• Published 7th Jun 2013
  • 2,759 Views, 193 Comments

Pinkie Pie is Dead - chrumsum



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

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9
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7 - Fluttershy

The stickiness of the lemonade gets washed away by the rain. It hasn’t poured for this long in Ponyville in ages. The dark clouds suck the will of the weather pegasi as much as they do the rest of the locals. It makes the walk to Fluttershy’s all the more tiring.

I’d be lying if I said I was the pinnacle of health. Even though I quit smoking after momma died, those years of wear and tear aren’t easily patched up, and I’m struggling for breath in between tokes. I need it, though. Being close to death is the best way to appreciate being alive, and the smoke calms my jittery nerves.

A cabin, lost on the edge of the wildest side of town, the Everfree Forest, breaks the rain in the distance.

Strange place, those woods. Things that shouldn’t happen, even by the standards of magic, turn out to be pretty commonplace. Who knows what lies in there, what animals or predators. I can feel their eyes watching me, even from this far away, safe on the dirt path. Get lost in there, and you’ll die screaming where no one can hear you. I try not to think about it. The treeline blurs with the rain pouring off the brim of my hat.

As I’d guessed, Fluttershy’s home is guarded by another squad of guards. I’m not really in the mood to mess around. Taking out the document once under the thatch eaves of the small cottage, the captain of the soldiers, a gruff-looking unicorn, reads it over and lets me pass without any trouble. One of his men knocks on the door, and when Fluttershy answers it, I’m looking into a mirror.

“Miss Fluttershy?” asks the guard pony.

“Y-yes?”

He steps aside, and I come forward, tipping the brim of my hat.

“Hello, Miss Fluttershy. Name’s Detective Sideways. I’m investigating the circumstances surrounding...” Her blank, emotionless stare sets me off, and I lose my train of thought. “The uh... May I come in?”

She looks between the guard and I, and eventually nods, letting the door open just wide enough for me to slip inside. I look at her thankfully as I slip off my dripping wet fedora. It’s turned into little more than a soaking newspaper.

“Poor thing. You’re completely drenched,” says Fluttershy, but her eyes seem to be focused on some spot behind me. It’s only when I open my mouth to say something that she looks at me and holds out her hooves. “Please, let me take those and get them dry. Can I get you anything? Tea, maybe? It’s awfully cold out.”

I shake my head politely as I slip out of my trench coat, being sure to take out my notebook and the guide to sewing that I’d kept from the library. She takes my coat out of my hooves, and her gaze lowers to the library book on the floor.

“Oh,” she murmurs. “You brought it back.”

“You recognize it?”

“Yes. I lent it to Pinkie before she died.”

The bluntness in her voice hits me like a brick, but she doesn’t seem to notice at as she flies up and hangs my coat by the hearth, where a fire is crackling warmly. I rub my shoulder, feeling the sore muscles beneath my fur. I feel chilled to the bone from the rain, and the heat of the fire is only barely helping. Fluttershy motions towards a futon, and I take it. It sags underneath me, and it’s covered with a fine layer of fur from... Well, I’m not entirely sure.

Fluttershy’s obsession with animals shows. It smells, too. I’m sure she wears herself ragged to keep the place in working order with all the creatures she’s got here, but there’s still a zoo-like odor. The stink of stale kibble and urine is like an unpleasant aftertaste in the air. None of the critters are around, though. I ask her about that, trying to stir up some sort of pleasant banter to ease the strange tension.

“Oh, the storm’s got them all on edge. They’re all hiding in their little houses, the poor dears. They’re nervous.”

Yeah. They’re not the only ones. Fluttershy takes a seat across from me, her mane casting long shadows across her face.

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

“You don’t have to apologize,” she assures me. “It wasn’t your fault.”

“No, I... I guess not.”

The rain on the roof seems to grow louder, and the gray-blue light from the windows seems to be dueling with the orange light from the fire, flickering back and forth across Fluttershy’s face, battling for control. I clear my throat.

“I’ve been assigned by the Princesses to look into the case of Pinkie’s murder.”

“Yes.”

“Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

“No, I don’t. Whatever helps you, Mr. Detective.”

“Sideways, Miss. Detective Sideways.”

She nods, but it seems disjointed and mechanical. I motion my head towards the book next to me.

“So you gave this book to Pinkie Pie?”

“Yes. She came over to my house the day before yesterday and asked for it.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Just like that?”

