The Other Dentist
Colgate let out a sigh as she made her way into the dental office. Already, the waiting room was filled with ponies and some very unexcited foals.
She strode across the lobby and a little white filly sank back in her seat as she passed. The foal’s mother glared at Colgate like scaring the foal was her fault. “I don’t know if I’m coming back here,” she added on top of the glare, just for emphasis.
Sure, Colgate thought heatedly. Don’t bring your foal back. I hope she doesn’t cry later when I have to pull out all of her teeth because you don’t understand basic hygiene.
It was always a battle with high-strung hoofball moms, whose children were, undoubtedly, more important than Celestia herself.
“Oh, well can’t you do something?” they would always ask.
Her answer would always be the same. “I’m sorry Mrs. but that’s the only option. You can always take them to another dentist, but they’ll tell you the same thing.”
This would always end with the mare hugging their foal like Colgate had been threatening them with a molar drill. Occasionally, she would get an understanding parent, but it was rare.
Being a child’s dentist was the most trying occupation she could imagine. Once she had gotten in an argument with a particularly wealthy mare, in which the argument had ended with Colgate asking the mare if she even knew what a toothbrush was. That hadn’t ended well.
The receptionist looked up as the late-arriving dentist neared the front counter. “Oh, Colgate, thank Celestia you’re here. We’ve got Twist in for a cleaning and she’s been waiting for twenty minutes now.”
Colgate made her way past the white mare at the desk, barely even acknowledging her presence.
“Then after that we have Diamond Tiara. Her father wants a general checkup and cleaning, and then action from there depending on how her teeth look… Colgate, are you even listening?”
The blue mare gave her head a little shake, which knocked her blue and white mane into her eyes. “Something about teeth,” she said absently.
The receptionist deadpanned. “You’re a dentist. When is it not about teeth?”
She shook her mane out of her eyes and pushed open the door to the hallway leading off to the back rooms. “Not sure. Ask the orthodontist.”
The mare opened her mouth to say something in retort, but Colgate closed the door behind her and left the receptionist in the lobby to tend to the happy parents.
With as much determination as she could muster, Colgate made her way down the painfully-white hallway, all the way to the room in the far back.
She pushed open the door to the back room to the familiar sight of the dentist’s chair in the center of the room, its reflection cast in the polished linoleum tile. In it sat a white filly, her red mane long and curly. She had removed her glasses and they now sat upon the tool tray to the right of the elevated chair.
Twist looked up at Colgate’s entry. “Oh, hello mithus Colgathe.”
Colgate suppressed a smile. She would be sad when it came time to fix that lisp. She knew the filly’s parents would want it done eventually. Really, Twist couldn’t live her whole life having ponies smile at her every time she spoke.
“How are you doing this afternoon, Twist?” she asked with semi-forced cheerfulness.
Twist returned her glasses to her face and followed Colgate with her eyes as the dentist crossed to the counter. “Greath!” she said enthusiastically.
Colgate examined the clipboard that sat upon the table. She ran her eyes down the rows of fine print until she reached what she was looking for. ‘Cleaning and Checkup.’ This was all it took to refresh her mind. Twist hadn’t been in for a cleaning for quite a while.
“So where is your mother today?” she asked the filly, sliding the clipboard aside. “She normally comes in with you.”
Twist cocked her head. “Oh, sthe had thomething to do today so sthe leth me go by mythelf.”
Colgate opened the cabinet and levitated out a mouth mirror and tongue depressor. “Well, tell your mother thanks for not messing up my schedule by letting you come.” She crossed over to Twist and set the tools down on the metal tray beside the seat. “I got you in here for a cleaning.”
Twist nodded. “Yep!”
Working the chair mechanism with her hoof, Colgate reclined the filly to a horizontal position. “So have you been brushing every day?”
The filly flushed. “Thort of.”
Colgate rolled her eyes. “I don’t like the sound of that.” She shrugged. “Okay, open up.”
Twist complied, opening her mouth and allowing Colgate to examine her teeth with the complicatedly named tools.
Colgate smiled. Twist was her favorite patient. She was a regular, so she knew the routine. This made things easy, much easier than some of her patients. As the veteran dentist she had once worked with had said. “It ain’t dental work ‘till you have ta’ strap a foal down and give em’ enough gas to knock a dragon on its ass.”
“So how are things going?” she asked idly, examining Twist’s back row of teeth.
“Omph naw ephl ap gashl.”
