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And at the End, You Shall Remain Alone · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
A Slow Death
Twist sat at the bar and stared at her drink. It was cheap, potent and one would often be enough to get the job done for most ponies. That was her third and she still wasn't feeling the buzz. Not that she'd felt much of a buzz on alcohol anyway. Not since that night ten years ago.

She'd worn her best dress, a blue and white number that fit just so in just the right places in the hope of a proposition. Twist had waited for about forty five minutes for Goldmane, son of crime boss Gladmane. While she didn't approve of their business, Goldmane had never been anything but nice to her. He'd paid attention to her when other colts had ignored her, supported her when others doubted her. So, in return she was extra nice to him. So much so that when she got the test results back she was over the moon. She'd even told him right away.

"You're Twist ain't cha," asked a large stallion with a busted face as he approached her table.

She'd seen this guy before. He'd worked as Goldmane's bodyguard on occasion. The thought of a monster like him being bossed around by her boyfriend made her moist but she didn't think anything more of it than that. "Yes I am. Is Goldmane alright? He's running late."

"Sorry about that. Goldmane had some business to take care of. He sent me to take you home."

Perhaps it was the naivety of youth but with a smile and a nod she left the restaurant with the stallion. She'd prattled on about this or that not that Twist could remember until they got to the coach in the alley way. "Hey who's that," she'd asked when she saw the shadow in the coach.

Quicker than lightening the stallion cracked his hoof across her face and sent her world spinning. Still she fought and hollered, not that anyone intervened. They knew not to.

He quickly restrained her and the other pony levitated a syringe and jammed it into her. At first, Twist felt the sting of the puncture and then she felt a bliss unlike anything she'd ever felt before. Her limbs grew heavy and the world faded away as did the urge to do much of anything.

She didn't know how many hours she was out. However, when she came to and looked down at the blood on her dress the only thing she thought was that her, 'my dress is ruined.' The world spun on a dime as she heard the big stallion mutter something from the shadows. "You're gonna be in big trouble," she screamed, "I'm Goldmane's..."

"Not no more you ain't," said the stallion, "We took care of that. You ain't havin' a ...."

"Baby," she'd said before crying herself unconscious again.

She woke up in the hospital after that. The doctors explained what had happened. They told her that she'd almost died and that she'd never have kids, whoever worked her over had seen to that. The stallion however, had seen to something else. She now had a hunger for something she shouldn't.

At first it was just to keep the dreams of her covered in blood and the constant, 'I told you so,' she got from her family away. Yet each time she shot up, each time she felt the world slip away she slipped further into it. Eventually, when it became too obvious what she was doing they cut her off, but she didn't quit. She just found other sources of income.

She pondered those sources as she sat at the bar. The hush money, the stock options to go away, and the occasional tips for an expert performance. She thought about it as she ran her hoof along the rim of the glass and sighed quietly to herself before she ran her other hoof over her track lines. They itched.

"Hey sorry I got held up," said a voice from behind her.

She reached into her bag and pulled out some cash and set it on the bar. "Stick it in and walk out."

"Cool," said the voice as she felt the slight change in weight. "Hey be careful with that stuff okay? I think the cut's a bit more pure than last time. Seriously, it could kill you."

Twist didn't say a word to the courier as he took his money and split. She looked into the bag and sighed. "This town killed me long ago."
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#1 · 2
· · >>horizon
Hm.
#2 ·
· · >>horizon
Eh.
#3 ·
·
Why Twist?

Really, this doesn't really seem to relate to anything. It's an attempt at gritty noir, but it feels kind of pointless in context here. This is one of those things where there's a tragedy, but I was never given a reason to care about the person it happened to. For me to care about someone being down and out, I need to be given some sort of reason for it.
#4 · 6
· · >>WritingSpirit
>>Anon Y Mous >>Samey90
Hey, fellas: I know reading and reviewing stories takes a lot of work. It's a thankless task. And we do appreciate you taking the effort to go through not only this one but the many others you've done today.

But if you're going to go to the effort of clicking "Post Comment," could you please leave at least some actionable feedback? Some poor author has now gotten two notifications, clicked excitedly through to see what other people had to think of their efforts, and has literally two words of feedback to work from. If I had written this story I would still have not the slightest clue of how it was received.

Now, I do understand that some stories are harder to comment on than others. If you read through this story and it didn't make you feel anything, and you don't think you have any suggestions for how to improve it, then sometimes "Sorry, this didn't really click with me and I don't know why" is the best you can do. That's ok. But at least take the time to say that.

