A twosome of artistic astonishments.

Imperfect Vision

The story of this fanfiction’s creation is curious. The background of why I would write a fanfiction for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic extends to a ten-year stretch of my life influencing the majority of my personality today, and the basic story is that I am a brony and am also autistic. I was more so in both respects when I was younger and was a child first immersed in the pony subculture back in 2010, whose first exposure to writing anything for fun was in Friendship is Magic fanfiction. Publication was available to all regardless of merit, and the prevailing site Fimfiction was unusual in its competency in design and organisation. Nobody knew what they were doing, and to this day with the fandom becoming even more a cult that it was all those years ago, nobody fundamentally knows what they’re doing and we all did it because we wanted to express ourselves in a manner where we could pretend other people would appreciate our work. I never wrote anything to completion, and despite a few cracks at it over the years I still never published anything over the years. In the back of my mind I wondered what it would be like if I wrote a fanfiction I could be proud of creating. Now I know, and though the publication of this work is an uneven compromise, it is nonetheless unusual in that I think it has actual merit.

I wrote this story across a month, starting on 2020-01-17. It’s 7,000 words long, and with the effort of writing a few hundred words a day here and there, making character sheets to get to know the parties involved, it ended up taking several weeks to flesh it out into a full story. Writing fiction is an unusual strain for me compared to writing opinion pieces. I have no standards for my opinions. But when it comes to my fiction, I am so incredibly picky as to the type of prose I want to read and write that it takes me ages to conceptualise the exact descriptions and means of writing them down, and so I can only do a few hundred words a day as opposed to the thousand or two I do these days without causing strain on my mental state. The result, I feel, is prose so lucious and with such weight to it that I take inspiration from myself for having re-read this fanfiction since I first wrote it over a year ago. Is that pride, hubris, or narcissism? I’m not sure. But I repeat what I said. It has merit. It tells a good story, the way it is written is direct and yet fascinating, and all my competency in complaining about arbitrary topics on the Internet has transferred well towards the overarching themes of the work. I’m proud of this piece. That is rare for me these days.

In some respects I felt that by contributing this piece to the My Little Pony fanfiction canon, I was offering up a gift to the cultural deities that would decide from on high that I had contributed enough to the fandom that I could die in peace. I realise now the true arrogance in this piece is not in writing it and reflecting on it, but in publishing it at all. I had very briefly published this work on an anonymous account on Fimfiction, specifically for the purposes of submitting it to Equestria Daily — bronydom’s Newspaper of Record — so they may consider featuring it in their fanfiction section. The account is deleted now, it took me two monthrests to get rejected from Equestria Daily, and nopony seemed to care all that much about what I published. What’s fortunate about the Internet is that when you get rejected from a traditional gatekeeper who decides what gets in-and-out of their publication, you can set up shop somewhere else and publish your ideas on your own platform and say whatever you please. It worked for Donald Trump when he got shitcanned from Twitter. It’ll work for a jabronie like yours truly, and this blog, for all its obvious faults, is my workshop.

The rejection from Equestria Daily, as trivial as it is on a surface level, affected me deeply for several reasons, the majority of which have to with my disagreements with the reasons given for rejection. Much of the complaints were prescriptivist grammatical considerations which suggest the English language as something to fit a set of rules rather than whatever best suits the aesthetics of the story you’re creating, and this is ultimately meaningless opinion which has little do with what readers actually care about — the story and the quality of writing used to tell that story. They suggested I create a flashback scene to better explain the story, which is against the story’s deliberate pacing and subtle plot revelations, making me wonder if the reviewer understood the point of the story at all. And I recall the reviewer suggesting English wasn’t my native language because they thought I used a thesaurus for much of my word choice. That’s incredible. Only in writing can you be punished for being competent at your craft to the point where people assume you’re cheating. Of course, they don’t know me, I don’t know them, and they don’t understand that when I use a phrase like “sphere of uninfluential pseudoscientific philosophical whinging”, I bloody well know what every word in that sentence means. It took two months from my initial submission for it to be reviewd, and if I knew this submission would occupy my headspace for 56 days, I wouldn’t have bothered at all.

At the time I was furious about the absurdity of these complaints, so spurious and unacknowledging of what I meant to convey that it was clear the reviewer fundamentally misunderstood what the story was meant to be about, and why I chose the way it was meant to be about it. There was little to change because the work was fine as is and when slaving away over perfecting a work that is already acceptable, you might as well save the effort and write a new story so it can be rejected as well. But I’m grateful for the experience, because I now understand that, all across the world, there are editors just like that fanfiction reviewer with a particular view on the arts and the world at large that is incomptible with yours, and they get to decide whether or not they like your work on a basis of a worldview that you will simply never possess. In the realm of meaningless artistic creations like Friendship is Magic fanfiction, you get to choose your battles. You get the contentment that you understand your work best, and that some others will appreciate them more than the people in charge of their publication; I would never ask Remy Boydell to make their transgender prostitution drama feature anything but furries. But unless we want to go to war with our natural enemy, as George R.R. Martin has expressed them as, then we have to make peace with our editors. And bad editors, like bad writers, are in positions of power everywhere, and if you don’t want to prostrate yourself to them, then you have to set up shop elsewhere and take their opinions on the fucking chin.

There is nothing you need to know about the background of Friendship is Magic to enjoy this work, except perhaps that Ponyville is an anonymous village filled with hicks, whereas Canterlot is the fancy-rich-dwanky capitol with all the ponies who won’t die unloved. There are also two parts to it. The story, which stands alone, and the first chapter of a cancelled sequel, which is unnecessary but I provide for your fascination. Through these you’ll understand a few things: the folly of working hard on meaningless things, the beauty inherent in works that nobody can admire but you, and finding goodness in creating a piece of art that is relevant to you alone. I am obviously biased towards positivity, you would think, because I wrote the work. I remark that any writer who likes their work a week after its creation, let alone the 68 weeks this work is as old as, is delusional. Know I like this work, because… I like the work. I used to like it. And I still do.

Imperfect Vision

It’s night. There’s a grassy field with brown plants and big trees reaching to the Ponyville stars five kilometres away from that town, towering over and scattering moonlight on a decrepit caravan with its three wheels knocked off and moss where its axles once were. The oblong structure is made of darkwood once proud now stained, wet, and cracked with the interior metal spoiled by the failings of the exterior finish, the gold trim stripping away from its inset, curling and snapping off into clumps beneath the slipshod staircase constructed aftermarket beneath the overlocked door. Inside, there was a mess.

Imperfect Vision is a young Earth stallion with blue-grey fur and béchamel hair cut short on mane and tail. He sits in his single-room shelter by lamplight hunched over a slanted desk with his two hooves holding down a piece of foolscap, staring at it fuzzy with his eyes glazed over and his breathing holding the steady labour of in-and-out breaths every five seconds. In his vision lies a blank matte piece of paper covering the whole of his writing surface and oversized ballpoint pens littered on the bottom of his lectern. The flickers of wicks burning oil throw orange from outside his vision, and the writings and rolls taped up and thrown down across the walls of his home scatter around the corduroy rug that decks his floor.

His eyelids weigh heavily. His breathing shutters. His mouth curls down into a grimace as his jaw goes slack and his cheeks turn numb. The dim illumination of his off-white paper grows dimmer as greys turn to black and colours once apparent now turn to memories within the inside of his eyelids, afterimages dancing within the darkness, making no more noise than tinnitus. His internal voice and imagination were muted, his constant thoughts fading away, and he dropped his left arm to rest his cheek and nuzzle his jaw in a cool and comfortable place.

As his journey to the void started it ended with a tilt of the lectern and the wooshing of winds made within the decimetres from his head to the floor, his pens tumbling to the left with the rest of his lectern crashing down to bare metal, smashing with a dead clang as his head followed through into the papers loitering below, waking with a startled scream as his fetlocks scrambled to right himself, his hooves jamming his notes into the floor and slipping as they tore up from under him, sputtering his breath as he slammed his flank down and shot his eyes open to look at the mess he’s made.

He looked at his fallen workspace, inhaling, five seconds in, then five seconds out as he sat there with his pounding heart without a blink.

His ears thumped, his fur was crisp, and his unwashed breath turned to the fresh taste of cool mint as the colours before him turned from dim orange to a white-grey stew, the outlines of objects indistinct, and where everything was just as it needed to be, just as it needed to be, and he smiled.

He leaned over and grabbed his lectern, lifting it upright onto his desk with everything on it sliding off, carrying the motion into his body, which flopped to the right as he grabbed a rolled-wad of paper over there somewhere, orienting himself to a proper sit, and unrolled it down on the writing tablet. He glanced over his notes on stinkbugs before flipping it to the blank side with a mumble, ironing it out with his hooves and holding each end in place with the clamps on both sides of the surface. Without looking, he gripped a floorbound pen and wrung it to the paper with a scattered streak, lifting it up to the northwest corner, breathing in as his shaking hoof shook just a little less.

