“Octavia, get up.”
I kept my eyes closed and stayed motionless in bed. He may have thought it stubbornness, but I was truly mortified when my father spoke to me.
“I will not ask again,” Father commanded.
I rolled out of bed, falling to my hooves and playing the role of beaten mutt that he was doubtless eager to see. My eyes remained on the floor. I would find a way back to orchestra practice. I would find Vinyl. We would run.
I took a few steps towards the voice.
“That was quite the show, but ultimately useless. You continue to find creative ways to disgrace my family name. Now, feel your bow tie.”
I lifted a hoof up and put it on my neck. The collar, half metal and half magic, they had devised for me was latched in place. I could feel the tingle of magic coursing through it, and the true despair of my situation sunk in.
“I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but my wife’s methods proved insufficient. She’ll be in shortly to begin your training. I’d suggest you stop antagonizing us. Both of us can track that collar. Both of us can use it to deliver a powerful magic surge through your nerves.”
My Father’s horn glowed and the device around my neck tightened. I could still breathe, yet it dug deeply into my skin. To demonstrate what would happen next time I disobeyed, he effortlessly activated it. I fell to the floor in exquisite agony as I felt hundreds of nerves running through my body, from my brain, down the spine, to my hooves, ignite in white hot fire. As sudden and severe as it was, the searing affliction vanished just as quickly, leaving me gasping.
“We thought you had better sense than this, it’s truly disappointing. We have given you everything, sacrificed everything. All of this, we have done so you would be capable of playing music. Years of schooling, dozens of instruments, countless tutors, the best experts on music theory money can buy. And still, you refuse to learn your place.”
I was still kneeling on the floor, tears streaming from my eyes. Even if I got to Vinyl, what good would it do now? Would she or Lyra even know the first thing about this kind of magic?
“Behave for your Mother and I’ll escort you to the theater to practice tonight,” Father stated.
I heard my father exit and my mother enter.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Go ahead, call me names now,” Mother spat.
I stood up and faced her, searching for the words to convey my feelings.
“I gave you an order, insult me.” Her horn glowed briefly. The sensation of thousands of small cuts spread across my skin, sending me convulsing to the floor.
“You're too big a coward to face me without magic,” I whimpered from the floor.
“Is that so? Then go ahead, hit me.”
I looked up in time to see her walk over and aim a kick for my head. I rolled to the side but was still too weak to get up.
“Hmm, doesn’t look you have it in you. Now sit.”
I closed my eyes and sobbed until she sent another burst of pain through me. This time my nerves told my brain that I was being compressed under several tons of pressure. I felt like I was being forced through the eye of a needle, yet I had not moved.
“Sit,” she repeated.
I got up and sat on the floor, I had never felt so humiliated. Would this be my life, controlled from a safe distance by my cowardly parents? Was I destined to know only pain and servitude?
“Good girl, now stand.”
I stood up. There was still the chance of reaching Vinyl and getting free. If I waited long enough, perhaps the puppeteer would even come to my rescue.
“Good girl.” She held out an apple to me as a treat.
“Are you fucking kid—” I fell to the ground, biting my tongue, as jolts of electricity arced through me.
“This new collar has so many exciting features. I do enjoy finding out every single one of them. So go ahead, try my patience.”
I looked at the clock, there were still six hours until practice and any hope of escape. I ate the apple, then softly spoke while keeping my eyes on the ground. “If I behave may I nap?”
“If I believe you’ve learned your lesson, and not a second sooner. I’m tired of having servants lock your room at night. I’m exhausted from constantly having everypony ask me about my gifted daughter and what it must be like to have such talent in the family. If they only knew what a spoiled brat you were.”
I sat quietly while she paused, testing whether I was going to say something stupid. I didn’t have the motivation too; I had brought this all upon myself.
“Roll over,” she ordered.
I proceeded to roll over onto my back. At this rate, I might die of embarrassment and be spared another five hours and fifty eight minutes of torture.
“Play dead,” she cackled.
