Today’s story features some rock-solid storytelling.
Lapidify: To See And Die
[Drama] [Horror] • 11,705 words
Ambergris is a pony of few pleasures, and being called out for meaningless social events is not one of them. When he bows to duty and attends, however, he barely reaches the home of his host before he is faced with something worse than tedious conversation. Something far worse.
The dreaded cockatrice, a creature capable of turning others to stone with a simple glance, has just entered the home of his host. Now a mere nuisance of an evening has become a monstrous nightmare, but as Ambergris struggles to save the occupants of the house, he must also struggle against the pressures mounting in his own mind.
FROM THE CURATORS: When RCL alumnus Skywriter offered this as a reading suggestion, describing it as “claustrophobic pony horror done the right way,” we found a great deal to like — starting with the lush narrative voice. “Oh, this is lovely,” Chris said. “The British Imperial tone of the narration fits perfectly with a story that blends foreign and familiar in its setting, and which explores pony race relations in the way this does.” Present Perfect agreed: “I’d say the big draw here is the narration. Ambergris has a very strong, consistent voice, and the overall style of language is very pleasing.”
And while the horror was certainly effective, what drew the most consistent praise was the well-realized and imaginative setting. “For me, the atmosphere was the big thing,” AugieDog said. “The weirdness of the non-Equestrian setting and the hybrid building where most of the action takes place; the ‘haunted house’ aspect of having a monster with a sort of intelligence behind it; the matter-of-factness of the sentiment that ‘every town has this kind of dark wilderness somewhere nearby.'” Horizon loved the worldbuilding: “Some awesome elements, like the mixture of pegasus and earth construction, are almost worth the price of admission by themselves.” And Chris found those things accentuating the horror: “The physical setting is beautifully realized, with the cross-cultural house practically a character in its own right in the tense middle section,” he said. “And how tense it is! There is some wonderful work here, keeping the readers on the edge of their seats.”
In short, this was a tightly-knit story where everything contributed to the ultimate impact — including its fine balancing act with canon. “I’m really impressed with how this story takes a familiar monster from the show, instead of the more common otherworldly or bloodthirsty horrors of other fics, and uses it to great effect,” Present Perfect said. “We know what a cockatrice is, we know what it does, but there are enough details thrown in here to create enough of a sense of the unknown that the horror can pervade the reader.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Impossible Numbers discusses cartoon gravity, deathless wars, and terrifying chickens.