Being a pony scared of so many things was far from a life of luxury. Lily Valley still didn’t mind the fact though. Her heart was in the right place and she always enjoyed making ponies smile. With her friends Daisy and Roseluck she would be happy just to sell flowers till the end of time. It was a pleasing thought.
During terrible events or Nightmare Night itself she would cower in fear or hide. Scary things just didn’t mix well with the earth pony. Her heart was more into the beautiful things rather than the spooky or the dark. Despite it all, she still found a way to smile through it and do her best to cheer other ponies up.
“Hello, Lily!” Roseluck called to her from the flower stand.
The pink pony blinked in confusion as she stood in place. She must have been lost in her thoughts for a while as she was heading to stand. Her yellow mane swayed as she tilted her head and smiled.
“Hi! I guess I just got lost in my thoughts,” Lily said as she walked over and took her spot nearby.
“Oh? Got a stallion on your mind?” her rose-maned friend teased before giggling.
The two of them couldn’t stifle their laughing for long as they let it get the better of them. Lily gave a playful shove with a hoof before rolling her eyes. Roseluck was easy to get along with and always friendly to her. She couldn’t ask for a better friend.
“If only,” the pink pony replied and smiled. “Any good customers lately? Flowers stocked for the day?”
“Mhm~” Roseluck said softly before humming as she began working on a bouquet. “Everything’s been really slow but relaxed today.”
Lily gave a nod and picked a few flowers with her mouth as she began getting to work. Rarity had been a big help at one point to have certain colors fit with their customers. They had all taken a note and did their best to replicate such a thing from then on. It was incredibly useful and ponies seemed to love the complimenting flowers for what they needed.
Not long after Lily arrived, Daisy came to help and the three mares began light gossip as they worked. What ponies had been doing lately, what they had heard, even small rumors that made them giggle together. Lily loved every moment of it and was obviously comfortable around them. She felt as if she could tell them anything at all.
“I also heard,” Daisy chimed in during their talk, “that one of our element bearers has a crush on the prince of the Crystal Empire.”
“Oh, hush! You did not!” Roseluck replied but smiled wide.
“Did so,” Daisy said and nodded to herself. “I also know that… Lily? Are you okay?”
Lily looked up from her hooves on the stand before glancing around. Her eyes darted from one of her friends to the other and back. The mild curiosity on their faces had her worried before she looked back and saw the flowers she had been working on were just wadded up instead of making another bouquet.
“I… I’m sorry. I guess I lost my thoughts for a second,” Lily responded, laughing it off and gently trying to salvage what she could.
“Are you sure? You looked upset for a second,” Roseluck mentioned and scooted closer.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I think my mind just went off in the clouds there. Started thinking of baking and I guess got too into it with the dough,” the pink mare replied with a forced giggle. It was a lie and she knew it but it was better than having her friends worry.
“Well, okay. You can always talk to us, you know,” the rose pony assured her before leaning over to give a hug.
Lily hugged back and smiled before getting back to work. Her eyes took in all the colorful petals and assorted them carefully as she had done for years. The truth was that something kept bothering her deep down. It rattled her core lightly and it got a bit distracting. The only problem with it was that she had no idea what it could be.
It started just the other week when she had been looking through her house for a simple item. She had misplaced a cup of all things and couldn’t find it. Checking under tables and chairs didn’t come up with anything. Though, as she moved through her house she began feeling a bit more uneasy. Something made her feel a little faint and cold.
Perhaps the changing seasons had been causing her to feel a little off. It was possible and other ponies had endured such a thing before. Not like it was anything new, right? Only it was something new for her. She ended up having to get out of the house and take a tour of Ponyville to calm down.
Since then, Lily had been feeling ill or just not herself when at home. Nothing that would put the poor pony in the hospital but it was always best to just stay on the safe side. At least the walks around town had seemed to help greatly and even given her a little more to do during days she went out. All in all, it wasn’t too bad.
“What do you think?” Daisy asked lifting her hooves to show off a new arrangement she made.
“Oh! It’s pretty!” Roseluck praised while looking it over. “Don’t you think, Lily?”
“It is! Very lovely, Daisy,” Lily agreed and nodded politely.
The three of them talked and passed the time throughout the day with little to no incident. Though, a pony looking for a flower arrangement for his wife that took half an hour was hardly an incident at all. The three of them found it awfully cute.
