In the busy streets of lower Canterlot the hooves of many ponies engrossed in their own lives. They trot along trying to improve their social status, and make money, but inside her own house sleeping in through the morning, a mare lay exhausted from the previous day. A blue coat, a white mane and tail, and a horn prominently displayed atop her head. Her cutie mark was a scroll neatly bound with a silver seal.
She slowly stretched her sore muscles, hugging a pillow. Her mind easing out of pleasant dreams, and into her bedroom. Her eyes slowly drifted open, and she yawned. She lifted her head from a puddle of drool, and laid her pillow over it. Scooting her flank slowly to the edge of the bed, she hung one hind hoof off the bed down to the floor. She rolled off her side, and on to her belly, pulling her other leg from under her placing it on the floor.
With her flank in the air, and hind hooves on the ground, she walked backwards, literally dragging herself out of bed. As her fore-hooves clacked onto the wooden floor she lifted her head up and fixed her mane. Unaware she was still moving, she backed into a window. She had been suddenly jolted awake, not so much because she hit the glass, as it was the glass was cold.
She hopped forward, nearly falling onto her bedside table, but narrowly avoided it. Instead she only fell on her face. Flustered and annoyed, she dragged herself into her kitchen. She got over her mishap quickly as she got herself a hot cup of coffee, and breakfast. Her horn would glow silver as her coffee came to her lips. She slowly beat her long lashes as she drank, and levitated her utensils around the room.
She contently ate, until a knock came to her door. It was a slow knock, one that felt like the one behind it was tired and weary. The mare cantered over to the door and with her bright violet eyes peaked through the peephole. On the other side stood her landlord, old Ralph Burly. Ironically, he was a thin pony with no real size to him at all. She smiled, and opened the door, meeting eyes with him.
"Good morning Mr. Burly, good to see you as always." She said greeting him with a smile.
"Good morning to you too Azure." He replied. Azure Mist was her name.
"And to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?" She asked, flipping her mane back.
"It's the first of the month, and time to pay the rent." He said, and returned the smile.
"Oh! Right! I forgot. I'm not used to living in an apartment yet." She said, levitating an envelope over to her.
"It's no problem, you just moved here a few weeks ago, it takes time to adjust to a new home." He took the envelope stuffing it into the front pocket of his Hawaiian shirt.
"Have a good day." He said grinning widely.
"You too Mr. Burly. Tell Jack and Janet I said hi." She said before closing the door. She started over to her breakfast, but a tapping at her window caught her attention. She probably didn't notice because of her previous conversation. She cantered over and opened her window. Just thirty feet down she saw a yellow stallion, with red a mane, who was holding a pebble in his hoof.
"Azy!" He exclaimed, tossing the pebble to the side.
"Yes,Tinker. What is it?" She said in a bit of a amused tone.
"Crazy night last night, where were you?" He said, opening his wings and flying up to her.
"I had to work late, it was exhausting." She said leaning on her hoof.
"Bummer, but you're free tonight right?" He raised a brow and grinned.
"No, I will not go out with you." She said with a smirk.
"Why, what ever do you mean? Are you implying that I was making an advance toward you?" He said mocking her tone.
"Very funny. Keep that up and you'll have a marefriend in no time." She flicked his snout.
"Yeah, yeah. Anyways, me and Jack are headed down to The Mare's Pleasure later, you wanna come?" He asked. The Mare's Pleasure was a bar, but it was better known as a place for drunk stallions to ogle pretty mares.
"I think I'll pass, I have errands to run." She said rolling her eyes. "Your loss... If you change your mind you know where we'll be." He said turning and flying off.
Azure closed the window, when she noticed the streets were empty. In Canterlot, even lower Canterlot , that was odd. She decided to check it out. She closed her window, and walked to her front door. As she stepped outside, she noticed the muggy air, and the fog running through the streets. The people in control of the weather didn't schedule this, which she thought was odd, but paid it no heed.