“SLEEPWALK”, he wrote, in deliberate caps, as large as the margins allow.

“Night Five”, he wrote, to the left under that, with a lazy and unsteady hoof.

He looked at these three words as the black ink melded into the paper and turned into the same greyish blur of canvas his writings laid on. As they disappeared, his thoughts too left him, and his breathing was all he heard.

He thought it a good time for a drink.

He shook his head and giggled, rolled his head to the opposite direction, giggled more, looked down to the rolls of his dusty old rug, and trotted towards the icebox in the corner of his abode as his giggles turned to breaths between his teeth. He cracked open the wattle-daubed chest and flung open the dripping hatch, fetching a porcelain water flask and a ten-gram glass vial with a smidgen of white powder within. He smashed the chest down and giggled some more as he took them both to his desk, wiping off the frigid droplets within the shadow he walked through, giggling as he wiped his hoof on his fur and placed them on the right of his desk — forever cleared for water and food.

As he uncorked the vial and flask he suppressed his giggles by biting his tongue. As his open smile faded, he eyeballed the vial and thought there no more than two grams left. He nodded and held it to the lip of the flask, tapping the powder in bit-by-bit, tilting it straight up and pouring the whole lot in. He shoved the vial’s cork back in, shoved in the flask’s cork, and shook hard with both hooves as he hummed a dumb tune. He bit his tongue with a wince as he popped the cork out, peered into its neck by the dim oil lamps, and shook his head as he giggled.

As he plugged his nose and took a swig of the chunky mix, he looked over to his page and saw the words back where they were, his pen at the lectern smearing a line from there to the shelf. He wheezed as he took away the flask and wiped his wet lips, reaching out to the pen as he cocked his head, blinking as his empty head left no room for inspiration. He reached out to the remnants of his leftward notes, and touched only bare metal as he sipped again. As he swallowed and sighed, he breathed out annoyed, and held his flask up as he leaned over further, grasping at the floor, hoof sliding over nothing, and looked over to find his notes right beside him.

He scratched his head and saw his prose-drenched scraps scattered all about. He grumbled as he grabbed a wad, and as he clenched the papers in his hoof, the rest flew out from under him with a flutter, his heart stopping as his eyes shot open and followed the trail in his vision, whipping himself backwards and slamming his back into his desk as he saw that shadow in full, that translucent black with star-studded form and presence as large as his home: the Mare in the Moon. That goddess before him. Staring.

His jaw stayed open as his chest beat badly and his breaths were cold and sharp. His pupils dilated as they stared high into hers, his fur now raised even higher. His eyes wandered right as his notes flew in his vision, flipping in the air as the Mare held them in front of her in stasis, assembling the scraps into wrinkled-up pages, organising them into a broadsheet. As the pages assembled to a sum her eyes darted between them and her face was obscured by foolscap. He gripped the scraps held in his hoof and looked at the sky-black glow surrounding it, jutting his cannon back and letting the papers fly as he shook his empty hoof, now static.

His breath got back to him as his heart beat less and less, exhaling long and strong as his eyes recognised the back of her scraps, seeing fragments of words and theories with sentences cut short as more and more of the paper-made puzzle flew into place and stayed still. His complaints in the margins spoke to him, reading in sideways writing how his eyes glaze over, how his hunger never ends, how his water is always wet, and how the tiny little constant imperfections of life makes him delusional, paranoid of things that aren’t there, will never be there, and comes to a head in sleepwalking phantoms, where the deprivation makes sights and sounds occur where they never could in existence.

With his jaw open and his eyelids halfway lazily gazing at the rest of his ideas in front of him, the rolls across the rest of his room unfurled and surrounded the Mare in a sphere of insight, and within the gaps of pages he saw her flip them around and scan them while preening her head around with low grumbles. His breathing became steady again, in and out through those same intervals, and as he crocked his head up he realised this whole time he held his flask above his head, and smiled as its white sheen flicked lamplight in his eye.

He lowered the flask slow, and as he brought it to his lips he giggled, taking a sip as some water spilled out and his giggles turned into mad laughs.

The Mare part aside her sphere as she exhaled hot and slow, staring at him, leaning closer into his snout.

He took a swig with his head to the sky, and then laughed again, wiping his chin as his posture relaxed and he looked at her with a smile.

”Ah,” he said with a lazy tongue and a cut-short chuckle. “It’s not thaaat, you know. Nothing suggestive…” He opened his mouth, then closed it, then opened it again with a grin. “It’s caffeine! From the East. It’s magic, they took the powder — not magic like you got with the woosh and the scary reality-destroying impossibilities but with all the — the powder they took from something, like a plant, like… chemicals and glass.” His face went numb, then he shook his head and blew a raspberry to the ground. “I don’t have the, the chemicals. I think if I keep this up I’ll become a scientist mad. Like one who gets paid to hurt himself. Any-way,” he said, turning to his desk as he spoke loud and dumb, “yeah, it does awake stuff, and I guess this is a dream or something.”

He put down his flask then picked up a pen as he shoved his hoof under the three words he wrote before, scratching a dot into the page and writing down the letter “H” before dropping the pen with his hoof in place, his mouth gaping and drooling before wiping it and searching for the pen. “I call them sleepdreams because you’re awake,” he started. “Not you pony thing, but it’s like you’re inbetween the lines of a page if you were small but you’re big and I’m there right now, like the duplication of the pony staring in mirrorland the reflection, I’m the reflection and I’m me too and my pen is crying.”

He looked at the page, looked down to the rest of the pens on his lectern, then picked one up. “Hallucination,” he said as he nodded his head, then brought the pen to the page, staring at the space beyond the “H”. “Self-induced dementia,” he muttered, the rest of his words nonsense as they grew quiet and dull. He wrote some letters after “H”, sloppy and like a sine wave as they left his sights and went into the great beyond within the page.

A speck of drool wet the paper, and he moaned.

The Mare moved past the back of his head and peered into the mess as written, leaning in with bile curiosity, her head beside his while her eyes scanned this production of deranged thought and hoof. She craned her neck to the notes she flipped beside her, and her face went soft with pity, before growling with a scowl as she brought her lips beside his ear and whispered with an exhale.

“I assure you, my dear Imperfect… I am no mere vision.”

She flung her wings beyond her and with a neighing, two-hoofed stomp threw her papers to each end of the caravan, startling Imperfect as he snapped to consciousness with a shake, looking back at the swirl of notes being brought forth from each corner and wall, unrolling and twirling into a cyclone as she stepped back and gazed all around her its contents. With a glow from her horn, oil siphoned out of the wall-hung lamps, and with it the fire that danced on each fluid rope, flaming wisps thrown inbetween each page without catching alight, the fires moving faster and faster in front of her eyes, into a single wheel burning at speeds unreasonably fast yet paradoxically steady and still.

Imperfect stared dumbfounded with his mouth open and his breathing stopped, looking at his life’s work toyed with, flung about careless, still undamaged. She sorted each paper into squares based on topic and flipped each page around, magic horn-beams slicing pages down the middle as needed, directions opposite where her eyes were focused, splitting at hairs-length the scrawlings of disparate research and setting them aside into relevant groups. As each page found its home and each category was put in its place, the cyclone lessened in mass, with only a few pages fluttering as they, too, fell into order, with only the fire leftover.

As she checked her scheme and paginated each group in single stacks, the corner of her eye saw Imperfect reach for his flask, and with a flick of her head popped the cork like a missile as it ricocheted against the walls, the water trailing the cork’s trajectory just as fast, with the caffeine powder separated and erupting from the spout as he surrendered his hoof to his head. When the cork aimed for the Mare’s skull, she stopped it dead and dropped it, the water trail brought above her and into a spiral tall yet thin rotating to a point right above the fire, a drop let onto it with a sizzle, then steam.

The spiral rotated downwards as each floating folio went between the fire and water, the steam licking the top end of each stack as the water sputtered into flame and turned to boiling clouds. With each stack seared, their tops bound the pages together into an ashen glue, then pulled back behind her and dried with a flap of her wings and a riffle of the pages. With this each leaflet became a single codex, the sum of knowledge for each subject held together in flipbook volumes, stacked together in a mountain of chapters as the last bit of water funneled into the final fires and disappeared into smokey embers and remnants of oily resin.

In the new darkness, she made a nightlight with her horn, then put the resin in each lamp and lit them with a nod. The warm glow was back, the papers floated onto the lectern, and furled through them one last time as her magic scrounged up a pen from under the desk, cracked it in two, then siphoned the ink to trace it around her held-up hoof. With a wet underhoof she slammed it into the cover page center, obscuring a canvas scrawled with “Imperfect Vision” by the dozens, then shook her leg as she traced the rest of her ink onto the page’s border, drawing a simple line over and over, bold until the last ink left.