Fluttershy hesitates, looking away. “No, not exactly. She was... upset.”

“How upset?”

“Crying a lot. She looked like she’d been crying all the way here.”

“Did she say anything?” I press further, writing as she speaks.

“Yes, she responds, her voice hollow. “She asked me for some sewing equipment. Needles, thread, fabric, anything.”

Click. The sound of a puzzle piece falling into place. “I see. Did you give those to her?”

“Yes. In a basket. I always have a lot of sewing supplies on hand. It’s for my hobby. It helps pass the time. Keeps me occupied.”

I can’t get a read on her face as she speaks. There’s a strange blankness in her eyes, a numbness that I can’t quite place. It’s getting to me. Reading ponies is my talent. It’s where I got my cutie mark, it’s what made me a detective. I can jump on a liar the second I hear crap leave his mouth, I can tell when I’m only being given half truths. The fact that I can’t get anything off this mare is more than disturbing. It’s hauntingly familiar.

It reminds me of myself.

A ball of fuzz hops up from between the shadows and nestles itself into Fluttershy’s lap. The rabbit gives me a sour look and hides behind his master’s hooves. Angel. I have to wonder if Fluttershy’s humor is more sarcastic than I thought, or if she’s just as naive as I’d pinned her.

“Did Pinkie say anything about why she was upset, Miss Fluttershy?”

“No... Well, a little bit,” says Fluttershy, correcting herself when she spots doubt flicker across my face. “I asked her what was wrong. She said she’d ‘messed up big time with Rarity’. She said something about a dress and hoping she didn’t lose a friend. Had to make something right. I’m not sure what.”

“And you didn’t see her after that?”

“No. I heard the news last night.”

“News. Yeah,” I echo, scratching down a few last notes. “May I ask a personal question, Miss Fluttershy?”

She blinks. That’s enough to give me a hoofhold. Caught her off guard, asked her something she didn’t expect.

“I... If you want.”

“Were you and Pinkie Pie close?”

“Of course we were,” she says patronizingly, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “She was... noisy, maybe, but oh so nice. Just a week ago we went on a pet play date and visited the zoo. We saw the giraffes and the lions and the alligators together. We had ice cream and it was... nice.”

“So you were friends.”

“Yes,” she answers, giving Angel a rub behind his ears. It earns her an appreciative snuggle.

“How are you feeling right now, Miss Fluttershy?” I ask, putting away my quill.

Another surprised look. “Fine, why?” she says in that strange monotone.

The notebook snaps shut, and I lean in close. “Because I find it rather strange that your friend has just been murdered and you’re feeling ‘fine’, Miss Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy stops mid-stroke, and Angel looks up in disappointment. She doesn’t say a word. She doesn’t even look at me. The rain outside has dulled into nothing more than a half-hearted, sleepy drizzle. It lets me hear her breathing slow. Slowly, I can see her crack open, like any book. Her limbs grow taught, retreating towards her chest. Her ears droop and quiver, and her hooves become tense. I can almost place it.

It’s my turn to be surprised when the first sentence out of her mouth is a question.

“Do you think I’m a bad pony, Detective?”

“What?”

“Am I buh... bad?”

The stutter in her voice seals it. Angel flinches when the first tear falls down Fluttershy’s face onto his fur.

“Am I a bad pony?” she squeaks, her voice cracking. Her slim figure shakes like the last leaf on a winter tree. When she looks up at me, the numbness is gone. There’s nothing but agony. Bottomless, confused agony.

“Am I a bad pony for nuh... not being able to cuh... cuh... cry more...?” she stammers, pleading, begging as the tears roll down her face. She gasps for breath, her breast rising and falling erratically. “Am I buh... bad? Why can’t I fuh... feel anythi-thing? Please... tell...”

She can’t speak anymore. Her head collapses into the armrest of her seat, and she cries.

I know her. That’s when it hits me. I know her like I know myself.

You’re not a bad pony, Fluttershy. I can’t understand grief either.

But I don’t say that. For some infernal reason the words die in the back of my throat and char it like dusty embers. I stand, but I can’t comfort her. I walk, but it’s not towards her. I can only give her a lingering glance before taking my trench coat and walking out on her, walking out when she needs someone most.

I can’t help her, I justify, leaving the cottage and the guards and the anguished pony.

I can’t help her just as I can’t help myself.