I looked around my room, which was now decorated and ready for the party. Satisfied with my efforts, I let out an exaggerated sigh of relief.
I hadn’t used my cannon to prepare for the party. Seeing as this particular night was of utmost importance, I decided to put extra care into setting up.
"It looks nice," said Pinkie, surveying the work through my eyes.
“Good,” I responded, “because everything needs to be perfect.”
“Why do you have to be so sneaky?” she asked. "I don't think our friends will like it very much if they find out you're just making up an excuse to throw a party."
"They should have thought of that before they decided to go behind our back," I rebutted. "Besides, it's not like you haven't thrown a party for no reason, before."
"But... this is different."
Nothing else was said on the matter, but I could feel Pinkie's disapproval nonetheless.
An abrupt knock on my balcony door diverted my attention. I turned my glance to the heart-shaped window, and just as I expected, Rainbow Dash stood there, patiently waiting for me to answer the door. I promptly made my way over.
Time to find out what they’re hiding, once and for all.
A successful party depends primarily on the overall atmosphere, with music being a key element. I made sure the music was loud enough to dance to, but it wasn’t so loud that carrying a conversation was impossible. I considered this the ideal volume for party music, especially because it’s meant to be a social event in the first place.
For the better part of a half hour, I had been trying to find a good opportunity to speak with one of them individually. That may have been too much to expect, but as luck would have it, the perfect chance presented itself.
By now, everyone had grown tired of dancing except for Twilight. I’ll admit, I was becoming somewhat bored of it, as well. Even so, I had every intention of going through with my plan, so I remained on the dance floor with Twilight while everypony else made their way over to the punch bowl.
I glanced towards Twilight, who had become quite engaged to the point that it resembled more of a seizure than a deliberate attempt at dancing. She either had no shame, or she merely felt comfortable enough around us to act in such a way. I assumed it was the latter.
I didn’t want Twilight to think I was interrogating her, so I started with a basic question.
“Are you having a good time?” I asked her.
“Totally!” she responded, continuing her strange gestures.
“Does it remind you at all of the parties I used to throw?” I asked. “You know, before the whole amnesia thing?”
“Completely! I think you’ve gotten the hang of this!” she answered.
I smiled. The compliment felt good, but I couldn’t let it distract me.
“Speaking of amnesia,” I began, “how is the research coming along?”
Twilight slowed her dancing down a bit so she could converse more easily. “It’s coming along nicely,” she said. “I think I almost have it figured out, but there’s still a bit more to be done.”
“Any word from the princess?”
Twilight stopped. The moment’s hesitation that followed was a sure indicator that she was about to lie to me, due to the simplicity of the question. “Um, n-no. Nothing in particular.”
“I see.” I put my hoof up to my chin and looked down . Realizing something, I quickly glanced back up. "Wait, what about yesterday?"
"When I was at the library yesterday, Spike said you received a letter from Princess Celestia. What was that about?"
Twilight fumbled for the right words. "Oh! I almost completely forgot about that!" she claimed. "That was no big deal. She was just answering a small question I had."
I stood there, awaiting further elaboration from Twilight, but it soon became clear that she had no intention of telling me the details.
Twilight looked at me nervously. “Pinkie? Are you alright? You seem... different, somehow.”
"How so?” I quickly responded.
“Well, um... never mind. It’s probably just my imagination.”
“Alright then,” I responded, starting to walk away, “I’m gonna go mingle with the others. Have fun!”
It didn’t appear that anyone else was by themselves, which was what I had been hoping for.
Suddenly, I heard a yelp from across the room. I rushed over to see what was wrong, and came across Applejack and Rainbow Dash. Applejack was wearing a blindfold, and Rainbow was rubbing her own flank, which now had a red mark on it.
“Jeez, AJ. Watch where you’re poking that thing,” said Rainbow.
“Did Ah win?” asked Applejack in an oblivious manner.
“I don’t think so,” I chimed in, catching on rather quickly, “though you did manage to pin the tail on a pony.”
Applejack removed her blindfold, and looked around. Upon seeing the absurd sight of Rainbow Dash as she nursed the red spot on her flank, Applejack snickered.
Annoyed, Dash retreated to the refreshment table to avoid further injury. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to speak with Applejack alone.
"So, are you having a good time?" I asked, making my way towards her.
"Am Ah?" exclaimed Applejack with enthusiasm. "Ah gotta say, your parties are gettin' better and better, Pinkie!"
"Glad to hear it!" I responded.
The Element of Honesty is, by nature, a terrible liar. I decided to start with a more direct question in the hopes that she would let something slip. "How has Twilight's research been going? Any interesting developments?"
Applejack seemed taken aback by this. "Ah, uh..."
Her hesitance was obvious.
