• Published 16th Aug 2013
  • 2,113 Views, 57 Comments

What You Are in the Dark - Little Jackie Papercut



The Manehattan Six investigate mysterious pony-like creatures at night.

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Spectacles

"And now," announced the blue unicorn, casually tossing her knife straight up in the air, "Trixie needs a volunteer."

Twilight Sparkle quietly edged away, not keen on the idea of being the target of Trixie's demonstration. Trixie raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Instead, she began balancing another knife on a hoof with an impatient expression.

A white hoof went up. "I'll do it," said a pegasus, fluttering onto the stage.

Trixie grinned. "Well well well, Trixie is pleased to have such an enthusiastic accomplice," she said. "What's your name, and where do you come from?"

Rolling her eyes, Blossomforth giggled. "Junior Weather Cadet Blossomforth, from the Manehattan University of Natural Sciences," she replied. "Are you sure you didn't hit your head too hard during that last trick?"

"Welcome, Blossomforth," Trixie announced in a booming voice that was probably not necessary for her small audience. She pointedly ignored Blossomforth's last statement and gestured to one side. "Please stand on the markers just over there."

Blossomforth trotted to the indicated position, placing her front hooves on one marker and her rear hooves on the other. "You mean like this, Trix—"

"Prepare yourself, Junior Weather Cadet Blossomforth of the Manehattan University of Natural Sciences!" Trixie declared.The knives that currently lay scattered across the stage began to rattle. All at once, they rose into the air on leathery wings, and flew straight at Blossomforth.

The pegasus flinched, unprepared for the assault, but the knives stopped short. They began circling her in the form of a loose sphere of bat-winged blades, occasionally twirling themselves. The pattern gradually shifted to several independent bands of flying knives, then to a complicated spiraling pattern. They were still a little creepy up close, but Blossomforth still let out a small "ooh" at the intricate motions.

After a few moments, the cage of knives lifted away. It flattened out into a single thick, rotating ring, and individual knives began floating around it in even more complex patterns. Blossomforth applauded as they traced floral shapes above her.

Then, the shapes stopped. The ring stopped rotating. All the knives began to float together into an undifferentiated cloud.

The cloud shuddered.

"Uh, Trixie?" Blossomforth turned her head to look at the showmare. Trixie was rubbing her temple, cringing and doubled over like she was in pain. "Hey, are you alright?" Blossomforth started to step off the markers, but Trixie held up a hoof, then pointed up again.

Blossomforth gasped as she realized the entire mass of knives had suddenly begun to plummet toward her at once. She knew instinctively she wasn't fast enough to outrun it. Flying would be even worse. There was nothing she could do but duck and cover.

It took several seconds after she had heard the sound of more knives than she dared to count thunking into the wood around her before Blossomforth registered the fact that she was still alive. Opening one eye, then the other, she looked around. The exact area where she was lying had been perfectly outlined by knives. The audience of six ponies and one dragon looked shocked. Trixie didn't seem to be in pain anymore, and she was taking a bow with a smug expression.

"Of course there was never any real danger," Trixie assured them. "Trixie would never let anypony be hurt. See?"

With a sheepish smile, Blossomforth nodded.

"Thank you again for helping to preview my new show," Trixie said as her friends joined her on the stage. "With your feedback, this one will be unforgettable! Tell me, should the knives be on fire for the real thing?"

"I've heard of knife-throwing performances, but I don't believe I've ever heard of anything quite like, well, that," Orange Sherbet commented.

"Truly, Trixie is one of a kind," the showmare said with a mock-mourning sigh.

"Yeah, but... maybe you should tone that last trick down a bit," Honey Do interjected. The tawny pegasus pointed to Blossomforth, who was still eyeing the point-down knives nervously.

"Hm, perhaps—"

"No," Blossomforth said, suddenly flitting over the field of knives to place a hoof on Trixie's shoulder. "That was a great act. Yeah, I thought I was going to die a couple times, but that was the point, right? It's not like I was ever in any real danger." At that moment, the knife Trixie had thrown earlier clattered onto the stage directly between the hoof markers. Blossomforth chose to ignore the sound. She smiled nervously.