As the sun began to set, Lily’s friends started to pack things away and make sure everything was secured. Taking the rest of the flowers back, Roseluck wished them a good evening and trotted away. Daisy soon followed by example and let Lily do whatever she needed before heading home.
It was only Lily left. Her golden eyes watched ponies closing shops or hanging up signs as she sat by and let the minutes tick by. Anything to keep from going home early if she could help it. A few shop owners let her help in closing things, mostly by just flipping a sign or letting her chat a few minutes.
Eventually, there was nothing more to do but head home. Lily’s ears lowered as she accepted the fact and slowly made her way through town. The sunlight diminished more by each minute as she walked along. It wasn’t until she got to her house that she needed to light a lantern to navigate her way inside.
The metal ring in her mouth let the lantern dangle below as she walked into her home and closed the door. The light was enough to easily keep her from bumping hooves on furniture but not hardly helpful for making the shadows in the corners appear more friendly. She could feel her heart picking up pace while gently moving through the rooms and doing her best to clean up quickly for bed.
As much as she should eat a little something since having only one meal during her work, Lily just wasn’t feeling up to it. Her appetite wasn’t exactly craving food and she figured sleep might help her better. Besides, she could eat when she woke up and make it a big breakfast.
The mare finished any usual routine before bed as she kept her lantern close. Every minute she wasn’t in bed started to get to her. Somehow, she couldn’t shake the feeling of something just simply not right when she was home. Not even when she was in bed.
It had been weeks since she felt even remotely welcome in her own home. There was something that caused it but she couldn’t figure out what it could be. The first few days she ignored it to the best of her ability. Soon after, she ended up looking around and exploring her house several times but came back with no results.
When she hopped into the bed, her hind legs kicked lightly as she tried getting comfortable. Her hooves tugged the several covers over and hugged them to her quickly. She still felt oddly cold even after adding more layers last week. Perhaps it was just a nasty draft she hadn’t found yet.
The thoughts and reasoning continued in her head as she lay on her mattress trying to sleep. The lantern nearby gave the faintest of glows while she let her mind wander and drift through various excuses. Lily would have kept thinking about such things too. Yet, the pony was weak against resisting the call to slumber.
Lily sat at the kitchen table and sighed. Her golden eyes stared down at the empty plate before her until she pushed away from the table. It wasn’t hunger that beckoned her. She couldn’t place it, but something else warranted her attention.
The pink mare hopped down from her seat and walked out of the kitchen. Her head turned as she looked around her house, almost as if it were her first time in it. The living room held the usual decorations and furniture. Coffee table positioned before the fireplace, the bookcase against the wall, sofa on the other side of the table. Everything as it always was.
No. Something was different. Lily walked around the living room and quietly studied each item. The scrutiny for observing each thing was like a pony in a foreign land. She knew of all these things but there was something in the room making it all feel out of place.
She could hardly keep her heart calm while she walked around. Circling the room, the pony kept looking from one item to another until she found herself constantly nearing one of the walls. Whatever it was seemed to be in that area, though she hardly felt like she wanted to find out the reason behind her terrible anxiety. Curiosity overrode any desire to get out of the room.
Lily moved along one of the walls and tried finding any crack or hole that may have happened and she didn’t notice. Some kind of fault had to be the source of the uncomfortable nights in her bed, cold and having a hard time sleeping. It was just that every nook and cranny looked to be just fine. Why did it give her such a bad feeling?
It wasn’t until she paced around near the bookcase a few more times that she stopped. It seemed to call to her in a way. Something was wanting her to look closer. Maybe it was her own subconscious wanting to know.
Carefully and as slowly as she could, Lily stepped forward to look over the shelves and see if any of her books or decorations were possibly out of place. Perhaps something was missing and that was the cause of all this upset nature. She never took herself as one for noticing such a small thing before. Her look over each and every little knick knack seemed to yield nothing quite out of place, but she could feel it.
There was a moment of thought as she looked from one shelf to the next until it dawned on her. It wasn’t the bookcase itself. She felt a chill run down her back at the realization and lowered her ears. What had her so worried? So stressed?
Leaning slowly to the side, Lily looked at the wall the bookcase was set against. It was there. Something was there. Her body leaned a tiny bit more before she pulled back and shook her head. What did she see? Was that a frame?
