As the sun gently descended, the sky a blazing shade of orange, Pinkie Pie looked upwards, making sure not to drop the box she carried in her mouth. Soon, she reached the top of a small mound near the Everfree Forest, and gently put down the box and took off her backpack. Fumbling around in the backpack, she pulled out a bag of cookies she had made herself, something to keep her occupied during the slower moments of this night. After nibbling down one of those treats, she pulled out a small telescope and a camera. Ghost-hunting equipment.
Well, it might not have been technically ghosts she was after. Spirits rather. Twilight had told her they were more or less the same thing, but to Pinkie, ‘ghost’ implied a malevolent sort of supernatural creature, while ‘spirit’ seemed more mystical yet more benign. True, Discord did claim to be a spirit, but he was a ghost, a malevolent wraith whose purpose was to haunt her and her friends so they would be powerless to save Equestria. He wasn’t a spirit, not like those that were apparently out tonight.
It had began with one of Twilight’s ‘moments’ a while back, where, for some reason or another, a subject would pop into her mind and she would be determined to study every facet of it. Sometimes she would write an essay about it and give it to Celestia as a sort of extra credit, sometimes not. One time she had become strangely interested in the idea of the afterlife for whatever reason. Wait, thought Pinkie, was it before or after the Philomena incident?
Twilight had looked for any books she could about the subject, and had even asked some of the group to join in with her, but Rainbow Dash said ‘Don’t you think that’s just a little bit creepy, Twilight?’ and the others agreed. Still, Twilight did go as far as asking Zecora about what her culture believed in regarding the subject. Zecora had explained, in rhyme of course, of her belief that there was a life after death and there was another realm those worthy passed onto.
Zecora had also mentioned a special day she celebrated to honour the spirits of the dead, as well as some other spirits that were not necessarily once living creatures, as this was when her culture believed the line between the spirit world and the living world was at its thinnest. On both the night of the celebration and the night before, Zecora would light lanterns outside her hut to guide the good spirits towards her abode and ward away the evil ones – the ghosts. She would also leave out a bowl of fruit for those good spirits to enjoy, and maybe have the chance to speak to one or two of them. She had told Twilight she had done it before quite a few times, and Pinkie certainly believed that when Twilight told it to her. Stranger things had happened, after all.
This was the special night. The cool summer night when the spirits would come to Equestria. The Everfree Forest not only being the home of Zecora, but other weird creatures as well, made it the perfect place for them to manifestate. Twilight may have gotten over that whole afterlife-studying thing, but Pinkie Pie had arrived to get a glimpse of the spirits, and even give them a little treat of her own. That box she had been carrying with her mouth contained a nice chocolate cake for any spectral creatures she might meet. She had wanted to make them some cupcakes, but those treats had made her feel uneasy for some reason. Then she thought of making them carrot cake, but carrots gave her a little sting in her stomach. She didn’t know why.
Her friends always said she was random, and Pinkie Pie concurred in that there were elements of herself even she couldn’t explain. She didn’t know where her ‘Pinkie sense’ came from, but didn’t really question it that much since it was so useful. That didn’t stop Twilight from finding a root for it...it was a shame she couldn’t be with her to see the ghosts.
While Zecora had invited Pinkie, Twilight and company to come to her hut the next day to participate in the traditional feast of the day and they had accepted, nopony really wanted to join Pinkie in her spirit-watching. Their loss, Pinkie thought. None of them were really night-owls like she was, anyway.
Looking at the sky again, Pinkie waited for the sun to set. The spirits came out at night, and she was going to stay out here for the whole of that time until she saw what she came to see. She was going to stay to see nightfall, in spite of how much she hated waiting. Still, she had her cookies.
Just as she was about to lower her head into the bag, she heard a noise from above. Her head instinctively rose, allowing her to scan the darkening sky for a while before she heard the rustling of her cookie bag. Her hoof slammed on her precious treats, and she felt wrinkled skin underneath.
Looking to her left, she saw none other than Gilda.
‘Oh hi, Gilda,’ said Pinkie Pie, waving a hoof.
