The lights in the barn dimmed and the smell of hot, salted, buttery popcorn wafted over from a rustling cushion.
A whirring click, a spark and a solid shaft of light shot out of the crystal delicately balanced on a pile of farm crates and science textbooks.
The dark walls of the surrounding barn sighed and moaned under the shifting weight of the cooling night-time air.
Six ponies shifted and hushed as the screen flickered to life in front of them.
The movie was starting.
Light glinted off the snow-globe like objects littering the shelves of Block Buster’s video rental shop in Canterlot. The store was silent, save for the hoof-steps of a lone unicorn mare who wandered the aisled, browsing the brightly-polished stock.
“How much longer is this going to take? We’ve been indoors for a whole fifty-three seconds. That’s like… five minutes or something!”
Of course, the blue pegasus mare hanging upside-down off a ceiling fan wasn’t exactly helping in the silence department.
“Oh come on, Dash!” the purple mare sighed. “I’m sure there’s a movie here you’d like if you’d just keep your hooves on the ground and look!” As if to prove her point, she picked up one of the orbs and gave the back a look. “Ooo, they have Daring Do 3: The Search for Celestia’s Cider Mug! Let’s see... Ah! Here we go! ‘Daring Do finds her long lost mother, bucks many ponies, and together they search for the legendary Cider Mug that is said to turn normal ponies into Alicorns. The finale of the thrilling trilogy, starring Mareison Fjord!’”
The blue pegasus, Rainbow Dash, swooped off her perch and snatched the bauble from the unicorn’s telekinetic grasp and examined it for a moment. Interest in the orb, however, waned as she noticed her companion conspicuously standing in front of an orb in the same section, whistling a soft tune with a forced nonchalance that only served to stoke Rainbow Dash’s curiosity.
“Twilight,” Rainbow deadpanned, “what are you hiding?”
“Nothing, nothing,” the purple mare, Twilight, looked at her friend with a smile, trying to act as though all were normal in the world. “I’m not hiding Daring Do 4 from you! Why would I hide that from you of all ponies? They only made three, so obviously I’m just, uh," A single bead of sweat dropped down her cheek. "Feeling the air currents here for you? Because you’re a pegasus. It's a safety thing."
Twilight was clearly not the best liar in Equestria. Even Rainbow Dash saw through this one.
“Oh come on, Twilight! It’s not like it has humans in it or anything, right?”
The store was suddenly engulfed in a deafening silence. It was as though the store had bore witness to an inversion of the Royal Canterlot Voice. Sound itself was sucked into some nebulous vortex as Twilight shifted her hooves awkwardly.
After what felt like an eternity, Rainbow Dash broke the silence with a groan, rubbing a hoof against her face in clear agitation before placing Daring Do 3 back in its spot on the aisle. “Nice try, Twilight, but you’re not convincing me about this whole movie thing.” She sighed and shook her head. “How could they do that to Daring Do!? It’s like some terrible fic on fanfiction.canter!”
That brought an impish grin on Twilight’s face, and a sparkle in her eye. “You’d know that better than I, DashingDo.”
“Don’t you mention that!” Dash snapped back, though the attempt at righteous indignation was undermined as her voice cracked, forcing her to reduce her tone to a pathetic little squeak. “That’s supposed to be a secret!”
With a snicker, Twilight trotted over to the horror section of the store, Rainbow Dash now following rather closely, trying to hide the blush forming on her face. It was then that she spotted an orb that caught her eye.
“Look at this, Rainbow! This looks amazing!” Twilight picked the orb in question and glanced at it for a moment before having it rudely snatched away by her ill-mannered companion.
“Twilight,” said companion nervously whispered. “You sure about this one? ‘A Nightmare Moon on Elm Street. Not suitable for any ponies of any age. Features scenes of intense violence and gore.’” Rainbow Dash gulped softly at that bit before moving on to the interesting quote printed under the description. “’A most unflattering depiction of our waistline!’ -Princess Luna of the Canterlot Royal Family.” It took a moment for Rainbow Dash to collect her thoughts. “I don’t care about the whole waistline thing, but um, you sure this isn’t a bit too harsh?”
The sudden wicked grin on Twilight’s face made Rainbow Dash regret saying that. “You’re not chicken, are you?” Twilight managed a soft chuckle, clearly trying to provoke the self-proclaimed bravest pony in all of Equestria.