"Thank you, Blossomforth." Trixie looked to the others. "Well, then, if there are no further objections, Trixie thinks that much is decided."

Honey shook her head. "If Blossomforth is okay with it after being in it, I guess I can't argue."

Twilight glanced at a clock. It was past midnight. "Whoa, look at the time!" she exclaimed. "Spike and I need to be getting back to the library. It is way past his bedtime."

"But Twilight," Spike protested as she began to walk out the door, "I'm not even..." He trailed off into a yawn. "Tired," he concluded a moment later.

"We should be going, as well," Sherbet said, beckoning to her husband and daughter. "I'm glad you invited Tangerine, but she really does need her sleep."

Sherbet's daughter nodded. "Thank you very much, Miss Trixie! I am looking forward to your next show!"

Trixie patted Tangerine's head, then doffed her hat. From it, she produced a slip of paper. "Don't forget your backstage pass," she said with a grin, proffering it to the filly.

Tangerine took the pass excitedly as her parents chuckled and ushered her out. "Thank you!" she called again before they exited.

"And now," Trixie said, looking around at the others remaining, "Trixie will be retiring to her trailer. Good night!" She cast a smokebomb spell, obscuring the other ponies' view of her. A few seconds later, it dissipated to reveal Trixie fumbling with the door. She opened it and slipped out without looking back.

Octavia stared. "Can you remember the last time she left a room without doing that?"

The pegasi shook their heads.

"Well, I suppose the active mind is the hardest to follow, after all." Octavia shrugged. "But we should be going as well."

"I've gotta admit, she's come a long way," Honey casually observed as they exited the theater and turned left.

Octavia nodded. "Indeed, the first time I attended one of her shows was a few years ago. I was struck by her attitude. I almost thought she hated her audience."

"Hated them? She barely even acknowledged they were there!" Honey's wings fluttered irritably. "But... maybe it's just that performers seem more distant when you don't really know them. Maybe she seems better these days because we're friends now."

"I think that is exactly the case, but more directly than you think." The cellist smiled at something invisible. "Friends change us all. Good friends change us a lot."

Blossomforth blinked. "No... I'm sure Trixie always had her better nature in her. We've just started bringing it out."

Several seconds passed in silence. Then Honey stopped abruptly and turned to Blossomforth. Octavia followed suit.

"Hey, Blossom... isn't your place the other way?" Honey asked.

Blossomforth opened her mouth to answer, but then thought about it. Honey Do and Octavia both lived near the museum. Blossomforth's house, meanwhile, was near the library, which was in precisely the opposite direction. "Oops. Um, haha, I guess I'll just... go that way then."

""Do you need accompaniment?" Octavia offered.

"No," Blossomforth replied quickly. "I'll be fine on my own. It's not too far." She turned and started toward the university, waving to them. "See ya tomorrow!"

She took to the air as she went, mindful of the fact that it was actually quite some distance to the university. There wasn't a single pony in sight. Manehattan nights were rarely quiet, but for the most part, the nightlife was downtown. This block contained some small theaters and studios, a convenience store, and some apartments. The starlight was filtered and muted by a light mist. Under the low-hanging clouds, the air was still and cold. It was like the city had simply stopped.

Blossomforth wasn't really comfortable with a night like this. She loved the sun and the wind, and the sound of foals playing in Central Park. Darkness and silence made her wary.

There was a sound to her left, and she craned her head in that direction. She thought she caught a glimpse of something disappearing into an alley. She stared at the spot for a moment, then shook her head to clear it. "Keep it together, Blossomforth," she told herself. "It's Manehattan. The only monsters are in the subway."

Still, she had seen something. Curious, she fluttered closer. She landed beside the alley and slowly poked her head around the corner. Near the back of the alley, Blossomforth could barely make out something shaped like a foal. She stepped closer. "Hello?" she called out. "Are you okay? Do you need help?"