I relaxed my muscles to play dead, realizing too late her intent. My muscles seized as I felt thousands of magical needles piercing my skin. I felt as if I’d been pinned by them like a butterfly on a cork board. She was still laughing when she released the block on my motor neurons, allowing me to move again.
I slowly dragged myself upright. Was I really that disobedient? All these years, had I misread their intentions? She would not hurt me if I behave. She’d love me if I behave.
“Good, now tell mommy you love her.”
“I love you mommy, please forgive me,” I begged.
“I won’t forgive you, but you may have your nap. If I hear a peep, or that you left the bed for any reason, you’ll be sleeping outside again.”
I walked to the bed and slowly climbed onto it, then buried myself under the covers. It was all my fault, I could never do anything right. I couldn’t learn music on my own, I couldn’t follow orders or make proper friends, I couldn’t even be born a unicorn! All I did was anger my parents, and for what?
I cried myself to sleep, wishing I knew how to make my parents happy. I dreamt of how my life would be if I obeyed my parents. In my fantasy they had allowed me out for dinner parties, and bought me presents for my birthdays. My father would let me watch him conduct, and I composed grand symphonies with my mother. In the dream the only thing I had done differently was behave.
I heard the door open in what seemed like minutes, yet it had been hours of restful sleep.
“It’s nearly time for practice, get up, Octavia,” my father commanded.
I quickly scrambled out of the covers and rushed to sit in front of him. I kept my eyes on the ground hoping to placate him and my mother.
“You’re right, honey,” he said to Mother and turned to me. “Lay down” Father stated.
I laid down on my belly, listening to them whispering back and forth. The pain from earlier was still lingering, so I did not move a single muscle. At last, I heard them turn to leave.
“Did I make you happy, Daddy?” I cooed.
“Yes, you made daddy very happy. Now finish the sandwich on your table and meet us downstairs for practice.” My eyes followed his gaze to the bedstand. A plain wheat and sunflower sandwich sat on it.
I hurried to finish the sandwich I had been left. It wasn’t until I was done and walking downstairs with the cello that I remembered the whole point of this day. Lyra would get Vinyl, and Vinyl would free me. No a voice inside me spoke. You can’t run away, it would make mommy and daddy angry.
I took a seat near the door and waited for my parents and the butler to arrive. The trio would escort me to the theater, ensuring I didn’t escape.
“ Remember,” my father warned. “You even think about stepping a hoof out of line, and I can fry every neuron in your body. Your mother has begged me countless times to end you. It is only by my grace you live. The only thing I despise more than you is admitting my father was right. I will not give him the satisfaction of being right about my wife. Even if that means throwing you off the cliffs of Canterlot myself.”
I was sobbing freely now, truly a slave to the cruel fate he had engineered for me at birth. I could not imagine how it could possibly get any worse than this. I wished with all my might for the music to haunt me, or the strings to aid me. I would give anything to be rid of my parents, once and for all. I knew these things would be impossible.
I was their property now, but perhaps if I behaved I could be their daughter again. Perhaps it was not the unseen hand of fate’s job to save me. What had my parents suffered to give me that gift of musical talent? To imagine using their generous gifts against them suddenly seemed wrong.
Obediently I followed him to practice and performed my music. I wish there was more to tell about the heroic moment where I defeated my father at the orchestra that night. There was none, for I had been broken.
Towards the end, as I marched back towards my father, Lyra dragged me off to stage left.
“Come on Octavia, I’m getting you out of here!” Lyra ordered. “What did he do to you? You look so. . . broken!”
“Stop,” I commanded. “I won’t go.”
“Please Octavia, you have to! We were so worried when you missed practice again, it’s Friday.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Lyra Heartstrings,” the calm collected voice of my father recited. “Lyrist, Royal Canterlot Orchestra. You will unhoof my daughter and head home. Your services are no longer required, do not return on Monday.”
“What? Who the hay are you? I can’t be fired by some has-been child abuser!” Lyra spat, her words filled with equal parts venom and malice.