She walked onto the balcony looking around, and seeing ponies frantically scrambling indoors. One mare was banging on a door trying desperately to get in, but for whatever reason was denied.
"Hey! Up here!" Azure waved to her, and the pony galloped across the street and up the steps.
"Oh, thank you! Celestia bless you!" The mare said running inside. Azure closed the door behind her, and turned to the frightened pony.
"What's going on out there?" Azure asked, pouring the girl a cup of coffee.
"It's him." The mare said pointing to the window. Azure looked out and saw a pony walking through the street His hooves were dark green, and faded white as you move up his body. As you come to the top of his neck he was wholly white, but his head was masked, and had no tail.
"Who is he?" Azure asked, turning to the mare.
"No one knows. We call him Fallout Trance." She said walking up beside her.
"Fallout Trance?" Azure said questioningly. "Yeah, Fallout because he goes around in a gas mask. Trance because of the way he stares at you." She said, and Azure looked back out the window. He had stopped in the middle of the street. His masked face turned slowly toward them.
The other mare ducked away, but Azure was frozen in fear. He just stared at her, unmoving, if you didn't know better you'd think he was a statue. Eventually he turned his head back, and kept walking. Azure could finally breath. She pulled away from the window, and leaned against the door.
"Does anyone know anything about him?" Azure asked the mare who was now drinking the coffee and shivering.
"Well he comes at random, never going past lower Canterlot. He always comes when the weather is bad, like it's raining, or like now, fog." The mare said, recalling things she heard.
"Also he has a black rectangle on his torso... Oh, and his cutie mark is a weird symbol. I don't know what it means." She said before taking another sip.
"Anything else?" Azure asked, wondering just what he might want.
"Oh he's got these things over his ears, like headphones, but they're weird... like with an odd shape. " The mare said. "That's all I know... but..." she trailed of, looking past Azure.
"What? But what?" Azure turned around and saw him, looking in her window. He just stood gazing at them, or by the looks of it through them. He tilted his head to the side as the two mares looked in horror at him. He raised his head back, raised a hoof to the glass, and tapped three times. The mares stood frozen. He tapped thrice again. Again they stood. Again he tapped. Finally Azure crept slowly toward the window.
"What are you doing?!" Whispered the other mare. Azure really didn't know herself, but something was better than nothing... or she hoped. She came up to the glass and looked him eye to eye. He placed his hoof on the glass, and so did she. She looked closely, and tried to see through the glass of his mask and see his eyes, but she saw only blackness.
He tapped the glass thrice again. Azure thought for a moment and tapped thrice in return. Then he tapped a tune on the glass. Azure echoed the tune back. He raised a second hoof, and with one he tapped a tempo, and the other he tapped the tune. Azure smiles and echoes him, playing each note back after he does.
He suddenly stops, pulling his hooves down and walks off to the side, toward her door. He tapped three times on the door, and a note slid under. Azure walked over, picked up the note and unfolded it. It read:
Through all the pain and the sorrows.
Hush now dear fillies, it must be this way
Weary of life and deceptions"
Azure folded the note and put it in her pocket. Then she looked out the peephole, and saw nopony. The other mare walked up beside her.
"What did it say?" She asked, fear prominent in her voice.
"Here." Azure levitated it to her. "It looks like a creepy poem." Said Azure, looking out the window. He must have left while she was reading.
"Why did he leave it?" Asked the other mare.
"I don't know. It says follow. I assume it means follow him." Azure said, and the other mare shook her head.
"You aren't thinking of going... are you?" She asked, still frightened by the thought.
"No, but... I have so many questions, and so few answers." Azure shook her head.
"Umm speaking of questions... Do you mind if I stay here for a while? I'm afraid to leave." Said the mare, a light blush on her face.
"Absolutely, my name is Azure Mist by the way." She said, extending a hoof.