Imperfect was covered in caffeine.

She looked to him with her hoof down and smiled with a cheeky exhale. “Your pen will no longer cry,” she said. “It spent its life in service to a better mare.”

Imperfect blinked. “Huh?”

She leaned down and aimed her horn at him, and with a blue blast of bright water parted the powders on him to the back of his wall, pasting a confused silhouette before a white blast of wind slammed into him and dried off his fur in an instant, shaking his head and sputtering as she parted the wet remnants into irrelevant droplets, turned to air.

She threw the pen pieces behind her and it landed in a corner somewhere. She huffed and looked down at the stallion. “Are you quite awake, yet?”

He whimpered and rubbed his hoof to his snout. “Yeah, sure,” he said.

She smiled. “You’re not.”

“Okay…” he said, struggling to raise himself to his fours. “Thanks for asking a useless question…” He fumbled, then jerked himself to his hooves and gripped himself up to his desk.

Her eyes followed his body raising him to his lectern, and scoffed with glee. “Now that I’ve done this favour for you — ”

He interrupted without thought. “What do you mean, unawake? That would mean accepting your being here as reasonable. Which it isn’t.” As he got himself in place, he grabbed a pen and shuffled through the pages of his new opus, then went back to the cover and traced her hoof-stamp with the pen’s butt. “Look at this — look at this! This is incredible! All of — ” He turned around and looked at her chest, waving all around to nothing as his wide-open eyes darted within his caravan and his pen pointed to places where there was once filth, but now nothing. “There’s order! I’m not in order! You made all this in order. And this binding… it’s…” He moved to face his desk, but then stopped, and stared at her chest again. His mouth was open, but then it closed, and his eyes moved down to the floor, as he sat there and thought.

“You’re the goddess,” he said, then paused. He shook his head. “No wonder I’m so refreshed.”

She nodded her head. “Inbetween the lines of a page. Awake, and yet asleep. The domain through which I travel.”

“So, what?” he asked in a half-hearted laugh. “Not my domain. I’m just visiting — oh, FORGET IT!” He slammed his hoof into the desk, and his porcelain flask toppled. “What am I doing? I should be writing this down!” He took his pen and flipped through his research, looking for a section filled with his first four nights. “The dreams, the delusion, the madness! The magic, the visions, the hallucinations! Your existence! What else is there to do but record this epiphany and ruminate on its creation? What deigns the dreams of colt and mare and what binds their thoughts together? The collective consciousness — of course! The magical means of bringing all folk together! The universal equation of everything!”

As the Mare listened her visage scowled and growled low into a scream. “Vision!” She whisked the folio away with her magic and slammed her hoof onto the lectern’s slant, bouncing the flask off the desk and onto the floor with a metallic twang, the glass vial following and dropping on top of it. She jammed her snout into his and breathed hot air into his nose, baring her teeth and screaming into his face. “Enough with the theory, and enough with my courtesy! I am here, I am present, and you are ruining my ability to do my job, and help out ponies with actual problems instead of this philosophical pseudoscientific whinging!”

He looked straight into her eyes as they shot wide open. He quickly looked away, then slowly put his pen down and put his hooves into his lap. He whimpered. “Sorry.”

“You better be.” She retreated her face from his and brought back the codex, removing her hoof and exhaling as she re-corked the flask, grabbing the vial with her magic and levitating them both to the desk. “I now know why you’re doing this, but I will tell you why you must cease.”

“J-job,” he stammered out, rubbing his arm as his pen slips out his hoof. “Goddess? A-are you a goddess?”

The Mare rubbed her hoof into her face, and exhaled yet again. “The ponyfolk are truly lost this generation… as is my reputation.” She removed it and shook her head, brushing the floor with her hind legs before sitting on the bare metal. “Look. Imperfect. That is your name, correct?”

“Uh, yeah.” His body shook, then he snapped his back straight. “I mean yes! Yes.”

“Now…” She spread her left wing out, and fluttered it soft. “I have wings, correct?”


She pointed her head down. “And I have a horn, correct?”


“Good…” She retracted her wing and put her head up. “Now, what does that make me?”

“A mutant,” he said.

“Uh-huh.” She said, shaking her head. “And what, Imperfect, is a mutant?”

“Well,” he said with a smile. “It’s when an organism suddenly develops a new trait that leads to the creation of a new subspecies outside of natural selection.”

“And that is what they’re teaching you down in Canterlot these days?”

“What?” He looked up to the ceiling. “No, no, you’ve got it wrong. I’m from Ponyville — ”

“No,” she said. “You’re not.”

“Prove it,” he said, pointing at her, then retracting his cannon. “You — you can’t prove it. I’m right.”

She smiled, raised her eyebrows, then looked down at him with triumph. “The games ponies play for no more reward than pride… Alright, then, dear Prefect. What information will best remove this façade from our conversation?”

“Uh — ”

“Oh,” she interrupted. “We can start with the objective, like your out-of-place possessions — ” she said, while magically sliding his flask across the desk and onto his lap, “in this otherwise humble caravan. Or the means which you’ve come to acquire them, including the caravan itself. And the pens, the papers, the lamp oil, and this obvious — ” She smashed her foot into the metal flooring and it thumped without an echo “stash of coin within the ground. You do realise, dear Prefect, that the undercarriage is meant to be hollow?”

He closed his mouth and looked at her, putting his flask aside with eyes sharp, a face shown with neither shame nor fear.

“I’m sure if we dug up the bits we’d find them minted with indicators of their origin — whatever means they make them these days. But that would be boring. Let’s talk about the subjective, like your advanced education, which they don’t,” she spoke with a presumptuous laugh while motioning towards his desk, “teach you in Ponyville. Some of your ideas are humble enough to pass the rigours of the unchallenging demands of unimportant villages, but others…” She paused and rolled her eyes up, swishing ideas in her head, “…well, an Earth pony isn’t apt to rederive the Theory of Elemental Arcanery without immersion in the proper channels.”

“I think,” said Imperfect slowly, “your point has been proven.”

The Mare paused, then closed her eyes and sighed happily. “Good, good… And to think I took you for the stubborn sort.”

“Too well.”

“Yes, yes,” she said while waving her hoof, “I know. Now we may discuss the reason for my being here, as fortunate as you are to — ”

“Because I know what we’re here about.”

She blinked, started to put her hoof down, then laughed. “Oh, really now? Then why don’t you enlighten me as to — ”

His heart beat, he put his hoof to his face and spoke on with an exhale, disregarding her. “Look, your circumstantial evidence and silly non-sequester rhetorical tricks will impress the slack-jawed bumbling yokel hicks you seem to think me and my Earth Pony ilk are, which is fine, because they are hicks, but I’m less interested in confirming the fact of other ponies’ existential mediocrity than in confirming that a goddess with demonstrably incredible power and methods of rationality has bizarrely decided to visit a social outcast misanthrope -” he said quieter. Colder. Bitter. “- whose unclaimed ambitions have left him wailing in his own sphere of uninfluential pseudoscientific philosophical whinging, because nobody will read his works or accept him into journals and I can’t even live anywhere important anymore because the cost is too much and the ponies are too there and there’s too much going on at any given point in time that it’s like rejecting the scum that wanders this grassy earth and retreating into nature kilometres away from society where they wouldn’t care if I choked on my own bog rot is both the problem and the cure to everything I’ve ever hated about the world but is still there as the only constant I can appreciate as an eternal source of complex simplicity, and I can’t decide which is which and there’s obviously no reason to care about anything I’ve ever said or done so evidently you’re here because I’m ruining your, uh, ‘dream duty’.”

He looked at her and breathed with a shiver between breaths and his eyes now heavy. “If you wanna call it that.”

The Mare stopped as she kept staring at Imperfect, breathing, with that same steady labour of in-and-out breaths every few seconds, repeating.

She rubbed her brow and breathed out as she picked up her haunches, brushed them off, then walked to the desk. Imperfect’s breathing stuttered as her magic riffled through the flipbook she created, stopping at the few or so pages he wrote on his sleep deprivation experiment, and read them over slowly as she muttered the words to herself.

He reached out and yelled at her. “There’s nothing in there a-about you! I didn’t even know you ex — ”

“Silence!” she snapped with a growl, piercing her eyes into his. “Do you believe me to be so vain? And surely, my dear, my noble Prefect, you’re grateful your writings are finally being appreciated, instead of collecting dust in this deprecate and antiquated carriage you desperately call your home?” She looked back and kept murmuring.

