Everything was silent once Moon Dancer and Lemon Hearts left. Twinkleshine came out of her place behind the couch and onto it, where she immediately curled up into a feeble little ball with a frightened look in her eyes. Minuette couldn’t stand it, and even the mansion did nothing to break the total stillness of everything; not so much as a creak or a groan of settling framework interrupted the thick silence.
“So, uh…” Minuette scuffed a hoof across the floor, wracking her brain for something to start up a conversation between her and Twinkleshine. “... Zombies really exist. How ‘bout that, huh?”
“Not helping me, Minuette,” Twinkleshine said in an uncharacteristically soft voice.
She must’ve really been scared, Minuette realized, if all the brusqueness was gone from her tone. That wouldn’t do; she needed to cheer her friend up. She came over and carefully, so as not to startle her, rested a comforting hoof on Twinkleshine’s withers.
“Don’t be scared now, Twinkie,” she soothed. Yep, she was really out of it if she wasn’t even rolling her eyes at her for using that nickname. Her ear flicked at the sound of some falling plaster, but she paid it no mind. “So we got attacked by a zombie pony. So what? It’s gone now; we’re all fine and dandy. Let’s just put it behind us and enjoy the rest of our vacation, hmm?”
Twinkleshine gave no response for a few moments, all while Minuette stroked her withers comfortingly. When she eventually turned her head to meet Minuette’s gaze, Minuette felt a surge of warmth to see the small smile on Twinkleshine’s lips.
Suddenly, Twinkleshine’s eyes shrank to pinpricks, her smile instantly giving way to a look of sheer terror.
Minuette arched a brow. “What’s the matter?”
Twinkleshine scurried across the couch, climbing over the arm, all while keeping her gaze fixed past Minuette.
Minuette turned around, and her own eyes shrank at the sight before her.
A moving, undulating mass of shadows was climbing down the wall, pouring out of a newly opened hole in the ceiling. It scaled the length of the wall and started spreading across the floor towards the two mares, bobbing forward like an ever-creeping wave.
Minuette’s mind went blank and her senses shut down, shocked by what she was seeing. The shadowy mass rolled closer to her, unabated, while Twinkleshine backed farther away, her mouth opening and closing dumbly like a fish.
The shadow mass passed over the wallside bulb, to which it exploded, scattering glass everywhere and plunging the room into greater darkness. This snapped Minuette out of her daze, and she made to turn around and bolt, only for her hooves to trip on one of the couch legs, making her fall over. She turned to look back, face horror-stricken, as the shadow mass had now reached her. It moved up her legs, consuming them like an inky tide, before stopping at her barrel.
A hot, burning sensation spread throughout Minuette’s stomach. Desperately, she tried to crawl away, but the living shadow seemed to be gripping her with an intangible clutch, as it stayed over her as she moved. The burning sensation turned scalding. The fiery pain lancing through her barrel made Minuette cry out in agony.
Twinkleshine didn’t think. She ran to the entrance and slipped into the foyer, before bolting down the hall. A brief glance behind her showed the shadows were following her. Along the wall they crept, reaching for her like ghostly appendages. She didn’t spare another glance behind her as she galloped down the hall, not caring where she went as long as she kept running away from the terror chasing after her. A million questions fought to be at the forefront of her mind, and not one of them succeeded. All Twinkleshine could think was to keep running, to find someplace to hide.
Eventually, she found herself in the mansion’s kitchen. She wasted no time in pulling open one of the cupboards and stowing away inside. Mold and cobwebs stuck to her body as she squeezed herself in among all the various kitchenware, but she didn’t care. She was finally safe from the terror that had consumed her friend. Upon this realization, Twinkleshine let out the breath she’d been subconsciously holding, and took in a few lungfuls of stale, dusty air, working to calm herself down.
Once she was settled down, her mind worked to catch up with what was happening. Instantly, her thoughts turned to Minuette. Her friend seemed to be in pain when she’d ran, and Twinkleshine couldn’t shake the voice in her head saying she was a coward for doing so. But what else could she have done? What could she do against a mass of living shadows? Nothing at all. So why should she feel guilty about running?