“Do you know who I am? I own this theater. I own this orchestra. I hired the conductor and the judges who chose the musicians. I own you. Now leave, Lyra, before I have you thrown in jail by one of the police on my payroll.”
I looked up off the floor for the first time that night, into Lyra’s eyes. She was crying silently, gazing at my bruised left eye. She was my first friend, the first ray of sunshine in my life, and I would never see her again.
“I’m sorry, Lyra,” I mumbled. “So sorry.”
Lyra turned with her lyre hovering close by and exited through the back door of the theater.
“You’re not as stupid as you look,” Father whispered. He led me away from the other musicians towards an exit. “It almost makes me want to tell my beloved wife to take it easy on you. Almost.”
“Sir,” the butler whispered to my father. “The conductor wishes to have a word with you.”
I watched as my father went to speak to the conductor, and my mother chatted with a unicorn that was playing a custom violin.
I glanced at the door, and could see Lyra peeking through it. She said something to somepony I couldn’t see, and a second later waved a pair of purple sunglasses at me. I wouldn’t fall for their trick, I was a good pony now.
“M’lady,” the butler said. “Go to your friends, if only to say goodbye. I will cover for you.”
“No, please, it’s a trick,” I whined.
“M’lady, you won’t get another chance. Please, let me see you smile one last time.”
I looked up at him. “Butters?” The butler grinned at my nickname. I smiled back to him. “Thanks.”
I hurried over to the backstage exit and went outside. I was surprised to not only see Vinyl and Lyra, but Bon Bon too.
“Octy! Thank Celestia. The guards wouldn’t let me anywhere near your mansion,” Vinyl complained.
“It’s okay. Thank you, for everything, but I need to behave now,” I replied.
“See Vinyl! They’ve done something to her. We can have them arrested!” Lyra shouted.
Vinyl’s horn lit up as she examined me. I could feel my hairs tingling. “Something’s in the bow tie.”
“Oh, I think I know just the thing,” Lyra stated. She fired up her horn and focused on the bowtie. I was hit with a wave of pain, causing me to collapse to the ground whimpering.
“Luna’s nipples,” Bon Bon swore. “That’s the most vile thing I’ve ever seen, what is it?”
“I’m a bad pony. I don’t want to be a bad pony anymore, the collar is helping me,” I explained. I didn’t bother to get up from my position kneeling on the ground.
“Dammit Octy, listen to yourself! I don’t know how, but we’ll get into the mansion. Just meet us at the servant’s entrance in two hours. We’ll figure out a way to remove that collar by then,” Vinyl promised.
“I. . . alright, but if this rescue attempt fails, I never want to see you again. I don’t want to hurt anymore,” I said.
I turned around and walked to the butler who had been waiting for me to finish. He took me back to my parents, and we walked home.
I followed them home in silence. My father carried my cello for me, quite thoughtful considering his disdain for me. Perhaps it was his backhanded reward for my submission. I no longer cared. I heard the clinking of the hooks along the pavement following us. They were so close, could they help me fight him? I dared not even acknowledge their presence lest they do something stupid and get me punished.
I ignored them and focused on the music, a grand orchestral piece that had formed in my head over the past day. It was my funeral dirge, the Sanguine Sonata I would call it. It would be my masterpiece, the ageless song that everypony would know even ten millennia from now. The sorrowful song written by Octavia, a great musician who took her life after writing it. What a poor, tortured and yet brilliant soul to compose such a masterpiece. Historians wonder why it took such depression to make something so beautiful and timeless that Celestia herself still weeps to hear it.
I found myself at home soon enough, or late enough. It doesn’t matter. I found myself standing before my mother and father in my room. Just the three of us, the collar, and the cello.
“Well I’ve been looking forward to this. I told you it was a good idea, honey, look how well my little girl is behaving herself now.”
“Yes, just one problem,” my father replied. “The butler has informed me of your escape plans. You will be punished accordingly by your mother, your friends will not be meeting you in two hours.”
I shot a glance at the butler, who would not look me in the eyes.