Gilda rolled her eyes as she took a cookie from the bag, and casually nibbled on it. ‘Shouldn’t you be with Rainbow Dash and those other dweebs?’ Narrowing her eyes, with a small yet smug smile on her beak, she added, ‘Seriously, what are you doing out here?’
Pinkie laughed, trying to ignore whatever was rising in her stomach. ‘You’ll probably think this is ‘lame’ or whatever, but I’m going to see if I can find any spirits because this is supposed to be the night when they come to Equestria and I’m hoping to meet one.’
Spraying saliva in Pinkie’s direction, Gilda laughed, holding her face with a claw.
‘Oh, come on,’ Pinkie said before she found herself knocked over backwards. Rising upwards to face the grumpy gryphon, Pinkie asked, ‘And what are you doing out here?’
‘What’s it to you, Stinkie Pie?’ said Gilda, claws on her hips as she stood up, ‘Just don’t let me see your ugly face out here again.’ With that, she pushed Pinkie to the ground again, right before taking to the skies and flying away.
Pinkie chuckled, but she always chuckled during moments like this. Cats purr to calm themselves, so Pinkie used laughter to calm herself down. That Gilda was a right mean meanie-pants, but still, she was, at one time, Rainbow Dash’s friend. There had to be some redeeming qualities to her if that were the case. The party didn’t improve her attitude, but there might be something else that might. Maybe Twilight could figure out what was wrong with her.
With Gilda gone, Pinkie resumed watching the sun lower, adding more shadows to the already-dismal forest nearby. At that moment, she wondered if instead of cookies, she should have brought popcorn. Merely watching the sun set seemed to make her legs twitch.
Indeed, it took less time than she thought for night to fall, and when it came, she held up her telescope to her eye, as difficult as it was to hold it up with her hooves. In order to get as thorough a coverage as possible, she had a little hop around the mound, looking at the wooded area all the while. She hopped about the woods for an hour or so, seeing neither hide nor ectoplasm of any wondering spirits, and then returned to the spot she had set upon the hill.
There she sat some more, munching down upon more and more cookies, watching the Everfree Forest with her telescope. Pretending to be like a pirate watching over the seven seas occupied her somewhat, but it still didn’t make any spirits show up. Maybe it was for the best that none of her friends came along. Rainbow Dash alone would be bored out of her skull. Applejack would say something like ‘C’mon Pinkie Pie, we ain’t gonna see nothing.’ Fluttershy might be reluctant to leave, but she would do so anyway.
Wait wait wait. Dull dull dull.
Usually Pinkie Pie’s energy would not fail her, and when she intended to stay up all night, she would accomplish just that. Now, however, she felt her eyelids attempting to close. Biting her lip, she forced them open again, as much as doing so hurt. Certainly she should have more willpower than this. She didn’t exactly exercise her willpower well when submitting to Discord though. Just thinking about that incident in the balloon gardens made her shudder.
No, that wasn’t why she was shuddering.
Her eyelids no longer wished to close themselves, and Pinkie’s hooves forced themselves towards the twisted trees and crawling vines of the Everfree Forest. As the sounds of screeching birds and howling wind filled her ears, Pinkie Pie suddenly stopped. She looked around, ignoring the thick and slimy mud that she had stepped into and swore that she saw a shadow moving through the trees. It could have been just one of those creatures that so frequently go about the forest, but her Pinkie sense said otherwise as alarms made her head rumble.
Oh nuts. She forgot the cake.
After running back to the mound to retrieve the box, she returned to the forest, still feeling clangers bash against her skull. That pain only grew stronger when she returned to the clearing she was in, despite there being no more sign of the horned shadow. Still, she stood, holding the boxed cake in her mouth, scanning the area.
A rustling was heard, and Pinkie, caring not for whatever might be lurking in the darker corners of the forest, ran towards the source, stopping for an instant as the pains in her head reached their crescendo.
A spirit stood before her.
