An Unexpected Visit
written by Clever Clover

Clever Clover stood in the deserted road. "That's strange; this street is always busy," he said, puzzled. "And what am I doing in the Flatlands anyway? It's been months since I got back to Friendship Gardens. What is going on here?"

Something was definitely not right. It was night but not one streetlight was lit. All the buildings were also dark. There was no sign of life whatsoever; the trees were bare and the grass was brown. There was no wind, nothing at all to make a sound; and yet there was a sound, a low, moaning sound.

Clever Clover followed the sound, which led him to a familiar building, Jim's Malt Shoppe-- a popular hangout for archaeologists in the Flatlands. The door was open, but there were no lights on; it was as dark and lifeless as the rest of the city.

" ‘ello, anybody there?" the pony inquired. It was little more than a whisper but it echoed through the room like a shot from a cannon. Clever Clover flipped the light switch but nothing happened. "Maybe Jim left some matches laying around," he mumbled.

As he made his way toward the back room, Clever Clover bumped into the pool table; he could hear the balls bouncing about and falling into the pockets. "Jim must have done some rearranging since I was here," mumbled the pony as he rubbed the sore spot where he had hit the table.

He felt his way around the table and to the swinging door to the back room. He pushed it open and was surprised to find the room illuminated by a faint glow. The source of the mysterious light was an apparition of a duck. Clever Clover stared for a moment. "Jim? Izat you?"

"Why did you do it?" the duck asked.

"Why did I do what? What are you talking about?" Clever Clover was very confused. He recognized the city, the Malt Shoppe, and even the duck who stood before him; but at the same time they were unfamiliar.

"Why did you do this to me? Why did you disturb the ancients?" the apparition droned.

"What did I do to you?"

The vision faded, only to be replaced by another, terrifying, shade; it was part wolf, part man, and all dead. This new, ghastly apparition spoke, or screamed, or did it simply project the words into the pony's head? "Defiler of the Ancients, you will pay the price for your transgressions!" With that the spirit emitted an earsplitting sound and flew toward Clever Clover. The pony screamed in terror.

Clever Clover sat bolt upright in bed, covered in sweat. He looked about; he was in his own bedroom in Friendship Gardens. The faint light in the window told him it was almost dawn. "It must have been a nightmare," he said as he climbed out of bed. He stretched and felt a throbbing pain in his side, right where he had bumped the pool table in his dream. The pain was accompanied by a large bruise.

"How could I get a bruise from a dream?" he asked himself. "Unless that wasn't a normal dream. There was something strangely familiar about it. Maybe I'd better go back to the Flatlands to make sure everything's all right."

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