Somewhere Over the Moon

by Solana

Chapter 3: Nightmares and Dreamscapes

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Nightmares and Dreamscapes

        “Nopony must know of this...” I stammered while looking down at my exposed cutiemark. It took a second or two to realize what I had just said. “Ugh! This should be a dream! Why isn’t it a dream?” I dragged out the word dream with a childish whine that almost resulted in the nervous grinding of teeth.

        I turned the lights off and sat down on the closed toilet, sitting in the dark was often an invaluable technique for calming myself down. Denying my senses any input gives them less to work with, except for when I was feeling particularly imaginative. Right now I was a bit too preoccupied to start inventing nightmarish creatures that were crawling up the bathtub’s drain.

        The cutiemark on either of my thighs wasn’t so easily avoided unfortunately. It was a bit weird and... well, neat, actually. The blotch and the crescent moon stood out against the darkness very faintly. It was not at all like typical black light effects, or glow in the dark illumination. The light seemed unusually natural, considering the source, and it pulsed as though it were alive. One of my ears did its best to flick as I focused my attention on my shiny new cutiemark. I grabbed at it with both hands and yelped, silencing myself last second as much as I could.

        “I hate when it does that!” I growled out. “It feels so weird...”

        I released my ear and calmed down. My issues were so much bigger than twitchy ears, and right now it wasn’t worth the distraction. I looked back down at the small representations of the night sky. The soft glow was quickly starting to hypnotize me, and if I listened close I swore I could hear the soft hum of something... indistinct.

        “Ha!” I shouted a bit too loudly, given the hour. “It’s magic!”

I had to admit, I suddenly wasn’t so bent out of shape. Real magic, and it wasn’t a dream! It was a motherfucking miracle. I had half a mind to paint myself up like a clown. And then the other foot dropped.

        ‘This is Luna’s cutiemark.’ I took another worried glance back down. ‘What the hay am I doing with Luna’s cutiemark?’ 

        Unbidden, my mind filled with the events from the previous week. Josh kissing my hand, the little girl on the bus, and the episode with James that I had soundly placed out of mind for the sake of my sanity.

        Delicate. Flower.

        I stumbled backwards and yelped. The heels of my feet had struck the side of the tub, and they could go no further, but the rest of me wasn’t so convinced. I tumbled backwards into the tub with a loud thud.

        I winced and clutched the side of my head for a few moments before a sharp knock on the door sounded the presence of another. “Are you alright in there?” I heard Robert’s gruff voice echo through the bathroom door.

        “Y-Yes! We are fi-” I coughed and clutched at my throat. Did... Did my voice just crack?

        . . . Did I just use the royal we?

        “I’m coming in.” He shoved open the door, and I mentally smacked myself for not opening the counter drawer as a makeshift deadbolt.

        Instead what I did was cry out and cover up my privates with a towel. In retrospect a pointless maneuver, it’s not like I had anything he hadn’t seen before, or vice versa. “Robert... I’m naked.”

        He paused in the doorway and cocked his head. “I can see that.” He closed the door behind him and then flicked on the bathroom lights. The light was almost blinding after my long sit in the dark. I closed my eyes defensively and pulled back.

        “Jeez Eric, got yourself some nice tattoos there.” When I opened my eyes he was hunched over by the side of the tub, and was poking my cutiemark experimentally.

        I swatted at his hand nervously while using my spare to hide behind the towel. “What are you doing?! Stop that!” I recoiled further into the tub and winced when the cold metal of the facet grazed my back. “It’s not a tattoo...” I whimpered.

        “Are you sure?” That old big brother tone entered his voice and his lips curled into an expression of knowing mirth. “Because it looks like you tattoo’d Luna’s cutiemark onto your butt.” He clasped his hands together and laughed out. “Oh Eric, now you really are a princess!”

        I don’t know what I was thinking. My heart rate was sky high, so I guess that’s evidence toward the conclusion that I hadn’t. My hand sailed out and collided with his face, the echo from the slap was almost deafening as it ricocheted off the walls. In the aftermath, I was hyperventilating with my hand outstretched, and Robert’s face was red like the inside of a plum. It was obvious there was going to be a bruise. He clutched the side of his face with a pained expression.

I gathered my senses, and upon recognizing my extremely effeminate position I yelped and curled inward, wrapping the towel completely around myself. “Not a tattoo...” I mumbled out before purposefully avoiding his gaze.

        “Relax Eric, I know that. I was just teasing you.” Robert rubbed at his jaw. “You should really stick to slapping, they’re way worse than your punches.”

        I ignored his last statement. “How can you tell?”

        “That it’s not a tattoo?”

        I nodded quietly.

        Robert reached over and pulled back the left sleeve of his shirt, around his arm was a band of ink for every year he’d been alive. I didn’t need to count to know there was 31 of them, and pretty soon there would be 32. The closer they got to the base of the wrist the more faded they appeared. The first 18 must have been done at once, because they all had the same faded greenish black colour.

        “Because that is what a real tattoo looks like.” He stated matter of factly. “Whatever you’ve got going there, it looks like a birthmark, but... It’s like someone painted it on.” He shook his head in disbelief. “You’re not going to get a white moon that is that unblemished at a tattoo parlor. Unless you found someone who has perfected mysterious techniques from the exotic orient.”

        “It’s a cutiemark...” I half whispered to myself.

        Robert beamed down at me. “It sure looks like it!” He walked over to the sink and wet a rag with cold water before applying it to his face. “So how’d you get it?”

        “I had a nightmare, so I decided to take a shower.” I exaggerated a shrug enough for the gesture to be visible through the towel. “I just woke up with it, this morning.”

        “This morning, huh?”

        Once again, I nodded.

        “Well, happy birthday I suppose.” He reached his hand into his back pocket and dug out a small orangish-brown envelope before tossing it to me. I stretched my hands out from under the towel and caught it.

        “What is this?”

        “It’s your birthday present.”

