Shades of Pink
Darkness. Silence. Emptiness. An impenetrable black fog that stretched out into infinity.
This was all Pinkie Pie could see. She blinked in confusion, willing the world to come into focus, but was met only with the same quiet black void. No matter how hard she tried, telling herself to see something, anything, her eyes knew only shadows.
This didn’t feel right. She was scared. Something should be out there; an object, a pony, some kind of sight or sound to assure her that she was still alive. She began to panic, twisting and turning her body about, scanning furiously for a flicker of light, anything that could pierce the veil of darkness that surrounded her. She called out to someone, anyone who might be listening, but failed to hear her own voice; still, only a pervasive silence blanketed her.
This was like being trapped in nothingness, and it was terrifying. She didn’t know what else to do. Every muscle in her body ached, tensing repeatedly as hard as she could, trying to force the universe into existence by sheer effort. After a minute of screaming her hardest, her throat was sore, but she kept going. She needed to feel like she was doing something to fight this, to maybe bring some piece of the world back.
After what seemed like a lifetime in the darkness, her ears perked – something was there, a sound, coming from a location she couldn’t place. Without sight, location would have been difficult to assess regardless, but the noise she heard seemed to come from everywhere – a low, constant static, quietly hissing in the background.
As she strained to hang on to the sound flowing to her ears, the only thing assuring her that something else was there, the buzzing became louder. The static began to increase in volume, starting as a small drone, but building, heightening in intensity, becoming unbearably loud. Now Pinkie was placing her hooves on her ears, the sound too much to bear, a blanket of white noise becoming a torrent of headache inducing squeals and hisses that felt like they would shatter her ear drums. This was worse than silence, because, as the noise continued to grow in volume and intensity, Pinkie felt like it might become so loud that she could no longer stand it; like she might die from the intensity of the horrifying sound. Her mouth mimed words underneath the torrent of static; Please, someone, help, it hurts, please... Even if she had been able to hear her own voice to begin with, it would have no doubt been swallowed by the screaming wail. It felt like every part of her was shuddering as the noise approached unimaginable levels. Please, make it stop, she screamed again.
Abruptly, the static ceased. The silence left by its absence was startling – it seemed absurd to think that the world could be this quiet. Pinkie Pie sighed in relief, and, after doing so, gasped in surprise; she could hear herself again. She opened her eyes, which she realized had been shut for some time, and the sight of her own pink hoof greeted her.
She wanted to cry and jump with joy, finally able to see something in front of her, to know that she was not forever trapped in the unending blackness of whatever hellish world she had been in moments prior. She laughed resoundingly in relief, wrapping her forelegs around her body in a self embrace, closing her eyes as she did so, thrilled to feel and see something other than nothingness.
After a moment to collect her thoughts, Pinkie opened her eyes again. She still had no idea what was going on – where she was, what was happening, whether or not this whole thing was a disturbing nightmare from which she still had not woken – but she felt real again, and that was assuredly a step in the right direction. She looked around herself, feeling more and more like she was ‘somewhere’, instead of floating perpetually in black space.
A voice whispered at her from somewhere, a faint noise so soft she could barely make it out. The sound hissed quietly into her ears as she strained to make it out.
Someone or something out there knew who she was. At the moment, this was only a comforting thought, and she called back to whomever or whatever had spoken her name.
“Hello? Hello? Is somepony out there?”
Her usual tone of unmitigated exuberance was tempered by the fear still shivering through her body, but even so her voice was somewhat cheerful; so far, the situation seemed to be getting better with each moment passing forward, and being miserable would surely only make things worse.
The inquiry, however, received no answer. She waited for a moment, considering calling out again, before she heard the voice once more; a still shrill whisper echoing through the nothingness that surrounded her.
“Who’s there? Please come out, it’s just awful here in the dark, and I would really like to see who I am talking to!”
Even in the nightmarish black void, Pinkie was matter-of-fact about everything.
It took a moment for her to register, but in front of her eyes, a thin smoke was beginning to materialize. She stared at it, agape, as the fog collected; a pink haze very similar to the colour of her own coat. It was swirling, gathering together, solidifying into something, an object or creature about the size of a normal pony. As the colourful dust collected, it began to glow, straining against Pinkie’s eyes with its intensity. She struggled to keep them open, but the light was becoming too strong, and she closed them at its brightest point, before the darkness behind her eyelids told her it had vanished, and she opened them again.
There, in front of her, was another pink pony. One who looked very familiar.
It took a moment for Pinkie to register what she was seeing, and even then she wasn’t sure how to react. This pony was so recognizable, and yet she couldn’t quiet place where she had seen her before...
The second pony spoke first, a dull dark tone weaving its way into Pinkie Pie’s ears, just like the whisper that had taunted her from the darkness moments ago; surely that speaker and this one must be one and the same.