Another wave of a fear caused her body to shudder. The poor pony took a step back and stared at the area. A sense of foreboding seemed to be overtaking her as she moved further away. It only got stronger the more she tried to get away from it.
Then came a heavy knock.
Lily gasped as she sat up in bed and found herself panting. A cold sweat had broken out as she put her head in her hooves. Daylight spilled in through her window doing its best to offer the comforting warmth it brought. Her body still felt cold despite the blankets she had been under through the night.
Another knock made her jump and almost cry out. Somepony was at her door. She was getting herself upset over nothing. It was just a strange dream and she got a little spooked. Her heart hammered her chest as she tried to calm down and eventually hopped out of bed.
She could have taken the time to fix her mane but the desire to just speak to another pony seemed far more important. Something social to take her mind off things, even just for a bit. In a hurry, the earth pony ran out of the room and down the hall. If there was anything that could take her mind off things it would be the comfort of another pony to speak with.
There was a brief moment where she slowed down and felt herself cowering as she trotted to the door. Going into the living room had her panic slightly until she reached the front door. What exactly had she seen a glimpse of behind her bookcase? The small glance back to it made her shiver before opening the door.
“Hi, Lily!” Roseluck said cheerfully. Her smile was something Lily always cherished. “I was wondering if-Oh! I didn’t wake you, did I?”
The confusion was visible but quickly dissipated as Lily looked up to see a few stray hairs of her mane poking out before her. She smiled and gave it a soft pat with a hoof before giggling. The two ended up have a small laugh together before Lily lightly nodded.
“Yeah, I guess I was more tired than I thought. Hope I didn’t sleep in too much,” the bed-maned pony replied.
“Oh, it’s not too far in the day,” Roseluck told her and looked back out at the sky. “I was curious if you wanted to come with me to collect some flowers today. I was thinking of heading just a bit off Sweet Apple Acres.”
The thought was sincere and Lily appreciated it. The issue was that she didn’t feel like doing too much after having such an odd dream. When she looked back behind her, possibly to feign a time check, the sight of the bookcase made her instantly agree with the offer.
“Of course!” Lily answered, turning back to face her friend. “I’d love to! Just let me get something to eat and tidy up. I’ll meet you out there, okay?”
Roseluck smiled wide and nodded before waving a hoof. They parted and Lily shut the door slowly then stood in place. She didn’t want to turn around. Things didn’t feel right when she looked at the bookcase.
Instead, she backed away from the door and kept her head down while walking out of the room and quickly back down the hall. Making her bed and grabbing her lantern, she chose not to eat breakfast at home. She would grab something along the way to meet her friend. There was no reason to stay at home any longer than necessary.
In a haste, she brushed her mane and tail before taking her lantern to the front door. A usual but quick routine of hers. It was good to have some light when she came back after dark. She almost gave her house a second look over to see if she had missed anything before leaving then thought better of it. The faster she was out, the better.
The door creaked open as Lily sighed and nudged it with her brow. The whole day had been so nice and she felt good being able to forget about things. Now it was dark and she needed to be back. She had been tempted to ask Roseluck if she could sleep over but hardly had an excuse other than she wasn’t feeling comfortable in her own house.
Light from the lantern slowly poured into the house as she held it with her mouth, dangling below her chin. Giving a light creak, the door gave way fully to allow her entrance before she stepped in and stood still. She didn’t want to be here but she didn’t exactly have anywhere else to go.
Ponies would tell her she was being silly or just scared of her own shadow. They wouldn’t understand and it wasn’t like she did either. Something was amiss but it didn’t make sense. A quick look to her bookcase made her almost whine before she closed the door and hurried by.
Thankfully, her time outside had worn her out fairly well. The only thing she really needed to do was lay down and sleep so her thoughts and worries would go away. It was strange to knowingly come home to a lack of welcome in her own house. No ponies made her feel shunned and she had lived here for years before. The sudden happening of it is what made her so cautious in her own house.
Setting the lantern aside, Lily did her usual bedtime preparations while trying to just ignore most of her thoughts. Every time she started thinking of looking more at the bookcase she would either hum loudly or force her mind on other subjects like what Daisy might be trying to gossip about next. Usually it succeeded.
