“I knew I never should have let her out of the hospital,” said Nurse Redheart, sullenly looking at the barely breathing filly that lay in the adjacent hospital bed. She looked peaceful in contrast to the swarm of instruments attached to every inch of her body. “Or at least allow her to make a trip to the library like that. ”
Derpy Hooves also glanced at Dinky on the bed, the steadily beeping heart monitor reassuring her that the young pony was still alive. “We tried,” she said with a sigh, “but Twilight couldn’t help us.” ‘And nopony else can, either.’
“The only other option would have been to take her straight to Canterlot,” the nurse retorted. “I don’t think she would have survived, though.”
“I think she would,” the sad pegasus replied. “She probably can’t make it anymore, and it’s my fault for wasting her time.” The mailmare looked at the ground in defeat. She sat down, her head still lowered. ‘Why did we even try? I should have known that there was nothing Twilight could do. She’s just another pony after all.’ Her lips shook as she tried to be strong, cracking under the pressure. “Dinky’s probably going to die now, and it’s all my fault.” The kind nurse sitting next to her placed a single hoof on the pegasus’s shoulder in an attempt to console her. They both sat together for a couple of seconds, the mother shaking as she already started mourning her upcoming loss with silent tears.
“Now, stop fretting. We’re working on something to help Dinky.”
“What? What is it?” the sad mother responded, looking up at the nurse and wiping away her tears.
“I shouldn’t have said anything,” the frustrated nurse mumbled to herself. “A new type of medication we’re developing just for Dinky,” the hospital pony responded with a smile.
“What is it going to do? When is going to be ready?” Derpy inched closer to the nurse, practically begging her for more information. ‘Will it save her?’ The previous thought went unsaid as the pegasus almost started brushing up against her helper.
“We’re developing something to delay the effects of her broken horn,” Redheart responded. “We don’t know how it will be administered yet, and we don’t know how exactly how long it will take until it’s ready, but we’re hoping tomorrow morning or afternoon.”
Derpy sat back in defeat. “I hope she survives until then,” the sad mare responded, looking back at her little filly with teary eyes. The little filly looked so sad, her unchanging expression on her face still showing the discomfort from exerting herself earlier. Her now-clean coat and tail still required the work of a brush, although they had been washed off before departing to visit the princess’s prized pupil. The pegasus looked back at the nurse, her pained expression on her face begging for an answer. “She will survive until then, right?”
Nurse Redheart let out a huge sigh. “We can only hope.” The two of them both sat beside the hospital bed, staring at the injured little filly that lay on the bed. They both shared a moment together, two strangers both grieving for a single pony.
“I know that I was in the wrong for discharging Dinky early the first time, but I can let her leave a second time as long as she stays in bed while she’s gone,” said the nurse. “I know that she won’t do anything strenuous since you two aren’t going anywhere.”
‘Oh no, not this again.’ The sadder of the two mares quickly spun around. “But what about Princess Celestia? What if she does come here and we’re already gone?”
“If she does eventually come here to help, we’ll redirect her to your house. The hard part will be getting her to get to ponyville on time in the first place.”
Derpy sat for a moment, contemplating the decision. “But what if it takes too long to get to my house? What if the extra distance doesn’t let Dinky...” She choked, the thought not allowing her to continue.
The nurse knew exactly what Derpy meant. “Look, if she can get here in time all the way from Canterlot, then the extra distance to your house will be nothing at all,” she reassured.
The pegasus lifted her hoof to her face, giving her cheek a couple taps to assist in the decision-making process. She looked at the little filly on the bed, her frail frame and weak nature causing her to rethink her point-of-view. ‘For Dinky...’ she thought, turning back to the caretaker next to her. “Okay. It’s what Dinky would want. She’d be more comfortable in her own bed when she wakes up.”