“Uh... hello! I feel like I know you from somewhere...” Pinkie’s speech was unusually hesitant. The similarity in appearance between the two was uncanny, with only subtle differences – while Pinkie’s hair was a constant mess of frizz and curls, the pony in front of her had the straightest of coiffures; and while Pinkie Pie’s colour scheme was the brightest shade of bubblegum pink, the newcomer’s coat was a dull, subdued imitation of the colour – all of it the same, but just slightly off.
The stranger said nothing in response to the greeting, but simply stared back at her, a disturbing grin on her face. It was making Pinkie very uncomfortable.
“So, uh, do you know where we are? This place is kind of scary, and I’m glad somepony else finally showed up! I’m-“ she paused in her introduction before realizing the other pony obviously already knew her name. Still, she continued regardless.
“uh... I’m... Pinkie Pie.”
“I know very well who you are.”
The darker pink pony spoke curtly, still not having moved an inch since her appearance. Pinkie Pie scratched the back of her head with a hoof anxiously – while she was grateful to see someone, anyone else here with her, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she knew this pony from somewhere else – and the aura she brought with her was not a friendly one.
“Oh, uh, you do? That’s great! I know pretty much everypony in Ponyville-“ Pinkie paused again, realizing her sentence had dug her into another inescapable awkward conclusion. “-uh, but... I don’t know who you are-“
Pinkie’s sentence was interrupted with a laugh from the other pony.
“Really, you don’t? Just think about it for a second. You don’t recognize me? I thought we happened to be very close...”
The dark pink pony walked closer with this sentence, a still sinister grin on her face. Pinkie’s mind was spiralling, trying to recall where she had seen her before, trying to place a name to the face in front of her...
She nodded in understanding. Yes, the two were very familiar.
“There you go. I know you can be a little slow sometimes, but I was certain you’d figure it out.”
Pinkie stared at the ground nervously, now wanting more than ever to keep her eyes away. She was interrupted in this pursuit, however, by a hoof on her chin, guiding her face upwards. Eyes wide in surprise, she found herself meeting the hollow glare of the other pink pony.
She felt so uncomfortable, staring into the dark, subdued eyes in front of her, she was barely able to stammer out a response.
“I...what should I...should I call you...”
The darker pony laughed, still holding a hoof under Pinkie’s face, keeping her gaze away from the ground.
“Just call me by my name. Your name. Our given name, not this saccharine excuse for a moniker you go by now.”
Pinkie Pie swallowed nervously.
The other pony laughed derisively again, the chilling sound echoing into the nothingness.
“Very good. Introductions are all done.”
Pinkie Pie felt the hoof release her chin, and her head immediately fell downward, locking her eyes on the ground, or what she would have called the ground had it been more tangible than an empty blackness that she could only ascertain she was standing on. She felt the need to speak, but uncharacteristically, struggled to get the words out.
“I...why am I here? Why are you here?”
“To show you some things. I felt it was time we had a talk.”
Pinkie raised her head, the discomfort overwhelming her turning into intensifying frustration by the minute.
“Talk? What could we have to talk about? You’re not even-‘
Pinkie’s sentence was cut off by a hoof on her mouth, and she felt an icy chill run up her spine as the darker pony she had called Pinkamena stepped close to her, close enough to feel the intensity of her stare.
“We have a great deal to talk about, Pinkie.” Pinkamena uttered her counterpart’s name with disgust, dragging the word across her tongue as if it made her sick to speak it.
“This is for your benefit, really. I have some things I need to show you.”
With startling speed, Pinkamena backed away, and Pinkie felt herself gasp in shock as the hoof on her mouth disappeared. She felt scared, now wondering if it had been a mistake to call out for someone. She felt like she would have sooner stayed in the hissing static, even if it had meant returning to the agony-inducing drone before her body shattered with pain.
Pinkamena raised her hooves above her head, forelegs outstretched to their full length. Her body began to waver in front of Pinkie’s eyes, and after several seconds of her image flickering, she vanished, leaving Pinkie once again alone in the darkness.
She turned her head around nervously, scanning her surroundings for some sign of the only other pony she had seen since this ordeal had begun. Her search was met only with darkness – until, out of the corner of her eye, she spied a soft pink glow.
There was Pinkamena, floating in mid-air, fifty feet away.
“Do you remember your birthday, Pinkie?” her tone was icy, and demanding.
Pinkie, still in disbelief of what she was seeing, took a moment to answer.
“Yes. It was great! There was punch, and ice cream, and dancing, and my friends threw me a surprise party!” Just saying the words made her feel better, reminding her that somewhere, outside this nightmarish room of nothing, were her friends, who loved and cared about her, and would be there waiting for her return.
Pinkamena only shook her head at this response, however.
“Not that, you imbecile. What about before the party, on the day of your birthday?”
Pinkie tried to remember. The day before her birthday was Gummy’s, and the subsequent party... what had she done on her birthday before the surprise party? For some reason the memory was a struggle to recall. Slowly, the pieces of the day inched their way into her mind, as she began to remember.
“I... was handing out party invitations?”
Pinkie’s memory had never been an outstanding one, but for some reason the day in question felt harder than usual to recollect, as if there were some kind of wall blocking her thoughts from perusing that particular section of her mental archives.
