Breathe in, breathe out. Use the paper bag, Octavia. Go to your happy place! Where was that happy place? I don't know!
"Octy, you're gonna pass out if you keep hyperventilating like that."
"Who's hyperventilating? I'm not hyperventilating, are you suggesting that I am? Because I'm not! I'm not!" I shrieked.
"I don't see what's the big deal. Your mom just wants to take you to dinner—"
"But it's not only Mother, Vinyl!" I cried. "It's her, and Father, and they want you there as well!"
"Aw sa-weet! Where are we going? Do they have hay fries there?"
I slammed my head down on the table with a painful thud and an, "Ow...", groaning miserably.
Remain calm. Everything will be fine, it'll all be fine, just fine. You just have to make it through dinner with Mother and Vinyl Scratch. Sitting together. At the same table. You can do this!
But what if I can't?
You can! Keep calm and canter on! You just have to keep it together! Keep—it—together!
"How did she know we moved in together?"
I grabbed her face with my hooves, whispering harshly, "Mother knows everything."
"Don't you worry your pretty little head," Vinyl said, patting me on the head in a patronizing manner, "Your Auntie Vinyl Scratch's got it all taken care of!"
She didn't understand, did she? What this meant? Of course she didn't. I wouldn't expect her to, no more than I would expect anything from her. I had no right to. And to think, everything had started out so simple. Black and white. Light and dark. Somewhere down the road, that line that I had been walking went blurry. Suddenly things weren't as clear as they seemed. The colors started to run together, like some foal's chalk art on a Manehattan sidewalk being washed away by the rain. Smudged and gray. There were no easy answers, ever, especially not for this. I had to make a choice, to commit to her.
My head hurt. Too many things to think about. Triage, priorities. The vampire issue was the last thing on my mind now. The dinner. Nightmare Night was in a few days, not that I particularly cared. The Grand Galloping Gala in the winter; after last year's fiasco, I was surprised they'd let us come back. If Mother didn't approve of Vinyl...
Vinyl munched on some celery, peanut butter all over her face. "You want some?" She grinned.
She was beautiful. And I hated her for making me feel this way, hated myself. This self-loathing was starting to get to me.
"Octy? You look kinda stressed."
I sighed, nodding. "A little. Just trying to think about how I'm going to get my mum to like you is all."
"Quit your worrying. She'll love me! I'm the life of a party!"
I smiled. "That's what I'm afraid of."
My heart pounded against my chest as I walked over to the cabinet, facing away from her. I reached in and with my hoof, crushed some garlic, the juices spreading. I had to finish this. Crack the case. There was too much at stake for me to play around any more. I had taken on the role of a detective, unraveling all the mysteries that plagued my thoughts. Following that sketchy trail of clues to that final revelation, even if it was going to kill me. I had to know, and I had to know now before we went any further with this.
I struggled to form the words in my mouth. I closed my eyes. "The other day, when you said you had to run an errand." My voice was slow, deliberate, velvety.
Vinyl ventured cautiously. "Yeah. So what?"
"You lied to me, didn't you?"
"I know where you went."
"I can explain."
"Can you?" I wheeled around on my hooves. "Please do. Do explain, Vinyl."
"I was visiting...a friend."
"Liar," I snapped. "The Canterlot Hematology branch! What were you doing there?"
"You've been spying on me."
It wasn't a question.
"Fine. I'll tell you."
My heart raced even faster. I was all wrong! Thank Celestia, I was being so stupid! There was a completely reasonable, rational explanation behind all of this, and now I was going to solve the riddle that had tormented my mind!
"I was getting the results for a blood test. That's all."
"Why? Are you ill?"
She sighed and bit her lip. Finally she said, "I'm an albino."
"You're a what?"
"An albino," she mumbled, her head cast down. "I can't go out in the sun cause my eyes are sensitive and my coat sunburns easily."
The way she said it made it sound like it was a condition to be ashamed of. At least that explained her strange wardrobe, and the sunglasses.
"And what about garlic?" I said quietly.
My hoof moved over to one of the kitchen drawers as I pulled it open slightly, searching for a certain silver implement.
"Garlic. You wouldn't eat any of my pasta."
"Octy, I just really hate garlic! Is that so hard to believe?" she sputtered. "What's the third degree anyways?"
"Vinyl, you don't look so good."
I reached towards her, my hoof dripping with garlic juice, watching her shift back, startled.
"Are you sick?"
I pressed my hoof against her head, watching her wince in pain.
"Your temperature seems normal," I lied. "So what you're telling me is that all of this secrecy is just to hide the fact," I growled, "that you have a skin condition?"
I hadn't prepared for this. I hadn't taken any precautions. I was just being me, being my impulsive self. Ready to jump to conclusions.
"You should have just told me."
Vinyl frowned. "Sorry. Didn't know it meant so much to you."