Another little voice made itself known, saying it was because she’d abandoned her friend. Even if she couldn’t help, true friends didn’t abandon each other, no matter what. Twinkleshine felt a couple of tears roll down her face at that realization, and she buried her face in her hooves, her body wracking with choked sobs.
Twinkleshine spent the next couple minutes crying in the cupboard. She mourned the loss of her friend, the overly cheerful equine enthusiast Twinkleshine had come to love and admire despite how ignorant she could be at times, whom she'd known as far back as magic kindergarten. Minuette had sought to comfort her after Twinkleshine had been scared out of her wits, and she'd repaid her by running away when Minuette needed her help the most.
She wasn’t a true friend after all. She was a coward.
… No. No, she could still be a true friend.
Twinkleshine opened the cupboard and crawled out. Standing up, a determined frown crossed her muzzle. Her friend needed her, and dammit she was going to help!
Twinkleshine bolted from the kitchen back down the hallway. The living shadowy mass was nowhere to be seen, possibly having passed by her hiding place and gone off somewhere else. All the same, Twinkleshine kept her eyes peeled for any flicker of movement as she whizzed down the newly darkened hallway.
She turned the corner back into the living room. “Minuette!?” she called out, stepping in. She cast a light spell and swept it over the floor. Minuette was nowhere to be seen.
“Minuette!?” She took a few more steps forward, searching between the couches. “Where are you!?”
A bead of sweat fell from Twinkleshine’s brow. She cast her gaze up towards the ceiling, at the hole the shadow mass had poured from, but saw nothing.
She took another few steps forward, toward the far corner of the room. She let out a surprised shriek as her hooves tripped over something, making her stumble a little. Her brief jolt of panic was soon to fade, however, as confusion took hold in response to the sensation of something wet and gooey under her hooves. She shined her horn downward.
Her blood froze.
“Help me... please,” came a hoarse whisper from behind her, followed by the scraping sound of hooves against wood.
The floor around Twinkleshine’s hooves was coated with bloody guts, melted into a thick paste that clung to her hooves like mud. Little bits of steam wafted from the intestinal matter.
“Help… me… Twinkleshine.”
Body trembling, Twinkleshine shined her horn light further back, and felt bile rise in her throat. The back half of Minuette's body, severed from the rest of her, lay on the floor in a crimson pool. Her abdomen was exposed, revealing all the melted guts and organs that were spilling out onto the floor. But aside from that, her body looked as pristine and healthy as ever, which only made the sight of its detachment all the more revolting for Twinkleshine.
The scraping sound behind her stopped, and Twinkleshine felt something weakly prod at her fetlock. She didn’t want to turn around. She didn’t want to confirm what she knew happened to her friend. She wanted to cling to what little ignorant hope she still had that her friend wasn’t severed in half, and was, in fact, playing a very cruel joke on her. For once, she would’ve gladly laughed at her own expense to make that a reality.
Her legs almost didn’t cooperate, so shaky were they, as Twinkleshine turned around and shined her horn down at her hooves. Minuette’s anguished face stared back up at her, and she stopped prodding Twinkleshine’s fetlock.
“I’m sorry,” Twinkleshine whispered.
She brought her fore hooves up and, with as much force as she could muster, slammed them down onto Minuette’s head. The resulting sickening, bone-crunching sound was a knife to her ears. Flecks of blood sprayed everywhere, unnoticeable in the dark of the room. A low groan escaped Minuette’s smashed mouth. Twinkleshine brought her hooves up again and slammed them down again. The second time was less painful for her.
Again and again Twinkleshine smashed Minuette’s head, pure instinct overriding all other senses. And yet, she managed to cry. With each smash of her hooves, she felt her eyes water up a little more, all while her choking sobs filled the otherwise silent room.
Finally, her legs were too tired to continue. Twinkleshine could only tremble where she stood, letting the tears fall from her face. Her mind raced to catch up with her, sorting through the maelstrom of emotions swirling through her head. When she finally realized what exactly had happened, Twinkleshine let out a pitiful cry and fell hard on her haunches, shaking the floorboards a little.
Her ear flicked in response to a soft, metallic scraping sound coming from behind her. Slowly, she turned around. There was a flash of metal through the darkness. Twinkleshine’s eyes bulged and her body went stiff as something slammed down onto her skull.
Her lifeless body fell to the floor.