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The Twilight Zone · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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The Town
Twilight sat in an old decrepit chair, in an old and decrepit library. In front of her lay open an old book. She levitated it carefully opened to its first page. She didn’t read far before putting it down again.

“Spike,” she called out. “As much as it pains me to say this, I… I can’t read this!” She gave a heavy sigh. “Can you please do me the favor?”

“Now, hold on a second Twi,” Spike answered. “Why do I have to read it? You were the one who wanted to read it so badly.”

“That was before I realized just what I would be reading,” she replied.

Spike gave his employer a raised eyebrow. “Okay. Who are you and what have you done with my Twilight?”

“Spike, I haven’t gone anywhere, nor do I plan on going anywhere anytime soon. Matter of fact, travel plans weren’t even in my mind at all.”

Spike rolled his eyes at Twilight’s expected response. “I guess reading you this isn’t going to kill me,” he said, taking the book from Twi’s telekinetic grasp. “Though, I expect an extra bit of gems for my trouble once we finish this book of yours,” he added with a serious look.

Twilight smiled and gave her young assistant a rub on the head, which made Spike’s frills messy. “Now hurry! The sooner we get this piece of text out of the way, the sooner we can get out of here.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Spike said as he focused on the book’s cover:

The Town That No Longer Exists

Spike paused, gaze once again falling on Twilight. She gave him a meek, but resolute nod.

“This won’t end well,” he said with a shake of his head.

There was once a little filly named Emily. She was eight years of age. Emily was unhappy, for she realized that she lacked friends.

At first, Emily tried to be friends with her servants, but they shied away from her. Next, Emily tried to be friends with her parents. They too kept their distance. Finally, Emily tried to be friends with the other children, but they feared ‘incurring her wrath.’ Not even the mailmare paid Emily any mind.

All that changed one particularly cold and clear moonless night…

Up in the pitch-black sky, a shooting star raced across the heavens. Emily was awoken by the light and quickly remembered the old legends about shooting stars. Thus, she made a wish.

Right before her eyes something materialized. From it, something came forth—He introduced himself as “whirl,” and promised to be Emily’s very special friend. Emily, hearing this, gave her new best friend a hug, and for the first time in her life, she was truly happy.

Weeks passed, and Emily’s snotty and unruly behavior lessened, instead replaced by a calmness that felt off. Yet, at the same time, awful things began to happen. Accidents, businesses going broke, and a near-total infant mortality rate.

Soon, the townsfolk whipped themselves into a frenzy, blame flying in every direction. Finally, the blame fell on Emily’s parents, who were rich and secluded—not to mention nasty and bitter. Emily’s home was assaulted.

Young Emily watched from her room as the townsfolk stormed her home, assaulted the servants, took her parents, and viciously executed them in a bonfire. She turned to Whirl and asked him to do something. He transformed before Emily’s eyes and took on a new form.

Emily was unable to scream.

Whirl, with his new form, fell on the townsfolk. With one wave of his tendril, he made them blind with rage. Emily watched as the crowds, maddened and blood drunk, tore each other apart. Eventually, she too took up a knife vanished into the crowds of slaughter and butchery, never to be seen again.

The sun rose over the blood-drenched earth. Any sign of civilized habitation was gone. Mounds upon mounds of bodies littered the ground. In the central square, dozens of stakes stood erect, bodies impaled on them, all carved with an incomprehensible language.

Spike shut the book and tossed it aside in disgust. He turned to Twilight with a horrified look on his eyes. “What the hay did I just read!?”

Twilight said nothing. She could say nothing... except for the smile forming on her lips.
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#1 ·
#2 · 4
· · >>Jordanis
This is a try at Lovecraftian horror that goes too far, too soon. The author may be emphasizing the gore on the grounds that you don’t have room to be subtle in a minific round, but sadly this means that I can’t accept that Twilight would be captivated by it so rapidly. This is just blood for the sake of blood and insanity because the author said so. This sort of thing doesn’t actually creep me out; I just pass over it with a feeling of revulsion and don’t become engaged with the story.

If you want an example of subtle horror, try Twilight’s dream in In the Twilit Place.
#3 · 5

I like your diagnosis in the first sentence, and I think I agree, though I hope this isn't going to cause a critical mass of comments busily agreeing with each other and not providing other feedback.

Lovecraftian horror is longwinded because it operates on the feeling of growing dread and anticipation. It has to slide gently into madness, like a tree being drowned by the rising waters behind a dam. Twilight needs to end this not as far along in her descent, or she needs to be more evidently farther along at the beginning. The conversation with Spike would be a good opportunity to have her act uncharacteristically to show that.
#4 · 2
I don't really understand what you were going for here.

First part, Twilight wants Spike to read her a book. Okay but there's a line I don't get; "Spike gave his employer a raised eyebrow."
When did Twilight become Spike's employer? Or maybe this is AU, okay let's move on.

Second part is the story. A little filly is rejected by everyone. Then, after she made a wish to a shooting star, everything and everyone around her go wrong, leading to a massacre. Okay. I still don't know what this story was supposed to convey but okay.

And third part, Spike express his disgust towards the story that Twilight had made him read and she just... smiles?

The story doesn't seem related to what Twilight and Spike say in the first part, like a moral or something they could get from it, and Twilight smiles after Spike had read her that pointless gore story?

If there's something to get from all this, I didn't get it. I'm still curious to know it though, so if anyone has an idea, please tell me because I'm confused.
#5 · 3
Huh. That makes two fics where I have to agree with Spike. “What the hay did I just read!?” indeed.

