It was just another normal day. Well, normal according to Pinkie Pie anyway. She didn’t notice the faceless pony peeking around the corner as she worked on her latest concoction. She didn’t pay much attention to the blender when it had a hissy fit and cake batter went everywhere. She just cleaned it up happy as could be.
At the end of the workday, she climbed the stairs up into her bedroom in the top of Sugarcube Corner. She didn’t even notice the tentacles that reached out for her, missing her by inches.
She did notice the strange pony that appeared before her once she entered her room. Pinkie Pie gasped at the sight of him, but more out of surprise than abject fear. He was very tall and thin and dressed in black with a red scarf and purple tentacles that reached out for her from all angles. Strangest of all, his face was blank; no eyes, no nostrils, no mouth.... no nothing.
Seeing her standing there with her hooves covering her mouth, the strange pony laughed to himself, ‘Good… that’s it; fear me.’ He could sense and taste her emotions, and, at first, it tasted good. Like a familiar treat. The taste suddenly became sour. ‘What? This isn’t fear. This is… I don't know what this is. What is this emotion?’
The pink mare exploded from her frozen state and flew into the air, somehow freezing in the middle of it. “Oh! My! Celestia! You’re a new pony!” She fell to the ground safely on all fours. “At least I think you’re a new pony. I don’t think I’ve seen you before.” She stood on her hind legs and stretched up to the white stallion's face. Her face narrowed in concentration. “I mean, how could I not have seen you? I could never forget a faceless pony! That is so cool!” She rubbed his face, “Wow! You don’t have eyes or anything! Hey- does this hurt?” She poked where his eyes would have been.
The pony jerked back and massaged the area with a tentacle. He didn’t have eyes, but he could see some things and that area was still tender. He looked up just in time to see another pink hoof heading towards his face and he smacked it away. “ENOUGH!” He boomed in an unearthly voice that rattled both the room and the core of Pinkie’s bones, forcing an involuntary shudder from the party pony. The strange pony moved towards her and towered over her. “I am NOT a new pony! I am older than you could ever imagine. I am older than Celestia, older then Equestria! I am-”
“Wow, you are old!” Pinkie looked up, “From all those birthday parties which one was your favorite?”
The faceless stallion stared at her. “What? Birthday… parties…?”
“Yeah, which one was your favorite?” She stared at his blank face before it hit her, “Wait, you've never had a birthday? That’s horrible! How come you never had a birthday party, huh? Why haven’t your loved ones thrown you one?”
Pinkie was bouncing everywhere now and the tall pony stood there and watched, thoroughly confused. ‘Loved ones? What is... love? What is a party, and how do you throw it? Is it like the rocks some foolish ponies throw at me?’
“I am going to throw you the biggest and bestest party EVER!” She threw her hooves into the air and confetti flew everywhere.
The strange pony noticed that some of the confetti landed on his muzzle. He lowered his head and let the colored pieces float down. “That was... irritating.” He muttered to himself.
“I am the best at parties.” Pinkie Pie hopped in front of him. “See?” She showed off her flank and her cutie mark. “It's my natural talent. Oh! What’s your special talent?” Before he could say anything Pinkie Pie was at his side lifting his cloak. “A circle with an X through it?” Pinkie stared. “What does that mean?”
The strange pony whipped a tentacle around. It hit Pinkie and sent her flying. “It means ‘GET OFF!’” His voice echoed even louder through the bedroom and Pinkie’s fragile possessions started to shake. His tentacles began a hypnotic dance and the world began to fade from Pinkie’s eyes.
“What? What’s going on?” The walls and floor suddenly had black specks, which became dots. White dots started to appear in alternating patterns. The dots started to dance together. Pinkie closed her eyes to avoid becoming sick. She could feel her eyes start to spin in opposite directions and she forced herself to relax until she felt them line back up. Once she was cured, she opened her eyes and gave a little yelp. Her room was gone- completely gone! Everything had vanished and those silly dancing dots replaced everything.