“Oops.” Colgate reached over and pulled over a wheeled contraption, the one she used to clean teeth. “Tell me later.” She flipped a little switch on the side of the little machine to start the suction and inserted the rubberized tube into the filly’s left cheek.
Levitating up the combo polishing wheel and paste dispensing utensil, she poised it over Twist’s mouth. “Okay, you’ve done this before so you know what to do. Just keep your mouth open and don’t swallow any of the polish because it’ll upset your stomach.”
Twist nodded, mouth agape. With a little smile, Colgate plunged in.
She was the protector of hygiene, and the sole defender of oral cleanliness and savior of teeth. With the power of mint, and her elite dentist’s skills, she would defeat the evil Dr. Cavity. He was hiding, always hiding. Right when you were sure everything was safe and sound, he would surface to cause havoc, and despair… and fillings.
She plodded slowly through the dark chamber, eyes vigilant, mind alert for any threats. She was also conscious of the wide-bore solvent cannon mounted to her back, eager to be used on unsuspecting plaque.
This place was quiet. Too quiet. Something she had learned in Dentist’s training camp: Quiet, was never good. She clamped the firing bit for the cannon in her mouth experimentally and flipped the safety to off.
Every hoofstep reverberated loudly throughout the cavernous, pink abyss. The air was warm and moist, and smelt of fresh celery.
She did not know how long she had been walking, or for how much longer she must walk.
Colgate threw a backwards glance at her hourglass cutie mark, feeling cheerful at its presence. She assumed it resembled the time spent brushing, such as the little hourglass used to time brushing for foals, but one could never be sure. Who knew? It could also stand for her quick thinking in a heated situation, or at which the speed she could attack.
She stumbled as the ground beneath her shook, sending ripples like waves across the lumpy surface. Then, before her eyes, ten white blobs rose up from the ground in a circle around her, and a maniacal laugh met her ears. The white blobs shifted and pulsated until they took on the partial shape of ponies. The difference, they had red eyes, and their tails acted as another limb, moving and squirming about on their own accord.
Colgate spun in a fast circle. She was surrounded. She trained the cannon on one and prepared to fire, but a voice interjected.
“Ah ah ah. I wouldn’t do that if I were you Missus Colgate,” an oily stallion’s voice chided. “Shoot one, and the others spring—You’ll never stop all of my plaque fiends in time.”
Colgate growled, furrowing the ground with a forehoof. “Show yourself, Dr. Cavity!”
He laughed evilly. “Do you think I’m that stupid? What’s the point of meeting you face to face when I can just have my minions kill you?”
“Coward!” she bellowed, spinning around and hoping to see her nemesis somewhere in the shadows. “I’ll find you!”
“Yeah… no you won’t,” he teased.
“As much as I’d like to stay and shoot insults,” he yawned. “I have things to do. Ruining filly’s teeth, rotting gums. You know, the usual stuff… Kill her,” he commanded boredly.
Colgate took a defensive stance. “I’ll get you!” she hollered, but received no response.
The plaque ponies moved forward as one and Colgate knew it was now or never. She clamped the bit for the cannon and fired a molten glob of light blue paste at the first monster. Her aim held true and the misshapen pony was hurled backwards, is plaquey head half melted, half blown off by the superheated paste.
The others pounced as one.
The entire scene played out before Colgate in slow motion. A smile spread across her face and her eyes narrowed. Only ten? She loosed off two more rounds, both of which struck their mark. She feigned left, then sprung right. Dr. Cavity’s fiends fell for the movement and ponypiled a few feet away from her. She spun on a single forehoof and trained the cannon on the pile. Four concentrated bursts condensed the remaining eight fiends to nothing more than a pile of steaming gloop.
To her irritation, and guilty amusement, six more materialized in front of her. They lunged forward, not even bothering to organize their charge. Colgate sidestepped the first one and slapped its mucky head off with a well-aimed forehoof. The cannon dispatched three more. That left two. That was, until twenty more rose up from the ground behind her.
“This is getting ridiculous,” she muttered, driving her hoof right through one’s chest and pulling up, tearing off the monster’s head and spattering herself with muck.
The twenty new fiends closed in on her, maintaining a tight group. Perfect. Colgate let the last pony of the group of six spring at her and tossed it to the ground like a sack of flour. She levitated a round device from her saddlebag and flicked the pin away.
“Say hi to Dr. Cavity for me,” she hissed, smiling triumphantly into the creature’s glowing red eyes. With the aid of her magic, she crammed the paste grenade into the creature's belly, watching as its gooey skin re-formed around the metal shape. With great strength, she hefted the pony into the air while balancing on her hind legs.