“That’s right. Do you remember what those invitations were for?”
It couldn’t have been her birthday, she mused, because for one, though parties were her most favourite thing in the world, she would never throw one for herself. Besides which, her friends had arranged a surprise party for her that evening regardless. So what had she been handing out invitations for?
“Gummy’s after-birthday party?”
The idea sounded ludicrous said out loud in the empty black space, but some part of her recalled that it had seemed a wonderful plan at the time. ‘We should do this again soon,’ Twilight Sparkle had said, and she had thought, ‘Well, what’s sooner than tomorrow?’
“Very good. So what happened to Gummy’s after-birthday party? Did everyone show up?”
Pinkie took a moment to respond, her words slow, agonizing over the details as she struggled to remember them.
“No, of course not. Everypony was at my birthday party... Gummy’s after-birthday party didn’t... happen...”
A memory pierced Pinkie’s thoughts abruptly, like a flash of lightning in the dark haze of a storm; she saw a vision of herself holding forward an invitation to Twilight Sparkle.
‘This afternoon, this afternoon?’
Her eyes widened as the scene played out inside her head.
‘Oh gosh. I wish I could make it, but I’ve gotten a bit behind in my studies... I really need to hit the books.’
Pinkamena smiled knowingly from her spot hovering above ground.
“So now you remember. For some reason Twilight couldn’t make it to your party. What about your other friends?” The last word was drawled out slowly, scathingly.
Pinkie Pie didn’t respond, but another memory began to play out in her mind’s eye.
Applejack shifted her eyes nervously at an outstretched invitation in front of her.
‘Uh, well, ah, I don’t think I can make it ‘cause, uh... I have to... uh, pick apples! Yup, apples! ‘Cause that’s what we do, with the apples, we uh... pick ‘em!’
Pinkie’s mouth matched the words that came next.
“Okey... dokey... lokey...”
“And the rest?”
‘I’m afraid I have to... wash my hair!’
Then two more, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash.
‘Collect beach volleyballs!’
Pinkie’s mouth hung agape as her friend’s words echoed in her mind.
“...They couldn’t make it.”
“They lied to you.”
She felt like a great pressure was welling up inside her head, threatening to burst outwards.
“They didn’t... I mean, yes, they did lie.. but it was for a good reason! They were throwing my surprise party!”
Pinkie felt relieved as she uttered the sentence, giving meaning to the memories she had unknowingly repressed. Yes, her friend’s had hidden the truth from her, but it had all been in service of an ultimately caring gesture.
“Hmph. It was for a good reason, this time. What about all the other times your friends have lied to you?”
Pinkie stared straight ahead blankly as the words entered her ears.
She shook her head, clearing the thought out as best she could.
“What do you mean, ‘other times’? My friends don’t lie to me.”
Pinkamena let out a quick, jeering laugh, a simple ‘ha’ in response.
“Oh really? What makes you so sure? Because you were sooooo certain that everything was just a misunderstanding that time...”
“No, I knew -I figured out that they were excuses, but it was okay! You can’t throw a surprise party without telling a few fibs.”
Pinkamena had drifted closer in the air, now floating only several feet above the intangible black surface that served as the floor.
“So because you could tell they were lying once, you’ve noticed every single other time your ‘friends’ have been dishonest?”
Pinkie blinked nervously. “Um... maybe...”
Pinkamena exhaled loudly through her nose in contempt.
“Right. So let’s see what your ‘friends’ have been saying about you behind your back. Unless you’re certain they’ve been honest with you...”
The dulled-pink pony drifted away, vanishing into the perpetual darkness, leaving Pinkie alone again, shaking. Her eyes scanned around, hoping for some sign that she hadn’t been left by herself. This time, after a moment, she caught another glimpse of movement – but instead of the subdued magenta she was becoming used to, she saw a bright, lilac purple.
The face of the violet unicorn gave no response, but simply floated in the air, and began speaking to no one in particular. The voice was a comforting sound to Pinkie, before she began to understand the words it was uttering.
“Pinkie Pie... I can’t believe how air-headed she is! Probably the simplest pony in all of Ponyville – I’m surprised she’s managed to read any of my books even by accident!”
“...Twilight?” Pinkie’s eyes were wide as she heard the words coming out of her friend’s mouth.
“And my goodness is she annoying! The very first time I met her I was sick of her, I really don’t know how anypony puts up with her for any time at all.”
Pinkie was unable to speak in response, only to give a small whimper of shock. How could Twilight say those things about her, when they were such good friends?
She had just about collected herself and was preparing to speak when Twilight’s face vanished suddenly in a swirl of purple smoke. The cloud it left behind circled around itself, whirling around before its shade began to shift, turning from lilac to a bright, sunny orange, collecting itself slowly into another familiar face.
Applejack’s southern drawl was as recognizable as ever as she began to speak.