She was surrounded by... static.
She reached towards it and her hoof dipped into it like a deeper than average puddle. She pulled it back out and observed the strobing liquid that now coated her hoof. Pinkie licked it, smacked her tongue, and puckered her lips. “Hmm… stale. Well, at least it's not as spicy as rainbows.” She shook the rest of the gunk off of her hoof and looked down. She groaned and moaned as her stomach flipped around. “Dizzy…” she whispered. She closed her eyes and breathed in a few deep breaths, trying to steady herself.
“You want to know who I am?”
The voice seemed to echo through her very mind. Her eyes snapped open to reveal the strange pony. He stood in front of her, towering over her with tentacles that reached for her and caressed her mane and cheeks.
“You want to know what my special talent is?” The pony laughed even though there was no movement from his head.
Pinkie shuddered at his laugh. It was cold and dark, like nails on a chalkboard.
“I am the one you ponies call ‘Slender Mane.’ Do you remember me now?”
Pinkie... didn’t. Though it was hard to concentrate with the dizzying dots and his voice echoing in her very soul.
Slender Mane leaned down to Pinkie and his muzzle pressed into hers. “Oh yes you do. You remember. The one you call Twilight Sparkle told you all about me.” He laughed and brushed her mane and the memories fell into her conscience mind.
She saw her and her friends laughing and talking around a lantern in the library as a storm went on outside.
Rainbow Dash had just finished with a ghost story and she looked pretty proud of herself. Twilight waved a hoof. “Very good story, Rainbow Dash, but it’s not as scary as the story of Slender Mane…”
Pinkie watched as Twilight told them about Slender Mane; she stood close to the lantern and let her shadow stretch across the walls of the library. Twilight danced around creating a very convincing Slender Mane shadow. She told her friends about how he stalks ponies for years, how he pony-naps and does horrible things to them before he kills them...
Slender Mane was gently brushing Pinkie’s fluffy mane. He knew what she was seeing in her mind. “That’s it… remember…” His voice seemed to flow through her mind like a snake.
Pinkie heard Slender Mane but she didn’t pay that much attention. She looked to her dear friend, totally enraptured in the story once more.
Twilight as this point had cast a simple illusion spell on herself making sparkly tentacles that reached out from every side. “And what does Slender Mane eat besides ponies?”
“What?” Rainbow Dash asked, looking just a little scared.
Twilight stopped moving and lowered her head, whispering the answer under her breath.
“What?” her friends asked in unison.
“Fear!” Twilight screamed, as she looked at them with no face on her head.
All five of them screamed, even Rainbow Dash, as they looked at their friend in horror. Then the illusion faded away revealing Twilight’s face and she giggled, “I got you!”
Pinkie Pie remembered who he was. She remembered his talents and his strengths. She remembered he ate ponies, and fear.
Slender Mane smiled to himself as he heard little squeaks and pops come from Pinkie’s mouth. She was starting to shake a little bit as well. “Now… now you will fear me.”
Pinkie Pie... burst into laughter.
“What?!” Slender Mane took a step back. “Why don’t you fear me?”
The pink pony rolled around on the floor, completely overtaken by laughter.
“Fear me!” Slender Mane towered over her.
Pinkie looked up in between giggles and gasped a tiny bit. Slender Mane was drooling. It was a disturbing sight. Drool oozed out of him as he revealed his mouth. His skin stretched and melted to reveal a dark, bloody void in his face. His once dry tentacles were now slimy as they dripped on the static floor. He had her surrounded and there was nowhere she could go.
Her cheeks puffed up and she held her stomach before joyous laughter burst out of her.
Slender Mane stepped back and looked around, his magic failing. The room was returning to normal and he felt his hooves land on solid wood. His hunger subsided and he stopped drooling. “This…this has never happened before!” He hissed. “How?” He turned to Pinkie Pie, “How did you break free from my magic?”
Pinkie’s laughing slowed down slightly.
“Why don’t you fear me?”
