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Forbidden Knowledge · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Thou Shalt Not Eat Of The Tree
“I’ve got a question.” Adam sat with his back leaned up against the tree and regarded the garden spreading around as far as the eye could see, with every possible kind of animal and plant which God had placed there. It was the perfect place for him, but something was still bothering him.

“Now there you go again,” said Pony, who was curled up at his feet against the same tree. “Last time you asked me a question, you came back missing a rib. Now hush up and keep scritching.”

After returning to his long-delayed scratching of Pony’s ears, Adam let out a sigh. “Really, I’ve got an important question this time. Besides, the last time I asked you a question, it worked out just fine.”

“No ear scritching for a whole week ain’t what I call fine,” groused Pony. “A little higher there. A little more. Yeah, right there.” Pony gave a long sigh and settled down. “Ah suppose, if’n it’s bothering you an’ it’s somethin’ I can help with, I could give you an answer. Jus’ as long as you ain’t lookin’ for no more helpmates. One of them oughta be enough, what with all the hubbub and carryin’ on you two did all last week. Sent poor Unicorn into a tizzy, all gasping for breath and wavin’ a hoof in front of her face every time the two of you went off…”

The tempo of scratching picked up as Adam cleared his throat. “I’m really not sure what happened either, Pony. Eve and I were just talking to each other down by the grove, and one thing led to another—”

“And another, and another,” said Pony with a satisfied grunt at the accelerated tempo of the ear scratching. “Thought you two would never quit.”

“Today is a day of rest,” said Adam. “God said so.”

“Thank God,” said Pony. She opened one eye and regarded the sleeping Eve a short distance away. “Ah suppose tomorrow you two will start up all over again.”

“I asked God about that, and he said to go ahead and take two days for resting.” Adam began scratching further down Pony’s neck as she leaned forward and twisted her head to expose more scritching spots. “He said it would be called a ‘Weekend,’ and it would give me… I mean us more time to appreciate his work.”

“Sounds a little lazy to me.” Pony arched her neck so Adam could go from scratching to neck-rubbing on some of the harder knots under her mane. “Sun up to sundown, working all the time is the way to really live life. All this layin’ around is just wasting time, but if’n He says so, ah’ll agree.” Pony opened one eye and regarded Adam. “Didn’t you say you had a question?”

The neck-rubbing hesitated for a moment before continuing. “It isn’t really important.”

“It must be or you wouldn’t have brought it up,” said Pony, closing her eyes. “A little further down.”

After shifting his neck massage down a bit, Adam rubbed for a while before asking, “What if this is wrong?”

“Did God say it was wrong?” asked Pony without opening her eyes.

“No,” said Adam.

“Then it’s fine.” Pony looked up with a frown. “Have you been talkin’ with Serpent again?”

“Well…” Adam looked off into the distance.

Pony huffed in indignation. “What did I tell you about him? He’s a low-down snake-in-the-grass who don’t think nuttin’ of just popping up when you just get a mouthful of grass and laughin’ while you’re choking. Anything he’s been fillin’ your ears with ain’t got nuttin’ good about it.”

“He got me thinking about—”

“There you go a thinkin’ again.” Pony huffed and blew a tuft of mane back from her eyes. “God put you here and gave you all of us critters to look over, an’ we have you to watch over us, an’ the only rule he gave you was?”

“Don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Adam sighed.

“If that weren’t good enough for you,” huffed Pony, “you went an’ complained to God that you ain’t got nobody like you around. Ah’m just glad he took a rib to make her instead of anything inside your head, because you ain’t got much in there to spare, from what I can tell.”

Pony lifted her head up enough to take a look at Eve, who was still sleeping nearby. “Admittedly, she’s a cutie. Ain’t that enough for you?”

“I thought so.” Adam buried his head in his hands. “There’s so much out there.”

“Yup. And God gave it all to you. Except one lousy tree.” Pony kicked backwards with one hoof into the trunk of the tree they were against and caught the fruit that fell down afterwards. “What’s so good about that fruit way over there when you’ve got all these fruits here to pick from. Now look at this. God said this here tree is just fine. Can’t you be satisfied with this?”

“I was.” Adam looked across the garden at the distant tree until a second equine form delicately picked her way out of the nearby bushes and regarded the two of them with a dry look.

“Good morning, Adam. Pony. So nice to see the two of you enjoying this beautiful day.” The elegant unicorn gave a long look at the sleeping form of Eve and a brief sniff. “I see you and your ‘helpmate’ have decided to take a break from your activities as of late. Nearly every grove and meadow I used to frolic and gambol in has been smeared with sweat.” Unicorn sniffed again, holding up a hoof for closer inspection as if it had been befouled by something she had stepped in.

