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All the Time in the World · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Glimmer Cruises
Twilight Sparkle had too much paperwork to do. Not that anypony could tell. Her usual, "manageable" workload already looked more like geology than bureaucracy to everypony else. It was surreal to hear her complaining about it over a forced lunch at Sugarcube Corners. Her friends could only shudder to imagine what could drive her to actually complain about work. Even Rarity, no stranger to late nights and tight deadlines, could only do so much to sympathize. What she could do, was sit there and let her vent.

Starlight Glimmer, on the other hoof, could not resist trying to help. "When you get done with all this, you really need to take a vacation."
"You don't say," said Twilight, "and when do you think I'm going to be able to do that? By the time I'm done with this, the school will have made another pile of work just as big!" She laid her head on the table and pulled a piece of croissant into her mouth. She sighed. Starlight did too.

"Weeeel," Pinkie chimed in, "if it helps, I just want to say thank you for giving us the opportunity to teach. It's sooo nice seeing all those creatures smiling!"

That brought a small smile to Twilight's face. "Thanks Pinkie. That's what I'm doing this for…" She fell asleep, and whatever thought was coming next trailed off. Nopony had the heart to wake her.

"The poor dear, we really need to do something for her," Rarity said. "You're quite right, Starlight. She needs to get out badly." The rest nodded in agreement.

"More like all of you need a vacation," Starlight said. "You're all plenty busy teaching, while I just sit in the counselor's office all day."

"Oh you work hard too," Fluttershy said, putting a hoof on her shoulder.

Rarity sipped her drink. "Fluttershy's right, darling. Though I will admit that I could use a break too." She grimaced. "Perhaps not as badly as Twilight, but all the same, I can't help but feel a little drained—and that's no fault of our changeling students!"

"I'm with you!" Rainbow Dash said.

"Now I'm with you gals—between the school and the farm I'm right tired—but Twi' had the problem. I don't know when we'll ever be able to do anything more than a weekend with how things are. The apples don't wait for nopony, and neither does the school."

The rest of lunch was quiet, as they all sat trying not to think about work, trying to make each bite last as long as possible. Starlight was the odd mare out. Through the hour there was a look of deep concentration on her face. She assured the others that everything was alright when they asked. "I'm just trying to come up with a way for us all to get some rest."

Applejack and Rainbow draped Twilight over their backs and carried her home.

Fortunately, she woke up by the time they got back to her castle, so she could continue working. She was thrilled.

She mumbled thanks as her friends let her down, and began trudging back to her office. Her friends did not accompany her, they were all
heading back to their own offices to work on their own reports that Twilight had asked them to write. Reports that she would have to read. There was no way she could let them off the hook though; she allowed herself to grumble all she wanted at the quantity of work she had, but it was all of it important. Just because she had given up getting the school accredited—oh, the sharp clack of her hooves against her crystal floors was so satisfying; she stamped her hooves extra hard to hear it better—was no excuse to be sloppy.

She seated herself in front of Mount Parchment again and consulted her docket. For the day there were: three critical items, five emergency, thirteen important, eight vital, and two absolutely necessary, along with one thousand five hundred and thirty eight other, less important items, to whose number she added 'improve prioritization,' to get to. She raised her quill and opened a fresh bottle of ink, ready. The tiredness receded—there was nothing like the smell of paper and ink to get your blood going.

At least it wasn't a long day. Oh dear no. In fact, in the face of so many tasks, the hours flew right by. The time went by fast, the work not so much. It took every ounce of Twilight's diligence to accomplish the superequine feat of making perceptible difference in the size of the pile of papers by the time the sun went down.

She fully intended to work through the night too. But at a certain point you run out of coffee, and all your candles burn down, and it turns out the hollow you've excavated in your paperwork is actually kind of cozy. The warm, dim glow of Twilight's horn that was the only light source left in her office winked out as she fell asleep. Scrolls covered her like blankets.