As for you, author: I'm also struggling to connect with this story, but I'll do my best to unpack that.

The first thing that leaps out at me is that this doesn't feel like MLP fiction. Change the names to Emma and Guido, and do a few search/replaces (hoof->hand, stallion->man mostly), and you could literally enter this in the Original Fiction round with nobody the wiser. Now, this isn't to say that MLP rounds require non-original content — we see some great worldbuilding here that has only the barest connection to the show! — but it's kind of Iron Chef rules. You can use the theme ingredient prominently, or you can use it in the seasonings of a dish with another focus — but if you just use it as a throwaway garnish, your audience is likely to start frowning.

I think what bothers me the most there is that this feels like it just picked a pony name out of a hat. If you wanted to write about an alcoholic with a troubled past, this could trivially have been the story of "why Berry Punch is drunk all the time". But Twist (if you meant to use a canon name rather than an OC) is a filly; this is not only using mostly OCs but also haring way off into some future AU, losing what little grounding a canon name should otherwise have gotten you.

Looking at this piece of gangster fiction on its own merits, though ... I do have to praise it for one of the round's most well-developed plotlines. This packs in a lot of narrative in its 750 words. Personally, though, I felt like I never really connected with Twist, and so I found it hard to care about all that plot you packed in. I'm honestly not sure whether this is an issue of personally bouncing off of her problems (try to make me care about a baby and I kinda check out) or whether there's a more fundamental issue here. Get a second opinion.
#5 · 1
·
Your Story's Theme Song: O'Brother - Slow Sin

I'm pretty sure >>horizon above picked apart everything I have to say about this being submitted as an MLP fic. Personally, I don't mind how much of a stretch it was from the show — I've read worse transgressions greenlit on FimFic — so it's not really an issue for me, per se. In the end, I mostly brush it off and focus more on the story it was trying to tell instead.

Now, I don't know if this ends up turning out good or bad for you because there's a lot — and I mean a lot — of things about this story that just failed to work for me, which means there's a lot of things for me to bring up, perhaps to the point where I might be nitpicking a little.

On the flip side, you'll get another long comment to outweigh the super short ones.

Balanced, as all things should be.

So, first off, this story feels like an exposition. Like a montage before the opening theme on the pilot episode of a TV show. There's honestly a lot of narrative to unravel, meaning a lot of information to process. By the end of the first paragraph, we're jumping into a flashback; by the second, we're establishing what our protagonist was doing in that bar, another character, how this new character is related to our protagonist, and the current circumstances between these two; by the third, in comes another character, the inciting event occurs, so on and so forth. At the end, however, even with the chain of events happening, I felt like the story really only accomplished one thing, and that was establishing why Twist was in this sorry state in the first place.

I don't think it's fair to say that the story is outright terrible solely because of that. However, I think it's really everything else playing a part in it that killed off my enjoyment of the story.

First off, the pacing of the story is really jarring. The story's jumping between snapshot after snapshot of scenes before I had time to let the information really sink in. There are small sections where it does slow down a little, but those sections don't seem to really impact any part of the story as a whole, like how she talked to her escort on the way to her carriage or the first thought that ran through her head when she saw her bloodstained dress. On the contrary, the important plot point and really the main focus of this story — Twist finding out she lost her baby — was quickly sped through without leaving us a chance to sympathize, which in turn denied us what could've been an emotional moment.

Second, the tonality / atmosphere / mood, or lack thereof. Narratively, the story screams gangster noir, but looking down into the details, the words that were used and how each sentence is composed, there's not a trace of that feeling seeping from them. With how many of the events were being spoonfed to me, the imagery it was supposed to invoke didn't come through, to be honest. The part where you're describing the injection the bodyguards gave to Twist to knock her out is a prime example of that, in that you're just stating what happened instead of sharing her experience of how it happened. At the same time, there's a lot of strange decisions that bugged me, though nothing more than when you described her state of arousal when she looked at her lover's bodyguard in that one sentence. No good way to say it, so I'll just say it: that was an absolute waste of 26 words.

Third, the lack of focus on the narrative. Honestly, I think there's a lot of better places you can start from instead of her waiting for her date at a restaurant and being kidnapped. I do realize you're trying to segue properly from the initial bar scene back into the past, but I don't think that transition really did anything in the end. Taking out those sections, that alone frees up 326 words (I checked) and gives you a lot more leeway to really focus on the crux of the story. Whatever important information could then be unraveled in her interaction with her kidnappers, should you find the need to. I think bringing her forced abortion into the forefront thematically should drive home the motivation of the character better. Can't say if it helps the story become better though.