He shook his head and sighed with wet breath, grimacing. “Forget it. If you don’t want me to tell you — ”

“Oh!” she snapped again. “And I suppose you don’t think me capable of reconstructing how you’ve accurately described my purpose here in so few words that my presence here is not even needed.” She shook her head violently with teeth clenched. “If only I were a more vicious goddess as you so describe me that I might reclaim what I’ve just done for you, and let you live the rest of your happy, oh, miserable life having known even the modest amount of time you’ve spent your life devoted to this, this craft if you so want to describe such, will all be for nothing, and you won’t even know what’s gone wrong?” She shot her gaze back and forth down to him and back to the pages. “Why, my beloved Prefect, why not just bid me farewell, so that you may never see — ”

“You’re calling me Prefect when that’s impossible.”

She stopped, turned her head, and stared at him with eyes wide open.

He clambered to four legs, snorted mucus down his throat, shook out his face and torso, and breathed out long as he rubbed his eyes, then sat down next to the Mare as he reached out to his pages. She stepped to her side and kept staring at him as she levitated the pages behind her. His hoof followed the flipbook’s path, but when it came too close to her snout, he retracted it as her head moved back and he looked down to the ground.

He coughed into his elbow then looked to nothing in particular. “I can show you if… if you want.”

She turned towards him, blinked, then her eyes went soft as she slightly shook her head and brought the book into his chest, him fumbling with it then orienting it to the front. He looked at the cover with a hum, then rubbed his hoof across the binding.

“Wow,” he said soft. He smiled as he held his hoof in front of the Mare’s stamp, bringing it closer and further away from it, and quietly laughed as he saw they were much the same size.

She craned her neck around the book and looked at what he’s doing from the side with her jaw open. “What?” she asked curious. “What’s so funny?”

“Uh,” he said, while doing the thing with his hoof, “it’s just incredible to hold. I haven’t been able to go through it, because, um.” He paused. “It’s amazing to see everything I’ve done all in one volume,” he said while feeling the cover’s coarse texture, “because it’s like I’ve been an idiot for not doing anything like this before even though I probably could have.”

“Oh.” Her eyes narrowed and she frowned.

“And the cover is really pretty, too.”

“Oh?” Her eyes widened and her frown left.

“I mean,” he looked to her and back to the page quick. “I don’t know anything about æsthetics or any form of beauty artificially induced by living beings but it looks really personal and I like how you took a page I made out of boredom and recycled it into this formal thing with a stamp and everything, the same as I like the existence of what I’m holding in the first place. It’s amazing.”

“Ha, ha!” she laughed with triumph, jolting her head up to the ceiling and her hoof on her chest. “Of course it is, my dignified pony-friend! Who else but yours truly could have both the means and ability to create such tomes of salient thought? Truly, I must be a goddess, for who else can have such power, and yet wield it in such a judicious manner as to cause benefit to her newfound subjects — and not the harms that so destroy the threads of our society, and the relationships which bind us together as — ”

He scratched his head. “I, uh. Wrote the thing.”

She stopped her speech, then looked down on him. “Yes, indeed. And you can be proud of your reasoned ideations.” She shuffled over beside him and sat down, preening into his book. “Now tell me about your deduction!” she said with wide eyes and interest.

“Oh, um.” he laughed out his nerves and idly flipped through the pages, straightening his posture and smacking his lips. “There’s really nothing to it. You see, throughout the — ” he did a quick count in his head — “two hundred or so pages in this thing, I don’t ever call myself Prefect, right? That’s just a nickname, something I used to have back in…” He trailed off the thought.

“Canterlot!” she decisively said.

“Okay.” He continued. “Well, anyway, I always had the nickname ‘Perfect’ hanging around me, because some foals think they’re too clever to call me by my name, but the innovation from that came from a teacher or something misspelling my name as ‘Prefect’, which is silly because it’s not spelled right. It’s not ‘Perfect’. And I guess the idea came to some of my classmates that we should keep up this silliness, so that’s how I ended up as Prefect for some years of my life. I don’t even think anypony remembered my real name. So that’s the story.”

“There’s more,” she said.

“Well — ”

She huffed. “What logic prevents me from re-inventing this name manipulation in my head and mistakenly calling you by something incorrect? What mechanism stops this from being nothing more than a mere coincidence, a faulty ‘non-sequitur rhetorical trick’ which I independently discovered as a means to dominate you in discussion?”

“Because you’re so obviously too proud to stoop to the level of children that this defense is coming after the fact as a means to make me finish the train of thought.” He looked into her watchful eyes for a second, then went back to idly flipping the pages. “Which I was going to.”

“And are you?” she asked.

“What — yes!” he cried out. “Yes, of course I am! Why are you like this? Why are you constantly trying to intimidate me when I already said I’m interested in talking to you?” His breathing got heavier, and his voice got louder. “I don’t understand it! And I just told you I’m grateful for sorting all this — ” he tapped the book “ — out for me! Okay, yeah, it’s obvious you did it to awe me into getting me to stop this stupid sleep deprivation experiment, and I’m sorry for being such a neurotic idiot that I didn’t shut up and just let you do your speech! But come on! Aren’t we better than this? What do you stand to gain from this other than an inflated sense of self-worth when your actions are already enough to confirm it?”

“Imperfect,” she said loud, then looked at him. His eyes were narrow, he bit a frown, and his breaths stuttered as he held his tome in one hoof and rubbed both eyes with the other. Liquid rolled down his cheek, and he softly sobbed.

“Imperfect…” she said soft. She brought her hoof to her mouth, looked down to the ground, thought for a moment, then sighed. Her eyes shot open, and she looked at her hoof.

It flickered.

The Mare stood up, patted her chest, walked to the center of the caravan, turned around, and brushed her hooves on the corduroy rug as she whinnied then blew air through her lips. Imperfect put down his book and rubbed both his eyes, then exhaled and looked at her with open-mouthed anguish.

“What — ” he asked “ — what are you doing?”

“Vision,” she said, looking to the roof. “How long do you think a dream lasts?”

He blinked.

“Wait,” he said. “Wait. Wait, this isn’t right! It’s only been ten minutes — there’s so much to talk about, so much to ask, so much to — ”

“Vision.” She said, firm and loud. “You are correct about my duties. I solve problems. I solve pony problems, problems that can be resolved with no more effort than a soothing voice and truisms about our meagre state of existence. The problems I solve are simple ones, for simple ponies who don’t live for any higher purpose than waiting for the grave.” She looked at him. “You’re right about my duties. I am a dreamwalker. I deign to tread where ponies can never be, so I can interrupt their peaceful sleep with the arrogant idea that I may solve their omnipresent problems with a few minutes of mutual therapy.”

He shuddered, looked to his chest, then looked to hers. “You didn’t even hear my full derivation — ”

“Forget!” she yelled, “About your derivations! Yes, my ‘dear Prefect’, I cheated. I know who you are. I know who you knew. I stole the slumber of the ponies of your past so I may learn your history and persuade you against disrupting my concentration with your hypnagogic experiments, so that I can ‘help out ponies with actual problems’ instead of you.”

His legs tensed, and he slowly stood up to his fours. “You played games with me. You manipulated me!”

She exhaled hot and hard, shaking her head to the floor. “Yes, Imperfect. That was my plan. A plan which… immediately…” She looked to him, and her eyes became soft. “…became irrelevant.”

She took a step forward as he stepped back on instinct, then stopped his hooves from moving further, steeling his eyes, then stared directly into her face.

Her expression did not change as she held her eyes on him. “You’re not an idiot; you’re just lonely. You’re waiting for a deity to untangle the knots of hatred and malaise that you’ve tied yourself within your psyche. Some vision to tell you that everything will be okay if only you had someone to recognize your greatness, to accept the flaws you refuse to work on, to give you some magic that will fix all your problems, and to get past your hatred of every living pony so they can recognise that you are a good person inside, that you do care about other ponies, but only those that fit your criteria of what a good pony is.” Her eyes went hard, and blew hot air with a snort. “You’re waiting for me to be your friend.”

Imperfect’s heart pounded, and his breathing stopped between heartbeats to catch up with a fury. “That’s not true!” he yelled. “That’s just — it’s not logical! It’s not right!” He pounded his hoof into the floor with a impotent thud. “You don’t know me!”

The Mare whinnied a shriek, stood on two legs, then slammed both her hooves into the metal flooring with a vehement crash, her hooves glowing black with magic as they pulled themselves up from the dented, damaged panels. Imperfect shielded his face, her body flickered for a second, then she whipped her glowing horn up as she yanked out the panel with a jutting crash, then whipping it back as she brought forth fountains of glittering golden coins and spread them across the room, him barely peering through his elbow as he saw the glistening bits shine reflect the meagre lamplight and bring forth light to all corners of the caravan. As the fountain sputtered and he looked at the piles of wealth surrounding him, he saw her suspicion stamped on each face in illegible type: “Canterlot Mint”.

