A Recollection of the Events Leading To and During the Zombie Apocalypse.
Days 1-10 After Infection
Written by cesmaster644
Disclaimer/Author's Note - This story is a semi-autobiographical account, based on my actual experiences as an Eagle Scout and as the Emergency Preparedness merit badge counsellor at summer camp. All references to camp life, actual camp staff, and Scouting in general are intended. Also, I will be using the names that I prefer for the background ponies I use, so, sorry if it's not your choice.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and all affiliated characters are copyright Hasbro, Lauren Faust, Studio B Productions... That should be everypony, right?
I do not claim ownership to anything but a few characters.
June 19, 2011
1 After Infection (A.I.)
It has been my misfortune to assume that art always imitates life, and life can never imitate art. I have always believed that fiction is quite simply just that, and that the realms of it's reach fall short of reality.
I speak, of course, of the undead. As I’m quite sure you’re aware by now, the subject of many a horror film has finally reached a hoof out to grasp at ponykind. Well, grasp in an awkward, limping way.
I’m writing this journal in hopes that, if something happens to us, then somepony will find this, and have a record of our settlement, and the history of the infection. Maybe even learn from our mistakes and triumphs. If you’re reading this, I pray you’ve made it out safely, and I wish you good luck.
I don't know how the infection started, exactly. Some say it was a prank of Princess Celestia's gone wrong. Others, a spell of Twilight Sparkle's with ill side-effects. Hay if I know. But they're out there now, feeding on everypony. I know it started in Canterlot, during the Summer Sun Celebration - that much is certainly true. The infection spread quickly at the celebration; the Princesses couldn't contain it. Some ponies escaped home... unwittingly carrying the virus with them. Canterlot, Manehattan, Trottingham, Hoofington, Appleoosa, Ponyville, even Cloudsdale. All were covered with the infected within hours.
I guess I should give a little background on myself. My name's Flash. I'm a pegasus pony, a stallion, but a younger stallion. I've been a counsellor at a Pony Scout camp in the mountains above Stalliongrad these past few weeks - yes, I'm an Alicorn Scout. Don’t laugh; we’re the ones that have the knowledge and skills to survive. I've been teaching the Emergency Preparedness badge. Usually, it's a boring lecture class about safety; so, when I took over, I made it fun! Foals these days are interested in adventurous stuff, right? I, ironically, set out to make it fun by making it Zombie Emergency Preparedness. If you can prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse, you can prepare for any emergency, right? That was my rationale. It was quite helpful for me; I actually learned a good bit about zombies - at least, the fictional ones - by teaching.
It was a weekend when the infection hit; most of the staff were back at their homes, relaxing. A minimal amount of us decided to stay up at camp, including a few of my friends and myself. I couldn't have asked to be in a better place.
You see... no, just, let me start from the beginning. Yesterday, Strickland - he's one of my best friends up here and one of the strongest ponies you'll meet - and I were goofing off. We were up in Mountaincraft, the area of camp where we do all the merit badges like Camping, Wilderness Survival, Pioneering, and outdoorsy stuff like that, planning what we’d do next week for our big Pioneering project. We had this awesome idea of taking some poles, tying them to the trees about 6 feet off the ground, taking an old tent canvas, and making a tent in the trees up there. We’d put in a floor, and add in the bunks, and...
I’m distracting myself. Needless to say, it was pretty cool. Anyway, so we’re sitting up there, making plans, when this mare walks by.
Now, normally, that would be no problem. But it was the weekend, and this pony wasn’t on staff. We didn’t know where she came from. And, being so high up in the mountains - at least a good ten miles uphill from civilization - we didn’t expect anypony to come all the way to us unless they were actually going to camp. We’re the first part of camp you pass as you enter, so I guess that’s why no one had stopped her.
She was... she was a strange mare. She couldn’t have been much older than the most of the staff, with a blue mane and a beige coat. She was limping slightly and appeared to be covered in bruises and cuts, like she’d been attacked.
Strickland saw her first, and called out to her to see if she needed help. She turned to look at us at the sound of his voice, and nodded - slowly, at first, but then with fearful vigor. Strickland and I rushed over to her, slid her forelegs over our shoulders, and carried her to the med hut. Fayth - the medic - was gone home for the weekend. She deserved the break, so it was no big deal. In teaching Emergency Preparedness, I had to know some first aid, so I did my best to help her.
She told me she’d been attacked - by another pony, nonetheless. She said they were everywhere, trying to eat everypony. I asked her what she was talking about, and she told me... zombies. The infected had gone crazy, their coats becoming disheveled, their eyes glazing over to milky whiteness. She said she’d barely escaped, and had been hiking up to our camp for the past several hours, wanting to get away, trying to get help like us.
I... I feel like a jerk for saying what I did then, but I know I had no choice. I asked her if she’d been bitten. She started to ask if we could help her friends and family down in Stalliongrad, and I cut her off. I asked her again, a little more violently...
She didn’t respond. Strickland and I looked at each other, and I checked her pulse.
She had flat-lined. She was dead.
Her body, albeit shakily, rose up again several seconds later, her eyes glazing over. Strickland yelled out quite the oath, and we backed away, towards the door. She started to limp towards us, teeth gnashing, hooves scraping the floor with a piercingly sharp noise.
We looked around; the only thing that wasn’t too small to be an effective weapon or too large to wield was a water cooler. Strickland bounded over to it, grasped it in his teeth, and brought it down on the mare’s head. She groaned with agony - though, it may have just been because she was a zombie - and flinched back. I opened the door and looked outside; a broom sat nearby. I grasped it near the sweeping end and turned around, ready to help Strickland fight; but Strickland had already reduced our foe to a messy corpse and a blood stain on the floor.
Around this time, Lionhart, an older unicorn and our beloved camp director, burst in, demanding to know what all the noise was. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t believe the zombie tale, and quietly asked us to step into his office next door.
It’s always scary when Lionhart is quiet, because that’s when he’s mad.
Well, he left us there. He know’s we’re not bad kids, but, still actual zombies? I’m sure he was thinking that the whole Emergency Preparedness class had gone to my head. Maybe I had overreacted, and we had murdered somepony.
He left us there for hours, so he could go to Stalliongrad. Whether it was to talk to somepony or to check out the town himself, I don’t know. But, when he came back, he told us where he’d gone and that he believed us. The mare was right; the zombie apocalypse had begun, and, according to the news in town, it was spreading fast.
Word of the infection spread quickly through the sparse staff, and most everypony started to flip out. Loved ones were in the infected towns; what might become of them? What if the zombies came to us? How would we survive?
Lionhart took charge as soon as he realized how everypony was reacting. I'm glad he's around; he might be the only pony who could keep everypony calm and moving in this situation. He knows that panicking never helps. Once he had all ten of the remaining staff gathered and cooled down, he told us his plan.
The first thing he decided to do was split us into three groups. The first group was to go out to the shooting range. We were the first - now the only - camp to test the new sports merit badge, archery. It's based on this sport that's come up recently based on a new invention called a crossbow. The sport is designed to test a pony's accuracy in an admittedly quite fun way. You shoot bolts - wooden sticks with feathers on the back end and a small, slightly sharp tip on the other - from your crossbow at a target some 40 feet away, trying to get as close to the center of the target as possible.
The crossbows are quite complex in design. It’s this plank of wood with some sort of metal casing that sits on a leather pad the wielder’s shoulder. It’s got a spring in it that, when loaded with a bolt and pulled back, locks in place. When the pony using it pulls on a trigger, it releases the spring, launching the arrow forward. A belt feeds the bolts in, and, when one is fired, a second loads into place, ready to be fired.
I know I haven’t described them well; I don’t know how it works exactly, and it is rather confusing. I'd prefer to just call it unicorn magic and move on, really.
Anyway, we discovered that the tips of the bolts can be sharpened, and, as such, they should make very effective long-range zombie killers.
Anyway, the first group went to salvage the shooting sports gear. The second group was sent to the camp compound, about a half a mile up the entrance road, to get the ranger who works here all year long and as much supplies as they could. We stored a few crossbows and some bolts up there, as well as other tools and many a plank of wood.
The third group - my group - stayed back with Lionhart. He decided that we should fortify the dining hall - with all the food and such inside - first. Here, we hit a roadblock; I argued that the dining hall was too much trouble. The multitude of glass windows and plentiful exits made it a place that zombies could easily enter, unless we spent a great deal of our resources on it. Lionhart argued that the multiple exits made it better; if we were overrun, we wouldn't be trapped. After some debate - sad that we had to waste so much time - we finally settled on moving to the nearby trading post. The post has several refrigerators and coolers; we could move the dining hall food there. There's three doors and minimal windows, so we have an emergency exit without wasting resources. It's a tight fit, but it's a good start. As we get more resources, we'll expand.
The first crew returned with the crossbows, and started to help us bunker down. There's a back room that we've set them in. The second crew came back, dropped off supplies, and headed out again. There's a lot at the compound, so I'm not surprised.
It's taken us all day. This is where we are now; all inside the trading post, trying to sleep. A few have volunteered for guard duty, and are standing outside. Me? I'm inside. I can't sleep - writing this seems like a good substitute.
I can't sleep because I keep thinking about my parents; I'm sure everypony else is having that problem. I wonder if they're alright... Hoofington did get hit pretty bad, so...
I'm trying not to think about it. I know I shouldn't; I can't change anything about it. But... I'm worried.
Strickland is on guard duty. I think I'll help him. Maybe we can distract each other from this mess. Good night, journal.
June 20, 2011
We started two projects today: fencing in a small field nearby for farming, and fortifying one of our carriages for going into town. We'll need seeds, gas, a generator... anything we can get, really. The carriage is looking pretty good, but I'm sure that they'll be extremely cautious when they go into town anyway. I think they're going in a day or two.
There were no zombies last night; I'm sure that our isolated position on top of the mountain will mean that it'll take a day or two before they even try to reach us.
The farming area is... rough. We've fenced it off, and connected it to the trading post, but I think a zombie could break through it if it wanted to. I think barbed wire would be in order; it might not kill ‘em, but should at least slow them down enough so we can stop them before they destroy our fortifications. hopefully we'll get it soon. Rationing food and water has gone over rather well. Nopony's complaining.
Oh! Lionhart set down rules today.
1. If you get infected, we will kill you. Sorry, that's how it is.
2. No taking food past your rations.
3. We're in this for the next generation's survival, and the generation after that, and so on. Not our own.
3a. As soon as you become a hindrance to the next generation's survival, we will cut you loose.
4. If you don't work in some way, you don't eat.
5. Sleep with a weapon nearby. Always be prepared to fight.
6. Never draw a weapon on an ally.
7. Double tap. (He then elaborated. This is a term he uses to mean, "make sure the zombie is dead, even if you must use more time and energy or another bolt.")
8. We're in this together; we're a family now. Don't think about yourself, think about the group as a whole.
I'm sure he'll make more later; but that's okay. The rules are good.
Let's see, what else... Vinyl Scratch, our resident Wubtrot enthusiast, is starting to freak out. She's worried she'll be too much of a weak link to survive. She... she’s blind. Her friend Octavia helps her around during camp, and she doesn’t feel like she can ask Octavia to spend her time helping Vinyl around. She even started thinking that we were going to kill her, because she'd become a hindrance to the next generation's survival.
Octavia and I spent some time calming her down; she now believes that we won't kill her, and that she's no burden, but that she'll be the first to be eaten.