“That one, I tell you, I don’t figure she’s worked a day in her life. Always loungin’ about, spendin’ her time eatin’ sweets, never helpin’ with anything that needs to get done. Heck, she was the only pony with a job to score the lake during winter, and she couldn’t even do that right!”
Pinkie’s eyes had begun to well with tears as each sentence went by. This couldn’t really be what the others thought of her, could it?
“Applejack, how could you say that? I thought...”
Her sentence trailed off as the second of her friend’s faces slowly faded away into the darkness. Two of the ponies she held closest to her heart, saying those things about her... was this really how they felt?
As she had anticipated, another familiar visage floated into existence in front of her, the well-trimmed purple mane that framed Rarity’s elegant white coat shimmering of its own accord, even in the surrounding blackness.
“Pinkie Pie? My goodness, where to begin. So uncouth, so tiresome. I put up with her, for the sake of maintaining appearances, of course, but really, it can be quite a strain sometimes. I really do think it would be better for everyone if she took the hint, and found some other group of ponies to bother incessantly.”
Pinkie was crying in earnest now, tears streaming down the side of her face, soaking the fur of her cheeks as she watched another pony she had called her friend disappear in front of her. She couldn’t bring herself to speak any longer; besides which, nopony seemed to notice her. They were too busy saying these things, sharing what they truly thought of their energetic pink acquaintance.
A soft, graceful yellow face framed by soothing pink; Fluttershy. There was no way that she could be so cruel as the others; even in her moments of deepest frustration and discontent she could seldom muster more than an agitated mutter.
“Oh, dear... um, Pinkie Pie? I wouldn’t... I mean, I couldn’t, really, she’s my friend...”
Pinkie Pie sighed with relief, her tears stemming their flow. She knew she could count on Fluttershy to be kind; that pony didn’t have a cruel bone in her body. Yet, she continued to speak.
“No, really, I can’t, it wouldn’t be right...” she argued to an invisible persuader. “Please, I really don’t want to...” the yellow pegasus’ face scrunched togething in protest, before softening in acquiescence.
“Alright, if you must insist...” Fluttershy sighed before drawing in a long breath of air, continuing her next sentence rapidly and without pause.
“She’s irresponsible, air-headed, never concerned with anything except silly games and parties; she doesn’t eat right, her cooking is second rate at best, she’s obnoxious, talks too much, annoys everypony else around her; every time she tries to help she only makes things worse, I can count on one hoof the number of times she’s been there for any of her friends when they needed her most, and everyone seems to agree that the town would be much better off without her.”
Pinkie’s mouth opened in shock, and she felt the tears starting again.
“But, uh, really, she’s not so bad...”
Fluttershy’s face followed suit with the others and faded away into the darkness, leaving Pinkie alone, sobbing to herself in the shadows. All the others, and that meant that next was...
She looked up to meet the familiar voice, tomboyish and vibrant. There was Rainbow Dash; not floating intangibly in the air, her face separate from reality, but wholly there, standing only several feet away. The blue pegasus was wearing her usual cocky smirk, eyes half closed.
“Rainbow Dash?” Pinkie asked incredulously, not believing what she saw in front of her. Could it be real, her friend standing in front of her, instead of her face hovering in the void, mocking her from afar?
That was Rainbow Dash, certainly. Nopony else could exude such an air of confidence with only a single word. Pinkie threw restraint to the wind as she leaped up and ran towards the chromatic flyer standing near, before throwing her forelegs around in an embrace.
“Oh Rainbow Dash, thank goodness you’re here! It’s been awful, and I was so scared, I’m so glad somepony is here to-“
Pinkie Pie’s speech ended mid sentence as she felt her hooves slip away from Dash’s shoulders. The blue pegasus pulled herself backwards with a look of disgust.
“Pinkie, what the hay? No offense, but I’d rather you keep your hooves to yourself; you’re kind of repulsive, you know?”
The pink pony let out a short squeak, momentarily unable to find any other words. She swallowed dryly, feeling the taste of tears still in the back of her throat as her eyes watered, before struggling to form another sentence.
“Don’t start talking either, if you don’t mind. Your voice is really obnoxious; it kind of makes me sick to be around you for too long.”
There was no way this could be the real Rainbow Dash – even in her usual brash and abrasive manner she would never say things like this about one of her friends, things so awful and cruel... but Pinkie had felt the warmth of another pony as she hugged her, her hoof had touched the blue feathers on the pegasus’ back..
“Dashie, you don’t really mean those things. We’re friends, aren’t we?” The words were a struggle to push past her body’s attempts to resume sobbing, but Pinkie knew she had to say something.
“Right, friends -look Pinkie, I know you’re not the brightest pony in town, but I kind of figured you could take a hint. You don’t remember all those times I avoided you?”
She remembered, almost instantly. At the time, Pinkie had shrugged it off her shoulders nonchalantly – everypony had somewhere to be at some point in time, and getting the brush off from someone in a hurry wasn’t a big deal. Even though... Rainbow Dash had been actively avoiding her, struggling to steer clear of a second of time in her proximity. She had convinced her though, and they had spent the day together laughing and playing pranks...