He peered his to the Mare, and in the yellow light he saw her starry body transparent, fading and flickering as she struggles to maintain form with her arched back and head pointed squarely at him with a growl.

“I have lived for a thousand years, Imperfect! A thousand years! Alone! On the Moon!”

His jaw dropped and his face went numb. “On… the…” He tilted his body and peered over to her shining flank. A cutie mark. A waxing crescent in front of space.

She screamed. “I am no goddess, Imperfect! I have seen things in the minds of ponies that would ruin you, that would destroy your perception of the world if you thought about them for more than a second! I have seen death, destruction, suffering, sadism, and pure, undeniable evil done for no more purpose than pleasure in the deranged minds of the demons that walk our earth! Ponies are scum, Imperfect! They are selfish, backstabbing, duplicitous mongrels that look out for no greater purpose than the incomprehensible ideologies they invented to justify the malevolent actions they commit so they can go to sleep at night and declare themselves the hero of their own life’s story!”

Her form flickered more, and her exhausted breathing gave wet to wet breaths and a heart jamming white within her chest. “I go to sleep in a desolate crater and I wake up with sweat on my brow and visions of madness that dance on the canvass of space. Every. Night. And as I look out towards the planet whose miraculous existence you naïvely take for granted, I wonder how long it will be until all the countries, all the creatures, all society and all the beings within will cry out with a primal screech, all life will be erased, and then the pain of living will suddenly cease to be.”

Imperfect stood stunned. His legs shook, his heart stopped, his eyes went numb, and he only breathed by instinct.

He shook his head, exhaled, trudged through the golden wastes, over the torn tile, put one hoof in front of the other, and walked over to the Mare as he snorted back his mucus, held back his tears, and slowly clambered over as he closed his eyes and leaned his head into her chest.

There was nothing there.

“Imperfect…” softly said the Mare.

He opened his eyes, his heart beat, and he saw his head was inside her chest, her body a mirage, and her breathing stuttered. He listened, and as his breathing went soft, he heard that it wasn’t his heart that pounded so. It was hers. And as he snorted harsher, his mouth contorted into a frown, and his lips trembled. He closed his eyes. And listened.

It thumped.

The Mare breathed in, and out, soft. She put her head down and above Imperfect’s back. Her warm breaths parted his fur in rhythm, and he felt it through each time.

“Impy…” she said.

Imperfect’s frown turned to sobs, wet, uncontrolled sobs, as his teared dripped down his hard, red cheeks, and splattered on the carpet within her hooves.

She exhaled once more, as her body became clearer, and her avatar shuttered in and out of existence as her voice became quiet and her breaths became nascent.

“Look out to the stars,” she whispered. “They move in impossible ways, as if…” She breathed out. “…as if somepony wants me back.” She closed her eyes and nodded her head. “If the stars can forgive me after a thousand years, then somepony will love who you are today.”

He nodded, clenched his teeth, and held back his sobs as her heartbeat faded and his knees trembled and he brought his hoof to his eye with the other forced open.

The Mare stepped back, looked at him with a smile, and spoke one last wavering line as her body turned to air. “Goodbye, Imperfect.” And she was gone.

Imperfect went cold, his limbs stopped shaking, and he put his hoof down as he stopped thinking. He took two steps forward, his limbs gave under him, and the nerves returned to his body as he felt everything, all of it, all at once. His body shook, his bawling turned to screams, visions of madness took hold in his head, and the pain of living took root within his soul. He gripped the folds of his scratchy corduroy rug as he trembled, his muscles fired as he pulled them over his body, and he rolled over as his fur jammed knives within his skin. As he clinged to dear warmth, holding onto the rug as his course, discomforting blanket… pain.

For all the pain he felt before it faded, the worst was a simple thought. He would wake up, and he would never remember this.


As stated in my introduction, I have two chapters for you. Imperfect Vision was the first chapter, and this is the second chapter. Was Imperfect Vision its own short story, or was it merely the first chapter in a longer story? Yes to both. I intended to create a series of fanfictions that could each be read on their own and appreciated in little bites, composed of sections of a few chapters here and there, and have them arranged into a great big story that would effectively be a novel — unsellable, of course, due to its piracy of copyrighted characters. As we know, I write long. I write so long that the idea of writing anything within a typical 2,000 word limit would cause my skin to slip off its bones and form joinder with its personhood as a sovereign citizen. And given the few hundreds words I could write for fiction each day, creating such a novel with little benefit beyond my own self-satisfaction, without the glory of being loved or the riches of being bought, would be a project that monopolizes my mind indefinitely, coming out at the end of it wondering what the hell I was even doing at all. So, I stopped writing them. Effectively, I never published them. But I learned from them. Is that enough?

This chapter provides some additional insight into my interpretation of the Friendship is Magic canon, as well as demanding additional context as to the themes of the brony fanfiction community I attempted to subvert. The overarching story would be that Imperfect Vision, neurotic autistic horse that he is, is exiled from his rich upbringing in the higher-educated echelons of Canterlot, the son of a prostitute who is accepted into a young pony’s public school due to his natural inquisitiveness and his mother being a gold digger in a loveless union with an aristocrat. After a moment of pride leads to the explosive destruction of a cliffside school, costing him the lives of his mother and the majority of people he knew, he sends himself into hiding at the outskirts of the anonymous village of Ponyville. He would talk through his complexions with the existing characters of the Friendship is Magic canon as he reconciles his past with original characters unique to this story, intertwining his experiences inbetween the events of the first season of the cartoon. It would end with him abandoning his efforts to understand either friendship or magic, killing himself in another explosion, leaving behind his compendium of notes in the hands of the only ponies who ever cared about him. The story, fundamentally, is about ignoring your past to find peace in the present to secure a future you won’t be alive to experience. If I could be alive for a thousand years, I would write it. But it’s meaningless. I only have a tenth of that.

To talk about the context demanded, the brony fanfiction community is one of autism, spaghetti, and memes. One of the most cliche creations is the genre fiction whereby an original pony character, representing the author, uses this opportunity to talk out his personal problems with the characters of the show. It’s similar to those “isekai” anime with the same premise, and it’s fundamentally a form of escapism. Imperfect Vision is a humourless parody of that idea, where the notion that one can solve their life-long neurological issues by finding themselves in the presence of magical beings for a few minutes is absurd, and I represent it as such by having The Mare act as a deconstructive goddess figure. I wonder why an Equestria Daily reviewer would reject this premise while accepting endless shipping fics and slice-of-life fluff? Young men on the Internet, especially those who find themselves under the corporate umbrella of a children’s cartoon franchise in the most infantile community on the Internet, are dumb, lonely, and want to rid themselves of any idea that they alone, with the help of what little friends they have, have to work on solving their problems. The April mass shooting committed by an Applejack fan represents the most tragic expression of lonliness and grief — sadder still that he had to love worst pony.

The themes of the next chapter are far more blunt. I get to express them plainly for two reasons. The first is that each chapter of a story tells its own mini-story. We format these words this way so that the audience keeps its confidence in us that we know how to tell the overarching story, and a good way to do that is to express little substories that all tie into the main narrative we are trying to bring the reader on a journey with. Being more direct in our language allows the ideas of each chapter to come through plainly, while still leaving room for subtlety and foreshadowing as it relates to the main narrative, letting the reader feel smart for recollecting events that happened earlier without them being obvious in the moment. In this way, the obvious ideas act as a Trojan horse for the subtle ideas; the horse is very big and distracts from the subtle ideas inside, and even better if it’s shaped like Pinkie Pie. The second reason is that, in a sort of artistic paradox, the less substantial the work the more each individual idea matters to it, meaning we can express the quiet ideas, create a work entirely of quiet ideas, and they will come out loudly due to the package they are wrapped up in. Where Imperfect Vision operates as its own complete story, and little is directly said about it, there is enough to mull over that the little sayings become substantial in their own right. Amateur writers think you must be loud in a short story and quiet in a long story. It is, as I have demonstrated, the other way around. Loud words are for long works. Soft words are for short works.

Once you read it, that’s it. No more Imperfect Vision. But the works are written, the explainers have been explained, and here I am, at the end of time, waiting for my next great work.

I wonder what it will be, if not Imperfect?

Imperfect Pie

He woke up on the metal floor of his caravan, his corduroy rug wrapped around him, the starch rolls little comfort against hot eyes and crusty cheeks. A bile rose from his stomach to his chest, the white noise of consciousness screeching through his ears, his once-mint breath now bacterial and dry, escaping from his mouth. The long hours of last night faded from his head as the memories went from snapshots of emotions on-high to abstract art where little is definite but the objective thought that something, sometime in the past, happened. And what happened then is lost.

