A long time ago I was in a serious accident. For several months my wings were useless, I had suffered serious injuries to my organs, and my skull had been cracked open. Even now, years after that accident, years after my recovery, my eyes still tend to move in strange directions and I have a hard time focusing on anything for too long. Day dreaming in the middle of delivering the mail is a bit of an issue for me, and not at all professional, but I get by.
I remember very little about that accident. I was so young when it happened, barely older than a foal, and regardless of how often I try to make her, my mother never talks about it. However, there is one thing I do remember, even through the fog of time and those glimpses of horrible pain.
There was a pony, only he couldn't have been. He was so very big compared to me, and so very scary, and yet… he was my salvation. In the blackness that was that agony he was my light, an unpony-like figure, the silhouette of a monster, set to the glowing of blue and that strange whirling noise I had never heard before or since. He held me, so very closely, so very guardedly, and through the whispers of my crushed lungs, I pleaded for help. The words, those words that he replied with, from a mouth that was not a pony's, are etched into my mind. Forever. Even in my dreams and waking thoughts I hear them.
"It'll be alright. It'll be alright."
The dreams are growing stronger. Something great is coming. I'll tell you about it soon, but first, I need to wake up.
"Derpy! You're late for work again!" Mom cried out.
"Oh damn it! I'm so gonna get fired this time!"
DITZY "DERPY HOOVES" DOO
MY LITTLE TIME LORD
"Oh my Luna Oh my Luna Oh my Luna!" screamed the little grey pony as she hopped out of her bed. Unfortunately for her she landed face first unto the wooden floor. "OWWWW," the poor filly cried out. Like as if things couldn't get any worse, the last thing she needed was to come to work with a busted nose and a big lump on her forehead.
Although… she could at least use that as an excuse.
"Derpy!" shouted her mother from down stairs, "breakfast is ready for you dear, don't wait up there too long or it'll get cold!"
"Urrgh, enough with the Derpy Hooves thing," whined the pony out of her mother's earshot. Just because everyone else in Ponyville called her Derpy didn't mean her own mother had to too! Then again she never really tried to stop her mom from doing so, but it would be nice if she called her Ditzy Doo. It was her birth name after all!
"Hmm…" she wondered how many times she would have to bash her head against the floor before she could acquire a big enough bruise on her head to get a decent excuse for her lateness. Three or four? Maybe, she considered as her slightly skewed eyes looked on, upside down though she was, at the stuff under her bed. Old letters she had accidentally forgotten to deliver(it was only a couple!), a big beaten box filled with old toys she still liked to play with from time to time(age be damned), a copy of Play Pony(she was just curious, she couldn't ever let her mother find out!), and finally her mailbag(she was worried she lost it) were scattered about, some of which was collecting dust.
Though she tried to focus on the mailbag, her mind began to drift. From time to time she would see it, something strange she could not pinpoint. There was nothing there out of the ordinary. No strange marks or sights to fear or behold, just the feeling of something odd and untraceable. The bag just laid there, as it had since she came home from work the other night, the boxes and letters did not move, did not stand up and smack her, did not even pretend to be alive. Nothing was different, and yet, everything was. Why was it so bright and glow-y in a room that was not a shade brighter than a moment before? And why did she hear it, that noise, that hum that may or may not exist only in her dreams. There was no noise, and yet, there it was…
The figure was there, and yet he wasn't. "Help me…" she whispered silently to the colt that wasn't there. His response, she had heard it before, only... only…
"Sweetheart, what are you doing?" Ditzy Doo's mother asked with an air of a resigned patience. It wasn't like she hadn't seen her dear Derpy doing weird things before… all the time. "Get off the floor hon, not only are you late for work but your breakfast really is getting cold, and employed or not I won't have you eating cold scrambled eggs. Now hurry up or I won't let you have any muffins."
Ditzy looked up with a wide smile, "Muffins!"
Tossing the bag onto her back she raced toward the bathroom, already having forgotten the strange little episode underneath her bed. After a quick stop for the usual hygienic routine, the pony checked that her blonde mane was in the right style, that her wings were in working order, that her mail hat was on right, that her eyes weren't too crossed/wobbly, and that her bubbles cutie mark was still there(you never know, they may pop at any moment).
