The Wreck

by JohnPerry

Chapter 1: Prologue

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Close your eyes. Now, what do you see?

A mustard yellow pegasus found herself standing upon sandy ground. The smell of salt filled her nostrils and her ears twitched from the thunderous crash of waves against the earth. She could feel the coarse grains of sand shift beneath her hooves as the wind batted against her form, whipping her mane and tail about her. The barren, rocky land rose unevenly from the water, gentle slopes merging into steep cliffs, all uniformly brown and seemingly devoid of life.

“I’m on the beach,” she murmured, barely hearing herself over the wind and the waves.

Is it the same beach as before?

The mare turned towards the ocean and the strands of her mane quickly blew out of her face. A shudder went down her spine as she glimpsed the shadowy mass lying in the water, towering above the mighty waves. She had seen it many times before, but each time she could not help but shiver when she caught sight of it. It was so alien to the peaceful beach, its presence a foul, haunting reminder of the world beyond this otherwise serene landscape.

She gulped. “Yes.”

The colossal wreck of a huge ship sat unmoving in the water, just beyond the lines of white-tipped waves rolling towards the shore. It rose sharply out of the water, a mass of rusted steel that defied the waves that smashed against its hull. Despite the peeling paint and the trails of rust that streamed down from every porthole, from the front it still looked seaworthy; the bow of the ship pointed optimistically towards land and a single funnel still proudly stood high above the waves below.

But as the mare walked along the beach, now taking in the side of the vessel, the toll nature had taken became terribly clear: the entire stern half of the ship was gone, undoubtedly sent beneath the fierce waves. Its gaping absence made the wreck, which had seemed so imposing from the front, look exposed and vulnerable. Its huge funnel and portions of the upper decks beneath hung precariously over the water, as if some great monster had torn the rear half away. On the side of the ship near the bow, somehow still readable on the corroded metal, were the words “EQUESTRIAN STAR.”

The mare took a step towards the wreck, shivering at the feeling of the cold, frothy remnants of a wave sweeping against her forehooves. Her heart began beating faster, her wings unfurling on their own accord as she awaited the next gust of wind to send her airborne…

Open your eyes.

The mare’s eyes snapped open to behold the inside of a plainly decorated room. She was laying on her back on a leather couch, slowly sinking into its plush, yielding form as she looked up at the ceiling. A potted plant sat nearby, one of its ferns arcing into her line of sight.

She looked to her side, catching sight of a unicorn stallion sitting on a chair across the room from her, watching her over the thin spectacles perched on his muzzle and levitating a clipboard with his magic. His beige coat reflected the color of the walls, and he wore a gentle smile. “Now, what do you see?”

“I’m in the office of my therapist, Neuro Logic. Hello, Dr. Logic, good to see you again.”

Dr. Logic chuckled, making a note on his clipboard. “Just as witty as ever, Ms. Yearling.”

For her part, the mare did not laugh, nor even crack a smile, instead twiddling the tips of her forehooves together atop her chest. The doctor cleared his throat before continuing, “So, it was the same beach? You saw the shipwreck, then?”

Ms. Yearling sighed and began rubbing her hooves over her shut eyes. “Yes. It’s always the same dream, and it’s always so vivid. I could probably draw the ship from memory now.”

The doctor nodded. “And do you ever explore the shipwreck?”

“No, but… I want to. Every time I see it, at first I’m scared of it, like it shouldn’t even be there. But then the longer I look at it, the more I want to get closer. Then when I finally get the nerve to open my wings, it – the dream, I mean, it… it just stops.” Her forehooves retreated from her head and fell limply at her sides as she let out a quick snort through her nostrils.

“Have you been experiencing any anxiety in your day-to-day life? Perhaps any pressing matters weighing on your mind? Any trouble at home?”

Ms. Yearling shook her head. “No, far from it. Things have been great.” She paused, then added, “In fact… better than great, they’ve been… perfect.” She let out a small, easy sigh as she uttered the word. “I know that sounds cheesy, but I can’t think of a better word. Everything’s been wonderful, except for this weird dream I keep having.”

“Have you confided in your fiancé regarding these dreams?”

She nodded, turning her gaze back to the ceiling. “What does it mean, Doc? I’ve never been on a boat or anything… for that matter, I’ve never even seen the ocean!”

Dr. Logic tapped a hoof to his chin, letting out a short hum. “Tell me, Ms. Yearling: when you have these dreams, is it you standing on the beach, or do you take the form of another?”

“It… I think it’s just me. Err, actually, I never really thought about it. Why?”

“I wonder, perhaps, if you have grown envious of the character you’ve developed in your novels. Perhaps you have even begun to fantasize about being the adventurous mare you’ve spent so long writing about.”

“What?” Ms. Yearling sat up on her couch, staring at the doctor. “That’s… no, that’s silly! I’ve lived in Canterlot my whole life! I lead a happy life here! I don’t think about going on adventures and dangerous quests and things like that!”

“And yet you write about a character who does,” the doctor said, studying her over the rim of his spectacles. “Perhaps your writing has been a reflection of a deeper desire within you. Tell me, how long has it been since you wrote something?”

“Oh… a while now, I guess. I just haven’t really felt like writing much lately.”

A triumphant grin emerged across the doctor’s face. “I am willing to bet that without that creative outlet, your desires have begun to manifest themselves in your dreams. I see this all the time, Ms. Yearling; you’re simply having a case of wanderlust. I assure you, it’s quite common in mares your age, especially in a place like Canterlot, where it is common to be surrounded by colleagues who have traveled extensively and like to boast of their travels. It can make one fear they haven’t lived as full a life as they should have, but there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Ms. Yearling cocked her head. “So, what does this have to do with the shipwreck?”

“The shipwreck is merely a manifestation of the unknown, and your desire to explore it. It’s quite possible that you saw a picture of a shipwreck in a newspaper or a magazine at some point, and it made enough of an impression as to become embedded in your mind.”

She scratched the side of her head, frowning at the doctor. “So… that’s it, then? What should I do?”

“I would recommend making more time in your schedule to write; that creative outlet is a wonderful means of expressing your fantasies. The important thing is ensuring that you don’t identify so strongly with the character you’ve invented that you try to become her.”

“Become her?” She laughed. “Doctor, it’s me. I’m not about to try something dangerous or anything.”

“You don’t feel any envy towards your creation?”

“Come on, Doctor, I’m not that crazy,” Ms. Yearling said with a chuckle. “I know perfectly well that Daring Do isn’t real.”

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