I stopped in my tracks as I saw the telltale red and blue lantern light of a police cart down the street, parked right outside of what I assumed was Honeysuckle’s former abode.
Part of me had hoped that the police finished their investigation during the night and would leave me with scraps, but I couldn’t back out now.
There had to be another way.
I made my way towards the light, musing over how the modest house looked like the very definition of ‘normal’. It even had a white picket fence and everything.
The only thing that made it stand out from the rest was the crowd of onlookers that huddled around the yellow police tape. I ventured a guess that the ponies that get up as early as I do were either satisfying their morbid curiosity or just simply worried about their fellow pony. I stopped only for a second to quickly toss my hooves through my mane, messing up once perfectly-coiffed hair. It was a small price to pay to help the disguise. I continued walking towards the house and kept my head down, eyes to the ground, away from the police officers or anyone in the crowd. To anybody who saw me, I was just another pony, returning from a late night at work and heading home.
It was best not to draw any unwanted attention to myself.
“Oh my gosh, who killed her?”
“Listen, she wasn’t killed by anyone, it was a suicide.”
“How can you be so sure, huh? Do you have investigators in there?!”
“Sir, either calm down or I’m going to force you to leave.”
“But how do you know?”
“Listen, I’ll tell ya what we told the reporters! She-”
“Melilot, calm down. Ma’am, I was one of the first responders and I saw the body and I can assure you, there are no serial killers in Ponyville.”
I did my best to stifle a laugh as I walked by.
If they only knew…
“We’ve got about another hour before the investigators finish processing the body. Then we’ve got the go ahead to look around for any motive to the suicide.”
My ears perk up at this news.
Bingo. Just what I wanted to hear.
Without breaking stride, I ducked into one of the nearby alleyways and circled around towards the backyard. With any luck, they would have forgotten to cordon it off.
You see, contrary to popular belief, the police are not omnipotent. If they had any idea of what really happened in this town and what I did, they would probably lock me up and throw away the key. However, they aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer.
Ponyville doesn’t really have a budget for a true police force. Instead, they have a rag-tag group of volunteers with minimal training. They know how to write reports, rope off scenes, and arrest ponies for all sorts of misdemeanors.
But when it comes to dealing with the death of another pony? They haven’t got a clue. Fortunately, they didn’t suspect a murder. Otherwise, they would have gone into full-on panic mode.
I stuck my head out of the alleyway and looked around for any sort of guard or patrol that might have been posted back here. But no, I was right. They had forgotten to cover the back of the house, leaving it completely exposed.
Hopping the fence in one quick movement, I made my way through the jungle that Honeysuckle called a backyard.
Dear Celestia, it looks like it hasn’t seen a lawnmower in wee—
I stumbled only for a second has my hooves caught on something hidden beneath the dense lawn.
“Lousy rusted scooter…” I grumbled as I wrested myself from its clutches. Its blue paint job had spots of rust and looked like it had been there for years. After regaining my composure and tossing the scooter aside, I made my way for the back door.
My pulse picked up a bit as I got closer to the doorway. I’ve trespassed on another pony’s property many times before, but I couldn’t help but be nervous. And for good reason: the police were waiting just outside and either one of the ponies could catch me in the act if they were attentive enough. I grabbed hold of the doorknob and turned it slowly, making sure the hinges didn’t squeak aloud. I opened the door just a bit; enough to stick my head in and take a quick look around.
Coast is clear…
The door glided open silently as I mad my way into what I guessed was the kitchen.
I should leave the door open just a bit, I think as I turned into the room, in case I need to make a quick—OH DEAR CELESTIA
I did my best to not retch at the sight and alert my officer friends to my presence.
I know it’s ill to speak of the dead, but in life, Honeysuckle was a filthy little filly who cared little for her well-being. I couldn’t believe how abhorrent a state the kitchen was in. Mold was growing on everything. It was on the dishes, the floor, the half-eaten food...
“It’s a nightmare…” I mumble, aghast. I HATE mold. I’ve always hated anything dirty, but after reading about how certain kinds of mold can actually grow inside your body, I developed a new-found hate for all fungus.
There was aspergillus, what looked like stachybotrys, some cladosporium, and enough penicillin to start a pharmacy. My first instinct kicked in and I immediately turned around, mentally preparing a hot shower in my head, followed by a liberal application of anti-fungal cream. But that nagging feeling returned, and it stopped me from running. I needed to look around the house before the police did.
I took a deep breath and move as quickly and quietly through the biohazard Honeysuckle once called a kitchen, almost stepping on a rotten apple in the process.
“How could anyone live like this?”