It was a tall, bipedal figure, wrapped completely in black. In fact, the best way to describe it would be that it was a big black blot, which strangely stood against the darkness of the Everfree Forest. There was a touch of white on it as well – a white bony hand. “Bony” was an appropriate word to use, as the hand was made completely out of bone.
‘Hi there! My name’s Pinkie Pie and I’ve been up all night looking for one of you guys!’ At this, the spirit leapt backwards against a tree. ‘I mean, I have a friend who told me this was a special night and I just love special nights because they’re...well, special and when there’s a special occasion, I can hold a party and I just love parties, don’t you?’ The spirit trembled again, clutching the tree with its claws. ‘Oh, I almost forgot!’ Pinkie Pie opened the box she had dropped while talking. ‘I made you a lovely chocolate cake! Would you like to try a piece?’
The spirit fainted.
‘Oh come on!’ said Pinkie, lifting a slice of cake with her forelegs, ‘I spent a long time making this cake.’ The spirit made no movement except a couple of twitches. ‘Oh dear.’
Grabbing a spectral tendril with her teeth, Pinkie dragged the lying but still moving spirit down the trail of thorns and claw like branches to where Zecora’s hut was. The lanterns bringing a warm orange hue to the usually-purple forest made the spirit lift its head slightly, but it still did not fully arise. Pinkie set down the spirit, knocked on the door and waited until Zecora walked out. ‘Sorry if I woke you up but...’
‘Don’t worry, it is quite alright, I am quite active on this night.’
‘Well,’ said Pinkie, scuttling over so Zecora could see what she uncovered, ‘I found this guy in the woods and I think he’s a spirit and...’
‘Ah yes, I know it, Pinkie Girl, it’s of a holiday from another world.’ She left her hut towards the black blot and observed it. ‘A spirit is what one cannot kill, but that doesn’t mean they can’t fall ill. Come, Pinkie, I’ll treat this being, and see what illness it is feeling.’
Both Pinkie and Zecora dragged the spirit into Zecora’s hut and placed it on a bed, before Zecora consulted her shelves to look for a proper treatment. ‘Wow,’ said Pinkie as she looked through the various bottles and jars Zecora kept. ‘You can really treat spirits?’
‘It may have grown sickly without warning, but I think it’ll be better by morning.’
‘Okay!’ said Pinkie, the pangs in her head and stomach growing lighter. Still with a spring in her step, she approached the spirit lying in bed, which began gyrating wildly as Pinkie drew closer. When Pinkie was at the foot of the bed, the spirit raised its arms and kicked what could be called its legs. ‘Hey! I think he’s getting better!’
Zecora soon approached the two, which made the spirit calm down somewhat. ‘I know this spirit, oh pink one, it knows of what is – or what may – come. Telling what may happen soon, is to many, quite a boon.’
‘It can tell the future?’ Pinkie then gained a little extra bounce. ‘Oh, oh, I can do that too, you know!’
Zecora placed a hoof on the spirit’s skeletal finger. ‘You may have a job, but it’s for the best, if you stay here and take a rest.’
‘Oh yes. Spirits come out on this night, to help people go and see the light. Those who need to change their ways, are made to see their future days, if they continue the way they are, through visions painful and bizarre. If they mend their act, however, the future is likely to get better.’
‘Wow. So it’s like when my friends or I learn about friendship, because I think if Twilight had never met me or Fluttershy or Rainbow Dash or Applejack she’d be lonely forever and Nightmare Moon would have won, and maybe even Discord would win too and there’d be Nightmare Moon and Discord and that is a very scary thought and...’
That rambling was cut short when the door burst open, filling Zecora’s hut with a powerful breeze that nearly knocked over her possessions. There stood another bipedal figure, much taller than the black blot, donning a forest-green robe that reached to the floor, and his face almost completely obscured by a long and unkempt beard, reminding Pinkie of when Rainbow Dash got her coat messed up by flying through the woods. In its hand it held a golden staff, which it pounded on the floor, causing the whole hut to rumble slightly.
‘Hello there,’ Zecora sprung towards the figure. ‘We meet again. Don’t worry, I’m treating your friend.’