She was just about to run out of the house when her mom stopped her. "Breakfast first."
"No but mom me, breakfast first, the mail can wait. Besides, you're getting pretty scrawny again and you know I don't like that."
How many ponies her age still had to listen to their mothers? Ditzy sighed. She smashed her face into the plate, ate the entire meal in one gulp, and practically eating the glass as well, gulped down the milk within.
"Oh sweety, watch out for birds! And don't talk to strangers, and if you see any griffins just fly the other way, and-"
Ditzy was too far up into the air to hear what her mother was warning her about, but she could guess. "Don't crash into Princess Celestia's royal carriage," she mimicked, "don't let the bag catch fire, don't deliver the mail to the local dragon. Gosh, I only did those things a couple of times, and suddenly that means I have to keep being reminded. What was that other one? Don't…. don't… don't fly into the trees!" Ditzy huffed. "Like I would do that again." The next moment she found herself crashing face first into a tree.
It was interesting how familiar the pain was. She could have sworn this was the same tree she had rammed her face against a few days ago. And a few days before that, and a few days before that… All the branches and little crooks sure hit her the same as she went down, that was for sure. If this really was the same tree, she reckoned, she should end her fall by landing tail first onto the big rock at the bottom. "And… THERE it is." More pain. She would have to remember to mind that tree. She still probably wouldn't though.
It would take her a few minutes to recover from the collision. After all, crashing against a tree at her top speed was no fun feat. It didn't help that she was amongst the fastest fliers in Ponyville. Sure, Rainbow Dash could run circles around her, but she wasn't a postal worker, was she? No, her job was secure so long as she didn't epically screw up… again.
"Look at all the pretty trees…" marveled Ditzy. So much green, so much beauty. The Everfree Forest was unlike any other place in all of Ponyville, perhaps in all of Equestria even. Everything was so wild, so free. No need to worry about jobs here… just the sea serpents and manticores and minotaurs and the Ursas. And, though maybe she should've been, she wasn't afraid of any of that. No, she was different from the other ponies, and not just in that regard. "Somewhere out there the royal carriage is mocking me."
"Now what are you on about this time, my dear Ditzy?" said a voice.
"Oooh a talking Ursa. Major or Minor?"
"Neither major nor minor, and definitely not an Ursa. It's just me, out for the daily constitution, finding you out here once more. Your head all right?"
"Doctor," she stated. It was the brown coated earth colt with the wild, even darker brown mane, with those piercing blue eyes, and that hourglass cutie mark. It must have been over the twentieth time she was found in this particular condition by him. He was never particularly mean about it though. "Pretty."
The Doctor laughed. "Well yes, I do happen to think I'm rather pretty. Handsome works too of course."
"No, I mean your bowtie."
The Doctor looked downward at his own neck. "It seems that I am not wearing a bowtie. Have I ever worn one around my pony neck? Don't think I ever have."
She knew he had at one point, even if he didn't now, even if she had never seen him wear one before, and even if he had never mentioned having worn one ever. He used to think bowties were so cool. Not anymore though, and that was a shame. "Why are the wastebaskets upside down?"
"The wastebaskets. Metal wastebaskets. They're moving. They scare me, even though I don't know why."
"I'm not quite sure what that means, but I do like that you constantly leave me guessing."
Ditzy got up from the dirt, shaking off the dust that covered her and the mail bag. "Walk with me?"
And of course he did. It seemed to have become part of their morning routine. She'd smack into that one tree, he'd find her there, they'd go for a walk and have a little chat. A couple times they did all that sans the smacking into the tree part. She liked those meetings the most. Much less head pain.
"So, my dear Ditzy Doo," he started as he walked by her side, "you seem to be a bit more agitated than usual, feeling under the weather?"
"Huh?" asked a blank Ditzy. "Oh! I dunno, today's been strange. I had a weird dream, and then I think I spazzed out when getting my stuff for work. I was looking at my bag, and it… it was weird, cause this time I just knew it was different. I don't know how exactly, it was just a feeling. It happens to me sometimes, and today, I feel scared. I'm so scared, even though I don't know why."