        “But... why? You didn’t even know I was going to be here yesterday.” I looked down and started scrutinizing it carefully, ready for a prank.

        “Read the envelope Eric... I was going to mail it today.”

        Sure enough the package had my old address in Wisconsin on it.

        “Go ahead, open it.” He sat Indian-style against the bathroom door and leaned into it, clutching the cold rag to his face.

        It wasn’t that difficult to open, though I did end up resorting to my teeth. I guess in my emotional state I lost quite a bit of my dexterity, because I kept fumbling with my hands. With a slow rip I tore at one of the ends. I gently tapped the side of it against the towel and the contents fell out onto the relatively yielding safety of the material, instead of the hard surface of the tub. The first object I noticed was a necklace. It was hard to miss with the large dark blue crystal perched in the center. The crystal was held in place by the most amazing wire-wrapping job ever. It was elegant in a sort of dark way, possessed of both sharp edges and graceful curves. It wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen in some jewelry shop.

        “Robert... How did you get this?”

        “DeviantArt, 200 dollars.”

        “You bought me a necklace off DeviantArt?” I raised a brow at him.

        He winced at the quickly developing bruise. “Hey, if you don’t want it, I’ll wear it.”

        “No No! I want it, it’s just...” I looked down at the necklace and folded my fingers around the pendent. “Thanks...”

        I reached down and picked up the second object, which was a letter. It was handwritten ink on blank white printer paper. It was also unevenly folded, but I always had a hard time with that myself.

Hey Eric

I know we didn’t get along very well growing up. But I just wanted to write you for your birthday and tell you how proud I am of you. This is your first birthday way from home, right? You finally got out man, and I think thats great!

You seem to really like shiny things, and this made me think of you. I hope you don’t mind that it’s basically jewelry, I know how sensitive you can be about your masculinity (Or lack thereof! Ha!)

Happy Birthday


        I folded the letter up and slipped it back into the envelope. “Thank you...” I fiddled with the chain of the necklace a bit. “It was very thoughtful, we appreciate your gift.”

        Eric snickered, and I clapped a hand over my mouth.

        “We, huh?”

        “Robert! You can’t tell anyone about the...” My voice talespinned into a squeaky whisper. “Cutiemark...”

        “Hey, don’t worry Luna.” He stated mockingly. “I won’t tell anyone, it’ll be our little secret.”

        I ignored his teasing and stood up. I bent over and snatched up the extra towel, draping it over my shoulders. The first towel was wrapped around my waist, so most of my figure was now obfuscated enough to suit my nerves. “Thank you.”

        “Don’t mention it.” He stood up. “If anyone asks, I slipped and fell into the doorknob.”

        “If anyone asks, I fell in the shower, and my voice did not crack.”

        He held out a hand and we shook on it. “Deal.”

        I climbed out of the tub and yawned. “I should get some more sleep.”

        Robert nodded and opened the bathroom door. “After you milady.” He held his hand out like some kind of manservant.

        I was about to become my usual indignant self, but a flash of heat from my thighs interrupted me, and instead of yelling at him I merely huffed. “We are more than prepared to strike thee a second time.”

        Robert looked incredibly confused by the archaic speech, but he stood up straight and stopped with the charade.

        “Much better.” I replied, and stepped proudly out of the bathroom and back into the bedroom.

        When the door closed behind me I fell back against it. The wave of heat dissipated and I was feeling absolutely frigid all of a sudden. I slid down until I was sprawled out on my rear, a detail that only reminded me of the mark I now shared with a certain cartoon horse. I closed my eyes and ran a tense hand through my hair.

        What the hell was happening to me? Why was I speaking so strangely? Why was I acting this way? I felt like an absolute stranger to myself. Am I going to start speaking in caps-lock soon? As abrupt as some of the changes in personality were, it was getting very hard to tell where Luna began and I ended.

        ‘Assuming there is any difference at all.’ I thought bitterly.

        My other hand was still holding the necklace my brother had given me, and I stared at it. It glinted in the soft light of near-dawn, and scattered the light around pleasantly. It really was beautiful.

        ‘I bet it will match my coat quite well. Tia will be so jealous!’ 

        My eyes widened.

        Ah ha, yeah... No. We’re going back to sleep now.

        I mean I am going back to sleep now!

        With a frustrated sob I picked myself up and stepped lightly to the bed. A cold feeling in my chest was still spreading out through my veins and making me shiver, so when I collapsed onto it I scooped up all of the blankets and bundled myself in them tightly.

The insulation from the blankets didn’t seem to do much besides trap the cold in. I thrashed about a bit trying to get warm before finally giving up and curling up into a ball with my back against the wall. It felt like icy fingers were wrapping themselves around my heart, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope.

        As I got myself situated however, a gentle pulse of warmth resonated from where my new cutiemark was located. It did a pretty good job of driving off most of the cold, though it remained particularly bad in my chest. I couldn’t really help myself at that point, I murmured happily and reveled in the feelings sweeping through my body.

        Sure, everything was changing, and this was my body. My precious body. But isn’t change what I was looking for in the first place when I left home all those months ago? The mental changes were especially frightening still, but all of this still felt... really nice!

        I drifted off to sleep then. The warmth filling my body continued to battle that invasive coldness. Those twin sensations ushered me into sleep together.

        I’ll never understand why people claim you can’t dream in colour, or read in your dreams. If anything colours were exaggerated in my dreams. Reading was as simple as noting the address and names on the side of the mailboxes, and based on those, I wasn’t too far from my father’s house. I probably could have left if I wanted to, but the natural gravity provided by the dream’s intensity pulled me forward, and I didn’t see a reason to fight back. The secret to relaxation in the dreamlands is to just go with the flow.

        For the most part, anyway.

        My father and mother divorced early on after my younger brother had been born. He was a bit of a lecherous pig, and I didn’t really enjoy his company much anyway. He always hollered after women or acted like some kind of stud whenever I was around. It’s the same way he acted around guys in general, really, and it was as though I was expected to find him cool for this behavior. He was trying to earn my respect, and that was his first step towards losing it.

