by MadMaxtheBlack

Chapter 1: The Mind is a Prison...

It’s just another typical Friday night for you, lying propped up on your bed, a cold can of Ginger Ale in one hand, a bag of chips in the other. Your laptop rests on your legs, plugged into a nearby outlet. A pair of headphones are perched on your head. Despite the fact you live alone and there is no one here to disturb, you still like to use them. It helps to immerse yourself in the videos you peruse.

It’s been a long week. You had to work overtime with no overtime pay, and your boss was on your case for reasons that were out of your control. Seriously, the customer had spilled Cola all over her laptop. How were you supposed to get it working in under four hours? That wasn't reasonable at all!

But that didn’t matter, because it was all worth it when you finally got home, kicked off your shoes, and tossed your pants across the room. It was the weekend, you had the next three days off, and no plans whatsoever. Just you, your bed, and your laptop. What else could you ask for?

Getting comfortable, you wiggle your toes, breathing a content sigh as you stare at the laptop’s screen. It’s the only light source in the room, the sun having gone down hours ago, and you were simply too lazy to get up and turn on any other lights. It's fine, though. You like the dark. It's very relaxing.

You lift the can to your lips, taking a generous sip. Cool, refreshing liquid fills your mouth, followed quickly by the delicious taste of Ginger Ale. You can already feel your muscles beginning to relax from your sixty-plus hour work week.

Lowering the can, you turn up the volume on your laptop before taking a handful of chips from the bag beside you, munching on them happily.

“Nice job, Rainbow Dash,” Spitfire says, a cocky smile on her face as she lands beside the prismatic pegasus. She pats the goggles hanging around Rainbow’s neck. “You may not have set a new record, but you showed a lot of guts.”

Rainbow’s eyes widen happily. “Thanks, but if you wanna talk guts, then you’ve gotta give it to my number one flyer, Fluttershy!” She points at said pegasus, who shrinks down a little but manages to smile shyly and wave. Her expression quickly becomes panicked as Rainbow shouts out for everyone to hear, “Let’s hear it for Fluttershy!”

A small smile touches your face as you continue to watch your favorite episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Fluttershy was best pony in your opinion, and she never got enough screen time*. It was nice to see her get a good episode.

Eyes fixated on the screen, you raise the can of pop to your lips again. Absentmindedly, you take a sip, your mind focused on the colorful ponies in front of you.

The surrounding pegasi pick Fluttershy up, tossing her into the air as they chant repeatedly.

“Fluttershy! Fluttershy! Fluttershy can really fly!”

The longer they chant, the more Fluttershy appears to relax. By the third round, she’s smiling, her hooves held wide as she’s tossed into the air, her mane waving in the breeze.

Slowly, the group begins to make their way back to Ponyville, Spike, Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Spitfire leading the way. The herd of tired pegasi follow behind, carrying a beaming Fluttershy high above their shoulders.

Her soft voice fills your headphones as she begins her monologue, “Dear, Princess Celestia. Sometimes you can feel like what you have to offer is too little to make a difference, but today, I learned that everypony's contribution is important, no matter how small…”

~ ~ ~ ~ > > < < ~ ~ ~ ~

...if you just keep your head high, do your best, and believe in yourself, anything can happen.’”

Silence descends over the hospital room, broken only by the slow, steady beep of a heart monitor. The curtains are pulled open halfway, the orange light of the setting sun shining in. Birds could be heard chirping softly outside the window, a gentle breeze blowing in, carrying the warmth of summer with it.

The soft murmur of voices can be heard on the other side of the closed door as the nurses go about their work. With the day coming to an end, they had to get everything ready for the night shift to start.

A butter-colored mare sits in a chair beside the only occupied bed in the room, her hooves folded in her lap. Her pink mane hangs down, the bangs covering her face, hiding half of it from view. The corners of her mouth are pulled back in a small smile. She keeps her gaze on the occupant of the bed, a melancholy look in her eyes.

Resting beneath the clean white sheets, his chest rising and falling softly, is a young stallion. His coat is a rich chocolate brown, mixing perfectly with his lighter mane and tail. A horn pokes out from between his bangs, the spirals twirling around the bony structure.

His body shows clear signs of wear. His horn is cracked and chipped in places, the tip permanently charred black. He is thin, his muscles showing obvious signs of muscle atrophy. Several long scars run across his chest, disappearing beneath the sheets as they descend towards his stomach. A feeding tube in his mouth runs down to his stomach, held in place by tape wrapped around his head. Small plastic tubes are positioned in his nostrils, providing him with oxygen. An IV is taped to his foreleg, a bag of clear fluid hanging above.

