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Here at the End of all Things. · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Wake-up Call
“Good morning.”

Sunset Shimmer reached her arm over to the empty space beside her. She had the whole bed to herself, and yet was confined to a single side: the left side. The side without the lamp.

But her side did have its perks: it had the window, after all, and on nice days she could sit up in bed and watch the sun rise. But today wasn’t a nice today, so the curtains were drawn, and Sunset remained in bed.

What time was it? She looked helplessly across the room to where her phone rested on the wooden desk, slowly regaining its charge from a wall socket somewhere down below. She should probably get up, get dressed, and be ready for when the doorbell rang.

If she was being honest with herself, she should have done all that hours ago when she woke up. But getting up took energy, and right now, energy was the one thing Sunset Shimmer lacked. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t just one thing, but it was the only one she wanted to think about. Maybe she would just stay in bed, let the doorbell ring, and simply not answer it.

But they would just come back tomorrow.

Sunset groaned and, with a monumental expenditure of the energy she didn’t think she had, sat up. Her whole body felt heavy, from the tips of her fingers to her eyelids, and she briefly considered crawling back beneath the covers. She’d tried, hadn’t she? Shouldn’t that have been enough?

She knew that it wasn’t.

Sunset climbed across the bed, planted one foot on the cold floor and recoiled. Where were her slippers? It didn’t take her long to find them—one of the benefits of a mostly-empty room was that things were easy to find—across the room, exactly where she’d kicked them off the night before. One of them was even upside down.

Well, there was no helping it. Rising like a zombie from a shallow grave, Sunset lurched across the small space to her slippers. She slipped into the first one and nudged the second one with the tip of her toes to flip it over, then put it on as well. She frowned. Her feet were still cold.

Now vertical (and with unfortunately cold feet), it was finally time to check the time. She picked up her phone and unplugged the charger, which promptly fell back behind the desk. She sighed. That was a problem for later, as for right now…

It was a quarter to two. What time would the doorbell ring? Sunset wracked her brain. She knew she’d written it down somewhere, but what was wrong with her that she couldn’t remember something as simple as a date and time?

Well, a lot was wrong with her, that’s why the doorbell was going to ring. There was no paper on the desk, nor anything scrawled on or carved into the wood, which meant she must have written it somewhere else. The kitchen, maybe.

She had had a lot of unread messages. Some from Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash… but those were a problem for later, too. She told herself that she would get back to them, and she would—probably. For now, though, she tucked the phone into the pocket of her pajama pants and moved to the door.

With the absence of a warm body to heat it, the hallway was even colder than the bedroom. When had it gotten so cold? She passed a barren bookshelf and a pair of empty picture frames on the way to the kitchen, making a point to ignore the thing in corner by the front door as she entered the living area. But if she made a point to ignore it, was she really ignoring it at all?

She didn’t know. What she did know, however, was that it was hard to ignore something you could see from practically any place in the house. ‘Open Concept’ they’d called it, and apparently it was all the rage these days. One person could be in the kitchen while someone else watched T.V., great for entertaining and for making the most out of your space. But with no one else here and great big, vacant spaces where furniture used to be, Sunset just thought it looked empty.

The kitchen was nestled in one of the corners of this empty space, with cupboards, counters, and appliances lining the two walls, and an island in the center. It was on this island, affixed to the marble countertops that she’d never really wanted but had been outvoted in favor of—she frowned. How had she been outvoted, exactly? It didn’t matter, because she’d found it: a yellow sticky-note with ‘two-thirty’ scrawled on it, underlined, and circled. There were other words as well, but Sunset ignored those, too.

She checked her phone again. Another unread message from Rarity, and it was now five minutes to two. So, she had time then, time enough to have a shower and maybe get something warm in her stomach.

Cracking open the fridge (not exactly warm, but she had to start somewhere), Sunset stared at the sparse contents within. Condiments, mostly, nothing that could reasonably be scrounged into an edible meal. That shouldn’t have come as a surprise—after all, to stock the fridge she would have to go to the grocery store, and that would involve leaving the house. She tried to think of the last time she’d done that, but the answer just depressed her.