        I had an older sister from before he met my mother, and he never acted that way around her. He acted like... Well, what I hope qualifies for himself. He would never act that way around me, and I always resented him for that. Her as well, but since I never interacted with her it was hardly an issue that ever came up.

        That soft and gentle inertia led me to the front yard of his house. The grass was well kept and there was a large tree for shade, as well as a trampoline. Dad met an overweight singer at his local church, and she was desperate to get married and have kids. I guess her biological clock was running out and such. She had rich parent, so.Dad made out like a bandit. She was so grateful that she didn’t even care about his wandering eyes, or hands.

        The picket fence was gone. That was new, I certainly didn't remember that from the last time I visited. Around the perimeter of the yard were long wooden stakes with wire stretched in a hexagonal pattern around them. On the other side of the wire was a thick brown cardboard, like when you get those little tubes of biscuit dough for dinner. While scrutinizing the layout an understand dawned on me. He was replacing his old picket fence with a wall.

        That gravity began tugging at me once more, and I knew I had to find my father. At this time of day I assumed he would be in the backyard working on his garden. So I rounded the house and made my way towards it.

        When I dream, I make a game of noticing the interesting incongruencies. To veer on a Jungian tangent, dreams are intuition based, and less sensing based. This might account for why people claim you cannot read or see in colour in dreams... But that’s a thought exercise for another time.

The first thing I noticed about this dream was that everything ‘was much larger than it should have been. The stakes went up to my shoulders, instead of my waist. The house towered like a castle, and I could even make out a pennant flying high at the top. When I finally reached the garden the vegetables had received the same treatment. The pumpkins were as big as carriages, and the the heads of lettuce were as big as cardboard boxes.

        “Eric?” I heard my father’s voice call out in an angry and confused tone.

So, It was one of those dreams.

        I turned around to face him. My father was always a big man. He worked for a moving company for most of his life, and never cut his hair, and in this dream his size was also exaggerated. He looked like a towering barbarian king come to demand his offering of slaves.

        “What are you doing standing around? Get back to work!” He tossed a shovel at me, expecting me to catch it. I calmly stepped to the side, and it clattered to the ground by my feet. My only response was a smirk.

        His jaw went slack, and his face turned red. “What are you doing? Pick up that shovel!”


        “Yeah, I just don’t think that’s going to happen.” I looked down at the shovel and spat at it. “Sorry pops, no free labor today!”

        He marched the rest of the distance between us and thrust a finger against my chest. The waves of anger tugged and twisted at the dream, disturbing the flow and amping up the intensity. Things were getting out of hand. If they continued, the gravity would likely be too strong for me to fight against. I’d find myself in a nightmare, and those are unpleasant on the best of nights.

        I acted on instinct, even I do that in dreams on occasion. I shoved the towering man back with unexpected strength. When he stepped back his face was a blistering beet red, and he swung at me. I ducked beneath the blow and scooped up the shovel by the handle in one movement, then rolled around his side and behind him with the next. Before he could recover from his attempted haymaker I brought the metal end of the shovel down on his head, hard.

        With a crack that echoed through the dream he collapsed onto the ground in a heap. I lifted the shovel high into the air and prepared to stab it down like a spear right into his back, but before I could complete the movement a voice called out to me.


        I took one of my hands off the handle and lowered the shovel to my side. Standing by my father’s side was one of his newer kids. Jordan, I think this one’s name was. Jordan was the oldest from what I remember anyway. He stood by my father's crumpled body and his slingshot was drawn like he was David fighting Goliath. If this were anyone else’s dream I’d feel like I interrupted something important, but since that was obviously impossible, and this was mine, I couldn’t help but feel like I was meant to be upstaged again.

        By a kid with a slingshot.

        “You step away from my father!” He bellowed.

        “You step away from mine!”

        Jordan shook his head with an expression of righteous anger. “He’s not your father! Stop pretending to be Eric!”

        “What the hell are you talking about? Of course I’m Eric! Now get out of the way while I finish this stupid dream!”

        Jordan pulled the cord on his slingshot back a bit further. “It’s not a dream, it’s a nightmare, and you’re not Eric. Eric doesn’t have eyes like that.”


        “Eric has brown eyes, yours aren’t even human.” He spat at me. “They’re weird and funny looking, like a demon’s!”

        I felt a sharp icey stab of pain in my thighs, and pulled the waist of my pants out so I could look down and see what the matter was.

        That’s weird, when did I get Luna’s cutiemark?

It was pulsing too, fading from a dark purple to pitch black. The purple light was almost malevolent, and my mind immediately drew a comparison to cancer. I looked around wildly for something to serve as a mirror, and the dream provided.

I tossed the shovel to the side and walked down to the back yard’s driveway. The gravel had come loose here, and there was a large puddle of water in the indent. It functioned perfectly as a mirror, and I bent down to get a good look at my reflection.

        Jordan was right, my eyes did look weird. They were a vibrant glowing turquoise, and had a narrow slit for a pupil. It was extremely disconcerting, and somehow they brought up memories I couldn’t quite put into context. They filled me with terror, that was key. Something very very bad was happening to me.

        I took a step back from the pool of water, and turned around to face Jordan. Instead I saw my father back on his feet. He had the shovel from earlier and was winding it back with both hands. I didn’t even hear the impact as it smashed into my face.

        Bad end, I guess.

        I tried to gasp out for breath when I woke up, but it had been too abrupt. Already I could barely remember what had happened, and traces of memory were ransacked by the creeping feeling of dread that came with sleep paralysis. I needed to move! I needed to breathe! Both were denied to me, and I started to whimper in my own mind as shadows in the room crept and moved about. At least the terror was alleviated a bit by the rays of sunlight sweeping into the room. If this were my night, my punishment for swift departure from sleep would be quite a bit steeper.