It feels like gore for the sake of gore. I don't get why the "Twilight Zone" style story is in a book and Twilight is refusing to read it. (And why is she making her baby dragon little brother read something too terrible for her? That makes even less sense than anything else here does! Why does she smile about having traumatized him? Is that supposed to be the creepy twist? If so, it needs some heavy re-working.) The main story itself is just... random. Weird. Pointless. Overly violent. Even if we accept that this "Emily" and her otherworldly friend are violent psychopaths, the background ponies in the town also go from zero to murder really readily. Maybe that would work better in a longer format, but I'm not sure it would. Overall it seems like it's trying too hard to be shocking, and so it ends up just feeling shallow and pointless. Honestly toning down the level of violence would make it feel a lot more real and thus actually more creepy.
#6 · 2
not enough gore in my opinion.

you can't tease me like that and leave me hanging!
#7 · 2
Twilight sat in an old decrepit chair, in an old and decrepit library. In front of her lay open an old book.

You forgot to insert a "decrepit" before "book" ;P

I have to agree with the others, though, the story feels a little baffling and there's no real payoff.
I don't really understand the entire framing device. Twilight apparently hates horror stories so much that she can't read them for more than a few sentences, so... how would listening to the story be any better?
#8 · 2
Okay, so there's two stories here, and I can't grasp the exact meaning of either. Twilight and Spike have to read this book for some unstated reason before they can leave? Why? I get that the idea being the framing story is that the book drove Twilight nuts, King in Yellow style, and I watched friggen' Danganronpa 3 so, sure, I can accept that. It seems like the framing story would be significantly more effective if Twilight was enthralled by the story and assigned it to Spike as valuable reading, instead of confusingly terrified by it, then?

In the sub-story itself, there should be a sense of insanity and incomprehensible action, and so I think it kind of works there. It's lacking a bit of description though – Whirl is some kind of horrific alien... probably? At first he's "something", and then later has a "new form". Is he robotic in nature, maybe?? If you're going to have a straight gorefic, which I can get behind, at least give me enough details that I think I'm imagining the same thing as you (if not so many that you get DQ'd.) Get some more discrete beats and escalation in there, too – things sort of jump to "And then everyone died!" in the span of two paragraphs, without giving any chance to dwell on any individual bit.
#9 ·
So, idly. When you set up a repetition like that, three is a good number to hit, in my opinion. So you'd be better off with something like:

"Twilight sat in an old and decrepit chair, in an old and decrepit library, staring at an old and decrepit book."

Or, if you wanted to be funny, change the third beat to something contradictory.

Beyond that, I'm in the same boat as most everybody else here: I'm not really sure what this is going for. Like, to run the risk of sounding really mean, the story within the story reads like stereotypically bad creepypasta, and the framing device, at a very base level, kinda seems to imply that that miiiight be the point? But yeah, the frame and the story don't quite connect, which leaves me scratching my head.
#10 · 2
· · >>007Ben
Echoing the others, for sure. Adding in - the idea of 'Whirl' was cool, but it all went too fast. Let us see more of what it is - hints, bits. The 'Unable to scream' bit when he reveals himself to her is nice, but we should get at least an inkling of WHY - did he break her brain? Cut her throat? Control her mind? Etc, etc, etc.

There needs to be mounting tension to make this an effective horror piece and we are missing that. And there's not enough focus on the gory details to just be a splatterfic, either.
#11 ·
This is trying to build up an exquisite mansion of horror, but it only has time to upend a pail of sand. Plus, there are little details like Twilight’s unexplained inability to read the book herself, Emily’s unconventional name, and Spike’s surprising willingness to read something so horrific without any interruptions. Some more time and space will do wonders for this. For now, it’s just kind of there.
#12 ·
The Town

"Emily," huh? Any relation to one "Tom?"

Wow. That's a really weird mental image... (Maybe that's why Emily can't scream, >>Morning Sun.)

Joking aside, I legitimately thought this was an HiE/displaced story-within-a-story at first. (I'm still not thoroughly convinced that it's not.) Also, you might want to say upfront that Emily was a brat, otherwise the "incurring her wrath" bit leaves the reader confused.

Young Emily watched from her room as the townsfolk stormed her home...

And nobody thought to grab her? You know, that girl who was the bane of all the other school-age kids?

Then, there's the framing story. The obvious implication is that Whirl somehow got to Twilight, but why not Spike too? Is Emily particularly protective of this book? If so, why leave it around in the first place so anypony can wander into the library and pick it up?

Horror isn't typically my forte, but I've practically copied-and-pasted clippings from everyone else anyways, so here goes; a common theme I'm seeing is "slow down and build tension." Try using descriptions, not just actions.
#13 · 1
I see where this is trying to go, that reading the words themselves drive you mad, but it doesn't convey that very strongly. Give us something more "off" at the start. Have her finish the book before calling in spike to read it, then we'll be questioning more.

As for the middle story itself. A few notes: Emily is a weird name for a pony. It's mostly told at a kid's story level of language, but then "Near-total infant mortality rate" sneaks in there, along with "assaulted." It breaks the tone. Keep it "kid's story" because phases like "viciously executed them in a bonfire" are actually far less creepy then simple, kid-level words. Give us gore, in small words: "The townsfolk took mommy and put most of her in a fire."

The end... I'm unsure of. It's not clear if Spike is infected or not by his reaction, so this leaves things a little too ambiguous. Maybe have Spike end with "I don't feel so good..." or some such.
#14 ·
Never again will I try to make lovecraftian-inspired work fit into a 750 word limit.