"Alright, let's go around the circle and each share what our daily goals will be," the doctor said. "Floor?"
Floor Bored flinched.
Group therapy wasn't the favorite for those who were dealing with anxiety issues. About a dozen patients were sitting on folding chairs in a circle. That, of course, meant when each person had to speak, they were surrounded by eyes. From a therapeutic standpoint, it was an attempt to get those who had that problem more used to people.
"Um, well, I could... well..."
"Taking shower for once would be nice," Tempest Shadow muttered.
"Hey, shut your mouth!" Sour Sweet snapped.
Tempest's eyes narrowed. "Make me."
"Ladies, ladies," the doctor urged. "Let's calm down."
Tempest's glare went back to Floor. "You do at least wash your hands, right, greasy?"
Floor nodded slightly as she slumped in her chair.
"At least she has TWO hands to wash, STUMPY," Sour sneered.
Tempest shot up from her seat, followed immediately by Sour. The doctor quickly rushed over in between them to try block an impending fistfight. Instead, a shouting match broke out. After a while, the more sensitive patients were growing distressed with the aggressive atmosphere. Some simply decided to get up and leave. Including Floor.
The doctor noticed and sighed. "Alright, alright. We're done for the day."
The others began to leave. Sour and Tempest gave each other one last expletive before going their separate ways.
Damn Tempest, Sour thought as she began her way back to her room. I didn't even get to share my daily goal.
Sour's goal was to try to read at least a good portion of one of Second's novels. The medication she was on was good for the most part, but she was still having trouble concentrating when it came to words. Then again, perhaps it was for the best that she didn't get to share that. Tempest would have likely made an insult such as, "Maybe it's not you, but your husband's crappy writing". Things would have definitely gone down if that was said.
Sour shook her head angrily. At some point, Sour decided, Tempest would get hers.
Sour's vengeful musings were then interrupted by a odd noise. She looked over to see another patient in the hallway. One who she hadn't seen before then. The young girl was wearing purple pajamas with an orange and yellow propeller beanie. Her back was on the floor with her feet propped up on a chair. Her lips were being strummed up and down with a finger, making a motorboat sound.
Sour glared at the sight with a rising disgust. "Excuse me?"
The swirled eyes of the girl directed over to Sour, but continued to make the irritating noise rather than a response.
"Please tell me you're some undercover reporter or a murderer trying to avoid the chair who's trying way too hard to act crazy," Sour said, pointedly.
The girl finally stopped the stereotypical action to give Sour a smile. "Nopers. I'm just being my au naturel self. And I'm not coo coo ca choo like you." She followed that last statement by resuming the motorboat.
"What are you in for then?"
The girl shrugged. "You hoo-mans don't like me, I guess. Keep throwing me into these places. You get used to it after a thousand years."
Sour raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean, 'a thousand years'?"
After a blur of motion which made Sour flinch, the girl was suddenly on top of the chair, her legs and arms positioned as that of a frog. "Story time, ribbit!"
Sour just stared, blinking her eyes in confusion.
"One thousand years ago, me and my daddy came here to scope out your pathetic, little, magic-less world with the intent to conquer it in the name of chaos. At first, we did consider the Gen 5 universe, but we were not so sure if we could trust the leaks or not. We were ready and raring to go, until my daddy suddenly said he was going to go out for a pack of cigarettes and never came back. I've been hanging out here ever since."
"What's your daddy's name?"
"Discord. He's a draconequus."
Sour winced. Was she talking about Discord the Happy Draconequus? The show that Bitter always wanted to watch with her? Sour shook her head with pity. Poor girl thought her deadbeat dad was a cartoon character.
"What's your name?" Sour asked.
"Nice to meet you, Screwball," Sour said, extending her hand. "My name's Sour Sweet."
Screwball grinned as she shook Sour's hand. "Saluton, Acida Dolĉa! Kiel vi fartas?"
"Uh, sure." Sour turned and began to walk off. "Hope your daddy comes back."
"Don't worry. I know my daddy loves me. He'll come get me some day. I'm having fun here in the meantime."
Sour turned to glance back, only to see the chair now empty. Sour frantically looked around. A little disturbed, she decided to continue on her way back to her room. That was until she passed the entrance to the common room.
"Who wants to play ball?" a familiar voice shouted.
Sour whipped her head. Screwball was on top of a coffee table. She was now dressed up in a baseball uniform with a bat in her hands, which was being swung around wildly, yet playfully. Some of the staffers ran over to try to get it away from her.
Sour began to rub her eyes as she walked off.
"Kick in fully, damn meds, kick in..." she muttered.
