Author note: This is a spinoff of my story, A Dream. It’s not required reading, and changes several details. This story is rated teen for mild swearing and internet humor.
“I’m Sweetie Belle. This is Scootaloo, and this is Apple Bloom. Our current events presentation is on the Changeling invasion of Canterlot.”
The white filly stopped speaking for a moment to let her two companions get their notes ready. She continued. “And our special guest today will tell you his own perspective on the event.”
On cue, an orange-coated earth pony walked into the room. He moved with the slight swagger of someone who knew that he was the center of attention.
“Good afternoon, kids,” he said. “I’m Valiant. You all probably know me.”
The students did. Valiant was regarded as Ponyville’s resident nutcase.
The stallion went on. “You all probably heard that something bad happened in Canterlot last week. I’m proud to say that I was there and helped stop it.”
Apple Bloom put a slide up on the projector. It was a picture of a Changeling.
Valiant gestured to the screen. “These ugly guys tried to take over the city. How they operate is to transform into a duplicate of someone you care for and then feed on your affection. Lucky for me, I’m incapable of love, and I was able to stop the attack. Could I get another slide please?” he asked. “Thanks. What you see here is a dramatization of the final battle.” The slide showed a cartoon drawing of Valiant posing with the head of Queen Chrysalis.
Cheerilee had been watching from her desk at the front of the room. She glanced at the clock and stood up. “Well, we’re running out of time now. I’m sure you all wouldn’t want to miss the end of the day. See you tomorrow!”
The students collected their things and began to file out of the room. Valiant walked over to Cheerilee’s desk. She noted that his black mane and tail were groomed more than usual, which is to say he probably had run a brush through them once.
“You know, they could have gotten you to talk about the Battle of Canterlot instead of me,” said Valiant as the last few students filed out of the room. “You were there, too.”
Cheerilee glared at him. “I was lying in a pool of my own blood in the caves beneath the castle.”
“You say that like it was my—okay, I guess it was my fault. I didn’t force you to come on that adventure, though.”
Cheerilee sighed and looked away. “I just don’t understand how all this could have happened.”
“We’ve been over this before, but let me lay it out for you again,” said Valiant. “One, Blueblood was a vampire. Two, he bit Rarity. Three, Rarity bit me. Four, you ended up bleeding like crazy in a cave. Five, I had a sip because I thought you were already dead. Six, in the midst of the Changeling chaos, I killed Blueblood, which for some reason turned Rarity and me back, but not you.”
Cheerilee’s head dropped to the desk in frustration. “It’s not fair.”
Valiant shrugged. “Vampire biology is not a science that’s understood very well. Rarity, Twilight and I can be your little support group. We used to call it Vampires Anonymous.” He frowned. “I never really liked that name because Twilight wasn't one. Oh well, you’re still lucky that only the three of us know about you.”
“Lucky?” shouted Cheerilee. “I’m a monster! If anypony found out about this—”
Valiant cut her off. “Just be as normal as possible. If the day comes that you can’t stand it anymore, I’d be happy to apply euthanasia.” He smiled and left the room before she could retort.
Cheerilee sighed, cradling her face in her hooves. Valiant never failed to infuriate her. There was definitely something wrong with that pony. He said things like everyone and anybody. The machines he managed to build were giant and terrifying. He kept insisting that he was actually from another universe. Nopony took him seriously because they thought he was crazy, so he was able to get away with just about anything.
Well, there was no point in sitting inside an empty school. Cheerilee collected some papers to grade and placed them in her saddlebags for the trip home.
She walked through the market on her way home, glancing around. It seemed strange that things in town could be so…normal. The Changelings had damaged Canterlot, but Ponyville looked exactly like it did the week before. The only thing different was her.
Cheerilee looked the same as always. The only thing she had to be careful of was smiling, but there had been precious little to be cheerful about lately. She felt like a traitor to her happy-flowers cutie mark.
While nopony gave Cheerilee a second glance, she couldn’t help but feel that she was under intense scrutiny. She was very careful, wary that any small thing she might do could give away her condition. The few ponies who had noticed her different attitude thought that she was merely preoccupied about something.