Unable to move, unable to breathe, imprisoned in my own body... Just like being imprisoned in the moon.

        Warmth filled me again, and I started to regain the feeling in my legs. I kicked and thrashed to exercise my reclaimed freedom.

I sat up straight and shivered. I’ve never been in any moon. What was wrong with me? I peeked down my pajamas and sighed with relief. My cutiemark was black with a white moon. Black, not purple. Why was I so relieved to see that?

        I made my way into the bathroom and cranked on the facet. I cupped my hands under the stream and splashed my face with soothing warm water, then took a good long look in the mirror. There was no sign of stubble or shadow, none at all. The skin was pale, and I couldn’t help but notice that my face looked a bit more feminine somehow. It seemed overnight I had lost the need to shave, and also acquired some crazy eyelashes. My eyes were still brown at least, so no changes there. I peeked down at my cutiemark again and sighed.

        ‘It’s going to be time to get a legal name change soon, Eric. At least you’ve always liked the name Luna. You could have ended up as her sister, right?’

        My towels weren’t in the bathroom anymore, so I went back into Robert’s room before drying off my face. My bag filled with clothing was still laying on its side in the center of the room, so I picked it up and spilled the contents out onto the floor. There was nothing in there but clothes and a few grooming items: an electric razor, a bottle of skin cleanser, and a bottle of toner.

        Look, the first step to maintaining health is prevention. If I was going to age I was going to age gracefully damn it. My mom and dad were in their 50s, and I’ve seen what waits for me otherwise.

        ‘You’re turning into an immortal princess of the night, remember? Age is a thing of the past! Always look on the bright side of life!’

        I sorted through the clothing until I found a pair of jeans. Not my favorite pair, but they were the first thing I spotted so I put them on.

        Strangely, putting them on was a bit of a chore, but it wasn’t like I had gained any weight. If anything I had lost a few pounds while on the road. I struggled briefly getting them up and over my thighs, and when they were on they didn’t fit right at all. They were too tight in some places, and too loose in others. What was even weirder was that they were too long. While walking around I would repeatedly catch my heel on the bottom of the pant leg. The last time I had worn them they stopped at my ankle.

        I slipped them off with a bit less effort and tried the next pair, but experienced the same problem as before. I went through my entire pile of clothing and experienced more of the same, for the most part. Some investigation with the mirror helped me realize that not only did I have a shiny new cutiemark, I now had prominent hips as well.

        A cutiemark belonging to some princess from a cartoon show had been relatively easy to handle, back when it didn't include the unfortunate side effect of turning into a girl too. I really need to figure out my priorities here. Am I upset because I’m turning into Luna, or am I upset because I’m switching teams?

        I tossed my pants back into the duffle bag and put my pajamas back on. Glorious PJs, you are a source of hope for fat people and TF victims the world over.

By the time I finished cleaning up after myself a loud bang came from the doorway. Robert flung open the door to the bedroom with John hounding him from behind. He dashed inside with a plate of eggs and a cup of orange juice, then slammed the door in John’s face.

        “What are you two doing in there? What new conspiracy are you hatching?!” John shouted through the door.

        “Keep at it, and I’m gonna show ya!” Robert called back. The sounds at the door stopped.

Robert sighed and placed the plate and cup down in front of me. He then marched over to the door and swung it open. John tumbled forward onto his face, as his ear had been placed against the door.

        “Seriously, I want some privacy with Eric. We spend enough time together.” John looked like he was a dog being abused. “We’ll hang out later today, okay? Whatever you want to do.”

        John nodded meekly and trudged off for his own bedroom. Robert closed the door gently before turning around to face me.

        “I thought you could use some breakfast. Figured you’d be up, or that you’d better be, it’s nearly noon.”

I took a forkful of cold eggs and chewed them quietly. “Thanks.”


        “So... Anything new?” He asked covertly, though we both knew what he meant.

        I gulped down the eggs and took a large swig of OJ. I hesitated before deciding to tell him. “I haven’t shaved since the middle of the day yesterday, and my pants don’t fit anymore.” I shifted uncomfortably. “They don’t fit right.” I amended.

        Robert beamed like a saint on the day of his canonization. “My last girlfriend left some of her clothes here, you can try on some of her jeans!”

        “Not very funny.” I hungrily finished my eggs in between words.

        “I was being serious...” He fished out a pair from the closet and tossed them on the ground beside me. “They’re nothing excessive or anything. Any skater would love to snag a pair.”

        He was right, they were pretty tame as far as jeans go. There was a bit more to my reluctance though. Wearing clothing tailored for a girl would be giving in! It would be letting... whatever is happening, win!

        “Look, just try them on, if you don’t like them you don’t need to wear them.”

        I grumbled, huffed, and made a show of being miserable, but in the end I still picked up the pair of pants. Robert just kept staring at me, and I looked up at him. “Do you mind?”

        “Not at all. Please continue.”

        I glared in reply. “Turn around. Or leave the room, I do not care which.”

        Robert rolled his eyes and turned around to face the closet doors. It took me a moment to realize they doubled as mirrors, and that making him turn around changed nothing. I growled out angrily and pulled off my pajamas before slipping into the jeans.

        As it turns out the jeans were a perfect fit. Robert turned around and raised a brow after looking me over. “Uh... Yeah. You definitely weren’t like that last night. By which I mean... this morning.”

        I pulled off the jeans in frustration and slipped back into my PJs before collapsing backwards onto his bed. “I don’t know what’s going on!”

        Robert took a seat next to me and placed a hand on my shoulder, and for once in my life I actually didn't mind being physically close to someone. I curled up and pulled a bit closer in response.

        “I know what’s happening.” He smiled down at me.

        “Y-You do?”

        “Yes! You’re blossoming into a beautiful young woman! It took you long enough.”

        Robert snickered as I yelled out angrily and rolled over to shove him off the bed. “Joking! I’m joking! Don’t worry,  I’m sure there has to be an explanation for this!”

