It has been about 6 weeks since the infection leaked from D.C, and brought chaos to America. We let the little ones and Granny Smith gather their things and ship out on the convoy to meet Big Macintosh in Los Angeles; our next destination. The seven of us have been busy gathering what we could take with us to the safe zone the government set up in L.A. and it has taken a toll on our spirits. The house that everyone has been living in has been holding up, but we are running low on supplies and we must get the safe-zone as soon as we can. We all have complete faith that we will make it alright, but . . . It’s just that Denver isn’t the best starting point. At least Colorado isn’t as heavily populated once we head west, so we shouldn’t have too much trouble. Rainbow Dash keeps insisting that we all take a gun with us for our protection. Normally, I would have banned the very thought, but under these circumstances we don’t have a choice. The infected aren’t exactly the type to negotiate with and are stronger than us. Not stronger than guns of course, but we still need to be wary. We will hopefully be able to see you soon Princess. I know you’re helping everyone else in L.A., and we can’t wait to see you. The whole world just feels safer around you. Spike and I will be sure to send a letter as often as time permits.
Your Faithful Student,
Setting the pen down on her desk, Twilight ran a hand through her purple and pink hair and let out an exasperated sigh. This was going to be a difficult trek, and her organizational skills were a key component of their departure plans. Even though their situation was grim, her hope never faltered and her friends proved themselves on multiple occasions. She just had a hard time believing in herself. “Okay, let’s see here. Write a letter to the princess; check. Pack the car and find enough gas; difficult, but check. Medicine; oh crap.” Twilight had forgotten about her medicine. Through all the discord and chaos, she completely forgot to pack her medicine. Now if only she could find the sneaky little-
“Um, Twilight?” the voice broke through Twilight’s concentration and she turned from her desk and saw Fluttershy occupying the doorway. Wearing a sensible yellow dress, her soft, green eyes were framed by her flowing pink hair.
“Hey Fluttershy, what’s going on? Is everything alright?” Twilight was always pleased to see her quiet friend. She needed a gentle face and voice to help ease her always-computing mind.
“I found this and it had your name on it. So, um, I was wondering if you needed it” she said handing over and orange bottle with a white top.
“My medicine! Oh Fluttershy, thank you, thank you, thank you! You have no idea how stressed out I was that I had lost this.”
“Oh, well, you’re welcome” Fluttershy said through blushing cheeks. Twilight looked at the bottle and shook it. 6 capsules. Enough for 3 days; which was the estimated time it should take for their journey. Twilight would have to cut it close, but she had confidence that her planning would be worthwhile. As Twilight began to speak, an enormous thud echoed from upstairs. Twilight swiftly nabbed the shotgun she was forced to now keep behind the door, and motioned for Fluttershy to follow close behind her. They crept up the stairs and were greeted by another, louder clang coming from the bathroom down the hall. Fearing that an infected had entered the house unnoticed, Twilight’s mind started racing to formulate strategies and escape plans. She heard a whimper from behind, and grasped Fluttershy’s hand to assure her that she was safe with Twilight. Inching closer to the bathroom, items were being flung willy-nilly out the door and into the hall. Twilight was feet away now, and the noise and motions suddenly halted. Twilight turned the corner, aimed, and-
“Twilight Sparkle! What in heavens are you doing with that wretched weaponry?!” a regal voiced cried from the bathroom.
“Rarity?! What in the hell are you doing stomping around and scaring the life out of everyone?” Twilight swiftly retorted.
“If you must know, I was looking for my hair ribbon that I received from my mother who got it as a present from my grandmother and so on. It’s the most important accessory I own and I wouldn’t be caught dead without it. Ah! Here it is” she proclaimed as she withdrew an ivory white ribbon encrusted with a single, cubic sapphire. A rare gem indeed and the sunlight danced when it passed through its almost transparent mass. She tied her dark blue hair back and admired herself as she made poses in the mirror.
“Rarity, what am I going to do with you?” Twilight sighed.
A voice boomed, “You could send her back to her fancy, girly, fru-fru college she was too good for.” The group looked to see their friend Rainbow Dash smirking at her own wit. Her naturally colored, rainbow hair was loose and messy as it fell just below her shoulders.
