Me? Oh, I write things.
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Author's note: as a fair warning to those with a somewhat squeamish disposition, I'll offer this - the gore factor in this story is only going to become more and more pronounced from here on in. It is about zombies, after all! Though the content will certainly not be on the level of "Cupcakes" or "Sweet Apple Massacre," I can assure you that this story is going to be rated R from this point forward.
Also, you might stumble upon a link in this chapter. Right click, open in new tab. Atmospheeereeee!~
The last few sentences of Fluttershy’s story brought fresh tears to both mare’s eyes. Spike and a very groggy Owloicious had rejoined them and listened intently - Spike, clearly traumatized by the combination of his sudden awakening as well as the gruesome sights he had just witnessed, sat silently at Twilight’s hooves, absentmindedly sucking on his tail as he rocked back and forth in an unconscious effort to calm himself.
Owloicious, still in the process of shaking out the cobwebs from his knock to the head, uttered a single, solemn Hoo as soon as Fluttershy was finished - as if to say, “I’m sorry for what you’ve been though.” Sensing that her friend was on the precipice of another breakdown, Twilight quickly filled the void in the conversation with a quick, concise summary of all that she knew so far - Luna’s message, the purpose of the bubble over Ponyville as well as some vague recollections of something she may or may not have read in one of her dusty old tomes.
“I swear, Fluttershy, something about all of this seems too…familiar. Where did I read-…” She trailed off in mid-sentence, temporarily lost in her thoughts.
“Twilight?” Fluttershy asked, her voice still barely above a whisper. Her tone spoke of strain, heartbreak and grief. Twilight shook her head and focused her gaze on her still very frightened friend.
“Yes, Fluttershy? What is it?”
“Do…do you think we could - um…”
“Think that we could what, Fluttershy?”
“Um…the animals that-that the stallion…the stallion…”
“…killed?” the purple unicorn offered, the word leaving a bad taste in her mouth as it rolled too effortlessly off of her tongue.
“Right. Do you think that I could…um…see that they get a proper burial?”
Twilight’s heart broke at this. Fluttershy’s eyes betrayed no emotion. Unfortunately for her - and the critters that lay dead just outside - it would have to wait.
“I’m sorry, Fluttershy -” she began firmly, “but there just isn’t any time for that right now. This is an emergency situation, and I’m not sure if it’s even safe to be in the town square right now. This is bad. This is worse than the time Nightmare Moon returned to Equestria - hay, this is even worse than that, the bunny stampede and the Parasprite infestation combined.” Fluttershy’s eyes watered, but no tears broke free from the lower lids. “We need to get somewhere safe - all of us,” she said, motioning to the baby dragon, the white rabbit and the owl. “I read it in a book: Dangerous Disasters - a Laypony’s Complete Guide to Survival. We need to stockpile food, water and supplies, and wait for help to arrive.” Spike seemed to ease up a bit upon hearing his friend's quickly-returning tone of reassurance.
“More importantly, we need the Elements.”
“The-the Elements of Harmony? But what…” Fluttershy trailed off, her head suddenly dizzy as the full brevity of the situation swelled forth like an anxious scratching within her chest.
“I’m not sure what’s going on yet - I don’t even know if the Princesses know, either - but I intend to find out. And with the Elements at our disposal, there’s nothing we can’t overcome! …right?” She turned to all others present in the room, but was merely met with hastily down-turned faces and unsure looks.
Taking a deep breath, Fluttershy took Angel gingerly in her hooves and set about hastily packing her saddlebags, making sure to only bring along the bare essentials. Twilight was likewise taking deep, controlled breaths, making certain not to swoon at the amount of additional magic it was now necessary for her to perform. Within a few short minutes, they were ready.
“Where are we going?”
“We’re going to the library,” Twilight stiffened in her resolve, a sudden rush of newfound confidence surging through her as her chest swelled at the thought of returning back to her (easily defensible) tree home.