Cheerilee ran her tongue around her mouth, feeling the two sharp points that grew there. By her very nature, she was not conditioned to hate anything, but she felt no other emotion for the fangs. She hated them. She hated what she was.
Cheerilee turned off the main road and wound her way back through the quiet streets of Ponyville. Her house was a decent size, and just for her. She glanced for a moment at the exterior before going inside. It was not a particularly noteworthy place. The last time anypony had knocked on the door was Nightmare Night. She sighed. Next year, she wouldn’t need a costume.
After checking the mail, Cheerilee sat down at the kitchen table to grade papers. It was the most tedious part of her job. She didn’t get paid for it, either. Her salary was based on the time spent in the classroom. Anything else was done on her own time.
She glanced at the refrigerator. At least she hadn’t needed to spend money on food since last week. There was still a bottle of milk and some fruit in the fridge. She couldn’t consume it, but she couldn’t bear to throw it out, either.
There were a couple of assignments to be graded, a spelling test and a history exam. Cheerilee was done in a few hours. She relaxed a little and read the newspaper. Her eyes kept straying to the window. The sun was almost down.
It felt like there was not very much in Cheerilee’s life that she was still in control of. She could sit quietly in her own home and do what she pleased. That was about it. As the sky began to grow darker, however, she felt a rising sense of anxiety. She was getting hungry.
Just a walk, Cheerilee thought, vaguely aware that she was lying to herself. She exited the front door and headed out. The streets were largely deserted by this time of night.
Passing by the library where Twilight lived, Cheerilee saw Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo coming out. They climbed into a large machine that had legs instead of wheels. It was one of the older designs of “robots” that Valiant had built. If he was willing to trust such a dangerous piece of equipment to those three fillies, maybe he really was crazy.
Cheerilee saw the pony himself come out to say goodbye. He usually hung around the library and slept on the couch, as he had no place of his own. Cheerilee thought that Twilight was unusually gracious to let a pony like that stay around.
The fillies waved to Valiant and rumbled away in their robot. He glanced across the street and spotted Cheerilee. She didn’t stop as he came walking over, so he fell in step beside her.
“Where are you going at this time of night?” Valiant asked.
“I’m just out for a walk.”
He grinned. “Oh really?”
Cheerilee clenched her jaw and said nothing.
“Do you at least dispose of the bodies?” Valiant asked.
“Yes!" she snapped. "If I eat some poor rabbit or squirrel, I’ll give it a proper burial.”
Valiant shrugged. “I don’t particularly care if it’s proper. We just don’t need fang-marked corpses piling up and making the townsfolk nervous.”
"Who's 'we'?" Cheerilee asked.
"Twilight, Rarity, and I decided to rename our group the Vampire Protection Agency. Currently, we've only got one vampire in town to protect." He shrugged.
“How can you live with things like this?” muttered Cheerilee. For her, it was difficult just making it through the day knowing what she was capable of.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. Rarity likes to be all proper and uptight, but you should have seen her when it came to small mammals.” Valiant grinned at the memory.
Cheerilee glared at him. “Whoa,” said Valiant, “that's some serial killer stare you've got going on. They say it’s always the quiet ones. Anyway, good night.” He broke off and headed back to the library.
Well, there was no longer any point in pretending that she was just going for a walk. Cheerilee sighed and changed direction, her steps carrying her towards the Everfree Forest.
Many thanks to Doctor Whooves for the new cover art.
Warning: bloody dead bunnies ahead. That sounds funnier than it actually is. If you don’t like gore, do a ctrl+F and skip to the word “morning”
By themselves, trees were not scary. Even in groups, there was little they could do but sway in the wind. However, there was something different about the Everfree Forest. The trees somehow seemed more sinister. The winds they swayed to were not pony-created.
The entire Forest was abnormal. Dangerous, freakish creatures lived there, and the whole area was shrouded in sinister mystery. Ponies had disappeared there. Young foals were warned never to approach Everfree.
The only pony Cheerilee knew who tread there without fear was Valiant, but he didn’t count because he was insane. She looked worriedly at the dark leafy canopy above her head. Gaining fangs and a lust for blood hadn’t done anything to the uneasiness that she felt while in the Forest.