"Fauna." She replied, shaking her hoof. Azure and Fauna spent the day in her apartment together. Come sundown, the mist had left, and Fauna soon after. Azure said goodbye, and after today she was ready to go to bed. She trotted off toward her bedroom when she heard...
The unmistakable sound of hoof on glass. She turned to the door, but she couldn't see anyone.
Tap... Tap... Tap...
Then she realized the sound was coming from behind her. She stepped into her room slowly, when she saw him. With his hoof on the glass, three stories up, without wings or horn. Azures eyes were wider than they've ever been. As he stood there, he waved to her. Azure walked over to the window, and he placed his hoof against the glass. Azure slowly, and shakily mirrored him.
"H-h-hello?" She said, awaiting an answer. The window started to fog up, slowly from the edges in. Then written in the fog, came the word... "Hello" and it faded seconds later, back into fog.
"W-w-who are you?" She asked, in a quivering voice. Written on the glass now was "I don't know".
"What do you want?" She continued to ask. "Silence." He replied.
"You want quiet?" She asked, her hoof still on the glass. "Yes" he replied.
"Why?" She asked, bringing her face closer to the glass. "I must go" He wrote, and as it faded he added "He's coming". Suddenly the fog dissipated quickly, and he was gone.
"Wait! Who's coming?" Azure pleaded for him to return, but in doing so her window cracked. She yelped and tread backwards into her bed. As she did she felt something hit her back. She quickly turned her head ,and rubbed her back, as a trickle of blood ran down it. She saw a box, a small wooden box. It had been placed perfectly in the center of her bed.
Celestia knows how it got there, but she pulled it in front of her. She wondered whether or not to open it, debating with herself to no end, but eventually her curiosity was too much, and she lifted the lid. Inside was a key, and a note wrapped around it. She unwrapped the note, and held it out, written out in red ink was two words.
"Follow me." Azure's heart sunk into her stomach.
"How did he get in my house?! When did he?!" Her thoughts raced to all possibilities. Whatever the answer she was not sleeping tonight.
Her hooves were curled around her pillow, jumping at every little sound. She had never realized how creaky her apartment was until now. Eventually she decided to get up and make herself something to eat. She had all the lights in the house on anyways. She walked into her kitchen and made herself a snack, turning around every half second or so to see if somepony was there. There never was.
She sat at her table, and tried to think of ways to pass the time, to distract her. Nothing really came to mind, but then she'd remembered she hadn't gotten any work done today. She walked over to her desk and pulled out some paper, and a pen. She levitated over a pen, and started writing.
You see, she was a scroll-keep. She documented, and categorized things that could be improved. Like a professional critique. Her special talent was just that, she had an eye for things that could be improved, and was good with words, so the job was perfect... but now she couldn't really focus well.
She looked around the room, and noticed something was... off. Then as she looked down to the paper she was writing on, her eyes widened. There was a scribble that made her squirm in her seat. Why? Because she didn't write it. This little red scribble was the words "Follow me".
She kicked the paper away from her, to no real success, and backed away. She looked up at the window next to her door, and the sun had come up, some time ago as it seemed, but she didn't remember any of that time. A knock on her door made her jump. It was a steady paced knock, one you hear all the time.
"Who is it?" Azure asked in her quivering voice.
"It's me Tinker. Open up!" He said impatiently. Azure let out a sigh of relief, and galloped to the door. She flung it open and immediately wrapped her arms around him.
"Whoa, I thought you said no to that date." He laughed.
"Oh shut up you!" She said holding tighter.
"Is something wrong Azy? You don't usually like touching me, much less hugging." He said, and patted her back.
"Oh, yes well... I had a really rough night is all." She said, stepping back, and dusting herself off.
"I can see that." He said motioning to her door. She turned and saw the mess that was made, some of it was hers, but some hadn't been there seconds ago. She closed the door, and turned back to him.
"I think I'll take you up on that offer you made yesterday." She said, with an uneasy smile.
