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All the Time in the World · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Screw Paradoxes
“This is a good place to die, don’t you think?” Minuette asked, looking at the green plain, surrounded by untamed forest. Bees and large dragonflies were buzzing above tall grass and occasional clumps of horsetails. Flowers looked nothing like the ones Minuette remembered from her youth; still this little piece of the world looked familiar enough to make her heart go faster.

“It’s where Ponyville is.” Dinky shrugged. “Or rather, it’ll be here in a million years or so. I can see the Canterlot Mountain, but it’s much taller than in our times. If we could go to Manehattan, we’d see that the whole area is flooded. And Yakyakistan is a jungle with–” She paused, hearing Minuette’s chuckle.

“I can’t believe,” the older mare said. “You actually listened to what Doc said about every place we ever visited.”

Dinky blushed. “Well, it was certainly interesting. Besides, why’d I go with you if I didn’t want to learn something, right?”

Minuette shook her head, leaning closer to Dinky. “Well, my eyes aren’t as good after witnessing a million years of history, but I can still see your feelings under all that eloquence.” She smiled. “Don’t worry. Where we are now, ponies are just shadows waiting behind the scene to take their place in history. None of them will see you.”

“I… I miss Doc,” Dinky whispered, sitting on the grass and facing Minuette. “And mom… And I’ll miss you.”

“Oh, you can always visit us,” Minuette replied. “Doc and I travelled for so long that there must be endless versions of us everywhere throughout the history. I’m pretty sure there’s a much younger Minuette somewhere here, watching this scene from some bush, you know…”

Dinky froze, her eyes widening. “But temporal paradoxes–”

Minuette waved her hoof before clutching to her side and wincing. “Biologically, I’m a hundred and twenty years old. Let the old mare be cranky for a while when she tells you temporal paradoxes are bullshit.” She looked at her thin, wrinkled hoof. “It’s not like I’ll bother you for much longer.”

“I don’t want you to die,” Dinky muttered. “But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life travelling through time just to watch you being still alive.”

“Clever girl.” Minuette smiled, but her smile faltered immediately. “I must admit that after Doc died… I didn’t take it well.”

Dinky thought that it was hard to blame the old mare. Doc and Minuette did spend a lot of time together; most of it, in fact, and probably several times over. They met—will meet, as Dinky reminded herself—when they both were at the same age as Dinky was now. Soon, it turned out that they were both working on the ways of making time travel possible.

Soon, it turned out that Minuette’s notes fit Doctor’s equations. His theories matched the results of her experiments. It took five years for them to find the safe way to travel across the centuries, and although Minuette often joked she’d go back in time just to give her younger self the complete results of the research, she never actually did that.

Or at least Dinky hoped so. She and her mother lived—will live—in Maretonia, back in the days of the worst outbreak of plague ever to happen in this small duchy. She barely remembered that time and maybe that was why she quickly got used to time travel and living in modern Ponyville – modern at least for Doc and Minuette.

It took Dinky years to realise that her mother never did. In fact, she felt she only realised to what extent her mother didn’t understand the new world around her when they visited Maretonia again, about a hundred years after the plague. One day, her mother just disappeared and never came back to Ponyville. They were looking for her, of course, but she didn’t come back.

Later, Dinky read that soon after the time they visited, a horrible war struck Maretonia, leaving barely any survivors. Somehow, she never felt like watching it herself.

“Afterwards, Doc and I had a discussion,” Minuette said, causing Dinky to snap out of her thoughts. “We decided never to bring anyone from the past or future to our times again.”

“How do you–”

“I know you for over a century,” Minuette replied. “Foals had a better chance to adapt, but still… That could cause quite a temporal paradox.”

Dinky raised her eyebrows. “But you just said they’re not a problem.”

“I actually called them ‘bullshit’ and my point still stands,” Minuette replied. “But don’t think I’m right just because I’m a runty, wrinkled mare whose only virtue is outliving everyone else. Remember that I was young… This is the age when you care about such things about temporal paradoxes. Seems like you have all that time and no temptations to screw it up with one potentially world-ending paradox.”

Dinky nodded. She most definitely didn’t feel like messing with the continuum. Well, maybe one or two times when she was younger and really wanted to see her mother again.

She told that to Minuette, who nodded solemnly. “As more ponies around you die, the bigger is the urge to see them again. I can see it in you and I’m not even dead yet.” Minuette chuckled.

“I still think that’d be wrong.” Dinky sighed. “Although–”

“There’s always an ‘although’.” A faint smirk appeared on Minuette’s face. “Doctor was always immune to temptations… but I, on the other hoof, wanted to see our meeting with Snowdrop again.”

Dinky raised her head. “You met Snowdrop?”

“Yeah…” Minuette shook her head. “It’s funny how history books always talk about her as a filly, but never mention her when she grew up. That was quite a sight – Doctor getting beaten and thrown into the river by a blind, drunken mare with a stick. No wonder I wanted to see that again.”