“I’m not Scootaloo,” Rainbow deadpanned in reply. “I’m so much more mature than some silly filly!”
The remark only served to widen Twilight’s grin to the point where Rainbow Dash was certain it would crack the unicorn’s face. “The same Scootaloo who I saw reading Hairy Trotter without worry about being branded an egghead?”
“Well, if they made a Daring Do movie, I’d-” Rainbow Dash was cut off as Twilight cleared her throat and pointed over at where they’d just been, Daring Do 4 now clearly visible. Rainbow Dash could only manage a defeated sigh at the thought of humans in a Daring Do movie.
Unfazed by her friend’s sudden loss for words, Twilight continued her barrage. “Still,” she quipped, “that doesn’t explain why Rainbow Dash looks white as a sheet at the thought of watching a horror movie.”
“I’m not scared!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, sounding suspiciously like she was trying to prove it to herself as much as Twilight. She gazed at the orb again, looking at the director’s name. “Really, how scary can this Les Raven be?”
The mention of that name caused Twilight to stop grinning and instead let out a gasp of sheer, unbridled excitement as she snatched the orb from Rainbow Dash and levitated it less than an inch from her suddenly wide eyes.
“!” Twilight somehow pronounced grammar as she was suddenly smiling and bouncing around, full of energy. “I can’t believe it! I thought he retired after Bog Thing! ‘Les Raven’s best!’ eh? I don’t see how it could be better than Last Cottage on the Left or The Hills Have Teeth, but now I’m most definitely watching this!”
For her part, Rainbow Dash simply groaned and rubbed her head with a hoof again, flabbergasted at the sight of her friend going googly-eyed over this director. “So, I take it you’re into this sorta thing, egghead?”
The look in Twilight’s eyes as she gazed into those of her friend’s could best be described as radiant. There was a strange, ethereal glow in Twilight’s gaze, as though fueled by a deeply-hidden fire inside the unicorn’s heart.
“You know, you might just be right,” Twilight cooed in a melodic voice at her friend. “This is obviously way, way too scary for a pony like you. I’m not sure even Pinkie could laugh at this one. Yeah, I think I’ll watch this one on my own. That’s the ticket.” The way Rainbow Dash’s teeth gritted only served to further fuel Twilight’s soft-spoken mockery. “I’d just hate to think how a pegasus pony totally uninitiated to scary movies would react if she started with a Raven film. Oh no, even in a sleepover with her five best friends, that would simply be the. Worst.Possible. Thing!” Twilight batted her eyelashes and sighed dramatically, putting the cap on an act that would have surely made Rarity proud.
“Oh that is it!” Rainbow Dash puffed her chest as she spoke, full of the sort of bravo usually reserved for stallions trying to impress mares at a bar. “I’ll show you! I’ll show all of you! Pinkie, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash! Especially Rainbow Dash, which is me, because I’m just that awesome!”
Snatching the orb from Twilight, Rainbow Dash made a beeline, or more specifically a rainbow-colored line, toward the counter, her speed knocking down all the cardboard cutouts in the large store and ripping several movie posters off the walls. “Ring this up for me, Block!” She slammed some bits on the counter, knocking over a small display holding several chocolate bars.
Block Buster, the gray-maned blue earth stallion at the counter rang up the order, suddenly looking rather scared as the receipt printed out. He put the orb in a paper bag along with the receipt and handed it to the eager pegasus. “Okay, that’ll be due back in-”
“Keep the change!” Rainbow suddenly shouted as she snatched the bag and dashed out the store, knocking over several snack displays.
“Seven days...” Block whimpered as he looked upon the ruins of his store.
Twilight bounced out of the store after her friend, leaving poor Block to clean everything up. She had to make preparations, after all.
Now alone, Block trotted out from behind the counter to try and clean up his mangled store. As he worked, he reminisced about his younger days, when ponies would fill his store. Nice, courteous ponies who didn’t knock over and try to destroy absolutely everything. Those were the best days of his life. Now, his only customers were the occasional barely-legal wrecking balls like the two that had just left.
Luna curse Canternetflix! He thought bitterly as he worked, wondering if he’d have another customer the rest of the day.
The party had fallen together quite nicely, thanks to the contributions of each of the six ponies.
Applejack had supplied the venue; a large, spooky old barn that provided plenty of room for every pony to watch the film comfortably. She also tossed in some of that heavenly late-night cider, enough to keep them all properly hydrated. And buzzed. That was important too.