I never really got to know the two of them during camp. I just happened to be there when she cracked... I'm glad it happened, though. Don't misunderstand! I'm not happy that she cracked, but her cracking had opened up the chance for me to get to meet them. They're good mares. I hope to become better friends with them.
... Poor Vinyl...
June 21, 2011
A staff member returned this morning - Fayth. Glad to have the medic back. Despite being the one pony who had to see the most campers each day during camp, she’s the quietest pony around. She flew in from her Trottingham house, bringing depressing news for Maple, a nature-loving unicorn. The town's completely overridden; no "clean" ponies remain... including her parents. We all know how she feels... It's stirred up some bad emotions in all of us. Everypony's been trying to help cheer her up. She's put on a brave face recently... I hope she'll pull through.
Despite this saddening news, having Fayth back is nice. She's really kind, and it's reassuring to have a medic around. I kinda feel sorry for her, having to treat everyone now...
She also told us the state of Stalliongrad. Apparently, the town is relatively empty during the day. Lionhart decided to go ahead and send a small scouting party - himself included - to look for resources and survivors. They were gone for several hours. When they returned, we learned that the town is mostly empty of survivors - er, rather, the survivors aren't wandering the streets. There's many an abandoned house, and the supermarket appears empty. They're going back tomorrow. I'm worried; supermarkets are, if movies and games are to be believed, mighty dangerous during the zombie apocalypse.
I got the chance to hang out with Vinyl some more when Octavia and Fayth went to the garden to try to cheer Maple up. Vinyl's feeling better; I think sleep helped some. She's still convinced she'll be first to fall, but she's at least not being depressing about it. She has trouble doing any real work, due to her blindness, obviously, but wants to help. I think, if the zombies don't come tomorrow, I'll go to our science and technologies building and bring our radio system over. We need to transmit something to bring in survivors - and, with her musical tastes and visual impairment, this will suit her well. I think she'll be happy. She gave me a hug as I left, and thanked me for listening and being so kind to her.
Sheridan, another one of my best friends and an aspiring fiction writer, is loving the zombie apocalypse scenario. He's drawn a lot of inspiration from it, and has started planning out a story. He'll start writing when we get the materials or power for it. I hope he doesn't enjoy this too much.
June 22, 2011
I... I don't know what to say, really, journal. We... I mean... We've got good news and bad news. Good news: we now have a generator, gas, more food, and pure water. But, the bad news... We also had our first casualty.
Lionhart... apparently had one of them sneak up on him. Once the crew realized what happened, they immediately brought him back for treatment by Fayth, but she couldn't do anything. Lionhart eventually asked her just to put a bolt in his skull so he wouldn't "have to turn into one of them". I don't know what we'll do without him.
Funeral's in ten minutes; then a meeting. I think we're going to elect a new leader.
More later, when I have the will, energy, and time to write.
4 A.I. Continued
Well, I’m back, journal. It’s nearing midnight. I’m on the roof of the trading post. I most certainly can’t sleep; I only hope that those beneath me can.
Lionhart is buried in the garden. A plank of wood, his name scrawled on, serves as a grave until we have better tools to carve a good headstone. The funeral was short. No one was quite sure what to say. I know I didn’t. I think most everypony was thinking the same things, though. He was a great stallion; kind to all, firm in his command, but never a tyrant. He’ll be sorely missed by all of us.
I wish I could better express in words what we’re feeling. I’m so thrown about by this mixture of emotions, feelings, thoughts... I don’t know how sane I’ll stay. I feel like I’m downplaying his death. No, his death is a huge loss, and everypony here is affected by it. I think I still hear Berry Punch, once the camp cook and a close personal friend of Lionhart’s, crying below.
There’s a lot to be done tomorrow. Supplies to gather, ponies to train... maybe we can even fence in from the garden to the shower house... though I don’t know if we have 50 feet of wood... plus barricading and cleaning it. Those are my next goals.
Oh... I just don’t know if I can do this! Their lives... in... my hooves? I... I can’t... I just... What if I fail? What if, by my actions... they die? What if, by my inaction, they die?! What if we’re the only group still alive... the fate of ponykind could rest in my hooves! What if...
I’ve gotten into my train of thought instead of the actual events. We had a meeting, to elect a new leader. Due mainly to the influence of Army, er, Armstrong, the Space Exploration counsellor, I’ve been elected the new leader.
Celestia help us all.
June 23, 2011
We’ve gone ahead and barricaded the shower house. We haven’t gotten enough wood to fence between there and the garden yet; we’ve started to take down some old cabins tomorrow to try to make up the difference. Fayth’s taken a sample of the water in the piping in the shower house. We should know soon if it’s clean or not... even if it isn’t, we’ll at least have a good fortress.
Strickland and Sheridan started training everypony - save Vinyl - in how to use the crossbows. They’re doing pretty good with what they know, but we can’t get very advanced in our training, since we don’t know everything about them. The two of them are learning as much as they can so they can teach as much as they can. I wish Poniatowski - she was the archery director at camp - was here. She knew nearly everything about the crossbows. If only, if only...
Maple’s... starting to worry me. She was once appalled by the idea of violence, but she’s suddenly had an about-face in feelings. I think she’s excited about the idea of enacting revenge on the zombies who finished her parents. I hope this is just a phase, and not a long one. I don’t want her becoming obsessed. That’ll lead to bad decisions, and...
I don’t want to think about it.
I finally set up the radio system for Vinyl; she was surprised, but seemed overjoyed. She’ll be making regular broadcasts to try to bring in survivors - and play music.
We’ve started using the climbing tower as a watch tower. Army’s up there now. We had a few of the undead come our way late this afternoon; Strickland put on a crossbow and sent them packing. The bodies provided nothing of use, except a sample of the virus for Fayth to research.
I know, I know. Keeping a sample of the very virus that infects us is dangerous. I’ll have Fayth bleach it to death as soon as she knows how to identify it. I’m not going to worry about a cure; we’ll just have to keep ourselves clean and destroy anything infected. And if it’s a pony that’s infected... kill them before they become a problem. If we stick around long enough, we’ll get rid of the virus.
It’s a brutal thought, I know. But we’re in this for the next generation. Not ourselves.
I still don’t think our ramshackle accommodations will hold up if a zombie gets angry at Golden Harvest's carrots, and we really can’t afford to lose that. I think we’ll have to go into town soon and get some barbed wire.
Tomorrow is Octavia’s 19th birthday. Berry’s baking a cake for her. It’s nice to have one good thing to look forward to in these desperate times. I’m just sad that she’s going to have to spend it out here.
I hope I’m being a good leader. Everypony’s willing to listen to me, though I’m not sure how well my decisions are going over. I can only do my best...
A lot happened today.
I sent Strickland, Maple, and Sheridan into town for barbed wire, food, and gas this morning. They came back in the late afternoon with more of the supplies than I could hope for - and more wood. Fayth's going to check the food for contamination first, but we should be good.
We managed to finally complete the path to the shower house - to the pleasure of everypony - and apply barbed wire to our fortifications. Scrubbing it down took us quite a while, but it’s at least usable now. I'm still afraid that the fence won't do much to stop an angry zombie, but it's better than it was.
I went to check on the garden and walked in on Golden Harvest and Army snogging. It shouldn't have shocked me that much; ponies pairing up would be inevitable, even desirable. We'll have to mate eventually, if we want ponykind to survive. Though some colts may just get the opportunity with multiple fillies. I know, it's a little disgusting, but... If we want to survive...
Vinyl's set up a work room/bedroom in our back room. She's got a divider between herself and the crossbows and bolts, and has the radio station set up back there with her. She’s taken the moniker “DJ P0N-3". Still no response to her program.
Octavia's party was a success; not only was she cheered up, everypony was too. The morale around here has gone way up. The cake was delicious... and moist. Amazing, what Berry can do with such limited material. I just hope this isn't her last birthday party, or the last one we throw.
We just finished surviving our first real wave of the undead. I was pleased; most everypony seemed to be getting better at aiming and using the crossbows. Unfortunately, we now have a pile of rotting corpses outside. I don't really want to burn them, in case the virus somehow is let into the air by burning the bodies. I think I'll gather the unicorns and we'll just lift them into a pit for a ramshackle burial.
I updated my previous entries to include a new date system - using A.I. to refer to the era starting after the infection. All new entries will have only the new date.
Survivors arrived today, including some from camp! To add to our ranks of ten, we gained Ace - who was our Sports counsellor - and his wife Poniatowski, who I'm extremely grateful to have back. Noteworthy, a stranger from their hometown, came with them. Apparently, the radio alerted them to our presence. I made sure to thank Vinyl.
Poniatowski will be taking over as head of security and will be helping Strickland learn the advanced skills of crossbow use, as well as how to clean and care for the weapons. I have no doubt that we'll be safer with her around.
The water from the shower house is still clean, so we'll finally have a consistent source of water, and a place to clean off. Everypony's very happy about that.
However, we are starting to run out of room in our little trading post. There's a small pavilion nearby, I think we'll move sleeping areas over there and try to fence it in tomorrow.
More zombies tonight than last; less sleep. While we didn't have any problems keeping ourselves safe, I do think that our constant fighting and all the groaning will start to wear on us. Hopefully the new shelter will help keep that to a minimum.
With the addition of Ace, Poniatowski, and Noteworthy, I’ve decided to add a list of everypony, just to have a good record of the settlers.
1. Lionhart - leader (deceased)
2. Flash - leader
3. Strickland - security
4. Vinyl Scratch - radio
5. Octavia - assistant cook/security
6. Sheridan - security
7. Maple - security
8. Berry Punch - cook
9. Armstrong - medicine and sciences/security
10. Golden Harvest - agriculture
11. Fayth - medicine and sciences
12. Ace - fitness/security
13. Poniatowski - security head
14. Noteworthy - medicine and sciences/security
This morning, Sheridan pointed out that some zombies may come from the woods behind us, not just in front. While there's no road to lead them up here, that doesn't mean they won't. The waterfront buildings by the lake are somewhat nearby; we went to check out if we could use any of them as an outpost, to fend off zombies that way. Unfortunately, the only building big enough to use is filled with boats and similar equipment; it'll take us quite some time to clear it out.
Army mentioned that a new moon would be coming up soon; we'll be losing the precious moonlight that gives us good sighting without sending a beacon to our whereabouts. I'm afraid that things might not be so pretty those few nights.
We fixed up the pavilion and moved all the mattresses we could find from the tents and cabins to try to make it more "homey". The trading post is now just for eating, storage, Fayth's science, and fighting zombies. Having the extra room is nice, especially in the area between us and the pavilion.
We also made a table for dinner, one big enough for all of us to sit at. I'm really enjoying the family we're turning into.
There weren’t as many zombies tonight as there were last night, so only Octavia and I had to take the first shift of guard duty. Even though we had to stay alert, it was... kind of boring. So, we made up a game. We start by clearing out all the nearby zombies, then getting on the roof of the trading post. Then we take turns shooting at the zombies in the parade field; who ever gets the farthest one out wins. Bonus points for taking out two with one bolt or causing one zombie to think another attacked it and make them turn on each other.
I'd never have thought that I'd be so amused by dead ponies.
Finally got around to burying the corpses today. Glad to have the smell - and sight - gone. Just a shame that it'll build back up again later.