Dinky’s laughter echoed across the meadow. “Now I want to see that too…”

“Just don’t pick the bushes near the river, the other me may sit there,” Minuette said.

“Oh my…” Dinky shook her head. “This must’ve been fun.”

“Oh, it was quite fun while it lasted,” Minuette replied. “Young ponies can’t get it. So serious and concerned about your time paradoxes. When we invented time travel, we were just messing up. In hindsight, it’s a miracle we didn’t doom the world already.”

“You actually did pretty well…”

“Well?” Minuette scoffed. “We accidentally changed history quite a few times. Nopony ever found out, but it was kinda scary when Doc accidentally dropped a marble bust on a changeling assassin and when we came back, it turned out that House Blueblood didn’t die out.”

“What do you mean?” Dinky asked. “Prince Blueblood’s family is one of the oldest in Equestria.”

“Well, back when I was young, they were dead for generations, after a changeling assassin killed the last of them.” Minuette smiled sheepishly. “As I said, no one found out that we changed this bit. But I’m still not proud of it.”

Dinky froze. “So many ponies suddenly appearing in history… The consequences–”

“Oh, the consequences were quite severe,” Minuette replied. “Let me tell you: they always are. You move back in time fifty years to eat an apple. Like, to check if apples in the past really used to be better. Later, you find out that since you ate it, some other kid didn’t choke on it and became a serial killer. Consequences always happen. When I die here, someone may find my old bones and figure out that ponies evolved much earlier than they really did. If not in your times, then in the distant future.”

Dinky sat silently, recalling all the things she’d done while travelling with Minuette and Doctor. She’d never noticed any side effects of her deeds – not at the first sight, at least. However, the longer she thought about it, the more obvious it was. Discrepancies. Things going not the way they should. Divergent timelines, sometimes branching out further. As Dinky recalled, this happened more often than timelines merging back. All the dreaded time paradoxes already happened; and yet the universe still worked.

“All of this was pretty irresponsible,” Dinky muttered eventually.

“The most responsible thing to do would be not doing it at all,” Minuette replied. “But in the end, we had a lot of fun…”

“I’d have to ask my mother how fun it was for her.” Dinky sighed and shook her head.

“There’s a reason we never brought anyone with us again,” Minuette said, her voice raspy and tired. “I thought we already discussed that.”

Dinky nodded. “Discussed” was a big word. As she grew older, she brought the topic a few times, but it was always dismissed. The last time she did, Doc was still alive. His health, however, was rather frail and he gave up time travel almost completely.

She still remembered his office, filled with various half-finished inventions. He was sitting in a wheelchair; his hind legs didn’t work due to a stroke that also took away a lot of his memories. His brown mane lost its colour a long time ago and was now dull grey. Dinky always found it ironic – a stallion who could travel through time in whatever way he wanted now was running out of it.

“That was an impulse.” He could barely raise his voice above a coarse whisper. “There were only a few ponies alive in the whole town. We… We were young. We thought it’d be good if we saved someone…”

“You keep saying, ‘we were young’, as if it was an excuse.” Dinky said. She wasn’t sure if she was speaking to Doc or to Minuette; all those moments were almost the same to her. Having travelled in time since the early childhood, she didn’t see it as a linear progression. Minuette was right – she could still revisit every moment.

The thing was, she didn’t want to.

“I am young and yet I feel more responsible than you two were,” Dinky said.

“Boring,” Minuette replied. Or maybe it was Doctor? No, he was already too tired to talk with Dinky after uttering that one line. In fact, two days later he fell into a coma and died after a week.

“I am boring?” Dinky snapped out of her memories. “At least I’m not irresponsible.”

“Would it be responsible to leave you in Maretonia?” Minuette asked. “We’ve seen some… harsh moments of the pony history. There were countless fillies like you. I wanted to save them all, but after your mother… We decided we wouldn’t. That hurts me more than what happened to your mother.”

Dinky’s eyes widened as she started at the older mare. Minuette took a few deep breaths; she looked older than ever before. Dinky thought of Doc – although Minuette was much older than he was when he died, she looked better than him. Still, she insisted on this particular trip to, as she said, find a good place to die.

“Yes, I said that,” Minuette muttered. “I wanted to take risks to save all those ponies. Who cared that it could destroy the world? Or that some of them would still want to come back to the life they used to know? I don’t care. I’m a hundred and twenty years old. When I wake up, my legs are stiff, my heart barely beats, I can’t see anything, and my pancreas… Even in the future they still didn’t find a cure for all the diseases plaguing me. Why bother?” She looked at Dinky. “You can even kill me. My death is inevitable anyway.”

“Why would I?” Dinky asked. “My mother is still alive, in one timeline or the other. So are you. You said that yourself.”

“Well, it was worth a try.” Minuette sat down, staring at the forest surrounding them. “But then, if you knew you’re the only one who can save someone’s life, would you do that, no matter the consequences?”

