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Forbidden Knowledge · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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We Are All Made from Silence
It was a frostspun, moonchilled night, and Scootaloo sat on a windowsill. She had her nose to the glass. She had her eyes on the hospital, and her mind fixed upon Rainbow Dash. “She’ll be fine,” she whispered, staring at the white glow of the hospital windows. “She’s gonna be fine. She’s gotta be fine, ’cause she’s Rainbow.”

A gentle knock on the bedroom door; a voice sewn together from hush and whispers. “Is anything the matter in there?”

Scootaloo fidgeted for a moment. “I’m… fine, Fluttershy. Everything’s cool. Promise.”

Her words drip-dripped with nerves, drowning any traces of alleged coolness. It was a relief when Fluttershy opened the door and said, “Now, you’re my guest tonight, Scootaloo, and I have make sure you’re OK. Is it Rainbow again?”

Scootaloo replied with a nod-shake, a shake-nod: she was torn. Half of her wanted to say that Rainbow’s accident didn’t bother her, that it was no big deal, nothing to fret about, worry about, fear. Rainbow, hurt? Hah! Rainbow had accidents all the time, yet what did it matter for the pegasus with wings of iron, fur of steel, bones made from pure daring? The sky itself couldn’t harm her – wind, thunder, and lightning. It could only slow her, not stop her.

The other half of Scootaloo warned that this was a lie. It was the bigger half, the dark and mightier half – three quarters, seven eighths, nine tenths. The part of herself that had been drawn to Fluttershy’s cottage when the hospital hadn’t let her spend the night curled at the foot of Rainbow’s bed.

You saw the blood, the half told her. Who knows if she’ll fly again? Ever hold you again, ever speak to you again?

“Scootaloo? A-are you alright?”

“I’m fine. I don’t wanna talk about it.”

Rainbow had never had an accident like this before; she had never had one which Scootaloo had witnessed. Never had she seen her hero hit the ground, heard the shatter of her—

Heard the crack of her—

Heard everything.

Picture Rainbow with her bones crunched and wings snapped, the half continued, and ribs askew. Crack, smash, bang! She’ll be lucky to survive the night.

Scootaloo closed her eyes. She wished she could close her ears.

“Goodness, Scootaloo! You’re crying.”

Suddenly, Scootaloo felt the night wrap around her, and let her sob into its fur: in fact, Fluttershy had embraced her. “Shush, dear one,” Fluttershy said. “Don’t you worry. Silly Rainbow’s always getting herself into trouble – but I know how far you live from the hospital. You’re welcome to stay here for as long as you need. My home is your home.”

Scootaloo tried to say thanks, but thanks wouldn’t come, being trampled over by sobs and sniffles.

Fluttershy clutched her tighter. And with her ear against her fur, Scootaloo tumbled into a body’s worth of new sounds, new noises. The warm beat-beat of Fluttershy’s heart; the rush of blood under her skin, and the gurgle of her belly. Life sounds, home sounds, reminding her of when she was four years old and snuggled with Mother as rain beat down, lightning flashed, thunder bellowed.

Life sounds weren’t enough to banish Rainbow’s cries. They couldn’t cover that dreadful crack. “Fluttershy,” she whispered, “I… I can’t get her out of my ears. She’s trapped in there, and I dunno how to dig her out.”

Fluttershy stood back, and Scootaloo shivered as the chill of the moon cloaked her, and as the cottage spoke to her: a voice formed from the sounds of night-time. The creaking of floorboards, the gurgle of water pipes, the crackle of the open fireplace downstairs. Scootaloo didn’t know why, but in Fluttershy’s quiet presence, the house seemed… alive, somehow. Alive, and eavesdropping, and eager to comfort.

She shook her head. She was tired, that was all, tired and nervous. Imagining things.

And there were other things worth worrying about. Fluttershy’s embrace was its own slice of wonderful, it was warm, it was glorious, oh Scootaloo never wanted it to end – yet end it must. She knew what was coming next. As surely as the moon was Princess of the night, she knew that the older pegasus would want to talk about Rainbow, drag her feelings screaming into the open… but Scootaloo didn’t want to talk. That would be the worst, or worse than worst, more dreadful than dreadful, more horrid than horrible! What good ever came from talking about her feelings? Like the spark which causes a forest fire, like the earthquake which triggers a volcano, like a movement of the earth which births a tidal wave: talking about her fears could only unleash deeper, darker pain. She’d risk unearthing worries she hadn’t even considered yet.

Yet to Scootaloo’s surprise, Fluttershy didn’t want to talk. Rather, she glanced through the window then nodded to herself, as though coming to a decision. “Now, um, this might sound odd,” she said, “but what you need is a bath.”