Started raining around noon; we haven't gotten much done on this lazy day. Most everypony sat around in the trading post and just talked. We found a travel chess board that had once been for sale; Octavia enjoyed beating everyone. Vinyl got the music going, and we basically had a small party.
I lost track of Golden Harvest and Army sometime during the day... I'm sure they're just trying to enjoy some "alone time".
But, I swear, if we get any foals this early on....
Noteworthy is a pretty cool guy. He has a beautiful singing voice, and knows tons of stuff. He and Fayth kicked it off rather well; I think she's deemed him her assistant. They spent almost the whole time talking science and medicine... I tried not to follow the conversation, lest my head hurt. Glad to see how well we've welcomed the stranger.
It's kinda funny, to look around at the sleeping ponies. Ace and Poniatowski are outside, but everyone else is all curled up in here. Frankly, it's adorable. Strickland and Maple are curled up together by a support post; they'd been discussing how to improve the crossbows before they fell asleep. Fayth's slumped across the desk she uses for a work area in the trading post; Noteworthy is leaning against the side of it. They were probably doing science or something along those lines, studying the virus. Sheridan, Berry, and Octavia are sprawled out over the floor, looking like they passed out from being drunk. That one really makes me giggle; Octavia's usually such a well-kept pony. I'm surprised she's letting herself look so disheveled. I guess it's the apocalypse, after all. Why worry? Golden Harvest and Army are completely entangled... they really do make a cute couple.
And Vinyl's wild blue mane is resting on my shoulder. We were talking about our favorite music from before the infection. I have to admit... She's really cute, especially when she's asleep. I... I think I like her. Though... I don't think I can tell her. I'm such a wimp...
Surprisingly few zombies showed up today; I guess they don't really enjoy the rain. I won't complain, though. Saves us bolts. Speaking of, we'll have to start making some melee weapons soon, in case we run out of bolts.
We, once again, had minimal work today. It wasn't raining anymore, but, after adding some extra fencing to our walls, we just didn't have much else to do. We could have started emptying the waterfront storage building, but I didn't want to. It was a beautiful day, and everypony was in such great spirits... I didn't want to squander the moment.
The apocalypse is rough. Anything can go wrong at any time, and it will. So... you have to treasure the good times when they're there.
So, I demanded a group picnic. Berry packed up a lunch, we all grabbed crossbows and our saddlebags, and we headed out - making sure to lock up behind us, of course.
We went to Moon Rock. It's this giant white rock on the other side of the lake that's basically an iron deposit. During storms, it gets struck by lightning. A lot. So it looks like the surface of Luna's moon. There's a stream and small waterfall nearby too. It's quite beautiful. We splashed around, ate, killed a few zombies, and just enjoyed life.
Sometimes we get so caught up in things that we forget to enjoy life. Don't do that. It's too precious to waste. Enjoy it while it's here, and have no regrets when it's gone.
But don't enjoy it too much; you can waste it on superficial pleasure too. Make it a good balance, and try to enjoy what really matters.
This afternoon, Fayth killed the sample of the virus she had. She can clearly recognize it now, and I'm glad it's gone. That dang thing had me on edge every time I passed her work area.
Tomorrow's going to be the first night of the new moon.
Celestia help us.
<Error 404|Chapter 2>
Days 11-13 After Infection
Written by cesmaster644
Author’s Note: To warn my dear fans; this is a... interlude, if you will, of sorts. You’ll find I’ve changed from epistolary style to 3rd person omniscient, and there are reasons. The main being that, during this chapter and the next, Flash will not have time to write in his journal, and I do not wish for you to miss out on the events during this time frame. If you wish, you may skip these chapters and move on to the next; it will pick back up with a small summary in the next chapter. However, I encourage you to read these as well; I have a feeling that you’ll quite enjoy it.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and all affiliated characters are copyright Hasbro, Lauren Faust, Studio B Productions... That should be everypony, right?
I do not claim ownership to anything but a few characters.
The early morning sun creaked over the top of the wooden fence, illuminating the sleeping ponies behind it. Soft snoring wafted up from their muzzles; some rolled over onto their backs. All was peaceful in the settlement.
A soft creaking from the rafters of the trading post alerted the birds to the presence of two ponies who were actually awake.
The first was an Earth pony, grayish brown in coat and onyx in mane. Though her cutie mark was a treble clef, she had made no music recently. The other pony was a Pegasus. His curly, dark brown mane hung down into his deep-blue eyes slightly. Its color complimented his lighter brown coat, and his near-beige hooves. His cutie mark, a fleur-de-lis, was obscured by the saddlebag he wore, carrying his extra ammo and journal.
"I'm going to wake up Berry, then crash," Flash, the brown Pegasus, quietly commented to his Earth pony companion.
Octavia, his companion, nodded in reply. She took the crossbow she wielded off her shoulder, and quickly collapsed onto her mattress.
Flash prodded a pink Earth pony with a somewhat poofy purple hairdo in the pancreas. Said pony was Berry Punch, the chef.
"Berry... Berry, get up." Flash wanted to wake her, but not the others. They needed their sleep; he had no need or right to disturb them. This, of course, caused problems when the pony of choice was quite the sound sleeper.
After several more minutes of poking, Berry finally woke up.
"Mmph... Morning, Flash~" she cooed. "What's up?"
"I'm about to crash - I need you to divide everypony up. I want you, Golden Harvest, and Vinyl to stay here; Army in the watch tower; and everypony else to the waterfront to clear out the storage building," Flash explained.
"Alright... Where do you want them to put the boats?"
"To the side or something; I don't care. For now, have them just empty out the building."
Berry nodded. "Can do."
"Thanks..." Flash murmured, finding a mattress to crash on himself.
And, like a light, he was out.
The warming heat of the sun combined with Berry's cooking eventually awakened the rest of the ponies. They all gathered around for a bowl of hot oats for breakfast at the hands of Berry, then headed out to complete their workload for the day.
Flash awoke to the feeling of a hoof in his stomach.
“Time to get up, o-fearless-leader,” the source of the hoof giggled. “It’s just past noon.”
Flash swatted a forehoof randomly in the air. “Off...” he groaned. He forced himself up, blinking his eyes once or twice to clear the fuzziness that bright light often brought him as he awoke.
“How’s the work going?” he finally asked.
“I’m guessing well; they haven’t come back since they left this morning. Berry’s cooking something like grilled-cheese-and-daisy sandwiches, and no one’s else has responded to the radio.”
“Well, I’m sure someone’s listening to your show, Vinyl. Maybe they just can’t respond and they’re on their way...”
Vinyl laughed, trying her way back towards the trading post. “I don’t need a self-esteem boost. It doesn’t matter to me if no one listens. I do it because I enjoy doing it."
Flash gave her a slight shove to correct her course. “True... I just hope we’re doing some good with it.”
Vinyl’s ears perked with the sound of hooves crushing grass under the weight of another pony. She shoved Flash back to bring his attention to the approaching mare.
“Oh, afternoon, Octavia! Get any good sleep?”
“Any sleep is good sleep around here...” Octavia groggily replied.
“Heh. True that!” Vinyl raised a hoof in Octavia’s general direction, and was met with the response of Octavia’s hoof gently pounding against it.
“Anyway, I’ve got a broadcast to get back to. Peace!” Vinyl, somehow barely dodging the door frame, disappeared into the trading post.
“So, let’s go grab everypony from the waterfront, shall we?” Flash asked Octavia, gesturing behind him.
“For lunch?” Octavia asked hopefully.
“Of course... the grilled daisy smells too good not to have lunch now.”
The crunch of the gravel beneath their hooves alerted the ponies working on the storage building to Flash and Octavia’s presence before sight did. A large, buff Earth pony with an off-white coat and a short, jet black mane was hefting a kayak around back. His flint-and-steel cutie mark glistened with his sweat from hard work.
“Afternoon!” the Earth pony called to the two approaching ponies.
“Afternoon, Strickland!” Flash called back. Octavia gave a simple nod. “How comes the work?”
“I think we can empty it out and fix it up by tomorrow - the sailboats will be a bit of a problem. I was thinking, if we cut a hole in the roof, we can bring a ladder in. Then we can just cut a hole in one of the doors to shoot through, and board up every other door - except one, of course. Then we put somepony on the roof, and one or two more inside, and have a little bunker!”
Flash waved a hoof around pointlessly. “Sounds great. Remind me later; lunch is calling me and I know I’ll forget.”
Strickland grinned. “Oh, yeah, no problem. What’s for lunch anyway?”
“Yum, yum... why couldn’t Berry cook like this during camp?”
The two shared a laugh, before turning to the building. “Anyway, let’s get everypony outside and-”
“Lunch break, everypony!”
Strickland and Flash were so busy talking that they missed Octavia go inside to make the announcement. As she rounded the corner, she merely shrugged to their confused expressions.
“What can I say?” she offered. “I’m hungry.”
"And then... then I said to him: 'Oatmeal? Are you CRAZY?!'"
The occupants of the table roared with laughter at Noteworthy's joke. Army, a deep purple unicorn with a strangely white mane and several bright stars as a cutie mark, was laughing so hard that he barely held onto the bite of sandwich he was eating.
In fact, the only pony who wasn’t causing some sort of bodily harm from their violent laughter was Fayth, the dull yellow Pegasus with a syringe for a cutie mark. Her short, blue mane kept out of her cyan eyes, revealing a rare genuine mirth. However, she didn’t erupt with laughter, but, rather, chuckled softly.
She could really be so strange at times.
The moon's radiant darkness covered the ground. No pony was up in the watch tower. There was no reason for anypony to be up there; no pony would be able to see anything from up there anyway. Of course, nopony really needed to; the low groans from their targets outside painted a nice sight picture for the crossbows.
The undead were coming in from the front of the trading post and from behind the sleeping pavilion. For the three ponies fighting off the horde that barraged the trading post, it was a simple fight. Just keep them from getting in or breaking something. It was tough, but doable.
For the ponies defending the rear at the pavilion, it was a bit harder. The weak wooden fencing wouldn’t stand zombie attacks; the guards had to pick off the undead from a distance. Obviously not an easy feat with minimal lighting.
However, ingenuity was not lacking amongst the group of survivors. Seeing that they could not see, the small group took to their advantage the weakness of Vinyl Scratch.
They placed her on the roof of the pavilion, a crossbow on her shoulder. She was blind anyway; the darkness didn't bother her. In fact, her heightened hearing allowed her a much better sense of where the undead actually were. Flash and Octavia sat up there with her, making sure she didn’t accidentally turn to shoot some of the zombies from the other side of the trading post and, consequently, shoot the trading post or a living pony.
The night was long and grueling, but it did eventually die down, along with the zombies. The sky shed its coat, releasing the sun to light the ground. The remaining zombies either fled or were shot on sight. Eventually, fatigue overtook them, and everypony slept.
“I didn’t know you were such a good shot,” Flash whispered. He and Vinyl were still lying on the roof of the pavilion, the sun gently warming their stomachs.
“It’s hard to miss when your targets moan loud enough to wake the dead,” Vinyl whispered back, chuckling.
“So that’s how all this started?” Both ponies began chuckling.
“I wish. Hey, maybe they’re just trying to practice for a zombie choir.”
Their chuckling was slowly turning into laughing. “Then why do they want us?”
“Well, maybe they’re just dying to find a good audience!”
Their jokes weren’t that funny, but sleep deprived and apocalypse ravaged minds turned lame, punny jokes into the best.
An apple, tossed from the ground, nailed the back of Flash’s head.