"Oh!" I added. "Wouldn't it be interesting if the old Pinkie and I turned out to be separate from each other? Like, what if we're just sharing a body right now?"
"Uh, yeah," she answered, smiling nervously.
"I tell ya, that sure would be crazy!" I exclaimed, finalizing my point.
At this point, Applejack was sweating profusely. Her nervous smile, which continued to grow in size, had guilt written all over it. It looked like she was about to confess, and I stared in anticipation.
"Um, I gotta go!" she blurted suddenly.
"What? How come?" I asked, disappointed beyond words.
"I wanna, um, see what's goin' on over there!" she said, pointing at a door at the far side of the room.
"But... that’s the closet," I said.
“Oh, is it? Well, then, Ah guess there’s somethin’ important happenin’ there. Bye!” Applejack bolted for the closet, leaving me to stand there with a look of utter exasperation.
I sighed deeply. What a terrible liar.
At this point, it had become clear that I was being deceived, and the knowledge of it was starting to seriously bother me. I couldn't concentrate, and I felt like I was about to have an anxiety attack. More than likely, I assumed, it was becoming evident in my behavior.
"Pinkie, dear, are you alright?"
"Huh?" I asked, caught off-guard. Looking up, I saw Rarity standing there with a concerned look on her face.
"I asked if you were—"
"Oh, right!" I interrupted. "Yeah, I'm fine! Never been better! Why do you ask?"
"Well, I couldn't help but notice that you're helping yourself to a rather... generous glass of punch."
I looked down, and realized that I was involuntarily ladling punch into a cup, and it was well beyond its liquid capacity. Needless to say, there was punch all over the table and floor around me.
"Oh, shoot!" I cursed, putting back the ladle and rushing for some nearby napkins to sop up the wet, sticky mess.
"Are you sure you're alright?" repeated Rarity.
"Positive," I assured. "I just lapsed for a second."
"Very well. If you say so." She promptly wandered off.
"Wait, Rarity!" I called out, but she was already helping herself to some food at the snack table, and my voice didn’t carry enough to get her attention.
I knocked on my head with a hoof in frustration. I was beginning to stray from my original task.
I shouldn't have missed that opportunity, I thought to myself. It was right in front of me!
All these failed attempts to uncover the truth were beginning to wear thin on my patience. Two hours into the party, the only thing I could say with absolute certainty was that I was being deceived.
I was beginning to feel increasingly agitated. I felt it was necessary to temporarily withdraw from some of the activities at the party, and so I decided to sequester myself at the punch bowl. After a matter of time, I had emptied and dutifully refilled it more times than I could recall.
The liquid had eventually begun to take its toll, and I was beginning to feel antsy. I made my way towards the filly's room, but along the way I ran into Fluttershy, who had decided to take a break from the dancing.
I saw this as another chance to discover the truth, and I had no intention of letting it slip away.
"Hey there, Fluttershy!" I blurted, not considering my tone of voice, nor the timid pegasus' tendency to be startled.
Fluttershy visibly flinched at my exuberant greeting, but recovered quickly. "Hi, Pinkie Pie. I really like the party."
"Really? That's so good to hear," I answered.
A moment of silence followed, but I jumped right back in. "Everypony has been acting strange lately, don't you think?" I asked, advancing towards Fluttershy.
"Um, no... n-not really."
I wrapped a foreleg around her and squeezed tightly. "Really? I've noticed that everyone seems like they're hiding something. It's so strange!"
"Oh... well, I don't know anything about that," she answered, trying to wriggle out of my grasp.
"You sure about that?" I asked, my smile growing.
Fluttershy finally managed to free herself from my grip, and slowly started backing away. "E-everypony seems normal. To me, that is.”
I took a couple steps towards the retreating pegasus. "Well, something definitely seems strange to me. You know what I think? I think there's something they don't want me to know about."
"But not you, Fluttershy. No, you're way too nice to hide something from me."
"Heh, of course," Fluttershy agreed, giggling half-heartedly. Her unease at that statement was as clear as day.
Fluttershy let out a feigned cough. "You know, all that dancing made me thirsty! Are you thirsty? I know I'm thirsty. I'm gonna get some punch."
Before I had time to process her words, Fluttershy flew off to the punch bowl.
I started towards her, wanting to finish what I began, but stopped in my tracks when I remembered why I had left the punch bowl in the first place.
Yeah, this can't wait any longer.
I turned around and bee-lined for the hall door, reluctantly abandoning what was possibly my last chance to find out what everyone was hiding from me.
Disgruntled and discouraged, I stood silently by the dessert table. In my hoof was a cupcake, which I nibbled in complete boredom.
