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The Brightest Days · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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Going East
The west coast was where the sun went to die; as did most dreams of stardom and glamour. Wensely hadn’t cared so much about those things when he’d landed the role in a small movie involving co-eds, a castle and a maniac. He enjoyed the work more than any promise of notoriety. That feeling soured however with the onset incident and the lack of concern from the ponies behind the cameras. After that, he was ready to leave which he did and headed to the train station.

Wensley loved the train. They’d renamed it more times than he could count: At first it was named after the terrain that it crossed, then the initials of the starting and ending cities on its line, eventually it became something bland and very corporate. Yet, no matter what others called it the train remained the same and all the wonders and emotions it brought as it roared across the countryside flooded Wensley’s senses. Heartbreak at times, other times irreverent joy. If he could have managed it, the green earth pony would have lived on that train and watched as it chewed up the scenery mile after mile.

It was around noon when Wensley took a seat in the dining car. It hadn’t changed that much. The carpet was now a maroon instead of pine green, but outside of that, everything else was as he remembered it, including the menu. He wasn’t particularly hungry so he pretended to read it. A Wednesday Night-type -of-unicorn-mare, maybe sixteen, her back hooves the same deep violet color as her eyes. A large brown book sits in front of her over which she gazed at him before glancing back at her tome or fiddling with her noodle dish. Wensley stared at her hooves; they were what reminded him more of Wednesday Night than her mane or the fact that she was a unicorn. They brought back an early memory of an interview with Wednesday Night in a photoplay magazine in which the interviewer openly chastised Wednesday for painting her rear hooves the same color as her eyes. He’d said that it showed her sociopathic immaturity and overwhelming need for attention. Wensley fell for her after reading that magazine. She was a queen in a court of princesses.

The more the mare stared at him over the thick brown book the more Wensley felt constricted about the throat. His pulse picked up its pace and he swore somebody had turned on the heat. Ne noticed her top, one of those black stretchy tops with no straps. It perfectly contrasts her fur but more importantly was the kind that he could just pull straight down and everything was instantly available. His eyes glance over to her noodles. She was taking a long time finishing that light lunch.

Feeling brave, Wensley took a seat across from her and asked what it was she was reading.

“This? The History of Equestrian Homicide.”
“Is it for a class?” he asked as he leaned forward his chair.



One topic led to another. The book closed. In his head, he thinks she’s only sixteen. He’s only nineteen. That meant that when he was three years old she didn’t exist. Soon after that, he could feel one of those painted; hooves that he’d stared at slowly begin to rub the inside of his thigh. She gazes at him deeply and tells him she’s part of some religious order and that her daddy will pick her up in Salt Lick City.

Wensley immediately imagined him as a lanky stallion with buggy whip limbs and a permanent scowl. He probably wore a broad brimmed hat and every Sunday was all fire and brimstone with his children until he set his sights on something or someone one else to lecture. Without regard for the imagined father, Wensley followed the mare to her stateroom on the train.

She kissed his neck several times and unfolded the bed from the wall. She thought all of this was funny. The bed falls into place and no room is left for either of them to stand. The train shudders and jerks and they come together in the center of the bed. Her top comes down even easier than he thought possible. She says she “can’t” as she rubs the barrel of his chest gently and looks up into his eyes. Unsure of how all these signals equaled that Wensley asked, “Can’t what?” It turned out she could and they did from Pinto Gorda to The White Salt Desert just south and west of the city. With the curtain drawn, it was like sailing along a calm sea at night. The white of the salt reflected through the window, as they pulled closer to the city. She said that she’d never be able to look at her boyfriend the same way.

No sooner had the train pulled into the station she leapt off the bed and tugged her top back on. She threw open the door and ran down the train car to the exit. Shocked, by this sudden turn Wensley attempted to follow her but all he could manage was the sound of her hoof steps on the gravel as she ran away from the train. The smell oil and hot metal filled the air. Wensley looked about desperately from the car yet all he could see were the caps of the porters in the gloomy Salt Lick night. “Wednesday,” he yelled, “Come back! I love you!” But there was no reply.
Wensley grumbled and took his seat back in the passenger car. No sooner had the train pulled away from the station a feeling began to overtake him. It wasn’t all at once but gradual like a bathtub slowly filling over a period of hours until eventually you drown. That feeling of creeping doom was there.

He glanced about the train car almost certain that she’d told her father all of the things they’d done on the train ride. Deep down he knew that if he didn’t stay vigilant he’d find him if not on the train at the next stop or even the one after that. A sheen of sweat slowly formed on his forehead as he imagined what he would do to him.

The wrath of a father was an all-consuming thing. The stallion he pictured now was a cross between King Sombra and Lord Tirek. The conductor, who somehow knew what had transpired between Wensley and the angry father’s daughter, would turn the colt over to him at some remote outpost. Once there her father would set to dismembering him, in a fashion not unlike what happened to his character in the movie, only unlike the movie his remains would be scattered about the land. It would be up to his daughter, Wednesday to find every piece of his corpse. It would take years and miles yet she’d do her best to piece him back together. The wail of her sadness would echo through the Great Chasm all the way down to the southern oceans. Even then, she wouldn’t find his most tender pieces, which would have been ground to dust and used for teacakes by her father.

Wensley spent the next several hours in the dining car drinking coffee and nibbling on a sandwich. When they finally kicked him out it was two in the morning, the train had just crossed the Misery line, and upon reaching Minor Junction, he got off bag in tow. He glanced about the train platform to make sure nobody was lurking in the shadows and found a phone.