“So, any smart ass remarks? You want to tell your Father about his small penis now?” my mother mocked.
“Octavia,” Mother cooed. “I just love you so much, and you don’t have orchestra practice for three whole days. I have a very, very special weekend planned for you. I’m going to find out exactly how much pain it takes to make an earth pony pass out. And then I’m going to do it again, on the hour, every hour, until orchestra practice Monday. That should ensure your loyalty.”
I heard the butler close the door.
“And let’s not forget Father’s gift to you. He has given every servant in the mansion the entire weekend off. It’s just the three of us now. We gave a pound of flesh for you, I think it’s only fair we reclaim that pound of flesh tenfold for your wretched disappointment of us over the years. Nopony will hear your screams.”
I thought that tensing my jaw muscles and closing my eyes might somehow brace me against the pain I knew was incoming. It did not. The first wave was little more than a jolt to get me on my knees.
“I suppose I should pace myself, yet it’s so fun to watch you squirm like the wretched parasite of a mud pony you are.”
My mind was overwhelmed as I was consumed by fire. I screamed in horror, convinced I was being burned alive. I quickly tried to roll around and smother the flames, flailing about uselessly on the floor. If Celestia weren’t a goddess, I imagine this is what her sun would feel like if she were to visit it. How do I put into words what it is like to have every cell in your body screaming at your brain, warning you that it’s being burned alive? How would I count the infinite network of nerves flashing between unbearable heat and cold throughout every organ?
“Do you know what we sacrificed for you? I thought you’d have enough common sense to listen to reason. I thought you were smart enough to function without me pulling your strings. Now, this will be your life until you die,” she cackled.
Wave after wave of my mother’s torment hit me. Between each assault to my mind would come a verbal command. Whether or not I obeyed it, she would fire up the collar again. I was burned, frozen, stabbed, electrocuted, and more. The apathy and submission I felt earlier was being replaced by hatred and blind rage
“Where’s the unicorn slut now, when you need her?” she asked. “She’s probably off banging the first stallion that walked out of the theater. Heck, she might have just grabbed the first flute she could find. You mean nothing to her. You mean nothing to anypony.”
“No,” I spat between the tides of agony. “I am not your puppet!”
“That’s exactly what you are, a worthless earth pony that needs us to pull the strings to keep you out of the fields picking wheat!”
A rage was building up inside me, burning in my chest and tinging my vision red. The pain from the magical device on my neck was blocked out by the fury building in my mind. Anger became my world, my sole focus. I found myself standing despite the protests of my muscles. I narrowed my eyes as my heart raced.
“Vinyl loves me, more than you ever have! I wish you were dead!” I screamed.
Father and Mother shared a glance before I felt a new wave of pain, only it didn’t hurt anymore. The electric energy surging through me was no longer perceived by my brain as agony. Instead, it mirrored the emotional fury I felt, it fueled my need to be rid of them permanently. I began to walk towards them, each muscle coiling up to strike.
That was when the music began again. It was loud, angry music filled me with courage. The thoughts of how I would do anything to please them had vanished entirely. Memories of my night with Vinyl replaced them. Thoughts of my friends at the nightclub shattered my chains. The overwhelming agony of the life they had crafted for me trumped all other emotion.
My parents were still laughing at me, allowing me a brief respite. Their laughter pissed me off more than the torture. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel now, the happy life that I had always wanted. The fury and pain would end here, now, with them.
“I will not be mocked by you!” I screamed.
They focused and another jolt of pain hit me. It broke through to my brain and felt as if my skin was being boiled off. My will and fury faltered, yet something was still holding me upright. The room darkened and I heard the loudest sounding chains imaginable. I forced my eyes open to see not a gossamer string and small barbs, but dozens of eight inch meat hooks and large wrought iron chains.
The darkness in the room was caused by the chains blocking out all light, and my parents noticed it. They looked around in confusion, unable to see the chains, but able to see the shadows cast by them. Like the shadow of a tree on a stormy night, shades of the chains flickered around my parents, adding to their bewilderment.