Imperfect Vision. A young Earth stallion with blue-grey fur and béchamel hair cut short on mane and tail… he lay. His lips smacked. The sticky saliva within his snout was distraction from the discomforts of his body and the reality he faced outside his own eyelids. They were sealed shut with rheum and his sight suffered from being off-black; it was reddish, a hint of white and yellow, light peering into his pupil. There was nothing stopping him from doing more than moaning on the dirty floor in a blanket unfit for any living entity. But there was, he thought, one stupid barricade. The truth.

He grumbled low and hacked out sharp air from his nose and mouth. He scrunched his face and his eyes shut tighter. His throat pulsated and clicked within his neck, grasping at a dull itch that won’t be soothed and is replaced with a tickle soon after. He moved his hoof up to his forehead and ruffled his hair to feel its grease; dandruff followed. He cringed, and shook his head, knowing full well the moment he opened his eyes his discomfort would be gone and his intellectually-dishonest delays would shame him more than the state of his living quarters. Gone would be the dull aches of waking up from dead sleep and finding newfound consciousness. In its place would be pain.

He giggled. He stopped.

His mouth hung open as he let out a long, dull moan, shoving one hoof under him and keeping his eyes shut as he leveraged his legs to a stand, the rug flopping off with a smack. He rubbed the soft part of his hooves into the scratchy surface and sighed with a wide-open mouth as it transferred to a yawn, stretching out his back with his snout to the ground, sniffing the rug, grimacing as it smelled like a horse. He raised his head, and breathed in through his nose, clear air seeping through his clogged nostrils, shaking his haunches and throwing off the stiffness from his thighs as he stumbled shortly, then recovered. He rubbed the crust from his eyes and put his head up as the sun seeped through the cracks of his roof and between his eyelids, the thumping in his ears replaced with birdsong and beaks pecking with a tinny echo, tippy-taps above him, a light breeze accompanying.

He sighed, his stomach rumbled, and his face unfurled slow as his heart thumped hard, then calmed down as he grit his teeth, then cracked open his eyes. He blunk fast as sunbeams invited themselves in, the thin rays shattered and brought back by birds hopping above. He kept his eyes fixed to the roof, ignoring his periphery, and smacked his lips while estimations of time and date rolled around his head.

“Fifteen-hundred…” he groaned lazy. He shook his head. “Sixteen hours. Gonna…”

His thoughts stopped as his heart smashed into his chest.

What, exactly, would he write in?

With a forced, cringing frown, he breathed in deep, covered his forehead with his cannon, and seethed. He creaked his neck downwards, slowly, as he kept blinking and making his vision dark, craning his neck down to the ground, and scrying something precious beyond his hooves: a glimmering, golden, coin.

His bottom lip shook, then he bit it. He widened his eyes, saw further coins scattered around, and gulped as he closed his mouth. With a hot heart, he took his legs, trotted them behind him, inhaled long and deep, and saw it.

Gold. Piles, and piles, of gold. Gold bits. Gold coin. Gold trinkets and jewels and assortments of wealth splattered around his failing home, encasing the floor in an ocean of glittering goodness, the sun’s streaks pummelling every centimetre of decadent excess, splashing golden glows on everything that shines, broken up with prismatic gems inset in precious accessories, all there, all around, undeniable gold.

His heart beat. His eyes blinked. His breath stopped. And his jaw dropped. He saw it, all of it, in his deprecate home… there.

And he groaned.

“Ugh,” he let out, with his hoof to his face. “This place was so clean, too…”

He shook out his body with a moaning sigh and steeled his limbs as he walked with his head in front of him, stepping off the rug as he forged a path through the coin, parting the seas and amassing a pile in front of him as he pushed it to the epicentre of this economic explosion — a flung-off floor-tile ripped by force, his stash of savings from the undercarriage erupting, now damaged and buried beneath a mountain of gold.

As the pile got too heavy to push, he struggled to shove it further, jamming his shoulders into it and grunting as it refused to budge. He stepped back and shook his head, looked to the top of the coin, then winced with an idea. He shoved his hoof into the gold, found a foothold as coins displaced and rolled down the hill, then clambered to its peak. Above the apex he peered down the slant and saw the hole to the undercarriage; a few disparate jewels lined the bottom.

He opened his mouth confused, then pushed some coins off the top as they twinkled down and fell into the hole. He shoved some more down, then some more, flattening the top as an avalanche slid off the pile and into the abyss, filling it fast, the opening clogged as the broken-off mass settles into place.

Imperfect climbed over the peak and flopped onto it with his belly, putting his hoof to his chin and shaking his head. “It’s going to take forever to hide all this again…” He scooped up some coin, grit his teeth, then whipped them aside with a yell. “Forever!”

The coins flung through the air and clattered on something wooden. He craned his head around, and saw his empty lectern on his oak desk. Below that, his porcelain flask, ten-gram vial, and codex covered beneath a few lost bits of riches.

His eyes widened, and he slid down the pile as it crumbled, converting to a trot as he walked over to his gold-barren writing area. He put the flask and vial on his desk, walked to the book, and stood over it as he looked down and saw some stray coins laying on the unbound cover. With two hooves he picked it up level, inhaled nervous, tilted the book and slid the coins down, and saw it: an ink-stamped hoofprint on the cover page center, obscuring a canvas scrawled with “Imperfect Vision” by the dozens. It was dry and clear, the outer horseshoe and the tender underhoof obvious, as exacting as a woodcut and as personal as the signature at the end of a long-awaited letter.

He sat down, flipped through the first few pages, and smiled with a happy sigh, his beating heart abating as clarity came to his chest. The first pages were blank; on them were remnants of the stamp seeping through, with less and less form, until it withered. Further in was his hasty recollection of all the projects he concerned himself with, forgot soon after creation, a primitive table of contents with no page numbers or sorting. Beyond that were collections of topics organized by discipline: natural science, medical science, applied science, essays on personal grievances, and an exhaustive, indulgent ocean of ink-splattered chemical equations, screeds on unicorn arts, and endless attempts to explain the mechanisms of arcane effects through rederivations, empirical observations, and experimental examinations of the means with which magic, for all that it works… works.

They are explained poorly.

Imperfect laughed to himself. “It’s probably all wrong, anyway.” His hoof flittered the pages, thin as they are, and rooted a new estimate in his head of six hundred foolscap — triple the pages of his initial instinct — layered horizontal and bound with ashen glue. He stopped on an introductory page suggesting the means of levitation as the manipulation of atmospheric pressures and the triviality of the task resultant of the exploitation of existing systems rather than the wholesale creation of novel mechanisms, the dimensional transposition effects mere administration of pneumatic fields in N-space as opposed to psionic demands brute-forcing acceleration beyond the attractive influence of gravitational fields, the resultant monochromatic aura a paramnesiac artifact of the undispelled psychic force applied to the transposed body.

“Yeah,” he admitted, shaking his head and looking back to the cover with an exhale. “All wrong.”

He stared at the hoofprint, moved his own hoof in front of it, retreated his hoof, moved it forward, and smiled as it came to rest on the page.

He touched it, and his door banged.

He threw his head back and peered between his piles of gold, his limbs freezing and his eyes shooting open. Further knocks came louder, and he shook on instinct as he shouldered his book and looked all around at the wealth he would never conceal. His eyes scanned his room for an escape, the knocking disrupting his thought as he glimpsed his leather saddlesack in the nearest unused corner, rushing towards it and shoving it on his back as he stashed the book inside its oversized pouches, then rushed back and scooped in some ballpoint pens from his lectern.

“Helloooo!” yelled the voice from outside, a peppy drone that did not abate the banging. He winced as his mind cycled through a list of ponies he potentially knew, then shook his head and climbed across the gold to the other side of the room. “I know you’re in there!” the voice jeered, Imperfect forcing it out of his mind as he grasped hoofs of hay from his larder, putting them into his other pouch, some straws spilling out as he cracked open the ice-chest beside him and took out a flip-top water bottle, displacing more hay as he lay it on top, then locked the pouches into place with a clack. He trotted back to his overlocked door, held his ear to it, and shuddered as a forceful smash shook it. He listened again, and from behind the door came panting.

He breathed in, breathed out, then grabbed his hook-held keys, unlocking the padlocks and latches in rapid succession, cracking the thick door open, then sliding through it and slamming it shut behind him, relocking the padlocks on the exterior hasps. He turned around quickly, held his mouth open in preparation for interrogation, and saw her. A pony, pink, panting at the bottom of his aftermarket steps wandering in circles. Her exhausted tongue-drooped breaths matched her derelict posture, she caught a glimpse of him, and her head snapped to him as her back straightened and an exaggerated smile swept her face. She trotted towards him with a bit of bounce, yelling at him with glee, scattering the birds on his roof.

