Shut Eye looked up from the book at the young blue pegasus curled up in bed. Tail Wind was asleep now, a small smile on his face as he breathed in a soft, even pattern. The book in front of Shut Eye closed and floated over to the small table beside the bed where the green aura surrounding it vanished.
Tail Wind’s parents were out attending a party for the Summer Sun Celebration, which he was just a year or two too young to be able to reasonably stay up all night. Shut Eye was a professional Foal Sitter and gladly took the duty of watching the colt over attending the party. He did not particularly enjoy loud crowds and late nights. He was very comfortable staying at home and relaxing on his own.
Shut Eye went down the hall and into his kitchen. The refrigerator opened and a couple of apples floated out and over to the counter where a peeler was already in position. As the apples were skinned, Shut Eye put a pot of water on the stovetop to boil. The apples went in, along with some berries and cinnamon. He placed the lid on the pot and turned the heat down to let the fruit simmer.
Walking back down the hall to the guest room where Tail Wind was asleep, Shut Eye entered without turning the light back on. He stood next to the bed and closed his eyes, his horn glowing green as he cast the spell that would open the colt’s dreams to him.
Unsurprisingly, Tail Wind was dreaming about the Fields of Pegasy. Shut Eye watched the young and energetic colt fly. The sky was clear and blue and Tail Wind did flips and rolls as he flew, laughing and giggling as the flowers followed in the breeze. They swirled and danced in his wake, a rainbow contrail of roses and violets, honeysuckle and babies breath, tulips and daffodils, daisies and lilacs, and flowers that Shut Eye did not know off the top of his head.
He stood on a low mound of grass under where Tail Wind was flying. Shut Eye could not be seen by the child unless he wanted to show himself. This was Tail Wind’s dream, though, and Shut Eye did not intend to intrude. He was just checking up. Making sure that the colt was not having a nightmare.
When Shut Eye was confident that Tail Wind was having a happy dream, he closed his eyes and faded out of the scene. When he opened his eyes again, he was once more standing beside the bed. He smiled at the sleeping foal and left the room, returning to the kitchen to check the fruit.
Now that it had softened considerably, he put it all in a blender and pureed it before spreading it out on a couple of cooking sheets in thin layers then putting it into his dehydrator. With that done, Shut Eye went to bed. He would miss the sunrise, but that was fine by him. Next year he would try to stay up for it.
Laying in his own bed atop two mattresses and under two blankets, Shut Eye quickly fell asleep. He was a great sleeper. So good, he could get almost any pony to fall asleep. Of course, there was magic involved, but it was also all a part of his special talent. The three “Z”’s on his flank were testament enough to this.
His own dreams were far less fantastic than most would believe. Having complete control over his sleep and dream states, he could have a night without dreams if he so chose, or do whatever he wished. As all things, however, having the ability to do anything quickly got boring and wound down to just doing what would make that time most beneficial. He sorted his days thoughts and memories.
The market appeared around him and he walked towards the only stall visible. Dreams were amazingly low in detail when you were able to really pay attention and analyze them. The crowd around him was only four or five faceless ponies of bland colors and grey, vague blotches for cutie marks.
Shut Eye could have recalled more information if he wanted and filled out the details, but frankly he did not care who had been around and what other stalls there were when he went to the market earlier. He just wanted to watch himself get his groceries so he could remember what he got and what he forgot.
The carrot stand had just run out by the time he got there, so he made a mental note to go out and get more tomorrow. Tomatoes, apples, bread and flowers he was able to get, and fresh milk. He needed to clean out his freezer this weekend.
“And here I thought the Moon was boring.” A voice cut through the dreamscape like a knife through butter. Shut Eye looked around, having never had an interruption like this in his dreams for as long as he could remember.
“What’s that?” he asked, looking around the dull white void that had once been a visage of Ponyville. “Who’s there?”
“Aww, is my little pony curious?” the voice asked, echoing through the void as everything became darker, quickly fading into an empty darkness that felt cold. Shut Eye shivered as the voice cackled and laughed.
“I’ve never met a nightmare I couldn’t stop,” Shut Eye said, calming down as he tried to focus his magic. Though he had long since grown bored of manipulating his own dreams, he was more than capable of doing so. In his dreams, his power was stronger because his power was part of the dream, and so long as he willed his power to increase, there was no limit to what he could do.
The slow cackle only increased in humor as the green aura around Shut Eye’s horn glowed brighter. He was trying to silence her but to no avail. He even tried to remove his own ears but it did not change the fact that the confident, mocking laughter still penetrated his mind.
“You have never met a true Nightmare” The voice said out of the inky blackness. A soft blue glow appeared a short distance in front of Shut Eye. It slowly took a more distinct shape, resolving itself into a breastplate with a thick crescent moon upon it. Long shoes of matching blue metal became visible as well, along with an elegantly curved helmet.
The black void around these moving blue trinkets suddenly burst open as a wave of deep blue night sky, twinkling with starlight, appeared as a veil behind the floating accessories. It was only when the bright, teal eyes opened and the alarmingly white fangs of a smile appeared that Shut Eye realized he was looking at another pony. But not just any other pony.
This mare was taller than others. As large as Princess Celestia, or near enough. Her long, lanky features moved in a smooth, silken grace as she approached him. Her coat was as black as the void that surrounded them, and her starry mane billowed in an undetectable cosmic breeze.
This was Nightmare Moon. An old mare’s tale taken form in his dream. However, this was not the Nightmare Moon he had always imagined as a child. This one was more regal looking and far less monstrous. Yet despite the lack of blood dripping fangs, tufts of matted fur and glowing red eyes, she seemed so much darker. So much more sinister.
“Not somepony you were expecting to see?” she asked, “You seem as surprised as my dear sister was. I am no figment of your imagination, my little pony. I am very, very, real.”