The being looked towards the bed, his eyes bulging at the state of his companion. ‘Sarah?’ He glided to the bed, eyes still wide. ‘Oh great, not this again.’
‘Oh hi! I’m Pinkie Pie and you must be another spirit like this one who can see the future...’
‘Wait,’ the spirit looked up. ‘You’re Pinkie Pie, aren’t you?’
‘And you can see me?’
‘Well, duh, I’m talking to you right now!’
‘Sarah, did you hear that? It’s one of the Elements of Harmony, and she can see us.’ The blot nodded her head. ‘Granted, it’s a shame it had to be the pink one, but it is still good news.’
‘Yay!’ said Pinkie, leaping again, ‘I knew I was famous!’
‘Yes,’ said the spirit, reaching out to shake Pinkie’s hoof, ‘I am the Ghost of Christmas Present...’ “Christmas”? It wasn’t something found in Equestria, but Pinkie Pie knew she had heard the term somewhere. ‘...and this is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. We, along with one Christmas Past – where the hell did he get to? – have a similar purpose to you and your friends.’
‘Ooh!’ cried Pinkie Pie, bouncing ever quicker, ‘Did you defeat big scary monsters and ghosts too? Like that big mean Discord, he was all “Ha ha, you can’t defeat me” but then WHOOSH! The Elements of Harmony created this big big big rainbow and it splatted him and turned him into a statue!’
‘Yes.’ The Ghost of Christmas Present clasped his hands and looked upwards. ‘My colleagues and I did have a similar battle, with the mighty Krampus.’ He opened his hand and conjured up a frightening vision: a hairy demon grinning at Pinkie Pie, saliva dripping from his tooth-filled smile.
‘He once worked on Christmas Eve, capturing the misbehaving children and taking them away to his lair where they would be punished. While good children got presents on this holiday – you don’t have it in your world, do you?’
‘Thought not. Anyway,’ continued the Ghost before putting on a more formal tone, ‘we came to challenge him. We believed if the naughty children simply got no presents, they would rethink their ways, and if they grew up stubborn, we would show them the light by showing them their past, their present and the future. Like you with Nightmare Moon and Discord, we used the power of Christmas from all eras to banish him from Earth.’
‘Why didn’t you try and make him nice?’
The vision disappeared as the Ghost continued. ‘Krampus was a spirit like us – an embodiment. He was beyond redemption. Likewise, your Discord is the embodiment of chaos so he is fixed in his ways. So we banished Krampus from one world, but we were worried he might invade others. That is one reason we are here in Equestria, another is that we have an acquaintance here.’
As if by cue, Zecora appeared again, carrying a tray of tea with her mouth. As she set it down, she added, ‘Krampus isn’t here, at least that what it seems. Have you also come here to redeem?’
‘Ah, yes.’ At this, the Ghost held his head in frustration as he looked back at his companion, then spoke again. ‘We have wanted to meet the Elements of Harmony due to them defeating Discord, who I believe was a close associate of Krampus. This night is the only time we were able to go to Equestria – it’s Christmas Eve where we come from...’
‘I think I know what Christmas is,’ added Pinkie, ‘We have something that’s kinda like it...’
‘...and we wished to speak with you and your friends but sensed we were unable to. Only a few people are able to see us, like Zecora due to her trade, and people who need us to show them the light, like Gilda...’
‘Gilda! Oh, I know her, she was a big mean meanie pants, the meaniest in fact! I mean, did you see how she treated Fluttershy? I tried to make her nicer by throwing her a party...’
‘Yes. We thought that by visiting Gilda we would not only help her but give the Elements of Harmony a little present back, since she was an old friend of one of your friends. But now...’ His voice grew deeper. ‘Thanks to you, we’re one ghost short. She’s allergic to anything saccharine, so she fell ill when she saw how cutesy...’
‘Oh oh oh oh!’ Pinkie leapt up again, yelling so much that she almost blew Zecora and the Ghost down with her voice. ‘I know! What if I become the Ghost of Christmas Future! I mean, I can already tell what’s going to happen due to my Pinkie sense, and I’ve seen visions of things myself, and I’d really like to improve Gilda’s attitude...’