“Good morning, Unicorn.” Adam ran his fingers through Eve’s hair, making the woman stir in her sleep and curl her arm around his leg. “I haven’t seen you around here recently.”

“You mean since she arrived,” said Unicorn with her regular sniff at the sleeping woman. “She has no sense of propriety.”

“Just because she tried to braid your tail.” Adam tried to conceal a smile but failed. “With flowers.”

“I am a wild creature of the forest. I do not do braided tails.” Unicorn sniffed again. “I do hope I was not interrupting anything.”

“Jus’ a good ear scritching.” Pony shifted positions and yawned. “God said it’s a day of rest, after all.”

“What if ear scratching is work?” said Adam with a frown. “What if it is wrong, and I just don’t know.”

Unicorn eyed Pony with a raised eyebrow. “Darling, has he been talking to Serpent again?”

“Yup.”

After yet another sniff, Unicorn pranced up to Adam and looked him straight in the eyes. “Dear Adam, ear scratching is most certainly not wrong. God only gave you one command, didn’t he? Don’t eat from—”

“— the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” completed Adam. “Yes, I know.”

“Good.” Unicorn leaned closer and flicked an ear. “I believe I heard something about ear scratches?”

Since he had been gifted with two hands, Adam used one each on Pony and Unicorn, and the only thing that could be heard for a while was the satisfied equine grunting of proper ear scratching. That is, until he said, “But—”

“No buts,” said Pony with a huff.

“Most certainly not,” agreed Unicorn.

“But what if the tree is just a test?” asked Adam. “What if God really wants me to explore my potential and push back the boundaries of my existence? I mean, there are so many things out there I’ve never seen or touched.”

“There has been quite enough touching between you two for one week,” said Unicorn with a sniff. “As for seeing, what could you possibly not have seen yet? I know I’ve seen some things I really don’t want to see again,” she added, taking a glance at where Eve was still sleeping.

“Well, what about the sun, for example,” said Adam, pointing into the sky. “What is it, what is it made out of, why is it so bright, why do we squint when we look at it?”

“All perfectly good questions you can ask God the next time he’s walking you in the garden,” said Unicorn. “It shall make a delightful conversation, and you can tell us all about it when you return.”

“How do I know if what God tells me is right, though?”

Both Unicorn and Pony stared at Adam.

“You don’t…” Pony managed to say before trailing off in disbelief.

“You can’t mean,” said Unicorn, forgetting to sniff for a change, “that you think God would… I can’t say it. It’s unthinkable.”

“That He’d tell you somethin’ that ain’t true?” said Pony in a near-whisper.

“It’s…” Adam stopped with one hand held in front of him as if he were trying to grasp something that did not exist. “What if the tree isn’t bad?” he said in one quick burst of words. “What if by eating it, we were to really understand what is really good and evil, just like God can?”

Unicorn stood up abruptly and threw her mane back over her shoulder. “Well, I never. I refuse to sit here and listen to this foolishness. First her and now you’re willing to believe Serpent over God. Humph!” Lifting her nose up to the point where she could not possibly see where she was going, Unicorn pranced right out of the clearing and away into the bushes until she vanished from sight, with only the sound of one distant sniff echoing back to tell where she had gone.

“Now you done did it,” said Pony. “She’s gonna go off and be all snooty somewhere in the deep forest. We’ll be lucky if’n we see her again sometime next year, or even longer if she’s really ticked off.”

“It’s important,” said Adam with a determined set to his square jaw. “Eve and I talked about it all yesterday. Well, part of yesterday.” Eve stirred on the thick green grass and let out a sigh in her sleep, and Adam coughed quietly. “ A small part.”

“Right.” Pony eyed the two humans and let out a long sigh. “Ah swear you two is the most stubborn of anything God made, and that includes Unicorns.”

“But God made us that way, so it must be good,” said Adam quickly. “Just like he made Aardvark with that weird long nose, and…” He trailed off and waved his hands. “That funny-looking thing, kinda like a duck and a beaver.”

“Platypus,” said Pony. “You should know, you named him. Or her.”

“They all blurred together after a while,” admitted Adam. “Everything He made is good, because good cannot create evil, right?”

“Depends,” said Pony suspiciously, looking for the logical trap.

“So the Tree must be good too, since He made it,” said Adam.

“Maybe He made it that way, I don’t know,” huffed Pony. “Ask Him the next time he takes you for a walk.”

“You know what He’ll say,” said Adam. “Just the same as when He created us. Don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And we intend on finding out what it tastes like.”

“Now wait just a minute,” said Pony, scrambling to his hooves. “What do you mean, ‘we’ intend on it? Don’t you go draggin’ Eve into this.”