“I know I said you weren’t as annoying as I thought, but you sorta changed my mind after a little while. I just didn’t want you to feel bad, so I put up with you for the day; kinda wishing I hadn’t now though.”
“What? What do you mean? How can you say that?” Pinkie’s voice was strained, she was now struggling not to break out into full blown crying.
“You don’t get it? I don’t like being around you, Pinkie Pie. You’re unbearable, and I really don’t see why we’re even friends.”
She felt something inside her break with those words. All the things her friends had said about her – or the ponies she thought were her friends; they hated her. Loathed her. Wished they never had to see her again, most likely. She had heard the words straight from their mouths, and now with Rainbow Dash standing here in front of her, too repulsed to even stand nearby, she couldn’t take it anymore.
Pinkie started weeping uncontrollably, sobs wracking her body as she curled up on the immaterial blackness that served as ground. Her eyes were closed as she placed her head in her hooves, not wanting to hear anything more. No more taunting, no more tirades from other ponies about how they reviled her, how much they wished she never spoke to them again. It was too much; so she continued to lay on the ground, crying, her last glimmer of cheerfulness and hope having finally been extinguished.
She lay like that for some time, huddled on the floor quietly save for her muffled crying. There was no noise in the ever-stretching void but the sound of her misery, finally let loose in a torrent after her optimistic spirit could bear no more.
After the brunt of her projected despair had diminished, and her sobbing reduced to quiet whimpers, another sound echoed through the empty dark room; hoof-steps, approaching from her side. Wiping some of the tears from her eyes, Pinkie raised her head meekly to meet whomever was approaching.
It was her, of course.
Pinkamena’s face was contorted in disgust, and she glared down at the shivering pink pony next to her.
“Are you quite done?”
Sniffling, Pinkie could form no real response. She didn’t know what to do anymore, trapped in this torture-chamber of unpleasant truths, with only the dark recesses of her mind personified for company. She had no friends left in the world now, every one of them sick of her beyond reasoning; no idea where she was, or how to return to reality. Whether that was even a good idea now, however, she wasn’t sure. What was the appeal in being thrust back into a world of ponies who loathed her, who hid their disgust behind faked smiles, but derided her in secret; probably only waiting until they could no longer stand her, and told her face-to-face exactly what they felt.
Still snivelling, lost in thought, Pinkie noticed a darkened hoof reaching out to her, as if to lift her off the ground. Nervously, after a moment’s hesitation, she reached out her own hoof, and stood shakily with her doppelganger’s assistance. She didn’t know if she should be thankful, but right now the point was moot; she was too busy willing herself to stem her crying to muster any kind of a thank-you.
“Do you understand now Pinkie, what your friends really think of you?”
Pinkie’s voice was shaky as she began to stammer a reply.
“I... I...I don’t know...”
Pinkamena cut her sentence off curtly.
“You don’t know how somepony you called your friend could say these things about you? It’s simple. They despise you; your personality, your attitude, essentially everything about you. “
Pinkie felt another bout of tears coming on.
“I don’t see how you can blame them. Really, the way you act is sickening. It’s not just that they dislike you, Pinkie; they don’t respect you. You’re so busy gallivanting with your idiotic parties and taking every opportunity to demonstrate how dim-witted you are, that the only logical response is to revile you.” Pinkamena paused and gathered her breath before continuing.
“There is a way, conceivably, to change all this, but I’m not sure it’s something you’re capable of.”
The endless torrent of demeaning description caused Pinkie Pie to hang her head again, silent streams of tears pouring out the sides of her eyes and down her already dampened pink face. She felt the absence of a presence next to her as Pinkamena stepped backwards, reaching behind her back before bringing her hoof forward, holding something outstretched.
Pinkie’s eyes caught the silvery gleam before she looked up to see what was held out. She saw the wooden handle first before she scanned upwards to the meeting point between the grip and the shimmering metal blade, both pieces together comprising a large, sharp knife. Pinkamena’s mouth was curved upward in a grim smile as she offered it.
“What...” Pinkie’s mouth formed only one word in shock as she stared at the weapon her counterpart was presenting.
Unsteady, her limbs shaking with nervousness, Pinkie reached out to grasp the wooden handle. She picked up the knife between her two hooves, and brought it closer anxiously, unsure of why it had been offered in the first place.
“What am I supposed to do with this?”
Pinkamena walked backwards, still grinning, and gestured with one leg towards the only other pony still present. To Pinkie’s surprise as she looked sideways, she saw Rainbow Dash, still standing there with a look of contempt on her face. The moment Pinkie turned to face her, the blue pegasus huffed in disgust.
“Ugh. You’re done crying, right?”
Pinkie understood the direction, but wasn’t sure if she believed it.
“No!” she shouted, not in response to Rainbow Dash’s question, but to the still leering face of her darkened half watching from the shadows.
“Hmm? Do you have a problem with my suggestion?” Pinkamena asked languidly, checking her hoof with disinterest, as though the course of events she was suggesting was a typical, everyday occurrence that should proceed without hesitation.