I smiled vindictively as I felt the hooks effortlessly tear the torture device from my neck. The puppeteer seemed to be gaining strength from my fury. The tempo increased in the music only I could hear. The chains almost appeared to sense my thoughts and feel my emotions. I was not sure if we simply shared a common enemy, or if they were obeying me.
“Now it’s time for my gift for all you’ve done to me!” I laughed maniacally.
For the first time, I believe my parents looked at me with fear for a change. Perhaps they had some knowledge I did not about what was coming. Maybe they knew the entity I was invoking. They both instantly threw up protective spells. The chains lashed out, shattering the weak barriers surrounding them.
I watched with absolute delight as they shrank back in horror. Father tore at the doors to the room, yet the invisible chains held it shut. Mother began to fire spells and throw every object not bolted to the floor at me. Chains blocked the projectiles, as the hooks finally reached her.
It was that first scream, when I saw the blood, that I realized this was really happening. The chains were going to get rid of them for me. I had never seen a pony die before, and as I watched I began to get nauseous. They were not just killing them, they were tearing them apart. As I felt the urge to vomit, I backed away and decided I did not want to watch this.
I hid under the bed and listened as my dirty work was carried out. After a momentary silence, I peeked out from beneath the bed and quickly wished I hadn’t. The chains had reached both parents. My eyes closed and I hid as I heard the sounds of their punishment.
The chains grinded together, filling the room with their echoes. Loud popping noises, likely their joints being pulled out of socket, caused me to flinch. The music, for all its angry glory, did nothing to hide the sounds of my revenge.
I had always imagined death to be peaceful like the bodies at a funeral. I had no words to describe what I was witnessing, for such horror was previously unknown to me. Mother was screaming wildly in pain. I wished the chains would hurry up and finish the job. No sooner had I wished for an end to her screaming, I peeked out and found a chain gagging her.
I’m doing this. I’m killing them! It’s not some unseen force, they’re obeying me! I started to panic. What would I do? Everypony would think I murdered them. If I got caught, I’d never see Vinyl again. But did I really want it to stop? After all this time, I would be free. Vinyl would help me run away and I wouldn’t have to go to jail.
My father’s shouting broke me out of my dazed state. I heard something splatter on the walls but dared not look to see what it was. I knew all too well there were only two other ponies in the room.
That’s when I heard the drums begin. The bass drums first, followed by the snares, then an assortment of other percussive instruments. They did their best to shield me from the cracking of what I can only assume were Father’s bones.
I was trembling furiously under the bed now. Was I going to be the next victim? Could I stop the chains if they came for me?
“Stop, please stop,” I cried. I continued to hear the clanking of chains. All of the sound in the room vanished, and I realized my revenge must be complete. Why then, did I feel so hollow? If I were free, shouldn’t I feel happy?
I waited until the music and sounds of clinking chains died off, and then crawled out from under the bed.
I rushed to my parents, hoping that somehow they would be alright. Maybe it was a nightmare and they had learned their lesson. There wasn’t enough of them left to learn anything. I took stock of the scene in front of me. They were gone and I was free, all I needed to do was walk out the front door of the mansion.
My legs refused to move as my mind still tried to cope with how they had died. The puppeteer I considered my benefactor had not just killed them as I had so longly wished in secret; it had tortured and quartered them like wild beasts. Had it been the chains will that killed them, or my own desire for revenge? I danced around the conclusion that I didn’t want to draw. I murdered them. I’m no better than them, in fact, I’m worse than them. I murdered my parents.
I stood between them, my fur now red from the earlier ordeal. I had wanted to be free of my parents at any cost, but not like this. Never like this. It’s okay, I was just angry. I didn’t mean to kill them, but even if I did, does it matter? Whether I feel hollow or victorious, it’s done now. I’m. . . I’m finally free.
I was frozen in place as if I were dead too. The room was completely silent. My parents, the music, and the chains had all abandoned me. As I struggled to walk towards the door and leave I felt more alone than I had ever in my life.