“A… bath? Really?”

“Oh yes! But a bath of silence, I mean.”

Scootaloo blinked. The cottage blinked, the night itself blinked.

“Huh?” Scootaloo said at last, and she sighed, and hung her head in the moonlight. “Aren’t you gonna tell me to, I dunno, just talk about it? That’s what the other grown-ups wanted me to do. They said it would be good for me and stuff.” She snorted. “As if.”

“Oh, but talking is, it really, really is! It’s always good to talk things over with your best friends. Um, then again…”

Fluttershy looked through the window again, although not at the hospital, nor the stream nor the fields nor the forest. Instead she stared at something beyond the sight of a normal pony. Scootaloo sensed it. She felt it in the chill in her bones, and saw it written on Fluttershy’s face… something elusive, indefinable…

Creeping coldness skulked under Scootaloo’s skin. And when she peered back through the glass, she gasped, for the view seemed bigger all of a sudden, vaster! The trees were larger, the stream became a river, and the hospital appeared mile upon moonlit mile away. The sky bulged with twice the usual number of stars, for in the immense silence of Fluttershy’s presence, it seemed to stretch and grow, until it consumed the whole of Scootaloo’s vision. She gawked at the night, and—

“Talking is healthy,” Fluttershy said, breaking the spell. “But if you ask me, being quiet can be good too. You look like a filly who needs her quiet.”

Her voice was halfway between whispers and breathing, with words woven from the material of dreams. “We’re all made from silence,” she said. “All of us. Remembering that can help you see the world in new ways.”

Scootaloo rubbed her eyes, then she scrambled down from the windowsill. “Um, what just happened?” she asked. "And what d’you mean, ‘we’re all made from silence?’ I’m not made from silence. I’m made from awesome.”

Fluttershy smiled. “I’m sure you are, but you’re made from silence too. Think for a moment, if you please. What do you remember from before you were born?”

“Err… Mom showed me pictures once. She had this crazy mane, and disco pants and— ”

Scootaloo felt that Fluttershy nudged her with her smile, and with the slightest shake of the head. Hair and disco pants were the wrong answers. They were wrong, because Scootaloo had never lived them, had never seen them outside of photographs.

What did she remember from before she was born? What did anypony remember? “Um, n-nothing, I guess,” she said, though she jerked her head, for the thought was rough and itchy and scratched at the corners of her mind. She didn’t like it. She wished she could shoo it away and forbid it from returning. “Wh-when I think about it, it’s just blackness, and—”


Now the thought bit as well as scratched, bit with pointy little fangs that made her squiggle-squirm. “I… don’t get how this helps with Rainbow.”

“Oh, I can show you! Only if you want me to, mind. Don’t feel that you have to. I’d hate to feel like I was forcing you, and, um…”

Even in the gloom, she saw Fluttershy’s cheeks turn red – and this, more than anything, convinced Scootaloo to follow her lead into the silence. She trembled. A hundred tiny spears pricked the inside of her stomach. She was hot all over, her heart beat fast in the quiet, making her skin goose-pimple and her forehead sweat – without having to be told, she knew that horrors lurked within the folds of the silence. She had never paid peace and quiet much mind before, yet now that Fluttershy had given her a glimpse through the doorway, it seemed to her like its own secret world, hidden within plain sight. Or hearing, rather.

Who knows if she’ll fly again? Ever hold you again, or speak to you again?

Scootaloo gritted her teeth. Her mind was set and her heart was made.

“Show me,” she said.

Fluttershy nodded, then closed the door so that the only light came from the skin of the moon. Then she told Scootaloo to breathe. “Nice and slowly,” she said, “in and out, deep and steady. Fill up your lungs, then let it all go.”

For long minutes they breathed, and Scootaloo caught herself wondering of life of staying up late beneath the covers, torch in mouth, reading her comics – certainly not standing still and focusing on breathing. She imagined Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle giggling at her through the window. She thought of what Rainbow would say, how uncool she must have looked, the height of lameness. She wanted to run. She wanted to rush, dash, skip, hop, jump.

Yet Fluttershy’s gaze anchored her to the floor, and so she kept on breathing. “That’s it,” Fluttershy whispered. “Keep going. Concentrate on nothing but your breath.”

The moon slipped through the sky. Seconds become minutes, or hours, or no time at all, so focused was Scootaloo upon her breathing.