"Alright, I'll just call jack and-" He started.
"No, let's just go now." She said pulling him forward by his hoof.
"Now?" He asked confusedly.
"Right now." She continued pulling. They both headed down to the Mare's Pleasure. The place wasn't extremely well built, but it was sturdy. She had given the place a couple reviews, and they didn't seem to change a thing. It seemed like the only reason to come here was the drinks and the women, and that's apparently all it needed. Azure rolled her eyes at all the looks she got from the drunken stallions who are used to hitting on the waitstaff that a new girl was a welcome sight.
"Ugh, are they ever going to fix this place up?" She asked, eyeing the many holes in the wooden floor, and broken tables from past bar fights.
"Nah, it gives the guys a feeling of being at home. A sense of familiarity, as it were." Tinker said, the second sentence said mockingly. Azure eyed the many dirty flea-bitten stallions around the room.
"Do they really want these ponies to feel more at home?..." She said inciting a laugh from Tinker.
"They're the best customers." He said, sitting down at a free table.
"Well money is money, no matter who spends it I guess." Azure said brushing off her seat with her tail before sitting.
"Anyways, I'm guessing you didn't want to come up here to talk about drunks." He said, smirking smugly.
"More like become one." She said laying her head down with a disgruntled sigh.
"Is there something you want to talk about?" He asked as the waitress stepped over.
"Are you ready to order?" Asked the waitress.
"Two ciders, make mine strong." Said Azure. The waitress nodded and wrote it down.
"I'll be back shortly with you drinks." She said, before waling away. Azure flipped her hair back and looked up to Tinker who looked genuinely concerned.
"You've lived here a while, right?" She asked, straightening back up, and sitting properly.
"Yeah, why?" He answered, confusedly.
"What do you know about Fallout Trance?" She asked, and the whole bar went quiet.
"Why? What happened?!" He said suddenly with a sense of urgency in his voice.
"He came through yesterday, right after you left." Azure said, a bit thrown by the panic.
"That guy is bad news..." One of the other patrons said.
"I heard a few ponies went missing when he started coming." Said another.
"I heard a few ponies were dead." Said the bartender. At that, she thought it would be better to share what had happened.
"Well when he was walking he turned to look at me, and I stopped looking to talk to a friend, and he was by my window." She said, and Tinker's face went pale.
"Oh, and he slipped this under my door." She held out the poem. Tinker looked at the piece of paper for a moment, and handed it back. All the patrons of the bar were silent.
"This hasn't happened before, last he came up to someone's window, he just left. What else happened?" He looked around the bar, in a paranoid fashion.
"Well he put his hoof up to the window and so did I." She replied.
"Why?!" He asked as if it was the dumbest thing you could have done, and it very well could have been.
"I don't know, I just did." She retorted, a little bit of anger escaping her tone. You could almost feel the depth of the darkness in the room. Could one pony really bring this much fear? The sound of rain started tapping gently on the wood of the building.
"Whatever happened, I think it's best if you don't try a stunt like that again." Tinker said, scratching at his head.
"I wonder why he comsh troo town atall." Said one of the further gone stallions.
"It's not like I want to be scared to death you know..." Azure said, just as the waitress came by with their drinks.
"I never said you did, I only meant that-" Tinker started, but was cut off by a familiar sound.
First Azures eyes went wide even with her back to the window, then as everyone else looked with their own horror dawning their faces.
Tinker's usual yellow coat now looked paler than a ghost.
Tap... Tap... Tap...
Azure tuned slowly as her eyes met the black eyes of the mask. He waved to her slowly. Azure gazed on dreading the next moment. He turned and walked to the door. Everyone in the bar started whispering to each other about running, or hiding, but they all sat in their chairs.
Slowly the door crept open, and he stepped in. It was if he had stolen all the air from the room. He stepped slowly toward her, and raised his hoof. It was as if time had slowed down, so she had time to revel in her own nightmare. A cold sweat ran down her spine as she reached up to meet his hoof. They were mere inches from touching when something loud broke her intense focus.