Despite the fact that they had unintentionally given me plenty of hints, which certainly justified my suspicion, I was no closer to understanding the truth of the matter than I was yesterday. It was, to say the least, disheartening.
Even so, I had allowed my emotions to get the better of me. My erratic behavior had only served to confuse or repel my friends, which didn’t really help me at all.
Maybe tonight just wasn’t the right night. This plan was nothing but a last minute, impulsive decision that I hadn’t thought through very well at all.
As various possibilities for an improved plan entered my mind, Spike wandered my way. At first, it seemed like he was going to talk to me, but I quickly realized that he only wanted something sweet from the dessert table.
He eyed the choices before him, and grumbled in disappointment. “Man, all the good stuff is already gone,” he complained, settling for a very plain cupcake.
I allowed myself a chuckle. “I could always go make some more, if you’d like.”
“Nah, that’s okay. It’s not a big—”
Suddenly, Spike was interrupted by a belt of green fire erupting from within him. Devoid of forethought, I extended my free hoof to grab the incoming scroll before it had the chance to hit the floor.
"Woops. Thanks, Pinkie," Spike said, reaching out a claw to take the letter from me.
I stared at the parchment in my hoof, which I realized could possibly hold the answers I was looking for. I ignored Spike and quickly unrolled the letter.
"Hey! What're you doing?" He tried more aggressively to take the letter away from me. I held up the parchment higher than he could reach, and he resorted to hopping up and down to try and swipe the letter from my grasp.
"It’s not right to look through other ponies' mail," warned Pinkie.
"Be quiet," I responded sternly, silencing her.
Using one hoof to keep Spike away, and the other to hold up the letter, I was finally in a position to read it.
My dear Twilight,
I can tell that you have been diligent in your research of Pinkie Pie's condition. Your proposed "Split Entity Theory" is surprisingly simple, considering the supposed complexity of the situation. Despite this, I believe your theory to be correct, and if that is the case, you will, indeed, need to get permission from the consciousness currently in control of her body. It is quite unfortunate that this new Pinkie must willingly give up her existence, but I understand that such a sacrifice is necessary. Perhaps the fact that you have all formed friendships with her will prove to be advantageous in her decision. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.
I stared at the letter in disbelief. Nothing could have prepared me for this kind of truth. The mere thought of this seemed implausible. No, impossible. I read over the letter once more, desperately hoping I had made some sort of mistake. When I reached the end for the second time, I painfully accepted it as reality. The self-assurance that all of them had my best interests at heart began to weaken.
They betrayed me.
I approached the record player, which continued to emit casual party tunes. I placed a hoof on the tone-arm and dragged it off, scratching the record and catching the attention of everypony in the room. They all stared at me, confused.
I held up the scroll and addressed Twilight. “I think this belongs to you.”
The unicorn gulped loudly, and used her magic to levitate the letter over to her. Her eyes scanned it with intent.
“Read it out loud,” I hissed, a touch of venom in my voice.
Twilight glanced around the room at her friends, hoping one of them would intervene or at least offer some kind of support.
“Read it!” I repeated with a harsher tone, startling her.
She read the letter in its entirety, stuttering at the part where Celestia noted our friendship as “advantageous” for their goal.
Twilight looked at me with pleading eyes. “It’s not what you think, Pinkie.”
“‘Perhaps the fact that you have all formed friendships with her will prove to be advantageous.’ If I’m not mistaken, I’m the consciousness currently in control of this body. Now, what about this isn't what I think it is?”
Silence followed, just as I had expected.
“Is this what friendship is to you?” I began. “Is it just a tool used to gain leverage on one’s sentimental side in order to bend them to your will?”
“Of course not!” exclaimed Twilight.
“Then why?” I shouted. “Why have all of you been lying to me this entire time? Why couldn't you just tell me the truth?”
“It ain't that simple!” Applejack chimed in. “What did ya expect us ta do?”
“Anything but this!” I cried.
"Pinkie’s life is on the line!”
I shrunk back as the implications of her words hit me, and hung my head in dejection. “So is mine,” I managed, tears beginning to stream down my face.
By now, I was well aware of the fact that I was not the real Pinkie Pie. However, until this very moment, I had accepted the situation for what it was, and made the most of it.
When Applejack spoke those words, I was struck by the cold realization that they had never truly accepted me as “Pinkie Pie”. I was merely a shadow of the friend they knew before. All color seemed to drain from the world.
I turned around and made my way towards the door. My hoof hesitated on the knob, and I felt the need to say one last thing.
I turned my head. "Of every single pony here, I would have never expected something like this from you, Rainbow Dash.”
Rainbow looked guilty. She turned her head and forced her eyes shut, unable to face me.
I opened the door and left without another word, not realizing at the time that my mane had fallen straight, and flowed lifelessly down my neck.