“Hey, hi!” she started. “It’s so good to see you — I mean I didn’t even know you existed way out here in the wilderness because nopony really knew whether you really existed at all given how you never showed up to any of the town meetings or census or anything that tells us you really are you way out here and not just some ghost or something taking root in the hearts and minds of ponies everywhere, which would be really neat but they don’t make good houseguests and I wouldn’t even know what to bake for them — and honestly it’s been a few weeks and you’re so far away — I mean being far away isn’t a bad thing it just means I have to find time to get all the way out here because it’s like dozens of metres away and my running is fine it just means I get tired for the rest of the day and I’m sure that’s good for me but then there’s the next day and then you get even more tired — and I was worried about you because maybe you were one of those social outcast types who don’t really react well to me being there and that would be TERRIBLE”, she yelled, “but you seem nice enough and I don’t know I’ve never even seen you speak or do anything beyond show up once in a while and look really incredibly nervous about everything which I know is a terrible thing to be not to offend you or anything — and don’t you usually wear a robe?”

He was speechless.

“Y-you’re,” he stuttered, “the manic-depressive.” He paused. “Aren’t — ”

She burst out in wild laughs. “The manic-depressi-WHAT? That’s silly! I’m Pinkie Pie, the perkiest, poppingest, most personable party pony in all of Ponyville! And I know every pony in Ponyville — except for you, of course, but that’s why I came all the way out here! Isn’t it just awful to not get to know other ponies when they’re right there in front of you and you just know there’s something about them that’s worth getting to know? It’s like you see a walking body but you know there’s something inside that body that makes them move, like a statue shaped like a pony, but then you talk to them, and it’s like — wow! There’s something inside you after all! And if I don’t get to know that person inside them it makes it hard for me to understand them and if I don’t understand them I don’t know how to please them and I don’t know how to make them laugh, you know?”

She turned around and wiggled her flank at Imperfect. He grimaced and averted his gaze, peering through his elbow, then became calm as he realized it was only her cutie mark — three balloons, two blue, one yellow, triangular.

“You see?” she asked. “That means my talent is making other ponies laugh, enjoy themselves — you know, have fun!” She turned around, looking up at him with a ditzy gaze. “So if other ponies have fun, I have fun! And if they don’t have fun — I know you can’t please everypony but it’s like I really want to — which is ridiculous because nopony hates fun, they just don’t know it when they see it and it’s all about finding out what ponies enjoy! That’s why I came out here despite not knowing who you are or what your name is or what you do or who you’re with or why you’re here or when you even showed in up Ponyville despite it being a small town where everypony knows everypony else, and maybe you were a traveller or something who knows really, but then there was this meeting where the Mayor was all like,” she said mocking, “‘We must do something about that pony who lives in that trailer’, and I was all like,” she said giddy, “‘Why don’t I go out there and invite them over to our town?’, and then some other ponies were like,” she said haggardly, “‘What if it isn’t a pony at all?’, which is just silly because we only ever get ponies in Ponyville! So am I ever glad you turned out to be a pony, because it would be silly if you weren’t!”

He was speechless. Again.

“S-s-so,” he spit out, “so you’re with the Mayor?” He paused. “You’re with the — ”

She blew a raspberry and spat out saliva with a laugh as Imperfect winced. “No, silly! I’m with myself! Although if I wasn’t with myself I don’t know who else I would be with because nopony wanted to walk all the way to your home way out here just to meet someone who doesn’t want to meet anyone else, except for Rainbow Dash but then she would be like,” she said in a butch voice, “‘Walking? Pfft, who needs walking when I could just fly there in ten seconds flat’, and then she would fly here in ten seconds flat, and I don’t like that because part of the experience of getting know a pony is thinking about what they’ll be like when you get there, and if they meet your expectations you know they’ll be a good pony instead of being a rude pony, because rude things are rude and I don’t want to be around rude ponies, because they never appreciate anything you’ve done for them and it makes you wonder what all the bother was when you come out ALL THIS WAY just to meet them and then they act all huffy just because you have a different personality from them and they ruin your friendship and if you can’t make friends with anypony then why even bother living in a town or a city or society at large when you can just hole up in a forest somewhere eating nothing but hay and water and without even basic clothing for public occasions because you obviously were looking for an excuse to get out of your caravan without inviting anyone in because of the state of living you’ve come to accept for yourself is so embarrassing that the last remnants of shame you have festers inside you and eats you up from the inside-out until you become nothing more than a walking body with nothing inside going through life without knowing joy or happiness or anything else that provides the only reasons to bother to stay alive in this world, and ALL THAT SOUNDS AWFUL!”

He slowly, steadily, put his hoof up to his mouth, seethed into it, then scrunched his face up. He exhaled into his hoof, and put his hoof down, slowly, steadily.

“Pinkie Pie,” he said.

“YES?” she said loud with a forced smile.

He paused, then let loose his words in rhythm. “This is ridiculous. I don’t know you. I didn’t invite you here. I have absolutely no business with you, and you have absolutely no business with me. The idea that a stranger would magically show up in someone’s life and make all these assumptions about them and all of a sudden become friends because of their shared insecurities and suddenly solve each other’s problems is something that only happens in the pages of bad fiction. There is no — ” and in the middle of his thoughtless sentence, clarity struck his head, the book in his saddle was heavy, and his words stuttered. “I-it’s not realistic — not something that should happen. It’s…” He trailed off, and mumbled nonsense in his mouth.

He looked at Pinkie Pie, and in her eyes, he saw betrayal.

He whipped his head back and forth and flapped his gums like a horse, then breathed out and spoke to her softly. “Did you really walk for an hour just to come over here?”

She laughed, weaker, with less heart, as she averted her gaze. “Uh, yeah! It’s more of a run, I guess, but that’s okay! It’s good to run! I mean, I kinda get to know everypony around here, I mean I guess I don’t have to, but it’s nice! It’s… it’s something that I do for ponies, you know, throwing parties! Making them happy!” She paused. “Laughter!” She laughed, fake. She paused again with a smile. Fake.

She looked down, then looked back up with a pleading, nervous grin. “It’s, um… it’s kind of my thing.”

Imperfect looked at the walking body in front of him, and in his chest he felt a pressure that stole his breath and made his heartbeats bare.

Imperfect sighed, then spoke. “Do you really — is this so…” In his head were sentences started and stopped. “I don’t understand what living vicariously through others has to offer you as opposed to just living for yourself. I don’t get it. I really do not get it.”

“Oh,” she said, absent of pep. “That’s okay! I mean, you don’t have to — ”

“Stop,” he said. “I’ll go with you.” The words came out unconscious.

“It’s really no big deal, I guess I was kind of stupid coming all the way out here — ”

“No, really,” he went on. “Stop. I hate parties. I hate ponies. I hate everything that isn’t me. I hate myself a lot of the time. I know you hate yourself, too. That’s why you’re here. And it is stupid of you to be here, because I don’t want anything to do with ponies and they don’t want anything to do with me. But in your stupidity comes a simplicity that is absent from the multifaceted existences we all suffer, all the time, forever. It’s — ” He bit his cheek, shook his head, and stopped his philosophy. “It’s at least something to learn from. Sure. Something to learn from.”

Pinkie Pie stared at him, standing, watching.

He started at her, then looked to the dirt, scratching himself.

All at once, she shook out her head, shook out her haunches, shook all over the place, then burst into the air with a joyous squeal and puffed out all her fur and hair. She yelled out with high-pitched glee as she hopped up and down. “Oh, that’s so good to hear! I’m so happy you’re willing to take a chance and break out of your shell and come all the way back with me just to make me feel better even though you obviously don’t want to do anything that makes you uncomfortable and that makes me feel a little bit worse than I did coming out here because feeling bad is terrible and — ”

He growled, whipped his head, and forced out his hot breaths as he ignored her. “Whatever,” he mumbled.

“ — really aren’t so bad once you get to know them!”

“Whatever!” he yelled at her, and she stopped hopping. “I’m running to Ponyville. Follow me or don’t, I’ll wait for you there.” He turned around, steeled his breath, and took a step towards the rolling hills which end at a humble village.

“Wait a second!” she yelled out. “You forgot your robe!”

“My what?” He turned around, and saw her clamber up his trailer’s wooden walls. His mouth dropped, and she scrambled up and over the failing panels, kicking off some trim, and squeezing in through the roof’s cracked boards, displacing a poor bird’s nest. He bolted to his door, and it flung open as all its locks popped off, Pinkie stepped out, kicked the door back closed with all the locks dropping into place, and whipped her neck over as she flung a simple white toga to Imperfect with her mouth. He shot his arm up and closed his eyes, blinded by the fabric, then blunk them open as he looked down and saw his white-draped torso. He looked back. His saddle, somehow, was over his robe.

She stuck his tongue out at him as he stared bewildered, and she bolted off into the distance with a skip, halting immediately into a panting walk, then bolting again, stopping shorter after. He softly slapped his face a few times, then darted over to her, trotting beside. She looked to her side, noticed him, then slurped her saliva up and grinned.