The light guided her way as she moved to the bedroom and set it nearby before looking at her bed. Another night of unnatural cold she couldn’t stave off. Her hooves pulled away the blankets and sheets before she crawled in and pulled them up. Staring at the ceiling, Lily wondered if this is how she was meant to live from now on. If she was supposed to endure these chilling nights and unwelcome feelings.
It wasn’t a pleasant thought to rest her head with but it was the most prominent one. There were plenty of other things she would have liked be thinking of yet nothing seemed to rise at the front of her mind but worry. Another sigh escaped the pony’s mouth as she closed her eyes and pulled the blankets tighter. She just wanted to feel like things were normal again.
Getting up and out of bed was always easy. Lily moved off the mattress and stretched as usual before humming to herself and fixing the sheets. Her mind seemed mostly blank with thoughts as she just followed her own guideline from day to day. It seemed simple enough and far easier to just not think about things.
Taking the lantern, she trotted out of the bedroom and down the hall. The light from the still glowing lantern illuminated the surrounding area as she walked along. A sudden thought did come up as she noticed how dark her house was. The pink pony must have woken up just before sunrise. Rare but she had managed to do so before.
It wasn’t until she stepped into the living room that she stopped and familiar feelings began to rise up again. Her body felt weak as she saw the shelves of books and items from the light. It wasn’t right. Lily knew it and yet it called to her.
Slowly, the mare approached the tall bookcase and set her lantern aside. It could easily be she feared only what she didn’t know. Maybe there was a nasty draft behind it and finally seeing it would help her cope with things once again. It would also be such an easy fix that she would end up laughing at herself for getting so worked up over nothing.
Lily carefully moved to the side and looked at the gap between it and the wall. There was something there. It was hard to distinguish but she did see something. Pulling the lantern over showed a wooden frame inlaid in the wall. A window? Had she been so daft as to put a bookcase blocking a window in her house?
No, not a window. Perhaps just something she never noticed before. A certain design she covered up early on. Curiosity was beginning to get the better of her and before she knew it Lily was using her hooves to tug on the side of the case. Her forelegs pulled as her hind legs pressed to the wall, doing their best to at least move it aside.
It almost didn’t seem like it would budge until the floorboards groaned from the shifting weight. The bookcase shifted a bit before finally giving way. The items shook and rattled but thankfully stayed on their respective shelves. Now she could get a better look.
Moving the lantern up, Lily looked at the source of what had been causing her so much grief. The bookcase had been hiding a frame in which laid an oak door. The worn look made her wonder just how long it had been there compared to the rest of her house. Why hadn’t she ever noticed it? Did she just overlook it or have things placed in front of it without ever noticing?
It seemed settled against the frame firmly looking like it had been for years, possibly longer than she could guess. The handle had faded any luster it originally had before, somehow still letting her bookcase settle against for however long it had been there. There was no draft coming from it but Lily felt an overwhelming sense of fear now that she saw it. What purpose had it served?
Her hoof raised to reach at the handle before she pulled back and hugged her foreleg to her chest. Did she need to open it? She had found the source of her unease yet it had made nothing better. In fact, she felt far worse than before. The door didn’t belong. It wasn’t supposed to be there.
The pink earth pony scooted away from the oak barrier before looking around. Her house still had the vacant feel of anxiety floating around. Lily’s eyes shifted back to the hidden door as she sat there and waited. Why did it frighten her so badly?
A crash startled her and the light from her lantern went out.
Lily woke up screaming. Her legs kicked at the sheets as she fussed and turned until finally springing up in a panicked sweat. The pony looked around and noticed the first sign of light trying to peek in through her window. It was comforting but not by much.
When she nearly got out of bed, her eyes saw the glint of something along the floor. Her lantern had been smashed on the floor with glass littering the area. She was thankful Celestia’s sun managed to show the pieces in time before her hooves landed painfully. Idly, she wondered why Luna let her have such a recurring dream.
Slipping out the other side of the bed, Lily went and got herself a dustpan to clean up the mess. The lantern itself had been knocked over in her night terror. She didn’t want to admit it but it had happened once before, but not while being so startled. Just an accidental kick a few years back.
The glass was swept up and dumped away while she carried the remains of the lantern out of the room. It looked like she would have to buy a new one today. At least it gave her another reason to go out. A small blessing?