Rarity had supplied a gigantic rectangle of white linen, creating a screen big enough to rival the most luxurious theaters in Canterlot, and some crimson curtains to add some class to the proceedings. At least as much class as could be added to an old barn, at any rate.
Fluttershy had enlisted her larger animal friends to bring over some large, comfy cushions packed with gentle, soft goose down. Granted, the butter-yellow pegasus would have to find some way to make it up to the poor geese she’d had plucked for said down. She supposed a hot chicken dinner was out of the question. Some other way then.
Rainbow Dash had of course gotten everyone ready – still eager to prove to everyone that she was the bravest pony in all Equestria. She’d also helped set the screen and curtains up, once more adding to the impressive look of the venue, and brought the actual movie, which was also important.
Twilight, naturally, set up the magical projector. She’d have done a bit more, of course, but Rainbow Dash – her supposed ride home – had completely forgotten her in her excitement. The Element of Loyalty she might be, but Rainbow Dash had some serious attention span issues. At least Twilight got in more than a bit of practice in long-range teleportation today.
Lastly, there was Pinkie Pie, who was in a league of her own. Indeed, she might very well be in an entire sport of her own, where only she knew the rules of and all the spectators were forced to wear silly hats for no reason.
A small misunderstanding had Pinkie dressed in fishnet stockings and ruby-red lipstick, so Twilight had to explain that it wasn’t that kind of horror show. After pointing out how Big Mac would have made a perfect Rocky, she jumped behind a cushion before jumping into view from behind a hay bale – how she did that was anyone’s guess – wearing a skimpy cheerleader outfit. And a fake axe sticking out of her mane. At least Twilight thought it was a fake axe.
That wasn’t the only part of Pinkie’s preparations that Twilight had trouble with, however.
“Pinkie?” Twilight asked as she gazed, wide-eyed, at the elaborate contraption just outside the barn. “Why is there an enormous siege engine set up in the middle of the orchard?”
“Oh this?” The sincere innocence in Pinkie’s voice actually made Twilight worry a bit. “This is my Party Trébuchet! Oh yeah, we’re gonna party like it’s 1499! We’re getting medieval up in this place! Aw yeah!”
Suppressing a groan and shaking her head, Twilight looked upon the insane device with a mixture of horror and awe, wondering how Pinkie could have possibly prepared this monstrosity in such a short time. “Okay, the Party Cannon was bad enough, but-” She was interrupted by the sight of what appeared to be three fillies preparing the device. “Wait, is that-?”
“Cutie Mark Crusaders, Crusaders!”
The unified scream of the three fillies left Twilight speechless, her left eye twitching violently. Words betrayed her for a moment as she wondered how anyone could have thought this was a good idea. She sputtered and coughed for a few moments, trying to think of something to say that would adequately express her indignation. “Are you crazy, Pinkie?!” That was a fine start, even if the answer to that one was perhaps obvious to anyone not named Pinkie Pie. “First off, why the hay are we launching things!? Secondly, how are you going to aim that monstrosity!? Oh, and while we’re at it, I’m quite certain fillies aren’t supposed to be operating heavy weaponry!” By the end of her rant, both Twilight’s eyes were twitching and her mane was frazzled as she gazed back and forth between the siege engine and its owner.
“Oh don’t you worry, Twi-Pie!” Pinkie chirped with her usual psychotically innocent happiness. “I’m the responsible adult... Supervisor... Pony... Thing! They’ll be fine!” She then pulled out an instrument that looked not unlike a telescope attached to a sixty-degree curved ruler by a complex system of steel and glass. “Besides, I borrowed this here doohickey from your astronomy stuff, so I’m sure to hit! Really, Twilight, I’m hitting the broad side of a barn! How hard can this be!?”
Twilight’s eye-twitching only became more pronounced. “Pinkie, that’s a sextant. My sextant.” Her voice quivered now as she tried to keep from exploding twice in front of the fillies. “Seriously, give me my sextant back. And while we’re at it, this is not what I meant! When I said I needed your help to throw a party, I didn’t mean to actually pick up the party and throw it! Seriously, I didn’t think I’d need to explain that!”
Eventually, Twilight was able to get the children to bed in Applejack’s house, and convinced Pinkie to disarm the weapon of mass destruction. Just as well, as Pinkie Pie was already classified as one herself. Twilight had had seen the official document in Canterlot recording the royal decree. Signed by both princesses, even! Twice!