“Of course I do! I could never hurt somepony just because they were mean to me, this is ridiculous!”
Pinkamena’s eyes glazed with loathing, though she still refused to look up from her hoof, checking it over idly for scuffs as somepony might do after a manicure.
“Hm, I see.” She paused, and placed her first hoof at her side before raising the other, now scanning it for blemishes. Pinkie Pie’s face was wide with shock as she clenched the knife in her grasp, still reeling at the severity of the task she had been placed with. No words were uttered for a moment, before Pinkamena’s voice broke the silence.
“I suppose I shouldn’t have expected any different. Your friends treat you like garbage and you can’t muster up even a moment’s courage to show them you’re serious. Predictable.”
“Being taken seriously doesn’t mean you have to hurt someone!” Pinkie yelled back, her legs shaking now with the blade still held tightly between her hooves.
“It seemed to work quite well for your friends. They had no qualms about hurting you, did they?”
Pinkie’s gaze drifted downward, remember the voices of the others as they had demeaned every facet of her being only moments ago. “That’s... different.”
“Is it?” The voice was so loud, it startled her, and she felt her tail twitch, not in one of her predictive body-spasms, but in surprise.
“Tell me, do you think your friends had any regard for how you felt when they said those things? How much their words might hurt you?”
Pinkie could only mutter in response.
“Do you think they had the slightest concern for how painful it might be to let you know what they really thought about you?”
Pinkamena was shouting now, her voice echoing off into the distant darkness.
“Of course they didn’t! They didn’t give a damn about how you felt while they were busy tearing you apart. They didn’t care because they don’t respect you.”
Pinkie was shaking in earnest now, the metal blade of the knife vibrating as her hoof’s shivered along with the rest of her body. She shut her eyes tightly as she felt the warmth of another pony step close to her. Pinkamena’s voice whispered into her ear from only inches away.
“You don’t have to do anything drastic... no one is asking you to be unnecessarily cruel; but surely there is no doubt in your mind that something must be done if they are to take you seriously.”
Pinkie had begun crying again, the tears seeping out through her closed eyelids as she shuddered, feeling a hoof drape itself over her shoulder.
“Rainbow Dash is tough, she’ll be fine. You just need to demonstrate that there are consequences for treating somepony in such a manner.”
She opened her eyes again, and through the blur of tears she saw Rainbow Dash, now standing only a foot or two away, sneering contemptuously at her, as if she was taunting her forward.
“You got a problem, Pinkie? Don’t just stand over there, come here and let’s hear it.”
Still shaking, the she began to walk forward slowly, inching her way towards Dash. The pegasus’ eyes glanced over the sharpened blade the pink pony held close to her body as she approached.
“Really? Come on Pinkie, you can’t be serious. Everyone knows you’re too much of a wuss to try something like that.”
The jeering urged her forward subconsciously, and after only several seconds longer, Pinkie was standing right next to Dash, turning her head nervously to look away, not wanting to meet the eyes in front of her.
“Everypony knows you couldn’t stand up for yourself if you wanted to. You’re too pathetic, too stupid.”
Dash’s words stung as they made their way into her ears, and with each insult she twitched in agitation, as if she had been bitten by some intangible creature.
“As a matter of fact, I bet you couldn’t if you wanted to. I dare you. Doesn’t worry me one bit, you’re too chicken.”
Pinkie felt her hooves move slightly as if of their own accord, raising the knife ever so slowly away from her body. Her eyes were half closed as she watched her forelegs stretch out, lifting the blade up past her shoulders. She could only hear snippets of Rainbow Dash’s tomboyish voice as her limbs continued to move.
Her hooves had stopped shaking now, and felt eerily calm as she raised the knife past her head.
The silvery metal blade was glowing now, from what light source she couldn’t tell, but it shimmered as she held it at its highest point.
“-really, the worst pony I’ve ever met-”
Time stood still for a second as she felt a shiver run through her body. There was no sound now besides the beating of her own heart as it pounded through her ears. Was this what it took, she thought, to be taken seriously?
Silently, she watched the first twitch of her shoulders as her foreleg began to move.
She thrust the blade downward.
The metal let out a resounding ‘clang’, bouncing off the dark floor as Pinkie hurled it sideways, letting it land next to her noisily. The clattering of the settling object was followed by a small thump as Pinkie fell to the ground, bracing herself with her two front legs. She sat there for a moment, in silence, before she heard hoof steps behind her.
The sound of the blade skittering across the room followed a soft kick from Pinkamena, sending the knife off into the farthest unreachable darkness that still surrounded everything. Pinkie refused to heighten her gaze, locking her stare on the black surface beneath her. She breathed heavily, panting, her heart still beating in her chest faster than seemed possible.
Eventually, she looked up.
Where Rainbow Dash had stood moments ago, mocking her, there was now only nothingness.
“I should have expected you to give up at the last moment. Par for the course for you, failing at everything you ever attempt-“
“Stop.” Pinkie’s voice was firm for the first time since she had spoken since being conscious. “No more. No more of this.”