Okay, so she didn’t have any food. That was fine, she’d pick some up later. After the doorbell rang. For now, she’d have to settle for something else. The cupboards were similarly bare, but she did manage to find a bag of coffee ground and a half-empty box of teabags. She still had the coffee maker, at least, and the kettle, so the quest for a hot meal suddenly felt at least somewhat attainable.

She was now faced with a choice: tea or coffee? Coffee would certainly wake her up (they never bought that decaf stuff), but was that really what she wanted? Being awake meant staying up, answering her texts, and going to the grocery store, when all she really wanted to do was go back to bed. Back to sleep. The tea was lavender (because of course it was), and Sunset vaguely remembered someone telling her that lavender tea eased the mind and helped one relax and fall asleep. Perfect.

Her decision made, Sunset retrieved the kettle from its place atop the stove (the top-left burner, always the top-left burner) and filled it up at the sink, before placing it back on the stove and turning it on. She took one of the few remaining mugs from the cupboard and set it down next to the box of teabags and took a step back.

It was probably a poor idea to leave the stove on while she took a shower, but the kettle was old and always took forever to heat up, and, if she was being perfectly honest, fire safety wasn’t exactly at the top of her priority list right now.

The bathroom was at the end of the hall. It wouldn’t have made sense for it to be off the master (and only) bedroom, unless of course they’d wanted every guest who had to ‘use the facilities’ traipsing through their unmentionables, but, more than once, Sunset found herself cursing the distance from her bed to the bathroom when she was forced to make a midnight trip.

Sunset wasted no time. She closed the door, ran the shower, discarded her clothes in a heap, and did her best not to look at herself in the mirror while the water heated up. She knew she was a mess, after all, and didn’t need her reflection reminding her.

Stepping into the torrent of hot water and feeling it cascade over her bare skin was the first objectively good part of Sunset’s day, but even this bliss was not to last. Phantom doorbells haunted every quiet moment, and more than once, Sunset found herself poking her head out of the shower and peering through the blinds, making sure that no one was waiting for her at the door. It didn’t help that a pair of rings (formed of residual shampoo and conditioner from a pair of now missing bottles) stared up at her like a pair of wide, judging eyes, from the ledge of the bathtub/shower combo, which made the experience somewhat less relaxing than Sunset had hoped.

The kettle whistled in the kitchen and Sunset let out a dejected sigh. She took hold of the shower’s handle, turning it not so far as to cease the flow of water, but enough for the water to go from hot to ice cold in a matter of seconds. The air was sucked out of her lungs as her whole body clenched in shock. She could only stand it for a few seconds before she had to turn it off completely, leaving her standing naked, shivering, and alone, with no one to blame but herself.

She pulled back the shower curtain, coming face to face with the mirror. Her reflection was blurry, obscured by layers of steam making it look like a vaguely human shaped blob. That was… a surprisingly accurate depiction of how Sunset felt at the moment, and after a few seconds of staring down her doppelganger she finally managed to look away. She grabbed a towel from a hook (the only towel, she remembered) and quickly dried herself off and wrung the last of the chilly water out of her hair. She pulled back on her pajama pants and her t-shirt, slipped her feet back into her slippers, and grabbed a ratty sweater from another hook, before making her way back to the kitchen.

In a much-needed stroke of good luck, the stove hadn’t caught on fire nor had the kettle boiled off so much of its water to have rendered the entire process moot. She turned off the burner, grabbed a tea-bag from the box and deposited it in her mug, before gingerly following it with a stream of boiling water.

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? The box said to let the tea steep for five to ten minutes, but that seemed like an awful long time to Sunset. She carried the mug over to the only remaining comfortable chair in the apartment and stared at the spot where the T.V. used to be. It was difficult to miss something she never used—thousands of channels and still never anything on—but she did. A useless T.V. was better than another empty corner.