Her wings twitch at her sides as Fluttershy continues to watch the rise and fall of his chest. Reaching out a hoof, she gently strokes his foreleg.

“When Spike had finished writing the letter, he sent it to the Princess,” she continues, her voice soft. “After that, Pinkie Pie threw a party for all the pegasi involved. There was food, and drinks, and music too. Since I was the big hero—” she giggles, the laughter not reaching her eyes “—I had to stay. Everypony came up to congratulate me, and you know how much I don’t like being the center of attention.”

She stops stroking the stallion’s foreleg, instead gripping the limb softly. She swallows thickly.

“D-despite that, though, I was able to get over my fear and help everypony out,” she says, her voice trembling slightly. “I know how you felt about that. You were always trying to help me confront the fear head on.” Her eyes begin to water, tears welling up in the corners. “You were so patient with me… a-and would always hold me close when it became too much.” She chokes out a small sob, her grip tightening on the stallion’s leg.

“W-why?” she whimpers, tears beginning to dampen the fur of her cheeks. “I know you wanted to help me with my animals, but why? You… you knew that Mr. Manticore was cranky. Why didn’t you just w-wait for me?”

Her body shakes with soft sobs as she cries silently, head hung low. The stallion remains oblivious to the distress of the mare beside him; his eyes remain close, the heart monitor beating along mechanically.

The door to the room suddenly cracks open, causing Fluttershy to gasp. Quickly raising her free hoof, she rubs at her red-rimmed eyes, trying to clear her tears. Glancing over her shoulder, she sees Nurse Redheart poking her head into the room.

Upon seeing Fluttershy looking at her, she gives her an apologetic look, her ears splaying backwards. “I’m sorry, Fluttershy, but visiting hours are over for the day.”

“O-oh… okay,” Fluttershy murmurs, more tears sneaking down her face.

Redheart gives her a sympathetic look before pulling her head back, leaving the door open. The sound of her hoofsteps fades quickly as she trots down the hall.

Sniffing, Fluttershy tries desperately to wipe the tears away, but they keep coming regardless. Giving up, she allows them to fall. She stands with a heavy sigh and gives the stallion a long, sorrowful look. Squeezing his foreleg one last time, she leans down and, with a whimper, nuzzles his cheek, dampening his fur with her tears.

She pulls back and looks down at the peaceful face of the stallion for a brief second before closing her eyes and leaning back down. Pressing her lips against his cheek, she gives him a soft kiss…

~ ~ ~ ~ > > < < ~ ~ ~ ~

You pause, your hand hovering over the trackpad of your laptop. On the screen, the progress bar tells you that you are twenty-seven percent done with downloading the seventh season of Mythbusters. You used to be able to watch it on Netflix, but they removed it, so you had to get your destructive science fix somewhere else.

Your brow furrows and you raise you hand to your face, tentatively touching your cheek. It had been faint, almost to the point where you thought you had imagined it. Still, it had felt like someone had kissed you. Your head whips up as a soft whisper catches your ears, even through your headphones.

Eyes wide, you glance around the darkened room, but see nothing amiss. Everything is as it should be, and the house is locked up tight. It's probably just your exhausted mind playing tricks on you.

Taking one last glance around, you shrug before returning your attention to your laptop. You decided to load up an episode of Mythbusters from an earlier season that was already on your hard drive.

You smile as the familiar theme song begins to play through your headphones, and you begin to bob your head to the beat.

~ ~ ~ ~ > > < < ~ ~ ~ ~

Fluttershy stands back up, giving the stallion a sad look. He remains still, his chest rising and falling weakly. Sniffling, she swallows, choking back another sob.

“I”m… I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to visit tomorrow,” she says. “I’ll b-be back the day after though. W-we can talk some m-more then. And… and maybe the girls and I will have another adventure I can tell you about…” Trailing off, Fluttershy bites her lip as she stares down at the stallion. She hiccups once before whispering, “G-goodnight, hun.”

She makes her way towards the door, her head hung low and mane in front of her eyes. Pushing it open, she pauses, glancing back at the stallion one last time before slipping out into the hall. She turns off the lights before closing the door with a soft ‘click’.

The sun having set, darkness floods the room, broken only by the soft glow of the heart monitor. It beeps along loyally, keeping track of each steady beat of the stallion’s heart. Soft, raspy gasps can be heard over the sound of the beeps, his chest expanding gently with each breath.

A gentle peace descends over the room as the moon slowly rises.

The darkness, however, remains.

Author's Notes:

*This is not a reflection of the author’s belief. All ponies are best ponies, and all deserve more screen time than they get.

I've been feeling rather melancholy the past couple of days, and haven't really been able to get anything done, let alone write much. Hopefully it will pass soon.

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