“She… suggested it,” said Adam. “After we talked to Serpent.”

Pony snorted. “You ain’t askin’ me for my advice, ‘cause you two already made up your fool minds. What you’re lookin’ for is an excuse, and I ain’t givin’ it to you.”

“No I’m not,” said Adam, waving his hands as he uttered the unthinkable falsehood. “I mean… So what if I am?”

“It’s stupid, that’s what it is.” Pony waved a hoof all across the beautiful garden around them, shimmering in the warm morning sunlight. “You’re gonna throw away everything God gave you, this garden, your life, and a helpmate, just for a stupid fruit? If you’re hungry, try some of these.” Pony kicked at the trunk of the tree they were leaning against and a half-dozen or so ripe fruit fell all around them. “Here, eat up. You don’t like this, there’s some cherry trees over yonder, and some peaches on the back side of this here hill.” Pony took a big bite and chewed while watching suspiciously as Adam woke Eve up and whispered to her. After a brief conversation, the two humans stood up and began to walk away without another word to Pony.

“It ain’t gonna do me no good to tell you if y’all are gonna disobey God, but I’m gonna tell you anyway,” snapped Pony. “You eat from that tree, and I ain’t gonna talk to you ever again, you hear me? I’ll be the most cantankerous critter in this here garden, a bitin’ and a nippin’ at you whenever you’re around. Serve you right if God goes and kicks you right on outta here, too! Idjits.”

Pony settled down at the base of the tree and ate one of the fruits she had kicked down. Otherwise, it would have just been wasted, and God would not like that. Even if Adam and Eve were going to go disobey his will, He was going to see Pony had obeyed his commands. “This wouldn’t have happened if’n He had put ponies in charge of the garden,” grumbled Pony. “But ah suppose He had his reasons.”

“Are they gone?” asked Unicorn, coming out from concealment and picking up one of the fallen fruits for a morning snack. One of the smaller fruit, more suited for her slim figure.

“Yeah,” grumbled Pony. “They’re off to that fool tree what they was warned about to no end.” She took the last bite out of her apple and picked up another one from the ground.

“They did seem to be rather foolish creatures,” said Unicorn, delicately eating around the apple core. “A shame, really. They just could not stay away from that other tree.”

“Pears,” scoffed Pony, holding the apple in one hoof. “Ain’t nuttin’ good ever come of no pear tree.”
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#1 · 3
· · >>ZaidValRoa >>Corejo
At first, I was dreading this was going to be misaimed, and someone had accidentally done OF in the Ponyfic round.

I am very glad to see this was wrong. The philosophizing was entertaining, and 'Pony' and 'Unicorn' who are most certainly nor Orangefruit and Prettywhite were splendidly voiced.

But the best part is the last line, because it just fits so very splendidly with the aforementioned pair, taking an important piece of religiosity and adding a wonderfully whimsical touch of the absurd that fits perfectly with Pony's character.
#2 ·
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Absolutely Haram.

I will now believe Equestria is just a scaled up Garden of Eden.

>>Morning Sun
Orangefruit

Blasphemy!

But yeah, this was an entertaining tale.
#3 · 5
· · >>Corejo
Huh, biblical fanfiction. Didn't expect that today.

Anyway, continuing a grand tradition started by Dante this story inserts Pony and Unicorn into the Garden of Eden story. Personally I really liked the content of this story, its funny, irreverent and doesn't fall into the usual trap of being too preachy to get anything done. Pony and Unicorn are also well defined and fit remarkably well into the narrative, though they don't really have much impact on how everything seems to shake out in the end.

Actually, that's probably my biggest critique in the end. Fanfiction I firmly believe is an additive thing, throwing new characters and events at a well established setting to see how things change. I'm not sure this story does that, or rather, despite the new characters it changes neither the message or eventual outcome. While there's a level of value to writing in the bridges, it struggles to be interesting when the audience begins knowing the ending.

All in all, a fun slice of life in the Garden of Eden but without being much more.

Edit: Oh, and while I remember. No Pegasus? Was she off playing with the Greek gods?
#4 ·
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>>Morning Sun
Pretty much all this. That last line had me laughing out loud.


>>billymorph
Also, I love this question and second it.
#5 · 2
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Thou Shalt Not Eat Of The Tree - A - And on the fifth day, God created Pony and said to her, “Keep an eye on Man, would’ya? An’ try to keep him from doing anything stupid.” It didn’t work. Reasonable hook/setup, good end, nice story overall, foreordained conclusion, fails the Bechdel test because Adam goofs that up too. Still, cute and lighthearted for a story about the Fall of Man and the Tree.
#6 · 2
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I had this on my prelim ballot and I ended up giving it my top ranking, simply because of its elegant construction and easygoing narrative. I had a smile throughout.