It was half way through the steeping time of her tea that the moment Sunset Shimmer was dreading arrived. There was nothing special about the doorbell; it didn’t play the Westminster Chimes or any other catchy (if forgettable) tunes, no, it was a simple ‘ding’ followed by a ‘dong’, and yet this uncomplicated pair of notes drove Sunset’s heart into overdrive. She found herself pinned to her seat, her knuckles turning white as they gripped the mug so tightly that, had she been in her right mind, she might have feared shattering beneath her grasp.

But Sunset was weak. Too weak to stop what was coming and certainly too weak to crush a mug in her bare hands. She thought she might be too weak to confront the figure who waited on the other side of the thin, wooden door, but nonetheless rose and, as if in a trance, walked over to the waiting portal.

With one trembling hand she turned the knob.

“Hey, Sunset.”

“Hi, Twilight.”

Twilight Sparkle looked amazing. Her hair was tied up in a neat bun and she had a puffy pink scarf woven tightly around her neck. Her purple jacket matched her boots, and paired with her thick black leggings, Twilight was clearly well suited for the winter weather.

Twilight regarded her with a curious look, and suddenly Sunset felt extremely self-conscious about her own appearance. Damp, matted hair, bags under her eyes, ill-fitting pajamas… she felt like a begger standing before a queen.

“So…” started Twilight.

“Right,” said Sunset, “of course. Come in.”

Twilight wiped her boots on the tired welcome mat and stepped across the threshold. Sunset retreated a few steps, but never turned away.

“Is that tea?”

Sunset nodded. “Yeah, lavender. Kettle’s still hot if you–”

“No, thanks,” said Twilight, cutting her off. “Shiny’s waiting for me in the car. I’m just here to pick up the last of my stuff, but maybe some other time.”

“Sure,” said Sunset, though the sinking feeling in her gut told her that there would not be another time. “Anyway, the box is right there, by the door.”


“If you need a hand–”

“No, I think I’ve got it.”

With a grunt, Twilight hoisted the box into her arms and balanced it on her knee until she could get a better grip. With her package firmly in hand, she gave Sunset one long, final look.

“I’ve got to get going,” she said.

“It was good to see you,” lied Sunset.

Twilight nodded. “Sunset?”


“Take care of yourself, okay?”

“I am,” said Sunset, followed by a short pause. “I will. Goodbye, Twilight.”

Twilight Sparkle turned and walked down the path to the waiting car. She loaded the box into the trunk, moved to the passenger side door, and climbed inside. Sunset stood in the doorway, the steam from her tea vanishing into the winter air as she watched vigilantly until the car had disappeared around the corner and out of sight.

Sunset closed the door.

Why did her legs feel so weak? She braced her back against the door and slid down into a sitting position facing her empty apartment. She drew the mug to her lips, inhaled the strong scent of lavender, and was about to drink, when she stopped.

Maybe she needed coffee after all.
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#1 · 3
Maybe it's the masochist in me, but there are few things in life I like more than a tale about romantic loss.

From the begining I found myself pulled into the atmosphere you built here. Going through Sunset's routine in that mechanical way while getting little hints about something kept me intrigued. Here I'll say that I wished you would've weaved more of Sunset's thoughts into the narrative so we could get a firmer grasp on her mindset and make that sense of grief pack more of a punch.

Nevertheless, I really liked this story, and it's amongst my favourites so far.
#2 · 1
My synopsis:

Sunset Shimmer has to deal with her morning routine while also dealing with something bigger.

Overall thoughts:

This is sad and faintly tragic, in just the right way for me.
I spent the whole thing going: "Aaaw, poor Sunset!"
The plot of the story drags itself around aimlessly like a moping teenager, without getting too bogged down. It's the perfect way to have things, I think, since Sunset is also aimless.

I genuinely feel for Sunset here. You've conveyed her emotional state without needing to smash me with it. Nicely done.
I like it when I read a story that actually tells another story entirely, it's tricky to do right and I think you succeeded.
The narrative gives a nice insight into Sunset, what she feels and how she's coping, without dipping too far, or revealing her too starkly.
Physically very nice to read. It's all descriptions and simple actions but it stays engaging.

You allude to things like a boss, author. Like a boss.