“Rainbow. That wasn’t very nice. You should say sorry, I mean, if that’s alright with you. . .” mumbled Fluttershy.
“Aw cool it, I was just joshin. Aint that right Ms. Ivy League?” Rainbow Dash joked.
“At least I can be a lady. Ms. Tennis shoes” Rarity retorted.
“Will you two quit yer sqaukin? You two are worse than the roosters at sunrise” said Applejack with an even Southern drawl. Sporting her signature orange plaid shirt, Applejack sauntered down the hall. “We best get a move on if we want to make it to L.A. in time gals.” They all looked at each other and realized that standing around talking wasn’t doing much. As they headed downstairs to load up the Jeep, they were surprised to see balloons, streamers, and a crudely made “Going Away” sign hastily hung above the doorway.
“SURPRISE!” a bubbly voice exclaimed. A big pair of blue eyes shone behind cotton candy pink hair, and Pinkie Pie beamed as she admired her friend’s reactions.
Twilight asked, “Pinkie Pie? What is all this?”
She answered, “Well it’s our going away party silly!” Pinkie hopped over to the dining room where she had an assortment of food, drinks, and treats laid out for her friends to devour.
“Pinkie. You know we were supposed to be headed out soon. We need to meet the Princess as soon as possible. I don’t know if this is the right. . .” Twilight trailed off as her eyes met a pair of puppy dog eyes unlike any she had ever seen.
“But Twilight Sparkle! I made all this wonderfully terrific food just for you all because I’m going to miss this place. Yeah, it’s old, dusty, boarded up, scary at night, boring by day, and a constant battle to watch for infected, but it’s ours” she protested. Twilight thought for a second and looked around at her friends.
“Well, we might as well not let this food go to waste. I mean look at the . . . fine décor and delectable . . . entrees?” chimed Rarity.
“Okay guys, but we need to make sure we head out before sundown” said Twilight. The group cheered and hastily set up to enjoy their time together. So, the six had a wonderful meal full of joking, reminiscence, and bonding. These fleeting, innocent moments would be the last that the group would experience for a time to come.
Grunting, Spike hauled suitcases into the car. “I don’t understand why girls have so much stuff that they can’t say goodbye to. It’s ridiculous that we can barely squeeze into the car with all these things. Oh, and next time there’s a feast downstairs, feel free to wake me up Twi.” Twilight just smiled as she helped Spike load up and prepare for departure.
“Maybe you’ll understand one day mister. But for now, you’re still just a kid and you don’t know everything yet. Even though you act like it sometimes” she said jokingly.
As he shoved yet another handbag into the back of the car, he sighed “I am sixteen years old Twi, and I think that’s old enough to be treated like an adult.” He pouted as the last of the belongings were carted into the car and he closed the back gate.
“It’s alright there little fella’. Yer sure to be a big, strong man like Big Macintosh someday” added Applejack as she exited the house to get settled in the car right away. The rest of the group took one last look at the tattered, old house that gave them shelter for the past month and a half before all piling into the car.
“Bye, bye house! We’ll miss ya!” shouted Pinkie Pie as they sped away from the humble abode. A wave of relief swept across the passengers as they all silently surveyed the town one last time. “Closed until further notice” signs strewn across most of the businesses, the occasional blood spatter on the wall or ground, and a tone of gloom defined the town.
Rainbow sighed, “I miss when this town was nice and bright and bustling with people. It’s so dressing to just see everything all grey and musty, ya know?” As Rainbow glanced towards the sky, she saw something that wasn’t quite right. A mass was traveling downwards swiftly towards the ground and gradually gained shape, size, and-
“Oh my god…” said Rainbow Dash. “Twilight! Pull over now!!!” Twilight pulled off to the side of the road immediately and spun around.
“What?? What is it?!” Rainbow pointed to the object and stillness swept through the air. It was a bomb.
“What in tarnation is goin on?!” screamed Applejack.
Rarity said, “That can’t possibly be a b-b-bomb can it?” She nervously glanced around at everyone and they were glued to the impossible vision before them.