But now that I'm judging in the finals and I'm forced to find things to criticize, I realize I have a few items. First, this story doesn't really do much, I'm afraid. That is, it doesn't really accomplish anything. It just takes the biblical creation story, adds ponies, and... well, there is no step three. Creation story + ponies. That's it.

It does offer a meditation on knowledge and doubt, but honestly there's been quite a lot of that in theological circles for the past few thousand years and I'm not sure the ponies add much to the formula. Still, for all that it's a simple formula, it works well, and was fun to read.

On an incidental note -- I got strong 'Rarity' vibes from the unicorn, but that might just be because I'm primed to see Rarity whenever there is snooty, delicate unicorn. On the other hand, I got no such similar vibes from 'Pony,' but at the end the pear joke makes me wonder if she's supposed to be Applejack. If you revise this, author, I think you need to make that part either more explicit, or less so.

Finally, echoing billymorph, why no pegasi? Run out of time?
#7 ·
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Just like a soufflé, this story is lite, fluffy, and tender where it has to be, and crispy/flaky where it needs it. Nothing happened here, and nothing had to! I just love the way you characterized Pony and Unicorn. Adam was hoot as well, seeking out the undisclosed agenda behind God verbally disclosed agenda, until at last everyone has a slice of apple pear pie while figuring out whether they're happier having eaten pie and lost than never, ever, having had pie in the first place, and the Illuminati are revealed as being orange mongers all.
#8 ·
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Adam has a conversation with Applejack about whether or not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Applejack is rightly suspicious… after all, it is a pear tree.

This story amused me, all the more so for the foregone conclusion, but I felt like Adam’s reasoning here was a little scanty. I’m not really sure what this added to the myth, unless there was some implication that she sent him off to the wrong tree because Pony and Unicorn were really eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

I got Applejack and Rarity’s characters pretty strongly here, but in the end, it didn’t really seem to do much with the myth.
#9 · 2
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In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Pony discuss life, truth, and ear scratches.

Hey, eleventh place is not that bad. And it’s the second time I’ve placed there too.

Yes, this is my story. When the prompt ‘Forbidden Knowledge’ was announced, there was only one possible direction to travel. Admittedly, the plot was somewhat straightforward and the end results foreordained, but the Tree of Knowledge was the original Forbidden Knowledge, and I had to cover it.

Pony is of course Applejack, or Orangefruit as Morning Sun put it so well, and Rarity channels her very ancient Unicorn ancestors here. There are unicorns mentioned in the Bible, but generally they are considered to be rhinos of some sort by modern scholars. Pegasi, no. Sorry Rainbow Dash fans.

I cut down to the bone here, since this is a Morality Play, or possibly a Parable, and descriptions in that format are almost skeletal. Example: A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering his seed, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up…

Note the farmer, the seeds and the birds are all unadorned. We never know what kind of birds they are, or if the farmer is married, or even what is being planted. Just farmer, seeds, birds.

I went back and forth on the dialogue a few times before bringing in Rarity Unicorn in order to balance things out. One of the prime rules of storytelling in this way is to minimize the number of characters, but I needed the differing POV to show the animals all were united in their trust of God (except for Serpent, that snake in the grass) and to provide a sounding board for Pony. Eve intentionally did not have any lines because she would only be duplicating Adam’s dialogue, and I wanted to show him arguing his point on his own.

His point being “What if…” and in particular “What if God was wrong?” Adam as shown here is very much Mankind, constantly striving for more, from getting a helpmate to contemplating alternate explanations of events that Serpent told him. In a way, he’s right. Mankind yearns for explanations they discover themselves, they want to struggle against adversity and imagine things the way they could be instead of the way they are. We are Rikki-tikki-tavi and our motto is “Run and find out.”

Even if we wind up eating from the pear tree and getting kicked out of the garden.

In a deeper sense, Ponies are unlike Mankind because they are not marked by Original Sin. They have followed God’s command, so they do not need a savior, they do not need redemption, and they most certainly go straight to the Heavenly Pastures when they pass away. This is something almost untouched by ponyfic in the EiH stories, and probably for good reason, because there are quite a few young people who react to Christian religion much like Dracula regards the cross. Instant downvotes there. Still, it would be a *major* point of discussion among the churches. Imagine if aliens land at the UN building, greet the assorted diplomats, and their first words are “Have you heard the word of Jesus Christ?”

I have this mental image of a Catholic family at home when there is a knock at the door and two ponies in starched ties outside.

“My name is Bright Starshine and we are in your neighborhood discussing the Word of Luna with you and your neighbors…”

Brings a whole new meaning to Moonies.