FimFiction Link - Short ID: 489699/atrophy
Published: Mar '21
'Atrophy' is a six thousand and six hundred-word oneshot presented in diary format. During an experiment Twilight cast a spell on Rainbow Dash which grants non-flying beings the ability to fly for a day. The experiment seemingly has no effects on her other than a bit of stiffness in her wings, but as one reads more and more of these entries, it soon turns out that casting the spell was a fatal mistake. As a side effect it causes Rainbow's wings to slowly shrivel up and die, making her painfully lose her ability to fly. As one would expect from a pegasus whose whole shtick is flying faster than everyone, RD takes the news horribly. While she starts out cautiously optimistic, she soon plunges into dysphoria due to her shrinking wings, then into straight up despair, before she eventually loses her connection with reality and spends months surviving by eating trash and evading others.
I love the concept. Not only are diary formats great for making us really feel for the character, I am also heavily reminded of an IRL story that happened where I live. A famous poet who was somewhat mentally ill was asked by his doctor to write down his thoughts on paper with the promise that due to medical secrecy no one would ever know about what he writes in there. Years later he committed suicide and a literary group decided to release this "work," which is no more than a confusing mess of expletives, sexual fantasies, violent thoughts and everything else a troubled mind could come up with. To this date it's one of the most ethically-dubious local literary scandals. To put an end to this tangent, the first about half of this fic reminded me heavily of this writing. The fact that the author was able to mimic mental illnesses so well that it's comparable to the ramblings of an actual patient is impressive. I also really like how slowly Rainbow slips. She doesn't immediately grab a knife and go psycho, she first just starts puking, then becomes paranoid, then gives up personal hygiene, then starts abusing her pet and then she finally snaps.
However, while the first half shaped up to be an amazing low-burn psychological horror fic, I feel like the latter half goes overboard. Once Rainbow becomes a murderhobo I couldn't really take the fic seriously anymore. I'm not claiming that it's impossible for a disturbed person to act like this, but the kind of shock the author is going for is way too over the top for my taste to really hit. The idea that she has vomited so much that she started to enjoy it is scary. Eating a diaper is just trying way too hard. I like the ending too, though it is a bit predictable. It would've been interesting to see Twilight actually coming up with a cure, but by then it'd either too late or she would have had to face what she caused in her psychosis.
Overall: 6/10 Great concept, strong first half, unfortunate second half. If you have a strong stomach and like dark fics I recommend it.