She saw bits of wood flying off into the air, as Trance fell to the ground. Tinker had hit him with his chair. Trance fell to his knees, struggling to keep himself up. Blood trickled down from inside the mask, and onto the floor. Trance slowly got up and shook his head slowly. Azure stood unsure of what even to think. Then Trance turned toward Tinker, his black lenses peering into his soul. Tinker's burst of courage was gone.
He let out a whimper as the masked pony approached him. As he got closer you could feel Tinker 's heart beating across the room. Then as he let him look deep into his eyes, seeing there was nothing past the bottomless pits in his mask... Tinker fainted.
Trance turned back, and reached his hoof out to Azure, who reached back to meet him. His hoof was warm, soft, and not at all like she'd expected. It was a normal pony hoof. He held her hoof and started walking towards the door, she followed despite her better judgement.
He pulled her out of the door and into the rain. She thought for a moment about heeding the calls of the many stallions trying to stop her, but found herself still walking. He walked with her down the street, and into an alleyway. About half way down he stopped at a door. He stood unmoving, as if he expected her to do something.
Azure looked at the old rusted door on the side of the building, and remembered the key. She pulled it out of her pocket, and put it into the lock of the door. It made a very unsatisfying loud click. She turned the knob and the door started to open, it got stuck about halfway. She tried to shove a few times, but it didn't budge. She decided to leave it and walk in. She turned to see Trance wasn't coming.
"You want me to go alone?" She asked. He nodded slowly in response. Azure gulped, and trotted inside. She noticed a lantern on the wall and grabbed it. It wasn't lit, but that could be remedied easily with her magic. As the lantern lit, it illuminated this dark dingy hallway. It had two doors on each side, and one at the end.
She walked forward to see the paint peeling off the walls, like nopony had been here in years. The first room on the right didn't have a door so she went in there first. She took a few steps in and the room was obviously baron. It looked like there had been a fire here. Nothing was distinguishable as even remotely useful.
Azure turned around and decided to try the room across the hall. She went to grab the knob when she noticed it was on the floor. That option was out, so she walked further down the hall. She grabbed the knob to the door on the right, and it opened quite easily.
The room seemed untouched, whoever did live here, did a good job of keeping it clean. Unfortunately after all this time, dust has piled up, and covered everything. Azure walked inside to get a better view with her lantern. There was a bed, bedside table, a cupboard, and a chest with a padlock. She walked over to the bedside table, and on it was a journal.
She opened it to see the yellowed pages and old ink. The cover felt odd, soft but stiff, some type of leather. She read a few entries, they were scribbled down like someone who was panicking. Each page seemed different though. Some minded spelling and punctuation, others didn't. Each page also had a number but they started at twelve, like some were missing.
Day 13 I was wrong hes here waiting I cant sleep I cant eat Hes always there
Day 14 Today he came inside the cabin. He sat at the foot of my bed staring at me. I don't think he'll hurt me, but I don't know what he wants.
Day 16 I woke up today, and I didn't see him at all yesterday. I'm starting to think he might be leaving.
Day 17 He hasn't been back, except once. I saw him walk by my window, ad he left a note by my door. It said I wasn't his favorite toy anymore. It went on to call me broken and boring.
Day 18 All my food seems to have disappeared, but still I haven't seen him. I think he might have took it but why?
Day 19 Celestia help me! I woke up this morning to find my tail had gone! How did it happen? How didn't I feel it?
