Everything is Fine
Chapter 5 – Inside Out
Two years, two months after meteor...
Shafts of golden light speared through the trees, illuminating the dusty trail. Sunset, beautiful sunset, turned the world into a magical place. The clouds overhead glowed as they rolled across the sky. Only one pair of eyes took in their majesty.
Smiling, Fluttershy sat alone on the dusty trail and stared at the clouds. A basket hung from her mouth, empty. Time for herself had become a precious thing these past few weeks. Her friends all vied for her attention on a daily basis. There wasn’t even time to try to clear away the clouds anymore.
The no-longer-little pegasus sighed and stretched her body. No matter how strong she got from all the work she did it would never register to her. She acknowledged that life in Ponyville had become…easier. Everypony went about their day to day lives like clockwork. Sometimes one or two of them would need help getting around and she would assist, but more often than not everything just sort of worked out.
But tomorrow wouldn’t be like every other day. It was hard to keep her mind on other things while Twilight Sparkle’s home was still fresh in her thoughts. Imagining spending the day not with just one of her friends, but with all of them…
Not that, of course, she knew what would happen tomorrow. Fluttershy couldn’t know. And so, with a wistful sigh, she stood up and continued on home.
Perhaps with a little more skip in her step then was warranted.
The cabin door, perpetually unlocked, opened with a loud squeak with a touch of her hoof. Just another thing to oil or fix or reinforce. Fluttershy added it to a mental list that she would convert to paper when she had the chance. Squeaky doors weren’t a part of perfect Ponyville.
Just as she had left him, Angel smiled up at her from the couch. Her perfect little angel. Smiling back at him, she placed her empty basket down by the door and walked over, “Good evening, Angel! Did you have a good day today?”
His eyes lit up as she approached. Fluttershy could just tell he wanted to be picked up and hugged, so that’s exactly what she did. The rabbit had gotten so loving and caring over the past few years. He’d always hold his arms up and want to cuddle and hug. Sometimes he felt like nothing more than bones, but she wouldn’t force him to eat if he didn’t want to.
The thought of food made her stomach growl. It occurred to her that she had skipped lunch. It wasn’t her fault. Time had just gone by so quickly at Twilight’s…
And again her mind drifted to tomorrow’s fun. Repeating the same motions she had done countless times, she took out and prepared a salad for herself. Salads were easy and she always kept some ingredients handy to make them if she was tired.
The pegasus ate while she thought about the games she would play with Pinkie Pie. About the books Twilight would want to talk about. About the crops Applejack would want to consider. About the clothes Rarity would-
She coughed. The salad tasted funny…
It wasn’t enough to make her stop eating, however, or to completely derail her thoughts. Of course, she couldn’t forget Rainbow Dash wanting to discuss her next amazing trick. After what happened last time it was a miracle she was still in one piece. Now she wanted to do loops and spins and-
Fluttershy stopped dead, face half way to the bowl before her. It had never been an issue to leave food outside her storage containers before. However, she realized letting her mind wander had caused her to overlook something fairly important…
Her carrots were green.
More frightening then that was the fact that she had eaten almost the entire salad. She shoved the bowl away and fought down panic. It was fine, it’s not like it was poison. They were just a little moldy. Her stomach could handle that.
The ever darkening world around her seemed to grow darker.
“It’s fine!” she said aloud. How could she get sick from something like this? No pony ever got sick anymore! Besides, she had a ton of medicine stocked up here and more at the hospital in Ponyville. If something did happen, then she was prepared.
Sensing its easy defeat, the darkness receded. Fluttershy sighed in relief and started to clean up.
She had a big day tomorrow.
Before she crawled into bed that night, Fluttershy had decided to let Angel sleep beside her. He was always so warm and cuddly. Plus, her stomach had felt kind of funny, so she just wanted to hold him and feel better.
That’s why she only had herself to blame when she woke up the next morning, uncurled herself from her ball-like position, and vomited all over him.
It all happened so quickly that the pony could barely process what had occurred. Her eyes stared into Angel’s sockets. Bile ran down his face. She could see the shock in his eyes.
Like a bolt of lightning, Fluttershy’s mind snapped into focus. With it came pain. Her stomach felt like it was being squeezed by a hand made of fire. But even as her insides burned, her teeth started to chatter. Cold. She felt so cold all of a sudden.
Though her mind had woken up completely it still felt as if she was in a dream. As she tried to get out of bed, she forgot what she had just done and slipped in the mess onto the floor. Angel clattered across the floor, unharmed. He had been wired tighter together for reasons she couldn’t remember.
It was hard for Fluttershy to even remember where she was for a moment as she lay on the floor, staring at Angel. Her life was nothing but pain, confusion, and invading fear. A previous memory rocketed to the forefront of her mind: it was tomorrow.
Excitement stomped out fear. It was tomorrow!