‘You want to fill the role?’ said the Ghost, his formal tone gone, ‘I...’
Before he could say any more, Pinkie dashed out of the hut and returned seconds later wearing a black robe. ‘I can be a really good Ghost of Christmas Future because even though I’ve just met you I’m sure I know what this is all about I have to be really scary because the Future’s going to be scary for Gilda and I may be a cute little pony but I can be really scary, watch!’ After she scrunched up her eyes and gritted her teeth, Pinkie’s usually bouncy hair deflated, and her colour drained. She then beamed a smile that stretched her face, complete with bulging eyes and pupils moving in different directions.
Both the Ghost and Zecora stood speechless for a few seconds before Zecora noted, ‘Pinkie’s indeed a special case, not unlike you and your race.’
‘Very well,’ the Ghost said, ‘But I must warn you, it was quite frustrating dealing with Gilda. I almost cut the haunting short as I was getting so tired of her. I try to show her the wonders of the common man and she doesn’t listen. “Like I should care about those dweeb ponies!”’
Pinkie chuckled, still not regaining her colour or hairstyle. ‘That’s Gilda alright!’
‘Now, Pinkie, after I haunted Gilda I took her back to her bedroom. It’s a few hours until daybreak, but time isn’t that big an issue for us for obvious reasons. Now let me guide you through what to do...’
‘Oh! I know what you do!’ Pinkie leapt again. ‘I show Gilda that her future is going to be all lonely because of how mean she was and nopony will care for her after she dies like you all did with this guy called Scrooge and when he saw it he became nice and bought a turkey dinner and loved Christmas.’
‘How did you know all that?’
‘I don’t know.’
With her hair still down and her wearing the robe, Pinkie was transported to Gilda’s home – it was in the clouds like Rainbow Dash’s but was not as impressive as Dash’s abode. Pinkie had transported next to Gilda’s bed, where the gryphon lay fast asleep, a small piece of drool dripping from her beak, her duvet a mess. Her position and the state of her bed complemented her bedroom, where rubbish lay all over the floor and there was a smell that made Pinkie back away a little.
No, thought Pinkie, focus. Even though it did begin to hurt, she smiled even wider and tried to keep her hair from springing up again. As she looked over Gilda, a lock stood erect, but Pinkie pushed it right back down. Trying to ignore the hoarse snoring, Pinkie put a hoof on Gilda’s arm and shook the gryphon until she quickly awoke.
‘Oh, it’s another of you...Pinkie Pie?!’ Gilda let out an angry laugh. ‘Oh, I suppose this is supposed to make my ‘lesson’...stop grinning like that, it’s creeping me out.’
The slight trembling of doubt in Pinkie was quickly calmed by that, but she still tried to keep herself quiet.
‘So, Pie, what’s my future?’ asked Gilda with a sneering smile, ‘I mean, I had such a blast with those other two losers that I just can’t wait to see what’s to come! Will it include rocketships or any of that junk?’
Pinkie’s foreleg twitched, wishing to plant itself between Gilda’s eyes, but Pinkie breathed in and out through her clenched teeth and instead placed her hoof on Gilda’s shoulder, levitating her out of her bed.
‘I guess we should just get this over with,’ grumbled Gilda, and Pinkie took this as the cue to make Gilda’s bedroom vanish into a black void filled with grey smoke. ‘Oh yeah, and what was with those freaky kids that one ghost showed me?’
A syllable almost escaped through Pinkie Pie’s teeth, but she swallowed it. Couldn’t talk now, could she? This future was meant to be an uncertain one –what will likely happen, but what is still not set in stone. She tried to remind herself of that to avoid the temptation of leaving Gilda to find out what would happen to her and her friends.
As soon as the fog cleared and the abyss melted away, both Pinkie and Gilda found themselves in a sitting room. Gilda’s. Yes, there sat another Gilda, languidly lying on a couch, a little taller with her fur and feathers missing some of their colour. Her rumpled hairstyle reminded Pinkie of the form she was taking at that moment.