“Oh! Um, well, how are we going to get there? With, you know, those ‘infected’ ponies running around…won’t it be very dangerous?” Fluttershy turned and let out a small eep! as she noticed Twilight’s eyes glowing.
“Not…if…you’re a unicorn,” Twilight managed through gritted teeth. In a flash, they were gone; all that was left was destruction.
With a final gurgle, she died.
For nearly a full minute, Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie and the Cutie Mark Crusaders had watched in horror as the recently reanimated realization of their fears had absolutely ravaged Nurse Redheart. The infect colt, eyes ablaze, had straddled the nurse mare in the blink of an eye as soon as he had wrestled her to the ground, grunting and spitting unintelligible gibberish as he set about brutally killing her. Muscle and ligaments were torn from bone with sickening ripping sounds abound as the colt tore her apart, taking hoof-sized chunks of flesh out of her hide at a feverish pace as the fresh, warm sanguine spilled forth from the jagged gouges. Redheart screamed in agony with every bite taken out of her, voice reaching shockingly high frequencies and finally cracking from the strain. She was quickly silenced, however, when the colt tore into her throat and tore out her voice box; the only sounds she was then able to produce were burdened gurgles as blood seeped out of the massive gash, dozens of air bubbles being infused into the red stream and popping sickeningly.
Had they had the presence of mind to do so, young mares would have shielded the younger fillies’ eyes from the depravity that had played out before them - unfortunately for the six of them, however, the suddenness of it all combined with the sheer terror that beset them plastered them firmly in place, unblinking eyes wide to the horror.
Three simultaneous, ear-splitting screams from the younger three of the six served three purposes; one, it jolted the mares out of their stupor; two, it focused the colt’s attention on his next potential meals; three, it caused a veritable stampede as roughly two dozen mortified onlookers that had remained, some joining in the fillies’ screams, took off in every feasible direction. Sweetie Belle, Applebloom and Scootaloo turned and ran faster than they had ever ran before, still shrieking as their little lungs strained to gulp in enough air to supply their muscles with the energy required for such taxing physical endeavour.
“Sweetie Belle! Wait!!” Rarity cried after the three, breaking out into full gallop as her two friends soon followed suit.
“Rarity! Applejack!! WHAT'S GOING ON?!” Pinkie Pie yelled as they pursued the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who were now headed in the general direction of Sugarcube Corner.
“Ah don’t rightly know, sug-” Applejack was briefly interrupted when she had to dodge a loose plank in her path, “but we need to catch up to them fillies ‘fore they get hurt!”
“Sweetie Belle! Scootaloo! Applebloom!” Rarity shouted ahead to the fleeing fillies as they were temporarily lost in the crowd.
The scene was absolute chaos: stands, carts and other marketplace items were knocked about haphazardly, some completely taken apart as jumbles of confused and frightened ponies ran into each other, sending tangled masses of arms, legs and heaving torsos barreling everywhere. A watermelon stand was ripped to shreds, sending bushels of the cumbersome green fruit spilling out into the cobbled market; some ponies were unfortunate enough to be felled by the new obstacles, a few being hurt significantly enough for Applejack to hear the sickening pop! of freshly broken bone. The orange cowpony turned to look behind her, and her heart sank - joining the infected colt was the freshly zombified Nurse Redheart, massive gouges in her flank and neck still oozing copiously as she staggered toward the fleeing crowd of ponies. Applejack could discern nothing remotely pony-like in her emblazoned eyes - all that remained was malice, peppered with murderous intent. She turned her head to look away as the infected nurse mare set upon a dark-green colored pony who had undoubtedly broken her leg, her screams and pleading falling upon deaf ears as Redheart fell to the cobble and greedily took several large hunks of flesh out of her neck. As the three mares continued to pursue their charges, they could have sworn that they heard…kung-fu noises?…amidst the screams of agony and gurgled breaths of the infected bearing down on them. However, their focus remained on catching up with the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who were now easily discernible from the galloping mass of terrified ponies. Miraculously, they were still shrieking their nearly uninterrupted shriek as they sprinted away from the chaos which was taking place behind them.
