it was true before she thought it.

“Let’s… get this over with,” she repeated.

She placed a hoof on the back of his neck. She aimed. She stepped forward.

Their lips touched, and Sunburst vanished with a whisper. Starlight watched him dissolve. She held her shoulders.

“I was afraid of that,” she said. She rubbed the point of her hoof along the wood floor. She shrugged. “I… don’t know what that feels like. Thanks for trying, though.”

Twilight was sitting, staring through the wood at whatever was below.

“Hey, don’t be like that…”

Starlight bent down, hugging her friend—not just the stand-in for her mind—before rising again. Twilight raised her chin, and Starlight saw her own reflection in her friend’s eyes, along with everything that was above her.

“Whoa.”

She looked up.

A sea of blue and purple, warping and spilling into itself. Rivers of stars so packed it looked like dust. A few stars shining brighter than everything else. And in the middle of it all, the moon, full and bright, a glimmering disk of constant light.

“Inaccurate to the last,” she noted with a smile. “There’s no stars during a full—”

Twilight was gone.

“…See you.”

The darkness loomed. It was on her left, her right, and behind. But she had one side left. In front of her was a banister—an edge to the wooden platform.

“I’ll be right with you,” she whispered to whoever was listening.

She stepped forward and placed a hoof on the banister. It was painted red, with little polished balls at the top. Tied around them were lilac ribbons, hanging in loops along the railing.

Her heart was quickening. Every breath a shudder. She peered over the edge.

Below her—two miles down at least—in the surrounding darkness were navy blue paint strokes, flowing steadily like water. They glowed just enough to be seen.

“Almost looks like a river.”

Starlight tapped the banister with a front hoof. She tapped the planks with a back hoof. She looked down again.

She sprinted to the other side as fast as she could run.
« Prev   8   Next »
#1 · 2
· · >>Miller Minus
Starlight needs to get her Inception spinner...
#2 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny >>Miller Minus
I'm just gonna say that this is my favorite of the entries this month. It really just worked for me in every way that I suspect the author intended. I figured out the twist along with Starlight, I thought the subconscious-projections' one-dimensional voicing was used brilliantly, and I got hit really good by the ending. Not sure why, but Starlight strikes me as a perfect choice for the main character in this.

Hell, I liked this so much that I actually didn't want to give this the 2nd and 3rd read-throughs that I usually give Writeoff entries, just because I was afraid another read might spoil the magic. But really, I couldn't find much to complain about. This is just great.
#3 · 1
· · >>Bachiavellian >>Miller Minus
For my part:

I need way more clues to figure out what's happening. Maybe I'll try a second read-through if I get the time, but right now, I'm left completely unsatisfied. >>Bachiavellian? Maybe you could put up a reply with spoilers to tell me what this story's about?

Mike
#4 · 2
· · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
For anyone who's not read the story yet, I strongly urge you to read it before checking out these spoilers. You'd be ruining and missing out on a what is IMHO a stellar experience if you do. Like I said, this'll probably be my top-slater.

That being said, my rough, gross, and entirely too curt summary would be:

It's never said why, how, or when, but Starlight Glimmer is dying, which is the reason why she couldn't wake herself up in the first scene. Everything happening here is her subconcious mind (which is almost portrayed as its own person) desperately trying to give her a little bit of closure before the end, by letting her see her friends a last time and by trying to let her live out the kiss she never got to have with Sunburst. Starlight realizes and accepts this at the end.
#5 ·
·
>>Bachiavellian

Hmmm:

OK. Thanks!

Mike Again
#6 · 1
· · >>Miller Minus
“Baby, no!” Studburst exclaimed, devoid of emotion.

“Quiet, you.”


#studlightforever
#7 · 1
· · >>Bachiavellian >>Miller Minus
Bottom of the slate for there being an occurrence at this bridge. I hate when that happens.

I kinda regret hitting this one at midnight, as I'm kinda struggling with what to say about it.

I'll second Bachiavellian's interpretation of events. The end was a little fuzzy and I thought that was what was going down, and seeing someone else suggest it was enough to confirm it for me.

Like a lot of stories this round, it is really successful at evoking the mood it wants to evoke. I do think the linked nature of the dreams is a bit unclear because of the way you break and and restart them. I was initially under the impression that these were separate nights (predicated upon the Bridge of Amnesia idea) since nothing really conveys that they are continuous, so that took my brain a bit to catch up with.

I'm struggling with how to read some of the imagery and I'd be curious to read a full author spiel at the end. I have some thoughts but I am tired so unsure. That said.

She stepped forward and placed a hoof on the banister. It was painted red, with little polished balls at the top. Tied around them were lilac ribbons, hanging in loops along the railing.


That sounds like a direct call to something and it is driving me nuts, so if nothing else, please confirm that that is a thing (or not) and lemme know what it is.

Yeah, that's all I got for the moment. Sorry author. I can try to come back to this with slightly more coherent thoughts later and see what else i can pull out, but wanted to get down the "I finished it on my slate" notation.

Thanks for writing!
#8 ·
·
>>AndrewRogue
The lilac ribbons are a callback to the beginning, where there were lilac ribbons in Starlight's wedding dress. I'm not aware of any other reference this is making, outside of serving as a bookending device. I think the author's intention is to hint that Starlight vaguely knew about her death even in the beginning.

To go on a bit of a tangent, the the other recurring elements serve a similar purpose. Like the chandelier being the ever-constant concious denial that Starlight has about her situation. When it shatters, it represents the irrevocability of her realization.

... I think. Feel free to call any/all of my bullshit when we're done, author.
#9 ·
· · >>Miller Minus
Huh. (An expression of awe at being stunned at the same time.).

This reads like the Connie Willis novel Passage, with a very similar endpoint and examination of the phenomenon. You never state what the endpoint is or the real situation and I agree with your choice. This story is all show and no tell. You rely on your reader to fill in the context in which the action occurs. It's a mystery, complete with a massive red herring, and the reader is the sleuth. And if I am wrong, I don't care! In the tradition of La Mort de l'Auteur, I've my own interpretation and thank you for providing me what I needed to get there. When and if you post on FimFiction, maintain the mystery in your short and long description because I judge, like for the movie The Sixth Sense, spoilers would be fatal to this masterwork's likely success.

Really, the one thing that would make this better is recasting the language Starlight uses when frustrated. "Screwing with me," is not the way the canon character would put it. It threatened to throw me out of the story. A nitpick. Take it as the impression one reader had after having read your story. Making Starlight's deduction in act one come a few paragraphs sooner would probably hook readers that might find the situation initially too weird.

Publish.
#10 · 1
·
>>Samey90
>>Bachiavellian
>>Baal Bunny
>>Anon Y Mous
>>AndrewRogue
>>scifipony

Finals don't count, right?

If all I could take away from this experience was that this story is a mess and is hard to follow, then I'd call this a success. And I can even take away more than that! Thanks a billion for your thoughts.

The "miracle" I referred to before the round started had to do with a scene of exposition that felt so clunky that I couldn't even write it, let alone fit it in. The "miracle" was that I realized I could get by without it and lop off some work. And I mean "get by" very literally in this case.

In terms of what this story was about... Let's just say you will all receive an explanation over my dead body.

I'll revisit this and post to fimfiction at some point. But for now, congrats to our medallists and their faces that are so attractive it defies science, and I'll see everyone next round!