>Twigs and branches whip past your face
>Everything stings, everything hurts.
>Your breath comes in painful gasps
>It feels like you've been running for days.
>Glancing to your side, into the dark between the trees, you see them.
>Moonlight shines off teeth and bark and hungry eyes.
>You're going to die here, that's all that you can think of.
>And you can hear the many wooden footfalls of death's minions behind you.
>You can barely keep your eyes open, everything is exhaustion and pain.
>But you see a flash of red ahead of you, and before you can process what it could be you're out of the woods, and onto a stage.
>In front of you, the tall red curtain, below you polished wood.
>You turn around, and are nearly blinded by the bright yellow spotlights.
>In the shadows beyond, you can make out a massive auditorium, seats upon seats reaching back into the dark, with a balcony above with more seats still.
>And in the middle of said balcony, you can just barely make out a figure sat in the middle of it.
>"Just in the nick of time, so it seems!" The figure rises.
"What?" You squint.
>"Catch!" The figure tosses something to you, spinning and slowly gliding out of the darkness to rest at your feet.
>You pick it up. It's a taxicab-yellow top hat, with a black-and-white checkerboard pattern around the base of it.
>You look back up at the balcony, and you see no figure there.
>A feminine voice in your ear says, "did you miss me?"
>You stumble forward, dropping the hat and nearly falling off the stage, but are pulled back at the last second by something yanking at the back of your shirt.
>You spin around, and the pony now in front of you releases her mouth's grip to quirk an eyebrow at you and grin.
>She's a small purple mare wearing that taxicab-patterned top hat, with a cerulean mane beneath it.
>Her golden eyes sparkle in the stage lights, and a tuft of white hair peeks out from behind her ear.
>"The only answer you need to the question in your head is this:" she jumps to the side, with a hoof held aloft.
>"The prettiest mare I may not be, but don't always trust the things you see."
>"I belong in this place, I belong within you."
>"I'm a mix of the old, with something new."
"...the fuck? Who are you?"
>"Who's to say? Nothing's set in stone, as of yet."
"Did you bring me here, out of the woods?"
>"Hey, you were the one doing the running. I just had to pop up in the right place."
>"and speaking of running, I think our time's run out." She looks at her bare foreleg as if she were checking a watch. "Don't want to be late for the rest of your life."
>She does a pirouette and a small hop, and as she touches back upon the stage-
>You're awoken with a gasp, as the trash cans in the alley outside your window are knocked over once again.
>You sigh, then look over from your mattress on the floor to peer out the window.
>you see something struggling amidst the shadows and trash bags below, then wander away. The local racoons are probably at it again.
>Though racoons, of course, don't usually gallop like that.