She’s a nice mare, really. Honest. Certainly not the type of respectable pony my mother would want me to associate myself with. The type you crossed the street to avoid. The shady kind of pony up to no good, with a penchant for mischief. Uncouth, undignified, oh yes, Vinyl Scratch was all of those things.
And I couldn’t have asked for a better friend.
She was a rough-and-tumble tomboy, no doubt. Her mane was an absolute disaster, just awful, impossible to tame. And those colors, ugh! Her sense of fashion left something to be desired. A hoodie in the middle summer? Why not.
Her table manners were impeccable. I’m joking, ha-ha. Yes, that was a fake laugh.
Was it wrong for me to laugh when she snorted milk out of her nose? Or when she had lettuce in her teeth? Good idea, Vinyl, let’s have a belching contest in a five-star restaurant; I’m sure nopony will mind.
Vinyl Scratch was definitely confident. She radiated confidence. She had something that I just couldn’t put my hoof on. Swagger, maybe?
Shall we strut down the sidewalk with our noses in the air next to those stuffy Canterlot nobles? Of course we shall, my dear.
She definitely knew how to draw attention, get others to notice, make herself known. Her mere presence could change the atmosphere of the room. She was loud and proud and obnoxious and I couldn’t help but wonder why I still hung around her. Her taste in music left something to be desired. It was obvious we would butt heads. She preferred something of the electronic variety. Mine was a more organic medium with wood and strings and soul. But it was alright.
We were complete opposites, Vinyl and I. Understatement of the century. She was the yin to my yang. Red oni, blue oni. We had a love-hate relationship, if you could call it that.
“C’mon Octy. Up here!” Vinyl called, dashing up the stairs.
It wasn’t my idea, moving in with her. Really! I just went along with it. Financial reasons, you know?
"Wait 'til you get a load of this! Ta-daaa!" She pushed open the door with a flourish and a bow.
I gawked, running inside, turning around the foyer. “This place is great,” I said with a haughty sniff. “It’s certainly…”
It was certainly not Manehattan. And it wasn't the Canterlot penthouse of my dreams either, but it would have to do. Already pre-furnished, how wonderful. The paint wasn't peeling, so that was a good sign. Not like my dingy old apartment. The carpet smelled fresh. Straight ahead from the door there was the foyer. A coffee table, two couches. Some vases with wilting flowers. Then a balcony with a glass door with a great view of the castle. To the left, a kitchen with a fire extinguisher.
Break glass in case of Vinyl Scratch.
"Dibs!" she yelled, bolting off down the hallway.
She was a peculiar mare. An enigma. I could never tell what she was thinking. Her eyes, goodness, I had no idea what she looked like without those gaudy sunglasses on. She wore them in her sleep, probably in the shower as well, if I took a peek.
Not that I would, mind you. I was just curious. About her eyes.
What secrets are you hiding, Vinyl Scratch?
What secrets? There were no secrets between us. I knew her favorite color, songs, places to go on a Friday night. But did I really know Vinyl Scratch, the mare behind the sunglasses and bravado? Or was I only scratching the surface? Friends, family? Did she have any? Or was she raised by a pack of wolves? I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. Or her cutie mark? How did she get it? It was a mystery.
She was a mystery mare, with an air of…mysterious…ness surrounding her.
“Nightmare Night! What a fright!” the pale unicorn chanted, bobbing her head. “Give us something sweet to bite!”
“Vinyl," I said.
She danced around the room, weaving decorations, oblivious.
“Vinyl!” A bit louder this time.
She jerked her head, flipping off her headphones. “Yeah?”
“Please. I’m trying to read.”
She rolled her eyes. I couldn’t tell, but the way she tossed her mane said it all.
“Octy?” She wiggled her hips. “See something you like?”
I flushed. “I was looking at your cutie mark.”
“Sure,” she snickered. “What ‘cha reading?”
Vinyl was by my side in an instant, pushing me over on the couch and laying on her belly. I shifted slightly, feeling her coat brush against mine. I moved over some more to give her some space. Instead, she closed the gap between our bodies. I stared at her, hoping she would get the hint. Instead, she only grinned.
Personal space and all that, right? Right.
I showed her the cover. It was my turn to roll my eyes as she snorted.
“Vampires? I never knew you into that sort of thing. Nightmare Night…”
“What a fright! Give me something sweet to bite!”
Vinyl leaned in suddenly, sandwiching me between her and the couch, her muzzle hot against my neck, sending a shiver up my spine.
“Get off of me!"
"I vant to suck your blood, my dear!"
I pushed her off, flustered, watching her roll onto the carpet with an,
“Oomph." She stood up, pouting. "Ah, you’re no fun. You gotta get into the Nightmare Night mood!”
"That's not for a while, Vinyl. At least a week." I frowned, looking around the loft. “Remind me never to hire you as my interior designer. The apartment looks dreadful. Cobwebs everywhere! You’re cleaning this up.”
“An entire night of free candy! It’s better than Hearth’s Warming Eve!” She danced around. “Uh, hey, what’s for dinner?”
Vinyl stared. “Seriously?” Her mouth scrunched up in disgust.
I chewed and swallowed, dabbing my lips. “Just eat the pasta, Vinyl. You act as if you’re allergic to pasta.”
“I’m not allergic to the stupid pasta. It’s the garlic!”
“What’s wrong with the garlic?”
I can’t see her eyes, but I can tell she’s looking away now.
“I hate garlic,” she muttered.
“Just try it!”
“Vinyl, eat the garlic.”
It wasn’t a plea, or compromise. It was a command. An order.
Ooh, so assertive, Octavia.