        He pulled out the chair to his desk and took a seat before booting up his PC. I was content to glower at him from the bed while he did his thing. His desktop was nothing but a black screen, as evidently his copy of windows was ‘not genuine’. Aside from that it was immaculate and clear of icons.

        Occasionally he’d ask for any suggestions when it came to where to look for other cases, and I’d bitterly call out some brony community that I wish I didn’t know about. We went back and forth like this for an hour, and didn’t find anything.

        “Fuck it!” Robert called out in frustration. “If someone needs to be OP, it may as well be us!”

        He brought up Twitter and mused loudly. “I don’t really want to use my twitter account for this, do you have one?”

        I scoffed at him. “Of course I do not have a Twitter account, I thought you were my brother.”

        Robert repeated what I said in a mocking tone. “Of course I don’t have a Twitter! My name’s Eric and I’m too high and mighty to use facebook or other social networking sites!”

        I scrunched up my face at him as best I could. “Just make a new account or something.”

        “Good idea!” He snickered. “Lets see, we will name it ‘mlp4evar’!” He found this name hilarious. I found it retarded.

        “You’re never going to get any bites with a name like that!”

        “Just watch me.”

        He spent a few moments setting up the account, and then another minute typing up the message, which read as follows:

Woke up with a Cutie Mark today!

I’m confused, but happy!

#mlp #bizarre

        “So what do you think?” He pulled away so I could see from the bed.

        “I think it looks like a child wrote it.”

        “Perfect!” He grinned before clicking the submission button.

        I rolled my eyes and got up off the bed. “So what do we do now?”

        Robert shrugged and got out of his chair. “Relax? It’s your birthday. That’s what you do on your birthday. Arcane symbols plastered to your rear be damned.” He moved over to the door to open it, but didn’t wait for me to leave first this time.

        As it happened, by the time we finished screwing around in his room it was just after noon. Mom had gone to work hours ago, and John was busy sulking in his room. Robert got to work cleaning up the kitchen, and I timidly followed behind him.

        “You can use my room until we figure all of this out.” He said while tossing the dishes into the dishwasher haphazardly.

        “Really?” I froze in my tracks. No one in my family had ever really given me anything, or really gone out of their way to take care of me really. I couldn’t help but think about the letter that I had received with the necklace I was currently wearing. My hand instinctively reached up for the pendant to hold on to, and I was flooded with that by now familiar warm feeling. “Thanks... That actually means a lot to us... me! It means a lot to me!”

        Robert laughed and shook his head before wiping his hands off on a dish towel. “Don’t mention it. Sleeping on the couch for awhile isn’t going to kill me.” He walked over to the fridge and removed his keys from a magnet. “Unfortunately, I have class today. So you’re going to have to spend your birthday with John.”

        I grimaced, but nodded my understanding. “I am sure I will be fine. Thanks for everything, again.”

        He smiled from the doorway and gave a little mock bow, then spun on his heel and marched out the door.

        I was alone.

        In my absence the family had acquired one of those huge wall-mounted HD Television sets. Channel surfing didn’t reveal anything of real interest, so I switched it to Chiller and pulled out my laptop. As always, Skype was open as soon as I unlocked my user account.

        The first thing I noticed was somewhere in the ballpark of 87 missed messages from Josh. This was unsettling, because even he is not normally that energetic. I skimmed through most of them and went to the bottom. It was mostly just him randomly asking if I was invisible or something with varying degrees of urgency. Since he was still online I decided to figure out what was so important.

        Wintermute: How can I help you?

        Nightwatch: Guess what?

        Nightwatch stands at attention, eagerly awaiting your guess!

        Wintermute: Uh...

        Wintermute: You woke up with somepony’s cutie mark, you don’t need to shave anymore, and your pants no longer fit properly?

        Nightwatch: =O

        Nightwatch: You’re right!

        Nightwatch: Well, half right. My hair is also turning dark blue, and my eyes are fuschia.

        Nightwatch: Also, they look kinda weird, like a cat’s!

        Nightwatch: Or...

        Wintermute: Or that OC you stole, you mean?

        Nightwatch: I didn’t steal it! I just think she looks cool is all.

        Nightwatch: Anyway, how did you know? I can’t find anything about it on the internet.

        Nightwatch: . . . Who’s cutie mark did you wake up with?

        Wintermute: …

        Nightwatch: Well?

        Wintermute: Luna’s. My hair and eyes are still perfectly normal, though.

        Nightwatch: I knew it! I knew there was a reason for everything!

        Nightwatch: Now I know why I got all of those feeling about you when you were staying with me!

Nightwatch: It all makes sense! You really ‘are’ a princess! And I’m one of your royal guards! This is so exciting! Aren’t you excited?

        Wintermute: Hold on.

        Wintermute: I am not Princess Luna, and you are not some random Nightguard.

        Nightwatch: That sure doesn’t seem to be the case!

        Nightwatch: Don’t you remember Season 5? The finale?

        Wintermute: I try not to. It sucks.

        Nightwatch: Discord sent everypony to Earth! It all makes sense! I even had a dream!

        Nightwatch: For Five Score, Divided by Four! That’s 25! And we both just turned 25!


        A bit of what Josh was telling me was starting to take root. It ‘does’ make a certain kind of sense. Something about all of this is reminding me of the bus ride to San Diego, and my mind wanders to the fake phone number in the pocket of my jeans.

        Wintermute: Lets say I believe you. I’m still Eric. Maybe I ‘like’ being Eric. I don’t want to be Princess Luna, and I don’t plan on being her even if my body changes to look like hers!

        Nightwatch: Oh don’t be ridiculous. You don’t like being Eric. That’s why you ran across the country.

        Nightwatch: And you never stopped being her. You just forgot you were her.

        Nightwatch: Heck, I bet if you look back on your childhood in this context, it all starts to make a lot more sense! Mine certainly does, and there isn’t even a canon personality for Nightwatch!