Then Fluttershy took the biggest breath of all and stood stock-still, earth-silent, until stars sailing across the dome of the sky were louder than her. The moonlight piled in the corners made more noise, for hers was profound silence. Primal silence, of a species found normally in the blackest caves under the most distant mountains. Scootaloo felt that she had missed a step in the darkness, but that the floor didn’t catch her. Her ears swore to her that she had stumbled into ceaseless nothingness. “I’m not sure I like this,” she said to Fluttershy. “It’s making me feel funny.”

The older pegasus didn’t respond, having closed her eyes and surrendered herself to the hush of the night.

Now into the gargantuan quiet poured the heartbeat of the cottage once again, those night-noises, those ghost-sounds, those glugs and gurgles, moans and groans, and crackle-cracks of the fire downstairs. Yet even these, in time, were swallowed by the all-consuming hush radiating from Fluttershy. She was surrounded by an invisible fog – though not a fog for the eyes, but for the ears. No normal quiet was this, but deeper, deeper, deeper.

The silence seized Scootaloo, binding her hoofs to the floor so that she couldn’t so much as flap her wings or raise a knee. “Fluttershy, I can’t move!”

“It’s OK,” Fluttershy whispered. “Everypony experiences silence differently. You are a leaf in the current; let it carry you away.”

She didn’t open her eyes as she said this. Scootaloo had the unerring sense that she hadn’t heard her at all, that the silence had spoken through her – that it was alive, the house was alive, the night was alive. To share silence with Fluttershy was to follow her into a vast and unsettling world.

But she gulped, for she trusted in Fluttershy’s guidance.

Scootaloo shut her eyelids and became a leaf in the current. I’m not alone, she thought, emptying her mind of all but Rainbow and Fluttershy. I’m not alone. The silence loves me. I am a leaf in the current… I am a leaf in the current… I am a leaf in the current…

The silence washed her straight to Rainbow Dash.

Forming in her mind: bright lights, a clean hospital bed. Or perhaps it wasn’t her imagination at all, but as real as breathing – the new room felt as vivid as the wood beneath her hooves, the moonlit air, the beating of her heart. And Rainbow lay right there, in the bed! Her wings were bandaged. Her chest rose up and down, up and down. She was asleep.

“Rainbow! Rainbow, it’s me, it’s your Scootaloo! Are you alright? Wake up, say you’re alright. Please, please!”

Rainbow frowned in her sleep, rolled over in bed. Scootaloo stepped closer. She stood so close that she made out each of her hero’s individual hairs, and heard the air being drawn in and out from her nostrils.

“R-Rainbow, I’m here, it’s me. Please wake up.”

Gently, she pressed her snout against Rainbow’s head, and spoke so quietly that it was scarcely speech at all, but bits of stolen syllables escaping between her breaths. “Please wake up. I couldn’t bear it if you didn’t wake up.”

For a long while, she stood with her face against Rainbow’s, tears in her eyes. She let the silence envelope her.

But they weren’t alone.

There came a voice from behind, a dark and mighty voice: the dark and mighty half of herself. What noise do you fear the most? it said.

“Go away,” Scootaloo snapped, turning to face the dark half of her own mind. Sure enough, where there should have been a floor and walls and curtains drawn over a hospital window, there was nothing, nothing save infinite blackness. “Rainbow taught me to be brave, and I’m not scared of you.”

Crack! Rainbow remained fast asleep, but one of her wings crumpled, crushed by invisible hands made from solid steel. Her bones snapped, her feathers were rumpled. Scootaloo winced.

You’ve spent all night trying to close your ears, Scootaloo. What do you fear the most?

“I… I told you. I don’t get scared. I don’t want to talk about this.”

Crack! Another bone, another wing. Scootaloo rushed to Rainbow’s side. “Stop!” she told her darker half. “Please, stop!”

Crack! Crack! Crack!

And from the darkness appeared a face, the most awful face she had ever seen: blank white eyes and fur soaked with shadows. It was herself, but a version of herself she had never seen, with emptiness behind her gaze and a wicked little smile on her face. Scootaloo jumped back, desperate to put as much space as possible between herself and her shadow-form. “OK, OK!” she yelled, “I’m scared, alright? I’m scared she’ll leave me! I’m frightened she’ll be so hurt that… that she won’t be Rainbow anymore, that she’ll have forgotten how to love me, and— ”


Fluttershy turned on the bedside lamp. A home sound, well and true, and the hospital room was swallowed in the warm golden glow – then the room was gone entirely. Scootaloo found herself back in the cottage, quivering on the floor, sweaty, panting, queasy. A stale taste in her mouth; she had thrown up. She blushed, mumbling an apology to her host.

But – and she kept it to herself, for it made her ashamed – she wasn’t sorry at all. She felt…


Lighter and happier.