Carrot Top barely managed to push the door to the house she shared with Dinky and Derpy as she stumbled into their living room, a basket of carrots in her mouth. “Never... again... market war.. with Apple family...” she breathed through a sore mouth from handling the long orange vegetables all day. The tired earth pony looked towards the kitchen table, expecting to see Derpy eating dinner like she normally did at this time. She was met with the company of absolutely nopony, the deserted room abnormally dark. ‘Where is she?’ The garden pony set down her basket on the table.
The door creaked behind Carrot Top, signaling the orange pony to turn around just as the door slammed shut entirely on its own. “Derpy?” she called out into the darkness, looking around to find a way to light her path. A fading beam of light streamed in through a crack in the drawn curtains, its thin streak falling directly on a nearby candle. Carrot Top lit it, delicately placing the handle into her mouth to carry it along with her. The flickering flame lit her way as she traversed the hallway leaving to the bedrooms, the far window also having its curtains drawn.
The garden pony shuffled her way into Dinky’s room, careful not to bump into the small nightstand right next to the door. She was greeted with the sight of Derpy sitting in small wooden chair alongside the filly’s bed, said filly laying under the covers. The pegasus’s eyes were closed with her head down, her hoof placed gently on the unconscious unicorn. A tear was collected in the corner of her eye, the grieving mare to preoccupied to wipe it away.
Carrot Top placed the candle onto the table next to her, never taking her eyes off of the pair of ponies in front of her. She opened her mouth to speak, hesitating at the thought of breaking the silence. The dim candle eerily cast shadows on the walls behind the ponies. The larger-than-life figures danced around, intimidating her even further. Carrot Top finally mustered up the courage to speak, her feeble voice weak from fright.
“What are you doing here?”
“I could be asking the same for you,” came the reply. Derpy sat still, unmoved from her position. Her eyes snapped open, boring holes into Carrot Top while her head remained down. “You normally never come into Dinky’s room.”
The earth pony took a step back, daunted by the scene in front of her. She gulped, almost too nervous to continue. “Well I just saw that you weren’t eating dinner like you normally do and...” Her voice trailed off as the two ponies locked eyes, one out of anger and the other out of fright.
The verbal blow pushed Carrot Top back again, causing her to take another step back. “What? Why?”
“Dinky told me yesterday that you sent her to buy the milk,” Derpy said, shifting her weight off of the chair and onto her hooves, slowly raising to her full height. “I thought I told you to do it. Are you so insensitive that you had to make Dinky buy the milk, even though you’re the one who was complaining about how we ran out?”
The earth pony took another step back, looking away to break eye contact. “Well, about that...” she meekly said, laughing a nervous chuckle. She started ducking away to subtly leave the room. Carrot Top looked up again to find the normally caring pegasus still glaring at her. Her eyes went wide in fright and she froze in place. “I- I can explain.”
“I don’t think there’s anything to explain.”
“But there is! Trust me!”
“Oh? Then what is it?” The pegasus snapped, taking a challenging step towards her roommate.
Carrot Top’s entire body solidified, not knowing what to say to the changed mare. Endless thoughts streamed through her head at lightning speed. ‘Oh dear Celestia what do I say what do I do leave where do I go where can I go leave the room how do I escape run. Run away. Now.’
Without thinking, the orange earth pony turned around and galloped away for dear life, bumping the nightstand on the way out of the room. The burning candle on top of it fell out of its holder, suddenly angled tip-down. The previously held molten wax spilled onto the surface, making a mess that Derpy would have to clean later. A few drops remained in the cup formed in the top of the candle, though, and these dripped down onto the wick.
The tiny flame quickly extinguished, snuffed out by its own fuel in a puff of smoke.
Dinky Hooves rolled over in bed, finally waking from her exhaustion-induced coma. She slowly opened her sore eyes, willing herself to push through the invisible force that clamped them shut. The weak filly was immediately greeted by a large, yellow, furry mass that filled her vision. ‘What is that thing...?’ she slowly thoughtT, barely able to form coherent sentences in her own mind.