There was no other place for her to go, however. No other place offered privacy and an abundance of wildlife. Cheerilee’s eyes, more keen than they had been one week earlier, picked out a light trace in the undergrowth. It was a faint path traversed by rabbits as they hopped from one place to another.
It was on this very path that Cheerilee had killed for the first time. Not even swatting flies with her tail had ever involved death. It just wasn’t in her nature, or at least it hadn’t been. Only days ago, here in the forest, she had discovered just how much things had changed.
Cheerilee turned and walked parallel to the path. She’d find a rabbit eventually. She wondered vaguely how these new instincts had manifested. It felt like she was letting things happen automatically, and without input from a rational part of her brain.
There was movement up ahead, and the pony crouched slowly down into the bushes. A brown rabbit came along, looking oh-so-tasty. Cheerilee stayed as still as a rock.
The bunny stopped, sensing something was wrong. Its little nose wiggled, trying to determine if there was a threat in the area. Cheerilee launched herself out of hiding, slamming into the rabbit with her forehooves. While it would have been less messy to simply hold the rabbit down while she quickly nipped its neck, the struggling creature was difficult to contain and required a quicker dispatch.
Pony jaws are not particularly powerful, but Cheerilee’s teeth had no problems slicing through the tender flesh. The rabbit’s throat was opened, and its struggles began to grow weaker as blood gushed from its jugular.
Cheerilee shook her head, her teeth digging deeper into the limp body of the rabbit. The taste of blood was on her tongue, and she felt determined to drink more.
Somewhere amid the conclusion of the hunt, the quiet noises of the dying creature, and the sight of flowing crimson liquid, Cheerilee managed to override her instincts. Her knees buckled and she fell to the ground next to the mutilated rabbit. Sobbing, she rolled away from the kill, her mind a nonfunctioning wreck. She slowly cried herself to sleep.
Morning was not particularly apparent under the thick cover of trees. Cheerilee blinked in the dim light. Several seconds passed before she remembered why she was sleeping in the forest.
Cheerilee rolled over. At the sight of the dead rabbit next to her, she felt the need to be sick. It angered her slightly that her body did not comply. What was the point in being horrified if you couldn’t react like a normal pony?
She got up, carefully avoiding some blood that had dried during the night. The crusty red pool had spread out into a shape that vaguely resembled one of the flowers in her cutie mark. Cheerilee shuddered.
At the edge of the trees, it became apparent how high in the sky the sun had already risen. In a panic, Cheerilee galloped back towards Ponyville. While the fur coat that everypony wore was sufficient to protect from medium amounts of sun, a vampire’s eyes were sensitive.
That, and she was going to be late for school.
Cheerilee dashed inside her house and confronted the bathroom mirror. The old pony tales were not completely true. She had no problems looking at her reflection. It was lucky that she hadn’t encountered anypony in the streets, or they would have been horrified by the residual blood around her mouth.
After splashing some water on her face, Cheerilee touched up her mane with a brush. A shower would have been nice, but since becoming a monster she hadn’t really been perspiring. Nopony would notice.
With only minutes to spare, Cheerilee made it to the school building. As she walked in the door, she remembered the graded papers sitting on her kitchen counter. Oh well, they could be returned the next day.
Cheerilee had been a teacher long enough that she could tune out her brain and follow the lesson plan without really thinking about it. It bore a disturbing similarity to letting her instincts take over as she attacked small animals.
Mercifully, she was able to suppress most of the bad memories and the day went by quickly. After the last student was out the door, Cheerilee packed up her things and went over to the library for an appointment with Twilight. The purple unicorn had been supportive of her condition, although she had the annoying tendency to ask uncomfortable questions.
Valiant was in the front room when Cheerilee came in. He was working on something and looked up when he heard the door open.
“Hey, can I interest you in a t-shirt?” He held up some kind of garment. “Ten bits,” he said.
“What’s it for?” asked Cheerilee, deciding to humor him.
“You can have a shirt with some kind of witty slogan on it so everyone thinks you’re clever. Or, if you just want to be random and weird, you can wear one that has a non-sequitur, like, say…narwhals.”