Scootaloo basked in the feeling, breathing deeper than ever before – then Fluttershy dabbed a towel around her mouth. “Oh, you poor dear, there’s simply no need to apologise to me. Gracious, I’m the one who should be apologizing. I shouldn’t have suggested that we—”

Scootaloo didn’t let her finish. She threw her hooves around Fluttershy and shook and sniffled, and breathed hard into her fur. “I saw Rainbow Dash,” she said. “I swear on my life it was really her. And she was fine! I saw her, and—”

But the older pegasus shushed her, wrapping her forelegs around the trembling filly. “You don’t have to talk about it,” she said. “Whatever the silence told you, it’s special, and personal, and just for you. Nopony else is allowed to know it. Not unless you share it.”

Scootaloo buried herself deeper into Fluttershy’s embrace, mulling over her words, examining them from every angle and direction. What she had seen was for herself and herself alone – a gift from the silence. As private as crying alone in her bedroom at night, and as cherished as her time spent alone with Rainbow Dash. Fluttershy was right. If she wanted, then she didn’t need to talk about it with anypony, not even her best friends… what good could ever come from talking about her feelings?

Which was why she lifted up her head, stared Fluttershy right in the eyes, and said something incredible. “I want to share it,” she said.
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#1 · 3
This is a very subdued and intimate fiction, and I loved the tone of it. I really appreciated Fluttershy’s motherly behaviour, which is bang on with her character. Scootaloo was perhaps slightly clichéd; it’s hard to say. I wish you’d chosen somepony else for her to root for, whereas instead you played it safe. Let’s say that you could’ve taken the opportunity to unveil something more about your perception of Scootaloo; in the present form, you choose to stay on firm canon ground.

That being said, the execution is great, and your choice of words resonates with the tonal contents of the fiction, so kudos for that.

This fic speaks particularly to me, who enjoys long outings in the deep and silent forests we still find in the Alps. However, it is 100% meditative, and that could be a killer for readers who enjoy more punchy stories with a lot of action.

But for me, it’s a skilful glimpse of the fears and doubts childhood is riddled with, and it is difficult not to feel some fondness for your Scootaloo. For that, I’m grateful that you wrote this. So, thank you.
#2 · 1
You know, I am legitimately terrified of the dark. Leave me in a room with no light and no way out and I'll hyperventilate myself into a full blown panic attack in about five minutes.

So, when I say I liked this, I say that with the knowledge that you've encapsulated my greatest fear into a tiny fiction ball and rolled it towards me.

I found myself wondering if this were imagination run wild or something actually supernatural, and I honestly still haven't decided.
#3 · 1

I wasn't sure what to expect, considering the opening paragraphs. I was readying myself for a different kind of story, only to get blindsided and enraptured in what unfolded.

I really enjoyed this. If I had to mention something negative, well, I think you could have used the Silence to further explore more of Scootaloo's inner thoughts and fears rather than forcing her to come true with them. I'd love to read a deeper analysis of her psyche and maybe what she thinks of Rainbow's possible fate and the possible similarities it has with her inability to fly.

But overall, quite enjoyable.
#4 · 4
· · >>TitaniumDragon
I am a creature of habit, and when I see the opening line of a story involve a non-descript statement of the weather conditions, my expectations are immediately lowered. Luckily, the story managed to rope me back in almost immediately with its strong narrative voice for Scootaloo and imaginative prose. Reorganize that introduction, please, if you take any of my advice. Start with the action, not the weather.

Hmmm something about this scenario seems awfully familiar I wonder if this was written by someone I know...

Scootaloo's internal monologue is generally convincing and well-crafted, but occasionally some characteristically un-Scootaloo words end up cropping up such as "askew" along with some moments being a bit too cut and dry when they should be more visceral (ex. the other half talking about Rainbow's ribs being askew and being lucky yo survive the night). Some images, while creative, just don't function well enough to justify their inclusion (ex. "Scootaloo blinked. The cottage blinked, the night itself blinked.") but generally I am appreciative of the effort to have a childlike levity and ignorance contrasting a serious situation, and that child's attempt to understand and deconstruct that sort of pain. In that regard, I feel the story is also mostly convincing and does a fine job of playing up Scootaloo's childlike optimism with more real-world cynicism and fears. I am not entirely sold on the description in the scene where Scootaloo sees what I assume to be her more negative half, however. To be frank, it's not a very creative or interesting description, and stands out in sharp contrast to some of more inventive framing scenes and turns of phrase used in the story itself. Additionally, the scene in which Scootaloo tries to find her silence also goes a long a bit longer than is necessary to get the point across and comes across as a bit of padding.