“So long you abominations!” she cried with a smile, hurling the plaque pony at the charging horde of its companions.
The creature smooshed to the ground in the middle of the group and let out a gurgly cry of rage. Colgate ducked as the grenade detonated, hurling gobs of boiling blue liquid about. Plaque ponies were thrown asunder like hot oil from a pot, pieces of them breaking off or melting from the cleansing paste.
After a moment, the surrounding air once again grew silent. The only sound was that of boiling plaque ponies.
Slowly, Colgate stood up. She raised a forehoof and wiped the mush from her face.
“And don’t forget to floss.”
“You’re all done,” Colgate declared as she withdrew the water sprayer from Twist’s mouth.
The filly rotated her jaw, then smacked her lips repulsively. “Thanths Mrths. Colgathe.” She frowned. “I wisth that thstuff didn’th tathte like rubber.”
Colgate smiled. “Me too. It would make my job a whole lot easier.” She returned the chair to its vertical position and moved the swinging tray away to allow Twist to stand.
She led the little pony out of the back room and followed her back to the lobby. Just beyond the door, Diamond Tiara stood waiting with an annoyed look on her face.
“It’s about time,” she scoffed, raising her chin up in the air.
Colgate put on the largest and cheesiest smile she could muster. “Why hello, Diamond Tiara. Is your father here?”
Another scoff. “Yeah right, there’s no way he’s going to hang around some smelly old dentist’s office all day.”
Colgate smiled further still. “Well, that’s nice. I’m ready for you now, so you can come back.”
The filly raised her head and stalked past Colgate out of the lobby and into the hall. “You should have been ready ten minutes ago.”
Colgate looked to Twist, who put a hoof up to her mouth, miming the act of gagging. Colgate chuckled and waved to the filly, who turned to leave.
With a sigh of exasperation, Colgate led the prissy Diamond Tiara back to the room she and Twist had just previously occupied.
Colgate followed her normal procedure, keeping her mouth shut for fear of saying something she would later regret. Last thing she needed to do was say something rude to this filly and have the news of it getting to her father. If that were to happen, she could kiss her job goodbye.
She silently motioned for Diamond Tiara to take a seat and retrieved a new pair of sterilized tools. Like Twist, she reclined the filly and asked for her to open her mouth.
Checking the filly’s teeth with the mirror produced a concerned intake of breath from Colgate. She set aside the tools and gazed down at Diamond Tiara, who seemed to be wearing her signature glare. “You haven’t even touched a toothbrush in months, have you?”
Diamond Tiara dropped the glare and folded her ears. “Well…”
Colgate sighed. “That’s what I thought.” She reclined the chair further still. “Well, you’ve got a cavity.”
Diamond Tiara, who had seemed so haughty before, hung her head at Colgate’s tone. “You make that sound like it’s a bad thing.”
Colgate prepped the machinery to clean the filly’s teeth. “Well, it is. I don’t think we can just fill this one—It’s probably going to have to be drilled.”
“D-Drilled?” she stammered.
Colgate leaned over Diamond Tiara and levitated the suction tube just above her mouth. “Well, yes. We drill out the decayed part of your tooth, then fill it in.”
“Does it hurt?” Diamond Tiara asked worriedly, shrinking back in her chair.
Colgate nodded solemnly. “Yes, I’m afraid it does.”
The filly stifled a whimper. Colgate actually felt sorry for her now. She wasn’t irritated with the filly. She was only irritated at the parents for not teaching her proper hygiene. Foals deserved loving parents. Diamond had turned out so snotty because her father was the same way. She didn’t know anything of the foal’s home life, but she doubted her father spent much time with her.
“But don’t worry,” she added. “I don’t think we’ll get to that today. I’m just going to do a cleaning and we’ll see where go from there. Okay?”
Diamond Tiara nodded pitifully. “Okay.”
Colgate returned the nod sincerely. “Okay, now open up.”
She was here. This was Dr. Cavtity’s lair. Despite his immense efforts to stop her, she had tracked him down, having followed his trail of stench and decay.
Now, as she plodded through the dark, sticky caverns, the two high beam lamps fitted to her combat suit eerily lighting the way ahead in two cones of blinding yellow light, Colgate was wishing she had come better equipped. As usual, she had her back mounted cannon, but she hadn’t bothered to restock on ammo before entering the cave. She had been completely overridden by her own excitement. However, she did have her secret weapon. That, and two of her solvent treated blades.