At the very least, Pinkie had contributed something other than the near-destruction of the barn. Weathered and frayed black banners bearing the phrase “Horror Movie Night!” in a convincing dripping-blood font hung from the roof of the barn, and a buffet table set up with an orgy of Nightmare Night-themed sweets had been set up seemingly out of thin air. One of the many mysteries of Pinkie Pie.
Faced with enough desserts to feed several starving nations, Rarity let out a dramatic huff and flicked her mane out from in front of her face. “Goodness, Pinkie Pie, I think I’ve gained a pound just being in the same room as that table!”
Applejack joined the discussion. “Sugarcube, I reckon I know more ‘bout apples than any pony else in this here room, but Celestia as my witness, I have never, in all my days, seen a deep-fried caramel-coated toffee apple until tonight.”
“All right, cherrychangas!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed as she moved over to the table to grab one, her mouth watering at the sight.
“Isn’t it called a chimicherry?” Fluttershy asked softly as she wandered over to the table, demurely reaching out for one as well.
“Dunno,” Rainbow Dash admitted. “I just like how cherrychanga rolls of the tongue, you know?”
Fluttershy nodded weakly as she listened politely, taking a dainty bite of the sweet treat. “True, but chimicherry sounds so much softer. I think that makes it so much nicer.Um, if you don’t mind my saying so.”
Rainbow Dash practically swallowed the whole thing in one gulp and contemplated the name. “Hm... chimicherry... cherrychanga... Hey, how about chimicherry-ow!” Before she knew it, she was on the receiving end of an expertly delivered kick to the back of the head that would have brought smiles to the faces of legendary martial arts masters Buck Choy and Ju Ditzy!
Neither pony had seen Rarity fuming in the background as their conversation reminded her of an unfortunate, er, 'accident'.
“You finish that word, punk, and I will style your hair. I mean it.” Rarity grabbed Rainbow Dash by the shoulders and forcibly turned her around, gazing with murderous intent in her target’s eyes. “I will make you beautiful! There will be curling irons involved. When I am done, I am going to wash that mane of yours, and condition it. It will be silky-smoothe for weeks. Do I make myself clear?”
That was enough to silence Rainbow Dash. The white hoof in her mouth helped, certainly, but even without it, the very thought of living through what Rarity threatened was enough to silence her. Victorious, Rarity pulled her hoof back and trotted off past Fluttershy, who was well on her way to being a tree, if the complete stillness and shade of green were any indication.
Seeing the rapidly deteriorating mood among the trio, Twilight snatched up several bags of the only thing on the table that wasn’t sweet – popcorn. “Hey girls!” she cried out cheerfully. “How about we get this show started!”
Every pony gave a cheer at that, save for Rainbow Dash, who simply nodded as she recovered from Rarity’s intimidation tactics. With that, Twilight levitated a bag to each pony before setting up the projection crystal. While that was going on, Applejack was whispering to Pinkie Pie between bites of the saccharine atrocity that had once been an apple.
“Say, Pinkie,” Applejack wondered, “What were you doing with Twilight’s astronomy books anyway?”
“Luna’s icy nipples, she creased the spine!”
The ponies all winced, with the exception of Pinkie Pie, who was completely oblivious to Twilight’s protest. “Well, I was trying to figure out this sextant thingie. Well, at least I think that’s what Twilight calls it.”
“Uh, Pinkie?” Applejack blushed a bit and started looking around with shifty eyes.
“Well, I couldn’t figure it out. It’s really complicated, you know! Maybe my hooves are just too big?”
The farm pony’s blush intensified as she shook her head nervously. “P-Pinkie, Ah’ll thank ya not to go into such det-”
“So, turns out a lot of instructions on them in some of those books Twilight hides under her bed! With really cool pictures! Here, lemmie show you! There's just a special way I gotta grab it with my mouth, see?"
A thud could be heard throughout the barn, one that every pony there was intimately familiar with – another pony falling. That it wasn’t Rainbow Dash who had made the thud was shocking enough, particularly to Rainbow Dash, who had become accustomed to being the one to make thudding noises.
In the middle of the group, Pinkie Pie stood over the fallen Applejack, who was now hyperventilating. For some reason the party-pony had the looking portion of Twilight’s sextant in her mouth. Deep in her mouth.
Pinkie just shrugged as the other Ponies stared at her, wondering what the big deal was.