She woke up in her bed. Sometimes she wondered if it was normal to so used to waking up in different places than you had fallen asleep in. But she didn't have time to worry about that this—she looked out the window at the sky—morning; no, she tried to remember where she had left off as she shuffled into the hall, trying to rub the ghostly lines and curls of text from her eyes.

She did not reach her goal. The door to her office, when she arrived, was blocked by a grinning Starlight Glimmer. "I figured it out!"
Twilight was too tired to really care, so she just mumbled "That's nice" as she made for the door.

"Oh no," Starlight said. "You, missy, are taking a break. You've worked hard enough already. I mean look at you, you can hardly stand!" Her words would have been more convincing if she herself had looked like she had gotten any more sleep than Twilight.

Who, by the way, said: "Starlight, I have deadlines. I can't just drop all this and go the beach or something."

"Too bad," Starlight said, turning Twilight to face down the hall to the castle's entrance, "because that's exactly what you're going to do. Don't worry, I have it all taken care of. You don't need to worry about any of this, just enjoy yourself."

"Starlight…"

"Nope! Don't wanna hear it." Starlight shoved a piece of paper in Twilight's face. "Here's your ticket. You've got a train to catch." There was a sudden flash of light and Twilight found herself at the train station.

"About time you showed up. I was about to come and get you," said Rainbow Dash without warning from above. The rest of the girls were there too.

"Isn't this just the loveliest thing that Starlight's come up with?" said Rarity. "Oh I haven't been to the beach in ages. By the way, here's your luggage. Spike already packed for you."

Twilight grit her teeth. "That's great."

"Is everything alright darling?"

"It's just—" Twilight stood with her eyes closed and took several long, deep breaths. "I'm fine, this all caught me by surprise, is all."

"Perfectly understandable. I can't say I was expecting it myself. But there Starlight was at my door this morning. And, well, you can't say it's not a tempting offer."

Twilight nodded. "You know what? I trust Starlight. I'm just going to try and enjoy this." She climbed up the steps onto the train. "So where is she sending us?"

The train pulled away from Ponyville. Twilight imagined it pulling her away from all her work and problems. In a literal sense it was, but she hoped it would help her stop thinking about it. It didn't, but that was all the more reason to catch up on some sleep.

She was almost fresh by the time they arrived at their destination, a tiny little village even compared to Ponyville. It was plain that place would not have had so much as a train station if it wasn't for the resort there. In fact, Twilight had learned reading a brochure for the place, the isolation and insularity was just what the resort prided itself on: it was a place to "leave behind all the stresses of normal life," and other platitudes.

Fortunately Spike had packed plenty of better reading material.

In any case, she had to admit that "Sandy Shores" was a cozy little place. Certainly it was nice enough to forgive the bland writing style of its advertisements and unoriginal name.

There is nothing to take your mind off the work you still feel like you're supposed to be doing like hot, soft sand under your hooves. And Twilight more than most ponies was attentive to the pleasuring heat of the sun's light, for it was the warmth of friendship.

Her last thoughts of work were words of thanks to Starlight, and then all notions of business got lost in the sun and the sand and Pinkie's giggling as she sprang up in an impossible leap to pull Rainbow Dash out of the cloud she was resting in and even Rarity laughed a little and she started into the first book she had chosen to read and soon the world was yet farther removed as the words and letters danced and disappeared as they assembled their stage. In a word, she was relaxed. Oh yes.

The closest she got to being a princess that day was to tell the workers at the resort not to worry about her being so.

Paradise, it turned out was a simple thing: books, sun, friends. That's all you need. But for the absence of Spike and Starlight, it was all perfect.
A week later, Twilight lay in her bed for the last night. It was too bad she had to back to Ponyville; she was not sick of the place yet. Oh there were a few things she would have preferred. She could never live there, as there was no library. Rarity had also been starting to get fidgety with no fabric on hoof. But all in all, it was a pretty nice little town. She had already scheduled another trip for next summer.

She snuffed the candles on her bedside table, and lowered her head onto the cool fabric of the pillow. She fell asleep quickly; Ponyville was waiting.