The young pony blinked a couple of times to clear her vision, but was surprised that the creature was growing tentacles, the spindly snakes dancing around her vision. Her eyes suddenly grew wide in fear and she tried pulling the blanket over her head, failing due to her weakened state.
The young pony kicked out her three good legs with all her might, trying to push herself back from the demented beast that lay ahead of her. What Dinky imagined was the greatest kick ever known to ponykind translated only to a gentle push in reality. The gentle bump barely touched the creature, its soft hair giving way to a harder core.
The unicorn kicked out again, barely grazing the thing a second time. She continued this frenzied “violence”, never budging a single inch under her struggle. She gave one final thrust, rolling the unidentified alien onto its side. All of its protrusions retracted into the core, turning back into nothing but a ball of hair again. ‘Success...’ she thought, the delusional filly imagining that she saved all of Equestria just by nudging this barbaric demon into submission.
Dinky stopped The hairy ball quickly righted itself, letting out a long, low moan as it did so. Dinky started to struggle away from the beast again, not being able to do so due to the massive weight of the blankets on top of her. During that time the beast managed to raise up to its full height, revealing itself as none other than Derpy Hooves.
The pegasus smacked her lips and rubbed her eyes, trying to escape from the fog that lingered around her head. She looked down to find her own daughter, lying on her own bed with her eyes wide open in fear. A gasp and a smile later, and Dinky was engulfed in a giant hug, not unlike the one she received the previous night.
“Dinky! You’re awake!” the excited mare exclaimed. She squeezed Dinky even tighter. “I was so worried that you weren’t going to wake up.” She let go of her daughter, still kneeling down over the bed and smiling to try to comfort her. She couldn’t help but feel sad for her daughter, the weak little filly was dying and nothing could be done about it.
Dinky looked up at her mom, unable to smile back; the small gesture was too much for her. A tear rolled down her cheek. “Why... wouldn’t I... wake up?” she slowly asked, choosing each words wisely to make sure her sentences made sense.
Derpy looked away from her daughter, unable to maintain eye contact with the sad little being in front of her. “It’s... complicated.”
Dinky, too, looked down and away from her mother’s face, although eye contact was already broken. “What’s complicated?”
Her mother looked back at the filly, since looking at her didn’t mean she had to look into her eyes. “It’s... your horn.”
Dinky looked back up at her mother, who chose to look away at that moment. “What about it?”
The mother took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly and contemplating what exactly she would tell her daughter, and what she wouldn’t. “Well, I don’t want to have to tell you this, and I should have told you last night in the hospital, but you won’t be able to use magic,” she explained, laying down the facts straight.
“I... know that... already,” said the weak filly.
“Yesterday... At the hospital...” she said, her voice barely a whisper. She paused, not wanting to say her thoughts aloud to her mother, but knowing that she had to. “I’m dying.”
“No! No you’re not!” snapped Derpy. The mare stood back up, no longer crouching down. “Me and Nurse Redheart are going to fix you back up, and you’re going to be all right! I promise!”
Dinky’s eyes welled up, the trickle of tears slowly becoming a flowing stream. “Please don’t lie to me, mommy” she choked, staring deep into her mother’s eyes. Her lips quivered, trying to hold back the tears that pushed against her eyes and failing.
Derpy broke down, not being able to stay strong in front of the young pony anymore. She cried openly for the first time since she, too, was a filly, her tear output capable of washing out her daughter’s. She lunged towards her daughter, hugging her in a tight embrace that caused both ponies to cry even harder. “I’m so sorry,” wailed the mare. “I never wanted to lie to you, but I had to.”
Dinky didn’t respond, her thoughts already filled with those of sadness and her mouth too preoccupied with crying with her loving mother. They shared an eternity together, bawling their hearts out and not being afraid to hide it from one another. Their weeping slowly turned to sobbing, and then to sniffling as the two cried all their tears out, their reservoirs running low and trickling to a halt. The two ponies hesitantly separated, wanting to spend the rest of their lives in their previous position, but knowing all too well that it was impossible. They looked into each others’ eyes, smiling with tear-covered faces.