The phone rang for what felt like hours when the sound of an elderly mare answers on the other end. It’s his grandmother. She wasn’t happy to hear from him. The truth was he hadn’t bothered to call or write his grandparents in years, possibly a decade. She reminded him of this and he apologized. She then asked why he was calling so late. “I was going to visit but I had to get off of the train. I was in danger.” She didn’t ask why and just noted the time then asked where he was. Wensley tried to explain it but she didn’t understand what he was saying. Eventually he hung up and began the long walk through a dark rolling sea of corn. The song of cicadas hung in the air.

Unlike some of his cousins, his grandparents’ farm didn’t have a name. It was just a farm that time and winter had pounded upon with great force and left it a dull gray. Typically, they grew sorghum but when the soil became weary, it was peanuts. This was a peanut year though somebody else would have to harvest. Next to the field hung a string of dead crows and vermin that his grandfather had killed. He’d tied their corpses to a wire and when the wind blew, they bobbed up and down on the line. His theory was that the dead animals served as a warning to the others not to bother the crops. Over time they’d become desiccated and have to be replaced to keep the message fresh for the other animals who might set foot on, above or below his property line.

When Wensley arrived, he knocked on the door and after a minute was greeted by his grandmother. Her mane was white and her face creased. Her shoulders slouched from years of looking after his uncles and father. She then excused herself to the kitchen where she went back to snapping peas.

His grandfather was in the hole in the sofa where he’d always been. His spot. Wensley greeted the skeletal pony who sat wrapped in a bison blanket as he listened to the ball game on the radio. He enjoyed Flam’s Cider and loved their ad, “From the crystal blue waters and mighty orchards of the great wide north.” Next to the cider was a spittoon, the kind you used to see in hotels years ago. It used to be tobacco but currently his grandfather spit more saliva and blood into it than anything else. He believed that Luna was the one that should have been the ruler of Equestria. He thought that in ten or twenty years, “Some fake alicorn will rule the country and run it into the ground.”

The radio continued to blare its broadcast and while Wensley wanted to offer his grandfather a hug he was waved off so as not to block the sound of the radio. As the broadcaster spoke, he lamented the fact that he’d given up his dream of playing ball for a living for farming. When the broadcast is over my grandmother comes in and shuts the radio off, just as she always had.

Dinner came and went without much in the way of conversation. It wasn’t until after the dishes sat cleaned and a deck of cards came out that any real talking happened. Grandmother talked about his uncles. She told stories about the one who sold insurance, the one who got married early, the one who drank too much, the one who lost an eye in the war, my father and so on until she’d exhausted the topic. The cicadas chirp outside. His grandfather doesn’t say anything until he’s almost ready for bed.

“Why are you out here anyway? Your dad said you went west to do movies.”

“It didn’t work out. There was an incident. The director killed a rabbit on set. Said it ‘enhanced the artistic value.’ Or something.”


“I lost my taste for it.”

His grandfather slowly rose from his chair. Most things he did these days were that way. He coughed a little and spit into the sink. He asked Wensley what it was he was good at again. The answer was making fruit trays and maybe farming like the rest of his family. He flipped off the light to the kitchen and turned to him. His eyes sat deep in his skull, so deep that the shadows obscured them. “Must be a brave thing to do what you’re good at and not what you want, especially over the life of a pest.” The sarcasm wasn’t lost on Wensley.

That night once the others had gone to bed Wensley sat in bed and looked at the photos of his uncles and other relatives that littered the wall of the room. Their faces etched in a moment that no longer existed. Something that could have been said about the ponies as well. His mind drifted back to the train room and his time with the mare. Sixteen and nineteen he thought. A small smile crossed his face at the recent memory. The cicadas buzzed. In the distance, a train’s lonesome call rolled across the land. He’d punch a ticket back to the coast. Back on the train. Maybe the days were brighter out there after all.
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#1 ·
· · >>Dubs_Rewatcher
Not the first thing I want to focus on in a review, but the mechanical problems hit me pretty quick in this one: inconsistent spelling, tense changes, just these spots of roughness that keep coming through. I know it's tough when time is short in a writeoff, so I won't dwell a lot on it. Polishing these up is pretty straightforward, anyway, so I don't think you need a lot of commentary harping on the particulars.

Another difficulty for me is that I feel like there's references here that are going a little over my head. It's hard to judge, though, because if it's actually a reference I don't know, then by definition I wouldn't know if it's actually there or not.

Overall, what this story calls to mind for me is a sort of The Graduate feel (minus Mrs. Robinson), an aimless drifting intermezzo in the life of a young pony who would like to be principled but isn't really sure what that means or whether there's really much value in committing to it. So instead he ends up driven around by the way the moment pushes him this way and that, running heedless toward what he likes, then away from what he fears. I think some of the streaming from one thing to another qualities of how the writing conveys the narrative of events serves this well, lending it a sort of ongoing-dream quality that captures and conveys the experience of the protagonist.

The idea is there. Just clean it up, and I think it'll polish into something really nice.
#2 ·
Halfway through the fic, I suddenly found myself thinking this was a fic about the My Little Pony Manson Family.

Maybe it's not a fair criticism, but is this a My Little Pony fic or a fic that just happens to be about ponies? What necessary connection does this have to the pony world that it couldn't have as an original fic?

I agree with all of >>Winston's comments, although I get more of a Catcher in the Rye feeling. The most interesting part of this fic is Wensley's bad experience in the movie industry, imo... wish we got more of that, and less train.