        I squirmed uncomfortably on the couch and ran a hand through my hair. I briefly considered how long I had before it was a swaying mass of magic, but was interrupted by a knock at the door, and the soft sound of something being dropped at my doorstep.

        Wintermute: I just got a package. I’ll be back in a bit.

        Nightwatch raises her hoof proudly in a salute.

        Nightwatch: talk to you in a bit Princess!


        I issued an exasperated sigh and walked over to the door, opening it with all the weary anxiety of someone who is apparently a long lost princess of a magical land far away. There is no one there, just a small brown box. It’s postmarked from last week and is addressed to me, so I pick it up and take it inside.

        I flipped the box around a bit and found a return address:

James Concord

16132 Everfree Ln

Los Angeles, CA XXXXX

        Well isn’t that just a sterling endorsement? I tossed it to the couch across from me and stared at it like the possible explosive that it was. Eventually my curiosity won out, and I crossed the distance. I took the box in both hands and tore it open with alarming speed. Something soft tumbled out onto the couch, followed by a piece of paper that drifted lazily to the cushion beside it.

        It was a Nightmare Moon plushie. A really good one, too. A jolt of cold ran through my veins and I turn to my laptop.

        Wintermute: Look I need to go, right now.

        Nightwatch: Are you okay?!

        Nightwatch: Please tell me you’re okay, I’d never forgive myself for letting you leave!

        I don’t stick around to read what he or she is saying. I close the lid to my laptop, grab the Nightmare Moon plushie, and squeeze them together under one arm. I only just remember the note that tumbled out as well, and storm back into Robert’s room.

        I snatched up the plush from under my arm and flung it at the bed across the room from me, then set my laptop down on the desk beside Robert’s keyboard. With the note clenched firmly in my left hand I slid down onto all fours and then fell back onto the floor. I stared at it for a few minutes, breathing loudly and trying to get my heart rate under control, then I finally begin to unfold it.

Dearest Luna,

Birthdays are a wonderful time to reflect on the past, and prepare for the future, don’t you think?



        Tears began to stream down my face, and I held a hand up to my mouth to stifle any sobs. Why is such a short stupid letter affecting me like this? I am not Luna!

        I crumpled up the note and threw it away from me.

        “I am not Luna...”

        The tears continued to well up in rebellion. I curled up against the desk, fighting to reclaim my composure. Eventually I gave up and pulled myself over to the the bed. After burrowing under the sheets I reached out for the Nightmare Moon plushie. It made me feel terrible just to look at it, it’s a reminder of what is happening to me. It’s reminding me of a past I just don’t want. How could anyone want it? And yet, it’s comforting. It’s very soft, and oddly cool to the touch, It reminds me of the moon.

        Just like the moon.

        My body is wracked with sobs and I clutch the little toy tighter. I can’t stop thinking about what that little girl said, what Sarah said to me.

        “Your sister hasn’t given up on you! So you can’t give up on her!”

        With those words in mind, I drift into a thankfully dreamless sleep.

        I woke up a couple of hours later and frantically checked my hair in the mirror. It still looked the same, but I guess it could be a little longer? I shrugged and decided to count my blessings. Eyes still look normal as well, as added bonus.

I still have the Nightmare Moon plush squeezed in under one arm. It really is a neat little thing. From anyone else it would be a thoughtful birthday gift. I always admired how Nightmare Moon looked. She was way more beautiful than Princess Luna, especially the way Luna looked in season one. That was just...

        ‘Pathetic.’ was the first word that sprang to mind. Nightmare Moon was definitely cooler, not to mention more mature, and adult. I shook my head vigorously and cleared my thoughts.

        What the hell is wrong with me? Nightmare Moon is a villain, and that helmet looked retarded! Besides, I matured just fine on my own by season two.

        'Really? Thinking of ourselves as Luna now?' I lowered my head sadly and placed the plush on top of the pillow.

        Well, I left Josh pretty abruptly, so maybe I should inform him of my well-being. No reason why I can’t do that from Robert’s computer. I took a seat in the chair and got to work.

        Wintermute: Hey.

        Wintermute: I just wanted to say everything is fine. I got a Nightmare Moon plushie in the mail and decided to go think about stuff.

        Nightwatch: How disgustingly thoughtless!

        Nightwatch: Does it have a return address? Are you alright?

Wintermute: I am fine. No, there does not appear to be a return address.

  Wintermute: In any case it is remarkably well made, and I am pleased with it.

Nightwatch: Really?

Nightwatch: You’re pleased with it?

Nightwatch: But you’re... you know. Luna.

Wintermute: Yes, well. I remain unconvinced.

Wintermute: NotALuna.

        For once, Nightwatch... I mean Josh, seemed at a loss for words. I took the opportunity to browse the web for awhile,  and noticed the page was still open to Robert’s fake twitter account. It already had a reply.



If it’s not too much trouble... Would you be willing to elaborate?

#cutiemark #mlp

        My face flushed red with embarrassment and I snatched up Robert’s keyboard. I typed out furiously and perhaps with more shame than was necessary.


Sorry! Just a prank intended for a friend! Really Sorry!


I felt pretty guilty lying like that, but I was feeling very paranoid all of a sudden. And despite all the blushing, unusually cold. What if she needed help? What if she was like me, or Josh?

        It didn’t matter, right now what mattered was finding answers for myself. I did a routine search on all of the websites we checked earlier, but didn’t find anything of note. If other people were speaking out I was too incompetent to find them. I sighed and shoved the keyboard away. Twirling about in the chair managed to amuse me for awhile, but after a time I grew bored, and noticed that I was actually quite exhausted, in spite of the nap I just had.

        It was the middle of the day, why the hell would I be exhausted? Oh, right. Because I am Princess Luna, apparently.

