"Ho ho ho hooooo boyyyyy!" Simon Neighs reels in his seat, assaulting my side of the booth with wave after wave of crimson laughter. He gasps for breath, his headphones rattling around his neck. "Ah jeez, how did you guys even make it out of there in one piece?!"
Beau chuckles, smiling at me. "I'd say we managed pretty well."
"Yeah, but what about your sanity?!" Simon's eyes twitch. "Wow, I mean... I know I'm wanting to climb my way to the top of the popularity ladder, but if that is what I have to look forward to, then I-I think I'll just stick to making commercial jingles from the sidelines!"
"If I may be so bold, I'd venture to say that Miss Scratch and her companion have come out of the situation all the wiser," DJ Capricorn says, bearing a dainty smile. She watches as I place down my two straws and she takes a tiny sip of her drink. "The structured eloquence practically drips off her skills in Blank Speech." A wink. "Much like her musical gifts."
I bite my lip, feeling a warmth to my cheeks.
Then the world explodes with red clouds. "Hah hah hah!" A thoroughly inebriated Harmonicide belches and laughs at the same time. I didn't even know such was possible until now. "That's one heck of a story! And I loved the parts where you improvised, Cappy!"
"Erm..." Capricorn's eyes narrow as she speaks with sharp bergundy beams. "I assure you, it was all Miss Scratch."
"Yeah! Heheh! Sure!" With another burp, Harmonicide lumbers out of his seat. "Whew boy! I feel like I could gobble up the world! Who else wants another round?"
"I'm fine right here, big fella," Beau says, waving a dismissive hoof. "Not all of us are built with the liver of a whale."
"Don't I know it! Ha HAH!" Harmonicide grins, teeters, and grins some more. "Well, I'm going in!" He stumbles sideways, snickering. "Wish me luck, soldiers!" An echo of chuckles trail after him as he marches across the bar. "Friggin' lame-oh wanted to stab his own vocal chords out! CLASSIC!"
Capricorn shakes her head. "I would love to see him encounter such a fannatical lunatic at his next gig." She looks my way. "An ounce of fear could truly humble his demeanor. I wish I could say the same about his bassphelia."
"Heheheheh... yeah..." Simon Neighs rubs the back of his neck. "Glad I'm not the only one who thinks that Harmonicide's tracks are... heavyhoofed."
"Yo, I respect the fact that many ponies appreciate that style of migraine-inducing syntho-science, but would it kill him to put a little melody into his work every now and then?" Beau leaned in, murmuring. "I mean, dayum, son!"
The table laughs. I realize that I've joined them, for my vision clouds over with magenta. I teeter slightly, rubbing my head.
"Are you quite alright, Miss Scratch?" Carpicorn's voice gently entreats.
I rub my head and smile weakly at her. My shaded eyes catch Beau.
He glances back at me, smirking. "V's had a long three days. It's a dense tour. You know how it is."
"Oh, absolutely," Capricorn says with a nod. She looks my way again. "And so far from home, too, I imagine."
Beau blinks. "Uhhhhhhh..."
"Do not be alarmed," Capricorn remarks with a wave of the hoof. "Like every other artist who's in awe of the illustrious Ms. Scratch's work, I have no clue as to her true residence. What's more, I find myself that quite admirable."
"Yeah... and enviable!" Simon Neighs added with a smirk. "I mean... wow, girl... I sorta wish I could turn back time and erase the words that's come out of my mouth! I mean, as much as I love representing my home town—"
"It's super cool to remain anonymous." Beau smirks. "Y'know, it was always my suggestion." He nods my way. "I was half-surprised when V took me up on it. Which is cool. The girl knows when and when not to bask in the spotlight. Ain't that right, V?"
I nod with a calm breath. I raise the two straws and gesture in Capricorn's direction: "No. Amount. Of. Fame. Can. Replace. A. Good. Home."
"Uhhhh..." Simon looks at Capricorn. "What'd she say this time?"
"I whole-heartedly agree, Miss Scratch," Capricon says. "Although..." She raises her glass, as if toasting. "I think it's only healthy to take a piece of home with you, wherever you go."
I lean back, blinking at that. My shaded eyes wander the spectral bands filling the bar. I feel my heart thudding in my chest, and I realize that I haven't seen—nor thought of—the color purple in a long while. I'm not sure if I should be worried about that, but part of me is wondering suddenly why there's a lingering impulse to feel sad.