There are a few places I got caught by wording that seemed off, a few line edits I'd make to improve the flow: they stood out because the rest was terribly well written.
I have no idea how Twilight feels in this. I know that we're in Sunset's head, and Sunset clearly has no idea what to feel, but I would have liked if you'd given me, as the reader, a hint.


Sunset needs a cuddle.

It's strange what a story can do without doing. We get to learn and experience things without ever leaving Sunset's apartment. Nothing happens here: this is about the consequences of an event that's already happened. That's not for everyone but I like quiet character pieces when they're done well, as I think this is.
#3 · 2
· · >>Lamplighter
Genre: Coffee's triumph over tea

Thoughts: This was subtle, stealthy, and downright atmospheric. I loved the way it didn't make the details of the situation clear until the end; and even then, it doesn't spell them out, yet they seem clear enough. Da's gud, Author.

Now, unfortunately, I must be a singularly unhelpful reviewer: I felt that the gestalt of the work was such that it landed in my Strong tier rather than my Top Competitor tier, but I'm fuzzy as to why. Maybe the few but visible typos got to me; or maybe the story felt a bit limited in its MLP-ness. To some extent a story like this could be written about any couple of characters; while the depiction of Sunset hews to what I'd term the Soufriere interpretation of her character (to which I'm partial), I didn't see much of Twilight being unique and distinctive unto herself.

Tier: Strong
#4 · 1
I agree with >>CoffeeMinion on a lot about this story. I like how it portrayed the idea of emptiness after a big break-up like this. And I'm guessing that you chose not to show a lot of how Sunset was feeling about this to try and keep up a sense of mystery about what was going on, choosing to let us guess by showing us a morning routine bereft of Twilight. The only problem for me was that there wasn't a super big emotional payoff because I'd guessed where this was going from the opening paragraphs. Vary well written though I must say, Far better then I could do to be honest, so take anything I say with a grain of salt.
#5 · 2
· · >>2Merr
I'm trying something experimental this round (and seeing if it makes reviewing at all easier for me) with rambling audio reviews. I don't normally do this, so apologies for roughness while I see if this works out for me.

#6 · 2
· · >>AndrewRogue
You made a point about there being no real progression, but I would argue that’s the point. Sunset can’t move on. She’s stuck in a spiral of emptiness, unable to progress to the next stage of her life. Since this takes place over such a short time frame, a large amount of change isn’t expected. As far as story goes, you’re right that there isn’t a whole lot, but I see this more as a peek into the mind of someone who’s lost their everything, rather than a tale of self-betterment or what have you.
#7 · 2
· · >>Haze
You are correct that that likely is the point. The problem is that that doesn't really make the reading any better (e.g. the ol' intentionally annoying is still annoying thing - intentionally flat is still flat).

To be clear (or try to be, I'm incoherent right now), I'm not really looking for Sunset turning her life around or anything. I'm just looking for a bit of variation in the tone of the story. Like, even something like Sunset sinking deeper into her depression would be movement.
#8 · 3
· · >>Icenrose
The story is expertly told, but I can't believe that Twilight would neglect her ex's mental health to this extent, no matter what the breakup was like. That just isn't Twilight Sparkle. She shows no compassion or empathy beyond minimal talk to get herself out of the apartment. It isn't on-character.

Sunset also seems to be in a deeper funk than just a loss of a relationship. If she hasn't gone outside in a long time, that's pretty serious. The other Mane 5 should be coming to see her, not taking no for an answer. I find no friendship in here (texted concerns noted, though), and so it doesn't feel pony or in-character to me. I think you should add more concern for her wellbeing, especially from Twilight, but in general—and dial back the severity of the depression.
#9 · 2
I can see why this story got such good art, Writer - you’re very good at imparting a particular existential ennui in Sunset. I had to step outside into the sunshine for a bit after reading this one, and I’m almost as much of a hermit as Sunset is.

I mean that in the best possible way. ^^ I like it when a story evokes a visceral response, even when that response is a lead weight on my chest.

