The bag of berries swayed back and forth above Sugarcube Corner's meticulously clean counter for several moments as Zecora debated setting it down. On one hoof, she knew the berries could be delicious if prepared properly. On the other hoof, this was Pinkie Pie she was giving them to, and Pinkie wasn't exactly known for her strict attention to detail.
The ponies living in Ponyville always wish for what would do them ill, Zecora thought, shaking her head. She decided to make one last attempt at saving everypony a lot of trouble. “Pinkie, I have done as you’ve asked, but I truly fear for your repast. Those berries on the counter there, they must be cooked with utmost care!” Zecora pleaded. Pinkie rolled her eyes and giggled.
“Um, I work in a bakery, Zecora!" Pinkie said. "If anyone knows how to make some chuckleberry pie, it’s me!” Zecora privately doubted how much actual work Pinkie did at Sugarcube Corner. The Cakes’ frequently had a certain wide-eyed desperation that aroused her suspicions. It was rumored that they thought of their bakery more as a community service organization these days rather than a business. Pinkie’s voracious appetite guaranteed a financial loss.
“Oh, so you have seen these things and the kind of trouble they can bring?” Zecora asked, arching an eyebrow. For ponies that lived on the edge of the Everfree Forest, the citizens of Ponyville always seemed woefully ignorant of the local flora. Pinkie trotted over to the cabinet and pulled down a large, dog-eared cookbook. The pages turned with sticky reluctance, having guided the Cakes’ through the creation of hundreds of delectable confections.
“Well, no, but I found this recipe yesterday! It sounded so yummy that I just had to give it a shot!” Pinkie gushed. “I mean, look at it!” She lifted the book a little too close to Zecora and the page briefly stuck to her nose. “Chuckleberries! It couldn’t be more perfect!” Rubbing the tacky residue off of her muzzle, Zecora glanced at the page. Besides the finicky chuckleberries, the recipe seemed pretty standard. Shrugging, Zecora walked to the door, pausing briefly to examine Pinkie over her shoulder, who was busily trying to shake the sticky cookbook off of her hoof.
“Cook these berries if you will, but it may take all your skill,” Zecora sighed, shaking her head. “For if the brewing is done wrong, the result will haunt you all day long.” Muttering darkly about stubborn, foolish ponies, Zecora opened the door and stepped out onto the road. Pinkie could hear her receding voice as she called out a greeting to Golden Harvest. As the door closed, Pinkie stomped a hoof.
“Oh, what a worry wart. Honestly, you’d think that she thinks that I think that food just magically appears! Well, it does if Twilight is around, but she’s not. Usually. Except in the afternoon when she goes for a walk.” Pinkie sat down and looked back and forth, searching for her point. After checking to make sure she wasn’t sitting on it, she remembered. “Oh, yeah!” she cried. “I can bake better than anypony! Well, except Mr. and Mrs. Cake. Or Applejack.” Feeling her point wandering off again, she quickly moved on.
“For such clean ponies, Mr. and Mrs. Cake sure let this book get messy!” Pinkie squinted at the page. It was criss-crossed with stains and smelled strongly of candied fruit, and Pinkie loved anything with the word ‘candy’ in it. Her mouth watered at the thought of this delicious, new treat. It was one thing to snack on the Cakes’ excellent cookies and pies, but it was another thing altogether to get that first taste of something new and different. Pinkie liked her life to be a smorgasbord of experiences. Straining, she read the first line on the soiled page.
“Hmm. First I have to boil the berries. Well, that’s easy enough!” After donning her lucky apron, Pinkie slid a small step stool over to a hanging rack of pots and pans and selected a well worn pot. Filling the pot with water, she dumped in the berries and set it to boil on the stove. “There. Now for the dough.” Humming, Pinkie quickly assembling the ingredients, expertly blending them together into a round mass. Stepping back to admire her work, Pinkie’s smile faltered as she accidentally knocked over the stool.
“Oh, you are always underhoof! I don’t see how Mrs. Cake works around you,” Pinkie said, shaking her head. “Seriously, how does one tiny step stool get in the way so often?” Pinkie scooped up the stool, righting it once more. As it turned, a small purple stain caught her eye.
“Oops! I guess I dropped a berry! Well, I’m berry sorry, Stooly!” Pinkie made a face, sticking out her tongue. “Did I just make that joke? Maybe I’m coming down with something. I’m off my game. Maybe a little—oh no!” Pinkie rushed to the stove as the water began to furiously boil over the edge. Careful to avoid the billowing steam, she grabbed the handle with her teeth and pulled it away from the flames. “Na ‘e ‘odda ‘rain ‘em—mrpf!”
