FimFiction Link - Short ID: 506122/efficiency
Published: Oct '21 — Nov '21
'Efficiency' is a nine thousand-word horror shortfic. With Twilight out of town, Applejack goes to her castle to pick up a potion for her granny, there she notices an experimental potion for efficiency and not thinking it anything harmful, borrows it for a test. Due to the effects of the potion, she suddenly grows unhappy with how inefficient Ponyville works and decides to take matters to her own hoof. She convinces Apple Bloom to create a much stronger version of the potion and taints the water supply, causing profound and horrible changes in the small town's life.
Now, if I want to be honest, it's very hard to believe that AJ would just steal a potion from Twilight, even for a benevolent reason. I think maybe if she accidentally took the wrong potion and then fell under its effects would have been a bit more in-character for her. Regardless, if one's able to put themselves over this, the story is horrifying. Due to the effects of the potion near everyone turns into a gruesome caricature of themselves. Fluttershy has Discord massacring animals to create ecological balance, who's forced to comply because she threatens him with hurting herself and he's in love. The authority figures of the town cull the population based on their aptitude. Rarity creates utilitarian tools from the leather of the killed. The list goes on. The only two unaffected are Twilight and Pinkie Pie. The former of whom eventually discovers what happened from a conversation with Granny Smith in another sad and fairly morbid scene. Her accusations stab at the readers' hearts just like they stab at Twilight's, as we finally learn what happened to AJ and the rest of the town.
There are only a few things I didn't like in this story: I feel like the effects of the potions weren't really explored enough when it comes to ponies outside the M6. The story hardly even mentions one or two side characters, even though it could've served as further horror/black comedy to hear how characters like Octavia, Roseluck or any other well-known background ponies would act under this influence. Also, Rainbow Dash is completely absent from the story, even though efficiency fits her character to a t. It feels like a missed opportunity. Finally, I'm a bit ambivalent about the ending, on one hand it's not the worst dark joke I've heard, on the other, it also feels like less as an epilogue and more like the author going "Oh, here's your final battle, then a joke, end of story, bye." Didn't ruin the story for me of course, but I think it could've been far more interesting to see the characters react to how they have been behaving and how Ponyville copes with the atrocities they committed, even if they weren't themselves at the time.
Overall: 7/10 A chilling tale, with a few minor logical leaps and some unexplored potential. Can recommend.