Day 24 I have lost a hoof and a hind leg I woke up in the Everfree forest and had to wander aimlesly until waking up back in the cabin
Day 25 He took an eye fro me and he's started to come back This morning he sewed my mouth shut wile I was awake I was paralized somehow but it wore off
Day 26 Now he follows me everywhere never leaving my side and I fear my life may be reaching its end Theres no hope for me left but if anyone else finds this journal know he is beyond fighting beyond hiding all you can do is run
The last page not having a number or description, only said the one word covering the whole page. It was disturbing to read. Azure wished she could take it with her, but she had nowhere to put it, so there it stayed. She walked over to the cupboard, and opened it as she did a rush of stagnant moldy air burst out, forcing a cough to her throat. She opened her eyes to see nothing but clothes, shoes, and... a piece of something covered with mold.
She closed the doors and turned to the chest. It had a lock on it, and a strong one. If she wanted it off she needed a key. She looked under the bed, under the mattress, under the table, and the cupboard, but no key. It seems she'd have to go on without knowing what the chest holds.
She left into the hall again and opened the door across from it Everything so far started to make her heart beat a little faster. She stepped in holding out her lantern. It was a child's room, adorned with teddy bears, dolls, whimsical wallpaper, a crib and a rocking chair. She walked inside, looking around finding nothing to investigate other than the crib. She stepped closer and a gasp escaped her lips as she saw blood soaking the sheets at the bottom of the crib. She backed away in terror, covering her mouth with her hoof.
She didn't want to stay in this room, but there was still one more room left. Azure quickly stepped out and looked down the hall. Trance still stood watching from the entrance. Fear gripped her insides, twisting her stomach into knots.
She turned to the final door walking slowly toward it. After seeing the previous rooms, she was dreading this one. She opened the door slowly, levitating the lantern forward. The door creaked ominously as it moved from in front of her. This room was unlike the others, it's walls were metal, and so were the floor and ceiling.
Rust covered them in patches. The large room had three tables. She walked in and saw a strange mass on the floor in front of her. She stepped closer to investigate, but as she did her lantern died out. She quickly re-lit the lantern only to see the mass had moved, it was now upright. Her fist instinct was to run, but she couldn't, she saw herself walking forward. The light slowly illuminated the dark figure, it was a mannequin.
Azure's thoughts began to jump around her head, and she walked over toward the table on the right. here wasn't much to see, just bits and scraps of black fabric, and some sewing equipment. She walked to the next table, and it was the same, but with white fabric. She trotted over to the table at the back and saw significantly less fabric, but it was red. She turned back around and saw the mannequin now clothed in a black suit and red tie, but oddly the sleeves were far to long.
Azure's fear became far too great, and decided to calmly but quickly get the Tartarus out of there. She cantered quickly down the hall where Trance was now gone, only making her more scared. Once she got to the alley she'd gone into a full gallop down the street. She then noticed it wasn't raining, and it was morning again. It should have been about noon by now.
The further away she was, the more she slowed and the more she calmed. Eventually coming to a stop as the busy residents of Canterlot passed her by. Her mind was far from ease, but she felt no immediate danger. She decided to take the day off, and just enjoy herself, she'd earned it. She was wanting to go on vacation, maybe head over to Manehatten and see that show 'Trixie and the Scoundrel' everyone's been talking about.
"Hey! Azy! Azy!" She hears a familiar voice. She turns and sees Tinker, who is flying toward her madly.
"Tinker? Where's the fire?" She said as he flew up an put his hooves on her shoulders.
"Where have you been?! Everyone was out looking for you!" He said it as if they'd formed a search party. Knowing how she was last seen that was probably likely.
"Look I'm fine. He didn't hurt me, he didn't even touch me, he just took me for a walk." She said trying to calm him down.
"That's quite some walk you took, where could you possibly have gone?!" He face hoofed.
"I was just a few blocks away, It's not like I took a trip around Equestria..." She said with a smirk.
"It took you a week to walk one block and back?" He returned the smirk.
"What are you talking about? I haven't been gone an hour tops." She furrowed her brow.
"What are you talking about? You went with me to the Mare's pleasure a week ago..." Tinker said, and confusion racked both their brains.
This is a story I really look forward to seeing a response from. It has quite a few elements of reference to other works in it.