Pinkie nearly dropped the heavy pot as she stumbled over the step stool again. Letting out a frustrated growl from around the pot handle, she kicked the stool further into the kitchen and glared at it as she made her way over to the sink. Carefully tilting her head, Pinkie’s mouth began to water as she watched the glistening berries slide into a waiting colander. Aromatic and bursting with juice, only the berries radiant heat stopped Pinkie from popping a few into her mouth. She could feel the ends of her hair tightening up from the steam that billowed from them, becoming even more impossibly curly than before. Pinkie was very fond of her hair. The feeling of it springing up and down as she bounced through town always made her laugh.
“Okay, berries! It’s time you got down to business!” Pinkie went to grab the colander from the sink but gasped when she felt her hoof rise off the ground. “What in Equestria?” Pinkie's jaw dropped as she stared down at her back hoof. Somehow, the stool had gotten under it again. “Oh, I get it,” she muttered under her breath. “Looks like I’ve got a little joker in the kitchen.” Pinkie tried to act nonchalant as she grabbed the colander again. Two can play at that game, Pinkie thought. That joker may be wild, but he’s about to find out that this prank queen always has the upper hoof.
Setting down the colander by the mixer, Pinkie whistled as she made her way down the kitchen to the end of the cabinets. “La-la-la! Oh, I just need to get a cookie sheet from this—HA!” Pinkie sprang around the corner, ready to gather up Pound’s chubby body and tickle the mischievous streak out of him. “Now I’ve got—Hey, where is he?”
Pinkie pulled up short as she scanned the area. She was sure he was going to be there, giggling. “Well, that’s odd. I was—Hey!” Pinkie cried out as she tripped over the stool and fell painfully to the floor. This was not amusing anymore. “Okay, Pound. I know you think this is funny, but somepony could get hurt! Come out right now!” Pinkie waited, but beyond the faraway clattering hooves of ponies walking to the nearby market, the bakery was silent. Come to think of it, weren’t the Cakes all out shopping? Picking herself back up, she picked up the stool and turned it over in her hooves. It was definitely the same one. She could still see the vague outline of the berry stain on the top. With a shrug, she placed it back on the floor, but gasped as it slid toward her, colliding with a thud into her shin. “Eeeeeeek! Ghosts! Haunted stool!” Pinkie bolted for the other side of the kitchen, with the step stool in direct pursuit. She leapt nimbly onto the counter to escape it. “Shoo! Go away!” she said, trying to wave the stool off.
The step stool angled itself slightly, as though seeking a foothold on the cabinet surface. Pinkie sat down and stared at it, wondering how was she going to explain this one to the gang? She banged her hoof against the counter top, frowning. Nopony was going to buy this one unless they saw it. She needed a witness! Making her way across the counter to the window, she nudged it open and, trying to ignore the stool as it doggedly followed, she glanced outside. Pinkie could just barely see Caramel as he casually trotted by with his empty shopping bags. She was saved! “Caramel! Caramel, come quick!” she yelled. “I was making a pie and then Mrs. Cake’s step stool started chasing me around the kitchen. I’m trapped on a counter and it’s stalking me!”
Caramel slowly backed away from the wide eyed pony. Even on the best day, he doubted Pinkie Pie’s grasp of reality. Either this was some sort of a joke or Pinkie had finally gone off the deep end. Whatever she was up to, Caramel didn’t want any part in it. He turned and trotted briskly away, suddenly very interested in a passing cloud formation.
“No, wait! You don’t understand!” Pinkie’s voice trailed off as he went around a corner. “Well, I probably wouldn’t believe me either. I’d come and see it anyway, though! Pinkie Pie being chased by a step stool sounds hilarious!” Pinkie hunkered down on the counter and peeked over at the stool. It was gently sliding back and forth, still seeking a way to get to her. “Only, I am Pinkie Pie, and it’s not hilarious. What I need is a plan. And streamers. Okay, maybe not streamers.” Pinkie absently tapped her hoof against her head as she regarded the stool and, after briefly losing her train of thought because of the amusing bonking sound it made, she turned her full attention to the problem. Sure, the stool as inconvenient, but frightening? Now that she thought about it, this certainly wasn’t even on the top ten scary things that she had encountered. She’s seen Rarity first thing in the morning before. Now that was scary!
“Okay, stool. You wanna be underhoof? Fine.” Pinkie jumped down from the counter and nearly fell as the stool maneuvered to be underneath her. She glared at it for a moment and then sighed with resignation. “Well, it’s not hurting anypony, and I guess it is a little bit funny. I’ll just have to work around it, I suppose.”