As she finally made it to her room, she was looking forward to some peace and quiet reading time. After all, her roommate barely said anything.
Not today, apparently.
Sour was about to enter as a great commotion caught her attention. She peered in through the Plexiglas window of the door. There was Floor Bored, quickly moving around. Her arms waved and her hands flapped rapidly, sometimes stopping to slap her bed. From her mouth came small grunts, moans, and the occasional, seemingly random sentence.
Sour opened the door. That very moment, Floor's behavior suddenly came to an abrupt halt. She stood rigid, her face lighting up bright red as she breathed heavily from her exhaustive activity.
Sour gave her an understanding smile. "Let me guess. Maladaptive daydreaming disorder?"
"Y-you know what that is?" Floor asked, surprised.
Sour nodded. "You get so lost in a daydream that it's like a trance where you can even lose control of your body. I'm a pediatrician. The mother of one of my patients once told me how he was sometimes doing what you were just doing. She was worried so I tried looking up information on it. I came across the disorder and suggested that she do as well. There's no treatment for it, so I wouldn't think that that would be the reason why you're here."
Floor's head lowered. "N-no. It just helps to cope..."
"Floor? May I ask what the real reason is?"
"I... I tried to hang myself."
Sour nodded understandingly. "I tried to drown myself twice. Maybe I'll try hanging next time. Third times the charm, right?"
Floor looked back up and just stared at her.
Sour cleared her throat awkwardly. "That was a joke. Dark humor is how I cope."
"Oh." Floor sat down on her bed. "Well, I can't daydream with someone else here. Guess I have to find another way to pass the time..."
Floor then proceeded to shove her right hand down her pants.
Sour's hands immediately shot up. "Whoa, whoa! No need to do THAT! I don't care if you daydream! Yell, jump around, whatever you want!"
Floor shrugged and pulled her hand out. "If you're sure."
Sour wiped her forehead with a sigh of relief. Bullet dodged. She then picked up one of Second's novels and lay down on her bed. Sour tried to read, but kept glancing over at Floor. She was staring off with her hands rubbing together frantically.
Sour took one more look at her husband's words upon the page, then back to her roommate. "Floor?"
Once again, Floor snapped out of her fantasy world.
"Have you ever tried writing down what's going on in your head?"
Floor gave her weird look. "Why would I do that?"
"Well, your happy place obviously entertains you. Maybe it'll entertain others."
"I doubt that," Floor sighed. "I don't have anything to offer anybody. All I am is NEET."
"You never know if you don't try."
Floor scoffed. "You sound like one of these doctors, Sour."
Sour chuckled. "Years of therapy will cause one to start talking like a therapist, I guess."
To that, Floor cracked a smile, which caused Sour to as well. Helping her roommate inch out of her shell may have not been a daily goal she had set, but it was one which Sour was proud to have accomplished anyway.
Sour Sweet was sound asleep. It was the first good night sleep that wasn't drugged induced she had had in a month. Which, naturally, meant that it was about to be interrupted. A bright light shone directly on her. Her eyes opened, only to shut back up from the intensity. She sat up.
"Wh-what's going on?"
Trying her best to shield her eyes, Sour looked over at Floor. Through the brightness, she could see her roommate sleeping unfazed. Her perverted smile was a sure sign of her commitment to stay in dreamland.
"Sour...!" she heard a sexy Romanian accent coo. "Sour Sweet...!"
Sour narrowed her eyes. A figure of a man finally came into focus, despite the glow emanating from him. She sighed in annoyance the moment she realized who it was.
"Sour Sweet, come to the 'Other Light'," Nicolae Carpathia tempted. "We have cookies!"
Sour started to slap the side of her head, muttering, "Damn meds, I told you to work!"
"What is the matter?" Nicolae asked in mock-innocence. "I thought you would be happy to receive a visitor."
"Nicolae, get out of here before I get Starlight Glimmer to come in and exorcise you!"
At that moment, the light from Nicolae died down which gave Sour a better view of his smug face. "Do not be so mean, Sour. I care for you deeply, my dear. I love all citizens of the Global Community as if they were my own children."
Sour rolled her eyes. "Yeah, you consider us your children because you poison your own in their wombs."
Nicolae held up a finger to his lips. "Spoilers, Sour! Not everyone has read the books!" He chuckled. "Speaking of children, I have been keeping an eye on Bitter Honey for you."
"Yeah, sure you have."
"No, really!" Nicolae asserted as he sat on the end of her bed. "We have played everyday since you were put in here. She is a very good child that you should be proud of."
Sour crossed her arms. "Proud I am, but you couldn't play with her because you don't exist."
"How do you know I do not exist?"