She woke up in her bed. Sometimes she wondered if it was normal to so used to waking up in different places than you had fallen asleep in.
She started. She was in her own bed. In Ponyville. "What…" she said. She threw her door open and rushed into the hallway to see if— yes, she was in her castle. Somehow. Because there was no way she would have slept through an entire train ride.

She saw Starlight standing in the hall. "Hey," she said, approaching her. "I have a weird question—"

"I figured it out!" said Starlight, beaming.

"Figured what out? Were you the one who teleported—"

Starlight cut in again. "Oh no. You, missy, are taking a break."

"I just—" Twilight cut herself off that time. Because Starlight kept talking right over her. She didn't seem to react at all to Twilight's words. "Uh, hello?" Twilight waved her hoof in front of Starlight's face and got no response.

"Here's your ticket. You've got a train to catch," Starlight said, before teleporting her.

In a flash she was in a train car with the other girls. They all looked as confused as she was feeling.

"What's going on?" Rainbow said.

The train lurched under them. "10:25 leaving for Baltimare," somepony outside shouted.

Twilight looked at the map she realized she was holding in her magic. It showed the train's route, with a big circle and the words "Sandy Shores" penciled in south of Baltimare.

Twilight looked up at her friends.




Spike and Starlight stood, side by side looking at the big, glowing, blue bubble in the middle of Twilight's throne room.

Spike had a watch. "You said it would last five minutes," he said.

Starlight nodded. "It is."

"It's been six."

She did not have anything to say to that.

"What's happening in there?" Spike turned toward her. She was flipping through sheaves of notes, ignoring him.

"Starlight, What's. Happening in there?"

"Well I wanted to keep things limited in scope," pulling up more books and papers into the space in front of her face, "so there's not much in
there. If it goes past when I, um, meant for it to end, it should just be a—"




"—Time loop," Twilight said. "It looks like we've been caught in a time loop."

"So we get to do that vacation all over again? Sweet," said Rainbow Dash.

"Yes," said Twilight. "We get to do over again. And again. And again. Forever."

"Phooey," Pinkie said.

"This vacation just got a bit less relaxing," said Rarity.

"Don't worry, girls," Twilight said. "I'm sure we'll be able to fix this. Now, first things first…"




Spike was panicking. To her credit, Starlight was panicking too. Even though she was the reason there was a need to panic. He was not thinking
about that too much, though, because, well, panicking.

"Alright, I think I've got it," said Starlight, looking up from the page of hastily written equations in front of her. "I think I've got it."

"That's what you said last time. And before that. And when you came up with this whole thing in the first place!"

The cocky grin that Starlight had put on faltered. "Hey, look, do you want me to try this or not?" She took a deep breath and turned toward the
bubble of magic. "Let's do this," she said to herself.

Her horn lit up with the same cyan as the bubble. A thin beam shot out. The bubble reacted instantly, wobbling and moving. It began rippling at the point of contact, Slowly a spherical protuberance began to grow. The sphere grew brighter and brighter as the color started to fade from the rest of the bubble.

"It's working!" Spike shouted.

Shouting dragons are not good for concentration, though, and concentration is something Starlight needed a lot of. The beam flickered; the bubble started returning to it's original shape.

Starlight screwed her eyes shut. She maintained the spell, but it was no longer having the same effect. The entire mess in front of them was
beginning to ripple ominously. Sweat and tears ran down Starlight's face as she poured more energy into the spell. She whimpered when even
that was not enough, but kept trying.

Then, all at once, the bubble settled down. A purple light began to glow from inside. It rapidly grew in intensity until it consumed the bubble in a violet flash. Starlight stumbled forward as she was suddenly casting her spell into thin air.

She opened her eyes. The girls were all in front of her, with a very haggard, very angry Twilight in their middle.

Twilight stood up slowly, and slowly, gingerly walked over to Starlight. One of her wings automatically extended to embrace Spike as he ran up to hug her. "This was your plan?" Twilight said.

Starlight laughed nervously. "I just thought that, uh, since none of you have time to relax, I'd just, make some? Stretch out a few minutes?"