Colgate shook her head, clearing any stray thoughts. She would find Cavity, and she would end him.
Unlike some of the other tunnels she had explored and cleared, this one was much larger, and much more dangerous. All around, pools of bubbling acid hissed menacingly. even one misstep could send her hoof into the vile pinkish-green liquid, and most likely, only half of it would come out again. Occasionally, a glob of sizzling pink goo would drop from a stalactite on the roof and splat to the ground with an echoing thwop.
Colgate’s mind snapped to attention as the ground below her hooves shifted ever so slightly. She had encountered enough of Dr. Cavity’s traps to recognize the forewarnings of danger.
With a hitch of her rear hooves, she sprang forward, just as the squishy earth beneath her exploded upwards in a geyser of gunk and green gas. The tip of her left, rear hoof was skimmed for no more than a second by the green gas before she pulled it away. Although she had touched the acid only for a second, the end of her hoof burned like fire.
Quick as a whip, she swung her haunches around while balancing on her forehooves and sprung backwards into the air, away from the deadly geyser. Only halfway through her jump did she note her injured hoof with a murmured swear. Her rear hooves touched down on the mushy pink surface just as she had planned, but she had not planned on the mind-numbing jolt of pain that shot up her leg. Instinctively, she removed the weight from the leg and immediately lost her balance. Unable to save the landing, she went sprawling on her side, legs flailing uselessly as her flank skidded across the lumpy surface to come to a halt a good six feet from the boiling geyser.
Then, as fast as the threat had emerged, it subsided, the green gasses whooshing back into the ground.
Colgate chuckled once, the sound echoing around in the dead-quiet space. Her flanks rose and fell rhythmically as she worked off the sudden burst of adrenaline which had overtaken her. “Nice try,” she gasped, stretching her back in preparation to roll to her hooves.
Colgate froze, feeling as the ground below her began to vibrate. On reaction alone, she threw herself to the left and rolled away as another geyser exploded where she had just been.
By now, the entire cavern was shaking, and bursts of green gas were shooting into the air all about. Colgate, knowing it was only a matter of time before her luck ran out, spun to her hooves and set a gallop for the edge of the geyser field.
Once again, adrenaline took over, controlling her mind and powering her limbs as she sprinted on. The ground burst open to her left, then the right, then on both sides. One burst opened in front of her and Colgate sprang expertly around it, the pain in her hind leg forgotten.
Seconds passed at a rate that could have been considered minutes as she maneuvered the deadly obstacle course, experiencing many close calls with every forward lunge or directional tease. Then, in a flash of hooves and green gas, it was over.
Colgate picked herself up and looked back at the way she had come, now nothing but a lake of bubbling acid. “Whoo.” She wiped a sweaty forehoof across her brow. “Never seen that happen before…”
“How nice to see you made it,” drawled a bored, oily voice.
Colgate jumped, startled at the presence of another. She spun towards the direction of the voice, intent to spring. She was momentarily stunned by the sight ahead. There in front of her was a large pyramid, lit every few feet by torchlight and constructed of giant, yellowed teeth. Up the middle ran a steep staircase to the precipice. And there, at the very top of the decaying pyramid, upon a throne of teeth sat her nemesis, Dr. Cavity.
“I must say,” he mused. “I never thought you’d make it this far.”
Colgate drank in his presence, having only known him for his voice, and never seen the stallion in person. He was tall and scrawny, his coat a dirty yellow. His mane and tail ran long and matted, the brown and yellow streaks merging to form something of a puce. Colgate winced at his smile, noting several golden teeth, replacing those long gone from rot and decay. His cutie mark, as she had somewhat predicted, was a molar tooth with holes rotted clear through the center, the edges appearing darkened yellow, and even brown in some places.
Swallowing her repulse, Colgate raised her head determinedly. “Dr. Cavity! I have a tooth to pick with you!”
He laughed his oily laugh. “Oh Colgate, you wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot toothbrush.”
She growled, and furrowed the earth with both forehooves. “It’s my duty, and no matter how vile, and how disgusting, I will withhold my vow to maintain oral health!”
Another greasy chuckle. “Oh how cute.” He made a strange gesture, and immediately, uncountable waves of plaque fiends materialized, surrounding her and creating a defensive wall around the pyramid.
Instinctively, Colgate reached for the firing bit for the solvent cannon, only to find air. Further investigation proved that half of the device was no longer even on her back, probably lost somewhere in the geyser field.
Dr. Cavity smiled teasingly down at her. “Missing something are we?”