Pinkie tried to make her way back to the mixer, but with each step, the stool tried to position itself under a different hoof. Trying to fake it out, she lifted one hoof and quickly put it back down. The stool slammed into her leg, and Pinkie stumbled, biting her tongue. Eyes watering, she pressed on. Five steps later, Pinkie went back to plan A: kicking it across the room.
“Argh! Get away from me!” she cried. Her already volumous hair bristled, standing on end as she screamed at the stool. There were very few situations that Pinkie couldn’t find humor in, but this stool was testing her patience and she hadn’t studied up on it all that hard lately. She turned and gave the stool a sharp kick into a faraway corner, but it zoomed right back at her. As she tried to kick the stool again, it stuck itself to her hoof. “Get off! GET OFF!” Pinkie shrieked at it.
Pinkie could feel her temples beginning to swell and contract in response to her increasing heart rate. Enough was enough. It was time for action! She bent down to grab the rogue piece of furniture, but lost her balance as it fought. As she crashed to the floor, the stool slid up her body to perch proudly atop her back. With a feral growl, Pinkie lunged at the stool. Together, they rolled back and forth across the kitchen floor, jockeying for position, until Pinkie had to stop to catch her breath. She found herself lying on her stomach, with the stool somehow attempting to twist her leg into a wrestling hold. Taking stock of the situation, she couldn’t quite figure out how she:
a) was losing,
b) had gotten splattered in mayonnaise, and
c) somehow ended up with several forks tangled in her hair.
“Oh, you think you’re pretty cute, don’t you?” she sarcastically asked the stool as it continued to struggle with her leg. “You don’t even know how to apply a proper leg lock! Wait! Lock?” Pinkie suddenly perked up, eyeing the stool. She had a plan. With surprising power, Pinkie snatched the stool and drop kicked it to the other side of the kitchen. Not stopping to watch it arc across the floor, she headed to the well stocked larder. As she flung the door open, she could hear the sound of the stool sliding relentlessly toward her again. Just as it reached her, she jumped into the air and kicked it into the back of the larder. “Ha! Got you!” Pinkie exclaimed, pump her hoof into the air. Before the stool could move again, she slammed the door shut. Pinkie grinned at the frantic muffled scraping sound of the stool rubbing desperately against the door. “You’d better step up your game if you think you’re going to get the upper hoof on Pinkie Pie,” she gloated. “Hee hee! Step up!”
With the adrenaline fading, Pinkie’s thoughts turned to the returning Cakes. She couldn’t just leave them with a haunted stool. What would happen when they wanted to go in there? Why, Mr. Cake loved the larder! He was always arranging and organizing the supplies inside it. Pinkie always headed in afterward to mix them up again. That way he could start all over! Who doesn’t love a good puzzle?
Needing time to think this problem over, Pinkie hopped into the air and came down on top of her tail. Impossibly, it held her weight as she crossed one leg over the other and put a hoof to her chin. “That stool needs to be exorcised,” Pinkie mused. “Actually, I think it’s had plenty of exercise for a stool, but the Cakes are going to need things from the top shelf eventually, and since I’m banned from jumping in the store, which is totally not fair! I barely even cracked the ceiling last time!" Pinkie momentarily fumed at the injustice, snorting out a small jet of steam from her nostrils before returning to the problem at hoof. "Anyway, they're gonna need their stool back at some point. I need a magic expert!” Pinkie broke into a huge smile and hopped triumphantly down off of her tail, her hooves slamming loudly on the tiled floor. “I need Twilight Sparkle!” she said. Pinkie loved it when the solution to her problem was to go and see her friends. “As soon as I get this pie in the oven, it’s off to the library.”
Pleased with her plan, Pinkie hummed as she turned back to her counter workspace and poured the colander full of berries into the mixer’s large, metal bowl. Selecting a medium blend speed, she added sugar and spices to the slurry. Pinkie inhaled the intoxicating aroma of sweetened fruit let her eyes roll back in an anticipatory ecstasy. The smell was reminiscent of a meadow in full bloom, the caress of satin, and a warm, sticky, syrupy rain all at the same time. Wait, sticky rain? Pinkie thought.
Shaking herself from her reverie, she fumbled with the mixer. It was rotating at full speed, flinging berry pie filling onto everything in the surrounding area. “Oh, what else can go wrong?!” Pinkie cried out. Berating herself for daydreaming instead of paying attention to the mixer, she tried to toggle the speed lever, but it seemed to be stuck. Pinkie widened her stance for maximum leverage and pushed hard. She was going to have to talk to the Cakes about cleaning this thing once in a while! The switch was totally stuck! Stacking one hoof over the other, she pushed with all her strength and stumbled forward as the switch finally relented. Pinkie could swear that she could feel it wiggling beneath her hoof, trying to move back to the high speed setting.