The dark figure remained still for a second. As Blossomforth took another step forward, however, it suddenly spread a pair of wings.

She gasped. The wings were easily as large as her own half over, and they didn't look like the usual feathery pegasus wings. Instead they looked batlike, and she recoiled, images of knives about to plunge into her swarming her mind.

The next second, the bat-winged pony-shaped creature had taken flight. Blossomforth's mind took a few moments to process the encounter. Then, she stumbled back out of the alley and bolted for home.

~#~#~#~

My Little Pony, My Little Pony

Ahh, ahh, ahh, ahhh…

(My Little Pony)

I used to wonder what friendship could be

(My Little Pony)

Until you all shared its magic with me

Great discoveries!

Tricks galore!

A rich slice of life,

And a heartfelt score.

Budding courage,

It's an easy feat

And magic makes it all complete!

You have my little ponies

Do you know you're all my very best friends?

~#~#~#~

"I'm telling you, I saw it last night," Blossomforth insisted. "It was like a pony, but with giant bat wings and razor-sharp teeth and—"

A mint-green earth mare with a shock blue mane shushed her loudly. Honey and Twilight exchanged a look.

"Blossomforth," Twilight said slowly, "I know that must have been scary, but do you think you could keep it down? You're interrupting our cryptolinguistics club." She gestured to the half-dozen ponies milling about the library's back room and poring over various books.

Blossomforth responded with an apologetic look. "What I mean," she continued more quietly, "is that there's a monster out there."

"Doubtful," Honey chipped in. "We've got a catalogue of all known wildlife in the region, and there isn't anything like that. It was probably just a normal pegasus."

The white pegasus shook her head. "No, I know what I saw. It wasn't a natural pony."

"Well, I don't know what to tell you, Bloss," Honey said with a shrug. "I can't help you find something that doesn't exist. If it was real, that would be big news, but I don't know how you could even prove it."

Blossomforth groaned. "Alright," she said, turning away. "I guess I'll go ask somepony else, then." With that, she hurried out the door, pausing to steady the stack of books Spike was carrying to Twilight.

Honey stared after her for a moment, tapping her chin in thought. She cast a glance to Twilight. "Do you think there might actually be something out there?" she asked.

Twilight shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe. It's kind of interesting to think about, at least. I'd like to see whatever it was up close, even if it's nothing."

"Well, one thing's clear." Honey fluttered to a bookshelf, plucked out a new book and set it down on the table. "Something's definitely got Blossomforth acting weird."

"Fhtagn," Twilight agreed.

~#~#~#~

Sherbet frowned. "Monsters? Really?" She thought for a moment. "Most likely a flying fox. I didn't think they ever left the subway."

Blossomforth had arrived at the Orange Hotel just as Sherbet was beginning lunch with Octavia. They now sat around a table on a balcony on the top floor of the hotel, discussing the previous night's events. The air was cool at this height, helped by a gentle breeze.

"No, no, no," Blossomforth insisted. "This definitely looked like a pony, except for those wings."

Sherbet looked down into the cup in front of her, brow furrowed as she swirled the tea within. Octavia raised a hoof. "You mean to say it's a bat-pony?" The gray mare quirked an eyebrow. "As in, na-na-na-na?"

Sherbet blinked and turned to Octavia. "What?"

"Nevermind that," the gray mare answered, waving the question aside. "I find this difficult to comprehend."

"Yeah, so do I," Blossomforth stated resignedly. "I already asked Twilight and Honey about it. They said there was nothing like that around here."

As Sherbet contemplated, Octavia simply shrugged. "Well, I should think they would know as well as anypony, but that just makes your little mystery all the more unsolvable. I'm sorry, Blossomforth, but I'm afraid all the advice I have for you is to try and put it out of your mind."

The pegasus sighed heavily. "Maybe. But I'm not sure if I can." She stood, tapping a hoof to her forehead in thought. "I know there has to be some key to this whole thing somewhere. I saw it after I left Trixie's rehearsal. Maybe she knows something about it. I should go ask her."