A single, awful sound - much, much louder than any which comprised the din which assaulted everypony’s ears - caused nearly all to turn and look directly behind them. Another three infected had appeared, joining the infected colt and Nurse Redheart in an animalistic wail that sent nearly everypony into conniptions. Applejack, Pinkie Pie and Rarity watched as the three new infected ponies converged in the center of the marketplace and took off at random, jaws snapping at anything that moved. A bright red Pegasus, with glowing eyes to match, managed to corner a mother and her two young foals, in an alleyway which separated two buildings off to their right. The mother could barely move, let alone call for help - much like Applejack, Pinkie Pie and Rarity just moments ago, she was quite literally paralyzed in fear. One of her foals, a cream-colored earth pony with a pine tree for a cutie mark merely whimpered as the infected Pegasus advanced, while the other - a light blue colt whose cutie mark was obscured by shadows, shouted angrily at the infected in a decidedly vain attempt to dissuade her from attacking.
Applejack knew that she had to act fast.
“Rarity!” she barked as she made a ninety degree turn to her right and galloped toward the cornered ponies. “You catch up with the fillies and take them to Sugarcube Corner! Pinkie Pie, with me!” Rarity nodded, brows low in newfound determination.
“But Appleja-” Pinkie Pie began.
“NOW!” Applejack cut her off, shouting perhaps a bit louder and more harshly than she had meant, caught up in the excitement (and terror) of the moment. The orange cowpony and pink earth pony made their way toward the alleyway while Rarity continued onward, quickly gaining on the fillies, closing the gap little by little. The normally well-mannered unicorn cursed loudly as she dodged various obstacles in her path - a toppled fruit stand here, a few scraps of wood there and the like. She was panting heavily at the sudden strenuous exercise; though Rarity could undoubtedly hold her own in a fight, as evidenced by a swift kick to the jaw of a certain Manticore a few months back, she was simply not used to any manner of extended physical activity. Her motivation, however, lay a few mere yards away - three fillies, somehow still screaming, galloping randomly now, threatening to be lost in the crowd once again. With a final burst of speed, she was finally within range: using the telekinesis magic which came so naturally to her from years of dressmaking, she picked up the three squirming fillies off of the cobble, reaching out with a lavender aura of magic as her horn glowed a matching color.
Though suspended in mid-air, the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ arms and legs were still in full-gallop, still fleeing for their lives despite the fact that they were no longer actually achieving any distance. Scootaloo’s wings flapped occasionally while Applebloom’s red bow bobbed up and down; Sweetie Belle was the first of them to stop screaming and struggling, opening her eyes for the first time in nearly a full minute. How the three of them had managed to traverse the marketplace unscathed - with their eyes closed, no less - was something of a mystery. A still-huffing Rarity dashed in front of the three, her eyes positively ablaze with determination.
“You three! Follow me, NOW!” she commanded as she released her magical hold on the fillies, setting them down on the cold cobblestone.
“Big sis! Nurse Redheart! She’s-”
“Sweetie Belle, I know. There’s nothing we can do,” Rarity replied as the four closed on Sugarcube Corner. “We need to get you girls inside as quickly as possible. Applebloom, Scootaloo, are you all ok?”
“Ah’m fine, Miss Rarity,” an out of breath Applebloom said.
“Yeah, me too, Rarity,” an equally winded Scootaloo chimed in.
“Good. Now, come on! We’re nearly there!”
Applejack and Pinkie Pie arrived at the scene quickly, and not a moment too soon - the infected Pegasus was bearing down on the three trapped ponies, grunting and sputtering gibberish as she closed in for the kill.
“Hey, ugly! Leave them three alone!”
