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It's Your Funeral · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Caskets
Row upon row upon yet another row of them. They lined the walls and covered the floor of the room. There were big caskets, little caskets, new caskets, old caskets, caskets which looked like old discarded boxes, caskets which were gilded with gold, yet every one of them served as a grim reminder that the inevitable end will come.

In bold defiance of these symbols of death, an immortal alicorn walked down the single aisle, the single break in the rows of caskets, and drew near a group of mourners at the aisle’s end. The small, somber crowd was bathed in the single spot of light by which the rest of the room was dimly illuminated.

In front of the mourners, a number of closed caskets rested on the stone floor in a semicircle, each draped with black linen. This was not the first funeral the alicorn had witnessed, nor would it be the last. She approached the mourners and asked a mare, “Whose coffins are these?”

The mare turned her head, gasped, and fell backwards. She pointed a hoof at the alicorn and whispered in awe, “It’s her!”

“I’m sorry. What was that?” the alicorn pressed.

“It’s her!” the mare said aloud.

“Yes, I am here. Now tell me, what are the names of the ponies interred in those coffins?”

It’s her!” the mare shouted, still pointing at the alicorn. The mourners turned and faced the alicorn. Many gasped, some blinked or rubbed their eyes, while the rest just stared, dumbfounded.

“But—but the knife, the note, the rumors—they’re not true?” asked a stallion.

“I stand before you now, do I not?” stated the alicorn.

The stallion reached out a hoof, and gently touched her foreleg. He gasped when he felt it, as he had just refuted the notion that the alicorn was an apparition or hallucination. “It is her! She lives!”

“Yes, I live. Now who are the ones in the caskets?” she retorted.

The mourners glanced uneasily among themselves. “Well, it’s—um, we thought it to be—you.”

“Me?” she asked in surprise. “What in Equestria gave you that idea? And who is in the coffins if I am out here?” This drew their attention to the caskets. One stallion partially removed the black linen and tried forcing the lid open, but it didn’t budge. Next, a pegasus bucked the casket, after which a unicorn used her magic, but both had the same results as the earth pony. “Stand back from the casket. Mortals do not have the power to break the barrier between the living and the dead.”

The alicorn magically lifted the casket, letting the linen fall to the stone floor. Painted on the lid was the cutie mark of one she used to know; one she once called a friend. Next, she herself levitated as magic energy coursed through her body. With a single spell, the lid of the casket loosened and fell atop the black linen. As soon as the alicorn’s eyes stopped glowing white, she would get her first glance at the lifeless form of her friend in the casket.

Both alicorn and casket floated to the ground, and the mare’s eyes returned to normal. She was alone in the room now, and not just one, but all the lids had been removed from their caskets. The alicorn peered into the first casket to see a white unicorn mare who still looked good despite her age. The second contained an older yellow pegasus, who was still smiling even in her coffin. The third held a middle-aged orange earth pony. In the fourth rested a scarred, wounded cyan pegasus who had sacrificed herself for her friends while she was still young. The fifth and final coffin housed a young pink earth pony who still bore mortal wounds from long ago.

Twilight Sparkle looked over her friends again, but they looked different than they had a second ago. Rarity’s mane didn’t normally look that way. Fluttershy never had a horn, nor Applejack wings. Rainbow Dash was more muscular that that. And Pinkie Pie’s coat definitely wasn’t purple. Suddenly, the figures rose and, with a flash of light, morphed into a single mare. Twilight now stared face-to-face with a lifeless figure of herself. When it slumped forward onto her, she screamed in terror and woke up in a cold, clammy sweat.

“Twilight! Are you alright?” asked the baby dragon she had awaken with her shout.

