• Published 7th Jun 2013
  • 2,755 Views, 193 Comments

Pinkie Pie is Dead - chrumsum

When you lose something worth living for, you get something worth dying for.

  • ...

3 - Doc

Morning comes too soon. It brings the hangover I was hoping I could avoid. The morning routine plays itself out like a rerun of some two-bit soap on TV. Life and Times of Sideways. Season eight, episode four: stale oats and coffee for breakfast. I choke it down and I’m out the door without so much as giving my condo a second glance. Once outside, though, I take my time.

The ground’s still soggy from last night’s storm, and the sky tells me that it’s far from over. The mud on my hooves is as damp and sticky as the air itself, heavy with rain and that weird aftertaste of garbage that always seems to hang around this side of Ponyville. I'm used to it by now. It doesn’t detract from one thing, though: the silence. The absolute silence.

Early bird gets the worm, but I’m the kind of pony who’s out so early that the bird hasn’t even crawled out of its nest yet. Just about anyone sane in Ponyville is still tucked away in their cozy little bed. I’m alone in the streets. Some ponies would say it’s like walking through a graveyard, what with the houses obscured in fog like tombstones, the names on the mailboxes marking the corpses that sleep inside. Those ponies clearly haven’t been to the Ponyville mortuary before.

It’s inconspicuous enough, a house of the dead sheltered in the heart of Ponyville, between a fancy tudor and a coffee shop. The door creaks open with a soft whine that’s become a customary greeting between the two of us. I’ve been here one time too many in the morning, just to talk with Doc. He’s even worse at sleeping in than I am. This place is basically my second home. So I’m less than pleased when I suddenly find the tip of a spear placed at my throat.

“Halt!” barks a royal guard in unison with his comrade, planting his hooves on the tiles. My nostrils wrinkle with disgust. Royal guards. Lunar guards, by the looks of it, with their cat-like eyes peering at me from behind their helmets and their bat wings bristling. Probably on the night shift. I slap his weapon aside.

“Get that damn thing out of my face,” I snarl, levitating my badge out from breast pocket of my trench coat. “PPD. I’m here to check up on an autopsy.”

One of the bat-ponies lowers his spear as he leers at my credentials, but his friend doesn’t so much as budge, ready to perforate me at a word. I glare back at him. This is my town, buddy. Not yours. Who the hell do you think you’re looking at?

“Checks out,” grunts the first guard, as if there had ever been a doubt. They lower their weapons and return to attention on either side of the door. “Move along.”

I know better than to tell them exactly where they can move along to, but I can’t help but sneer to myself as I walk past reception and down the hall. Posers. Cute little ponies in shiny armor playing dress-up, acting like it’ll impress somepony. Not even a dent in their armor and they think they’re top dog.

“Pathetic,” I mumble under my breath as I reach Doc’s operating theater and push the door open. It smells like death. Formaldehyde and pickled onions curl into my nostrils like tentacles, slithering into my throat and twisting around in my stomach. Good thing I haven’t had much of a breakfast. No matter how often I come here, I never get used to the smell.

The good doctor is still hard at work, leaning over his desk in the far corner of the theater. Slouching over papers, he doesn’t hear me as I enter, only turning around when the door shuts behind me with a click.

“Hmm? Oh, Sideways. I wasn’t expecting you,” he mumbles sleepily, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

“Judging by the welcome wagon outside, I’d guess you weren’t expecting anyone at all,” I respond, fiddling with a scalpel on one of the counters. When he only answers with a half-hearted mumble, I look at him with a raised eyebrow. “How long you been here, Doc?”

“All night,” he admits. “The boys out front showed up in the middle of it. Nearly scared me to death.”

“That bad?”

“I basically had to shove them out the door to get them to wait outside rather than in here.”

“Why in Tartarus are they here anyways?”

“I don’t know, Sideways. This isn’t just another murder; you know that. The Princesses are probably terrified right now. A Bearer is dead. This is humongous. Historic. Equestria is on the edge right now. The last thing it needs is for something to happen to the body.”

I nod. There’s a tightness in my gut, but I have no other choice but to admit that he’s right. Slowly, I face the pink elephant in the room, sleeping on a metal slab with the sheets pulled over her head. Ever contour of the fabric sticks out like something on a movie screen, like it’s not really there.

“This her?”

Doc stands like an old pony. “Yes.”

“Then let’s not waste any more time, Doc. Let’s hear what you’ve got to tell me.”

He nods, grabbing his clipboard and ambling over to the other side of the operating table. His hoof reaches for the shroud when he suddenly stops, looking up at me, as if asking for permission. I remove my hat, tossing it aside.

“I’ve seen bodies before, Doc. I’m fine,” I lie.

He obliges with a cough, and the white sheet falls away from Pinkie’s face.

Her eyes are closed now. Pinkie’s eyelids are bruised, red around the edges. The blood crusted into her coat is gone now, washed away by caustic soaps and chemicals, but it still doesn’t look quite right. It’s pale, white-washed, cold. Even her mane doesn’t look right, combed back and neatly placed to the side of her head.

The doctor coughs again, and looks down at the clipboard in his hooves. “It was bad,” he says simply.

Bad is an understatement. Gashes cover her body like Tartarus’s tally marks, a tick for each crime. The fur’s been shaved around the wounds, leaving black-blue scars on white flesh, vulgar and violent. I force myself to keep down my oats as the doctor continues. It’s not Pinkie Pie anymore. It’s just a body.

“Eight lacerations in total, and the cut width tells me it was all probably done with the same tool: our murder weapon. Any luck on that?”

“Not yet.”

“You’re looking for a knife. Fairly standard edge. Maybe a kitchen knife.”

I jot down the comment in my notebook and circle it. I look up and the doctor is pointing at different spots on her body.

“Three lacerations on her front left, two on her hind left. Then two here, at the base of the neck,” he illustrates, lifting her head off the table. “Deep stab wounds, around fifteen centimeters, tapering. The one on the left was into muscle. The right one was fatal, severed the spine. But all of them were very messy.”

No detail is missed. I do my best not to bite my tongue. My jaw shudders and my teeth grind into each other like they’ve got a score to settle. “Messy?” I echo.

“Yes. Except for one.” He points to her neck, where an elegant crescent crust arcs across Pinkie’s throat. I cringe. Doc pretends he doesn’t notice.

“A perfect cut. No way the killer could have pulled this off if she were struggling. Either way, it kept her from screaming for help. She must have been snuck up on.”

“That, or she knew the killer,” I say grimly, snapping my notebook shut.

Doc chuckles in disbelief. “You’re a cold bastard, Sideways. That’s a heavy accusation.”

“It’s not an accusation. Just a thought. I’m not leaving anything out of the equation. But...” I point to the wounds behind her knees. “Why the legs? If the killer’s surprised her and trapped her, why attack the legs? Why not a killing blow right there?”

“These wounds were hastily made, but they did the job. Damaged the muscle and cut the tendons.”

“So she was incapacitated. Why would the killer need to slow her down if she’s trapped in her room?”

The Doc looks up at me with watery red eyes. “I’m just a lowly doctor, son. I can’t give you that kind of answer. That’s your job.”

Before I can press him further, there’s an angry knock at the door, and it’s shoved open. Smells like shit again. I turn around and find who else but two more royal guards. Celestia’s finest this time. Gold armor, no better. You can paint a turd, but it stays a turd. They stare me down with their arrogant eyes and jutting jaws.

“Detective Sideways?” they ask, spitting out my name like last month’s hay.

I give Doc a glance. He shrugs, as confused as I am, but less pissed off. “Who’s asking?” I answer.

“You’re going to need to come with us.”