The room was beginning to spin and this time I did not feel the nausea coming. I vomited on the floor and began to stumble backwards. I needed to leave before somepony found me here with the bodies. I needed to find Vinyl. I needed. . . I needed to breathe.
As I hyperventilated I thought I heard a voice call out to me. I looked around frantically, only surveying more of the fresh coat of paint on the walls. I lost my balance and collapsed to the floor.
“Octy?” A familiar voice called out to me.
I woke up in bed, which would not have surprised me, yet I was clean. My last memory was of losing my balance amidst a sea of red. How then, had I ended up clean? Once I had finished expecting myself I looked around and began to realize where I was. This was Vinyl’s apartment, which meant I had done it. I was safe.
Vinyl noticed my movements and began to walk over.
“How? How’d I get here?” I asked. “It’s not safe.”
“Easy, you had a traumatic night. We’re safe now.”
“No, I don’t want it to happen again. I need to compose something, where is a pen and paper?” I asked.
“For what to happen?”
“The hooks—I killed them Vinyl!” I sat up and began to scan the room for my cello.
“It’s okay we don’t have to talk about it now, I got us tickets for the next train to Ponyville.”
“No, it’s not okay, if I don’t compose they’ll kill you too, or me, or everypony!”
“Octy, you need you need to calm down! Look at me,” she ordered. “I want you to take these sleeping pills and say ‘to hell with the music’. We’re going to go to bed, and you’ll feel better in the morning.”
I whispered out “To hell with the music” and downed the pills. I lay down and waited for sleep to overtake me. I pondered why Vinyl had helped me after what had happened. I realized I never wanted to let her go again. She was truly an exceptional mare.
That was when the hooks returned. It was not enough for them to inflict such horrors on a mare as she watched helplessly. Now they did not want me to sleep. They wanted me to resume composing. They attached themselves to me, two per limb and two on my face.
The invisible puppeteer wanted to guide me to a pen and parchment, but I was dead weight at that point. I did not care how hard they pulled, I had gone numb to the world and wanted nothing but sleep. I supposed I looked quite ridiculous, seizing on the ground. Vinyl told me to sleep. I’m not going to write any music tonight.
Vinyl was standing over me, a worried look on her face. Her and the strings fought to control my body. She was careful to wait until I stopped convulsing to grab me. She kept trying to make me throw up the pills. I tried to mouth some words of comfort to her, however at this point I found I could not move a single muscle in my body.
The puppeteer was now in complete control. Despite my unwillingness to compose, I walked over and sat down right in front of the wall and began composing the Sanguine Sonata on it.
After a few tries to dissuade me from my task, Vinyl gave up and went to sleep. Once the sonata had been finished I joined her, regaining control of my body just in time to pass out from exhaustion two seconds later.
It was late the next day I woke up. Vinyl brought me over a sandwich and some water.
“Hey Octy, you had me scared for a while. You ok to talk about. . . last night?” Vinyl questioned. She sat down next to me and guided my head onto her shoulder.
I nodded my assent. “Sure.” The food and water could wait; I wanted to feel safe at her side.
“Look, I’m not mad at you. I don’t know how that happened, but they’re gone now. They were evil, but what happened?”
“They. . . Mother wanted to torture me more, to control me but. . . I’m sorry, Vinyl, I understand if you don’t love me anymore but I can’t talk about it.
“What? No, that doesn’t change how I feel.” Vinyl stared at the sonata on the wall for a while letting the words sink in. “How. . . did they die? It was just you and them when I got there.”
“I didn’t want to!” I screamed. “I just wanted the bow tie off! I wanted them to suffer and know what I felt like. I tried—I didn’t know. . .” I began sobbing. “It was the hooks, chains, the music—I’m so broken and I don’t know why. But, I would never hurt anypony else!”
Vinyl waited to take a breath and let her words sink in. She knew that a pony could not have done what she saw with their bare hooves. “I believe you,” Vinyl replied. She laid a hoof gently on my shoulder and gave a warm, gentle smile.