        I fought pretty hard to maintain my diurnal freedom. I browsed the web for silly things, I tried to kick back and watch a movie, but nothing was nearly as appealing as getting some more sleep. With a bitter yawn of defeat I crawled back into bed, hugged my Nightmare Moon plush close, and curled up on my belly. I didn’t even need to put a sheet up over the window like usual. The strong presence of daylight had an almost soporific effect that soothed and lulled me to sleep the way pitch darkness used to back when I was...

        What? When I was human? I’ve still got my fingers and toes. I haven’t given up my humanity just yet.

        Robert was right though. Birthdays are for relaxing, and that’s just what I was going to try and do now.

        It was hot down here. It was hot and smelled incredibly unpleasant. I looked around to get a better understanding of myself and my setting, but it was hard to make a guess. I was standing in a pretty non-descript rock tunnel. It was well lit, despite the lack of a light source, but dreams did not always have to make linear sense. Intuitive, not Sensing again. The area was bright because it was a place that wanted you to see. In these subterranean confines, that did a lot to unnerve me.

I walked forward on two conspicuously human feet, and I wasn’t sure if I was happy or sad over it. I still had my Nightmare Moon plush with me, and that seemed perfectly reasonable.

I don't really experience them very often, but occasionally I'll have a dream where I somehow know the meaning to life, the universe, and everything. I don't usually remember much when I wake up, I just get the feeling I lost my grip on years of information. This was shaping up to be one of those dreams, and I was already starting to feel drunk and not myself.

Although the place was well lit, and wanted me to see things, they were not without their own shadows, and I made use of them whenever necessary. I guess down here the monsters didn't need to hide in the darkness. A word for the place tickled at the back of my mind, and I dove deeper and deeper into those passages. After all, it was merely a dream, and I am not afraid of dreams.

I am in my element as it were.

        I finally came to a large antechamber in the bowels of the system, and what I saw in the center shocked me.

        “Sister!” I cried out, but it was Luna’s voice, not mine, that I heard.

        The regal white form was wreathed in black iron chains that dug into her coat and left faint burns and blisters everywhere. It looked like she hadn’t moved for years, but she stirred when she heard my voice.

        “Luna?!” Her own cry responded to mine, filled with hope. She turned her head as much as she could and I gazed into her large pink eyes.

I could see my reflection in them. I was still human, still Eric. Only my eyes and frame were different. Celestia looked noticeably crestfallen when she saw me, and much of her hopefulness evaporated.

        “What happened to you Luna?” Tears started to well up in her eyes, before streaming down her face and splashing to the ground. The hungry nature of the place drank them greedily, and seemed to glow brighter for it.

        I placed a hand on her side and she winced, like she was afraid of me. I couldn’t help but notice how her eyes lingered on my little Nightmare doll. I pulled my hand away sadly.

        I paused for a moment, trying to think of how I should reply. “Discord happened to me. To us.” I looked at the ground to hide my immense guilt. “He did the same to Twilight Sparkle. He caught me before I was even finished waking up.”

        We were both quiet for awhile, though I think Celestia’s silence was due to her state. It looked painful to even breathe with all those chains wrapped around her.

        “We’re in Tartarus, aren’t we?”

        “Yes,” Celestia croaked weakly. “Discord happened to me too.”

        “Yes, I saw the episode.” I muttered, falling to my knees beside her.


        “... I will explain some other time. You must be dreaming, I can help you get out of here.”

        My sister’s tears finally stopped and she shook her head, grimacing with the effort. “You cannot help me.”

        “Of course I can! We are dreaming, I am unstoppable here!”

        “Luna! You cannot help me. You cannot even help yourself...” Celestia coughed weakly. “You are not yourself right now. Not in body, not in mind, and certainly not in spirit.”

        “So what am I supposed to do then? Just leave you here? I will not!”

        “Luna, even if you stole me away with you, my body is still here. There is nothing you can do about that.” She paused before continuing. “You must find Twilight and the rest of the elements, they are the only way you can stop Discord!”

        That cold feeling welled up inside of me, and I stomped my foot against the stone with a loud crack. “How am I supposed to do that? Why am I supposed to do that? Why isn’t my help ever good enough?!”

        Celestia flinched at my outburst, and I was not sorry.

        “Ever since my exile ended, you have done nothing but shut me away! Whenever our kingdom was in any real danger, you made sure I was away! Why?! Tell me!”

        “Luna... I just worry for you, maybe you could handle things on your own, maybe we both could, but the elements are so much safer. They’re so much easier and certain!”

        ‘She thinks you’re unreliable. She doesn’t trust you.’

        ‘Birthdays are a good time to reflect on the past, and prepare for the future, don’t you think?’

        It hurt, a lot. It felt like someone had stabbed me in the chest with an icicle, and I cried out, dropping the little doll to the floor, and It vanished in a whirl of black smoke.

I struggled to catch my breath, and Celestia looked on with concern.

        “...Luna?” She struggled in her chains. “Please tell me you’re okay...”

        “I’m fine.” I whispered, then reached out to hug her. “I haven’t given up on you, so you can’t give up on me. Alright?”

        Much of my sister’s tension seemed to melt away in my arms, and I began to really regret being human. It was a good thing we were dreaming, because of that, humanity was not strictly necessary.

A transformation sequence wasn't even necessary, I just was. I folded my hooves under me and nuzzled her. “I am not helpless... You, Princess Cadance, myself, we may not be bearers of harmony like Twilight Sparkle and her friends, but we are still alicorns.” I shielded her with a wing. “We can still make a difference on our own. Are we not products of harmony ourselves?”

        Celestia weighed her thoughts carefully, that much will never change about her. “Yes... Yes, I’m sorry, you’re right Luna.” She wheezed softly through her labored speech. “Just do your very best, and I’m sure you’ll find our way out of this mess.”

        I nodded, and felt the not so gentle inertia of the dream pulling me away. “I need to go soon, Sister.”

        “Luna! I just... I wanted to say, you were right about him. You were right about Discord.”