The kitchen was a disaster, but the living room looked a bit more… livable, albeit dusty. A quick scan turned up nothing of importance: a coffee table with some half-eaten breakfast on it, a book shelf with random books and magazines messily assorted, and other things that bugged my inner clean-freak to no end.
Upstairs, and then out of here… I reasoned as my search continued to turn up nothing.
Slowly, I made my way to the base of the stairs and ascended quietly, only to stop when something catches my eye: an armoire.
Past experience told me that sometimes, the skeletons you’re looking for might actually be in the closet. Opening it up, I find that it’s not full of actual skeletons, but papers.
Papers and photographs.
The assorted bills and bank notices were useless to me; overdraft fees, payments due, and account statements. However, the pictures told a more interesting story.
There were at least three different ponies in the photos. I recognized Honeysuckle from the newspaper article, but the other two were new to me.
The first was a deep orange pegasus who smiled widely as he put a hoof around Honeysuckle’s shoulder. She, however, wasn’t as happy as he was and kept a more neutral tone.
The second one worried me; an orange filly with a bright purple mane that smiled as she stood on a blue scooter.
The newspaper didn’t say anything about Honeysuckle being married, let alone having a child. I distinctly remember it saying she was single.
So many things didn’t make sense today.
First, I agree to spend the time with Pinkie Pie. Time I could be using to get rid of some incriminating evidence in my basement.
Second, something about this suicide set off all my warning bells at once and its forcing me to risk a confrontation with the police.
The hair along my back stands up on end and my mind races with a million different questions.
Who else was here? Is it a cop?
Did the police hear? What happens if I get caught? What do I tell them?
Should I hide? What was that? Was it upstairs?
Should I run now? Am I going to have to fight?
I tackle the biggest question and watch the front door and the shadows on the drapes for any sort of movement. I counted the seconds as I stood still as a statue, waiting for the first signs of danger.
By the thirty second mark, I realized that they probably didn’t hear whatever was upstairs over the crowd. I was lucky; but I could feel my luck running out and did not want to extend my visit any farther.
I get to the top of the stairs in a few silent bounds and found myself looking down a hallway with three doors, each with the lights on and open.
I decided to do a quick sweep around and get an idea of the second story layout.
The bathroom I inspected was obviously the one where that Honeysuckle killed herself in. The bathtub was filled to the brim with a mix of blood and water and occasionally dripped onto the tile and into the grout.
That’s going to stain… I think as I move onto the next room.
The crude crayon drawing of an orange filly with the word “Scootaloo” on the door tipped me off that this was the daughter’s room. Without it, I probably would have assumed it was a guest room. The bed was made, the floor was clean, and there were no children’s toys to speak of. Other than that, there was nothing interesting or indicative of what made the noise.
Just as I begin to leave, I hear a rustling that makes me stop dead in my tracks. It was coming from underneath the bed.
I approached the bed slowly and knelt down to get a better look, only to find myself face to face with the filly from the picture. She looked utterly terrified at my presence.
She backs up further under the bed, never taking her eyes off of me.
“Don’t be afraid, Scootaloo. My name is Daymos. I’m not going to hurt you.”
Her expression slowly softens and she looks at me curiously. “H…How do you know my name?”
“Well, you see… I…”
“…I’m a good friend of your mother. She’s told me all about you.”
Her eyes narrow slightly as she looks me over.
“How do you know my mom? I’ve never seen you before.”
Clever little filly…
“I met her at the café once when she was on break. We’d talk about everything going on in the news or how her job on the weather patrol was...”
Scootaloo’s eyes began to light up just a bit. I was hitting the nail on the head.
I go for broke.
“…but the topic would usually circle back towards you. She really does love you.”
“W-Well of course she loves me,” Scootaloo says bashfully, “she’s awesome like that.”
Finally, she gets out from underneath the bed, a little uneasy at first. She must have been under there for a long time if her legs got this cramped. Instead of trying to stand, she slumps down on her haunches and looked up to me with a worried expression painted across her face.
“They took my mom… Where did they take her?”
“You mean the investigators?” I asked.
The filly shrugs. “I don’t know… They were wearing blue and they… they carried her out in a white sheet. She wasn’t moving…” she says sullenly, “what happened?”
I did my best to side-step the question and explain something else. I was not going to be the one who broke the news to her.
“Scootaloo, those were the police. They’re going to want to talk to you about what happened. I should—”
It just hit me. I was so worried about the filly that I didn’t think about my own skin. I couldn’t just leave her here and on top of that, she already knew my name and face.
“What’s wrong?” Scootaloo asked as I went quiet.
I hated to drag her into my web of lies, but if I was to get out of this, I needed her help.