“Hold on girls. Let me see if there’s anything on the radio” Twilight said as she skimmed the stations.
“KSSSSHHH – government has ignored the pleas of the town that we are indeed secure enough to not become a threat to the rest of the general public. They . . . They said that there was no other choice and that they are deeply sorry for what they have to do. This is Nicholas Androes signing off for the last time. Goodbye, and thanks for listening to 70.9 KCFM.” Staring at each other, not a member made a sound for what remained an eternity.
“I jus don’t believe it y’all. . . After all we’ve been through, it just aint fair to have it end up like this” Applejack softly spoke. They all glanced around the group and silently recognized the entirety of the situation. There was no way they could reach a safe house in time, and they had no fallout equipment. They were singularly helpless.
“Don’t worry girls. We. . . We had such an amazing friendship. Every moment of the laughter, smiles, tears, fears. I always have been, and always will be grateful that I met all of you” Pinkie Pie said through misty eyes.
Rainbow Dash said through soft sobs, “Yeah guys. It’s been fun. I guess we’ll have to see what happens on the other side.”
“Yes. We must remain strong and I’m sure everything will be all right. I owe so much to you girls” Rarity sweetly spoke.
Fluttershy and Spike just stood there in silence and gazed upon the group with innocently afraid eyes.
“Thanks for all that you’ve taught me. Every single one of you helped shape me into the woman I am today. Teaching me how to make friends and have the time of my life with them. I could never thank all of you enough” Twilight stated confidently as usual. Without another word, she stopped the stream of harsh reality overflowing from her eyes. Motioning for her friends, her family, she had them gather round for a group embrace. As the warmth of their hearts touched one another and collected into a mass of love, Twilight began to feel weak. She opened her eyes and saw that a purplish hue had attached itself to everything around her and she felt a great force emanating from her arms. As she looked down, the ground met her halfway.
As Twilight awoke, she ran a hand through her hair. She felt something that wasn't quite hair and realized that someone had bandaged her head. “Oh, right. I passed out. Must have hit my head.” She sighed. Looking around, she saw no sign of any of her friends. She became worried. Her anxiety only grew when she noticed that she was in a completely unrecognizable area. Oh great, Twilight. Not only are you a klutz, but you're getting yourself lost now too! She thought to herself. Being the analytical seeker of knowledge she is, a study of her surroundings was in order. Casting a glance to her right, she viewed a doorway that stood against a wall plastered with a light bluish wallpaper. To her left sat a baby's crib which had a sloppy interior. Old toys and a mussed up blanket its only contents. She hoisted herself up from the floor and ventured out into the rest of the house. As she turned a corner towards a descending staircase, she accidentally kicked a picture frame that had been left on the floor.
“Twilight? Is that you?” A voice called from downstairs.
Cautiously, Twilight answered, “... Yes. Who's down there?” A blur of yellow streaked towards Twilight and she found herself in an embrace with a sobbing Fluttershy.
“Oh my goodness, I was so worried Twilight! I woke up in this house, and I didn't know where I was, and I saw you on the floor with a gash on your head! I found a first aid kit and did the best I could, and I would've moved you to a bed, but I'm not that strong. I don't mean that you're heavy, but I, uhm... I'm sorry Twilight. I didn't mean to say-”
“Fluttershy! It's alright.” Twilight interrupted her spooked friend. Remembering the picture frame, Twilight bent down to pick it up, and examined the image it held. The ocean occupied the back drop of the picture, while an excited family occupied the foreground. The mother and father held a goofy parental pose as most do in vacation photos. The oldest son looked to be 18 or so, and was putting the younger in a playful headlock. Smiling, the youngest brother was pretending to release himself from the vice. He looked to be around 14 years old. At the bottom right hand corner of the photo, a child no older than 1 year old sat in a baby chair fit for the beach. She looked content with her sand shovel in one hand, and a beautiful opal-colored seashell in the other. Twilight smiled. She was reminded of a more innocent and happy time, one before the outbreak.