“I’m fine. It was just a bad dream,” replied the young alicorn.
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#1 ·
·
That was spooky, I guess? I mean, the story spends so much time setting the stage that it barely even touches on the climax. I guess this could be pretty good if it weren't hemmed in by minific limits, but this just isn't a good minific.
#2 ·
· · >>007Ben
I don't think you gain anything by not revealing which alicorn you're talking about at the beginning of the story, especially since Twilight's voice doesn't sound in character—she comes off as a stilted, oblivious version of Celestia.

If you say something like "knife, note, rumors", your audience will assume they're supposed to figure out what you're talking about. This compounds the problem of the story not having a resolution, because we're left wondering what clues we missed. I think the story you want to tell is less cryptic than you're trying to paint.

the single spot of light by which the rest of the room was dimly illuminated


That sounds like a contradiction. A spot of light isn't a source.
#3 ·
· · >>007Ben
Hrm. And it was all a dream, huh?

Not sure what this is going for. Horror seems like the best bet, but... I didn't feel it. The bit with the knife and what threw me on the response, because I'd expect the MC to be more curious.

I guess I just have no idea what you're going for here.
#4 ·
· · >>007Ben
I think I see where you were going with this. As Princess of Friendship, Twilight subconsciously equates the inevitable deaths of her friends with her own demise. Despite her immortality, by losing the ponies who made her what she is, everything that makes her Twilight Sparkle will die with them. Still, the part about only alicorns being able to lift coffin lids is kind of dumb. It makes sense by dream logic, but we don’t know that the scene is operating on that yet. Add greater surreality at first to make it clear that this isn’t reality as we know it.

In all, fairly standard riff on immortality blues. Not bad, but not especially impressive either. Again, playing up the dreaminess will make it a lot more engaging.
#5 ·
· · >>007Ben
The tease about the knife (etc.) doesn't build to anything. The ending is so abrupt as to break the spell cast over the reader by the lead-up to that moment.

But, that lead-up is very impressive. The beginning bit with all the different kinds of caskets did a great job of walking the line between humorous and ominous.
#6 ·
· · >>007Ben
This was...peculiar.

The story didn't do anything for me, mostly because I felt like Twilight was out of character and, like others have said, the stuff with the knife and rumors made me scratch my head. I'm guessing it was a hint at a suicide attempt. I'm not sure if this was a story about Twilight dealing with her immortality or her waiting (a very long time) for death as stated in the first paragraph.

yet every one of them served as a grim reminder that the inevitable end will come.


If it's the latter that's much more interesting in my opinion, and I'd love to see what you could do with it. Fix up Twilight's dialogue, and give us a bit more clues and I'm sure this could work.
#7 ·
· · >>007Ben
At first I felt this was 'Jesus Christ, the Pony, has been resurrected'. Then it was just...Twilight having a bad dream. I think, maybe, this premise could be made better? But, right now, all it feels like is 'Just a bad dream' which isn't exactly the strongest material to be working with.
#8 ·
· · >>007Ben
This was...kinda surreal.

I assume it was going for horror, but I really never felt horrified or creeped out by it. I suspected it was a dream or hallucination or spirit quest or some such pretty quickly. And the realization that "This isn't real" tends to rob the scenario of much of it's tension. If the location / circumstances had been a bit more realistic (a memorial in Canterlot or somesuch perhaps?) and twilight had been a bit more confused. ("What do you mean it's me? It can't be me, I'm here. And there are five coffins!") you might have been unable to create and drag out a bit more sense of unease.

The remains of all her friends being alicornified, and then merging into her corpse was an interesting bit though... There's quite a bit of symbolism there. After all, what is Twilight without her friends? It's those connections that make her what she is. If her friends die, do parts of Twilight die too? Will she be the same pony after their passing? Is anyone the same person they used to be years ago? Some interesting philosophical points could be brought up and made.

Of course, with only 750 words, we don't get any of that. Just a surreal setup, and then Twilight waking up. So I'm afraid that I'm mostly just scratching my head on this one...
#9 ·
·
Caskets

This idea is something I've been milling over for a while now. The basic concept of Twi realizing being brought to a realization of her friends' mortality vs. her own immortality provides a large portion of the primary subplot of the chapter fic I'm working on. Some version of this dream sequence may find a place in there somewhere.