“What did they make in this thing last? Taffy?” Pinkie mused. Whatever it was, it sure was resilient. Pinkie pulled off the mixing bowl and began scraping the pie filling off the counter with a spatula. It seemed to be everywhere. Even her magnificent dough had been covered. She sighed looking at it and hoped the extra stickiness wouldn’t make it too difficult to roll out. Another problem was the last thing that she needed. Actually, wasn’t that the last thing anypony needed?
Liberally flouring her pastry board, Pinkie scooped up a large rolling pin. She held it gingerly in her hooves, waiting for some sign of bad behavior. Unlike certain stools she could think of, it seemed properly inert. Reaching for the dough, Pinkie was startled to find that is was no longer on the counter in front of her. Glancing around, she spotted it quivering behind the mixer. Pinkie made a grab for it, but the dough deftly rolled further down the counter. “Okay, what is going on here?!” Pinkie cried. She lunged for the dough, but it moved more quickly than she had anticipated. Rolling for its very life, the dough careened across the counter, scattering crockery and knocking the rolling pin to the floor. It stopped at the counter’s edge, gliding uncertainly back and forth. After indulging in several slow blinks, Pinkie sat down and stared up at the ceiling. Was this magic, and if so, who would enchant the kitchen? Why would they do something so wicked?
“A-ha!” she cried. “It must be Nightmare Moon!” Pinkie leapt up triumphantly, only to sag slowly back to her sitting position. “Oh, wait. It can’t be Nightmare Moon. She’s Princess Luna now, and Discord is a statue again.” Pinkie allowed herself a moment to daydream about those chocolate rain clouds before hunching her shoulders in defeat. “Maybe it is ghosts.”
Pinkie gasped, a light bulb illuminating over her head. Absently turning it off, she recalled Zecora’s warning. “Oh, no! She said it would haunt me all day long if I did it wrong, but I followed the directions exactly.” Pinkie grabbed the book from the table and checked again. “Yes. First boil the berries, then mix them with the spices, and then—hold on!” Pinkie muttered. She squinted at the page and brought the sticky book right up to her face. It was so difficult to read parts of it because of the mess. With her face just inches from the page, something caught her eye, and she scratched at the word “boil” with her hoof. Pinkie groaned as a small bit of dried dough flaked off the page, revealing “par” underneath. It had almost been the exact color of the much stained paper. “Par-boil? Oh, but how much difference could it really make?” Pinkie stared down the counter at the apprehensive ball of dough. It was sending inquisitive tendrils of dough down the cabinet face, testing the distance to the floor. “A lot, I guess. What do I do now?” She had really wanted a taste of that pie.
Pinkie climbed back to her feet and fixed the dough with a steely glare. “I want pie and I’m going to get pie, haunted berries or no,” Pinkie growled at the pile of pastry. “No dough is going to get the best of Pinkie Pie!” With a burst of speed, Pinkie pounced at the dough, which wiggled indecisively before it eventually rolled back toward her. Overshooting her target, Pinkie watched it finally drop off the counter top and roll across the floor. “Oooh, that’s just great!” Pinkie shouted, blowing her hair out of her eyes. “What the--?” Startled, she pulled her head back in shock. The Cakes’ large cheese grater was floating inches from her face. Looking down, she could see that her apron was busily trying to hand it over to her. As Pinkie grabbed the grater, she saw an unfortunate berry stain drying on the apron.
“Oh, not you, too!” Pinkie struggled with the knots on the back of the apron, but couldn’t quite seem to grab the strings. Ever time she would manage to grab a hold of one; it would wiggle its way out of her grip. Gritting her teeth, she closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. “Berries, you are not going to beat me!” Pinkie swatted at the egg beater that the apron nearly shoved up her nose. “Knock that off!” she snapped, grabbing the beater and throwing it back into the drawer. “This is hard enough without you making things more difficult!”
Pinkie charged at the ball of dough, both hoping that it had let its guard down and deciding action was the best course in dealing with the errant apron. As she rapidly closed on the pastry ball, it took off as fast as it could roll toward the larder.
“Oh, no you don’t!” Pinkie cried, mentally one step ahead of the dough. “You are not adding that stool to the mix again!” A field of brushed steel filled Pinkie’s vision as the apron shoved the mixing bowl directly into her face. As she opened her mouth to scream at the apron, a plan came to her, and she barked out a laugh of savage joy. The kind of joy that only victory can bring.
