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Fracture 12: Burn Your Dread.

By Mandroid
Created: 19th December 2020 01:25:48 PM
AIE Safe Anon OC Action

  1. =Fracture 12=
  3. >If there was one good thing that could be said about the direction your life had take, it was that it had taught you how to sleep almost anywhere.
  4. >The steady rhythmic sound of the train underneath you riding along had lulled you into a fit-less doze.
  5. >At least until one particularly harsh section of track jostles you awake.
  6. "Snrk! Buhwah!?"
  7. >You rub your eyes and look around the empty train car.
  8.  >Right...train out of Trottingham.
  9. >First one you could find, headed back out west.
  10. >:Ah, the West! Home of the blistering sun and the acrid dust!"
  11. >You'd prefer we make our lives somewhere else?
  12. >:Are you kidding? Let's go down the list. Griffin Kingdoms? Cold. Ib'Xian? We don't speak the language. Zebrica? Same things as the Mild West just with more grass and bugs.:
  13. >Could always go back to Equestria proper.
  14. >:Yeah, because sprawling hills, tall mountains and dense forest doesn't get old after a while.:
  15. >You lean your head against the window.
  16. >Well maybe we can just go live underground with the Changelings.
  17. >:Are you STILL on that?:
  18. >What he said was ominous as all get out, I'd say we're vindicated in worrying.
  19. >:You worry too much.:
  20. >+Should the Changelings become a problem,+
  21. >*We'll deal with them as any other problem.*
  22. >You gently caress your bag next to you, the one holding your pilfered bell and the sword you received.
  23. >Well...back to the old grind...
  24. >You begin nodding off again as the train keeps chugging.
  25. >"Ponyville. Next stop: Ponyville."
  26. >Waitwhat?
  28. "I paid for a direct ticket!"
  29. >The conductor gives you a delightful "Are you serious?" look.
  30. >"And as I've said seven times sir, we have to fill the water tank and the coal bed up before we can depart again. I would thank you for your cooperation." he says before trotting away.
  31. >"But I can't BE here!" you shout to his shrinking form.
  32. >When no response comes, your face falls so fast it breaks the sound barrier.
  33. >God.
  34. >:Fucking.:
  35. >*Dammit*
  36. >You crane your head out and look west along the tracks.
  37. >Could walk it...
  38. >:If you don't mind it taking a week.:
  39. >It's not that long.
  40. >+By normal train, it is 63 hours. We walk at a third of that.+
  41. > Your face falls even further as you consider the numbers.
  42. "Perfect."
  43. >The next hour or so you spend trying to waste as much time as you can at the train station.
  44. >Try.
  45. >You can't go out around the town, too many reminders.
  46. >You try pacing or singing old war songs or polishing your new sword to entertain you but having as crowded a head as you have makes legitimate entertainment hard to come by.
  47. >You're halfway through counting all the planks in the station for the third time when a familiar voice catches your attention.
  49. >"WHOA!"
  50. >Ohgodpleaseno-
  51. >A cyan blur streaks around you and stops in front of your face to inspect you.
  52. >"Anon, is that really you!?"
  53. >You bat her hooves away.
  54. "Y-yeah Dash, it's me."
  55. >A thousand watt smile lights up on her face and she wraps you in her hooves
  56. >"Well where've ya been you big dummy!? We haven't seen or heard from you since-"
  57. >You can hear Dash's indecision.
  58. >"S-since what happened."
  59. "Yeah, I've been-"
  60. >You wriggle out of Dash's hug.
  61. "-busy."
  62. >Her eyes drift down to the sword on your hip. "Yeah...I can tell."
  63. >You stand there awkwardly in front of Dash for a bit, trying to decide if you should be saying sorry for being gone so long or just try to leave again.
  64. "Look, Dash, I-"
  65. >You feel a pair of hooves snake around your hand and pull you down the station stairs.
  66. >"C'mon! You got people to see!"