"You know, I've got to say... it's been a super crazy cool honor being able to see you in the flesh, DJ-PON3," Simon Neighs says. "Guhhhh... you t-too, Roadie Beau!"
"Hah!" The zebra brays, taking a sip of his drink. "Don't sweat, bro. I know how it is."
"For realsies!" Simon Neighs fidgets in his seat, blushing a bit. "And... uhm... I-I know it's probably super selfish of me... a-and maybe a bit awkward, considering what we just chatted about, but... b-but would it be too much to ask for an autograph... ... ... p-perhaps?"
Beau snickers, finishes his drink, then glances at me. 'Well, V? Whaddya say, girl?"
I'm already smiling and nodding.
"Oh!" Simon exhales, as is dropping the weight of the world from his shoulders. "Oh, wow! That's so awesome! Heheheh... uhm..." He picks up his headphones and hands them towards me, trembling slightly. "... if... if it's n-not too lame."
I smirk. I wave a hoof at Beau, and he hoofs me his trademark fountain pen. With careful magic, I lick my lips and autograph the band between his headphones' clamshells. I hold the thing up and towards the stallion for his approval.
"Sweet!" Simon's eyes light up, and the air fills with gold and pink mirth. "Aw dude..." He takes the headphones back, smiling from ear to ear. "...now there's a part of the bucket list I could burn to a crisp! Heheheh!"
"Hey, now!" Beau sticks his tongue out. "There's still a flammable scrap left!"
"Totally, bro!" Simon snickers and hoofs the item over to Beau. "See? She was super cool enough to leave room on the other side!"
"Yeah, she does that a lot." Beau adds with a wink. As he writes his name, he speaks over his shoulder. "Cappy? You want in on this fansqueeing?"
"Mmmmm..." The mare finishes another sip of her drink. "...now that you mention it, I do. However..." With a glowing horn, she reaches for a satchel lying against the edge of the booth. "...being a historian at heart, I prepared for this moment with a bit of extra gusto. I hope it doesn't seem too obtuse of me..."
"Heh... just spit it out, girl!"
Capricorn then proceeds to lift a square vinyl cover into view. The distinctive blue color of it immediately stabs my eyes through the shades, and the whole world around us instantly shrinks. I barely have the blood in my ears to register her next few words: "But I would absolutely adore it if I could have a signature from the most resplendent Cyan Sings..."
My breaths turn hollow, and I feel a cold sweat washing over me.
"Huh?" Simon Neighs blinks. "Cyan Who...?"
"Awwwwwwwww hell..." Beau lisps, ruining his autograph with a loose black line as he drops the pen. He swallows a deep lump down his throat. "Yo, Cappy... how... h-how on earth didja...?" He instantly snaps his head in my direction, ears folding. "Now, hold up, V..."
I'm hyperventilating. The room has become a cyclone of magenta. I squirm and flinch away from the table... the album... the electric blue like it's a live rattlesnake.
"I... I'm sorry..." A pair of beady eyes blink above Capricorn's gaping muzzle. "Oh my goodness, did... did I do something amiss?" She shakes her head. "I-I simply thought that—"
The magenta's blinding now. I'm panting, shivering. I stumble out of the booth on numb limbs.
"Whoah—!" Simon gasps, nearly falling out of his seat.
"Vinyl! Please!" Beau's voice flails in the mist, a thousand miles away. "I-I'm sure she didn't mean anythang by it! Just calm down—"
I can't see. Can't breathe. Can't speak.
Everything is flooding... drowning me. I need a purple line to stay afloat, but I can't feel it... I can't hear her.
I stifle a whimper before it can drain all the blood from inside me. Gnashing my teeth, I spin around and gallop towards the front entrance of the bar.
And that's when Harmonicide and his big lumbering body decides to return.
"Yo yo you! Who's ready to drink themselves stupid—?!" WHUMP! "Gah! What's the hurry, girl—?"
He holds onto his drinks. I go flying... falling.
I strike the floor with a clap of crimson...
...and my shades go flying off.
A foalish whimper thunders from everywhere at once, and my eye sockets burn with color. Every inch of the spectrum screams bloody murder into my brain, and I clutch my hooves over my face, trying not to scream, for I know what can and will kill me.
Somepony get me out of here...