“You said I had to follow you!” She panted again, then shook her head and smiled.

“Okay,” he said. “I didn’t say that, and if I did, I lied. Or maybe I changed my mind — ” He saw her pant again, and he slowed down his pace, having her go in front, her looking back.

“Hello!” she called out. “We’re gonna be late, silly!”

“You’re silly,” he mumbled, then he yelled out to her. “Pace yourself! You’re using energy inefficiently!”

She huffed, and shot over to his side, matching his pace. “Excuse you, mister! I can efficient my energy as I please!” She hacked out, and Imperfect guarded his face from spittle.

“We should talk,” he said.

“We are talking!” she said.

He groaned loudly, then glared at her. “You saw it! You saw the gold,” he laughed out. “All the obscene, ridiculous amounts of gold that I knew I was going to clean up. I should have pretended to be asleep, or not there, or deaf. But now I’m here!” He looked at her again, softer. “I’m walking. I’m talking. I’m talking to someone else. And why?”

“Because it’s fun!” she answered in an instant.

“You don’t even care,” he said. “You don’t care about where it came from, or why I have it. You didn’t even steal it! You could have ate the diamonds and ran, or hid the gold in your tail.” He blinked. “Did you hide the gold in your tail?”

“Ugh,” she said while rolling her eyes. “Nuh-uh! What do you take me for? Some sort of gold bandit who walks into other ponies houses looking for gold and then taking the gold and running away with the gold in her tail? I don’t care about your gold!”

“There were piles of it!” he screamed. “Piles! And you don’t even want to ask why?”

“Nope!” she said.

He fell silent for a few seconds. “But why?”

She giggled. “You ask too many questions — ”

“I don’t.” He said it firm.

She looked at him with a sweeter smile. “Ponies make all sorts of money all the time for incredibly silly reasons. I don’t care about whether someone lives in a cave or a caravan or a house with twenty-seven swimming pools. It’s not about whether someone can buy their way into happiness, because all it does it alienate you from ponies less fortunate. If you define yourself by what you surround yourself with instead of who you surround yourself with, then you’re just going to end up more miserable than if you never met anypony at all.”

He nodded, and averted his eyes. “Don’t you think it’s unfair for some idiot to have all of that and not even know what to do with it?”

“Are you an idiot?” she asked.

He looked to the sky and kept on walking.

She sighed. “Some ponies think I’m stupid.”

“There really is no difference between genius and stupidity,” he said. “Everypony who ever mattered did so by defying normalcy. Evidently, Pinkie, you aren’t normal. Normal ponies don’t talk to strangers. Normal ponies don’t put up with me, or others like me. I hate normalcy, and it hates me. That’s the way it is.”

“Does that really make you happy?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “If I told you about the totality of my being and everything I ever thought, you would revolt against my — oh, what am I doing?” He jammed his hoofs into the ground, drove up dirt, and breathed out long and hot. “I don’t even know you! This is insane! Why am I here? Where am I going? Why am I even talking with you?” He sat down, shoved his hoof into his snout, and shook his head into it as his breaths split outside it.

She trotted next to him, sat down, and looked at him. “It sounds like,” she said softly, “you need somepony to talk to.”

“I pitied you,” he said. “And now I’m sitting here with you. Years of exile. Years of loneliness. And I’m sitting next to you.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Because — ” He removed his hoof, and looked over as he saw her staring at her, absent of a smile. “I get it. I ask too many questions.”

“No,” she said, “it’s because I want to know.”

He stared into the ground beneath her hooves. “Because of your stupid simplicity that betrays something lurking underneath that my bile curiosity demands I investigate. There are so few ponies who are well and truly honestly themselves that it’s a topic of fascination for me to discover them, and that discovery came through the thoughtlessness inherent in your words. Other ponies are right to think you’re stupid, because there is nothing reasonable about coming out five kilometres to meet me when I could have rejected you instantly if not for my arrogance in thinking that you, with your obvious desperation for validation, are a little bit like me if I had not realized the futility in getting to know ponies.” He paused. “Simply, Pinkie, my life alternates between moments of bliss and moments of agony, all self-inflicted, and in my brief moments of lucidity I realize it doesn’t have to be that way. I reach out to other ponies as desperate as I am. And it fails. It all fails, in the end. And so, too, will this passing impulse.”

“It doesn’t have to — ” she said.

“Yeah,” he said. “It doesn’t. Nothing has to. We could extrapolate the past five minutes into a beautiful friendship that’ll last the rest of our pony lives with rainbows and sunshine and everypony everywhere with happiness and ice cream for all! Or I could insult you and everything you care about, and then you’ll be just another tarnished memory for me to suppress. Wouldn’t that be nice? I get all the joy of false hope but without the pain of being betrayed! I can’t step outside the boundaries of my own mind for five minutes — five whole minutes! — without breaking down into neurotic fits.” He paused, rubbed his chin, and shook his head. “When faced with the infinite sea of possibilities that happen outside my meagre life, I tend to break down.” He kept rubbing. “I think that’s it. I think it’s too much… everything.”

She breathed out, a suppressed giggle. “Of course you’re going to break down if you keep thinking about yourself like that. You’re comparing everything that everypony has ever done with the single type of pony you are.” She threw her arm up with theatrics. “The world’s a stage! And you’re comparing yourself behind the curtain with the ponies in the show, ignoring the years of work to get there, bringing joy to ponies because it took them that long to be happy enough to share that joy with others.”

He clenched his teeth, and shook his head. “Your rant,” he said. “Understanding and the practical applications thereof. It would benefit you to get to know me, but to transplant all the conversations I’ve had with myself into your own head… would you really get it?”

She shook her head. “I don’t have to understand you to feel the same as you do.”

His eyes shot open, exasperated. “T-That’s…” He grumbled, scrunched his snout, and put his hoof to his head. “Okay, yes, I get that’s technically true, but I don’t know why it’s true, and I don’t get why I can ever feel something without knowing the explicit reasons why I feel the way I do. It’s instinct, raw instinct, and I don’t know anything about instinct. If I capture some stinkbugs and harass them until I can predict how they move in response to stimulus, is that instinct, or is it just a lower-order form of intelligence I don’t get? How can a living entity exist without even understand the mechanisms of its own existence? And those are just stinkbugs, let alone ponies or anything that can speak!”

“I didn’t see any stinkbugs in your home — ”

“Forget about the stinkbugs! I mean…” He looked at her, slumped her shoulders, and sighed. “Why do you care about this?”

She shrugged, then smiled at him. “I care about everypony.”

“You don’t even know my name,” he said.

“Does it matter?”

Imperfect looked up to the sky with a smile, his smile breaking into a grin, giggling, laughing, then throwing his head back and falling into the grass as the sun shot into his eyes as he clenched them with wild laughter. Pinkie Pie looked down at him, then threw herself back wit the same unbridled fits. They lied on their backs, looked to the sky, and laughed. And laughed.

“Ah,” he sighed out, patting his belly with a smile. “I hate my life, Pinkie. I well and truly do.”

She giggled into a high-pitched snort, then rubbed her eyes and rolled over to her side. “I have an idea!” she said.

“Is it violent?” he asked.

She bounced to her feet, hopped up and down, and shook out her bones with a smile. “Thanks for the talk, but I’m all rested up now! You wait here, alright?”

“Huh?” He rose his shoulders, and as he did, a fierce wind scrambled over him, a solid pink trail careened from him to Ponyville, retreating rapidly to that town, the flowing leaves crinkling in the breeze then lying still like nothing had happened at all.

He blinked.

He lay down.

He nodded.

And his face drooped.

“It’s probably better this way,” he mumbled, eyes to the sky, seeing blue and white through eyelid slits, the sunlight hidden behind cowardly clouds and leaves that defend the ground. “Probably. Probabilistically.” He smiled, and shook his head. “This is what I get. Write the same old things from moon to sun, and when something interesting happens to me, I’m too afraid to write about it. No data, no knowledge, no fact. No friends…” He paused, then put his hoof over his forehead, the shadow dulling the cyan seas, his eyes wider while his shoulders relax into grass. “No recollection of past events, no memories held in ink or thoughts. No stats on relationships long past. I’m anxious to have them. Anxious to be aware of them. And yet, when I have them… they’re… gone.”

“She could have robbed me,” he added. “She didn’t.” He paused. “Dummy.”

He turned his head and whispered into the fuzzy green. “Isn’t that right, grass? Yeah, that’s right. She could have robbed me, yes she could, stupid old me didn’t think about that, and here I am calling her stupid out here all alone, yes I am, all by my lonesome…”

He closed his eyes and pet the dirt. “The earth, my friend, the earth… she speaks.”

And he sighed and soaked up the dew.