“Oi! You two! Some of us would enjoy our sleep.” Poniatowski’s words made Flash cringe - he hadn’t even thought that they were bothering others.
“Sorry!” he called down.
Vinyl turned to him, remembering to lower her voice again. “I don’t think we can get down without noise.”
“We’ll just sleep up here, then.”
A few seconds passed.
Flash giggled softly. “Good light, Vinyl.”
It was rounding two in the afternoon when they finally managed to descend from the roof. A quick "breakfast" sent the group to daily tasks.
Flash had intended to clear out the rest of the storage shed, but the previous night's siege had given him other worries. The fencing was weakening - even broken in one place. Repairs and upgrades needed to be made before nightfall - the new moon should last them another day or two. Hopefully, they wouldn’t be wasting any wood or wire in the process.
The repairs lasted until nearly nightfall. Dinner ended the work on a quiet note; when Sheridan, a sea green unicorn with a blond mane, and Maple, a green Earth pony whose dark brown mane covered her eyes, came in from standing watch, he gave us news that kept everyone quiet almost the entire meal.
The undead were coming.
And, if Sheridan wasn’t mistaken, it was nearly all of them.
“Get out! Everypony, out!”
A crashing thud interrupted Flash’s commands; the zombies had likely knocked over an old soda machine or something. The undead were pounding on the front walls of the trading post, starting to weaken the structure. The survivors streamed out through the backdoor, out into the small field. Everypony loaded up their crossbow as they left and grabbed as many bolts as they could find.
“Strickland, Sheridan, Maple, with me! Everypony else, out through the shower house - the zombies don’t seem to be coming from that direction! Make it to the other side of the lake, out through Moon Rock, and take the trail out of camp! Make it into town, if you can, and find shelter! If we aren't there tomorrow, don't wait for us! Poniatowski, you’re in charge!” he bellowed.
“What are you four going to do?!” Poniatowski yelled back.
“We’ll fend them off; forget about us! We’ll meet you if we can!”
Poniatowski adjusted the crossbow to fit more comfortably. “Then I’m staying here, to fight with you.”
“No! I need you to lead. And... you and Ace are already together. It’s more important that you help grow. For the next generation.”
Poniatowski hesitated, then nodded. “For the next generation. Alright! Everypony, after me!”
Then they were gone. The four defenders stood together, huddled in the trading post. There were too many zombies, and they knew it; but they weren’t there to survive. Only to distract.
“Well...” Flash started.
“Yeah,” Strickland finished.
“I’ll miss you guys.”
“It was a pleasure,” Maple replied.
“Indeed,” Sheridan continued.
Everypony turned around; a fifth voice had spoken up. And, at that, the voice of,
“Vinyl!” Flash nearly bucked as he burst into the backroom.
The crash from earlier wasn’t the zombies; it was Vinyl. In her rush to get outside with everypony else, she knocked her equipment over. She was stranded, tangled, choked, even. Her sunglasses had been knocked over and crushed in the fall; her twin moons seemed to plead for help.
“Vinyl, don’t worry, I’ll get you out of there.” Flash flipped her equipment away, and not-so-gracefully pulled her from the wreckage.
“Flash, is that you? What’s going on?” Vinyl whimpered.
“You really don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into... Oh, you should have gone with the others, now you’re stuck here with us.” Flash silently cursed himself for not noticing that she was missing earlier. He wrapped a forehoof around her shoulder and guided her into the main room. The others had already begun attacking, and the undead were starting to fall. Unfortunately, the door was starting to creak awfully dangerously.
“I-I’m sorry, Flash... I don’t want to burden you-”
“No! It’s okay, just... I’m sorry that you’ll have to die with us.” Flash let go of her shoulder and began his own assault on the invading horde, not unaware of the soft cries of realization from behind him.
Strickland, Sheridan, and Maple glanced at each other, then nodded. They turned to look at Flash and simultaneously uttered one word.
It took Flash a second to realize what had just silently been agreed upon.
“Take Vinyl and run, dude,” Sheridan said. “We don’t need to let her die. We can hold ‘em off.”
“No buts,” Strickland commanded. “Go.”
Flash bowed his head for a moment of silence. “Alright. Thank you. Vinyl, wrap your forehoof around my shoulder, and don’t you dare let go.”
Vinyl smiled softly and did as commanded. The two maneuvered their way outside and turned to the shower house.
“Hey!” Maple called before they left. The pair turned to look back; Maple was beaming at them. “See you in Stalliongrad.”
Flash laughed. “Meet you there.”
And they left.
“Where are we going?”
“Can you run like this?”
Vinyl shook her head.
“Then just to the side of the lake - where the old cabins are. They should still be strong enough to last us the night. I don’t want to risk going after the group in this darkness and leading the zombies to them. We’ll head out in the morning.”
It wasn’t without a few zombies that they made it to the cabins, but they remained uninjured.
The cabins were once nice buildings, the staff’s cabins. They had two stories, a bathroom, shower, kitchen, beds, two doors; pretty much a small house. They had some semblance of fortifications and locks on the doors, but they weren’t perfect. Flash and Vinyl just have to hope that few zombies came their way.
Flash gently shut the front door behind him, doing his best to make it seem like it hadn’t been opened anyway. He let out a sigh of relief, but started coughing as soon as he inhaled again; the building was soaked in dust.
After regaining himself, he took a look around. The power was out from years of lack of use, so the inside of the cabin was as easy to navigate as the world outside. He had a basic idea of how the cabin was laid out, but....
He let out a curse as he bumped into a table.
“Flash! Try to keep it down, will you?” Vinyl hissed.
“Look, this isn’t exactly easy. I can’t see a thing!”
“Oh, like I don’t know how that feels.”
Flash was quiet; he didn’t even realize what he had said at first. “I... Vinyl... I didn’t mean...”
“Drop it, dummy.” Vinyl tussled his mane. “Do you really think I’m not used to a little messing around? We’re good.”
“... Still, it was an insensitive comment, and-”
“Apologizing is just making it worse, Flash... we’re good. Really. I’m just getting strung up over the massive horde that nearly killed us.”
“Me too... Ah! Here it is.”
Flash turned, guiding Vinyl to what he presumed was the large bed in the back of the cabin. She slid herself off of his support and onto the moldy mattress. It was no home sweet home, but it would do.
Flash started to trot away, towards the back of the back of the cabin.
“Where are you going?” Vinyl asked.
“I’m going to make sure the back door is locked, then find a bed for myself.”
Vinyl waited for the lock to click into place before continuing. “You mean... you’re not going to stay with me?”
Flash flushed red. “What?”
“I mean... it’s kinda chilly, and there’s no blankets, and-”
“You’re afraid to die alone, aren’t you? Afraid I’ll get killed on the second floor or something, and you’ll be left to die down here.”
Vinyl hesitated before replying in a whisper, “Yes.”
The crossbow fell against the wood floor with a resonant thud; his saddlebags followed suit. The mattress squeaked as he sat down an nudged her over. “Honestly... me too.” He wrapped a forehoof around her and pulled her close in a tight hug. He was thankful for the darkness and her blindness; she would have been confronted by his bright blush otherwise.
He couldn’t believe himself. All the things going wrong; the settlement lost, three friends on a suicide mission, their own probable demise... and he was caught up in getting to sleep with Vinyl. He mentally berated himself for his actions.
“... Good night, Vinyl.”
Groaning and the sound of hooves scraping glass. That’s what woke the sleeping pegasus in the middle of the night.
The back door. The undead were out there. Flash didn’t know how many, exactly, at least one for sure; but they were there.
Vinyl was starting to wake. Flash panicked. His first thought was that she might scream when she realized what was going on. His second; these might be the last moments of their lives. In the heat of the moment, he decided to try to solve both problems at once.
He tilted her head up and forced their muzzles together.
After a second or two, Vinyl caught on to the real world, and started to push her hooves against him, trying to free herself. This was no time for kissing! Zombies! What was he doing!?
They finally broke apart, and Flash rose. He gathered the crossbow and saddlebags and put them on.
“F-Flash! What are you doing!?” Vinyl seethed.
There were a few seconds of silence as he finished fixing up his gear before he replied. “I love you.” A door creaked on the other side of the cabin, then all was silent save for the groaning outside.
Flash grabbed a rock and threw it as far as he could. It landed and rolled into the brush, nearly replicating the sound of a pony walking in that direction. The groaning grew louder as the undead rounded the corner of the building to track the source of the noise. Flash did his best to slip into the shadows.
There weren’t many of them - it seemed to be around five or six - but even that many zombies were a problem. Flash waited for the last of them to round the corner and start to walk off into the woods before he even bothered to aim. Calm. That’s what he needed to be right now. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, if he wanted to get out, he needed to be calm.
He took a deep breath in. One.
And slowly let it out. Two.
Another breath in. Three.
The bolt soared out of the crossbow, nailing a zombie in the back of the head. The remaining five turned to look at him, the distinct undead lack of hatred in their eyes. One gave a wretched shriek, and they started towards him. He took his time to aim. It was only five; no need to hurry and miss. Another zombie fell; and another. Three to go.
He didn’t have to waste bolts on them; though, in hindsight, he could have grabbed a chair from inside or something and beat them to death. They lay in a small lake of their mixed blood, corpses rotting lifelessly once again.
Flash turned around and nudged the door open. He gently kicked it back into place and locked it with a small click.
That’s when he became aware of the soft crying from the other side of the cabin. Flash dropped his gear without a thought and bounded over to the bed; Vinyl was lying there, sobbing into her hooves. Flash climbed into bed and started to wrap a hoof around her when she spoke.
“F... Flash? Is... Is that you?” Her sobbing had quieted somewhat with the squeaks of the mattress.
“Yeah, Vinyl, I’m here.”
Vinyl’s hoof came down into his gut, knocking the wind out of him. “That... that’s for leaving me alone in here.”
Then again, across his face in a spiteful slap. “And that’s for kissing me without my permission.”
“V-Vinyl...!” Flash choked out.
“Don’t you ever scare me like that again, and don’t ever take me for granted. Do you understand me?”
Flash coughed in reply; he was still having trouble getting words out.
The two were silent for a quiet some time before Vinyl spoke up again.
“Y... Yes?” Words were finally returning.
“Did you mean what you said?”
“When... when you said you loved me.”
“Yes. I mean it.”
Silence again overtook them. Vinyl was lost in thought for quite some time before she softly returned his kiss from earlier. “Thank you. For killing the zombies... at first, I thought you were leaving me here to die while you ran away, but... I realize, now, that you were sacrificing yourself. Thank you.”
“It’s no problem. Really.” Flash smiled softly - fully knowing she couldn’t see it. “Now, let’s get some sleep. It’s been a long night, and I want to be ready to go tomorrow.”
“You mean today.”
Flash laughed softly and pressed his muzzle against her forehead. “Shut up and go to bed.”
The first thing Flash was aware of when he awoke was a unicorn horn prodding him in the chest. Vinyl had apparently fallen asleep with her head tucked against his chest. He stretched a foreleg out, and yawned softly.
The early afternoon sun was streaming in through a window, illuminating their world once more. Flash decided to let Vinyl sleep in a little and slid off the bed as noiselessly as he could - so, not very. He meandered around to the two doors and looked outside; no zombies were in view. They were probably somewhere out there, but at least not in view.
Vinyl awoke with a small yawn. Flash had to suppress himself; he couldn’t help but find it incredibly cute.