  67. >:GAH:
  69. >Dash isn't listening, just pulling you along the ground.
  71. >Dash yanks you through the center of town, drawing the attention of practically everyone you ever knew.
  72. >Many of them look happy to see you for the brief instant you saw them.
  73. >You saw Lyra and Bon Bon, The Cakes, even Thunderlane is still here.
  74. >Boy, was it embarrassing seeing him again.
  75. >That was the day you swore off hard liquor.
  76. >Dash continues to drag you along the path, clear purpose in her direction as she rockets along.
  77. "What the hell, Dash!? What is it!?"
  78. >"You're due somewhere, Anon!"
  79. >What the hell!?
  82. >*Pfft. You did.*
  83. >Seriously, where the hell are we going?
  84. >+She is taking us out to the outskirts of town.+
  85. >But the only thing out that far is-
  86. >Ohgod.
  87. >Rainbow skids to a halt in from of a gated fence, beyond the fence rest hundreds upon hundreds of apple trees.
  88. >You feel the others go conveniently silent.
  89. "D-dash..."
  90. >Rainbow looks at you with a proud smile.
  91. "I-I can't be here, Dash."
  92. >That smile melts away in a moment, replaced by a confused stare.
  93. >"What? Why? I thought you'd WANT to see the old family."
  94. >You start down the road.
  95. "It's not that, I just...I-I can't be here.
  96. >Not after everything that's happened.
  97. >However, there is one sound that could stop you as you walk along the wooden face. One sound that grinds you to a halt.
  98. >The high pitched accented young girl shouting "ANON!"
  100. >Against your better judgment, you spin around and scan the horizon for any sight of that voice.
  101. >Came from just over...there!
  102. >A red mane and pink bow, higher off the ground and fuller than you remember, bounces along the other side of the fence and screeches to a halt outside the main gate.
  103. >Her face lights up as soon as she sees you. "It IS you!" she cries as she runs over and hugs you.
  104. >Applebloom had grown up quite a bit in the years you hadn't been home. Gone was the tiny little filly you once new and in her place was a young mare who seemed as strong of body as she used to be of mind.
  105. >...The only new addition was the unmistakable feeling of well healed burn scars along her entire left side.
  106. "...Hi Applebloom."
  107. >You do your best to hide the sword on your hip and the knives on your back from her as she snuggles into your chest.
  108. >"Where ya been? We aint seen ya since those dragons came through the town a few years back!"
  109. "Yeah. I uh..."
  110. >You remember back to everything you did during that month on that mountain.
  111. "Went away...for a bit..."
  112. >"Where?" she asks with big amber eyes.
  113. "Uhhh..."
  114. >It is now you notice that Rainbow has buggered off, some bro.
  115. "N-nowhere important."
  116. >Applebloom doesn't press and drags you just like Dash did.
  117. >"Well that don't matter none now! Y'all gotta come inside and see AJ and Granny again!"
  118. >Granny and AJ...
  119. >You missed them, even if they were another reminder.
  120. >Seeing them can't hurt...right?
  122. >You step out of the farmhouse later that night, saying your timid goodbyes to Applebloom and Granny after you put them both to bed.
  123. >You sling your bag over your back and make for the road back to town. You missed the train you were on but there was always another one heading out.
  124. >A blotch of orange on a hillside nearby draws your attention over to it.
  125. >She sits on her hindquarters under a nearby tree staring at the moon, she looks like she's talking.  
  126. >...
  127. >Dammit.
  128. >Stupid guilty conscience.
  129. >You trek off the path and head over to the hill, picking up a bit of what she's saying as you get closer.
  130. "-nd the southern field is coming in real nice this year, got the farmhands workin' their flanks off trying to get it all."
  131. >You sneak up and knock the tree twice when she's silent.
  132. "AJ?"
  133. >She doesn't jump or even raise her head, just let out a sigh. "Howdy, Anon."