So that was it, wasn't it? All wrapped up, nice and neat, with a little bow on top. It was perfect. Too perfect.
I snorted, and began to laugh.
I laughed a little more, wiping an imaginary tear from my eye. "Can you imagine, all this time, I thought you were a vampire?"
Her jaw dropped. And even then, she began to laugh. But it wasn't the kind of laugh where you would injure yourself by laughing too hard. It was the kind of laugh when you had something to hide. A nervous laugh. The kind where you were laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, amazed that you had gotten through unscathed.
"That's, heh, that's really funny, Octy. I told you you were way into those vampire novels."
I narrowed my eyes. "So if you're not a vampire, then I have to ask," I said, bucking the fridge door open, the blood bags spilling all over the floor as I shouted, "what are these for?!"
Complete and utter silence. I tried to bore my eyes into hers.
Vinyl sucked in. "Octy, it's just pomegranate juice."
My eyes bulged. "You've got to be joking." Who thought it was a good idea to package fruit juice in a bag with an IV needle?!
She laughed, picking the "blood" bags up from the kitchen floor. "Nightmare Night? It's this week. Remember? I thought you'd like it."
Pomegranate juice was my favorite. "Oh, well that explains it then."
"Now will you let this all go?" Vinyl asked, moving to put them back in the fridge.
Let it go. Seriously.
"Wait," I said.
She froze, turning her head slowly.
"How about you and me share one, right now?"
And with those very words I saw her pale, the color draining from her face.
"Uh, y' know Octy, it wouldn't make very much sense—"
"C'mon, let's just have a sip."
"Err, I'm not really that thirsty anymore..."
"Vinyl, open it."
She gulped and poked it with a straw. Taking a sip, she grinned nervously, sweating bullets. "Mmm." She gulped it down, still grinning. "Tastes delicious."
"Really? Let me try." I reached towards it.
She snatched it away. "No!" She stammered. "I mean, no, Octy, this actually tastes really awful. You wouldn't like it—"
I grabbed it from her.
"Octy, no, don't!"
I scowled, taking a sip. My eyes widened as the taste filled my mouth. Coppery, metallic, bitter. Difficult to swallow. Cold and slimy going down.
I was drinking blood.
I immediately spat it out, screaming, hurtling it away. The blood cascaded from my lips into the sink as I gagged on the vile fluids. I turned to Vinyl and saw her, turned away from me, her body twitching as she struggled with some invisible foe. She let loose a primal scream, howling in a way so unnatural, so hideous, it sent a shiver down my spine.
"V-Vinyl?" I whispered, edging closer.
She turned around. I screamed again. My mind barely had any time to process it. A pair of fangs jutting from her upper jaw, glinting, razor sharp. I lunged for the silver kitchen knife. What else was I to do? I swiped at her with it, watching as she dodged the blade and yanked it from my hooves. You can't say I didn't try. Now I was a dead mare. Dead on arrival.
"You shouldn't have done that," she hissed. Her voice was harsh and wicked.
I smashed my hoof into her face, into one of her purple lenses, shattering them, revealing what lay beneath. An eye, crimson and evil. Demonic. This was not the Vinyl Scratch I knew and loved. This was a monster.
I screamed again. My, I was getting good at this.
I know nothing of angels, but it is fear that gives ponies wings. I ran, as fast as I could, down the hall and darting into my room, tripping over my vanity and breaking the mirror. I hissed in pain, feeling one shard cut my hoof. I locked the door and scrambled underneath my bed.
I could hear nothing but the sound of my own breathing that I kept trying to stop, my heart racing, my eyes dilated with fear. I was cold now, my body shaking. The sound of hooves on carpet grew louder and louder.
"Where are you, Octy?"
The way her fanged mouth twisted my affectionate nickname. I couldn't help but cry some more.
"You know I'll find you."
She was the hunter, I was the hunted. Predator, prey. She was sniffing me out!
"I can smell you," the vampire cooed.
My bedroom door flew open, flying off its hinges. I mouthed a scream, closing my eyes. I quivered underneath my bed, tears streaming down my face as I tried to stifle my sobs by biting down on my hoof. Opening my eyes I could see her hooves walking around. Dangerously close. She moved over to my closet and tore it open with unimaginable strength. My whimpers grew and grew as flattered my ears, trying to block it all out, trying to hide.
I watched her hooves disappear from the room. Seconds passed. A minute. What felt like hours. The breath I had been holding was let out and I sighed in relief.
As I shifted my hooves I felt something grab onto my rear legs. I tugged, struggling, before I was yanked out from underneath the bed.
One last breath. A bloodcurdling scream ripped from my throat, my last one as I gazed up at the vampire, a pair of crimson glowing eyes gazing down upon me, a pair of glinting fangs in her mouth, wet with saliva as she licked her lips.