Today’s story just wants a chance to get lodged inside your brain.
Let Her In
[Dark] [Horror] • 2,675 words
“Why is she standing out there? What does she want?”
“There’s something off about her….”
“That’s not Fluttershy…”
FROM THE CURATORS: One of the benefits of fanfiction is seeing how familiar ponies can end up in wildly different settings — and the fresh takes that those combinations can give us. “You’ve got Fluttershy used well as a horror device, Apple Bloom as our beleaguered protagonist, and a very thrilling catchphrase in ‘It’s cold out here’,” Present Perfect said in his nomination, and there was quick agreement on how effective this story was at its chosen genre. “This does the most important thing a horror story can do: be creepy,” Chris said, while AugieDog cited several other accomplishments. “There’s a lot here to like,” he said. “The atmosphere, Apple Bloom’s dawning awareness that this thing’s been stalking her for years, and the way almost the only line spoken aloud in the whole piece is the monster’s repeated refrain.”
Those weren’t the only factors which went into the horror’s core creepiness. “The excellent audio reading certainly helped, but there is much more than that at play here: Apple Bloom’s fears felt visceral, as she vacillates between reacting to her terror with flight or fight,” Soge said. “There is this constant atmosphere of irreality to the fic, as you are forced to guess just what is in her mind, and what isn’t. That this stands even after the creature is defeated is really to the fic’s advantage.” Present Perfect also noted the strength of the ending despite its unusual reveal. “The one thing it does wrong is showing the monster near the end,” he said. “That said, the scene comes with some much-needed vindication for Apple Bloom, and the epilogue’s final line is just about perfect.”
While several of us questioned the choice of that reveal, there were ample other scenes where this was stronger for its unusual choices. “The fact that the creature is seemingly able to invade Apple Bloom’s home — her sanctuary — but chooses not to,” Chris said, “gives the story a more fearful ‘unknown’ aspect than the more traditional trope of ‘the sanctuary is inviolate, save by the failure of the protagonist.'” And Soge noted one way that it might be an entirely different sort of horror: “I’ll also point out that, despite everything that happens, the monster doesn’t actually do anything against anyone. There’s an interesting interpretation of this fic where Apple Bloom and AJ lashed out at the creature out of irrational fear … not that I think that that was what the story was about, but I think it’s in the story’s favor that such a thing can even be considered.”
Read on for our author interview, in which TooShyShy discusses snoring dogs, basement grandmothers, and purges of pre-teens.