Premise: Twilight has a distant awareness that her friends will grow old and die one day, but that's a long time from now. However, just prior to the events of this fic, Pinkie gets severely injured in a monster fight, and Twilight has a sudden epiphany that "a long time from now" may never come for some or all of her friends. (That allusion with Pinkie in the casket wasn't strong enough/wasn't expanded upon.) She goes to sleep with this on her mind, and wakes up abruptly from a night terror.

Cons:

>>Trick_Question >>Not_A_Hat >>CoffeeMinion >>fda_approved The knife: A subplot that never materialized within the word count. The idea was that since she is the Princess of Friendship, Twilight just wouldn't want to/be able to carry on after the loss, especially a traumatic loss, of the very thing she is supposed to be the Princess over. How would Celestia feel if the sun went supernova? (Ok, she wouldn't feel anything except an excruciating searing heat for a few seconds, but bear with me.) What would she be Princess over? There is no sun, there is no day, and ultimately, there is no purpose for a Princess of the Sun. That aside, in retrospect, I'm honestly not sure what place this has in the fic since it's in a dream. Is Twilight's subconscious really that good at predicting her future in that kind of detail? In the small amount of time I've given Twilight to seriously think about mortality vs. immortality as a conflict in the very near future, has she already come to this conclusion that suicide is the only way to escape?

>>Trick_Question >>fda_approved Twilight is out of character: I was going for a time period 60-80 years down the road, which I assumed was enough time to change a static character into a dynamic character. Twilight's perfectionism has driven her to become the best Princess she can be, and she's had a lifetime to do it. What better role models could she ask for than two sisters who have been Princesses for a thousand years? I purposely wrote a "Twilight line," a "Celestia line," and a "Luna line" for this purpose, but then never alluded to Twilight being a dynamic, not a static character. ("I'm sorry, what was that?" --Twilight "Yes, I am here..." --Celestia "I stand before you now, do I not?" --Luna)

>>Trick_Question >>Not_A_Hat >>TheCyanRecluse Twilight is oblivious: Not really sure what happened here. Possibly just lazy writing. Probably word count. Went back and fixed it anyhoo.

>>Not_A_Hat >>Morning Sun It's just a dream: The entire mood of the ending, and the entire message of the fic can be changed with three letters. That's all it would have taken. Remove the first three letters from "replied" in the last line.
"I'm fine. It was just a dream," lied the young alicorn.

That's it right there. This edited ending warns that it isn't just a dream, it's the reality of Twilight's future. And coming full circle to the first paragraph,
every one of [the caskets] served as a grim reminder that the inevitable end will come.


Pros:

>>CoffeeMinion The intro: I'm relieved that this delivered. Got a little worried it might sound too cliché after I submitted. Went back and substituted a few synonyms to give them more connotative meanings for sake of the mood, but didn't do much else. (big, small --> adult, foal)

>>FanOfMostEverything >>TheCyanRecluse Symbolism: Already touched on this above, but Twilight's friends are pieces of herself. (I'm pretty sure this was literally stated in the season 5 premier.) When they die, she dies a little bit, too. Their funeral is almost literally her own funeral.



Third writeoff, fourth entry total, and my only goal here is to grow as a writer. An improvement at this point would mean... *checks previous writeoff standings* anything above second-to-last... Well, that's simultaneously depressing and encouraging since it won't take much to outdo myself.

Well, I had a good time writing and reading this round, and I hope I did not detract from your experience. If you have any further comments or questions about the fic, feel free to voice them. I may or may not enter next round depending firstly on the prompt, and secondly on how much torture my professors dream up. Congrats and good luck to the finalists.



Side note: Big thanks to Roger for reworking the site so all the comments relating to one fic can be viewed on just one page.