“Dang. Morning already?” Vinyl sighed.
“So you didn’t sleep well, I’m guessing?” Flash laughed.
“Nah... up nearly all night thinking.”
“... Dare I ask what?”
“What you said, of course.... You don’t think I could take that lightly, do you?”
“No! No. Of course I don’t.”
Vinyl nodded and patted the mattress beside her. Flash took the hint and sat down beside her.
“I’m no good with words... so I’ll just say this as plainly as possible. I’m really thankful for everything you’ve done, and I really like hanging out with you, but-”
“You don’t feel that way for me.”
Vinyl nodded. “We don’t really know each other that well. I mean, don’t get me wrong, as far as I can tell, you’re really sweet and funny and all, but... I dunno. I just haven’t spent enough time with you to say that I love you.”
Flash’s head dropped. “I understand. I didn’t really expec-”
“That said... I’m more than willing to spend more time with you - and to try.”
Flash raised his head back. “R-Really?”
Vinyl nuzzled him softly. “Really.”
Flash nuzzled her back. “Thanks for giving me a chance.”
“Don’t thank me. I want to try as much as you do. And, um.... I need to tell you something, if we’re going to be together.”
“I’m... I’m bipolar. I’ve been taking medicine for a while now, so I’m usually under control, but I’ve been out for a few days.”
Flash softly wrapped his hooves around her. “... Okay. That’s fine; I can handle it.”
She was actually his marefriend now; he mentally giggled at the thought. Maybe... Maybe things wouldn't be so bad... Today wasn’t a bad day.
“Horsefeathers.” Flash’s mind drifted back to the night before; they were supposed to meet up with the group in town today or be considered dead.
“Vinyl! We have to get into town, now.”
Vinyl tilted her head to the side. “Are the zed outside? ‘Cause I don’t hear anything.”
“Wh-No! But the rest of the settlement is in town right now.”
“They’re going to leave us if we don’t get there in time.”
“Flash, you want us - us including a blind mare - to run ten miles downhill through zombie-infested mountains to try to get into a zombie-infested town to meet up with people we aren’t sure are there?”
“... You’re right...”
“Get on my back. We’re flying.”
Flash nearly collapsed when he finally set down; his back ached horridly, and his wings were probably strained from overuse. He didn’t realize how hard carrying another pony was. Nor did he realize that zombie pegasi could still fly, and just as fast as a normal pegasus, at that.
But he and Vinyl were safe on the ground - for now, at least. It was starting to get dark; the zombies could come out of anywhere, and they still didn’t have shelter.
“So, I don’t hear anything... where’s the group?”
“I don’t see them.”
“Could they... could they have gone ahead and left?”
Flash was silent.
“So, we came down here for nothing?!”
“We need to find shelter for the night. Let’s start looking through the houses.” Flash turned around; a row of houses stood behind them. He started trotting off when Vinyl spoke.
“So that’s it? Everything that we poured into that... that home up there, gone for good? Like Strickland and Sheridan and Maple?” The realization pouring into her mind showed in her voice. The hopes of preserving their culture, their lives as they were, shattered with the realization that they wouldn’t be meeting up with any of their fellow survivors.
Flash cringed. “Vinyl... We did what we could....”
“No! We didn’t! We should have stayed - all of us! We should have fought for what we had! We had food; we had shelter; we had stability. We had family! And we just abandoned it and sacrificed our family because of some zed!”
“No, don’t tell me to calm down! I can’t believe you basically chose to let everything we had fall away from us!”
“You might start attracting zombies...”
Vinyl leaned back, not expecting a response like that, but nodded. She took a deep breath in and let it out with a visible shudder. “I... I just want you to know that I’m angry with your decisions. And... with you.”
Flash walked over to her and gently nudged her head. “Vinyl, I can’t change what’s happened. And... believe me, I want to change it as much as you do. But I made the best decision I could off of what we knew at the time; it just didn’t play out as hoped. I’m sorry, I truly am. But... we’re in this situation now. We can’t dwell on what’s behind us if we’re going to live. We’ll just have to keep pushing and hope that we can fix my mistake later, okay?”
“... Okay. But I’m still angry with you.”
“Fair enough. Now, come on, let’s go look for a good house.”
Checking for houses did not go as simply as hoped either. Many were locked, and Flash didn’t want to break in, because they’d weaken the fortifications. Those that were open were infested with the undead.
It was starting to become hopeless.
Until this one house.
Flash turned the doorknob; it didn’t budge. He sighed softly, and told Vinyl that it was another dead end. As they turned to leave, Flash noticed a glimmer of light from inside. He turned back around to get a better look. He was right; there was light inside! He called for Vinyl to wait a second, then rang the doorbell.
“What are you doing!?” came the whisper of a mare from inside.
“Going to answer the door, silly!” another mare said back.
“It’s just the zed; leave it be.”
“A zed that rings the doorbell?”
“... Let me get the sword first, then open it.”
A few seconds and several small clicks later, the door opened to two mares.
One, an Earth pony, was slightly smaller than the other, with a beige coat, candy for a cutie mark, and a swirly navy blue mane with a pink stripe. She was holding the door open for the other one.
The other one was a light turquoise unicorn with a lyre for a cutie mark; her mane was straight and somewhat short, cyan in color with a few white highlights. She held a large, probably sharp, piece of straight metal in her magical grip.
Her gaze pierced Flash like a dagger as she sized him and his companion up. For a few seconds, nothing but silence reigned.
Finally, the turquoise unicorn spoke, raising her “sword” above her head.
“Look out, kid, you got a zed behind you.”
Author’s Note: H-How did this happen! 4 and a half stars and nearly 50 ratings!? Tons of comments?! With a single chapter!? Thank you all so much! I love you guys!
Days 14-18 After Infection
Written by cesmaster644
Author’s Note: Due to the requests last chapter, I’m going to start a hybrid of 1st and 3rd. Leave a comment HERE on how well you think that works!
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and all affiliated characters are copyright Hasbro, Lauren Faust, Studio B Productions... That should be everypony, right?
I do not claim ownership to anything but a few characters.
The wheels in Flash's mind finally clicked together; he realized what the turquoise pony meant just as she was bringing the sword down.
"N-No! Stop! She's just blind!" Flash pulled to the side, placing himself between Vinyl and the blade. The turquoise pony heard him too late; she pulled back, but what was already set in motion couldn't be stopped. The blade came down on his non-crossbow shoulder, cutting clean through to bone. She yanked it right back out, causing his blood to pour onto the sidewalk. Flash cried out, then collapsed to the side, whimpering "she's... blind" over and over again.
The beige pony's eyes widened. "Lyra, what have you done?!"
Vinyl took a step back. "What? What did you just do?!"
"Bon Bon, just get the blind mare inside; I'll handle him," Lyra, the turquoise mare, replied to her friend.
"What happened?!" Vinyl yelled at them.
A hoof stretched out and touched her shoulder; it was Bon Bon's. "Hun, don't you worry none, okay? Just come with me and we'll let Lyra handle this?"
Vinyl reached a hoof out and, after a second, took hold of Bon Bon as well. "Just tell me what happened to Flash. Please?"
"Let's go inside, then I'll tell you, okay?" The two walked into the fortress of a house, and Bon Bon found Vinyl a seat. "See, your friend... Ash?"
"Lyra cut him... pretty badly. On accident, of course! She'd never mean to purposefully harm another pony."
"Hey, hey, shush. I'm sorry. I really am. But I've got you, don't worry. I can fix that right up," Lyra whispered down to Flash. He didn't seem to respond.
"Can you get up by yourself?"
Flash's head shook to the side slightly.
"If I got you on your feet, could you fly yourself inside to a bed?"
Flash didn't respond at first, then, after a moment, finally nodded.
"Okay, on the count of three. Ready? One. Two. Three!"
Flash cried out as her magical field enveloped him; his shoulder raged in pain as the uneven pull of her magic tore it just so slightly in opposite directions. He quickly spread his wings and flapped to keep himself aloft - and out of pain. His eyes were blurred with tears, so Lyra guided him by voice.
"I swear to Celestia, if you've killed my Flash, I'll-!"
Lyra glanced over; Bon Bon was barely restraining Vinyl, who was doing her best to strangle her.
"Honey, I'll be back in a minute. Don't have too much fun with our guest!" Lyra called out to Bon Bon.
"I’ll kill you too, you-!" Vinyl’s rantings were quickly blocked off in Lyra’s head.
Lyra managed to get Flash into a bed, and immediately began to wrap the wound. In hindsight, she should have done that from the beginning, but she was not going to do surgery under the threat of zombie attack.
Flash seemed to be unconscious - at least, the angry hum of the generator downstairs was blocking out his moans. Lyra grimaced. That meant she cut him badly and, therefore, was running out of time.
She silently berated herself for hurting an innocent pony. Though, it was an accident. It was understandable, right? Who could have known that that mare was blind?
She was side-tracking herself and wasting more time. She turned back to the problem at hoof, and got to work.
Well, if he was out, at least that meant that this process would be much easier. Stitching his shoulder back together would not be fun for either of them if he was conscious.
Lyra finally returned downstairs, though, not surprisingly, without much enthusiasm. Bon Bon had a squirming Vinyl pinned to the floor. Lyra's hooves clopping against the wood floor turned Vinyl's head.
"What’s happened to Flash?!" Vinyl seethed, still struggling against her captor's hold.
"He's upstairs, asleep. I patched up the cut as best I could and bandaged the wound. As long as he gets plenty of rest and doesn't use that leg for a few days, he'll be fine. Scarred, but fine. I may see if I can find a book somewhere in town about magical healing spells and see if I can't help it heal."
"Why did you even cut him in the first place?!" Vinyl seemed ready to explode with anger and paint the walls ready with a certain mare’s blood.
"Cool yourself, filly; I didn't mean to.” Lyra sighed and looked away. “It was an accident. I meant to cut you."
Vinyl stopped struggling, taken aback. "Why did yo-?!"
"I thought you were a zed - your eyes and all.” Lyra shrugged. “He... he dove between us and took the blow himself."
Vinyl let her grip on Bon Bon relax.
"Look, I'm real sorry,” Lyra continued. “If I had known that you're just blind beforehoof..."
"She really wouldn't purposefully hurt anyone, I promise," Bon Bon chimed in.
"I... want you to take me to him," Vinyl softly demanded.
"Okay. Follow me." Lyra helped Bon Bon and Vinyl free themselves and guided them upstairs.
Flash was out cold, lying on his uninjured side on a bed. His saddlebags and crossbow were piled in a chair to the side. The bandage on his shoulder already had a nice red patch on it. His breathing was a little laborious, but his face held a stoic expression.
Vinyl softly ran a hoof over his body, feeling the wound. "Oh, Flash..." Flash’s reflexes kicked in, causing him to cringe a little.
Vinyl sighed and planted a kiss on his cheek. "Well, sleep tight, ya big idiot... And thank you."
The silence filled the air with awkwardness, and the ponies still awake simply stood there.
"So... You two are together, then?" Bon Bon finally asked.
"Yeah... I guess we are," Vinyl replied. "You?"
Lyra and Bon Bon both flushed red. "What gives you that idea?" Lyra demanded.
"Well, I mean, two mares living alone together - assuming we're alone - in an abandoned town, one calling the other honey-"
"We're sisters. Step sisters, but sisters none the less."
It was Vinyl's turn to blush. "O-Oh! My bad, I didn't mean... I'm so sorry...."