“Instead of looking through the family photo album, how about we figure out why we're in this place?” Spike said, walking up the stairs. He feigned annoyance, but Twilight could tell that he was relieved she wasn't banged up too badly. “Looks like it's just us three here. I can't find any of the others. I worried something happened to them.” Twilight became uneasy upon hearing this bit of news. She rattled her brain to try to remember what had happened to them. Everything was jumbled, but certain events were clear enough to think back to. She remembered finishing her letter to the princess, eating at Pinkie's party, losing her medicine, finding Rarity in the bathroom, driving to L.A., and then seeing a bomb fall out of the sky. She snapped back to reality and nervously darted her eyes between Spike and Fluttershy.
“The bomb.”The others looked at her. “Do you remember a bomb dropping on the city?!” Twilight yelped.
“...Yeah. Fluttershy said she did too, but we just thought it was a nightmare or something. But if you saw it too, then something really must've happened.” Spike uttered. Concern consuming his face. Should I tell her about that eerie purple glow? Spike debated in his head. Probably not. We should find a way out of here and discus that later. It would only make things harder in this situation.
“Well, guys. It looks like something happened and we need to figure out what that is. We also need to find our friends... They can't be too far from us.” Twilight said, trying to latch onto whatever confidence she had left. This wasn't exactly the kind of situation she was accustomed to. Sure, being on the lookout for any stray infected was one thing when you had six other people to back you up. But now she was left with less than half of the team. “Let's look around for anything we could use to arm ourselves with.” Twilight said, leading them down the stairs. They entered the living room of the house. Intricate patterns tattered on tapestries, a fireplace strewn with ash and burnt logs, and a corroding chandelier thrown about the floor. Twilight caught of whiff of something familiar, yet she couldn't quite put a finger on it. . . Blood. That's what she smelled. Whatever happened here wasn't a civilized argument.
Whimpering as she descended the stairs, Fluttershy noted her surroundings. “It looks like someone had a nasty brawl down here. I hope nobody was hurt.” She knew better, but she was doing her best to keep her nerves at bay. She wanted to be strong for the group, but that was never something she was particularly gifted at. Her gentle and kind nature had, for a while now, been trying it's hardest to adjust to how cold and dark the world had become since the infection. She felt pity for those afflicted. She wouldn't be able to take one out, they were still human after all.
Spike broke her concentration, “Jeez, everything around here is wrecked. Whatever happened here, the winners didn't stay too long.” Spike started towards the kitchen while the girls headed to the basement to check for any life or lack thereof. A visible layer of dust clung to the appliances in the rummaged kitchen. Spike took a peek in the fridge, only to be disappointed by a single carton of solidified milk and two rotten apples. He turned to check the rest of the area for anything of use. Along the inside of the cupboards, he found a few slices of bread and a couple granola bars. He nabbed them and threw them into his backpack that he had always carried. He enjoyed being prepared for situations, especially unplanned ones.
Down in the basement, Twilight and Fluttershy were investigating. “Twilight... Do we really have to go into the dark, scary basement? I mean, we could just stay upstairs and clean up the mess or something.” Fluttershy sheepishly remarked.
“I know you're scared, but we have to check down here to get a clue of how we ended up in this place.” Twilight responded. In truth, she was uneasy about basements because of the large amount of horror movies she had seen when she was younger. However, Twilight wouldn't let Texas Chainsaw Massacre stop he from guiding everyone to safety. They cautiously ventured down the staircase. Lowering themselves into the unknown. Twilight fumbled along a wall in the darkness until her hand bumped the side of a light switch. CLICK.
“Okay, that's better.” Twilight sighed as the lower level was illuminated. Looking around, she spotted a gurney to her right pushed against the wall. Dirty medical tools were piled on top of a table located right beside it. Shuddering, she wondered what exactly happened in this house. To her left she saw a plethora of vials, test tubes, beakers, syringes, and other medical implements. What is with all this stuff? What was all of this used for? Experimentation? Torture?! Twilight thought to herself.
“Umm... Needless to say Twilight, I think it would be best if we left right now. This whole place is creeping me out.” Fluttershy said, latching onto Twilight's arm. Twilight moved towards the scalpel she spotted on the operating table.
