(RCL NOTE: We’re attempting the hopeless task of choosing the fandom’s Single Best Story™ at a special panel at Bronycon. Help us pick the competitors! Details here. Voting is open until July 13.)
Today’s story comes out of the dark into the spotlight.
[Dark] [Human] • 6,481 words
I was looking forward to the school tour for a really long time! We were going to the beach, and I love the beach. I love the bus trip as well, singing and talking with my friends. But then we drove into a tunnel. I’ve never really liked tunnels, but it’s always been fine because my friends were there. We always try to hold our breath the whole way through the tunnel, which is a lot of fun.
Today, we couldn’t hold our breath the whole way through, because the bus never came out of the tunnel.
FROM THE CURATORS: Fanfiction, by definition, is authors getting inspired by the settings and characters of others’ works. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that sometimes quality fanfiction spawns fanfiction of its own. “Since we’ve featured The Last Pony on Earth, I’ve been going through some of the side stories it spawned, and I feel confident in nominating them on their own merits,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “This is many things. A story about survival and holding out hope against certain death. An excellent example of journalfic written in a nine-year-old’s voice. And a really good application of the setting and timeframe of the Ponies After People universe.” Soge quickly added that this tale of a bus full of children turning into ponies worked as a standalone: “I only noticed it was related to Last Pony on Earth when it was explicitly mentioned near the end. That didn’t actually impact my enjoyment of the story.”
One of the factors driving that enjoyment was the story’s tight and careful focus. “It’s a very claustrophobic story, with essentially one location until the end,” Present Perfect said, “but the strength of the writer’s voice and the sheer desperation of their situation, on top of the fact that these are mostly kids, is what really sells this.” FanOfMostEverything agreed: “The story does a brilliant job of using the limited space and information given to the protagonist to drive home the claustrophobic atmosphere. The pacing is one of the best parts, gradually ramping up the dread as all the easy solutions fail and the situation worsens.” And Soge appreciated the nuance that provided: “The limited perspective and understanding of Clara is used very well here, the child narrator being the best possible PoV to sell the bleakness of the situation, without actually falling into melodrama.”
But we also praised factors such as the efficient prose. “There are tons of neat details peppered around, and in a very short amount of time it sells the reader very well on the characters, the world, and their predicament,” Soge said. That was even more impressive considering the way the story was framed. “The sheer innocence of the narrative voice is almost painful at times, when the reader sees the severity of Clara’s predicament so much more clearly than she does,” FanOfMostEverything said. “Overall, this was some excellent suspense.”
Read on for our author interview, in which JumpingShinyFrogs discusses sneaky principals, acceptable birds, and story graveyards.