“I don’t have to make that choice,” Dinky said. “I can come back to Ponyville and burn down all your notes. When I die, time travel will be gone with me. Maybe that’d be for the best. Definitely better than bringing ponies from the past or future to a timeline that you think would suit them.”

“Heartless little Maretonian,” Minuette muttered.

“I’d rather be heartless than play god, like you.” Dinky turned around, igniting her horn. “I’m going back. You can spend the remaining time however you want, contemplating, writing elegies... You can still travel, right? You have as much time as you want.”

With these words, she disappeared.

Minuette looked at the place where Dinky used to be and sighed. She could hear the distant roars of some big animals wandering across the plant. Surely they’d be happy with some meal, even old and stringy.

She sighed. “This is a shitty place to die, anyway,” she muttered, lighting up her horn.

The spell left her completely out of strength, lying on the floor and panting. Her vision was blurry and she was pretty sure an attempt to stand up would be the last thing she’d do. Her heart was beating like crazy, but she felt blood wasn’t reaching everywhere.

Although her vision darkened, she still saw him. He ran to her, embracing her with his hooves.

“Minuette?” Doc asked. “Didn’t you just go to buy some capacitors? What happened?”

“Screw paradoxes,” Minuette whispered. “I just wanted to see you…”

“Is it a message from the future?” he asked. “We shouldn’t mess with time travel, right?”

Minuette chuckled. She felt that her heart just stopped and she was in that brief moment before her body ran out of oxygen. It was almost surreal; still alive, but not bothering with all those little inconveniences usually associated with living.

“Do whatever you wish,” she whispered, her head hanging limply, with an impish smile still on her face.
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#1 ·
· · >>Miller Minus >>Xepher
Writing a single conversation where two ponies reminisce makes it easy to tell a story, but it makes an otherwise interesting story very telly and boring. This would be much better as a series of vignettes where you show the audience some of the events Minuette is narrating.

I think the message about time paradoxes gets muddied in some of the back and forth between Minuette and Dinky. Are they a big deal or aren't they? I'm not sure what my takeaway is supposed to be.

The ending confuses me. Why doesn't the doctor see that Minuette is ancient and on her deathbed?
#2 · 1
So, neither Doctor Who nor My Little Pony drop swears like this, as I recall? I mean maybe I shouldn't talk because I had Spitfire drop an f-bomb in one of my last entries, but in my defense, she does spit fire. I'll leave Minuette alone this time.

I think the story you are trying to write is meant to be much, much longer. And it's no surprise that the final scene doesn't get the impact you're looking for because it feels very much like the end of a season of Doctor Who.

>>Trick_Question makes a lot of good points about the style and framing you've chosen making it tough to enjoy. For me, it felt like you were cramming, and so it was hard to really get into, because that whole season is being fit into 2,000 words. The situation these two are in is based on past events, and even their banter requires knowledge of what's been going on, so I'm lost. The information is coming all mashed together without it being clear what happened when, so it's just confusion the whole way down.

All that said, it is an interesting message you're trying to give here—paradoxes are dangerous, but sometimes, you can't help yourself. Especially when death is involved. That's very sweet, and the thought of time-travelling loved ones potentially hiding in bushes everywhere you go is kind of... heartwarming. But, I think you have to back up this idea with more consequences to the action of creating a paradox. You've presented the idea of them being super dangerous, but the examples given don't seem to have caused a huge issue. The butterfly effect is definitely at play, but, was there ever one that really messed things up?

Unless the talk of Dinky's mother is where you're adding this in. But, I'm not gonna lie, I can't tell what's happened to her exactly. Did she just snap and walk away? Was that caused by a paradox? It isn't totally clear as written.

But that's all I can really say for this one. It's a huge amount to stuff in so few words, which doesn't often fare well in the writeoff. But there are good ideas here that with a longer story could really flower. Thanks for writing and good luck to you!
#3 · 2
As has been mentioned this felt a little aimless. Both of these characters are basically background in the show, so any/all personality has to come from the story as written here, making it more difficult to sympathize with either of them. Ditzy seems to flip back and forth from adoring psuedo-daughter hanging on every word, lesson, etc. and rebellious teen determined to not care. Moving once from one to the other is fine, but... It just seems to be scattered.

Minuette is easier to grasp, and old mare that just wants to die, and is a bit stubborn at the end.

The ending is a decent hook, and fits nicely with the title and prompt. The problem I think I have is that almost all the rest of the story seems to exist only to drop that one last scene. So many of the descriptions about ponies they met, or other adventures that happened feel like filler. As >>Trick_Question said, it's very much telling and not showing. Any of those adventures sounds like a more interesting story than this talking-heads scene in a field.

Now, all that said, I still somewhat enjoyed this. I like some of the headcanon shown with where Derpy and Dinky came from, though having Doctor NOT be Doctor Who (but just a pony that figured out time travel) feels like a cop-out. At the end, what I really want to see, is that story about them saving Derpy and Dinky, and the emotional impact when they can't save everyone else. THAT sounds like a much stronger story.