Pinkamena scoffed in disbelief as Pinkie raised herself from the floor, turning to meet the other pony face to face.
“’This’? Some thanks I get for trying to help you-“
This time it was her turn to pause abruptly from a hoof placed on her mouth. Pinkamena’s eyes widened in surprise, not expecting the display of assertiveness from somepony who had seemed completely broken only moments ago. Pinkie’s face was calm, but her eyes were hard and unyielding, like the steel of the knife she had cast away moments ago.
“You were never trying to help me.”
Pinkamena, less content than her counterpart to stand idly by with a hoof barring her speech, pulled her head back, and spit scornfully as she did so, glaring back with malice. Pinkie continued speaking over the pony’s display of contempt, feeling more in control of the situation by the moment.
“None of those things you showed me; even if they were real...”
She paused, seeing the flashes in her mind as she recalled all the words spoken to her by the faces of her friends. Each one of them so sure and justified in the terrible things they had said. Did she have any reason to believe they were fabrications, something conjured up by her dark other self?
“I know my friends. We might not share everything, and sometimes we might keep some secrets... but we love each other.”
The stare directed at Pinkie was ice cold now as the debunking of all the events that had occurred continued.
“Everypony gets on somepony else’s nerves once in a while. It’s just a part of life... but even if all those things were true... I know that my friends would never abandon me.”
Pinkamena spit again, her tone caustic as she spoke. “I think you’ll see that your friends would do just that given the opportunity. How, after everything you’ve seen, can you still call them that?”
“Because... because. Because no matter what we’ve always been there for each other. We’ve shared so much... fun times, and sad times, and times when we all needed each other. Once you’re somepony’s friend... you don’t just turn your back on them like that. I know... I know I can be a little too energetic sometimes. And I’m not the brightest pony. And I’m not always the hardest worker either!” she paused for a moment, gathering her thoughts before proceeding.
“But no one is perfect, and part of being somepony’s friend is accepting them; all their good parts and bad parts together, no matter what!”
“Hmph.” Pinkamena turned curtly, and began walking away rapidly into the surrounding night. Pinkie Pie made no attempt to stop her; regardless of what would come now, she was happy to see this pony, the darkest pieces of her subconscious, disappear for a while longer.
That word. Subconscious.
Pinkie’s eyes blinked shut as a rush of light enveloped her, pouring inwards from everywhere. It was as if the air had burst into flame; but instead of fire, only a calming radiance spilled forth, taking away all the darkness that had been only moments ago. Pinkie felt her body grow lighter as the glow continued to flood around her, as if she was floating on air. She felt her face dry, the last teardrops washed away, and the hazy background of static that had permeated her mind since she awoke faded away softly into peaceful quiet.
Since she awoke? When had she-
Pinkie Pie’s eyes snapped open, the morning light cascading into her room from the nearby window. The soft glow bathed her pink bed spread with its gentle rays, and the glass frame of the lamp above her bed sparkled as it caught pieces of the sunshine. On her bedside table, her alarm clock lay peacefully ticking, the hands drifting lazily from each number to the next.
Gasping loudly to herself in surprise, Pinkie raised her hooves to her face as if to test the reality of her own existence. She felt the soft fur on her forehead that had been matted with sweat before quickly slamming her legs down on the bed. The warmth of her blanket met her touch, and she traced one hoof idly over the patterned quilt, now turning her gaze to the window.
It was early, the sun only just making its way over the horizon, a perfect semi-circle bathing the town of Ponyville and its inhabitants in the light of a new day.
A new day, she thought to herself.
Pinkie turned to check her alarm clock, curious to know how early she had awoken. Normally her sleeping pattern was erratic, some days staying up till the break of dawn and sleeping until late afternoon, other days rising peacefully with the rest of the household for a quiet morning breakfast.
Five to six. Well, not unreasonably early then. In fact, this was about the time Mrs. Cake usually began puttering around the bakery downstairs, starting the morning’s first rolls of bread. Pinkie wondered if her waking gasp had disturbed anyone else; but, before she could contemplate the matter, her attention was pulled to her bedroom door. A soft knocking rang out three times.
“Pinkie, dear, are you alright?”
Feeling more awake than she did most mornings, Pinkie answered promptly. “I’m fine Mrs. Cake.” Her voice felt normal again, returned to its usual exuberance.
“May I come in, dear?”
Though she tended overuse that particular pronoun, Pinkie always felt warm inside when it was used to refer to her. Today, it was the most welcome sound in the world.
“Of course, come on in!”
The door opened slowly, and Mrs. Cake peeked into the room, her turquoise blue coat a stark contrast to the pink wallpaper. She smiled softly as she spoke. “I’m sorry to bother you so early in the morning, sweetheart. I just heard an awful noise that sounded like it came from your room. Are you sure you’re alright?”
Pinkie Pie nodded emphatically, shaking her head rapidly up and down. Actually Mrs. Cake, she thought of saying, I feel more alright than I have in a while. Instead, she opted for something simpler.