Bon Bon smiled. "It's okay; I can see how you'd be confused, Ms....?"
"Vinyl Scratch, but just call me Vinyl."
"I suppose we haven't been properly introduced. I'm Bon Bon; my sister's Lyra Heartstrings."
"So... What are you guys doing here all alone?"
"Well," Bon Bon began. "I was visiting Lyra here when the infection hit.”
“We bunkered down as soon as we saw the zed coming,” Lyra continued. “I made myself a sword to defend ourselves with. When we reemerged for food and supplies, everypony was gone."
“We’ve been here all alone since,” Bon Bon finished. “What about you? What brings you through Stalliongrad?”
“... and that brings us to your doorstep.” Vinyl took one last bite out of the fourth apple that served as dinner - she hadn’t realized that she was that hungry - as she finished her tale.
“Wow... I’m sorry...” Bon Bon twirled her hoof in a tiny circle on the kitchen counter, seemingly focused on wearing a hole in it so she wouldn’t have to reply.
“Well, that settles it, then,” Lyra spoke up. “You two are staying with us; for sure until Flash is all healed up, but longer if you want.”
“Really?” Vinyl raised her head in Lyra’s direction. “You mean it?”
“Yeah. I don’t think either of us would force you and your coltfriend back out there by yourselves.”
“... thanks, Lyra.” Vinyl smiled softly, then yawned. “Man, I’m gonna eventually have to stop going to sleep in the mornings! Where’s a place to crash...?”
Lyra helped Vinyl to her hooves, then led her to the nearest bedroom that wasn’t occupied already.
“Here’s the bed. You get some sleep, now; let me and Bon Bon take care of your friend. Maybe mostly Bon Bon. Night.”
Vinyl giggled. “Good night.”
"Magic, magic, magic..."
Bon Bon was talking to herself again and she knew it. After a small nap, she and Lyra had headed into the main part of town to search for anything to help Flash. They were in a bookstore, looking for any books they could find about healing. The soft teal glow from Lyra’s horn, holding her “sword” above her head, lit Bon Bon’s way through the store.
“Lyra?” Bon Bon continued to look away from Lyra, at the shelves, as she spoke.
“Yeah?” Lyra replied, equally enthralled with the lack of helpful information in the shelves.
“I was thinking. Wasn’t there a group of ponies in town yesterday?”
“Might’ve been. I think so, yeah. I didn’t really look at them twice.” Lyra sounded like she wasn’t particularly paying attention to Bon Bon; however, her face showed that she was trying to remember the group exactly.
“Do you think they could have been Vinyl’s group?”
Lyra stopped and held her hoof out to stop Bon Bon.“... Maybe. I see where you’re going with this; I don’t want to give her false hope.”
Bon Bon slipped another book into her saddlebags as she turned to face her sister. “But what if it was them?”
“Then they’ll be long gone by now.” Lyra gestured in no particular direction. “Even if it was, we only know the general direction they headed in.”
“Don’t you think they’d want to go after their friends, no matter the risk? After hearing Vinyl talk about it last night....” Bon Bon gently bit her lower lip.
“That’s exactly what I’m afraid of: a wild goose chase that’ll end up getting them killed. We lost a lot of ponies already. A lot of friends-”
Bon Bon turned her head to the ground, her eyes clamped shut to hold back tears. “You don’t have to remind me of that.”
“Which is why I don’t want to cast them out and lose them too!”
“We won’t be casting them out; it’s their choice to make!” Bon Bon looked back up, meeting a pair of golden eyes with her own.
Lyra didn’t yield. “And you think they’d honestly want to stay here?”
Bon Bon hesitated and glanced to the side. “... What if we went with them?”
Lyra was taken aback and showed it in her face. “What?”
“There’s nothing left for us here.... We should pack up and head out. Going with them would be the best way to leave!” Bon Bon smiled softly, just barely showing any teeth. Lyra had always been annoyed by that smile.... When they were younger, Bon Bon had often used it to get what she wanted from their parents.
Lyra sighed and shook her head. "We have safety and shelter here. We don't have to worry about anything killing us! If we go, we risk losing all that!"
Bon Bon placed a hoof to her forehead. After a moment of contemplation, she spoke. "I’m not going to leave by myself; I know I don’t have what it takes to survive out there on my own. But I’m not going to stay here forever and waste away, even if it is with you. So, I'm telling them. If they choose to stay, fine; but, if they go, then I'm going to go with them.” She looked up, making sure their eyes met again, making sure Lyra would see her tears. “With or without you."
Lyra wrapped her forelegs around her sister in a tight hug. "I love you, little sis.... I definitely don't want you going out to get yourself killed."
Bon Bon hugged Lyra in kind. "We won't get ourselves killed. Especially if you come with us."
Lyra was silent for what felt like several minutes. "Okay. We'll go if they do. But we wait until Flash’s healed to tell them; I don’t want them making a decision while he’s recovering."
"Thank you, sis." They dropped their grip on each other.
"... I've got three books. You?"
"That'll probably be enough; let's go ahead and head back.”
The door opened following the last few clicks of locks unlocking again.
Lyra strode into the house, setting her sword down to the side. Bon Bon closed the door behind them and secured it again. “How’s he doing?” Lyra asked, turning to face the mare that had opened the door for them.
“He just woke up. I've been filling him in on what he's missed. He’s in some pain, but he’s better than last night,” Vinyl replied.
"Alright. I'll start looking through these books right away."
"Knock knock." Lyra stood in the doorway to what was now Flash's room.
"Come in," Flash answered, his voice tinged with pain.
"I've been doing some research to fix that cut of yours. I learned a spell that will at least make it heal faster. Once I cast it, it should only be couple of days before you can walk on it again and... maybe five before it's back to normal."
"Awesome." Flash's voice didn't sound enthusiastic, but his smile certainly was.
"Alright," Lyra's horn and Flash's shoulder began to glow. "Now, you're going to experience some searing pai-"
"BUCK! SWEET CELESTIA THAT HURTS!"
"And that's normal. There! All done. You can relax."
Flash was still cringing on the spot. "Why? Why didn't you warn me before hand?"
"If I had said it any sooner, you would have declined the spell."
"No! I would have braced myself." Flash scowled.
"Well, it's done now. Anything else I can do for you?"
Flash sighed. "Could you look into my saddlebags and get my journal? I need to update it."
... And now she's asleep on the floor beside my bed. I didn't mean to keep her up. Oh well. She's so cute when she's... eh, all the time. I love you, Vinyl.
I guess this finally catches us up to the present.
Despite this horrid cut and the loss of our friends - or, as Vinyl calls them, family... this actually didn't turn out too bad. I mean, we have safety, food, water; we have company, including someone who can heal us; and, most importantly, we have each other.
Life is not as horrid as I could make it out to be.
I really don't know where we'll go from here.... I know Lyra and Bon Bon are glad to let us stay, but... are we just going to start life all over again? It may just come down to that being our only choice.
In that case, Poniatowski, Ace, Berry, Octavia, all you guys, I wish you best of luck. You'll need it. Wherever you are.
I’ve updated the list of survivors to everypony’s current state. I’ve also added Lyra and Bon Bon... if we’ll be staying here for a while, I might as well.
1. Flash (injured)
2. Vinyl Scratch
3. Lyra Heartstrings
4. Bon Bon
Camp Settlers (Location unknown):
2. Berry Punch
3. Golden Harvest
Deceased or status unknown:
1. Lionhart (deceased)
2. Sheridan (MIA)
3. Maple (MIA)
4. Strickland (MIA)
It is rather late, probably past midnight. I'll change the date to "15" in the morning. I'm going to go to bed too. Good night, journal. I missed you.
Lyra’s been trying several different spells on my cut.
It has not been as pleasant as I would wish.
However, it’s getting the job done, so I’m happy. I can rotate my shoulder - given, slowly - in the socket, and, I have to admit, it’s getting better all the time. I should be able to at least get out of bed and walk around a little tomorrow.
Vinyl and I spent some time discussing music and our thoughts on its future. With zombies everywhere and ponies involved mainly in surviving, bands have become nonexistent. We decided that it’s probable that somepony (or ponies) is out there, making new instruments and doing some entertainment for their friends and fellow survivors; but, it’s not likely that the mass supply of music will return in our lifetime.
However, the memories will stay with us. I only hope that’ll be enough; I love me some music.
Bon Bon’s turned out to be quite the cook. She’s no Berry Punch, don’t get me wrong, but she can make a fine carrot soup.
Lyra and I burned some time discussing the zombies. From what we've observed, they're reanimated corpses, kept moving by a virus, relatively slow moving, have an insatiable hunger for flesh, and have only basic intellect. As such, we've decided that destroying the brain is certainly the only method we can use to "kill" a zombie.
We have also observed some interesting points of difference between zombies who once lead lives as different types of ponies. While those that had been Earth ponies remain your "average" zombie, those who had been Pegasi retain the ability to fly (though they have yet to prove themselves agile or swift) and those who had been Unicorns, while unable to perform magic, retain a small amount of intellect - such as hiding for prey in a dark corner or fleeing when "Second Death" is obvious but escapable.
That’s about it. Pretty uneventful.
My shoulder finally started to agree with me again today! I took sometime to walk around the house and get used to using my muscles again. It’s not terribly big - just some bedrooms, bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a den. Nothing fancy.
They have, however, seemingly emptied out the Stalliongrad library into their den. I took the liberty to read through some Shakesmare and J. R. R. Coltien in my free time. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far.
We had an interesting time after lunch when Bon Bon decided she wanted to play a card game. We turned it down because, well, Vinyl. They don’t make Braille playing cards, so it would obviously be quite hard for her.
So Bon Bon suggested charades.
We had a laugh about that; for a few seconds, Bon Bon wasn’t even sure why we were laughing. She’s such a silly filly.
So, after dinner, we got down to the serious stuff. We were all sitting in the living room when Lyra finally told us that she and Bon Bon had been keeping a secret from us.
Apparently, our group had come into town, and Lyra and Bon Bon knew which general direction they had headed in. They said that they had only figured it out a few days ago, and, since I was injured, they didn’t want to bother me with it.
I have to admit, I was a little pissed. If they knew where our group was, they should have told us! Our group could be long gone now, we may have missed them!
I controlled myself, though, and I finally realized that not straining us while I was recovering wasn’t all that bad of an idea. So I let the anger go. Lyra and Bon Bon have decided to go with us, so they’ll lead the way.
We’re going into town proper tomorrow and collect any last supplies, then we’ll leave the next day. I think Lyra said that the group headed north, towards Ponyville. It should take us about the full day to get there; maybe a little into the night.
Hopefully, we’ll catch up to our group soon!
-Plenty of fuel
-Anything to be used as a good weapon for Bon Bon
-Saddlebag for Vinyl
-Sunglasses for Vinyl
Sorry about that, journal. I used this to make sure we had everything, so I guess you now have our shopping list! Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a new pair of glasses for Vinyl, so we’ll just have to hope we don’t run into any more ponies that think she’s undead. But we have everything else and it’s all loaded, so we should be good to go in the morning.
Okay, so, we’ve got another survivor. Her name’s Terra Cotta; she’s a pegasus who was here in Stalliongrad on her summer break from Flight School in Cloudsdale when the infection hit. When we saw her at first, she was all shaken up, hiding from the walkers.
Walkers which were not far away; walkers that I had to waste bolts on, of course.