Pinkie snatched the bowl from her apron deftly threw it in front of the larder door. With uncanny precision, it spun through the air and landed just in time for the dough to roll up into it. “Not so smart anymore, are you?!” Pinkie gleefully shouted as she rapidly closed on the bowl. She had a full second to savor her victory before she slipped on her forgotten rolling pin. Pinwheeling wildly, she crashed head first into the mixing bowl. It vibrated loudly as she attempted to sit up and dislodge herself. Pushing against the edge of the bowl with both front legs, and eventually her rear ones, the bowl finally popped off with great force. Pinkie watched as it flew out into the kitchen, trailing a stretched out pie dough behind it. Pie dough that led right back to her...
“Hair!” Pinkie exclaimed. “It’s caught in my hair!” Pinkie ducked as the mixing bowl reached the end of its tether and came rocketing back. She winced at the splintering sound it made when it hit a cabinet. “That’s funny. That dough shouldn’t be stretchy.” Pinkie put her hoof to her chin in thought. “This is pie dough, not pizza—d’oh!” Pinkie’s thoughts were cut off as the rebounding mixing bowl caught her in the back of the head. Apparently the cabinet hadn’t fully stopped its momentum. “Okay, that’s it! I’m done playing around! You're toast, Dough!” Pinkie shrieked, catching the bowl as it flew back at her. “Don’t even think about it!” she growled at her apron as it nonchalantly tried to grab the toaster. Pinkie swatted it back into place.
Marching to her pastry board, Pinkie clawed as much dough as she could manage from her hair. What was once a beautiful, round ball of scrumptious dough now resembled a miniature pink sheep. Pinkie’s eye twitched as she stared down at the struggling lump. Embedded with hair and small rocks from the floor, it looked completely unappetizing, but she had gone too far to stop now.
Pinkie retrieved her rolling pin and set the ball down in the middle of the floured board. As anticipated, it tried to sneak off, but she had always prided herself on being smarter than pastry. She had never fully taken her hoof off of it, and now she pressed down, dragging it back to the middle of the board. With surprising tenacity, it clung to the edge, but finally relented to her superior strength. As quickly as she could, she let go of the dough and attempted to flatten it out, but the dough managed to stay just ahead of her rolling pin. Finally, she was forced to grab it again as it made for the edge of the board.
“C’mon!” she pleaded. “Don’t you want to be a delicious pie?” Pinkie could hear mental alarm bells going off and her eyes began to fill. Of course, she loved to be happy, and occasionally she was angry, but she absolutely hated being sad. The day had been so trying and she was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. Her lower lip quivered and her huge eyes shimmered with unshed tears as she gazed down at the dough. Wavering for a moment, the dough slumped and rolled slowly to the middle of the board. With an air of defeated finality, it stopped, glumly awaiting its fate. Pinkie’s eyes lit up and she grabbed her rolling pin again.
“Oh, I promise this won’t be so bad! You are going to be the best pie—argh!” The pie dough fired one of its small rocks into her eye and was now making a last ditch attempt to escape through the open window. “Why you little--!” Pinkie screamed. She slammed the rolling pin down on the dough with all the force she could muster. “You! Are! Going! To! Be! A! Yummy! Pie! Whether! You! Like! It! Or! Not!” she cried, punctuating each word with a blow from the rolling pin.
“Can we, Twilight? Can we, please? Ple—he—hease?” begged Spike. Sitting on her back, he threw his arms around her neck in a display of wheedling affection that was both so adorable and annoying that Twilight burst out laughing.
“Oh, okay,” she said, relenting, “but you’re going to get fat, you know! We can’t stop off at Sugarcube Corner every time we go out.”
“I don’t expect us to stop there every time,” Spike conceded. “Just most of the time!” Twilight trotted over to the bakery, but stopped and pointed to the front door.
“Looks like you're out of luck, Spike. They're closed right now.” Spike’s little body seemed to deflate as he stared at the sign. He had been dreaming of a cinnamon roll all day.
“Ah, nuts. Oh well—hey, do you hear that?” Spike cupped a hand to his ear and listened.
“Yeah, I do!” Twilight cocked an ear toward the rhythmic pounding and followed as it led her around the bakery. As she glanced in the window, she stopped short, causing Spike to bang his head against hers. She spared a second to throw him a dirty look before returning to the window. Shrugging, Spike followed her gaze. Inside a wild-eyed Pinkie was smashing something repeatedly with a rolling pin.
“Whether! You! Like! It! Or! Not!”