"You're Nicolae Carpathia, a fictional character."
"What if I told you that I am not Nicolae Carpathia?"
"Then who am I hallucinating then?"
"What if I was not a hallucination, either?"
Sour gave him an annoyed look. "Oh, yeah? Prove it."
Nicolae grinned. "Call Bitter."
"What?" Sour asked, not expecting that answer.
"In the morning, call Bitter at home." Nicolae's grin grew wider. "Ask her just who has been playing with her for the last few days."
Something about Nicolae's confidence made Sour feel uneasy. "If you were not a hallucination, what would you be then?"
"A friend, that is all," Nicolae said simply as he stood up again. "And do not worry. I will not be around to bother you for much longer. I am only passing through. I have other unfinished business to take care of."
All of a sudden, an expression of genuine guilt and sadness washed over Nicolae. To Sour, it was as if he had become another person.
"Something I should have done a very long time ago," Nicolae sighed.
Sour opened her mouth to ask what he meant by that, but was cut off by the return of the blinding light. Sour covered her eyes.
"One last thing, Sour," Nicolae's voice echoed. "Get better quickly, would you? Bitter misses you terribly."
Just as the light suddenly came, it suddenly went. Nicolae was no where to be seen in the room. Sour let out a frustrated grunt, lay back down, and pulled the covers over her head. She was so over this whole hallucination thing. Getting back to sleep was all she wanted.
Predictably, that was not to be.
A loud alarm suddenly filled her ears, causing her whole body to jump out of bed. Her head frantically went side to side. On the other side of the room, Floor Bored was up, doing the same thing with panicked, wide eyes.
Sour rushed over and tried to open the door. It wouldn't budge. She peered out the window to see the night shift staffers running up and down the halls.
"Sour, what's going on?" Floor asked.
"Something's happening," Sour said, trying to remain calm. "The hospital's on lockdown."
Sleep after all that was difficult, but Sour somehow managed it. After waking up, the first thing she did was to walk over to the door to try the handle. It opened. Whatever happened last night, it was apparently over.
Sour got cleaned up, dressed, and went out. She headed straight to Doctor Gnostic's office. If anyone had answers, it was her. As she walked up, a couple of police officers had just finished talking with her.
"Doctor Gnostic, what happened?" Sour asked as the officers left.
"Well, you know that Screwball girl that came in yesterday?" Doctor Gnostic began.
Sour nodded. "Yeah."
"Yep. Vamoosed. There was an alarm tripped and when we were investigating, we found that she was missing."
Sour began to worry. "Screwball isn't dangerous, is she?"
"No, no, we don't think so. We consider her more a threat to herself than anything." Doctor Gnostic's eyes darted side-to-side before leaning in and continued in a low voice, "Frankly, Sour Sweet, the whole thing gives me the heebie-jeebies. We went through the security footage and can't find a single glimpse of her leaving the building, much less her room. It's like she was raptured or something."
The word "raptured" sent a shiver up Sour's spine.
"You wouldn't have any clue about this, would you?"
Sour smiled nervously as she slipped into her sweet tone, "Who, me? No, no, no. Not a clue to be had. Heh, heh..."
"Well, if you hear anything, please let me know."
"Will do," Sour promised, before walking away as fast as she could.
Her head raced with nothing but thoughts of last night. Did Nicolae...? Sour shook her head. No. That wasn't possible...
'I know my daddy loves me. He'll come get me some day.'
Her feet halted. Could Nicolae be Screwball's...
"No way!" Sour spat out loud to herself. "Stop thinking such crap!"
'I have other unfinished business to take care of. Something I should have done a very long time ago.'
Sour lightly smacked her cheek. She wanted these thoughts to stop. There was no way Nicolae was real...
'Call Bitter. Ask her just who has been playing with her for the last few days.'
Sour's glance drifted over to a phone on the wall. It was one of those reserved for patient use. Her heart raced. She reached her hand out. She froze, then pulled her hand away.
No, she decided. Sour wanted to push any and all weirdness from her mind. There were more important things to focus on. Things like getting better and being released from Canterlot Psychiatric Center. To get back to her normal life where normal things went on. That was her top priority. Besides, if Screwball really was reunited with her Daddy Discord, then there wasn't anything to be concerned about. Sour was happy for her.
With that, Sour began her way to the cafeteria to get breakfast.
As Sour ordered herself some scrambled eggs, at the other end of the cafeteria, another woman sat with her own food going untouched and growing cold. Tempest Shadow was completely still as she stared out the window. It was a nice day. A very nice day. Her thoughts had been on Screwball as well. Envy rose up from deep within her and spread throughout her entire being.
One word consumed every corner of her mind.