‘Yeah?’ said Gilda, looking at her older self, ‘So I’m lying on the couch, big whoop.’
Pinkie had the urge to speak, to remind Gilda what this vision meant. But she wasn’t supposed to talk, she was supposed to be silent and be creepy, so she stood over the lonely older Gilda and pointed at her, until there was a knock at the door and the older Gilda went to get it. There stood another older version of an acquaintance of Pinkie’s – the cross-eyed mailmare delivering Gilda’s newspaper. Pinkie gestured the younger Gilda to see what was unfolding; the newspaper had a headline that the Elements of Harmony were to receive medals for their latest feat, whatever it was, and the older Gilda crumbled up the paper in anger. While trying not to leap about in excitement at the prospect of getting medals, Pinkie still silently sighed in relief as certainly this would help Gilda realise the error of her ways.
Turning towards the gryphon, Pinkie slowly trotted towards her, to get a good look at her frightened face. When she was right next to Gilda, Gilda began pointing behind Pinkie frantically. ‘What...is...that?’ Gilda wheezed out, Pinkie raising an eyebrow. A drop of warm saliva fell on Pinkie’s head.
Looking upwards, she saw the Krampus.
Just like the vision, it was a thin, bipedal creature covered in fur, legs bent and fingers touching the floor. His mouth was so wide it would have reminded Pinkie of Gummy where it not for the teeth of all varieties. Fangs, broken teeth, tusks were all included in that gob of his, all covered in saliva. He leaned over, as if his posture wasn’t crooked enough already, to face Pinkie Pie. ‘Well, well, well,’ he said in a nasally voice, ‘Who are you?’
Pinkie didn’t respond. Still couldn’t break character.
‘Oh, don’t answer. My powers may be limited at the moment, but I know who you are. Pinkie Pie, the Element of Laughter. And this!’ He pointed to a shuddering Gilda, his mouth watering all the more. ‘This is Gilda the gryphon, an old friend of a friend who made a few boo-boos here and there.’ Neither Pinkie nor Gilda said anything in response, so Krampus cleared his throat as he stared at Gilda. He roared, his already-large mouth stretched to colossal proportions, his tongue wriggling like a frantic snake.
As Gilda fell down, the Krampus turned back to Pinkie Pie. ‘Now that we don’t have her listening, you can stop playing a non-speaking role for a second.’
‘Hey!’ cried Pinkie, ‘What do you think you’re doing? I was about to take her to see her unmourned death!’
‘I know. And how do you believe she will react to it? Do you really think it will help her change her ways?’
‘Of course, silly! If a bunch of spirits showed me visions and told me to change, I sure would!’
‘You heard what Present said, didn’t ya? She responded to his haunting with denial and endless “lames” and “dweebs”, and that’s how she’ll respond to her death. She’ll remain a brat for the rest of her days, and the only way to spare the world any more of her attitude is for me to take her away. Alas,’ he wailed, his wrist melodramatically on his forehead, ‘so limited is my power now that I cannot. That is, unless one of the spirits gives me the okay.’
‘No way!’ squealed Pinkie Pie, her energy causing her hair to spring up once again, ‘Gilda may be a mean meanie-pants but I won’t let you take her!’
‘But didn’t you have to trap Discord in that stone prison for eternity? And why? Why couldn’t you try and negotiate something with him?’
‘That’s different! He was the embodiment of chaos!’
‘Yes, and he was beyond redemption, just as Gilda is! I mean, you do remember what she did to Fluttershy, don’t you? You said it yourself; nopony treats poor, innocent Fluttershy that way! Gilda deserves to be punished!’
‘Well, that was kinda mean...’ In an instant, the image of Gilda roaring at a nervous Fluttershy sprouted into Pinkie’s brain, and the roasting that she felt in her gut ignited again. During that moment, true, Pinkie had entertained the idea that she should do for Gilda what she did to Fluttershy, but dispelled all those thoughts the same way she usually calmed herself: a party. She did it because she thought it would make Gilda nicer, and maybe it would have if Rainbow Dash hadn’t set up all those pranks.
