Rule of Fourths

by Snowstreak

Chapter 2: The Cracks Advance

Jamie looked on in shock, then closed his eyes and shook his head. “No, no, NO! I’m NOT crazy!”

“Crazy? But we’re right here…”

“Ssshhh!” whispered another voice. “He probably doesn’t recognize us. It’s not like we’re exactly common around here.” Speaking louder, the voice continued. “We’re not hallucinations. And you’re not crazy. Look, you probably think we’re not scientifically possible. As a matter of fact, I thought the same thing once and… well, it’s a long story. But you need to listen to us. There’s a lot at stake here.”

“And how do I know this isn’t just me going crazy?” Jamie asked, opening his eyes and staring at the group of ponies before him.

“Because we know about the weird things that have been happening,” said the purple unicorn.

Jamie muttered something to himself, then rolled his eyes and looked at the group. “Okay, okay, let’s assume you know what’s going on and that I’m not crazy. Introductions first. I’m Jamie. I know four of you at least. Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie, right?” The four in question nodded. “I don’t know you two, though.”

“I’m Rarity”

“And I’M Rainbow Dash, the one and…” At Twilight’s glare, she stopped, then shrugged. “Sorry.”

“Ooh, ooh!” squealed Pinkie Pie as she started bouncing up and down energetically, “That must mean… but THAT doesn’t make sense. You watched Season 1 Episode 15 didn’t you! That’s my favorite!”

“Uhh… yeah… wait, what? How do… you’re… What?”

“You know, Rainbow was mentioned in that one…”

“I... wasn’t... paying very close attention?”

Rainbow Dash looked at Twilight with a look of confusion. “Any idea what she’s talking about?”

Twilight shook her head. “I’d say it’s just Pinkie being Pinkie, but Pinkie isn’t the only weird thing about this situation. If only I had my library, I might be able to research this whole mess! Jamie, right? Do you have a checklist? Oh, PLEASE tell me you have a blank checklist!”

He facepalmed. “Is this normal?”

A chorus of “Yep!” told Jamie that it was.

“Okay, so what do we do now?” he asked, still unsure of where this whole thing was going. “So far, all I know is that I’ve seen some odd things this past day, and then all of a sudden you ponies show up. And I only watched one freaking episode!”

“Episode?” asked Rarity, then rolled her eyes as Pinkie shot her a meaningful glance. “Never mind.”

“Okay, so can SOMEBODY tell me what’s going on?”

“Right, then,” began Pinkie, inhaling and continuing in a slow, spooky voice. “Strange things have been happening!”

Twilight groaned. “No, really?”

“Yes, really! But this isn’t just the normal kind of strange, this is really strange, like REALLY strange strangey-strangeness.”

“Okay, Pinkie,” interjected Twilight. “We get it. What we need to know is what to do about it. I used my failsafe spell, but I can’t even tell if it failed or not. For all I know, Equestria could be fine, or it could be falling apart in complete chaos while we’re wasting time here arguing!” She took a deep breath. “Pinkie, if you know anything, we need you to tell us. You’re the only pony who seems to know anything relevant to our current situation.”

“Okie dokie lokie! So, a little over a year ago I was out at Sweet Apple Acres inviting Applejack to a party…”

“Wait, over a YEAR ago?” asked Rainbow Dash. “You are so…”

“Random, I know! So, I was inviting Applejack to a party but the first time Applejack opened her barn door, there was this weird guy” - here she gestured at Jamie - “standing there instead, and then I was like GAAAAAAAASP and then I ran off. I never did find those confetti launchers, but I had another pair just in case of confetti launcher emergencies. Good thing too, the animators were just getting back from their lunch break, so nothing got delayed.”

“Ah remember that day, and ah know ya only knocked on that door once.”

“And,” said Jamie, “I only saw you at my door with those things last night.”

“But that doesn’t make sense!” exclaimed Twilight. “It must have been somepony else.” She looked at Jamie, who was clearly not a pony. “Uhh… someBODY else?”

Fluttershy looked at Twilight, then said in a tiny voice “ummm… excuse…”

“Pinkie,” said Rarity, “are you saying that you actually saw him a year ago? Are you REALLY sure you’re not making this up?”

“if you don’t mind…”

Pinkie shook her head. “Nopey dopie, I’m not making it up.”

“I think…”

Twilight’s eyes went wide. “Of course. Oh, by Celestia, this is bad. If Pinkie is right and she really saw him at the same time in the past and now…”

“um… that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you…”

“…then we could be looking at some form of reality collapse!” finished Twilight.

“And that’s bad, I presume,” Jamie observed.

“Of course!” said Twilight, beginning to panic. “Think about everything you know suddenly changing at random, even yourself, never staying the way they are and sometimes appearing or disappearing or changing right in front of you. It’s more than bad, it’s a disaster!”

Jamie gulped. “You mean… like the cupcake…”

Pinkie nodded. “Just like that. Even YOU could suddenly become a cupcake if it gets really bad!”

“Ugh, STOP talking about CUPCAKES!” yelled Rainbow Dash, idly massaging her wing. “We have to find whatever’s causing it and buck it into the next dimension!”

Pinkie’s eyes went wide. “Wow, Dashie, now even YOU’RE doing it. It must be spreading.”

“Doing what?” Rainbow asked, puzzled.

“Rainbow, sugarcube, ya really don’t wanna know.”

“And there it goes again,” said Pinkie Pie. “The important thing is to see just how much damage has been done to the wall.”

Jamie glanced around. “What wall?”

Pinkie stared at Jamie. “You mean you don’t know?” Seconds passed. “You don’t, do you?. I thought at least YOU would know about it.” She suddenly smiled widely. “Well, I guess at least we know you’re not part of the problem. Not that I thought that you were, of course.”

“Don’t know what?” asked Twilight. “What problem? Really, Pinkie, this is important. Tell us! ”

Pinkie frowned and shook her head. “No, Twilight, of all things, I can’t tell you this. Please trust me.”

“Pinkie, I’m serious! What’s so bad you can’t tell us?”

There was a long pause. “I…” said Pinkie, suddenly very solemn. “This is… more than serious. I really don’t want to burden you with it.” She looked nervously at the other ponies for several seconds, then hung her head. “No. I can’t do it. I just can’t do it!”

Twilight walked over to the pink pony. “Pinkie, we need to know. At least tell me. You know me, I can handle whatever it is.”

“Well… alright. But Pinkie Promise me you won’t tell ANYPONY else about this. I can’t bear to think of how it could affect other ponies. And you need to remember… this doesn’t really change anything. Just remember that.”

“Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my… eye,” Twilight finished after a brief pause, careful to keep her hoof a short distance from her face. “Okay, Pinkie. I’m ready.”

Pinkie leaned close to Twilight and whispered to her for several seconds, the rest of the ponies and Jamie looking on with bated breath.

As she finished, Pinkie stepped back a couple paces, looking at Twilight with concern. Twilight just stood there for what seemed like an eternity, a look of shock on her face, then sank to the ground, tears starting to roll down her cheeks.

Pinkie’s next words echoed around the room, silent except for the unicorn’s sobs. “I’m so sorry, Twilight.”