“Hungry...” Dinky quietly said, too tired from their previous fit to say anything else.
Derpy immediately perked up, rushing to the kitchen to fetch some food as soon as she realized what Dinky meant. She returned to to bedside with some of her roommate’s carrots to feed Dinky. The filly started eating the vegetables, chewing slowly to avoid choking while laying down.
The mother smiled as she watched her daughter eat peacefully. She cleared her throat, beginning to sing without any further beckoning required.
“You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine...”
“Any news on the princess?”
“Nothing. We haven’t heard back from her yet.”
Derpy looked away from the nurse. She summoned up the courage to speak out again, willing herself not to crack under the sadness that weighed her down. “I don’t think she’s going to come.” She nervously toyed with the flaps that sealed her saddlebags shut with her wings, picking at the seams and ruffling the corners as they both sat anxiously.
Nurse Redheart sighed, accepting the fact that their all-powerful leader wasn’t going to help. “I don’t think so, either.”
They both sat still in the middle of the waiting room, neither wanting to break the silence. They both shuffled their hooves to pass the time during the awkward pause in conversation.
“Hold on right here,” Nurse Redheart suddenly said, Finally remembering the thing she wanted to give Derpy. She quickly cantered over to a back room, one that wasn’t visible to the pegasus. Derpy heard the noise of what seemed to be hollow glass-on-glass before a cabinet shutting, and the nurse returned to the front of the pegasus in a normal trot. Several small, clear vials were placed in her mouth alongside a syringe.
“Is that it? Is that the medicine?” asked Derpy.
Nurse Redheart leaned forward and deposited the objects on a small magazine-covered table next to her. “Yup,” she said, slowly backing away from the vials as if moving too fast will make them spontaneously combust.. “It’s mostly untested, though.”
“Untested?” Derpy asked with a horrified expression on her face.
“Well, we tested it a little bit,” she said. “We know that it won’t harm anypony, a couple of trials have already tested that, but we haven’t tested it on a unicorn with a broken horn yet, so we’re not entirely certain that it will work.”
Derpy leaned towards the unmarked bottles, studying them with all her might. There was nothing peculiar about them, the crystal vials revealing an almost water-like liquid inside. They sloshed around like water, except that they clung to the sides instead of forming small drops. “I dunno,” she finally said, lifting her head and looking at the nurse. “It seems awfully dangerous. What if there’s long-term effects?”
Nurse Redheart nervously chuckled. “Well, what other options are there?” She took up the clear vials and put them in Derpy’s saddlebags, gingerly placing the syringe and several spare needles alongside them. “If there are long term effects, at least she’ll live longer than she will if she doesn’t take the medicine.”
Derpy looked away, contemplating what little options she had. “But Dinky doesn’t like needles. What if she refuses to take it?”
“Give it to her when she’s sleeping,” the hospital pony replied, putting a couple small pieces of cloth between the glass ampoules so they wouldn’t break in transport. “You know how to use a needle, right?”
“Yeah, the last time Dinky broke her leg I had to keep injecting it with antibiotics to keep it from getting infected,” the grey pony acknowledged. She rubbed her left foreleg with her right, nervous about having to do such a thing to her daughter again.
“Well, this time you have to inject one of her forelegs instead of one of her back legs. You might want to alternate legs to keep the soreness down,” the nurse reassured. “The only other issue I can see right now is that Dinky might build up an immunity to it, and if she does, we might have to start increasing her dosage.” Nurse Redheart stepped back from Derpy’s saddlebag, satisfied with her work of protecting the previous cargo. “Just make sure you consult me first.”
The pegasus still looked nervous, the fact that the medicine was untested making her rethink her decision on giving Dinky the medicine. ‘If I don’t give this to her, she’ll die,’ she thought, suddenly switching her viewpoint on the whole thing.“Well, I guess it’s okay. Sure. We’ll take it.”