Pinkie sat up and wiped a tear from her eye. “Oh, don't feel bad. It's not just you.” She paused, “In fact I can’t remember a time where I’ve been truly scared. You see, Slender Mane, when I was a little filly and the sun was going dooooooown…” her voice ended with a musical note. “The darkness and the shadows they would always make me froooooooown.”
Slender Mane frowned for her. Well, you couldn’t tell by looking at him, but he was frowning.
“I'd hide under my pillow, from what I thought I saw...”
“...Seriously?” he groaned.
“-But Granny Pie said that wasn't the way to deal with fears at aaaaaaall.”
“Seriously? Are you seriously singing right now?”
“Yep! Don’t worry, you’ll get use to it.” A chipper voice said from the hallway.
Slender Mane looked over, ‘A new victim? All she has to do is look at me!’ He watched the blue mare with the wavy pink mane drop a basket of clean clothes in Pinkie’s room and pop out, closing the door behind her. Not once did she open her eyes.
Slender Mane actually pouted a little bit. He was stuck with Pinkie Pie.
The beast was suddenly pulled forward and Pinkie Pie was holding his front hooves. He looked down at her, ‘Now what?’
Pinkie took a big breathe, “Sooooooo, giggle at the ghosty.” Pinkie started to skip in a circle pulling Slender Mane with her. “Guffaw at the gross-by.”
Slender Mane slipped and tripped over his long legs.
“Crack up at the creepy.” Pinkie kept pulling him around. “Whoop it up with the weepy.”
Slender Mane felt sick…
“Chortle at the cooky.”
“Please, let this end…” he whispered.
“Snortle at the spooky.”
Pinkie let go of his hooves and he flopped onto her bed. He looked up and watched her bounce around as she finished the song.
“And tell that big dumb scary face to take a hike and leave you alone and if he thinks he can scare you than he's got another thing coming and the very idea of such a thing just makes you wanna HAHHAHAAHAHA...” She paused to take a deep breath. LAAAAAAAAUGH!” Pinkie finished the song with a split and a smile.
Slender Mane stared for a moment. Then he chuckled. ‘What in the name of all that is unholy was that?’ he thought. He started laughing, truly laughing, for the very first time. “In all my years, I’ve never seen anything like that!”
Pinkie smiled nice and wide. “See? There's nothing to fear as long as you have laughter!” She looked at Slender Mane and thought of how nice it was to hear a real laugh out of him and not that creepy one. She walked up and poked his ribs.
Slender Mane jumped and giggled, “Huh? What was that?”
Pinkie had the biggest, slightly evil, smile he had ever seen. “You’re ticklish!”
Pinkie’s hooves became a pink blur as she tickled his ribs. “Tickle tickle tickle!” She squealed.
Slender Mane laughed and kicked his legs, laughing harder than he ever had that before.
He felt… different, somehow. He didn’t know this emotion.
Pinkie slowed down and stopped. “Wasn’t that fun?”
Slender Mane relaxed and laid down, “What’s... fun?”
Pinkie tilted her head, “What’s fun?” she pondered and tapped her chin, “Fun is… fun is being with friends. Fun is being loved. Fun is parties and dancing and singing and games and enjoying yourself. Fun is... just being happy, I guess.”
“Happy?” Slender Mane rested his head on Pinkie’s pillow. ‘Is this the new emotion I’m feeling? Happiness?’ He thought about what she said, how fun and happiness were parties and friends and dancing. He remembered seeing Pinkie Pie laughing with her friends. He had watched her for years as she threw parties and played games. He never really understood any of those things or why she smiled when she did them.
Now, though, he did. He felt it. He felt… happy, truly happy. He smiled, despite his lack of lips. “Is that how you always feel?” he asked.
“Most of the time. My friends make me so very happy and I have so many friends!”
Slender Mane’s smile faded. He remembered how often Pinkie Pie was with other ponies. ‘Those were her friends? They are the reason she’s so happy?’ He frowned. “I… don’t have any friends…” He looked down and curled up into a fetal position.