Octavia nodded. "Then, by all means, go. Good luck, Blossomforth." She offered a pat on the shoulder. Blossomforth smiled, turned to the edge of the balcony, and took flight.

Sherbet cleared her throat quietly. "I'm not sure why," she said, "but what Blossomforth said she saw, I'm certain I've seen it somewhere..."

Octavia looked back to Sherbet, then out over the city. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

"Was that Blossomforth? Is she leaving?" asked a voice behind her. Both mares turned to see Spike standing in the doorway.

"Yes, she was just telling us about our little monster problem," Sherbet said, nodding. "Why do you ask?"

Spike groaned. "I was actually coming to ask if you'd seen her. Did she say where she's going?"

~#~#~#~

The Majestic Theatre, Trixie's favorite hangout, was abuzz with intermission activity when Spike arrived. "Uh, Blossomforth? Trixie?" he called into the crowded lobby, but he received no response. He began pushing his way through the crowd, a few nonplussed ponies backing away from him.

After a minute of trying to navigate the room, the frustrated baby dragon climbed up on the nearest surface, attempting to peer over the crowd. Almost immediately, he spotted a distinctive watermelon mane, and gave a triumphant stomp. His footstool, a purple mare with a red-and-white mane, glared at him angrily in response.

"Oh, uh... sorry about that, I'll just... be going," Spike muttered quickly as he sheepishly dismounted the mare and dashed toward Blossomforth.

As he approached the bench where the two were seated, he could hear Trixie telling some kind of story in her characteristic dramatic tone. "So in the end," she was saying, "it was Trixie's hat that saved the troubadour from a catastrophic mistake!"

"That's very, er, impressive," Blossomforth replied slowly, "but what does that have to do with the monsters?"

"Hm? Why, Trixie's story is much more interesting than any monster!"

Spike, having managed to position himself right next to the blue mare by now, cleared his throat, which caused Blossomforth to jump slightly. Trixie looked down at him, amused.

"Hey, as riveting as that all sounded, I need to talk to Blossomforth," he said.

"Yeah? About what?" Blossomforth asked. "Did I forget something? Oh, I totally forgot to bring Twilight next month's weather schedule, didn't I? She must be—"

Spike placed a claw on Blossomforth's lips to shush her. "Actually, no. I'm here about you. We were all worried about you after you left the library, so I volunteered to come look for you. I got to the hotel just as you were leaving."

Blossomforth sat blinking in surprise for a few seconds. "But... that was over an hour ago," she said, glancing at Trixie out of the corner of her eye.

Spike looked from Blossomforth to the clock and slowly back. "Well, I might've made a stop or two on the way," he said with a blush. Trixie suddenly coughed a few times, and it sounded a lot like a laugh. Blossomforth herself cracked a knowing smile.

"Okay, so you're here. What now?" she asked.

"Now... I dunno." Spike scratched his head. "I wanted to help you feel better, but I guess the only way to do that is to figure out what it was that you saw."

"That sounds boring," Trixie said. "Why, Trixie could have the whole matter solved in a single day."

Blossomforth looked at Trixie, confused. "Are you offering to help, too?" she asked.

"Well, since you want my help so badly," Trixie declared, standing with a flourish, "the Great and Powerful Trixie is on the case! I swear I will personally flush out these monsters! Fear not, gentle Blossomforth, for with an amazingly brilliant unicorn such as myself helping you, there will be no place for the wicked to hide!"

Silence followed that proclamation. Trixie seemed to have earned some stares from the surrounding ponies, and after a moment somepony in the back, only a purple mane visible from where they were standing, cheered weakly.

"Thanks, Trixie," said Blossomforth with a grin. "I feel a lot better with you helping. Meet me outside the theater tonight and I'll show you where it was..."

Author's Note:

Background ponies featured in this chapter:

Tea Love (Blind Bag Wave 2)
Fizzypop (Blind Bag Wave 1)
Bitta Luck (Blind Bag Wave 3)