Cheerilee had no idea what a whale had to do with anything, and perhaps that was Valiant’s point. Luckily, Twilight walked in and whisked Cheerilee into another room.
“One of his get-rich-quick schemes,” Twilight said, rolling her eyes. She invited the other pony to sit at the kitchen table. “So, have there been any new developments?”
“I was…out last night,” said Cheerilee.
Twilight nodded. “Valiant said something about that.”
“I feel terrible.”
The unicorn got out a notebook. She hovered a quill over the paper.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” said Cheerilee.
“But maybe if we understood what was going on, we might be able to help,” pleaded Twilight. “You could control yourself better.”
“I don’t want to be in control when I’m doing these things,” said Cheerilee, her voice rising. “When I’m tearing apart some cute little bunny, I want the instincts to take care of it. I don’t want that to be me, my own mind doing it.”
“Come to the dark side, Cheerilee,” called Valiant from the other room. “It’s pretty cool, not gonna lie. We have parties every Saturday and go bowling once a month.”
Cheerilee let her face drop to the table, grunting slightly with pain, but not caring. “Why me? Why can’t we do anything?”
Twilight put the quill down. “I’ve been over all kinds of literature, but I’ve never found any clue that a cure might exist. The only sure way to change back is to eliminate the one who turned you.”
Cheerilee raised her head enough to peer at Twilight from across the table. “Valiant?” she asked quietly.
“I have no idea. I mean, yes, that’s who it is, but since he’s not a vampire anymore, I don't know if killing himwill work." Twilight’s voice was equally subdued. It was clear that neither one wanted this conversation to leave the room.
Cheerilee sat up. Twilight studied her face. The school teacher looked like she was deep in thought.
“Are you considering…” asked the unicorn.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, he’s hard to kill.”
Cheerilee looked up sharply. “You’ve tried?”
Twilight flushed. “Oh, no. It’s just that there’s no way somepony as apparently idiotic as he is could have survived so long without some kind of tricks.”
“His robots?” asked Cheerilee.
“Well, that’s part of it. Personally, though, I think he’s just really, really lucky.”
“And I’m great at eavesdropping,” said Valiant.
Cheerilee whirled around, glaring at the smugly grinning stallion. “How long were you listening?”
“Since you walked in, pretty much.” He waved a hoof dismissively. “You don’t have it in you to murder anyone.” His face brightened. “But that’s good. As long as you feel that way, you’ll be nervous around small animals for fear of hurting them. I bet bring-your-pet-to-school-day will be hilarious.”
He walked away, and it sounded like he was doing something in the other room.
“How does anypony get to be so infuriating?” asked Cheerilee.
“Well, he may actually be from a different dimension and isn’t really a pony,” explained Twilight.
“Wait, that’s true?”
Twilight laughed nervously. “Oh no, we don’t have repeatable data to prove it conclusively. Unfortunately, we can’t entirely disprove it, either.”
Cheerilee stared at her. “I don’t think it’s up for debate. He either is, or he isn’t.”
Twilight sighed. “I’m sorry. Right now, the scientific method is the only thing that keeps me from going crazy when I’m dealing with Valiant.”
The stallion popped his head in. “I’m going to the market. Do you need anything?”
“Can you pick up a quart of milk?” asked Twilight. Valiant nodded and departed the library.
“What?” said the unicorn upon seeing the look Cheerilee was giving her. “He may be nuts, but he’s good with groceries.”
Cheerilee’s head hit the pillow that night. The day had started early in the morning with her waking up in the forest next to a slaughtered rabbit. Aside from that, it had seemed like pretty normal day.
She closed her eyes, praying for sleep. The less time she spent with her thoughts, the better.
There was a faint twinge of hunger down deep inside her. Cheerilee squeezed her eyelids shut. No, I’m going to sleep.
It was not the driving bloodlust that she had felt the previous night, however. It seemed that a bunny full of blood was enough sustenance for two days.
That didn’t make any sense from a calorie standpoint, though. If anything, Cheerilee felt more awake and alert, yet was consuming less. Twilight had theorized that perhaps the blood was broken down into component parts and magically converted into pure energy. That had set Valiant off on some tangent about “nuclear fission,” whatever that was.