I agree with >>Trick_Question w/ regards to Sunset’s depression - her behavior extends far beyond standard breakup melancholy if she’s unable to summon the willpower to leave the house for days (weeks?) at a time. I don’t think that’s a bad thing with regards to the story, though - if anything, it helps paint a more complete picture, and could even be part of what led to Sunset and Twilight’s breakup.

Speaking of, I don’t think you need to alter Twilight’s standoffish behavior, but you may want to weave just a bit more context for it into the narrative. I have a pretty good guess from what you’ve already said here that the breakup was spectacularly bad. I’m not saying you should explicitly state how things went down - I think that would do more harm than good for the mood you’re setting - but if the breakup was bad, and mostly Sunset’s fault, that might help explain why RD, AJ, and the rest don’t have as much of a presence in the story beyond text messages. If both parties were aggrieved, I agree with Trick that the other girls would be more involved.

Although, I get the sense that everyone is at least a few years older - high school students don’t generally move in with eachother, nor do they rent (buy?) houses. Time has a way of testing our bonds, and it may be the other girls have too much going on in their lives to spare more than a text or a phone call.

This is all speculative, though, and I think it's interesting to try to piece together what I can from what you've stated within the story. The only real nitpick I have is that I don’t have a firm sense of how quickly things have progressed since the breakup. Has Twilight moved all of her stuff out in a couple of days? If so, Sunset’s depression was a problem long before they actually broke up. Has it been a couple weeks? If so, the other girls would likely have started beating down Sunset’s door to try to help her out - unless they have a compelling reason not to.

All of that said, I don’t actually think you need to change much of anything - I love this story as it stands, and I’m fine with the vagaries I’ve outlined above. The point of this story is the mood, not the specifics, and I think too much specificity would be to this story’s detriment. Anything I said above, maybe address with an idle line or two for context and nothing more.

Make no mistake, Writer - I love this story. It’s an excellent mood piece, and I hope you publish it once the competition is over.

Final Thought: Wait, if today wasn’t a nice day, and Sunset’s been in bed all day, who closed the curtains?
#10 · 2
I did a reading of this story. Blame regidar.


Also, sorry for sounding groggy at the begining, it took me a while to get into the rhythm of the reading. Also, I think I said bird instead of bare near the end.
#11 ·
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Sunset is sad.

She is sad because X happened.

Wasn't much impressed, because of the same critiques that >>AndrewRogue wrote (and spoke) about. There is no change. Without that context, I don't understand this Sunset Shimmer very well, much less care about her. I mean, it could just as easily be about any other character going though a period of depression and ennui, and it would read the same. With some change (upward, downward, sideways, whatever), the story would be saying something about this character and this emotion, not just wallowing in it like sadfics do.

Unless the coffee at the end is supposed to be the change, but that's way too subtle to decipher.
#12 · 1
Yes I definitely think the coffee is meant to signify change (and not just because of my coffee-centric worldview). The coffee is a step that Sunset is taking towards rejoining the world, as opposed to continuing to hide from it. And I think it's therefore also meant to have implications for her acceptance of what's happened with the relationship.

(But then I might simply have been sidetracked by the coffee.) :-p
#13 ·
Cue "Sum 41 - Heart Attack"

Slow start here (literally and figuratively) but at least a minimal hook with the "empty house" and "outvoted" contrast.

Depressed and newly separated (divorced?) Sunset... yay?

Yes, 5-10 minutes for tea is way, way too long!

Twilight... okay, that was slightly unexpected, but...

Yeah, too blunt. Twilight (and especially SciTwi/human Twilight) is too neurotic to get into a romantic relationship and then be able to play it that cool when picking up her stuff.

But... Ignoring canon/headcanon for a moment, this is a pretty decent showing of a breakup. It's not over the top like some movies, and it's not flat denial like in other movies. It feels very real.

My problem is that it feels very real for any two, actual, living humans. There is, literally nothing at all MLP about this except the names. In fact, shoehorning this into pony only weakens it. As noted above, this doesn't feel like how Twilight would act to me. But if it was just an original human character, it would totally work.

So... a really good story in general, but worse without 's/Sunset/Sally/g' 's/Twilight/Tilly/g' to shed the pony facade.