Fluttershy suddenly realized what was going on. “Angel!” she cried, her throat raw, “You poor thing, you must have eaten something bad for you…” The little rabbit must have been sick, that’s why he had thrown up. Poor thing…
Climbing slowly to her feet, the pegasus walked over to Angel. Her stomach was becoming a dull pain that she could ignore. “I’ll give you a quick bath before I go out today…” said Fluttershy. It hurt to talk but she wanted to let Angel know she was there for him.
Gingerly, telling herself that it wouldn’t be as bad as she knew it would, Fluttershy bent down and bit on Angel’s ear. There was no other choice. Her hooves were slippery with vomit. Lifting him up, she quickly turned and nearly ran to the bathroom. The taste of bile back in her already unclean mouth almost made her drop him.
The early morning sunlight lit up the bathroom through its single window. A bathtub stretched across one wall, and this was what Fluttershy dropped Angel into. She had not planned in advance for this so no water had been brought up to the upstairs bathroom other than a small amount she kept handy to splash on her face to wake up.
Mind still slowed, it wasn’t too difficult a choice to leave Angel a chore for later and deal with the horrible taste in her mouth. The pegasus went to the sink and, after splashing water on her face to clean in, washed out her mouth. It helped. A little.
The water was freezing. She was acutely aware that her shakes hadn’t stopped since she had gotten out of bed. “What strange weather we’re having today…” she said as she toweled off. It had just grown colder, that was all.
No cold would stop her from having this day.
One thick sweater later, the yellow pony was on her way to Ponyville. The day seemed a lot brighter than usual, and stung her eyes a little, but that was ok. Fluttershy knew the path by heart.
Though she should have felt warm in the wool sweater, she continued to shiver. The numbness in her stomach had started to spread as well. This was also ok. It’s not like she was sick. No pony ever got sick anymore…
There, just like she knew she’d be, was Pinkie Pie standing alone on the trail. “Good morning, Pinkie Pie!” said Fluttershy cheerily.
When she got closer, the pink pony said, “Good moooooorning, Fluttershy! Isn’t just a super duper looper day today?”
Laughing softly, the pegasus just nodded. Pinkie Pie was always so full of energy and life…
The ghost of a headache started to make itself known in Fluttershy’s head. Darkness seemed to gather in the long morning shadows. But…but there was nothing wrong!
“Um…let’s go to Twilight’s, Pinkie!” she blurted out and started pushing Pinkie Pie along the trail. The pegasus had not tied a rope to the earth pony to pull her along, thinking to spend a relaxing walk with her friend. What a foolish idea-
No, not foolish. It was a great idea that just didn’t happen the way she wanted. Why would she even think such negative things…?
Shadows lazily followed the two ponies through Ponyville, feeding on the pegasus’s anxiety.
Key, key, where is that…oh…the doors unlocked…of course it is…
Fluttershy pressed her shivering body against the library door to open it. Why had she thought she needed a key? No pony locked their door since…she…couldn’t remember.
The headache had built to a pulsing pain inside her skull. She and Pinkie had passed the hospital along the way to Twilight’s, but had kept walking. Feeling a little under the weather wasn’t enough to warrant going to…where again?
“Ugh…” the pegasus rubbed her temples with her hooves. It had become so much harder to think straight. She just wanted to lie down…
But she was a guest at Twilight’s house, and so she needed to be respectful. Besides, everypony was there already now that Pinkie Pie was outside. Smiling weakly, she put her hooves down and walked over to where her unicorn friend sat. A book was open in front of her, as usual. “Good…um…afternoon! Good afternoon, Twilight!”
The purple pony smiled at her friend’s approach but kept her eyes on the book before her. She looked fuzzy to Fluttershy. The unicorn’s mouth opened to say something but…she couldn’t figure out what she would…no, she couldn’t find the words…wait, she couldn’t…
“Gah!” Fluttershy cried as her headache erupted like a volcano. Her legs fell out from under her and she hit the floor hard. The room spun.
Laughter broke through the madness but did not replace it. Weakly, Fluttershy looked around the room, “Who’s…there?”
Wind slammed the door to the house shut. The loud noise made her jump and brought a small amount of control back. Laughter continued to come from the deepening darkness surrounding her.
Have to get out. Have to get to the hospital. Something is wrong with me. Have to get out.
But even when she got her legs under her they would only move so fast. It was like she was moving through water. Sensing her intent, the darkness deepened faster, the laughter turning to a growl. Fluttershy struggled with all her might to put one weak hoof in front of the other.
But it was so dark and fuzzy. The headache hurt so bad. She stumbled and toppled into Applejack, who fell over sideways through the entrance to the basement. Fluttershy tried to push forward and grab her friend.
They both tumbled down the ramp.
Fluttershy had many friends. Darkness was not one of them. In every place darkness would gather, she had made sure to put something she could light to chase it away. Twilight’s basement was no exception.
The fall had not knocked her out, though she was beginning to wish it had. There weren’t words she could find to describe how much pain she was in. And even though she could barely think, the need for light forced her to reach for the lantern.
A few flicks of the flint lit the wick and bathed the room in light. The sudden change made her shut her eyes. But it was light. That was one need fulfilled.