Thinking about the crazy orange pony infuriated Cheerilee, but that was better than being disgusted with herself. She managed to drift off to sleep.
The alarm clock functioned as intended and the school teacher rolled out of bed. Since she no longer needed to eat breakfast or pack a lunch, her wakeup times had been drifting later and later. She could no longer claim to be a morning pony, and it was hard to resist the temptation to grab a few extra minutes of sleep.
It was better than being awake with the way her life was going.
Despite the situation, Cheerilee preferred the word “life.” Valiant touted it instead as “undeath,” but that was too disturbing to contemplate. The undead did not teach elementary school.
Cheerilee collected her things and headed off to work. She arrived before anypony else and began opening window shades and dusting desks. Not that she’d ever give up working with colts and fillies, but she relished the peacefulness of the school when the students were not present.
A few motes of dust drifted through the sunshine coming in through the windows. Cheerilee would have considered sitting in the warm glow to relax for a while, if it weren’t for…
She shook her head. It seemed like any small thing could remind her of the vampirism and spoil the good mood she was in.
As usual, the first student to show up was Twist.
“Good morning Ms. Cheerilee!”
“Hello Twist. How are you?”
“It’s going to be a good day! Here, I have something for you.” The filly placed a beautiful-looking candy cane on Cheerilee’s desk.
“Thank you so much, Twist. I’ll save it for later.” Cheerilee smiled and placed the confection in one of her desk drawers.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders, as they called themselves, showed up next. Cheerilee was surprised to see the three of them wearing the garments that Valiant had designed.
Scootaloo’s shirt read I’m with stupid and displayed an arrow that was currently pointing at Apple Bloom, who had countered with I see dumb ponies. Sweetie Bell’s shirt read simply jenius.
While she didn’t agree with the practice, Cheerilee couldn’t really force them to get rid of the clothing unless it was disruptive to the class. She pretended she didn’t see the shirts. She’d been pretending a lot, lately. That thought set her off on another round of painful reminders. It was a vicious cycle.
After school, Cheerilee decided to walk over to the Carousel Boutique to visit Rarity. The unicorn had invited her to come over and talk whenever she pleased. It would give Cheerilee something to do to keep her mind off her growing hunger. Perhaps she could also get the dressmaker’s opinion on the unusual clothing the little ponies were wearing.
When Cheerilee walked in, the saw Valiant lounging on the settee, wearing a dapper black tuxedo and holding a beverage. It was not at all what she had been expecting.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Well, the stallion population of Ponyville is a little on the low side. Rarity asked me to model for her. Between you and me, the work sucks, but I’m getting this snazzy suit out of it for free, so I can’t complain. Rarity might be a manipulative bitch, but she’s an amazing seamstress.”
He took a sip from his glass and grimaced. “This grape juice needs more alcohol. Anyway, that’s what I’m doing here. What about you?”
Cheerilee sat down on a different piece of furniture. “I’m just wasting time before I have to go home and be alone with my thoughts.”
“Sounds depressing. Glad I’m not you.”
“Is someone there?” called Rarity. She stepped into the room. “Oh, hello Cheerilee. What can I do for you?”
“I came by to talk. I just don’t know what to do with myself lately.”
“Oh, you poor dear.” Rarity sat down beside Cheerilee and put a hoof around her shoulders.
“I’m afraid to be social,” admitted the teacher. “I can’t bring myself to go out in public, and I can’t think of any way to pass the time between work, sleep, and…nourishment.”
“Hmm. It sounds like you could use a hobby,” said Rarity. Valiant leaned forward, suddenly interested in the conversation.
“I don’t know what I could do,” said Cheerilee. “I can’t afford much, and I don’t really have many talents outside of teaching fillies and colts.”
“I’ve got it,” said Valiant, jumping to his hooves, and brandishing his glass of juice. “Just imagine this: school teacher by day…vampire slayer by night.”
Rarity rolled her eyes. “I wouldn’t wish that job on my enemies, Valiant.”
“You did it for a while,” he pointed out.
Cheerilee turned sharply. “You…hunted down other vampires?”