When she crossed into her living room, Lily slowed her pace and looked over at the obelisk called her bookcase. The structure stood as it always had and looked as if it had never been moved. The fright came flooding back quickly and she ran into the kitchen to make herself some food. Her idea was to just keep busy so she wouldn’t have to think about it.
Bread, some oats, milk. It didn’t seem like much but her stomach accepted it gratefully. Her hooves seemed to knead at the tabletop, almost as if she were trying to keep herself busy even while finishing her breakfast. The pony rocked lightly back and forth before looking over at the open doorway to the next room.
The door in her dream couldn’t lead anywhere. If it did, wouldn’t she see the other side of it from the kitchen? The way the half-wall separated the two rooms left little to the imagination in terms of what could be between. There was no backside of a large and worn oak door from the kitchen.
Lily would have taken that as a bit of assurance to herself but her house still felt strange to her. Instead of dwelling on the thought any longer, the pink pony hurried out of the kitchen and grabbed her saddlebags. The small amount of bits jingled inside as she rushed to the front door and left without skipping a beat.
Once again, the fresh air and warm sun were more than welcomed to her. It was like stepping into a new world again. Her hooves carried her along as she ran rather than walked. Running from her home? From the thing that should not be? Whatever it was, she ran her little heart out until she had come across the store.
The bell gave its familiar ring when she opened the door and the clerk greeted her with a friendly smile. She replied back with a nod and slightly out of breath before taking her time to just look around. It was the smell of oil, aged wood, and some various spices that made her feel relaxed. Perhaps because her own home seemed to have no real smell to it. A nothing scent, if she had to guess.
The store smelled like it belonged. It was a part of the world and Equestria. There was an essence to it and she could feel it. Lily could almost cry at the thought, feeling like she had been trapped in her own house overnight. Maybe her dreams weren’t putting her in any real danger is why Luna never stepped in. That was the closest she could guess since she was still here and breathing.
“You alright, miss?” the store owner called from the desk. His face looked a bit concerned as he was glancing to Lily.
“Oh, yes,” she replied, looking down in her embarrassment. The thoughts had made her well up with emotions and probably appeared as if she were on the verge of giving some waterworks. “Just thinking is all.”
There was a nod from the owner before he smile sincerely and resumed whatever he had paused doing. Lily took a deep breath and let her nerves calm down before she smiled. It was a door in her dream. That was all. What a silly thing to get worked up over.
Having a new view on her position, the mare nearly giggled at just how much of a foal she was. Her eyes browsed the items in the shop while she made sure to look out for a good lantern. There were plenty to choose from in the back and she was quick to find a replacement. It almost looked the exact same as her old one.
With her purchase done, Lily made her way back home, lantern in tow. Her walk a bit of a skip in it as she hummed softly with the handle in her muzzle. Swaying below her chin, the lantern tilted back and forth from the trotting, almost in beat with her soft voice giving a little, humming melody. It felt nice to enjoy things again.
It wasn’t until she was shy of another gallop to her front door that her heart felt the icy grip of fear once again. She hadn’t even opened the entrance to her home and it was starting to affect her. Lily stared at her door for a while, contemplating entering before taking a deep breath and continuing.
Right away, it felt as if Lily was leaving Ponyville and Equestria entirely. Once the door was shut behind her, things seemed disconnected from the outside world with a click in the latch. Her golden eyes looked to the shelves before she furrowed her brow and set her new light down near the doorway.
Pulling the saddlebags from her, she tossed them onto a hangar nearby and stayed still. No matter what she did, things weren’t as they seemed in her home. Routine or not, there was something not letting it all sit well. There was also something else bothering her.
She had never looked behind the bookcase in years. After her dream, the urge to do was rising and it was filling her with a fear she wasn’t she could handle. Should she? At best, there would be nothing and she would probably ease back into a somewhat relatively normal life again. At worst? There might actually be something there.
Walking over to the shelves, Lily fought the urge to pass it by and glance at the gap behind it. Instead, she stood in front of it and willed herself to stay put. There were hundreds of questions running through her mind and thousands of ideas. She still only stood in place.
Her eyes almost felt like they were trying to look through the piece of furniture to see behind it. Of course, it was never going to happen that way. The only way she would ever see behind it would be to look herself. Maybe she could get another pony to check for her. No, she wouldn’t want to put any other pony through what she’s endured.