Twilight smiled sarcastically. "Well then, you'll be happy to know that the first week was actually very pleasant. The next three months that I had to spend reinventing time magic from scratch because I didn't have my library on the other hoof…"

"It may have lasted just a little bit longer than I expected."

Twilight wheeled around to Spike. "How long has it been out here?"

"An hour," he said, trying not to add an "I told you so."

"An hour," Twilight repeated. "An hour has gone by. So you're telling me that not only have I had to spend the last three months straight from my
perspective figuring out how to break out of a time loop, but that huge pile of paperwork sitting in my office is just as big as it was last night?"

It wasn't really a question. Even if it had been, Starlight knew better than to answer.

Twilight composed herself, with a small, tired smile. She hoofed Starlight a quill. "Well have fun then." She trotted off. "You better not have missed any deadlines by the time I wake up," she called behind her.

"Well that went better than I expected," Starlight muttered. She looked up at the other girls. And their sunburns. All five of them were covered head to tail in sunburns. They looked at her expectantly.
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#1 ·
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This premise is exactly my jam, I love it. (I'll probably give a better review when I'm not on my phone)
#2 · 1
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Despite the work she had to put in, I'd still think Twilight would be more relaxed afterwards, and I'm not sure I buy horse sunburns. There's no reason they'd be forced to repeat the same actions given that Twilight hadn't so I'm not sure why they're burnt.

In general the latter part of the story felt a little rushed to me. I think a slower reveal of the time loop or at least going into more detail on Twilight and Starlight's respective struggles might make it more interesting. Some subtle foreshadowing on the first trip would be nice, too.
#3 · 1
· · >>Xepher
This is a textbook rushed entry. It's moving a little fast for me to get a good handle on it, which makes it a little hard to critique, but I'll do my best. Either way, pacing should be priority number one if you return to edit this.

I'll start by saying this premise easily feels like it could be an episode, though it would certainly need to be expanded upon. But I think that, on the whole, the scenes that you focused on were the wrong ones.

For example, I think the first ~850 words of this story could have been cut, starting instead at the moment that Twilight wakes up in the time loop the first time none the wiser. Because the premise is simply that Starlight wants to find a way to get Twilight and her friends some time off, which isn't something that needs a lot of support. Tell that to any fanfiction loving brony, and they won't raise an eyebrow and ask how on earth you could ever convince them that that would ever happen. If the story started with Twilight frantically running into Starlight and being sent on a cruise, I don't think any of us would have missed everything that happened before it.

The next part of the story is the vacation description, which is glossed over because you're trying to point out that they're kind of having a boring time. The only problem is that then we get a little bored too.

The inciting incident of your story, meanwhile—which is the fact that the spell isn't quite working properly and Twilight has figured it out—gets very little attention compared to everything else. But it's the first time we've had any real tension, so I think it should have come earlier. I even think you can throw one stone at two birds here, if Twilight and Co. start to notice that something's iffy about their vacation even the first time they go. That adds a little intrigue to the previous scene, while also giving the reader more time to figure out for themselves what's going on. Then when she wakes up in the same place again, it all clicks together for the reader, instead of having them say, "Oh, I guess this isn't as boring as I thought."

I'd be interested to see how this story would look with a lot more meat on its bones, and with a lot more time spent on the interesting ideas you're presenting. Thanks for writing, and best of luck!

P.S. Very minor point, but I also noticed some strange italicizing here, such as on the words "relaxed" and "thrilled". I recommend italicizing the whole word, or maybe adding some hyphens if you want to emphasize certain syllables. Regardless, "-ed" isn't a syllable.
#4 · 2
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I'm gonna side with >>Miller Minus on this one. A lot of the early setup felt unnecessary, and the main conflict is rushed and feels practically glossed over. We don't see any of the "how" in Twilight breaking out of the bubble.

That said, it's not badly written, and the concept of a forced vacation in a time bubble is a clever, Starlight-accurate solution. We just need to see more of the how and why, of the characters discovering their predicament, of the effort in fixing it. Instead, we're basically just told "Oh, it's a time loop..." and then a way short time later. "And it took forever, but I solved it!"