The Doctor was about to speak when he was quickly interrupted. "It's almost ready, it's like, the wood isn't real but it's there now, for when you have to go. Jack misses you but he's going to be confused. Wait, he is and he was and will be? How's he all three at the same time? He'll get over it though. Why doesn't he have any fur? I have to go work Doctor, take care! Hello Doctor! It's nice meeting you here, I saw you here before, like three days ago I think. I hit that tree over there and you were very nice, but very strange. Oh well, I can't talk right now, I have to go to work, I'm gonna be late! Why doesn't he have any fur? Good bye, talk to you later!"
She was about to leave when she suddenly stopped and stared at the very confounded colt. The Doctor was about to talk when he was quickly interrupted. " Oh hello Doctor! No time to talk I have to go to work! You're so weird!"
"Now I'm the weird one? I don't think you were here for the conversation we just had."
As the little grey pony set off into the air, the little brown one watched her fly away. When the little pegasus filly was nothing more than a little dot in the big clear sky, he sighed. "That was particularly strange, even for her." His face grew tense and his thoughts grew darker. He paced back and forth as he was apt to do when in a deep concentration. "Metal wastebaskets, that can't be good at all." As the little grey pony flew from the Everfree Forest, so did the little brown pony run deeper into it.
"They're going to suspend me, oh I just know it."
After work, it was out in the lush fields of Ponyville that Ditzy Doo laid, on the grass, depressed over what she was sure was the last straw. The earful she got for being late for work again had been quite embarrassing. Though she still had her job, so wasn't sure for how much longer. Rainbow Dash, a few feet away, was busy kicking a ball. She claimed it was good for the hindquarters.
Rainbow Dash smacked the ball hard, sending it flying high up into the air. "Whoo hoo, look at that fly, I bet it'll hit the clouds this time. Oh yeah, I'm so awesome."
"Dash," exclaimed Ditzy, "pay attention to me for once, it would help if you, you know, helped me with my problem." Rainbow Dash had never been a particularly attentive friend to her, though then again, she was among a very small group of ponies even willing to hang out with her. Not including her mother or the weird Doctor, of course. The other person, recently added into that group, was Pinkie Pie.
"I'm paying attention to you Derpy," said an enthusiastic Pinkie.
"Thanks," she said with a smile, "what do you think I should do?"
"Well isn't it obvious? This calls for a PARTY! They're great for networking, you'll get a new job in no time!"
Ditzy giggled. The happy little pink pony was someone she had just very recently become acquainted with. In truth they weren't really friends, at least not yet anyway. She was one of Rainbow Dash's friends, and had been ever since the whole thing with Nightmare Moon. Dash however, Ditzy had known since their days at the flight academy. They hadn't been friends back then. In fact, Dash's friend Gilda, a fierce gryphon, had been her tormentor during the entire time she attended that school, and Rainbow Dash hadn't been, and to this day, still wasn't, above pulling the occasional prank on the grey pegasus pony. She had matured a bit since those days. Well, just a bit, though she wondered if the only reason Dash hung around with her was because she was among the very few that could almost keep up with her in a race. Well, through the air anyway, there was at least one pony in Ponyville that could match Dash in a ground race. At the very least, she was one of the few that called her by her real name. Pinkie Pie hadn't yet shaken the habit of calling her by her Derpy Hooves nickname, though hopefully she would at some point.
"Networking smetworking," said Dash, staring up at the sky, "if you get fired I'll land you a spot clearing clouds. I always told you the mail thing was a lame idea."
"And clearing clouds isn't?" asked a uncharacteristically sarcastic Ditzy.
"Uh, no, for one thing, there's plenty of downtime, and for another, I get to work on my technique. Trust me, postal service, that's not gonna get you anywhere. Like me, I know cloud detail isn't my future. One day, I'll be the top pony of the skies. Oh! Here it comes!" As the ball fell back to the earth, Rainbow Dash twirled with all the speed and athleticism she could muster. Ditzy watched in admiration. She was so beautiful, a rainbow in perpetual motion, that face so determined, so strong. The blue pony hit the ball with all her might. Up it went again, into the air, till she could no longer see it. "Ha, Wonderbolts, here I come!"