Rarity sighed. “Yes. It was intended as practice before we went after Prince Blueblood.”
“I really don’t think I’m qualified,” said Cheerilee.
“Rarity’s day job is making dresses, but that didn’t hold her back,” pointed out Valiant. “You’ve got the killer instinct and the ability already.”
“I don’t believe that.”
Valiant sighed. “You’re like a quadriplegic with a weapon. The potential is there, it’s just not being used.”
“Can we talk about something else?” asked Cheerilee.
“I was leaving anyway,” said Valiant. “I promised to take Pinkie to the strip club.” He walked out.
Rarity shook her head. “I don’t understand why Valiant keeps taking her there. He clearly doesn’t enjoy that kind of thing.”
“He…doesn’t like mares?” asked Cheerilee slowly.
“No, he doesn’t like anypony.” Rarity shrugged. “Getting back to you, though, I really think you could use a hobby.”
“I’ll think about it.” Cheerilee had never gone searching for something to do with her life. After she got her cutie mark, everything had been clear. She suddenly could sympathize with the Crusaders.
That night, Cheerilee slipped out of her house once more. It was time to visit the woods again. She walked slowly, perhaps putting off her task by a small amount of time.
Perhaps she could visit the rabbit trail again. No, perhaps somewhere else. Cheerilee did not like the thought that she might be stuck this way forever, but if that was the case, she couldn’t scare away food sources from one area by visiting it too often.
The shadows of the trees closed in, but her eyesight seemed unaffected. The gentle rustle of the breeze hid the movements of small creatures, and Cheerilee’s ears twitched in an attempt to pick up any clue.
There was a faint, slithering movement among the litter of leaves. A large rattlesnake was moving slowly, lethargic since the warm sun had set.
Cheerilee regarded the snake for a moment. It knew she was there. She slipped around behind. The angular head followed her.
Well, it was still an animal. Cheerilee took a deep breath and jumped forward, just as the rattles on the snake’s tail began to shake. Her hoof came down on the head, crushing it. The sinewy body spasmed, and then fell still.
She paused for a moment. Something felt different. There was a remarkable lack of guilt over killing the snake. While the rattler would have left her alone had she given it a wide berth, it was still dangerous, and perhaps she’d saved the life of some small animal by eliminating it.
That touched off a whole new set of emotions.
Cheerilee shook her head. She didn’t have time for this. Carefully, she began to lap up every drop of the spilled blood.
Cheerilee’s eyes snapped open at the sound of the alarm clock. The shrill ringing did not constitute a threat, however, so she sat up in bed with a sigh.
What happened the night before had caught her by surprise. Why hadn’t killing the snake been as emotionally difficult as the other animals? Was it because the serpent was ugly and mean? Was she really that shallow?
Cheerilee shook her head. This was not the time to be thinking about it. She collected her things and trotted off towards the school.
When she arrived, she went about the familiar routine of opening blinds and cleaning. She remembered the gift that Twist had given her. It was still in her desk drawer.
Cheerilee took the candy cane out and looked at it. She’d tried eating regular food before, but it hadn’t ended well. She licked the peppermint candy tentatively, the familiar taste lingering on her tongue.
Nothing about the pleasurable flavor had changed. Twist hadn’t gotten her candy cutie mark for nothing. Cheerilee’s taste buds cried out for more, and she desperately wanted to eat the sweet confection. She felt a hint of nausea building up, though, and knew that one lick was all she was going to get.
She sat down and took a few deep breaths, the ill feeling passing quickly. Cheerilee dropped the candy in the wastebasket, concealing it with a bit of clutter. It would look suspicious if the candy was discovered there. Nopony ever threw away Twist’s peppermints.
I can’t even enjoy a candy cane. One more thing taken from her. One more thing that made her different from who she once was.
If the students hadn’t begun coming in at that moment, Cheerilee might have broken down crying on her desk. It was only for them that she put on a smile and shoved away her pain.
It was a relief that she could still get lost in her teaching. Despite what the little ponies might think if they found out her secret, they might be the only thing keeping her sane.
Today in class, a few more students were wearing t-shirts. Cheerilee started the lesson before they could begin comparing each other’s slogans and witticisms.