What was she doing down there, again?
The pegasus opened her eyes and noticed Applejack instantly. The earth pony was upright, leaning against a trunk. Light from the lantern created a dancing shadow puppet of her friend on the wall behind her.
For several seconds, Fluttershy didn’t know what to do next. Hot, cold, pain, aching. She just wanted to sleep…
Half-closed lids shot open. Frightened, the pony’s head jerked side to side, trying to find the source of the voice.
The dancing shadow of her friend froze. A red dot appeared on its face and grew. Outlined teeth turned sharp and jagged. When the dot had grown to the size of an egg, a smaller black dot appeared within it and grew as well. After just moments, the blood red eye turned its attention to the shaking pony below.
It’s mouth stretching into a grin but otherwise staying completely still, the shadow spoke, “If you wish to sleep, then sleep…if you wish to die, then die…”
Fluttershy’s knees went weak under her. “I… no... I… ” was all she could stammer out.
The red eye continued to expand slowly. “Do you know what I am, little Fluttershy? You were the one that created me, you know…when you tried to push all your hate and anger away, where did you think it went?”
“Away!” the pony cried out, tears welling in her eyes. “It went away! I don’t need it anymore!”
“YOU WILL ALWAYS NEED ME!” the shadow screamed. “And you will always have me! Deep inside you, ready to show you how miserable an existence you truly are! Creating these puppets out of your ‘friends’! Look at them!”
Shadows lashed out of the darkness around Fluttershy and wrapped around her legs. She screamed, thrashed, but they would not let go. Instead, they forced her to walk closer to Applejack, closer to the shadow creature.
The glowing red eye was now as large as a soccer ball. “This mockery of life,” it said, voice dripping spite, “You will destroy it with your own hooves!”
Eyes wide, the pegasus was forced to sit and lift her front legs up. Though only a few thoughts would process through her sickened mind, it was obvious what was about to happen.
“Take her apart,” she said.
She said that…
The shadows tried to make her hooves move forward but she fought it. Because…because they were a part of her. This was all…in her mind…
“Take…her…” the shadow made her say. It was talking through her, had been the entire time. There was no other way for it to speak.
All in her mind.
“Leave…my…friend…alone!” Fluttershy growled and twisted. The shadows snapped off her.
In a final act of rebellion, the red eye exploded and spread along the walls. The pony’s headache exploded.
DO NOT DENY ME!
Screaming, Fluttershy grabbed Applejack with her two front legs and ran up the basement ramp.
The darkness screamed back at her inside her head and-
Afternoon light bathed her as she ran into the living room of the library. Applejack fell from her legs as Fluttershy stumbled, falling onto her back. There was no darkness, no red eye. The headache was fading.
It was all…fading…
Light flashed briefly as the pony’s eyes fluttered a moment.
Hey! Get up!
Fluttershy felt her front leg rise and smack herself against the face. She cried out in surprise.
Get up, Celestia curse you!
Shaking her head, the pegasus rolled over onto her side. She was still in pain but her headache was gone. She still shivered, however, her sweater soaked in sweat. Though the headache was gone, the pony still found it hard to think.
That’s because you’re still sick! Get to the hospital before you kill us both!
“Go away… let me sleep... ” the pegasus said and started to pass out.
No no no no no! I will not die because YOU gave up!
Half-asleep, Fluttershy felt her body start to move on its own. While she registered it, she could do little to stop it.
Stumbling out the door, the pony tripped over Pinkie Pie, heard swearing in her mind, then got up and continued on towards the hospital. Steps before the entrance, she passed out again.
Night had fallen when the pony next awoke. A strange taste was in her mouth. It was a moment before she realized she recognized it: medicine. The bottle of the stuff she had taken rested on the ground beside her, still open.
The pain in her stomach was a ghost of its former self. Fluttershy’s thoughts came easier, clearer. She was getting better.
No thanks to you…
Othershy sat across the dark room. They were in the hospital waiting room. The medicine the pony had found was laid out on the chairs for easy use.
Fluttershy’s heartbeat rose at the sight of her dark specter. But Othershy stayed where she was, red eyes narrowed. There was a reason she wasn’t approaching but…it was hard right then to remember. She also couldn’t remember taking the medicine…
“You…helped me?” said the pegasus.
If I hadn’t, said Othershy in her mind, we both would have died. Do not expect me to do it again.
With that, the dark pony turned and faded away.
So much had happened in so short a time, Fluttershy couldn’t process it all. Her stomach growled suddenly.
She would think about it all over a large dinner.
Dark clouds covered the night sky as Fluttershy sat on her balcony, full. Everything she ate had been inspected rigorously. She would never get sick from her own neglect again, if she could help it.
Something important had occurred that day. It made her smile. Angel, in her lap, smiled with her. It had taken her some time to clean him off. The silly rabbit, getting sick…
Absently stroking his head, she said, “Want to hear about mama’s day, Angel? I spent the whooole day with my friends at Twilight’s house…and I think I made a new one…”