“I know. This place is. . . off. I just want to see if there is anything that we can use.” Twilight moved closer towards the heap of discarded tools and something caught her eye. Almost hidden in the folds of a bloody cloth, an eerily familiar glow caught her eye. Reaching for the source of the glow, Twilight began to grow nervous for some reason unbeknownst to her. Seconds before she could expose the illustrious beams, a loud cry emanated from upstairs.
“TWILIGHT! Get up here, NOW!” A startled Spike boomed. Being wretched back to the situation at hand, Twilight grasped Fluttershy's wrist and sped up the stairs.
“Spike! Is everything alri-” Her sentence was cut short along with her breath. As she stood in the basement's doorway, she stared upon a scenario that she hoped she would never live to see . Among many food wrappers stood a petrified Spike. The door to the kitchen had been flung open, and his gaze was fixated on a dark figure that now occupied the doorway. Laden with oozing boils, an array of lesions and cuts, and accompanied with a heavy wheezing stood a male about forty years old. As he stared at the group he wore a look of confusion, which quickly turned to rage. Twilight knew that he was in about stage four of the infection; five stages total. She'd been studying the symptoms of the infection to make sure she knew how serious encounters would be.
At stage four, all of the subject's physical lesions and disruptions were present. At this stage, the disease finds its way into the central nervous system. It then attacks the limbic system and amygdala, responsible for emotional control. Finally, it creates an intense burning sensation over every part of the body and persists until the host dies. No treatment is available for anyone in this stage, and the only way to prevent further contamination is to terminate the carrier. Twilight had to think more quickly than she had in her life. Without a weapon, she would have to flee. After quickly surveying the area, she made note of a hallway to her right, leading out of the house. With the fact in mind that one slip up could turn disastrous, Twilight took a deep breath. A split second of silence...
You could almost hear the muscles in Twilight's legs tense as she sprinted towards Spike. She pulled him out of the kitchen, tossed him towards Fluttershy, and screamed to them. “RUN!” The group sped down the hall and could hear the rabid man coming at them from behind. Chasing after a meal like a lion does a zebra. The door rapidly grew closer and the group pressed on, the possibility of safety keeping them going.
“Dammit!” a voice cried.
Twilight spun herself around and saw that Spike had fallen. The man sped up at the sight of an easy meal. Without hesitation, Twilight grabbed Spike's shirt collar, flinging him towards Fluttershy. Twilight spun back around and assumed an offensive stance. Using what moves she'd learned from Daring Do novels, she reared back and swung her leg towards the midsection of the pursuer. Connecting with the force of this devastating move, the man was sent into the wall and toppling over onto the ground.
“GO! NOW!” She screamed to the others. The trio made it out the door and ran to the left down an available alley that led to the middle of a miscellaneous street. As the sprinted into the open, the witnessed something of a very confusing nature. A house in front of them. Blank white, perfectly kept lawn, a dainty flowerbed lay at the front and was complimented by a two foot angle statue directly adjacent from it.
The house by its side matched the first in almost every way. As did the next house, and the next, and the next. All but the one they had just been inside. Theirs was old and riddled with dirt.
“What is going on here? Why do all these houses look the same, Twilight?” Spike asked. He had no clue why this was the way it was, and Twilight couldn't help but feel mutually. As they scanned the area, a dark fog rolled down the street and moved towards the group.
“What in the world?” Fluttershy asked. She looked past the fog as much as she could, and saw another darkened figure. This one, female, middle aged. Fluttershy gasped, wondering who it was and if they were infected or not. Suddenly she became light headed. She fell into Twilight's weak arms. Fluttershy noticed that Spike was already unconscious and Twilight was fading as well.
Oh, my... This can't be good. She thought. The world faded to black.
“AJ! Come on! We have to make it to the Metrorail subway before the infected get to us. HURRY!” Pinkie Pie bellowed as she was sprinting just ahead of Applejack. Fleeing down the open street, Applejack couldn’t help but question if any of this was real. Starving, undead, Florida citizens chasing her wasn’t exactly the type of situation she was accustomed to.