I looked up to tell her how much that meant to me. It was then I saw the hooks, hovering all around her, taunting me. They were large enough to skewer her.
“Wait!” I yelled. “Don’t hurt her! Take me!”
“Octy?” Vinyl looked around in confusion.
“It’s not fair! I composed last night, please, make the music stop!” My whole life I had nothing, then I had everything, only to have it torn from me. Vinyl was my ticket out of here, and I could barely understand my emotions for her after the horror we witnessed.
Vinyl started walking towards me, the hooks shadowing her.
I ran to my cello, tears running from my face. As soon as I picked it up and headed for the door I looked back. The hooks were leaving Vinyl alone, following me now.
“I’m sorry, I have to play the music. If I don’t, they’ll kill you too!” I turned and fled out the door from Vinyl. I ran down the street, letting the sound of the music guide me. It grew louder the closer I got to the theater.
Vinyl found me in the orchestra hall some time later. It may have been a hour or just a few minutes, I couldn’t tell. I surrendered my body completely to the puppeteer. It was less painful that way. I hardly felt the strings guiding my actions anymore as they tugged me along. On my way there, all I could hear was my music and all I could see were red stains in my room. I wasn’t just broken anymore, I was a ghost. She could have followed me all the way there, yelling at me and I wouldn’t have known.
My stupor ended as I started playing my masterpiece in that lonely orchestra hall. I smiled as I saw her face. Vinyl was there, bawling her eyes out. She was rambling something I couldn’t hear. She must have followed me all the way there.
I hated seeing her cry, but knowing she hadn’t given up on such a lost cause was such a painfully endearing bittersweetness. I cried upon seeing her. Her face, scrunched up in heartbroken sadness, brightened, if only a little. Even after running from her to try and protect her, she refused to let go.
“Octy, you in there still?” she asked apprehensively.
“Oh, t-thank the goddess...” She embraced me, crying into my shoulder.
The gesture interrupted my playing and I shrugged her off. She fell to the ground with a hard thud. I cringed as she did, but there was nothing else I could do. I could only ensure our safety by playing. It was nice though, to feel her touch, her wet tears against my skin. I wondered if that would be the last time she’d ever hug me.
“Octy! Come on! Just talk to me... I-i can’t take this! Do you hate me or something?!”
I was silent. Explanations could wait until the hooks and strings had vanished for the night.
“Just say something! I don’t wanna do it, but I’m gonna have to go home and get all sorts of smashed to get you out of my mind!” she said from the ground. “Okay, wait that came out wrong, but you’re really freaking me out! What do you want from me?! Just say it and I’ll do it!”
It just so happened that the tempo of my piece increased as the silence built between us. I think it was something she understood, the beat and what it meant in a piece. A look of determination came over her.
“What? You wanna play music?” She stood up, wiping her cheeks. “Maybe cause music brought us together, we shouldn’t say ‘to hell with it’?”
“Yes, the song has to finish.”
“I don’t wanna mess up your song, but if this is what brings you back to me, I’ll do it!”
Vinyl frantically scoured the music hall. Her heart racing against a self-imposed clock, she began muttering swears to herself. Before she grew too tense, she found what she was looking for, a drum set.
She sat down and began her thumping bass line. Almost in a cruel twist of fate, the beat was set to the tempo of my heart. Every pounding beat by her broke my resolve. To my own song, images and memories flashed in my mind.
I stood at the back of the club, watching, waiting. Vinyl was at her turntables, directing the crazed crowd in their bid for freedom. She stood in front of a dazzling light and lazer show, shrouded in mist. The neon lights faded and the music died down, the beat reduced to just a modulation of the melody. It was quiet and the crowd grew anxious.
I could feel my smile grow and grow as remembered the next part of her song. It was a rush to watch her perform, knowing that the beautiful mare on stage was all mine. The pride I felt watching the crowd cheer her on and knowing she was having the time of her life was unforgettable.