Colgate frantically searched for a way out of this. The solvent cannon was her primary weapon; how would she make do without it? Especially against so many of Dr. Cavity’s minions?
Her nemesis only smiled as all the creatures moved forward as one. “Well Colgate,” he said triumphantly. “It looks like you’ve brushed your last tooth, so to speak. Flossed your last gum, cleaned your last tongue.”
“Can it!” she snapped. “I’m thinking.” She threw her gaze frantically left and right.
“Think all you want my dear—It doesn’t matter; in a minute you’ll be eaten alive.” He stepped backwards casually and propped himself in his throne of teeth, looking like a pony about to watch the end of a good movie. “Kill her.”
The creatures lunged, and Colgate acted. She reached back and grasped a tendril of white string which hung from one of her bags. She wrapped the floss around the neck of the first creature to reach her, allowing herself a satisfied smile as the mint-flavored strand burned deep into its neck. With a swift kick, she knocked it on its side and bolted to the right. The floss trailed out behind her as the others began to near.
A half smile crept across Colgate’s face right before she grabbed the tendril and pulled it taut. Ten plaque fiends were sliced in two as they charged into the length of floss, their bodies sizzling and falling into mucky puddles.
Before any more of them could jump at her, Colgate magically drew the two blades from their sheaths on her back, and levitated them at her sides.
Dr. Cavity’s eyebrows perked, but he remained where he was.
With a cry of rage, Colgate charged, slashing anything unfortunate enough to get in her way. She mounted the steps to the pyramid and took them four at a time, hacking more plaque-fiends all the while.
Now was the time. With a free hoof, Colgate kicked her barding, the movement procuring a high whine from within the right saddlebag. As she charged up the last few steps, a hydraulic drill rose up from the bag, extending to its full length of four feet.
Dr. Cavity barely had time to wipe the smug smile off his face before she plowed right into his chest, shattering the throne of teeth and tackling him to the ground.
The back-mounted drill spun up menacingly as she held the hungry bit an inch away from his face. Now it was Colgate’s turn to smile. “You’ve rotted your last tooth Cavity, decayed your last gum, destroyed your last root, so to speak.” She grinned at her cleverness.
He looked up at her in terror. “Colgate, what are you doing!?”
She smiled, bringing to drill closer. “Drilling you out.”
“Colgate!” he repeated, voice quivering. “You’re scaring me.”
“Colgate!” Diamond Tiara cried, pressing back in the chair as the dental drill levitated itself towards her mouth. “You’re scaring me.”
Colgate froze, taking in her new surroundings. She was in a white room, with white linoleum floors. A filly cowered before her, shivering in the reclining chair. Colgate stood over her, a maniacal smile still frozen on her face and a molar drill levitated threateningly in front of the little filly, the little motor whining loudly as the diamond bit drill spun in a sliver blur.
With a sudden jump, Colgate hurled the drill away and immediately returned the chair to an upright position. “Well, that’s it for today!” she said cheerfully, putting on a huge, fake smile.
Diamond Tiara sat up slowly, unsure if the dentist was going to pounce on her again. “Um… do you always say a bunch of weird things and make all those funny sound effects when you work on patients?”
Colgate rubbed her head. “I’m not sure… Are you okay?”
The filly nodded skeptically. “I-I think so.”
Colgate gave her head a shake. “You can go, I’ll… I’ll see you later.”
Diamond Tiara scooted towards the door, never turning her back to Colgate. “Yeah, well… maybe…” Colgate gave a half smile and Diamond Tiara turned and bolted out of the room.
Almost immediately, the filly was replaced by the receptionist, who looked back at the fleeing filly with bored curiosity. She shrugged and turned to Colgate. “We have Scootaloo in the waiting room. She came in saying something about cavities and no parent note and blah blah whatever. Are you ready for her?”
Colgate gave a tiny nod. “Yes,” she murmured blankly. “Send her in.”
The receptionist turned away with a roll of her eyes and set off back down the hall.
Colgate turned back to examine her room, eyes sweeping from the tool cabinet to the cleaning machine, then to the air-powered drill set to the left. Slowly, a smile crept across her face.
She crossed the room and returned the molar drill to the case in somewhat of a daze, making a whooshing sound as she did so. She continued to hum, and make little sound effects to herself as she tidied up the room, her eyes shrinking to mere pinpricks.
“Colgate?” said a murky voice from a distant world. “They said you were ready for me.”
Colgate raised her head to the ceiling, barely registering the bright fluorescent lamp above, the same light smile still plastered on her face.
“I love my job.”