Quietly, the mare turned around and sighed in defeat. She lacked the strength and willpower to confirm the false nature of her dreams. Her mind, no matter how rational, still suggested such an oddity might exist. Yet she still wanted to know.
The rest of the day was spent with her pacing her house. From room to room, Lily traversed back and forth as she thought about looking behind her bookcase. The urge was strong but she was not. Her mind wouldn’t let it rest.
Daylight grew weak and cold, much like she felt. The night approached quicker than she expected and still she was staring in the same area of her house. Her new lantern worked well with no wind to blow the candle out, thanks to the glass sidings. From one room to the next, Lily wandered about in worry.
Soon enough, fatigue and exhaustion worked their way through her body and the pony found herself tired. It wouldn’t be a calm rest and she knew it, but it was something she needed either way. If she collapsed on the floor then she might end up hurting herself. Avoiding the risk, the pink mare slowly made her way to the bedroom and got ready to sleep.
Setting the lantern on the far side of the room assured her she wouldn’t be breaking another one anytime soon. Her body slipped under the covers and curled up as she shivered lightly. Not from the cold but for what she feared awaited her when her eyes closed. Lily took a deep breath and counted silently to try and ease her mind enough to let sleep finally take effect.
Lily awoke in another episode of cold sweat and anxiety. Her body lay still in the bed as she considered getting up or not. The sky outside was still dark and possibly would be for another hour. Her lantern had remained glowing through the night with the candle a quarter gone inside.
The question still pounded at the back of her mind no matter she thought. Was there really a door there? It was bothersome enough that she eventually sat up and looked around her room. The unease within her was still there but she had to know. There would be no more putting it off.
Lily hopped down and ran over to grab her light. Through the hall and into the room in question, she looked at the out of place area of the room. Her head lowered as she set the lantern aside and walked up to the bookcase. It was now or never.
Her forelegs held onto the edge of the tall case as her hind legs pressed to the wall. A good pull and she felt it give but only slightly. Another pull and it began to wobble, unstable on its own foundation. One more tug and she scrambled out of the way the bookcase came crashing down with a loud sound against the floor. The books and other items scattered around or stayed trapped under the heavy furniture.
There was a moment where she had to collect herself, seeing as the loud noise had startled her even though she expected it. Would other ponies have heard that? She didn’t know but it wasn’t like it mattered. Her eyes slowly moved from the toppled shelves and over to the place it had once stood.
Her heart sank. The worn door stood proud and prominent. It appeared like a tumor on her wall, acting as a horrible eyesight. So it was there. The purpose of it seemed to serve no purpose from the looks. It wouldn’t lead to anywhere other than the kitchen on the other side or a blank wall.
Then why did it upset her so much? Lily had no answer but needed to know what lay beyond. Her hooves pushed the defeated piece of furniture away to make room before she grabbed the lantern and stood in front of the door. Her eyes took in every detail they could in the yellow-orange glow of the flame.
Slowly, a foreleg raised as she let her hoof touch the handle. Ice. It was colder than anything she could think of but ice seemed to be the closest. Still, it did not hurt. A pull and the latch released from within as the heavy started to give way. It took more effort than she expected, pulling harder at the handle and hearing the groaning creak of the hinges and old wood.
The door swung slowly toward her and she pressed it fully open. Her lantern swayed with every movement while she let out a light huff and turned. When she moved forward, the door frame lit up in the light. Then she saw what awaited her.
A stairway led down into what looked like an abyss. There wasn’t any clear sight of an end but Lily could hardly see much before her other than the gray steps that went about as far as the light could reach. The darkness that it went into was not natural. She could feel it.
Her hooves stepped up the edge of the portal-like doorway. The pink pony knew she should be staring into a wall or even the other room instead of the blackened stairwell. Her body was shaking and the lantern acted accordingly from the motions. The first step would be the hardest.
A hoof went out into the surrounding darkness as she placed it down lightly. The step was cold and felt like stone beneath her. There were no walls to lean against down the way and she wasn’t sure if there was an end to the darkness below. Her breath was short and panicky.
Another step. The sound echoed out into the pitch black beyond. She wasn’t sure why she was doing this but she felt compelled to keep going. More steps in, each one sounding out as she walked, and she suddenly sensed an overwhelming dread overcome her.