And what about me? Ditzy wondered, where am I going?
"Hey, do you guys know anything about the Doctor?" Ditzy asked the both of them.
"Doctor Who?" asked Pinkie Pie.
"No, not that doctor, that one guy with the hourglass cutie mark and messy hair. You know, the one that's just 'Doctor'."
"Oh that Doctor! He's so dreamy!" giggled Pinkie Pie, hopping up and down in delight.
"More like crazy," said a distracted Dash, "he's always out in the Everfree Forest, hanging out with who knows what. All I know is that he moved into Ponyville back when I was a little filly. Applejack says he's decent with a snow plow, but other than that who knows? Even Zecora thinks he's weird."
"Weird isn't so bad," interjected Pinkie, hopping on top of Ditzy's back, "A lot of people think me and Derpy are weird, and I'm not even sure why!"
"The metal wastebaskets are almost here," affirmed Ditzy enthusiastically, even as she collapsed under the weight of the other pony.
Ditzy didn't even realize what she had just said. The other two looked at her like she had grown an extra head. She had become accustomed to this: from time to time she had a strange habit of saying and doing strange things she couldn't quite recall saying or doing. Like, one time, she had gone trotting about town muttering about pulling a thorn from a manticore's paw, another time she had been found crying relentlessly for no discernible reason. When asked why, she could only sob out for a rose. They were things that she either could not remember saying or doing, or things she remembered saying or doing only because they made sense at the time. Though she was surprised that even Pinkie Pie was just as confused. Given that filly's reputation for her own brand of weirdness, she must have said something remarkably bizarre.
Never the less it seemed to make some sense to her. "Oh wastebaskets, that's a great idea, we can promote environmentalism, that can be the theme for the party! Besides making sure you get a new job of course. Wait, can a party have two themes? I don't know if that's a good idea. I know! We'll have two parties! But not at the same time, otherwise there won't be enough people for both. Now the question is, which party should we have first? Derpy, can you delay getting fired for a while? I think that might help the party schedule if you could."
Dash rolled her eyes. "Yeah, nothing weird about you two." The ball came back down, and Dash, with a loud grunt, smacked it back towards the clouds. That filly definitely had some powerful hindquarters. "Why are you asking us for? I thought he was one of your friends. If anyone knows anything about him, it should be you. Honestly I thought you were two were already a couple or something. I mean, it's not like everypony doesn't already know you two hang out in the Everfree Forest."
Ditzy hadn't realized everypony had taken notice. It made her blush. "He's not my boyfriend, I just see him in the forest from time to time. There's a tree, and while I'm flying over through the Everfree Forest, CRASH! It hurts every time but it's not like my mom has to tell me to avoid it, right? It's just that sometimes I forget. And that's not fair, he looked better when he wore a leather jacket, you know? But that was before he had hooves." She realized she was making no sense. And why wouldn't he have hooves? He was a pony after all. "I mean, I see him in the forest sometimes but it's not like we plan it, he's just there at around the same time, and, he's very nice, when you get to know him. Strange but nice. We talked today, but I can't remember what about. That happens a lot when I'm around him, it's very strange. It was especially bad this morning for some reason. I'm sure it was a nice conversation though because I really want to talk to him tomorrow."
"I think you like him," said a teasing Pinkie.
She could feel her face grow even more flushed. "No… that's not what I meant."
"You should soo invite him to the party, I think you two would make a great couple! Even though he might be a little bit too old for you. Oh, maybe that's how you like your colts. Kinky."
This made the grey filly blush even more. "Come on Pinkie, stop that, it's not funny."
"Well then, I'll invite him to the party for myself, he really is so dreamy!"
That didn't seem right either. An unexpected pang of jealousy stung her heart. "I didn't say you could do that…."
"Aww, you really do have a crush on him then, don'cha? Parties are great for getting to know your new boyfriend!"