“Oh, no! Pinkie’s in trouble!” Twilight cried out as she ran for the kitchen door. Spike, used to Twilight’s sudden panic attacks, tightened his grip on her mane. He had found that you could only fly off the back of a pony so many times before the experience started to wear thin, even with protective scales. Throwing the door wide, Twilight skidded into the room, trying to look everywhere at once. “What’s going on? Where is it?” Twilight blurted, ready for anything. Spike assumed what he believed to be his most ferocious pose as he jumped off her back.
The sudden burst of action startled Pinkie. She ran a few stumbling steps away from the door, dropping her rolling pin before realizing that it was Twilight and Spike. Sighing with relief, Pinkie quickly ran over and threw her legs around them, squeezing them all into a tight hug.
“Oh, Twilight! You wouldn't believe the day I’ve had!” Pinkie said, the words rushing out with growing speed. “I decided to make this pie and then the stool got haunted! After that my dough made a run for it and then my apron got too helpful! Oh, no! My dough!” Pinkie lunged for the counter, but the pummeled dough hadn’t moved.
Twilight and Spike gave each other the 'Pinkie Pie Glance'. They had developed it soon after moving to Ponyville and found it was useful for conveying a sense of confusion, amusement, and exasperation all at once. Following what Pinkie was thinking from one minute to the next was often a challenge, and Twilight had found it necessary to develop several new social interaction theorems just to cope. Twilight stepped forward to examine the dough that her friend was now scraping up off of a cracked pastry board.
“Uh, can you run that by us again?” she asked in what she hoped was an encouraging tone. Pinkie sighed and pointed over to the well-used cookbook.
“I found a recipe for chuckleberry pie,” Pinkie began, hanging her head low, “and I asked Zecora to grab some of the berries for me on her way back to town. She tried to warn me that it would be hard to make, but I didn’t listen.” Pinkie placed the dough into her baking dish and began cutting off the excess crust. “The berries are magical somehow, and the juice made the kitchen come to life.” She turned to Twilight and gave her a weary stare. “It’s taken all my skill just to get this far.” Twilight’s jaw dropped as Pinkie’s apron reached out and grabbed a nearby skillet, thrusting it up into Pinkie’s face. “Oh, give me that!” Pinkie shouted, snatching the skillet away. “I said ‘skill’, not skillet!” She turned back to Twilight. “See?” she added, closing her eyes and resting her head against the wall. Twilight certainly did see. The Sugarcube Corner kitchen was a total disaster area and Pinkie was covered in flour, dirt, and scratches.
She looks like she's been through a war! Twilight thought. However, her empathy was waging a losing battle against her intense desire to learn. Twilight's mind reeled with questions about the berries and designs for experiments, and she wasn’t alone in her curiosity.
“Fork!” Spike cried out. “Cookie sheet! Tea kettle!” With every request, the apron sprang into action, and the baby dragon collapsed into a fit a giggles as Pinkie batted away the phalanx of kitchenware.
“Spike, knock it off!” Twilight admonished, stomping her hoof. “Can’t you see Pinkie’s had a hard enough time already?” Spike climbed to his feet, wiping his eyes and trying to control a few extra laughs.
“I’m sorry, Pinkie, but you gotta admit that it’s pretty funny.” Pinkie glared angrily at Spike and then let her gaze stray onto her apron as it busily tried to reach the teapot once again. Slowly, Pinkie’s face began to crinkle. Twilight bit her lip and quickly checked off her mental list of comforting activities. Pinkie was about to have a breakdown. Twilight had just begun to rub Pinkie’s back soothingly when her friend finally burst out laughing, sending Spike into another wave of hysterics on the floor. After a few minutes, Pinkie was finally able to stop and breathe again.
“Oh, oh man! Whew! You know what, Spike? It is pretty funny when you stop and think about it,” Pinkie admitted, trying to stifle her own giggles. “Come on, you guys! Let’s bake a pie!” Twilight tentatively nudged the pie with a hoof.
“Are you sure you want to cook this?” she asked hesitantly. Twilight didn’t want to hurt Pinkie’s feelings, but the pie looked slightly less than appetizing. In fact, it looked more like modern art than a dessert.
“Twilight,” Pinkie said, giving the pie a steely glance, “if you had been through the afternoon I’ve had, you’d bake this pie no matter how bad it looked.” Pinkie turned and beamed at her friends. “But maybe it will be good! Who knows? We won’t know until we try!” Pinkie’s apron attempted to give her a frying pan, but Spike intercepted it before it could brain his friend. “I said ‘try’, not ‘fry’! Now you're just cheating!” Pinkie made one last attempt to wrestle the apron off. Spike began giggling again as the apron bunched itself up and vibrated its tag loudly, sounding for all the world like a raspberry. Stomping a hoof, Pinkie turned back to Twilight. “Can you get this thing off me?” she implored.