When revising this story, I would urge you mull over your phrasing in particular, which in my opinion is the aspect this sort of story lives and dies on, and excise details go on too long. The short, punchy narration style suits this story best (the sound of the cracks in particular is well executed), and it does seem to drone on a bit when building up to the moment of silence while leaving not a lot of spare narration for the actual moment itself. Some misgivings aside, this was a fine story, and I enjoyed it.

Things to consider:
-Reorganize the introduction
-Make sure your Scootaloo voice is airtight on revision. It's very good now, but can be improved
-Consider rewriting the other half segment to be more visceral and interesting in its description
-Phrasing for certain sections when the narrative focus is not on Scootaloo
#5 · 2
Stories focused around the idea of Rainbow Dash injuring herself are not uncommon, and among them, stories told concerning how Scootaloo is taking it are fairly common, as well.
That said, this story did an impressive job of making itself unique and distinctive. Language was creative and painted an interesting picture, although there were times where it felt like it was trying too hard to have some deeper significance than the situation merits. Pacing is a little scattered because of the extravagant prose. It occasionally slowed down the progression of the story to the point of feeling redundant.
I really liked when Scootaloo first entered the hospital, aided by the silence. The emotions Scootaloo was experiencing felt the most real and genuine in those moments, and it made connecting with her come naturally.
The little insights we're given into how Scootaloo is truly feeling were definitely the most profound for me. Favorite lines:
Who knows if she’ll [...] Ever hold you again?

"Rainbow, it’s me, it’s your Scootaloo!"

(Oh, that use of "your" just makes my heart ache.)
"I couldn’t bear it if you didn’t wake up.”

"I’m frightened [...] that she’ll have forgotten how to love me"

(Pardon me while I go weep in a corner.)
These lines are all so powerful, standing out in contrast to Scootaloo's aversion to sharing her feelings. Very nice work.
I'm glad I got to read this. Thank you for writing.
#6 · 1
The oddest thing in this is the sense of there being some greater entity at play here - in some ways an elder Thing, something of a primal, deep, Before time. Not malevolent, but strange and unknowable in many ways. That part of the story was at once enthralling and yet...disturbing, but a good kind of disturbing.

A nice character study of the two interacting, and insight into something deeper leaving me wanting to know more.
#7 · 1
The prose of this story had a very interesting texture to it. It wasn’t quite a children’s story, but in a way, it evoked those stories. But not in the sense of simplicity; it more evoked the feeling of reading such a story.

I liked the ideas behind this, and I liked the idea of Fluttershy guiding Scootaloo through silence.

That being said, I have to agree with >>Cassius WRT: Scootaloo’s sort of dark self, the personification of her inner fear, felt pretty clichéd.

Still, the story on the whole was quite nicely written, and was an enjoyable enough read and a different take on the idea of talking to someone about your problems, which is nice to see, as that is well-trodden ground but you managed to do something new with it.
#8 · 1
I thought this was going to be a feelings fic. Then things got weird.

Other than that... it's kind of hard to describe, really. It's hard to tell how much of this is supposed to be metaphorical and how much is literal. Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure what to make of it.
#9 · 1
Have to offer an enormous apology to everyone this round for being so lousy at reviewing. Long and short of it: I got invited to a university interview, so pretty much all my time was divided between work and interview prep (for real, this has been me the past two weeks).

It totally paid off though when the interview finally arrived yesterday, and it was partly thanks to a writeoff entry I submitted with my application! So, like, literally, I’m not even sure what to say. Just thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who commented on that thing, because it’s difficult to express how much it means to me to have gotten on this course – joining this website has been the best decision I’ve made all year.

And I swear to God, next round I will totally make up for my lack of reviews. Pinkie Pie promise.


As for We Are All Made from Silence, I wish I had more to say about it. But the truth is, it was almost as last minute as you can get, and so it kinda ended up being a weird blend of some of my earlier work – judging from the comments, I think some of you knew it was mine, or at least suspected it. And to address a common complaint: the bit where Scootaloo meets her shadow-half was something which I added in the last ten minutes before the deadline, so it wasn’t thought through at all. Lesson learnt, I guess. Don’t leave it all until last minute :facehoof:

Otherwise, I’m delighted at the response this story’s gotten, and for all the useful feedback. Another few good solid editing passes and I think it’ll be ready for fimfic.

So sorry again everyone. But thank you all again!

EDIT: Forgot to add -- Congratulations to Cold in Gardez, billymorph and Bachiavellian! In particular I'm glad to see that Completely Safe in the Reference Section did so well, considering that was my top pick.