“I’m fine Mrs. Cake; I just had a reeeeeaaaaallly weird dream!”
Mrs. Cake giggled softly at Pinkie’s typically boisterous speaking manner. Some days it was par for the course, but seeing her more happy than usual always brought a smile to the baker-pony’s face.
“Alright hun, I just thought I would check in. Shall I let you get back to sleep?”
Pinkie’s head moved rapidly again, this time shaking back and forth in a vigorous ‘no’ before she spoke. “Actually, I think I’m ready to get started for the day. The sun looks so nice, I couldn’t bear to stay in bed another minute!”
Mrs. Cake giggled again, always amused at the way Pinkie’s cheer was so often infectious. It didn’t matter how miserable you were if Pinkie was in a good mood; it would quickly rub off on you. Even though she had spent many a day with her apprentice, baking together or simply sharing dinner in the evening, the glow of cheerfulness that went with Pinkie everywhere was still something very special.
“Alright dear, if you say so. I was just about to start breakfast; can we expect you down in a bit?”
Pinkie nodded again cheerfully. “Uh-huh! Just gimme a minute to give the teeth the ol’ brushie-brushie and I’ll be on my way!”
Still laughing, Mrs. Cake tipped her head in affirmation before closing the bedroom door, humming a cheerful tune to herself on the way downstairs. While moments ago her day had been another simple tread through morning routine, everything seemed a little more optimistic now.
Pinkie Pie waited to make sure the motherly blue mare was downstairs before she moved again. Taking in as much air as she could muster, she buried her head in the blanket held up by her hooves, and rolled her head about in them vigorously. She let out a high-pitched squeak the whole way through, muffled by the soft fabric so as to not disturb anypony else in the house.
Sighing, her breath completely exhausted, Pinkie collapsed backwards into her bed, letting her head bounce off the cushy pink pillows by her headboard. She stared up at her ceiling lamp for a moment, marvelling at the beams of sunlight dancing through the carefully designed glasswork. After allowing herself a moment of observation, she bounced upwards from the bed, throwing the sheets to the floor in a burst of energy. Smiling to herself now, Pinkie bounced to the sink and mirror in the nearby adjoining room.
“I hope we’re having pancakes!” She said aloud to no one in particular as she grabbed her nearby toothbrush, pink and party-themed like everything else in her room. Humming a tune, she squeezed a larger than necessary gob of bubblegum flavoured toothpaste onto the brush, and raised it to her mouth. As her eyes met the mirror, however, the face she saw almost startled her into dropping the brush.
Instead of her bright pink smile and poofy morning hair (or, really, poofy every-time hair), a cold, dull visage stared back at her, accompanying that same icy smirk. The grin in the mirror widened along with Pinkie’s eyes as she stared at the decidedly non-Pinkie Pie pony in her mirror.
As her sight stayed locked on the reflective silvery surface, the familiar face that was not her own tilted slightly. Her head followed it, and as she did so, she noticed the back of the mirror was no longer a one to one reflection of the wall behind her. The mirror was quickly filling with an inky blankness, swallowing up the scenery of the room in its wake, surrounding everything it passed by behind the still glaring pink pony on the mirror’s other side.
Pinkie felt a sense of dread welling up in her as the black void consumed the world behind the mirror in its wake, with Pinkamena’s dark, cold gaze still staring back at her, grin growing ever more menacing as the marching darkness continued. Within seconds it would overtake the entire room, and bits of outstretching black were already straining at the mirror’s edges, struggling to break free into something more tangible.
Well, that simply wouldn’t do.
With a matter-of-fact ‘Hmph’, Pinkie raised the tube of bubblegum flavoured toothpaste and smashed it with her hoof. The force of the impact sent pink goo spraying all over the mirror, flecks of it scattering on the counter and sink as well. Pinkie only saw a brief gasp in the mirror before the pink glob covered the majority of the shimmering glass. She giggled to herself, eyes closing as she did so, before opening them again to check the mirror.
She saw a pink toothpaste splotch in the center, covering her smiling face against the background of the bathroom. Her grin went from amused to accomplished, and she grabbed her toothbrush from the counter and began to enthusiastically rub the fibrous bristles and pink toothpaste all through her mouth. Just about finished, she heard a shout from downstairs.
“Pinkie Pie, breakfast is ready!” Mrs. Cakes familiar voice, gentle but insistent, letting her know the first meal of the day was waiting for her.
“I’ll bphe pthere inna pthecond!” she yelled back, her mouth filled with puffy pink foam that looked like cotton candy. She laughed at her own ridiculous speech, spraying more toothpaste around the room, before spitting the majority of the bubbles into the sink. After rinsing her mouth out with a spray of fresh cool water, she hopped towards her bedroom entrance bouncing jovially in the way she usually did. As she shut the wooden door behind her, she sniffed quizzically at the delicious smell wafting up from the kitchen.
“Mmm, smells like we are having pancakes!”