        “It’s not your fault, you were just being yourself.” I smiled down at her. Me, the younger sister, smiling down at her. “You try to bring out the best in others, it’s just what you are. We’ll get through this too.” I laugh gently, and am delighted by the sound’s bell-like quality. “Hope and love, right?”

        My sister smiled at me in return. “Hope and Love.”

        The tugging is becoming more insistent, and I rise to my hooves to follow it.

        The sun is starting to set when I wake up, and for once I remember one of my dreams, very vividly. I don’t know if it’s because I am that much Luna or...

        No... Josh was right, wasn’t he? I was always Luna. Celestia was always my...

        Well, that explained my relationship with the show, and at least I’m not afraid anymore. I know where my home is now, I know who my family is, and I know why I’m not there. It was taken from me, and I need to work on taking it back.

        I sat up in bed and stretched. My bones and tendons cracked and groaned in all sorts of fun new ways. There is no way this is going to stop at a cutie mark and the need for new clothes, and I for one am ready for it. At least... I think I am?

Certainly I am more ready for it than when I was just Eric.

        I climbed out of bed and stumbled over to the door. Walking on two legs all of a sudden isn’t so easy, but I remember myself quickly. Switching gears, that’s the hard part. I just had to remind myself that I still have two legs.

The house was quiet, and when I reached the kitchen I discover why. My mom, Robert, and John were seated at the table around a small store-bought cake.

I reached up to scratch my head and yawn. My hair is definitely longer now, but no one seems to notice, except maybe Robert, but he has an excellent poker face.

        “We were wondering when you’d get up.” My mom commented with naked irritation.

        “Happy Birthday!” John and Robert both called out, John’s enthusiasm didn’t exactly feel sincere, but Robert’s picked up the slack.

        We took a bit to light the candles, and Mom insisted we sing the most awkward performance of Happy Birthday in the history of the human race. I stared at the little 25 on top of my cake and huffed to myself.

        ‘Quite a bit older than 25, actually.’

        I blew out the candles and made perhaps the most realistic wish of any of my birthdays. I wished for all of my memories of home back, because already that dream was starting to feel pretty fuzzy, and I am not so sure how much like Luna I feel anymore. That really didn't take long at all.

        Memories have a scary power, when you really dwell on it.

        Everyone cheered softly, and Robert slugged me on the shoulder, though not very hard. I flinched in anticipation of another 24 hits from him, but they never come, and we start dividing up the tiny cake. Predictably, after we each get a slice we start going our separate ways. Mom heads for her room like she always does after work, and John retreats back to his room. I managed to take a few bites of my cake before Robert pulled me aside and spoke with a serious tone that was rather unlike him.

        “You should go have a talk with Mom.”

        “About the Luna thing?”

        “About everything,” he paused. “I don’t think she even recognizes you as her kid anymore.”

        “That’s not exactly my fault you know?” I look down in an effort to hide my guilt, because honestly she does not really feel like my mother anymore.

        “It’s not exactly anyone’s fault, just go to her.”

        “How do we even know she is my mother? It seems pretty likely that I’m actually Luna here.”

        Robert licked his lips and stared at me, his eyes narrowing. “Unless your existence as a magical horse in some kind of past life retcons her squeezing you out of a very small hole, and then basically sacrificing her own life goals for you, she’s still your mother. I don’t care if you’re the Dunwich Horror.” He guided me with a hand against the small of my back and then gave a soft push. “Now go.”

        I conceded to his logic and marched my happy little self into my Mom’s room, and she seemed pretty surprised to see me, because she jumped.

        “Oh... Um, happy birthday?”

        I nod in solemn appreciation. “Thank you.”

I stood in the doorway for a while, and we both picked at our cake in silence.

        “So um...” I stammered. “How is work going?”

        “Work is fine,” she nodded slowly. “I got a few more cases, so I’m taking care of five people a week now.”

        I nodded in understanding. “Right, because you’re a CNA...” I took another forkful of cake, followed by another, until it is finally finished. I placed the empty plate on the dresser by the door and walked over, taking a seat on the bed beside her. “I uh... I missed you?”

        She stared at me for a moment, then scowled. “No you didn’t.”

        “I didn’t?” I tilt my head in response.

        “You were gone for seven months, and at no point during that time did you call me, not until you needed to come back.” She drank from a glass of wine. “You called because you were out of options.” She looked me in the eyes. “You didn’t.”

        “I'm... sorry.” I looked away in sadness, and tried not to think about how I let a family member down again. “I am not very good at family stuff.”

        “Well, we've noticed.” She said, taking another gulp of wine. She reached out with a hand and seized my chin, pulling my face until I’m looking her in the eye again, but without enough force to hurt. “You don’t even look the same anymore. Not like my son at all...” She shook her head. “Pretty eyes though, wish my eyes were like that.” She looked me over carefully, and stopped at my hair. “I’m not sure how I feel about the streaks though. It makes you look kinda gay.”

        I considered telling her everything right then, and opened my mouth to speak.

        But I didn’t say anything, she was halfway through this bottle of wine, and it was a big one. It just didn’t seem prudent.

        I got off the bed and walked over to pick up my plate. She didn’t say anything further, and neither did I.

Before visiting the kitchen I made a stop at the bathroom to get a good look at myself.

        I had gotten a haircut before leaving Wisconsin three days ago, and when I had arrived in San Diego it was still very short, but that had changed over the course of the day. My ears were hidden behind long strands of black hair, with streaks of light blue. I guess no magic mane for me, at least not yet. Strictly season one hair for me.

        My eyes weren’t brown anymore, either. They must have changed while I slept, or just when I hadn’t been paying attention. They were a bright turquoise,  and like my cutie mark they had a faint glow to them.

        Robert must have been getting something from his room, because he wasn’t in the kitchen when I arrived. I loaded the dishwasher carefully, and began sorting the various dishes more neatly than the way Robert had left them throughout the day.

        I had to agree with my mom. Those eyes...  my eyes, were very pretty. Next Chapter: Under Lock and Key Estimated time remaining: 43 Minutes

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