After the fillies and colts were dismissed that afternoon, Cheerilee sat at her desk for a while. Rarity’s suggestion of getting a hobby sounded nice, but where should she begin? It wasn’t like you discovered something new and enjoyable to do every day.
Her thoughts drifted back to the night before, and she hesitantly let them. She hadn’t lost control. She hadn’t woken up next to a blood-drenched dead creature.
Was there some way she could cause that to happen again? While still gruesome, it was better than the alternative of bloodlust and instinctive reactions.
As Cheerilee packed up to go home, she felt the pressure of what lay ahead bearing down. She needed to figure out what was different about her hunt the night before. She also needed to find a hobby that would keep her sane. Even if both those things came to pass, the best she could hope for was still a flawed life, however long that would last. She had no idea how to proceed.
Preoccupied, Cheerilee shut the schoolhouse door a little more forcefully than needed. It rattled the whole wall as it slammed shut. She drew her hoof back in surprise. Her strength had been boosted since the transformation, but she’d never tested exactly how much. If she had been trying, she might have even broken the door off its hinges.
All the more reason to be careful. She didn’t want to hurt anypony. The thought of having to monitor herself and constantly be on the alert every minute of every day sounded like a monumental task.
What if she were to remove herself from the situation? Could she stay in the forest and hide? Or perhaps…a more permanant solution?
Cheerilee shook her head. That was no way to think. Her students needed her. Regardless of whether she moved away or…killed herself, the town wouldn’t be the same without her. She may not get much recognition considering she was just the schoolteacher, but as long as she felt like she was making a difference in young lives, she vowed to stay.
How would a vampire even commit suicide, anyway?
The puzzle of what had happened the night before continued to trouble Cheerilee. Her paperwork had been graded, and she sat staring out the window. The sky had gone orange in preparation for the sunset. All the buildings in town cast long shadows in the street.
Cheerilee got up. She wasn’t desperately hungry. I can control this, she decided. Just a walk.
The Everfree Forest was just as intimidating as she remembered, but with the faint daylight still left, it took on a slightly more friendly appearance.
Cheerilee waded into the trees. She wasn’t really sure what she was looking for, but felt that she’d know it when she found it.
There was a slight sound behind her. Cheerilee stopped and then turned her head. A flash of orange was all she managed to see.
“Valiant?” she called.
The stallion stepped out from behind a tree. “Got me. I guess I got a little lazy. I thought all vamponies were as deaf as Rarity.” He shook his head. “Worst vampire ever. Enthusiastic, but not very alert.”
He was wearing some kind of device on his back. Cheerilee vaguely remembered it being tested on Fluttershy to improve her speed when the pegasi were forming the water-lifting tornado.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I just came to see what was up. You aren’t scheduled to be hungry right now, so I thought something might be happening.”
“You’ve been watching me to see what my habits are?”
Valiant nodded. “Yeah, I get bored sometimes. By the way, that thing you did last night was pretty cool, snake eater.” He chuckled to himself at some memory.
Cheerilee took a step in his direction. Despite his words, Valiant wasn’t relaxed. He didn’t react very much, but he definitely noticed her getting closer.
“Anyway,” he said, “just get back to what you were doing before. Pretend I’m not here.”
Cheerilee took another couple of steps. Valiant shifted his hooves a little.
“You look nervous,” she said.
“Sorry. I’m just out here in the middle of the woods with a bloodthirsty killing machine. I’d be stupid not to be.”
His straightforward admission surprised Cheerilee. “But why did you come?”
“Truthfully, I’m probably as confused as you are. A big part is doing it for the science. Another reason is that I feel somewhat responsible. Good or bad, I did this to you, so it’s my responsibility alone to secretly follow you around and see how you cope.”
“I’ll tell you how I’m coping!” shouted Cheerilee. “I have never felt so lost, helpless, depressed, or disgusted with myself! I’ve killed things!”
Valiant nodded. “I know.”
Cheerilee kept walking towards him. “So you’re responsible, you say? I don’t want to be a vampire anymore. Maybe you can help me with that.”
“We don’t know for sure if killing me will turn you back,” he pointed out.