Which leads me to my fourth and probably my biggest problem with the story: the thematic mismatch between action and objective. From what I could extract out of this story, I'm inclined to believe that the reason she's drugging herself up in the beginning in the first place was because she lost her baby, but personally her decision to do so would seem more of a secondary side-effect than something she would actively pursue. I would think that she'd plot her revenge regardless of the stakes instead of just wasting herself away. One might say it may be a personality trait of hers to accept whatever fate comes her way but I just don't think Twist is that kind of character, not from the way she was written. When I consider how she ignored her parents' warnings and how she would scour high and low for every source to get herself that blissful hit, no matter what, it just seemed strangely out of place for her to accept her circumstances once I step back and look at her in the grander scheme of things. Summing this point up, the action (decision) our protagonist took was passive when the objective seemed to be demanding for an active one.

With all of that in mind (plus a misspelling of lightning), I don't think this story isn't going to be very high on my slate, especially in a round with so many solid entries to choose from. I would say kudos for being able to feed us so much with so little words plot-wise. I only wished that the experience I got out from this could've been equally substantial instead.

Nevertheless, thanks for writing!
#6 ·
·
I think the strongest part of your story is its tone. I'm picking up a "black and white 1940's noire" kind of vibe--a good choice given the story's subject matter.

My criticism lies with the fact that no events really seem to stand out from the narration. If I could chart the levels of emotion present in the writing, the line would be flat. Nothing strikes me as having any particular significance narrarive-wise. I know the forced abortion and ensuring drug dependency should be emotionally-charged revelations, but they fall short in execution.

Part of it is the word count constraint. This story is aching for more development, and on that note I sincerely hope you choose to continue working on future drafts!
#7 ·
·
Oh, hey, a story about Twist. Don't see many of those. You have my attention.

Eh, then we lapse into an after-the-fact narration telling me that the story is already done and happened long ago. That's a tough way to tell a story in an engaging way. There's no immediate tension, and it's laden with exposition.

And I can't gauge her mood. She's drinking, so she must be stressed about something, but she's still hot for Goldmane.

The further in I get, the more editing misses I'm seeing.

One dose of drugs hooked her? That's pretty extreme. Yeah, this is a case where all the action predates the story, and it's hard to get those right.

Really, I don't understand enough of the characters' motives. Did Goldmane not want a child? Or someone else didn't want him to? I'm guessing the former, since he's not around her anymore, but this just kind of pokes around the edges of the situation without investing it with much power. Things like: the depth of Twist's feelings for Goldmane, how she felt about her child, what sort of environment existed around that family. I don't get a lot from Twist about how she feels, but she's your main character. If she's not putting her turmoil on display, then how is the reader going to care? She doesn't seem to much.

Frankly, you're trying to compound two problems for her. Losing a child and being an outcast are enough for a story of this length. The drug addiction was too much for this story, and it's probably too much for even a longer version of it. Piling on more tragedy doesn't always mean making the story have more impact. Sometimes it just makes it more unbelievable.

I applaud your choice of character, but it could have been anyone. There's nothing that uses her characterization any. If you're going to use her, make it matter that she's the one you picked.

I don't think telling this in flashback mode is helping, since the in-the-moment mood is where the story's energy should come from, and even those emotionally charged parts are told in such mundane language that it's not consistent with her mood. Think about what would actually be going through her mind as she experienced these things, then compare to how the story just tells them as a list of facts. I get that she's emotionally distant from it now, but that still needs to develop some tension, and there are ways to accomplish that, but in this word count? That's a tall order. You would have been better off showing all that while it was still raw.
#8 ·
·
Echoing the above a bit with praise for packing quite a bit into a tight box.

I think the detraction stems from what I'm going to call "Keyhole Syndrome," (because it probably has a real name already but I don't know it). We're peeping through a keyhole at a radically different future from one we might expect from the world we know, which is absolutely fine. But with that small window, we miss all the history of how and why we got where we are. That can work if the deviations from the norm are easy to trace backward to a recognized event (villains win somewhere, so-and-so never meet, etc.) and the audience can fill in the blanks on our own a little bit. We don't have that here.

Now that said, I'm quite curious how we got to the point in the world we're at and I would absolutely read a gangster/noir-style pony fic centered on building up this feeling you've seeded here.