“You have friends.” Pinkie climbed up onto the bed at looked at him. “I’m your friend.” She wrapped her forearms around his neck. “And I am honored to be your very first friend.”
Slender Mane gave a small smile. “You? How can you be my friend? You know what I am. What I’ve done.”
“Slender Mane, I’ve seen the evil Discord turn to good. I’ve seen Nightmare Moon’s evil powers break away. I’ve seen an angry Manticore become a kitty cat. I’ve learned that the power of friendship is stronger then you realize. I’ve also learned that we all deserve a little kindness.” She looked at Slender Mane and gave his muzzle a gentle bop. “Beep!”
Then his stomach rumbled. “I’m hungry. I could really go for a…” he trailed off. He had been going to say 'a Pinkie Pie Pie' but he couldn’t eat his one and only friend.
“Leave that to me!” Pinkie disappeared and reappeared in a moment with cakes, cupcakes, pies and all sorts of sweet treats.
Slender Mane’s nose wrinkled. “What are these?”
“Pastries! Here, try one!” She let him pick.
Slender Mane sat there. None of these looked any good. After a moment a pink tongue appeared in front of where his mouth was. It wasn’t connected to him; it just floated there for a moment and disappeared.
Pinkie saw it, “So you don’t know what to try, huh?” She picked up a cupcake. “Here, just try this one. It's chocolate. Chocolate is one of my absolute favorites!”
Slender Mane sniffed it and jerked back. It didn’t smell good. It didn’t look good. He didn’t want to eat it. He wanted to eat… He looked at Pinkie and looked into her blue eyes. ‘I don’t want to eat her…’ he looked down at the cupcake. ‘Well… I guess its her or it.’ He leaned down to the cupcake. When his muzzle was an inch away a small bite disappeared. His cheeks puffed up as he chewed but other then that his face was still. He chewed and paused, and chewed a little more. It took awhile for him to be able to taste it.
A new sensation settled on his tongue.
His ears perked up and his tentacles zigged and zagged. He was stiff as a board for a moment.
“This…is… INCREDIBLE!” Slender Mane hopped on Pinkie’s bed. “I’ve never tasted anything like this! So sweet! So good!” The cupcake disappeared into nothingness as he finished it off. “What else can I eat? What else is chocolate? Are the two small children down the hall chocolate?”
Pinkie smiled, shook her head, and started giving him a tour of pastries. She showed him all chocolate ones first. Then she showed him white chocolate, then vanilla and strawberry. She showed him ice cream and how good it was on pie.
Slender Mane ate and ate and when Pinkie Pie was out of treats he laid on her bed with a big round tummy.
“I’ve never been that full.” He groaned and rolled a bit.
“Are you okay?” Pinkie’s eyes filled concern.
Slender Mane nodded, “Worth it. Totally worth it. I’ve never been this full. I’ve always felt so... so...” he threw his hooves out in exasperation, “...hungry! No matter how much fear I ate. Or ponies.” He added in embarrassment.
“Chocolate is much better then fear.”
“Yes. Yes it is.”
There was a moment of silence. “Now what do I do?” Slender Mane asked out loud.
“What do you mean?”
He paused. “I normally eat ponies and their fear. Now I know how stupid and tasteless that was. I now know happiness and I have a friend. How… how do I live my life now?”
“Don’t worry, Slendy,” Pinkie gave him another hug. “Tomorrow I’ll show you around Ponyville. And I’ll teach you how to be a regular pony.”
“That sounds lovel- wait. Slendy?”
“It's my new nickname for you. Slender Mane is too long and threatening sounding. You can call me Pinkie if you want. Pinkie Pie is pretty long too.”
“Slendy…” he thought about it, “I like it. I like it a lot.” He pulled Pinkie Pie close and wrapped his hooves and tentacles around her. “Thank you… Pinkie. Thank you.”
She returned the hug and grinned against his coat. “You're welcome... Slendy.”