It wasn’t Rainbow’s fault though. Gilda was just too stubborn to have a good time, but that was to be expected from someone who stole apples, frightened poor old mares for kicks and of course, terrified innocent animal-lovers.
‘Yes, it was mean, wasn’t it?’ continued Krampus. Looking at him twiddle his claws, Pinkie immediately felt her brain grow softer. ‘I know what you’re thinking; you’re remembering all her crimes, how she made you and your friends feel. You throw her a party and she dismisses you.’
‘Hey!’ Pinkie squealed, ‘Get out of my head!’
‘You’re one to talk, Pinkie. We are quite alike in our abilities! Just think of what we can do.’
Pinkie kicked Krampus right in the knee. ‘Geez, do all bad guys try to get the good guys to join them?’
‘I’m not the bad guy,’ snarled Krampus, holding his leg.
‘Um, duh! You’re all ugly and hairy and have big scary sharp teeth! How can you not be evil? Now I’ve got haunting to do!’
With a blink of an eye, Krampus had disappeared, so Pinkie drained herself of her colour and deflated her hair once again. Shortly after she did this, Gilda came to, rubbing her head and forcing herself to face Pinkie Pie.
'Okay, P-Pinkie or whatever you are. Just end this. I don’t want any more of your crap. I don’t care if I die alone, okay?’ She grabbed Pinkie by the scruff of her robe, her claw still shaking. ‘Take me back to my bed, and I promise I won’t bother any more ponies. Okay?’
The future Gilda’s room faded away to make way for another black void, where a chilling breeze dominated the blackness. Ignoring that wind, Pinkie turned away from Gilda, that smile still on her face, and placed a hoof to her face in thought. She remembered Sarah in bed, struck with the illness Pinkie had unintentionally given her. Despite having just met her in person, Pinkie could fully imagine her taking her ‘victims’ through a long, insightful tour of their possible futures. She wouldn’t stop at just one vision. This could do more for Gilda than just a party could, so she had to press on. If she didn’t, Zecora and Christmas Present and Future would be disappointed, and she certainly couldn’t let them down.
‘That didn’t sound very sincere, now, did it?’ Him again. Gilda heard it too, if her quick duck was any indication. The thought that doing so would shut him up was what finally impulse Pinkie to conjure up another vision of Gilda’s future. The black void brightened up to reveal the brilliant white of Cloudsdale. From the shadows emerged its ornate sculptures and imposing buildings, and despite not being a Pegasus, Pinkie could perfectly walk on the clouds.
Ah. There they were.
Lifting her foreleg, Pinkie pointed to two male pegasi chortling like teenagers, despite looking much older, as they engaged in conversation. ‘Hey, you hear about that one chick from Flight School? One with the beak?’
‘Yeah, I heard. She kicked the bucket.’
‘Ah. Was an aneurysm, is what I heard.’
‘She was quite a loner, though, wasn’t she? Think anypony’s actually gonna go to her funeral?’
The other Pegasus snorted. ‘Know what? We shouldn’t be talking ‘bout death now. Too nice a day.’
‘Yeah, yeah,’ snorted Gilda, waving her claw as if that would dissolve the vision, ‘they’re talking about me, I know. I’m going to die alone and unloved because I’m such a big jerk and all that.’
‘Isn’t that right, Pinkie Pie?’ The shimmering Cloudsdale became the fog-clogged abyss once again, and there stood Krampus, this time looking in Gilda’s direction. ‘Look at her, she hardly looks repentant. If you send her back to her bed, she’ll dismiss this all as a bad dream or an attempt by some “lame-os” to change her tune, and she’ll keep to her old ways. Just say the word and she’s gone.’
With that, he grabbed Gilda by the throat, shoving a worm in her face. ‘Remember what the Ghost of Christmas Past showed you, Gilda? How you were treated in Flight School for being the only gryphon? “Here’s a nice worm for the birdie!”’ Turning to Pinkie again, he added, ‘Evil creates more evil, you know.’