“You see, the police didn’t know you were here and roped off the entire area after they took your mom away. I tried to get in, but they wouldn’t, no matter what I told them. So I sort of… sneaked in. I’m just worried what they’re going to do when they find out what I did.”
Scootaloo gives me a puzzled look. “Why did you sneak in?”
“Well… I was worried. About you,” I lie plainly.
“Of course I was,” I tell her as I try to help her to her hooves again “now, let’s go downstairs and-”
She stumbled again as she got to her feet, but this time, I noticed something; her whole body was shaking.
“I feel dizzy…” she said weakly as she began to slump back down to the floor.
Oh no. Oh no.
Acting quickly, I scoop her up and do my best to balance her on my back.
“Are you awake?” I ask her loudly. Her eyes were closed and she wasn’t moving, but she was breathing.
High school biology was all the context I needed to know what was happening to her. Pegasi have a high metabolism that gives them the energy they need to fly, which means they need to eat regularly. If they go without eating for long enough, their blood sugar gets low.
It can get so low, in fact, that they can go into hypoglycemic shock.
And that’s just what happened to Scootaloo.
I couldn’t just leave her for the police to find; by then, she could go into seizures. I knew I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to her, so I barreled down the stairs and hoped for the best as I burst through the front door, startling the crowd of ponies and the police officers equally.
One of the officers jumped in front of my path and took an aggressive stance. “HOW DID-”
I ground to a halt and turned so he could see just who I was carrying. I was in no mood for twenty questions. “She has to get to a hospital! NOW!”
Everypony realized the gravity of the situation as they looked at Scootaloo’s limp body hanging on my back.
The other officer shoved his partner out of the way and motioned me forward, quickly. “OUT OF HIS WAY! GET OUT OF HIS WAY!”
The crowd of ponies parted in front of me, allowing me to make my way into the streets and towards Ponyville Urgent Care.
I pace when I’m nervous. I admit it’s a horrible habit, but I can’t break myself of it. It makes other ponies around me uneasy as I walk from one end of a room to the other, silently mouthing a conversation with myself.
The police just went to talk to Scootaloo and ask her some simple questions. You know, like what’s your name? And how are you? And who’s the stallion pacing nervously in the waiting room?
I wasn’t nervous about Scootaloo, oh no. The doctor was kind enough to inform me that she was put on a glucose drip and she’s doing much better.
I was nervous because the police wanted to talk to me about that little stunt I pulled. I heard the series of heavy hoof-steps behind me and realized it was time.
I took a deep breath and approached the officer with a soft smile.
“Hello, officer, I’m—”
“Daymos,” he finishes for me, “I know. I’m Officer Lucky. Scootaloo said you were the one who found her.”
I nodded slowly. “Yes, I was.”
He motioned for me to take a seat and I followed, sitting myself down right beside him.
“Now, I’m glad that the kid is doing okay, but I have to talk to you about a few things... First off, Scootaloo says you knew her mother. Is this true?”
“Yes, we were friends.” I said without hesitation.
“No, not exactly. We talked and enjoyed the other’s company.”
Officer Lucky nodded thoughtfully. “And just how did you get into the crime scene? I was there when my partner and I roped it off.”
I didn’t need to lie about this part, so I told it unabashedly. “I jumped over the fence in the yard and went in through the back door.”
“I figured that much... But why? Why didn’t you just tell someone that there was a kid inside?”
This was going to be the hard part. A good lie is like a good blanket: woven expertly and can cover everything.
“I tried to, but I guess your partner was fed up with all the questions and wouldn’t even hear me out. When I went talk to you, he stopped me and told me to leave. I needed to find Scootaloo and make sure she was okay, so I snuck in.” I paused before dealing the final blow. “I’m sorry if I’ve hindered the investigation in any way.”
Officer Lucky sighed heavily as he rubbed his brow.
“Melilot, you idiot...” he cursed under his breath. “Listen, my partner has a bit of a temper. I can see why you did what you did, and, in this case, I’m not going to have you brought up on charges,”
Thank Celestia, I thought with some measure of relief.
“But,” he added, “There is still something else we need to discuss.”
“Whatever you need, officer.”
“Good, because we have sort of a problem...” he said as he pulled a clipboard from out of his pack, “You see, Scootaloo can be released within the hour, but we can’t track down any other relatives. She has a grandmother, but she’s out of town for the next three weeks. So Scootaloo has no legal guardians to care for her at this moment.”
As he handed me the clipboard, a knot twisted itself deep in the pit of my stomach.
I immediately knew what he wanted from me.
“She’s really taken a liking to you. And I think she’d be better in your care than in an orphanage.”