Those pink ears lowered as she continued on, heart hammering her chest and begging her to stop. The steps continued further into the dark. Her lantern lit barely several ahead and a few behind as she took each one carefully. The dread and terror never left but got strong the further she followed the descent.
A bit of time had passed since her departure from Ponyville but she had no real idea how long. The steps all looked the same and she was sure she would pass out from fright at any moment. Further, the stairwell took her deep into nothing. She was sure it would never end. This was her fault for needing to know.
Glancing back, she couldn’t see the doorway any longer. Either she had signed away her fate upon entering or her lantern just didn’t reach it with the light. Something kept calling her from beyond. Her mind was going in all directions by her body only traveled one.
It almost seemed like a miracle when she saw something ahead. How much time had she been down here? Was there even time where she was? Her hooves moved a little faster as she slowly approached the object down the way.
Another door. This one looked familiar though. She had seen it plenty of times. The whole instance unsettled her either way. What was her front door doing down here?
Lily looked around and saw nothing else. The stairs ended only at her door. Her heart beat frantically as she stared at the handle before reaching a hoof towards it. It did the same unlatching noise she had heard countless times before. Pressing it open with her head, she peeked around at what lay behind it.
Her living room stood as it always did. The bookcase was even righted by in place and all its contents where they normally were. She stepped inside and looked around the normal setting in confusion and slight worry. Why did the path lead here?
Upon closer inspection, she noticed something new. On her coffee table lay a freshly made bouquet of lilies. They looked inviting and so very pretty to her. It seemed like an odd comfort in such a place but she hurried over to the table looked them over.
As she placed the lantern down, her hooves reached out to the floral arrangement until she was mere inches away. Something felt off. Her body grew cold immediately and the cozy item seemed unwelcome and wrong.
There was hardly much time to react as Lily pulled her hooves away quickly. It all happened in an instant. A deep fear took hold in her that refused to leave and the bouquet of flowers exploded. Petals flew out in every direction in a soft noise but the terror seemed real. They had been meant to harm her.
Screaming, the mare sat up in bed and quickly covered her face. She sobbed and shook, unnerved by the dream and her experience. It all seemed so real. That thought alone scared her more than anything.
The start of a new day had begun outside. The window nearby showed the sun rising as it always did. Her mind instantly told her it never rose in that stairwell. It took a while for her to stop crying, mostly hugging a pillow and trying to keep a grip with herself.
Once she had calmed down, Lily carefully got out of bed and stood still. Her contemplation of doing her routine ran through her head before she took a deep breath and decided to keep with tradition. Making the bed, her hooves carefully tucked and smoothed the blankets and sheets as she silently went through the motions.
Walking over and taking her lantern, she extinguished the flame and carried it with her down the hall. There was a fear that was rising quickly inside her. She hated that it had become more familiar than the comfort she once knew.
Her head purposely turned away from the far end of her living room before she walked over to the front door. Setting down the lamp, she stayed in the same spot for a moment, debating the next course of action. Either she did or she didn’t. It was all up to her.
Slowly, Lily turned herself around and scanned the room. There were no exploding flowers, no overturned bookcase, and no looming darkness she saw. The sense of dread was still heavy in the air but not as suffocating as it had been in her dream.
Confidence was something Lily Valley never had much of. The pony was scared of her own shadow if it caught her at the wrong time. Yet she still found herself walking towards the bookcase and looking it over. There was nothing she could note that was out of place just from glancing it over.
Her hooves reached over and held onto the edge of the furniture. Those hind legs placed against the wall. It took some effort but she felt the object move and slowly begin to give way. A few more pulls and she managed to move her bookcase askew plenty.
Panting, the pink mare caught her breath and sat up. The shadow cast from the moved furniture made it hard to see, especially with the sun only barely starting to rise. Her eyes watched as she waited, not about to use a hoof to see. The light and shadows adjusted quickly enough as the mare looked at what lay behind her bookcase. Her mind took in the reality and tossed away anything else. Finally, she knew.
The mare hardly had to let the fact set in and soon found herself grabbing the bookcase once again. Her legs pushed as her body leaned into it until the shelves moved back to their original spot. She knew. She finally knew.
Lily stayed quiet as she decided to begin her morning routine. Breakfast was sat in silence as her thoughts seemed further away than ever before. Slowly, her vision blurred. The drip of water nearby caused her to blink her own world back in focus. She had no leaking faucet. Odd.