Now not caring about keeping up her act, Pinkie let her hair arise and stood to face Krampus, as Gilda escaped from his grasp and tried to walk away. ‘Oh, there you go again. “She deserves to die, blah blah blah”. At least when Discord tried to talk me into being like him he had all these cool balloons and stuff!’
‘Ah yes, Discord. You helped seal him in that prison forever, didn’t you? Don’t you remember the rush that surged through you knowing that you spared Equestria further suffering at his hands? Don’t you remember the pride you felt when you collected that medal? His first reign lasted eons, and thanks to you, his second reign lasted less than a day! Equestria was much better without him, so it would be much better without creatures like Gilda there.’ Krampus bent over, stroking Pinkie Pie’s mane. ‘Everything would be better if there were more ponies like you around, hmm.’ He then tugged at the robe Pinkie wore. ‘You have been given so much power, you know. And you’ll only have it tonight.’
Pinkie looked at her robe, back at her hair, then at Krampus.
‘Don’t waste it.’
With a lift of her foreleg, she brought Gilda back, and tugged at Gilda’s feet so the gryphon fell at the knees of the slobbering demon. As the saliva splattered all over Gilda’s feathers, Pinkie regained her flat hairstyle, her pale fur, her gigantic grin.
With a laugh that echoed throughout the abyss, Krampus grew and lunged towards Gilda, the latter now flapping away as quickly as she could. A quick swipe from Krampus’ claws, however, and she fell right to the ground, facing Pinkie Pie. Pinkie grew as Krampus did, and so did her smile, and as her body elongated, tentacles writhed from her robe, holding Gilda in their clutches.
A laugh, as thick and painful as that of Krampus’, escaped Pinkie’s throat. ‘This is what you deserve!’ Pinkie cried, her voice an amalgamation of demonic tones.
No more could she run. No more could she fly. All she could do was watch as the massive hairy demon, salivating like a junkyard dog, raced towards her with claws outstretched.
Then she disappeared. ‘Just kidding!’
Pinkie chuckled as she returned to her normal size and Krampus did the same. ‘I sent Gilda back to her bedroom. You really thought I was going to...’ She laughed again, her chuckling punctuated by her bouncing hair. ‘Oh, you so silly.’
‘Oh, forget it,’ growled Krampus, vanishing away into the abyss.
‘And then I went back to Zecora’s and Sarah was all better. They thanked me for filling in and sent me back home.’ Having finished her story, Pinkie finished off her third milkshake, and rested on the cafe table, looking at the bright sky above – so much better to see than dark voids – and then at her friends.
‘Oh, Pinkie Pie,’ said Rainbow Dash, with a slight chuckle. ‘You are so random.’
‘Yes, yes,’ replied Twilight, ‘so, are we all ready for Zecora’s feast this afternoon?’
‘Sure am,’ replied Applejack, ‘Got some of mah famous treats...’
‘Hey!’ Rainbow Dash then pointed upwards. ‘Is that who I think it is?’
Splatting down from the sky was a certain gryphon, her fur and feathers uncombed, her body slightly shaking. As she slowly arose, she lay eyes on a smiling Pinkie and let out a small scream.
‘Gilda,’ said Rainbow Dash, narrowing her eyes, ‘What do you want?’
The gryphon gasped. ‘It’s not anything bad if that’s what you think it is, no no no. I’m good now, really.’ In her claw, she held a small bag. ‘Look! I’ve brought candy for my very best friend, and all her other friends!’ As her beak stretched to accommodate an unnatural smile, she turned to Fluttershy. ‘Hey! Yellow pony! No hard feelings about me roaring at you, right?’ With her free claw, she stroked Fluttershy’s mane. ‘I like you. You’re a nice pony.’
Dropping the candy bag, Gilda was on her knees, clasping her claws. ‘Oh please please please forgive me Rainbow Dash! I’m so so sorry!’ With that, she fell to the ground crying.