She glowered at me, opening her mouth and levitating her fork, moving it closer to her mouth. The mare took a bite, chewing for a bit before I saw her face contort.
She had left the table and dashed over to the bathroom, spitting it out. “Ugh! Gross, gross!” She scraped her tongue with her hoof.
“Hey, are you alright?”
Positively green. Not really, just a little pale. But Vinyl’s coat was always sickly pale. Pale like a vampire’s.
I furrowed my brow. What was wrong with garlic? My mind drifted to my book. It was a bit stupid of me, but my mind had already made the connection. Garlic and vampires. Vampires hated garlic.
What if Vinyl was a vampire?
Vinyl Scratch wasn’t the type of pony to stop and smell the flowers.
Come with me, Vinyl, and we can go on a journey through the Canterlot gardens! No thank you. I’m staying right here, Octavia. The dank, dark apartment room, with all the blinds closed. Yes siree! Enjoy your nature.
No wonder she looks like that. I wasn’t the outdoorsy type, but I liked the occasional walk through the park. Come to think of it, she never came out when it was bright. She locked herself in when it was summer and came out in the winter.
She claimed, “I have sensitive skin.”
Vinyl seemed to have an adverse reaction to the sun, always clinging to the shadows. Vampires didn’t like the sun.
Vinyl Scratch the vampire, hah. That’s a good one.
She was just nocturnal. Her job called for it. By day she was Vinyl Scratch, the laziest mare Equestria had ever seen, lounging around. Sluggish. By night, she was somepony else. She was DJ-Pon3, somehow even more loud and obnoxious than Vinyl Scratch.
“You’re coming with me and that’s final.”
“But the sun is still out!” she moaned.
I gestured to the moon outside our window.
“You’re getting fat. Look at this.” I slapped her flank, only realizing seconds later what I had done.
I shook my head furiously. “I’m sorry! I wasn’t thinking!”
She grinned even wider, leaning in close, arching her eyebrows. I tried to see her eyes behind her purple lenses. She pulled away, dragging me along while I blushed, red as a tomato.
A little too close, Vinyl. Too close for comfort.
Our warm bodies pressed together as we strolled through the park. Summer had passed all too quickly and now Equestria was beginning its transition into fall. We took a scenic route through the park, trotting beneath the tree canopies with bare branches thanks to the Running of the Leaves. I shivered at her touch. I bumped my rump into hers, pushing her away. She snickered, throwing her arm around my neck, pulling us closer together. I squirmed, unable to slip out of her grasp, and resigned myself to resting my head against hers.
Just friends, huh?
“You know, I really like you!” She grinned.
Perhaps things only made sense to me in hindsight. Looking back, I realized that I was little dense. A little, or a lot? Maybe in denial. A little bit of both. You couldn't blame me. Let's call it ignorance on my behalf. I should have put two and two together. At the time I hadn't thought much about it. Well, I hadn't thought much about anything. I had seen the signs and chosen not to heed them.
“I like you too?” I said slowly, deliberately, cocking my head slightly.
There was a subtle twitch of her lip as she gazed at me, her expression unreadable. She wore her grin like a mask and kept grinning, pulling me along, laughing.
For some reason I wanted to apologize to her.
"Vinyl, do you think you could swing by the store and grab me some eggs?"
She groaned. "It's too hot. Can't I do the cooking?"
When I didn't answer she poked her head into the kitchen, donning her black pullover.
"Vinyl, you just said it was hot. Why in Equestria would you put on a jacket?"
"I sunburn easily!"
I narrowed my eyes. Perhaps I was reading too much into it. But it was starting to seem fishy. Back then, we'd only go out at night, after I finished my rehearsals and she finished her DJing. Her behavior was erratic. Irrational. Normal ponies didn't always wear sunglasses at night and inside the house, and they certainly didn't hide from the sun and try to lock themselves in on a perfectly fine day.
No. Octavia, you silly mare, she is not a vampire.
Oh how hard I tried to convince myself. But my mind had already been made up, and I had all the "evidence" I needed. She hated garlic.
Maybe she really doesn't like garlic, Octavia. You're being the irrational one now—
She hated the sun.
Maybe she really does have a skin condition, you never know—
The sunglasses. Her jacket. Her wardrobe made so much sense now.
Not everypony can be as fashionable as you!
I kept chopping, slicing the carrots, my mind formulating conspiracies and—
"I'm back!" Vinyl chimed in.
I pulled back, bleeding. The kitchen knife clattered to the floor, the tip stained with red.
"Octy!" Vinyl gasped at the sight of me clutching my bleeding hoof. "Are you alright? Are you feeling woozy? A little dizzy? Do you need to sit do—"
"I'm fine, Vinyl. It's just a paper cut."
"You call that a paper cut? It looks like you got tangled up with a manticore!"
"You're exaggerating, just get me a banda—"
She grabbed my hoof suddenly. "Here. Let me see."
Her muzzle inched closer.
"Ew! Vinyl! That's unsanitary!"
She didn't listen. She kept sucking until the wound was dry and pulled away with a pop.
"All better now?"
I blinked. "Yes." The wound had stopped flowing. I snatched my hoof away. "Thanks, I guess."
"I'll go get some bandages."
It was her being overprotective, that's all.
I was lying to myself. There were just too many coincidences, too many that I just couldn't ignore! Everything I'd read in my novel pointed towards Vinyl being a vampire. And what was that thing, sucking on my hoof?!
Maybe I could demand an explanation, yes.
...And have my throat ripped out for asking. Vampires were bloodthirsty monsters.
She had tasted my blood! I trusted Vinyl, but there was that glimmer of doubt in the back of my head. What if she betrayed me? What if the lust for blood was enough to overcome our friendship?
I was going to need some garlic.