  134. >You come around to her side and finally catch her eyes.
  135. "What are you doing out here?"
  136. >AJ looks up to the tree next to her. "Oh just...talking to 'im."
  137. >You follow AJ's eyes up to the tree.
  138. >Strong thick trunk, full canopy of leaves...bright red apples hanging from the branches...
  139. "Oh..."
  140. >"Yeah..."
  141. >You remember an old story Granny used to tell you...about how every Apple family member who had passed got a tree named after them.
  142. >You place your hand on the bark.
  143. "So this is his..."
  144. >AJ nods. "Yeah."
  146. >"I like talkin' to him sometimes. Makes me feel like he's still around."
  147. >...Hey Mac.
  148. >You rub the trunk of the tree.
  149. >AJ comes along your side. "I know what y'all r' thinkin'..."
  150. >You remove your hand.
  151. "Just a bit faster..."
  152. >AJ socks you in the side. "Now don't you think like that. Y'all are the reason that Applebloom is still here."
  153. >You look down to her.
  154. >"The reason she got to grow up into that mare down there." she says pointing to the house.
  155. >You glance between the house, the tree, and AJ.
  156. >Still...
  157. "Should have been faster." you whisper.
  158. >"I said none of that!"
  160. >Aj puts her hoof to your gut with tears in her eyes. "I hadta hear Applebloom bellyache the same darn way after you left! She stayed up for weeks cryin' cuz she thought the same as you! "If I'da been a bit faster, I coulda got away and Big Macintosh and Anon would still be 'round!"
  161. >Applejack bites back more tears and grits her teeth. "Well she don't remember ma and pa dying! and you weren't around then! Know what I learned when that happened? That sometimes bad things HAPPEN! And there aint nothin' we can do about it but pull up our bootstraps and keep truckin'!"
  162. >Her hind legs give way and plot her flank on the ground while she rubs her face with her hoof, stuttering out her words. "C-cuz...that's how the ones who loved us would w-want us t'live..."
  163. >You haven't moved, just watched AJ cry. "T-they wouldn't want us hung up on matter how much we miss 'em."
  164. >You knew that she was waiting for you to say something, anything, in response, but you'd just noticed how clearly you could hear what she was saying, and how easy it was to concentrate on it.
  165. >The others hadn't said a word since you arrived here.
  166. >You felt them, at the back of your mind, huddled in the corner and clawing away at you.
  167. >But for the first time in years, you were alone with your thoughts.
  168. >That feeling of longing and peace that had eluded you for so long swelled in your heart and made you do something really fucking dumb.
  169. >Despite your trembling hands, despite the blades strapped to your body drenched in past blood, and despite your grief clenching your gut and demanding you turn tail and run, you reached out and gently caressed Applejack's face.
  170. "A-AJ..." you stutter.
  171. >She looks up at you. You let it all pour out.
  172. "I-I can't...put into words how, but I've been sick these last few years...It's a sickness I caught when I lost Mac..."
  173. >"Sick...?" she says.
  174. "Yeah...but here, with all of you I don't...f-feel it. I feel like I used to feel, I feel-"
  175. >You feel the tears stream down your face as you watch the sun set over the horizon, just like you did in your previous life. It took everything you had in you to want to grab that life again.
  176. "I myself."
  177. >You glance down at Applejack and stroke her cheek with your thumb. "I don't want to drift away again, AJ...I want t-to get me...I need help..."
  178. >Applejack sniffs and looks at you with that same stubborn determination she had given you in the past. That was all she needed to hear.
  179. >"A'course. Family help each other."
  180. >Your knees give out and you wrap your arms around her neck. You'd had enough of death, it wasn't making the pain go away.
  181. >It was time to try a life.
  183. Author's Note: This fic went on hiatus for five years after this story originally. It has been retooled to allow for readers to have some measure of closure on this, the final chapter, but note that it was not the original planned ending.
  184. So sorry, prese understand.

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