Right when the crowd was at their breaking point, the speakers blared with music, exploding the club into a frenzy. The entire crowd jumped as one as the bass exploded. I cheered and shouted ‘I love you’ at the top of my lungs. It was lost in the music, but I didn’t care. Vinyl already knew it.
Later that night, Vinyl took me to a bathroom. I have had too much high society in my life to enjoy anything proper and clean anymore. Our time together was dirty, fast, and passionate, but it was everything I wanted it to be.
That’s when My song ended. Sanguine Sonata was over. Vinyl had accompanied my masterpiece on the drums and turned it into something else entirely. It was so much better than what I had written.
Vinyl was sobbing pathetically.
“Octy, t-that’s a p-pretty good song...” she stammered, sniveling loudly. “S-sorry I messed it up.”
She laughed nervously, waiting with bated breath for any kind of response.
“You didn’t mess it up, it was beautiful! I love you, Vinyl! I love you so much!” I cheered at the top of my lungs, still lost in the euphoria of my memories.
That’s when I started the song over again.
“Octy, please,” Vinyl begged. “Stop playing, talk to me.”
I could feel my own face, stained by tears. I could feel my aching joints, pierced by the curved needles and trickling blood as they guided me to play my song. My attempts to pull back from the cello failed. ”Can you give me a hoof? I can’t stop playing.”
Vinyl made sure we were making eye contact. “I love you, Octavia.”
”I love you too, Vinyl,” I cried. “Let’s ditch the cello and move to Ponyville.”
Vinyl reached for the bow, and the strings caused me to slap her in the face with it. She stood there in shocked silence for a minute while I resumed playing.
“Let me know what’s wrong. I don’t know what else to try.”
”Vinyl? Can’t you hear me?”
Vinyl gently placed a hoof against my shoulder and I continued to play the sonata.
”No, no! this is all wrong! Vinyl!” I screamed. “Vinyl help me!” I pounded against the strings with all my might, yet I did not budge an inch. I was powerless to move, so I focused on my voice and my eyes.
“Octy,” Vinyl wept. “Please, tell me you love me, that we can be happy, say something!”
”YES! Yes! Please Vinyl, look at me, it’s not me! You’ve got to help me fight it! Look me in the eyes!”
Vinyl stared right into my eyes. “Don’t choose the music over me. . . I . . . Please . . .”
I felt the strings tugging at my lips as a familiar feral grin formed.
”NO! NO! STOP IT!” I demanded. It couldn’t end like this, after everything I couldn’t let it end! “Vinyl! Save me! I Love you!”
Vinyl turned around and began to walk away. She turned her head to the side, and spoke. “I’m sorry, Octy. I don’t know what I did to make you hate me, but know I will always love you.”
Vinyl walked slowly to the exit.
”Celestia damn it! Get back here Vinyl! Help me! Stop!” I threw every bit of energy into snapping the strings. I could feel the strings tugging against my joints, and for all my struggle I could not even throw the sonata off by half a note.
I watched helplessly as Vinyl walked away. That was the day I truly became a puppet to my fame.
“Here’s your seat ma’am, the performance will be starting soon.”
The mare took a seat and awaited the cellist to come on stage. It did not take long before the aged grey musician reached the cello and readied her bow. She wore a faded red bow tie that was accented by her black hair with grey streaks. Her wrinkled face conveyed the great wisdom and experience from a long life of music. The musician’s purple treble clef was just as the mare remembered it.
Octavia sat on stage and began her number. The mare instantly recognized it, for it was the musician’s most famous and tragic work. It was the Sanguine Sonata, the last cello sonata she would ever compose. After all these years, the mare still cried when listening to it.
For 70 years Octavia had no rival on the cello, and no composer to match her talent. At least she was happy, standing onstage with her cello. Even from this far away, the mare could see her wide smile. Octavia was crying, for she was so moved by her music on stage. She performed flawlessly until there was not a dry eye in the house.
The mare got out of her seat and left before intermission. After all these years, the song was still too painful to finish listening to. At least Octavia had gone on to live a happy life without her.