"Enough with the girly girl stuff," said Dash, finally letting the ball hit the ground, "Ditzy, bet you 20 bits you can't get to that cloud before I do."
Of course Dash was going to win, she always did, but she'd rather lose to Dash again then turn pinker than Pinkie Pie. Besides, Dash had a habit of not collecting winnings. "You're on!"
As the two shot off into the sky Pinkie Pie continued to hop up and down in delight. "Oooh I'll go plan your party Derpy, see you later!"
What was it about the sky that made Dash so passionate? To Ditzy, flying was the same as walking. Sure, she was capable of doing what two-thirds of other ponies couldn't do, but honestly, up here, in the sky, it was just blueness and clouds. It was in the evenings that she liked the sky the best. The sparkling of the moon and the stars, so high above, out of reach even for the fastest of ponies. As far as she knew, the Equestrian Princesses were the only ones that had ever even been to the moon. How she envied them, not for their power or beauty, though that they were, but for what they could do. So high up… so far up past everything… to touch the heavens… what would she give for that? She had tried of course. One time she had gone so high up that she could have sworn she was close enough to actually touch the moon. Her wings had begun to freeze and her lungs had gasped for air, but she had been so close! She had awoken a minute later finding herself barely able to pull out of a nose dive. Apparently going that far up causes black outs.
Of course, as predicted, Dash was winning, no matter how hard Derpy tried to catch up. Dash could be lazy, and she could be immature, but when it came to the sky she was like no other. When Ditzy had accidentally gone North instead of South to get the birds, it was Dash who had doubled timed it and fixed everything. It was she who could single handily clean out an entire sky of clouds in 10 seconds flat. And it was she, who without a doubt, would one day earn herself a spot on the greatest team of aerial flyers in Equestria.
Ditzy screamed, had been screaming. For how long she wasn't sure, she didn't even realize she was screaming until Dash stopped, and turning around, stared at her with an expression of complete confusion. But it wasn't enough. "GET OUT OF THE WAY, GET OUT OF THE WAY!" Her heart was pounded, her wings flapped madly and frantically, her whole body shook in midair. "THEY'RE HERE, GET OUT OF THE WAY!"
Rainbow Dash did not move. She stared at the insane pegasus pony charging in her direction. "Who's here? Ditz, what's wrong?" Dash asked before letting out a huff, "and I thought Pinkie was random." Something was behind Dash, something big enough to cover the blue pony in shadow. A giant flying saucer was descending from the sky, parting the clouds in its wake. "What is that…?"
"DASH! Screamed a horrified Ditzy. The saucer fired what could only be described as a loud, whizzing bolt of green lightening, almost vaporizing Dash. Ditzy barely managed to push her out of the way.
The two flew back as the saucer stopped its decent, still hovering hundreds of feet above the ground. A door slowly slid open, revealing a bright light and a dark black figure at its doorway.
"Wha- what is that?" asked the terrified blue pony.
"The metal wastebaskets are here."
Ditzy was in that strange trance again, the same one that scared the other ponies, and the same that could still freak Dash out from time to time. The rest of her body was perfectly normal and her words were expressed as they should, even though they made no sense. It was the eyes, those dilated, shocked crossed eyes that otherwise, while still crossed, were usually filled with her regular, wild liveliness. It was the trance that told other ponies to stay away, the trance that was known to give ponies nightmares and encouraged ponies to avoid her while she was delivering the mail. "The upside down metal wastebaskets, they're here, they're going to kill us all."
"Ditzy, what are you-?"
The figure moved. The sunlight gleamed off the metallic surface of the figure. It glittered like golden iron, it sorta did resemble an upside down wastebasket. It flew in the air but had no wings, it had no legs, only an egg beater and a plunger for arms, and a single long telescope for an eye. The thing had neither hair nor mane nor tail, nor even any signs indicating that it was even alive. What a comical being, one may think. And yet, despite its weird appearance, the sheer horror Ditzy felt was unparalleled.
The wastebasket machine turned its lone telescope eye toward the two pegasus ponies. The nightmare that would befall Equestria would begin with the shriek of a single cruel word.
To be continued