Anywho, she was hiding, all bunched up under the counter of a Daisy Queen when we rescued her. Apparently, she’d lost all of her friends in the outbreak and had been surviving off of the scraps she found around town, dodging from place to place after the last of her friends fell victim to the infection.
She started crying when we promised to help her, keep her safe. She’s been extremely thankful for our help, and for the something of a return to normalcy. Apparently, she’s all about the simple things in life.
And we all know life now is anything except simple.
You know, it’s kind of funny. When I first saw her, I thought she was just dusty and discolored from the lack of a shower in days; however, she’s just the color of clay. That, plus her long, dirt-brown mane and cutie mark, which is a pile of rocks, explains her name. Don’t get me wrong - she doesn’t look messy and dirty, she just looks... well, like a terra cotta pony. Anyway, she’ll be heading out with us tomorrow.
I’ve updated the list again; however, I’m just writing out the ponies we actually have with us this time.
2. Vinyl Scratch
3. Lyra Heartstrings
4. Bon Bon
5. Terra Cotta
Time to get some sleep. Need a full night’s rest for the journey tomorrow.
The smell of toast and hay in the morning, what a wonderful thing. Flash’s mind began to awake, forcing him to stretch his forelegs and open his eyes. He rolled out of the bed and, steadying himself on his hooves, slid on his saddlebags and the crossbow. With a quick, adjusting tug, he was ready to go.
Heading downstairs, he turned, not into the kitchen, but into a small hallway. A door on his left was cracked open; a nudge sent it fully open, allowing him to enter the room. Vinyl was sprawled out on her bed, still snoozing. Flash gently - then forcefully - prodded her stomach with his muzzle. With a few limp-hoofed swats at Flash’s head, Vinyl woke.
“Morning~” he cooed.
“Too early, Flash...” Vinyl moaned in reply.
“Not early enough. We’ve got a long way to go today; we need to leave soon.”
Vinyl sighed, lowered herself off the bed, and held out a hoof to find him exactly. Gaining her bearings, she wrapped her arms around his neck in a soft hug. “Flash... I... I was thinking.” She frowned. “What if we’re not going to find our family out there? What if we leave the safety here for nothing?”
“I’m willing to take that chance. I think it’s worth it - even if we don’t find them, we might help other survivors. We’ll find safety again, I know it.”
Vinyl leaned her head against his. “... Okay. If you say so, then okay.”
Flash smiled and kissed her forehead. “Come on. Bon Bon’s got breakfast going - we should hurry.”
Vinyl nodded and felt around for her saddlebags. Swiftly flinging them on, she found her way back to Flash, and they left the room.
It didn’t take long to realize that Terra Cotta was still asleep, and, after eating his own breakfast, Flash went to wake her. A long several days without much good sleep had probably worn on her; she was curled up comfortably up by the pillow, a small pool of drool near her mouth. Her hair was scattered about, and she wore a small smile.
He hated to wake her.
It was no choice, though. If she was to go with them, she had to wake.
Luckily, Terra did not blame him for waking her.
Breakfast was finished quickly. They packed, and, with a sad sigh, left the safety of their little fortress for the last time.
It was a small rest area. What had once been a cheerful area with a fountain, restrooms, some snacks and such... now lay empty, desolate - even depressing.
It was starting to get dark when they arrived; they were nearly two-thirds of the way there. The small group had run into little opposition - and little entertainment - the entire trip. They stopped for lunch on the side of the road, but, other than that, they had done mostly nothing but walk and talk.
So, as they arrived at the rest area, they were not ready for the small flood of zombies.
There were probably fifteen or twenty of the undead there - why, Flash wasn't sure. This couldn't have been that big of a population center for there to still be survivors, right?
It didn't matter. The undead smelled fresh meat, and they wanted it.
And the survivors' job was to eliminate them.
Terra, still recovering from minor trauma, hung back with Vinyl. The other three, however, took to the fight.
Flash managed to keep a good number of zed back a distance, but there were too many to handle. He panicked. Their strategy had been for him to keep the undead at a distance, and the few who got close enough to really pose a threat would be in the range of Lyra's blade or the cricket bat they found for Bon Bon to wield.
But a momentary lapse in reason caused him to falter as the threat increased. He started wasting ammo, doing ineffective damage. Seeing this, Lyra and Bon Bon took to the fight. Neither would have recommended going hoof to hoof with a zed, but, with Flash failing them...
The two ponies teamed up, slicing through heads and bashing in brains. Lyra took off to one side, her sword guiding her way. She seemed to have no trouble with the zombies; keeping the sword a few feet away from her body allowed her to keep herself out of harm's way. Occasionally, her sword did get stuck, and the zombies would close in on her. She'd taken to her hooves in these few moments and bashed in the skulls of the zombies that got too close with a quick buck. When she freed the blade, she'd get back to slicing.
Bon Bon, on the other hand, was not used to fighting - especially not this close up. Holding the cricket bat in her teeth, she swung wildly at the approaching horde.
She wasn't that effective. She could take out some undead, but....
One unicorn zombie took advantage of her and grabbed the cricket bat in its own mouth. It forced her back, knocked her down. Its jaw seemed to have broken, hanging open larger than anypony's should. White orbs of eyes stared emotionlessly into hers. Blood dripped and flesh dangled from the beast, starting to fall on her.
She prepared for the end. To go so far, only to die with this gruesome image? How cruel.
She was lost in her thoughts; she didn't hear the bolt fly. The zombie trying to feast on her collapsed.
Flash let out a soft sigh. Bon Bon was safe. He hadn't failed her. A small smile crept onto his face as he took aim again.
Bon Bon found her way back to her hooves and started fighting once again. Eventually, the undead's numbers dwindled, then trickled to a small flow, then collapsed entirely.
The small crew was safe - tired, maybe a little shocked, but safe. They slowly made their way to the rest area's information center and main building.
It was in shambles. The bookcase that had once held brochures was on the floor, its contents scattered about the room. Blood and other bodily fluids leaked from the bathrooms. Shattered glass was commonly found ground into the carpeting, and the lights were gone. The door leading to the backroom - the staff room - was scratched up, bent in some places. The zombies, apparently, had been trying to get in there for some time.
And that meant-
"Survivors?" Bon Bon asked.
Lyra nodded. "Probably." She took the liberty of walking to the door and knocking a few times.
"Hello?" Terra added to the effort. "We're not zombies; we're survivors too!"
"I don't think they can hear us. Maybe they're sleeping, if there even are survivors in there?" Vinyl suggested after several silence-filled seconds.
Lyra's horn began to glow. "Maybe. Let's see if I can't unlock this myself."
A few minutes passed before the look of concentration on her face disappeared. The door swung open.
"Hah. Here we go." Lyra smiled and led the group inside.
And, there, lying on the ground, were several unconscious, but surviving, ponies.
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Days 19 & 20 After Infection
Written by cesmaster644
I do not claim ownership to anything but a few characters.
I'm going to skip ahead a little bit; I'll get into details in a second. Just so you know, we're in Ponyville now. We made it, safe and sound, all nine of us.
Okay, I guess I have some explaining to do.
Sorry for no entry for yesterday; we were quite busy, and only one interesting thing happened, so... I just decided to roll it into today, rather than try to write its own entry.
You see, yesterday, as we were making our way to Ponyville, we stopped at a rest area. Inside this rest area were two things: zombies, and a small group of ponies. Four, to be exact.
Fayth, Noteworthy, Octavia, and Strickland.
Apparently, we missed two things:
1. Strickland and Maple survived.
2. There were some disagreements in the group.
"Mother of Celestia, what is this?!" Flash burst out.
They were bloody, beaten, bound, gagged, and unconscious, but they seemed to have been involved in a pony-on-pony fight, not a fight with the living dead. There were no bite marks. No infected sections of skin. And they had been in this locked room for however long they’d been here. They were probably clean.
They were his friends - their friends, Vinyl and his. Fayth, Noteworthy, Octavia, and... somehow, Strickland. And they were here. But why? Why would they be separated from the rest? Why would they be tied up like that, locked in this room? How could Strickland even be here?
Vinyl asked Flash why he burst out like that; Flash, albeit somewhat hesitantly, explained. Vinyl took a step back in shock, just as confused. Things just didn’t make sense! For any clarification, however, they’d just have to wait.
Lyra, Bon Bon, and Terra all decided to let the couple sort out their problems alone and started setting up camp. They closed the door again and sealed it - from the inside - for the night. If they were staying there, then they would NOT be staying up to fight the zed. Bon Bon began cooking; Lyra and Terra began exploring.
The room wasn’t terribly big. Just enough for the staff that once worked their to relax and take a break. A fridge was on its side - the cord that powered it snapped. A small amount of blood was leaking out. Neither Lyra nor Terra wanted to know the source.
Cabinets and drawers covered one corner; all were flung open in what had probably once been a desperate attempt to find supplies. The floor was some sort of hardwood, from the looks of it. It had been scuffed up in what might have been the same fight Flash and Vinyl’s friends had been involved in. A couch was overturned on one side of the room. The whole room smelled like death and decay. It wasn’t very enjoyable at all, obviously, but it would have to do.
“Alright, well, let’s see if we can’t get that sofa upright and put at least somepony on it,” Flash directed.
We waited for a good hour or so before they woke up. I swear, I was starting to think that they might have been dead.
But they weren’t dead. And they did wake up.
We’d already untied them and stuff, of course. We’re not stupid. Anyway, so they woke up, and...
A muffled cry brought their attention to the two ponies still lying in the middle of the room. Noteworthy had awoken, and was struggling against his bonds. Lyra trotted over to him and used a simple cutting spell to free him - and the others. Strickland was still out cold.
“Thanks.” Noteworthy forced himself into a sitting position and rubbed the back of his neck. “I thought we were done in for sure.” As he spoke, he gestured to his fellows.
“No prob. But I think, right now, there’s a bit of a pressing issue. What are you doing here, bound and gagged, anyway?” Lyra replied.
“Yeah. We’ve been wondering that for quite some time,” Flash reaffirmed.
Noteworthy’s head seemed to spin, he turned so quickly. “F-F-Flash?! Vinyl!? No! There’s no way! You’re dead!”
Flash smirked. “I thought the same of him.” He gently prodded Strickland’s side, trying to get him to wake. “What happened, Noteworthy? How did you all end up like this?”
Noteworthy shook his head and rubbed his temples with his forehooves. “Not everypony agreed with Poniatowski about everything. It started off small. Some ponies wanted to stay in Stalliongrad longer, wait for you two. Others didn’t want to risk our safety waiting for ponies that may not come... when Strickland and Maple showed up, Poniatowski decided it was time to leave.” He sighed. “It was... stressful, at best. There was a lot of tension for quite some time. Like an elephant in the room, you know? It was bothering everyone, but... no one wanted to talk about it.”
“Wait, wait, wait, Strickland and Maple? If they made it out, what about Sheridan?” Flash’s brow quickly furrowed, making his concern obvious to everypony.
Noteworthy closed his eyes. His head lowered. “I... I... ask Strickland.”
“Noteworthy.” Flash closed his own eyes and drew a breath, trying to maintain some semblance of calm. “What happened to him?”
“Just... ask Strickland. I wasn’t there, I don-”
“Noteworthy, please... what happened?” Vinyl was speaking now.