Twilight did her best to hide her smile. She had never seen Pinkie so frazzled before. Concentrating, she magically unknotted the ties, marveling at the way they did their best to resist her. Buzzing with a thousand questions, she made a mental note to have Zecora over for dinner. Finally pulling the apron off of her relieved friend, she disposed of it in a corner of the room, while an amused Spike skated behind it, still holding onto the frying pan tightly.
“Oh, thank you, Twilight,” Pinkie sighed. “Now I can finally finish. Just gotta pop this into the oven.” Pinkie tugged on the oven door, but it refused to open. Twilight stepped forward and squinted at the door while Pinkie put the pie back on the counter and tugged with both hooves. “I said, just pop this into. The. Oven!” Pinkie strained, pulling harder and harder against the contrary appliance.
“Maybe you should let me try,” Twilight offered, concentrating on the oven. Her distinctive purple aura surrounded the door and she mentally commanded it to open. With great reluctance, the door loosened, opening halfway and then slammed shut again, yanking Pinkie up with it. As she rose to full height, it flew open, slamming into her head, knocking her to the floor, and then snapped closed with a loud bang. “Ohmygosh, Pinkie! Are you okay?!” Twilight surged forward. The door had hit her friend so hard! A muffled giggle calmed her as she neared Pinkie.
“I’m okay, Twilight,” Pinkie said as she got to her feet, pushing down repeatedly on her curly hair. “See, it’s a natural helmet! It saves me from a lot of injuries. I call them my hair folly-cles!” Twilight groaned and rolled her eyes. It seemed no situation was too bizarre to save her from Pinkie’s terrible puns.
“Okay, we’re going to have to put our heads together—ow!” Twilight winced as Pinkie rammed her face directly into Twilight's. “Not literally!” she said, pushing Pinkie back with one hoof and rubbing her head with the other. “Now, I’m going to get that oven to open, and you stand here with the pie and get ready to shove it in when the time comes.”
“Roger, commander!” Pinkie cried, drawing herself up to her full height and saluting smartly. “Operation Oven Shove-In is a go!”
“You sure are in a better mood,” Twilight quipped, her forehead still throbbing.
“Haunted kitchens are just a lot funnier with friends around!” Pinkie replied, bouncing merrily from hoof to hoof. “You should have been here for stool wrestling!”
“Something tells me I don’t want to know,” Twilight muttered to herself as she focused again on the oven door. Beads of sweat formed on her brow, then began to flow freely down her face. The door was putting up quite a fight! Putting all of her willpower behind her magic, Twilight lowered herself into a wide-legged battle stance. Pinkie wasn’t kidding about this being a struggle.
“C’mon, Twilight!” Spike encouraged. “You can do it!” Warming up to cheerleading, Spike put a hand on Twilight’s flank and leaned, crossing one foot casually over the other. “Remember that rock you couldn’t lift out of Fluttershy’s field? This oven looks way easier than that! Or that huge cart Big Mac had stuck in the mud that you couldn’t pull out? Well, this oven—”
“You aren’t helping!” Twilight managed through gritted teeth. She shot Spike an icy stare and he grinned sheepishly, scratching the back of his head.
With great reluctance, the oven door creaked open. Seizing the moment, Pinkie jumped forward and thrust the pie deep inside. Twilight and Spike gave each other a high five as Pinkie quickly set the baking temperature. Wiping her brow, Pinkie leaned her body against the counter. She could feel the stress of the afternoon leaving her.
“Thank you both so much! I don’t know what—AH!” Pinkie dodged as the oven flew open and ejected the pie. Spinning, it sailed through the air.
“I got it! I GOT IT!” Spike yelled, his little legs pumping as fast as they could to catch of with the pie. With a desperate dive, he just managed to save the pastry before it hit the kitchen floor. The slickness of his scales sent him sliding far across the kitchen floor directly into the balled up apron in the corner. Soon he was enveloped as the apron desperately tried to tie itself to his body. “Twilight, help me!” he pleaded. The only thing that Twilight could still see of her assistant was the arm that was holding the pie high above his head. The fabric hissed softly as the pony sized apron wrapped completely around his body and attempted to form a complicated knot with its ties. Judging by the rapidly appearing lumps on the apron, Spike was putting up quite a fight, but there was just too much material.
“Coming, Spike!” Twilight headed over to her struggling assistance and magically forced the apron to release him. Spike gasped as he emerged, trying to regain his breath as the constriction lessened. Floating through the air, the apron reminded Twilight of a canvas manta ray as it twisted and turned, trying to find some sort of purchase. “Pinkie,” Twilight said, “I think we need a better place for this. Let’s throw it in here.”