The Pegasus, clearly annoyed, turned to regard the two earth ponies which stood behind her. She was simply not interested in five morsels - the three she had cornered would do just fine. Just as the infected was about to turn her head back to take a bite out of the mother’s neck, there was a sharp bang! as her eyesight was temporarily obscured. Pinkie Pie, in her typical fashion, had somehow managed to produce roughly a dozen party poppers from seemingly nowhere, the acrid smell of gunpowder wafting into her nostrils, stinging them slightly. Though her eyes watered, the effect on the infected was exactly as she had planned - it confused the hell out of it. Applejack was nearly about to ask her friend how - and more importantly, why - she had streamers with her, but that train of thought was effectively derailed once the dull thud of a body dropping to hard cobble filled her ears. In an attempt to free herself from the visual hindrance, the infected had tripped over the mass of multicolored thin paper that was hanging off of her body, tangled up in her bloodied wings and interspersed between her legs. Her eyes still burned bright through the streamers, obscuring the devilish glow ever so slightly, illuminating the makeshift blindfold.
Turning her fierce green eyes to the cornered ponies, Applejack commanded,
“Run!” The three looked at the orange work pony for a moment, dumbfounded. “Ah said RUN! Go on, git out of here!” Applejack charged the infected Pegasus as she began to collect herself, knocking her to the ground once again. The mare and her two foals took off, offering hurried thanks to the two friends as they made their way to safety.
“Be careful, Applejack!” Pinkie Pie chided shrilly, the infected once again stirring. “Don’t let her bite you!”
“Ah know, sugarcube. Don’t you worry ‘bout me non-oof!” The air rushed out of Applejack’s lungs as her own hooves got tangled in the mess of streamers, sending her clattering to the cobble mere inches away from the Pegasus, who had now cleared the obstruction from her vision and rolled on top of the other, knocking the farm pony’s Stetson hat from her head.
“No!!” Pinkie Pie screamed, starting toward the entangled pair now struggling for dominance.
“You stay back, Pinkie Pie! Ah can handle myself!”
With that, Applejack managed to free her hind legs, planting them firmly under her assailant. She grunted and gave a mighty buck to the infected Pegasus’ midsection, sending her careening into the adjacent brick wall. Applejack quickly leapt back to her hooves, ready for a fight. The infected snorted and clamored to set herself upright once more, regarding the two mares with unbridled fury. Lacking any skill or coordination, the Pegasus charged the work horse, a snarl escaping her lips as she gnashed her teeth together in frustration hard enough to chip teeth. Applejack winced at the sound of crunching enamel coming from the pony’s mouth, but there was no time to get caught up in the unpleasantries of the situation: she had to act, and she had to act now. Timing her strike perfectly, Applejack - within the span of a half second - turned a full one hundred and eighty degrees and delivered a devastating buck straight to the jaw of the charging Pegasus, breaking it on contact. Applejack felt the bone being pulverized under her hoof as she delivered a second equally mighty buck in quick succession, instantly killing the infected as the sheer force of the blow snapped her neck as well as cracked her skull open. Applejack, hoof still planted firmly in the infected’s skull, withdrew her hind leg from the massive head wound before the Pegasus fell for the final time; the motion of her hoof being set quickly back on terra firma cast bits of grey matter, chips of skull fragments and a single line of blood against the weathered brick wall, creating a shockingly obscene rendition of what some cultured Manehattanites might have regarded as abstract art.
Applejack stared, dumbfounded, at the Pegasus she had just killed. Her mouth hung agape as her chest heaved and retched; she felt the hot, acidic bile begin to rise in the back of her throat as she looked to her blood-streaked rear hoof, pearl-white flecks of bone still clinging to it, glistening dully under the moonlight. Pinkie Pie, wearing a similar look of disbelief on her face, could only stare at her friend as she solemnly trotted to her side, eyes turned downward with tears already starting to flow freely.
“Don’t. Just don’t, ok?” Applejack sniffled, her voice wavering. “Ah ain’t proud of what ah just done, and ah don’t wanna talk about it.” She picked up her hat and set it back on her head, adjusting it slightly with trembling hooves. “Now, c’mon. Let’s go find the others.”