“He’s dead, alright? I don’t know the details. No one asked. Poniatowski probably did eventually, but no one openly asked.” Noteworthy looked about ready to start crying. “Geeze, it was just as bad as Lionhart! Except we didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye properly! Why does everypony have to die, Flash? In this... this hell of a world! Why can’t we save everypony?!”
Flash place a hoof on Noteworthy’s shoulder. “Alright... Shhh, calm down. I’m sorry for pushing you, I just-”
“Just...” Noteworthy cleared his eyes with the wipe of a forehoof, slowly regaining himself, “don’t worry about it.”
“... Well, what happened next?”
Fayth and Octavia - who had been on the couch together - were awake now. Fayth was silently raising herself to her hooves and inspecting her fellows’ injuries. Octavia and Vinyl were talking to and embracing each other.
“So,” Noteworthy continued, “we left. Everypony agreed that, if we were going to go, we might as well head north, to Ponyville. Though the population’s large enough that, if there was an outbreak, it would not be fun to clean up, it is relatively isolated and should have plenty of food supply and room to grow.
“Well, we were on our way when we stopped by here. It was midday. Before we got here, this place was relatively-”
“Sane,” Fayth inserted.
“Yeah. There were a few survivors, holed up in here, out of the reach of the undead outside. When we showed up, they let us in. We told them where we were going, and we offered to take them with us. They declined. We stayed a day or two; when we went to leave, they accused Berry of trying to steal some food. There was a fight. I was outside, with a few others; I didn’t see much specific. We heard the fridge fall... and when we went inside, one of our hosts was gone, the others struggling against Poniatowski and Ace and...” Noteworthy shook his head again.
“The fight eventually ended. We buried our once-hosts. Then we fought amongst ourselves. Poniatowski and her supporters claimed it was all self-defense, that they didn’t mean to kill our hosts.
“We claimed that Poniatowski handled the situation poorly, and got out of hand. We basically accused them of murder. Things got worse... and... we ended up getting beaten up and gagged. We’ve been here since.”
Flash hung his head. “I’m sorry. If I’d known what would happen... I wouldn’t have ever appointed her leader-”
“Hey, it’s not your fault,” Fayth inserted. “You couldn’t have known.”
“Thanks, Fayth...” Flash nodded. “Well, I’m sure you guys are starving... Bon Bon, how’s dinner coming?”
“Ten more minutes,” Bon Bon replied.
Strickland woke up with the smell of Bon Bon’s soup, and finally joined the group around the “dinner floor”.
“How-?” he began.
“Barely,” Flash replied.
Strickland looked away. “Dead.”
“I know. What happened?”
“We... the three of us, we decided to get out through the back door while we could. We went up onto the roof. Sheridan... he stayed on the bottom, to help us up.”
“He didn’t get up in time?”
Strickland shook his head no. “Maple and I did our best to keep them from tearing him limb from limb. Eventually... we just had to kill him. For his own good.”
Flash nodded. “I understand. How’d you get back?”
“We waited it out. Any pegasi that lumbered through the air towards us, we took down. Eventually, after picking some off, we just jumped off the roof and ran for our lives. We lost them. We were in town - not without our fair share of scratches and bruises - by noon the next day.”
Flash thought it through for a moment. “Well... two out of three isn’t bad. Glad at least you two did make it out. Now, come on. Dig in.”
After dinner, we slept through the night. The next morning, we took our leave and headed into Ponyville.
Well, not Ponyville proper. We’re staying in a small cottage, about a mile out of town, right now. We’ll explore town for survivors later tomorrow. And that brings us here.
Everypony’s trying to get rest; they deserve it. I’m just glad that we’re somewhat together again. Though... I have to admit, I’m scared of meeting up with the rest of the group in town tomorrow. I don’t know how that will play out. Oh well. Not much choice.
2. Vinyl Scratch
3. Lyra Heartstrings
4. Bon Bon
5. Terra Cotta
6. Fayth (injured)
7. Noteworthy (injured)
8. Octavia (injured)
9. Strickland (injured)
Camp Settlers (Location unknown):
2. Berry Punch
3. Golden Harvest
6. Maple (recovery status unknown)
Deceased or status unknown:
1. Lionhart (deceased)
2. Sheridan (deceased)
The clopping of their hooves against the cobblestone streets echoed dully through the ghost of a town. Loose papers drifted lazily about on a gentle breeze. The lack of birds sang volumes.
“Horsefeathers. They couldn’t have taken down all of Ponyville, could they?” Lyra muttered.
“I doubt it... I’m sure everypony’s just... bunkered down. Right?” Bon Bon turned to look at Flash as she spoke.
“Yeah...” Flash seemed distracted, busy staring at scenery and not bothering to look anypony in the eye, “bunkered down....”
"Oh!" Bon Bon cheered. "Sugarcube Corner is just up ahead an on the left. It's the local bakery; if there's any food left in town, it'll be there."
Knowing that Bon Bon lived in Ponyville, Flash nodded and guided the group that direction. As Flash took the lead, Bon Bon let herself fall to the back - not without Lyra noticing.
"You okay, sis?" Lyra asked, pulling up next to Bon Bon.
Bon Bon looked away. "I... I'm scared."
"Of everypony being dead. All my friends in town... I haven't seen a soul that wasn't in our group since we arrived. I'm afraid that...."
"We won't see any of them?"
Bon Bon turned her head back, tears brimming in her eyes. "That we'll see them all, and we'll have to kill them."
Lyra wrapped a foreleg around her sister's neck, pressing their heads together. "Hey. The Elements of Harmony live here, right? I'm sure they can't have let everypony die. If anypony could save your friends... it's them. They've stocked up someplace and are living it up right now. We just have to find them."
"... Thanks, sis."
“Hey, you two! Come on!” Flash called from around a corner. “We’re not going to wait all day.”
“Sorry,” they both replied.
With that, the group entered what had once been the most famous bakery that side of Canterlot.
The building was a mess; frosting, old order forms, broken cook gear, and other random junk was scattered about in what had probably been a panic to gather materials during the initial epidemic.
“Right... so... spread out. Lyra, Bon Bon, Terra, go upstairs and see what you can find.” Flash gestured towards the stairwell. Though the rail had been broken, the steps were still usable. “Everypony else, search down here.”
The ponies all nodded and set off to work.
With the exceptions of Flash and Vinyl, of course. Flash, because he was standing watch at the doorway for zombies; Vinyl, because, well, she was blind. She stood at his side, silent and still.
Flash sighed. It had been quite some time since he’d spent time with just her. They’d been busy - and he was sure they both knew that, but....
It would just be nice for them to be able to not have to worry about stuff and just relax together. But life was cruel, and they probably wouldn’t get such a chance.
A sudden feeling - a warm sensation - pressed against his neck. He tilted his head to look. Vinyl was resting her head there. He smiled and pressed his muzzle to her horn.
Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad.
They disembarked from the bakery; nothing had been left to raid.
And, yet, for all the thorough pillaging that had been done in Ponyville, still no soul could be found. No raiding parties. No survivors. No Poniatowski. Only...
“... moaning?” Vinyl heard it before the others.
“Yeah, moaning. I hear it too,” Octavia said.
“I think it’s coming from over there,” Strickland suggested, pointing to what Bon Bon identified as the local spa.
“Yeah, Aloe and Lotus run this fantastic spa, and...” Bon Bon didn’t finish her sentence. While nothing physically stopped her, the thought of her friends’ deaths reentered her mind, and she cut herself off. Lyra understood what Bon Bon was feeling and quickly embraced her sister.
“Well, let’s check it out,” Flash said, marching forward with an air of determination.
But no pony followed.
Reaching the door, he turned to see his lack of support. “Oh, come on, guys, what are you waiting for?”
“Flash, there’s zombies in there,” Strickland said.
“Lots of them, from the sound of it,” Noteworthy continued.
“And they haven’t come to eat us yet,” Terra threw in.
“So they must be trapped inside,” Lyra kept the thought rolling.
“And, therefore, why would we bother letting them out?” Flash ended the thought himself. “Alright, guys, I guess you’re right, let’s just leave it alo-”
“Yer darn tootin’ they’re right!” a voice, thick with a Southern accent, called out. “Whater y’all thinkin’, tryin’ ta let them zombies loose?”
The source of the voice was an Earth pony, orange in color, with a long, golden mane and a cowpony hat to top it off. She was accompanied by a cyan pegasus - also a mare - whose rainbow-colored mane fluttered over her shoulder.
Behind him, a few of the ponies - like Bon Bon - were beginning to realize just who they were talking to. Though they seemed familiar, Flash couldn’t quite place these two mares.
“Yeah!” The pegasus, her voice cracking slightly, resounded. “Are you spies? Why would you want to let those zombies free, huh?!” The pegasus flew into Flash’s face to stare him down. Flash, in the up-close moment, realized that she had a baseball bat strapped to her back - as did the Earth pony.
“Uh, Rainbow, spies fer who, exactly?” the first mare asked.
Rainbow. Wheels were beginning to turn in Flash’s head. He knew he should know that name from somewhere, but....
Rainbow backed off a little. “Uh... The zombies! Yeah! I bet they’re working with the zombies to set ‘em free and let ‘em ruin our whole defenses!”
The first mare facehoofed. “Oh, Rainbow.... How in the world would they even talk to tha zombies to set that up? And why would they want that in the first place? I’m sure these nice pony folk were just tellin’ this’n to think for a second and not make a simple mistake. Am I right, pony folk?”
Everypony nodded in reply.
“That settles it, then,” the first mare declared with a triumphant smirk.
Rainbow frowned. Though she didn’t like losing... she had. “Fine. I guess you’re right,” she said before flying to the first mare’s side.
The first mare turned her attention to the whole group. “Anywho, mah name’s Applejack. This here’s mah friend Rainbow Dash. We consider ourselves tha leaders round here, so, when we heard all the commotion y’all were making, we came a-running. After that last group that came through here the other day, we wanted to make sure we met you first.”
So, Journal, we got to meet the population of Ponyville. The Elements of Harmony themselves - Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy - were in charge, leading the survivors over at Applejack’s farm. Sweet Apple Acres, it’s called.
They’ve cleared out the undead from Ponyville. A few took second-death-blows to the head. Most of them are stored in the spa. Twilight Sparkle - the other Element, who is apparently still stuck in Canterlot - said she might have a cure, so don’t kill any more ponies if possible.
Most everypony spent the day with the Ponyville ponies; learning, making friends, and relaxing. Things are pretty easy around here. They just live. I spent almost all day with Applejack, bucking trees and learning what she knew about this. Apparently, she and Twilight have been keeping in contact. The whole epidemic started during the preparations for the Summer Sun Celebration, when one of Princess Luna’s experiments went wrong and infected some of her staff - who then infected the party guests in Canterlot, who then infected each other, who then fled home, thinking that they were uninfected, and infected their families, and....
It doesn’t get any better from there.
However, AJ says that Poniatowski and her group did come through here - demanding supplies and safe haven. AJ said she wouldn’t give it to such rude ponies, and told them to look west - towards Appleloosa - where somepony might be stupid, scared, or wealthy enough to give them what they want. So they did.
I know that I need to go find them and fix the mess Poniatowski’s made. But... everything’s perfect here. I can’t take this away from my group. Not yet. But by the end of the week, I think, we’ll head out.
I think I’ll give them the chance to choose to stay, if they want to.
Alright, I think that’s it. There’s too many ponies here for me to list yet.
Vinyl’s calling me - she wants to talk about something... I guess it’s bedtime, Journal!
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