“No, not the—!” Pinkie attempted, but it was too late. As Twilight opened the larder door, the stool burst out. Twilight let out a surprised squeal and she reflexively jumped out of the way before she even knew exactly what had happened. Unaware of the rapidly approaching piece of furniture, Spike groaned as the stool crashed into him.
“Thanks, Twilight,” he said, giving her a half lidded stare as he sailed past her. Pinkie rushed to intercept her friend, leaping again and again to dodge the crazed stool. Coiling her tail, she made a soft landing pad for Spike on her back while simultaneously catching the pie tin on the top of her head. Twilight’s mouth dropped open and she rubbed her disbelieving eyes with her hooves. Twilight wondered if she would ever cease to be amazed by her friend's latent talents. As Pinkie ran by, she gently knocked her friend’s mouth shut.
“Pinkie to Twilight, over! Rogue stool at four o’ clock!”
“Right,” returned Twilight, focusing on the problem once again. The stool’s legs screeched across the tile as it continued to careen wildly through the kitchen, setting everyone’s teeth on edge. It was making every attempt to get itself underneath Pinkie. I think we’re going to need Zecora to rope off that berry patch. This is ridiculous! Twilight thought. The stool shimmered as Twilight assumed control of it and and floated it back to the larder. “Foiled again, stool!” Twilight taunted as she threw it deep into a back corner. “Now maybe we can get this over with!” As the apron leaned out of the larder holding a roll of aluminum foil and a can of condensed milk, Twilight slammed the door closed on it.
Growing frustrated with the ridiculousness of the situation, Twilight yanked the oven door open roughly. Eager to help, Spike ran up Pinkie’s back and grabbed the pie. Rotating his body like champion discus thrower, he hurled the pie into the oven and two ponies pressed their body weight against the door. Their bodies bumped back and forth as it struggled to open again. “Spike,” Twilight panted, “get the dial! Set the temperature!”
“It’s supposed to be at 425!” Pinkie said, beads of sweat forming on her back. Spike reached over Pinkie’s head and twisted the dial, only to watch it spin back to zero. Shrugging, he looked over to Twilight.
“You’re just—oof—going to have to—ow—hold it,” Twilight said brokenly as the oven continued to fight. The ponies teeth rattled as the oven door slammed into them repeatedly. Spike twisted the dial again and clamped down on it with both hands. Pinkie could feel the strain in his legs as he pushed against her shoulders, leaning his body into the task.
“Heh heh. Just 44 more minutes!” Pinkie managed with an unconvincing nonchalance, blowing her sweaty hair from her face. Twilight groaned and leaned harder on the bucking door. How did she always get mixed up in things like this?
The three friends sat in the middle of the kitchen floor. All around them were the signs of the afternoon’s struggle and what was sure to be days worth of repair. Jars were broken, cabinets hung off their hinges and pots and pans had been thrown to every corner. It looked like a hurricane had hit Sugarcube Corner. Amidst the chaos, the friends were remarkably unconcerned because, at long last, the pie was done. They leaned over it to take in the delicious aroma as it cooled.
“Oh, doesn’t it seem super, extra, mega yummy?!” Pinkie gushed, turning the pie this way and that to examine every inch of her creation. She never would have believed it, but it was possibly the most perfect looking (and smelling) pie she had ever created.
“Well, it better be, after all that!” Spike spat out, trying to sound indignant. He gave the pie his dirtiest look as he pressed his fists firmly into his hips. The effect was somewhat ruined when Twilight leaned over and wiped off a line of drool that was dangling from his salivating mouth. Pinkie turned and regarded her two friends. They had really been there for her when she needed them and her heart was filled with love and joy that they were here to share in new dessert.
“I can’t thank you two enough!” Pinkie said as she put her arms around Twilight and Spike once more. “I don’t know what I would have done if you both hadn’t shown up when you did.”
“Pinkie, as your friends, we will always be there for you,” Twilight returned. Now that the insanity of the situation was fading, she grinned broadly. She couldn’t wait to tell her other friends about this one!
“And I really learned something today, you guys,” Pinkie said seriously.
“Oh, what is that?” Growing excited, Twilight’s eyes shined as she leaned toward Pinkie. “Maybe we can write to Celestia about it!”
“I learned that ‘easy as pie’ really isn’t.” Pinkie tried to maintain her serious demeanor as she offered this pearl of wisdom, but one look at Twilight’s expression of mild disappointment sent her into gales of laughter. Soon Twilight and Spike joined in and they were all rolling around on the floor. Between them, the pie sat, ready to offer a sweet end to their sour day.