“I’m willing to give it a try.”
“See, this is why I brought the jetpack,” said Valiant. He activated a control and the device rocketed him up to the branches of a tall tree above Cheerilee’s head.
“Come and get me!” he called.
Cheerilee glared at him and sank down to her haunches, preparing to jump to the first limb. If she caught him, fine. If she fell and broke her neck, well, there were worse ways to die.
“Oh Cheerilee?” called Valiant. “You may want to take a look at that big ugly thing that’s sneaking up on you. I’ll see you around.” He activated the flying device again and soared away towards Ponyville.
“What did he mean…” Cheerilee swung her head around, suddenly confronted by a timberwolf that had crept up behind her while she had been focused on Valiant. She wasn’t sure whether to be more surprised by it, or the fact that Valiant had been decent enough to warn her.
The creature was a little larger than Cheerilee and made of animated wood. Rough bark served as its coat. Sharp splinters filled its mouth. It growled at her, laying its ears back.
Almost by themselves, her lips pulled back to reveal her fangs. She was not prey.
The timberwolf charged, and Cheerilee met it head-on. They clashed together, each trying to attack the other’s weak points. Cheerilee felt a rough set of claws rake her flank. She tried to find a good place to bite.
The wolf attempted to gain the advantage by knocking her over. Cheerilee pushed back. She struck with her front hooves, evading the sharp claws. One powerful shove by her back legs sent the timberwolf sprawling.
The pony leaped on top, pressing the advantage. On its back, the wolf had suddenly become an easy target and struggled desperately. Cheerilee’s teeth found the wolf’s throat and tore it open.
The creature may have been made of timber, but it was still a fatal wound. Its resistance ceased and Cheerilee sat back, breathing hard.
The scratches on her side were not deep and appeared to already be scabbing over. Cheerilee stood up, suddenly weary. She spit out a couple of wood shavings.
It was time to call it a night. She walked slowly back towards Ponyville, occasionally pausing to expel more splinters from her mouth. By the time she reached her house, her mild wounds had almost completely healed.
After a quick shower, she laid down and was asleep in minutes.
A couple of days later, Cheerilee was back in Twilight’s library. Valiant was off doing something, so they were alone.
“I don’t understand it,” said Cheerilee. “I just feel a lot better about killing something if I know that it would have done the same to me.”
“I’ve never been in that position before,” said Twilight, “but I think I can understand what you mean. So, are you trying to hunt only predators now?”
“I suppose. I never really thought of it that way, but I guess I have stopped attacking anything that I would consider cute.”
Twilight appeared to be deep in thought. “We haven’t talked about it specifically, but I got the feeling that Princess Celestia knew that Blueblood was a vampire. Maybe I can write to her and ask for more information. If I keep things vague, nopony has to know about you.”
“But what would you talk about?” said Cheerilee.
“Maybe she can suggest a place where a vampire could be useful, like dangerous animal control.”
Cheerilee thought about that for a moment. The term useful vampire sounded like an oxymoron, but what if there was something she could do? It certainly beat feeling useless.
“That sounds okay,” admitted the schoolteacher.
Twilight smiled. “I’ll get started writing the letter.” As she moved away, she called, “It’s nice to see you coming to terms with the situation.”
Cheerilee almost snorted. She didn’t want to come to terms with anything. Being a vampire was still as repulsive as it had been on day one. Still, if she was going to be stuck this way, she might as well make the best of it.
The world might be a cruel, unforgiving place, but she didn’t have to be. Well, except for Valiant, Cheerilee wasn’t about to forgive him.
Twilight returned with a piece of parchment and wrote out the letter. Cheerilee sat, deep in thought. She couldn’t change what she was. She couldn’t learn to like it. That didn’t stop her from making the best of things, though. And sometimes, that was all you could ask for.
As I finish this up, the story currently has 82 likes and zero dislikes. I’m surprised and very pleased at the attention The Adventures of Vampire Cheerilee has received. Thank you so much.
Does Celestia have jobs for vampires? Is there a Royal Vampony Corps? I sure hope so…hint, hint.
In case you missed it, The Night Shift is now posted.